POLITISCHE GEMEINDE

POLITISCHE GEMEINDE ("political community"), political group right conferred on Jewish communities in moravia . In Moravia Jews had for centuries been permitted to reside in a restricted number of locations only (52 according to the patent issued by Francis II on Feb. 15, 1798). These, and other restrictions, were abolished on March 4, 1849. On March 17, however, the provisorisches Gemeindegesetz ("provisional communities law") created 25 "political communities" (out of the 52 Jewish communities); the remainder were either placed under the jurisdiction of the local city or town authorities or merged with them (two additional political communities, Boskowitz (boskovice ), and Holleschau (Holešov ), were created later, raising the total number to 27). The political communities were constituted as autonomous territorial units within the towns, having their own mayor and functionaries, municipal services, and right of taxation. Membership of the political community was hereditary. However as Jews tended to move out of the area of their former quarters while Czechs moved there instead, an anomalous situation was created, as for instance in Trebitsch (Třebič ), where of 1,342 persons living in 194 houses in 1921, only 178 were Jews. All the same, electoral rights for the political community were retained by Jews living elsewhere, either in the same town or in other localities. The existence of the political communities was a factor in helping the Germans maintain an electoral majority in the country, since the political communities were represented in the municipal curia out of proportion to their numerical importance, and Jews, who tended to adopt German culture, generally supported Austro-German policies against the rising Czech national movement. The Czech parties tried to exclude the Jews from the assembly of municipal curia and to diminish their influence in the representation of the country (Landgemeindenkurie). It was indicated that in many cases there was no basis for the existence of a political community and that their existence was illegal because they were not territorial units. The political Jewish communities increasingly concentrated on political functions and ceased to be suitable for dealing with religious needs. In 1880 the Austrian Ministry of the Interior ordered the amalgamation of the political communities with the local authorities, but this was not implemented because of the opposition of both Jews and Germans, which was given support by the courts. Ten years later a type of purely religious community, the Kultusgemeinde, was established by law. About 50 Kultusgemeinden were established in Moravia and they took over the religious functions of the political communities there. The political community, however, continued to exist until the dissolution of the Hapsburg Empire after World War I; 25 were liquidated by the Czechoslovak authorities in 1919–20, and the last two, Trebitsch and Misslitz (miroslav ), in 1921. The institution of the political community was unique in retaining the features of the old Jewish communal autonomy within the modern political framework. For map see moravia . (Aron Moshe K. Rabinowicz)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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