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The Jewish imprint on Mikulov and South Moravia

Mikulov

Jews settled in Mikulov (Nikolsburg) at the beginning of the 16th century. The earliest Jewish families likely had already arrived somewhat earlier in the south Moravian city, having had to flee after their expulsion from the Lower Austrian and Bohemian royal cities. The city’s favourable setting at a transport junction connecting Brno and Vienna offered ideal conditions for their spirit of entrepreneurship. The social climate was favourable too, as it was characterized by tolerance and a liberal spirit on the part of the authorities. In 1575 the reigning princes of Dietrichstein granted the Jewish population self-governance and privileges.

 

For the nobility, the Jewish immigration meant additional income due to their trade in cloth, livestock, and brandy. Mikulov evolved into a flowering renaissance city. The Jewish community experienced their heyday in the 16th and 17th centuries. Mikulov not only turned into one of the largest and most significant cities of Moravia, it also became a centre of Jewish learning, with highly respected Jewish schools. The Moravian rabbi, who was the religious authority of the Moravian Jews, also settled there. In the first half of the 19th century, the Jews made up half of the population of Mikulov. But later the Jews left again to look for better conditions in the bigger cities.

 

After the annexation of Austria in the spring of 1938, the Jews gradually emigrated from Mikulov, with the last ones leaving after the occupation of the city by the Nazis in October 1938. Most of the Jews who had been in Mikulov ended their lives in the death camps in the east.

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