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Jewish Families from Liberec (Reichenberg), Bohemia, Czech Republic

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This project seeks to list representatives of all of the Jewish families from the Bohemian town of Liberec (Reichenberg) in the Czech Republic.

Liberec Kehila

LIBEREC is the capital of northern Bohemia. It is situated 90 km northwest of Prague. The first Jews were probably already living here in the 15th century. In 1582 another 60 Jewish families came to the city; families that were running away from Prague to escape a deadly plaque. At that time, Liberec was the centre of the growing textile industry, which was a very good source of living for many Jewish families. But Jews didn't have permanent living rights in Liberec and for this reason a Jewish community was not established here, as it was in other Czech cities.

The town financial records of 1619 show that "Jew Isaac recieved a certain amount of money for transport of material to pave the city streets". The same Isaac sold his house in current Moskevská Street number 9 three years later to Elias Ehlich.

The expansion of textile production in the 18th century also started the rise of manufacturing plants. To provide the preliminary raw material and to sell the final products were welcome opportunities for Jewish merchants who started to settle down with their families in Liberec. Christian merchants traded with Germany, Switzerland, and Italy and Jewish merchants specialized mainly in northern Bohemia and Moravia. The rivalry between Christian and Jewish merchants was resolved by the town representatives council in 1776. Dean Topiczow proposed, that no Jew could be present in Liberec on Saturday or on Sunday. This proposal was ratified. During the week they were allowed to trade. The citizens of Liberec were warned not to deal with the Jewish people on the banned days.

Textile manufacture rapidly increased due to the anti-import adjudication of the emperor Josef II. On the 27th of August 1784, he banned the importing of foreign goods to Austria.

It was necessary to get rid of Jewish competition in all legally possible ways. For that reason, in 1787 the Town Office received a directive that no Jewish person was allowed to settle down in Liberec, to live there on a permanent basis. The town citizens were also forbidden to let them stay in their houses.

In spite of all this, the number of Jewish people in Liberec increased. The Jewish Community established a public canteen on what is currently Železná Street, across from the church, in house number 16, that was owned by former mayor Johann Friedrich Trenker. That fact outraged Count Christian Clam-Gallase so very much that he ordered the expulsion of all Jews out of the town within 48 hours. In three days a full register of people that had to leave was to be submitted. The municipality called all Jews to the Town Hall to let them know about the order.

At the same time they granted an exception to 14 textile merchants. Some of their names were: Michael Fürth and son, Simon Lammel from Prague, Guttman Segen from Polnau, brothers Isaac and Samuel Schulhof from Pirnitz, Elias Goldschmied with son and son in law from Třebíč and a canvas merchant Salomon Příbram from Prague. Those listed above had the privilege to stay in Liberec without their families for a limitid time. Later they were allowed another public Jewish canteen with Mark Popper as the cook. This time, it was not allowed to be anywhere close to the church.

In 1810 there were 59 Jewish merchants who were still significant competitors of the local merchants. The locals again complained to Count Christian Clam-Gallase. He again orded that Jewish people are not to be living in Liberec permanently and that no citizen of the town is allowed to lease them a house or a flat. For that reason there was no person of Jewish faith registered for permanent residence there.

The number of unofficialy settled Jewish merchants was increasing, so in 1816 they requested permission to open another public canteen. In 1823 six Jewish families lived officialy in Liberec. Due to the abolition of the discriminatory laws in 1848, the ghettos, special taxes and familiant laws were repealed. Jews were allowed to move into the towns and to buy houses there. In 1861 already 30 Jewish families lived in Liberec. They dedicated their first Jewish chapel in the evening of the Jewish New Year's Eve, that was built on what is currently Blažkova street.

In 1863 the Jewish Society was established in Liberec and in 1877 the Jewish Parish was founded. The church had 208 seats and was moved to present Frýdlantská Street number 11. From 1887 to 1889 the Jewish synagogue was built on Na Skřivanech Street, presently Rumjancevova Street. It was burnt down by the Nazis in 1938. In 1930 already 1.392 Jews were registered in Liberec.

WWll

Life of the Jewish Community was drastically changed by the Second World War. Many of its members died in ghettos and concentration camps. After the war 1.211 Jews were registered, only 37 of its original members survived the concentration camps and 182 were foreign soldiers.

This large Jewish Community of Liberec was crushed by the Holocaust and so currently our Jewish Community manages a big region from Jablonec n/N to Varnsdorf and its members are in Liberec, Český Dub, Jablonné v Podještědí, Rumburk, Varnsdorf, Jablonec n/N, Smržovka. Those towns and villages have many interesting places that are connected with the Jewish Community. Turnov, a town nearby is also very interesting.