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Marienbad

MARIENBAD

MARIENBAD (Czech. Mariánské Lázně ), town in W. Bohemia, Czech Republic. The first Jew settled in Marienbad in 1820; prior to this time Jews only went to Marienbad during the health cure season. The Jewish community grew, as did the town, during the 19th century, drawing its settlers mainly from the Drmouly (Duerrmaul; see *Chodová Planá) and *Lázně Kynžvart (Koenigswart) communities. Many foreigners also settled there. Instrumental in the development of Marienbad was the professor and balneologist Samuel Basch, whose statue was removed by the Nazis, and reerected in 1970. On the initiative of Prague notables a Jewish hospice with a prayer room was built in 1861, with the help of gifts from Jewish visitors. Another balneologist, Heinrich Enoch *Kisch, also lived in Marienbad, contributing greatly to its development. He was the head of the Jewish hospice and a street was named for him. In 1875 a congregation was constituted and in 1884 a synagogue was dedicated. Marienbad was very popular among Russian Jewry at the end of the 19th century. According to the municipal election statute (in force until 1918), no Jew could be elected to the municipal council. The community numbered 405 in 1930 (3.3% of the total population). In 1937 the great assembly (Keneset ha-Gedolah) of *Agudat Israel was held in Marienbad. The World Council of Agudat Israel was held there in 1947. At the time of the Sudeten crisis (1938) most of the community left the town; those who remained were arrested by the Nazis. The synagogue was burned down and its site is now a park. In 1945 a community was refounded. It was made up mostly of Jews from Carpatho-Russia who had opted to live in Czechoslovakia rather then in their country of birth. Some were demobilized soldiers of the Czechoslovak army in the Soviet Union. It numbered 196 in 1949. For a period of time there was a yeshivah for survivors of the Nazi persecutions in the town. In 1970 Marienbad was a center of Jewish life in Czechoslovakia as its Jewish old-age home (with a prayer room and a kasher restaurant) had about 100 residents from all over the country. The old age home and prayer room were closed in 1972.

bibliography:

J. Steiner, in: H. Gold (ed.), Juden und Judengemeinden Boehmens… (1934), 396–7; J.C. Pick, in: Jews of Czechoslovakia, 1 (1968), 378; R. Iltis (ed.), Die aussaeen unter Traenen… (1959), 23; Věstnik židovských náboženských obce v Praze, 16 no. 6 (1954), 47; Yad Vashem bjce. add. bibliography: J. Fiedler, Jewish Sights of Bohemia and Moravia (1991), 111–12.

[Meir Lamed]

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