Jewish Mementos in the Zala Comitatus


Jews first started to settle in the town of Pacsa in the middle of the 18th century with permission of the landlord Count Festetics who sympathized with the Jews. By the end of the century 20 families, 78 persons, lived here. In 1870 the number of Israelites was the highest with 195 Jews living in Pacsa, after that their numbers started to decrease steadily. In 1836 the Jewish community had a synagogue but, just as the newer one built in 1884, it burned down. In 1889 another synagogue was built to replace the latter but it has been deconstructed. In 1858 a primary school was opened, it was in service until 1858. Mózes Schwarz fulfilled the rabbi duties from 1857-1889, after his death Dajan took over these tasks for a long time. In 1869 the Jewish community declared itself neological. In 1885 the surrounding Jewish communities joined the Pacsa community. In the 1920s the steam mill, Sándor Kohn’s egg and butter export business and the brick factories of Jenő Korein and Lajos Grünfeld were important elements of the Pacsa economy. Aladár Kovács and Ignác Krausz leased the Malatinszky property, which spanned 1000 ledgers, Ferenc Wolf had a vinyard in Pagonyvár. The census of 1941 counted 257 persons in 20 towns of the Pacsa district. 63 Israelites were registered in Pacsa, another 5 were also qualified as Jews. A report to the Central Council of Hungarian Jews in 1944 mentions 222 members (in Pacsa and surroundings), Rezső Baron was president, Alfréd Duneitz was the rabbi (Dajan kept the register).

The head judge of Pacsa district, Vilmos Horváth, was ordered to construct a ghetto in Pacsa on May 16, 1944, on May 20 35 families, 115 persons, were placed there. The others awaited their fate in Zalaszentgrót where they were brought on May 15. The ghetto was located in the five residential buildings on the adjoining properties of Lajos Krausz and Jenő Korein, they were separated from the neighboring properties with wire and from the street with a fence of wooden boards. According to a report of the head judge on May 31 there were 97 persons in the ghetto, 18 of them were forced to hard labour. The around 100 inhabitants of Pacsa ghetto were brought to Zalaegerszeg on June 20, 1944 or on the days preceding June 20. In February of 1945 the “privileged” Jews of the district, those who had been baptized but were regarded as Jews, were deported. Of the Pacsa Jews only few survived, 13 returned and tried to reestablish the community. They fixed the synagogue and until 1950 held their services there. Until 1949 the congressional community decreased to 46 members, it was headed by Sándor Erdős, Béla Reif was the managing director. 10 villages were part of the community. In the beginning of the 1950s the Jewish community lost almost all its members and was officially suspended.

The well-kept Jewish cemetery has a memorial for the commemoration of the victims, its marble plate displays writing in Hebrew and Hungarian, under the Menora it reads: “It is because of them that our eyes are dull.” In the centre of the town a column was put up for the Jewish Honvéd Soldiers of 1848-49, the World War I memorial commemorates the Jewish heroes, the memorial for the Second World War also commemorates the Jewish martyrs.

by Johannes Scholem Graf & Alexandra Vogt