Jewish residents of Nysa are first mentioned in 1319, when they could live on separate Jewish street, on which also a house of prayer was to be located. [[refr:"nazwa"|D.Walerjański, Z dziejów Żydów na Górnym Śląsku do 1812 roku [in:] Pismo Muzealno-Humanistyczne Orbis, Muzeum Miejskie w Zabrzu, Katowice 2005, vol. V, p. 29.]] . New Jewish settlers brought with them western models of social and political organization of a state. In addition to that, they also imported tradition, religious rites and a language of Ashkenazi Jews (Hebr. אַשְׁכְּנָזִים, the word “Ashkenazi” denotes Germany as a country where they came from.) At the time of settling down in Silesia at the turn of the 14th century Jews were not restricted by any legal regulations. What is more, they were also protected by numerous privileges issued by Silesian dukes, who followed the example of such privileges as the one granted to Jews by Boleslaw the Pious in 1264 [the General Charter of Jewish Liberties, known as the Statute of Kalisz.] In the 14th century on one of the town’s streets called Judengasse a synagogue used to stand. [1.1]

When Sielsia got under the rule of Czech dukes in 1327, also Silesian Jews adopted Czech jurisdiction.

In March 1327 a certain Jew, upon the jury’s verdict, was sentenced to prison, but the Bishop of Wrocław himself named Nanker (1326-1341) stood up for his release. [[refr:"nazwa"|D.Walerjański, Z dziejów Żydów na Górnym Śląsku do 1812 roku, [in:] Pismo Muzealno-Humanistyczne Orbis, Muzeum Miejskie w Zabrzu, Katowice 2005, vol. V, p. 29.]] The same Bishop was the author of diocesan statutes, published in 1311, that ordered Jews to wear clothes marked with yellow circles and cover their heads so that they could be distinguished from Christians.

In the mid-14th century the Black Death epidemics broke out in Silesia, which brought about famine and starvation. At that time Jews were accused of poisoning wells, which led to the pogrom against Jews also in Nysa on April 2nd 1349. The immediate cause of the pogrom was fire of a house of a Jew who refused to be baptized. As a result of the riots 40 Jewish households were torched. [1.2]

In 1361 another pogrom against Jewish inhabitants took place, which was sparked by the news that a Host had been reputedly desecrated. [1.3]. In 1410 a wooden synagogue was erected. The first record of a Jewish cemetery in Nysa dates back to May 10th 1423. A Jewish community was exempt from cemetery taxation in 1488, which might imply its closure,

Most Jews in the 15th century occupied themselves with trade and granted loans to Silesian dukes (charging interests on financial loans was then prohibited by Canon law in the whole of Christian Europe.) Some Hebrews ran small craft workshops and shops.
Good financial situation of Jews evoked increasing hatred against them and led to pogroms, whose source was related to economic issues. Kazimierz Bobowski comments on those facts as follows: “Increasing pogroms against Silesian Jews from the 15th century should be related to a growing class disparity in towns. The patriciate of many Silesian towns hoped that pogroms would defuse, only in some degree in the least, dissatisfaction of the poor with economic releations.” [[refr:"nazwa"|K.Bobowski, Prześladowania i pogromy Żydów na średniowiecznym Śląsku [in:] Śląski Kwartalnik Historyczny Sobótka 1989, issue no 1, p. 10 [in:]D.Walerjański, Z dziejów Żydów na Górnym Śląsku do 1812 roku, [in:] Pismo Muzealno-Humanistyczne Orbis, Muzeum Miejskie w Zabrzu, Katowice 2005, vol. V, p. 30.]]

Taking advantage of anti-Jewish atmosphere the town of Nysa adopted in 1468 the Non tolerandis Iudaeis privilege issued by Czech King Wladysław. Under such circumstances local Jews were expelled upon the court decision, which also obliged them to pay a high fee of 200 guilders. [[refr:"nazwa"|D.Wolff, Geschichte der Juden in Schlesien [w:] Schlesische Provinzial-Blatter, Breslau 1842 [in:] D.Walerjański, Z dziejów Żydów na Górnym Śląsku do 1812 roku [in:] Pismo Muzealno-Humanistyczne Orbis, Muzeum Miejskie w Zabrzu, Katowice 2005, vol. V, pp. 29-32.]] One Jew and his family were baptized and stayed in the town, assimilating into Christian community. Expulsions of Jewish inhabitants led to significant economic problems in many Silesian towns, which the persecutors did not fail to notice and so they let Jews to resettle after paying a demanded price. [[refr:"nazwa"| K.Bobowski, Prześladowania i pogromy Żydów na średniowiecznym Śląsku [in:] Śląski Kwartalnik Historyczny Sobótka 1989, issue no 1, p. 10 [in:] D.Walerjański, Z dziejów Żydów na Górnym Śląsku do 1812 roku [in:] Pismo Muzealno-Humanistyczne Orbis, Muzeum Miejskie w Zabrzu, Katowice 2005, vol. V, p. 29.]]

When Silesia went under the rule of German emperors in 1526 also Silesian Jews went under the jurisdiction of the empire.

Early in the 16th century competition between Jewish and Christian merchants in Silesia intensified. Financial enrichment of Jews evoked increasing dissatisfaction and tensions among towners, who very often complained about Silesian Jews to imperial authorities in Vienna. On September 14th 1559 Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I issued an edict on expulsion of Jews from Habsburg ancestral territories, which also included Czech, Moravian and Silesian lands. From then on Jews could not officially reside in Silesia, yet oftentimes the emperor’s edict was not commonly obeyed. However, separate enclaves were marked out for Jews to live in, such as Głogów and Biała Prudnicka in Silesia as well as Osobłóda in Silesian Opava. [[refr:"nazwa"|K.Orzechowski, Sprawy ludności żydowskiej w śląskich drukowanych zbiorach prawnych [in:] Śląski Kwartalnik Historyczny Sobótka 1989, no 1, p. 46 [in:] D.Walerjański, Z dziejów Żydów na Górnym Śląsku do 1812 roku [in:] Pismo Muzealno-Humanistyczne Orbis, Muzeum Miejskie w Zabrzu, Katowice 2005, vol. V, p. 32.]]

Life of Jewish community in Opole-Racibórz area under the Habsburg rule in the 16th century was governed by the ordinance related to land matters that was issued in 1561 and which enlisted common and state law together with resolutions passed by the regional assemblies [Pol. sejmik] in the Duchy of Silesia. There was a separate chapter entitled “Von Juden”, which specified rights to settle down in the Habsburg lands and defined interest loans granted by Jews to land owners and peasants, etc. [[refr:"nazwa"|D.Walerjański, Z dziejów Żydów na Górnym Śląsku do 1812 roku [in:] Pismo Muzealno-Humanistyczne Orbis, Muzeum Miejskie w Zabrzu, Katowice 2005, vol. V, p. 31.]].

The Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) led to the depopulation of many Silesian towns. Aiming at improving the state budget, Emperor Ferdinand softened the policy toward Jews in 1627. He issued an edict allowing them to resettle in towns after paying a special fee of 40 thousand guilders. The edict also allowed a selected group of privileged Jews (privilegire Juden), also referred to as court Jews (Hofjuden), to trade and practice craft under given conditions. Emperor also gave them a green light to lease the collection of taxes and duties. Additionally, they were also allowed to purchase and own residential buildings. [[refr:"nazwa"|A.Steinert, Geschichte der Juden in Oppeln, Opeln 1922, p. 23 [in:] D.Walerjański, Z dziejów Żydów na Górnym Śląsku do 1812 roku [in:] Pismo Muzealno-Humanistyczne Orbis, Muzeum Miejskie w Zabrzu, Katowice 2005, vol. V, p. 33.]] Taking the advantage of a positive change in atmosphere, Jews started to settle down in Nysa once again.
 

After the outbreak of the Khmelnytsky Uprising in 1648 many Jews fled pogroms on the eastern territories of the Republic of Poland and sought shelter in Silesian towns. The growing number of Jewish refugees perturbed the local assembly of the Duchy of Opole and Raciborz, which in 1655, 1664 and 1666 passed regulations that upheld the prohibition of Jewish settlement, punishable by a high fine and arrest.
In the second half of the 17th century Polish Jews maintained trade relations with Silesian Jews. Merchants form the Republic of Poland visited markets and fairs in Wrocław, Brzeg, Nysa and Opole, where they traded with metallic goods made of bronze and brass, with tin, silver, grain, leather, spices, southern fruit, cattle, wax, wool and books [[refr:"nazwa"|I.Shipper, Dzieje handlu żydowskiego na ziemiach polskich, Warszawa 1937 [in:] D.Walerjański, Z dziejów Żydów na Górnym Śląsku do 1812 roku [in:] Pismo Muzealno-Humanistyczne Orbis, Muzeum Miejskie w Zabrzu, Katowice 2005, vol. V, p. 34.]]

In May 1713 Emperor Charles VI issued an edict of tolerance (Toleranzpatent) allowing Jews to settle down in Silesia after paying a special tolerance tax. The emperor’s edict divided the Jewish community into two categories: (1) those who did and those who did not own land properties (they paid lower taxes) and (2) tolerated Jews. The Jews from Głogów and Biała Prudnicka were exempt from the tolerance tax. [[refr:"nazwa"|P.Maser, A.Weiser, Juden in Oberschlesien Teil 1, Berlin 1992, s. 26 [in:] D.Walerjański, Z dziejów Żydów na Górnym Śląsku do 1812 roku [in:] Pismo Muzealno-Humanistyczne Orbis, Muzeum Miejskie w Zabrzu, Katowice 2005, vol. V, p. 34.]]
The edict of tolerance permitted Jews to peddle in the region of Silesia with the exception of Prudnik, Głubczyce, Racibórz, Koźle, Opole and Nysa. If a Jewish merchant tried to violate the interdiction by trading in those cities, then in such case all his goods were taken away from him (confiscation.) The Jews noticed and exploited a loophole in the regulation and settle down in the suburbs of those town, developing their commercial businesses there. [1.4].

 

In October 1726 the Chief District Office in Silesia issued the „Wegen der Juden” patent banning Jews from settling down in localities and house that they had never resided in. Consequently, new Jews (the so-called strangers) were forbidden to settle in Silesia. Apart from that, the patent also introduced the „inkolat rule”, which meant that in every single Jewish family only one son was given the green light to espouse and enjoy the residence permit (inkolae.) Having paid 10 talers, checking his profession and property he was given a marriage certificate allowing him to enter into marriage. The remaining sons were considered to be strangers and, having come of age, they were forced to leave the country. [[refr:"nazwa"|I.Rabin, vom Rechtskampf der Juden in Schlesien (1582-1713) [in:] Jahresbericht der judisch-teologischen seminars fur das Jahr 1926, Breslau 1927, pp. 50-51 [in:] D.Walerjański, Z dziejów Żydów na Górnym Śląsku do 1812 roku [in:] Pismo Muzealno-Humanistyczne Orbis, Muzeum Miejskie w Zabrzu, Katowice 2005, vol. V, p. 34.]]
Implementation of this law boosted Jewish settlement in Silesia, where, interestingly, Jews running a business activity were typical of that region. This in turn was met with violent opposition of Chrisitian entrepreneurs and merchants, who called for expelling Jews from Silesia once again. It made Emperor Charles VI issue an edict in 1738 ordering all the Jews who lacked separate privileges to leave Silesia. Those who could stay were given a permission to run minor trade activities as well as produce and sell vodka as lesees. Meanwhile, municipal authorities were allowed to move the Jews from centers to the suburbs as well as adapt synagogues and Jewish cemeteries to Christian facilities. [[refr:"nazwa"|W.Jaworski, Z dziejów Żydów bieruńskich, Bieruń Stary 1989, p. 4 [in:] D.Walerjański, Z dziejów Żydów na Górnym Śląsku do 1812 roku [in:] Pismo Muzealno-Humanistyczne Orbis, Muzeum Miejskie w Zabrzu, Katowice 2005, vol. V, p. 35.]].

During the 1742 Silesian War the best part of Silesia got under the rule of the Kingdom of Prussia (except Cieszyn Silesia and the Duchy of Opawa.) Silesian Jews hoped then for better life, which was described by Rabbi Marcus Brann, a Jewish historian: „The young King of Prussia, who marched in Silesia in December, was welcomed by oppressed Jews, who were full of hope that a ray of justice and kindness enlighten their dark paths of miserable life.” [[refr:"nazwa"|M.Heitmann, H.Lordick, Przyczynek do historii Żydów na Śląsku [w:] Przebudź się serce moje i pomyśl, Berlin, Opole 1995, p. 52 [in:] D.Walerjański, Z dziejów Żydów na Górnym Śląsku do 1812 roku [w:] Pismo Muzealno-Humanistyczne Orbis, Muzeum Miejskie w Zabrzu, Katowice 2005, vol. V, p. 35.]].

At first Prussian authorities were indifferent towards Silesian Jews. Over time, however, emperor Frederick II strove to limit the freedom of Jewish communities by imposing various financial taxes, which were beneficial for the state economy. The first decree that concerned Jews was issued by the Kingdom of Prussia in 1748 and obliged all those Jew who had resided in Silesia for minimum one year and wanted to leave the country to pay a fee totaling 10% of the value of their property. They Jews who failed with their business activity were imposed special restrictions. The residence permit of the Jews who went bankrupt of were found guilty of dealing with stole goods was revoked and they had to leave the country. [[refr:"nazwa"|Archiwum Państwowe w Gliwicach, Akta Miasta Gliwice sygn. 6246, 6247, 6248, 6249 [in:] D.Walerjański, Z dziejów Żydów na Górnym Śląsku do 1812 roku [w:] Pismo Muzealno-Humanistyczne Orbis, Muzeum Miejskie w Zabrzu, Katowice 2005, vol. V, p. 35.]].

On 17th April 1750 Prussian authorities publicized Pruski Regulamin Główny i Generalne Przywileje (the General Prussian Code and General Privileges,) which in great detail governed the legal, social, political and economic situation of Jews. Jacob Jacobson commented on it as follows: “Like everywhere else in Germany the aim of this code is to maintain a certain number of Jews living in the state, let them run a strictly specified economic activity within the state’s economic system and burden them with taxes as high as possible for protection and tolerance of their existence here.” [[refr:"nazwa"|J.Jacobson, Die Judenburger-Bucher der Stadt Berlin, Berlin 1962 [in:] D.Walerjański, Z dziejów Żydów na Górnym Śląsku do 1812 roku [in:] Pismo Muzealno-Humanistyczne Orbis, Muzeum Miejskie w Zabrzu, Katowice 2005, vol. V, p. 36.]].

 

Juden Reglement, issued on 2nd December 1751, was the fundamental legal act regulating the status of Silesian Jews (except Wrocław and Głogów.) It obligated land owners and municipalities to notify county authorities and royal office for tolerance of every case of Jewish settlement within 14 days. If a Jew wanted to settle down in Silesia, he had to occupy himself with craftsmanship and possess property of at least 200 thaler value. Within 14 days from the day of the arrival he had to report to the competent Landrat (equivalent to a starosta, the head of a county, in present Poland,) and later to the office for tolerance in order to make suitable records in registers. The full name, the date and place of birth, previous domicile, reasons for emigration, profession, the number of family members and the planned duration of stay in Silesia had to be provided. This way a system of control over the inflow of Jews to Silesia was created. No Jewish beggars and vagabonds were office for tolerance in order to register tolerated by Prussian authorities. [[refr:"nazwa"|D.Walerjański, Z dziejów Żydów na Górnym Śląsku do 1812 roku [in:] Pismo Muzealno-Humanistyczne Orbis, Muzeum Miejskie w Zabrzu, Katowice 2005, vol. V, p. 35.]].
Life of the Jewish communities in Silesia was strictly governed by law. It was forbidden to host Jewish guests from outside of the province without a permit of the authorities (it did not apply to those families where the mother came from Silesia.) Every stranger had the duty to register. A family of a hired teacher had to stay away from Silesia. The number of servants was limited to two persons, who could live together with their own children until they finished 15 years old, after which they had to start living an independent life. Jews were barred from leasing farms and the Hebrews who lived in the countryside were allowed to trade with leader and hide exclusively in the town. Additionally, leaving a place of residence without paying tolerance fees was outlawed. Every three months the Silesian Jews were controlled by governmental dragoons acting as policemen. [[refr:"nazwa"|J.Oczko, Żydzi w Sośnicowicach.]]
The next decree issued in 1752 forbade the Jews to purchase real property with the right of ownership. A new tax system was implemented in 1754, which applied to the so-called “tolerated-accepted” Jews (so called “Toleranzgelder” taxes.)

During the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) Prussia suffered a great economic breakdown. In order to diminish its aftermath the Prussian authorities granted the best-off Jewish factory owners and entrepreneurs exclusive privileges. They were vested with the so-called right to naturalization (naturalisationspatente). However, the said privileges applied to a little Jewish circle within the Jewish community.

In September 1768 Jews were forbidden to build new cemeteries and synagogues without paying for a special license. Afterwards, new Prussian decrees allowed Jews to settle down exclusively in villages where they could legally work as innkeepers, artisans, bakers and leaseholders of estate’s breweries.

In 1776 Prussian authorities gave the Jews on the left bank of the Order River one month to move to its right bank, where they could settle down in the countryside only. After several years, in September 1779, Prussian authorities changed their policy and ordered all the Jews to leave their villages and move to the towns, among which Gliwice was to be their main destination. On August 17th 1780 the Wrocław office in charge of Crown property selected five towns where Jews could resettle, they were Tarnowskie Góry, Mysłowice, Mikołów, Lubliniec and Bieruń Stary [[refr:"nazwa"| W.Jaworski, Z dziejów Żydów bieruńskich, Bieruń Stary 1989, p. 5 [in:] D.Walerjański, Z dziejów Żydów na Górnym Śląsku do 1812 roku [in:] Pismo Muzealno-Humanistyczne Orbis, Muzeum Miejskie w Zabrzu, Katowice 2005, vol. V, p. 36.]]. On August 8th 1781 Prussian Emperor Friderick II issued an edict compelling Jews to leave Upper Silesian villages and move to towns to start commercial activities. An exception was made to four village of Langendorf (Wielowieś), Czieschowa (Cieszowa), Kraskau (Kraskowa) and Städtel, mistaken for Sośniowice but actually being the name of Miejsce village. [[refr:"nazwa"| E. Ziviera, Rozwój osadnictwa żydowskiego na Górnym Śląsku, 1915 r. [in:] Zeszyty gliwickie vol. 30, Gliwice 2002, p. 243 [in:] J.Oczko, Żydzi w Sośnicowicach.]] In 1787 Prussian authorities cancelled the Jewish resettlement decrees because the towns they left behind suffered too great economic losses.

 

In 1791 the Prussian authorities gave a green light for the Jews to establish their own trade guilds, which in reality met with strong protests of Christian artisans and merchants, who were successfully hindering Jewish competition. In the second half of the 18th century Upper Silesian Jews and their families had to buy official residence permits, called Toleranz Accise, Nahrung Geld or Toleranz Zettel, which made it possible for them to settle down in given places.

In the years between 1789 and 1799 the European consciousness was being influenced by the French Revolution, whose ideas of equality and fraternity were spread all across Europe by the French army of Napoleon Bonaparte. This gave rise to a Jewish Enlightenment movement (Haskala,) which aimed at emancipation of Jews. All this encouraged Prussian authorities to implement social and economic reforms, which finally changed the situation of Jews in the Kingdom or Prussia.
On 17th April 1797 the authorities adopted Statut Generalny dla Żydów (General-Juden Reglement für Süd und Neu-Ostpreussen) (Eng. the General Jewish Statute) that still saw Jews as a separate social class and permitted Jewish town’s citizenship only to certain extent as classification into protected and tolerated Jews was still valid. [[refr:"nazwa"|A.Eisenbach, Emancypacja Żydów na ziemiach polskich 1785-1870, Warszawa 1988, pp. 128-129 [w:] D.Walerjański, Z dziejów Żydów na Górnym Śląsku do 1812 roku [in:] Pismo Muzealno-Humanistyczne Orbis, Muzeum Miejskie w Zabrzu, Katowice 2005, vol. V, p. 37.]]
Prussian authorities abolished all the feudal decrees for guilds and towns, including the De non tolerandis Iudaeis privilege. From then onwards Jews, upon a prior consent of the authorities, had the right to reside in all Silesian towns and purchase properties without any restrictions.

On 11th March 1812 King Frederick William issued the edict of civic relations (Edikt die Burgerlichen Berhaltnisse der Juden), generally known as the emancipation edict, which equalized the rights of Jews, who became rightful citizens of the Kingdom of Prussia and were thus called the state’s citizens (Statsbürger) or natives (Inländer.) In order to obtain Prussian citizenship it was necessary to assume a full name and to know German. The Jews who were granted all the civil rights received special certificates. Under this edict Jews had the freedom of residence, profession, religion and religious rites together with the right to freely purchase real estate. From then on Jews could study at higher education institutions and occupy academic posts. Having civil rights they were also obliged to do military service (from 1813 they were drafted into the army.) The king reserved the right to decide whether a Jewish person could work for Prussian state administration or not. New regulations abolished Jewish judicial system and deemed Jewish communities associations under private law. According to Selma Stern, the edict of 1812 began “the economic, cultural and, subsequently, political emancipation of Jews,” and led to formation of Jewish liberal communities next to conservative ones, especially in industrialized Silesian towns. [[refr:"nazwa"|S.Stern, Der preusische und die Juden, Erste Abteilung Darstellung, Tubingen 1971 [in] D.Walerjański, Z dziejów Żydów na Górnym Śląsku do 1812 roku [in:] Pismo Muzealno-Humanistyczne Orbis, Muzeum Miejskie w Zabrzu, Katowice 2005, vol. V, p. 39.]] This being the case, the early 19th century witnessed a revival of a Jewish community in Nysa, where in 1815 a Jewish cemetery was opened in the vicinity of Catholic and Evangelical graveyards (present Wojska Polskiego Av.)

In July 1821 Prussian authorities banned Jews from putting their signatures in Hebrew, which meant that they had to use only German to complete all the formalities. In 1838 Jews in Nysa purchased from August Leubuscher, a tax collector from Wrocław, a plot of land on Josephstrasse, where later a synagogue was erected. In the mid 1840s 278 Jews lived in Nysa (making up 2.5% of the entire town’s population of 11,086 inhabitants.) Nysa Jews were then already assimilated into surrounding German society. A German text of a town’s oath by Louis Schnitzer, a merchant and a father of a famous traveler Eduard Schnitzer (Emin Pasza), which he made upon settling down in Nysa, has been preserved at the State Archives in Opole.
 

On June 23rd 1847 the Prussian authorities issued the Gesetz über die Verhältnisse der Juden edict (Eng. Edict of Jewish relations.) which governed legal aspects of organization and operation of Jewish communities. It also specified the territorial range of synagogal districts, so called Kreis, which comprised so called Synagogenbezirke (synagogal quarters), whose range should never exceed the area of a synagogal district. If there was only one synagogue in a quarter, the name Synagogenbezirk was interchangeably used with Synagogengemainde (a synagogal commune) in documents, which aimed at unification of laws pertaining to Jewish communities. Otherwise, in case a quarter had a few synagogues, then Jews belonged to the synagogue which they had attended before. Each synagogal quarter had to possess its own statute, a committee of representative and a management board that was appointed in accordance with the city ordinance (Statdordnung.) Provisions of statutes of each quarter had to have the same spirit of the law. They had to regulate issues that referred to the burial place – in the main locality of each quarter there had to be a Jewish cemetery. The document could also govern the relations between the committee of representatives and the board.
The community was a legal entity and its members were obliged to pay fees for its maintenance. The fees varied according to the possessed property and income (the poor were exempt.) Each self-reliant man who was of age had the duty to accept at least one public office in the community without pay. Only those who were ill or were 60 years of age were released form that obligation. Any person that opposed the idea was excluded from elections and had to pay higher fees. A representative body had to be elected among the members of a synagogue. Only impeccable men who were of age and had belonged to the community for at least three years and regularly paid the fees were eligible to stand for election or to have voting rights. They elected from among themselves a 9-member committee, could act jointly and were responsible before the whole community. The term of office was 6 years, but after three years 5 random members stepped down and were replaced by new ones. The elections were organized by a state functionary while the board of the community announced the exact date of elections. The turnout had to reach at least 50%, otherwise another elections were held for a second time. The elections were supervised by the so-called Wahlzeugen [election witnesses.] It was a secret ballot, based on the majority-vote rule. If the committee lost one of its members before his term of office finished, no additional elections were organized. The eldest committee’s representative became its president. The representatives assembled every four weeks at the latest. The assembly approved their decisions by ordinary majority of votes with two thirds of its members present. In case of a draw, the president had the final say.
A representative who was in legal custody, was declared insolvent, failed to pay the fees, was imprisoned or deprived of civil rights was removed from office. A board (Gemeinde-Vorstand) was appointed by the representatives to execute the resolutions passed by the committee. The board was composed of three administrators (Vorsteher), all of whom had lived in a given locality for at least three years. The term of office lasted six years, but after three years two random members stepped down and were replaced by newly appointed ones. Board members, approved by the state, elected from among themselves the head of community. Religion lessons were mandatory in each synagogal community, otherwise, in case of lack of funds for that, a qualified religion teacher had to be hired. The community took care of its poor and ill members. The committee of representatives, with the board’s consent, was responsible for appointing synagogue servants and administrators (such as rabbi, cantor, mohel etc.) which did their duties for three years. Synagogues charged for seats. [[refr:"nazwa"|J.Oczko, Żydzi w Sośnicowicach.]]

In November 1847 King Frederick William IV issued an act which equalized political and civil rights with Christian citizens. In 1850 the Prussian Parliament adopted new constitution, which ultimately confirmed granting civil rights to Jews. Willy Cohn commented: Basically the constitution ended this long-lasting process. The Silesian Jew, whose existence was under threat for a half-century, eventually could work in his field in the country that became his homeland. [[refr:"nazwa"|D.Walerjański, Z dziejów Żydów na Górnym Śląsku do 1812 roku [in:] Pismo Muzealno-Humanistyczne Orbis, Muzeum Miejskie w Zabrzu, Katowice 2005, vol V, p. 39.]].

In 1861 the Jewish community in Nysa had a maximum number of community members, i.e. 464 persons. In 1871 a decision was taken to enlarge the area of a Jewish cemetery. In subsequent decades Jews in Nysa belonged to the cultural, economic and political elites of the town. There are records about the Jewish community in Nysa dated 1932 saying that the community numbered 220 members at that time, headed by M. Lewinsky, Max Bloch and dr Rosenstein. There were also a community rabbi named Ellguther and Aron Goldschmidt as a Jewish religion teacher. The Hebrews in Głuchołazy, Otmuchów and Paczków were subordinate to the community of Nysa, which also included the Jewish Assocciation of Women (numbering 70 members), established in 1857 and chaired by Elisa Lewinsky as well as a burial society of 73 members, set up in 1880 and presided over by Ernst Adler. 32 children in Nysa were obliged to attend religion classes.

The turn of 19th and 20th centuries witnessed a big emigration wave of Jews to the west, to Wrocław and Berlin above all. 380 Jews lived in Nysa in 1885. In 1892 a new brick synagogue was erected and replaced an old synagogue which was located at 57 Josephstr. (present Tkacka St.), next to a Jewish school. In the early 20th century a youth Zionist organization and the Assocciation of Jewish Veterans of World War I was active in Nysa. In 1933 some 220 Jews live in the town.

In the 1932 elections the NSDAP (the National Socialist German Workers’ Party) achieved a spectacular victory and became the biggest political party in the Reichstag. On January 30th 1933 Paul von Hindenburg, the President of the German Reich, appointed Adolf Hitler Chancellor of Germany who represented then a parliamentary majority formed by the NSDAP and DNVP (the German National People’s Party), a German national right-wing party. The same day the NSDAP leadership launched the first countrywide anti-Jewish action, i.e. an boycott aimed against Jews, headed by Julius Streicher, with the view of singling out Jewish shops from so-called Aryan ones with the help of special markings, which were likewise used to boycott Jewish doctors and lawyers. [[refr:"nazwa"|R. Kaczmarek, Narastanie antysemityzmu w prasie gliwickiej 1933-1939 [in:] Żydzi Gliwiccy, ed. B. Kubita, Muzeum w Gliwicach, Gliwice 2006, p. 205.]].
The boycott action in Gorzów Śląski was carried out on Sunday, April 1st 1933, in the same way as in the whole of Germany. The uniformed SA (Die Sturmabteilungen der NSDAP – NSDAP Storm Division) functionaries guarded Jewish shops, which deterred most clients from buying in Jewish shops or using medical or legal services of Jews. On April 3rd 1933, Monday, leaders of the NSDAP party, under international pressure, suspended the boycotting action. Marking of Jewish shops, due to start on April 5th, was called off and local SA stormtroops were informed that the action was put off for later. [[refr:"nazwa"|R. Kaczmarek, Narastanie antysemityzmu w prasie gliwickiej 1933-1939 [in:] Żydzi Gliwiccy, red. B. Kubita, Muzeum w Gliwicach, Gliwice 2006, p. 206.]]

In April 1933 the NSDAP representatives started to cub the rights of Jews in Germany commencing, by order of Prussian Minister of Justice Hans Kerrl, negotiations with corporations of Upper Silesian doctors and lawyers in order to remove Jews from their posts and impede their work. It was then agreed that could be maximum two Jewish lawyers in each Upper Silesian town. Also Jewish judges suffered from anti-Semitic persecutions alike. However, since they were dominated, they could not be simply deprived of their offices. That was why the NSDAP made them retire or go on leave for an indefinite period of time. Hans Kerrl, the minister, described those decisions as “steps that have to be taken to cleanse the Prussian judiciary of racially alien influence, which in turn will restore its standing and eliminate potential anxiety that would arise in the nation due to such a situation.” "[[refr:"nazwa"|R. Kaczmarek, Narastanie antysemityzmu w prasie gliwickiej 1933-1939 [in:] Żydzi Gliwiccy, ed. B. Kubita, Muzeum w Gliwicach, Gliwice 2006, p. 207.]].
What the NSDAP did first in the circle of doctor was to replace a directorate of the association of doctors in Upper Silesia (Oberschlesischer Aerzteverband,) which was headed by Dr Haase from Gliwice. Meanwhile, German health care funds and general insurance companies terminated fixed contracts concluded with Jewish doctors. From that moment onwards they could run private medical practice only. [[refr:"nazwa"|R. Kaczmarek, Narastanie antysemityzmu w prasie gliwickiej 1933-1939 [in:] Żydzi Gliwiccy, red. B. Kubita, Muzeum w Gliwicach, Gliwice 2006, p. 207.]] The so-called „Aryan paragraph” (Arierparagrpah) was then adopted in the whole of Germany, which became a legal basis for banning non-Christians from joining various organizations, unions and associations.

On April 7th 1933 the Civil Service Reorganization Act (Gesetz zur Wiederherstellung des Beamtentums) was passed , which excluded Jews from the Civil Service. [[refr:"nazwa"| F. Połomski, Ustawodawstwo rasistowskie III Rzeszy i jego stosowanie na Górnym Śląsku, Katowice 1970, p. 51.]]

So-called Nuremberg Laws (Nürnberger Gesetze) were introduced at the Rally of NSDAP in Nuremberg on September 15th 1935, behind which there was only one aim – legitimization of legal inequality based on a criterion of “blood and race.” The laws were a basis for total degradation of Jews in the rights they had had. Jews could be deprived of German citizenship, legal protection and of private property. They were banned from civil and military service, neither could they display national flags. Mixed marriages between “Aryans” and “non-Aryans” were prohibited too. Such sexual intercourse was considered as a racial pollution (Rassenschande) and were punishable. The laws set definitions of racial Jews, half-breeds (Mischling) and pure Aryans [[refr:"nazwa"| K. Jonca, „Noc Kryształowa” i casus Herschela Grynszpana, Wrocław 1998, p. 66.]]

Respective ministerial decrees, implemented by the local government, completely restricted Jewish economic activity. Shops and companies were to be confiscated and handed over to new Aryan owners. In 1938, under the regulation of the minister of home affairs, Jews were obliged to assume additional forenames that were typically Jewish. For women it was obligatory to adopt the first name Sara while for men the name of Israel was compulsory.
The Kristallnacht (the night of November 9th 1938) put an end to the Jewish community of Nysa, when the course of events turned extremely brutal during the pogrom. The synagogue in Nysa was devastated, still not torched. Nazi squads demolished Jewish community buildings, workshops, a pharmacy, a dentist’s office, 11 shops and 31 Jewish households. After those events most Hebrews left Nysa, where only a handful of 93 Jews remained. In March 1939 Alois Fandrych, a merchant, became a new owner of the synagogue.

In July 1942 Jews from Nysa were transported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp [1.5] In June 1943 Gestapo appropriated the Jewish cemetery, which put a symbolic end to the German-speaking Jewish community in Nysa. The synagogue was destroyed in 1943.

 

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Footnotes

  • [1.1] I. Kęsicka, M. Morga, Miasto Nysa. Szkice monograficzne, Instytut Śląski w Opolu, Wrocław 1970, p. 34
  • [1.2] F. Rosenthal, Najstarsze osiedla żydowskie na Śląsku [in:] Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego nr 34, 1960, p. 12] Emperor Charles V ordered that an investigation be launched which which led to conviction of the perpetartors of the pogrom. A Jewish cemetery was most probably established in some 1350. [[refr:|M. Wodziński, Hebrajskie inskrypcje na Śląsku XIII-XVIII wiek, Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Polonistyki Wrocławskiej, Uniwersytet Wrocławski, Wrocław 1996.
  • [1.3] F. Rosenthal, Najstarsze osiedla żydowskie na Śląsku [in:] Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego nr 34, 1960, p. 27
  • [1.4] http://www.naszraciborz.pl/historia/drukuj/0/83.html [accessed on October 5, 2009 r.].
  • [1.5] E. Wiesel, G. Wigoder i S. Spektor, Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before & During Holocaust, New York University Press 2001