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THE JEWS OF HUNGARY
SUMMARY

_______________________________










Hungary was ruled by the Ottoman Turks from 1541-1699. Life was peaceful as long as the various ethnic groups paid taxes. With their expulsion many formerly prosperous Jews emigrated or fell victim to rampages so most had left toward the end of the 17th century.

In the 18th century, German-speaking (Ashkenazi) Jews arrived primarily from Czech and German territories. The Jewish population of around 20,000 in 1769 had grown to 80,000 by 1787. The end of the 18th century saw the first conflicts between Christians and Jews.

The 19th century was for many Jews a time of assimilation and emancipation. A small number of wealthy, urban families were the main representatives of Hungarian Jewry during that period. However, from the 1830s, poorer eastern European Jews began moving to the country in greater numbers. Many Hungarian Jews took part in the 1848/49 revolution, and their social and economic standing rose.

In 1867, Hungarian Jews were granted the same political and civil rights as Christians. During that time, Reform Judaism was born. In Reform synagogues, Hungarian was used as the primary language for religious services.  The liberal atmosphere of the late 19th century led to assimilation and, at the turn of the century, many Jews chose Hungarian or German spouses or had their children baptized as Christians.

After the defeat and dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I, Hungarian Jewry—including many members of the Orthodox and Chassidic communities—suddenly found themselves living within the borders of Czechoslovakia, Romania, or Yugoslavia.

According to a 1941 census, 6.2 percent of the Hungarian population of 13,644,000, i.e., 846,000, were considered Jewish according to the racial laws in place at that time. 725,000 of them were identified as Jewish by religion:

Large-scale deportation to the Nazi death camps began after German troops occupied Hungary in March 1944,  Up to 600,000 Jews from "Greater Hungary" perished in the Shoah.  Three people who saved Jews were Giorgio Perlasca,Rudolf Kasner who became known for having helped Jews escape occupied Europe during the Holocaust. He was assassinated in 1957 after an Israeli court accused him of having collaborated with the Nazis. and Raoul Wallenberg who saved tens of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary during the Holocaust from German Nazis and Hungarian Fascists during the later stages of World War II.

The Hungarian Gold Train carried stolen valuables, mostly Hungarian Jewish persons' property, from Hungary towards Berlin in 1945. After American forces seized the train in Austria, almost none of the valuables were returned to Hungary, their rightful owners, or their surviving family members and led to the US paying reparations.

There are now between 80-100,000 Jews in Hungary.  Anti-Semitism is rife with some blaming the Jews for instituting Communism in Hungary and creating economic difficulties.


HISTORY
From World Jewish Congress

EARLY SETTLEMENT

The first Jews living on what is today Hungarian territory were inhabitants of the Roman province Pannonia and settled there in the 2nd century CE. Three legions were sent to Judea from Pannonia to beat the revolt (132–135) led by Bar Kochba. The victorious troops brought Jewish slaves to Aquincum (today the northwestern part of Budapest) and Savaria (Szombathely). Apart from the slaves, Jewish merchants from Rome are also assumed to have travelled to Pannonia.

Written documents from the time of the formation of the Hungarian state prove the existence of Jewish communities. In 1251, Béla IV published the Jewish charter, which was later confirmed by all medieval kings of Hungary. In practice, the charter put all Jews under royal protection.

Large numbers of Jews moved to the growing cities in the 15th century; the first "historical communities" were formed at that time (Buda, Esztergom, Sopron, Tata, Óbuda).

After the annexation of Hungary by the Ottoman Turks, life was peaceful as long as the various ethnic groups paid taxes. With the expulsion of the Ottoman Turks, many formerly prosperous Jews moved out of the country or fell victim to murderous rampages. Hence, Jews all but disappeared from Hungary toward the end of the 17th century.

18th CENTURY ON

In the 18th century, German-speaking (Ashkenazi) Jews arrived in Hungary, primarily from Czech and German territories. The Jewish population of Hungary stood at around 20,000 in 1769 and increased to 80,000 by 1787. By the end of the 18th century, the first conflicts emerged between Christians and Jews.

The 19th century was for many Jews a time of assimilation and emancipation. A small number of wealthy, urban families were the main representatives of Hungarian Jewry during that period. However, from the 1830s, poorer eastern European Jews began moving to the country in greater numbers. Many Hungarian Jews took part in the 1848/49 revolution, and their social and economic standing rose.

In 1867, Hungarian Jews were granted the same political and civil rights as Christians. During that time, Reform Judaism was born. In Reform synagogues, Hungarian was used as the primary language for religious services.

The liberal atmosphere of the late 19th century led to assimilation and, at the turn of the century, many Jews chose Hungarian or German spouses or had their children baptized as Christians. In successive years, Jews made enormous contributions to the development of Hungarian culture, science and industry, and played a particularly outstanding role in Hungarian sports. For example, in the first five Olympic Games, Jews accounted for 5 out of the 9 gold medals awarded to Hungarian athletes. As late as the period of 1960–1972, though the Jewish population had been greatly depleted by the Shoah and the emigration of survivors, Jews still accounted for nearly 20% of Hungarian gold medals.

In terms of economic development, the Manfred Weiss Works, named for its Jewish founder, became the largest machine and munitions factory in Hungary. The company eventually employed tens of thousands of workers at its vast plant in Csepel, Budapest and exported its products all over the world.

AFTER WW1

After the defeat and dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I, Hungarian Jewry—including many members of the Orthodox and Chassidic communities—suddenly found themselves living within the borders of Czechoslovakia, Romania, or Yugoslavia. In 1919, when the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic (in which Hungarian Communists of Jewish origin were depicted as a foreign menace) collapsed, a period of "White Terror" ensued, during which some 3,000 Jews were murdered.

In the 1920s, the situation became more stable, but by the late 1930s, the first of a series of anti-Semitic laws was enacted, restricting socioeconomic activities of Jews in Hungary.

According to a 1941 census, 6.2 percent of the Hungarian population of 13,644,000, i.e., 846,000, were considered Jewish according to the racial laws in place at that time. 725,000 of them were identified as Jewish by religion: 184,000 in Budapest, 217,000 in the pre-1938 provinces, and a total of 324,000 in Northern Transylvania, Carpatho-Ruthenia, southern Slovakia and Bácska—territories seized from neighboring countries.

WORLD WAR 2

NAZI’s

Large-scale deportation to the Nazi death camps began after German troops occupied Hungary in March 1944, but even though deportations began so late in the war, they were carried out with frightening speed. Up to 600,000 Jews from "Greater Hungary" perished in the Shoah.

How was it possible, in 1944, where millions of Jews had already been murdered, that such a large Jewish community could continue to live in tranquility? Read Dr. Jehuda Hartman, Jerusalem Post, 28 April 2014

RAOUL WALLENBERG
From Wikipedia













Raoul Gustaf Wallenberg (4 August 1912 – disappeared 17 January 1945) was a Swedish architect, businessman, diplomat and humanitarian. He is widely celebrated for saving tens of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary during the Holocaust from German Nazis and Hungarian Fascists during the later stages of World War II. While serving as Sweden's special envoy in Budapest between July and December 1944, Wallenberg issued protective passports and sheltered Jews in buildings designated as Swedish territory.

On 17 January 1945, during the Siege of Budapest by the Red Army, Wallenberg was detained by Soviet authorities on suspicion of espionage and subsequently disappeared. He was later reported to have died on 17 July 1947 while imprisoned by communist authorities and KGB secret police in the Lubyanka, the KGB headquarters and affiliated prison in Moscow. The motives behind Wallenberg's arrest and imprisonment by the Soviet government, along with questions surrounding the circumstances of his death and his possible ties to US intelligence, remain mysterious and are the subject of continued speculation.

Due to his courageous actions on behalf of the Hungarian Jews, Raoul Wallenberg has been the subject of numerous humanitarian honors in the decades following his presumed death. In 1981, U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos, himself one of those saved by Wallenberg, sponsored a bill making Wallenberg an Honorary Citizen of the United States. He is also an honorary citizen of Canada, Hungary, Australia and Isra Israel has also designated Wallenberg one of the Righteous among the Nations. Monuments have been dedicated to him, and streets have been named after him throughout the world. A Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the United States was created in 1981 to "perpetuate the humanitarian ideals and the nonviolent courage of Raoul Wallenberg". It gives the Raoul Wallenberg Award annually to recognize persons who carry out those goals. A postage stamp was issued by the U.S. in his honour in 1997. On 26 July 2012, he was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal by the United States Congress "in recognition of his achievements and heroic actions during the Holocaust."

GIORGIO PERLASCA
Obituary from Dalbert Hallenstein, Independent.co.uk, Wednesday 19 August 1992


























GIORGIO PERLASCA was a livestock agent and businessman, born Como 31 January 1910, died in Padua on 15 August 1992.was one of Europe's great unsung heroes. An Italian former Fascist who fought for Franco during the Spanish Civil War, posed as the Spanish charge d' affaires in Nazi-occupied Budapest in 1944-45.  He saved at least 5,500 Jews from the gas chambers, constantly risking his life in doing so. Evidence is emerging that he may have played a leading role in saving a further 60,000 people from a massacre planned by the Hungarian Nazis in the Budapest ghetto just before the Russians took over the city.

Tall, with penetrating blue eyes and closely cropped white hair, Perlasca still exuded in old age the charm and authority which allowed him to bully and cajole Budapest's Nazi establishment into helping him save 'his' Jews while posing as a completely bogus Spanish representative.

His story only became known in 1989 when he was tracked down in Padua by a group of Hungarian women related to people whom he had saved. Since then he has been honoured by Israel as one of the Righteous of the Nations, a rare honour given to those few non- Jews who risked everything to save Hitler's victims from the gas ovens. He also received the highest honours from Hungary, Sweden and Spain, whose King recently awarded him with the Order of Isabella the Catholic.

Perlasca was born in the northern Italian town of Como in 1910 but was brought up and lived most of his life in and around Padua. He came from a family of civil servants, judges and army officers. He fell under the spell of Mussolini while still at school and volunteered to fight in Mussolini's Abyssinian war of conquest and later, as a Fascist volunteer, in the Spanish Civil War.

But by 1938 Perlasca was disillusioned with Mussolini. He detested Italy's alignment with Nazi Germany and abhorred the Italian race laws of 1936 against the Jews. Many of his friends, both in Padua and in the Italian army were, in fact, Jews.

At the outbreak of the Second World War Perlasca managed to avoid military service by working in a strategic job as a livestock agent supplying meat to the Italian armed services. In 1940 he was sent in this capacity to Zagreb and Belgrade, from where he travelled widely in Eastern Europe. Here he observed dreadful massacres of Jews, Serbs and other minorities.

In 1942 he was sent to work in Budapest, which he described as 'hedonistic and full of life, where nothing was lacking and the restaurants and theatres were full of seemingly carefree people, many of them Jews'. Perlasca, in great demand because of his Italian charm, threw himself into this life with shameless gusto.

But the good life in Budapest ended with the fall of Mussolini in July 1943. Perlasca was immediately interned as an enemy alien in a camp near the Austrian border from which he escaped (back to Budapest) on 13 October 1943, just three days before a Nazi- backed puppet government overthrew the right-wing leader Admiral Horthy, who had managed to keep at least some distance from his ally Hitler.

Knowing that he had the right to Spanish protection, as a former pro-Franco soldier, he went to the Spanish embassy where, within a day, he was given Spanish citizenship, and a new Christian name - Jorge. Outside the embassy he had noticed thousands of people milling around. He was told that they were Jews pleading for the so-called 'letters of protection' which Spain, together with other neutral governments, including Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden and the Vatican, was issuing to protect Jews from deportation to the Auschwitz gas chambers. The Spanish embassy officials said they were so understaffed that they could not cope with the problem.

Perlasca volunteered for the job and was accepted. He set to work, making essential contacts in various key Nazi ministries and bribing, blackmailing and charming officials and police into helping him, or at least turning a blind eye to his pro-Jewish activities.

In November 1944, with the Russians approaching Budapest, the last remaining Spanish diplomat fled the capital, leaving the embassy officially closed down. But the diplomat had forgotten to take the embassy seal with him and Perlasca set to work stamping documents which proved not only that the Spanish Embassy was still open and functioning, but that he was the last remaining charge d'affaires.

Perlasca also used the seal to issue thousands more letters of protection to Hungarian Jews whom he housed in eight rented apartment houses which he made sure flew the Spanish flag and therefore, Perlasca argued, enjoyed diplomatic protection. The bluff worked, although he had to patrol the houses night and day to make sure that roving bands of Hungarian Nazis did not break in and murder or kidnap the protected people.

This happened only once, when 300 people under Spanish protection were carted off to the Budapest goods yards for deportation to Auschwitz. And it was here, in the presence of the heroic Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, that Perlasca's life was saved by Adolf Eichmann during a violent row with an SS officer over two young Jewish children whom Perlasca insisted on taking away in the Spanish diplomatic car.

'A young SS major pulled out his pistol, pointing it at me. Wallenberg, who was standing nearby, shouted that he could not treat a Spanish diplomatic representative like this. Then, at a certain moment, an SS lieutenant- colonel arrived and asked what was happening. He listened, then ordered the major coldly to do nothing more because, 'Sooner or later', he said, 'we'll get the children anyway.' They went away and it was then that Wallenberg told me that the SS colonel was the notorious Adolf Eichmann.'

(See also Times of Israel, Telegraph)

ÁNGEL SANZ BRIZ
From
Wikipedia

Ángel Sanz-Briz (September 28, 1910 in Zaragoza – June 11, 1980 in Rome) was a Spanish professional diplomat of Francoist Spain during World War II who saved the lives of some five thousand Hungarian Jews from Nazi persecution.

After studying law, his first diplomatic posting was to Cairo. He was sent to Budapest in 1942 where he was helped by his assistants with saving the lives of 5,200 Jews from the Holocaust by issuing them fake Spanish papers; acquiring houses in Budapest at his own cost in order to provide shelter for the refugees which made the difference between life and death for those Jews. In 1944, as the Red Army approached Budapest, he followed government orders to leave for Switzerland.

After these events, Sanz Briz continued his diplomatic career: he was posted to San Francisco and Washington, D.C., Ambassador to Lima, Bern, Bayonne, Guatemala, The Hague, Brussels and China (1973, where he became the first Spanish ambassador). In 1976 he was sent to Rome as Ambassador of Spain to the Holy See, where he died on June 11, 1980.

Sanz Briz himself tells how he was able to save the lives of so many Jews, in Federico Ysart's (es) book Los judíos en España (1973). He is also the subject of the 2011 Spanish television series El ángel de Budapest. In 1991, he was recognized by the Holocaust Museum Yad Vashem of Israel, and gave his heirs the title of Righteous Among the Nations. In 1994 the Hungarian government gave him the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary. (See also Yad Vashem Sanz Briz, The Angel of Budapest)

RUDOLF KASTNER
Wikipedia

Rudolf Israel Kastner, also known as Rezső Kasztner (1906 – 15 March 1957), was a Jewish-Hungarian journalist and lawyer who became known for having helped Jews escape occupied Europe during the Holocaust. He was assassinated in 1957 after an Israeli court accused him of having collaborated with the Nazis.

Kastner was one of the leaders of the Budapest Aid and Rescue Committee (Va'adat Ezrah Vehatzalah, or Vaada), which smuggled Jewish refugees into Hungary during World War II, then helped them escape from Hungary when in March 1944 the Nazis invaded that country too. Between May and July 1944, Hungary's Jews were deported to the gas chambers at Auschwitz at the rate of 12,000 people a day. Kastner negotiated with Adolf Eichmann, a senior SS officer, to allow 1,684  Jews to leave instead for Switzerland on what became known as the Kastner train, in exchange for money, gold and diamonds.

Kastner moved to Israel after the war, becoming a spokesman for the Ministry of Trade and Industry in 1952. In 1953 he was accused of having been a Nazi collaborator in a pamphlet self-published by Malchiel Gruenwald, a freelance writer. The allegation stemmed from his relationship with Eichmann and another SS officer, Kurt Becher, and from his having given positive character references after the war for Becher and two other SS officers, thus allowing Becher to escape prosecution for war crimes. The Israeli government sued Gruenwald for libel on Kastner's behalf, resulting in a trial that lasted 18 months, and a ruling in 1955 that Kastner had, in the words of Judge Benjamin Halevy, "sold his soul to the devil". By saving the Jews on the Kastner train, while failing to warn others that their "resettlement" was in fact deportation to the gas chambers, Kastner had sacrificed the mass of Jewry for a chosen few, the judge said.[4] The verdict triggered the fall of the Israeli Cabinet.

Kastner resigned his government position and became a virtual recluse, telling reporters he was living with a loneliness "blacker than night, darker than hell". His wife fell into a depression that left her unable to get out of bed, while his daughter's schoolmates threw stones at her in the street. The Supreme Court of Israel overturned most of the judgment in January 1958, stating in a 4–1 decision that the lower court had "erred seriously". He was shot on 3 March 1957 by Zeev Eckstein and died of his injuries twelve days later. (see also "Jews For Sale": The Rudolph Kasztner Transports

HUNGARIAN GOLD TRAIN
From Wikipedia

The Hungarian Gold Train was the Nazi-operated train during World War II that carried stolen valuables, mostly Hungarian Jewish persons' property, from Hungary towards Berlin in 1945. After American forces seized the train in Austria, almost none of the valuables were returned to Hungary, their rightful owners, or their surviving family members.

According to various reports about the train, the contents included gold, gold jewelry, gems, diamonds, pearls, watches, about 200 paintings, Persian and Oriental rugs, silverware, chinaware, furniture, fine clothing, linens, porcelains, cameras, stamp-collections and currency (mostly US dollars and Swiss francs). Jewish organizations and the Hungarian government estimated the total value of the train's contents at $350 million in 1945[2] or almost $4 billion in 2007 adjusted for inflation. Other estimates of the contents' 1945 worth are from $50 million to $120 million or $570 million to $1.7 billion in 2007 adjusted for inflation.

The United States government kept most of the details of the Hungarian Gold Train secret from the public until 1998.

In 2001, Hungarian Holocaust survivors filed a lawsuit in a Florida district court against the United States government for the government's mishandling of the assets on the Hungarian Gold Train. David Mermelstein, was the only survivor present at the mediation. In 2005, the government reached a settlement worth $25.5 million. The money was allocated for distribution to various Jewish social service agencies for the benefit of Holocaust survivors

AFTER WW2

After the war, some 200 Jewish communities were reconstituted, but most dwindled rapidly due to migration to Budapest and emigration from the country. In 1946, anti-Jewish sentiment led to the pogroms in Kunmadaras, Miskolc and elsewhere. Communist rule resulted in the closure of many Jewish institutions and the arrest of Jewish activists. Many Jews were expelled from Budapest, but later allowed to return.

During the 1956 uprising against Communist rule, 20,000 Jews opted to leave the country. However, the situation of Hungarian Jewry began to improve in the late 1950’s. The community was allowed to reestablish links with the Jewish world, and with the collapse of Communism, all restrictions on ties with Israel were also lifted.

TODAY
from   European Jewish Congress

DEMOGRAPHY

It is estimated that between 80,000-100,000 thousand Jews - the largest number in East-Central Europe - live in Hungary today who are considered as Jews according to 'halacha' (Jewish religious law). In addition, there are approximately the same amount of people in Hungary who are regarded as Jewish according to Israel's Law of Return. Some 90% of Hungarian Jews live in Budapest.

COMMUNITY

After the war some 200 Jewish communities were reconstructed, but most dwindled due to natural attrition, assimilation and emigration. In 1946, a new wave of anti-Jewish sentiment led to pogroms in Kunmadaras, Miskolc and elsewhere. The imposition of Communist rule led to the closure of many Jewish institutions, a ban on Zionism and the arrest of Jewish activists. As a result, the number of Jews shrank to even smaller levels.

t the same time the state-sponsored Jewish Community was organized, including religious institutions. During the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 more than 10,000 Jews left the country. The community was permitted to maintain relations with the Jewish world and Israel until the Six Day War in 1967. Upon the collapse of Communism in 1989 all restrictions on ties with Israel were lifted.

The Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary (MAZSIHISZ) is the leading organization of the Hungarian Jewish community, encompassing both Hungarian Jewry's Neolog (Conservative) and Orthodox religious sectors. MAZSIHISZ leads negotiations in Holocaust restitution issues, maintains more than 1500 Jewish cemeteries, three elementary schools, a kindergarten and a high school. It also coordinates platforms for Jewish youth organizations and designates a Field Rabbinate for the Hungarian Army. There are 23 synagogues functioning in Budapest today and some 30 more in towns populated by Jews throughout the country. While there are four Orthodox synagogues in Budapest, the bulk of Hungarian Jews attend Neolog synagogues.

CULTURE, RELIGIOUS LIFE AND EDUCATION

Budapest is home to the state-accredited Rabbinical Seminary and Jewish University-- the only Jewish university in Eastern Europe. Founded in 1887, it has never ceased working since World War II. Rabbinical students from throughout Europe practicing the Neolog stream of Judaism attend the university to receive their rabbinical ordination. Budapest is also home to the only Jewish hospital in Eastern Europe, a Jewish community center, nursing homes and organizations to assist Holocaust survivors. A highlight event is the annual Jewish Summer Festival attracting 300,000 visitors yearly.

There are also ten kosher butchers, kosher bakeries and restaurants in Budapest. Hungary exports kosher wine, spirits and meat. A Jewish newspaper is produced twice monthly in Budapest, as well as a monthly Jewish magazine and a Jewish literary and arts journal.

Assimilation remains a problem in Hungary and anti-Semitism is rife in the Hungarian media, particularly during electoral campaigns when some parts of the media blame Jews for instituting Communism in Hungary and creating economic difficulties.

ISRAEL

Diplomatic relations were established between Hungary and Israel in 1948 and severed during the Six Day War in 1967. Relations have now improved, with embassies and consulates existing in each other's countries and increased trade and tourism between the two nations. Since 1948, 30,000 Jews emigrated from Hungary to Israel.

SITES

Major Jewish sites to visit include the Dohány Street Synagogue in Budapest. Built in the 19th century in Moorish style, it is the largest synagogue in Europe and second largest in the world; The Budapest Jewish Museum, with its extensive collection of Judaica; the Hungarian Jewish Museum, presenting the history of Jews in the Carpathians from the Roman times onwards; The Emanuel Holocaust 'Tree of Life' Memorial sculpture, with each leaf symbolizing a victim of the Shoah; the Raoul Wallenberg statue honoring the Swedish diplomat who rescued thousands of Jews in Budapest; and the Synagogue of Szeged.

Many pilgrims visit the gravesites of grand Hassidic rabbis who lived in Eastern-Hungary and were called' wonder-rabbis,' especially the gravesite of the Satmar Rabbi Teitelbaum in Sátoraljaújhely.

LINKS

Porges

Mazsihisz - Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities

History of the Jews in Hungary - Wikipedia

Community in Hungary   World Jewish Congress

The Jewish Community of Hungary  European Jewish Congress
Hungarian Jews Today Face Shoah Distortion - Bigotry, Holocaust distortion confront a community balancing fear and hope.  03/12/14, Jonathan Mark, Associate Editor, Jewish Week, New York
Jewish Museum, Budapest
Holocaust Memorial Centre, Budapest

Perlasca, an Italian hero - part 1
Ardere et lucere (10.46)

Perlasca, an Italian hero - part 2
Ardere et lucere (10.59)

Perlasca, an Italian hero - part 3
Ardere et lucere (10.32)

Raoul Wallenberg- A Hero of the Holocaust
LantosFoundation (27.36)
(this commemorates
Canada’s Raoul Wallenberg Day)

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HISTORY

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AFTER WW2

TODAY

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LINKS

TV MOVIE  (2002) (197min)

 
"Perlasca: Un eroe italiano" (original title)

The first Jews living on what is today Hungarian territory were inhabitants of the Roman province Pannonia and settled there in the 2nd century CE.  In 1251, Béla IV published the Jewish charter, which was later confirmed by all medieval kings of Hungary. In practice, the charter put all Jews under royal protection.  Large numbers of Jews moved to the growing cities in the 15th century.

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