History of the synagogue

In 1881, the Jewish Community of Hartmanice and Kundratice decided to build a synagogue that would become a new house of prayer for the growing Jewish community of Hartmanice and its surroundings. They purchased a plot with a small house from the builder Georg Beywl who later built the synagogue and connected it to this small house. Later, the house served as a Jewish school and the rabbi's home (the house still remains on the right side of the synagogue). Mr. Beywl built the synagogue in accordance with the reformed rite: with generously designed open spaces and specific details.

In 1884, the new synagogue was already a place where 200 Jews from around Hartmanice gathered regularly for religious services. Every Saturday, the Torah was read and Shabbat was celebrated.

Unfortunately, the synagogue was the centre of Jewish culture for just 55 years. It started with the gradual migration of the local Jewish population to bigger cities and was followed by the annexation of Hartmanice by the Great German Empire after the Munich Agreement in 1938.

After the arrival of the Wehrmacht, the synagogue plus the adjacent house was confiscated and later sold to a joiner named Pelikan. He converted it into a carpenter workshop. Where the Aron now stands, a door to the garden was knocked through the wall and the elevated platform underneath it was levelled. The interior of the synagogue was also divided by new walls and the original spacious nature of the sanctuary was completely lost.

Harsh treatment of the synagogue continued after the war, when the premises, being a German property, were confiscated (Mr. Pelikan was killed in the war) and the German employees of the workshop were displaced. A Karel Šimek from Petrovice, also a joiner who used to work for Mr. Pelikan, was appointed the administrator of the workshop. The synagogue further lost her pride after a chimney was built in its center, the upper arch of her large facade windows were walled up, and primitive electric wiring was installed throughout the building. Gradually, the dilapidating roof shingles were covered with layers of tar-paper and finally, iron bars were placed over the ground floor windows which locked out all of her forgotten memories.

Ultimately, the desecrated synagogue was used by the State Forest and Farm Coop as a used tire warehouse. At one point, on the second floor, children from Hartmanice played table tennis. However, nobody really cared for the building and in the 1980s it was "donated to the local council to be demolished." Thanks to the Velvet Revolution of November 1989, this never happened and the synagogue was given back to the Jewish Community in Pilsen. But, having no finances, they offered it for sale. The synagogue had several successive owners until in 2002 it was found and bought by Michal Klíma. Mr. Klíma had the vision to reconstruct it and founded a citizen association called Hartmanice Memorial to do just that.

1.JPGPlans of the synagogue from the builder Georg Beywl from 1881.
2.jpgDocument illustrating the Nazi confiscation of the property from the synagogue.
3.JPGThe state of the synagogue before the beginning of the reconstruction in 2002.