Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

George Korper - March 26, 2007

Jews in Czechoslovakia

You were really assimilated, essentially.

Totally assimilated and the Jews came in 19--960 are the first records showing Jews settling in, in Bohemia Moravia. And, and these Jews came mostly from Germany because, you know, the German Jews had good times and bad times in those years. As long as they could--the local duke or arch-duke could milk them for money, he let them stay and then he kicked them out. So, they moved. So, some of these people moved to, to, to across the border to, to Bohemia Moravia which was then a Czech kingdom, ruled by Czech kings, right up to 1600. And, they settled and there, there are records. Of course, they have no surnames in those days. It was, it was Moshe, the cobbler, and, and Israel, Israel, the baker. Okay, they didn't get their names until 1680, where one of the emperors decided that it was time to permit the Jews to, to, to, to walk out of the ghettos. There were ghettos all over in the town sort of usually just outside the city, walled-in. It was time to walk out but then they to get proper names so that they could get registered. So, the names were issued according to the tax they paid. So, if you didn't pay, didn't, didn't pay much tax, you got a lousy name like ??? or something like that. And they were all German names because he was trying, the emperor was trying to encourage them to, to, to, realize that there was a lot of intelligence there and he wanted them to, to go to schools, at least, and the schools were all German. The Czech schools wouldn't have gotten them anyway. The Czech had their schools, but...

Didn't they send to the Hapsburg Empire? To the Hapsburg Empire?

Oh, yeah, they was, that was--look all, all the officials were German and hence also the German cultures stayed with a certain uh, number of Jewish families right through to my days. And, my father couldn't stand them because he felt that they were interfering with, with the Czech Jews uh, uh, development, you know, because the Germans were hated, even after the Czech Republic--the Czechoslovakian Republic was formed, formed in 1918, so. But they were there. They had, they had, they had a beautiful opera house, their, their own theater. They had German schools where they sent their children and I would, I would guess that there were eighty-two--there were 125,000 Jews living in the, in the Czech lands and that included the Sudetenland, which we referred to, to come back to after. Of these people, probably fifteen to twenty-percent were German speaking. See, some of them sent their children to, to Czech school, but they only spoke German. So, anyway, the Czech-speaking Jews got out of the ghettos in 1680 and spread into the countryside and, of course, where they were received by small villages. So, they all lived in small villages, right through to 1850, around, and then it was all opened up to them. And, in two generations, they become really--they, they were a people who, who did as well as the J...Jews are today doing here in, in the States. Too well, in fact, because this is not healthy for bad times. God forbid that we should have a problem here, ec...a real economic problem. God forbid, what, what, what are the Jews are going to be treated again. Uh, but, in those days, they were right on top. They were manufacturers. They were, they were businessmen, owning their businesses. They were professors. They were teachers. They were uh, doctors, of course, and lawyers.

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