General information: First Jewish presence: 1301; peak Jewish population: 1,085 in 1903; Jewish population in 1933: 850
Summary: Records suggest that a small group of Jews settled near Liegnitz’s local castle in 1170. We know for certain that a Judenstrasse (“Jews’ street”) existed in the town (present-day Legnice, Poland) during the 14th and 15th centuries, and that that Jewish community maintained a synagogue and a cemetery on Toepferstrasse. Although Liegnitz Jews had their own prayer room, they were initially affiliated with the Glogau regional congregation, whose rabbi also conducted services in Liegnitz. The congregation became independent in 1818. Three Jewish cemeteries were consecrated in Liegnitz: one in 1815, another in 1838 and a third in 1923. Although plans for the construction of a synagogue were made in 1838, it was not until 1847 that one was built in Liegnitz. The consecration ceremony of the Byzantine-style synagogue (on Baeckerstrasse) was held in the presence of the district president and members of the municipality; in 1879/80, structural changes were made to meet the needs of the rapidly growing community. Between 1854 and 1920, the Jews of Liegnitz employed their own rabbi and cantor. A teacher instructed elementary and high school students in religion. The community maintained a convalescent home (established in 1828), a mikveh, charity groups, a society that offered loans for productive investment (in machines and industrial tools, for example) and an artisans’ association. Later, Zionist youth organizations and camps were opened in Liegnitz. After the Nazis’ election victories, these camps prepared potential immigrants to Palestine by instructing them in Hebrew, farming and gardening. The synagogue was burned down on Pogrom Night, as were several Jewish-owned stores; Liegnitz’s remaining Jewish men were arrested. The newest cemetery survived Pogrom Night, after which the Judenstrasse was renamed Steubenstrasse. After the war, approximately 2,000 Jewish concentration camp survivors temporarily resided in Liegnitz.
Author / Sources: Ruth Martina Trucks
Sources: EJL, LJG, FJG
Located in: silesia