In the aftermath of the First Silesian War, most of the territory of Silesia, including Kietrz, came under the rule of the Kingdom of Prussia. This event marked the beginning of Jewish settlement in the town, subsequently regulated by legislative acts issued by the Prussian authorities. In 1787, 36 Jews lived in Kietrz. 

In 1825, an independent Jewish community and a synagogue were established in Kietrz. In 1840, the town had 108 Jewish residents. A private Jewish school and a cemetery were founded in 1845.

In 1871, the local Jewish community had 186 members. It formed part of the Association of Upper Silesian Synagogue Communities (Oberschlesische Synagogen-Gemeinden) founded in 1872. 

In the early 20th century, a part of the Jewish population migrated from Kietrz to bigger Prussian cities (mostly to Berlin or Wrocław [Breslau]). As a result, the size of the community shrank to mere 52 people (as of 1910).

In the plebiscite held in Silesia after World War I, most Jews from Kietrz voted for the town to remain in Germany. Many Silesian Jews decided to migrate, heading mostly to large urban centres in Germany. Kietrz, too, experienced an exodus of its Jewish population.

As in the entire territory Germany, an anti-Jewish boycott was organised in Kietrz on Saturday, 1 April 1933. That year, the town had 42 Jewish inhabitants.

During the Kristallnacht (9/10 November 1938), the synagogue in Kietrz was set on fire and several Jewish shops and houses were vandalised. In the aftermath of these events, many local Jews decided to migrate west. One of the people forced to leave the town was Ernest Frank, who lost ownership of his textile factory in the process of “Aryanisation.” As from 1937, Jewish children were not allowed to attend public schools and had to commute to the district Jewish school in Racibórz.

On 19 November 1942, there were still five Jews living in Kietrz. Their further fate remains unknown. They were likely deported to ghettoes in the General Government or the Dąbrowa Basin.

The Jewish community of Kietrz was not revived after World War II.

Bibliography

  • “Katscher,” [in:] The Encyclopedia of Jewish life before and during the Holocaust, eds. S. Spector, G. Wigoder, vol. 2, New York 2001.
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