|Slovak Jews |
|Slovak, Hebrew, Yiddish|
|Related ethnic groups|
|other Ashkenazi Jews|
|Historical Slovak Jewish population|
In the 14th century, about 800 Jews lived in Bratislava, the majority of them engaged in commerce and money lending. In the early 15th century, a Jewish cemetery was established at Tisinec and was in use until 1892.
In 1494, a blood libel caused a number of Jews to be burned at the stake, and in 1526, after the Battle of Mohács, Jews were expelled from all major towns. In 1529, thirty Jews were burned at the stake in Pezinok.
In the late 17th century and early 18th century, Jews began to return to their original cities and establish organized communities, though they were barred from many trading industries and often in conflict with non-Jews. In 1683, hundreds of Jews from Moravia fled to Slovakia, seeking refuge from Kuruc riots and restrictions on their living imposed in Moravia. In 1700, a leading yeshiva was established in Bratislava and recognized by the government. Under Joseph II, Jews received many additional civil liberties.
In 1867, Slovakia became part of Austria-Hungary and was classified as "Northern Hungary". Jews were fully emancipated in 1867, but an 1868 law did not recognize nationalities other than Hungarian, which put the Jews in a favorable position compared to their neighbors who refused to renounce their Slovak identity. By the early twentieth century, they controlled 45% of Slovakia's assets despite being only 4% of the population—a situation that exacerbated antisemitism. The Jewish population grew, especially in small, secluded towns in the east. However, widespread antisemitism prevented Jews from assimilating. In 1882 and 1883, antisemitic rioting occurred in several towns.
In 1896, the "Reception Law" was introduced. Under this law, Judaism and Christianity were placed on an equal level. Shortly afterward, the Slovak Clerical People's Party was formed. Its main interests were anti-liberalism and limiting Jewish influence.
During the 19th century and early 20th century, the Zionist movement also reached Slovakia, and eight local Zionist groups were formed. In 1903, Bratislava hosted the First Hungarian Zionist Convention, and the following year, the First World Mizrahi Congress was held there.
After World War I and the creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918, Jews had the right to declare themselves a separate nationality and prospered in industry and cultural life, holding more than one-third of all industrial investments. In 1919, the National Federation of Slovak Jews and the Jewish Party were established. In the 1929 elections, the Jewish Party won two seats in parliament. In addition, a Jewish newspaper, the "Jewish People's Paper", was first published in Bratislava on August 2, 1919. In the first national census in Czechoslovakia, carried out on February 15, 1921, 135,918 people registered as practicing Jews, and 70,522 declared themselves of Jewish nationality. In addition, there were 165 Orthodox and 52 Reform congregations in the country.
Slovak Jews were not divided from their neighbors by language. Language spoken in public related to shifting national boundaries, with Jews in towns that had been part of Hungary speaking more Hungarian and those always part of Slovakia speaking more Slovak. The anti Hungarian bias stemmes from the Slavs having been a conquered people and it became illegal to speak Hungarian in public on the streets. The myth that Jews divided themselves by language was perpetuated as a means to scapegoat Jews in order to foster hate actions and rob Jewish citizens of theie countrt from property and livelihood and eventually lives. as religion; most Slovak Jews spoke Czech, German, or Hungarian for business purposes, while most Gentiles spoke Slovak.
In the 1930s, antisemitic rioting and demonstrations broke out, incited by the Slovak People's Party. During the rioting, professional Jewish boxers and wrestlers took to the streets to defend their neighborhoods from antisemitic gangs, and one of them, Imi Lichtenfeld, would later use his experiences to develop Krav Maga.
Some 5,000 Jews emigrated before the outbreak of World War II and several thousands afterwards (mostly to the British Mandate of Palestine), but most were killed in the Holocaust. After the Slovak Republic proclaimed its independence in March 1939 under the protection of Nazi Germany, the pro-Nazi regime of President Jozef Tiso, a Catholic priest, began a series of measures aimed against the Jews in the country, first excluding them from the military and government positions. The Hlinka Guard began to attack Jews, and the "Jewish Code" was passed in September 1941. Resembling the Nuremberg Laws, the Code required that Jews wear a yellow armband and were banned from intermarriage and many jobs. By 1940, more than 6,000 Jews had emigrated. By October 1941, 15,000 Jews were expelled from Bratislava; many were sent to labor camps, including Sereď.
Originally, the Slovak government tried to make a deal with Germany in October 1941 to deport its Jews as a substitute for providing Slovak workers to help the war effort. The initial terms were for 20,000 young men aged 16 and older for forced labour, but the Slovak government was concerned that it would leave many aged, sick, or child Jews who would become a burden on the gentile population. A deal was reached where the Slovak Republic would pay 500 Reichmarks for each Jew deported, and in return, the Germans would deport entire families and promise that the Jews would never return. This was billed as a humanitarian measure that would keep Jewish families together;[a] the Slovak fascist authorities claimed that they did not know that the Germans were systematically exterminating the Jews under its control. Some Jews were exempt from deportation, including those who had converted before 1939.
The deportations of Jews from Slovakia started on March 25, 1942.[b] Transports were halted on October 20, 1942. A group of Jewish activists known as the Working Group tried to stop the process through a mix of bribery and negotiation. However, some 58,000 Jews had already been deported by October 1942, mostly to the Operation Reinhard death camps in the General Government in occupied Poland and to Auschwitz. More than 99% of the Jews deported from Slovakia in 1942 were murdered in the concentration death camps.
Jewish deportations resumed on September 30, 1944, after German troops occupied the Slovak territory in order to defeat the Slovak National Uprising. During the German occupation, up to 13,500 Slovak Jews were deported (mostly to Auschwitz where most of them were gassed upon arrival), principally through the Jewish transit camp in Sereď under the command of Alois Brunner, and about 2,000 were murdered in the Slovak territory by members of the Einsatzgruppe H and the Hlinka Guard Emergency Divisions. Deportations continued until March 31, 1945 when the last group of Jewish prisoners was taken from Sereď to the Terezín ghetto. In all, German and Slovak authorities deported about 71,500 Jews from Slovakia; about 65,000 of them were murdered or died in concentration camps. The overall figures are inexact, partly because many Jews did not identify themselves, but one 2006 estimate is that approximately 105,000 Slovak Jews, or 77% of their prewar population, died during the war.
In Topoľčany pogrom 48 Jews were seriously injured. 13 anti-Jewish incidents called partisan pogroms took place 1–5 August 1946, the biggest one in Žilina, where 15 people were wounded. Anti-Semitic manifestations took place in Bratislava in August 1946 and in August 1948.
In 1946, the Slovak writer Karel František Koch argued that the anti-semitic incidents that he witnessed in Bratislava after the war were "not antisemitism, but something far worse—the robber’s anxiety that he might have to return Jewish property [stolen in the Holocaust]," a view that has been endorsed by Czech-Slovak scholar Robert Pynsent.
After the war, the number of Jews in Slovakia was estimated to 25,000. Most of them decided to emigrate. In February 1948, Communist rule was established after 1948 Czechoslovak coup d'état, lasting until November 1989 Velvet Revolution, and little or no Jewish life existed. Many Jews emigrated to Israel or the United States to regain their freedom of religion. After 1989, and with the peaceful breakup of Czechoslovakia and Slovak independence in 1993, there was some resurgence in Jewish life. However, most Jews were elderly, and younger ones largely assimilated through intermarriage.
Amitrawas invoked but never defined (see the help page).
The Aid and Rescue Committee, or Va'adat Ha-Ezrah ve-ha-Hatzalah be-Budapesht (Vaada for short; name in Hebrew: ועדת העזרה וההצלה בבודפשט) was a small committee of Zionists based in Budapest in 1944-45, who helped Hungarian Jews escape the Holocaust during the German occupation of Hungary. The Committee was also known as the Rescue and Relief Committee, and the Budapest Rescue Committee.
The main personalities of the Vaada and the efforts of Jewish rescue in Hungary were Dr. Ottó Komoly, president; Rudolf Kastner, executive vice-president and de facto leader; Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who resided in Hungary; Per Anger, Swedish diplomat who was awarded the "Righteous Among the Nations" title; Samuel Springmann, treasurer; and Joel Brand, who was in charge of tijul, or the underground rescue of Jews. Other members were Hansi Brand (Joel Brand's wife); Moshe Krausz and Eugen Frankl (both Orthodox Jews); and Ernst Szilagyi from the left-wing Hashomer Hatzair.Foreign relations of Slovakia
Slovak Republic has been a member of European Union since 2004. Slovakia has been an active participant in U.S.- and NATO-led military actions. There is a joint Czech-Slovak peacekeeping force in Kosovo. After the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack on the United States, the government opened its airspace to coalition planes. In June 2002, Slovakia announced that they would send an engineering brigade to Afghanistan.
Slovak Republic is a member of the United Nations and participates in its specialized agencies. It is a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the OECD. It also is part of the Visegrad Four (Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Poland), a forum for discussing areas of common concern. Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic entered into a Customs Union upon the division of Czechoslovakia in 1993, which facilitates a relatively free flow of goods and services. Slovak Republic maintains diplomatic relations with 134 countries, primarily through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There are 44 embassies and 35 honorary consulates in Bratislava.Hansi Brand
Hajnalka "Hansi" Brand (née Hartmann; 26 August 1912 – 9 April 2000) was a Hungarian-born Zionist activist who was involved, as a member of the Budapest Aid and Rescue Committee, in efforts to rescue Jews during the Holocaust.Heydukova Street Synagogue
The Heydukova Street Synagogue is the only Jewish synagogue in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. It was constructed in 1923 – 1926 on Heydukova Street in the Old Town in Cubist style, designed by the local Jewish architect Artur Szalatnai.
The synagogue is an important example of Slovak religious architecture of the 20th century and it is listed as a Slovak National Cultural Monument. It is one of only four active synagogues in Slovakia and historically one of three in Bratislava, the other two were demolished in the 20th century. The building also houses the Bratislava Jewish Community Museum, installed upstairs, with a permanent exhibition “The Jews of Bratislava and Their Heritage” which is open to the public during the summer season.History of the Jews in the Czech Republic
Jews in Bohemia (also known as Bohemian Jews/Czech Jews), today's Czech Republic, are predominantly Ashkenazi Jews, and the current Jewish population is only a fraction of the pre-Holocaust Jewish population. As of 2005, there were approximately 4,000 Jews living in the Czech Republic. There is evidence that Jews have lived in Moravia and Bohemia since as early as the 10th century.Kastner trial
The Attorney-General of the Government of Israel v. Malchiel Gruenwald, commonly known as the Kastner trial, was a libel case in Jerusalem, Israel. Hearings were held from 1 January to October 1954 in the District Court of Jerusalem before Judge Benjamin Halevi (1910–1996), who published his decision on 22 June 1955.Killing Kasztner
Killing Kasztner: The Jew who Dealt with the Nazis is a feature-length theatrical documentary about Rudolf Kastner and directed by Gaylen Ross.Ross first learned of Kasztner while working on another documentary, Blood Money: Switzerland's Nazi Gold. Ross interviewed a Hungarian woman who asserted that Kasztner had saved her life. Ross spent the next eight years researching and filming the documentary on Kasztner. She interviewed survivors who had been rescued by Kasztner, Kasztner's living relatives, the son of the opposing lawyer in Kasztner's case, historians, journalists, and Kasztner's assassin, Ze'ev Eckstein.
The film premiered at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival and has been well received by critics in Israel, Hungary, the US, and the UK. Its U.S. premiere was October 23, 2009.Koso affair
The Koso affair was a bribery scandal involving Isidor Koso, the head of the prime minister's office of the Slovak State. An illegal Jewish organization called the Working Group had been bribing Koso's wife, Žofia Kosova, by paying her son's tuition at a private school in Switzerland. Kosova was arrested at the Swiss border in late October 1943 with 5,000 Swiss francs from the Working Group and a letter from Fleischmann to Saly Mayer, the JDC representative in Switzerland, asking him for another 45,000 Swiss francs. Fleischmann and several other ÚŽ employees were arrested. Extremists in the Slovak government attacked those seen as soft on the Jews, and Koso was dismissed.Michael Dov Weissmandl
Michael Dov Weissmandl (25 October 1903 – 29 November 1957) was an Orthodox rabbi who became known for his efforts to save the Jews of Slovakia from extermination at the hands of the Nazis during the Holocaust. He was one of the leaders of the Bratislava Working Group, an underground organization that attempted to save Slovak Jews and other European Jews from deportation to death camps.
Largely by bribing diplomats, Weissmandl was able to smuggle letters or telegrams to people he hoped would help save the Jews of Europe, alerting them to the progressive Nazi destruction of European Jewry. He managed to send letters to Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and he entrusted a diplomat to deliver a letter to the Vatican for Pope Pius XII.
He originated the proposal to bomb the rails leading to Auschwitz, but his along with subsequent suggestions from others was ultimately not implemented. He and his Working Group helped distribute the Auschwitz Protocols to Switzerland and many other Countries, This triggered large-scale demonstrations in Switzerland, sermons in Swiss churches about the tragic plight of Jews and a Swiss press campaign of about 400 headlines protesting the atrocities against Jews. The events in Switzerland and possibly other considerations led to threats of retribution against Hungary's Regent Miklós Horthy by President Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and others. This was one of the main factors which convinced Horthy to stop the Hungarian death camp transports.New Orthodox Synagogue (Košice)
The New Orthodox Synagogue, Košice (Slovak: Nová ortodoxná synagóga v Košiciach) was built in the years 1926–1927 at Puškinova Street near the historic centre of Košice, Slovakia. It superseded the older Orthodox Synagogue in Zvonárska Street, constructed in 1899 to the design of János Balogh.Nitra Synagogue
The Nitra Synagogue (Slovak: Synagoga v Nitře) is a historical building in Nitra, Slovakia.The synagogue was built in 1908-1911 for the Neolog Jewish community. It was designed by Lipót Baumhorn (1860–1932), the prolific Budapest-based synagogue architect. Located in a narrow lane, the building is a characteristic example of Baumhorn's style. A melange of Moorish, Byzantine and Art Nouveau elements, it faces the street with a two-tower façade.
The sanctuary is a domed hall supported by four pillars that also support the women’s gallery. After more than a decade of painstaking restoration by the municipality of Nitra, the building is now used as a center for cultural activities.The women's gallery houses "The Fate of Slovak Jews" – Slovakia's national Holocaust memorial exhibition. The synagogue serves as a permanent exhibition space for graphic works by the Nitra-born Israeli artist Shraga Weil.Ottó Komoly
Otto Komoly (also known as Nathan Kohn) (26 March 1892 – 1 January 1945) was a Hungarian Jewish engineer, officer, zionist, and humanitarian leader in Hungary. He is credited with saving thousands of children during the German occupation of Budapest in World War II.Perfidy (book)
Perfidy is a book written by Ben Hecht in 1961. The book describes the events surrounding the 1954–1955 Kastner trial in Jerusalem.
The book is based on transcripts from the trial and concludes that in 1944 Rudolf Kastner deliberately withheld from the Jews in Hungary, knowledge that the trains the Nazis were putting them on were taking them to death by the gas chamber, not to a fictitious resettlement city as the Nazis claimed and that Kastner then lied about it under oath. One of the supporting facts presented is that, in the Supreme Court appeal of the original verdict implicating Kastner, all five Supreme Court Judges upheld Judge Halevi's initial verdict on the "criminal and perjurious way" in which Kastner after the war had testified on behalf of Nazi war criminal Kurt Becher. Judge Silberg summed up the Supreme Court finding on this point: "[respondent Malchiel] Greenwald has proven beyond any reasonable doubt this grave charge." Most of the judgement was later overturned.Religion in Slovakia
Christianity is the predominant religion in Slovakia. The majority (62%) of Slovaks belong to the Latin Church of Catholicism; with the addition of a further 4% of Greek (Byzantine) Catholics, all Catholics account for 66%. Members of a Protestant denomination, mainly Lutheran or Reformed, account for 9%. Members of other churches, including those non-registered, account for 1.1% of the population. The Eastern Orthodox Christians are mostly found in Ruthenian (Rusyns) areas. The Catholic Church divides the country into 8 dioceses including 3 archdioceses in two different provinces. The Slovak Greek Catholic Church is a Metropolitan sui iuris Church with three Eparchies in Slovakia and one in Canada. Generally about one third of church members regularly attend church services.Other religions practiced in Slovakia include Bahá'í Faith, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. There are 18 registered churches and religions. There were an estimated 0.2% Muslims in Slovakia in 2010. While the country had an estimated pre-World War II Jewish population of 90,000, only about 2,300 Jews remain today. In 2010, there were an estimated 5,000 Muslims in Slovakia representing less than 0.1% of the country's population.In 2016, Slovak parliament passed a bill that requires all religious movements and organizations to have a minimum of 50,000 verified practicing members in order to become state-recognized. The bill has been both well-received, as a method of curbing potentially dangerous and abusive new religious movements, and criticized for favoring Christianity and breaching the ideal of state secularism. The law passed by a two-third majority in the parliament.Sereď concentration camp
Sereď concentration camp was a concentration camp built during World War II in the Slovak Republic. It was founded as a labor camp for the Jewish population in September 1941. In September 1944, it was transformed into a concentration camp operated by units of the SS.Trenčín Synagogue
The Trenčín Synagogue is a building in the city of Trenčín in Slovakia.Yonasan Steif
Rabbi Yonasan Steif (Yiddish: יונתן שטייף; 1877–1958) was a senior dayan of Budapest, Hungary, before the Second World War, a man whom Rabbi Moshe Feinstein referred to as the gadol hador (spiritual leader of the generation). He was a world-renowned posek and halachic authority.
He served as senior dayan together with Rabbi Israel Welcz. The Rosh Beth Din was Rabbi Efraim Fishel Zussman Sofer. While Rabbi Steif may have assumed the role of rosh beth din as the year 1944 approached, he was not such for most of his tenure.
Rabbi Steif was rescued from death in the Holocaust in 1944 as a result of a deal between Rudolph Kastner, and a deputy of Adolf Eichmann. He journeyed on the Kastner train, a special train bound for neutral Switzerland, along with other prominent Jews including the Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum; the Debreciner Rov, Rabbi Moshe Stern; Adolph Deutsch, head of the Budapest branch of Agudath Israel; and many "ordinary" Jews.
He and his wife Bluma had 2 children; a son named Tzvi Yehuda and a daughter named Esther Shulamis. His son died in the Holocaust together with his young son Aron while trying to escape the Nazis. The rest of his family, including his wife, his daughter-in-law Breindel with her two other sons and his daughter Esther with her 2 young sons were rescued with Rabbi Steif, on the Kastner train. His son-in-law Aron Bleier (Esther's husband) was in the concentration camps at the time but miraculously survived and was re-united with the family after the war. A third son was born to them in 1950.
He resettled and was appointed as rabbi of Kehal Adas Yereim in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, which had been founded by Orthodox Jews who came from Vienna living in New York, and he was known as the Wiener Rov (rabbi of Vienna). He was a major Posek, he wrote halachic responsa, works on the Talmud and two works setting forth the obligations of gentiles, one called Sefer Mitsvos Ha-Shem, "The Book of God's Commandments".
He died at Montefiore Hospital in The Bronx, New York on August 25, 1958.
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