General information: First Jewish presence: 1367; peak Jewish population: 1,500 in 1881; Jewish population in 1933: 563
Summary: Although a Jewish community of cattle dealers, moneylenders and craftsmen flourished in Ratibor at some point during the Middle Ages, the town later adopted the stance of “non tolerandis judaeis” (not tolerating a Jewish presence in the town). Nevertheless, a new Jewish community developed in Ratibor (present-day Poland) in the late 17th century, and acquired a cemetery before 1813. In order to accommodate the growing Jewish population, the Ratibor community established its first synagogue in 1828/29 and enlarged the building in 1860. Later, in 1890, the increasingly prosperous community inaugurated an impressive synagogue built in Neo-Baroque style. Ratibor was also home to several Jewish societies—cultural, Zionist, charitable, Reform—and a Jewish school. From the 1880s onwards, however, after reaching its peak population, the community started to dwindle as more and more Jews left Ratibor in search of better economic opportunities in the cities. Local Jews were not affected by the Nazis’ anti-Jewish legislation until 1937, as the area was protected by the League of Nations’ convention on minority rights. On Pogrom Night, the synagogue was set on fire, as were Jewish-owned homes and businesses (including two distilleries). By 1942, there were only 200 or so Jews left to be deported to the camps. In 2001, a memorial plaque was unveiled in Ratibor.
Author / Sources: Harold Slutzkin
Sources: EJL, LJG
Located in: silesia