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The history of the Jewish community can be divided into four periods. The first one lasted from the beginning of the 19th century until 1918, the next one from 1918 to 1939. Later, between the years 1939-1942 and finally the last period lasted from 1945 until the 1980s.
In the Old Polish period, Jews appeared only temporarily and most often they were merchants. The Bishop B. Madaliński allowed shoemakers in Włocławek to collect charges from Jewish itinerant traders for skins bought in the town (from 2 to 4 groszy). The Bishop Florian Czartoryski permitted the master shoemakers to pre-empt animal skins from the Jewish merchants arriving for the fairs. Undoubtedly, those Jews who floated grain and timber to Gdańsk stayed in Włocławek[1.1]. The beginning of the actual settlement is connected with the secularization of the town at the end of the 18th century. The first Jewish families found a home in Włocławek in the years 1803-1805, and in 1845, as many as 150 of them lived here. A Jewish district (Żabia, Zapiecek, Żychliński and Linke Streets) was appointed in 1823 and remained as such until 1862. The role of Jews in the farm produce wholesaling was very important (The Cohns, Giełdzińskis, Lewińskis, Golds, Żychlińskis and Linkes). They started to run banking houses and industrial enterprises. The Cohns invested in industry: wood, concrete and ceramic, the Lewińskis – mineral industry, the Sterns – food, the Poznańskis – wood. Stern, Tabacznik and Maurycy Fajans contributed to the development of river transport and the Vistula shipping. The first big “Jewish” enterprises were chicory factories (1850 - Bernard and Ludwik Lewenstam, Markus Kuczyński and Moritz Lipszyc). The Mühsams who gave up Judaism established a farm tools factory. Money for starting faience factories were invested by: Bernard Boas, Zygmunt Kuhfeld, Izydor Szrejer, Gerson and Salomea Danzygier, Bernard and Eva Hufnagel, Ludwig and Franciscka Szrejer, Israel Rotgolc, Łaja and Salomon Kozak, Sigmund From, Paul Golde, Joseph Asterblum, Witold, David and Herman Czamański. Salomon Altman, Samuel Luidor, Icek Hercstein, Michael and Gerson Lubowski started their businesses in a chemical branch. In 1875, Markus Wołkowicz established the first printing house in Włocławek. In the 19th century, a lot of doctors had their own practices here: Moritz Kohn, Moroz Lewin, Fiszel Arct, David Poznański, Ludwig Kleczkowski, Daniel Rawski, Beimis Poksmann, Adolf Silberman, Szlama Dojczer, Salomon Kuczyński, Lejb Fuks, Sigmund Rothaub, Joseph Adolf Poznański, Euzebiusz Kołtun, A. Palankin, Jacob Nowak, Ignatius Fajans, Bolesław Kolberg, and Joseph Horn. Along with the influx of Jews from Germany in the 19th century, followers of Reform Judaism became more influential (Henry Bock, Louis Meyer, David Poznański, Herman Meyer, David Lewental, Salomon Lewental, Lesser Giełdziński, Matias Rozen, Bonaventura Toeplitz, Joel Ludwik, Wolf Ludwik, and A. M. Levy). At the same time, assimilation tendencies could be observed especially in wealthier families. People used Polish rather than German in everyday communication. Russian was not used. The masses spoke Yiddish. A group of Lithuanian Jews came to Włocławek at the end of the 19th century. A few Hasidim who were largely the supporters of tzaddiks from Góra Kalwaria and Aleksandrów gained influence as well. A small group, although extremely influential consisted of assimilators who dominated over the temple oversight committee. In 1959, a Jewish secular school, one of the first such schools in Poland, was established. One of the most magnificent synagogues in the country was erected in Włocławek in 1847-1854 thanks to the financial support of the oligarchs both from the town and the whole region. The building in Mauritanian style was based on the design of Francis Tournelle. The preacher A. M. Goldszmit, the cantor and the choir of the Warsaw synagogue (situated in Praga Precinct on Daniłowiczowska Street) participated in the opening ceremony. Another synagogue, which was financed by the followers of traditional Judaism (Joseph Golde, Markus Engel and Rotter), was constructed in 1908-1910. A “Talmud Torah” was established next to it. After the death of Rabbi Joseph Chaim Caro (1859-1895) there was some friction between Orthodox groups and Reform supporters. Several years of confusion brought a decision and Jahuda Lejb Kowalski was appointed a new rabbi. As a follower of the religious Zionism ideology he was regarded as someone who finally after the years of clashes and tensions would be able to reconcile the two factions. At the end of the 19th century, the supporters of national ideology came to Włocławek. The first organizations and political parties functioning in Jewish circles started their activity in the early 20th century: Jewish Library and Public Reading Room, Bronisław Grosser Library, “Bund”, “Poale Zion”, “Mizrachi”, “Agudas Israel”. In 1917, a Boys’ Junior High School/ Gymnasium, a Jewish Popular School, and the F. Fröbl kindergarten were started. “Głos Żydowski”/ “Jewish Voice” was issued in the years 1917-1918. The Jewish Amateur Theater staged the first play in 1917. In 1911, a folk choir came into existence. An orphanage and a children’s home were established in 1914. One year later, a Jewish outpatient clinic was instituted, which was transformed into an old people’s home called “Moszaw Zakenim”. The Jewish Gymnastic Society began its activity in 1915[1.2].
The Jews were active in the economic life of the town and were the owners of “big” industry (68 %), “small industry” (48%), and “handicraft” (50%). In 1921, 61.4% of industrial enterprises belonged to them, and in 1938 the percentage was almost the same, i.e. – 61.1%. They were monopolists in wood and faience industries, in some branches of the food industry (vinegar and oil production), metal industry (wires, ropes, and machine parts), and a few specialist branches (millstones, paper tubes and glass processing). They employed 26.7% of all the town workers. On the whole, their enterprises provided employment to 1-4 people (mainly in clothing, wood, and food industries). In 1930, Jews worked in 35 craft professions out of 59 registered ones. In 1919, they had 73% of shares in trade enterprises (165 out of a total of 225), in 1928 – around 80% of wholesale firms and 90% of goods storehouses. According to the underestimated statistics from 1928 the Jews had such shares: 53.7% in industry, 51.5% in trade, and 33% in banking. Other sources from the same year give information that 581 (50.5%) out of 1,166 trade establishments belonged to Jews. In 1928-1929, Jews were numerous among doctors (23 out of a total of 47 – 49%), and teachers (70 out of a total of 283 – 25%). Two Jewish exchange offices (100%) as well as 8 out of a total of 13 (61.5%) banks and banking houses. There were the employment and the amount of manufactured goods that marked out over a dozen of factories in the town: “Stella” – Włocławek Factory of Chicory (the shareholders: Grundland brothers – Joseph, Ferdinand, Maximilian, J. Łęczycki, W. Mirecki), Włocławek Steam Mill L. Stern and Sons S.A. (Isaac, Abram, Arthur Sztern), Building Enterprise “W. Popławski and E. Fürstenwald”, Włocławek Wire Factory, formerly C. Klauke (Joseph Grundland), Nails and Wires Factory “Clavus” owned by Leon Bądźzdrów, Włocławek Steam Forges and Axle Factory (Szwarc brothers: Maurice and Max, and Flora Majeran), Farm Machines Factory (Bossak brothers: Maximilian and Maurice, they sold it in 1920 or 1921), Włocławek Industrial Plants, formerly Teichfeld and Asterblum, today – Majer Nieszawski & Co., Włocławek Faience Factories Leopold Czamański S.A., Faience Factory “Keramos”, Cohn Faience Factory – the owners: Herman, Maurice, Isidore, Jacob, Ludwig Tabacznik and Abram Beldinger, Brickyard of Moses Lejba Opatowski, Jacob Błonka First Kujawien Tannery, Steam Lumber Mill and Wood-Yard Maurice Poznański, Lumber Mill of Szpindal and Żychliński, Steam Lumber Mill and Carpenter’s Bench “Budulec” of George Szymański, Factory of Bent-Wood Furniture and Wood Products “Polars” (S. Wołkowicz and M. Fiszlewicz), Włocławek Factory of Wood Products of Moses Lejb Opatowski, Włocławek Paper factory S.A. (the holding company of Szwarcsztajn brothers: Adam, Ajzyk, Ignatius, Maurice).
There were many professional organizations in the Jewish circles: Trade Union of “Igła” Workers, Trade Union of Workers in Clothing Industry, Trade Union of Wood Industry, Trade Union of Transport Workers and Allied Professions, Trade Union of Carriers and Transport Workers, Trade Union of Non-professional Workers, Trade Union of Sale and Office Workers, Central Trade Union of Sale Workers in Włocławek, Association of Jewish Bookkeepers and their Assistants (renamed Trade Union of Bookkeepers and Office Workers), Trade Union of Teachers of Jewish Secondary Schools, Professional Association of Teachers of Elementary Schools in RP “Ognisko”, Association of the Włocławek Residents, Craft Association “Centrala Rzemieślnicza”/ “Craft Head Office” in Warsaw, Trade Union of Jewish Handicraftsmen in Włocławek (from 1922 Association of Jewish Craftsmen in the City of Włocławek), Central Association of Jewish Craftsmen (the secessionists from the Association of the Jewish Craftsmen in Włocławek), Association of Merchants Trading in Colonial Goods in Włocławek, Trade Union of Small Tradesmen of Colonial Industry in Włocławek County, Trade Union of Small Tradesmen “Veld”, Head Office of Small Merchants and Trading Jews in Poland (at first Association of Small Merchants and Tradesmen), Society of Jewish Merchants in Włocławek. Ethnically mixed were: Trade Union of the Workers in Leather Industry and Allied Professions, later it functioned as Trade Union of Bank Workers, Trade Union of Printers and Allied Professions, Trade Union of Musicians, Trade Union of Hairdressers, Polish National Association of Doctors, Association of Midwives in Włocławek County, Central Association of Waiters, Association of Workers in Food Industry, Association of the Unemployed White-Collar Workers, Association of Real Estate Owners in the City of Włocławek, Association of Industrialists in Włocławek, Association of Industrialists and Wood Merchants in Poland. Jewish companies were represented by the following types of cooperatives: credit, people’s craft banks, societies, credit-saving accounts, mutual credit societies, work cooperatives. Usually they were short-lived and they included: Cooperative Bank of Craftsmen and Small Jewish Merchants, “Ha-Mizrachi” General Cooperative Co., “Mizrachi” Cooperative, “Solidarność/?Solidarity-Achdus” Cooperative Co. (later “Młot” Cooperative Co.), Workers’ Cooperative of Consumers “Młot”, “Hachejrus” Cooperative (later “Wyzwolenie-Befrajung” Coopertive), Workers’ Cooperative “Jedność”, Association “Samopomoc Rzemieślnicza”/ “Craft Mutual Aid”, Jewish Cooperative “Poale Zion and Bund Left”, Włocławek Housing Cooperative, Association “Tani Sklep Kupców Żydowskich”/ “A Cheap Store of Jewish Merchants”, Workers’ General Food Cooperative with an adequate share in Włocławek, Workers’ General Food Cooperative in Włocławek, Jewish Cooperative Credit Bank in Włocławek, Cooperative Bank of Craftsmen and Small Jewish Merchants in Włocławek and No-Interest Loan Bank “Gemiłus Chesed”.
Private religious education included: “Bejt Jakow”, Private Religious Elementary School “Jesodej Torah”, Reform Jewish Private School “Mizrachi” – “Cheder Metukan”, “Talmud Torah”, secular education: the I. L. Perec Jewish Popular School, Gęsicki Jewish School, Elementary Jewish School (a so-called “Shabbat school”), Six Grade Elementary Private School of Jewish Religious Community, Private Coeducational Junior High School of Jewish Religious Community in Włocławek. There were three Jewish Public schools at first (No. 17 on 17 Królewicka Street, No.18 on 63 Łęgska Street, and No. 19 on 53 Łęgska Street). From 1933, there were two schools (No. 9 on 54 Łęgska Street – the girls’ school, No. 10 on 38 Starodębska Street – the boys’ school).
Cultural-educational organizations were numerous: Society of Friends of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Society of Friends of the Jewish Scientific Institute, Jewish Academic Group/ Circle, Association for the Assistance of Jewish Students in Poland “Auxilium Academicum Judaicum”, Society for the Assistance of Jewish Students of Modest Means “Hatechija”, Religious-Educational Association “Ec-Chaim”, Association of the Supporters of Zaddik from Góra Kalwaria “Sfos Emes”, Jewish Artistic Scene Association in Włocławek, Association of Jewish Folk Choirs, Association for Jewish Theater, “Hazomir” Society, Workers’ Cultural Society “Przyszłość”, Association for the Development of the Farm/Agricultural Work and Outwork Industry among Jews in Poland “Agroid”, Association of Polish Freethinkers, Association of Jewish Women for the Assistance of Women Workers in Palestine “WIZO”. The action to improve Jewish education was conducted by Jewish Schools Federation, Association of Jewish Secondary Schools “Moriah”, Association for the Assistance of Jewish Education and Culture “Szul Kult”, Jewish Cultural-Educational Association “Tarbut”, Cultural-Educational Society “Frajheit”, Association of Evening Courses for Workers, Association of Evening Courses for Jewish Workers, Workers’ Inn (so-called “Arbeter Winkl”), Workers’ Cultural Association “Przyszłość”, “Strzecha Robotnicza” Society, I. L. Perec Society, Association for the Promotion of Career and Agricultural Work among Jews “ORT”, Association of Jewish Libraries and Public Reading Rooms, “Keren Necach Israel” Fund, “Keren Hatora” Education Fund. Charities: Association for the Relief of Poor and Sick Jews “Linas Hacholim” cooperated with the Volunteer Association of Night Nursing, Association for the Relief of Sick Jews “Linas Hacedek”, Association for the Assistance of Poor Jews from Włocławek, Old People’s Home Association “Moszaw Zakenim”, Funeral and Last Office Association “Chewra Kadisza & Bikur Cholim”, “Hachnasas Kalo”, Maurice Szenfeld Orphanage and Jewish Children’s Home, Central Association for the Care of Jewish Children and Orphans “Cestondz”, “Polinfernat” Association, Jewish Cuisine “Beth-Am”, Saturday Jewish Cuisine, Association of Summer Camps for Jewish Children. The poor found shelter in some private lodging houses run by Jews (21 Żabia, 23 Żabia, 19 Żabia, 11 Kościuszki, 15 Kaliska, 19 Piekarska, 11 Żabia Streets) and in the Jewish Lodging House for the Non-resident Poor “Hachnosas Orchim” (12 Zapiecek Street).
Various Zionist circles supported “Alijah Bet” (Emigrant’s House), Central Association of Emigration “Jeas”, League for the Assistance of Workers in Palestine, “Keren Hajesod”, “Keren Kajemet Le’Israel”. The General Zionists, together with “Haszomer Hacair”, organized a craft kibbutz on 18 Brzeska Street. “Hechaluc ha-Klal Cijoni” and “Hanoar Hacijoni” were instituted in 1932 by the supporters of “Al Hamiszmar” faction and associated young people from the kibbutz. Thanks to joint efforts of “Haszomer Hacair” and “Bejtar” summer camps for children and youngsters could be organized. Numerous sports, paramilitary and tourism organizations functioned at that time: Jewish Gymnastics and Sports Association “Makabi”, Jewish Gymnastics Association, Jewish Sports Club “Kraft – Siła’, Association of Workers’ Physical Education “Jutrznia”, Workers’ Association of Physical Education “Gwiazda” (“Sztern”), Włodzimierz Żabotyński Association of Ex-servicemen “Brith Hachajal”, Association of Jewish Fighters for Poland’s Independence and the Association Group of Veteran Jewish Reservists, “Hechaluc Pionier” and “Młody Hechaluc Pioneer”. On the initiative of “Haszomer Hacair” the sports organization “Shomiriah” was instituted, and in the years 1932-1939, a fighting squad protecting against antisemitic attacks was formed. The Jewish Association for Tourists helped expand tourism in the region.
With its strong reputation as the publishing center of the Jewish press in Interwar Poland, Włocławek placed sixth (as far as the number of press titles was concerned) among 40 publishing companies, after such centers as Warsaw (682), Vilnius (131), Łódź (123), Lviv (63), Białystok (47), and ahead of, e.g. Cracow (37).
What was most characteristic about periodicals, except for 2 or 3 titles, was that they were ephemeral. They were addressed to the Jews from Włocławek and neighboring Kujawien towns (“Undzer Rajon Cajtung’, “Włocławker Sztyme”, “Włocławker Trybune”, “Włocławker Wort”, “Włocławker Wochenblat”, “Włocławker Wecker”). Some were also distributed among Jews in Greater Poland and Pomerania (“Włocławker Leben”), Kutno and Płock (“Włocławker Sztyme” had a supplement “Kutner Sztyme”, “Włocławker Togbłat”). Save the latter one, which was a daily, all the rest were issued as weeklies. Only occasionally monthlies appeared; “Undzer Ruf”, “Włocławker Trybune”, “Szalheweth”, “Włocławker Sztyme”, “Z Ławy Szkolnej”, “Kfir”, “Hacefira”. Particularly interesting were so-called one-day publications, which were most numerous and took up such themes as elections from 1928 (“Wahl Radio“), economic issues (“Biuletyn fun Klajnhendlerferajn in Włocławek’), Jewish national funds (“Ojfboj”), education (“Włocławek Szul-Sztyme”), and particular socio-political organizations (“Włocławker Cukunft-Sztyme’).
Libraries influenced cultural life greatly. The biggest libraries included: the Jewish Library and Public Reading Room in Włocławek, Reading Room and Library by the Workers’ Public Cooperative, M. Żelechowski Library by the Society of Evening Courses for Workers, Library by the Association of Jewish Craftsmen, Bronisław Grosser Library and Reading Room by the Workers’ Cultural Association “Przyszłość”, I. L. Perec Jewish Library, Library and Reading Room by the Association “Strzecha Robtonicza”, Zionist Library, Library by “Poale Zion”, Library by the Jewish Academic Group, Library for Young People of the “Igła” Workers’ Trade Union, Moses Szubiński School Library by the Jewish Junior High School, Polish Library by the Jewish Junior High School. Apart from the above mentioned, small libraries and reading rooms were brought into existence in cheders, and in the head offices of parties and social organizations. Bookstores, both with new and second-hand books, were engaged in the promotion of culture and economy. Seven bookstores were run in Włocławek in the period between the wars (A. Blasse, I. Neuman, I. Grünberg, R. Rubinstein, H. Kauffman, H. Pomeranc, Ch. Paluszak), as well as two second-hand bookstores (A. Zelkowicz, M. Zelkowicz) which were owned by Jews. Political parties were formed: “Aguda Israel” (the leaders were: Henoch Janower, Pinkus Groswirt, Szymon Ankier, Michael Kirszenbaum, Naftali Teiltelbaum, Aron Manowicz, David Königsberg, Icek Majer Dorembus, Zanwil Szrerling, Henoch Flakser, Gerszon Szklower, David Solnik, Chaim Rubinstein, Lejb Żychliński; it had 120 members in 1919, and in the early 1930s – about 200) with additional: “Poalej Aguda Israel”, “Bnojs Aguda Israel”, “Cejrej Aguda Israel” and “Szomrej Szabas” (Guards of the Sabbath). Most influential in “Aguda” were the Hasidim from Góra Kalwaria. They brought into being “Sfas Emes”. It was the Association of the Followers of the tzadik from Góra Kalwaria. The Hasidim from Aleksandrów Łódzki, Stryków, Sochaczew, Kock, Żychlin, Frydland, and Wesoła who declared themselves “nonpartisan religious Jews” were less influential. Similar opinions, though relating to Zionist ideology, were expressed by “Mizrachi” (official activity started in 1918, the founder was Rabbi J. L. Kowalski; in 1933, it had 50 members) with additional: “Cerej Mizrachi”, “Hechaluc Hamizrachi” (Pioneer Mizrachi) and “Haszomer Hadati” (Religious Guard). The “Bund” was a total opposition to it (the leaders: Fajwisz Kowalski, Abram Toruńczyk, Aron Gercowicz, Szlama Gedalie Hiler, Kalman Żelazko, Jacob Lejb Rozental, Samek Rozental, Mania Rozen-Zygielbojm and Szaja Chrząstowski).
One of the head offices was located in Włocławek and it administrated Włocławek, Nieszawa, Lipno, and Kutno Counties. In 1919, it associated 21 organizations with their 80 members. The number of Bund members in Włocławek oscilitiated between about 120 in 1919 to 150-250 in the 1930s with the annexed Youth Association “Zukunft“, Socialist Association of Children “Skif“. Jewish People’s Party, Communist Association “Poale Zion” were active too. Jews exerted influence on the activity of the Communist Party of Poland which was dictated by the fact that almost 33% of their members were of Jewish nationality. The managing (so-called technical) board had as many as 75% of Jews. The activists of the District Committee and the Precinct Committee CPP were: Chaja Burak, Hirsz Szterling, Zajnwel Szulc, Jankiel Wajntraub, Israel Skrzypce, Rela Burak, Mojsze Lewi, Hersz Lewkowicz, Jojne Gostyński, Baruch Grünblatt, Icek Chaim Roth, Henoch Burak, Perec Sztulzaft, Lejb Grojnowski, Moszek Adanski, Srul Aron Finkelsztajn, Hela Turkieltaub, Josek Flaumenbaum, Chaja Janower, and Moszek Birkenfeld. The most famous activists were: Leon Purman, Icek Roth, Henryk Toruńczyk, Sachs - Reich, Rosa and Moniek Bock. They were as well affiliated with the Communist Association of the Polish Youth. 79 Jews out of 98 worked in 18 groups in the District Committee (the headquarters in Włocławek) in January 1929. The activists were: Daniel Bialer, Szmul Szulc, Małka Flamenbaum, Małka Gitowska, Motek Jachimowicz, Bala Malinowska and Sara Rubin. Moreover, they could be seen in the International Organization for the Assistance of Revolutionists, “Kombundu“ (Moses Birkenfeld, Hela Turkieltaub, Wolf Majer Gdański). The opposition represented the departments of the Zionist Organization. Its leaders were: David Ersler, Lejb Fuks, Natan Perlberg, Max Szrubsztein, David Reich, Herman Lewi, Abram Huberman, and Herman Kino. Włocławek was the party’s headquarters and it included the following counties: Włocławek, Nieszawa, Lipno, Inowrocław, Ripin, Toruń, Kutno, partly Płock and Koło. The number of members ranged from 128 in 1919 to around 300 in 1933. After the „Eth Linwot“ group separated in 1934 and merged into the General Zionist Organization in Poland it was no longer as influential in Wlocławek as before. Other organizations that functioned at that time were: Association of the Zionist Democrats (least influential; the leaders were: Israel M. Biderman, Israel Grunis, Aron Landau), Organization of Zionist Revisionists those employed “Brith Hazohar“ (leaders: Icek Horn, Lejb Bajla) with the Joseph Trumpeldor Association of Jewish Scouts (“Brith Trumpeldor”), Zionist Association “Cerej Syjon” (in 1922, the party merged with “Poale Zion Right”, responsible for that were: Mojsze Lewi, Lejb Luksemburg, Jezehiel Breitstein), “Poale Zion Right” with the youth organization “Frajheit”, “Poale Zion Left” (the leaders: Wolff Pantel, Meir Kuczyński, Michael Przedecki, Herszel Zemelman and Gruszka; it had 47-59 members) with the annexed Social-Democratic Jewish Working Youth Organization “Jugend“, “Hitachduth“ (the branch came into existence on the initiative of Josek Osterna) with Zionist Youth Organization “Gordonia”.
In the interwar period, the Jewish community was among the larger ones, i.e. it numbered more than 5 thousand members. From December 1917, it was administrated by the members of the board: Jehuda Lejb Kowalski (the chairmen, “Mizrachi”), Jacob Nathan Kruszyński (non-partisan), Henoch Janower (Orthodox), Mendel Baum (Zionist), Jacob Piwko (Zionist, resigned on March 3, 1922), Joseph Szubiński (“Mizrachi” resigned in March 1922), the deputies: Szmul Srebrnik (“Mizrachi”, from October 1922), Szyja Prawda (“Mizrachi”, from October 1922). In 1922, a co-optation took place and Max Bossak (nonpartisan), Bernard Gąbiński (nonpartisan), Syne Praszkier (nonpartisan), the deputies: Ferdinand Kaufman (Zionist) and Moses Lejb Opatowski (“Mizrachi”) were elected. On June 1, 1924, five lists were drawn up. The Zionists received 5 seats, “Mizrachi” with merchants and craftsmen - 3, “Poale Zion Right” – 1, “Bund” – 2, Orthodox Party – 4 (including 3 for “Aguda” and 1 unofficial seat for the Hasidim from Żychlin and Frydland who appeared as nonpartisan religious Jews). The persons who sat on the community board were: David Samuel Ersler (the president, Zionist), Lejb Fuks (Zionist), Sine Praszkier (Orthodox), David Sassower (Zionist), Luzer Żychliński (vel Żychlin) - Orthodox, Max Szrubsztein (Zionist), Jacob Lejb Rozental (“Bund”), Henoch Sucher Lubiński (Orthodox), Maurice Lewi (“Poale Zion”), Moszek Kaźmierski (Orthodox), Icek Kowalski (“Mizrachi”), Szlama Gedalie Hiller (“Bund”), Isaac Goldman (Zionist), Henoch Flakser (“Mizrachi”), Hersz Frydland (Zionist), the deputies: Szlama Frajman (Zionist), Icek Dorfman (Zionist), Zalman Janower (“Mizrachi”), Michael Lubowski (“Mizrachi”), Kalman Zielonka (“Bund”), Jacob Abram Chrząstowski (“Bund”), Moszek Prawer (“Poale Zion”), Joseph Rubinstein (Orthodox). On the day of 17th October, the board co-opted some plenipotentiaries: H. Flakser (“Mizrachi”), M. Frydland (“Mizrachi”), B. Silber (Zionist), H. Lubiński (Orthodox), Tykociner (nonpartisan, he renounced his seat and Luzer Żychlin, Orthodox took over his position). The board consisted of: J. L. Kowalski (the president, “Mizrachi”, after his death in 1925 – a vacancy), Mendel Baum (Zionist), Wolf Bok (Zionist), Henoch Janower (Orthodox), Szmul Srebrnik (“Mizrachi”), Szoel Szulc (Zionist), Mordka Zausznica (Zionist), Maurice (Moszek) Zygier (“Poale Zion”), Mendel (Michael) Lubowski (“Mizrachi), the deputies: Israel Majlech Stache, Szlojme Szryt, Lipman Bornstein, Wigdor Finkelstein, Szlam a Wolsztein, Joseph Mehlgut, David Raich, Benjamin Woldman, Mordka Majer Tchórz and Szulim Izbicki. Despite making separate lists, co-operation was maintained between the Zionists and “Mizrachi” Bloc and between the Hasidim and “Aguda”. It became apparent during the election of the community board on October 5, 1924.
On the election from May 20, 1931 ten lists were compiled and they created the following election blocs: Zionists and “Mizrachi” (lists No. 1, 6, 7), nonpartisan and orthodox (lists No. 3, 4, 8, 10, 11). “Poale Zion Right” (Lists No. 2) and “Poale Zion Left” (list No. 5) stood as independent candidates for the election. In the community board the Zionists and “Mazrachi” obtained 3 seats each, Orthodox (“Aguda” and the Hasidim from Stryków) – 3, nonpartisan – 2, “Poale Zion Right” – 1. The election was boycotted by the “Bund”. On June 14, 1931, the president of the board was chosen David Samuel Ersler and the deputy Kasryel Fiszel Tchórz. Besides, the board included: David Samuel Ersler (the president, Zionist Organization), Isaac Goldman (he resigned his seat on December 11, 1932, Zionist Organization), Joseph Horn (until the end of 1934), Jacob Kruszyński (nonpartisan), Bernard Gombiński (to the board, nonpartisan), Israel Gutowski (nonpartisan), Icek Kowalski (Zionist), Kasryel Tchórz (left for Palestine in 1932, “Mizrachi”), Pinkus Kolski (“Mizrachi”), Henoch Janower (to the board, nonpartisan), Syne Praszkier (nonpartisan), Szmul Srebrnik (to the board, “Mizrachi”), the deputies: Mendel Lidzbarski (replaced Isaac Goldman, Zionist Organization), Gutkind Altman (Zionist Organization), Mojsze Zygier (“Poale Zion Right”), Natan Krupka (nonpartisan), Abram Parszos (nonpartisan, replaced Sz. Srebrnik), Icek Manowicz (nonpartisan), Abram Łaski (Zionist), Henoch Flakser (replaced J. Kruszyński, “Mizrachi”), Abram Białogłowski (“Mizrachi”, replaced H. Janower), Mendel Breitsztein (“Mizrachi”), Gerszon Szklower (non-partisan, replaced H. Janower) and Chaim Rubinstein (nonpartisan). The board was almost completely in the hands of the Zionists, they gained 3 seats, “Mizrachi” – 1, “Poale Zion Right“ – 1, Orthodox Party – 2 (in fact they received 3 seats including the rabbi), nonpartisans (the Hasidim from Stryków) – 1. People who serviced on the Board were: Szmul Srebrnik (the president, resigned about the year 1935, his successor was Hersz Lewi), Hersz Lewi (the president, later – Jacob Ntan Kruszyński), Jacob Unger (the assistant rabbi), Henoch Janower, Pinkus Groswirt, Abram Łaski, Max Szrubsztein, Mojsze Zygier, the deputies: B. Herszkowicz, Henoch Gold, Leon Bądźzdrów, Michael Kirszbaum and Kasryel Tchórz.
On September 6, 1936, the next community council election was conducted. The apportionment of seats was as follows: “Poale Zion Right“ got 2 seats (179 votes), “Poale Zion Left“ – 1 (176 votes), “Bund“ 2 (226 votes), Zionist Organization – 2 (274 votes), “Mizrachi“ 1 (170 votes), “Aguda“ – 2 (252 votes), a group of members of the Orthodox Party, supporters of the Rabbi from Stryków – 1 (121 votes), Zionists and Craftsmen – 1 (109 votes); Zionist Revisionists (98 votes) and the Association of Jewish Craftsmen (83 votes) obtained no seats. “Aguda“, on the other hand, did not enter the election. The preliminary agreement the party had signed with a group of the followers of the rabbi (tzadik) from Stryków was breached. “Aguda“ withdrew its own list. Eventually, two electoral blocs emerged: the list No.1 consisted of: Zionists, “Mizrachi”, supporters of the tzadik from Stryków, and “Poale Zion Right”, the list No. 2: “Bund” and “Poale Zion Left”. The Hasidim from Stryków (nonpartisan Orthodox) received one seat, “Mizrachi” – 1, Zionists – 3, “Bund” – 1, “Poale Zion Right” – 1 and “Poale Zion Left” – 1. The community council included: Lejb Fuks (the president, his successor was David Samuel Ersler), Pinkus Kolski, Abram Białogłowski, Bernard Gombiński, Israel Gutowski, Icek Kowalski, Gerszon Szkolwer, Mendel Lidzbarski, Abram Parszos, Syne Praszkier, and B. Herszkowicz. The community board associated: Ferdinand Kaufman (the president, after his office – a vacancy), Henoch Janower, Pinkus Groswirt, Herman Lewi, Abram Łaski, Max Szrubstein, Mojsze Zygier and Jacob Unger. Economical and political problems contributed to the dissolving of the community authority and formation of a new temporary board on January 27, 1939 with David Warszawski as president and others: Jacob Cygański, Joseph Rode, Natan Szymański, Bernard Silber, Ludwig Krupka, Joseph Poznański, Boas Borenstejn and Jacob Unger.
The leader of the community in the years 1899-1925 was rabbi Jehuda Lejb Kowalski and the assistant rabbis: Mendel Kuczyński (1914-1937), Jacob Unger (1912-1939), the rabbi’s proxy in 1917-1925 was Becalel Bieżyński (from 1925 – the community secretary) and Lejb Fuks (the secretary from 1925). At the decline of the Second People’s Republic of Poland, the offices in the community were held by clerical employees: S. Lewkowska, S. Dubnowa, M. Zysman, janitor, S. Bryszkowski, collector, S. Janower, courrier, J. Wędrownik, cantor, M. Wyszegordzki, M. Princ, educators, S. Glinkowski, P. Lipiński, synagogue guards, Szmul Cytron, Szulim Rubinstein, Jacob Tchórz, Hersz Zimnawoda, ritual slaughterers (rzezaks), D. H. Bajler, cashier, E. Rachwałowa, synagogue caretaker, I. Przedecki, Sz. Winter, A. Urwicz, inspectors, Sz. Sztyler, A. Zemelman, gravediggers and G. Kalke cemetery caretaker.
Jews lived mainly on the streets, which during the 19th century created a Jewish district. Nearly 88% of the Włocławek Jews had their apartments on ten streets and these were (Żabia – 6.5%, Kaliska 7.5%, Piekarska 10.1%, Tumska 5.3%, Kościuszki 4.3%, Dąbrowskiego Square 6.1%, 3 Maja 26.3%, Łęgska 6.4%, Cygancka 8.4%, and Królewiecka 7.5% Streets). Furthermore, the streets accommodated a variety of community institutions, for example: the synagogue on 14 Żabia Street (erected in 1847-1854), synagogue on 17 Królewiecka Street (built in 1908-1910), “Talmud Torah” (3 Królewiecka Street), mikvah (4 Królewiecka Street), orphanage (5 Królewiecka Street), old people’s home on 35 Stodólna Street and houses of worship. The cemetery on 25 Nowomiejska Street and the house of worship in Szpital Dolny were the only ones that were situated on the outskirts. In 1938-1939, the total value of the community property was estimated at 349,000 – 475,150 zlotys excluding the private sztibl of the Hasidim from Góra Kalwaria (2 Kowalska Street) and several houses of worship (2 Kowalska, 33, 38 Królewiecka, 8, 18 Piekarska, 6 Zapiecek. 5 Żabia, 20 Szpichlerna, 64 Stodólna, 7 Kaliska, 15 Piekarska, Dąbrowskiego Square and Kokoszka Streets).
The Włocławek Jews had their own representatives in the next municipal authority. In the election from the years 1917-1919 they were: Isidore Łęczycki, Hersz Kino, Szlama Hiller, Joseph Szubiński, Sine Praszkier, Paul Golde, David Bossak, Salomon Auerbach (deputies: David Ersler, Hersz Złotogórski, Jacob Piwko, Majer Hildesheim, Ferdinand Kaufman, Saul Srebrny, Ignac Chaimowitz, Simel Zimmerman, Maurice Szwarc, Salomon Wollman and Riwem Breitstein). In 1919-1927, the “Bund” introduced four councilors (Szlama Hiller, Nachman Gluzman, Perla Gluzman, Abram Toruńczyk, deputies: Henryk Wyszegrodzki, Ignatius Chajmowicz), “Poale Zion“ – 2 (Isaac Bornsztajn, Israel Kino, the deputy Najcia Kinowa), Association of Jewish Merchants – 1 (Paul Golde), Jewish National Electoral Committee – 3 (Joseph Szubiński, Herman Kino, Ferdinand Kaufman, the deputy – David Ersler). In a by-election which was conducted on March 5, 1922, the National Jewish Group inroduced its new representative – Alfred Sztolcman (the deputies: Jacob Zausznica, Bernard Gombiński). In the period of time between 1927-1934 the “Bund“ got 2 seats (Szlama Gedalie Hiller, Abram Toruńczyk) and one deputy, “Poale Zion Left“ – 1 (Jeszyc Hersz Zemelman, replaced in 1930 by Szlama Czarny) and one deputy, “Poale Zion Right“ – 1 (Joseph Horn), National Group – 3 (David Ersler, Alfred Sztolcman, Jacob Zausznica) and one deputy, Orthodox Party – 1 (Sine Praszkier), without a deputy. A. Sztolcman who was appointed to the Municipal Council Board was replaced by Joseph Miedziński. In a by-election to the Włocławek Town Council on October 28, 1932, Jews drew up four lists and only the Union of the National Jewish Committee (Zionists) got three seats (Alfred Sztolcman, Lejb Fuks and Mojsze Kazimierski). Mojsze Bock from the Communist Unity of Workers and Peasants (No. 1) received one seat. As the tenure’s end (lapsing on October 28, 1932) neared, the situation in the Town Council looked like this: “Poale Zion Right“, “Aguda Israel“ and “Bund“ had one seat each, while the National Jewish Bloc possessed six seats.
In the next election held on May 27, 1934, the majority of votes went to the Zionists associated in the National Group (David Ersler, Lejb Fuks and Alfred Sztolcman). On July 7, 1936, Sz. Roth took over the position of David Ersler, whereas on November 18, 1936 Abram Kreusler replaced Alfred Sztlcman. The independent Jewish councilor, Joseph Horn, renounced his mandate. He was replaced (from February 9, 1937) by J. Miedziński who joined the Group of Jewish Councilors. There was not one Jewish councilor in the Board. During the election, the Zionists put up, as their candidate, the Jewish National Electoral Committee in Włocławek. The Jewish United Economic Bloc (Joseph Poznański, I. Rawicki, Salomon Wolsztejn, Jacob Brzustowski) was created as the opposition to the Zionists. Its formation was possible thanks to: “Aguda“, Association of Retailers and Small Merchants, Association of Jewish Craftsmen, Merchants Assembly, Association of Jewish Fighters for Poland’s Independence, Zionist Revisionists Organization and Group of Nonpartisan Jews. The Economic Bloc cooperated with the Sanacja Government. The cooperation was seen as a kind of tough resilient barrier against National Socialism and antisemitism propagated in Poland as well as in many other countries. The last election took place on April 23, 1939 when Jews drew up two lists – the United Jewish Bloc, which acquired 3 seats and the “Bund” with 2 seats. The list of “Poale Zion Association of Jewish Workers” was invalidated.
Large-scale anti-Jewish riots erupted in Włocławek on January 5-8, 1919 and they were initiated by the CPRP rally organized on 5 January in the afternoon in the hall of the Gymnastics Society on 13 Gęsia Street. While the meeting proceeded, two groups of protestors emerged: a communist group yelling such slogans as: “Down with the Polish Army and Police” and the opposite side, which cried: “Up with the Polish Army and Police”. Around 4 p.m. three shots were fired spreading panic. Stranger onlookers caught the escaping Jews and stopped them until the gendarmerie arrived. At the same time, individual Jews were attacked and their stores’ windows were broken. After one hour, the police dispersed the crowd. The following two days brought the formation of new violent groups who targeted and beat up Jews, destroyed shop windows and windows in private apartments on Nowa (3 Maja), Żabia and Zielony Plac Streets. The intervening police received the stolen goods including clothes and leather. On the last day of the events, a crowd gathered consisting mainly of elderly people who shouted: “Beat the Jew”. They encouraged people to begin the plundering of Jewish stores. The police finally arrived after a one-hour delay and the crowd scattered again. As opposed to the police, everything seemed to be overwhelmed by passivity. The Anti-Jewish Riots Commission appointed by the Town Council established that the perpetrators of the incidents were both Jews (Kino, Szubiński, Łęczycki) and Poles (Joseph Kruszyński, Kryt, Maszewski). The tensions were additionally stirred up by the unsettled dealings between the fighting communist organizations (between the group and its opponents) and between the Communists and Zionists. On January 15, 1919, over a dozen people participated in a fight provoked by an attempt to prevent the Zionist Organization from raising money needed for the establishment of Jewish elementary schools (No. 17 and 18). The incident was accompanied by windows being broken in the synagogue on Królewiecka Street. The next wave of such accidents happened when the Soviet offensive reached a climax and when the Red Army positioned itself opposite Włocławek and Nieszawa. Tense with expectancy, Jews waited to see how the events would unfold, remaining simultaneously faithful in their attitude towards Poland. The community authorities addressed Jewish people appealing to defend the country. Paul Golde footed the costs of support given to soldiers who, on the Włocławek boulevards, repelled the attacks of the Soviet army. The Jews did not avoid the work for the stationing army or fortification works. The number of Jewish soldiers who deserted from the ranks of the Polish Army was proportional to the percentage of the whole population who participated in the war. A few left-wing young people, sympathizers to Communism, went to the regions captured by the Soviet Army and joined the local “Rewkoms” and militia units. Jewish lieutenants, Katz and Szymek distinguished themselves during the defense of Włocławek. Polish soldiers who came from Greater Poland manifested hostility toward Jews which was noted down in the year 1920. During the fortification works on August 20-21, 1920, in colonel Gromczyński’s presence, soldiers forced the working Jews to shout: “Up with Poland, down with the Jews”. The prevailing confusion was an opportunity to exact ransom for being exempted from the works, stores were pillaged and assault and battery incidents were rampant. Throughout the next years, the unfriendly riots directed against the Jewish population differed from the hitherto prevailing and at their base lay traditional anti-Judaism. Leaflets pasted on walls at night read “We won’t let Jews betray the blood of Jesus Christ”. The action was initiated by the “Development” Society whose Włocławek branches were in contact with branches in Łódź and Poznań. Yes, the detention of people who posted the flyers took place but the police did not classify the incident as offensive and the originators, after having been found not guilty, were released. This type of antisemitism was popular and it could be proved by the fact that “Pieśń Rozwojowców” was spread in Włocławek and the surroundings in 1923 (appeared in “Słowo Kujawskie” on Nov. 16), 1925 (2,000 issues) and in November 1931. Its author was Hilary Sowiński. It was locally remade by a “Clarix”. The melody was derived from the national anthem “[…] Poland has not yet succumbed, As long as we remain. What Judah’s betrayal has seized, we with work will regain. Get out of here Jews…, They seized industry and trade and they are buying cities out. Sunday is of no meaning to them; their impudence is growing day by day. When our soldiers were beating the foe, the evil Jews were shooting at them…, Our crops eaten by this summer and winter locusts, self-appointed minority wants to rule over us. Covered with gold skin, this Jewish snake slithers. Strangling Poland with its grip, its venom bringing death […]”. Jewish patriotism was always regarded as something insincere and Poles always suspected that such kind of behavior and attitude must have been dictated by other factors, for instance, their desire to grow rich. According to Joseph Kruszyński, a priest, antisemitism became more “practical” in the ensuing years, i.e. merchants and craftsmen’s confession was pointed out and people avoided interfaith gatherings. Such a situation was influenced by the fact that Jews were dominant as far as trade, industry and capital were concerned. It was maintained that Jew preyed on the country and did everything to weaken it not only economically but also morally by (among others) spreading pornography. Referring to the stereotype of Jews, especially the young generation, which identified them with communism, was a permanent element of life. The press continued to publish the addresses of companies whose Jewish owners concealed allegedly their true names and used the Polish ones instead. Acts such as selling a property, store, or company by a Pole to a Jew were condemned. The establishing of interfaith interactions was a blameworthy thing to do. In the 1930s, antisemitic riots were much more numerous. Leaflets, posters, and inscriptions supporting economic boycott against the Jews appeared in the town. The growth of public support for antisemitic action propagated by various right-wing circles coincided with the Great Depression. In November 1931, several days of antisemitic riots were sparked. On November 11-12, some anonymous authors appealed for taking part in an “antisemitic rally” on November 15. The action was coordinated by the Anti-Jewish Committee. Right from the first day of publication of the addresses a wave of aggression increased. Small groups expressing antisemitic slogans appeared on the streets. School blackboards were covered with such types of texts: “Beat the Jews”, “Away with Jewry”. The climax of these incidents fell on the 11th, 12th, and 15th of November. After services in churches, small groups expressing antisemitic slogans began to gather. The initiators of the incidents were young people attending the Craft-Industrial School, J. Długosz Junior High School, and Kujawien Land Junior High School. In the evening of the 11th of November, a crowd gathered in a few places and was joined by the dregs of society. During that evening windows in private apartments, synagogue at Królewiecka Street, and Jewish Junior High School were broken. Chaim Bieżyński, David Dorfman, Moszek Majerczak, I. Kowalski, and J. Włocławski got injured in a fight. 31 people including 20 students were detained by the police. The school authorities took care that the students were given lower conduct marks and be reprimanded. One student was dismissed from the Kujawien Land Junior High School for yelling: “Beat Jews” after reading off a leaflet of the Department of the Interior and the superintendent on November 20. The implications of the occurrences had widespread repercussions. The parliamentary interpellation of this particular case was handed over to the Secretary of the Interior by Icchak Grünbaum, an MP. The Town Council expressed sorrow at the events and a special committee was created that was supposed to investigate the case. The committee’s councilors included Ersler, Toruńczyk, and then Hiller. The case of the two boys from the J. Długosz Junior High School who beat D. Dorfman and M. Majerczak was taken to court. However, they were protected and found not guilty thanks to their probably false “alibi“. At the end of the 1930s, the antisemitic riots became even more aggressive and hostile. Almost every issue of “Dziennik Kujawski”/ “Kujawien Daily” called for the support of an economic boycott. The action was backed up by the local authorities. On February 11, 1937, the Town Council in Włocławek declared Saturday as a market day[1.3].
After the German army’s encroachment to Włocławek on September 1939, the first persecutions took place. Two Jews (from Kowalska and Łęgska Streets) who said their prayers in M. Dyszel’s apartment were arrested on September 22, 1939. During the detention, a few (7-10) Jews were shot or bayoneted, after which their bodies were buried in the yard at 69 Łęgska Street. One day later, on Łęgska Street, Jewish apartments were searched very carefully. About 300 men were arrested. The following day, the synagogues (at 11 a.m. on Żabia Street and at 12 o’clock on Królewiecka Street) and Hasidic prayerhouse (Góra Kalwaria,, on Kowalska Street) were set afire. In retaliation of the alleged fire-raising by the Jews and their disrespectful behavior toward Germans, the SS arrested the “arsonists”. Several hours later, 800-1200 Jews were taken as ransom. While being arrested or escorted to prison, 2 Jews were shot dead and one was gravely injured. Individual murders, beating-up Jews on the streets by uniformed Germans and so-called “games” were common. To exploit Jews financially and devoid them of their property they were laid under contribution. Until October 1, the first contribution (“for the arson and audacious attitude of Jews toward the German army”) amounted to 100,000 zlotys, the second one (“for the failure to observe the traffic regulations”) was 200,000 zlotys and the last one (“for the disseverance of the regulation about yellow patches”) 250,000 zlotys. In November and December 1939, a group of the displaced Jews arrived in Włocławek from Lipno County and Toruń, and in 1940, a group from Brest-Kujawien and Kowal came to the town. A phenomenon of using cheap labor force prevailed. After the arrests in September 1939 and when a few consecutive selections were already finished, a group of several hundred men was left and directed to barracks for two months where their job consisted in removing war damages in the town and the neighboring regions. Others, at the same time, dealt with tidying up the premises of the prison, barracks, removing rubbish and cleaning up the streets. After the detainees had been released, the Jewish community obliged to deliver 800 workers each day. They were (apart from few exceptions) devoid of payment. Craftsmen, before the formation of a ghetto, were in a relatively good situation – tailors, shoemakers, and sole makers. The worst position was the one of intelligentsia, the elderly and ill people, and children. In the first half of 1940, large groups of refugees and displaced persons from Włocławek stayed in Włoszczowa, Zamość, Tarnów, Pruszków, Limanowa, Kozienice, Grójec, Góra Kalwaria, Łódź, Żychlin, Dąb, and Kłodawa. The first organized displacements took place in December 1939. Two transports, with 500-550 people each went to Ożarów (December 1, 1939), Zamość and Włoszczowa (December 15, 1939). The third transport, on February 15, 1940, headed for Tarnów. In 1940, small groups of Jews were directed towards forced labor camps. A group of around 500 people was taken to the Province of Poznań on June 26, 1941. A similar group was sent to Chodzież (Kolmar) a week afterwards. The last transportation of men from Włocławek and the region was conducted on April 26, 1942. For the most part, Jews were sent to the Poznań Radziwiłł Fort and the City Stadium along with its branches. Beside the transportations to labor camps from September 1941, Jews started to be displaced to the ghetto in Łódź. The first transport of 926 people was sent on September 26, 1941; the next one with 1,054 people (including Jews from the neighboring towns) took place on September 28, and one more conveying around 1,000 people on September 30, 1041. In the Łódź ghetto they settled 4, 6, 8 Przelotna, 6, 9, 10, 16 Otylli, 18, 19, 40 Podróżna, and 1, 7 Próżna Streets. At the end of April 1941, there were 937 displaced persons in Włocławek (including 268 men). In 1940, the process of erecting the ghetto began. The very displacement was followed by the ejection of Jews from the representative streets and front buildings. Their new homes were back premises, and alleys at Zielony Rynek, Królewiecka, Łęgska, and Starodębska Streets. The ghetto building works started in the spring of 1940. Around 600 of Poles were displaced from the suburban district of Rakutówek. Within the limits of the ghetto there were the following streets: Wronia (Saarlandstrasse), Wolność (Sudetenstrasse), Nowomiejska (Schlesienstrasse), Krótka (Frankenstrasse), Południowa (Tirolenstrasse), Rakutowska (Körfnerstrasse), Starodębska (Hindenburgstrasse), Ciasna (Pommernweg), and Słoneczna (Rheinlandstrasse). At first, the German names of the streets remained unchanged, but later the streets were given letter symbols from A to J. In clerical terminology, until the end of 1941, they were called “a special housing area” (“besonders Wohngebiet”). The settlement took place gradually from early November of 1940. At the beginning, a few or over a dozen days were left for those with an intent to leave voluntarily. As the majority of them stayed in the town, the rest of the Jews were displaced within 3 hours on November 9, 1940. Until the end of 1940, people could move about freely within the town limits; when it was permitted by the police superior, people could stock up on food and fuel, which the Jewish population of the town was deprived of. Next, all contacts were gradually forbidden, and in November 1941, the ghetto was turned into an enclosed area. Jews were ordered to remain within the limits of the ghetto, Poles, on the other hand, were forbidden to go there. The standard of living deteriorated drastically. There were two stores, regional cuisine and one bakery in the ghetto and the latter one was outside it when it was reduced in size in 1941.
The degradation of ghetto life persisted from the middle of 1941. Some forms of socio-cultural activities that previously existed, now, along with the displacement of the young people to labor camps, gradually disappeared. The Jewish cemetery, which was once a place of social meetings and social life on the whole (there were theater performances, sports contests, and commemorative meetings, e.g. in honor of I. L. Perec in the pre-burial house) again became only a burial place. At the end of 1940, the Craft Association disbanded. It supported the Regional Cuisine as well as political and youth organizations: “Haszomer Hacair”, “Bejart”, “Zukunft”, “and Bund”. The young people from “Zukunft” stopped the issuance of their own newspaper. Widespread starvation brought about depravity which was manifested in the dissemination of prostitution. The “Judenrat” was active and its members were accused of financial embezzlement while collecting money for contributions in Włocławek. During the first period of the war, its board members included: Jacob Cygański, Bernard Silber, Simon Bagiński, and Joseph Rode. The Judenrat associated among others: Isaac Kowalski and Alberstein. The Police Service managed by Ignatius Ferster operated. After the displacements in 1941, the area of the ghetto was diminished. It included the Słoneczna Street, Południowa Street, Krótka Street and a fragment of Ciasna Street. The process of ultimate liquidation of the Włocławek Jews started at the end of April, 1942. A group of men were sent to the Łódź ghetto on April 25. Those remaining (mainly the elderly, sick people and children) were thrown out of the buildings and forced to camp out in the open air. The were alloted numbers. On April 27-30, 1942, they were gradually carried away in trucks to Chełm on the Ner River. The area of the ghetto was tidied up, buildings and what had remained were burnt[1.4].
When the war was over, Jews returned to the town in the spring of 1945. On March 4, 1945, on the initiative of Anatol Szymański, the Committee for the Assistance of Jews was instituted, and it was soon transformed into a branch of the Central Committee of Polish Jews. Political parties were formed: Association of Zionist Democrats “Ichud”, “Poale Zion Right”, “Poale Zion Left” and “Haszomer Hacair”. Two production cooperatives were set up: a clothing cooperative “Igła” (named after Gerszon Dua “Bogen”) and a shoe-leather cooperative “Fajwel Botwin”. In 1945, the Bank for the Support of Jewish Integration was created (from 1947 the Cooperative Bank for Integration). The Congregation of Mosaic Confession was brought into being in 1946. When its size was reduced, its devastation began and lasted until the 1980s. On the corner of Królewiecka Street and Złota Street, a house of prayer was established in the building where the warden of the new synagogue had his place. The services were conducted by Kluska. It was closed in the late 1960s. Dozens of Jews assumed very responsible and prominent offices, especially in the security service and Communist Party (Polish Workers’ Party, later Polish United Workers’ Party) and that was the reason why the attitudes towards Jews were so unfriendly. In 1948, the Jewish Communists tended to take control over the Jewish circle and began to exert more and more influence on Jewish organizations. They dominated the Jewish Society of Culture which was absorbed into the Central Committee of Polish Jews and led to establishing in 1950 the Social and Cultural Association of Jews in Poland. In 1948-1949, the Society for Health Protection was dissolved, a semi-boarding house for Jewish children, kindergarten, library, choir and sports club were all disbanded. SCAJP was still active in the early 1990s. However, its representatives were not mentioned during the convention in 1984. The number of members in 1963-1964 was 70, in 1966 – 69, including 51 people from Włocławek. Despite the criticism on the side of the authorities and the Jewish circle, the Jewish Congregation was still functioning at the end of the 1960s. However, in the 1970s it no longer existed[1.5].


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[1.1] Piotr Bokota, Cechy rzemieślnicze we Włocławku w okresie przedrozbiorowym (XVI-XVIII w.), [w:] Włocławek. Dzieje miasta, pod red. J. Staszewskiego, t. 1, Włocławek 1999, s. 297.

[1.2] Wloclawek we ha Swiwa. Sefer Zikkaron, ed. Kasryel Fiszel Tchursz, Meir Korzen (bmw) 1967, passim; Tomasz Kawski, Wspomnienia o Włocławku Józefa Adolfa Poznańskiego „Zapiski Kujawsko-Dobrzyńskie”, 2007, t. 22, s. 161-182.

[1.3] Szerzej: Wloclawek we ha Swiwa. Sefer Zikkaron, ed. K. F. Tchursz, M. Korzen (bmw) 1967, passim; Tomasz Kawski, Kujawsko-dobrzyńscy Żydzi w latach 1918-1950, „Wydawnictwo Adam Marszałek”, Toruń 2006, passim; Tomasz Kawski, Gminy żydowskie pogranicza Wielkopolski, Mazowsza i Pomorza w latach 1918 – 1942, „Wydawnictwo Naukowe GRADO”, Toruń 2007, s. 221-261; Tomasz Kawski, Inwentarze gmin żydowskich z Pomorza i Wielkopolski wschodniej w latach 1918/20-1939, „Kwartalnik Historii Kultury Materialnej”, 2006, nr 3-4, Dokumenty nr 29 i 30, s. 93-94.

[1.4] Wloclawek we ha Sewiwa..., passim; Aneta Baranowska, Żydzi włocławscy i ich zagłada 1939-1945, Wydawnictwo Naukowe GRADO, Toruń 2005, passim; Tomasz Kawski, Kujawsko-dobrzyńscy..., s. 239-264; Tomasz Kawski, Gminy..., s. 261-267;

[1.5] Mirosław Golon, Żydzi we Włocławku po II wojnie światowej, „Zapiski Kujawsko - Dobrzyńskie”, 1999, t. 13, s. 275-300; Tomasz Kawski, Mniejszość żydowska w województwie pomorskim (bydgoskim) w latach 1945-1956, [w:] Kujawy i Pomorze w latach 1945-1956. Od zakończenia okupacji niemieckiej do przełomu październikowego, pod red. Włodzimierza Jastrzębskiego i Mirosława Krajewskiego, Włocławek 2001, s. 205-228; Tomasz Kawski, Żydzi z Kujaw, ziemi dobrzyńskiej i Bydgoszczy ocaleni z Shoah. Przyczynek do poznania struktury społeczno-zawodowej, zmian osadniczych oraz migracji ludności żydowskiej w Polsce po II wojnie światowej, [w:] Wrzesień 1939 roku i jego konsekwencje dla ziem zachodnich i północnych Drugiej Rzeczypospolitej. Studia pod red. Ryszarda Sudzińskiego i Włodzimierza Jastrzębskiego, Toruń-Bydgoszcz 2001, s. 365-392.

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