VARAŽDIN , town in the district of Zagorje, on the Drava River, Croatia; important communications center on the Vienna-Trieste line. Jews arrived there in the mid-1750s, coming from Hungary, Burgenland, and Moravia. They traded in cattle, a fact documented in the 1761 municipal decree debarring them from this source of income. Their settlement was slow and gradual, since each individual had to procure for himself an "inkolat," i.e., a residence permit, which was not easily accorded. Among the first Jews on record, two are of note: Isaac the Jew and Moses Jacobsohn. In 1793 a prayer-house was built near the city's fortification. Jewish physicians and merchants suffered from robbery and plunder. Mirko Breyer, the first librarian and publisher in Croatia, originated from Varaždin.
Among rabbis who officiated, notable is Yekutiel Hirschen stein, who served the community for more than three decades; he advanced proto-Zionist ideas and during his term a Jewish school was established. A synagogue was erected in 1861.
In the 19th century the community grew to over 500 members, many of whom were active in free professions. They endured some antisemitic harassment. An expulsion was threatened but not carried out.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the leaders were Dr. Oscar Pulgram, Dr. Hinko Blau, and Hermann Herzer, along with Rabbi Rudolf Reuven Glueck. During the Holocaust almost all Jews perished soon after the Nazi and Ustashe (Croat fascists) took power. The survivors re-established the community in 1945 and the synagogue was nationalized and partially repaired in 1946. It is used as a movie theater.
mgwj, 81 (1937), 447–48; Y. Eventov, Toledot Yehudei Yugoslavyah, vol. 1 (1971), 278–87, 304–5; Jevrejski Almanah (Vrsac, 1928), 42–52; Novi Omanut, no. 11 (1995), 8.
[Zvi Loker (2nd ed.)]