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Coat of arms of Legnica

Alternate names: Legnica [Pol], Liegnitz [Ger], Lignica. 51°12' N, 16°12' E, in Lower Silesia, 37 miles W of Wrocław (Breslau). 1900 Jewish population: 877. A city on the Kaczawa river in SW Poland with a 2006 population of 105,485, the city was formerly known in Polish as Lignica and officially renamed Legnica in 1946.  Since 1999, Legnica has been part of the Lower Silesian Voivodeship and from 1975 to 1998 was the administrative seat of the former Legnica Voivodeship. The city constitutes a separate urban gmina and city powiat, as well as being the seat of Legnica County that surrounds but does not include the city. One Jewish cemetery remains, as does a former synagogue building that remains open as a prayer house. [June 2009]

The first documentation of the settlement of Jews in Legnica comes from 1301 and 1317 records about the Jewish quarter when they built the first synagogue. In 1453, Jews were forced to leave the city. Jewish settlements in Legnica resumed after 1812 with a synagogue and cemetery. The kahal also included Jews from Złotoryi, Jawora, Chojnowa and Lwówka. In 1840, 2,564 Jews lived there. During "Kristallnacht" in 1938, Nazi sympathizers burned the synagogue and vandalized the cemetery. By 1939, only 188 Jews remained in Legnica. In 1941, they were transferred to the Theresienstadt ghetto. Legnica had four Jewish cemeteries sequentially closed for various reasons. The cemeteries were in the vicinity of the castle and ulica Żydowski, the Jewish area in current ulica Bagiennej and the fork in the road. The third cemetery at the current ulica Wroclaw was established in 1838 as a separate city cemetery . The mortuary house built by efforts of Rabbi Landsberg operated from October 1, 1887 to the Nazis occupation. The land was donated by the richest member of the Jewish community, banker Rafael Prausnitz and officially consecrated by the most eminent of Legnica rabbis, Dr Samter. The cemetery connects two most characteristic features ofthe  Legnica Jewish community - tradition and liberalism. The traditional shape and matseva inscriptions were erected in two long rows. Running along the main alley are the graves of the kahal (leaders of the community) and on the other side are monuments typical of late 19th and early 20th century religious sculpture testifying to the acculturation of Legnica Jews and their integration into the local society. The cemetery is a rare, one surviving almost untouched. The cemetery is fenced with a gate. The cemetery at ul Okopowa 49/51, Muranów: Founded in 1806, the cemetery suffered little during WWII and has more than 150,000 gravestones, the largest collection of its kind in Europe. Large parts are neglected and very overgrown. A notice near the entrance lists the graves of many eminent Polish Jews, including Ludwik Zamenhof, creator of the international artificial language Esperanto. The tomb of Ber Sonnenberg (1764-1822) is one of Europe's finest funerary monuments: Take the first paved path on the left beyond the ticket office and at a junction on your right, look lef for the roofed structure over by the wall. The marble relief on one side shows a walled city by a river and a Jewish cemetery. On the other side is the Tower of Babel and a forest hung with musical instruments as well as a ship sinking in the river. Photos. Video. photos. [May 2009]

REFERENCE: They Lived Among Us: Polish Judaica, a travel brochure: Arline Sachs, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

BOOK: Gruber, Ruth Ellen. Jewish Heritage Travel A Guide to East-Central Europe. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1992. p. 26

Last Updated on Friday, 12 June 2009 00:43
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