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[Pages 587-593]

The History of the Jews
in the Royal Town of Sušice

(Sušice, Czech Republic – 49°14' 13°31')

by Records Keeper Kajetan Turk from Sušice

Translated from the original Czech by Jan O. Hellmann/DK

Edited by Rob Pearman/UK

On 11 December 1764, a meeting was held in the town hall to discuss a decree concerning the restriction of Jews in the royal towns. The Reeve[1] informed those present that there were no Jews in this town in 1618 and so they must have drifted in[2] during later years. It would be best if the town limited their presence to just the four families that had been here the longest. It was decided to make a register of all the Jews in Sušice.

On 10 July 1765, Jews from Sušice handed in a memorandum applying for permission to live in the town and to have its protection. They admitted that they did not have written proof that Jews had been living in Sušice prior to 1618 and that they could not prove the origin of such families. It was therefore decided that the Reeve and the Aldermen of the municipality should examine the town's archives. Based on the result of this investigation, it was decided to give the Jews part of the town's fortifications for use as their cemetery. On 29 August, the Town Council decided that those Jews who were resident in the town in 1725 should be allowed to stay.

In the record of the town's entitlements, which was confirmed by Emperor Josef II on 23 September 1764, it is written: “The town wishes to be free from Jews”, and it continues as follows: “No more Jews will be admitted, and their number shall not exceed that in the anno decretario (the year of entitlement)”. The grateful Jews sponsored this entitlement to the tune of 30 guilders[3], while the cost to the town was 150 guilders[4].

The official documents suggest, therefore, that Jews first settled in Sušice in the 18th century. But this is not actually the case. The first Jew mentioned in the Smolna[5] book in 1562 is a Jew named Bartoš, also referred to as the Jew Bartolomìj, who acted as guarantor for both Mark the Barber and Matìj the Carpenter in Hory Panny Marie (The Mountain of the Virgin Mary)[6].

The next mention of Jews in Sušice is in the record books of the Brewers Guild for 1564. In that year, on the Sunday after Epiphany, a plenary meeting of the Guild took place, and a register was written of who makes beer and when. It is written in the register that Bartoš the Jew shall be the fifth person allowed to make beer in the third week of each month[7].

This Bartoš was probably a house owner, as otherwise he could not have been a member of the Brewers Guild. The Guild had 48 members and all were house owners. Therefore, it is evident that Bartoš was well-to-do and respected in the town. In his house he had a brewery where he made beer in the year 1568 as the fourth person in the third week of each month. In the years 1595 and 1596, it is written that beer will be made in the house of Jan Smolík. In later years, neither the brewery nor Bartoš is mentioned. The brewery probably disappeared because Bartoš either moved away or died. It is possible that his house was destroyed by fire in 1596, in which year – on 8 July – the whole town burned down for a second time. (The Chronicle of the Parish of Velhartice was begun by Vojtìch from Poøíè Prokopideus in 1588.)

Sušice had previously burned down on 9 July 1592, when a fire began at the house of the town scribe. He died in the fire, together with his daughter.

Bartoš either moved away or died, although he was not buried in Sušice as there was no Jewish cemetery at that time. The cemetery is first mentioned in 1626, when – on 26 July – local Jews applied for land for a cemetery. In the register, it is written: “The Jews Josef Bøeznický, Jakub Řečičký, the Persian Jew Šalamoun, Levi Bøeznický and Bernard Březnický, all resident in Sušice, have humbly applied to the Reeve and the Council of Sušice for the allocation of the section of the town's fortifications[8] between the houses of Jan Audlásek and Tomáš Rechlíř. The Reeve and the Council decided to grant their application on condition that the same tax will be paid for each body that is buried as is paid in other towns and that, for those from outside Sušice, the tax will be doubled.”

At this point, I will continue with the later history of the cemetery:

Very soon the original plot was not large enough to meet their needs, so the Jews applied in 1661 for additional space. On 18 August 1661, the Council resolved that: “As it has already been decided by the Council of Sušice, when the Magistrate was Mr Matouì Voprcha, to allow the Jews to bury their dead on the fortification between the cottages of Adam Sperl and the carpenter Matìj Klatovský and, as the fence around the fortification is rotten, to meet the application on the condition that no further enlargement will be allowed and that the plot will be fenced or hedged. Furthermore, the Jews will be obliged to pay one ducat for each child up to nine years of age, one thaler for each child up to 10 years of age and, for those older than 10 years, three times 60[9]. The burials must not be kept secret and the record books shall be honest. People from outside Sušice must not be buried within the plot; otherwise a penalty will be incurred.”

Nonetheless, on 31 August 1739, the Jewish Council humbly stated that there was space for only two or three more bodies at the cemetery and applied for a permit to use a plot of land behind a cottage purchased from Vilém František Ferle, until such time as a higher authority should order them to cease.

On 30 September 1746, Dorothy Leopold sought a ruling that the Jews should not bury their dead outside the permitted plot. On 17 September 1756, according to the legislation governing the use of gardens within and outside the town walls[10], Pelechová defended her rights to the garden that she received in exchange for the garden she had previously transferred to the Jewish cemetery.

On 9 April 1772, the Jewish Council applied for permission to buy one room of Pelechová´s cottage. Permission was given provided that the Dean had no objection and provided that the Jews paid into the Council's money box[11] the same amount as they paid for the room.

On 27 October 1773, the Jews applied for permission to buy one room of Pavlíčková´s cottage in order to extend the cemetery. It was decided to allow this, provided that the Jews paid one golden thaler to each member of the Town Council. This shows that the members of the Council were good at exploiting the Jews – although it was not only the Jews that they exploited.

Now we shall see when and how other Jewish families moved into Sušice:

In the year 1626, as well as the families Břetice and Březnice, there is mention of the family of Jakub Hann, who was already registered in 1625. The family writes the name Hann in the years 1630-1640, but later in the 17th century it is written as Haan and in the 18th century as Hahn. This family was probably very wealthy, as can be seen from the following events:

In 1640, the Swedish army under the leadership of General Dampier taxed the town with protection money of 6,000 guilders. When the town still owed 2,000 guilders, the Swedish General took with him as hostages the Town Mayor Řešátko[12] (Master Tomáš Felix Rosacin), Council Member Matěj Voprcha and the Jew Benjamin Hann.

Eventually, the Imperial Army defeated the Swedes at Klatovy and the hostages were able to escape. As Hann was taken hostage along with such rich and esteemed people as the Mayor and large estate owner Master Tomáš Rosacin and the Imperial official Voprcha, we have to conclude that Benjamin Hann was surely the leader of the Jewish community, as a poor and insignificant Jew would not have been taken with these other hostages.

This family had the right of residence (Schutzjuden). In 1734, the register lists Selig Hahn as a textile merchant and a musician[13] with a debt of 30 silver coins to his brother Löbl Hahn. In 1760, the Jewish community took the son of Selig Hahn under its protection, for which it was paid 15 guilders with an additional 5 guilders to be paid at the time of his marriage. In 1764, it was agreed by a Commission that he could stay in the house of his father until he found his own place to live. Before granting this permission, the Commission investigated whether he respected his father.

In 1763, Izaak Haan was mentioned as claiming a debt of 10 guilders from Jiří Hořejší on 24 November. In 1786, the merchant Eisik Hann and the tailor Jakub Hann were shown as living in Sušice.

The family Hann was soon joined by the families of Samuel Šastný, a Jew from Prague, and the Jews Löbl, Benjamin Berla, Samuel Fürth (Firth) and Benjamin Sable. According to the 1734 register of Jews, one Jewish family came to the royal town of Sušice in each of the years 1625, 1630, 1632, and 1635; three Jewish families in 1690; two in 1696; and one in 1720. According to this register, the original of which was filed with the Royal Noblemen in Prague[14] with a transcript held in the municipal archive of Sušice, the following Jewish families were resident in Sušice in 1734:

  1. Lazar Votitz from the tribe of Levi, aged 65 years, his wife Bela (58), son Mojžíš (27), daughter Rosel (23), and daughter Gitel (18). His business is in wool, bones and animal skins. He has lived here for 43 years and pays to the community an annual interest[15] of 18 guilders, protection money of 12 guilders, tax of 40 crowns and is earning annually 150 guilders.

  2. Benjamin, son of Lazar Votitz, aged 35, Elkerle (20), son Fromet (10), son Selke (2), daughter Rille (5), and servant Jentl from Samelkopf (15). He trades in animal skins, and he lives in his father´s house. He pays protection money of 8.4 guilders, tax of 8 guilders and earns annually 100 guilders.

  3. Lazar Fürth from the family of the tribe of Judah, aged 57, his wife Keyle (53), sons Fojem (23), Mojžíš (22), Samuel (21), Selke (12), Iserle (10), Jakub (9), and Josel (6), daughter Schendl (16), servants Gütl from Votice (42) and Libele from Samelkopf (18) , and the teacher Jakub from Třebíč in Moravia (24). He pays an annual interest of 43 guilders, protection money of 14 guilders and 30 crowns, and taxes of 95 guilders. He has lived here since his childhood. His father and grandfather also lived in Sušice. He trades in wool, feathers and grocery. His annual earnings are 500 guilders.

  4. Joachim Markus from the tribe of Aron, aged 33, wife Fromet (23), sons Isák (3) and Salomen (1), daughter Fegele (5), and the servant Hindl from the Pilsen region (16). With him are his brother Marek (27) and a relative Elka from Podmokly (40) with her son Wolf (10). He trades in tobacco and grocery. He pays interest of 8 guilders and 40 crowns, and taxes of 22 guilders. He was born in Sušice, as were his father and grandfather, and he earns annually 150 guilders. His brother (Marek) is a pedlar in the nearby villages and pays tax of 10 guilders and earns 50 guilders a year.

  5. Samuel Marcus from the tribe of Levi, aged 63, his wife Esterle (58), both - like their ancestors – were born in Sušice. He is poor and therefore does not pay taxes. He is sustained by relatives. He pays protection money of 4 guilders and 40 crowns, and interest to the community of 4 guilders and 30 crowns.

  6. Lazar Sable from the tribe of Benjamin, aged 57, his wife (45), sons Marek (13), Israel (10), and Isak (8), stepson (14), and the teacher Salomon from Walschenberg. Like his ancestors, Lazar was born in Sušice. He lives in a community house and pays interest of 10 guilders, protection money of 4 guilders and 40 crowns, and taxes of 2 guilders. He trades in various goods such as flax, yarn, yuft [16] etc, and earns annually almost 120 guilders.

  7. Samuel Kubi from the tribe of Israel, aged 54, his wife (43), sons Kaufmann (23), Löbl (19), Eliáš (16), Abraham (8), Volf (7) and Mojžíš (5), daughters Libele (18), Hindele (13), Pesele (5) and Rachel (2). He pays interest of 13 guilders, protection money of 6 guilders and 40 crowns, and taxes of 5 guilders. He lives in Sušice and is a pedlar and seller at the annual markets. He earns 150 guilders a year.

  8. Abraham Winternitz from the tribe of Levi, aged 63, his wife (53). He is a poor Jew supported by relatives. He has lived in Sušice for 44 years and pays to the community 9 guilders in interest for housing, and protection money of 5 guilders. Because he is poor, he does not pay taxes.

  9. Berl Salomon from the tribe of Israel, aged 51, his wife (42), sons Šalomon (14) and Eliáš (10). He and his ancestors were born in Sušice. He pays interest to the community for housing of 7 guilders, protection money of 6 guilders and 40 crowns, and taxes of 4 guilders. He sells honey and treacle. He is also a musician and earns 75 guilders a year.

  10. Selig Hann from the tribe of Israel, aged 33, his wife Bella (26), daughters Esterle (7), Judita (5), Berl (3), and Rozina (1). He pays an annual interest of 19 guilders, protection money of 5 guilders and 15 crowns, and taxes of 15 guilders. He was born in Sušice, as were his ancestors. He has a drapery business and earns yearly 75 guilders. His brother Löbl Hann (29), a scribe, lives with him. He earns 70 guilders a year and pays protection money of 3 guilders and 30 crowns, and taxes of 15 guilders. Living with him is a 'mother's help'[17] who came from the village of Bernatice(9), the apprentice David Markus from Kštýn (15) and the widow of Mojžíš (80). She was born in Sušice and is a beggar.

  11. Selig Berl from the tribe of Israel, aged 48, his wife Esterle (42), son Šalamoun (17), daughters Hana (12) and Hindel (8). He is a musician and is a trader in feathers, wool and skins, selling directly to the public. He pays interest of 9 guilders, protection money of 10 guilders and 40 crowns, and taxes of 25 guilders. He was born in Sušice, as were his ancestors, and he earns yearly 90 guilders.

  12. Jakub Salomon from the tribe of Israel, aged 45, his wife Rozina (40), sons Šalamoun (18), Mojžíš (8) and Isák (5), and daughters Gittel (20), Hana (16) and Rossl (14). He is a musician and trades in animal skins. He pays interest of 9 guilders, protection money of 8 guilders and 40 crowns, and taxes of 25 guilders. He was born in Sušice, as were his ancestors, and earns 90 guilders a year.

  13. Isak Firt from the tribe of Israel, aged 29, his wife Dvora (24), son Seelig (4), daughter Ressl (2), and servant Hindel from Dlouhá Ves (18). He trades in feathers and wool. He pays interest of 35 guilders, protection money of 8 guilders and 40 crowns, and taxes of 12 guilders. He was born in Sušice and earns annually 90 guilders

  14. Isak Sabel from the tribe of Benjamin, aged 30, his wife Taubele (22), son Šalamoun (1) and servant Fromat from Mlazov (18). He manufactures sweet liquor (against the protests of the citizens) and is selling small items. He was born in Sušice, as were his parents. He pays 75 guilders in interest and 25 guilders in taxes. He is not yet paying protection money.

  15. Feisel Samson from the tribe of Juda, aged 45, and his wife Vögele (40). He lives in Dlouhá Ves at Sušice and is director and cantor of the Jewish school and is kashrut slaughterer of fowl. He does not have a fixed address, but moves around. He was born in Dlouhá Ves and earns 60 guilders a year.

These Jews had a stone prayer house in a community building on which they paid interest of 18 guilders a year. There were 93 Jews including adults and children.

On 15 May 1783 and on 9 September 1786, a census of the Jews was made, which was signed by Mayor Václav Hutary, the Reeve František Karel Seidl, and Aldermen Samuel Paulini, Jan Seidl, Josef Schifner, Jan Würfel, Jan Itz and also the chief clerk, Mach.

At the census of 20 December 1748, Sušice had 2,533 inhabitants (of whom 1,736 were in the central area) and among these were 76 Jews. Of these, 22 were less than 10 years of age and 54 were older. In 1791, the regional office was informed that 17 Jewish familants[18], a rabbi and a teacher lived in Sušice. According to the Dean of Sušice, five Jews were born in 1799 and none died.

According to a questionnaire completed on 17 September 1825 for the college professor Josef Eichler from Prague for his monograph on Bohemia, there were in Sušice 140 Gentile houses with 1,100 Gentiles and 10 Jewish houses with 124 Jews. On the lower periphery, there were 595 Gentiles in 75 houses and, on the upper periphery, 2,842 Gentiles in 375 Gentile houses. There was a letter collector, five mills, a school and a communal stone place for beating and washing clothes. In Záluží, there were 10 houses and 54 inhabitants, while in Brabčov there were five houses and four inhabitants.

According to the register of the same date, there were in Sušice 26 Jewish families in 10 houses, in total 124 persons. Among the Jews there were only 17 familiants; others just had a permit to marry or to carry out crafts. These were mainly the fathers of the familiants.

(In 1857, there were 206 Jews in Sušice and, in 1860, 300 Jews.)

In 1827, a strict instruction was made that all registers of Jews must be precise, namely they must record the birth succession of sons and their predecessors, together with enclosed certificates of circumcision and death.

The same instruction was repeated in 1829. In 1840, the regional administration[19] ordered the most detailed registration of all Jews living in Sušice between the years 1827 and 1837. They had to show their certificates of birth, death and marriage.

From these registers, it can be seen that Jews were allowed in Sušice –both the 'Schutzjuden' or 'familianten' and also those Jews who had 'tricked their way in'[20] (“eingeschlichene Juden”) and finally those who were pedlars, but lived in other villages or towns.

On 16 May 1691, the local Jews complained that foreign Jews were working as pedlars and destroying their business. Therefore, the Reeves were instructed to stop such activities.

In 1757, Jews were forbidden to provide shelter to unknown Jews except in the case of those who had a proper passport[21]. In the case of sick Jews, they were to be expelled from the town even if they had a passport.

The Jews had to pay protection money (“Schutzgeld”) and also interest for Jewish houses. In 1744, they paid protection money of 140 guilders and interest of 40 guilders, and in 1746 protection money of 134 guilders and interest of 54 guilders. Furthermore they had to pay tax. In 1730, the tax collector was Abraham David from Vodòany and before him his father David Izák. The Jews throughout the region paid in each quarter of the year a tax of 350 guilders and 24 crowns.

In 1732, the Jews from the whole region were required to pay to the regional council in the town of Písek in the first quarter, as a tax for the payment of soldiers[22], 126 guilders and 49 crowns for each of the two months November and December 1732. For January 1733, they were required to pay 126 guilders and 49 crowns. For the second quarter they were to pay in military tax 109 guilders and 56 crowns, also 251 guilders and 51 crowns per household, and an additional tax of 300 guilders. In 1744, the Jews of Sušice owed in military tax 38 guilders and 55 crowns. In 1748 they owed on behalf of the late Lazar Fürth, for the first and second quarters, 95 guilders and 47 crowns.

In 1742, they had to pay 6 guilders as a contribution to be sent to an elite corps of soldiers[23] in Bavaria as a salary increase.

The Jews had to wear special clothing in order to distinguish them from Gentiles. Wearing Gentile clothing was strictly forbidden. On 30 January 1692, the municipality of Sušice issued a ruling that Jews were under no circumstances allowed to wear a neckerchief, but had to wear a collar so as to be easily distinguishable from Gentiles.

On 26 June 1796, the Magistrate ordered the Reeve to imprison the free[24] Jew Wolf Kubie because he had no yellow sign on his clothing. The punishment was rescinded, but that same afternoon all Jews were told to meet at the town hall, where the correct way to sew on the yellow sign was demonstrated. They were also warned that failing to wear the sign would incur a penalty of six guilders that would be paid into the Magistrate's money box [25].

The Jews lived in houses on Jewish Street (later called Vodičkova, and now known as Vodni). They were not allowed to live in Gentile houses, especially not on the main square.

On Maundy Thursday in the year 1664, there was a major fire in Sušice which destroyed many houses on two streets, as well as the city gate, barns, fruit orchards, hop fields and corn. Jewish houses were also burned, and so the Jews moved into Gentile houses.

However, on 6 May 1694, the Dean complained to the Magistrate that Jews should not be allowed to live in houses on the main square as very important holy processions were to take place. The Jews were called to the town hall and had to promise that they would move back into their former houses as soon as they were able to repair the roofs.

The Jews were forbidden from leaving these houses on Sundays and holidays, nor were they allowed to sell their goods in the city on these days. Selling was only allowed in their own streets.

On 4 February 1754, the Jewish teacher was called to the town hall and he was ordered to tell the Jewish inhabitants that on Sundays and holy days they were not allowed to be in the city until the services in the monastery[26] were finished – this was around 5pm or 5.30pm. Anyone found outside the Jewish streets would be imprisoned by the Reeve.

On 16 December 1765, Jakub Fürth applied at the town hall for a permit to live in the brewery until he secured other housing in the Jewish quarter. He committed to fit window shutters at his own cost, and to keep them closed on Sundays and holy days in order to avoid looking into the town. He also made a commitment not to make any public sales on Sundays and holy days. The Town Council decided that, as there was vacant accommodation at the brewery and it is always better to earn some money than to lose income, he could rent the house on condition that shutters were installed on all the windows. The windows at floor level were to be kept closed on Sundays and holy days but those on the first floor could be half open, so that some light would be let into the rooms.

However, by 21 June 1766, the citizens were already protesting against the fact that Jakub Fürth was allowed to live in the brewery. The Dean also complained.

Once again, in 1709, all the Jews were called to the town hall and informed that those who lived in Gentile houses had to leave them within two weeks, and that those who were not under the protection of the town had to leave the town altogether.

The Jews paid 2 guilders for chimney sweeping for each house. In 1739, the chimney sweep Tomáš Brünn complained that the Jews were refusing to pay for chimney sweeping in the Jewish houses. The Council recognized that, as it was the tradition that Jews always paid for chimney sweeping, they should continue to do so as the sweeper was not obliged to sweep Jewish chimneys free of charge[27].

According to a public notice in the year 1756, the Jews had to provide in case of fire the following: 12 baskets, 4 fire hooks and 4 ladders.

The town was far from clean at that time. The municipal budget allowed only for the sweeping of the main square on holy days. Elsewhere, it had to be done by rain or – on rare occasions - by the house owner. The Jewish quarter was even dirtier, as all the sewage ran out of the houses onto the street. This was forbidden by the Council on 17 January 1752, when it was decreed that all sewage must be brought to the city dyke and poured out there. Any failure to comply would incur a penalty of 35 guilders to be paid to the Reeve and 35 guilders to be paid to the Council.

The local Jews were mostly merchants. They bought their supplies in Bavaria. This is illustrated by a complaint from Karel Wolf, an alderman from Passau, who sued Samuel Fürth on 16 June 1638 for a debt of 188 guilders and 13 crowns for goods supplied. The guarantors were Samuel Šťastný and Löbl. However, Fürth had paid for the goods, and already had a receipt for payment on 23 September 1638. In 1636, the town tailors had already been complaining that Jews were out on the annual market selling ready-made garments.

On 30 January 1739, the Jews were given six weeks in which to provide documentation that they had a right to deal in iron. As the Jews could not present the permit within the time limit given, Jewish trading with iron was forbidden by the Magistrate on 18 March, and the Jew Löbl had to make a register of the iron goods he held in stock.

In 1740, the mayor asked what he should do with some blankets that had been purchased for the military in Passau. The Town Council decided to sell them at a good price to local Jews who could then sell them on.

The following protest was made by Kašperské Hory (Bergreichenstein) against local Jews working as pedlars there:

“Journal number 225, Pol 1825 [28]

Honored Magistrate

On 26 January 1821, journal number 14, we have applied to announce to the local Jews that, according to the highest law and privilege of our royal mining town, access and peddling by Jews from other places is forbidden – notwithstanding the fact that it is allowed to our local Jews. In order to avoid this offence, we state again that it is forbidden to your Jews to enter our royal mining town – except those who have a permit from the mining authority for the supply of goods to the imperial mines. Others will be expelled.

Royal mining town Kašperké Hory

Dated 21 June 1825
Rudolf, Town Mayor.”
We learn more about the business of individual Jewish families, when we describe their private lives.

The Jews were also musicians. On 25 April 1763, Isak Schwarzkopf applied to the Magistrate asking him to intercede with the local Jews to accept him as a musician. The Magistrate decided to ask the Jews why they did not wish to accept him and to recommend that he be given preference over musicians coming in from outside of the town.

In 1765, Antonín Leopold invited musicians to perform at a wedding in his house despite this being explicitly forbidden. The Jews were questioned as to why they played music although this was forbidden, and they pleaded that they played just one minuet at the request of Leopold and of the young people present, but stopped immediately when ordered to do so by the Reeve.

The Jews did not own any land, but they had cattle – mainly cows. On 11 August 1787, the Mayor made a complaint to the Council that the Jewish cows were damaging the fields. The Council decided to investigate the matter and sentenced the Jews to pay a penalty into the Council's money box.

In 1763, the Town Council ordered a register of the Jewish stock of cocoa, coffee and chocolate, but it was found that the Jews were not selling any of these items and held none in stock.

We can see from the following that the Jews celebrated their holy days: in 1745, Chaye Bondyová, the wife of Heutz Bondy a Jew from Prague, was imprisoned in Sušice because she owed 731 guilders to Mendl Jonáš Buntel for a bill of exchange. The Jews applied on 16 April for her to be released from prison for two holy days, with Lazar Fürth guaranteeing her debt for those two days with his entire fortune.

The Jews were also capable of falling out with each other: In 1765 Kaufmann and Marcus would not permit a grave to be dug for Jonkef unless Salomon Berl agreed to pay Jonkef's royal tax and other taxes for the following year, as they had a shared trade and skill[29]. Not even the leader of the Jewish community could get them to reach an agreement, so he had to ask the Council to secure a reconciliation. It was decided that, if Berl committed himself to the decision of the Court of Bohemia[30], then the Reeve would send Kaufmann and Markus to prison should they oppose the burial of Jonkef, so that the body could be buried and kadish said above the open grave.

As we can see, the Jews sometimes did not listen to their leader. They even insulted him. On 24 July 1766, the Jewish leader complained that he had been insulted by young Kaufmann. It was decided to punish him with imprisonment or a large fine.

Also of interest is litigation between a Jewess from Hrádek, the wife of Natan David, and Antonín Hutary in 1755. Hutary came to claim payment for a grave stone, although she said that she had already paid him with some beef. He denied this, and tried to take two tinplate kettles. She defended the kettles, and Hutary hit her in the face with his stick and knocked out three of her teeth. His defense was that he came to the house and asked for David, but she told him that he should 'look in hell for him'. So he pointed at the kettles and said that he would take them until her husband paid, which he admits he should not have done. She called him names such as 'Gentile dog', 'thief' and 'rogue' and attacked him. Hutary became angry and went to hit her on the shoulder, but she put her face forward instead, and then she took the bar from the door and pursued him. He was lucky to escape with his life only because he defended himself with his stick.

According to the 'quack'[31], the Jewess was not badly hurt. Her husband was asked how much he wanted in restitution money and he answered: “I might ask for what I want, and you might decide how much I can get. I can then accept that amount or to go higher level, so I am asking for 100 guilders”. This was considered a very insolent answer at that time and so it was reported to a higher authority. However, the outcome of this case is not known.

Things were much worse for the Jews Kaufmann Kubie and Markus Sable, who were accused in 1753 of throwing stones at the cross in the village of Mokrosuky. The matter was investigated on site by Aldermen Würl and Hynek Angelis. They saw that it was a cross bearing an image of the Holy Trinity, but they found find no sign that the cross had been hit by stones. The witnesses were a bailiff and some peasant labourers[32] who were working 700 paces away from the cross and a female shepherd who was looking after some cattle in a field 300 paces away. They showed marks in the ground where the stones had fallen some 45 paces away from the cross. The Jews were arrested and the case was referred to the tribunal of appellation, which resolved that the Jews should be imprisoned for 14 days and in addition punished with 20 lashes of the whip.

In 1788, the Jewish community of Sušice had built up some funds, and they applied to the Magistrate for a site on which to build a Jewish hospital. They were allocated a site called Tummelplatz which stood opposite Chlistov´s garden.

The Jews built a new synagogue in 1859. The newspaper from Písek – the “Pilgrim from Otava” (Poutník od Otavy) issue number 5, Year Two, dated 31 August 1859 - reported on this important consecration as follows:

”In the year 1659, there were just four Jewish families in Sušice, who built for themselves a small wooden synagogue. Fifty years later, that is to say two years after the great fire of Sušice, they built on the same site a new and larger synagogue more suited to their growing numbers. This synagogue was used for 150 years. During this period and particularly over the past decade, the number of Jews in Sušice increased greatly and the synagogue was no longer large enough. So the Jewish community bought three houses in Vodičkova Street (formerly known as Jewish Street) and decided to build a new synagogue there. The first stone was laid on 14 July 1857 in the presence of the Imperial and Royal[33] Chief of the Region, Mr. František Bastař, and the Mayor, František Firbas. It was decided to consecrate the synagogue in this year on the birthday of His Imperial Majesty. The new synagogue is of sound construction and one of the largest buildings in Sušice. We are able to say that it is one of the most beautiful Jewish synagogues in all of Bohemia. The synagogue is 12 fathoms (21.6 metres/70 feet) in length, 6 fathoms (10.8 metres/35.4 feet) wide and 7 ½ fathoms (13.5 metres/44 feet) high. It has a large entrance hall, a fine gallery for the choir and an elegant altar.

The celebration: At 10.30am, the Rabbi of Sušice, Abraham Schwarzkopf, delivered a sermon in the old synagogue and said farewell to the old place. It is worth noting that his grandfather and father were each rabbis in Sušice for 40 years. Even this current rabbi has been in this post for 40 years, and his two sons Simon and Samuel also took part in the celebration. After the sermon in the old synagogue, all the Jews assembled in front of the new synagogue and waited for the Chief of the Region. After his arrival, there was a procession through the main square and Kostelní Street, where a girl, Terezie Fürth, addressed the leader and handed him the keys of the new synagogue on a cushion.

František Bastař opened the synagogue and the crowd entered. On the right side of the altar sat the Chief of the Region and the Mayor František Firbas, on the left side sat the Deacon's Representative[34], Emanuel Walter. The ceremony began with singing, then František Bastař made a suitable speech and then the Rabbi of the Tábor Community, Mr. Gustav Klemperer, delivered a sermon on the consecration of the new synagogue.”

In 1848, the local Jews participated in the establishment of the National Guard. The town archive has a Register of Jewish Guardsmen who committed to buy their own weapons and how much they paid: Samuel Fürth 14 guilders, Jonas Schwarzkopf 14 guilders, Heinrich Fürth 14 guilders. Bernard Fürth 2 guilders, Albert Schwarzkopf 7 guilders, Simon Fürth 14 guilders, Daniel Fürth 14 guilders, Ignác Taussig 7 guilders, Moses Rubenstein 4 guilders, M. Jomek 2 guilders, Abraham Schwarzkopf 14 guilders, Leopold Weil 2 guilders, Ludwig Weil 7 guilders, David Fürth 10 guilders, Adalbert Fürth 2 guilders, Leopold Hahn 5 guilders, Ignatz Schwarzkopf 7 guilders, Salomon Fürth 4 guilders, Wolf Kubie 4 guilders, Jacob Zucker 2 guilders, Adolf Zucker 2 guilders, Isák Hahn 2 guilders, Salamon Schwarzkopf 5 guilders, Josef Fürth 5 guilders, Moric Kubie 1 guilder – a total of 181 guilders.

In 1866, there was an important case involving theft from silver mines at Příbram. These thefts stretched over many years and some Jewish families from Prague were suspected. Because of this there was great outcry against the Jews, and there was looting in many Bohemian towns (eg Hostomice, Hořovice and Sušice). The army was called into these and other towns in order to bring calm to the situation. Prussia believed these army movements were intended to be directed against them, and this was one of the reasons for the start of the Austro-Prussian war in 1866.

I now report on the anti-Jewish disturbances according to the evidence of a witness Ondřej Tichý, Secretary to the Town Council, and according to the record written by the Deacon.

The trouble began on 12 March 1866, during the annual market in Sušice. Since morning, many outsiders had been coming into the town, and many of them blew on their whistles and shouted “silver, silver[35]. They were led by the hunchback Pískáček and Magdalena Vališová (also known as 'Kozová from Sušice'). Around noon the shouting became louder and people shouted “Silver – attack the Jews”.

The merchants quickly packed their goods and ran away. Those who were slow lost their stalls and their goods were destroyed. When everything on the main square was damaged, the crowd moved into the house of David Fürth, where they plundered the shop and destroyed everything on the first floor. Fürth himself had to hide in the cellar of a neighboring house. From there Vališová guided the crowd behind the brewery to the house of Lazar Daniel Fürth (also known as Votický), where they did the same. Lazar Daniel Fürth was also able to escape. At this stage, the crowd was confronted by the regional notary public, Karel German, together with gendarmes, the treasury guard and the city guard.

There were two gendarmes from Kašperské Hory, two from Horažïovice and four local men, as well as all of the armed treasury guard. Notary Karel German tried to pacify the people, threatened to fire and actually ordered his men to fire into the air. A young tailor journeyman was accidentally shot in the knee and later died from loss of blood. A locksmith was also hit. With more firing, the situation grew worse. The people attacked those who had fired and hit them with sticks. The gendarmes retired to the Guildhall, where they locked themselves in behind barricades. The rioters broke all the windows in the Guildhall and started to tear out the window bars, because they wanted to get inside to plunder the safe box and free the prisoners. They were driven back by Inspector Pánek.

From the Guildhall they went to the house of Jindřich Fürth, but they could not get into his shop. So, with the aid of house timbers taken from the main square, they entered the first floor, where they smashed to pieces the piano and furniture, stole many things or scattered them on the street. After this, they went down to the shop, where they stole merchandise, underwear, clothes and money. They caused damage worth 14,000 guilders. Fürth escaped with his life and the clothes on his back. According to what his brother said, when they broke his window panes and entered his shop, he gave them some money and they left. When the local Deacon Matěj Peter and Town Secretary Ondřej Tichý tried to pacify the people, they were also attacked and hit with sticks. They were happy to be able to flee without injury. The window panes of all the Jewish houses were broken, and also those at the house of the German Pinsker. In the evening, the rioters crossed the bridge behind the Monastery to the house of Samuel Kohn-Šnobl. There they drank liquor and the drunkards danced with Kohn, pulled his hair, ears and nose, but caused no more damage because he gave them the liquor and some money.

At this point, a messenger was sent to the town of Písek to call out the army. At night the people camped on the main square. Some took the stolen goods to their home, some even used carts. The majority were people from out of town. They stole from the Jewess Majerová all her cloth, worth a large amount of money[36].

On the morning of the second day, everything was quiet. But all the shops remained closed and not a single Jew was out on the street. After midday, the people again rioted (many were from the surrounding villages) and they went to the shop of Israel Kohn, which they ransacked. Around 5 pm, the military arrived from Písek - 150 soldiers, five officers, and six gendarmes with one officer. The military surrounded the main square and loaded their rifles. The commanding officer called on the people who were not from Sušice to leave town within 30 minutes, otherwise he would order shooting to begin. The rioters quickly fled. At the same time, the military began to round up the rioters. By evening, a total of 15 had been put into prison, and the round-up continued the next morning. Many people from so-called 'better' families were among those imprisoned.

80 soldiers remained in Sušice. They were housed in the Guildhall, and a rifle range was set up for them in the town park. The rest of the soldiers were billeted in the surrounding villages of Dlouhá Ves, Kundratice, Budětice, Hartmanice and Velhartice.

The army stayed in Sušice until 12 May. The cost of their board and lodging was 1,665 guilders and 25 crowns. The cost of the team of horses was 23 guilders and 80 crowns.

Martial law was declared throughout the Sušice region.

On 29 May, the Town Council requested a reduction in the number of soldiers, as it was difficult to provide adequate housing and they were not needed any more.

The Government agreed on condition that a civil guard of trusted citizens was established to keep order and peace in the town together with the remaining soldiers. The mayor, Dr. Gabriel, called the Town Council and other citizens together, and the following joined the guard:

Dr. Gabriel – the Mayor, Matěj Karl – foreman in the factory, Jan Kuchyòka – miller, František Roušar – miller, Josef Fingulin – slaughterer, Jan Pikony – tinsmith, Tomáš Šefčík – bricklayer, Tomáš Niehbauer – shoemaker, Josef Saller – tanner, Karel Šlechta – sexton, František Šebesta – joiner, Jan Leopold – tanner, Josef Töpper – joiner, Jan Sedlecký – barley merchant, Josef Mašek – baker, Bernard Saller – tanner, Matěj Vyslyšel – joiner, Jan Bárta – shoemaker, František Koukal – baker, Václav Skála – tailor, Jakub Jankovksý – painter, Pavel Thurnwald – barley merchant, Josef Schwarz – bricklayer, Jakub Oliva – soap producer, Antonín Daneš – shoemaker, Václav Kolář – innkeeper, Matěj Beneš – potter, Prokop Blahout – shoemaker, Václav Písecký – rope maker, Josef Zeis – glassier, František Mergl – potter, Josef Rath – cooper, Jan Mička - sprayer, Gabriel Kieslinger – innkeeper, Jakub Kusský – shoemaker, Petr Vaněk – cutlerer.

At a meeting on 5 May, the Council applied to the government for the return of 200 rifles belonging to the former National Guard, which had been confiscated by the government in 1852.

When the army finally left the town, nightly watches were introduced. These were reinforced at the time of the annual markets on the nights 15 - 17 August 1866. They were increased so that they comprised 12 men from the municipality and 12 men from the Jewish community.

The magazine “Budějov” in Èeské Budějovice wrote about the events in Sušice in its issue Number 23. It described the Jews as loan sharks and conmen, and the disturbance was described as revenge for their usury. The Jewish community in Sušice therefore applied for certification that this was not the reputation of Sušice Jews, especially not of those Jews whose businesses had been plundered. The Council refused on the grounds that such certificates were only issued to individual persons and not to groups of citizens or religious communities. They suggested that the Jewish community should take legal action against the magazine itself.

As for the victims of the disturbance, the municipality issued a certificate of morality and property to 103 people.

Anna Vališová[37] was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment at a trial in Písek. She served this sentence in Řepy, and later died at the age of 80 in the Sušice poor house. Pískáček was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and died in the penitentiary. Others were punished with sentences ranging from one to five years in prison.

(Anna Vališova was born in Vienna on 19 March 1830 and died on 11 May 1911 in Sušice. She was admitted to the poor house on 24 November 1894, where she worked as a supervisor and cleaner. She received pauper support of 20 crowns per week, to which was added another 20 crowns for cleaning and, in 1911, an additional 2 crowns per month for cleaning in the men's section. She often got into quarrels in the poor house, for which she was rebuked.)

The Jews Jindřich, Samuel and David L. Fürth whose property had been plundered applied to the regional authority for damages. The regional authority sent their application to the regional committee for an opinion. The reply, dated 25 November 1866, journal number 509, stated as follows:

“In connection with your letter dated 30 September 1866, journal number 2363, the undersigned can inform, based on the meeting of the authority on 15 November and based on a detailed investigation of the course of events during the unrest in Sušice, that it has been decided unanimously that there are no reasons to take legal steps against the Sušice Council and that therefore there is no reason why the Sušice Council should pay remuneration to Jindřich, Samuel and David L. Fürth.


  1. Neither of the two conditions mentioned in § 37 of civil law have been fulfilled.

  2. The perpetrators have been found and they should pay the damages.

  3. If they are unable to pay, the Sušice Council is not responsible for this, as it did not cause the destruction.

  4. Not even the governmental force was able to control the unrest. It was a case of political force majeure.

  5. The destruction first occurred when the people were shot at without any effect. Once the regional authority saw that they could not prevent the crowd from gathering, they should not have begun shooting.

  6. The former National Guard was disbanded in 1850. Governmental force was insufficient. The reforming of the Civil Guard was not permitted and already last year the local authority applied to the imperial and royal government for more gendarmes but without positive result. This is not the responsibility of the Sušice Town Council.

  7. Already before the Sušice unrest, the Bohemian Assembly considered how to avoid vagrancy and expressed to the highest government a wish to take the necessary steps. A single town council is not responsible for a general offence, and therefore nor is the Sušice Council responsible when a large number of people gathered at the annual market in the town

  8. Neither imperial and royal justice nor imperial and royal government found any reasons to intervene against the Sušice Town Council or to remove the local police from their authority. It is therefore deemed that the Town Council fulfilled its duties and is innocent.”

  9. result was that the Sušice Town Council did not have to pay anything to the victims of the attacks.

In 1868, JUDr. A. J. Gabriel wrote about the local Jews in his book “The Royal Town of Sušice and its surroundings” as follows:

“Owing to the establishment of a factory by Bernard Fürth and thanks to the political conditions of the time, the number of Jews in Sušice increased. Since 1850 many of them came to the forefront of society and participated in community affairs. This was observed by the educated and well-established citizens. These citizens lived at peace with the Jews until 18 March 1866. From this black day for Sušice onwards, conditions changed – for reasons that are not clear but surely result from foreign influence. It is possible to expect that the former harmony will revert to Sušice. It would however be preferable if local Jews inclined more to the Czechs and their language and if they read more Czech newspapers and magazines instead of “Tagesbote[38] than they unfortunately do today. On 25 May 1881 posters saying “Kill the Jews, break Jewish window panes” were placed on the bridge. In order to avoid unrest, the nightly watches have been doubled. At that time, the idiotic Jiří Kùla told the people that the Jews and their maidservants would be attacked again. The maidservants turned this into gossip and were called to the city mayor, where they admitted their gossip. After being rebuked, they were sent home. However the town's appointed leaders were afraid of unrest at the annual market on 7 June 1881 and collected gendarmes in Sušice. The Town Council reinforced the town police with 20 retired soldiers and 22 members of the gymnastic society “Sokol”. On the night 6-7 June, the watch was carried out by 14 firemen.

On 26 April 1895, the window panes at the house of the bookkeeper Moritz Schwarz and cantor Geršon Samuel were broken by young people returning from the school hall. They were punished by the Court with a fine of two guilders and 50 crowns.

On 15 April 1902, the police inspector announced to the regional officials that, on 12-13 April, the maidservant at the house of the tanner Bedřich Fürth – co-owner of the tannery - was injured on her hand, which is probably because the Jews needed Gentile blood for their upcoming holy days. The rumour was confirmed by the fact that the girl immediately left her job and returned home to Žilobec. MUDr. J. Škála inspected the girl and stated that the scratch was very small and probably self-inflicted[39]. “


  1. In Anglo-Saxon times, a Reeve could be a senior official and even a Magistrate, but elsewhere and in later periods he was simply an appointed Official. Today we would consider the Reeve to be the highest public servant with both administrative and policing responsibilities. He carried out the decisions of the Town Council and kept public order. Return
  2. 'Drifted in' is an attempt to convey the meaning of the original word used to describe those who had arrived unofficially and over a period of time. Return
  3. The name of the Austrian currency has been translated as guilder (plural: guilders or guilden) as this is a common currency name in various parts of Europe at this and later times. It might have been translated as 'florin', a name which was also widely used. Return
  4. What is meant here is that the Town Council wanted to have the town cleared of Jews but that they were protected by this entitlement, which enabled those Jews already resident to remain. The Town Council applied to be rid of its Jews, but it had to comply with the previous agreement, and so all Jews who had settled prior to 1764 were allowed to stay. Hence their gratitude and financial contribution. It becomes evident that more Jews moved into the town over subsequent years (see footnote 20 below). Return
  5. The 'Smolna Book' is a record of court judgements. Return
  6. Hory Panny Marie is a village that does not exist anymore. It was in the border area between Bohemia and Austria and was destroyed by the communists when they built the 'iron curtain' between East and West Europe. Return
  7. Apparently the families made beer in a certain sequence (eg alphabetical) and he was number five on the list. Return
  8. The Czech term means literally 'bastion' or 'bulwark' (ie those parts of the outer fortifications or town wall which project or jut outwards). Return
  9. No currency name is provided. The Czech word used is 'kopa' which means '60' in the same way that the English 'dozen' means '12'. So the total value is multiples of 60. Return
  10. There was apparently some kind of legislation on the use of the gardens that were situated inside and outside the town walls or fortifications (eg in case of war). Return
  11. Although we might today think of this as the local 'treasury', the original Czech means literally 'a money box'. Return
  12. 'Řešátko' is apparently a nickname as the Mayor's full name is also shown. Return
  13. He was playing music in exchange for money eg at weddings. Return
  14. The royal noblemen were the highest class of noblemen, who met regularly in Prague to discuss new laws and to make judgments on disputes between lower classes of noblemen. Return
  15. The houses were built with money provided by the Town Council or municipality, and then transferred to the Jews who paid 'interest' on the money advanced. Return
  16. 'Yuft' is a word from the original Russian term for leather. It is related to the skill of tanning. Return
  17. This 'mother's help' or 'nanny' (Czech word 'ch?va') is just nine years old. Assuming no typographical error in the original text, this suggests that she was a child servant whose task was to look after the even younger children (of whom there were four in this family). She came from the Bohemian village of Bernatice. (In 1942, some paratroopers from England landed at Bernatice; the Gestapo attacked what had by then grown to be a town, and many of its inhabitants were executed or deported to the death camps. On the last day of the war, a group of volunteers and citizens of Bernartice fought against the SS on the small hill Na Posvátném (the Holy Hill). A monument still stands on the hill to commemorate this event.). Return
  18. The term familiant is well known to those researching Jewish history, but for any new to the term, 'Familianten' or 'Familianten Gesetz' was the term commonly used for the laws and the related record books which regulated the number of Jewish families in the Austrian lands in the 18th and 19th centuries. Return
  19. The term 'gubernium' has been translated as 'regional administration'. It might also have been translated as 'regional governor' or 'governorship'. Return
  20. 'Tricked their way in' (ie they did it secretly and as if by deception) seeks to reflect the meaning of 'eingeschlichene'. Return
  21. Jews evidently needed to carry their passport (cf the pass carried by black South Africans in the Apartheid era). Return
  22. The term 'militario ordinario' has been translated as military tax or a tax to pay for soldiers. Return
  23. In German, the name for these particular soldiers is 'Jägersoldaten' – elite or special troops trained to hunt (eg for criminals or terrorists). Return
  24. This 'free' Jew was not subject to anti-Jewish laws. Return
  25. The phrase 'ad carbonam magistratualem' has proven to be the most difficult of the various legal or administrative terms used by the author. Thanks to a research group in Budapest, it has finally been translated as shown in the text. (See also footnote 11 above.) Return
  26. The Czech word means both monastery and convent. Return
  27. Until approximately 1738-9, house taxes were paid according to the number of chimneys in a house. For this reason, some chimneys were not let out through the roof but ended once they had reached the attic/loft (cf window tax in England, France and Scotland in 18th and 19th centuries . This 'chimney tax' was then replaced by a tax on the total area (eg square metres/square feet) and also the number of inhabitants. Return
  28. 'Pol' refers to the shelf or file where the items from 1825 were archived. Return
  29. This 'shared trade and skill' is assumed to mean that they two men were business partners, as this would explain the attempt to transfer tax liability. Return
  30. The term 'Landesgericht' leads to the translation of the original Czech term as 'the Court of Bohemia'. Return
  31. The Czech word used implies that this is a non-qualified 'medical' person. Any term such as nurse, medic, or even paramedic would imply more qualification than was necessarily available. Return
  32. Instead of paying tax, the peasants had to work as labourers without pay on a number of days per week in the fields of the owner of the estate. Return
  33. The term 'k.u.k' means 'keiserlich und königlich' which we translate as 'Imperial and Royal'. Return
  34. When the Deacon is travelling, he would leave behind his representative or 'vicar'. Return
  35. The mines in Příbram were silver mines. Return
  36. No currency is provided here. (See footnote 9 above.) Return
  37. She was introduced to us earlier as 'Magdalena' but is now named as 'Anna' (a diminutive or familiar version). Return
  38. Tagesbote = 'The Daily Messenger', a German-language newspaper. Return
  39. MUDr. = a graduate doctor of medicine, hence in this instance physician or doctor (as distinguished from JUDr. = doctor of law, hence lawyer, advocate). Return
Credit: The translators wish to thank the Hungarian Society of Family Researchers (www.macse.org) for its assistance in determining the meaning of some difficult phrases written in Latin in the original Czech text.

Final Note: If anyone is interested in exploring their family roots in Sušice, the following sites provide photos of gravestones in both the old and new cemeteries. Alternatively, please contact the translators of this text (jan.hellmann.to & rob.pearman@hotmail.co.uk).

http://kubajzs.rajce.idnes.cz/Zidovsky_hrbitov_-_Susice_stary/ = old cemetery

http://kubajzs.rajce.idnes.cz/Zidovsky_hrbitov_-_Susice_novy/ = new cemetery

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