D'Vur Kralove Scroll - Czech Torah D'Vur Kralove Scroll - Czech Torah

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Name of the exhibit: D’Vůr Králové Scroll / Czech Torah

Submitted by: Temple Israel (on loan to Temple Israel from the Memorial Scrolls Trust)

Description: An excerpt from “Thus we remember: Continuing Story of our Holocaust Torah from the destroyed Jewish community of D’Vůr Králové”

FEBRUARY 16, 2008/10 ADAR I, 5768

In 1850, the first Jewish settlers arrived in Dvůr Králové. No Jews had been allowed to live here before 1850. They began immediately to create a Jewish community. By 1885, they had built a cemetery and, in 1890, the synagogue, which was consecrated in 1891. They started to build the first textile factories for weaving, dyeing and printing cotton fabrics and jute. They achieved such great success in the textile industry that very soon our town was called the “Czech Manchester”.

The Jewish community was quite large. In 1910, there were more than 500 registered members. But by 1930, the number had fallen to 300. As had begun to happen around the country, the synagogue service, which had been in Hebrew and German, now started to be read in Hebrew and Czech, and the German Jewish families – unhappy with this change – moved to other places.

The Jewish families and their textile factories made the town a glorious place. Dvůr Králové became widely known not only in Czechoslovakia but across Europe and overseas. But that was before 1938-1939. When Hitler occupied the Republic, all the Jewish factories were seized by the Germans and the Jewish shops were closed or “Aryanized.” The Jews were discriminated against and were no longer allowed to take part in the public life of the town. They had to wear a Jewish star, visible on their clothing, to show that they were Jewish. In the end, in 1941-1942, the Jews were dragged away to concentration camps: first to Terezín and then, after selection, to other camps – Oświęcim/Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, Dachau, Buchenwald, Mauthausen and others. Most of them were murdered in gas chambers. The Jewish children were sent to the death camps with their parents. None of them survived. Only the mixed marriage families, who were deported to concentration camps in 1944-1945, survived the war.

The decline of the Jewish community of Dvůr Králové started before World War II and continued after the war because only a few of the small number of Jews who survived came back home. And the survivors very soon decided to leave, to move abroad and start a new life in another country – Australia, England, Canada, the USA, Ireland. The continuity vanished.

The synagogue was demolished in the 1960s. Despite efforts, led by my father, to preserve the building and declare it a national monument, it was not possible to save it. The town leaders, Communists of course, decided to pull it down and a new road – this road in front of us – was built right through the site of the synagogue.

Our Jewish cemetery was vandalized and almost completely destroyed. Today there is only a small memorial, created out of a few remaining gravestones. It is a sad but interesting fact that the synagogue and the cemetery survived both world wars only to be destroyed by the Communist regime.

We are here today, standing on the site of the demolished synagogue, and now there is a Star of David memorial to commemorate all the Jewish citizens of Dvůr Králové who once took part in the life of our town and were then murdered in concentration camps. Thank you to those who lit candles and brought flowers to the monument on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, and to all those who helped prepare for this day.

Finally, I am proud that I can say: Yes, I live among people who care about me and the fate of my community, and I hope that this site will stay a sacred place not only for today but forever.

Note: Five or, perhaps, six congregations are custodians of scrolls from Dvůr Králové: Temple Sholom of West Essex, Beth El at the Wellington Jewish Community Centre in Wellington, New Zealand; Temple Beth El in Geneva, New York; Hillel at the Claremont Colleges, in Claremont, California; Temple Israel in Ottawa, Canada; and possibly Western Marble Arch Synagogue in London, United Kingdom.

Additional Information: Click to read the full story “Thus we remember: Continuing Story of our Holocaust Torah from the destroyed Jewish community of D’Vůr Králové”.

Voyage to Ottawa: The scroll is on loan at Temple Israel from the Memorial Scrolls Trust.