The first jews probably came to the Palatinate along with the romans. In the beginning, they settled in the larger towns, but later, in the 14th century, when these cities refused to permit the jews to live there, they moved to the smaller towns and villages. In 1688 there were four jewish families in Eßweiler. Their number constantly grow in the following years. In 1867 Eßweiler had 85 Jewish citizens, making it one of the largest Jewish communities in the Kusel district.
On the "Läppchen", the street that is still referred to as the "Judengasse" (i.e. jewish lane), was the synagogue, referred to locally as the "Judenschule (i.e. jewish school)". It closed in the beginning of the 20th century. The building, which still exists, was sold and turned into a residence, leaving no traces of its earlier purpose. In the house beside it, a "mikveh", a Jewish ritual bath, was discovered during renovation of the building. A former synagogue that was restorated in recent years can be visited in Odenbach, 20 km from Eßweiler.
Other houses with jewish inhabitants were in the part of the Eßweiler main street called "Reih" and in the "Hinterrot". A jewish merchant named Dreyfuss lived in the Krämelstrasse. Some other names can be found in the "list of the house owners of 1846".
In the last quarter of the 19th Century the number of the jewish inhabitants of Eßweilers decreased considerably. Many jews moved to the larger cities like Kaiserslautern, whose jewish community grew proportionally at that time. The reasons for this were the better economic factors in the cities - and the fact, that jews were once again allowed to live there.
In 1902 the Eßweiler' synagogue was rented as a dwelling to Lazarus Jakob. On january 24th, 1906 the Jewisch Community in Eßweiler was closed, the families of Isidor and Sigmund Rothschild who remained in Eßweiler, attached to the Jewisch Community Kusel.
Isidor, a cattle dealer by trade, was born between 1872 and 1876 in Eßweiler and rented a house in the "Oberdorf" (upper village). His wife Mina died in 1936 and is buried in Kaiserslautern. Isidor's older brother Sigmund, born 1870 or 1871 and also a cattle dealer, lived in the building that later housed the agricultural cooperative society( "Raiffeisengebäude"). His wife was named Blondine Mayer. They had 4 daughters, Antonie (called Toni), Bella, Martha and Erna. Both Isidor as well as Sigmund Rothschild were members of the Choral Society Eßweiler.
In the "Reichspogromnacht" of November, 9, 1938 (somtimes known as "Kristallnacht"), members of the SA from Altenglan and Theisbergstegen and some followers of the Nationalsocialists from Jettenbach broke into the houses of Isidor and Sigmund Rothschild, destroyed some things and stole others. After this the men from Altenglan and Theisbergstegen went on to Offenbach.
A second group of SA members from Kusel, they had been on a trip from Kusel, Konken, Ulmet and Odenbach where they destroyed some jewisch houses, arrived a little later and found that there was nothing else to do for them.
Few days later the remaining family members, Isidor as well as Sigmund and Blondine Rothschild, where picked up. It isn't known what happend to Isidor Rothschild. Blondine Rothschild died on Oktober 23, 1942, her husband Sigmund on February 15, 1944 in the Concentration Camp Theresienstadt.
Two of their daughters, Antonie and Marta were killed by the Nazi's. Marta died on September 30, 1942 in Auschwitz, Antonie on June 11, 1943 in Sobibor. Both had left Eßweiler before, they were captured in Amsterdam. Their names, along with Eugen Kahn from Eßweiler, can be found at the "Digital Monument to the Jewish Community in the Netherlands".
On another webside with the names of the jews that died in Gurs, a Jacob Rothschild, born 17.06.1857 in Eßweiler and died in 16.11.1940 in Gurs, is noted.
The merchant Jakob Herze, born in Eßweiler in 1896, died in Riga.
The other daughters of Sigmund and Blondine Rothschild, Bella and Erna, and the sons of Isidor Rothschild, Ludwig and Kurt, could escape to the USA.
The dead of the jewish community of Eßweiler, for example the mother of Isidor and Sigmund Rothschild, were buried at the cemetery in Hinzweiler. This cemetery was established befor 1845 for the jews from Bosenbach, Eßweiler, Oberweiler im Tal, Hinzweiler, Aschbach and Lauterecken. On december 1. 1904 the Jewisch Community of Eßweiler became the owner, following 1906 the Jewisch Community of Kusel. Today it is owned by the Jewish Community Rheinpfalz. On the gravestones many of the names mentioned above can be found. The pictures on this side were taken
- "Liste des juifs décédés au camp de Gurs" with the names of the jews that died in Gurs
- Digital Monument to the Jewish Community in the Netherlands
- Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
- "Gesellschaft für Christlich-Jüdische Zusammenarbeit - Pfalz" - More information (in german) about the history of the palatian jews
- Former Synagogue in Odenbach (german website)
- "Zur Geschichte des Dorfes Eßweiler von den Anfängen bis ins 20. Jahrhundert" von Dr. Rudi Emrich aus der Festschrift zum 100 jährigen Vereinsjubiläum des Gesangvereins Eßweiler, 1990
- William Gilcher
- "Der jüdische Friedhof in Hinzweiler" von Bernhard Kukatzki, herausgegeben von der Gesellschaft für christlich-jüdische Zusammenarbeit Pfalz
- " ... auf Lastwagen fortgeschafft" Die jüdischen Bürger in der Stadt Kusel, Herausgeber: Bündnis gegen Rechtsextremismus, Kusel. Herausgegeben 2008