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Jewish Encyclopedia (1901-1906) article of population and institutions in Bohemia by town. Listing of Towns within Bohemia with Jewish population. [February 2009]

Jewish Encyclopedia (1901-1906) article about the Jewish history of Bohemia. [February 2009]



According to the 1930 census, Czechoslovakia had a Jewish population of 356,830 out of total of 14,000,000. Of these, 117,551 lived in Bohemia and Moravia and 102,542 in Carpatho-Russia. At the time of the Munich Agreement (September, 1938), the arrival of Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria increased the Jewish population in Bohemia and Moravia to approximately 122,000. In October 1938, when the German-speaking Bohemian-Moravian border areas were occupied by the Nazis, approximately 25,000 Jews fled their homes there to the unoccupied part of Czechoslovakia. On the basis of the Vienna arbitration decision of Nov. 2, 1938, the predominantly Hungarian parts of Slovakia and Carpatho-Russia were ceded to Hungary; these areas were inhabited by approximately 80,000 Jews. The remaining regions of Slovakia and Carpatho-Russia were granted autonomous status in the now federated Czecho-Slovakia. German pressure and a growing local anti-Jewish movement brought about increasing discrimination against Jews and persecution. In March 1939, when Slovakia seceded from the Republic, and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was established, the fate of the Jews in each of the two separate parts began to run its own course. In the Protectorate, the first synagogue, in Vsetin, was burned down on the day of the German occupation (March 15, 1939). At that time 118,310 persons in the Protectorate were designated as Jews according to the Nuremberg Laws; only 86,715, however, were members of the local Jewish communities. In the initial stage, the "Final Solution of the Jewish problem" proceeded, in part, on the basis of decrees issued by the Protectorate regime; in the course of time, Bohemia and Moravia came to be regarded more and more as part of the Reich, and the fate of the Jews in the two provinces was decided on directly by the RSHA (Reich Security Main Office) in Berlin. The immediate consequences were the plunder of Jewish property, pogroms, and the burning of synagogues. Many Jews who were active in the general resistance movement were caught while a few Jews survived as "illegals." On July 27, 1939, Adolf Eichmann, the RSHA representative, established a branch of the Zentralstelle fuer juedische Auswanderung (Central Office for Jewish Emigration) in Prague. The Jews were forced to register for emigration, and divested of most of their property by a compulsory "Jewish emigration tax." Jewish books and periodicals were banned and the Juedisches Nachrichtenblatt was published in their place, controlled by the Zentralstelle. Jews were excluded from economic, cultural, and political life, and denied civil rights; an estimated 12,000,000,000 K"s (about $343,000,000) in Jewish property were confiscated and, finally, an order issued on Sept. 1, 1941, forcing Jews to wear the yellow badge, resulted in their complete isolation. The Jewish communities reacted to the planned elimination of the Jews by stepping up their activities in Jewish and general education of the youth, giving foreign language instruction; retraining; and providing medical care, consulting agencies, and social welfare. These activities, which prevented the outbreak of panic and the community's dissolution, were later continued at the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Efforts were made to promote legal and illegal Jewish emigration and, by the time emigration was totally banned (October 1941), 26,629 persons had succeeded in escaping from the country. In October 1939, the first group comprising 1,291 Jewish men from Ostrava were deported for the "settlement area of Nisko on the San." The Germans decided on the establishment of the Theresienstadt Ghetto on Oct. 10, 1941, in a secret meeting at the Prague Castle, chaired by Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich. The minutes of the meeting contain the following passage: "From this transit camp [Theresienstadt] the Jews, after a substantial reduction in their numbers, are to be deported to the East...." The Jewish communities were ordered to concentrate all the Jews living in their respective areas into a number of cities-Prague, Budweis (Budjovice), Kolen, Klatovy, Pardubice, Hradec, Mlada Boleslav, Brno, Olomouc, Ostrava, and Uherskl Brod. In October and November 1941, 6,000 Jews from Prague and Brno were deported directly to Lodz and Minsk. In the period Nov. 24, 1941-March 16, 1945, 73,614 Jews were dispatched to Theresienstadt in 121 transports. In this period, also 621 Jews were sent to Theresienstadt from towns in the Sudeten areas ceded to Germany. One of the leaders of Czechoslovak Jewry, Jacob Edelstein, appointed the "elder" of Theresienstadt. From Jan. 9, 1942, to Oct. 28, 1944, 60,399 Czech Jews were deported onward from Theresienstadt to the extermination camps in the East-Auschwitz, Majdanek, Minsk, Riga, Sobibor, Treblinka, and Zamosc. Only 3,227 of the Jews deported from Theresienstadt survived the war. Following the assassination of Heydrich on Feb. 19, 1942, a "penal transport" of 1,000 Jews was deported from Prague to Poland, none of whom survived.

In 1945, 10,090 Jews registered with the Jewish communities as returning deportees, out of a total of 80,614 who had been deported; 6,392 had died in Theresienstadt, 64,172 had been murdered in the extermination camps, and of the Jews who had not been deported, 5,201 had either been executed, committed suicide, or died a natural death. On the day of the restoration of national sovereignty in Prague, May 5, 1945, there were 2,803 Jews alive in Bohemia and Moravia, who had not been deported, most of them partners of mixed marriages." [February 2009]

Last Updated on Sunday, 08 February 2009 13:29
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