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Jewish Families of Ústí nad Labem (Aussig), Bohemia, Czech Republic

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This project seeks to collect all of the Jewish families of Ústí nad Labem (Aussig) in Bohemia, Czech Republic.

Background

The history of the Jews in Ústí nad Labem in the Czech Republic dates back to 1848. The greatest expansion achieved is owing to presence of two significant families (Weinman and Petschek), who contributed to city development, at the end of 19th and at the beginning of 20th century. Two following dictatorships had devastating effect on the community. In the summer and fall of 1938, most Jews left Usti for Prague and other localities. In November 1938, after the Munich Agreement, the few Jews that remained in Usti were sent to extermination camps [ Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 ].

Religious intolerance continued even after the war and that is other reason why many of the members of this community emigrated afterwards. Still, after the Soviet annexation of Carpatho-Rus, many Jews chose to move here. This population established a new Usti synagogue in 1948 with 800 members. As of the early 21st century, the congregation continued to exist.

An early trading centre

Ústí nad Labem was mentioned as a trading centre as early as 993. In the latter part of the 13th century King Otakar II of Bohemia invited German settlers into the country and granted them German city law, thereby founding the city. In 1423 Emperor Sigismund of the Holy Roman Empire pledged the town to Elector Frederick I of Meißen, who occupied it with a Saxon garrison. In 1426 it was besieged by the Hussites, who on June 16, 1426, though only 25,000 strong, defeated and slaughtered a German army of 70,000 which had been sent to its relief; the town was stormed and ransacked the next day. After lying derelict for three years, it was rebuilt in 1429. It suffered much during the Thirty Years' War and Seven Years' War.

Until 1918, the town was part of the Austrian monarchy (Austria side after the compromise of 1867), head of the Aussig district, one of the ninety-four Bezirkshauptmannschaften in Bohemia.

  • During the 19th century the city, known by its German name Aussig, became heavily industrialised. Due to large-scale immigration the number of inhabitants grew from 2,000 to over 40,000, making Ustí one of the biggest cities in Bohemia.
  • Mining, chemical industry and river transport were its most important assets. The local river port became the busiest one in the whole Austro-Hungarian Empire surpassing the seaport in Trieste. Nowadays it is the industrial city with chemical establishments, metallurgy manufacture, machine tool industries, textiles and nutriment industry.

//photos.geni.com/p13/3e/f4/71/17/5344483ed63c8579/usti_nad_labem_holocaust_memorial_2005_original.jpg

20th Century

Ústí was a centre of early German National Socialism. On November 15, 1903, the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei in Österreich ("German Workers' Party in Austria") was formed; it would become the basis for the Sudeten German National Socialist Party and Austrian National Socialism. Much of their literature and books were printed in Ústí.

  • In 1918 the city became part of Czechoslovakia following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. According to the 1930 census there were 43 793 persons living in Ústí nad Labem (32 878 of German ethnicity, 8 735 of Czechoslovak ethnicity, 222 of Jewish ethnicity, 16 of Russian ethnicity and 11 of Hungarian ethnicity).
  • In October 1938 it was ceded, together with the rest of the Sudetenland, to Germany according to the Munich Agreement. The city was severely bombed by the Allies in April 1945. After the World War II the city became again part of restored Czechoslovakia, and most of the German population was later expelled in accordance with the Potsdam Conference and the Beneš decrees.
  • On New Year's Eve in 1938, the Nazis burnt down the local synagogue, which was converted into a meat factory. While there was a relatively large Jewish community in Ústí nad Labem prior to the war, during the war, the great majority of the town's Jewish residents were sent to Nazi death camps.

Changes in religious freedom after 1989

Members of the community meet regularly during worships, especially during Jewish festivals. Still, life in the community is declining, particularly because of absence of young generation. There were 50 members of the community in 2000, of which 17 lived in Ústí nad Labem. There were 38 recorded members of the community in half of 2005. The contemporary chairman is Bedřich Heller.

Bibliography

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jewish community in Ústí nad Labem.

  • Fedorovič, T., Kaiser, V. History of Jewish community in Ústí nad Labem. 2005, 123 p. English translation: Jaroslav Izavčuk. ISBN 80-86646-12-2
  • Spector, Shmuel; Wigoder, Geoffrey (2001). The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust: Seredina-Buda-Z. New York: NYU Press. ISBN 978-0-8147-9356-5.