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“Hanusovce” – Encyclopaedia
of Jewish communities, Slovakia
(Hanušovce nad Topľou, Slovakia)

49°02' / 21°30'

Translation of the
“Hanusovce” 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 172]

Hanusovce
(Hanušovce nad Topľou, Slovakia)

Translated by Madeleine Isenberg

(Hungarian: Hanusfalva, in Yiddish: Hanushovitch)

A town in the Giraltovce District, in the Saris Region of eastern Slovakia.

 

Year Number of
Residents
Jews %
1735   3  
1768   3 families  
1831 1,253 265 21.1
1869 1,563 338 21.7
1900 1,219 234 19.8
1919 1,233 253 20.0
1930 1,351 271 29.0
1941 1,780 299 16.8
1948 1,574 98 6.4

 

Hanusovce was first mentioned in documents from 1332 regarding a town that set weekly market days. Its ownership was via noble families and was passed along several times from one to another. Its inhabitants, mainly Slovakian Catholics, made a living from agriculture and craftsmanship. In the 19th century, Hanusovce experienced a severe economic crisis such that many left to live in other towns or emigrated to the United States.

The economic depression in Hanusovce continued into the Czechoslovak Republic. The residents who remained there at the time made their living through agriculture and occasional work. During World War II Hanusovce was within the Slovakian state then under the auspices of Nazi Germany. Groups of partisans were active in the area. In the fall of 1944, Hanusovce was conquered by the Germans, but on January 19, 1945 was liberated by the Soviet Army.

 

About the History of the Community

According to our documentation, Jews had already settled in the Saros district at the beginning of the 18th century, at the latest. In the first census of Jews in the district in 1727, Jewish residents of the Hanusovce were not yet registered. In a certificate dated 1735, for the first time, a Jewish family of three from Poland was noted, who had paid a tax of 21 Florins

[Page 173]

to county authorities. In 1769 six Jewish families lived there, three of them from Galicia, and from then on the number of Jews steadily increased. In 1786, it seems, a chevra kadisha (burial society) was established there. In time a Jewish community was established and a cemetery was opened on the outskirts of the town, on a plot of purchased land. In its early years, the community did not have a synagogue and public prayer took place in a prayer room in a private house. In the early 19th century only a small wooden synagogue was built; in the middle of the century a new synagogue was built in a classic style that being more spacious than its predecessor the Jews called it the “Great” Synagogue. The community purchased the land for the synagogue from Count DESSEWFFY, who donated the building materials, and together with some philanthropists, also contributed financially to its construction.

In the 19th century Hassidic Jews from Poland settled there, and continued with their Hassidic traditions. Among themselves they spoke Yiddish and with the non-Jewish residents spoke a dialect of the Slovak language that was prevalent in eastern Slovakia. In 1869, during the split within the Hungarian communities, Hanusovce's community joined the “orthodox stream.” In 1873 the community's regulations were amended. By then, aside from the synagogue, Hanusovce had two cemeteries, a mikveh (ritual bath) a slaughterhouse, butcher shops, a heder (Hebrew school for young people), a Talmud Torah (Jewish community day school), and a Yeshiva (seminary), that was not in continuous use. In addition to the chevra kadisha Hanusovce had several charitable and mutual aid societies.

From the 1880s Hanusovce had a rabbi. The first rabbi, Rabbi (Mojzis) Moshe FRÄNKEL, left for the community of Šarišské Lúky (q.v.) in 1792 and he was succeeded by Rabbi Zvi Hirsch ADLER. Among the rabbis of the community in the 19th century, known by name were: Rabbi Leib WALDMAN, Rabbi Tzvi Ya'akov WALDMAN, Rabbi Yeshayahu Katz BAJERN, Rabbi Yosef Moshe RAPPAPORT, Rabbi Zalman Yekutiel WOLF, Rabbi Avraham Baruch BINDIGER, and Rabbi Yoel Zvi ROTH, author of “ Beit HaYotzer”. In the years 1877-1897, the leader of the community was Rabbi Eliezer Chaim DEUTSCH, author of “Tevuat Hasadeh,” that earned him the reputation of a respected scholar. He was also the founder of a Yeshiva that several of the rabbis after him took over the leadership. After him, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda BLUM (1917-1897), author of “ She'erit Yehuda,” became the community's leader. In his time, a few dozen young men studied in Hanusovce's Yeshiva. Following his death the rabbi who filled the role of “Domatz” (Dayan u Moreh Tzedek, i.e. rabbi) was Rabbi Shmuel FREUND until 1921. 17 nearby small towns and several smaller communities that did not have their own rabbi, belonged to Hanusovce's rabbinate.

 

Jews between the Two World Wars

At the end of the First World War, Hanusovce's Jewish community numbered about 400 persons, some of them from nearby settlements, and was headed by Shlomo FRIEDMAN. Its budget for 1922 was close to 35,000 derived from community taxes paid by some 140 family heads. The community employed three permanent employees, among them Rabbi Yoel ADLER, who served in the city from 1921 and did much to nurture the yeshiva. During his time, over a hundred yeshiva students attended the yeshiva. This rabbi also opened a dining hall for them so that they would not have to eat days[1] with local families. About 40 children studied in the community's Talmud Torah. The rest of the community's children attended the local general school and during their free time they also studied religious studies in the traditional heder and Talmud Torah.

Most of the Jews of Hanusovce were members of “ Agudath Israel” and the “ Young Agudat Israel” youth movement was active alongside it. In the 1920s a Zionist branch was established in the city, whose members were mainly involved in raising money for national funds. Before the 21st Zionist Congress, 1939, Hanusovce's Jews purchased 52 Shekalim, and in the 1930s the Bnei Akiva and Beitar youth movements also operated there. Because of the rabbi's strong opposition to Zionism, only 27 of Hanusovce's Jews defined themselves as Jews, while the rest defined themselves as Slovaks. The Jewish National Party was active in the Jewish community, especially during local civil elections. In the 1928 elections the party received 89 votes (18.5% of all votes) and one seat in the local council.

Even after the First World War, most of Hanusovce's Jews continued to engage in various forms of commerce, as in the past. Most of them dealt in commerce derived from the region's agricultural character, mainly with food and grocery stores, agricultural products, cattle, horses, and strong spirits. Most of the shops in the town were owned by Jews.

According to the licenses issued in 1930 by the local Chamber of Commerce, it is possible to see the proportion of Jews in the business sector:

Type of Business Number
of
Businesses
Jewish-
owned
Businesses
Grocery and General Stores 6 5
Agricultural Products 6 4
Textiles and Clothing 5 5
Taverns (i.e., Pubs) 5 3
Butchers 3 2
Agencies 2 2
Other 6 4

 

In addition to small businesses, there were also several craftsmen (3 tailors and shoemakers), a doctor, pharmacist, sawmill owner, and a few farmers. Most of the people had an adjoining farm next to their homes where they grew vegetables and fruit trees for their own needs.

 

[Page 174]

The Holocaust Period

On the eve of World War II about 120 Jewish families lived in the city. With the establishment of the Slovak state, the Jews were persecuted by local residents and the authorities. The head of the district, Julius SHIMKO, was known as a sworn hater of Jews. Hanusovce's Jews and the businesses they owned became targets of plunder and violence. And at the same time they were subjected to decrees designed to push them out of society and the economy. In 1940, the Jews were forced into the “ Jewish Center” in the nearby town of Giraltovce (q.v.). In the 1940/41 school year, the Jewish community opened an eight-grade Jewish school after the Jewish students were expelled from public schools. The Jewish school in Hanusovce was run by Arnost TRATNER and children from all over the area were taught there. In 1941, Leopold FRIEDMAN was elected head of the community. Yaakov FRIEDMAN served as treasurer, and Rabbi Yoav ADLER continued as leader and as head of the yeshiva until 1942.

From 1941 on, Jews were squeezed out of the local economy. Most of the businesses owned by them were closed by order of the authorities, with the exception of a few large, profitable stores that were aryanized. Dozens of Jews who were left without a livelihood were recruited for forced labor and sent to “ work centers” in various locations in Slovakia.

On the eve of Yom Kippur (September 1941), the synagogue was breached and burned. The building and its contents, including the religious objects, were consumed by flames.

In the spring and summer of 1942, most of the Jews of Hanusovce were deported to death camps in Poland. On March 23, 1942, the young men were rounded up. On March 27, 1942, 63 young women were sent to the transit camp in Poprad, and from there they were deported on April 2 to the Auschwitz death camp. About 30 young women escaped and hid in a safe place. At the same time most of the young people were deported from the assembly location in Giraltovce to the collection camp in Zilina (q.v.). In early April 1942, they were attached to the transport to the Majdanek camp in the Lublin district of Poland. The major deportation from Hanusovce took place on May 23, 1942. Members of the Hlinka Guard from the district and from the western part of the country came to Hanusovce to assist in the deportation. They rounded up most of the Jews of the surrounding area and sent them to Giraltovce. On May 24, 1942, some 300 Jews of Hanusovce and the surrounding area were added to the transport leaving from Stropkov (q.v.) to the Rejowiec ghetto in the Lublin district. Among them was the community's rabbi, Dr. Yoav ADLER.

With the end of the deportations of 1942, seven Jewish families who received protection certificates remained in the city and their deportation was deferred. After a while many other Jewish families were brought to Hanusovce from nearby towns. They joined with the Jews of Giraltovce and Kurima (q.v.) in a joint community. Classes in the Jewish school ceased to exist and the few remaining children in Hanusovce had private lessons. In May 1944, the last Jews were deported to western Slovakia and scattered to various places. With the outbreak of the Slovak Uprising on August 29, 1944, 11 Jews of Hanusovce joined partisan units and the Czechoslovakian army and fought in their ranks. After the suppression of the revolt, the Germans seized a number of the Jews in the area and killed them; the remainder were deported to the camps.

 

Post-War

After liberation, several dozen Jewish survivors gathered in Hanusovce. Some of them had been former residents and some from the surrounding area. They renewed the life of the kehila together with the Jews of Giraltovce. Public prayer took place in an improvised house of prayer. The head of the community, Bartholomei GROSSMAN, also renewed Zionist activity in Hanusovce. Yehuda FRIEDMAN and Shmuel Yehuda CZIPSER also dealt with public affairs. In 1947, 107 Jews lived there. In the same year, the Jews collected 27,000 crowns as a donation to the Jewish National Fund for the planting of the “ Czechoslovakia Martyrs' Forest” in the hills of Jerusalem. In 1949 a majority of Jews immigrated to Israel or emigrated to other countries. A small community continued to exist in Hanusovce until the end of the 1960s. After that even these last ones left Hanusovce when most of them moved to nearby Presov (q.v.). The mikveh, the Talmud Torah building, and two other houses that once belonged to the community, remained but neglected. In 1990, the Jewish cemetery remained in its place, but it was deserted and most of its tombstones had been broken. We do not know of any Jews who still live there.


Bystré

(Slovakia)

49°01' N, 21°33' E

A village close to Hanusovce that once had a Jewish community. In 1828 the community numbered 110 persons. It had a synagogue, cemetery, mikvah, heder, and employed a religious teacher/ritual slaughterer who also served several neighboring communities. In the second half of the 19th century, the number of Jews in the village diminished gradually as most of the young people moved to the larger cities. At the beginning of the 20th century, about 100 Jews still remained in the village, and in 1940, 70. In 1942 most of them were sent to extermination camps. After liberation no Jews returned to settle in the village.


References

Yad Vashem Archives, M5/57, 117; M48/340, 681, 1197, 1199; JM/11011=11015, 11018-11019, 11024, 11030.
Cohen, Khakhmei Hungaria (Hungarian Sages), pp. 335, 403-404, 426-428, 550-554.

[Page 175]
Fuchs, Hungarian Yeshivot, A. pp. 167-170
Bárkány-Dojč, pp. 363-365.
Gaspar, Hanusovce nad Toplou a okolie, Kosice 1984
Lányi -Békefy-Popper, Slovenskoi zsidó hitközségek, pp. 142-143
MHJ, vols. VII, XVI
Vestnik UŽ, nos. 1, 13 (1941)
Židovske noviny, no. 27 (1939)

Translator's Note
  1. “ 'Eating days'…practice in many of the pre war yeshivas was that community members would have over a yeshiva bochur for specific days to eat. And other community members would have them on other days. And certain members also got allowances from the yeshiva for food.”http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/coffeeroom/reply/1120172. Return

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