Trzcianka (Ger. Schönlanke) is situated about 90 kilometers to the north of Poznań (Posen). After the first partition of Poland in 1772, the town fell under the Prussian rule. The 18th century is the time when in Trzcianka flourished the cloth making industry and when every eight person in the town was of Jewish descent. Already forty years later Jews constituted 20% of the town’s population. In 1739, the members of the local Jewish community were granted a special privilege which enabled them to trade in wool and cloth. For a long time such this was Jews’ main source of incomes. Nevertheless, the process of industrialization and, simultaneously, the break of economic relations with Russia resulted in the fall of the cloth making industry in Trzcianka after 1820. Between 1850 and 1869 the town was repeatedly ravaged by fires and its economic state was rather poor. Trzcianka was saved from a total downfall only by a trade trail with the East (so called “Ostbahn”). The Jewish community in the town was quite numerous already from its beginning. In 1773, in Trzcianka lived 264 Jews, who made up 13% of the town’s population. In 1815, this number doubled and came to 610 people (which constituted 20% of all the inhabitants). The community reached its biggest size in 1830, when in Trzcianka lived about 860 people of Jewish descent (about 23% of the town’s population). In the second part of the 19th century the community shrank significantly, but the number of its members became rather stable. In 1880, in Trzcianka lived 584 Jews. At the beginning of the 20th century the number of Jewish inhabitants did not change much. In 1902, the community had 590 members. A short report from a newspaper “Im Deutschen Reich” gives an account of the life of the Jewish people from Trzcianka in 1901:
Trcianka, January 14th
The figures confirm that the number of the Jewish inhabitants living in the province of Poznań (Posen) has significantly decreased. At the same time the economic situation of the Jews from different towns has deteriorated. Our town is an exception to this state of matters. The local Jewish community has increased during past 25 years by 25%. Although there are not too many wealthy people among the Jewish community members, there are only few families that need financial support… The Jews pay the half of the town’s income tax and remain in friendly relations with the Christian citizens. Trzcianka is free from anti-Semitic moods.
After the Nazi came to power and due to the intensifying anti-Semitic persecutions many Jewish tradesmen decided to leave the economically ruined town. The emigration of the community members was possible partly thanks to the help of a Zionist organization, which was strongly influential in the community from the 1930s. In 1933, in Trzcianka still lived 380 Jews. Those who did not escape from the town before 1940 were forced to leave their homes and were later interned to a temporary camp in Piły (Schneidemühl).
The Jewish community in Trzcianka had its own synagogue, which burned in 1779. It was later replaced by a modest prayer house built in 1823 The house was used by the community members for quite a long time, but finally a new synagogue in neo-Romanesque style was erected in 1883. In the first half of the 19th century, at the turn of the 1840s and 1850 in Trzcianka functioned also a Jewish school. From 1772, the community possessed a so called learning house (Lehrhouse). During the Krystallnacht in November 1938, the synagogues was burnt and the Jewish stores were vandalized. Some of the Jewish men were arrested and sent to the concentration camp in Sachasenhausen. Nevertheless, a Jewish bath house form the 18th century survived until today. Nowadays the bath house is a museum facility.
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