Polska / małopolskie
|Synagogues, prayer houses and others||Cemeteries||Sites of martyrdom||Judaica in museums||Andere|
|Province:||małopolskie / krakowskie (before 1939)|
|County:||krakowski grodzki / krakowski grodzki (before 1939)|
|Community:||Kraków / Kraków (before 1939)|
|Other names:||Krakau [j. niemiecki]; קראָקע [j. jidysz]; קרקוב [j. hebrajski]|
Cracow – town in southern Poland, Małopolskie Province, Kraków District. It is located 295 km south-west of Warsaw. It is situated on both banks of the Vistula River, at the peripheries of the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland, the Nidziańska Syncline, the Kraków Gate and the Sandomierz Basin.
The exact date of Jews settling in Kraków is difficult to determine. Based on sources from 1028 mentioning two Jewish merchants travelling towards Ruthenia and offering their wares to the Jewish community council in Kraków, one may assume that a Jewish presence in Kraków extends back to as early as the first half of the 11th century.
At the end of the 11th century, Prague was hit by a wave of pogroms provoked by the crusaders. The Bohemian chronicler, Cosmas of Prague, stated that some of the Jews were forced to convert to Christianity while the rest fled Hungary and Poland. Even though the name “Kraków” is not mentioned, one may suspect that most of the refugees have chosen this particular city as a destination because living conditions were relatively safe (in addition to being the place of residence of the ruler, the city was notable for being located away from the route frequented by crusaders).
The first mention of a Jewish presence in Kraków was in the chronicle of Wincenty Kadłubek (also known as Vincentius de Cracovia). The chronicler noted that during the reign of Mieszko III the Old as the duke of Kraków (1173-1177), a Jew was assaulted, a crime for which the perpetrators were put on trial for “sacrilege.” The legal qualification of this act was the consequence of the privilege granted to Jews, who, at the time, were considered to be the “servants of the treasury.” An assault on any Jew was thus tantamount to a violation of ducal law (ius ducale) – the provisions included in the privilege adopted in certain parts of Poland that granted to the Jews in 1157 by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa.
However, it was only in 1287 when a name of a Jew residing in Kraków was first recorded. His name was Chranisz, and he was murdered by Jacob, likely a burgher from Kraków, whose house was then confiscated as punishment.
In the beginning of the 14th century, the amount of information on the Kraków Jewish community council becomes much more extensive owing to the surviving municipal records. Additionally, there was a Jewish street (ulica Żydowska) by the 14th century, currently known as St. Anne street (ul. Św. Anny), showing that Jews lived in a vicus Judeorum (or Jewish district) where two synagogues, a bathhouse