This project seeks to collect all of the Jewish families from the town of Sokolov (Falkenau) in Bohemia, Czech Republic.
Falknov nad Ohří in Czech (until 1948) Sokolov (German: Falkenau an der Eger) is a city located to NE of Cheb and has about 28,000 inhabitants. The first written record of Sokolov is from April 1279 when it was in the possession of the Nothafts. At the end of the 14th century, it became the royal chamberlain's property with the town rights renewed as the original ones (from around 1313) had been destroyed in a fire. In 1848, Sokolov became the political and judicial center of the region. The town suffered two great fires (in 1873 and 1874) when a large proportion of the historical buildings on the square and in the vicinity of the monastery were destroyed. These fires resulted in a frenzy of construction when a large new school was built (1894) as was a Jewish synagogue (1897), an evangelical church (1904), a district hospital (1911), and other buildings. The earliest known Jewish community dates from the mid-19th century. Until the 19th century, the economy was agrarian with surroundings producing hops. Brown-coal mining began to develop from the end of the 18th century. The new railway line to Sokolov in 1870 help develop industry and brown-coal mining. From the late 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, Sokolov had a glassworks, electricity generating station, and textile works. A WWI chemical works was built lime-nitrogen and carbide production for armaments.
The synagogue built in 1897 served 1930 Jewish population of about 170 and was destroyed by the Nazis. Most of the Jews left after the signing of the Munich Agreement in September 1938. The remainder were deported in 1942. During World War II, Falkenau was the site of a military hospital for Soviet prisoners of war and a sub-camp of the Flossenbürg Concentration Camp liberated by the U.S. 1st Infantry Division on May 6, 1945. Sokolov was also bombed twice, first in October 1940 not too seriously and then on 17 April 1945 when a large number of houses near the station were destroyed and casualties sustained. Old buildings damaged by the war were replaced with prefab apartment blocks. In 1948, Falknov was renamed Sokolov with the now defunct municipalities of Davidov, Lesik, Novina, Ovcarna, Podlesi and Tyn under the administration of the town. The cemetery destroyed by the Nazis dates from 1878. When the city was part of the Hapsburg Empire prior to 1918, it was called Falkenau a.d.Eger in German.
Earliest known Jewish community was mid-19th century. 1930 Jewish population was 170. Before 1848, only 2 Jewish families were permitted but had minyan since mid-19th century. Religious society was established in 1864; independent congregation was established in 1873. Peak Jewish population was 1921 with 208 people. After WWII, a scanty congregation ("Congregation Sokolov with Seat in Kraslice") existed. The unlandmarked Jewish cemetery originated in 1878 with last known Conservative Jewish burial before 1943. Kraslice (Ger: Graslitz) 18 km away used site. The urban hillside, separate but near cemeteries, has no sign or marker. Reached by turning directly off a public road, access is open to all via a broken masonry wall without gate. The pre- and post-WWII size of cemetery is about 0.2 ha. 20-100 stones date from about 1880-20th century. The granite and sandstone flat shaped stones, finely smoothed and inscribed stones, flat stones with carved relief decoration, multi-stone monuments, or obelisks have Hebrew, German and Czech inscriptions. Some have metal fences around graves. With no known mass graves or structures, Plzen Jewish community owns the Jewish cemetery. Adjacent properties are recreational, residential, and Municipal Cemetery. Rarely, private visitors stop. Vandalism occurred prior to World War II in 1938 by Nazis, during World War II, frequently 1981-91, 1945-1981: after 1958. Restoration was done after WWII with vandalism afterward. There is no maintenance. Moderate threat: weather erosion and pollution. [http://www.iajgsjewishcemeteryproject.org/czech-republic/sokolov.html]
Story of the community:
- Sokolov is a city in Bohemia. When the city was part of the Hapsburg Empire prior to 1918, it was called Falkenau a.d.Eger in German. The earliest known Jewish community dates from the mid-19th century. The synagogue was built in 1897. The Jewish population in 1930 was about 170. Most of the Jews left after the signing of the Munich Agreement in September, 1938. The rest were deported in 1942. The synagogue was destroyed by the Nazis. The postcard below, which dates before 1918, depicts the synagogue in Falkenau.[http://www.edwardvictor.com/Sokolov_Czech.htm]