Jewish Mementos in Vas Comitatus


Records show that the first Israelites to settle in Sárvár came in the 15th century. The Jews lived under the protection of the landlords, generally in the centers of the land holdings. They leased rights of use and played an increasingly important role in trade next to the Rascians and the Greeks. From the middle of the 18th century on they settled permanently in the city. The Jews lived in the Vármellék (next to the castle), there they had a synagogue, a school and a cemetery. They rented an apartment and store from the landlords. In the 19th century the number of Jews started to grow, increasing throughout the 1920-30s, totaling 790 people back then.

The Jewish community which had existed from the mid 18th century on was founded anew in 1805. It rented the synagogue from the landlords. The Sárvár Jews remained orthodox after the separation within the greater Jewish community, they did not adapt the congressional reforms and were excluded from the congressional groupings in 1880. The orthodox Jews built their new synagogue from donations in 1882. The building is to this day in the former Vármellék on Deák Ferenc Street no. 6. Unfortunately it has been altered extensively as it had been put to industrial use after World War II (the shoe and garment union had been using it). The two outer parts of the threefold semicircular gate opened to the staircases of the gallery, the middle part was the main entrance. The neological community was a great deal smaller, many of the sugar factory’s functionaries belonged to this group. The director of the sugar factory,József Goldschmidt, was also the head of the Jewish community. In 1922 a new synagogue was built with the support of Baron Béla Hatvany, it does not exist anymore.

The separate Jewish communities formed their own institutions, only the Chevra Kadisha and the cemetery were jointly used. The Jews played an important part in the economic life of Sárvár. One of the largest Jewish companies was the brick factory founded in 1908 by József Krausz. The building no longer exists, it stood next to the boat lakes, where the sports field is today. József Krausz (1860-?) graduated from middle school in Szombathely. He then came to Sárvár to work self-employed and together with Count Lajos Batthyány, the pharmacist Ferenc Stubenwoll and merchant József Gayer established the first electrical mill in Sárvár, it was located on the site of the present day silk factory. He was elected head of the Sárvár Trade Association, he was member of the legislative assembly of the comitatus, of the Sárvár city council, member of the board of the first Sárvár bank, founder of the Sárvár voluntary fire brigade and of many other community organizations. He had to take flight with the establishment of the Soviet Republic, his home and assets were looted.















The Jewish industry and trade in Sárvár was represented by the Simon Fleischmann’s manufactory for agricultural machinery, by the corn broom manufactory, the egg and poultry merchant Lajos Schwarz, Adolf Schwarz’s blanket manufactory, Dávid Schwarz’s concrete figurine company, László Rosenthal’s factory for substitute coffee and Mór Kohn’s company for lace and artisanry.

1894-96 the sugar factory was built, it belonged to the capital consortium of Hatvany family, a baron family. Béla Hatvany Deutsch was founder and director of the Sárvár sugar factory. He was born 1866 in Budapest, received his higher education in Vienna and then managed the Hatvany assets and the production of sugar beets. In 1895 the Sárvár sugar factory took up work. 1908 he was awarded the title of Baron and thus became a member of the lordship. He was a member on the board of the sugar factories Hatvan, Nagysurány and Oroszka, all of which were part of the family circle, and also a board member of the Austro-Hungarian Bank. He lived in his castle next to the sugar factory until his death in 1933. He and his wife Klára Taussig were philanthropists: they contributed 10.000 Crowns to the construction of a synagogue for the community and for the school. In 1912 the baroness founded the children’s hospital in Sárvár, she covered the expenses for construction, equipment and furnishings. Pál Hatvany contributed financially to the building of a chapel for the hospital. As director of the sugar factory he was succeeded by his son, Baron Péter Hatvany. He was born in 1902 in Vienna and studied law in Germany. He then founded a sugar factory in Brury, England, which he managed for five years. 1929 he returned and became a member on the board of the Sárvár sugar factory. After his father’s death he and his brother left the Ignác Deutsch and Son AG asset union. Péter Hatvany became the principal shareholder of the Sárvár sugar factory. He suddenly died rather young in 1936 and was buried at the Jewish cemetery on Salgótarján Street. He had designated part of his fortune to the Pester Israelite boy’s orphanage and to the establishment of a trust for a retirement home for workers of the sugar factory which became active in 1941. His brother, Pál Hatvany, took over the management of the factory. In 1938 he relocated to London and began removing capital from the enterprises in Hungary.

At the beginning of the Second World War the Hungarian royal camp for Polish refugees was set up on the property of the rayon factory. Later Jewish forced laborers were also brought here. From April 1941 on it was a camp for prisoners of war, as of March 1941 it was a detention camp, May 1944 it became a spare camp for the police to hold detainees. On May 10, 1944 the Jews of Sárvár and surroundings were brought to the ghetto in the sugar factory. According to the last census the Jewish community counted 1047 people (congressional community: 146, orthodox: 901). With the begin of the deportations in June the detention camp was made a stopover camp: the inhabitants of the Sárvár and Jánosháza ghettos were brought here, up to August 4 more than 10000 people were deported to the German concentration camps.

Around 120 survivors returned to Sárvár. However, the newly founded Jewish community only functioned for a while, then most of the Jews moved away. In 966 the martyr memorial was put up at the cemetery, it was financed by donations from the community members now living somewhere else and their descendents. In the castle garden a Holocaust memorial was erected, a work of art by sculptor Tamás Gál who has been awarded the Munkácsy Prize.

by Johannes Scholem Graf & Alexandra Vogt