General information: First Jewish presence: 1250; peak Jewish population 339 in 1880; Jewish population in 1933: 114
Summary: Jews lived in Schweidnitz (present-day Swidnica, Poland) from the time the town was founded in the mid-13th century. In 1380, the Schweidnitz Jewish community built a school, established a synagogue and consecrated a cemetery. Many famous scholars attended the town’s yeshiva for higher learning. In 1453, Johann von Capistrano, a Franciscan monk, accused the Jews of host desecration and had several Jews burned at the stake while the rest were banished. The city authorities proclaimed that Jews would never again live in Schweidnitz. It was not until the early 1800s that the ban was rescinded. A new Jewish community was formed in Schweidnitz in 1847, not long after which its members established a prayer room. Plans for the construction of a new synagogue, which was to be funded by membership dues and the proceeds of a raffle, were drawn up in 1870 and, in 1877, a new synagogue with a seating capacity of 250 was inaugurated on the Sedanplatz. Anti-Semitic violence intensified after World War I. In 1933, as a result of the boycott of Jewish businesses, many Jews left town. Later, on Pogrom Night (November 1938), SS and SA troops burned down the synagogue, desecrated the cemetery and destroyed Jewishowned businesses; many local Jews were arrested. Little is known about the fate of Schweidnitz’s remaining Jews. After the war, Schweidnitz/Swidnica served as a transit point for Jews wishing to leave Germany. With a Jewish population of 2,400, a new community was established there in 1949; by 1970, however, that number had dropped to approximately one hundred Jews.
Author / Sources: Moshe Finkel
Sources: EJL, LJG
Located in: silesia