On March 21, 1349, a massacre against the Jewish community was committed in Erfurt, Germany. The Black Death, also known as the Bubonic Plague, had spread across Europe three years earlier. To date, no other pandemic has proven more devastating than the Bubonic. Along with decimating millions across Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa, the plague led to various states of public unrest, which is what led to the killings in Erfurt.
The pandemic spread largely unencumbered due to a lack of necessary medical and biological knowledge needed to effectively stave off the transmission. This led the Catholic majority, particularly in France and Germany, to turn to their faith for answers. In times of extreme public upheaval, it is not uncommon for one or more marginalized groups to be blamed or targeted. In the case of the Black Death, the Jewish community was both blamed and targeted.
As people became more and more radicalized by the belief that Jewish people were responsible for the plague, the accusations evolved. Not only were the Jews responsible, but killing them would help prevent it from spreading further. This led to a massive outbreak of antisemitic violence, culminating in the Erfurt Massacre.
Accounts of the death toll vary, but somewhere between 100 and 1,000 Jewish people were murdered. Those who were not killed either fled or were forced to leave the city. The violence was so extreme some members of the Jewish community decided to die by suicide by setting their houses on fire with themselves still inside.