The beginning of a Jewish presence in Aleksandrów Kujawski can be traced back to the 1860s. Initially the local Jewish community was under synagogue supervision from Nieszawa, but with time the Jews of Aleksandrów began to dominate over their fellows in Nieszawa in the demographic and economic sense. As a result, the synagogue supervision had its name changed to "Synagogue Supervision (and later Jewish Religious Community) in Aleksandrów Kujawski - Nieszawa".

Through most of the 18th century, the community did not have a rabbi, and his duties were handled by the shochet or chazan. The functions were filled, in turn until 1867, by: Abram Łęczycki, Abraham Tytoń, Mosiek Jakub Zysman, Aron Hersz Lewi, and Mojżesz Toroński[[refr:]T. Dziki, Żydzi w Nieszawie w pierwszej połowie XIX wieku, in: "Ziemia Kujawska", 17 (2004), 59.]]. By the 20th century, however, the community was being led by rabbis. The first was Abraham Zonabend from Nieszawa, who came from a rabbinical family and passed away in the late 1920s. His brother Jehuda Lejb Zonabend served as rabbi in Dobrzyń nad Drwęcą, his brother-in-law Icchak Meir Bornsztein was the rabbi in Gostynin, and his cousin Iszohar Grojbard was the rabbi in Będzin. The second rabbi of Aleksandrów was Jakub Hersz Gendzähler, born 20 September 1903 in Sanok, son of Izrael and Roza. He lived in Aleksandrów Kujawski and was chosen as rabbi on 29 December 1932. Around 1935, Pozner from Warsaw was chosen most likely for lower rabbi or rabbinical assistant, replacing rabbi Erlecher from Służew, who had died in the 1930s. The rabbis' work was supported between 1918-1939 by shochets Icek Brandenburg, Lejb Hilel Miller, and Zelig Pinkert, as well as the teacher Szulim Ber Pinkert, the secretary Dawid Miller, and the synagogue caretaker Mojsze Lejzor Nudla.

The composition of the community's governing body of the 20th century remains unknown, with the sole exception coming in the form of elections on 30 August 1936. By final count, list no. 1 (an alliance of non-party orthodox and zionist revisionists) received 3 seats (given to Mojsze Rafał Przedecki, Jakub Gudak, and Mojsze Jakubowski, with deputies Aron Finkelsztajn, Hersz Najman, and Izaak Szylszreiber), lists no. 2 (orthodox) and no. 3 (Mizrachi party zionists) received no seats, list no. 4 (Aguda and non-party orthodox) received 2 seats (given to Szmul Tchórz and Josef Aron Frajtag, with deputies Josef M. Kowalski and Aron Finkelsztajn), list no. 6 received 2 seats (given to Aron Zalesiński and Hercko Rotman, with deputies Alter Tyk and Abram Wojdysławski), and list no. 7 received 1 seat (given to Lewek Sztachelberg and deputy Hersz Ber Ciuk). As during the previous term, Maurycy (Mojsze) Przedecki was elected chairman. The Bund list was invalidated before the elections. The political influences in the governing body  in 1937 were as follows: the zionists had 4 seats, the non-party representatives also had 4, and the orthodox had 1. Roughly 90% of the members of the Aleksandrów Kujawski - Nieszawa Jewish community lived in Aleksandrów itself. In 1921 the community numbered approximately 1,300 people, then approx. 1,150 in 1923, 1,010 (including 540 women) in 1937, and 1,086 in 1939.

At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, a synagogue was built in Aleksandrów on a plot of 612 square metres, located by Strażacka street. It was a brick and plaster multi-storey building with a pitched roof covered with tar paper. Around it were also a brick building of the community office, utility rooms, and a wooden shelter. The east part of town (present-day Parkowa street) had a 5120 square metre cemetery with a small building for the caretaker. The net worth of the community's property as of 28 February 1939 was priced at 15,810 zł[[refr:]T. Kawski, Inwentarze gmin żydowskich z Pomorza i Wielkopolski wschodniej w okresie międzywojennym (1918/20–1939), in: "Kwartalnik Historii Kultury Materialnej", 1 (2006), 76; T. Kawski, Gminy żydowskie pogranicza Wielkopolski, Mazowsza i Pomorza w latach 1918–1942, 2007, 17-25.]].

The Jewish population played a considerable part in the economic life of Aleksandrów. In 1928 they bought out 33% of the manufacture/merchant licences, including 6% in industry and 36% in trade. The majorty of the Jewish community's members made their living off trade (53%) and artisanship (23%). The remaining 24% were other professions. Among them were industrialists: Josef Atłas, Abel Przedecki, Jakub Szwarc (his company failed in 1932); landowners: Teodora Bursztin, Mieczysław Czapliński, Helena Kwiatkowska and Stefania Theihaber, Estera Rubinstein-Kellerowa; and doctors: Ida Leńska, Markus Kraushar, Jerzy Ryszard Idson, Henryk Rau. The patriarch of medicine in Aleksandrów was Michał Silberbart (1851-1917), who gained popularity through, among other things, "artistically" sewing up wounds sustained by smugglers in brawls. His son Mieczysław also worked as a doctor in Aleksandrów in later years. In the trade field, the most noteworthy were the stores and warehouses of Mojsze Bursztyn, Teodor Bursztyn, Izrael Buźnic, Jakub Fogel, Jakub Dawid Jakubowski, Icek Fligelman, Hinda Nejman, Małka Lewkowicz, Liba Szczecińska, and Salomon Szwarcbard. Among tradesmen and artisans were Chaim Izbicki (sheet-metalworker), Jakub Hersz Kac (butcher), Jakub Fraitag (clockmaker), Chaim Podgórski (barber), and Hersz Szpigel (shoemaker).

December 1938 and January 1939 saw an active picketing action outside of Jewish stores in Nieszawa County by the Association of Young Nationalists and Association of Polish Youth (Polish: Związek Młodych Narodowców and Związek Młodzieży Polskiej, respectively)[[refr:]T. Rejmanowski, Szpital powiatowy w Aleksandrowie Kujawskim (1918–1975), in: "Zapiski Kujawsko-Dobrzyńskie", 12 (1998), 74-45; T. Kawski, Gminy żydowskie pogranicza Wielkopolski, Mazowsza i Pomorza w latach 1918–1942, 2007, 18-26.]].

The Jews of Aleksandrów Kujawski were mostly deported by the end of 1939. They found themselves in Sokołów Podlaski, Siedlce, Grójec, Łyszkowice, Warsaw, Bełchatów, and Andrzejów near Łódź. At the turn of 1940 and 1941, there were about 500 Jews still in Aleksandrów, working on the construction of a road to Ciechocinek. Over the course of the roadwork, the Jewish cemetery was destroyed. On 10 September 1939, Werhmacht soldiers along with local German civilians burned down the synagogue. On September 7th a public execution of 60 Jews was carried out, followed by another one of 45 people on September 14th. The spring and summer of 1941 saw further deportrations. On 8 March 1941 the wife of the chairman of the Aleksandrów Kujawski Judenrat found herself in the Łódź ghetto. Some of the deportees who initially were sent to that ghetto would wind up in their hometown region in 1942, sent there to dig up peat.

The liquidation of the Jewish gathering in Aleksandrów Kujawski took place in May 1942. From the first days of June 1942 word entirely ceased to come in from Jews in Nieszawa County (Ciechocinek County at the time). Refugees from Aleksandrów in May 1942 reported that the last 70 Jews from Nieszawa County were supposedly sent to work on the German-Russian border, or to Bessarabia. In fact they were sent to the camp in Chełmno nad Nerem[[refr:]J. Erwiński, T Krzemiński, J. Treschner, Dawny Aleksandrów, 2004; T. Kawski, Gminy żydowskie pogranicza Wielkopolski, Mazowsza i Pomorza w latach 1918–1942, 2007, 27-28.]].

After World War II, individual Jews started showing up in Aleksandrów, establishing a branch of the Central Committee of Polish Jews (Polish: Centralny Komitet Żydów Polskich). In the latter half of 1946 it gathered 23 people, 14 in mid-1947, 19 in December 1947, and 5 in December 1948, with that final number most likely holding through following years. According to data from 1960, there were 44 Jews living in all of Aleksandrów County, mainly in Ciechocinek[[refr:]National Archives in Bydgoszcz, Komitet Wojewódzki Polskiej Zjednoczonej Partii Robotniczej w Bydgoszczy, ref. no. 51/XV/7, 1; T. Kawski, Kujawsko-dobrzyńscy Żydzi w latach 1918–1950, 2006, 35; T. Kawski, Kujawsko-dobrzyńscy Żydzi w latach 1918–1950, 2006, 267.]].

Bibliography

  • T. Dziki, Żydzi w Nieszawie w pierwszej połowie XIX wieku, in: "Ziemia Kujawska", 17 (2004).
    J. Erwiński, T. Krzemiński, J. Treschner, Dawny Aleksandrów, 2004.
    T. Kawski, Gminy żydowskie pogranicza Wielkopolski, Mazowsza i Pomorza w latach 1918–1942, 2007.
    T. Kawski, Inwentarze gmin żydowskich z Pomorza i Wielkopolski wschodniej w okresie międzywojennym (1918/20–1939), in: "Kwartalnik Historii Kultury Materialnej", 1 (2006).

 

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