LEGNICA (Ger. Liegnitz), town in Lower Silesia, Wroclaw province, S.W. Poland. The first reliable evidence of Jewish settlement dates from 1301, although Jews were probably resident in the city by the end of the 13th century. A "Judenstadt"(Civitas Judeorum) is mentioned in 1317. In 1345 the burghers were permitted by the duke to use Jewish gravestones for construction purposes; at that time a synagogue was also in existence. Following the agitations of John of *Capistrano in 1453 all but two of the residents were expelled from the Jewish street. These were arrested and perished in the burning jail. A few Jews were allowed to reside in the town in the 16th century but under severe restrictions. In 1812 some Jews settled in the town, establishing a prayer hall and cemetery (1815). By 1840 it had 254 Jews, rising to 970 (2.61% of the total population) in 1880. Subsequently the number of Jews remained stable, although their percentage of the total population declined. In 1932 the Orthodox community maintained a rabbi, two cantor-teachers, a library, mikveh, school, and a home for the aged (founded 1928). On the night of Nov. 10, 1938 the synagogue was set on fire. The community was forced to sell the property, which was converted into a parking lot, at a fraction of its value, and pay for clearing away the ruins. By May 1939 only 188 Jews remained; 41 of these were deported to *Theresienstadt on July 27, 1941. After the war a new community was organized, but by 1970 it had dwindled to only a few Jews.
M. Peritz, Aus der Geschichte der juedischen Gemeinde zu Liegnitz (1912); M. Krieg, in: Juedische Familien-Forsc-hung, 1 (1925–27), 144–7; E. Wolbe, ibid., 2 (1928–30), 155–7; G. Helm-rich, Geschichte der Juden in Liegnitz (1938); FJW, 100; Germ Jud, 1 (1963), 159; 2 (1968), 480–1; PK Germanyah.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.