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Carlsbad, Czech Republic

CARLSBAD (Cz. Karlovy Vary, Ger. Karlsbad), spa in West Bohemia, Czech Republic. An express prohibition on Jewish settlement there remained in force from 1499 to 1793, and until 1848 Jewish residence in Carlsbad was contested in protracted litigation initiated by the non-Jewish merchants, in which the authorities generally took the part of the Jews. However, the Jews living in the nearby communities of Becov (Petschau; 18 in 1930), Luka (Luck; 21 in 1930), and *Hroznetin did business in Carlsbad. After 1793 Jewish peddlers were permitted to visit the town, while Jews could take the cure there during the official season and sick persons on doctors' orders in the winter. A hostel for needy Jewish patients, founded in Carlsbad by a Prague philanthropic association in 1847, was the first Jewish institution of its kind. Religious services were held during the season. A number of Jews began to settle in Carlsbad and acquired houses after 1848. The community received authorization to form a congregation in 1868, and it grew rapidly. A synagogue able to accommodate 2,000 worshippers was opened in 1877. Ignaz *Ziegler officiated as rabbi from 1888 to 1938. He fled in the fall of 1938 and died in Jerusalem in 1948. In the second half of the 19th century the Moser family established a famous glass-work factory.

Carlsbad became popular among Jews as a resort and a rendezvous of matchmakers and as a meeting place for rabbis and communal leaders from Eastern Europe. The 12th and 13th Zionist Congresses were held there in 1921 and 1923. The German population in Carlsbad was largely antisemitic, but anti-Jewish manifestations were restrained during that season, when political activities were banned. The Jewish population numbered 100 in 1868; 1,600 in 1910; 2,650 in 1921; and 2,120 in 1930 (8.9% of the total). An additional 292 lived in the industrial area of Rybáře (Fischern). All but four Jews left Carlsbad during the Sudeten crisis in 1938. The synagogue was destroyed on Nov. 10, 1938. A new community was established in 1945, mostly by Jews from Sub-Carpathian Ruthenia, numbering approximately 400, including the members of the congregation and old-age home in Marienbad under its administration. A communal center, with a synagogue, mikveh, and reading room, was installed. A memorial to Nazi victims and the fallen in World War II was erected in 1956 on the site of the destroyed synagogue. It was demolished in 1983. Carlsbad had an active Jewish community in 2004. The historian Bruno Adler (1889–1968) was born in Carlsbad, as was Walter Serner (1889–1942), one of the founders of the Dada movement in art, who was murdered in a concentration camp.


I. Ziegler, Dokumente zur Geschichte der Juden in Karlsbad (1913); M. Lamed, in: BLBI, 8(1965), 306–11; H. Gold (ed.), Juden und Judengemeinden Boehmens (1934), 255–9; R. Iltis, Die aussaeen in Traenen… (1959), 15–24. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Fiedler, Jewish Sights of Bohemia and Moravia (1991), 89–91.

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.