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“Dolny Kubin” – Encyclopaedia
of Jewish communities, Slovakia
(Dolný Kubín, Slovakia)

49°12' / 19°18'

Translation of the
“Dolny Kubin” 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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Acknowledgments

Project Coordinator

Madeleine Isenberg

 

Our sincere appreciation to Yad Vashem
for permission to put this material on the JewishGen web site.

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 138]

Dolny Kubin

Translated by Madeleine Isenberg

(Hungarian: Also Kubin)

District capital and administrative and cultural center for the Orava Region in northern Slovakia.

 

Year Residents Jews %
1735 - 17 -
1767 - 31 -
1785 - 50 -
1828 1,291 124 9.7%
1880 1,552 431 27.8%
1900 1,674 394 23.5%
1919 1,816 363 20.0%
1930 2,547 282 12.0%
1940 2,561 245 9.6%
1948 2,744 13 0.5%

 

Dolny Kubin was founded in the 14th century and was part of the Orava estate. In 1632 it received the rights of a city and with that the permission to hold yearly fairs and weekly markets. In 1683, Dolny Kubin became the district capital and administrative and cultural center for the region. The new education institutions that were established in Dolny Kubin were the gymnasia (academic school) and the high school for economics and commerce. In the 19th century, Dolny Kubin was an important center for the National Slovak movement. Most of its residents at the time were Slovaks, Catholic and Evangelical, by religion. In Dolny Kubin a few important people emerged, among them the national poet, Pavol ORSZAGH-HVIEZDOSLAV (1921-1849).

During the Czechoslovak Republic a few new industrial enterprises were established and its economy grew. During the Second World War, the city was incorporated within the Slovakian State

[Page 139]

 

slo139.jpg
The Synagogue Building in Dolny Kubin in 1990 – Now a Cinema

 

and became a German satellite. During the Slovakian Rebellion (28 August 1944), the partisans tool over Dolny Kubin and managed to hold on to it for three weeks. On 18 September 1944. The Germans conquered it. On 6 April 1945, the town was liberated by the Soviet Army.

 

About the History of the Community

The first Jews, mostly those who came from Holesov, Moravia, settled in Dolny Kubin at the beginning of the 18th century, as much as we can tell. In the 1735 census, three Jewish heads of families were noted -- a tailor, a merchant, and a widow with a shop. In 1749, by then 20 Jews were living in Dolny Kubin, and the community head was Leibel ABRAHAM. In the 1767 census for the Orava district, there were 8 Jewish families (31 persons). Their source of income was primarily through commerce – cheeses, linen, hard liquors – and shopkeepers, two of whom were tailors and one who was described as the “Jewish Servant” (probably the shochet (ritual slaughterer) or teacher). In the middle of the 18th century a Jewish cemetery was opened. According to the agreement, the chevra kadisha (ritual burial society) was compelled to turn over to the local priest a fixed amount of grain for each Jew buried in the cemetery. This agreement was valid until 1848.

There is evidence that Jewish communal life existed in 1770. In 1775, the first synagogue was built with 70 seats in the main hall and additional seats for women in the women's section. Jews from neighboring settlements prayed there also. Near the synagogue were built a mikvah (ritual bath) and apartments for religious ministrants – shochet, teacher, treasurer of the chevra kadisha. The plot of land on which the synagogue was built and some community institutions, were leased for a period of 90 years with a yearly lease of 25 Ducats. In 1865 the lease was renewed for another 90 years despite the opposition from the town's authorities. The synagogue was improved and enlarged in 1885. In 1893, a huge fire destroyed the synagogue and several communal buildings. In place of the burned-out synagogue, a new one was built, larger than the original (its measurements were then 14 x 26 meters). In its courtyard they set up a slaughterhouse and butcher shop. In 1901 the community acquired permanent ownership of the land on which the synagogue was situated, but the remaining buildings were subject to eviction and destruction.

The revised administration arrangements of the Dolny Kubin community were exemplary models of many other such communities. Community leaders were given the title of “Jewish Reeve,”[1] and were highly respected. Dolny Kubin's Jewish community protocols were approved in 1795 and updated in 1887. At the time of the split of the Hungarian kehilot (communities) in 1869, that of Dolny Kubin joined with the organization of orthodox communities. After a few months, 40 families broke away and formed a separate liberal community. The two communities existed separately, side-by-side in their institutions and rabbis. In 1886, after 16 years of separation, the two reunited into a single community that described itself as a “status-quo” kehila. In 1880, the kehila reached

[Page 140]

the height of its growth – 142 tax-paying households (431 persons).

Among the rabbis of Dolny Kubin were quite a few Talmudic scholars of renown, and some of them later became rabbis in larger, more important communities. It appears that Dolny Kubin's first rabbi was Rabbi Ephraim KUBINSKY (1772-1814), born in Dolny Kubin (according to his name), an eminent scholar, who maintained close connections with the greats of the time, among them the Chatam Sofer. He maintained in his home a small yeshiva (seminary) and served also as the regional rabbi. His successor was Rabbi Akiva STEINHARDT (in the years 1816-1846), who was born in Fürth, Germany. He too was a well-known scholar who became famous from his book, “Mashbir Bar.”[2] Rabi Akiva also served as the chief rabbi for the Orava Region. The rabbinical leaders in Dolny Kubin after him were Rabi Simon Kohn (Shimon haCohen) WEISS (in years 1846-1850); Rabbi Dr. ROSENTHAL (years 1850-1852); and after him, Rabbi Zvi STEINHARDT, son of Rabbi Akiva STEINHARDT. For many years, alongside the rabbis, they were assisted by the adjudicator, Rabbi Aharon BLEIER.

Among the liberal rabbis, Rabbi Dr. Zigmond MAIBAUM stands out, who in 1873 was chosen to be the chief rabbi of Berlin. After him came Rabbi Dr. Moric (Moshe) SALZBERGER, who, in 1876 was chosen to be the rabbi in Erfurt, Germany. The last of the liberal rabbis, before the kehila reunited with the orthodox, were Rabbi Dr. Jakub (Yakov) REISS (1876-1880) and Dr. Samuel A. FEUERSTEIN. Rabbi Jonatan HOROWITZ (1886-1908) and Rabbi Shabtai (Alexander) FRIEDMAN then served as the rabbis of the united kehila.

Jews from 14 small, neighboring settlements belonged to the Dolny Kubin community and its rabbinate. The benefactor Salomon (Shlomo) DUSCHNITZ served as the community leader for a long period, and in the 1890s, Dr. Wilhelm REICHHARDT, served in his place. Dolny Kubin also had a Talmud Torah[3], that didn't function continuously, and a basic six-year school. The languages of instruction were in German and Slovak, a rarity in Jewish schools of the time, and the high level of education attracted even many Christian students. In Dolny Kubin, there were a few charitable institutions and mutual aid societies, among them “Association of Jewish Women” and free-loan societies. Even the chevra kadisha participated in widespread social work.

In 1897, a Zionist organization was established, among the first in Hungary. Max GRÜNWALD, one of the community's benefactors, participated as a representative in the first national conference of “Mizrachi,” that took place in Bratislava (q.v.) in 1904.

Dolny Kubin was the birthplace of Dr. Ludwig (Yom Tov) BATO, (born in 1886), who was among the founders of the Zionist Federation in Hungary, was a known journalist and publicist, and writer of two book on Zionism. At first he was active in Budapest, later served as the chairman of the Zionist Federation in Vienna, participated in a few of the Zionist Congresses, and was awarded a prize from the Austrian Government for his work as a publicist. In 1940, Yom Tov Bato immigrated to Israel. Also born in Dolny Kubin, was Rabbi Dr. Ignatz ZIEGLER (1861-1948), who served as rabbi in a number of important communities and wrote books on Jewish subjects.

During World War I, many from Dolny Kubin were drafted into the Austro-Hungarian army. 15 fell in battle.

 

The Jews between the Two World Wars

With the establishment of the Czechoslovak Republic, The community president, Salomon DUSCHNITZ and Shabtai FRIEDMAN continued in their duties. In 1922, the kehila counted 135 tax-paying heads of households, its budget was 45,000 Kronen, and it employed three workers. Among the local charities, the Association of Jewish Women stood out for its various activities. Alongside it in its functionality were also the chevra kadisha and the “gmilut chasadim (free loan)” group.

In the 1921 census, 191 of Dolny Kubin's population identified themselves as Jewish for their nationality. The Zionist movement in Dolny Kubin grew in strength after the war. Zionist youth movements, “Hashomer Hatzair (The Young Guard)” and “Maccabi Hatzair (the Young Maccabi),” were also active in the town. In 1929, 17,000 Kronen were collected to plant a forest in Israel, in the name of the Czechoslovak president, T. G. Masaryk. Towards the 17th Zionist Congress (in 1931) Jews of Dolny Kubin acquired 71 “shekalim,”[4] and toward that of the 21st (in 1939) 60 shekalim. In the local council elections in 1928, the Jewish National Party won 128 votes (16% of all the votes) and the mandate of the regional council. In the 1935 elections, the number of its voters rose to 254 and its representative was chosen for the town council.

Jews of Dolny Kubin were active in the general population and a few of them served in senior positions in the town's administration. Bedrich DUSCHNITZ served as a member of the town's administration, and three members of the town's education committee were Jews. The notary public and the senior clerk in the management of the treasury department of the region were Jewish. Engineer Eduard KOPP served as deputy manager for the public works administration for the Orava Region, and Dr. Armin BALAZ was the district physician.

Also between the two World Wars most of the Jews of Dolny Kubin continued to make their living through commerce and trades. In the town there were 17 shops and 16 workshops and factories that were Jewish-owned. Among the free professionals in the town were four doctors (out of six), three Jewish attorneys, and many clerks.

[Page 141]

According to the licenses, issued by the business office in Dolny Kubin, we can learn of the part Jews paid in the business sectors:

Type of Business Number
of
Businesses
Jewish-
owned
Grocery and general stores 16 12
Wood, Heating & Building Materials 5 5
Haberdashery (i.e., notions) 4 3
Leather and Shoes 3 3
Clothing 3 2
Restaurants & Taverns 3 2
Agricultural Products 2 2
Books and Paper Goods 2 2
Wine and Strong Liquors 2 2
Iron products 1 1
Watches & Jewelry 1 1
Other 4 2

 

The Holocaust Period

In 1940 the Dolny Kubin community counted only about 100 households (243 people). At its head stood A. KOHN and the Rabbi Shabtai FRIEDMAN continued his leadership. Merchant Geza SCHIFFER was appointed to head the branch of “Jewish Center” in Dolny Kubin. Throughout 1941, Jews were deprived of their economic standing. Most of their businesses (in which their combined yearly incomes were valued at 3.5 million Kronen) were shut down by command of the authorities, and seven large commercial enterprises, with yearly revenues of six million Kronen, were aryanized. By the end of 1941, a few Jewish families who had been deported from Bratislava, came to Dolny Kubin, and at the beginning of 1942, on the eve of deportations, 270 Jews were living there.

Deportations from Dolny Kubin began at the end of March 1942, with most of the young men and women being sent to extermination camps. On 2 June 1942 more than 60 men, women and children were sent to ghettoes and extermination camps that were in Lublin, Poland. On 5 July 1942, about 120 Jews from Dolny Kubin and surroundings were sent to the collection camp in Zilina (q.v.) and from there were added to the transports to the Auschwitz extermination camp. Two additional deportations were on the 23rd and 31st of July 1942. During the wave of deportations in 1942, 94 families from Dolny Kubin were deported, comprising about 75% of the local Jewish population. Among the deportees was the community's last rabbi, Rabbi Shabtai FRIEDMAN. In the whole district 60 Jews remained who had exemption papers and their deportation was deferred. They returned and organized into a small kehila, headed by Moric WEISS. The Jewish school, managed by Terezia SPITZ, functioned until the end of June 1944. By the beginning of 1944, 50 Jews still remained in Dolny Kubin, and in May of that same year they were joined by a few Jewish families, evacuees from eastern Slovakia.

During the Slovak Rebellion, when Dolny Kubin was held by the insurgents, most of the remaining Jews managed to flee to the forests or found hiding places with farmers who lived in the region.

 

Post-War

After liberation, about 30 Jews returned to Dolny Kubin, and within a short period, the life of the kehila was renewed. Dr. Julius MEISEL took care of their affairs and organized the Zionist activities. Most of the Jews eventually left the town and in 1948 only 13 Jews remained; some of these left for Israel in 1949.

The synagogue, cemetery, school building and community center were abandoned and neglected. Today, the synagogue serves as a cultural auditorium. The cemetery was recently repaired. The town residents erected a memorial to the Jews of Dolny Kubin who perished in the holocaust and in 1990, a ceremony was held for its unveiling.

References

Yad Vashem Archives, 114, M5/57; M48/649-689, 950, 952, 1393; JM/11013-11017; 11033
Cohen, Khakhmei Hungaria (Hungarian Sages), pp. 255, 259, 271, 411
Bárkány-Dojè, pp. 276-280
Lanyi, Bekelfy-Popper, Szlovenskoi zsido hitközsegek, pp. 225-229
MHJ
, vols. VII, XVI
Věstník ZNO, no. 6/34 (1972)
Židovske noviny, no. 27 (1938)
Translator's Notes

  1. A reeve would have been a local official. In this case, probably an administrative officer of the town's Jewish population. Return
  2. The Hebrew title, refers to the biblical Joseph who distributed or brokered the grain to the people during the years of famine. Apparently, Rabbi Akiva STEINHARDT used this reference of Joseph in memory of his father, Rabbi Joseph STEINHARDT of Fürth. Return
  3. An afternoon school program to teach Hebrew studies, after the completion of a public school day. Return
  4. A shekel-owner became a partner in the Zionist Organization and had voting rights. See http://www.begedivri.com/ZionistShekel/History.htm for more information Return

 

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