also known as: Nagymihály (HU), Michalovce (CZ), Mikhaylovets (Yiddish)
48°45' N / 21°56' E
~ Introduction ~
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, formerly in the Kingdom of Hungary (11th century - 1918), was called Nagymihály
. It was the main city in the Nagy-mihályi járás (district) of Zemplén megye (county).
From the end of World War I until 1939, Michalovce was part of the new nation of Czechoslovakia. In March 1939, after the collapse of the Czechoslovak government, Michalovce was part of the autonomous Slovak Republic while southern Slovakia and Carpathian Ruthenia were ceded back to Hungary. From 1945 until the creation of the Slovak Republic in 1993, Michalovce was again part of Czechoslovakia. It is the largest town in the Michalovce okres (district), which is part of the Košický (Košice) kraj (region) of Slovakia.
Other spellings/names for Michalovce are Groß-Michl, Michalowitz, Mihalevich, Mikhalovich, Mikhalowitz, Nadimihali, Nadzhmihali, Nadymihaya, Mykhaylovyts, Mihályovci, Nagy-Mihaly, Mihalowcze, Nagy-S[ent]-Mihaly, Mihalowce, Mihalovce, Michalany and Michal'ovce.
In Yiddish, it was referred to as Mikhaylovets
Michalovce is located about 31 miles E of Košice (Kassa).
One Jewish family is mentioned in the census of 1726 and eight in 1746, most living on the estates of nobles. In the early 19th century, Jews began arriving from neighboring villages and a 300-seat synagogue was constructed in Nagymihály, subsequently becoming a Hasidic klaus. Another synagogue, in the Oriental style, was constructed in 1888 as the Jewish population increased to 1,079 in 1880 and 1,492 in 1900. A beit midrash, cheder, and talmud torah were also constructed in this period.
Rabbi Shimon EHRENFELD, who served 1893-1932, operated a yeshiva with 80 students. The Zionists became active in the early 20th century and an Agudat Israel group began operating in 1913.
The Jewish population in 1910 was 2,200 and grew steadily, to 3,386 in 1930, and 4,197 in 1940, with the influx of Jewish refugees from Galicia arriving during WWI and joining the Hasidic congregation.
Jews served on the municipal and district councils and owned numerous stores and workshops. Zionist activity intensified in the inter-war period, with WIZO and Mizrachi the first to open branches and the youth movements attracting most of the young (300 in Hashomer Hatzair; 250 in Bnei Akiva). A Beth Jacob school was opened in the 1930's, but the first Jewish elementary school was only opened in 1939-40, expanding to include the junior high school grades after Jewish children were expelled from the public schools. The school eventually reached an enrollment of 500.
In 1941, the authorities closed down 436 Jewish businesses and dozens of men were seized for forced labor. On 25 March 1942, 120 Jewish girls were deported to Auschwitz via Poprad and in early April, 100 young men were sent to the Majdanek concentration camp via Zilina.
At this time, the first partisan groups came into existence in Eastern Slovakia, in the forests surrounding Michalovce and Humenné and centered in Vinné. One of the first groups, headed by Pavel BOROŠ, had seven Jews from Michalovce that managed to escape from the deportations and were the first to join up with the partisans: Šalomon LANDAU (age 36), Rozalia MARKOVICOVÁ (age 28), Albert Albiš KATZ (age 20), Martin KATZ (age 35), Izak BRANT-PRÄGER (age 30), Ernest LIPKOVIČ (age 34) and Martin Mayer LANDAU (age 26). Also, after witnessing the the massacre of Slovak Jews at Lukow, near Lublin, Poland, Zoltan EHRENREICH, a tailor from Michalovce, joined the partisans.
In early May, about 3,100 Jews were deported to the Lublin district of Poland, including nearly two-thirds to the Lukow ghetto where most perished. The remaining 1,000 Jews were sent to western Slovakia on 15 May 1944 as the fighting neared the city.
About half of the post-WWII Michalovce Jewish community of 600 left for Israel in 1949. A few dozen Jews remained in 1995 and there are very few Jews left in Michalovce today (2009).
Sources (portions): The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, (2001), p. 817. The Resistance of the Slovak Jews by Emil F. KNIEŽA, Slovakia
Michalovce is a city rich in history with interesting historical sites. It is the economic and cultural center of the lower Zemplín region, primarily due to its geographical location, fostering the development of international trade and cultural relations in this part of Europe. There is an artificial lake and water reservoir, Zemplínska Šírava, located close to the scenic foothills of the Vihorlat Mountains, providing an environment for leisure, rest and entertainment. The lake is a center of tourism for summer recreation and water sports, frequently visited by locals and most visitors to Michalovce. This large recreation area is one of the warmest areas in Slovakia.
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