« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

[Pages 167-168]

Chapter 11: The Austrian Occupation

Translated by Myra Yael Ecker

Edited by Yocheved Klausner


The Austrian army marches into Galicia. The ceremonial swearing in, at Lwów. The restrictions and the commander. The 1776 regulations. The taxes and the officials' attitude. The Jews' problem with Pergen's memorandum of 1775. Expulsion of the Jewish bartenders and the community's lobbying. Community disputes and the Jewish council. Establishment of agricultural settlements. Army recruitment. Galicia's Jewish delegation to Emperor Leopold. The community's appeal over reinstating the Jews in the Jewish Quarter. Growth of the Jewish population 1772–1800. Meat and candle tax lessees. Berl Joselowicz at Lwów and the Jewish Brigade affair.

In 1772, Poland and Jewish life in particular underwent dramatic changes.

Maria–Theresa, who first objected to the partitioning of Catholic Poland which she considered a buffer between Orthodox Russia and Protestant Prussia, was persuaded by the Chancellor, Prince [von] Kaunitz [–Rietberg], who had succeeded in gaining the support of her son, Joseph II. She agreed to the partitioning once Russia and Prussia had contractually agreed on its implementation.

On 14th May 1772, the first platoons of the Austrian army marched into Poland from beyond the Carpathian Mountains and progressed towards Stryy [Stryj]. On 21st June 1772, Austrian brigades advanced from the Silesian border, and in September Lwów was “conquered” without any resistance from the town. The Russian army which since 1764 had battalions stationed there under the command of General Kaminski, handed over the town to the Austrian Commander Schröder. On 19th September 1772, the Austrians entered under the command of General Hadik [von Futak]. Right away Count Anton [von] Pergen, who had been an envoy to Mainz and London for several years, was appointed to manage the administration of the new territory named Galicia and Lodomeria. On 4th October 1772, at Lwów, he was made governor of Galicia. After the Austrian authorities had concluded the initial administrative arrangements[1] they decided to organize celebrations throughout the country, during which the citizens would swear allegiance to the Austrian Empress and Kingdom, in the following sequence: 1. the clergy; 2. the property–owning nobility; 3. towns; 4. small towns and villages; 5. Jewish communities. During those celebrations termed “Homagium” (“Eid der Untertan und Vasallentreue”), everyone of the above listed had individually to swear allegiance.

At Lwów the swearing allegiance celebration took place on the 4th October 1773. The Jews did not swear allegiance in the synagogue, as at Brody, but in the square facing the Catholic Cathedral.

Fear descended on the Jews with the arrival of the Austrian rule.

In August 1772, Joseph II ordered to dispossess the Jews of any leasing of brewing, taxes and taverns. In December 1772, a census of the Jews undertaken by the army showed there were 6,339 souls within the confines of Lwów's Catholic Church. In 1774, the community–elders declared that there were 6,664 souls at Lwów.[2] In 1773, a ban was imposed on their marriage ceremony, obliging them to first obtain a license from the governor, at the cost of 20 Ducats. The Jews were gravely affected by these restrictions. On his visit to Lwów from 31st July till 6th August 1773, Emperor Joseph II tried to familiarize himself with the situation in the country and its administration. In a special memorandum on the required improvements for the advancement of the country, he also dedicated an exclusive clause to the problem of the Jews, which was a new topic for the Austrian administration since in no part of the monarchy was there such a large number of Jews as in Galicia. The Emperor believed that the Jews were engaged in fraudulent businesses, and that they should not be given preference over the good, hard working Protestants.[3] Joseph II who sought to centralize all government at Vienna, proposed a programme for the form of administration in Galicia, and the implementation of economic and social advancement in order to improve the status and condition of the farmers; to shrink the Jewish, urban middle–class, and to establish a Christian middle–class. His salient improvement was however to advance the economic element, the issue of taxation and to gather the support of the authorities against the Polish nobles who were not loyal to Austria.

The authorities' order to undertake a census, worried the Jews of Galicia and especially at Lwów, since they feared that new taxes would be levied on them. The Austrian authorities were interested to displace the poor from among them by imposing marriage taxes, orders ([letters]patent) and by decreasing the number urban and rural residence licenses.

[Pages 169-170]

Although the aim of the enlightened government was the productivity of the Jewish masses, it found no means to implement it since the financial and budgetary factors obliged the authorities to conduct a policy totally opposed to productivity.

With the onset of the Austrian occupation, the 16th July 1776 “Jewish Code” (“Judenordnung”)[4] of Empress Maria–Theresa regulated the legal status of Galicia's Jews. At the head of each district, of which there were six in Galicia, was placed the district–elder elected by the district minister and approved by the governor, selected from the two candidates put forward by delegates of the communities. The Jewish denomination was assigned “the Jews' management” (“Judendirekzion”) made up of: six district–elders, six state–elders and the state's rabbi, elected out of the three candidates put forward for the Empress's approval.

Rabbi Arieh Leib Bernstein from Brody was elected state's rabbi, with his deputy, Rabbi Mordchai Ze'ev Ornstein, from Lwów. Like the Council of Four Lands, and the regional committees, the Jews' management had the authority to apportion the tax quota for the communities which they imposed on their members. For that purpose a system of officials was required.

The Austrian occupation imposed new taxes on the Jews of Galicia. In 1774, the poll–tax (pogłówne) which in Poland had been 30 Kreuzer per Jewish soul, rose to one Gulden. On 6th July 1776, the tolerance tax (“Schutz– und Toleranzsteuer”) as it was termed, was set at four Gulden per family. Apart from that, the Jews had to pay according to “the Jewish order” (“Judenordnung”), employment and property tax (“Gewerbe– und Vermögenssteuer”) four Gulden per family, and marriage tax according to the value of property, aimed to reduce the number of Jews. In order to obtain a special marriage license from the governor, proof had to be presented of the couple's source of income and of the value of their assets. Maria–Theresa's code also included a prohibition for the Jews to have a monopoly on trade. The grain merchants were worst hit when a directive of 23.12.1772 forbade them any trade in grain.[5] Lwów, as one knows, was the grain trade–centre of all Reissen, where, during the period of trade contracts the acquisitions by landowners and Jewish merchants concentrated on exporting the grain abroad. The grain trade suffered heavily when the price of grain slumped in the markets of northern Europe. During the Polish rule, Lwów supplied the whole of Poland, but after the occupation acquisitions moved away from Galicia to fairs at Dubno, while Lwów retained only the trade with the landowners of Galicia. The Jews of Lwów also held the trade in timber and meat,[6] as well as the majority share in beef import, especially to Germany, from where they brought goods to sell in Russia and Turkey. Many of Lwów's merchants went to the Leipzig's fairs.

By and by economic life returned to normal and the Jews re–established their trading status, especially in the export trade. The retailers and pedlars encountered greater difficulties than wholesalers who had a wider scope of action and were also better supported by the authorities.

Among the Jewish wholesalers at Lwów one knows of: Rachmil Mizys, Gabriel Reizes, Mojzesz Barach, Jakob Kitaj, Aron Rechen, Berl Weber, Ben–Zion Parnas, Izrael Jalis, Izyk Jalis, Jakob Waloch, Samuel Sznit, Menasche Reizes, Hirsch Weber, Izak Silberstein, Mojzesz Reizes, Jakob Zipper, Nissan Juls, Izak Reifenscheid and Izak Koliszer who, in 1794, tried to undertake the leasing of Kosher meat taxation. To that end, he even proposed a leasing fee of 10,000 Gulden greater than the offer submitted by the partnership of Heinzman, Krater and Solomon [Szloma] Kopler. Nevertheless, the leasing was granted to that partnership.[7]

For a foreign Jew to obtain a license to settle in Galicia required proving they possessed 5,000 Gulden, 10% of which was the cost of the residency–license.

In places where Christian craftsmen were available, Jewish craftsmen were forbidden from undertaking work for Christian customers. Lwów's Jewish bakers were badly affected when, at the beginning of November 1772, the urban authority ordered to discriminate against them in favour of Christian bakers and to prevent free competition between Christian and Jewish “non–expert” (“botcher”) bakers. Other prohibitions against Jewish craftsmen who had lived there since the Polish rule were thus all kept, other than in cases where the state benefitted financially from Jews engaged in forbidden occupations.

Zipora Perszlin, for example, applied in September 1775 for a Post Office franchise within the Jewish Quarter, noting that at Prague too the Jewess Perl Tawisigin maintained the Jewish Post Office. On 21st December 1775 after the governor had supplied a reference, the Vienna postal ministry (“Oberpostamt”) agreed to establish a Jewish Post Office at Lwów,[8] due to the heavy postal exchanges between the Jews.

A special order was issued to limit the activity of surgeons (doctors) to only treating Jews. There were 19 doctors (non specialists) at Lwów alone, and in 1773 special courses were prescribed for them. Of those who had completed them, only four were permitted to remain at Lwów while the rest were transferred to provinces where there was a dearth of doctors.

[Pages 171-172]

Concurrently, in a report of 17th December 1778, the medical collegium suggested permitting the Jews to work in the professions of hairdressing, bloodletting and cupping, since both the Jewish and Christian poor could not afford the heavy fees levied by the (non specialist) Christian doctors. The governor approved the suggestion so long as the number of non–specialist Jewish doctors did not exceed four.

Regional doctors were appointed to maintain the state of health. For the entire Jewish population of Galicia the authorities appointed twelve Jewish doctors. At Lwów, the Jewish “physicus” Solomon [Szloma] Benjamin Preszel was appointed.

The situation persisted till 1784, when Kaiser Joseph II decided to repeal the discrimination against the Jews and to include them in the general population. The role of health inspectors (Jewish physicus) was abolished and they were inspected by general doctors that included Jewish doctors.

Shortly after the occupation, the Austrians issued a decree ordering the Jews to clear the flats and shops they had in the town centre. The community's vigorous requests to delay the decree's execution were rejected. The Austrian administration was from the start openly hostile to the Jews, referring to them in documents as “state infestation” (“Verderben des Landes”); as “leeches sucking the blood of the population”; as well as considering them cheats and crooks. Milbacher the governor of Lwów, was fully aware that the Jews were hated because of their control over trade, nevertheless he emphasized the fact that the Jewish merchants were hardworking and frugal. “A Galician Jew spends on his sustenance just 30 Gulden annually” and consequently he was able to lower the price of goods, unlike Christians who spent four times their income.

The Austrian officials did not understand the Galician Jews who were used to the Polish regime and were unable readily to adapt to the new administrative system.

The Lwów community managed its affairs according to the old system since in fact the authorities had not touched its administration; they were solely interested in the tax income.

The first governor of Galicia, Count Johann Anton [Graf von]Pergen, from the school of thought of Prince Kaunitz who was expert in organizational skills, began his mission with investigating the state of the country. On 6th November 1772, prior to leaving Galicia, he was given instructions for his mission that included clauses on decreasing the number of Jewish marriages and dispossessing them of taverns as well as of the customs and postal services. He ordered a census of the Jews in order to familiarize himself with their living conditions, and on the basis of his findings he sent Kaunitz a detailed report on Galicia, on 8.8.1773.[9]

In 1765 according to the report, there were 140,000 Jews in Galicia, and their number rose despite the wars. Apart from that, at Kokiche and Halicz [Halych] there were some 150 Karaites.

The Jews of Poland constituted a special political unit with organizational and representational rights. Due to their economic status they became a vital element in the state's economy, especially with regard to credit. The communities acted also as a bank where the nobles and the clergy deposited their monies at an interest of 7%. On the other hand, the communities owed them, substantial sums. Lwów's community alone owed 57,581 Gulden, and declared it was unable to clear it.

The Jews of Lwów faced a difficult struggle with the townspeople who had obtained 18 verdicts against them, none of which was ever executed. According to Pergen's report, the Jews brought about corruption and damage by purchasing stolen goods; caused damage by importing inferior goods from Germany; reduced the currency value, and supported riots in order to avoid the payment of taxes; the rabbis and the community leaders ruled firmly, collected monies without accounting for it; and a system had to be established to systematically regulate an arrangement to best benefit the State Treasury.

In May 1773, Kuczian the imperial court advisor was sent from Vienna to organize the Galician administration according to specific instructions. Chapter 2 Article viii, stated that the district ministers should determine the number of Jews, taking into consideration “that with support of the nobility and the laxity of the Polish nation, that race had greatly increased in number”, the issue required “to pay attention to restrict their proliferation and the greed among them”.

On the whole, the overt Austrian policy was to reduce the number of Jews, and consequently by imposing a special license they tended to limit the number of marriages; to expel from Galicia the poor who were termed “Bettel–Juden”. To that end rules were issued on the 8th March and 28th June 1773.

On the face of it, the aim was to improve the life of the Jews and to turn them into useful citizens of the monarchy. To that end, proposals and schemes were presented such as employing the Jews in road construction and establishing Jewish agricultural settlements, but every scheme failed right from the start.

[Pages 173-174]

Among those schemes was suggested the removal of the Jews from the estates, a plan which would adversely affect both the Jews and the interest of the landowners who objected, claiming that the vacuum in farming created by the dispossession of the Jews could not be filled by Christians. On 8th August 1783, a group of nobles submitted to the governor a memorandum, noting that the Jews were an ineffectual part of the population who did not full fill their obligations to the state; they did not contribute towards development in agriculture; they evaded army service and engaged in fraud; they had always damaged the state and damaged the townspeople's status. From a religious aspect too, they were a damaging element as was shown in the blood libel lawsuits. As bartenders in the villages, where they intoxicated the farmers and extorted their funds, they were an especially negative element. It was thus advisable to expel them but not immediately or legally, but rather by a sudden stop of tax payment. Only after a gradual process should a dispossession law be passed against them. According to the authors of the memorandum, Christian lessees could be found to replace the Jews.


Plan of the Jewish Quarter in the 18th century


Early in the occupation the administrative leaders took the view that primarily the number of Jews had to be curbed. That view was also accepted by Vienna, spurred by governor Graf Brigido and by the commissioner's advisor, Kortum, without taking into consideration the possible adverse effect on the state's economy.

At Lwów the Jews were permitted to reside in the Jewish Quarter as well as on Ruska, Szkocka (Serbska) Boimow and Nowa streets, to which they were forced to move from all other streets. In 1793, after the authorities agreed to demolish 68 Jewish houses in the Zolkiew suburb due to fire hazard,[10] the living condition in town worsened and the congestion rose in the other suburbs in which Jews resided.

In the Jewish neighbourhoods the police had Jewish police inspectors (Polizei Revisoren). At the time there were two Jewish inspectors, Samuel [Szmul] Rays and Abraham Koremsz as well as a special Jewish postman.[11] Jewish judges who acted in law–courts of commerce and bills (“Merkantil und Wechselgericht”) held at Lwów and Brody, counted as government officials

The governor also appointed a special beadle, to bring a Torah scroll for the swearing in of witnesses in the law–courts. His salary, paid for from the penalty fund, was 12 Florins per annum. At the time, Leibl Najer was the beadle.

The July 1784 request letter from the Lwów community indicates how far the prohibition to keep distilleries had affected the Jews of Lwów. In it, the community requested that the prohibition should not extend to houses where the Jews were permitted to pour and sell liquor. It stressed that the prohibition would deplete a number of Jewish families who had the privileges to serve drinks. The community's request was granted and serving drinks[12] was permitted in those houses.

Lew Balaban [Bałaban], Rachmil Mizys, Herschel Rays, Abraham Berlach, Herschel Eliahu Lewita, Markus Faigels and Joel Budek were at the time leaders of the Lwów community.

Due to the economic hardship the management faced grave difficulties. Apart from the debts with which the community was burdened –the debt to the Jesuits was 575,861 Gulden– the community was also charged with the responsibility to collect taxes. Matters had reached conflicts[13] with the authorities and the Jewish Council (Judendirektion). In 1784, the community–elders bribed the Council's member Jakob–Aron, and the Christian official (actuarius) Kulig with 130 Ducats, so they would lower the tax portion of the Jews. The governor who heard of it, started an investigation as a result of which Jakob–Aron was fined 260 Ducats, was removed from the Council and was denied the right to hold public office. Kulig, the Christian official, was fired, and the community management members, Josef Dawid, Lew Balaban, Markus Faigels, Joel Budek and Efraim Samuel were fined 130 Ducats each. Majer Herschel, the scribe of the Jewish community who had benefited from the bribery, was fined 360 Ducats and was dismissed from his post. During the investigation it was found that the community had used 1,500 Florins from the leasing of the meat–tax without accounting for it, and that there were irregularities in the collection of taxes and in the leasing fees.

[Pages 175-176]

The investigation commission found there were “fights, strife and controversy, mutual hatred, coordinated revenge and a tendency to oppress the weak”, within the Council, and that instead of caring for the good of the community, those involved tried to release their relatives, friends and their supporters from the payment of taxes. The distribution of taxes was neglected, leading to arrears in collecting them and in the revenue.

The situation led to complaints not only from the Lwów community, but also from the rest of Galicia's communities. The governor took no notice of the complaints however, although in a report to the Emperor, dated 24th April 1781, he acknowledged that he did not agree with all of the Jewish Council's actions.[14] The report emphasized in particular that the Jewish Council, in its desire to lower the taxes of the rest of the communities, and with the aim to suppress Lwów's community, unfairly overburdened the Jews of Lwów.

The end of the report indicated specifically that “not all the Jews complained, only the wealthy, since the poor complained about the complainants from time to time. Although we far from agree with all of the Council's doings, and we have opposed it more than once, we are nevertheless convinced that Your Highness will concur that the Jews' complaints are unjustified.”. According to the governor, the complaints included disingenuous and false facts. The complainants were wealthy Jews who, as one knows, prefer to pay fines rather than be considered wealthy by the authorities, and they prefer to be forced to pay so long as they do not have to pay of their own accord.

The reports and complaints from Galicia about the Council, were meticulously treated by the central authorities at Vienna. In time they led the government to liquidate the Jewish Council, since the regulations had not resolved the Jewish problem, of turning them into useful citizens.

In 1786, when in response to an order from Vienna, the governor was forced to close down the Jewish taverns, the issue of the Jewish bartenders resurfaced.

In October 1786, in the name of all the Jews of Galicia, the Lwów community–elders submitted a petition to permit those Jews who made their living from taverns, to retain them. For their own reasons, the meat–tax lessees also requested that the Jews not be dispossessed of the taverns.

Although clear instruction had already been issued, the governor passed on the petition to Vienna and recommended to fulfil the request, as executing the instruction would leave thousands of Jews without an income which would lead them to engage in even worse occupations. The governor suggested that the privileges of the taverns be extended by another three years, and that the bartenders born before 1772, be permitted to maintain them to the end of their lives. In his reasoning the governor stressed that the Jews were not responsible for the farmers' drunkenness, but rather, that the landowners wishing to increase their income, and realizing that the Jews knew how to run their business, they preferred to lease the taverns to them. The central authorities at Vienna (“Vereinigte Hauptsellen”) who failed to recognize the governor's reasoning, claimed that the Jews had sufficient time to find new employments since 1772. In their reply, the authorities stressed that they would suggest one concession to the Emperor – to postpone the date to the end of 1787 without issuing a proclamation, so as to avoid looking bad publicly. The authorities' proposal was not accepted however, and on 29th January 1787 Emperor Joseph II passed the resolution “to remove the taverns from the hands of Galician Jews, without delay; and the landowners who will keep Jewish lessees despite the prohibition, will be heavily fined with no favouritism.”[15]

As part of the strategy to make the Jewish masses productive, Joseph II who realized that regulations would not easily do away with the beggars (“Bettel Juden”), he ordered in 1782 to employ them in road construction for which land on the royal estates was provided for them. That led to the idea of creating Jewish agricultural settlements. In 1781, Joseph II requested the governor's opinion on the matter, but meanwhile that programme was no longer pursued. Only after the ruling (patent) of 24th January 1785, which denuded thousands of Jewish families of leasing estates and land, leasing of taxes, salt export, maintaining liquor distilleries, or mead and liquor blending, did the government recall the Jewish settlement programme. On 16th July 1785, Joseph II ordered to start immediately the establishment of Jewish settlements,[16] where 1410 families were to be settled. The cost of settling a family was 250 Gulden, and the expenses were to amount to 35,259 Gulden, a sum which was split between all the communities. In conjunction with that programme, the congregation of Lwów was ordered to fund the cost of settling 136 families.

The 7th May 1789 ruling (“Toleranzpatent”) by Joseph II, which abolished the Jewish Council and rearranged the affairs of the Jews in seven chapters made up of 64 clauses, determined that it was the Lwów community's responsibility to maintain the regional rabbi who received an annual salary of 400 Florins. Seven community–elders, elected on 15th September in the presence of a government official for the period of three years, would head the community.

[Pages 177-178]

Actually, the community was to elect 14 candidates out of whom the local government would pick seven. The community–elders whose authority was now reduced to synagogue matters and welfare (in synagoga–libus et beneficiis) would receive a monthly salary from the community purse, they would be reliant on the district government and would follow its directives. Despite its reduced authority, the community was collectively responsible for the collecting of taxes. On 18th February 1788, even before the ruling was released, a directive obliged the Jews to enlist in the armed forces.

In order to encourage the Jews to enlist, the Lwów community promised 15 Zloty to every Jewish soldier, but to no avail. In 1790, despite Jewish opinion and due to the war against Turkey, the government was forced to introduce conscription.[17] Once Leopold was crowned Emperor of Austria, the community of Lwów decided to send a delegation to Vienna with a list of requests to improve the condition of the Jews. At first, the community–elders considered that the delegation would represent the Jews of Galicia in its entirety, and to that end they approached the communities of the regional towns, to send authorised representatives to Lwów, to take part in the consultation. The representatives were chosen in consultation with Rabbi Hirsz Rosanis, the representative from Lwów, Jakobka Landa from Brody, and Scheiner from Buczacz, who travelled to Vienna at the expense of the community. The government looked kindly on the delegation, since “a calming of the citizens had been achieved, which benefited the Kingdom”.

In June 1790, the delegation reached Vienna and submitted its petition to the Emperor, requesting to introduce redemption–money instead of personal service in the armed forces, since the Jews were not fit to serve in the armed forces, and it was hard for them to keep their religious commandments in the military. They noted in particular the phenomenon which threatened to demolish the economy, as craftsmen, employees and labourers fled Galicia in order to evade military service.[18]

The Emperor took no account of the Jewish delegates' claims, and sent his decision to Lwów: “The Jew, as a person and as a citizens of the kingdom, will serve in any service just like the rest of the citizens. He is not affected religiously, since he can eat what he wishes, and on Saturday will hardly have to do any work, just like the Christian on Sunday. The Jews of Galicia are given all the civil rights, excepting the leasing of taverns, and they are even permitted to acquire noblemen's estates and to serve in any position, accordingly, they must participate in all the country's debts”.

The communities' representatives did not rest, and in July 1790 they submitted two new petitions in which they repeated their request to annul the personal service in the armed forces, and replace it by redemption–money for each Jewish recruit. They also presented the Emperor with the request to permit them to maintain the Jewish law–courts, and reinstate their right to lease taverns.

The lobbying succeeded, and on 28th July 1790 Emperor Leopold II issued a directive which released the Jews from personal service in the armed forces. Instead, they had to produce an equivalent number of stand–in recruits from among local or foreign volunteers, or pay 30 Florin redemption–money per recruit, to ensure the military authorities could enrol replacement recruits.[19]

The delegation tried to attain also mitigation regarding distilleries, the reinstatement of rabbinical judgement as well as education. They were unsuccessful except for the permission to provide Kosher food for Jewish prisoners in jails.[20]

Prussia, fearing land occupation by Austria during the Austro–Turkish war (1789–1790), strove to incite the Polish nobility of Galicia against Austria, with a view to a new war. The Polish nobility distrusted the Prussian conniving, however. Nonetheless, they took advantage of the war in order to organize committees at Lwów and the provinces. On 23rd April 1790, their representatives submitted to Emperor Leopold II a reminder made up of 53 clauses, which included grievances and political demands to improve the situation in Galicia. Among those they demanded to convene the Sejm, a national autonomy in the manner of Hungary, led by a Polish commissioner, and a Polish national army. As part of the constitution they demanded affirmation of the farmers' citizenship, the granting of civil rights to Jews, apart from the acquisition agricultural estates or the right to be elected to public office.[21]

The Galician nobles' negotiations at the Emperor's court in Vienna lasted three years without any positive outcome. After the death of Leopold, his son Franz I had no interest in granting Galicia special political status.

The war brought worsening economic conditions which affected the Jews in particular due to the difficulty of trading with Silesia and Prussia.

In 1791, the dispute between the Jews and the municipality started again.[22] In May 1791, the Christian traders submitted a petition to the Court Council at Vienna: 1. That the Jewish traders be removed from the town–centre to their own streets;

[Pages 179-180

2. To demand documents from Jewish traders to prove that they had studies and were practised in trade; 3. To demand that their books and accounts be in the German language; 4. To prove that they possessed sufficient capital for their affairs; 5. To forbid the Jews from peddling, whether among Jews or Christians.[23]

With the 3rd October 1791 constitutional statute passed by the Polish Sejm granting rights to the townspeople, the Emperor ordered the governor of Galicia, Graf Brigido, to report to him “what will best benefit the townspeople and farmers of Galicia, in view of the constitutional situation created in the Polish Kingdom”. In November 1791 Brigido submitted his view, proposing a list of changes to improve the economic situation, as well as his view of the Jews who were the principal cause inhibiting the development of towns, especially Lwów. In his view, there was such danger at Lwów and other towns of conversion to Judaism (“Verjudung”), that the Christian population – the traders and craftsmen – would leave Galicia for Poland in order to take advantage of the new constitution. Consequently it was necessary to turn the Jews and especially the youth, to a productive element of society. One necessary measure was the expulsion of all unregistered Jews (“conscripts”) those not in permanent employ; prohibiting them from residing in villages, unless they were employed in agriculture or craft; prohibiting entry to Jews from abroad who had no capital (minimum of 10,000 Florins); restricting their marriages and change to their way of life: to begin with – change of the Jewish garments for European dress. A useful means of alteration, according to him, was their conscription in the armed forces.[24]

Governor Brigido's report, also required in the negotiation with the nobles' representatives, failed to pass and remained in the government's files with no attempt to execute his suggestions.

Lwów's townspeople did not rest and did not let up their demands to remove the Jews from town to their own dwellings. When their demands were rejected by Vienna, the representatives of the Christian merchant's guild: Anton Fischer, Simon Werner, Herman Birger, Jakob Danilwicz, Johann Poprop and Simeon Gehrzin, submitted on 15th November 1793 a new request to limit “the excessive trade rights of the Jews of Lwów”, who bring destruction on the Christian traders and take away their livelihoods.[25] The Christian craftsmen's guilds also renewed their conflict with the Jews.

According to Maria–Theresa's 1776 rules,[26] the Jewish craftsmen were only permitted to work for Jewish customers. In 1784, Joseph II repealed that restriction in order to encourage the Jews to engage in vocational work, and he also permitted Jewish craftsmen to sell their wares at the fairs. They were granted permission to join the craftsmen's guild and to participate in electing their leaders, as well as to establish Jewish associations. Inevitably, the Christian craftsmen were dissatisfied with the situation.

In 1793, the Christian tailors' guild requested to stop the Jews from participating in elections and from filling posts in their guild, as well as stopping them from employing apprentices who did not have German school certificates. Under those circumstances the Vienna authorities ordered, on 7th October 1793, that the governor support that complaint.[27]

On 31st December 1793, among the restrictions on the Jewish population enacted by the government, they were forced to vacate the houses in town and reside solely in the two suburbs – Krakow and Zolkiew suburbs. The Jews in all other suburbs were ordered to join them there within three years. Where the Jews were house–owners, they were permitted to retain those so long as they did not let any flats or shops to Jews. Jews who kept taverns in the suburbs, were permitted to remain and continue in their vocation, but their privilege would not pass down to their heirs who would be obliged to sell the houses.[28]

The Jews did not rush to vacate any flats or shops within the town–markets. They found support from Christian house–owners who, in a memorandum of January 1795, demanded also in future to be permitted to let to Jews shops in the town markets and other streets, as they had been allowed previously. The Governor advised the Vienna authorities to defer the request.

Even industrialists in Lower Austria requested from the Vienna government not to curtail the trading freedom of Lwów's Jews, who were their clients. In their response of February 1794, the Vienna authorities stressed that the Jews of Lwów had cleverly acquired the best flats and shops and displaced the Christian tradesmen. The purpose of the ruling was to return the Jews to their place, no change would be made and the ruling would be executed in its entirety. The Jews did not relinquish their rights, and Jakob Kitaj and Simche Rapoport submitted to Emperor Franz I a special petition in the name of the Jewish tradesmen and house–owners,[29] to permit them to remain in their abodes considering that they had legally acquired their houses, and moving them to the Krarow and Zolkiew suburbs would ruin them financially and deprive them of their livelihoods.

[Pages 181-182]

The Governor took no notice of their request and instructed to enforce the regulation, excluding wholesalers of national products who had invested some 30–40 thousand Gulden in their trade.[30] The Christian tradesmen's representatives also appealed that permit, and demanded to have also the wholesalers removed from the town.

Their demand was however rejected by the authorities, and in October 1795 they submitted a further petition to remove the Jews from their abodes without delay.

The community, on the other hand, appealed to the Vienna central authorities over the execution of the 1793 regulation, and requested that the Governor be instructed to defer the evacuation till the conclusion of the appeal.[31]

The Lwów union of Christian tradesmen sent to Vienna reports that the Jews of Lwów were amassing large sums in order to find means to have the regulation revoked. After investigation the Governor accounted that the reports were baseless. The Vienna authorities responded, noting that in their written requests the Christian tradesmen had to be truthful, otherwise they would be punished.[32]

With its lobbing, the community succeeded in having the evacuation deferred by three years with the proviso that Jews were forbidden from purchasing property other than within the Krakow and Zolkiew Quarters.[33] In the Halicz and Brody Quarters Jewish bartenders with a license were permitted to remain, but their heirs as well as the house owners who had no bar–tending license, had to move to the permitted Jewish Quarters, within six years.

In 1792, the Jews of Lwów numbered 11,765 souls (2,774 families); in 1795: 11,966 (2,875 families); in 1800: 13,302 (3,372 families); and in 1803: 13,297 (3,395 families). In 11 years the number of Jews grew by 1,532 souls (621 families), and the issue worried the authorities to such an extent that the Governor received a notice from Vienna stating that “such significant proliferation of Lwów's Jews is worrying and we hope that the Governor will rigorously execute the Emperor's regulation against an increase in the number of Jewish families”.[34] The Jews of Lwów suffered further due to the Kosher meat tax–lessees, who brought about complaints and complications in the community's life as well as the involvement of the authorities.

The band of lessees took no account of the population's predicament nor of the public needs. In November 1792, the community–elders submitted a complaint that the lessees increased the meat price in contravention with the contractual obligations.[35] It became clear that two community–elders, Solomon Luber and Jakob Toibes, were involved in the conspiracy, and they were dismissed. In December 1792, they asked the Governor to reinstate them in their posts or to appoint an inquiry commission to look at the accusation charges which Joseph Zelermayer had brought against them.[36] On 29th January 1793 however, their request was rejected when a negative response to their request arrived from Vienna.[37] There were many such cases, and the authorities received denunciations and submissions on the irregularities by the tax lessees.

In 1794, complaints were submitted to the Governor and the authorities, against the community–elder Zelig Hulis and his partner as tax lessee, Mojzesz Szifer, for not entering the required deposit. The authorities investigated the matter and decided that Zelig Hulis was not fit to be a community–elder. Due to that affair the community scribe, Pinkas Dietersdorf, was also dismissed. Hulis and Dietersdorf were dismissed from their posts and their dismissal was confirmed by the Governor.[38] During the investigation, the community–elders Leibel Schneier, Sussman Balaban and Herschel Witlis were also accused of embezzling 195,000 Florin from the community purse. The accusation was brought by Joseph Zelermayer who was in the habit of informing. The accused appealed and requested a deferment till the matter was brought to court. The inquiry commission took its time and Zelermayer reported it to the Vienna authorities which demanded a report from the commission about its negligence, as well as the appointment, without bias, of a new inquiry commission.[39] The Governor notified that he would ensure the inquiry came quickly to an end. The archival records make no mention of the inquiry commission's outcomes. It seems that the community–elders managed to cover up the entire affair.

In the years 1796–1798, the Jewish community proposed to erect a Jewish hospital. The authorities let it be known that so long as the Jews had not cleared their tax debts and had not participated in the war loan, they would not be able to spend money on building a hospital, and in the absence of a hospital, the community leaders were responsible for the destitute patients,[40] The community wanted also to build an almshouse for the poor, and it approached the authorities with the request to be permitted to levy one Polish Groschen on every kilo meat, to be paid for by the meat tax lessees Heinzman, Krater and Kopler.

In 1797 Solomon Kopler, together with his meat tax–lessee partner, the Christian Ignaz Krater, suggested that the tolerance tax be replaced by a tax on Shabbat candles: two Kreuzer for each candle; six Kreuzer per memorial candle; ten Kreuzer per Yom Kipur candle; one Kreuzer for holidays; half a Kreuzer per Hannukah candle, and at weddings, one Florin per candle and one Florin per torch. The government hesitated since Emperor Franz I considered such a tax would be a form of religious suppression. Influenced, however, by Herz Homberg (Kopler promised him a net income of 2%), who claimed that it was not a suppression of lighting candles, but rather a proposed special tax on them, the Emperor agreed to his proposal.

[Pages 183-184]

In Eastern Galicia, the government leased the collecting of the tax to the partners Kopler and Tuvie Steinsberg, at the annual cost of 194,409 Florin. That tax weighed heavily on the Jewish community and the sub–lessees (candle–lessor) were hated by the masses for their cruelty and spitefulness.

The voting rights within the community were linked to the payment of the candle tax. At Lwów the voting right was fixed to the tax payment on seven candles; the right to be elected was contingent on the payment of tax on eight candles; to be elected community leader or rabbi, depended on the tax payment on ten candles.

Munis Finkelstein and Menachem Schneier of Lwów, in particular, bothered the authorities with their proposals. Schneier suggested how to raise the war loan and the drink tax. With regard to enlisting, he proposed to release the Jews from the armed forces, if they were to recruit 300 volunteers from abroad and pay 50,000 Florins to the treasury. He also proposed changes to the candle tax, and requested to determine a commission to investigate the behaviour of the candle–tax lessees and find means to increase the income from the tax to 50,000 Florin without affecting the poor, and to use the proceeds to raise the education of the Jews.

The Governor sent his proposals to the Vienna authorities where they were discussed by the commission of the royal–court, but were rejected. Instead, on 24th September 1798, Emperor Franz I ordered to inform the Lwów Governor that “The Jew Menachem Schneier of Lwów should not in future bother the offices of state and the royal–court with his proposals.”[41] For several years Menachem Schneier refrained from bothering the authorities, but in 1805 he again proposed suggestions.

On that occasion he proposed a programme to turn the Jews into useful and happy citizens of the empire. According to him, the Jewish education affected adversely the character, and consequently the state should check the religious studies, the “Talmud”, which compelled to hate the gentiles. The education of the Jews of Galicia prevented progress and the youth needed to be taught in German. To implement the improvements it was advisable to appoint a cross–country leader (“Oberlandesältester”) at an annual salary of 20,000 Florin, and a Christian deputy to assist him. Their remit would be to undertake a detailed census of the Jews, and the communities would be abolished and be placed under the authority of municipalities. The communities of Lwów, Brody and Krakow would be led by two elders, while a single elder would serve each of the other communities.

The scheme intrigued the authorities, and its proposals seemed to them “perfectly purposeful and worthy of consideration in conjunction with the new Jewish regulation.”[42]

The Governor received an order to inform Schneier that his proposal to be invited to Vienna and that his travel should be paid for on account, was rejected since he was able to deliver all the details to the Lwów Governor, in person.

The authorities also received information that a criminal investigation over theft had been undertakentaken against him. Although the investigation was quashed, the authorities deemed it necessary “to keep him under special political supervision”, and according to information he tried “also to infiltrate the community management, which is quite impossible”. Thus ended the Schneier affair, and there is no mention of him in the government files. He was in fact one of the corrupt characters who were the by–products of the Austrian regime of the time.

In 1796, Berl Joselowicz, the Jewish major–general who had established the Warsaw Jewish Volunteer Regiment during the Kościuszko uprising (1794), visited Lwów. In September 1796 while at Lwów, Berl Joselowicz approached the Governor Graf [von] Gaisruck in a memorandum, in which he suggested to the Austrian government –which at the time was in a state of war with France – to form a voluntary Jewish military division of 6,000–8,000 soldiers to serve in the war against the French. In his memorandum he detailed how to organize and equip the Jewish division.

The proposal was favourably received by Graf Gaisruck who forwarded the memorandum to the Vienna authorities, with warm recommendation, expressing his positive estimation of Berl Joselowicz due to his sense of honour and pride.[43] The Vienna war commission viewed the matter differently however, believing it was beneath the honour of Austria to use a corps “composed of naughty Jewish young men, idlers who were a liability to their parents and relatives”. The war commission informed the Governor at Lwów that “One cannot expect any good to come of such a suspect corps”, and it was unable to make use of Berl Joselowicz's offer to establish a Jewish volunteer army.[44] Berl Joselowicz left Lwów and turned his back on Austria, and after a period he joined the Polish legions of Dombrowski [DÄ…browski], in the French armed forces.


[Pages 359-360]

Notes – CHAPTER 11
All notes in square brackets [ ] were made by the translator.

  1. The Polish poet Karpinski [Karpiński] describes the administrative tangle inflicted on the Galician residents with endless rules, instructions and decrees, in the following lines:
    Po wesolej w Polsce chilli
    Juzesmy prawie wkroczyli
    W kraj gdzie smiac sie zapomniano
    I gdzie glakac zakazcno
    W kraj pelny uniwersalów
    Wiecznych prawnych foljalów
    I cursory instruktarzôw
    Ostrzezen i cyrkularzów. Return
  2. Archives of the Ministry of the Interior in Vienna. ex. 1; T IV; Nr. 138. January 1776. According to the commander the entire Lwów district contained 42 Parishes (Pfarrsprenge), 25 towns, 26 small towns, 647 villages, and of the citizens 120,456 were Christian, 66,264 were Jewish.
    Wiener Staatsarchiv. Staatsratsakten 1773 Z 2940. Return
  3. Arneth: Maria Theresias letzte Regierungszeit. Wien 1877; t. II, pp. 418–421. Return
  4. At first they thought – as suggested by Count Auersperg – to implement in Galicia a Jewish statute of the 1754 Law.
    (Archiv d. Min. d. Innern, Wien Galizien Protokolle, 1774), but his suggestion was rejected and a specific statute was created for Galicia. Return
  5. Archive of the commission at Lwów: Protokolle e.a. 1772 Nr. 1082. Return
  6. Pergen's report, in Ossolineum Manuscript 525 Chapter IV. Return
  7. Protokolle Galizien 105; 1791, Mai Nr. 105. sed eius index indicium in eis (judaeis) exercebit. Return
  8. Archive of the Ministry of the Interior, Vienna: Protokolle Galizien e.a. 1775. Return
  9. A 122 sheets (224 pages) manuscript titled:
    Beschreibung der Koenigreiche Galizien u Lodomerien nach dem Zustand in welchen sie sich zur Zeit der Revindicirung durch Ihre Kaiserl. Koenigl. Apostolische Majestaet. und besonders im Monat Julius 1773 Befunden haben.
    And these are the chapters: 1. On the condition of the population and the country's produce (pp. 1–29); 2. On the nobility (pp. 30–71); 3. On religion and the priesthood (pp. 72–121); 4. On the towns and the urban industry (pp. 122–165); 5. On the status of the farmers (pp. 166–207). 16 manuscripts 525 ? . (p. 208); 6. On the Jews (manuscript 525, pp. 208–240). The draft document is in the collection of the “Ossolineum” Library, Lwów, Manus. No. 525 and a copy at Vienna: Staatsarchiv Wien, Staatsratsakten 1773, Nr. 2388. On the report see also: Dr. Ludwik Finkel: Memorjal Antoniego hr. Pergena kw. hist. t. XIV. Return
  10. Protokoll. Galizien 1793 Mai Nr. 23. Return
  11. IV T 5 Juli 1795 Nr. 7 Return
  12. Archive of the Ministry of the Interior: IV T 11, Carton Nr. 2657. Nr. 11 ex August 1784 Galizien. Return
  13. In 1775, the community became embroiled with the authorities over the assistance the community had extended to the Stryj community after the fire there caused destruction. When Empress Maria–Theresia agreed to support the Jews of Stryj who had suffered from the fire, just as the Christian citizens, the Governor appealed claiming that it was groundless since the Jews were assisted by the communities of Lwów, Brody and Kazimir. As a result, an order was given from Vienna to investigate the communities' accounts regarding the joint assistance in such cases.
    Protokolle Galizien e.a. 1775. Return
  14. IV T 11 Carton Nr. 185, ex. Majo 1784 Galizien. Return
  15. IV T 11 Carton 2658 (1786–1792). Return
  16. see: Dr. A. Breuer: “Joseph the Second and the Jews of Galicia”. HaShelach, 1910; pp. 336–343. Return
  17. 1,060 Galician Jews served in the Austrian armed forces during the Austro–Turkish war. Return
  18. Archive of the Ministry of the Interior: Carton 2579; IV T 11 Judensachen IV T 11 Judensachen; Carton 2659 I. Return
  19. Carton 2579; No. 106, ex. Julio 1790. Return
  20. IV T 11 Carton 2659 Return
[Pages 360-361]
  1. “Ossolineum” Library, Manuscript No. 525; pp. 616–619.
    see: Stanislaw Starzynski: Projekt galicyjskiej konstytucji 1790, Lwów 1893. Return
  2. On 18th October 1786, the Lwów municipality also underwent a reform. A president was set at its head (at an annual salary of 1,800 Florin); his deputy (on 1,200 Florins); 12 advisors on civil and criminal issues; four advisors on political affairs (eight of them received 800 Florin annual salary, and eight, 700 Florin); four secretaries (two on 600 Florin, and two on 500 Florin) three protocol directors; a deputy (300 Florin); registrar (500 Florin); expediter (600 Florin); treasurer; supervisor; and another 18 clerks; 21 judges; and one hangman. The municipality was also responsible for criminal jurisdiction till November 1787, when special criminal law–courts were established in Galicia. Return
  3. Archive of the Ministry of the Interior: Protocoll Galizien 1791. Juni No. 791. Return
  4. Manuscript in Ossolineum 525; p. 674. Return
  5. IV T 1 Carton 2580, 72 ex. Dezember 1793. Return
  6. IV Abschnitt 4, Art. 1. Return
  7. Protokoll 1793 Oktober No. 16. Return
  8. Archive of the Ministry of the Interior: IV T 1. Dezember 1793. No. 72. Return
  9. A power of attorney was appended to the petition written in Yiddish: “Power of attorney which we the undersigned, the Lemberg house owners tradesmen entrust with power and permission the venerable master, the elder [Nagid] our teacher and rabbi, Rabbi Jankel Kitaj, as well as the venerable master Rabbi Simche Rapoport, so that in our name they will come to an accord with his majesty, that in accordance with the freedom granted by the late Emperor Joseph, our property of shops and built houses and the benefits from them may continue to be protected. Lemberg 23rd April 1795.” Return
  10. IV T 1 Carton 2580. Januar 1795. No. 76; 1795. No. 39. Return
  11. Protokoll 1795. November No. 35. Return
  12. Protokoll 1796. März No. 105; Nov. No. 39. Return
  13. IV T 1. 1795. Return
  14. Dekret an das galiz. Gubernium v. 19/VI 1804. No. 10. 155. IV T 1. Carton 2580. 155 ex. Junio 1804. Return
  15. IV T 12 ex. a 1792. Return
  16. Protok. Galizien 1792, Dezember No. 24.
    Janua. 1793, No. 41. Return
  17. Prot. 1793. Januar No. 82. Return
  18. IV T 10. Februar 1794. No. 69. Return
  19. Prot. 1795. September No. 112. Return
  20. IV T 14 1798. Sept. 125. Return
  21. IV T 11. Judensachen, Carton. 2659 II. Return
  22. 24 October 1805, order to the Governor: IV T 11. Carton. 2581. 181. Return
  23. Archive of the Ministry of the Interior: Protokoll Galizien 1796. September No. 122. Freikorps aus Juden: Oktober No. 41.
    Vienna War Archive: Hofkriegsakten e. a. 1796 No. 9. 1311.
    In his letter of recommendation Graf [von] Gaisruck writes:
    “Berl Joselowicz, a Jew who, as Colonel, has already led a corps of Jews against the Russian at Warsaw, and who has the loyalty of the Jews, has made himself available to assemble at short notice that existing corps made up solely of Jews, and produce it for the required exercise, conditional however on his title of Royal & Imperial [K.K.] Colonel, and he requests that were he to be injured he would receive a most gracious pension. The Jew in general has his own pride, and due to that pride Berl Joselowicz can assemble that corps more easily with the honour and emulation of the title of Colonel.” Return
  24. Message to the Governor of East Galicia, dated 13 October 1796: Protokoll Galizien 1796. Oktober No. 41. acta 102 Frey–Korps.
    see also my book: Aus Zwei Jahrhunderten. Wien 1924, pp. 11–13. Return


« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.

JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  Lviv, Ukraine     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page

Yizkor Book Director, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Jason Hallgarten

Copyright © 1999-2023 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 3 Jan 2022 by LA