(Švihov, Czech Republic 49°29' 13°17')
(Kunratice u Prahy, Czech Republic 50°01' 14°30')
Compiled by František Teplý, archivist, Prague;
German translation by Dr. Anton Blaschke, Prague
Translated by Philip Isenberg
Jews were mentioned in Schwihau (in Czech: Švihov) for the first time around 1570. From this year, we possess an incomplete register of those places where Jews were located, including details of how many of them were taken into consideration for the payment of the Berne [translator's note: from the Czech Berněz židův, a tax on Jews] that was approved by the Landtag provincial parliament. In it, Schwihau is listed with one Jew. Anyone who was over the age of twenty or was married was to pay 2 Hungarian guldens or 1½ schocks (a total of 90) Bohemian groschens, and those who were younger were to pay 1 gulden or 45 groschens. There was perhaps only one Jewish household present. If the son or the daughter married and remained in the same home, then it was possible now and again that three to four families could appear in the register as One Jew, specifically when what was concerned was the provincial tax on Jews [Landesberně]. What was of importance was the basic authority to which the application of the register was subjected, with the Jews paying their tax to it alone.
On a gravestone in the old Jewish cemetery can be read Mrs. Resel, the daughter of Mr. Gerson, died in the month of May in the year 1644. Official approval for a new grave was requested by the Jews of Schwihau on June 10.
On September 5, 1674, Franz Maximilian Czernin sold to the Jew Sigmund Löbl… of Schwihau the socalled Janata house, situated between the houses of Wenzel Boleška and Martin Beránek, including the courtyard and small garden, for 116 guldens 40 kreutzers.
On December 26, 1674, with the approval of the lord of the castle, in the presence of the honorable Mr. Martin Samuel Stehlík, fellow citizen, councilman, and clerk of the city of Schwihau; the citizen Johann Paltes sold the house that he had previously purchased from the Jew Moses, along with a copper oven pot and the storage yard of Wenzel Boleška to the Jew Isaak for 4 Rhenish guilders and 4 cubits of linen.
On December 15, 1693, with the approval of Franz Maximilian Czernin, Martin Zborovský let the Jew Salomon Sender have his house without the field, meadow, and garden for 50 Rhenish guilders with the expressed reservation that if at any time a Christian were to present himself as a buyer, then he, Sender, could no longer request it. As long as he was earning his living from the house, he should immediately pay the protection money of other Jews to the income of the nobility (VII).
On February 15, 1694, the same Czernin allowed the Jewish woman Cheilla Löbl to carry out the building of an annex at the shop that was built on the storage yard that originated from the Beránek property. She was allowed to keep the shop open on holidays from the morning until the sounding of the third bells and after mass for the whole day, whereby with special solemn occasions, the right was reserved to the priest to indicate to her when she ought to close the shop (IV).
On November 24, 1697, the Jew David Israel bought a dilapidated house without fields from Martin Boleška, situated between Karl Jelínek and Martin Voráček in the upper city, for 40 Rhenish guilders.
On October 20, 1698, Franz Maximilian Czernin, lord of Schwihau and Malechau [Malechov], took the Jew Abraham Samuel of Klattau [Klatovy] under his protection and allowed him to purchase the house of Dorothea Helm and to carry out in it any honorable trade, both within the city and within the domain, and specifically at an annual fee of 12 guldens (III).
In 1706, the lord's authority has the following receipts in its incomes from the Schwihau Jews:
Protection money from the Jews (without an indication of the number) 154 guldens From the Jewish cemetery 4 For 120 pounds of rendered tallow @ 9 kreutzers makes 18 For 2 pounds of pepper @ 36 kreutzers 1 12 kreuzers For 2 pounds of ginger @ 36 kreutzers 1 12 kreuzers Total 178 gulden 24 kreuzers
On May 10, 1707, the Jewish woman Rachel, the wife of Moses Jičín from Prague, requested of Hermann Jakob Czernin a reduction of the annual tax for her brotherinlaw in Schwihau, Pinkas, from 26 guldens to 20 guldens. The request was rejected. On May 18 of the same year, the Schwihau City Council humbly requested the lord to expel eight Jews from the city who were living in citizens' houses which was not permitted to nonChristians. The Schwihau Jews supposedly had not just bought houses, but also plots of land among the Christians, they had them in their possession, and they lived indiscriminately among the Christians for which they were not being responsible to either God or men, since the honor of God was being eroded and the one and only true Catholic faith would disturbingly fall into decay with such living together of Christians and Jews: indeed, the most supreme laws of the land forbade this expressis verbis, and would not have allowed it. Czernin resolved to set up a new ghetto with the help of the community on the Chudenitz [Chudenice] road right at the entrance to the upper city in the lord's garden or else across from it at the end of the city limits, whereby two or three Christian houses that were standing directly in front of them could be exchanged for Jewish ones.
On March 21, 1709, in the presence of the councilman Lorenz Schilt and the municipal scribe Johann Hájek, Johann Boleška bought from the Jew Philipp Löbl a garden plot that was 7 klafters [fathoms] long and 3 klafters wide, in the middle between the huts [Chaluppen] of Wenzel Šedivý and the Jew Itzig, for 8 Rhenish guilders for the construction of a hut. If perhaps over time, the lords were to build huts for the Jews, then Löbl would leave this little house to Boleška or his children without charge. One year later, Boleška let the Jew use a portion of his oven [translator's note: probably a portion of the area where his outdoor oven was located] up to the end of the stables of the nobility for his own stables for 1 gulden (X).
At that time (1709), six Jewish butchers already lived in Schwihau. The paid a tax from the butcher shops annually to the Chudenitz income of 120 pounds of tallow @ 9 kreutzers, 16 strichs [a total of approximately 1,500 liters] of oats, and for every head of cattle slaughtered, 6 kreutzers instead of the tongue.
From 1734, a register was maintained of a list of Jews that had been ordered by the provincial government. Beginning from 1618, when the individual families had come to Schwihau, either with imperial approval or without it, and how long they stayed here:
From the Year Family Up to the Year 1653 David Israel 1707 1653 Charscha Israel 1707 1664 Jakob Löw 1716 1702 Philipp Löw 1707 1674 Abraham Samuel 1707 1632 David Eisigl 1707 1714 Löwl Moyses 1723 1709 David Moyses 1723 1710 Salomon Alexander 1715 1684 Markus Löw 1722 1706 Feischl Löwl 1707 1706 Josef Herschel 1712 1706 Daniel Alexander 1712 1706 Löw Aron 1722 1674 Wolf Pinkas 1707 Sprinzl Adamin, beggar Hinde Salomonin, beggar
all of them without imperial consent or approval.
A full register of a list of the Jews was written up by the priest Stell on April 18, 1747. According to it, eleven Jewish families lived in Schwihau:
In 1749, Count Prokop W. Czernin raised the Jewish tax for those who are welltodo, in the event that they wish to continue to remain under my protection to 100 guldens. He divided up his domain into peddling regions so that specifically those of Schwihau would not circulate around the entire domain and would not disturb those from Chudenitz [Chudenice] and Kolautschen [Koloveč]. And with his decree from Schwihau on May 27, 1749, he also officially granted the request of many years by the Jew Pinkas: Since the supplicant's house had been offered for sale since 1743, or else since 1746 according to a notice attached to the door, and no buyer had responded, but the house would decay and fall into disrepair, I therefore allowed the Jew to repair the house, to live in it, and to use it for his trade, under the expressed condition of keeping the shop closed on Sunday and holiday mornings, to close the windows of the shop during public processions and funerals, under the penalty of ten guldens for every individual case of disobedience. However, as soon as he finds a Christian buyer, he is to sell it and move back to the Jew's Alley.
Under the new lord, the Jews breathed a sigh of relief, and they returned to the city again. On June 10, 1759, Wenzel Maršálek leased out his dilapidated little house between [that of] Jakob Wächtler and [that of] Wenzel Fišar with the permission of the authorities for ten years to the Jew Adam Fürth, who committed himself to repair the dwelling at his own expense and to pay the proprietor three Rhenish guilders annually. Marriages were also permitted to the protected Jews without delays. It was permitted on November 10, 1762 to Josef Brummel with the daughter of the Jewish fellow Salomon Wotitz in Strakonitz [Strakonice], on February 12, 1767 to Josef Samuel with Rosa Nathan from Lieben [probably the Libeň district of what is now Prague], as well as on April 19 of that year to Löbl, the son of Sigmund Brummel, with Resl, the daughter of Joachim Pinkas, and these bridal couples then multiplied the number of Jewish families in Schwihau. The favorable attitude of the count, who often borrowed money from Christians and Jews, went even further. In late 1759, the Jew Fürth already requested of the lord to be handed over the leased Maršálek house for his extensive business that was growing more and more, and for which he had hired clerks; he would tear it down and set up a new business house. He referred to the fact that he had already been living under lordly mercy (i.e. protection), that he had always behaved loyally, obediently, honorably, and respectably, had worked tirelessly, and had caused his business to flourish in a way that had never before occurred in the domain, such that in spite of his six children, he had always made the effort to make all of his payments punctually… It did in fact seem that he had requested in vain, since on July 7, 1764, and thus five years afterward, Czernin still repeatedly refused Adam Fürth with his request, with the remark that he did so reluctantly since he offered a good income to the citizens of Schwihau and he would prefer to give him something in the lower city… But Maršálek had in the meantime accepted. Because the times were bad and for the settlement of the sale of land and other obligations, nowhere could 250 guldens be borrowed from a Jew. He therefore declared that with the permission of the authorities, he would sell everything to Fürth in perpetuity in asis condition, including a spacious courtyard area that extended as far as the dwelling of Johann Fišer, for 400 guldens, and furthermore, so that the Jew would not have to bear any civil charges, he wished for those charges to be transferred to his second house, called Zabranský.
He provided a binding declaration on this along with his wife before the sworn attorney, Johann Wächtler, and the neighbor, Nikolaus Hrudička. This persistence bore fruit for the tanner Adam. On July 27, 1764, the Chudenitz Registration Office received the count's order to sell the Maršálek house for a lordly tannery, which was to be modernly furnished and was to be handed over to the Jew A. Fürth for emphyteutic possession (a hereditary lease). Aside from the taxes and donations (around 34 guldens), he was to pay rent that was to be agreed upon from year to year and the contract was to last for at least ten years after the rebuilding of the house. The Jew accepted the conditions, he fulfilled them, and when he received the necessary building materials from the lord, he rebuilt the house himself and set up a tannery in it (actually more of a storage area than an operation area, added to which he got himself a Jewish subtenant) and a small shop. When he then died in 1769, he bequeathed the house to his widow Susanna, who continued the wool and feather trade. She had a fire in 1773, but rebuilt and continued her activity. From the tannery and the leather cutting, Fürth paid the lord 100 to 160 guldens every year.
On January 1, 1771, the lord sold the potash hut that was situated across from the Swoboda house along with the ash chamber and along with a garden that was 9 ½klafters [fathoms] long and 6 ½klafters wide for 230 guldens and an annual rent of 15 guldens to Mänl [sic Mändl] Wolf Lebl.
In contrast to that, in 1770 the lord prohibited Jews from slaughtering livestock on account of the great uncleanliness with which they had been operating their butcher works. They of course defended themselves with the assertion that Christians did not do it any better and that their meat trade came into consideration more for other Jews than for the Christians. They produced a letter from the late Franz Maximilian Czernin for the Jew Sig. Lebl by virtue of which the right of butchering was granted to him and his heirs and descendants, and they requested to be left to their trade and, as had been the case up to that point, they would pay 50 guldens from the butcher shops, 18 pounds of tallow, and 5 guldens from the beef tongues. This was followed by the petition that the butchers should bilaterally reach a settlement in a friendly manner within six weeks, and if not, then things should remain as they were, since what was unclean for the Jews was clean for the Christians (no doubt an allusion to pork).
In 1773, the entire Jew's Alley burnt down, including the school and the synagogue. The city thereupon obtained a second hose and other fire extinguishing equipment for the amount of 158 guldens 5 kreutzers. The Jews declared that they would contribute nothing, they had no money. The community submitted it to the senior district magistrate for a decision, and on July 10, 1779, he recognized that it was right and just that the Jews take upon themselves half of the expenses in the amount of 79 guldens 2 ½kreutzers. On the same day, the lords had Lambert, the son of the widow Fürthin [i.e. Mrs. Fürth], locked up for suspicion of intercourse with Christian women. The widow defended him and complained that as a result of his arrest, her entire family had been besmirched. Salomon of Chudenitz and the senior district magistrate Friedl investigated the entire manner carefully and precisely and then let the arrested man go free without damages or detriments on either side. At that time, the city council once again lodged a complaint with him (the first time was on July 21, 1777) that the Jews were once again sneaking into Christian houses in the district and he should confirm their order that Jews who did not own their own house in the city should betake themselves elsewhere. It was to be taken care of with the greatest importance, the Christian youth could be infected by any Jewish error. The entire community had gotten outraged about it on this day (January 2, 1780) before the office of the mayor and demanded that the Jews be expelled from there, they were causing offense, they were leading the children astray into haggling and pilfering, there were getting to be more and more of them in Schwihau… For their part, after Easter of that year the Jews complained once again to Chudenitz that on their days of prayer, it was not just Christian youth but also adults of both sexes who forced their way into their assembly in the synagogue, behaved in a manner as to cause a nuisance, disturbed them in their prayers, aped their language, and mocked them. Friedl apparently did not respond to these complaints. Only on September 19, 1787 did he quote to the Jews and the magistrate the entire tolerance edict with the order to instruct the citizenry that no one may be disturbed with the practice of his religion, and that he would severely punish both Jews and Christians, and specifically illmannered children, if they were to be found guilty of once again of such an offense. In 1783, the Jews received the permission for the construction of a new synagogue. Upon the (third) complaint by the community that Jews were buying different victuals that were used in the city and then selling them at a higher price, he gave the order that the Christians ought to get together and also buy early. Up until then, they had preferred to try to push the prices down by waiting, until someone else had bought the food out from under them. Business was, at its root, cleverness. And for that he could not send those of Schwihau out of Chudenitz. From the additional complaints by the city, it emerges that as early as 1720, no weekly market was being held in the city any more.
The last register of a list of the Jews of Schwihau that we have is from 1782.
Protection money from 15 families 178 guldens Tax from the Jewish cemetery 10 Tax from the tannery 34 Cattle tongue tax 5 Spice tax 2 24 kreutzers Butcher shop tax 50 Total 279 guldens 24 kreutzers
A notable contract was arrived at in the chancellery of Chudenitz on January 15, 1789 in the presence of the senior district magistrate Friedl, the judge of the Schwihau Jews Salomon Kohner, and the Jews Jusne Barednis and David Wachtl. It concerned the house of the widow Susanna Fürthin [i.e. Mrs. Fürth] (I, now no. 199). As has been mentioned, it formerly belonged to the citizen Wenzel Maršálek, who on August 10, 1759 rented it out in part to the Jew Adam Fürth. But since fire had broken out with Maršálek five times, the owner had to leave the city and the lord bought the house with the edict of June 7, 1764 (contract of June 7, 1765) for 400 guldens for a tannery. It had a single simple parlor, two small shops, chambers, and a damaged roof , and the following encumbrances were attached to it: every year nomine fictitii (trade tax) 36 kreutzers, 4 days of municipal serjeanty according to privileges at harvest time, tax of one steelbow cow for the use by the local parish of 4 kreutzers 3 den. For this price, the lord let the Jew Adam Fürth have the house, who had too little space for his trade in his little house on Jew's Alley, with the condition that he would then restore the tannery, which at that point already belonged to the lord, and would take it over against an annual tax of 24 guldens. In addition to the protection money in the amount of 10 guldens, for the other obligations that were associated with the house he would also pay every year in December 1 gulden 28 kreutzers in rents to the lord, and therefore a total of 35 guldens 28 kreutzers and be subjected to no encumbrances, and specifically to no serjeanty. Adam fulfilled all of this, and when he died in 1769, he bequeathed his assets to Susanna. With her, the house burned down in 1773. She rebuilt it at great cost, and improved the business and the house, as on April 9, 1788, she bought from her neighbor Wenzel Fišer for 210 guldens a plot that was 28 cubits 14 inches long and 12 cubits wide. Thus the lords in the council had it recorded for her in the city books as her debtfree property. In order to avoid disputes, Fürthin [i.e. Mrs. Fürth] obligated herself and her heirs: 1. to pay the tax on the tannery to the lord's income in the indicated sum; 2. to precisely observe the prince's regulations and statutes with the business; 3. to not accommodate any suspects with them or take them into service; 4. for themselves and the people in their household to behave well, and to get along well with the Jewish and Christian neighbors as the opportunity presents itself; 5. to deal vigilantly with fire and light; 6. to sell the house only with the approval of the authorities; 7. to carefully look after and maintain at all times the well that was dug in the courtyard at her own cost.
According the Josephinian Land Survey, aside from the local Jews, at that time the Jews from the following locations also belonged to the Jewish community of Schwihau: Chudenitz [Chudenice], Pollin [Poleň], Grillendorf [Svrčovec], Drslawitz [Drslavice], Dolan [Dolany], Przedslau [Předslav], Miecholup [Miecholup], Tyrol [?], Obitz [Obytce], Pořičí, Nedanitz [Nedanice], Mlýnec, Strzebitschen [Třebýcina], Hraz [Hráz], Habartitz [Habartice], Brzeskowitz [Vřeskovice], Schepadl [Všepadly], Mezholez [Mezholezy], Kbell [Kbel], Puschberg [Pušperk], Nezditz [Nezdice], Tietietitz [Tetětice], Myslowitz [Myslovice], Witkowitz [Vítkovice], Petrowitz [Petrovice], Boleschin [Bolešiny], Kamejk [Kamýk], Lušice, Chotzomyschl [Chocomyšl], Zdaslaw [Zdeslav?], Wlčí, Mallinetz [Malinecká], Wěckowicz [Věckovice], Ausilau [Úsilov], Žinkow [Žinkovy], Ruppau [Roupov], Kydlin [Kydliny], Lužan, Czernikau [Černíkov], Skotschitz [Skočice], Zeleny, and from Klattau [Klatovy], since according to the decree of August 5, 1747, that royal city belonged among those thirtyfive cities in Bohemia that were closed to the Jews, that is, they were not allowed to settle there, and in fact not allowed to spend even one single night there.
Schwihau became the center of Jews in a broad area, since the school, a lovely synagogue, and the registers were all located here. The children from the aforementioned towns came to school here, and specifically in the wintertime they even lived with Christians for moderate remuneration. A school already existed in Schwihau as early as July 10, 1664. In 1737, the old Jewish school and chapel which had served them for seventy years in the attic rooms of a fellow believer made of wood were dilapidated such that they might easily collapse during the assemblies, so in that year, the Jewish community applied to Countess Isabella M. Czernin for the permission to instead be able to build a new one out of stone. The community requested to be provided free of charge with 8 tree trunks and ½three score [i.e. thirty] slats as well as 2,000 shingles against the replacement of the labor charge @ 1 gulden 10 kreutzer. With humble words, the community made reference to the fact that the lord attained an annual income from the Jews of 225 guldens 24 kreutzers. With an edict from Chotzomyschl [Chocomyšl] dated August 12, 1737, they received the permission under the expressed condition to build the new school where the old one stood. But the lord would give them nothing free of charge since the Jewish community had so many means to pay for everything. They built a wooden school upon a stone underwall which with them burnt down in 1773.
In 1783, the community requested construction permission for a stone building with the desire to have it at the site of the fire at the little house which had previously been owned by Mändl Wolf Löbl between the house of the just deceased judge Joachim Jakob (XII) and the socalled lord's tannery (XIV) with the little garden of 9 ½x 6 ½klafters [fathoms]. The senior district magistrate Friedl along with the officials Count Fr. X. Rieger, the granary scribe Josef Anton Seegert, and the contributions collector Franz Domečka indicated that after a visit by the commission to the count, they found the site to be suitable: at the end of the Jew's Alley, removed from all of the Christian houses, and that the school could be built according to the Old Testament law toward sunrise [i.e. facing east]. The windows in it would not provide anyone with cause for complaint that under imperial and royal town privilege, he would be bothered by the view. Mändl Wolf Löbl would give away the plot since he had built a little house elsewhere on Jew's Alley with the permission of the authorities. The officials were of the opinion that the Jewish community should be provided with the following materials: wall and vault bricks @ 6 guldens per thousand, the roof beam at 1 ½guldens, the wall beam at 48 kreutzers, and wood for the rafters at 24 kreutzers. The count gave his permission with the edict of Neuhaus [Jindřichův Hradec] dated May 24, 1783.
During the times of war, the local Jews became impoverished, while those who were working in the countryside became rich, astonishingly rich through military supplies, as can be observed from the Napoleonic Era with Rotschild [sic Rothschild] and others. In 1804, the office of Chudenitz appointed a trustee for the Jew Jakob Brumml because of a debt of 77 guldens 25 3/4 kreutzers. From time immemorial, the Jews had not been pleased about paying taxes; with regard to various privileges, they also considered themselves to be exempt from them. The register of the imperial and royal taxes that were still unpaid at the end of January 1806 which the community of Schwihau was to pay without a further reminder under immediate impounding on December 30, 1809: Susanna Fürthin 673 guldens 7 ½kreutzers; Wolf Fürth78.5¼; Moses Fürth 89.57; Salomon Sicher 63.31½; Wolf Sicher 19.6, also arrears with income tax 36 guldens and building tax 8.51; Jakob Brumml 56.18, bonded and insured arrears 77.25¾; Johann Brumml 6.; Lazar Bloch 2.; Salomon Abraham Bloch 3.48; Salomon Weil 0.45; Markus Fleischer 9.32; Isaak Weil 3.04½; Phil. Kohn 7.07½; Moises Lederer 1.52½; Wolf Brumml 17.30; income tax by class in arrears for 1803: 1.19, for 1804: 5.16, property tax for 1804: 2.11¼; Abraham Bloch 0; Salomon Bloch 1.30; checked for Phil. Bloch up to January 24; Jak. Bloch 3.; Jak. Schnurmacher. There was a similar situation with a whole series of Jews from the district of Schwihau. The city judge Johann Bayer gave Abraham Bloch a certification under seal dated September 28, 1806 that he [is] really a poor Jew stooped with age who is not capable of paying the imperial and royal taxes either for the current year or for the coming one. The Schwihau district judge Philipp Kohner wrote in particular, Abraham Bloch is a miserable, ill beggar… Bayer and Kohner of course used the German language. And for the paying off of the Bankozettel paper money in the war [i.e. the Napoleonic Wars] , the Jews had to retroactively contribute in 1820: for example, Salomon Sicher, 12 guldens 40¾ kreutzers.
Interesting reading is offered by the registers of Jews. They were kept by the priest and still exist in part, specifically those of marriages from January 1, 1825 to March 28, 1860, the birth registers up to April 8, 1862, and the death registers up to April 7, 1862.
On September 16, 1865, at the order of the district authorities in Klattau [Klatovy], it was with visible relief that the priest handed over the making of entries in the registers to the Jew, the teacher Leopold Wolfner from Schwihau.
From the registers, some of the names of Jewish teachers and rabbis in Schwihau can be determined:
The Jewish tax to the lord came to an end in 1848 and was eliminated [or paid off] in 1852 to 1854. The last register of it that is available originated in 1834.
Finally, a register of the inhabitants of the Jewish houses on the Jew's Alley in Schwihau was kept, as the late priest Father Zeman assembled in the book on Schwihau on p. 479:
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