List of Židovská Strana candidates, Snina, Czechoslovakia (today in Slovakia), 1938. (YIVO)

Find more information about

at the Center for Jewish History:

NOTE: you will be redirected
to the Web site for the

Židovská Strana

(Jewish Party), political party that represented the Jewish national minority in Czechoslovakia during the interwar period. The party was founded in January 1919 at the first gathering in Prague of Jewish nationalists in that country and was supported by Zionists from different branches (with the exception of Po‘ale Tsiyon), as well as by non-Zionist Jewish nationalists. Židovská Strana was opposed by members of the Czech Jewish movement in Bohemia and by the majority of Orthodox Jews in Slovakia and Subcarpathian Rus’, who criticized the party’s Zionist orientation.

Židovská Strana was liberal and remained loyal to the Czechoslovak state. Despite its relative success at the municipal level, it was not able to garner a sufficient number of votes to obtain parliamentary representation in the 1920 and 1925 elections. In the 1925 election, analysts predicted that Židovská Strana would win at least one mandate because of the large Jewish electorate in Subcarpathian Rus’. This did not happen, however, as it faced competition from the new, independent Židovská Hospodárská Strana (Jewish Economic Party), which was supported financially by the rightist Agrarian Party.

In 1928, Julius Reisz, a lawyer from Bratislava (Ger., Pressburg; Hun., Pozsony), united the Slovak and Subcarpathian Jewish nationalists (including the Orthodox Agudas Yisroel Party) largely by removing Zionist objectives from the party’s platform. The unification, however, ultimately was detrimental to the relationship between Jewish nationalists in Slovakia and Židovská Strana in the Czech lands. In the parliamentary elections of 1929, Zionists from the Czech lands entered into a coalition with three Polish minority parties that had strong support in Silesia. Just before the election, cooperation between Židovská Strana in the Czech lands and the Slovak Jewish party lead by Reisz was renewed. Consequently, these two Jewish parties won two mandates that were assigned to Reisz and Ludvík Singer (who was replaced by Angelo Goldstein following his death in 1931).

In January 1931, the Jewish parties in Czechoslovakia were officially reunited, with Emil Margulies as chair. In preparation for elections in 1935, Židovská Strana entered into an agreement with the Czech Social Democratic Party. This compromise was opposed by conservative Jewish nationalists led by Margulies, who stepped down as chair and was replaced by Arnošt Frischer. After 1935, the party’s deputies were Angelo Goldstein and Ḥayim Kugel. The two main items on the agenda of Židovská Strana representatives in parliament were financial support for Jewish educational institutions in Slovakia and Subcarpathian Rus’ and more lenient legislation for individuals lacking Czechoslovak citizenship.

After the Munich Agreement in September 1938, the Slovakian part of Židovská Strana became independent and it tried to establish contacts with Slovak political leaders. On 25 November 1938, however, the Slovak local government abolished the Jewish Party in Slovakia. In the Czech lands, officially Židovská Strana did not cease to exist till the Nazi occupation of 15 March 1939. Its last appeal was concerned with the tragic situation of Jews from the regions annexed by the Nazis.

Židovská Strana stood up for the rights of the Jewish population in Czechoslovakia, and it was able to become the representative of the Jewish national minority. This was true especially for the Czech lands; in Slovakia and Subcarpathian Rus’ only a small minority of Jews supported the party, opposing its Zionist undertone. In the Czech lands, the number of those who voted for Židovská Strana was higher than the number of persons who identified themselves as being of Jewish nationality during the census. Židovská Strana offered a welcome possibility of Jewish identification to the mostly acculturated Jewish population in Bohemia and Moravia.

Suggested Reading

Kateřina Čapková, “Specific Features of Zionism in the Czech Lands in the Interwar Period,” Judaica Bohemiae 38 (2002): 106–159; Marie Crhová, “Jewish Politics in Central Europe: The Case of the Jewish Party in Interwar Czechoslovakia,” Jewish Studies at the CEU 2 (1999–2001); Aharon Moshe K. Rabinowicz, “The Jewish Party: A Struggle for National Recognition, Representation and Autonomy,” in TheJews of Czechoslovakia: Historical Studies and Surveys, vol. 2, pp. 253–346 (Philadelphia, 1971).