The Jews of Nymburk
Nymburk (Neuenburg ger.) is a town of about 14,000 people that lies about 35 miles east of Prague and about 5 miles NW of the spa town of Podebrady.
There was already a small Jewish settlement in Nymburk backn in the 13th century, but, along with many other towns, the Jews were expelled from in the mid-16th century Often such expulsions were due to the town being a royal town or a garrison town, and in many cases this was because of local silver mines. The reason for the Nymburk expulsion should be investigated with the Nymburk town museum.
It was only after the liberalisation from 1848 that the Jews were allowed to return to these towns, and this is what happened in Nymburk when Jews came to live there in the second half of the 19th century.
By 1880 there were 160 Jews living in Nymburk and the Jewish population peaked in 1890 when the Jews numbered 177, Then decline set in as Jews dispersed into the countryside and to the larger towns.
A synagogue was built in 1891-2 in Eliscina Street, not far from the town square. The two storey building is still standing today. The congregation was closed by order of the Nazis in 1940 and the Jews of Nymburk were deported to Terezin from the neighbouring administrative centre in Kolin in the first two weeks of June 1942.
Having lain empty for some time it was converted into the municipal museum, which is what it is today. The Nymburk Museum* houses an exhibition on the history of the local Jewish community and this should help those who want to find out more about the Jewish heritage of Nymburk, including an explanation of the explusion.
Nymburk did not have its own cemetery, but used the cemetery that was established in 1830 in nearby Kovanice, where Franz Kafka’s grandmother is buried. Kovanice’s Jewish population can be traced back to 1723 when there were 5 Jewish families living in the town. This rose to 7 families in 1780. It may be no coincidence that Jewish life in Kovanice developed after the expulsion of the Jews from nearby Nymburk. There are many instances where the expelled Jews settled in the surrounding villages of the town that they had had to leave. It suggests that the history of the Jews of Nymburk and Kovanice. should be considered as one.
By 1829 there were 70 Jews living in Kovanice, but by 1880, when there was a congregation in Nymburk that was about to build a synagogue, the Jewish population of Kovanice had fallen to 33, while the Jewish population of Nymburk peaked in 1890. By 1900 there were only 13 Jews in Kovanice and the last Jew in the town died in 1916.
Nevertheless the cemetery, on the road between Nymburk and Podebrady continued to serve the Nymburk community and also the community of Krnec until its closure. There is a marble memorial for the victims of the Nazis by the entrance. The gravediggers house has been converted into a holiday house.
The wooden synagogue on the south eastern side of the village green in Kovanice was built in 1770, but it birned down around 1843-6. A new brick synagogue was built in 1861, when the local Jewish population was in decline and the building was sold in 1891 an converted into a residential building. Nowadays it is used as a holiday house.
There is a article about the history of the Jews of Nymburk in Hugo Gold’s “Bohemia” pages 463/4. www.hugogold.com-bohemia. It includes three photographs including one of the aron hakodesh.
Sources : Jewish sites of Bohemia & Moravia by Jiri Fiedler
Jewish Monuments in Bohemia by Rozkosna & Jakubec. Jewish Monuments in the Central Bohemia region – Klara Zubicova (ed)
- Muzeum Nymburk, Tyrsova 17, 28802 Nymburk
Michael Heppner firstname.lastname@example.org London, February 2013 The Nymburk Scroll Circle
The records of the Memorial Scrolls Trust show that 6 of the 7 Memorial Scrolls that were received from the town of Nymburk, (near Kolin) have been distributed.
The Jews of Nymburk were deported to Terezin on Transports AAb, AAc or AAd which left Kolin on 4,9,and 13 June 1942.
The history of the Jews of Nymburk until 1934 can be found in Hugo Gold’s book on “The Jews and Jewish Communities in Bohemia in the Past and Present” page 463/4 which can be found on the internet at www.hugogold.com/bohemia. The text is in Czech. We do not know of an English translation.