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“Stupava” – Encyclopaedia
of Jewish communities, Slovakia
(Stupava, Slovakia)

48°17' / 17°02'

Translation of the
“Stupava” chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Slovakia

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem, 2003


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This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot Slovakia: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Slovakia,
Edited by Yehoshua Robert Buchler and Ruth Shashak, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.


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[Page 377]

Stupava, Slovakia

Translated by Ariela Levia Zucker

Edited by Yocheved Klausner

 

Stupava (Stomfa in Hungarian, Stamphen in German, Shtamphi in Jewish sources)
is a village in the Bratislava region in western Slovakia.

Year Population No. of Jews %
1736 ---- 128 ----
1828 3,374 819 24.3
1830 3,079 413 13.4
1919 3,300 259 7.9
1930 3,700 232 6.3
1940 3,714 191 5.2
1948 3,910 16 0.5

The village of Stupava is first mentioned in documents dating 1269 as part of the king's properties, but the castle is mentioned earlier. The town of Stupava developed in the 15th century and was given the title and privileges of a town and the right to have a market day, fairs, post office, and several other municipal offices. In the 17th century some businesses and a beer brewery were added.

The town was under the rule of the Pálffy family, an important noble family and one of the family's sons resided there.

The population, mostly Slovaks and the rest Catholic Czechs and Germans, lived off agriculture and manufacture. In the 19th century few factories for agriculture produce and cement were built but the overall farming characteristics remained.

During the period of the Czech Republic no real changes occurred. During the years 1939-1945 Stupava was part of the Slovak state (annexed by Germany). It was liberated in the beginning of April 1945 by the soviet army.

 

The history of the Jewish community

The prevalent thought is that Jews resided in Stupava, temporarily, already in the late middle Ages. But the first testimonies of a permanent dwelling of Jews are from about the year 1600. In the old cemetery there is a tombstone from the year 1642 with the name of the teacher Rabbi Abraham son of Anshil which is a proof that the cemetery was in existence then, and a proof to the existence of a Jewish community.

According to a local tradition, refugees from the pogrom in Poland in 1648-1649 settled in the town in 1649 and in 1670 wealthy families, who were deported from Vienna joined. The count Pálffy gave them his protection.

During the second half of the 17th century the head of the Jewish community was Hirsh Lasels, who worked for the king and was known for his many business connections in Vienna. Lasels did a great deal for the congregation including freeing captives. In that time Stupava grew and became the seat for the Jewish area leadership. One of the first Rabbis in Stupava was Meir Katzenelbogen (or R' Meir Eisenshtat for his town of birth), who wrote Ner Lemaor [A candle for Light] and Mishte Hayayin [Wine Feast]. He was one of the most important scholars of his time.

At the beginning of the 18th century displaced Jewish families from Moravia settled in the town. In documents from 1709 the families Israel, Perel and Feivel from Moravia who received permission to reside in the town, are mentioned. On January 1st 1722 the count Nicholas Pálffy granted a permit to 40 families, in addition to religious officials and their families, to live in the town and partake in varied trading activities except for selling wine and salt, for a period of 40 years.

[Page 378]

The count gave the congregation parcels of land for the building of a synagogue and a new cemetery. Also, he gave his consent to build an additional synagogue if, and when, the existing one will not be sufficient to accommodate everyone. The congregation obtained a permit to employ a Rabbi, butcher, religious teacher and a maintenance person. In exchange the Jews of Stupava paid the count Pálffy a yearly sum of 500 gold coins. Some years later the Jews were requested to pay a ‘tolerance fee’ of 800 gold coins. Rabbi Zanvil Geiring, the congregation head, who was titled Judenrichter [Jewish judge] and received vast administrative authority, signed the agreement in the congregation's name and with him Rabbi Lazar and Rabbi Abraham who were members of the Jewish council, and Rabbi Meir that was the head of a Charity Society. This protection paper, granted by the count Pálffy to the Jews of Stupava, became an example for others, granted by nobility to many congregations in Slovakia. It had to be renewed every so often, with new editions that were meant to rearrange the status of the Jews in town.

In 1735 the Jewish congregation of Stupava consisted of 51 families, some of them from nearby villages. A year later 35 family heads were counted. All but one family that came from Moravia were from Slovakia or Hungary. At that time the Rabbi was Yechiel Michael son of Shlomo, beside him the congregation employed a dayan [judge], a butcher and a teacher from Moravia. We do not have the exact date for the building of the synagogue but there are testimonies that it existed during the 1860. At that time the economic situation of the Jews deteriorated. In the year 1749, 26 families paid a fee of 896 Forints, a huge sum that burdened the community gravely. The head of the community, Moshe Harzfeld and other leaders of the communities in the Bratislava region petitioned the government and asked for the fee to be reduced in face of the hard times.

During the second half of the 18th century the Rabbi in town was Nathan Orholtz who was blamed for his belief in the false Messiah Shabbetay Tzvi. He was expelled from his position but later on reinstituted.

In the tax lists of the Bratislava region of 1767, 46 families are mentioned, but according to several testimonies there were actually 66. According to the same testimonies the congregation employed a Rabbi, Rabbi Benjamin, a butcher, and two teachers. In 1786 a Jewish school where the teaching language was German, opened. The curriculum included religious and secular subjects. This school, one of the first ones in Slovakia was closed shortly per the instructions of the religious leadership. The community at that time had already two butcher shops. During the last third of the 18th century the Rabbis were Rabbi Arye Shraga Feivel, Rabbi Itzik Kalish, Rabbi Shalom Ullman, a scholar that resided in town from 1793, and Rabbi Levi Folech. The congregation employed a cantor and a butcher, who was also the teacher. Some testimonies are that Rabi Folech had a Yeshiva and a Talmud Torah.

In 1803 a new, more spacious synagogue was built. It was erected in the Baroque style (the dimensions were 17x23 m). It resembled in its style the synagogues in Poland and was one of the very few in this style in Slovakia. Next to the synagogue a Mikveh [ritual bath] and a community house were built. During the years 1808-1809, the Napoleon Era, many battles were fought in the town and its vicinity. Many of the residents, including Jews were killed and their personal possessions were robbed.

The town flourished during the days of Rabbi Mordechai Moshe Banet (1810-1850), a relative of the head Rabbi of Moravia, Rabbi Mordechai son of Abraham Banet, and a known scholar in his own right. In those years the Jews in the town were almost a quarter of the total population. In the middle of the 19th century many families moved back to towns, mainly Bratislava, and the number of Jews in Stupava declined.

During the “Spring of Nations” revolution, in the years 1848-1849 there were many anti Jewish incidents, shops and houses were damaged and robbed. An elementary school reopened around the year 1860 and the teaching language was German. Shortly after its opening there were 5 classes in which Jews and non-Jews studied together. At the time of the division between the Jewish communities in Hungary in 1869 the congregation of Stupava joined the Orthodox community. During the middle of the 19th century new community organizations were added – “Jewish Women group”, Bikur Holim [helping the sick], Gemilut Hasadim [charity] and few more including a home for the elderly. The Rabbis at that time were Rabbi Yehuda Leib Teltch-Toiber, Rabbi Eliezer Winter (1883-1893) and Rabbi Yosef Kotenflen, the writer of Batei Nefesh at the begining of the 20th century. Jews from 22 nearby villages belonged to the rabbinic leadership in Stupava.

In 1903 the congregation celebrated 100 years to the local synagogue. To honor the celebration renovations were made and many people were invited. The bylaws of the congregation were rewritten on 1906. On the eve of the First World War the town had an active Ahavat Zion group.

The livelihood of most the Jews in the town was based on small businesses; approximately 50% of them were venders or owned small stores. About 10% were in wholesale and the rest farmers and craftsmen. The local doctor, Dr. Hirsh was Jewish.

 

The Jews between the two world wars

During the beginning of the 20th century the congregation was very active in developing educational and welfare organizations. In 1922 there were 85 family heads that paid taxes (252 people). At the head of the community were Z. Marcus and Rabbi Moshe Shemuel Herzog who

[Page 379]

wrote Korot Bateinu. Jews from about 20 smaller villages were members of the congregation. In the year 1922 the congregation employed 5 people and the budget was 31,000 Kronas. It had a synagogue, Beth Midrash, cemetery, a community house with a big library, Mikveh, slaughter house and few butcher shops. On the payroll were a Rabbi, cantor, butcher, a Melamed and two teachers. It had a Talmud Torah and an elementary school with 5 classes, and took in students from nearby villages. The language was Slovakian. The congregation also supported a hostel.

During the 1930s Adolf Nash was the head of the community and with the “Jewish Women group”, and Gmilut Hasadim supported the home for the elderly and a soup kitchen.

The Jews were involved in the general population. During the elections a National –Jewish party was active, and in the Municipal elections of 1928 it received 145 votes and a seat in the local council. Ahavat Zion was active again after the First World War and was the biggest Zionist organization in town. The second one was Mizrahi. In 1929 the Jews of Stupava donated 5,000 Kronas for a forest In Israel to honor the name of the Czechoslovakian Prime Minister Masarik. The Jews in town were active in raising funds for the 16th Zionist congress in 1927, the 17th in 1931 and the 21st in 1939.

The results of the elections for the 18 Zionist congresses in 1933 are a good example of the Zionist activity in town. Mizrahi got 50% of the votes, the General Zionists 25%, Eretz Yisrael Haovedet 23% and the Revisionists 2%. In town there were a few active youth movements like the Mizrahi (later Bnei –Akiva). The Non-Zionists Orthodox movement established a chapter of Agudat –Israel with an attached youth movement for the boys with the same name and for the girls Beit Yaakov. The Rabbi Moshe Shemuel Herzog was one of the leaders of Agudat-Israel in Slovakia.

Most of the Jews in town kept their traditional livelihood of trading, but there were few factory owners, farmers, managers for the local estates and white-collar workers.

 

The Jews during the Holocaust

With the reenactment of the Slovak State on March 14th 1939 it was included in the “protection region” (Schutzzone) where German army bases where erected. The Germans kept harassing the Jews with new restrictions every other day. On the Eve of World War Two the congregation of Stupava had about 60 households. Rabbi Herzog was the Rabbi and Adolf Mitler was the community head. Wilhelm Kohut was the Gabai for the Chevra Kadisha [burial society]. In 1940 there were 71 families and the Jews were part of “the Jewish center” of the Bratislava region. In the Jewish school at that time there were 8 classes and it was active until the deportation of 1942. The headmaster was Orelia Nash. During the year of 1941 most of the Jewish businesses were closed and some of the shops and factories were given to the ‘Arizators’ [their task was to take over Jewish property and “transform” it into Aryan property]. That fall the first group of Jewish men was sent to work in a forced labor camp.

The deportation of the Jews of Stupava started by the end of March 1942. On the 25th of that month, 20 young Jewish women from Stupava were sent via the camp of Patronka to Auschwitz and a group of young men was sent at the beginning of April, via the camp Basrad to Majdanek (Poland). In the spring of 1942 most of the remaining Jews were deported to Auschwitz and other camps in Poland. The old Rabbi Herzog died while still in Stupava and was buried in the local cemetery. When the deportations were stopped that year, very few people remained in town, lead by Moritz Rosenthal. The school was closed because very few children remained and by the end of the summer of 1944 the Germans deported most of the remaining Jews to different camps. Few managed to run away and find refuge with the local population.

 

After the war

After the liberation a few Jewish families returned to town but the community did not revive. Arnost Kugler took care of the Jewish affairs until they all left town, most of them to Bratislava. The old synagogue became a storage facility and later a shop. The structure, partially destroyed, still exists and lately became a registered historic building. Other structures still left in town are the elderly home and few other structures that belonged to the community. The cemetery is neglected but most of the gravestones are not broken.

 

Bibliography
Yad Vashem Archives, 1457, 635, M48/591; M5/57; 11019, JM/11011-11016.
Gruenwald, Toisent Yor [Yiddish: One Thousand Years], pp. 214-215.
M.S. Herzog, Korot Bateinu, Stupava 5678 (1919).
Cohen, Chachmei Hungaria [Hebrew: Hungarian Scholars]. pp. 392-395, 448-451.
MHJ. Vols. III, VII, XVI, XVII
S. Schreiber, Magyarorsági zsido feliratok [Hungarian: Jewish Inscriptions in Hungary], Budapest 1960, pp. 301-303.
Allgemeine Juedische Zeitung [German: General Jewish Newspaper]. No. 8 (1935)

[Page 380]

Informationsbulletin, {German: Information Bulletin], No. 1 (1984)
Zeitschrift für die Geschichte der Juden in der Tschechoslowakei [German: Periodical on the History of the Jews in Czechoslovakia], vol. II (1931-1932)
Selbstwehr [German: Self-defense], Nos. 57 (1929); 38 (1930)
Věstnik ŽNO, No. 3/46 (1984)
Židovská ročenka (1940) pp. 26-27

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