The history of Jewish people living in Roudnice is a story of oppression and destruction. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon theme throughout Jewish history. Jewish life in Rounice was first established in 1541. However, by 1592 only fourteen total Jewish families were living in Roudnice. Although Jews were given some liberties, such as being granted a charter, it did not take long after for the development and implementation of Jewish ghettos to take hold in Roudnice.
By 1615 Jewish people began to be displaced, and religious buildings were taken away, the only Jewish synagogue and cemetery torn down and replaced by the monastery. Jewish people were then kicked out of their homes and forced into a different ghetto. Today it is Havlickova Street west of the Chateau and the bridge over the Elbe River. After being transplanted into their new homes, the 30 years of war brought great suffering to the Jewish community.
Most of the 30-Year War devastation took place in Bohemia and Moravia. Jews were burdened with tax burdens, needing money to sustain themselves throughout the war. However, the Jewish community was able to create a new Jewish cemetery to bury all their loved ones lost before and during the war. Tombs were transferred over from the original cemetery to their previous Ghetto.
Then in 1631, mass devastation took hold of their daily lives when Saxons burned down their Ghetto. During that time, there were 90 Jewish people left within that Ghetto. Twenty years later, in 1651, the population grew to 218 Jewish people living in tight conditions with 23 houses split amongst themselves. The rebuilding of the Ghetto and synagogue took place. By 1675, a synagogue was rebuilt with 350 seats.
In 1713 a plague ravaged the community, killing one-third of the Jewish population. By 1724 the Jewish community had 448 people, and the East portion of the Ghetto was abolished. Unfortunately, a massacre took place in 1744, killing many in the Jewish community. The remaining community built a synagogue. However, it was ultimately torn down in the mid-1800s due to the construction of a railroad. By then, the Jewish population had declined as people moved to larger cities. Nevertheless, 176 Jewish families remained in Roudnice.
In 1853 the community rebuilt the synagogue on the North side of Havlickova Street, which was partly built on the site of the second synagogue. They then built a new Cemetery located 1 km west of the second cemetery and 1800 meters west of the bridge on Hrbitovni Street. This cemetery was completed by 1896.
From 1902 to 1930, the Jewish population declined rapidly. The community went from 448 Jewish persons to 166 Jewish persons, 1.7% of the total population of Roudnice within this period. Then the Second World War broke out, leading to catastrophic devastation for the Jewish community of Roudnice. The Holocaust led to most Jews being deported Kladno (February 6-12, 1942). Other groups of Jews from Roudnice were transported to Terezin or Prague.
During this time of displacement, Jews were identified by the lists compiled by the Roudnice community. Roudnice Jews, after Tezein, were deported elsewhere: Izbicka, Gleiwitz, Trawniki, Zamosc, Blechhamer, Kavencin, and Raasika. Approximately 76 perished during this time period. The Nazis destroyed the new cemetery built in 1896. However, luckily there was minimal damage to the synagogue.
After the Holocaust, the Jewish community in Roudnice consists of only a few Jews. The synagogue was used as a boarding house and school in 1953. Currently, the synagogue is closed and in need of repairs. However, there is hope, since the end of communism in 1989, to restore the synagogue and make it a Jewish Museum.
Both cemeteries are in the process of being restored. Both are proclaimed historical landmarks. City Hall manages the new cemetery—many cases of vandalism to the new cemetery during the Communist regime. One long original Jewish street and its building remain intact. Unfortunately, a large majority of the Jewish street was destroyed in 1973.