This project seeks to list representatives of all of the Jewish families from the Moravian town of Police u Jemnice (Pullitz) in the Czech Republic.
Story of the Community: The origin of the Jewish community of Pullitz, which was dissolved in 1890, is lost in antiquity. According to page six of a document written in 1883 by C. Deutsch titled “Zur Geschichte der Izraeliten”, legend has it that the community was founded by Jews expelled from Znaim (Znojmo) in 1454.
This story is repeated by Horky (IV annual volume, 1827, page 206) who also considered it a legend as observed from a small statement by the regional rabbi from Plze*, L. M. Kohn, in his article “Isak Landesmann, His Life, Activities and Martyrdom”, which states that there were significant signs of a Jewish community in Pullitz already by 1523. He bases his statement on two documents written in 1815, by Count Karl Grafen von Berchtold, of Pullitz, and by his chief judge, Franz Echsler, which were apparently based on documents from the castle files. These documents place the origin of the community at 1523, which is based on the oldest gravestones in the cemetery, however none of the years of these gravestones were given.
Both sources cannot be considered historically factual, as they are not based on facts but on only lore and traditions. They do not record important events, which are profoundly significant to Jewish lives, such as the construction of the segregated Jewish street. They also do not record anything about the duties paid by the Jews during the period of 1523-1723. The Jewish population is recorded first in 1723 as roughly between 40 to 50 families, which seems high for a village like Pullitz.
Nevertheless, as a basis for this article we will use the work of Rabbi Kohn, supplemented with reliable, if incomplete, material from the regional archives concerning Pullitz.
The first source in the regional archives about the Jews in Pullitz is the registry of 1671. This mentions a Jewish settlement as being newly founded and that the administrators built two houses for the Jews to settle in. This means that no Jews were present in Pullitz before 1671. It is probably correct to assume that these Jews came from Vienna since they were expelled from there in 1670.
In the next 50 years there was considerable growth in this Jewish population.
“The Jews lived among the Christians peacefully until the year 1722 when Count Franz Carl Berchtold died and his successor, his Excellency Count Adam Berchtold, on the basis of a decree of August 1, 1723, kindly gave the right to establish a Jewish street separate from the Christians as thanks for true and loyal service during the invasion of the Saxons”.
This is written in the report by Escher, where establishing a ghetto is described as something the Jews asked for.
The Count's sources tell us that when Count Adam Berchtold took over the administration of Pullitz it was agreed that the Jews would build their own street.
Regardless of what really happened, it is for sure that Count Berchtold had told the Jews, who were living peacefully among Christians, to build a Jewish street in a remote part called “Goose Hollow, which consisted of two rows of houses, and said that these were to be distinguished in a unique way: each two permitted houses were to have only one front house, one kitchen and finally, one chimney. In addition to the yellow identification mark on the clothing of the Jews of Pullitz a black marking on their houses was added.
This was a requirement from Count Adam Berchtold for allowing the Jews to live under his protection. This requirement is also described in a drafted letter of September 4, 1727 sent by the Jews of Pullitz to the commander in chief of Znaim (Znojmo) Karl Josef Count de Souches. Based on the text and the information of an imperial decree dated December 8, 1726, it seems that the ghetto of Pullitz was not established in 1723 but rather in the first half of 1727. This, however, is not really very important. What is important is to record the impoverished condition to which the Jews had been brought by the fact that they had to leave their houses without sufficient compensation. Therefore we wish to quote the protest of the Jews of Pullitz to the commander in chief of Znaim (Znojmo) word by word:
“To his Excellency Your Excellency is asked to have mercy on the way we Jews of Pullitz are treated. What is happening to us is not happening to any other Jews in Moravia. Except for three, we have been evicted from our houses, in spite of the fact that we were promised that we only had to leave from four houses. The poverty and distress we have been brought to by this immediate eviction to very small quarters is impossible to describe. Our daily lives are destroyed and our shops and trades are closed. It will not be possible for us to pay our royal taxes and how shall we support our wives and children? We have already asked our benefactor for help with housing, but always get the answer that imperial instructions will be forthcoming. Who knows how long that will take? The harsh winter period is approaching which can bring us completely to desolation for then where can we find bread to eat? We the Pullitz community are at your feet begging and asking you for your merciful assistance to us poor to help and console us, so we may have houses and do not have to listen to our wives and children's cry. Here in Pullitz we are the poorest and are not a hindrance to the Christians, as here there is no church or ceremonies carried out.” Count Souches strongly supported the protest of the Jews from Pullitz to the Royal Command stating that the housing given to them by Count Berchtold was not adequate for them and asked for a speedy re-evaluation. His statements were forwarded to the Commission, who, in turn, asked for more details. This request from the Royal Commission was received by Count Souches who answered by him on January 28, 1728 in which he states that Count Berchtold is guilty and should be strongly advised that he has a duty to fulfill all of his obligations. Count Berchtold claimed that it was not possible to return the Jews to their houses, as they were now occupied by Christians, who were not able to get new houses before the arrival of winter, which was not true (i.e. the Count's blacksmith who lives now in one of the Jewish houses could have easily moved back to his old house at the castle, which was empty). In any case, it is obvious that squeezing two or three families into small spaces is unhealthy, as Jews by nature are unclean persons who have sanitary and hygienic problems, which might lead to epidemic outbreaks.
This intervention of the commander in chief of Znaim (Znojmo) was unsuccessful too. On July 9, 1728 the lawyer for the district, Simon Frankl, asked the Royal Commission of Brno for benefits on behalf of the people of Pullitz claiming “that the Imperial Count of the Holy Romanian Emporium, Count Berchtold, has driven the Jews of Pullitz from their own houses without substituting adequate housing, which means that three to four families have to live in one room”. The lawyer asked for the Jews to be returned to their houses until new ones were built for them. He further wrote that these should be close to the village, not the fields, where the Jews could easily be robbed or their houses burnt down.
This petition was somewhat successful and on July 12, the commander in chief for Znaim (Znojmo) received an order from the Royal Commission to go personally to Pullitz and by his authority force Count Berchtold to build the Jews new houses as soon as possible.
Since the complaints stopped it can be assumed that the building of the Jewish street, on the grounds of the squire started in 1728. Made mention is that in 1753 the number of houses increased by two, which was the house of Herschel Kaudler, the peddler, and the house of Ellias Löbl, the shoemaker.
The Jews had been on their new Jewish street only a short time, peacefully living and getting used to their new housing, when on June 25, 1758 a fire destroyed not only their houses but also their wooden synagogue. Many families lost everything in the fire and were suddenly in deepest poverty.
Their rescuer turned out to be their judge, Isak Landesmann, who not only had a good heart but was also rich. He supported his people with enough money so that they could rebuild their houses and also paid from his own pocket, Matthias Kirrchmayer from Glossau to build a new synagogue supplying all necessary interior provisions for religious services and also the seats for the community. From this time forward the Pullitz community was different from other communities because the Jews did not need to pay for seats in the synagogue as other communities had to, but were allowed seats free of charge.
According to a document dated March 31, 1797, after the death of Isak Landesmann, the right to lend out the synagogue chair went to his four sons. It then became traditional that the chair in the synagogue was lend out by the eldest of Isak Landesmann's descendants still living in Pullitz, who one week after getting married got the chair, while the single and unmarried stayed in the back rows.
Isak Landesmann did not limit his charity only to reconstruction of the synagogue and support of the impoverished people after the fire, but he also paid their taxes for several decades, which, until 1648, had been approx. 200 gulden per year. So, it is said by Heinke in 1786 in the Library of Moravian Science, page 33, that “Isak Landesmann from Pullitz paid the regional and Squire taxes of the entire community”.
Furthermore, Landesmann built a women's ritual bath (mikwah) and in the year 1782 had his own house, currently no. 138, turned into a normal school. He allowed a room in his house to be at the disposal of the school, paid for educational necessities, and out of his own pocket paid the Christian teacher Franz Novotny from Glossau to teach the children in secular matters. Isak Landesmann further served the community by making his personal rabbi available to the community and paying his salary to do so.
The last rabbi of Pullitz who served only the community, Samson Wohl from Eibenschitz (Ivancice), who died April 4, 1825, thanked the support of the Landesmann family.
As previously mentioned, the number of Jewish families, until the separation, was 40-50 families according to the sources used by Rabbi Kohn. By limiting the Jewish inhabitants in 1767, the number was reduced to 17, increased by three in 1778, and established as 22 in 1787. This number did not change until 1848 when the population was for 1830: 161, 1848: 118, 1857: 131, 1869 43, 1880: 46, 1890: 61. Kohn approximated that 30 people lived outside the village. In 1900 there were 12 people and in 1834 there were 25 Jews in Pullitz.
The last Jew of Pullitz, Leopold Landesmann, moved to Jamnitz (Jemnice), the neighboring village, in 1913.
With the re-organization of the Jews in 1890 the community proper of Pullitz was dissolved, the administration of which came under the auspices of Jamnitz (Jemnice), which on January 16, 1903 received from David Grossmann and Leopold Landesmann: 18 credit notes, two sickles, and one palfylos, twelve government obligations valued at 5150 florins, bank books valued at 377 florins, and in cash 30 kronens and 20 hellers.
Furthermore, the administration of Jamnitz (Jemnice) took over the running of the synagogue and cemetery. On July 22, 1912 the synagogue was sold to Alfred Wrazda-Kunewald, a rich farmer from Pullitz, for 800 kronens. He had sponsored the re-building after the revolution of 1918 to the local Sokol (athletic association). On July 27, 1925 Sokol also purchased from Jamnitz (Jemnice) some space behind the temple for 100 kronens. Today the only memory of Pullitz is, thanks to the administration of the town of Jamnitz (Jemnice), the nicely kept cemetery. The walls of the cemetery were repaired in 1913, which cost 414 kronens.
Isak Landesmann During the above historical review we learned that Isak Landesmann was a Jewish nobleman in Pullitz. In the following we shall use his fate as an example to describe the injustices the Jews incurred at the end of the 18th century. His case is quite typical for the period.
He was born probably in 1727, a son of the wealthy Jeremias Landesmann and in 1750 he married his wife, Ester. At that time Isak Landesmann was already an elder in the Jewish community of the Znaim (Znojmo) region and owned two houses in Pullitz, numbers 114 and 138. He developed a considerable business with the businessmen of the area and kept close connections with the administrator of Pullitz, Count Adam Ignaz von Berchtold, whose wife liked Isak Landesmann very much because of his character, and encouraged his visits to the castle.
However, he quickly observed that the Countess was very Catholic and wanted him to convert. Therefore, he stopped frequenting the castle. The Countess became upset about his stubborn refusal to convert and decided that at least one of his children should be converted to Christianity. Then, a local midwife told the Countess that she herself had baptized the youngest of his three sons, Löbel, born February 4, 1760. Due to this confession, in November 1767 it was decided that this apparently baptized child should be removed from his father. However, the castle chaplain, who was apparently more humane than the Countess, told the father what was going on. Isak never doubted for a moment what was going on and sent his children together with the rabbi of Jindrichuv Hradec, Abraham Lipschitz, first to Trebic to a friend of the rabbi's. With a letter from this rabbi to the mayor, Rabbi Ezechiel Landau went all the way to Prague and probably further on to Breslau.
This forced conversion was therefore prevented, but the aftermath was terribly bitter for Landesmann. Landesmann was immediately accused of kidnapping a baptized child and jailed in the Pullitz castle. He was imprisoned there under very harsh conditions for four months. When he was brought to trial in the Znaim (Znojmo) court he wrote to his wife, Ester, on March 23, 1768 that he was living in four rooms and was treated very well and that he would have preferred to have been brought directly to Znaim (Znojmo) instead of spending those four months in Pullitz. He expressed hope that this joke would soon be over and that he could return home before the Passover (Jewish Eastern). How could he have known that this joke would develop into a tragedy and he would be caught in the middle. Just listen to the pained voice in his letter of April 22, to his wife. First he said that the previous Sunday he had been brought by guards with bayonets to the regional administrator where he was told that according to an order from the highest government authority he would be chained, jailed and lose all of his possessions because he sent his children into exile and if they were not returned immediately his situation would become even worse. He described how he asked the administrator for mercy and how mercy had been promised. “However, the next Sunday the jailer came and had me chained and locked in a room without heat. And so I am miserable.”
Then he revealed his deep faith. “ My dear wife, be consoled and take strength from our God. Almighty God will see our poverty and help us, as we are two honest people and have honestly pledged ourselves both day and night. God Almighty lets his people go down but not drown and we shall not call upon His Holiest of names before we are dire need. I fear that you will come here, but I do not want this, for they will not let you speak to me and it would be painful for both of us. Besides, in jail I find the greatest fatherly love. Please send me Schweitzer cheese, in spite of the fact that I do not like it. I have not had soup or anything boiled to eat, except on Shabbat, and will not until our children are back.”
He spoke sorrowfully about his business, which by then had been closed for five months, which not only ruined him but also the community of Pullitz. A condition for his release from jail was the return of his son Löble so he asked his wife to send out letters to find out where his children were and ask them to return to the Austrian Emporium. He believed that the so-called baptism would be proven a fabrication and that he and his companions would not need to fear their return. The wife apparently obeyed his wishes as we can tell from his letter dated April 26. “ I received your letter today and can see that you have taken steps to find our children.”
Not only did his wife apparently obey the wishes of her husband but also tried a far more radical approach, which is evident from the following: She heard that the State Chancellor, Kaunitz, was on summer vacation at his castle in Jaromerice, which was not far from Pullitz, and she went there to ask for an audience with this kind person to describe the sorrow fate of her husband and to ask for help. Kaunits promised to help and kept his word as the chains were made lighter and Landesmann received better treatment, nevertheless the jail sentence was not lifted and eight months had already gone by.
Esther now tried offering collateral by putting up all of her and her husband's possessions. Her offer was accepted by the Moravian administration and also by Maria Teresia. Chancelor Kaunitz had also surely helped, and it was decided that Isak Landesmann would be released from the Znaim (Znojmo) jail. However, although Esther was the one who offered the collateral, all the members of the Pullitz community also chipped in with all their possessions. In the Pullitz Land Registration Book, on June 12, 1768, there is a statement that in case Isak Landesmann does not appear in court when asked or disappears, the collateral of 3000 florines shall be due and paid and that all of Pullitz is responsible for this payment in full, all for one and one for all.
Because of the collateral, in July Landesmann was finally released from jail and after he personally defended himself in front of the authorities and before the Empress the whole procedure was stopped by an imperial decree on September 9, 1768 by the argument that the occurrence of the afore said baptism was doubtful and could not be proven and the collateral was forgiven. The collateral was paid back by the Moravian administration by December 16, 1768.
In spite of his bad luck, Isak Landesmann still acted in the interest of the Pullitz community up until his death on February 4, 1797. On his grave in Pullitz is the following epitaph: “He sent his sons into exile and lost them in banishmentOf his (Isak Landesmann) four sons Jeremias, born October 20, 1754, died in Pullitz and remained childless; Markus was born June 2, 1758 in Novy Bydzov/(Neubidschov); and Löbl was born October 4, 1760 in Teplitz. One of his (Löbl) grandchildren married the head rabbi, Dr. Z. Frankl who was the director of Jewish Studies in Bresslau; and [the last son was] Jacob born June 5, 1768 in Pullitz. His (Jacob Landesmann?) descendant was Emanuel Landesmann, a longtime leader of the Pullitz community. He [Emanuel Landesmann ]married Johanna Weiss who died August 9, 1887, and was the daughter of Nathan and Katarina Weiss, both buried in Pullitz, and he (Emmanuel Landesmann ?) was the brother-in-law of C.G. Ritter von Weiss and his brothers Ignaz, Sigmund (of Vienna) and Theodor (of Milano). They (Emmanuel and Johanna) had six daughters who married and one son, Jacques Landesmann, born in Vienna.