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Translation of the
Zlaté Moravce chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Slovakia
Edited by Yehoshua Robert Buchler and Ruth Shashak
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem, 2003
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem, 2003
Our sincere appreciation to Yad Vashem
for permission to put this material on the JewishGen web site.
This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot Slovakia: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Slovakia,
Edited by Yehoshua Robert Buchler and Ruth Shashak, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.
JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of
the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material
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Translated by Jerrold Landau
Donated by Aaron Slotnik
It is a district capital in the region of Tekov, in western Slovakia.
Zlaté Moravce is first mentioned in documents from 1113 as being under the ownership of the monastery of Zobor. It received the rights of a city in the 15th century, and established market days and fairs. It was under Turkish occupation during the 16th and 17th centuries. Many of the houses were burnt down, and the residents were pillaged repeatedly. Zlaté Moravce was rehabilitated after the retreat of the Turks in the latter half of the 17th century, and its demographic and economic growth resumed at the beginning of the 18th century. From 1735, Zlaté Moravce was the capital of the district of Tekov and the seat of the government institutions. Its new status contributed to its growth. During that era, trades developed in the city, three flourmills were built, and several new schools were opened. Industry began during the latter half of the 19th century, after the city was connected to the railway line. The first industrial enterprises in the city were factories for sugar and ovens, a large weaving business, and a brick kiln. Its residents, most of whom were Slovak Catholics, earned their livelihoods as farmers, tradesmen, and factory workers.
During the era of the Czechoslovak Republic between the two world wars, Zlaté Moravce was a district capital and an economic center for its fruitful agricultural surroundings. Vibrant commerce as well as trades took place. Manufacturing and service industries developed. During the time of the Second World War (from March 1939), Zlaté Moravce was included in the Slovak Republic that was a protectorate of Nazi Germany. Slovak partisans operated in the forests of the region. Fierce battles took place there at the outbreak of the Slovak Revolt on August 29, 1944. The city was captured by the Germans on September 1. The partisans retreated to the forests, from where they continued their battle. Zlaté Moravce was liberated on March 28, 1945 by the Soviet Army.
History of the Community
For centuries, Jews were prohibited from settling in Zlaté Moravce and the entire region of Tekov due to its proximity to the mines of central Slovakia. For a long time, there was only a single Jewish family living in the region, in the village of Velké Uherce. After the restrictions of settlement were lifted in 1840, several Jewish families settled in the nearby village of Kňažice. There was a cemetery and small synagogue there. Jews were permitted to enter Zlaté Moravce on the fair and market days, but were forbidden to remain overnight. The first Jews settled there at the end of the 1840s or the beginning of the 1850s. Most were from Kňažice and other settlements of the Nitra region. Local tradition states that the Heinrich family was the first Jewish family of the city. At the beginning of the 20th century, 370 Jews (approximately 13% of the population) already lived there, and the population growth continued. Most of the Jews were occupied in various branches of commerce (most of the businesses of the city were Jewish owned). The remainder were tradesmen, farmers, and later also manufacturers and members of the free professions. As the Jews become more firmly based and educated, they became more involved in life of the general community.
A Jewish community was founded in Zlaté Moravce during the 1850s. The shochet Yaakov Schlesinger also served as the prayer leader and mohel [circumcisor], and led the Jews in religious matters. At first, the community did not have its own cemetery, and the deceased were buried in Kňažice. Public worship took place in various homes. Eventually, a small house of worship was set up. The community opened up an elementary school with four classes in the early 1860s. At first the language of instruction was German, and later, Hungarian. After it closed in 1896, the children of the community studied in the government public school. They studied religious studies in the Talmud Torah of the community. The community of Zlaté Moravce defined itself as a status quo community at the time of the schism of Hungarian Jewry in 1869. It declared itself as Neolog after some years. In the 1870s the community already numbered close to 300 and had a synagogue, a mikva, a school, a Talmud Torah, a slaughterhouse and a butcher shop. From 1886, Rabbi Avraham Steiner filled the role of rabbi of the community. A Jewish population registry (metrica) operated under his auspices. A Chevra Kadisha [burial society] was founded in Zlaté Moravce in 1896, and a Jewish cemetery was opened shortly thereafter. Nevertheless, some families continued to bury their dead in their village of origin, Kňažice, as was their custom previously.
As time when on, Orthodox Jews from small settlements in the area also settled in Zlaté Moravce. Along with several veteran local families, they split off from the community and conducted separate public worship. In 1905, the government recognized a separate Orthodox community. The synagogue remained in the hands of the Neologs, and the Orthodox worshiped in a temporary prayer hall next to the rabbi's home, and also maintained their own communal institutions. The cemetery and Chevra Kadisha remained under joint auspices. As time went on, additional Orthodox people settled there, and the Orthodox community became the largest community. It formulated its charter in 1905, and a rabbi began to serve that community Rabbi Shmuel Margolis Yafa Schlesinger. An Orthodox Talmud Torah in which several dozen students studies was founded through his initiative. Agudat Nashim Yehudiot [The Organization of Jewish Women], and other charitable and benevolent organizations operated alongside the Chevra Kadisha in Zlaté Moravce. Rabbi Dr. Yaakov Silberfeld served the Neolog community from 19071912. No rabbi served the Neolog community after he moved to Békescsaba.
Zionist activity took place in Zlaté Moravce at the beginning of the 20th century. A local Jew, Shmuel Bernat, participated in the Hungarian Zionist convention in 1911 and was elected to the national Zionist executive committee.
Many Jews of Zlaté Moravce were drafted to the AustroHungarian Army during the First World War, and at least five of them fell in battle.
The Jews between the Two World Wars
When the Czechoslovak Army entered Zlaté Moravce in June 1919, two local Jews were taken out to be shot.
Immediately after the war (in 1919), the Jewish population of Zlaté Moravce numbered about 370. The population growth continued uninterruptedly, and the population reached its peak of 515 in 1940.
After the new government of the Czechoslovak Republic was founded, the two Jewish communities resumed their normal activities. In 1922, the Orthodox community numbered about 280 individuals (50 taxpaying heads of families), headed by Samuel Asher. Its annual budget was 25,000 koruna and it employed three employees. Dr. Török headed the community during the 1930s. He was succeeded by Emil Klein. The Orthodox community maintained a mikva, a Talmud Torah, fowl shechita, and several butcher shops. The construction of a spacious Orthodox synagogue in classic style was completed in 1928. Jews from 20 settlements were affiliated with the Orthodox rabbinate of Zlaté Moravce. After the death of Rabbi Shmuel
Margolis Yafa Schlesinger in 1937, the Orthodox community remained without a rabbi for some time. Rabbi Mordechai Haberfeld served from 1938. During the 1920s, Rudolf Rintal served as head of the Neolog community, and Cantor A. Birenbaum also served as a substitute rabbi. In 1928, the Neolog community joined the Yeshurun organization of liberal communities. During this period, the Neologs and the Orthodox drew closer together in Zlaté Moravce, and maintained several joint institutions.
The 1920s and 1930s were characterized by a revitalization of communal life, culture, and Jewish society. Zionist activity encompassed the majority of the community members. A. Reitman served as head of the local Zionist chapter. Several Zionist parties operated in the city, including the youth movements of Young Maccabee, Hashomer Hatzair, Bnei Akiva, Young Mizrachi, which maintained agricultural hachsharah in the 1930s, and a WIZO chapter. 117 shekalim [tokens of membership in the Zionist movement] were sold prior to the 21st Zionist Congress in 1939. Aside from the Zionist Camp, a large chapter of Agudas Yisroel functioned in the city, along with Tzeirei Agudas Yisroel and the Beis Yaakov girls' organization. In 1923, a delegate from Zlaté Moravce served on the Agudas Yisroel council in Vienna.
The involvement of Jews in general public life also grew during that period. Jews belonged to a variety of social and political circles. Only 267 local Jews registered as Jews by nationality in the 1921 census, whereas more than 100 defined themselves as Slovaks or Germans. The national Jewish faction had great support in the city. It received six seats on the local council in the elections of 1923, and 185 votes in 1928. Its representative Bartholomĕj Kelmer was elected as mayor. That year, several other Jews were elected to the council as representatives from nonJewish lists.
Jews played an important role in the economy of Zlaté Moravce, well beyond their small relative proportion of the population. Most of the local commerce was in Jewish hands, and Jews also were pioneers in manufacturing in the city. The modern matzo factory of Maximilian Kelmer was the largest in Slovakia, and its products were sold throughout the country. The Peto family had a large sawmill, a brick kiln and building material factory that employed about 175 employees, and a large agricultural farm. Among the Jews there were tradesman, agents, a master builder, service employees, and members of the free professions: five lawyers (from among the eight in the city), three physicians (from six), the city veterinarian Dr. Zoltan Ratz, and officials of government offices. Data on business permits from the city business office from 1921 demonstrates the decisive role of Jews in the commercial realm of Zlaté Moravce:
|Business Area||Number of
|Grocery and general merchants||11||9|
|Textiles and clothing||6||5|
|Restaurants and taverns||5||2|
|Lumber and fuel||5||3|
|Books and paper products||2||2|
|Iron and work utensils||1||1|
During the Holocaust Era
About 500 Jews lived in Zlaté Moravce at the eve of the Second World War. The head of the Orthodox community was Adolph Klein, and Rabbi Mordechai Haberfeld continued in his position. Zionist activities continued for some time longer. In 1940, Alexander Blum of Zlaté Moravce was elected as a member of the executive committee of the Zionist Organization of Slovakia. That year, the number of Jews reached its peak approximately 550 individuals. When the Jewish Center of the district of Zlaté Moravce was set up, William Steiner was chosen as head of the center.
Immediately after the founding of the Slovak State in March 1939, various decrees were imposed upon the Jews. They were fired from public service and the city council, work permits of physicians and lawyers were revoked, and other restrictions intended to isolate them and push them out of their economic status were imposed. Jewish children were dismissed from the local public schools in the 1939/40 school year, so the community reopened its own school. Classes of the middle grades were added, and children from nearby settlements were taken in. There were more than 50 Jewish businesses in the city at the beginning of 1941 nine grocery stores and general stores, nine clothing and textile stores, five warehouses of agricultural products, three iron and household utensils shops, three shoe and leather stores, three wood and fuel warehouses, six restaurants and taverns, five other businesses, and three manufacturing enterprises. Most of these businesses were closed until the end (their annual total annual revenue was evaluated at 16.5 million koruna). Some large businesses and enterprises (with an annual revenue of 24 million koruna) were placed into the hands of trustees. Many of the men who remained unemployed and without a source of income were drafted to forced labor, some in the city and its surroundings, and other in faroff camps. At the end of 1941, Jews were deported from Bratislava and were brought to Zlaté Moravce. The tottering community helped them with food and places of residence to the extent that they could.
At the beginning of 1942, at the eve of the deportation to the death camps
in Poland, there were 435 Jews in Zlaté Moravce, including refugees. Maximilian Kelmer headed the Neolog community. His deputy was Moritz Danzig. Phillip Neuman served as shochet and cantor, and Ojgen Drechsler served as the head of the Chevra Kadisha. The deportations from Zlaté Moravce to the death camps in Poland began at the end of March, 1942. On March 26, tens of Jewish young women were deported from Zlaté Moravce and its region to the Patronka transit Camp. They were sent on a transport to the Auschwitz Death Camp on March 28. Tens of Jewish young men were deported from Zlaté Moravce and its region to the Nováky (see entry) Transit Camp on March 27, and sent to Majdanek Camp next to Lublin, Poland on March 31. During the roundups, 11 male and 10 female youths succeeded in escaping and hiding. They were declared to be deserters. Tens more of Jews of Zlaté Moravce were deported to Auschwitz via the Sered (see entry) transit camp. On the day of the large deportation, June 7, 1942, 335 Jews of Zlaté Moravce and the region were deported to the Nováky Transit Camp, and then sent to a transport to the district of Lublin in Poland on June 11. Men suitable for work were sent to the Majdanek Camp, and the rest were sent to the Sobibor Death Camp. An additional group of about 50 Jews were deported on June 29, 1942 via the Žilina (see entry) Transit Camp to Auschwitz, and a final small group of about 20 Jews were deported to Auschwitz on September 1, 1942, also via Žilina. In total, approximately 67% of the Jews of Zlaté Moravce and its area were deported to various camps in 1942. During the deportations, several Jews escaped to Hungary. Many others were saved thanks to the local Evangelical Priest, who provided 172 Jews with forged baptismal certificates. Several additional Jews obtained gentile certificates on their own, and lived until the end of the war in remote settlements where nobody recognized them.
When the deportations from Slovakia ended in October 1942, approximately 120 Jews (31 families) with protective certificates remained in the city. These included nine people with certificates from President Tiso. The community was reorganized, and headed by Moritz Danzig. Rabbi Mordechai Haberfeld, the cantor and shochet Philip Neuman, and the head of the Chevra Kadisha Ojgen Drechsler all had protective certificates, and continued to fulfil their roles. The head of the Jewish Center of the district was Dr. Zigmund Weiss. Studies in the Jewish school continued until the end of June, 1944.
When the Slovak revolt broke out on August 29, 1944, many Jews of Zlaté Moravce escaped to the partisans in the forest or to villages in which they found hiding places with Slovak farmers. Tens of Jews who still remained in the city at the time of the German conquest on September 1 were taken out to be murdered by the S.S., and buried in a mass grave in Kremnička. The rest were sent via the Sered Camp to Auschwitz and other death camps. Rabbi Haberfeld and his family were among the deportees.
After the War
After the liberation, approximately 80 Jewish survivors returned to Zlaté Moravce. They reconstituted the community, which was headed by Izidor Wechsler. Their religious leader was Izidor Katz. The survivors erected a monument in the Jewish cemetery for those who perished. Zionist activities in Zlaté Moravce renewed. In 1947, 11,000 koruna were collected for the Jewish National Fund to plant the Forest of Czechoslovak Martyrs in the mountains of Jerusalem. 79 Jews lived in the city in 1948. Many of them made aliya to Israel in 1949 or immigrated to other countries. When aliya from Czechoslovakia ceased at the end of that year, only a few Jewish families remained. After the community was disbanded in the 1960s, the cemetery was abandoned, and many of the monuments were stolen or destroyed. Burial ceased there in the 1970s, and the deceased were brought to the Jewish cemetery of Nitra (see entry) for burial. The two synagogues, the mikva, the communal building, and two other residential houses of the former community still remain standing.
Archives of Yad Vashem M48/569, 865, 1689, 1740; M 5/57, 87, 110, 113; JM/1101111016, 11018, 1102611027, 11031.
E. Bloom. History of the Jews of Zlaté Moravce, manuscript.
Cohen. Sages of Hungary, page 489.
BarkányDojč, pp. 211212
M. Bátora, M. Zaĭko, Zlaté Moravce, Zlaté Moravce, 1998.
S. Rakovský, Zlaté Moravce a okolie, Bratislava, 1969.
Allgemeinc Jüdische Zeitung. No. 1 (1938).
Jüdische Volkszeitung, no. 43 (1923).
Židovská račenka (1940), p. 26.
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