General information: First Jewish presence: 1414; peak Jewish population: 406 in 1869; Jewish population in 1933: 160
Summary: The modern Jewish community of Kreuzburg (present-day Poland) was founded in or around 1772, after which the Jewish population steadily increased (10% of the total population in 1847). Kreuzburg Jews—most were initially cash-strapped peddlers and shopkeepers—conducted services in nearby Kraskau until 1845, when a wealthy wine merchant helped finance the construction of a prayer hall and an adjacent community center, the latter of which housed a mikveh. The economy of the town improved during the second half of the 19th century, spurred on by the presence of wealthy Jewish merchants and army contractors; many fashionable clothing and footwear shops were opened in the town center, as was a Jewish hotel. The community soon outgrew its prayer hall, and in 1886 Rabbi Ferdinand Rosenthal consecrated a new synagogue whose architectural style incorporated both Moorish and Romanesque features. Kreuzburg was home to many Jewish social and cultural institutions, including a Zionist society, a Jewish war veterans’ association, a ladies’ aid society and a chevra kadisha. Although the Nazis could not enforce their anti-Jewish legislation in Kreuzburg until 1937—the region was protected by the League of Nations’ convention on minority rights—the city was a hotbed of anti-Semitic activity; discrimination and violence were rife, and many Jews left during the 1930s. On Pogrom Night, the synagogue and Jewish-owned stores were set on fire, after which most Jews left Kreuzburg. According to records, only one Jew lived there in November 1942. Not a single trace of the former house of worship is now discernible.
Author / Sources: Harold Slutzkin
Sources: EJL, LJG
Located in: silesia