BRZEG (Ger. Brieg), town in Opole province, southwest Poland (until 1945 in Germany). Jews living in Brieg are mentioned in the 14th century. In 1358 certain Jews loaned sums of money to noblemen and the duke of Brieg, Ludwig I, who granted the Jews freedom of movement in the duchy in that year. An outbreak of anti-Jewish violence occurred in 1362. In 1423 Ludwig II granted the Jews rights of residence on payment of an annual tax of 20 gulden, but they were expelled from the duchies of Brieg and Liegnitz in 1453 as a result of the inflammatory preachings of the Franciscan John *Capistrano. Among the few Jewish residents in the 16th century was the ducal physician, Abraham. In 1660 a community was again formed. There were five Jewish families in Brieg in 1741. A cemetery was opened in 1798, and a synagogue was built in 1799. A rabbi was first appointed in 1816. For many years the popular German yearbooks Jahrbuch des Nuetzlichen und Unterhaltenden (from 1841) and Deutscher Volkskalender und Jahrbuch (from 1851) were published in Brieg by K. Klein and H. Liebermann, both Jews. The Jewish population numbered 156 in 1785; 376 in 1843; 282 in 1913; 255 in 1933; and 123 in 1939. In the *Kristallnacht pogroms of 1938 the interior of the synagogue was completely demolished and the Torah scrolls publicly burned; numerous shops were ransacked. Deportations to the east commenced in March 1942. The community was not reestablished after World War II.
C.F. Schoenwaelder, Die Piasten zum Briege (1855); H. Schoenborn, Geschichte der Stadt und des Fuerstentums Brieg (1907); M. Stecker, Juden zu Brieg (1938); M. Brann, Geschichte der Juden in Schlesien, 1 (1896), passim.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.