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“Stara Lubovna” – Encyclopaedia
of Jewish communities, Slovakia
(Stará Ľubovňa, Slovakia)

49°18' / 20°42'

Translation of the
“Stupava” chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Slovakia

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem, 2003


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


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[Page 383]

Stara Lubovna

Translated by Madeleine Isenberg

Edited by Hagit Tsafriri

 

(Hungarian: Ólubló, German: Altlublau)
A district capital in the Spiš Region in northeastern Slovakia

Year Population No. of Jews %
1828 1,996 11 0.5
1869 2,060 88 4.3
1880 2,192 188 8.6
1900 1,997 250 12.5
1910 1,841 236 14.3
1921 1,937 273 14.2
1930 2,109 354 16.8
1940 2,227 334 15.0
1948 2,162 37 1.8

 

A small settlement on the Polish border, it was established at the end of the 13th century by German settlers. In the 14th century, it became a town and set up market and fair days. In 1366, it was recognized as a royal free town with privileged rights and its economy flourished. At the same time, Stara Lubovna belonged to the Association of German Cities in the Spis Region. In the 15th century it was turned over as collateral to the Polish kingdom that set up there the management of the pledged regions. Most of the town's population was German, and a few Slovak, Catholics, and the sources from which they made their livings were by handicrafts, lumber industry, and tanning of hides. In the 19th century, commerce developed there, especially with wood and leather, two banks were established, and it became a district capital. In Stara Lubovna in 1909, they set up a cooperative for leather work and several weaving factories.

During the period of the Czechoslovakian Republic, Stara Lubovna served as a center for services and commerce for the outlying villages in northern Slovakia. During the Second World War, it was part of Slovakian state, a German satellite, and served as a transit point for Jewish refugees from Poland and the Soviet Union on their way to Hungary. Anti-Nazi partisan groups organized themselves in the surrounding forests. On November 25, 1945 Stara Lubovna was liberated by the Soviet Army.

 

About the History of the Community

Until the 1920s no Jews lived in Stara Lubovna, presumably because of the opposition of the German inhabitants. Tombstones dating from about 1825 in the Jewish cemetery were testaments to the presence of Jews there. According to local tradition, the Jewish community was established in Stara Lubovna in the middle of the 19th century, and that it belonged under the jurisdiction of the Huncovce (q.v.) Rabbinate. With the split of the (Jewish) communities in Hungary

[Page 384]

in 1869, the Stara Lubovna kehila (community) joined with the orthodox communities. From the 1870s the kehila grew, setting up several communal institutions, engaged a shochet (ritual slaughterer) and religious teacher, who served the Jews of adjoining settlements. Communal prayer started in a prayer room and in the 1880s they built a synagogue in the traditional style, (its measurements 13 x 15 meters). The kehila also had a cheder, Talmud Torah, mikvah (ritual bath) slaughter-house, and a few butcher shops. At the end of the 19th century they had a rabbi leading them; the first rabbi was Rabbi Yitzchak (Isidor) FRIEDMAN. The rules and regulations of the kehila were renewed in 1896.

During the First World War, dozens of young Jewish men from Stara Lubovna were drafted to the Austro-Hungarian army, and many fell during the fighting.

 

The Jews between the Two World Wars

After WWI, the kehila numbered about 350 souls, residents of Stara Lubovna and the surroundings – about 100 tax-paying heads of families – and as their community president, Theo GRÜN. Rabbi FRIEDMAN continued to be the spiritual leader. The budget for the kehila for 1922 was 60,000 crowns and it had a synagogue, study hall, cemetery, ritual mikvah, slaughterhouse, butcher shops, and community center with apartments for community workers. The kehila supported five workers. Alongside the chevra kadisha (holy burial society) in Stara Lubovna, were “The Jewish Women's Association,” “Bikur Cholim” (Visitors to the Sick), and several other charitable groups.

At the end of the 1920s Rabbi Yitzchak FRIEDMAN was chosen to be the rabbi of the Orthodox kehila in the city of Trnava (q.v.). The inheritor of the rabbinical position in Stara Lubovna was Rabbi Moshe ROSENBERG. At the same time, the president of the community was Bernat BLEIER. Stara Lubovna had no Jewish school so the children attended the general public school and the Talmud Torah for religious studies. The teacher there was Rabbi Eliezer Lipman KOHN. In the 1930s the number of Jews in the town reached its highest and the kehila flourished.

For the interwar period, the Jews of Stara Lubovna were active in local public affairs and a few served in positions in public administration. Dr. David NEUWIRTH served as the district physician, and Dr. Ludwig FARKAS was the town's doctor. Several Jews were clerks in public institutions.

In the 1921 census, 117 Jews in Stara Lubovna registered as Jewish for their nationality, and the rest defined themselves as Slovaks or Germans. In the 1920s Jews held two positions in the local council. In the 1928 elections for the council, the Jewish National Party received 70 votes.

In the early 1920s, the Zionist Association was established in Stara Lubovna, that busied itself primarily with collecting donations for Zionist foundations and for disseminating the Zionist ideas. Toward the 15th Zionist Congress (in 1927) 27 “Shekels”[1] were sold in Stara Lubovna; toward the 20th Congress (in 1937) 42 shekels; and toward the 21st Congress (in 1939) 85 shekels. In the town, youth movements were also active: “Hashomer Hatzair,” “Bnei Akiva,” and Betar. The orthodox set up a branch of “Agudas Yisroel” and collaterally, the youth movement “Young Agudas Yisrael.”

The economic state of the Jews in Stara Lubovna was for the most part good. They played a critical role in local commerce and under their ownership were 37 businesses; 14 workshops (factories?), a sawmill, flour mill, and soap factory. Among the independent professionals were two doctors, a dentist, two lawyers and several clerks.

According to the licenses that were distributed by the Business Office in 1921, the breakdown of business ownerships in Stara Lubovna were as follows:

Type of Business Number of
Businesses
Jewish-owned
Businesses
Grocery & General Store 14 8
Fabric and Clothing 7 6
Agencies 6 4
Taverns 5 4
Wood & Building Materials 5 5
Agricultural Products 3 3
Wine and Strong Liquors 2 2
Iron and Work Tools 1 1
Books & Paper Products 1 1
Other 5 3

 

The Holocaust Period

Immediately after the establishment of the Slovakian state on 14 March 1939, new decrees regularly inflicted on the Jews. On September 7, 1939, the authorities notified Jewish-owned businesses to indicate such with the label “Jewish Business.” At the start of 1940, the German inhabitants, most of them members of the pro-Nazi “German Party” (DP), turned to the authorities demanding they get rid of the Jews from the Stara Lubovna district. In the town at that time, 330 Jews were living there and about 400 more in nearby settlements. Businessman Alexander WEISS was chosen as the head of the “Jewish Center” in the Stara Lubovna district.

Toward the start of the 1940/41 school year, Jewish children were thrown out of the public schools and the kehila opened an eight-year school for them, partly for middle schooling, under the principal A. BRUNNER. Children from the whole surrounding region studied there.

During 1941, young Germans repeatedly rioted against the Jews in the town. Jews were attacked in the streets, and their apartments and shops were broken into and looted.

[Page 385]

In 1941, the authorities closed down 41 Jewish businesses whose combined yearly income was five million crowns. Seven more large businesses were aryanized. In August 1941, 59 of Stara Lubovna's unemployed Jews without any source of livelihood were sent to a forced labor camp. 48 Jews from neighboring settlements were enlisted to pave the road near Podolinec (q.v).

Deportations of Stara Lubovna's Jews began in the spring of 1942. On March 21, 1942, 47 young Jewish women from Stara Lubovna and the surroundings were picked up and the following day sent to the transit camp in Poprad (q.v.). On the 25th, they were deported to Auschwitz. 23 young women succeeded in avoiding the deportation and they were decreed “deserters.” On April 1, 1942, a few dozen young men from Stara Lubovna were rounded up and sent the next day to the collection camp in Žilina (q.v.). On April 4, 1942, they were added to the transport to the Majdanek camp, near Lublin, Poland. 15 young men succeeded in escaping during the roundup. In May 1942, the deportation of families began. In the spring and summer of 1942, Jews from Stara Lubovna and surroundings were sent via the Poprad transit camp to extermination camps and ghettos in the Lublin area and to Auschwitz. About 650 Jews (89% from the Stara Lubovna district) were deported in 1942 to extermination camps, and among them also Rabbi Moshe ROSENBERG. About 20 Jews succeeded in escaping and infiltrating into Hungary.

With the cessation of deportations in October 1942, 50 Jews (out of a total of 80 in the area) remained in Stara Lubovna who held exemption certificates. The kehila began to reorganize anew. At the same time a rescue committee began to act to help Jews fleeing Polish ghettoes to reach Hungary. The Jewish school continued until the spring of 1944, under the management of Livia WILDROF.

With the outbreak of the Slovakian Revolution at the end of August 1944, 58 Jews remained in Stara Lubovna. Some of them successfully escaped before the town fell into German hands and found refuge with farmers who helped them courageously. On October 16, 1944, with the help of local Germans, 21 of Stara Lubovna's Jews were arrested by members of the SS and were murdered. During the Slovakian Rebellion, about 10 Jews fought in partisan units and the Czechoslovak Army.

 

Post War

After liberation, about 50 Jews returned to the town. They repaired some of the public buildings that were damaged during the war and the life of the kehila was renewed for a short period. Also the Zionist movement restarted its activities in the town. In 1947, Jews of Stara Lubovna donated about 10,000 crowns to the Keren Kayemet L'yisrael fund to plant “The Czechoslovakian Martyrs Forest” in the Jerusalem mountains. Over time, Jews abandoned Stara Lubovna and in 1949 the last ones left, mostly to Israel. Today, the synagogue serves as a warehouse; the community center and mikvah are abandoned; and in the Jewish cemetery most of the tombstones have been destroyed.

 

References
Yad Vashem Archives, M5/57, 83; M48/1723, 1741; JM/11011-11014, 11018-11019.
Mr. Dov Gvaryahu-Gottesman, History of the Jews of Kezmarok and the Surroundings, Jerusalem 1992.
Bárkány-Dojč, pp. 325-326
Lanyi, Bekelfy-Popper, Szlovenskoi zsido, pp. 270-272
Haderech,
no. 19 (1940)
Židovská ročenka
(1940) p. 27
Footnote
  1. 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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