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Köszeg

KÖSZEG

KÖSZEG (Ger. Guens ), town in W. Hungary, near the Austrian border. In 1395 King Sigismund authorized the owner of the castle in Köszeg to admit Jews to the town. During the battle against the Turks in 1532, the Jews were apparently compelled to flee from Köszeg. At the time of the revolt of Count Rákóczi in the 17th century, the whole town was destroyed by fire and Jews did not return to the rebuilt town until early in the 18th century. The first to attempt to settle was M. Schlesinger (1735–37). When endeavors by the townspeople were made to expel him, he appealed to the king, who issued a decision in his favor. A descendant of this family was Akiva *Eger, who added the name of the town – Guens – to his name. Previously under the jurisdiction of the Rechnitz (Rohonc) community, the Köszeg community became independent in 1821. Jews contributed to the development of the town, especially the philanthropist, Philipp Schey, who financed the building of the synagogue in 1860. There was a yeshivah in Köszeg from 1835 to 1881. Prominent rabbis were Jacob Gruenwald (until 1862), Markus Wiener (1892–1915), and the last rabbi, Isaac Linksz (1923–44), who was deported with the members of his community in the Holocaust. The Jewish population numbered 50 in 1789, 91 in 1840 (1.4% of the total), 266 in 1910 (3.2%), 131 in 1930 (1.5%), and 109 in 1941 (1.1%).

Holocaust Period

From 1940 the Jewish men were conscripted into forced labor groups. After the German occupation (March 19, 1944), the Jews were first confined in a narrow ghetto (May 14, 1944), and later were forced to lodge in an open barn. On June 18 all were transported to the central ghetto of the region, in the town of *Szombathely. There they were tortured to induce them to hand over their property. The 117 Jews from Köszeg were deported to *Auschwitz on July 4, 1944; only 15 returned. Under the regime of the Fascist *Arrow Cross Party, a labor camp was set up outside the town in which 5,000 Jews, including women who had been brought there on a death march, were imprisoned. By March 1945 some 3,000 Jews had died of hunger, disease, or torture, or had been executed. The survivors were then marched to *Mauthausen and Wells; those who were unable to walk were either gassed or shot.

bibliography:

pk; mhj, 8 (1965); 10 (1968); 12 (1969), index locorum; Magyar Zsidó Lexikon (1929); Új Élet, 24:15 (1969); S. Scheiber, Héber kodexmaradványok magyarországi kötéstáblákban (1969), 80–84, incl. bibl. notes; J. Házi, in: Vasi Szemle, 24 (1970).

[Laszlo Harsanyi]

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