General information: First Jewish presence: 14th century; peak Jewish population: 450 in 1880; Jewish population in 1933: unknown (1931: 184; 1937: 146)
Summary: Several Jews lived in Hirschberg (present-day Jelenia Góra) in the late 18th century, and a functioning Jewish community was established there in the early 1800s. The emancipation edict of 1812 (at which point 35 Jews lived in Hirschberg) triggered the formation of an official Jewish congregation. The community consecrated a cemetery in 1820, a synagogue in 1853, and a new cemetery in 1880. Jews from the villages of Agnetendorf, Krummhuebel, Schmiedeberg, Hermsdorf, Schreiberhau, Schoenau an der Kazbach and Hohenwiese were affiliated with the district synagogue of Hirschberg. A chevra kadisha, a Jewish sisterhood and a children’s hostel, the last of which was opened in the 20th century, served the welfare needs of the community. It was during the 20th century, too, that the Jewish population began to dwindle, a process that was obviously accelerated after the Nazis’ election victories. In 1934, three local Jews and the Christian wife of a Jew were murdered by SS men after having been arrested, along with others, on suspicion of opposition to the regime. On Pogrom Night (November 1938), stormtroopers destroyed the synagogue, desecrated the cemetery and vandalized Jewish-owned homes and businesses. During the following years, Hirschberg Jews were deported to Polish territories under Nazi control, and from there to the death camps. Hirschberg was the birthplace of the German-Jewish philosopher and writer Karl Joel, who managed to leave for Switzerland in time; he died in 1934.
Author / Sources: Ruth Martina Trucks
Sources EJL, LJG, FJG
Located in: silesia