The first Jewish settlers appeared in Paczków as early as the turn of the 14th century.[1.1] They arrived from the West and brought with them Western European trends in the organisation of social and political life. At that time, no legal restrictions against Jewish settlement were in force. To the contrary, Jews were protected by numerous privileges granted by the Silesian dukes, modelled after such seminal documents as the 1264 Statute of Kalisz.

In 1327, when Silesia came under the rule of the Bohemian kings, the Silesian Jews, too, became their subjects. In the mid-14th century, the region was struck by the Black Death and resulting famine. The people were looking for a scapegoat to blame for their misfortunes. They accused the Jews of poisoning the wells, which led to a pogrom in Paczków in 1349. This indicates that Jews must have lived in the town at the time. In 1373, several Jewish families resided in Paczków. A prayer house operated in one of the buildings.

In the 15th century, Jewish merchants received a permit to conduct trade in Paczków. In 1452, a Jewish street was designated in the town. In the 15th century, most local Jews dealt with trade and granting loans to Silesian dukes (at that time, canonical laws enforced in all Christian Europe forbade collecting interest on financial loans). Some Jews ran small craft workshops and stores.

The first attempts to remove Jews from Paczków were taken in the 15th century. The municipal authorities of Paczków were granted the de non tolerandis Judaeis privilege by King of Bohemia Vladislaus. George of Brandenburg-Ansbach tried to prevent the expulsion of Jews from the towns on the territory of the Duchy of Opole-Racibórz, fearing the loss of economic benefits. However, in 1526, Silesia came under the rule of the German emperors. An imperial edict issued in 1559 ordered the departure of all Jews from Paczków.

The community was probably revived in the 19th century, thanks to the increasingly tolerant policies of the Prussian authorities (in 1742 most of Silesia – including Paczków – came under the rule of the Kingdom of Prussia). In 1841, as many as 309 Jews lived in Paczków (8.8% of the total population).

At the turn of the 20th century, most Jews from Paczków left for the West, most often settling in large urban centres in Germany. The censuses of 1933 and 1939 do not list any Jews residing in Paczków.

In January 1945, the prisoners of the Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp passed through Paczków during their "death march."

The Jewish community in Paczków was not revived after World War II. Opole was the only locality in the region to witness an influx of a larger group of Jews.

Bibliography

  • Borkowski M., Kirmiel A., Włodarczyk T, Śladami Żydów: Dolny Śląsk, Opolszczyzna, Ziemia Lubuska, Warszawa 2008.
  • Rademacher M., “Stadt und Landkreis Neisse,” in: Deutsche Verwaltungsgeschichte 1871–1990 [online], Deutsche Verwaltungsgeschichte Oberschlesien, Kreis Neisse (treemagic.org) [Accessed: 14 May 2022].
  • Rosenthal F., “Najstarsze osiedla żydowskie na Śląsku,” Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytut Historycznego 1960, no. 34.
  • Steinborn B., Otmuchów, Paczków, Warszawa 1982.
  • Walerjański D., “Z dziejów Żydów na Górnym Śląsku do 1812 roku,” Orbis Interior. Pismo Muzealno-Humanistyczne 2005, vol. 5.
Print
Footnotes
  • [1.1] Rosenthal F., “Najstarsze osiedla żydowskie na Śląsku,” Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytut Historycznego 1960, no. 34, p. 26.