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Coat of arms of BiałaZülz Alternate names: Biała Prudnicka [Pol], Zülz [Ger], Zuelz. 50°23' N, 17°39' E, in Upper Silesia, 56 miles SSE of Wrocław (Breslau), 24 miles SW of Opole (Oppeln), 5 miles NNE of Prudnik (Neustadt). Jewish population: 755 in 1840 and 12 in 1925. Shtetlink Cemetery photos. Cemetery video. By the end of the 1300s, the city had a large Jewish population. Eventually, the town became a possession of the barons of Proskau, who did not forcibly expel the Jewish population when the rest of Silesia except Głogów did. Under 1601 petition of the barons, the Holy Roman Empire extended special protective privileges to the Jewish population of Zülz. Special commercial rights granted the city in 1699 allowed local Jews to do business with Bohemia, Silesia, and the rest of Poland, rights equal to local Christian merchants. An 18th century Jewish immigration into Zülz resulted. After the 1742 partition of Silesia, Zülz became part of Prussia, ending the second-class status of Jews. Many Jews thus left Zulz for larger cities. The city was connected to the railroad in 1896 via a seven mile spur from Prudnik and a sixteen mile spur to Gogolin. By 1914, the Jewish community in Zülz was largely gone. After World War II, the town that belonged to Germany since 1816 became part of Poland and was renamed Biała. 2006 population: 2,653 with no Jews. [March 2009]

Jewish presence in Biala Prudnik dates from  the end of 15th century, but written documentation is from 1543 onwards when nine Jewish families lived there.Jewish settlers later came from Silesia and in the second half of the 17th century came Polish Jews fleeing the Swedish army. Before, Głogów was the only city in Silesia in which Jews were tolerated and allowed to live.  An imperial decree on April 13, 1601allowed Jews in the suburbs of Wies Neisse. In the next few years, some purchased houses in the city and engaged in small trading, trade fairs, and peddling.  The wooden synagogue built probably at the end of the seventeenth century,1724 Jewish population was six Jews, 30% of the total. By 1742, 61 Jews and 60 Christians, and in 1812 reached 1,096. Besides trades, they sold silk and lace, Silesian wool, wax, and honey. Increasing Jewish population forced the Jewish community to build a new prayer house plus the wooden synagogue burned on April 22, 1769 that seated 250-300 and 100 on the balcony. The new brick Baroque synagogue opened in 1774 with blue painted walls with gold motifs and a special room holding a the dish of precious metals. After 1812, Jewish population declined until five remained n the mid-nineteenth century, twenty in 1910, and nine in 1926. The Jewish community was dissolved on August 15, 1914. All the valuables were transferred to the Prudnik synagogue and the other Jews in Wies Prudnicki or passed to the care of the village. [April 2009]

BOOK: Gruber, Ruth Ellen. Jewish Heritage Travel A Guide to East-Central Europe . New York: John Wiley &Sons, Inc., 1992. P. 74

CEMETERY: Possibly at the beginning of the 16th century to the north of the city walls (Przedmieściu Nyskim) was the first cemetery because preserved on a hill called Kirkut Kopcem (in German: Schwedenschanze) with the oldest preserved matzevot dated no later than 1621 that makes this is the largest and oldest Jewish cemetery in the Opole Voivodeship. The area of approximately 0.54 ha is on the west slope of the hill in an irregular quadrilateral of 188 m. and leads down steeply over the meadow toward the Biala River. The cemetery was enlarged several times until in 914 it belonged to the municipality. That same year, together with other Bialskie objects were transferred into the custody of the Prudnik kehilla and on February 23,1943 to the Nazis. With the number about 3,900 burials, the oldest preserved (sandstone) gravestone is that of Esther bat Symchy, who died in 5382 [1621/1622] . It was found in the river. The inscription says: "A modes,t devout and brave woman, Esther, daughter of our teacher Symchy (blessed memory), the year 382." The last burial took place in 1938. From the mid-17th century to the first years after WWII, the cemetery was surrounded by a wooden fence on the brick posts. To this day a few parts remain. The foundation of the caretaker or preburial house built in 1826 remains and a heavily damaged main gate. In 2002, the cemetery was organized by young people, acting under the "Antyschematy". Directions: To get to the Jewish cemetery near the exit of the city (park) in the west (Prudnik), turn right. Look for the sign.See website..[April 2009]

US Commission No. POCE000059

  • Town: Rada Miejska [City Council] w Biale and Urzad Miejski [Municipal Office] w Biale, ulica Rynek, tel. 359.
  • Local: mgr. J. Prusiewicz, region Konservwator Zabutkow, 45-082 Opole, ulica Pistowska 14.

Date of earliest known Jewish community was end of 16th century. 1925 Jewish population was 14. Expulsion of Jews from all Silesia except from Biala (Zuelz) and Glogow (Gross) Glogau was in 16th century. After that, Biala was an important Jewish center until the 1830's. The Jewish cemetery was established before 1622 with last known Orthodox Jewish burial in 1938. Prudnik (Neustadt), 12 km. away, in the first half of the 19th century and Kozle Cosel/Kosel), 50 km. away, until 1814 used this cemetery. The cemetery is landmarked, but no details were given. The isolated suburban hillside has Hebrew inscriptions on gate or wall. Reached by turning directly off a public road, access is open to all with no wall or fence but a non-locking gate. Size of cemetery before and after WWII: about 0.6 hectares. 500-5000 gravestones, with 20-100 not in original locations and less than 25% toppled or broken, date from the 17th to 20th centuries. The oldest known gravestone is 1621/22. The marble, (1) granite, limestone, and sandstone finely smoothed and inscribed stones or multi-stone monuments, some with damaged metal fences around graves, are inscribed in Hebrew and/or German. The cemetery contains no known mass graves. Within the limits of the cemetery is a pre-burial house ruin. The property, now a closed Jewish cemetery, is owned by the municipality. Properties adjacent are agricultural and residential. Rarely, local residents visit for varying purposes. The cemetery was not vandalized in the last ten years. Local/municipal authorities cleared vegetation in Spring 1991. The hillside is eroding with no current care. Security is a slight threat. Weather erosion is a serious threat. Vegetation is a very serious threat because massive growth of trees damaging graves and gravestones.

Jan Pawel Woronzcak, Sandomierska 21m1, 02-567 Warsawa, tel. 49-54-62 completed survey on 6 September 1991 using an unpublished complete documentation of cemetery by Jerzy Woronczak. The site was visited for the survey in 1981, '82, '83, '84 and 1991.

photos [April 2009]

Last Updated on Monday, 27 April 2009 21:17
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