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Vilma Vukelic

Vilma Vukelic (born Miskolczy) (1880-1956), writer, born in Osijek, Croatia (then part of Austria-Hungary). She was educated in a private boarding school in Vienna, Austria. In 1896 she published for the first time in Die Drau, a German-language newspaper based in Osijek, feuilletons and German translations of Croatian poets. After marrying the writer Milivoj Vukelić, she lived in Budapest and Pécs, Hungary, and from 1923 she settled in Zagreb, Croatia (then part of Yugoslavia). During her lifetime, she published Die Heimatlosen (“People without a homeland”, 1923), a novel about Jews of Hungary on the eve of World War I. Her other works include Der Kreis (“Surroundings”, 1947), Der Mann auf der Brücke (“The Man on the Bridge”, 1955), and Zwölf um den Tisch (“Twelve at the Table”, 1955). Spuren der Vergangenheit (“Traces of the Past”, 1948) includes her memoirs about the cultural, historical and political Central European space in which the author grew up. It was translated into Croatian in 1994.          

Date of birth:
1980
Date of death:
1956
ID Number:
21373591
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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MISKOLCZI

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birth place, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

Miskolc is a city on north-east Hungary, where Jews are known to have lived since the early 18th century. The suffix "-zi" is the Hungarian indicating "from" Miskolc.

A distinguished bearer of this name was the Hungarian actor, writer and journalist, Henrik Miskolczi (1861-1918), who was born in the city of Miskolc.

A city in Croatia

Until 1918 Osijek was located within Austria-Hungary, after which it was part of Yugoslavia. Since 1995 it has been part of independent Croatia.

 

21ST CENTURY

Osijek’s Jewish community center includes a museum, which contains objects rescued from the synagogue, when it was destroyed during World War II (1939-1945).

A memorial to the victims of the Holocaust is located in the city’s main square.  

Osijek’s Jewish cemetery has remained standing, and is still in use.

In 2001 there were approximately 100 Jews living in Osijek.

 

HISTORY

Jews were first mentioned in Osijek after the Austrian conquest of Belgrade in 1688. About 500 Jewish prisoners were taken to Osijek, where they had to wait until they were ransomed by European Jewish communities.

Jewish settlement in Osijek, however, began during the 18th century, when Jews from the Austrian Empire began arriving in the city. In 1792 they were officially granted the right to live in Osijek. Religious services were held in Osijek beginning in 1830, and the official community was founded in 1845. In 1849, the community had 40 members. The community founded a congregation school and chevra kaddisha in 1857, and built a synagogue in 1867.

When the Jews of Croatia were emancipated in 1873, the community blossomed, becoming the largest Jewish community in Croatia until 1890. In 1900 there were 1,600 Jews in Osijek, and during the 20th century Osijek became home to two Jewish communities, one in the upper and another one in the lower town. In 1940 there were 2,584 Jews in the two communities.

 

THE HOLOCAUST

After the German conquest of Yugoslavia in April 1941, Croatia became the Independent State of Croatia, led by the fascist and military dictator, Ante Pavelic. On April 13 ethnic Germans (a number of whom lived in the region) and Pavelic's Ustase (paramilitary collaborators) looted Jewish property, imposed a heavy fine on the Jewish community, and made all economic activity impossible for Jews. Additionally, Jewish families living in the center of town were evicted. Then, a mob of Germans, ethnic Germans, and Ustase burned the main synagogue and destroyed the Jewish cemetery.

In December of 1941 a camp for 2,000 Jewish women and children was established in an old mill in Djakovo, near Osijek. Approximately 1,200 women and children from the Stara Gradiska camp were transferred to Djakovo in February of 1942. The camp was eventually liquidated after the outbreak of an epidemic, and its inmates were sent to Jasenovac for execution.

In June of 1942 the community was ordered to build a settlement on the road to Tenje, a nearby village. Promises were made that the Jews would be allowed to live there in peace, and the leaders of the community built the settlement and organized life within it. 3,000 Jews from Osijek, and later from other places in the region, were ultimately confined there. By August of 1942 they had all been sent to Jasenovac or Auschwitz. Only Jews married to non-Jews, and those who were in hiding, remained in Osijek throughout the war. Ten ultimately returned from the camps.

 

POSTWAR

In 1947 there were 610 Jews in the community, which included both Osijek itself, and the surrounding area. Beginning in 1949, however, many immigrated to Israel; as a result, in 1949 Osijek’s Jewish community dropped to 220 members.

A monument to Jewish fighters and victims of Nazism from Osijek and Slavonia was dedicated in 1965 in a square in Osijek. The monument was created by Oscar Nemon of London, a native of Osijek.

 

Vienna

In German: Wien. Capital of Austria

Early History

Documentary evidence points to the first settlement of Jews in the 12th century. A charter of privileges was granted by Emperor Frederick II in 1238, giving the Jewish community extensive autonomy. At the close of the 13th and during the 14th centuries, the community of Vienna was recognized as the leading community of German Jewry. In the second half of the 13th century there were about 1,000 Jews in the community.
The influence of the "Sages of Vienna" spread far beyond the limits of the city itself and continued for many generations. Of primary importance were Isaac B. Moses "Or Zaru'a", his son Chayyim "Or Zaru'a", Avigdor B. Elijah Ha- Kohen, and Meir B. Baruch Ha- Levi. At the time of the Black Death persecutions of 1348-49, the community of Vienna was spared and even served as a refuge for Jews from other places.

Toward the end of the 14th century there was a growing anti-Jewish feeling among the burghers; in 1406, during the course of a fire that broke out in the synagogue, in which it was destroyed, the burghers seized the opportunity to attack Jewish homes. Many of the community's members died as martyrs in the persecutions of 1421, others were expelled, and the children forcibly converted. After the persecutions nevertheless some Jews remained there illegally. In 1512, there were 12 Jewish families in Vienna, and a small number of Jews continued to live there during the 16th century, often faced with threats of expulsion. During the Thirty Years' War (1618-48), Jews suffered as a result of the occupation of the city by Imperial soldiers. In 1624, Emperor Ferdinand II confined the Jews to a ghetto. Some Jews at this time engaged in international trade; others were petty traders. Among the prominent rabbis of the renewed community was Yom Tov Lipman Heller, and Shabbetai Sheftel Horowitz,
one of the many refugees from Poland who fled the Chmielnicki who led anti-Jewish massacres of 1648.

Hatred of the Jews by the townsmen increased during the mid 17th century. The poorer Jews were expelled in 1669; the rest were exiled during the Hebrew month of Av (summer) of the year 1670, and their properties taken from them. The Great Synagogue was converted into a Catholic church. Some of the Jews took advantage of the offer to convert to Christianity so as not to be exiled.

By 1693, the financial losses to the city were sufficient to generate support for a proposal to readmit the Jews. Only the wealthy were authorized to reside in Vienna, as "tolerated subjects", in exchange for very high taxes. Prayer services were permitted to be held only in a private house.

The founders of the community and its leaders in those years, as well as during the 18th century, were prominent Court Jews, such as Samuel Oppenheimer, Samson Wertheimer, and Baron Diego Aguilar. As a result of their activities, Vienna became a center for Jewish diplomatic efforts on behalf of Jews throughout the Habsburg Empire as well as an important center for Jewish philanthropy. A Sephardi community in Vienna traces its origins to 1737, and grew as a result of commerce with the Balkans.

The Jews suffered under the restrictive legislation of Empress Maria Theresia (1740- 80). In 1781, her son, Joseph II, issued his "Toleranzpatent", which, though attacked in Jewish circles, paved the way in some respects for later Emancipation.

By 1793, there was a Hebrew printing press in Vienna that soon became the center for Hebrew printing in Central Europe. During this period, the first signs of assimilation in social and family life of the Jews of Vienna made their appearance. At the time of the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the Viennese salon culture was promoted by Jewish wealthy women, whose salons served as entertainment and meeting places for the rulers of Europe.

The Jewish Community and the Haskalah Movement

From the close of the 18th century, and especially during the first decades of the 19th century, Vienna became a center of the Haskalah movement.

Despite restrictions, the number of Jews in the city rapidly increased. At a later period the call for religious reform was heard in Vienna. Various maskilim, including Peter Peretz Ber and Naphtali Hertz Homberg, tried to convince the government to impose Haskalah recommendations and religious reform on the Jews. This aroused strong controversy among the Viennese Community.

Jewish Immigration

During the second half of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century, the Jewish population of Vienna increased as a result of immigration there by Jews from other regions of the Empire, particularly Hungary, Galicia, and Bukovina. The influence and scope of the community's activities increased particularly after the annexation of Galicia by Austria. By 1923, Vienna had become the third largest Jewish community in Europe. Many Jews entered the liberal professions.

Community Life

In 1826, a magnificent synagogue, in which the Hebrew language and the traditional text of the prayers were retained, was inaugurated. It was the first legal synagogue to be opened since 1671. Before the Holocaust, there were about 59 synagogues of various religious trends in Vienna. There was also a Jewish educational network. The rabbinical Seminary, founded in 1893, was a European center for research into Jewish literature and history. The most prominent scholars were M.Guedeman, A. Jellinek, Adolph Schwarz, Adolf Buechler, David Mueller, Victor Aptowitzer, Z.H. Chajes, and Samuel Krauss. There was also a "Hebrew Pedagogium" for the training of Hebrew teachers.

Vienna also became a Jewish sports center; the football team Hakoach and the Maccabi organization of Vienna were well known. Many Jews were actors, producers, musicians and writers, scientists, researchers and thinkers.

Some Prominent Viennese Jews: Arnold Schoenberg (1874 - 1951), musician, composer; Gustav Mahler (1860 - 1911), musician, composer; Franz Werfel (1890 - 1945), author; Stefan Zweig (1881 - 1942), author; Karl Kraus (1874 - 1936), satirist, poet; Otto Bauer (1881 - 1938), socialist leader; Alfred Adler (1870 - 1937), psychiatrist; Arthur Schnitzler (1862 - 1931), playwright, author; Isaac Noach Mannheimer (1793 - 1865), Reform preacher; Joseph Popper (1838 -1921), social philosopher, engineer; Max Adler (1873 - 1937), socialist theoretician; Sigmund Freud (1856 - 1939), psychiatrist, creator of Psychoanalysis; Adolf Fischhoff (1816 - 1893), politician.

The Zionist Movement

Though in the social life and the administration of the community, there was mostly strong opposition to Jewish National action, Vienna was also a center of the national awakening. Peretz Smolenskin published Ha-Shachar between 1868 and 1885 in Vienna, while Nathan Birnbaum founded the first Jewish Nationalist Student Association, Kadimah, there in 1882, and preached "Pre-Herzl Zionism" from 1884. The leading newspaper, Neue Freie Presse, to which Theodor Herzl contributed, was owned in part by Jews.
It was due to Herzl that Vienna was at first the center of Zionist activities. He published the Zionist Movement's Organ, Die Welt, and established the headquarters of the Zionist Executive there.

The Zionist Movement in Vienna gained in strength after World War I. In 1919, the Zionist Robert Stricker was elected to the Austrian Parliament. The Zionists did not obtain a majority in the community until the elections of 1932.

The Holocaust Period

Nazi Germany occupied Vienna in March 1938. In less than one year the Nazis introduced all the discriminatory laws, backed by ruthless terror and by mass arrests (usually of economic leaders and Intellectuals, who were detained in special camps or sent to Dachau). These measures were accompanied by unspeakable atrocities. Vienna's Chief Rabbi, Dr. Israel Taglicht, who was more than 75 years old, was among those who were forced to clean with their bare hands the pavements of main streets. During Kristallnacht (November 9-10, 1938), 42 synagogues were destroyed, hundreds of flats were plundered by the S.A. and the Hitler Youth.

The first transports of deported Jews were sent to the notorious Nisko concentration camp, in the Lublin District (October 1939). The last mass transport left in September 1942; it included many prominent people and Jewish dignitaries, who were sent to Theresienstadt, from where later they were mostly deported to Auschwitz. In November 1942, the Jewish community of Vienna was officially dissolved. About 800 Viennese Jews survived by remaining underground.

Last 50 Years

In the last 50 years, Vienna has become the main transient stopping-place and the first refuge for hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees and emigrants from Eastern Europe after World War II.

The only synagogue to survive the Shoah is the Stadttempel (built 1826), where the community offices and the Chief Rabbinate are located. A number of synagogues and prayer rooms catering to various chassidic groups and other congregations are functioning on a regular basis in Vienna. One kosher supermarket, as well as a kosher butcher shop and bakery serve the community

The only Jewish school run by the community is the Zwi Perez Chajes School, which reopened in 1980 after a hiatus of 50 years, and includes a kindergarden, elementary and high school. About 400 additional pupils receive Jewish religious instruction in general schools and two additional Talmud Torah schools. The ultra-orthodox stream of the community, which has been growing significantly since the 1980's, maintain their separate school system.
Though the Zionists constitute a minority, there are intensive and diversified Zionist activities. A number of journals and papers are published by the community, such as Die Gemeinde, the official organ of the Community, and the Illustrierte Neue Welt. The Austrian Jewish Students Union publishes the Noodnik.

The Documentation Center, established and directed by Simon Wiesenthal and supported by the community, developed into the important Institute for the documentation of the Holocaust and the tracing of Nazi Criminals.

In 1993, the Jewish Museum in Vienna opened its doors and became a central cultural institution of the community, offering a varied program of cultural and educational activities and attracting a large public of Jewish and non-Jewish visitors. The museum chronicles the rich history of Viennese Jewry and the outstanding roles Jews played in the development of the city. The Jewish Welcome Service aids Jewish visitors including newcomers who plan to remain in the city for longer periods.

Jewish Population in Vienna:

1846 - 3,379

1923 - 201,513

1945/46 - 4,000

1950 - 12,450

2000 - 9,000

Pecs

German: Funfkirchen

A city in southern Hungary, Beranya County

Pecs is the 5th largest city in Hungary. It is located close to the Croatian border, in the Mecsek mountains.

A new exhibit opened in the Synagogue of Pecs in 2014, displaying documents, Judaica, and artifacts to tell the history of Pecs’ Jewish community. In addition to being used as an exhibition space, the synagogue is also used for religious services by Pecs’ small Jewish community.

HISTORY

Pecs has always been a Roman Catholic stronghold (indeed, it has been the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pecs into the 21st century); as a result, it was a long time before members of other religions were permitted to live in Pecs. Two Jews managed to settle in Pecs in 1788 but were expelled two years later. It was only during the last decade of the 18th century that Jews were permitted to live in Pecs, and only then with a number of conditions attached, including a requirement to pay additional taxes. A small community was organized in 1803 when Peter Engel was granted permission to buy a house, in which one room was used for religious services. However, it was only in 1840, when Jews throughout Hungary were granted freedom of settlement, that Pecs’ Jewish population began to grow significantly.

The Jewish community of Pecs was diverse; after the Hungarian Jewish Congress of 1869, the community decided to affiliate as Status Quo, though in 1923 the community ultimately decided to join the Neolog Movement.

A chevra kadisha was established in 1828, shortly after a plot of land was purchased for a cemetery. A prayer house was built in 1841, which was followed in 1869 by a large synagogue. Several charitable and social institutions served Pecs’ Jewish community, including a Women's Society that was founded in 1869 and a two-story building that was built in 1910 to house the community offices. Other community institutions included a school, which opened in 1854 and enrolled 400 students by the end of the century. Joachim Guttman began publishing Pecs’ first Jewish newspaper in 1870. They were also active in the local and national economy: Mmst of Pecs’ Jews worked as merchants, clerks, and tradesmen, while some worked in the professional classes.

In addition to establishing their own social, cultural, and religious institutions, Pecs’ Jews were also involved in the broader society. A number of young men served in the Hungarian Army during World War I (1914-1918), and 92 were killed in action. After the war, during the White Terror pogroms that took place between 1919 and 1921, as well as the rise in anti-Semitism that took place after the war, the Jews of Pecs organized self-defense leagues together with Christian socialists.

In 1930 the Jewish population of Pecs numbered 4,030.

Among the notable figures from the community was Lipot Fejer (born Leopold Weiss), a prominent mathematician who became the chair of mathematics at the University of Budapest in 1911.

THE HOLOCAUST

A series of anti-Jewish laws were passed in Hungary, beginning in 1938, that were modeled on Nazi Germany’s Nuremberg Laws. These laws were aimed at curbing Jewish participation in the country’s political, social, and economic life. In response, the Jewish community of Pecs organized a number of courses for professional workers who had lost their jobs, which were attended by about 600 people.

In 1940 Jewish men between the ages of 40 and 50 were taken for forced labor along with other Hungarian citizens whom the authorities did not want joining the armed forces; these groups of forced laborers were mobilized in auxiliary units in the Hungarian Army.

On March 19, 1944, very soon after the Germans occupied Hungary, the old-age home was confiscated from the Jewish community and taken over by the Gestapo. Fifty-four wealthy members of the community, including three who had previously converted to Christianity, were deported to the Mauthausen concentration camp. Others who attempted to escape Pecs were taken off of trains and sent to concentration camps. The city’s Jews, including approximately 800 people who had converted to Christianity, were subjects to discrimination and violence.

A ghetto was established on May 21, 1944. The Jews who were forced to live in the ghetto began organizing social and charitable groups; 30 public kitchens were established, and teachers continued to teach their classes. In the beginning, it was possible to obtain permits to leave the ghetto to work outside.

On July 2nd the Jews of Pecs were taken, along with approximately 6,000 Jews from the surrounding area, from the ghetto to the stables of the military barracks in Lakits. Their property was confiscated, and they were left without food or adequate sanitation. A series of deportations between July 2nd and July 6th transported all of the Jews to Auschwitz.

After the deportation Jewish forced labor units were brought to work in Pecs. Twenty-four Jews from this group were executed on Yom Kippur of 1944.

POSTWAR

Pecs was liberated in December 1944. With the subsequent end of World War II (1939-1945) a few hundred survivors returned to Pecs. With the assistance of the Joint they began reviving Jewish communal life. Community buildings, including the old-age home, were reopened. A memorial to the victims of the Holocaust was erected in 1948.

During the early 1990s the Synagogue of Pecs was restored in a project sponsored by the World Monuments Fund, the Hungarian Jewish Parish Community, and the Ministry of National Cultural Heritage.

Budapest

The capital of Hungary, became a city in 1872, following the union of the historic towns of Buda, Obuda, and Pest.

CONTEMPORARY BUDAPEST

Approximately 80,000 to 100,000 Jews live in Hungary, making it central Europe's largest Jewish community. More than 80% of Hungarian Jews live in the capital city of Budapest. Smaller Jewish communities can be found in the neighboring areas of Debrecen, Miskolc, Szeged and Nyiregyhaza. Of the ten thousand Holocaust survivors living in Hungary, the vast majority live in Budapest. Since 2013, hundreds of Jews have left Hungary due to a rise in anti-Semitism, many of whom then settled in Vienna. The traditional Jewish Quarter of Budapest is located in District VII. Within it are several Jewish historical sites, stores and kosher restaurants.

Following the collapse of communism in 1989, several Jewish organizations were reopened. The largest organization serving the Jewish community of Budapest is MAZSIHISZ, the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary. A variety of social services are provided by the Joint Distribution Committee, as well as the Lauder Foundation. Healthcare and medical services are provided by the Charity Jewish Hospital and Nursing Facility and two centers for elderly care. The city's many religious institutions include a historic mikvah (ritual bath) and a variety of kosher restaurants. Budapest also has over ten kosher butcher shops, bakeries, and even a matza factory.

Each year Budapest hosts several Jewish social and cultural events. The Jewish Summer Festival puts on a variety of shows including concerts, dance performances, and films. The Jewish community has also established many social and educational programs for children and young adults. The most popular organizations are B'nei Brith, WIZO, UJS, Bnei Akiva, and the Maccabi athletic club. Each summer, an estimated 1,500 campers from more than twenty countries attend Camp Szarvas.

Since the fall of communism, there has been a revival of Jewish religious life in Budapest. As of the beginning of the 21st century, there are as many as twenty synagogues throughout the city, representing a variety of movements including Orthodox, Chabad Lubavitch, Neolog (similar to the Conservative Movement) and Liberal. There are also synagogues located in the provincial cities of Miskolc and Debrecen. In 2003, Slomo Koves became the first Orthodox rabbi to be ordained in Hungary since the Holocaust.

Budapest boasts many Jewish kindergartens, elementary schools, and high schools. The three Jewish high schools are Lauder Javne, Wesselenyi, and Anna Frank. Lauder Javne is located on a five-acre campus and was opened in 1990. It is non-denominational and is sponsored by the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation. The Budapest University of Jewish Studies was established in 1877 as a Neolog Rabbinical seminary. Jewish studies programs are offered at several universities including Eotvos Lorand University, the largest school of higher education in Hungary, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and the Central European University which was established by Hungarian-born George Soros. Jewish educational programming is also offered at the Beth Peretz Jewish Education Centre Foundation, the American Foundation School, and the Hillel Jewish Educational and Youth Center.

The capital city of Budapest is rich with culture and history, and is home to several buildings, monuments, and cultural centers, including several points of Jewish interest. One such place is the Holocaust Memorial Center, which commemorates the victims of the Holocaust during World War II. The Center is situated outside the traditional Jewish quarter and is housed by the Pava Synagogue where it has been since 2004. In 2005, the institution was awarded the Nivo Prize of Architecture for the restoration and rehabilitation of a historic monument.

The city's Jewish Museum is the second-largest in all of Europe. It operates under the auspices of the Alliance of Jewish Communities in Hungary. In 1942, two employees hid valuable museum artifacts in the cellar of Budapest's National Museum. During the German occupation, the building served as an escape passage as its gate was situated outside the borders of the ghetto. Additionally, Theodor Herzl was born in the building which once stood at the present site of the museum.

One of the most significant Jewish cultural sites in Budapest is the Emanuel Holocaust 'Tree of Life' Memorial sculpture in Raoul Wallenberg Park. Engraved on the thirty thousand leaves are the names of Jews who were killed or had disappeared during the Holocaust.

Two other important sites which memorialize the victims of the Holocaust and the events of World War II are the statue of Raoul Wallenberg and the Shoes on the Danube Embankment. Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat who saved many Jewish lives by helping them escape deportation. The Shoes on the Danube Embankment is a memorial comprised of sixty pairs of metal shoes set in concrete. Created in 2005, it commemorates the Hungarian Jewish victims killed by militiamen of Arrow Cross, the pro-German national socialist party which was active in Hungary between 1944 and 1945.

In addition to cultural centers and memorials, Budapest contains a number of Jewish landmarks. Located in the heart of Budapest is the King's Hotel –one of the first private Jewish three-star hotels in Budapest. While the hotel has been renovated and modernized, the building itself is more than one hundred years old.

Northern Budapest contains the Medieval Jewish Chapel, a small Sephardic house of prayer which had been rebuilt from ruins in the 18th century. During the 1686 siege of Budapest many of the city's Jewish buildings were completely destroyed. The chapel's original function was not revealed until an excavation in the 1960s when the synagogue's keystone and tombstones engraved in Hebrew were unearthed. Another historic religious site is the Dohany Street Synagogue. Inaugurated in 1659, the synagogue is designed in a Moorish style and is the second-largest synagogue in the world.

Still serving the Jewish community of Budapest is the Kozma Street Cemetery. It is the largest Jewish cemetery in Budapest, and among the largest in Europe. Its unique monuments and mausoleums have drawn many visitors since it opened in 1891.

There are three major publications which serve the Jewish community of Budapest and Hungary. The biweekly Uj Elet (New Life) is the official journal of MAZSIHISZ; the Szombat (Saturday) provides news and information about Jewish life in Hungary as well international issues, and the Mult es Jovo (Past and Future) is a cultural and intellectual journal.


HISTORY

BUDA (also known as Ofen, Oven, Boden, Bodro)
The first Jewish settlers came to Buda from Germany and various Slavic countries during the second half of the 12th century. In 1279 they were isolated in a ghetto, and forced to wear a red badge. Over the course of the 14th century, the Jewish community was expelled twice: first in 1349 following anti-Semitic allegations that arose after the Black Death had swept through the region, and again in 1360 as a result of hostility from the church. In 1364 Jews were permitted to return, though with some restrictions imposed on them. After the establishment of Buda as the royal residence in the late 14th century, its Jewish community became prominent within the larger Hungarian Jewish community. During the 15th century, the Jewish community was recognized as an autonomous government, and the community leader of Buda became the leader of Hungarian Jewry at large. At this time, the Jews of Buda were mainly engaged in commerce and in exports to the German lands and Bohemia.

In 1526 the Turks captured Buda. The majority of the Jews, about 2,000 people, were expelled to the Ottoman Empire, while a minority escaped to communities in western Hungary which had not fallen to the Turks. Jews were able to resettle Buda in 1541 and despite the heavy taxes, the community grew and became the wealthiest and most important in Hungary. Jews occupied influential positions in the management of the treasury and were generally employed in commerce and finance. By 1660 the Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities numbered about 1,000 Jews.

In 1686, the Austrians and their allies conducted a siege of Buda and subsequently defeated the Turks and conquered the town. The Jewish population had sided with the Turks and nearly half of them perished over the course of the fighting and its aftermath. The Jewish Quarter was ransacked, and the Torah scrolls were set on fire. Half of the remaining Jews, approximately 250 people, were taken as prisoners and exiled. These events are mentioned in Megilat Ofen, by Yitzhak ben Zalman Schulhof.

The new Austrian administration, in response to church demands, placed restrictions upon the Jews and the Jewish community was consequently subject to more restrictions and expulsions. The Jews of Buda were exiled in 1746 by Empress Maria Theresa, and were permitted to return in 1783, when Emperor Josef II allowed the Jews to reenter and settle in Hungarian towns. The community did not regain its former stature and prominence until the second half of the 19th century, at which time there were 7,000 Jewish families living in Buda.

During these turbulent times, Buda saw the formation of a number of Jewish institutions and the rise of several prominent figures. The latter half of the 18th century saw the establishment of a Hevra Kadisha. By 1869 four synagogues had been built, and were joined by two more at the end of the 19th century. The first known rabbi of the community was Akiva Ben Menahem Hacohen, also called "Nasi," who led the community during the 15th century. In the second half of the 17th century, during the lifetime of Rabbi Ephraim Ben Yaakov Hacohen, Buda was a focal point of the messianic movement of Shabbetai Zvi in Hungary. Moshe Kunitzer, a pioneer of the Haskalah movement in Hungary, was the chief rabbi from1828 until 1837.

OBUDA (also known as Alt-Ofen in German, and Oven Yashan, Old Buda, in Hebrew)
The Jewish community in Obuda vanished after the Turkish conquest in 1526 and was not resettled until 1712, under the leadership of Yaakov Lob. After the return of the Jewish community, by 1727 there were 24 Jewish families living in Obuda under the protection of the counts of Zichy. In a document recognized by the royal court in 1766, the Jews were granted freedom of religion, trading rights relating to the payment of special taxes, and permission to live anywhere in the town. This was a privilege granted in Obuda only.

The Jews of Obuda practiced agriculture, commerce and various trades. Textile factories established by the Jews of Obuda, among them the Goldberger Company, enjoyed favorable reputations throughout Hungary.

The first synagogue was built in 1738, a Hevra Kadisha was founded in 1770, and a Jewish hospital was established in 1772. In 1820 The old synagogue of Obuda underwent significant renovations. That same year, The Great Synagogue on Lajos Street was consecrated, and became one of the most well-known synagogues in the Habsburg Empire. Additionally,during the year 1820 an ultimately short-lived school was built at the demand of Emperor Josef II; since, however, Jewish parents did not want Christian teachers educating their children, the school was consequently closed. However, in spite of these impressive community projects, by the middle of the 19th century many Jewish families were moving to Pest.

PEST
Jews are first mentioned as living in Pest in 1406, and in 1504 there is mention of several Jewish home and landowners. Yet after the Austrian conquest in 1686 Jewish settlement in Pest ended. Although some sources mention a sporadic Jewish presence in Pest, it was not until 1746, when Jews expelled from Buda were looking for alternate places to live, that Jews once again began living in Pest in significant numbers. This community, however, was officially recognized only in 1783, when Emperor Josef II began allowing Jews into Hungarian towns, though they had to pay a special "tolerance tax" to the town. The first synagogue was opened in 1787 in Kiraly Street and later several more synagogues were built, including a Sephardi synagogue. The Great Synagogue on Dohany Street, which remains one of the largest in Europe, was built later, in 1859.

After the emperor’s death in 1790, limitations on Jewish settlement were re-imposed, and only a few Jews chosen by the town’s authorities were permitted to remain in Pest. The rest moved into the Erzsebetvaros Quarter, which maintained a large Jewish population until the Holocaust. During this period, the Jews set up factories and were engaged in commerce and trade.

In spite of the reimposition of restrictions on the Jewish community, they nonetheless were able to open the first Jewish school in Pest, in 1814. This school taught both religious and secular subjects in German. Additionally, there were several private Jewish schools. In later years, a girls’ school was opened in 1814 and a Jewish Teachers' training college was opened in 1859. The Orthodox community opened its first school in 1873.

The restrictions imposed after the death of Emperor Josef II were repealed in 1840. During the Hungarian National Revolution of 1848-1849, also known as the Revolution of Liberty against the Habsburg rule, many of the Jews from Pest volunteered to fight, and the community contributed considerable sums of money to the revolution. When the revolution failed, however, heavy taxes were imposed upon the Jews of Pest because of their participation. In 1867, following the formation of the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary, the new Hungarian government granted equal rights to the Jews of Hungary. This prompted a fruitful period of community-building; that same year the Jewish community of Pest opened an orphanage for girls, the first of its kind in Hungary, followed by a second orphanage for boys in 1869. In later years, several hospitals and welfare institutions for the elderly and sick were opened, as well as a home for the deaf and dumb, which was inaugurated in 1876.
Judaism was officially recognized as one of the accepted religions of Hungary in 1895.

The year 1867 also saw a new initiative from the Pest community: The Hungarian Jewish Congress. Its aim was to prompt a discussion of the schisms in the Jewish community, particularly between the Orthodox and the Neolog congregations. Following the first meeting of the congress in December 1868, the Orthodox appealed to the Hungarian government and in 1871 they were legally recognized as a distinct community. In 1889 Rabbi Koppel Reich was elected to be the head of the Hungarian Orthodox community; he later became a member of the upper house of the Hungarian parliament in 1927, when he was nearly 90 years old.

In 1877, the Rabbinical Seminary was opened in Budapest. Its aim was to integrate rabbinical studies with general education, and it became one of the world’s leading institutions for rabbinical training. Its founders and faculty members were well-known researchers and instructors. The seminar’s publications included journals such as the Magyar Zsido Szemle (Hungarian Jewish Review). In spite of opposition and boycotts from the Orthodox community, the seminary played a central role in shaping modern Hungarian Jewry.

BUDAPEST
In 1873, Buda and Pest were officially merged with Obuda, creating the city of Budapest. Concurrently, the second half of the 19th century was a period of economic and cultural prosperity for the Jewish community of Budapest. The beginning of the 20th entury saw Budapest become an important center for Jewish journalism. The weekly Magyar Israelita became the first Jewish newspaper in Hungarian. In the broader community, Jews also assumed an important role in the founding and editing of leading newspapers in Hungary, such as Nyugat (West). During the interwar period, non-Orthodox Jewish educational institutions included 15 schools with 3,600 students. Meanwhile, the Orthodox community had a population of approximately 10,000 and was establishing its own welfare and educational institutions.

1919-1921 was the period of The White Terror in Hungary. After the fall of the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic, the new regime of Admiral Miklos Horthy organized army gangs to suppress and destroy any lingering communist elements in the country. Because a number of the communist leaders were Jewish, Hungarian Jews became the main victims of this “purification." From the time Admiral Horthy entered Budapest on November 14, 1919, Jewish officials in the army and government service were dismissed, Jews were forbidden to trade in tobacco and wine, and scientific institutions were closed to them. In 1920, the Numerus Clausus law was imposed, which determined admission to universities on a national basis and effectively established a quota for the number of Jews permitted to enter Hungarian universities.

In spite of government-endorsed anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic violence, by 1935 there were 201,069 Jews living in Budapest making it one of the largest Jewish communities in the world.

BUDAPEST JEWS OF NOTE
• Ignaz Goldziher (1850-1921), the founder of the Academy for the Study of Modern Islam. He was the secretary of the Budapest Neolog community from 1874 to 1904. Goldziher helped found the Jewish-Hungarian Literary Society which worked to spread Jewish culture by means of lectures and publications. Among the Society's publications was the first Jewish translation of the Bible into Hungarian. Goldziher also founded the Jewish-Hungarian museum. He was a teacher in the Rabbinical Seminary of Budapest.

• Arminius Vambery (1832-1913), a famous traveler and researcher. He was instrumental in introducing Theodor Herzl to the Sultan of Turkey.

• Ferenc Molnar (1878-1931), an outstanding dramatist and novelist. Molnar is best known today as the author of the famous children’s book The Paul Street Boys, published in 1927.

• Lengyel Menyhert (1880-1974 ), a dramatist and scriptwriter. His credits include Ninotchka (1940) and To Be or Not to Be (1942), celebrated films for which he wrote the screenplays.

• Professor Alexander (Sandor) Scheiber ( 1913-1985) was the director of the Rabbinical Seminary during the 1950s. He published research on the history of Hungarian Jewry, and in his last years was actively involved in the consolidation of communal life in Budapest.

ZIONISM
Budapest was the birthplace of Theodor (Binyamin Ze'ev) Herzl (1860-1904), the father of modern Zionism. The writer and physicist Max Nordau (1849-1932), a founding member of the World Zionist Congress and author of the Basel Platform at the First Zionist Congress (1897), was also born in Budapest. It is not surprising, therefore, that Budapest was a hotbed of Zionist activity at the turn of the 20th century. In 1903 the student Zionist association Makkabea was established; its first group of pioneers immigrated to Palestine before the end of World War I.The Zionist press in Budapest began in 1905 with the publication of Zsido Neplap (Jewish Popular Paper), which closed down two years later. Magyar Zsido Szemle (Hungarian Jewish Review), another Zionist publication, began operating in 1911, the same year as the quarterly Mult es Jovo.

The Zionist activity in Budapest was strengthened by the arrival in the city in 1940 of Zionist leaders from Transylvania, among them Rudolf Kasztner (who would later play a controversial role during the Holocaust) and Erno Marton. The worsening situation of the Hungarian Jewry during the late 1930’s and during the Holocaust period led to a rise in the popularity of Zionism.

Another Budapest Zionist of note is Hanna Szenes (1921-1944), a native of Budapest who emigrated to Palestine. Szenes was a poetess and paratrooper in the Haganah an underground Jewish military organization in Palestine. During World War II, Szenes was sent on a mission to Hungary to help organize Jewish anti-Nazi resistance. Tragically, she was captured and executed by the Nazis.

Although Zionist organizations reemerged and were active after World War II, the Communist regime banned their activities after 1949, and a number of Zionist leaders were put on trial having been accused of “conspiracy”.

THE HOLOCAUST
Following the Discriminatory Laws of 1938-41, which limited Jewish participation in the economy and society, certain large institutions and factories were required to dismiss their Jewish employees. In 1940, Jews began to be drafted to be forced laborers, which meant that many families were left without any means of support. On November 20, 1940, Hungary signed a treaty with Italy and Japan, thereby officially joining the Axis Powers led by Nazi Germany. During the period that followed Hungary's entry into the war against the Soviet Union in 1941, until the occupation of Hungary by the German army on March 19th, 1944, more than 15,000 Jews from Budapest were killed during deportations and in forced labor camps.

In March 1944, Adolph Eichmann ordered that the Jewish communal organizations be dissolved, and replaced by a Jewish council, Zsido Tanacs. Jews were forced to wear the yellow badge. Freedom of movement was restricted and many buildings were seized. The licenses of Jewish lawyers and newspapers were suspended. On June 30, 1944, the Germans started to concentrate the Jews in certain parts of the city and plans were made to begin their deportation.

The anti-Semitic Arrow Cross Party, led by Ferenc Szalasi, came to power in October 1944. The new government immediately began carrying out attacks against the Jews, killing 600 people during the first days. Papers and certificates that could allow Jews to stay and work in the city were no longer valid. On October 20th 1944 Eichmann ordered that all men aged 16-60 were to be sent to dig fortifications against the approaching Soviet army. 50,000 men marched on that Death March. Three days later the women and children were forced to join the men. These Jews were later transferred by the Germans at the border station at Hegyeshalom. The remaining Jews were concentrated into two ghettos.

At the end of December 1944 there were about 70,000 people in the central ghetto in Budapest; tens of thousands of others found shelter in the international ghetto, where diplomats of neutral nations, such as Carl Lutz of Switzerland and Raoul Wallenberg of Sweden, were issuing protective papers for Jews. Zionist organizations also forged documents in order to save Jews. The number of protective certificates, legal and forged, issued in Budapest was around 100,000; meanwhile, approximately 2,748 Jews were hidden in monasteries and in church cellars. By the time the Soviet army entered and occupied the city on January 17th, 1945, 76,000 Jews were handed over to the Germans, a number which includes victims of deportation and death marches. At the end of World War II there were approximately 90,000 Jews in Budapest. Meanwhile, over 100,000 Jews from Budapest, a majority of the population, perished.

THE COMMUNIST REGIME
After the Holocaust, many survivors emigrated to Palestine. Others remained in Hungary, where a large number abandoned the Jewish tradition and identity, either due to their traumatic experiences during the war, or due to the influence of the atheist government in Hungary. In 1956, after the Hungarian anti-Soviet uprising, about 25,000 Jews left the city.

During the communist period, the Jewish community of Budapest was controlled by the Department of Religious Affairs within the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Starting in1968, each of the 18 administrative districts of Budapest contained at least one synagogue, a rabbi, a Talmud Torah, and a lecture hall. Additionally, there was a Jewish high school in the capital, with a student population of about 140 and the Orthodox community founded a yeshiva with 40 students. The Rabbinical Seminary, which was reconstructed after the war and was the only institution of its kind in any communist country, continued to be active thanks to the support of the Neolog movement.

Uj Elet (New Life), was a biweekly newspaper published by the Budapest Jewish community which reflected the changing ways in which the Jews of Hungary understood their identity. Other Jewish communal services included a Jewish hospital, an old age home, a kosher restaurant, the availability of kosher meat, and a matza bakery.

Zagreb

In German: Agram; in Hungarian: Zágráb 

The capital of Croatia

Zagreb was part of Yugoslavia after World War I (1914-1918). Since 1995 it has been part of independent Croatia. Until the end of WW I it was part of Austria-Hungary.

 

21ST CENTURY

Zagreb’s Jewish community center is located at Palmoticeva 16, and includes a synagogue, an art gallery, a Holocaust research and documentation center, and a library. A second community, Bet Israel, is located at Mazuranicev Trg 6, and includes a synagogue and library.

The Mirogoj Cemetery includes a number of Jewish graves.

The Jewish Museum opened in Zagreb on September 4, 2016. It has exhibitions about the Jewish community of Zagreb.

 

HISTORY

The first Jews known to have lived in Croatia, who probably lived in Zagreb, were Mar Saul and Mar Joseph, the emissaries of King Kresimir to Abd al-Rachman III, the Caliph of Cordoba, during the 10th century.

During the 13th century Jews began arriving in Zagreb from France, Malta, and Albania, and by the end of the 14th century there were a number of Jews who had permanently settled in the city. Zagreb’s city chronicles from 1444 mention a community house or synagogue (domus judaeorum). Most worked as merchants and moneylenders.

In 1526 the Jews were expelled from Croatia. For more than two centuries there was no Jewish presence in Zagreb.

New Jewish settlers arrived in Croatia in the mid-18th century from Bohemia, Moravia, and Hungary. A Jewish community was officially founded in 1806, and by the 1840s Zagreb was home to about 50 Jewish families.

A smaller Orthodox community was founded in Zagreb in 1841. Community institutions that were established during the second half of the 19th century included a chevra kaddisha (1859), and a synagogue (1867). The synagogue was constructed by Franjo (Francis) Klein, one of Zagreb’s most important architects in Croatia, and functioned until 1941, when it was destroyed by the pro-Nazi Ustashe. A cemetery was consecrated in 1876. The philanthropist Ljudevit Schwarz was a major figure in the establishment of a Jewish home for the aged; it still functioned in 1970 as the central Jewish home for the aged in Yugoslavia. Jacques Epstein founded the Association for Humanism, the first public assistance organization in Croatia. 1898 saw the establishment of a union of Jewish high school students, which became a training ground for future community and Zionist leaders.

Zagreb’s first rabbi was Aaron Palota (1809-1849). Rabbi Hosea Jacoby later served the community for 50 years; Jacoby organized religious life in the city, and established a school and a Talmud Torah.

The Jews of Zagreb, and throughout Croatia, dealt with no small amount of antisemitism. In 1858 there was a blood libel in Zagreb, and the merchant and artisan guilds incited the local population against the Jews. Croatian representatives were opposed to the official recognition of Jewish civil rights, which were not established until 1873.

In spite of the hardships, Zagreb’s Jewish community became the largest in Yugoslavia, and the community was active culturally and politically. Between the two World Wars Zionism became increasingly popular in Croatia, and Zagreb was chosen as the headquarters of the Zionist Federation, led by Alexander Licht. Organizations that were active in Zagreb included a branch of the Maccabi sports club, a choir, women's and youth organizations, and a union of Jewish employees. The leading Jewish newspapers in Yugoslavia, such as the Zionist weekly “Zidov” ("Jew"), were published in the city.

The Jews of Zagreb also contributed significantly to the city’s development. Jews were among the pioneers in the export business, as well as in local industry. Lavoslav (Leopold) Hartmann, Croatia’s first librarian, organized lending libraries, and also founded a printing press. The chairman of the community, Dr. Mavro (Maurice) Sachs, was among the founders of forensic medicine in Croatia; David Schwartz invented the first rigid airship in Zagreb. Rabbis Gavro Schwarz and Shalom Freiberger were major figures in the field of Jewish historical studies.

Other prominent artists included the painter Oscar Hermann; the sculptor Slavko Bril; the pianist Julius Epstein; and the bandmaster Anton Schwarz. A Jewish art monthly magazine, “Ommanut,” was published in Zagreb between 1937 and 1941, ceasing in the wake of the Nazi invasion of Yugoslavia.

 

THE HOLOCAUST

About 12,000 Jews lived in Zagreb in 1941. The vast majority of Croatian Jews were killed during the war.

 

POSTWAR

Between 1948 and 1952 almost half of the survivors from Zagreb’s Jewish community left the country, and by 1970 the Jewish population of the city was 1,200. Yugoslavia’s community government nationalized nearly all of the property owned by the Jewish Community of Zagreb, including the land where the synagogue once stood.

In 1997 there were 2,000 Jews living in Croatia, most of whom lived in Zagreb.