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The Jewish Community of Brzeg

Brzeg

German: Brieg

A town in southwestern Poland, in the Opole Province of Silesia

Brzeg is located on the Oder River and is the capital of Brzeg County. Until the end of World War II in 1945 Brzeg was part of Germany.

The Jewish cemetery contains about 80 surviving tombstones, the oldest of which dates to 1806. In 2004 local youth worked to clean and restore the cemetery and fixed the fence surrounding it.

The building that once housed the synagogue, whose interior was totally destroyed on Kristallnacht, was reconstructed in 1940 to function as a private residence. The synagogue building has been listed as a national monument since 1958.

HISTORY

Jews arrived in Brzeg around 1324. Many worked as moneylenders, which occasionally led to persecutions and anti-Jewish violence though it could also work in their favor and grant them protections. In 1358 a number of Jews lent money to the duke of Brzeg, Ludwig I; his debts were eventually paid by Jakub, the son of Mojzesz (Moses), a Jew from Brzeg. In 1398 the Jews were able to purchase a letter of protection from the duke, which pledged to protect them and allow them to work. This protection was essential for the town's Jews; in 1362 anti-Jewish violence broke out in the town following the Black Death pandemic.

In 1423 Ludwig II granted the Jews the right to settle in the town, on the condition that they pay an annual tax of 20 gulden. Nonetheless, in 1453 they were expelled from both Brzeg and Legnica in 1453 as a result of the inflammatory preaching of the Franciscan monk John Capistrano, whose incitement would have consequences for Jews throughout the area. Records from 1507 indicate the presence of a cheder (religious elementary school), demonstrating that Jews returned to Brzeg after the 1453 expulsion. However, yet another expulsion would take place in 1582, when Silesia came under Habsburg rule and Emperor Rudolf II decreed that Jews could not live in the ancestral territories of the Habsburgs. Among the few Jews permitted to live in the town during the 16th century was the ducal physician, Abraham.

A Jewish community was again established in Brzeg in 1660, though the community's institutions developed more slowly. At that time most Jews worked as traders in bronze, brass, tin, silver, grain, leather, spices, exotic fruit, oxen, wax, wool, and books. By 1782 there were 140 Jews living n Brzeg.

A Jewish cemetery was consecrated in 1798; the synagogue was built a year later. The community's first rabbi began serving in 1816. A Jewish elementary school was founded in 1824. The Jewish community also had a printing house, which published calendars and the popular German yearbooks Jahrbuch des Nuetzlichen und Unterhaltenden (which was first printed in 1841) and Deutscher Volkskalender und Jahrbuch (which was first printed in 1851); the yearbooks were published by K. Klein and H. Liebermann. The Piast Castle was rented to a Jewish resident of Brzeg in 1821, and served as a grain store. At the turn of the 20th century communal institutions included a chevra kaddisha, a women's society, and an organization that aided the town's poor.

The Jewish population of Brzeg was 156 in 1785. By 1843 the population had risen to 376. However, at the beginning of the 20th century Jews from Brzeg joined the wave of migration to the west, resulting in a decline in the town's Jewish population. In 1913 there were 282 Jews living in Brzeg, 255 in 1933, and 123 in 1939 on the eve of World War II.

In 1933, after the Nazis came to power in Germany and before the start of World War II, the Jews in Brzeg, as well as those throughout Germany, were affected by the anti-Jewish boycott that took place nationwide on April 1, 1933.

THE HOLOCAUST

During the Kristallnacht pogrom (November 9-10, 1938), the synagogue was burned, Torah scrolls were set on fire, and Jewish-owned shops were vandalized. In the wake of the pogrom many Jews left Brzeg. The Jews who remained were deported from Brzeg in 1940.

POSTWAR

Jewish life in Brzeg was not revived after World War II.
Place Type:
Town
ID Number:
253458
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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Related items:

Max Friedlaender (1852-1934) Musicologist.

Born in Brieg, Silesia (Germany). After a short but successful career as a bass singer in London, he came back to Germany in 1881 and chose musicology as his vocation. He studied at Berlin University with Philipp Spitta, among others, and received his Ph.D. in musicology in 1887. His dissertation deals with Schubert’s biography and was published in an enlarged edition in 1928. He started teaching at Berlin University in 1894 and became professor in 1903. In 1911 he taught as guest lecturer at Harvard and other American universities. He retired in 1932.
Friedlaender discovered more than a hundred lost songs by Schubert and included them in his complete edition (7 vols.) of Schubert’s songs. His major work was the collection, publication and study of German lieder and folksongs, some of which he published in 1885 and some, as a member of a special commission, in 1906. He was responsible for the publication of songs by Mozart, Schumann and Mendelssohn, as well as Beethoven’s Scotch Songs (“Das deutsche Lied”, 2 volumes, 1902), and wrote numerous articles on a variety of subjects. He died in Berlin, Germany.

Oława 

In German: Ohlau 

A town and the seat of Oława County in Lower Silesian Voivodeship, Poland. Until 1945 it was part of Germany.

First Jewish presence: early 1300s; peak Jewish population: 211 in 1871; Jewish population in 1933: 40

Jews were expelled from Ohlau (present-day Olawa, Poland) in 1363, and it was not until the early 1600s that another Jewish presence was established there. Beginning in 1800, mainly as the result of the arrival of many Jews from nearby Zülz (now Biała Prudnicka), the Jewish population rose steadily (21 in 1800 to 211 in 1871). Inaugurated in 1831, the community’s prayer room was located on Piastowski Square, adjacent to a castle. It is known that Shmuel Steinman, the community’s richest member, purchased a site for a Jewish cemetery; the cemetery was consecrated in 1818, around which time a funeral house was built on nearby Cicha Street. The Nazis destroyed the prayer room/synagogue on Pogrom Night (Nov. 9, 1938). It is assumed that Ohlau’s remaining Jews were deported from the town and perished in the Shoah.

----------------------------------------------

This entry was originally published on Beit Ashkenaz - Destroyed German Synagogues and Communities website and contributed to the Database of the Museum of the Jewish People courtesy of Beit Ashkenaz.

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The Jewish Community of Brzeg
Brzeg

German: Brieg

A town in southwestern Poland, in the Opole Province of Silesia

Brzeg is located on the Oder River and is the capital of Brzeg County. Until the end of World War II in 1945 Brzeg was part of Germany.

The Jewish cemetery contains about 80 surviving tombstones, the oldest of which dates to 1806. In 2004 local youth worked to clean and restore the cemetery and fixed the fence surrounding it.

The building that once housed the synagogue, whose interior was totally destroyed on Kristallnacht, was reconstructed in 1940 to function as a private residence. The synagogue building has been listed as a national monument since 1958.

HISTORY

Jews arrived in Brzeg around 1324. Many worked as moneylenders, which occasionally led to persecutions and anti-Jewish violence though it could also work in their favor and grant them protections. In 1358 a number of Jews lent money to the duke of Brzeg, Ludwig I; his debts were eventually paid by Jakub, the son of Mojzesz (Moses), a Jew from Brzeg. In 1398 the Jews were able to purchase a letter of protection from the duke, which pledged to protect them and allow them to work. This protection was essential for the town's Jews; in 1362 anti-Jewish violence broke out in the town following the Black Death pandemic.

In 1423 Ludwig II granted the Jews the right to settle in the town, on the condition that they pay an annual tax of 20 gulden. Nonetheless, in 1453 they were expelled from both Brzeg and Legnica in 1453 as a result of the inflammatory preaching of the Franciscan monk John Capistrano, whose incitement would have consequences for Jews throughout the area. Records from 1507 indicate the presence of a cheder (religious elementary school), demonstrating that Jews returned to Brzeg after the 1453 expulsion. However, yet another expulsion would take place in 1582, when Silesia came under Habsburg rule and Emperor Rudolf II decreed that Jews could not live in the ancestral territories of the Habsburgs. Among the few Jews permitted to live in the town during the 16th century was the ducal physician, Abraham.

A Jewish community was again established in Brzeg in 1660, though the community's institutions developed more slowly. At that time most Jews worked as traders in bronze, brass, tin, silver, grain, leather, spices, exotic fruit, oxen, wax, wool, and books. By 1782 there were 140 Jews living n Brzeg.

A Jewish cemetery was consecrated in 1798; the synagogue was built a year later. The community's first rabbi began serving in 1816. A Jewish elementary school was founded in 1824. The Jewish community also had a printing house, which published calendars and the popular German yearbooks Jahrbuch des Nuetzlichen und Unterhaltenden (which was first printed in 1841) and Deutscher Volkskalender und Jahrbuch (which was first printed in 1851); the yearbooks were published by K. Klein and H. Liebermann. The Piast Castle was rented to a Jewish resident of Brzeg in 1821, and served as a grain store. At the turn of the 20th century communal institutions included a chevra kaddisha, a women's society, and an organization that aided the town's poor.

The Jewish population of Brzeg was 156 in 1785. By 1843 the population had risen to 376. However, at the beginning of the 20th century Jews from Brzeg joined the wave of migration to the west, resulting in a decline in the town's Jewish population. In 1913 there were 282 Jews living in Brzeg, 255 in 1933, and 123 in 1939 on the eve of World War II.

In 1933, after the Nazis came to power in Germany and before the start of World War II, the Jews in Brzeg, as well as those throughout Germany, were affected by the anti-Jewish boycott that took place nationwide on April 1, 1933.

THE HOLOCAUST

During the Kristallnacht pogrom (November 9-10, 1938), the synagogue was burned, Torah scrolls were set on fire, and Jewish-owned shops were vandalized. In the wake of the pogrom many Jews left Brzeg. The Jews who remained were deported from Brzeg in 1940.

POSTWAR

Jewish life in Brzeg was not revived after World War II.
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
Max Friedlaender

Max Friedlaender (1852-1934) Musicologist.

Born in Brieg, Silesia (Germany). After a short but successful career as a bass singer in London, he came back to Germany in 1881 and chose musicology as his vocation. He studied at Berlin University with Philipp Spitta, among others, and received his Ph.D. in musicology in 1887. His dissertation deals with Schubert’s biography and was published in an enlarged edition in 1928. He started teaching at Berlin University in 1894 and became professor in 1903. In 1911 he taught as guest lecturer at Harvard and other American universities. He retired in 1932.
Friedlaender discovered more than a hundred lost songs by Schubert and included them in his complete edition (7 vols.) of Schubert’s songs. His major work was the collection, publication and study of German lieder and folksongs, some of which he published in 1885 and some, as a member of a special commission, in 1906. He was responsible for the publication of songs by Mozart, Schumann and Mendelssohn, as well as Beethoven’s Scotch Songs (“Das deutsche Lied”, 2 volumes, 1902), and wrote numerous articles on a variety of subjects. He died in Berlin, Germany.

Olawa

Oława 

In German: Ohlau 

A town and the seat of Oława County in Lower Silesian Voivodeship, Poland. Until 1945 it was part of Germany.

First Jewish presence: early 1300s; peak Jewish population: 211 in 1871; Jewish population in 1933: 40

Jews were expelled from Ohlau (present-day Olawa, Poland) in 1363, and it was not until the early 1600s that another Jewish presence was established there. Beginning in 1800, mainly as the result of the arrival of many Jews from nearby Zülz (now Biała Prudnicka), the Jewish population rose steadily (21 in 1800 to 211 in 1871). Inaugurated in 1831, the community’s prayer room was located on Piastowski Square, adjacent to a castle. It is known that Shmuel Steinman, the community’s richest member, purchased a site for a Jewish cemetery; the cemetery was consecrated in 1818, around which time a funeral house was built on nearby Cicha Street. The Nazis destroyed the prayer room/synagogue on Pogrom Night (Nov. 9, 1938). It is assumed that Ohlau’s remaining Jews were deported from the town and perished in the Shoah.

----------------------------------------------

This entry was originally published on Beit Ashkenaz - Destroyed German Synagogues and Communities website and contributed to the Database of the Museum of the Jewish People courtesy of Beit Ashkenaz.