Jewish Mementos in the Zala Comitatus

Zalaszentgrót

According to a record from Rohonc of 1711 Jews went to from there to settle in Zalaszentgrót. In 1735 there were 25 Jewish inhabitants in Zalaszentgrót, they founded a community and traded rawhide, cloth and gauze. At the end of the 18th century the Jewish population of the town had grown to three times its former size. In 1870 424 Jews lived there. In the 20th century the number and proportion of the Jews in the district and Zalaszentgrót continuously decreased. In 1809 Count Ferenc Batthyány gave to the community a building for a synagogue and the right to sell kosher wine and other rituals for an eternally fixed price. The contract was signed by Salamo Pulitzer. The synagogue was constructed in 1796 and enlarged in 1809. A famous religious teacher in the beginning of the 19th century was Reb Maglid Hirsch, Farkas Süssmann followed who was rabbi until 1868. The community’s school was closed in 1899 after half a century. In 1885 already one estate district was part of the congressional community. In 1929 the Jewish community, 113 families, a total of 315 persons, had 127 taxpaying members, most of them did business in trade.

The data from the census of 1941 shows that 292 Jews were living in 17 towns in Zalaszentgrót district. According to a report to the Central Council of Hungarian Jews the Jewish community had 230 members, its president was Jenő Korein and rabbi Adolf Hirtenstein kept the register. The Jews from this district were deported to the ghetto constructed in Zalaszentgrót on May 15, 1944, together with around 130 Jews from some of the towns of Pacsa district. The June 9 report to the Central Council of Hungarian Jews estimated that around 400 people were staying in the ghetto, they were from the districts Zalaszentgrót, Lenti and parts of Pacsa. The Jews driven together in the Zalaszentgrót ghetto were deported to Zalaegerszeg on June 16. Though several survived the hard labour, almost none of them survived the deportations. With the help of the joint the survivors managed to reorganise the Jewish community which back then was part of the Kaposvár community. On April 19, 1945 the Jews founded a Jewish Council for the protection of their interests, its members were Imre Nagy, László Fischer, Andor Hirtenschein, István Singer and István Stern. In 1949 the congressional community shrank to 41 members, István Stern was the president and Andor Hirtenstein the managing director. 10 towns were part of the Jewish community, religious services were held by the Kaposvár rabbi Henrik Krausz. In 1956 only 19 Jews lived in Zalaszentgrót. In the lea outside of the town a nicely kept Jewish cemetery with many graves guards the memory of the Israelites that once lived here. Many of the tombstones are in very good condition. In 1948 a memorial carrying the names of the victims of the Holocaust was built at the cemetery. The writing behind the Tables of the Law of Moses says: “The chimney next to the memorial points to the cruelties of Auschwitz. The inside of the morgue preserves the old condition.”

by Johannes Scholem Graf & Alexandra Vogt

2012.10.31