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Pezinok

PEZINOK

PEZINOK (Slovak Pezinok ; Hung. Bazín ; Ger. Poesing, Boesing ), town in Slovakia (part of Czechoslovakia 1918–1991; since then the Slovak Republic). In 1450 Jews were permitted to live in Pezinok, which was inhabited by Germans and Slovaks. In 1529 Counts Wolfang and George von Pezinok and St. George, who were heavily in debt to Jews, began to imprison local Jews. When the mutilated body of a young boy was found, it was deemed an act of Jewish ritual murder. The imprisoned Jews were tortured in the main square until they confessed to the murder and other crimes. On May 21, 1529, some 30 men, women, and children were burned at the stake. Only children under 10 were pardoned and were converted to Christianity. The pardon granted to the victims by Emperor Ferdinand i reached them late. Jews were prohibited to live in Pezinok or even spend a night. In 1540 the Protestant reformer Andreas *Osiander published a booklet repudiating the Pezinok blood libels and incriminating the count who started it. The booklet was attacked by Johann Eck and repudiated by Martin *Luther.

In 1609 the counts of the Palffy family allowed Jews to settle on their land and in Cajla (Zeile). They allowed them to build a synagogue and to lead a communal life. The prohibition to live in Pezinok, except for the Palffy estates, continued until 1840; the community prospered but was forced to pay a "toleration tax." In 1843 a German-language private school was opened; in 1856 it was taken over by the Jewish community. In 1874 a new synagogue was built; it was destroyed in 1958.

In 1781 there were 88 Jews on the Palffy estate. The census of 1785/87 lists 304 Jews. In 1830, there were 220; in 1840 there were 271; in 1850 there were 280. In 1857 there were 540. In 1880 there were 321 Jews in Pezinok; in 1919, 359; in 1930, 418; and in 1940, on the eve of the deportations, the Jewish community numbered 235.

In spite of the economic prosperity and flourishing communal life (after the 1868 Hungarian Jewish Congress, the community chose the Orthodox path), the Jews were on shaky ground. In 1848–49, during the Spring of Nations, anti-Jewish disturbances swept the city. In 1918, at the end of the World War i, antisemitic demonstrations, abuse, and looting hit parts of Slovakia. Czechoslovak troops (the Legions) rescued the Jews of Pezinok and helped recover some of their property.

Between the wars, Jewish communal life flourished, although the congregation was sometimes unable to pay its employees. The congregation had a variety of social, philanthropic, and religious installations. The Zionist movement and the Jewish party were active in Pezinok.

Everything changed after March 14, 1939, with the proclamation of Slovak independence. German ss units entered Pezinok. On May 18 the Hlinka Guard (the Slovak Storm Troopers) assembled Jewish men in the synagogue, forcing them to demolish it and destroy the holy books. Jews were attacked in the streets and in their apartments. They were subjected to discriminatory legislation – their property was appropriated by gentiles and their belongings were legally looted.

In 1941 there were 175 Jews. In the summer of 1942, the Jews were deported to Auschwitz. German troops blew up the ancient cemetery, and the pulverized tombs were used as gravel in highway construction. The Germans used the empty space to train their dogs. Only a lapidarium was left to symbolize the former cemetery.

Few Pezinok Jews returned. In 1947 there were 45 Jews. Sixteen local Jews participated in the anti-Nazi struggle. After 1948–49 most of the Jews emigrated, largely to Israel.

Maurice *Loewy, the French astronomer, member of the French Academy and for a time its president, was born in Pezinok.

bibliography:

M. Stern (ed.), (1893); H.L. Strack, The Jews and Human Sacrifice (1909), 204–5; J.C. (May 12, 1939), 30; mhj, 1 (1903), nos. 329, 333, 335, 336, 338; 5 (1959); 8 (1965); 9 (1966); 10 (1967), index s.v.Bazin; V. Turcan, "Zidia v dejinach Pezinka," in: Vestn 1:45 (January 1984); D. Dvoraova, "Zhlbin archivov, Pezinsky pogrom" in: Historická Revue, 1:4, 34. E. Bárkány-L. Dojc, Zidovské nábozenské obce na Slovensku, (1991), 67–73.

[Yeshayahu Jelinek (2nd ed.) ]

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