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“Kralovsky Chlmec” – Encyclopaedia
of Jewish communities, Slovakia
(Královský Chlmec, Slovakia)

48°25' / 21°59'

Translation of the
“Kralovsky Chlmec” chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Slovakia

Edited by Yehoshua Robert Buchler and Ruth Shashak

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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(Pages 514-516)

Královský Chlmec, Slovakia

Translated by Shlomo Sné

Edited by Francine Shapiro

Kiralyhelmec in Hungarian. The Jews called it Helmetz.
It was the capital of the Zemplin sub-district, southeast Slovakia.

 

Year Total Population Jewish Population Percent
1746----4---
18281,232201.6
18802,07531115.0
19102,72157120.1
19192,79569124.7
19303,27481024.7
19413,75688623.6
19483,75649313.9

Kralovsky Chlmec is first mentioned in documents from 1214 as the property of Leles Monastery, until the middle of the fifteenth century, and even then weekly market days were held there. Germans settled there in the fourteenth century.

After it received town rights in 1461, it belonged to Hungarian nobles and changed hands a few times.

Its people, Hungarians and Germans, made their living by crafts and agriculture, mainly from fruit orchards and growing wine grapes.

In the nineteenth century Kralovsky Chlmec became the capital of the sub-district, and had government institutions. In this century some small factories were built to utilize agricultural products, and it was a center for artisanship, trade, and many services in a broad farming region. During the Czechoslovakian Republic its economy was still based mainly on agricultural and associated occupations.

In the 1930 census, about 60% of its inhabitants registered themselves as having Hungarian nationality. The rest defined themselves as Slovakians or Jews. In November 1938 the district of South Zemplen was annexed to Hungary, and from March 1944 was under German rule. In November 1944 Kralovsky Chlmec was liberated from Nazi occupation by the Soviet army.

The History of the Community

At the beginning of the eighteenth century Jews lived in many settlements in the Zemplen district, but the first mention of Jews who lived in Kralovsky Chlmec dates from 1746, when one local Jewish family was mentioned in the district tax registration.

In the second half of the eighteenth century a few more Jewish families from Galicia and Russo-Carpathia settled there. During the nineteenth century the number of the Jews in the town gradually grew to about 400 people shortly before its end. In the nineteenth century the Jews made their living selling grain and other agricultural products, producing leather and its products, wine, cattle, and poultry. Some were farmers who owned of plots of land, and one had a very large farm.

Until the end of the eighteenth century the Jews of Kralovsky Chlmec belonged to the Satoraljaujhely community and its rabbinate. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the veteran families (Shtenfast, Keller, Rubin, Ziner, and some others) organized the Kralovsky Chlmec Jewish community, joined by many Jews nearby. From 1840 there were rabbis in Kralovsky Chlmec. At the time of the first rabbi, Rabbi Mordechai Arie Laibush Wald from Hanusovce (he was the local rabbi during the years 1840-1875), a synagogue was erected using a traditional building style.

A yeshiva with about 50 students and other public institutions was inaugurated in the middle of the nineteenth century. After the Hungarian –Jewish schism in 1869, Kralovsky Chlmec joined the Orthodox community organization.

In 1888 a Bet Midrash was established in the town, a hostel for visitors in the 1890's, and a Talmud Torah was opened where 60 children studied. As the community grew, Jews from other settlements joined it. At the end of the nineteenth century Jews from 26 settlements belonged to it. After the death of Rabbi Mordechai Arie in 1875, his son, Rabbi Joseph Wald, succeeded him. Rabbi Yoel Zeev Glattstein, author of Nachalat Avot, followed him and the Dayan, Rabbi Hanania Yom Tov Lipa Deutsch, assisted him. In Rabbi Glattstein's era, there were about 80 students in the local yeshiva.

After the beginning of World War I about 60 local Jews were conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian army. Seven of them were killed in battle. The town itself was relatively quiet in the period during the war.

The Jews between the Two World Wars

The number of Jews in Kralovsky Chlmec was about 700 after World War I. In the census of 1921, only 306 of them registered according to nationality as Jews, and in the 1930 census, 605 Jews declared their Jewish nationality. 324 family heads, taxpayers, (some of them from nearby settlements) belonged to the Kralovsky Chlmec community in 1922. The annual budget of the community was 85,000 crowns, and Joseph Klein headed it. Rabbi Zeev Glattstein continued in office, and led the yeshiva. The community owned a synagogue, mikve tehora, a community building which included apartments for the rabbi, and other community employees, a Beis Midrash, Talmud Torah, elementary school, slaughter house and butcher shops. Besides the Hevra Kadisha, there was a Jewish Women's Association active in the town, as well as other charities.

In the 1920's and 30's there was Zionist activity in Kralovsky Chlmec, including branches of Mizrachi, the Revisionists, and some youth movements, among them Beitar, and possibly other Zionist organizations. In a nearby village a pioneering group was active, including members of youth movements who planned to make aliyah.

In 1929 the Jews of Kralovsky Chlmec donated 3,000 crowns to the Keren Kayemet to plant a grove in honor of President T.J. Masaryk.

There was also a strong branch of Agudat Yisroel headed by Rabbi Glattstein, and under his patronage Tziorei Agudat Yisroel and Bet Yaakov for girls were also active. The Jewish National Party took part in the elections to the City Council. In 1928 it was the third party, with 205 votes (19%). The Jews were involved in the general society and in the public life in the town. Generally nine of them were members of the local council-one was the deputy head of the council. Some senior offices in the administration and in the public sector were also held by Jews, among them the office of the Notary, Secretary of the Sub-district Administration, the main Attorney in the Sub-district Court (Dr. Joseph Hertz), the district physician (Dr. Sekely), the sub-district physician (Dr. Weinberger), etc.

The Jews had an important place in the local economy, although they were a quarter of the population.

They were mainly distinguished in trade and artisanship, banking, and among the free professionals. There were two Jewish banks in the town-a bank for economy and trade (its director was Dr. Emil Fuchs), and a commercial bank in the Budrug region (headed by Isidore Atchel). Three of the four local lawyers, and all the physicians in the town were Jewish. There were also10 Jewish families who made their living in agriculture, and a few owners of small factories. We can learn about the part the Jews played in the business world of Kralovsky Chlmec from the licenses that were issued by the local trade chamber in 1922.

Type of BusinessNumber of BusinessesUnder Jewish Ownership
Grocery and General Store1111
Taverns and Hotels109
Clothing65
Leather and Shoes55
Cattle and Horses53
Agents33
Cloth33
Alcoholic Beverages33
Other42

In the Period of the Holocaust

When Kralovsky Chlmec was annexed to Hungary in 1938, more than 800 Jews lived in the town, and they were more than a quarter of the local population. During 1940 dozens of Jewish youths were conscripted into forced labor in the framework of the work platoons, and were sent far away, or to the eastern front (the majority of the latter were killed in the war, or were murdered). In August 1941 there was a search for Jews without Hungarian citizenship. The head of the local garrison, Colonel Imre Revicky, endangered himself by saving many Jewish families from expulsion to the Kamenec-Podolsk region in the occupied Ukraine (after some years he was recognized as a Righteous Gentile by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.)

After Hungary's occupation by the Germans in March 19, 1944, there were 860 members in the Kralovsky Chlmec community (180 families, headed by Joseph Katz. Rabbi Glattstein continued in his office. The Dayan was Rabbi Yakov Friedrich. Community activity continued until the expulsions, and some new institutions and an organization were created to assist Jews in their current difficulties. The community employed six workers, and maintained a school, Talmud Torah (and a Talmud Torah Society), a soup kitchen, and also was devoted to welfare activities including the Hevra Kadisha and other venerable charitable societies.

After the Passover of 1944, on April 16, Hungarian policemen began to concentrate the Jews of Kralovsky Chlmec in a temporary ghetto, which was established in some of the town streets. The Jews of Leles and Jews from other small towns were added to the ghetto. The crowding made life difficult, and the sanitary conditions were very poor. Before the expulsions, some youths succeeded in fleeing from the ghetto to the Slovakian region. Fifteen of them fought with the Slovak Partisans and the Czechoslovakian army. The rest of the Kralovsky Chlmec ghetto residents were sent to the expulsion center in Ujhely ghetto, and in the second half of May were expelled to Auschwitz. Among those expelled were Rabbi Joel Zeev Glattstein and his family members.

After the War

After the liberation about 150 Jews, survivors of various camps and work platoons, most of them inhabitants of the town or others close by, came to Kralovsky Chlmec. Community life was renewed; some of the public institutions were revived, and began activities again. The renewed Kralovsky Chlmec community was distinguished by its welfare activities, and quick rehabilitation. After the restoration of the big synagogue, public prayer restarted. The Dayan, Rabbi Hanania Yom Tov Lipa Deutsch, one of the survivors who returned to the town, then became the community and district rabbi. Rabbi Arnold Goldstein followed him until his emigration to the United States in 1949. More Jews from the area moved to Kralovsky Chlmec. In 1948 there were about 490 Jews, and it was one of the big, new communities in Slovakia. After the war Zionist activity began again. 22,000 crowns were collected in Kralovsky Chlmec, donations to the Keren Kayemet to plant “The Czechoslovakian Martyrs Forest” in the Jerusalem hills. The majority of Kralovsky Chlmec Jews made aliyah to Israel, and some migrated to other countries during the wave of aliyah in 1948-49. After the stoppage of aliyah at the end of 1949, only a few dozen Jews remained in the town. The community was active for some years, but during this time, the majority of Jews moved to Kosice and other places. During the last few decades the synagogue was used as a furniture store. In 1990 the building still stood, and the Jewish cemetery was maintained and kept up. Only a few Jews remained in Kralovsky Chlmec during the 1990's.

In the three villages of Bol, Gyres, and Biel, near Kralovsky Chlmec, little Jewish communities existed that had had institutions of their own. All the Jews who still remained in them in 1944 were expelled to Auschwitz.

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