Comitatus Györ-Moson-Sopron

History of the Jews in the Györ-Moson-Sopron Comitatus

By: Koloszár Tamás

The first documentation of Jews dates back to the 15th century. A street named after them led from the foot of Káptalandomb (capitol hill) towards the Danube gate. During the Turkish reign the Jews were driven from the chapter. 1860, for defense reasons, they were driven from Györ entirely by count Montecuccoli. Most of them settled outside of the city in Györsziget and Pataháza. The Jews that had been living within the city walls by the end of the 18th century already had a prayer house by which they were taxed. Nevertheless, they were driven from there in 1748 by the citizens of Györ who had taken over the government of the chapter in 1743. They too had settled in Györsziget during the government of the Györ bishop. The 1791 agreement with Györ bishop József Fengler granted right of abode, protection, prayer house and cemetery to 30 Jewish families. These thirty families built the prayer house on Kígyó Street in 1795. In 1855 the planning commission declared it an incorrect prayer house and commanded its closure. The other - probably smaller - prayer house was located on Híd Street, the street was then named "Imaház utca" (Prayer House Street).
The Györ Jews were mostly involved in money exchange, trade and commerce, many excellent goldsmiths are known. The royal decrees of 1805 and 1813 allowed them to found a trade guild, however, the chancellery did not issue such rights, so they worked without a trade guild until 1848. Even though the law no. XXIX of 1840 granted free trade to the Jews many families stayed in Györsziget and founded a Jewish community.

After the struggle for freedom of 1848-49 there were around 300 Jews in Györ and Györsziget. They merged to become one Jewish community in 1851, named the “Israeli Mother Community of Györ and Györsziget”. For lack of a communal Synagogue they had been forced to rent a room for prayers in the left wing of the new Nádor Hotel, which existed from 1856 to 1870. But because of the rapid growth of the Jewish population this solution soon was no longer viable, so they started hosting the larger celebrations at the Györsziget Girls’ School, they also prayed in the Szarvas Restaurant’s pension. In 1870, when the Györ synagogue was built, the orthodox Jews left the joined Jewish community and built their own synagogue. With the historic events of the 1940s and the deportations the number of community members fell drastically. 5700 people were deported from Györ and surroundings, only around 780 returned.

In Sopron there is a document from 1324 in which Karl Robert allows the settlement of Christians and Jews to encourage rebuilding of the city. According to the data in the land registry of 1379 twentytwo of the houses in Sopron were Jewish property. In the beginning of the 16th century there were already 400 Jews living in the city, they owned houses, Synagogues and a cemetery. From 1526 on the Jews of Sopron suffered new drawbacks. After the battle of Mohács the German citizens living in Sopron accused the Jews of collaborating with the Turks. The Germans received a document from Queen Mária with which they were able to evict the Jews from the city within hours. An old Sopron legend holds that they were driven through the Szent Mihály Gate, which was for a long time called "Zsidó-kapu" (Gate of the Jews). After the displacement the houses of the Jews were raided and the Synagogue was destroyed.

The Hungarian Parliament only reopened the gates of the royal free cities to the Jews in 1840. They could then return to the city from which they had been evicted. In 1830 there were 37, in 1885 there were already 300 families living here, paying a protection fee. In 1869 there were 854 Jews living in Sopron. 1868 they bought property to build a cemetery. In 1874 the eklektik style neological Synagogue planned by János Schármár was built at the corner of Templom and Fegyvertár streets. In 1891 the Sopron Jewish community counted 1632 people. An orthodox community had existed as well and in 1891 it built a cemetery, a school and a bath on the Paprét (prayer grounds). During the German occupation the Jewish community of Sopron counted 1801 people. On April 26, 1944 the order to form a ghetto was issued. It was established on the former Paprét and Új-utca street. On June 29 the police chased the Jews through the city. They were consigned to trains at the Southern train station close by on July 5. On July 8 the train arrived in Auschwitz where 1640 people were murdered.
The Jewish community tried to reassemble after the war, but dispersed in 1954. In 2003 it was refounded with a total of 50-60 people.

Officially the Moson Israeli community was founded in 1851, there is documented evidence of 14 Jews taking up residence there in 1802. After the revolution of 1848 - when the Danube was still navigable - some of them traded grains. The prevalent economic activity of the comitatus was agriculture and milling. So the Jewish grain merchants contributed substantially to the wealth of the community.

In 1862 a synagogue and a ritual bath were built on the present-day royal hill according to the construction plans of Károly Bendl. The Jewish community covered the costs with donations of over 4210 Forint. Unfortunately, there are no traces left. The synagogue was torn down in 1968. Famous individuals of this Jewish community are Dr. Elek Hoffmann, senior attorney of the comitatus, Soma Gálosi, member of the board of the accounting authority, Mór Ösztereicher, head of the board of the fiscal authority, Mór Hirschfeld, superintendent of the postal services and the violinist Károly Flesch who was director of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

 

On March 21, 1944 the Jewish community ceased to exist. The leaders, the elderly and the young were put into Györ prison. In April the ghetto of Györ was established and the Jews were displaced to the ghetto. On April 22, 1944 the deportations to Auschwitz began. Up to 1944 220 families, 650 people altogether, belonged to the Jewish community of Moson, in 1945 there were only 51 Jews in Moson, mainly men whose chances of survival in the work camps were better than those of the women in Auschwitz.

There were also Jews living in the larger villages of the comitatus. The Jewish community of Csorna was founded in 1853, its first synagogue was enlarged in 1884. The building is no longer visible. As for famous members of the community, Emerich Grünwald is to be mentioned, the founder of the Grünwald Rabbi Dynasty. In Fertöszentmiklós an orthodox community counting 30-40 people was founded. Its synagogue was built after 1945, the useable materials were incorporated into the memorial hall of the Sopron cemetery.

Rabbi Slomo Ungár was born in Kapuvár, he was the head rabbi of the Hungarian orthodox Jews living in Israel and lead the Jeshiva founded by and named after his father Efrájim Máchne. He also was the teacher of the former Kapuvárer school.

In Beled too, a fairly large Jewish community existed before the war. Their synagogue complex was situated on the main road of the village. It was completely destroyed by the German soldiers during the war, the wooden vault was burned. The walls were torn down later. At the beginning of the 20th century there was a Jeshiva in Beled as well. Nowadays, only the cemetery commemorates the former Jewish community.

Bibliography:

Kemény József: Vázlatok a györi zsidóság történetéböl, Györ, 1930
Domán István: A györi izraelita hitközség története ( 1930-47 ), Budapest, 1979
Dr. Pollák Miksa: A zsidók története Sopronban, Budapest, 1896
Orbán Ferenc: Magyarország zsidó emlékhelyei, Budapest, 1991
Göncz József-Bognár Béla: Templomok, iskolák Sopron vármegyében, Sopron, 2005
Nagy Ferenc: Györszemere község története

Nagy Ferenc: Szülöfalunk Cakóháza
Karácsony István: Darnó és Zseli története
Tompáné Balogh Mária: Szülöfalunk Vásárosfalu
Baranyai Lenke: A beledi zsidó hitközség története
Kovács Károly: A csornai zsidóság története, Csorna, kézirat
www.museum.hu
Löwin Miklós: Moson Járási Izraelita Hitközség Története 1944-1999
Sólymos Szilveszter: Györszentmártoni olvasókönyv, Pannonhalma, 2006.

by Johannes Scholem Graf & Alexandra Vogt

2012.05.25