44. Vlachovo Březí

The Jewish settlement in Vlachovo Březí is documented from the beginning of the 17th century and gradually increased until the 19th century. In 1618, there were 8 Jewish families living here (58 persons), in the early 18th century there were about 8 to 10 Jewish families, in 1783 there were 17 families, the 1830’s saw the maximum number at about 130 Jews, in 1860 there were 112 Jews, in 1880 there were 108 Jews (4.5% of the total population), in 1900 there were only 58 Jews, and in 1930 only 7 Jews.

The Jewish neighborhood was located southeast of the church, on the southern edge of town. It apparently formed at the end of the 17th century. In 1837 there were 14 Jewish houses in the area, the majority of which have been preserved as reconstructions. In the 1780’s, an older wooden cottage was modified to serve as the synagogue The timbered ground-floor synagogue, later marked as No. 6, is located 100 meters southeast of the church, on a small perpendicular street exiting the road to Chlumec. Architecturally, it was probably never too different from the neighboring houses. We know that the prayer hall was small and low, but it also contained a women’s gallery, underneath which was a living room. It served for worship services until the early 1920’s. In 1924 it was sold and rebuilt into a ground-floor house which is still occupied today.

The Jewish cemetery was allegedly founded in the second half of the 17th century. It is located on the northeastern outskirts of town, behind the former brewery. It originally occupied a significantly smaller area, but it was expanded several times to its current area of 1,403 square meters. Probably at the beginning of the 20th century, a new vehicle house was built on the southwest side of the cemetery. Altogether, there are about two hundred tombstones in the cemetery ranging from 1729 to the 1930’s. In the lower part of the cemetery stands the atypical tombstone of Theresie, the wife of Filip Lederer, shaped like a hexagonal column with a German and Hebrew inscription. The cemetery is freely accessible.

Interesting: The rebuilt synagogue is the last surviving timbered synagogue in the Czech lands, although its outer walls are plastered.