History of the Jews in the
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
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.
Kemény József: Vázlatok a györi
zsidóság történetéböl, Györ, 1930
Domán István: A györi izraelita hitközség története ( 1930-47 ),
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,
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
Löwin Miklós: Moson Járási Izraelita Hitközség Története 1944-1999
Sólymos Szilveszter: Györszentmártoni olvasókönyv, Pannonhalma, 2006.