The first Jews to settle in Głogów (Glogau) appeared there probably in the middle of the 13th century. They were mainly merchants and traders who benefited from the town’s location along important trade routes leading to Poland and Ruthenia. In 1299, the local Jews were granted their first privileges from the Silesian prince Henry III, which authorised them to settle in the town, and provided them with the rights that Christian merchants already had. Religious, economic and legal issues were regulated in 34 articles regarding the rights and obligations of each citizen.

At that time, Jews were granted the right to have a cemetery and a synagogue. The synagogue and Jewish houses were located in the area near the castle, under the jurisdiction of the prince. The location of the cemetery is not clear. Some maintain that it was in the present-day stream bed of the Oder River, while others place it at the road to Brzostów.

In the 15th century, the peace of Głogów's Jews was disturbed many times; there were cases of aggression against Jewry. In 1401, two Głogów Jews were accused of desecrating the host and were burnt at the stake. In 1442 and in 1488, when a fire broke out in the Jewish quarter, the Jews were accused of intentionally starting it. In 1442, the synagogue was destroyed and Jewish houses were robbed. In the following years, the situation did not improve, the hostile mood did not subside, and the persistent disputes often ended in expulsion of Jews from the town.

In 1526, the whole Silesia found itself under Habsburg rule. Emperor Rudolf II, in his edict issued in 1582, ordered the expulsion of all Jews from Silesia. They remained only in Głogów and Biała. In 1598, Emperor Rudolf II granted to a wealthy Jewish merchant, Israel Benedict, the privilege allowing him and his family to stay in Głogów and to trade in the town without any restrictions. In 1620, the Benedict family was granted the permission to build a synagogue, but its construction went on until 1636. In 1622, Israel Benedict and Michael Sachs were allowed to set up a cemetery. It was established near the road to Biechów. It served as a burial place only until 1666, when a new cemetery was founded near the town moat. This cemetery functioned until 1740.

During his reign, Emperor Ferdinand II allowed all Jews of Głogów to live in the town permanently. They also got a quarter in the vicinity of the castle. Somewhat later, the Jews of Głogów began to settle throughout the town. The community took care that each consecutive ruler reigning over the town would confirm the privilege issued to Israel Benedict. At the beginning of the 17th century, the community had 1,550 members. As from that moment until the mid-nineteenth century, the number of members of the Głogów community remained fairly stable.

In 1756, the community had 1,644 members, and in 1791 – 1,800. During this period, Głogów Jews constituted as much as 25% of all Jews living in Silesia, and the community was the most numerous in the entire history of its existence. At the beginning of the 19th century, 1,500 Jews lived in Głogów, but their share of the total population had clearly decreased, amounting to only approx. 15%. In 1812, the community numbered 1,600 Jews, in 1833 - their number decreased to 1,107, and it decreased even further to 950 in 1848. In subsequent years, the percentage of Jews in the total population of the town dropped to 6%.

In the second half of the 19th century, many Głogów Jews decided to move to larger cities, primarily to Wrocław (Breslau) and Berlin, which offered better financial and social conditions to the Jewish population. Due to increasing emigration, the community shrunk from 1,010 members in 1880 to approx. 600 members in the years 1900-1925. Even though at that time it constituted no more than 2% of the town’s total population, it was still one of the richest Jewish communities in Europe. Since the end of the 13th century, the Głogów community had its own cemetery, which changed the location several times. In 1857, a new one was founded just behind the Masonic garden, and the deceased who were resting the former cemetery were reburied there. A new synagogue was founded in 1892. It was considered one of the most beautiful in Germany, and it could be seen as the symbol of the community's prosperity. As from 1827, the community also ran its own primary school.

The majority of the Głogów Jews belonged to a wealthier middle class, but there were also a few rich people among them. The enterprises run by Jews were distinguished by a long-standing family tradition. Warehouses or goods stores owned by the Jews played a significant role in the economic development of Głogów. Among the most important were, for example, Kaufhaus Ludwig Haurwitz at Preußische Straße (today Grodzka Street), Warenhaus Dr Scheier, Modehaus Pietrkowski at the market square and Modegeschäft Max Kronheim. Moreover, many Jews from Głogów were grain traders and craftsmen. Some were involved in foreign trade.

After 1933, when the National Socialists were in power, there were still 500-600 people of Jewish origin living in Głogów. On April 1, 1933, there was an action in the town organized against the Jewish population. The most distinguished members of the community were arrested, and they were seated on a wagon which was pasted on with posters bearing the slogans: “Jews are our misfortune” and “Do not buy from Jews”. They were driven around the streets of the town for many hours, but eventually they were released. As from that time, however, in almost all German cities, and also in Głogów, patrols of SA soldiers were posted in front of Jewish stores. They were to make sure that nobody would do any shopping there. In the following years, the financial situation of the Jewish population deteriorated further until finally Jews were forced to sell their assets to the ‘Aryan’ population, often at a reduced price.

In November 1938, during the Night of Broken Glass, the synagogue in Głogów was plundered and set on fire, and the ruins left after the fire were blown up. At the same time, the local police, SS and SA detachments arrested Jews and demolished their apartments. In January 1939, the Głogów community had about 100 members, and two years later - as a result of departures - only 45. They were all gathered in two so-called Jewish Houses (Judenhäuser) and assigned to forced labour. In April 1943, 30 people of Jewish origin who remained in the town were deported to the camp in Izbica near Lublin. Each one of them was murdered there. The last Głogów Jew - Rabbi Dr Leopold Lukas died of exhaustion in Theresienstadt camp on September 13, 1943.

Bibliography 

  • Duszeńczyk D., “I rozproszyli się na wszystkie strony…”. Historia Żydów w Głogowie, Perspektywa Kulturalna [online:] November 9, 1993, http://peku.pl/417/i-rozproszyli-sie-na-wszystkie-strony-historia-zydow-w-glogowie [access: May 21, 2018].
  • Glogau (Schlesien), [in:] Alicke K.-D., Lexikon der jüdischen Gemeinden im deutschen Sprachraum, vol. 1, München 2008.
  • Włodarczyk T., Głogów[in:] Borkowski M., Kirmiel A., Włodarczyk T., Śladami Żydów. Dolny Śląsk, Opolszczyzna, Ziemia Lubuska, Warsaw 2008.

 

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