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The Jewish Community of Krosniewice

Krosniewice


A town in Łódź Voivodeship, central Poland.

Krosniewice, a town since the 15th century, stands on the crossroads to Warsaw, Poznan, Lodz and Gdansk. It is a commercial and artisan center with an agricultural hinterland.

 

History

Jews settled in Krosniewice in 1568. A conflagration in 1576 and the wars of the mid-17th century left their mark. It was only in the 19th century, following the growth of the Jewish community, that independent institutions were founded. Its famous rabbis included Rabbi Shimshon Erenstein, who stood at the head of the yeshivah in the years 1849-1864; for a short time the Admor of Ciechnow, Rabbi Abraham Landau, a gaon and a halacha interpreter, who prayed in the Ashkenazi version, served in Krosniewice; he was followed by Rabbi Abraham Bornstein, who headed a yeshivah and was the son-in-law of the Rabbi of Kuzk, introducing a special halacha teaching system and wrote about the settlement of Eretz Israel in his book Avnei Netzer; later he was elected admor, and was the founder of the Sochaczew dynasty.

In 1765 most of the town`s Jews owned the houses in which they lived. In the mid-18th century half of the Krosniewice`s artisans were Jews. Others made their living from commerce in agricultural products and textiles, and a few were shop owners or leased inns. At the end of the 19th century several villages were owned by the Jewish timber merchant Yaacob Engelman; one of them was named after him Yancovicze. During the First World War the Jews suffered from hunger and epidemics. At war`s end most of the Jews in Krosniewicze could scarcely meet ends.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Bund groups appeared, but their members were arrested or fled after the 1907 revolution. All the Zionist organisations in Poland were active in Krosniewicze. Conspicuous were the League for the Working Eretz Israel and the Zionim Klallim. They organized a club, an orchestra, drama circles and libraries. In 1920, during the Polish-Russian war, Jews were goaled as Russian spies, and others were tortured by the Polish army which passed through Krosniewice. In the 1930s the Bund increased in strength, building a party headquarter with a theater hall and a library. Activists of the communist party were sent to concentration camps.

In 1939 the Jewish community of Krosniewice numbered 1,300 persons.


The Holocaust Period

Many Jews were killed by the occupying Germans during the bombardment of the town in September 1939. Others were beaten to death by the Poles. With the arrival of the German army in the middle of September 1939, restrictive laws were introduced. They were accompanied by beatings and torture, fines, confiscations, desecration of torah scrolls and damage to the synagogue. The Judenrat was busy with the transfer of money and goods to the Germans and mobilization of work-groups which suffered maltreatment. Some 1,600 persons were imprisoned in the ghetto which was closed in 1940. Overcrowding, hunger, scarcity of water and lack of facilities, as well as robberies and beatings, characterized life in the ghetto. Men of the 18-60 age group had to perform forced labor. After four transports of youngsters to work-camps in the vicinity of Poznan only women, old people and children were left in the ghetto.

In March 1942 some 900 of the remaining Jews were taken to the Chelmno death camp, suffering torture on the way.

Some 80 Jewish survivors of the Holocaust returned to Krosniewice.


Postwar

The synagogue and mikveh were still intact. In October 1945 only eight Jews were left in the town.

Place Type:
Town
ID Number:
168544
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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SOCHACZEW

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birth place, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

This name is derived from Sochaczew (in Russian Sokhachev), a city in Warsaw province, central Poland. There is evidence of a Jewish settlement in Sochaczew in 1427. Places, regions and countries of origin or residence are some of the sources of Jewish family names. Many of these names, originally based on toponymics, have developed into variants which no longer resemble the form of the original source. Thus, unless the family has reliable records, names based on toponymics cannot prove the exact origin of the family.

Łódź 

A city in central Poland, a traditional center of the textile industry.

In 1793 there were 11 Jews in Lodz; by 1809 (when the city was under Prussian rule) the number had risen to 98. A community was organized at that time and a wooden synagogue erected which was renovated in subsequent years.

After 1820 (under Russian rule) Lodz became an important industrial center and consequently the Jewish population increased rapidly. Wishing to develop the textile industry in Lodz, the Russian government invited German weavers to settle on very favorable terms. To avert the possibility of Jewish competition, the Germans insisted that the same limitations on Jewish settlement as applied in Zgierz should prevail in Lodz. According to these restrictions, Jews were not allowed to settle and acquire real property, nor were they allowed to sell liquor; only those who had previously kept inns were allowed to continue to do so without a special permit. However, the Jews were largely successful in preventing the Zgierz limitations being applied. When the local authorities planned the town, they set aside the two streets near the market, Walburska and Nadrzeczna, for the Jews. In 1825 they declared, that as from July 1, 1827, Jews would be permitted to acquire building sites, to build, and
To live on the southern side of the Podrzeczna and Walburska streets and the market only. All Jews granted residence rights had to know Polish, French, or German, and their children over the age of seven had to attend general schools along with non-Jewish children. They were also forbidden to wear the traditional Jewish dress. For a time the authorities continued to harass even those Jews who fulfilled all these conditions.

Anxious to eliminate competition from the growing number of Jewish weavers, the German textile workers pressed for the expulsion of the Jews.

In 1848 the czar abolished the limitations on Jewish settlement in Polish cities. By decrees of 1861 and 1862 the concept of a specific Jewish quarter in Lodz was finally abolished. Jews settled throughout the city, although many of them continued to be concentrated in the former Jewish quarter, the "Altstadt". Large numbers of Jewish craftsmen, peddlers, and factory workers were concentrated in the suburb of Ibalut (Baluty).

Throughout the 19th century and up to 1939 Jews were active in much of the trade of Lodz, especially in supplying raw materials for the textile industry. Wholesale and retail traders, agents, and brokers formed over one-third of the Jewish earners in Lodz. In the 20th century Jews entered industry on a considerable scale; by 1914, 175 factories (33. 3% of the total) were owned by Jews; 150 of these were textile mills.

Lodz was badly destroyed during World War I when the German residents collaborated with the German invaders. The large Russian market was lost. In the early 1920s the anti-Jewish fiscal policies of Polish finance minister W. Grabski further hindered the recovery of Jewish industry. Those firms which managed to recover were again hit by the world crisis of 1929. During the 1930s, anti-Jewish economic policies were intensified throughout Poland. In 1910 the first union of Jewish craftsmen was organized, also including large-scale Jewish industrialists, on the initiative of the Jewish bank for mutual assistance. Small tradesmen and retailers had their own unions. The Jews formed their unions in collaboration with ort, the bund, the Po'alei Zion, and the Polish socialist party. During the revolution of 1905, the bund was very active in Lodz. Jewish craftsmen in Lodz, as elsewhere in Poland, were faced in 1927 with a law which demanded examinations for craftsmen and a diploma awarded by a union of artisans.

The Lodz community maintained its autonomy in difficult circumstances. With the official recognition of Jewish communal autonomy in independent Poland the first democratic elections for the community council of Lodz were held in 1924. The community maintained a kosher slaughterhouse, a mikveh, a Talmud Torah for the poor, and other charitable organizations. Rabbis of Lodz included Mendel Wolf Ha-Cohen Jerozolimski (1825-31), Rabbi Elijah Chayim Meisel (1873-1912), and Ezekiel Nomberg (1832-56), a Kotsk Chasid who was opposed by many in the community. A diversified network of educational institutions, from kindergarten to secondary school, existed in Lodz. A talmud torah, founded by R. Elijah Chayim Meisel in 1873, provided education for children of elementary school age. A "reformed" cheder (known as the Jaroczynski School after the philanthropist of this name) was founded in 1890 and included secular subjects in its curriculum. The first Jewish gymnasium in russia was established in Lodz by Markus (Mordecai) Braude in 1912. In 1918 the first Yiddish school was established, named after Lithuanian-style Torat Chesed and Beth Israel of the Aleksandrow Chasidim. Many Zionist societies were organized in Lodz after the First Zionist Congress of 1897, such as the Ohel Ya'akov, Ateret Zion, and Tikvat Zion, structured around synagogues. The Hebrew cultural activities operated within the framework of the literary- musical society, Ha-Zamir, founded in 1899. It maintained a choir, a dramatic circle, and a library, and in 1915 formed a philharmonic orchestra. Jewish newspapers included the Zionist Lodzher Togblat (1908), Lodzher Morgnblat (1912), Lodzher Folksblat (1915), Nayer Folksblat (1923), and other periodicals in Yiddish and Hebrew.

From April 1933 there were many cases of murderous attacks on Jews. The anti-Semitic parties gained an overwhelming majority in the municipal elections of 1934. In the elections of 1936, the Polish and Jewish socialist parties won a majority. The town's socialist administration tried to prevent the growth of anti-Semitism and the accompanying agitation.


The Holocaust period

At the outbreak of World War II, Lodz had 233, 000 Jews, about one- third of the city's population. Many Jewish inhabitants left Lodz out of fear of persecution. The German army entered Lodz on Sept. 8, 1939. In October- November 1939 Lodz was annexed to the Reich as part of Warthegau (Wartheland), and given a German name, Litzmannstadt.

In January 1940 the Jews were segregated into the old city and Baluty quarter, the area of the future ghetto. To speed up confinement of the Jews into the ghetto, the Nazis organized a pogrom on March 1, 1940, known as "Bloody Thursday", during which many Jews were murdered. Thousands of Jews were then driven into the ghetto without being permitted to take their property with them. On April 30, 1940, the ghetto was closed off. Its small area contained the 164, 000 Jews still living in Lodz, for between Sept. 1, 1939 and May 1, 1940, 70,000 Jews had left the city. The ghetto was separated from the rest of the city by barbed wire, wooden fences, and a chain of "schupo" (schutzpolizei) outposts.

In 1940 the majority of the ghetto population was left with no means of subsistence. Hunger demonstrations and riots resulted in the early fall. In august 1942 there were 91 factories with 77, 982 employees. Many of the workers earned too little to be able to buy even the inadequate food rations allotted to them, and working conditions were unbearable. In 1940-44 the Germans sent 15, 000 Jews from the ghetto to labor camps, but only very few ever returned, and they arrived back in a state of exhaustion. The extremely crowded living quarters, combined with bad hygienic conditions, starvation, and overwork, caused epidemics of dysentery, typhus, and typhoid fever, but mortality was due mostly to tuberculosis, the death rate for which was 26 times higher than it had been among Lodz Jews in 1936.

From 1940 to September 1942, the health department of Jewish self-administration in the ghetto ran five to seven hospitals, five pharmacies, and several special infirmaries. The education department ran 45 primary religious and secular schools, two high schools, and one vocational school. The food supply department organized public kitchens in factories, offices, and schools. An orphanage and a children's camp were organized for 1,500 children as well as a morning camp for the summer period.

The Jewish police (Ordnungsdienst) administered order in the ghetto, but also took part in deportations and roundups of Jews for forced labor camps. Several political and social groups held secret meetings, taught and provided self-education, organized demonstrations against the Judenaeltester Haim Rumkowsky (1940) and strikes in factories, engaged in production sabotage, and listened in to the radio.

The German authorities allowed a period of relative autonomy (May 1940 - September 1942) but ended it with a wave of mass deportations to the extermination camp at Chelmno. During January - April 1942 the Germans deported over 44, 000 Jews. In May 1942, 11,000 Jews originally from Prague, Vienna, Luxembourg, and various cities from the "Old Reich" were rounded up and deported for extermination.

These Jews (20, 000) were taken in the fall of 1941 to Lodz ghetto, where they were crowded into unheated, mass quarters, and endured more severe hunger than the local population. By 1942, 5, 000 among them died of typhus and starvation. After their deportation, the notorious "gehsperre" action was carried out to exterminate 16, 000 Lodz Jews, including children up to ten years old, persons above 60, and the sick and emaciated. With this mass murder action, the population decreased from 162, 681 in January 1942 to 89,446 on October 1, 1942.

After the mass liquidation campaign the Germans transformed the ghetto de facto into a labor camp. There followed the reduction and liquidation of the Jewish administrative bodies which had served the needs of the population, e. G., health, food supply, welfare, education and records departments, and the rabbinate. The orphanages, old-age homes, the majority of the hospitals, schools, and children's homes no longer existed. The number of factories increased to 119 (august 1943) and employed 90% of the population. Children from the age of eight worked in these factories. The ghetto lingered on until its final liquidation in June - August 1944. By Sept. 1, 1944, the whole population, 76, 701 (June 1, 1944 registration), was deported to Auschwitz. By January 1945, only an Aufraeumungskommando (800 Jews) remained in the ghetto joined by some Jews who were hiding in the area of the former ghetto. They were liberated when the soviet army arrived on Jan. 19, 1945.

When the soviet army entered Lodz only 870 Jewish survivors were left in the city. Nevertheless, within the next two years Lodz became the largest reconstructed Jewish community in Poland. Over 50, 000 Jews settled there by the end of 1946, of whom the overwhelming majority had survived the holocaust period in the Soviet Union. A number of "kibbutzim" (homes for Jewish youth who prepared themselves for aliyah) were established. They were stopped in 1950, when the sovietization of Poland was completed. Over a half of the city's Jewish population left Poland during 1946-1950.

After the second wave of aliyah to Israel during 1956-1957, only a few thousand Jews remained.

Poznan

German: Posen

Poznan boasted one of the most ancient, and most prominent, Jewish communities of Poland-Lithuania. Jews have been recorded as living in Poznan as early as 1379, and mention is made in 1399 of an accusation of host desecration being made against the Jews. A series of fires that broke out in the town during the 15th and 16th centuries destroyed a number of buildings and affected the Jewish community materially and economically; in addition to the damage caused by the fires themselves, the disasters were used as excuses by the municipal council to bring lawsuits against the Jewish community, and to demand their expulsion from the city.

The first signs of economic recovery appeared during the second decade of the 16th century, which began an era of progress and spiritual renewal that lasted until the end of the century. Poznan boasted one of the largest Jewish communities in Poland-Lithuania, with approximately 3,000 Jews living in the city (about 10% of the town's population), and 137 wooden and stone houses. It also became a center of economic activity in Greater Poland. Poznan's rabbis, among the most prominent authorities of the generation, were recognized throughout the country as the "sages of Poznan." Nevertheless, this period of prosperity was marked by conflicts with the local population of monks and lay Christians. During the riots of 1577, 20 Jews were killed. In addition to fires, the city also experienced a number of epidemics; one example is the 1620 outbreak of St. Anthony's Fire, which claimed a number of victims, and drove some to flee the city permanently. The burdens of taxation, as well as the costs of multiple renovations due to damage done by pogroms, fires, and plagues became severe for Poznan's Jewish community. Attempts to raise funds were unsuccessful; many debts imposed on the Jewish community were not fully settled until the middle of the 19th century. Additionally, as German merchants from Silesia began to do business in the region, economic competition grew. Jewish traders were finding it difficult to make a living; famine and plagues following the Second Northern War of 1655-1660, as well as the riots of 1687, brought economic ruin to the community, and many left the city. Requests for aid to the communities of Germany and Bohemia in 1674 did not raise sufficient funds, nor were the Jews of Poznan able to redeem their Torah scrolls, which had been mortgaged in order to pay the community's debts (which amounted to 60,000 zlotys to the nobility alone).

The community's decline continued into the 18th century. In 1736, a blood libel was levied against the community, which resulted in a number of arrests and two executions. A flood that same year destroyed the synagogue, as well as a number of houses. By the end of the 18th century the majority of Poznan's Jews, which numbered approximately 3,000 (about 40% of the population), were recent arrivals. Their low socioeconomic status meant that they too were unable to bear the community's burdens of taxation and debt.

Between 1793 and 1807, while Poznan was under Prussian rule, the Prussians attempted to Germanize the local population, both by restricting the Jewish community's self-jurisdiction in favor of the local Prussian tribunal, and by allowing them to enroll in public elementary and secondary schools. Meanwhile, the municipality attempted to induce the new rulers to restrict the numbers and activities of the Jews in the town. They seized the opportunity after the fire of 1803, which severely damaged the Jewish quarter. Though the city wanted to confine the Jews to their original quarter for "hygienic reasons," the Prussian government decided not to rebuild the Jewish quarter and instead allowed the Jews to settle in any part of the town, with the sole restriction that they ultimately not have more houses than they had previously owned. Jews were also allowed to purchase houses from Christians.

The Haskalah and the movement towards Germanization were major influences within the Jewish community. When the Prussians reconquered the city in 1815, after a brief period (1807-1815) when Poznan was ruled by the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, a conflict broke out within the community over the election of the community's rabbi. The maskilim were opposed to the candidacy, and eventual election, of Rabbi Akiva Eger, whose scholarly authority and social influence worked against their plans to close the cheders in favor of public schools; in fact, in 1833 Rabbi Eger did, in fact, block an attempt by the Prussians to close the city's cheders. Ultimately, tensions within the community led to a split, and the proponents of modernity built a new synagogue and organized a separate community.

In 1853, Jewish delegates were elected to municipal institutions, and for the first time Poles were in the minority. Due to the Prussian efforts to Germanize the community, and weaken any elements of Polish nationalism within the city, the ties between Poznan's Jewish community and Prussia and Central Germany were strong, while those with the communities to the east were weak. The Jewish population increased, to approximately 6,000 in the 1860s, and its economic situation improved. A large, magnificent synagogue was built and there were rabbinical conventions held in the city in 1876, 1877, and 1914.

The return to Polish rule was marked by riots and clashes, and the community rapidly declined. By the late 1930s approximately 2,000 Jews remained in the town. By the time that World War II began, many of the Jews had escaped before the Germans entered the city, or in the first weeks following the German occupation.

During the German occupation, the synagogue was turned into a stable. Jewish property was looted, and the Jews were driven out of the nicer homes. On December 11-12, 1939, the Jews were deported to Ostrow Lubelski and other towns in the General Government. Those who remained in the area worked in labor camps from November 1939 until August 1943. On April 15, 1940, the Star of David was removed from the synagogue near Stawna Street and the building was converted into a swimming pool.

A report issued in 1947 by the Central Committee of the Jews of Poland indicated that there were 224 Jews living in Poznan in January 1946 (148 men and 76 women), and 343 in June of the same year (208 men and 135 women).

Gdansk

German: Danzig (the two names are often used interchangeably)

A major port city on the Baltic coast of Poland.

HISTORY

Gdansk is situated at the mouth of the Motlawa River, connected to the Leniwka, which is a branch in the delta of the Vistula River on the Baltic Sea. It is one of the oldest cities in Poland and an important industrial center. The city was originally part of the Piast state, but in 1308 it was conquered by the State of the Teutonic Order, which issued an edict of non-toleration prohibiting Jews from settling or remaining there. Under pressure from the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Witold, this restriction was eased during the first half of the 15th century, and a limited number of Jewish merchants from Lithuania and Volhynia were permitted to enter the city. As of 1440, there was a "Judengasse," ("Jewish Lane" or "Jewish Quarter") on the banks of the Motawa River.

After the Thirteen Years' War (1454-1466), Danzig was once again incorporated under Polish rule and it became Poland's wealthiest city and the central hub for trade in grain and other goods between Western and Eastern Europe. Jewish merchants from Poland and Lithuania came to Danzig to trade, and many were granted special privileges from the King of Poland; indeed, in 1476 the city council, on the encouragement of the king, allowed two Jewish merchants equal rights with other merchants. Nonetheless, because Danzig enjoyed a status of semi-autonomy, the city continued to refuse citizenship and trading rights to Jews, even though Jews had earned greater rights in the greater kingdom.

Jewish settlement of the city began after 1454, but opposition from Christian merchants forced the Jews to move in 1520 to the Schottland suburb, which was outside of the city's jurisdiction. After the intervention of King Sigismund in 1531, the city council withdrew the regulation prohibiting Jews from trading at the fair, but a resolution of the Sejmik (small parliament) of Prussia prohibited any further rights to be extended to the Jews. In retaliation, the Jews of Lithuania boycotted the Gdansk banking house in Kaunas (Kovno), which then had to be shut down, and ousted the merchants of Gdansk from the Lithuanian salt trade.

In 1577, after a rebellion in Gdansk against King Sephen Bathory, an agreement was reached between the city and the king that imposed further restrictions on the Jews in Gdansk. Jews were not allowed to hold religious services in Gdansk, nor were they allowed to live or stay in the city; later, in 1595, the city council allowed Jews to stay in the city during fair days only.

Around 1616, approximately 400 to 500 Jews were living in Gdansk, in addition to those settled in lands owned by the gentry or clergy. In 1620, the king finally permitted Jews to reside in Gdansk. He also allowed Jews to trade in grain and timber in the commercial sector and in Langengarten, which belonged to the port area. After these areas were incorporated into Gdansk in 1626, these rights were extended to the entire city.

The Polish-Swedish wars of the 17th century interrupted the trading activities of the Gdansk Jews and led to a general decline of the city, and of the Polish state. This led to an increased intolerance of the Jews, particularly those who were in competition with local artisans and merchants. Local ordinances increased restrictions on Jews, and levied special fees on any Jew who wished to stay in the city. Around the same time, during the mid-17th century, about 50 Jews became apostates and converted to Christianity; among them was Johann Salama, a teacher in the Gdansk seminary who subsequently proselytized to his former coreligionists.
During the 18th century, the main opposition to the Jews in Gdansk came from small traders and craftsmen. The Third Northern War, which strengthened the position of Catholicism in Gdansk, increased hostility towards the Jews, and they were forced to leave certain areas. However, a Chevra Kadisha and Bikkur Cholim were nonetheless founded in 1724 in the suburbs, in the old Jewish quarter in Schottland (Stary Schottland). In 1748 the Jews who had previously been expelled returned to Gdansk, though a regulation endorsed by the king in 1750 stated that they could return only temporarily. By 1765 there were about 1,098 Jews living in Gdansk and in the areas outside of the city proper; 504 were living in Schottland and Hoppenbruch, 230 in Langfuhr, and 364 in Weinberg.

The First partition of Poland in 1772 resulted in the city of Danzig remaining part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (ultimately until 1793), while the city's suburbs became Prussian. In 1773, 240 Jewish families (approximately 1,257 people) were granted legal status and became full Prussian citizens. This proved to be the start of a strong connection between the Jewish community of Danzig and Germany, which proved to last until the community was destroyed during the Nazi era.

The emancipation edict of 1812 further improved the legal status of Jews in Prussia, though there were still outbreaks of anti-Semitic violence against the Jewish community. Most infamous among these events were the Hep! Hep! Riots of September 1819 and August 1821, which saw outbreaks of violent anti-Semitism.

During the 1820s, 33 Jews were accepted into the merchants' guild, but by then the city had declined in importance. Jews were allowed to engage in crafts, and in 1823 a society was founded to promote crafts among the Jewish population.
A number of important Jewish publications were printed in Danzig during the 19th century (though it is important to note that some Hebrew printing was done in Gdansk during the 16th century in connection with Phillip Wolff's "Spiegel der Juden"). In 1843, the printing house of Rathke and Schroth published the Mishna with the commentary "Tif'eret Yisrael" by Rabbi Israel Lipschuetz, who was then the rabbi of Danzig. Also published were the works of Tzvi Hirsch Edelmann, including an edition of his Passover Haggadah, "Leil Shimmurim."

Another notable figure in Danzig was Rabbi Abraham Stein, a Reform rabbi who was the rabbi of Schottland from 1850 until 1864, after which he became a rabbi in the Mausel Synagogue of Prague.

The communities of Altschottland, Weinberg, Langfuhr, Danzig-Breitgasse, and Danzig-Mattenbuden were still independent by the end of the 19th century, each building their own synagogues and institutions, and electing their own officers. In 1878, the Altschottland began to initate a move towards unifying the Jews of Danzig. These efforts came to fruition in 1883, with the election of a unified Kehilla board (an elected Jewish communal governing body). The board worked to open the Great Synagogue, a unified synagogue, in 1887. At this time, most Danzig Jews embraced German nationalism and what they saw as its universalism and humanitarianism, while rejecting the political Zionism that saw Jews as a nation. During this period, Danzig Jews defined themselves as "Germans of the Mosaic persuasion."
The community of Gdansk had four synagogues, and a variety of other Jewish organizations. The "Jung-Juedischer Bund Danzig" ("Young Jewish Association of Danzig") was founded in 1920. A community newspaper, "Juedisches Wochenblatt," was published 1929-1938.

The Jewish population numbered 3,798 in 1816, 2,736 in 1880, 2,390 in 1910, and 4,678 in 1924. In 1920, when Gdansk was again declared a free city, its total population was approximately 356,000. Of the total population, there were 7,292 Jews living in the territory of the free city in 1923, and 9,230 in 1924, of whom 53.4% lived in Gdansk itself. Visitors came to the nearby town of Sopot, a popular summer and sea resort between the two World Wars for many Polish Jews. Danzig also attracted a number of Jewish emigrants from Soviet Russia. Additionally, a large number of Jewish emigrants passed through the port on their way to the United States, and received assistance from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS).

Despite large Nazi gains in the elections of 1933 and 1935, civil and economic order was upheld by the president of the Senate, Hermann Rauschning, until 1937 when the rights of minorities provided for under the League of Nations lapsed. Albert Forster, the Nazi Gauleiter (leader of the regional branch of the Nazi party), incited a pogrom in October 1937 in which Jewish shops and homes were damaged. The Polish government offered the Jews no protection, and half of the Jews left Gdansk within the year.
The pogrom of Kristallnacht, which took place in Gdansk in December 1938, saw the windows of synagogues shattered, the houses and shops of Jews looted, and scores of Jews beaten and injured. Additionally, Forster began initiating repressive policies against the Jews, and the Nuremberg laws were introduced. In the aftermath, the Jewish community began to organize its emigration. By September 1939, only 1,200 Jews remained, many of whom were elderly. 395 Jews were deported during February and March 1941 to Warsaw, while the rest were sent in small groups to concentration camps. 22 Jewish partners in mixed marriages who remained in Gdansk survived the war.

After the city reverted to Polish control in 1945, a number of Jews resettled there. Few remained by the end of the 1960s.

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The Jewish Community of Krosniewice

Krosniewice


A town in Łódź Voivodeship, central Poland.

Krosniewice, a town since the 15th century, stands on the crossroads to Warsaw, Poznan, Lodz and Gdansk. It is a commercial and artisan center with an agricultural hinterland.

 

History

Jews settled in Krosniewice in 1568. A conflagration in 1576 and the wars of the mid-17th century left their mark. It was only in the 19th century, following the growth of the Jewish community, that independent institutions were founded. Its famous rabbis included Rabbi Shimshon Erenstein, who stood at the head of the yeshivah in the years 1849-1864; for a short time the Admor of Ciechnow, Rabbi Abraham Landau, a gaon and a halacha interpreter, who prayed in the Ashkenazi version, served in Krosniewice; he was followed by Rabbi Abraham Bornstein, who headed a yeshivah and was the son-in-law of the Rabbi of Kuzk, introducing a special halacha teaching system and wrote about the settlement of Eretz Israel in his book Avnei Netzer; later he was elected admor, and was the founder of the Sochaczew dynasty.

In 1765 most of the town`s Jews owned the houses in which they lived. In the mid-18th century half of the Krosniewice`s artisans were Jews. Others made their living from commerce in agricultural products and textiles, and a few were shop owners or leased inns. At the end of the 19th century several villages were owned by the Jewish timber merchant Yaacob Engelman; one of them was named after him Yancovicze. During the First World War the Jews suffered from hunger and epidemics. At war`s end most of the Jews in Krosniewicze could scarcely meet ends.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Bund groups appeared, but their members were arrested or fled after the 1907 revolution. All the Zionist organisations in Poland were active in Krosniewicze. Conspicuous were the League for the Working Eretz Israel and the Zionim Klallim. They organized a club, an orchestra, drama circles and libraries. In 1920, during the Polish-Russian war, Jews were goaled as Russian spies, and others were tortured by the Polish army which passed through Krosniewice. In the 1930s the Bund increased in strength, building a party headquarter with a theater hall and a library. Activists of the communist party were sent to concentration camps.

In 1939 the Jewish community of Krosniewice numbered 1,300 persons.


The Holocaust Period

Many Jews were killed by the occupying Germans during the bombardment of the town in September 1939. Others were beaten to death by the Poles. With the arrival of the German army in the middle of September 1939, restrictive laws were introduced. They were accompanied by beatings and torture, fines, confiscations, desecration of torah scrolls and damage to the synagogue. The Judenrat was busy with the transfer of money and goods to the Germans and mobilization of work-groups which suffered maltreatment. Some 1,600 persons were imprisoned in the ghetto which was closed in 1940. Overcrowding, hunger, scarcity of water and lack of facilities, as well as robberies and beatings, characterized life in the ghetto. Men of the 18-60 age group had to perform forced labor. After four transports of youngsters to work-camps in the vicinity of Poznan only women, old people and children were left in the ghetto.

In March 1942 some 900 of the remaining Jews were taken to the Chelmno death camp, suffering torture on the way.

Some 80 Jewish survivors of the Holocaust returned to Krosniewice.


Postwar

The synagogue and mikveh were still intact. In October 1945 only eight Jews were left in the town.

Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
SOCHACZEW
SOCHACZEW

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birth place, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

This name is derived from Sochaczew (in Russian Sokhachev), a city in Warsaw province, central Poland. There is evidence of a Jewish settlement in Sochaczew in 1427. Places, regions and countries of origin or residence are some of the sources of Jewish family names. Many of these names, originally based on toponymics, have developed into variants which no longer resemble the form of the original source. Thus, unless the family has reliable records, names based on toponymics cannot prove the exact origin of the family.

Lodz

Łódź 

A city in central Poland, a traditional center of the textile industry.

In 1793 there were 11 Jews in Lodz; by 1809 (when the city was under Prussian rule) the number had risen to 98. A community was organized at that time and a wooden synagogue erected which was renovated in subsequent years.

After 1820 (under Russian rule) Lodz became an important industrial center and consequently the Jewish population increased rapidly. Wishing to develop the textile industry in Lodz, the Russian government invited German weavers to settle on very favorable terms. To avert the possibility of Jewish competition, the Germans insisted that the same limitations on Jewish settlement as applied in Zgierz should prevail in Lodz. According to these restrictions, Jews were not allowed to settle and acquire real property, nor were they allowed to sell liquor; only those who had previously kept inns were allowed to continue to do so without a special permit. However, the Jews were largely successful in preventing the Zgierz limitations being applied. When the local authorities planned the town, they set aside the two streets near the market, Walburska and Nadrzeczna, for the Jews. In 1825 they declared, that as from July 1, 1827, Jews would be permitted to acquire building sites, to build, and
To live on the southern side of the Podrzeczna and Walburska streets and the market only. All Jews granted residence rights had to know Polish, French, or German, and their children over the age of seven had to attend general schools along with non-Jewish children. They were also forbidden to wear the traditional Jewish dress. For a time the authorities continued to harass even those Jews who fulfilled all these conditions.

Anxious to eliminate competition from the growing number of Jewish weavers, the German textile workers pressed for the expulsion of the Jews.

In 1848 the czar abolished the limitations on Jewish settlement in Polish cities. By decrees of 1861 and 1862 the concept of a specific Jewish quarter in Lodz was finally abolished. Jews settled throughout the city, although many of them continued to be concentrated in the former Jewish quarter, the "Altstadt". Large numbers of Jewish craftsmen, peddlers, and factory workers were concentrated in the suburb of Ibalut (Baluty).

Throughout the 19th century and up to 1939 Jews were active in much of the trade of Lodz, especially in supplying raw materials for the textile industry. Wholesale and retail traders, agents, and brokers formed over one-third of the Jewish earners in Lodz. In the 20th century Jews entered industry on a considerable scale; by 1914, 175 factories (33. 3% of the total) were owned by Jews; 150 of these were textile mills.

Lodz was badly destroyed during World War I when the German residents collaborated with the German invaders. The large Russian market was lost. In the early 1920s the anti-Jewish fiscal policies of Polish finance minister W. Grabski further hindered the recovery of Jewish industry. Those firms which managed to recover were again hit by the world crisis of 1929. During the 1930s, anti-Jewish economic policies were intensified throughout Poland. In 1910 the first union of Jewish craftsmen was organized, also including large-scale Jewish industrialists, on the initiative of the Jewish bank for mutual assistance. Small tradesmen and retailers had their own unions. The Jews formed their unions in collaboration with ort, the bund, the Po'alei Zion, and the Polish socialist party. During the revolution of 1905, the bund was very active in Lodz. Jewish craftsmen in Lodz, as elsewhere in Poland, were faced in 1927 with a law which demanded examinations for craftsmen and a diploma awarded by a union of artisans.

The Lodz community maintained its autonomy in difficult circumstances. With the official recognition of Jewish communal autonomy in independent Poland the first democratic elections for the community council of Lodz were held in 1924. The community maintained a kosher slaughterhouse, a mikveh, a Talmud Torah for the poor, and other charitable organizations. Rabbis of Lodz included Mendel Wolf Ha-Cohen Jerozolimski (1825-31), Rabbi Elijah Chayim Meisel (1873-1912), and Ezekiel Nomberg (1832-56), a Kotsk Chasid who was opposed by many in the community. A diversified network of educational institutions, from kindergarten to secondary school, existed in Lodz. A talmud torah, founded by R. Elijah Chayim Meisel in 1873, provided education for children of elementary school age. A "reformed" cheder (known as the Jaroczynski School after the philanthropist of this name) was founded in 1890 and included secular subjects in its curriculum. The first Jewish gymnasium in russia was established in Lodz by Markus (Mordecai) Braude in 1912. In 1918 the first Yiddish school was established, named after Lithuanian-style Torat Chesed and Beth Israel of the Aleksandrow Chasidim. Many Zionist societies were organized in Lodz after the First Zionist Congress of 1897, such as the Ohel Ya'akov, Ateret Zion, and Tikvat Zion, structured around synagogues. The Hebrew cultural activities operated within the framework of the literary- musical society, Ha-Zamir, founded in 1899. It maintained a choir, a dramatic circle, and a library, and in 1915 formed a philharmonic orchestra. Jewish newspapers included the Zionist Lodzher Togblat (1908), Lodzher Morgnblat (1912), Lodzher Folksblat (1915), Nayer Folksblat (1923), and other periodicals in Yiddish and Hebrew.

From April 1933 there were many cases of murderous attacks on Jews. The anti-Semitic parties gained an overwhelming majority in the municipal elections of 1934. In the elections of 1936, the Polish and Jewish socialist parties won a majority. The town's socialist administration tried to prevent the growth of anti-Semitism and the accompanying agitation.


The Holocaust period

At the outbreak of World War II, Lodz had 233, 000 Jews, about one- third of the city's population. Many Jewish inhabitants left Lodz out of fear of persecution. The German army entered Lodz on Sept. 8, 1939. In October- November 1939 Lodz was annexed to the Reich as part of Warthegau (Wartheland), and given a German name, Litzmannstadt.

In January 1940 the Jews were segregated into the old city and Baluty quarter, the area of the future ghetto. To speed up confinement of the Jews into the ghetto, the Nazis organized a pogrom on March 1, 1940, known as "Bloody Thursday", during which many Jews were murdered. Thousands of Jews were then driven into the ghetto without being permitted to take their property with them. On April 30, 1940, the ghetto was closed off. Its small area contained the 164, 000 Jews still living in Lodz, for between Sept. 1, 1939 and May 1, 1940, 70,000 Jews had left the city. The ghetto was separated from the rest of the city by barbed wire, wooden fences, and a chain of "schupo" (schutzpolizei) outposts.

In 1940 the majority of the ghetto population was left with no means of subsistence. Hunger demonstrations and riots resulted in the early fall. In august 1942 there were 91 factories with 77, 982 employees. Many of the workers earned too little to be able to buy even the inadequate food rations allotted to them, and working conditions were unbearable. In 1940-44 the Germans sent 15, 000 Jews from the ghetto to labor camps, but only very few ever returned, and they arrived back in a state of exhaustion. The extremely crowded living quarters, combined with bad hygienic conditions, starvation, and overwork, caused epidemics of dysentery, typhus, and typhoid fever, but mortality was due mostly to tuberculosis, the death rate for which was 26 times higher than it had been among Lodz Jews in 1936.

From 1940 to September 1942, the health department of Jewish self-administration in the ghetto ran five to seven hospitals, five pharmacies, and several special infirmaries. The education department ran 45 primary religious and secular schools, two high schools, and one vocational school. The food supply department organized public kitchens in factories, offices, and schools. An orphanage and a children's camp were organized for 1,500 children as well as a morning camp for the summer period.

The Jewish police (Ordnungsdienst) administered order in the ghetto, but also took part in deportations and roundups of Jews for forced labor camps. Several political and social groups held secret meetings, taught and provided self-education, organized demonstrations against the Judenaeltester Haim Rumkowsky (1940) and strikes in factories, engaged in production sabotage, and listened in to the radio.

The German authorities allowed a period of relative autonomy (May 1940 - September 1942) but ended it with a wave of mass deportations to the extermination camp at Chelmno. During January - April 1942 the Germans deported over 44, 000 Jews. In May 1942, 11,000 Jews originally from Prague, Vienna, Luxembourg, and various cities from the "Old Reich" were rounded up and deported for extermination.

These Jews (20, 000) were taken in the fall of 1941 to Lodz ghetto, where they were crowded into unheated, mass quarters, and endured more severe hunger than the local population. By 1942, 5, 000 among them died of typhus and starvation. After their deportation, the notorious "gehsperre" action was carried out to exterminate 16, 000 Lodz Jews, including children up to ten years old, persons above 60, and the sick and emaciated. With this mass murder action, the population decreased from 162, 681 in January 1942 to 89,446 on October 1, 1942.

After the mass liquidation campaign the Germans transformed the ghetto de facto into a labor camp. There followed the reduction and liquidation of the Jewish administrative bodies which had served the needs of the population, e. G., health, food supply, welfare, education and records departments, and the rabbinate. The orphanages, old-age homes, the majority of the hospitals, schools, and children's homes no longer existed. The number of factories increased to 119 (august 1943) and employed 90% of the population. Children from the age of eight worked in these factories. The ghetto lingered on until its final liquidation in June - August 1944. By Sept. 1, 1944, the whole population, 76, 701 (June 1, 1944 registration), was deported to Auschwitz. By January 1945, only an Aufraeumungskommando (800 Jews) remained in the ghetto joined by some Jews who were hiding in the area of the former ghetto. They were liberated when the soviet army arrived on Jan. 19, 1945.

When the soviet army entered Lodz only 870 Jewish survivors were left in the city. Nevertheless, within the next two years Lodz became the largest reconstructed Jewish community in Poland. Over 50, 000 Jews settled there by the end of 1946, of whom the overwhelming majority had survived the holocaust period in the Soviet Union. A number of "kibbutzim" (homes for Jewish youth who prepared themselves for aliyah) were established. They were stopped in 1950, when the sovietization of Poland was completed. Over a half of the city's Jewish population left Poland during 1946-1950.

After the second wave of aliyah to Israel during 1956-1957, only a few thousand Jews remained.

Poznan
Poznan

German: Posen

Poznan boasted one of the most ancient, and most prominent, Jewish communities of Poland-Lithuania. Jews have been recorded as living in Poznan as early as 1379, and mention is made in 1399 of an accusation of host desecration being made against the Jews. A series of fires that broke out in the town during the 15th and 16th centuries destroyed a number of buildings and affected the Jewish community materially and economically; in addition to the damage caused by the fires themselves, the disasters were used as excuses by the municipal council to bring lawsuits against the Jewish community, and to demand their expulsion from the city.

The first signs of economic recovery appeared during the second decade of the 16th century, which began an era of progress and spiritual renewal that lasted until the end of the century. Poznan boasted one of the largest Jewish communities in Poland-Lithuania, with approximately 3,000 Jews living in the city (about 10% of the town's population), and 137 wooden and stone houses. It also became a center of economic activity in Greater Poland. Poznan's rabbis, among the most prominent authorities of the generation, were recognized throughout the country as the "sages of Poznan." Nevertheless, this period of prosperity was marked by conflicts with the local population of monks and lay Christians. During the riots of 1577, 20 Jews were killed. In addition to fires, the city also experienced a number of epidemics; one example is the 1620 outbreak of St. Anthony's Fire, which claimed a number of victims, and drove some to flee the city permanently. The burdens of taxation, as well as the costs of multiple renovations due to damage done by pogroms, fires, and plagues became severe for Poznan's Jewish community. Attempts to raise funds were unsuccessful; many debts imposed on the Jewish community were not fully settled until the middle of the 19th century. Additionally, as German merchants from Silesia began to do business in the region, economic competition grew. Jewish traders were finding it difficult to make a living; famine and plagues following the Second Northern War of 1655-1660, as well as the riots of 1687, brought economic ruin to the community, and many left the city. Requests for aid to the communities of Germany and Bohemia in 1674 did not raise sufficient funds, nor were the Jews of Poznan able to redeem their Torah scrolls, which had been mortgaged in order to pay the community's debts (which amounted to 60,000 zlotys to the nobility alone).

The community's decline continued into the 18th century. In 1736, a blood libel was levied against the community, which resulted in a number of arrests and two executions. A flood that same year destroyed the synagogue, as well as a number of houses. By the end of the 18th century the majority of Poznan's Jews, which numbered approximately 3,000 (about 40% of the population), were recent arrivals. Their low socioeconomic status meant that they too were unable to bear the community's burdens of taxation and debt.

Between 1793 and 1807, while Poznan was under Prussian rule, the Prussians attempted to Germanize the local population, both by restricting the Jewish community's self-jurisdiction in favor of the local Prussian tribunal, and by allowing them to enroll in public elementary and secondary schools. Meanwhile, the municipality attempted to induce the new rulers to restrict the numbers and activities of the Jews in the town. They seized the opportunity after the fire of 1803, which severely damaged the Jewish quarter. Though the city wanted to confine the Jews to their original quarter for "hygienic reasons," the Prussian government decided not to rebuild the Jewish quarter and instead allowed the Jews to settle in any part of the town, with the sole restriction that they ultimately not have more houses than they had previously owned. Jews were also allowed to purchase houses from Christians.

The Haskalah and the movement towards Germanization were major influences within the Jewish community. When the Prussians reconquered the city in 1815, after a brief period (1807-1815) when Poznan was ruled by the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, a conflict broke out within the community over the election of the community's rabbi. The maskilim were opposed to the candidacy, and eventual election, of Rabbi Akiva Eger, whose scholarly authority and social influence worked against their plans to close the cheders in favor of public schools; in fact, in 1833 Rabbi Eger did, in fact, block an attempt by the Prussians to close the city's cheders. Ultimately, tensions within the community led to a split, and the proponents of modernity built a new synagogue and organized a separate community.

In 1853, Jewish delegates were elected to municipal institutions, and for the first time Poles were in the minority. Due to the Prussian efforts to Germanize the community, and weaken any elements of Polish nationalism within the city, the ties between Poznan's Jewish community and Prussia and Central Germany were strong, while those with the communities to the east were weak. The Jewish population increased, to approximately 6,000 in the 1860s, and its economic situation improved. A large, magnificent synagogue was built and there were rabbinical conventions held in the city in 1876, 1877, and 1914.

The return to Polish rule was marked by riots and clashes, and the community rapidly declined. By the late 1930s approximately 2,000 Jews remained in the town. By the time that World War II began, many of the Jews had escaped before the Germans entered the city, or in the first weeks following the German occupation.

During the German occupation, the synagogue was turned into a stable. Jewish property was looted, and the Jews were driven out of the nicer homes. On December 11-12, 1939, the Jews were deported to Ostrow Lubelski and other towns in the General Government. Those who remained in the area worked in labor camps from November 1939 until August 1943. On April 15, 1940, the Star of David was removed from the synagogue near Stawna Street and the building was converted into a swimming pool.

A report issued in 1947 by the Central Committee of the Jews of Poland indicated that there were 224 Jews living in Poznan in January 1946 (148 men and 76 women), and 343 in June of the same year (208 men and 135 women).

Gdansk

Gdansk

German: Danzig (the two names are often used interchangeably)

A major port city on the Baltic coast of Poland.

HISTORY

Gdansk is situated at the mouth of the Motlawa River, connected to the Leniwka, which is a branch in the delta of the Vistula River on the Baltic Sea. It is one of the oldest cities in Poland and an important industrial center. The city was originally part of the Piast state, but in 1308 it was conquered by the State of the Teutonic Order, which issued an edict of non-toleration prohibiting Jews from settling or remaining there. Under pressure from the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Witold, this restriction was eased during the first half of the 15th century, and a limited number of Jewish merchants from Lithuania and Volhynia were permitted to enter the city. As of 1440, there was a "Judengasse," ("Jewish Lane" or "Jewish Quarter") on the banks of the Motawa River.

After the Thirteen Years' War (1454-1466), Danzig was once again incorporated under Polish rule and it became Poland's wealthiest city and the central hub for trade in grain and other goods between Western and Eastern Europe. Jewish merchants from Poland and Lithuania came to Danzig to trade, and many were granted special privileges from the King of Poland; indeed, in 1476 the city council, on the encouragement of the king, allowed two Jewish merchants equal rights with other merchants. Nonetheless, because Danzig enjoyed a status of semi-autonomy, the city continued to refuse citizenship and trading rights to Jews, even though Jews had earned greater rights in the greater kingdom.

Jewish settlement of the city began after 1454, but opposition from Christian merchants forced the Jews to move in 1520 to the Schottland suburb, which was outside of the city's jurisdiction. After the intervention of King Sigismund in 1531, the city council withdrew the regulation prohibiting Jews from trading at the fair, but a resolution of the Sejmik (small parliament) of Prussia prohibited any further rights to be extended to the Jews. In retaliation, the Jews of Lithuania boycotted the Gdansk banking house in Kaunas (Kovno), which then had to be shut down, and ousted the merchants of Gdansk from the Lithuanian salt trade.

In 1577, after a rebellion in Gdansk against King Sephen Bathory, an agreement was reached between the city and the king that imposed further restrictions on the Jews in Gdansk. Jews were not allowed to hold religious services in Gdansk, nor were they allowed to live or stay in the city; later, in 1595, the city council allowed Jews to stay in the city during fair days only.

Around 1616, approximately 400 to 500 Jews were living in Gdansk, in addition to those settled in lands owned by the gentry or clergy. In 1620, the king finally permitted Jews to reside in Gdansk. He also allowed Jews to trade in grain and timber in the commercial sector and in Langengarten, which belonged to the port area. After these areas were incorporated into Gdansk in 1626, these rights were extended to the entire city.

The Polish-Swedish wars of the 17th century interrupted the trading activities of the Gdansk Jews and led to a general decline of the city, and of the Polish state. This led to an increased intolerance of the Jews, particularly those who were in competition with local artisans and merchants. Local ordinances increased restrictions on Jews, and levied special fees on any Jew who wished to stay in the city. Around the same time, during the mid-17th century, about 50 Jews became apostates and converted to Christianity; among them was Johann Salama, a teacher in the Gdansk seminary who subsequently proselytized to his former coreligionists.
During the 18th century, the main opposition to the Jews in Gdansk came from small traders and craftsmen. The Third Northern War, which strengthened the position of Catholicism in Gdansk, increased hostility towards the Jews, and they were forced to leave certain areas. However, a Chevra Kadisha and Bikkur Cholim were nonetheless founded in 1724 in the suburbs, in the old Jewish quarter in Schottland (Stary Schottland). In 1748 the Jews who had previously been expelled returned to Gdansk, though a regulation endorsed by the king in 1750 stated that they could return only temporarily. By 1765 there were about 1,098 Jews living in Gdansk and in the areas outside of the city proper; 504 were living in Schottland and Hoppenbruch, 230 in Langfuhr, and 364 in Weinberg.

The First partition of Poland in 1772 resulted in the city of Danzig remaining part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (ultimately until 1793), while the city's suburbs became Prussian. In 1773, 240 Jewish families (approximately 1,257 people) were granted legal status and became full Prussian citizens. This proved to be the start of a strong connection between the Jewish community of Danzig and Germany, which proved to last until the community was destroyed during the Nazi era.

The emancipation edict of 1812 further improved the legal status of Jews in Prussia, though there were still outbreaks of anti-Semitic violence against the Jewish community. Most infamous among these events were the Hep! Hep! Riots of September 1819 and August 1821, which saw outbreaks of violent anti-Semitism.

During the 1820s, 33 Jews were accepted into the merchants' guild, but by then the city had declined in importance. Jews were allowed to engage in crafts, and in 1823 a society was founded to promote crafts among the Jewish population.
A number of important Jewish publications were printed in Danzig during the 19th century (though it is important to note that some Hebrew printing was done in Gdansk during the 16th century in connection with Phillip Wolff's "Spiegel der Juden"). In 1843, the printing house of Rathke and Schroth published the Mishna with the commentary "Tif'eret Yisrael" by Rabbi Israel Lipschuetz, who was then the rabbi of Danzig. Also published were the works of Tzvi Hirsch Edelmann, including an edition of his Passover Haggadah, "Leil Shimmurim."

Another notable figure in Danzig was Rabbi Abraham Stein, a Reform rabbi who was the rabbi of Schottland from 1850 until 1864, after which he became a rabbi in the Mausel Synagogue of Prague.

The communities of Altschottland, Weinberg, Langfuhr, Danzig-Breitgasse, and Danzig-Mattenbuden were still independent by the end of the 19th century, each building their own synagogues and institutions, and electing their own officers. In 1878, the Altschottland began to initate a move towards unifying the Jews of Danzig. These efforts came to fruition in 1883, with the election of a unified Kehilla board (an elected Jewish communal governing body). The board worked to open the Great Synagogue, a unified synagogue, in 1887. At this time, most Danzig Jews embraced German nationalism and what they saw as its universalism and humanitarianism, while rejecting the political Zionism that saw Jews as a nation. During this period, Danzig Jews defined themselves as "Germans of the Mosaic persuasion."
The community of Gdansk had four synagogues, and a variety of other Jewish organizations. The "Jung-Juedischer Bund Danzig" ("Young Jewish Association of Danzig") was founded in 1920. A community newspaper, "Juedisches Wochenblatt," was published 1929-1938.

The Jewish population numbered 3,798 in 1816, 2,736 in 1880, 2,390 in 1910, and 4,678 in 1924. In 1920, when Gdansk was again declared a free city, its total population was approximately 356,000. Of the total population, there were 7,292 Jews living in the territory of the free city in 1923, and 9,230 in 1924, of whom 53.4% lived in Gdansk itself. Visitors came to the nearby town of Sopot, a popular summer and sea resort between the two World Wars for many Polish Jews. Danzig also attracted a number of Jewish emigrants from Soviet Russia. Additionally, a large number of Jewish emigrants passed through the port on their way to the United States, and received assistance from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS).

Despite large Nazi gains in the elections of 1933 and 1935, civil and economic order was upheld by the president of the Senate, Hermann Rauschning, until 1937 when the rights of minorities provided for under the League of Nations lapsed. Albert Forster, the Nazi Gauleiter (leader of the regional branch of the Nazi party), incited a pogrom in October 1937 in which Jewish shops and homes were damaged. The Polish government offered the Jews no protection, and half of the Jews left Gdansk within the year.
The pogrom of Kristallnacht, which took place in Gdansk in December 1938, saw the windows of synagogues shattered, the houses and shops of Jews looted, and scores of Jews beaten and injured. Additionally, Forster began initiating repressive policies against the Jews, and the Nuremberg laws were introduced. In the aftermath, the Jewish community began to organize its emigration. By September 1939, only 1,200 Jews remained, many of whom were elderly. 395 Jews were deported during February and March 1941 to Warsaw, while the rest were sent in small groups to concentration camps. 22 Jewish partners in mixed marriages who remained in Gdansk survived the war.

After the city reverted to Polish control in 1945, a number of Jews resettled there. Few remained by the end of the 1960s.