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town images [February 2009]

Alternate names: Liberec [Cz], Reichenberg [Ger], Libertsis, Libercys, Liberziss, Libertsis [Romany], Liber, Habersdorf. Jews were not permitted to reside in the town until the late 1840's. The synagogue at Rumjancevova 136 [map] , designed by Karl Konig, was dedicated in 1889 when the town was under Austrian control. 957 Jews lived there in 1890. In 1938, about 1,400 Jews in Liberec. After annexation by Germany, virtually all of them left. The synagogue was demolished in November 1938. is a city in the Czech Republic. The capital and largest city of the Liberec Region on the Lusatian Neisse and surrounded by the Jizera Mountains and Ještěd-Kozákov Ridge, this is the sixth-largest city in the Czech Republic. Settled by German and Flemish migrants since the 14th century, Liberec was once home to a thriving textile industry and hence nicknamed the "Manchester of Bohemia". For many Czechs, Liberec is mostly associated with the huge shopping and entertainment complex, the Babylon Center. Liberec was first documented in 1348, and from 1622 to 1634 was among the possessions of Albrecht von Wallenstein. After his death it belonged to the Gallas and Clam Gallas families. The cloth-making was introduced in 1579. The prosperous local industry was interrupted by the Thirty Years' War and plague in the 1680s. The Battle of Reichenberg between Austria and Prussia occurred nearby in 1757 during the Seven Years' War. Once the second city of Bohemia, the city developed rapidly at the end of the 19th century resulting in a spectacular collection of late 19th century buildings" the town hall, the opera house, and the Severočeské Muzeum (North Bohemian Museum). The Opera House has a spectacular main curtain that was designed by the Austrian artist Gustav Klimt. The neighborhoods on the hills above the town center display beautiful homes and streets, laid out in a picturesque Romantic style similar to some central European thermal spas.After World War I, the ethnic German majority in the Sudetenland refused to be incorporated into Czechoslovakia, citing Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points and the doctrine of Self Determination. An independent Sudeten German state was briefly formed with Reichenberg as the Capital. However, the Czechoslovak Army invaded the area and it was after all integrated into Czechoslovakia. During the 1930s, the city became the centre of Pan-German movements and later Nazis. After the Munich Agreement of 1938, it became the capital of the Sudetengau within Nazi Germany. The city's German population was forcibly expelled following World War II through the Beneš decrees. The region was then resettled by the Czechs. Wikipedia [February 2009]


Jewish Community Liberec (Židovská obec Liberec): Leah Adamova, head of the Jewish community

Rumjancevova 1/1362 460 01 Liberec Tel.: +420/485 103 340 Fax: +420/482 412 190 Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text74399 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Website: www.kehila-liberec.cz

"A new synagogue was opened in Liberec in November 2000. This was a unique event as it is the first new building of its kind in the Czech Republic since the end of the Second World War.    The Jewish community of Liberec is one of the few communities in Bohemia and Moravia that renewed their activities after the war and have continued to the present day. The history of the Jewish settlement in this area dates back to about the 14th century, which was when the first Jewish families started to settle here. A separate Jewish religious community was not established in Liberec until 1872. An orthodox Talmudic reading-room was opened here after the First World War. The Liberec Jewish community was dissolved during the Nazi occupation. The new synagogue was built on the site of the original Neo-Renaissance synagogue which was destroyed by the Nazis in November 1938. The Jewish Museum in Prague contributed to the success of the project by providing expert consultation with regards the design of the interior and the restoration of the Torah ark ." Newsletter 2000-4 [February 2009]

In the mid-1880s, the Jewish Community established a new synagogue in Na Skřivanech Street (recently Rumjancevova Street). The Project was done by the university professor Karel König from Austria in 1887-1889. The work was done by the company "Sachers & Gartner" from Liberec in the Neo-renaissance style. 24 September, 1889 was the consecration. The synogogue's position commanded the view from the town hall to the north and a very important dominant feature in skyline view from the Valley of Jizera Brook. Architecturally, the front of the synagogue had an octagonal tower ended with a dome with a lantern. The main hall's length was 29,75 m, width 15,9 m, height 14 m designated for 340 male members of the community. Opposite the entrance was the ark and bimah. On the first floorwas a balcony for women, the organ, and a meeting room. The organ was made by the company "Rieger's brothers" from Krnov using a plan made by music director Gustav Albrecht from Zittau. The destroyed synagogue was a parking lot and currently a new synagogue there is carefully built into the new library of Liberec called "Reconciliation Building". SNR promised to cover the finances for the sanctuary building as compensation for the burnt synagogue. The new synagogue has a triangular shape that symbolically recalls one part of the Mogen David. This synagogue finished in 2000 also is a memorial of "human license and violence". See photos: Source [February 2009]

 

The first Jews probably lived here in the 15th century. In 1582, sixty more Jewish families arrived to escape Prague’s deadly plague. Liberec was the center of the growing textile industry important to the Jewish economic situation. Jews had no permanent residency rights in Liberec so no legal Jewish community was established. 1619 town financial records of "Jew Isaac received a certain amount of money for transport of material to pave the city streets". The same Isaac sold his house in current Moskevská Street No. 9 three years later to Elias Ehlich.

Expanding textile production in the 18th century gave rise to manufacturing companies here. Providing raw materials and marketing the finished products were welcome opportunities for Jewish merchants settled with their families in Liberec. Christian merchants traded with Germany, Switzerland, and Italy while Jewish merchants specialized in northern Bohemia and Moravia. Rivalry between Christian and Jewish merchants was resolved by the town council in 1776 when Dean Topiczow proposed that no Jew could be present in Liberec on Saturday or on Sunday. Thus, during the week they were allowed to trade, but not on the banned days [probably, the most active trading days]. Textile manufacture rapidly increased Emperor Josef II’s ban on 27 August 1784 of the importing foreign goods to Austria. Ridding themselves of Jewish competition in all legally possible ways included the 1787 directive that no Jewish person was allowed to settle down in Liberec or to live there on a permanent basis. Town citizens were forbidden to allow them stay in their houses. Despite this, the Jewish population in Liberec increased. When the Jewish Community established a public canteen at current Železná Street No. 16 (across from the church) and owned by former mayor Johann Friedrich Trenker, Count Christian Clam-Gallase was so outraged that he ordered expulsion of all Jews from the town within 48 hours and submission in three days of a full register of people that had to leave. The municipality summoned all Jews to the Town Hall to let them know of the order, but granted an exception to 14 textile merchants: Michael Fürth and son, Simon Lammel from Prague, Guttman Segen from Polnau, brothers Isaac and Samuel Schulhof from Pirnitz, Elias Goldschmied with son and son-in-law from Třebíč and a canvas merchant Salomon Příbram from Prague, who were allowed to remain in Liberec without their families for a limited time. Later, another public Jewish canteen with Mark Popper as the cook was permitted, but not anywhere close to the church.

In 1810 59 Jewish merchants competed with local merchants, who again complained to Count Christian Clam-Gallase. He reordered that Jews not live in Liberec permanently and that no citizen could lease them any housing. Consequently, no person of Jewish faith registered for permanent residence. The number of unofficially settled Jewish merchants increased so that in 1816 they requested permission to open another public canteen. In 1823, six Jewish families lived officially in Liberec. Abolition of the discriminatory laws in 1848 ending the ghettos, special taxes, and familiant laws encouraged Jews to move into the towns and to buy houses. By 1861 30 Jewish families lived in Liberec and dedicated their first chapel in the evening of the Jewish New Year's Eve on what is currently Blažkova Street. In 1863 the Jewish “Society” [community?] was founded and in 1877 the synagogue established with 208 seats and then moved to present day Frýdlantská Street No. 11. The synagogue built from 1887 to 1889 on Na Skřivanech Street, presently Rumjancevova Street, was burnt down by the Nazis in 1938.

In 1930, 1,392 Jews were registered in Liberec. Many members of the Jewish Community died in ghettos and concentration camps. After WWII, 211 Jews were registered, only 37 of its original members who survived the concentration camps and also 182 foreign soldiers. The large Jewish Community of Liberec crushed by the Holocaust currently manages a big region from Jablonec to Varnsdorf with members from Liberec, Český Dub, Jablonné v Podještědí, Rumburk, Varnsdorf, Jablonec n/N, Smržovka, and Turnov. [February 2009]

CEMETERY:

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Until 1864, the city of Liberec had no Jewish cemetery so deceased Jews were transported to Turnov for burial. In April 1964 a 500 sq m property plot number 1696 in Ruprechtická Street, was purchased from Anton Schöpfer. Two months later the town official gave the permission to start construction of the cemetery paid for with the gifts of the members of the community and a loan. The first funeral on the 20th of April, 1865 was that of 77 year-old merchant and veteran Joachim Goldberger. Rabbi Dr. Elbogen officiated and consecrated the cemetery at the same time. Later the cemetery proved to be too small. In 1886 the neighboring parcel was purchased to extend the cemetery with a caretaker small house, a mortuary, a shed for the funeral truck, and later a ceremonial hall. The first funeral at the new cemetery on the 7th of August, 1896 was that of 70 year-old widow, Mrs. Marie Fischl. In 1894 the motion of Dr. Wilhem Hersch to donate the cemetery to the town was rejected. The following year, the wall dividing the old and the new part of the cemetery was torn down and a new wall was built around the entire cemetery. Construction was done by Anton Wolf for 2.650 golden. At the end of 1900 the same person built the ceremonial hall and the caretaker's house for 27.000

Holocaust Memorial: The pulpit and the chandelier were donated by two members of the Jewish Community. Very close to the cemetery is a monument dedicated to the people killed in WW II. The unveiling of the monument was a public event for many members of the community. After the first speech given by Dr. Lengsteina, Rabbi Hoffman gave the memorial speech. The celebration was very moving for the unforgettable singing. Except for this memorial, there are several similar graves, a line of honor graves dedicated to dead soldiers, 80 graves of war refugees, children’s graves, and eleven graves of women from a concentration camp in Bílý Kostel, that were exhumed and buried here.

Ater 1939 the cemetery was not maintained. The Communist regime desecrated the ceremonial hall by establishing a coffee storehouse there. Over half of the tombstones were knocked over. The overall derelict condition of the cemetery looked bad for the town. In 1992 the former chairman of the community saw to it that several Jewish buildings and the ruined cemetery were returned to the Jewish Community. Weeds were got rid of first, tombstones reerected the, and new plaster was put on the outside walls of the ceremonial hall. Reconstruction continues to maintain the Jewish heritage begun in 1864. Source [February 2009[

 

 

 

US Commission No. CZCE000303

Alternate German name: Reichenberg. Liberec is located in Bohemia, Liberec at 50°43′N 15°4′E , 80 km ENE of Usti nad Labem and 55 miles NNE of Praha. Cemetery: 900 m N of Town Hall, in Ruprecticka Street (corner of Kvetnove Revoluce Street). Present town population is over 100,000 with 10-100 Jews.

  • Town: Mestky urad, namesti E. Benese 1, 460 01 Liberec; mayor: Engineer Jiri Drda; tel. 048/311. Department of Culture (rest as before).
  • Regional: Okresni Urad, Referat Kultury, namesti E.Benese 26, 460 01 Liberec; tel. 048/237-66 and Zidovska Nabozenska Obec, Slavickova 5, 460 01 Liberec; tel. 048/12-06-73.
  • Interested: Statni Zidovske Muzeum, Jachymova 3, 110 01 Praha 1; tel. 02/231-06-34, 231-07-85 and Krajske Muzeum, Masarykova str., 460 01 Liberec; tel. 048/237-66.
  • Caretaker with key: Anna Marie Kasparova, Reprechticka 101/385 (caretaker house) 460 01 Liberec.

Earliest known Jewish community was prayer room in 1861. 1930 Jewish population was 1392. Jewish community increased during last half of 19th century (6 families in 1823, 30 families in 1861, 3144 in 1869) and had congregation since 1860s. Expulsion of Jews by Nazis was in 1938. Many Jewish inhabitants of East settled in Liberec after WWII (1211 people in 1946); congregation still exists. Prominent local industry businessmen lived here, as did German opera singer Richard Breitenfeld (1869-1942). The Jewish cemetery originated in 1865. 11 women prisoners of labour camp in Bily Kostel and 8 victims of railroad transport of prisoners in early 1945 are buried in this probably  Progressive/Reform still-active, but not landmarked, cemetery.

The flat isolated urban site has sign or plaque in Czech (German) or in Hebrew and inscriptions in Hebrew symbolls on gate or wall. The marker mentioned Jews. Reached by turning directly off a public road, access is open with permission via continuous masonry wall and locking gate. The pre- and post-WWII size of cemetery is approximately 0.42 ha.

100-500 stones date from 1870-20th century. The cemetery has special section for children, suicides, refugees, victims: prisoners see above; urns of liquidated cemetery in Jablonec n. N. The marble, granite, sandstone and slate flat shaped stones, finely smoothed and inscribed stones, sculpted monuments, multi-stone monuments or obelisks have Hebrew, German and Czech inscriptions. Some have iron decorations or lettering and/or bronze decorations or lettering. The cemetery contains special memorial monuments to Jewish soldiers and marked mass graves. Within the limits of the site are a pre-burial house, a ceremonial hall (sold), and a mortuary. The pre-burial house has a tahara and a chimney. Liberec Jewish community owns the site used only as a Jewish cemetery. Adjacent properties are residential. Occasionally, Jewish or non-Jewish private visitors stop. Vandalism occurred 1945-1981. Jewish groups within the country did the restoration since 1945, in 1981 and 1986-1987, continuously since 1989. Liberec Jewish congregation pays the regular caretaker. Slight threat: pollution and vegetation.

Jan Marek, Na hranici 208, 405 05 Decin, tel.and fax for messages: 0412/23-662 or 28-090 and Jiri Fiedler, z"l, Brdickova 1916, 155 00 Praha 5; tel. 02/55-33-40 completed survey on 30 November 1992. Documentation: census 1930, 1946: Die Juden and Judengemeinden Bohemens, (1934); and notes of research made by Statni Zidovske Muzeum Praha; and notes of research made by J. Fiedler in 1986. Other documentation was inaccessible. The site was not visited. Interviewed were Jewish congregation members in Liberec (see above), and Mrs. Kasparova (see above), etc. in Liberec, 1992.

UPDATE: "Kristallnacht Memorial Unveiled in Liberec Jewish Cemetery, Czech Republic, 10 November 2008: A memorial commemorating Holocaust victims was unveiled in the newly-restored Liberec Jewish cemetery in the Czech Republic. Taking place 70 years after Kristallnacht, the inauguration was attended by international guests and Czech Senate chairman Premysl Sobotka, who stressed the importance of remembering the past. The memorial, which is located inside the cemetery’s former ceremony hall, was financed by local and regional authorities as well as by private donors. Before Word War II, Liberec was home to some 1,600 Jews." Source [February 2009]

Last Updated on Monday, 23 February 2009 15:43
 
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