Austria - Czech

CURRENT CZECH NAME: Usov                                                    .........Click on thumbnail for old map...

OTHER NAMES/SPELLINGS: Mahrisch-Aussee or Aussee 

                     Usov is a small town in Moravia, Sumperk district, Czech Republic.  Its coordinates are: 49.05 longitude and 21.55 latitude.  Usov is 185 km ESE of Prague, 75 km N of Brno, and 18 km S of the district town of Sumperk. 

(For current location, see Map - by Mapquest, then click on your browser's "Back" button to return to this page).

                     The earliest records available indicate that there were at least 7 Jews living in Usov already in 1564 and a document of that year gives the names of three of them: David, Jakub and Markus. Although small in number, they were apparently important enough to the economy to cause Maximillian II to change the day of the town’s weekly market from Saturday to Wednesday in 1571.
                     A document from 1600 shows that out of 60 houses in the town, Jews inhabited 9.  By 1609, the community had grown sufficiently to warrant its first resident Rabbi. However, in 1643, military actions carried out by the Swedish army caused the death of many Jews living there as well as the destruction of many of the 19 houses they by then occupied. Under the protection of the Prince of Lichtensetin, the last quarter of the 17th century was a period of peace for the Jews living in Usov and the Jewish population grew from only around 10 Jewish families in 1657 to 110 families by the early 1700s.
                     The year of 1721 was, alas, a fateful year for the Jews of Usov. On September 30 of that year, a priest, named Samuel Gelinek from Dubitzko, came into the synagogue during services on the eve of Yom Kippur.  He caused a big commotion and when some of the congregants tried to calm him down, he hit them with a stick, fell down, and accused them of injuring him.  A lengthy legal battle followed with the result that in 1722 an order was handed down requiring the demolition of the synagogue and the punishment of 4 Jews (although the Jews were permitted to hold some services in private houses). Anti-Semitic attacks by the clergy continued however and tension remained high -- exploding in 1737, when the Jews wanted to have a procession to inaugurate a new Torah scroll.  The clergy felt offended by what they saw as an imitation of Catholic processions and demanded a prohibition of Jewish prayers even in private houses. But, the officials eventually supported the right of Jews to have such services.
                     Ten years later, in 1747, another conflict erupted.  When the treasurer of the Jewish community was accused of theft and city officials went to arrest him, they discovered approximately 30 Jews participating in a prayer services, which was much greater than the 10 allowed. A priest by the name of Prunner levied a new complaint against the Jewish community and it was not until 1751 when officials finally determined that the Jews could not be prohibited from praying together. Although Prunner continued his attempts to have prayer services prohibited, he was unsuccessful and the following years witnessed a growth of the Jewish population and their economic contributions in the town.  In 1753, the Jews were allowed to set aside a 3-room place for prayer and finally, in 1780, permission was granted to erect a synagogue on the same site where the demolished one had stood. 
                     Prior to 1890, Usov had existed as an independent congregation. But due to declining population, it was joined with the nearby town of Schonberg/Sumperk in that year. Until WWII, it was the seat of the Jewish religious congregation for the whole district (which included, in addition, the Jewish communities in Romerstadt/Rymarov, Neustadt/Unicov, Sumvald, Johnsdorf/Janusov, Hohenstadt/Zabreh, and Hannsdorf/Hanusovice). 
                     The highest Jewish population in Usov was probably 656 in 1830 but this number dropped to 150 in 1890, 101 in 1900 and to 20 in 1930.  As far as is known, only one man survived the Nazi occupation. 
                      Usov’s Jewish quarter, established in 1589, was located on a hill, in what was then the NW part of the town.  Over the years, the number of houses there grew: 9 in 1600, 19 in 1667, 28 in 1753, 45 two story houses by the middle of the 1800s.  Many of these houses have been preserved.

                     Although many of the archival records from Northern Moravia were destroyed during WWII, some records from Usov can be found in the Jewish Museum in Prague and in the District Archives in Janovice near Rymarov. For example, the author of this GemeindeView has, through the work of a paid researcher, obtained from documents at those 2 locations information about her Lowy ancestors and a considerable number of (related?) individuals with the Lowy surname living in Usov in the later 1700s and 1800s. The types of records from which this information was gathered included: birth, marriage, death, tax, burial and property records.  It is hoped that this section on Genealogical Resources will be expanded at a future time with details about what archival records are available. 

                     Rabbi Mortiz Duschak, known for his many historical works, officiated in Usov before 1856. Vlastimil Artur Polak, the German-Jewish poet and journalist, was born in Usov in 1914 (he died in 1990 in Olomouc).  Albert Lowy from Usov went to England and became active in Jewish causes. As Secretary of the Anglo-Jewish Association in the latter half of the 1800s, he was among those arguing for Jewish nationalism, unlike many others in Czechoslovakia at that time who favored assimilation. 

                     The Jews of Usov lost their first Synagogue in the Thirty Years’ War.  Sometime before 1689, a second synagogue was built but it was demolished in 1722 (see above under History for description of that episode).  In the early 1780s, a third synagogue was built at the same site where the second had stood, in the center of the Jewish quarter. Services were held there up until 1938.  In that year, the Nazis burnt the interior furnishings and important archives. After the war the building was renovated for use by the Czech Brethren’s Protestant Church. 

                     There are no traces of an old cemetery believed to have existed already in the 15th century that was destroyed by the Swedish army in 1643.  Another cemetery was established (probably around 1645) on the NW boundary of the Jewish quarter.  Enlarged in the first half of the 1800s, it was used for burials until WWII.  Although much of this cemetery was wrecked when the Nazi’s used it for a shooting range, there are still over 500 gravestones there (the earliest dating from 1745). Many of the tombstones are notable examples of Baroque and Classicist styles. The cemetery is a designated landmark and restoration work has resulted in clearing of vegetation and fixing of the continuous masonry wall.  The site is today used only for the Jewish cemetery. There appears to be only slight threat to the cemetery in terms of security, vegetation, vandalism, and new or future development.

                     Sections on Usov can be found in 2 works by Hugo Gold: Die Juden und Judengeneinden Mahrens in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart (1929) [The Jews and Jewish Communities of Moravia, Past and Present] and Gedenkbuch der Untergegangenen Judengemeinden Mahrens (1974) [Memorial Book of the Lost Jewish Communities of Moravia].  The section on Usov found in the latter is essentially a condensed version of the Usov section found in the former. 
                      In addition to describing the history of the town, Gold also includes names of individuals found in various documents from Usov.  Below is a (chronological) listing of those names, followed by the year(s) and occupation or other information associated with that name as presented by Gold. 
                      As most of the names presented by Gold come from documents prior to 1787, when Jews in the Austrian Empire were required to adopt surnames, most of them appear in the "X  ben Y" form. 


Abraham Littmann  1600  
Rabbi David ben Jacob  abt 1609  
Jakob Abraham  latter part of 1600s and 1667  
Abraham Alexander  latter part of 1600s  
Moyses Brodt  latter part of 1600s  
Samuel Isakh  latter part of 1600s  
Abraham Issakh  latter part of 1600s  
Dawid Kigowsky  latter part of 1600s  
Israel Markus  latter part of 1600s  
Issak Polak  latter part of 1600s  
Jakub Polakh  latter part of 1600s  
Wolff Prazak  latter part of 1600s  
Jakob Schneider  latter part of 1600s  
Samuel Schneider  latter part of 1600s  
Jacov Davidt  1667  
Hirsch Isak  1667  
Wolf Isak  1667  
Josef Kiyowsky (Josef Kyjowsky) 1667  
Jochem Lobl  1667  
Markus Samuel 1667  
Abraham Schulklopfer  1667  
Isak Simon 1667  
SalomonWasservogel 1667  
Isak Davidt (Issak Dawid)  1667 and 1674  
Abraham Schlome 1674  
Joseff Polakh  1675  
Markus Wellsch 1675  
Abraham Buchbinder  1677  
Lobl Aron  1722  
Joachim Ascher  1722  
Salomon Baruch 1722  
Abraham Hirschl (A. Hirrschel)  1722  
Bernard Israel  1722  
Abraham Markus (A. Markus)  1722  
Jacob Samuel (J. Samuel)  1722  
Abraham Wolff (A. Wolff) 1722  
Israel Salomon 1722 and 1753 Wool dealer, living in small house
David Twele Aschkenasi abt 1722 Rabbi
Bernadt Israel (Bernard Israel) abt 1722  Community Leader
Joshua Hirsch  1737  
Hersch Abraham  1753  Peddler
Abraham Binkler 1753 Peddler
Jakob Boder 1753  
Gotzl David 1753 Community messanger
Joachim David 1753 Flannel dealer, living in small house
Salomon David 1753 Tailor
Isaac Eisik 1753 Peddler, living in small house
Moyses Hess 1753 Fur dealer
Jacob Hirschl 1753 Peddler
Mendl Hirschl 1753 Peddler
Salomon Hirschl 1753 Peddler
Aaron Isaac 1753 Glaser
Liberel Isaak 1753 Tailor
Isaie 1753 Peddler, living in small house
Joseph Isaie 1753 Peddler, living in big house
Lobl Israel  1753 Tradesman, living in big house; 1759-1760 Community Leader
Seelig Israel 1753 Peddler, living in small house
David Jacob 1753 Button maker, living in big house
Hentschl Jacob 1753 Peddler
Lobl Jacob 1753 Peddler
Nathan Jacob 1753 Peddler, living in small house
Raphel Joachim 1753 Peddler, living in small house
Mendl Jochim 1753 Peddler, living in small house
Aron Josia 1753 Peddler
Isaac Lachmann 1753 Tailor, living in small house
Abraham Lazarus 1753 (Grease?) dealer
Abraham Leipniker 1753 Wool dealer, living in big house; abt 1760 Community Leader
Emanuel Leipniker 1753 Butcher
Josia Lipmann 1753 Peddler
Samuel Lipmann 1753 Peddler
Abraham Lobl 1753 Peddler, living in small house
David Lobl 1753 Peddler
Isaac Lobl 1753 Glaser, living in small house
Isaac Lobl 1753 Butcher
Jacob Lobl 1753 Peddler
Lazarus Lobl 1753 Peddler, living in small house
Lipmann Lobl 1753 Tailor, living in big house
Salomon Lobl 1753 Peddler
Michl Markus 1753 Peddler
Marcus Mayer 1753 Peddler
Evicdr Melcher 1753 Tradesman, living in small house
Joachim Mendl 1753 Peddler
Jacob Moyses 1753 Pen dealer, living in big house
Jonas Moyses  1753 Peddler, living in small house
Mayer Moyses 1753 Peddler
Samuel Moyses 1753 Tailor
Simon Nathan 1753 Tailor
Isaac Salomon 1753 Peddler, living in big house
Lazarus Salomon 1753 (Grease?) dealer, living in big house
Jacob Salomon 1753 Peddler, living in small house
Nathan Salomon 1753 Peddler
Moyses Seelig 1753 Peddler, living in small house
Nathan Seelig 1753 Peddler, living in small house
Ruben Simon 1753 Peddler
Isaac Simon 1753 Peddler
Isaak Wasservogel  1753 Community Leader, wool dealer, living in big house
Juda Wasservogl 1753 Peddler
Peretz Frankel (Until) 1770  Rabbi
Salomon Moyes Hess 1780  
Lobl Israel 1780  
Aron Jakob 1780  
Meises Jakob 1780  
Aron Lazarus 1780  
Isak Lobl 1780  
Nathan Seman 1780  
Lobl Jakob 1782  Community Leader
ArgeLobl Lewitt 1782 Community Leader
Berl Redlich no year(s) given  Community Leader
Jonas Eissler no year(s) given  Community Leader
Abraham ben Mendel (Until)1820  Rabbi
Israel Reik 1820 - 1825  Rabbi
Lob Pollak abt 1825  Rabbi
Mr. Guggenheim abt 1855  Rabbi
Moritz Mordechai Duschak Until 1855 Rabbi
Mr. Guggenheim's son  abt 1875 Rabbi
Dr. Berhnard Templer 1884 - 1899  Rabbi
Dr. Moritz Emil Prossnitz 1899 - 1906  Rabbi
Dr. G. Rosenmann 1906 (to 1921) Rabbi
Dr. Josef Hoff 1921 to at least 1929 Rabbi

--Ehl, Peter, Arno Parik and Jiri Fiedler, Old Bohemian and Moravian Jewish Cemeteries,(Prague, Paseka: 1991)
--Encyclopedia Judaica (Berlin, 1929) 
--Fiedler, Jiri. Jewish Sights of Bohemia and Moravia. (Prague, Sefer: 1991)
--Gold, Hugo. Die Juden und Judengemeinden Mahrens in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart. (Brunn, Judischer Buch und Kunstverlag: 1929)
--Gold, Hugo. Gedenkbuch der Untergegandgenen Judengemeinden Mahrens. (Tel Aviv, Alamenu: 1974)
--Gruber, Samuel and Phyllis Myers, Survey of Historic Jewish Monuments in the Czech Republic. (New York, United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad: 1994)
--Jewish Encyclopedia
--Kestenberg-Gladstein, Ruth. “The Jews Between Czechs and Germans in the Historic Lands, 1848-1918.” in The Jews of Czechoslovakia, Vol I. (Philadelphia, The Jewish Publication Society of America: 1968)
--Mokotoff, Gary and Sallyann Amdur Sack, Where Once We Walked, A guide to the Jewish Communities Destroyed in the Holocaust. (Teaneck, NJ, Avotaynu: 1991)

SUBMITTER:  Anne Feder Lee, 7207 Kuahono St., Honolulu, HI 96825 USA.  E-mail: 103004.2157@compuserve.com

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