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[Pages 325-326]

The History of the Jews in Kunratice-by-Prague
Kunratice u Prahy/Kunratitz bei Prag)

(Kunratice u Prahy, Czech Republic – 50°01' 14°30')

Compiled by Jaroslav Rokycana, Prague

Translated from the original Czech by Jan O. Hellmann/DK

Edited by Rob Pearman/UK

The small picturesque town of Kunratice sits within a forest and was described for the first time in 1287. The town church dates from the 14th century. The rectory disappeared during the Hussite wars and was replaced in 1736. The church of Saint John once an important place of worship - was closed down in 1787 and later totally destroyed.

From 1336, the town was in the possession of a Prague citizen called Velf Frenclín; after him it belonged to the Bohuslavice family. In 1407, it was bought by King Václav[1]. In 1410, he began to build a new castle called Wenzelstein[2] on the hill within the forest. He died there in 1419. It then became the home of Queen Žofie[3]. The castle was destroyed by the people of Prague in 1421, and all that remains today are a few ruins.

Later Kunratice became a possession of the lords of Rábí, who received it from the Emperor Zikmund[4] in 1530. Subsequently it was owned by Václav Zima from Novosedla, then from 1541 by the Hyserls from Chodov, and from 1602 by Josef Pražan who was an ancestor of the Voříškovy family from Kunratice. This family was followed in 1665 by Maxim Malovec from Malovice; he in turn was followed in 1795 by Count Clam-Martinic. In 1801, he transferred this independent manor, which by then also comprised the farms of šeberov and Hrnčíře (944 ha), into the possession of Mr. A. Korba from Weidenheim.

There are many records about Kunratice in the chronicle Fontes rerum Bohemicarum the source material for the Czech History by Josef Emler, part 4 - as well as in the Zbraslav Chronicle, in the chronicle written by František Pražský, in the chronicle written by Beneš Krabice from Weitmile, and in others. Until 1921, the town was in the jurisdiction of Nusle in the Královské Vinohrady region, but by a governmental decree dated 19 December 1921 it was moved to the region of Zbraslav.

There was a Jewish community in Kunratice from ancient times. The town was close to Prague, where it was difficult for foreign Jews to obtain the right to settle. This meant that towns in the periphery such as Michle, Kunratice, Zbraslav, Libeň and others grew very rapidly.

Their importance became even greater when the Empress Maria Theresia[5] expelled Jews from Prague, as it meant that many of them were able to settle here and still visit Prague )

Before the law of Josef II[6], there was already a Jewish record of births, deaths and weddings in Kunratice. These records covered a large number of the surrounding villages. The Jewish cemetery for the community was far away in Křížkový Ujezdec, which is near Jílový. The more remote communities used the cemetery in Třebetov near Kosoře. This small cemetery was catalogued by Prof. Dr. Jakobovic[7] at the instruction of the Highest Jewish Bohemian Council in 1930. It is hoped that this monograph will be issued soon at the cost of the same organization. From this catalogue, I am able to quote that the oldest grave here is from 1760, although there will be older gravestone deeper in the soil/ground. By chance, this stone that dates from 1760 is very important for the history of Czech Jews, as it is the grave of Jakub, son of Sondel Popper from Smíchov[8]. He was probably the brother of the Jewish mayor Wolf Popper from Březnice.

On the grave stone of Samuel Ballenberger, an ancestor of the well-known Czech-Jewish printer Leopold Ballenberger[9], it is written:

“This is the place of rest of a pious husband, caring father and knowledgeable rabbi Samuel Ballenberger. Here lies at rest a jewel of his lineage, honor and glory of Israel, a man of letters, the glorious Rabbi Samuel Ballenberger, son of Jakub of Bamberk. He died on 6 Adar[10] and was buried on 7 Adar 5614 (1854) at the age of 82 years. Our father, we are obliged merely to raise for you a stone. Shall just a stone announce your perfection to future generations? As if it was possible to report to future generations your wisdom, doings, justice and remarkable knowledge on just a stone. The tooth of time will soon destroy it; after a few years a stone is weathered and disappears. However, you have an imperishable memory in heaven, where it is marked by God's finger for eternity. The angels of peace present you with the ring of glory. Your spirit will hover in heavenly glory and participate in an eternal joy of life. Your soul shall be connected with the living.”

In order to imagine how many Jews moved from the country to Prague in the recent decades, we need to look into the “Statistics for the Zbraslav area” for 1879 (Statistické popsání okresu zbraslavského), There we find the following Jewish numbers even in villages where today are none:

Bojanovice, 5; Černolice, 22; Černošice, 5; Chuchle, 5; Čísovice, 9; Davle, 7; Dobřichovice, 51; Hvoznice, 25; Jíloviště, 4; Klínec, 8; Kosoř, 14; Kytín, 11; Lochovice, 11; Lety, 12; Lipany, 4; Lišna, 7; Lochkov, 10; Mníšek, 61; Modřany, 3; Mokropec, 14; Radotín, 9; Řevnice, 8; Skochovice, 9; Slivenec, 10; Štěchovice, 18; Točná, 21; Třebetov, 5; Voněklasy, 22; Záběhlice, 10; Zbraslav, 65.

I was able to determine the Jewish population in the area close to Kunratice before 1852 on the basis of a book by Rabbi Albert Kohn: “ Die Notabelnversammlung der Israeliten Böhmens” (The Listing of Bohemians Israelites) published in Vienna in 1852;

Kunratice: 9 families; Hostivař: 1 family; Šebeřov: 1 family; Kyje: 1 family; Záběhlice: 7 families; Práče: 1 family and 1 synagogue. There was no rabbi in Kunratice. At that time Kunratice was part of the rabbinical region of Karlín, where the rabbi was M. Perl, who had settled in Libeň.

The proximity to Prague led to considerable relocation to the city. In 1910, there were still 13 Jews in Kunratice and seven in Libuše. In 1921, these numbers fell to four Jews in Kunratice and seven in Libuše.

In 1894, the leadership of the Jewish community in Kunratice was as follows: Chairman - Daniel Wiesner from Šebeřov; the Board - Eduard Jakerle from Písečnice, Hynek Back from Jesenice, Lazar Jakerle from Kunratice, Josef Vogel from Libuše, and Josef Polák from Šebeřov. The teacher of religion and catechism was Šimon Brumlík. In Křížkový Újezd, as well as the previously mentioned cemetery, there was a small synagogue, a Chevra Kadisha and an Association for the Assistance of the Sick, whose chairman was Mr. Bernhard Rosenbaum from Nová Hospoda.

Today a small number of children from the area surrounding Kunratice come for education and for services on the Holydays. The teacher of religion is Mr. S. Mandl from Královské Vinohrady. (His picture is in the book J.J.G.M.)[11].

According to the “Jahrbuch der Israelitischen Kultusgemeinden” (The Year Book of Jewish Religious Communities) of 5655, the Kunratice community was formed voluntarily from the following villages: Oujezdec, Dolní Břežany, Cholupeň, Jílové, Hoštěrady, Jesenice, Jirčany, Krhanice, Lomnice, Manderšeit, Písečnice, Velké Popovice, Psary, Radejovice, Kamenný Přívoz, Stiřín, Subice, Teptín, Vestec, Voznice, Zlatníky, Chodov, Hodkovičky, Krč, and Kunratice. The community still does not have its own statutes, and the small religious tax is just enough to preserve the synagogue. The above mentioned Yearbook of 1894 counts 80 Jews in the region, while the statistics of Dr. G. Fleischmann from 1921 record 93 souls.

Until recently, there were three Jewish families in Libuše:

The prominent members of the leadership of the Jewish community of Kunratice are:

In 1933, the Jewish community of Kunratice merged with the community in Michle, which committed to preserve the synagogue and the cemetery

Footnotes

  1. King Václav: Wenceslas (1361-1419) King of Bohemia, son of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles IV. He died of a heart attack while hunting in the woods around his castle Nový Hrad (‘New Castle’) at Kunratice. His death left the country in great turmoil and was followed by almost two decades of conflict known as the Hussite Wars. The reformist Jan Hus had called for greater religious freedom and his execution in 1415 provoked a violent reaction. Return
  2. Wenzelstein: this castle is also known as Nový Hrad (see footnote 1). Return
  3. Queen Zofie: Sophia/Sofia of Bavaria, second wife of Wenceslas in 1389. They had no children. Return
  4. Emperor Zikmund: half-bother of Wenceslas, Sigmund (Sigismund) was King of Bohemia from 1419. He was also King of Hungary, King of Croatia and from 1433-37 Holy Roman Emperor. He was a driving force behind the Council of Constance (1414-18), which not only ended the ‘Three Popes’ controversy within the Roman Catholic Church, but also condemned John Wycliff, Jan Hus and their followers and therefore caused the Hussite Wars that consumed Bohemia from 1419 to 1434. Return
  5. Empress Maria Theresia: the only female ruler of the Hapsburg dynasty, she reigned for 40 years (1740-80) and was married to the Holy Roman Emperor (Frances 1). She had 16 children, one of whom was Marie Antoinette, who became Queen of France as the husband of Louis XVI - both, of course, were guillotined in 1793 after The French Revolution. Return
  6. law of Josef II: the eldest son of Maria Theresia, Josef ruled as Holy Roman Emperor from 1765-90. He is said to have produced 6,000 edicts and 11,000 new laws in his attempts to modernize and rationalize the government of his many lands. Essentially benevolent and paternalistic, he extended full legal freedom to serfs, introduced tax and land reforms. Introducing a policy of religious tolerance, he offended the traditional powers of the Catholic Church. In 1789, he issued a charter of religious toleration for the Jews of Galicia, a region with a large Yiddish-speaking traditional Jewish population. The reference at this point in the original text is assumed to be to a law that required Jewish communities to keep a record of births, marriages and deaths. Previously these were usually included in the Catholic record books kept by the local priest. Return
  7. Prof. Dr. Jakobovic: this is almost certainly the same Prof. Kakobovic/Jakobowitz (born 1887 in Lackenbach, Austria died 1944 in Auschwitz) who was forced by the Nazis to work in Prague with other academic leaders on the systematic documentation and cataloguing of items relating to the life of the Jews in Bohemia and Moravia that were brought to the capital from across the ‘Protectorate’. The material collected subsequently became part of the Jewish Museum of Prague. Return
  8. Sondel Popper: Jacob ben Sondel Popper was born in about 1703 in Lokšany, Březnice (province of Pirbram) and died in 1760 in Smichov, Prague. Return
  9. Czech-Jewish printer Leopold Ballenberger: the Czech Jewish movement opposed the nationalist interpretation of assimilation. The Union of Progressive Czech Jews, founded in 1907, believed that Czech national identity was rooted in Czech culture and spiritual values rather than in a nationalist political program. Jindrich Kohn was the founder of this movement. (See http://www.yivoencyclopedia.org/article.aspx/Kohn_Jindrich.) Return
  10. Adar: the sixth month of the Jewish year, usually in February or early March. Return
  11. the book J.J.G.M.: it has not been possible to determine what this means. Return
  12. farm owner: literally translated as ‘squire’, this probably means he was the owner of a large farmhouse, estate or homestead. Return

 

Links
Description of Kunratice today part of Prague (in Czech): http://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kunratice_%28Praha%29
Short history of Kunratice (in Czech): http://www.praha-kunratice.cz/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10&Itemid=13
Photo from Jewish cemetery in Kunratice: http://foto.mapy.cz/33990-Zidovsky-hrbitov
Videos from Kunratice: http://www.360globe.net/prague/kunratice.html
Photos from Jewish cemetery in Třebotov: http://pamatky.kehilaprag.cz/hledani/trebotov
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