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Jewish Families from Prostějov (Prossnitz), Moravia, Czech Republic

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Austrian manufacturing town, in the province of Moravia. Probably its earliest Jewish settlement dated from the latter half of the fifteenth century, when exiles from Olmütz found a refuge there (1454). Up to the time when the restriction on the freedom of residence of Jews in Austria was removed, Prossnitz was the second largest congregation in Moravia, numbering 328 families (see Familianten Gesetz). The congregation first emerged from obscurity in the beginning of the seventeenth century, when Simḥah ben Gershon Rapoport printed there a collection of Sabbath hymns ("Ḳol Simḥah," 1602). The printing-press, however, did not exist very long, nor did it produce any works of consequence.

Aron Lobl haLevi Spitz, who was born in Nikosburg in 1767, became rabbi in about 1799 and lived at Schulgasse #31. He served until about 1813. Other rabbis who are known to have officiated in Prossnitz are: Gershon Ashkenazi (c. 1650); Meïr Eisenstadt Ash (c. 1700); Nahum (Nehemias) Trebitsch (until 1830); Löw Schwab (1830-36); Hirsch B. Fassel (1836-53); Adolf Schmiedl (1853-69); Emil Hoff (1870-97); L. Goldschmied (since 1897).

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Prossnitz was the center of the Shabbethaian heresy, notably because of the influence of Löbele of Prossnitz. In the first half of the nineteenth century the town became the center of the educational and Reform movement in the province. Löw Schwab was the first German preacher in Moravia, and his successor, Hirsch B. Fassel, worked for the progress of education, the reform of religious services, and the encouragement of manual industry. He also petitioned Emperor Ferdinand in the interest of the political emancipation of the Jews. Through the activity of the Jews, Prossnitz became an industrial center for the manufacture of clothing and calico. However, the fact that the Prossnitz Jews always sided with the small German minority of the city's population against the Slavic majority often produced friction.

Prossnitz had many Talmudic scholars. Moses Sofer, who lived there about 1790, conducted a yeshiva; and during the first half of the nineteenth century Moses Katz Wannefried presided over a large yeshiva which numbered Adolf Jellinek among its pupils. Of Jewish scholars and other well-known persons born in Prossnitz, Moritz Steinschneider, Moritz Eisler, Dr. Gideon Brecher, and Louis Schnabel of New York may be mentioned. Among the prominent Orthodox rabbis who were natives of Prossnitz were Daniel Prosṭiẓ Steinschneider of Pressburg, and Menahem Katz, rabbi of Deutsch-Kreuz, for years the recognized leader of Hungarian Orthodoxy. A number of artists and scholars were born at Prossnitz, including the pianist-composer Ignaz Brüll.

Prossnitz has a synagogue, dedicated in 1904, a bet ha-midrash, founded by Veit Ehrenstamm, and numerous foundations for charitable purposes. The former Jewish school was made a public school in 1868, but is still largely attended by Jewish pupils. In 1900, the town of Prossnitz had a population of 24,000, of whom 1,680 were Jews.

Old Jewish Cemetery of Prostejov

The old Jewish cemetery, founded in 1801 in the area limited by today’s Lidická, Studentská and Tylova Streets, was one of the most interesting places in Prostějov. Access to it was through the Neo-Classical gate from today’s Lidická Street; next to the gate was a small house with a garden. The cemetery was not bounded by the wall in the first few decades of its existence; it was probably erected sometime after 1833. This is why the gravestones of some older graves at the boundary were built into the wall. A road flanked by trees ran down the middle of the area; some of them can still be seen in the park. A total of 1,924 gravestones were located in the area of 6,528 sq. m. this information is available thanks to the diligence of the Prostějov funeral confraternity, whose members copied legible parts of the gravestone inscriptions at the beginning of the 20th century and drew a detailed plan of the grave sites. The cemetery was split to 20 groups. A ceremonial hall was located in the middle of its north side at today’s Studentská Street, and the plan shows a small entrance next to it, probably the so-called Cohen Gate. The last funeral was conducted on 11 May 1908.

The municipality intended in the 1930s to buy the Jewish cemetery and erect a public building there, surrounded by a park. The talks began in 1938, but the Prostějov Jewish congregation was, for religious reasons, only willing to sell property which was not part of the cemetery proper. Mayor Sedláček wrote to the Ministry of home Affairs of the Protectorate on August 1, 1939: “There is an old Jewish cemetery in Prostějov, located in the built-up part of the town, where no burials have taken place for many years; the site of the cemetery is of no benefit to anyone, and hinders the development of the town. For this reason the municipality discussed with the Jewish Religious Congregation in Prostějov the purchase of the site, and when the talks got to a standstill due to the absolute disagreement of the representatives of the above congregation, the Council of Prostějov resolved on June 28, 1939, to expropriate the site of the old Jewish cemetery for necessary reasons of road building and sanitation.” The council miscalculated. The Reichsprotektor issued a decree on Jewish property in June, and in the end the cemetery was “aryanized” and became the property of the Reich. The municipal administration was also altered during the occupation, and the Jewish congregation was dissolved. From June to July 1942 almost all the Jewish population of Prostějov was taken to Terezín. Thus the German Mayor Maxmilian Girth had to wait till 1943 to purchase the cemetery site for the town from the so-called Emigration Fund for Bohemia and Moravia, which held all the Jewish property in the Protectorate.

No written record of the demolition of the cemetery is available. What is available is a series of photographs showing what the site was like just prior to the demolition. The graveyards are numbered or just marked with a cross. Analogously to other places in the country and according to the memories of witnesses and recent finds, quality gravestones were offered for sale to stonemasons and other possible processors; older tabular gravestones of soft stone were used for out-buildings in Prostějov and its vicinity. The area without gravestones was to be used as training ground. As German property, the site of the cemetery was returned to the municipality after the war, and has been its property ever since.

This is a list of the people who were originally buried in the old Jewish Cemetery -- the only surviving record of the actual names. Unfortunately, this list does not include dates of death or the ages of the deceased individuals. See: Alphabetical List of Burials

The following profiles represent the various families in Prostejov:

  1. Arnstein, Baroch (c1750-bef 1825)
  2. Back, Benjamin-Wolf (1722-1792)
  3. Back, Bernhard (1796-1870)
  4. Back, Elkan (1819-1880)
  5. Back, Philipp (Hillel) Lob (1757-1808)
  6. Back, Schaja Lob (c1760-1842)
  7. Back, Wolf (1793-1866)
  8. Back-Glass, Simon (1741-1792)
  9. Bardas, Israel (1747-1817)
  10. Bardas, Markus (1748-1821)
  11. Bass, Israel (1744-1819)
  12. Bass, Jacob (1750-1830)
  13. Bass, Joachim Lob (c1758-1838)
  14. Beer, Salomon (c1762-1844)
  15. Beer, Sigmund (1837-1910)
  16. Blatzer, Abraham Berl (1756-1823)
  17. Bobasch, Juda Lobl (c1761-1831)
  18. Brecher, Dr. Gideon (1797-1873), physician and writer
  19. Broch, Aron (b. 1740)
  20. Broch, Baruch (1729-1795)
  21. Brodetzky, Samuel (c1756-1833)
  22. Brüll, Benjamin-Wolf (1759-1825)
  23. Brüll, Ignatz (1795-1841)
  24. Brüll, Ignaz (1846-1907), pianist and composer
  25. Brüll, Isak (1755-1793)
  26. Brüll, Rabbi Lesel (c1710-c1783)
  27. Brüll, Simon (1745-1801)
  28. Diamantstein, Isak (1742-1832)
  29. Diamantstein, Lazar (1778-1850)
  30. Diamantstein, Markus (1776-1828)
  31. Donath, Jakob Löb (c1765-1831)
  32. Drucker, Markus (1756-1832)
  33. Drucker, Schaja (1765-1807)
  34. Drucker, Simon (1750-1828)
  35. Ehrenstamm, Veith (1763-1827)
  36. Eisler, Abraham (1752-1830)
  37. Eisler, Markus (1740-1802)
  38. Fleischer, Hirsch (1721-1785)
  39. Fleischer, Israel (1725-1794)
  40. Friedmann, Rabbi Heinrich Henrik (ca 1823 -1891)
  41. Fröhlich, Abraham
  42. Funk, Ascher (1796-1857)
  43. Funk, Bernhard Zacharias (1790-1858)
  44. Funk, David (1765-1827)
  45. Funk, Gabriel (1800-1859)
  46. Funk, Markus (1792-1876)
  47. Ritter von Funk, Commander Moritz (1831-1905)
  48. Hamburger, Moses (1786-1849), aka Moses Singer-Hamburger
  49. Hamburger, Simon (1761-1843)
  50. Hiller, Lewy (1746-1834)
  51. Hirsch, Salomon (1765-1827)
  52. Horn, Josef Emanuel (1770-1830)
  53. Husserl, Herschel (1783-1827)
  54. Jelinek, Sinaj (b. 1764)
  55. Kohn, Kalman (b. 1800)
  56. Lang, Emanuel (1793-1870)
  57. Lasus, Elias (1785-1846)
  58. Lasus, Emanuel (1778-1829)
  59. Lasus, Joachim (c1763-1831)
  60. Lasus, Samuel (1791-1830)
  61. Lazar, Abraham Hirschel (1733-1801)
  62. Lazar, Heimann Ezekiel (1787-1869)
  63. Lazar, Jacob Ezekiel (1749-1827)
  64. Lazar, Lazar (1797-1874)
  65. Lazar, Philip (1801-1871)
  66. Lewin, Salomon (1751-1809)
  67. Löwinau, Israel (c1756-1815)
  68. Mandl, Abraham (1762-1836)
  69. Mandl, Ignaz (1823-1902)
  70. Mandl, Mayr Moritz (1821-1888)
  71. Mandl, Maximilian (1865-1942)
  72. Mandl, Moses (1792-1862)
  73. Pollak, Juda Lobl (Leopold) (1741-1801)
  74. Schmiedl, Dr. Adolf Abraham (1821-1913)
  75. Schnabl, Aron (1780-1816)
  76. Schnabl, Michael (1766-1829)
  77. Schnabl, Simon (c1768-1847)
  78. Schreiber, Arron (1733-1804)
  79. Schreiber, Jacob Lazar (1794-1869)
  80. Schreiber, Josua (Schaja) (1767-1831)
  81. Schreiber, Simon (1739-1807)
  82. Schwarz, Godl (1754-1822)
  83. Schwarz, Joachim (1736-1827)
  84. Selinger
  85. Singer, Josef (1786-1850)
  86. Spitzer, Gabriel (c1772-1856)
  87. Steiner, Markus (1743-1831)
  88. Steinschneider, Abraham (1766-1834)
  89. Steinschneider, Aron Daniel (1742-1809)
  90. Steinschneider, Rabbi Daniel of Tobitschau (1758-1846), aka Rabbi Daniel Prossnitz
  91. Steinschneider, Rabbi Gabriel (c1720-bef 1784)
  92. Steinschneider, Isak (1747-1829)
  93. Steinschneider, Jacob (1747-1829)
  94. Steinschneider, Jakob Salomon (1752-1828)
  95. Steinschneider, Joseph (1798-1863)
  96. Steinschneider, Moritz (1816-1907), bibliographer and Orientalist
  97. Waitzenkorn, Elkan (1786-1876)
  98. Waitzenkorn, Lazar (1783-1836)
  99. Waitzenkorn, Samuel (1758-1803)
  100. Wertheim, Moses Gerson of Prossnitz (c. 1690/2-1770)
  101. Wertheim, Meir Marx of Prossnitz (c. 1680-1757)
  102. Winkler, Gabriel (1737-1818)
  103. Winkler, Michael (1794-1872)
  104. Winkler, Sigmund (1776-1864)
  105. Winkler, Simon (1762-bef 1843)
  106. Wolf, Abraham Benjamin? (- 1875)
  107. Zweig, Moses (1750-1840)

See http://sculpturesymposium.cz/cz/turista/o_meste/historie/holocaust-prostejove.html for an overview of the town and especially for the town's Holocaust history, along with many portraits of victims.