The Czech Republic came into existence on January 1, 1993, as a result of the division of Czechoslovakia into two nations-- The Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Czech Republic consists of the historic countries of Bohemia, Moravia and part of Silesia which were under the control of the Hapsburg Empire until the founding of Czechoslovakia in 1918. Although Jewish settlement and activity are documented from the 13th century onward, Jews were probably in the area from Roman times.
According to the 1930 census, the total Jewish population in Czechoslovakia was about 357,000, with about 2/3 being resident in Bohemia, Moravia and Carpatho-Russia. As a result of German control asserted after the Munich Agreement, by the start of World War II, the country had been divided as follows: a German Protectorate was created for Bohemia and Moravia; the predominately Hungarian sections of Slovakia and Carpatho-Russia were ceded to Hungary; and Slovakia became an independent state. At the time of the creation of the Protectorate, about 118,000 persons were classified as Jews, although only about 87,000 were members of local Jewish organizations. The fate of the Jews in the Protectorate is best summarized from the Encyclopedia Judaica:
"Efforts were made to promote legal and illegal Jewish emigration and, by the time emigration was totally banned (October 1941), 26,629 persons had succeeded in escaping from the country. In October 1939, the first group comprising 1,291 Jewish men from Ostrava were deported for the "settlement area of Nisko on the San." The Germans decided on the establishment of the Theresienstadt Ghetto on Oct. 10, 1941, in a secret meeting at the Prague Castle, chaired by Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich. The minutes of the meeting contain the following passage: "From this transit camp [Theresienstadt] the Jews, after a substantial reduction in their numbers, are to be deported to the East...." The Jewish communities were ordered to concentrate all the Jews living in their respective areas into a number of cities-- Prague, Budweis (Budejovice), Kolin, Klatovy, Pardubice, Hradec Kralove, Mlada Boleslav, Trebic", Brno, Olomouc, Ostrava, and Uherskl Brod. In October and November 1941, 6,000 Jews from Prague and Brno were deported directly to Lodz and Minsk. In the period Nov. 24, 1941
In 1945, 10,090 Jews registered with the Jewish communities as returning deportees, out of a total of 80,614 who had been deported; 6,392 had died in Theresienstadt, 64,172 had been murdered in the extermination camps, and of the Jews who had not been deported, 5,201 had either been executed, committed suicide, or died a natural death. On the day of the restoration of national sovereignty in Prague, May 5, 1945, there were 2,803 Jews alive in Bohemia and Moravia, who had not been deported, most of them partners of mixed marriages."
Frantiskovy Lazne (Franzensbad)
Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad)
Encyclopedia Judaica, CD-Rom Edition, Keter Publishing
The Jews of Czechoslovakia, Jewish Publication Society, 1984
Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, MacMillan Publishing, 1990, P. 227-30
Copyright © 1998-2005 Edward Victor