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Komarno

KOMARNO

KOMARNO (Slovak Komárno ; Hung. Komárom ; Ger. Ko-morn ), fortress town in S. Slovakia. Until 1992 Czechoslovak Republic, since 1993 Slovak Republic. The Trianon peace treaty (1920) divided Komárno between Czechoslovakia and Hungary. The Jewish community of Komárno was considered one of the oldest in the Danube region, as traditionally there were Jews in the town at the Magyar conquest (end of the ninth century). In 1440 and 1583 Jews worked as Ottoman agents; in 1600 they were moneylenders. In 1788 there was a case of blood libel. In 1791 there were 250 Jews, who were permitted to form a congregation. In 1803 the first synagogue was built. In 1851 Jewish entrepreneurship was liberalized, thanks to a royal order permitting Jews to join guilds.

During the Hungarian revolution of 1848/49, many Jews joined the Magyar army. A subsequent cholera epidemic claimed many lives. In 1848, a fire destroyed the Jewish communal buildings, including the archive. In an effort to rebuild, the community created a cemetery in 1858 and built a synagogue in 1863. In 1890 there were 1,925 Jews; in 1900, there were 2,296. In 1895 the community built an edifice for social activities. There was a matzah bakery, a ḥevra kaddisha, a women's club, Bikkur Ḥolim organizations to help the sick, an Ahavat Achim social circle, and a youth club.

The community split following the Jewish Congress of 1868, the majority choosing the *Neolog path. In 1889 an Orthodox congregation was established; it built a synagogue in 1907. Another small synagogue was built in 1896, together with a building for orphans and the needy. This synagogue served the congregation into the 21st century. During World War i, many enlisted in the army. The riots and looting that characterized the end of the war in Slovakia did not take place in Komárno; however, the city was a battleground for the Hungarian Commune of 1919. Following the Trianon treaty, the southern part of the Danube coast became Hungarian, and in it some 25 Jewish families. (During the Hungarian conquest of 1938–1945, Komárno and its congregation were united.) The Czechoslovak period was quiet. Several Zionist movements were active in the city, including Hashomer (later Ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir), Maccabee ha-Ẓa'ir, a Zionist branch, and Young Agudat Israel. In 1930 the community built a house for social institutions. The Orthodox congregation had a small yeshivah.

In November 1938 southern Slovakia came under Hungarian rule, including Komárno. The anti-Jewish legislation, already in existence in Hungary, was applied to the conquered territory as well. In Komárno, Jews were forced to leave certain streets; in January 1942, they were forbidden to work.

On March 19, 1944, German troops entered Hungary. Along with them were local collaborators, the infamous gendarmerie, and a unit of Nyilas (*Arrow Cross Fascist party) from Szabolcs. A part of Komárno was made into a ghetto, where the Jews were forced to live. On June 12–16, the inhabitants of the ghetto, as well as neighboring Jews, were deported. The director of the Komárno city museum, witnessing the desecration of the three synagogues, gathered 12 Torah scrolls and other ritual items and hid them in the museum. After the war, he returned the sacred items to the Jewish congregation. On October 15, 1944, the Nyilas party took Hungary by force. In Komárno the Szabolcs unit was responsible for many outrages. After the war, some were caught and put on trial. On September 26, 1945, some 114 Nyilas victims were buried in a mass grave in the Jewish cemetery. In 1947 there were 314 Jews in Komárno.

The community tried to rebuild its religious life and the public buildings. In March 1948, a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust was erected. In 1949–50, 343 Jews immigrated, most to Israel. Those who were left, and those who moved to Komárno, preserved religious life. The depleted community was forced to sell its land. In 1972 a large part of the cemetery was expropriated to build a highway. In 1990 there were 45 Jews in the city. The tombstones and memorials of defunct neighboring villages and congregations were deposited in the local cemetery.

bibliography:

mhj, indices, s.v.Comoronium; A. Schnitzer, Juedische Kulturbilder (1904), 172–224; Magyar Zsidó Lexikon (1929), 498; R. Iltis (ed.), Die aussaeen unter Traenen… (1959), 152–6; M. Lányi and B.H. Propperné, Szlovenszkói zsidó hitközségek története (1933), 280–1. add. bibliography: E. Bàrkàny-L. Dojč, Židovské náboženské obce na Slovensku (1991), 167–71; F. Raab, A komáromi zsidoság krónikája (1989).

[Meir Lamed /

Yeshayahu Jelinek (2nd ed.)]

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