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Coat of arms of Brzeg Alternate names: Brzeg [Pol], Brieg [Ger], 50°51' N, 17°28' E, 26 miles SE of Wrocław (Breslau), on the Oder River. Jewish population: 448 in 1885 and 255 in 1933. cemetery photo. synagogue and cemetery photos. A town in SW Poland with 38,496 inhabitants in 2004 on the left bank of the Oder is the capital of Brzeg County. Situated on the commercial route to Wrotizla, Jews had settled since about 1324. In 1358, Jews lent money to local noblemen; Duke of Brieg, Ludwig I, granted them freedom of movement in the duchy for that year. Brieg Jews were persecuted for usury in 1362. In 1392 reportedly, all debts of the duke were paid off by Jacob ben Moishe. In 1398, Brieg Jews bought a letter of protection from the duke for the peaceful possession of their privileges. But in 1401, they were driven from the city except for Jacob and Seman von Reichenbach, who had received a patent of protection for six years from May 1, 1399. In 1423, Duke Ludwig II granted the Jews rights of residence for an annual tax of 20 guldens, but they were expelled from the Brieg and Liegnitz duchies 32 years later due Franciscan John Capistrano's inflammatory preaching. The Jew Sholomo lent large sums of money to royal houses in the 15th century. A local Jew served as physician to the Duke of Brieg in the 16th century. As Breslau declined as a trade center, Jews of Brieg became an isolated community. Eventually, they carried on insignificant trade. Even the conquest of Silesia by Frederick the Great left them in obscurity. A synagogue was built in 1799 attracted a rabbi in 1816. Jewish population: 156 in 1785, 376 in 1843, 282 in 1913, 255 in 1933, and 123 in 1939. On Kristallnacht, the synagogue interior was demolished and the Torahs publicly burned. The Jewish community ended during the Shoah.[April 2009]

REFERENCE: BOOK: Alte schlesische Judenfriedhoefe; Breslau und Dyherrnfurt (Old Silesian Jewish cemeteries: [Breslau} Wroclaw and [Dyherrnfurt] Brzeg Dolny), by A. Grotte. Berlin, 1927. 42 pages, illustrated, German. 32V1412. Notes: 37 tombstones, 1729-1846, names index, cemetery history, tombstone art analysis. Source: Tagger, Mathilde. Printed Books on Jewish Cemeteries in the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem: an annotated bibliography . Jerusalem: The Israel Genealogical Society, 1997.

US Commission No. POCE000519

Cemetery: ulica Makarskiego. 1992 town population: 25,000-100,000 with no Jews.

  • Town: Urzad Miejski, ulica Robotnicza 12, tel. 2064.
  • Regional: J. Prusiewicz, Wojewodzki Konserwator Zabytkow, ulica Piastowska 14, 45-082 Opole.

The earliest known Jewish community was 1315. 1939 Jewish population was 123. Noteworthy individuals were Jan Kapistrano* (1453) (see UPDATE below) and H. Liebermann. The Progressive/ Reform cemetery was established in 1801 with the last known burial in 1937. Landmark Number 235/89. The isolated suburban hillside has no sign or marker. Reached by turning directly off a public road, access is entirely closed by a continuous fence with a locked gate. The pre- and post-WWII size is 0.05 hectares. 120 gravestones, 100 in original locations, are 25%-50% toppled or broken. The oldest known gravestone belongs to Zanwil b. Meir of Grodkow, d. 20 May 1806; and others date from the 19th century. The limestone and sandstone flat-shaped tombstones, some with carved relief decorations or traces of painting on their surfaces, are inscribed in Hebrew and German. There are two double tombstones but no known mass graves. Municipality owns property used exclusively for the Jewish cemetery. A road and a Catholic church are adjacent to the cemetery. The boundaries are the same as in 1939. Rarely, private individuals visit. The cemetery was vandalized occasionally and has not been maintained. Vegetation overgrowth is a moderate threat, while security, vandalism, pollution, and weather erosion are slight threats.

Marcin Wodzinski, ulica Jednosci Narodowej 187/13 Wroclaw, tel. 21 6908 completed survey 13 March 1992 after a visit on March 9, 1992. Documentation: B. Brilling, Die judioschen Gemeinden Mittelschlesiens , Stuttgart 1972, and A. Stiecker, Juden in Brieg, Brieg, 1938.

UPDATE: *Jan Kapistrano was not a "noteworthy individual" of the Jewish community! He is, in fact, St. John of Capistrano, a Franciscan priest who preached anti-Semitism in the 15th century. His words led to pogroms, including the mass murder by fire of the Breslau Jewish community. After he left Silesia, Jews were banished from almost all towns for several hundred years. Source: Roger Lustig, Princeton, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it [January 2006]

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