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Jewish culture trail through Wielkopolska

Synagogue in Buk, photo: Z. Schmidt

Needle’s Eye in Kórnik, photo: Z. Schmidt

Jewish culture trail through Wielkopolska WARSZAWA

governance and freedom of commerce. The rules specified at that time remained in force practically unchanged until the partitions of Poland. In the 19th century, under Prussian rule, Jewish people quickly became assimilated (the situation was different in the part of Wielkopolska which was acquired by Russia). The process was facilitated by the Prussian laws which brought Jewish people closer to the German middle class. Therefore, it is not surprising that, after Poland regained independence in 1918, many Jews moved to Germany. As a result in some places synagogues became abandoned and there was no one to look after the cemeteries. Large Jewish communities continued to live in the areas formerly administered by the Russians – in Kalisz, Konin, Koło... And then the Holocaust came. Now we strive to restore our memory of those who perished more than half a century ago and those who managed to survive, as well as those who used to live as our neighbours in this land for centuries....

In one of his interviews Szewach Weiss said, “it is only the third generation that begins looking for our roots and asking where our neighbours are”. I remembered these words when I made an attempt to arrange tourist trails which would lead to traces left behind throughout Wielkopolska by our Jewish compatriots. Many of these traces have been found and commemorated in the last 10-15 years, frequently thanks to efforts made by passionate local activists. We can say that the process of discovering our common history is still going on. Indeed, Jewish and Polish people lived side by side in Wielkopolska for over 800 years. The former presumably arrived here in the late 12th/early 13th century. It was in Kalisz in 1264 that Duke Bolesław Pobożny issued the famous Statute of Kalisz which defined the legal status of the local Jewish community; later, following the decision by King Kazimierz Wielki the provisions of the document became binding in the whole country. The Statute extended the sovereign’s custody over Jews and guaranteed their personal safety, self-


Former synagogue in Poznań, photo: Z. Schmidt Jewish house in Poznań, photo: Z. Schmidt

Poznań Synagogue (ul. Wroniecka)

freedom for Poland. In April 1940 the Nazis started the destruction of the synagogue and in 1941 they reconstructed it to hold a swimming pool for the soldiers of the Wehrmacht. Unfortunately, it has retained the function of a swimming pool until today. In 2001 the building was regained by the Jewish community of Poznań which is planning to transform it into the Centre for Dialogue. In order to do so, in 2009 the community established a foundation called Synagoga Nowa – Centrum Dialogu (New Synagogue – Centre for Dialogue). Each year in January the synagogue - swimming pool hosts Days of Judaism with a number of interesting artistic and religious events. The square adjoining the building in 2008 was named after Akiva Eger.

Looking at the building of the municipal swimming pool at Wroniecka Street it is hard to imagine that for over 30 years this was the largest Jewish house of prayer ever built in Wielkopolska. When it opened in 1907 there was none like it throughout Germany (at that time Poznań still was part of the Kingdom of Prussia). The magnificent synagogue funded by donations of Jewish people living in Poznań and throughout Wielkopolska, was designed by Cremer & Wolfenstein, a company from Berlin. The building with room for 1,200 people had the floor plan of the Greek cross and was topped with a dome covered with copper sheet. The structure combined the neo-Romanesque and neoMoorish styles, and its interior was embellished with intricate decorations. Its central part was occupied by Aron Kodesh with the Bimah in front of it, and these elements were separated from the hall of prayer with an openwork balustrade. The last service was held in the Poznań synagogue on 9 September 1939, a day before the Nazis entered Poznań. On that occasion Rabbi Szyje Sender prayed for the victory of the Polish army and the

Jewish Home – Seat of the Community Authorities (ul. Stawna 10) „Thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thy house and upon thy gates. Hear, O Israel, I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, to be your God. I am the Lord your God.” This text is inscribed on the mezu-


zah which in May 2003 was affixed to the doorframe of the Jewish house No. 10, at Stawna Street – after an over 60-year period when Jewish people were absent from here. In 2003 the Poznań Branch of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities of Poland, which was established in 1998, moved back to the former home of the local Jewish religious community. The house at Stawna Street was built in 1897. During the interwar period the building also held the Jewish library, lecture hall, offices of charitable organizations, a sports association, a religious school, and for a few years a Jewish public school. The Jewish community regained the building in 2001. Today it also holds a hall of prayer which on 8 January 2009 held a ceremony of bringing in the Torah. The Jewish Community of Poznań received both the Torah and parochet from Orit and Meshulama Shafran from Israel who by this donation wanted to “celebrate the memory of (the community’s) former glory, commemorate victims of the Holocaust and pay tribute to Irena Sendler, Righteous among the Nations.”

A new establishment – S. B. Latz Hospice for the Elderly and Decrepit was opened in 1908; it was built by the foundation on the site formerly occupied by old synagogues, at No. 15-18 Żydowska Street. It comprised 36 rooms, a dining room, library, and flats for the inspector and cantor of the hospice; the floors of the building could be reached by electric lift. There was also Beth Midrash. The imposing building, designed by Alfred Grotte, Professor of the Royal School of Crafts in Poznań, had an Lshaped layout, and was separated from the street by a garden surrounded by a low wall. The Art Nouveau building, now used for housing purposes, was regained by the Jewish community in 2001.

Poznań Branch of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities ul. Stawna 10, 61-759 Poznań tel. 61 855 21 18 Office is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:00-12:00

Kronthal Fountain in Poznań, photo: Z. Schmidt

Kronthal Fountain Aleje Marcinkowskiego (the crossroads with 23 Lutego St.) Kronthal Fountain was built in 1909 to the design by Hugo Lederer, one of the most remarkable sculptors working in Berlin in the late 19th/early20th century.

S.B. Latz Foundation (ul. Żydowska 15/18) The history of the Latz Foundation goes back to the early 1800s. A wealthy merchant, Salomon Benjamin Latz, deceased on 17 January 1829, left, in his will, 6,000 thalers for establishing a shelter for ill and poor people of Jewish descent. The first hospital opened in 1837 on the corner of Stawna and Wroniecka Streets where it existed until the end of the 19th century.


Building at No. 32, Libelta St. in Poznań, photo: Z. Schmidt Building at No. 27, Niepodległości St. in Poznań, photo: Z. Schmidt

It cost 25,000 marks and was founded by Gustav Kronthal, a merchant, community worker and art collector – descendant of a wealthy Jewish family from Poznań. After he moved to Berlin in 1898, he established the Gustav Kronthal Foundation in the city of Poznań in 1903; it provided funds for purchasing works of art which were then deposited in the Emperor Frederick Museum existing at the time.

Jewish artefacts are stored in various locations of the Poznań National Museum (e.g. the holdings of the Museum of Applied Arts include 19th/early 20th century silverware used in synagogues and households, 18th/19th century Seder plates, various fabrics used in synagogues as well as elements of clothing); some holdings are not on display.

National Museum (Aleje Marcinkowskiego 9)

National Museum Aleje Karola Marcinkowskiego 9 61-745 Poznań tel. 61 856 80 00,

The holdings of the National Museum in Poznań include Jewish artefacts from all over Wielkopolska. Among these we can see here: column capitals from the Poznań synagogue (currently a swimming pool), 18th and 19th century parochets (including one from the synagogue in Trzcianka), 19th century fragments of Torah scrolls, silver yads, Hanukkah lamps, Seder plates, spice boxes, and candle holders. There are also elements of religious clothing, paintings, photographs and picture postcards depicting the Jewish world of Poznań and Wielkopolska. One of these, on display in the Poznań Historical Museum, is the painting by Julius Knorr entitled Poznań Town Square in 1838, where amidst the crowd of the town residents the painter commemorated a group of Jews with Akiva Eger.

Jewish Villas (ul. Libelta, al. Niepodległości/Chopina, Wieniawskiego, Fredry) In the late 19th/early 20th century the Jewish people were quite affluent. This fact is confirmed by the taxes they paid – although they constituted only 3.8% of the total population they contributed as much as 23% to the city’s tax revenues. Their financial status was also reflected by the buildings which they erected. In the second half of the 19th century wealthy Jews lived outside the area of the Old Town and when the city fortifications were dismantled they started building large houses in the western part of the town as well. Today we can still


Matzevahs at Głogowska St. in Poznań, photo: Z. Schmidt

Building at No. 8, Fredry St. in Poznań, photo: Z. Schmidt

admire the interesting architecture of several villas from the early 20th century, including: house No. 32 at Libelta Street once owned by Max Jaffe, a physician and professor of medicine; at No. 27 Niepodległości Avenue (corner of Chopina St.) owned by Herman Loeve, a merchant; at No. 2, Noskowskiego St. (corner of Wieniawskiego St.) owned by Leo Alport, a merchant and banker; and at No. 8, Fredry St. owned by Adolf Landsberg, a lawyer.

There they were buried next to the collective graves of Jewish people murdered during the war, and the place was marked with the surviving matzevahs from the cemetery at Głogowska St. The only part of the former Jewish graveyard which is not occupied by buildings can be seen in the yard of house No. 26a, at Głogowska St. This is the place where Akiva Eger was buried in 1837. He was the Rabbi of the Grand Duchy of Poznań, one of the most outstanding Jewish scholars of the 19th century, Talmudist, and author of numerous works on Judaic laws. After lengthy negotiations between the Jewish community, Grunwald Housing Co-operative and owners of tin garages which used to stand here, the small part of the old Jewish cemetery was restored. In 2008 six matzevahs made of black marble were placed to mark the graves of Akiva Eger, his wife and two sons, as well as – symbolically – two other rabbis. The entrance to this tiny patch of the old graveyard was closed with a gate with memorial plaques in Polish, Hebrew and English languages.

Tomb of Akiva Eger (old cemetery at Głogowska St.) The Jewish cemetery at Głogowska St. was opened in 1804, after Prussian authorities closed down the Jewish burial grounds located in the area today occupied by Wolności Square and Cyryla Ratajskiego Square. The new graveyard survived until World War II. It was then destroyed by the Nazis, who used the matzevahs for strengthening the roads and for construction works in Sołacz, a residential district of Poznań. The cemetery at Głogowska St. ceased to exist after the war when its area was designated to hold facilities of the Poznań International Fair. Human remains which were uncovered in the 1980s, after the construction of new pavilions was started, were taken to the cemetery in Miłostowo.

ul. Głogowska 26 a (to enter the cemetery you must contact apartment No. 7 via Intercom)


Poznań and local area Buk – Mosina – Kórnik – Gniezno – Pobiedziska – Murowana Goślina – Uzarzewo Buk

Synagogue in the building housing Jewish authorities, photo: Z. Schmidt

Synagogue in Buk, photo: Z. Schmidt

Jewish Burial Grounds at Miłostowo Cemetery

from 1940 until August of 1943; afterwards all the surviving inmates were transported to the Auschwitz concentration camp. The exact number of people who perished in these labour camps remains unknown. Initially the dead were buried at Catholic cemeteries, and later they were incinerated in the Institute of Anatomy of the so-called Reich University (1,702 individuals). We do not know how many corpses were removed from the camps along with waste and transported to the municipal incineration plant. In 1983 an obelisk was built to commemorate the victims of one of these camps, existing in the Municipal Stadium at Dolna Wilda. In 2005 the obelisk was relocated to Królowej Jadwigi St., in the vicinity of Multikino.

No one knows exactly how many people were buried in the Jewish section of the municipal cemetery at Miłostowo. It was established in 1958 when other Jewish graveyards in Poznań no longer existed. Five collective graves built here hold ashes of 1,008 Jewish people who perished during the Nazi occupation, as well as mortal remains which were uncovered in the course of the construction works for Poznań International Fair whose facilities are partly situated on the grounds formerly occupied by the Jewish cemetery at Głogowska St. Additionally, several post-war graves are located within the Jewish burial grounds at Miłostowo. In 1993 the place received the look of a typical Jewish cemetery when the matzevahs brought here from the old cemetery at Głogowska St. were arranged in the shape of menorah around the existing graves.

Martyrs’ Museum in Żabikowo From 1941 until August 1943 Żabikowo held a forced labour camp for Jewish people; from 1943 until 1945 there was a Security Police Prison and Corrective Labour Camp for Poles, then during 194548 the place served as an internment camp for German civilians. Jewish people were brought to Żabikowo (which at the time was a village near Poznań, and now is part of Luboń) from ghettos all over the Warthegau (German name for the district on the Warta

Memorial of Labour Camp Victims (ul. Królowej Jadwigi) During the Nazi occupation within the area of Poznań there were no less than 29 forced labour camps for Jewish people where approximately 11,000 persons were imprisoned. The camps operated


The neo-Romanesque synagogue at No. 7, Mury St. was built in 1909 to the design by Alfred Grotte. Today this is one of the best preserved synagogues in Wielkopolska. It has retained the original façade with three entrances – the one in the middle was for men, and both side doors were for women. Over the main entrance there are tablets of the Decalogue. The interior holds the main hall of prayer on three sides surrounded with the women’s gallery. During World War II the Nazis arranged here a furniture factory, and after the war for many years the building was home to a sports club. In 1988 it was acquired by the Nissenbaum Family Foundation which thoroughly restored it. The synagogue, currently owned by the Poznań Branch of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities of Poland, is occasionally used for artistic events, including the Festival of Culture of Jewish People and Israel which is held in May. Near the synagogue we can also see the building of an old Jewish school – restored by the Nissenbaum Family Foundation in 1988 as well. The Jewish cemetery (Buk – Wielka Wieś) was probably established in the 1800s and was destroyed by the Nazis during World War II. Again, in 1988 local authorities aided by the Nissenbaum Family Foundation fenced off and cleaned up the graveyard in which we can see several surviving matzevahs.

Monument at the Jewish cemetery in Mosina, photo: Z. Schmidt

River). Here they built a motorway which was to connect Poznań and Frankfurt an der Oder. Żabikowo was one of 24 labour camps established along the route of the future motorway. In 1943 those who managed to survive the gruelling work on this site were transported to other labour camps while those who were no longer fit for work were taken to the extermination camp in Chełmno nad Nerem. The museum, which was launched in 1976, collects documents and artefacts connected with the tragic fate of the prisoners once kept here; it also conducts educational programmes. One of these is an international event called Workcamp, which is organized in cooperation with One World Association. It is designed for young volunteers and has been held each summer since 2005. Its participants from various European countries are involved in various case studies, as well as in the restoration and documentation of matzevahs which are brought to Żabikowo from the Poznań area. Martyrs’ Museum in Żabikowo ul. Niezłomnych 2, 62-031 Luboń tel. 61 813 06 81, fax 61 810 34 11 Open: Tuesday-Friday: 9:00 –15:00, Saturday-Sunday: 10:00-14:00 free admission

Mosina We do not know exactly when the synagogue was built here. Some sources quote the year 1876, others say it was 1890. The building with a rectangular layout has retained its exterior design, including the


arcaded frieze below the main cornice. Its interior was destroyed by the Nazis during World War II. After the war the old synagogue was transformed into a warehouse and shop. The old appearance of the shul was restored in the 1980s. Afterwards, in 1987 a small museum was opened here and in 1993 it was transformed into the Municipal Gallery.

type in Poland. The 18th century wooden shul with interesting interior furnishings was completely destroyed by the Nazis in 1940. The only thing which can be seen here is a walkway which was used by Jewish people, who in the mid 19th century accounted for 44% of the town’s total population, to access the synagogue from the town square. Tightly fitting between the houses, the old passage commonly called “Needle’s Eye” is 10 metres long and only 1.5 metre wide. Over its gate there is the original inscription in both Hebrew and German languages: “This is the gate of the Eternal, the righteous walk this way”. Along the passage leading to the old synagogue we can see matzevahs which in the 1980s were uncovered in the course of earthworks conducted in Kórnik. Dating from the 19th and 20th century the tombstones originally were placed in the local Jewish cemetery, which was destroyed by the Nazis in 1941. Today the area of the former burial grounds is occupied by the Institute of Dendrology at the Polish Academy of Sciences. The Needle’s Eye whose preservation was possible thanks to efforts by archaeologist Professor Jerzy Fogel, can be accessed by visitors only in extraordinary circumstances. However, its gate is always opens on 1 November, All Saints Day, and Kórnik residents light candles along the passage in memory of the deceased.

Municipal Gallery in Mosina ul. Niezłomnych 2, 62-050 Mosina tel. 61 819 15 91, Kórnik Today in Kórnik there are no remains of the synagogue which once ranked among the most original structures of this Remnants of matzevahs from the old Jewish cemetery in Kórnik, photo: Z. Schmidt

Gniezno Today there are no traces left of the 19th century synagogue at Mieszka I St. It was dismantled by the Nazis during World War II and the material was used for the construction of training grounds occupying the area in front of today’s Theological Seminary. In the 1950s a residential building was erected in the former location of the synagogue. However we can still see the neoGothic building at Mieszka I St. erected in 1880 and used by the local Jewish community until 1939. Since shortly after the war


Collective grave in Uzarzewo, photo: Z. Schmidt

Cemetery in Pobiedziska, photo: Z. Schmidt

the place has been home to the State School of Music. On the other hand the history of the 19th century cemetery at Bolesława Chrobrego St is more unusual. It was destroyed by the Nazis during World War II and closed down after the war. Jewish graves were discovered here in the early 21st century during construction works aimed at building The Life Saving Centre of the District Fire Brigade. Resulting from an agreement concluded by the local government, the commanding authorities of the District Fire Brigade and the Union of Jewish Religious Communities of Poland an unusual solution was adopted. The area of the cemetery was covered with a protective slab of concrete, which enabled the construction of the facility for the fire service. In order to commemorate the old Jewish cemetery, a plaque with Hebrew and Polish inscriptions was unveiled on the wall of the building in October 2008.

material for building a jetty on the shore of Lake Dobre. Some tombstones were thrown into the lake. Years later they were found by scuba divers from Podwodniak Scuba Divers and Lifeguards Association in Gniezno who recovered 24 matzevahs dating from the 1800s. The tombstones were cleaned and placed in the cemetery at 22 Stycznia St. which subsequently was restored and opened in 2002. Murowana Goślina “In memory of Jewish people who rest here – the local community”, such an inscription can be seen on the plaque affixed to a boulder to commemorate Jewish inhabitants of Murowana Goślina. The memorial was unveiled in 2008 in the area formerly occupied by a Jewish cemetery at Mściszewska St. Artefacts related to the Jewish population of Murowana Goślina are collected in the Regional Exhibition Room.



In the 1990s the remains of the 18th century cemetery with only three surviving matzevahs still were not fenced. The destruction of the burial grounds was started by the Nazis during World War II, and was concluded in the post war years. The matzevahs were used for example as

The Catholic cemetery holds a collective grave of Jewish people who perished in the forced labour camp in Kobylnica during World War II. It is assumed that approximately 100 people were buried here. The local residents take care of the grave.


of Jewish people in Leszno and Wielkopolska. You can find out about the Jewish world of the past while looking at items used for religious purposes, both in synagogues and at home, elements of clothing, documents and old photographs. The most interesting exhibits include: Torah scrolls, Babylonian Talmud from 1885, Hanukkah lamps, candle holders and utensils used during Shabbat, spice boxes, yads, a wedding ring... The Jewish environment in Wielkopolska is also depicted by paintings and old picture postcards.

dents realize that Leszno has retained the old Jewish Quarter even though few people are able to identify its origins. Its beginnings go back to the 16th century when Jewish people started settling in Leszno. During the 17th and 18th century this was one of the largest Jewish communities in Poland with a population of approximately 7,000. It was here that Akiva Eger worked in 1780-90 before he became the Rabbi of Poznań. However, in the early 20th century only a few hundred Jewish people lived here, and before the outbreak of World War II their population decreased to approximately 200. In December 1939 they were all relocated to the zone administered by the General Government and from there to concentration camps. What is left here are their old buildings, which today are used for different purposes, e.g. the house of prayer at No. 4, Średnia St. (today a residential building); and the Public Jewish School at 22, Zygmunta Krasińskiego Avenue (now a private school)...

Art Gallery of the District Museum in Leszno ul. G. Narutowicza 31, 64-100 Leszno tel. 65 529 61 43 Cemetery

Old synagogue in Leszno, photo: Archive of Leszno-Region Tourist Organization

Leszno Region

Richard and Paul Ehrlich introduced alterations in Art Nouveau style. It was on that occasion that a tower with an onion dome and a spire crowned with the Star of David were added (it was destroyed in 1956, and the interior of the former shul was soon divided by a ceiling into two storeys). At the same time the hall of prayer was expanded to include women’s galleries. The synagogue in Leszno was used by Jewish people until 1939. By some miracle it survived the war, even though the Nazis destroyed its furnishings. After the war it was used as a municipal bath house. In 1991 it was acquired by the District Museum and two years later its thorough reconstruction began. After the works concluded, in 2006 it became home to the Art Gallery of the District Museum in Leszno. The Gallery provided space for the permanent exhibition depicting the history

Leszno – Śmigiel - Kościan Leszno Synagogue Even though it is no longer used for religious purposes by the Jewish population of the town it is the oldest and best preserved synagogue in Wielkopolska. Because of the exhibitions on display, it has become a kind of microcosm of the old Jewish town of Leszno. It is home to the Judaic Section of the District Museum in Leszno, which is the only institution in Wielkopolska which for years has been extensively promoting various aspects of Jewish culture. The Baroque synagogue (No. 31, Narutowicza St.) was erected in the 1700s. In the early 20th century the architects


The only surviving part of the old Jewish graveyard can be seen at Jana Pawła II Avenue. The burial grounds, which were destroyed by the Nazis, today are occupied by a housing estate built in the 1970s. The preserved part of the cemetery holds the old gravedigger’s house and the mortuary from the early 1900s, which during 19932004 was home to the Judaic Section of the Leszno Museum. This institution started compiling information about the Jewish cemeteries existing in Wielkopolska and collecting the surviving matzevahs. The majority of the tombstones and their fragments date from the 19th and 20th century, yet the oldest matzevah comes from 1700. After the Art Gallery opened the Judaic Section was relocated to the old synagogue and the building of the former mortuary was acquired by the Municipal Public Library.

Leo Beck’s House At No. 24, Chrobrego Street we can see the 19th century house which is the birth place of the most famous Jew from Leszno – Leo Baeck (1873-1956), one of the most outstanding Jewish philosophers of the 20th century. Śmigiel In the mid-19th century Śmigiel was inhabited by 350 Jewish people. Then, in the 1930s due to the decrease in their population the town’s authorities bought the 19th century synagogue from the Jewish community and transformed it into a school. Thanks to this, even though its form has changed, the building at 18, Mickiewicza St., (at present used for housing purposes) is still there. The Jewish cemetery dating from the late 1700s was destroyed during World

Jewish Quarter The charm of the narrow streets and characteristic buildings at Grodzka, Średnia and Tylna streets are not immediately appreciated by many.... Only after the old synagogue was restored did many resi-


Old mortuary in Kościan, photo: Z. Schmidt Cemetery in Koźmin, photo: Z. Schmidt

War II by the Nazis who utilized the matzevahs for paving forecourts and constructing utility buildings. To commemorate the Jewish people resting in the Śmigiel cemetery, the recovered matzevahs were gathered in a lapidarium which in 2008 was established at Skarżyńskiego St. outside the wall which once surrounded the graveyard. Two gravestones which survived intact, and five panels reconstructed from preserved fragments were mounted onto the wall. The remaining fragments were placed under the wall, which also features a plaque with the following inscription: “Jewish Lapidarium – we dedicate it to the memory of our common past, Community of Śmigiel Region”. The memorial was set up by the Śmigiel Cultural Society and the local government.

Kalisz Region

Koźmin – Kalisz – Ostrów Wielkopolski – Odolanów – Grabów nad Prosną - Kępno Koźmin The best preserved in Wielkopolska, the Jewish cemetery in Koźmin is also the most picturesque place of this type. Jewish people lived in Koźmin from the 15th century and received land for a cemetery in the late 18th century from the owner of the town, Kazimierz Sapieha. Visitors to this graveyard located at Wierzbowa St. can see rows upon rows of tightly placed matzevahs. Approximately 250 well-preserved gravestones date from the 19th and 20th century, the oldest comes from 1806, and the latest was built in 1969, when Nathan Mośkiewicz was buried here – he was the last Jew from Koźmin, and one of only two that survived World War II.

Kościan The matzevah at the Catholic cemetery at Bączkowskiego St. is the only preserved tombstone from the Jewish cemetery in Kościan. The graveyard was located in the area today delineated by Piaskowa and 2 Października Streets. It was destroyed by the Nazis during World War II and today its only remnants include a part of the wall once surrounding the cemetery and the old mortuary at No. 34, Piaskowa St., today used for housing purposes.

Kalisz The first Jews settled in Kalisz as early as the 12th century. It was here that in 1264 that Duke Bolesław Pobożny issued the famous Statute of Kalisz which defined


Building at No. 19, Kościuszki St. in Kalisz, photo: Z. Schmidt

Building at No. 1, Targowa St. in Kalisz, photo: Z. Schmidt

Jewish Quarter

the legal status of the local Jewish community; later, following the decision by King Casimir the Great in 1364 the provisions of the document became binding throughout the whole country. The Jewish community of Kalisz ranked very high in the whole country, and during 1581-1764 its rabbis headed the ‚ Council of Four Lands’ – the central body of Jewish authority in the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland. Similarly in the period before World War II, until 1939 the Rabbi of Kalisz was the leader of all rabbis of the Polish Republic. In the course of the town’s history there were periods when Jewish residents accounted for 1/3 of the total population. At the outbreak of World War II approximately 30,000 Jews lived here and when the Nazi occupation started there were approximately 22,000. In November and December of 1939 the majority of them were transported to the zone administered by the General Government. For those who remained here, in spring of 1940 the Nazis established a ghetto within three houses at Złota St. in the course of its liquidation in1942 the Jews were transported to the ghetto in Łódź, some were murdered in the forests near Kalisz or in gas vans.

Today, we can identify 37 places throughout the city holding memories of the Jewish population. A number of buildings in the Jewish quarter survived the war, however the synagogues were destroyed by the Nazis. Dating from the 19th century, the Great Synagogue at Złota St. in 1939 was plundered by the Nazis who later, in 1940 forced the local Jews to finally dismantle the building. In the same year the reform synagogue from 1911, at No. 5 Krótka St. was razed to the ground. The oldest part of the Jewish quarter was located in the western part of the town and its borders were delineated by the streets which currently are called Narutowicza, Wodna, Chopina, Nowy Rynek and Kanonicka. A number of buildings, which were reconstructed and adopted for other purposes can still be seen there, e.g. former Jewish schools at No. 14, 18 and 19, Kościuszki Street, No. 27 and 29 Wolności Ave. and No. 15, Łazienna; Talmud Torah (today a tax office) at No. 1, Targowa St.; Jewish Secondary School at No. 3, Kilińskiego Square; and Jewish Orphanage at No. 17, Piskorzewska St. A number of Jewish places were irrevocably lost, e.g. the hospital, the head-


Entrance to the cemetery in Kalisz, photo: Z. Schmidt

quarters of the community authorities, the mikveh, as well as the theatre at Ciasna St. The times of the Holocaust are commemorated here with the Book Memorial (No. 11, Babina St.) which is a symbolic representation ofi the thousands of Polish and Jewish books from Kalisz libraries which were used by the Nazis to fill in the bed of Babinka canal, during construction works conducted in 1940-42.

During World War II the Nazis demolished the old cemetery and used the matzevahs for construction works, such as reinforcing the banks of the Prosna river. The new graveyard survived in fairly good condition. In 1946 the remains of approximately 1,500 Jews slaughtered in the nearby forests were exhumed from the collective graves and reinterred here. In the late 1980s works were initiated to tidy up the burial grounds. Additionally, in 1989, approximately 2,000 matzevahs, originating from the old cemetery, were recovered from the Prosna river bank and placed here. This was a result of efforts made by the Nissenbaum Family Foundation. In 1998 the Jewish Community of Wrocław became the custodian of the cemetery. The restored mortuary was adapted to hold the Home of Memory and Meetings which opened in 2001. Its expositions include photographs, books and other ar-

Cemetery and Home of Memory and Meetings There were two Jewish cemeteries in Kalisz. The first one, presumably the oldest in Poland, was established in the 13th century in the area today delineated by Skalmierzycka, Handlowa and Nowy Świat streets. It was used until the late 19th/ early 20th century and later in 1920 another graveyard was opened at 23, Podmiejska Street.


tefacts connected with the former Jewish residents of Kalisz. Among the exhibits we can see ceremonial candle holders, a complete 18th century Torah scroll (purchased at an auction by an anonymous buyer and handed over to the cemetery guardian), a 19th century kiddush cup which in 1940 was saved by a woman at the time the Nazis were destroying the Great Synagogue and later in 2007 it was presented to the Home of Memory. It also holds meetings and lectures devoted to Jewish themes. Additionally a number of projects are carried out here - for instance young people from Poland and Israel work together tidying up the graves, cleaning matzevahs and compiling their inventories. In the cemetery we can see two monuments: “In Memory of the Jews from Błaszki” and “In Memory of the Exterminated during World War II”. Young people from Israel along with teenagers from the secondary schools in Kalisz are jointly building the monument “In Memory of Jewish People from Kalisz”. Of notice in the cemetery are also the graves of two outstanding rabbis: Ribbi Lipszyc and Ztadik from Zduńska Wola.

Old synagogue in Ostrów Wlkp., photo: Z. Schmidt

The cemetery can be visited only by prior arrangement with its guardian, Ms. Halina Marcinkowska tel. 600 06 79 56, e-mail:

150 people and galleries in its balconies. This solution became possible when as a result of an agreement with the Wrocław Branch of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities of Poland in 2006 the local government of Ostrów Wielkopolski acquired the synagogue building and made a commitment to establish two lapidariums in the old Jewish cemeteries. The synagogue at No. 21, Raszkowska St. is the only remnant of the Jewish quarter which survived World War II. It was saved due to a specific microclimate in its interior – the Nazis used it as storage for alcohol and food. After the war, for many years it held a furniture warehouse and then was occasionally used for artistic events. Today, the synagogue in Ostrów is the only surviving urban synagogue in Poland which was built in a neo-Moorish style. Even though it was seriously dam-

Ostrów Wielkopolski The cost of the thorough renovation of the synagogue in Ostrów Wielkopolski conducted in 1903 was 12,000 German marks. The recent project aimed at reviving the building and adopting it to its new functions cost 7 million PLN – 70% of this amount came from European Union funds. The restoration works took two years, and the opening ceremony in the renovated synagogue was held on 6 October 2011. Today it houses a culture centre called Forum Synagoga (administered by the Culture Centre of Ostrów Wielkopolski), including a concert hall with seats for







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aged, to a large extent it has retained original elements, such as the front façade amply decorated with bass-relief, a two-storey women’s galleries in the main hall of prayer, as well as parts of the wall paintings. No cemeteries survived in Ostrów, they were all destroyed by the Nazis during World War II. In 2009 a lapidarium was built at 23 Stycznia Sq. – on the site, which during 1724-1780 was occupied by the first Jewish cemetery. It contains gravestones recovered from a wall surrounding 23 Stycznia Sq. and is administered by the Wrocław Branch of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities of Poland. We can also see here a memorial plaque with an inscription in Hebrew and Polish: „Our bodies will return to the dust of the earth, and the breath of life will go back to God, who gave it to us. Eccl. 12.7”. Under construction is the second lapidarium at Słowackiego Avenue where a Jewish cemetery existed from the late 18th century until World War II.

of the occupation. After the war until the early 1990s the building held a cinema, and then it was leased by Jehova’s Witnesses. In 2007 the old synagogue was regained by the Wrocław Branch of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities of Poland. Kępno Although in a state of disrepair, the synagogue at No. 6, Łazienna St. still makes a great impression with its classicist architecture and ranks among the largest and most interesting shuls in Wielkopolska. In 2009 the building was granted to the town by the Wrocław Branch of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities of Poland to be used for cultural purposes. Under the same agreement the town’s authorities made a commitment to build a memorial of the Jewish cemetery. The classicist synagogue was built in 1815-16 to the design of two architects from Brzeg in Silesia, brothers Fryderyk and Karol Scheffler. Its western part held the main hall of prayer with a square floor plan; it still retains fragments of stucco ornaments and polychromes from 1924-25. The first floor was occupied by the women’s gallery. The front façade, consisting of five sections, and a monumental portico with four columns, is still an impressive sight. The shul was greatly damaged by the Nazis during World War II. Later it was used for various purposes (e.g. furniture storage) and then for years it was abandoned. In 1973 its interior was destroyed by fire. Jewish people lived in Kępno from the 17th century, and in the mid 19th century they accounted for more than half of the town’s population. Later many of them left and so their number decreased. The cemetery established at the heyday of the Jewish population here (at what today is Wrocławska St.), was destroyed during World War II. Later a motor vehicle diagnostic station was built in this location.

Odolanów Although Jewish people first arrived in Odolanów ca. 1400 their local community was never very big. The largest population of approx. 200 lived here in the mid 19th century. The only remains connected with them can be seen at No. 9, Krotoszyńska St., and include the classicist synagogue from 1836, and the ritual slaughterer’s house which could be accessed directly from the shul. During World War II the synagogue was destroyed by the Nazis. Today both buildings are used for housing purposes. Grabów nad Prosną The brick synagogue with a rectangular floor plan was built in Grabów nad Prosną in 1857, at the street today called Kępińska. At the time Grabów was inhabited by approx. 170 Jewish people. Even though it was ransacked by the Nazis during World War II it survived the times


Lapidarium in Słupca, photo: Z. Schmidt

Lapidarium in Słupca, photo: Z. Schmidt

Konin Region

following efforts by the staff of the Regional Museum were some gravestones were brought from the river bank to the museum. When a lapidarium was created some of these returned to the area of the old cemetery (on the other side of the river, east of the town), which now is covered with a pine grove. A few tombstones were embedded into a brick post with a memorial plaque.

Pyzdry – Słupca – Kazimierz Biskupi Konin – Rudzice – Sompolno – Koło – Chełmno nad Nerem Pyzdry Jewish people lived in Pyzdry as early as the 14th century. In the early 1800s there were over 1,200, and shortly before the outbreak of World War II approximately 500 Jewish residents. In 1940 all of them were transported to ghettos all over the Wartheland. Today it takes an expert’s eye to notice the characteristic synagogue-style arrangement of windows in the plant at No. 10, Kościuszki St. The shul dating from 1793 was damaged by the Nazis, and after the war it was built up to include one more floor and transformed into a production hall. The 18th century cemetery was completely destroyed during World War II and the gravestones were used to build floodbanks along the Warta and for paving roads. In the embankment at Nadrzeczna St. the Nazis built fuel storage for the local power plant and for that they also used the matzevahs from the ruined cemetery. You can still decipher an inscription on one of them. Only in the late 1980s/early 1990s

Słupca Jewish people arrived in Słupca in large numbers in the second half of the 19th century, and rapidly became a significant part of the local community. 1,800 Jewish residents accounted for nearly a quarter of the overall population. At the same time they built a synagogue, school and library; they also established a cemetery outside the town. Although damaged by the Nazis, the synagogue (No. 11, Bożnicza St.), survived the war. Later it was reconstructed and today is a residential building. The Jewish cemetery is no longer there. After destroying it in 1942 the Nazis levelled the terrain and planted trees there. Today in the former location of the burial grounds at Gajowa St. there is a memorial – a plaque mounted on a large boulder. Some matzevahs or their fragments, by miracle found in various places


the Centre for Lifelong Learning and can be easily recognized by the imposing columns of its portico. Memorial Sites There are no remains of the Jewish cemetery which existed from the 1830s in the area of Nadrzeczna St. It was completely destroyed by the Nazis during World War II; they used the gravestones as building material for roads and they transformed the burial ground into a shooting range for Hitler-Jugend. Today the cemetery is commemorated by a boulder with a plaque. There is also an obelisk in memory of 56 Polish citizens, residents of the Konin area, who in November 1939 were executed at the cemetery by the Nazis. In 2003 at Kolejowa St. a plaque was unveiled in honour of the Jewish victims of the forced labour camp which existed in Konin – Czarków from March1942 until August 1943. It is assumed that approx. 1,100 prisoners were kept there. A grave of over 60 persons who perished in the camp

Old shul in Konin, photo: Z. Schmidt Inside the old shul in Konin, photo: Z. Schmidt

of Słupca, were brought a few years ago to the Regional Museum and arranged into a small lapidarium outside the museum’s wall.

mer of 1940 and were later transported to other, larger ghettos and then to extermination camps.

Regional Museum ul. Warszawska 53, 62-400 Słupca tel. 63 275 26 40, Open: Tuesday – Friday: 8:00-15:00, Sunday: 14:00-18:00

Synagogue, Talmudic School, Mikveh An 18th century synagogue (at what today is Mickiewicza St.) in 1825-29 was replaced with a shul in neo-Moorish style which later in 1882 was expanded and today can still be seen there. The ceiling of the main hall of prayer was supported on four massive pillars and between these was the bimah. Aron Kodesh was located in the eastern side of the shul and in its western side there was the women’s gallery. Beth Midrash was built next to the synagogue ca. 1870. The walls on the ground floor of the Talmudic School were lined with bookshelves and guests reading the books used to sit at the long tables on benches. In the middle of the room there was bimah and against the eastern wall Aron Kodesh. In the interwar period the Talmudic School was a hub of the intellectual life of the local Jewry. Both the synagogue and the school were destroyed by the Nazis in the first months of the occupation – most furnishings and all books were burnt in front of the synagogue. However, both buildings survived. After the war the old synagogue and Tal-

Kazimierz Biskupi Approximately 3,000 Jewish people from the ghetto in Zagórów were slaughtered in October and November 1941 in the forest called Krążel near Kazimierz Biskupi. In August 2002 a monument designed by Stanisław Mystek and containing memorial plaques with information on those tragic events was placed here. Konin The first Jewish people arrived in Konin in the 14th century, however in terms of their number their community became significant only in the 18th, then in the late 19th century they constituted over a half of the town’s population. Out of approximately 2,500 Jewish people living here in the late 1930s very few survived the war. Some remained in the local ghetto which existed from December 1939 until the sum-


Matzevahs in the museum in Konin-Gosławice, photo: Z. Schmidt

mudic school were home to various institutions. Following a major overhaul of the school in 1973, it was transformed into a library. Since 1988 the old synagogue has also been home to a library. Its interior makes a great impression, we can see here meticulously restored paintings on the walls and on the pillars of the Bimah. On the outside the synagogue has also retained its architectural features, and is separated from the street with a unique wrought iron fence ornamented with stars of David. In 2011 both buildings were acquired by private owners.

Exhibits in the museum in Konin, photo: Z. Schmidt

Municipal Public Library, Old Town Branch ul. Mickiewicza 2, 62-500 Konin tel. 63 242 85 62, Jewish Secondary School At No. 1, Wodna St. we can still see the building erected in the 1920s which was designed to hold the Jewish secondary school. Due to lack of funds the school never moved in here and the building was taken over by a Jewish bank which was to finish the construction. In the 1930s a Jewish library was also relocated here. The secondary school, operating until 1929 was located in another building which no longer exists. The “bank-school” edifice today is a part of the large complex of Schools conducted by


is located at the Catholic cemetery at Kolska St. In the process of liquidating the camp hundreds of prisoners were murdered in the forests near Kazimierz Biskupi and all the others were transported away.

obelisks designed by Jan Rassumowski were placed to mark them and to commemorate those tragic events.

Jewish Artefacts

The brick synagogue at Piotrkowska St. in Sompolno was probably built in 1910-12 in the location of an older wooden structure. Jewish community, which had existed here from the early 19th century, also established a cemetery (in the area which today is delineated by Morcinka and Skarbka streets). In 1931 Sompolno was inhabited by 1,140 Jewish people. During the war, after the ghetto was liquidated, the Jewish residents were transported to the extermination camp in Chełmno nad Nerem. In 1942 the cemetery was demolished and the synagogue was turned into storage space. Despite the destruction, the shul by some stroke of luck survived the war in fairly good condition and afterwards was also used as storage. The building retained its exterior and interior design. The eastern side of the synagogue held the hall of prayer and its western part was occupied by a vestibule and a women’s gallery over it. In the early 1990s the building was thoroughly renovated and adapted for new purposes, yet the interior layout was retained. In 1993 the Municipal Public Library moved into the building. Some silver accessories for Torah scrolls from the old synagogue in Sompolno were saved hidden in the ground. They were found in the early 1990s in Sompolno and now are on display in the District Museum in Konin.


Elements of the old Jewish world can be seen in the District Museum in Konin. The fairly large collection of artefacts is split between a few different sections. There are for example designs and floor plans of the Konin synagogue from the 1870s, Jewish candle holders, hundreds of matzevahs and their fragments from the destroyed cemeteries throughout the Konin region as well as an exposition devoted to the life and work of Henryk Henoch Glicenstein, an outstanding sculptor from Turek. The most valuable judaica include items used for religious purposes in synagogues: a 19th century Torah and silver accessories (rimonim, tasim, yad), which come from the synagogue in Sompolno. They were found in the early 1990s as part of silver treasure hidden underground. The holdings of the museum also includes spice boxes, kiddush cups, Seder plates, Hanukkah lamps as well as a rarity in museum collections – a tray used during the circumcision ceremony. District Museum ul. Muzealna 6, 62-505 Konin/Gosławice tel. 63 242 75 99, Rudzica In late September and early October 1941, the Nazis murdered approximately 1,600-2,000 Jewish people in the forest of Niesłusz Rudzica near Konin. The victims were mostly residents of the ghettos in Grodziec and Rzgów. After the war a memorial plaque was placed on the mass grave in the forest. In 1998 archaeological excavations were conducted on the site of the massacre. After the graves were found

Municipal Public Library ul. Piotrkowska 8, 62-610 Sompolno tel. 63 271 42 30 Koło Jewish people lived in Koło from the 15th century. Before the outbreak of


Old synagogue in Sompolno, photo: Z. Schmidt

World War II there was a population of approx. 5,000. The largest group lived in the area of Nowy Rynek (New Town Square) where from the mid-19th century two synagogues were located. The bigger one was blown up by the Nazis in September 1939, the smaller was adopted to hold a deportation point for Jewish people from the local ghetto, which operated from December 1940 until the end of 1941. In this period approximately 2,000 Jews from Koło were transported to the extermination camp in Chełmno nad Nerem. Afterwards, the small synagogue was turned into a storage facility and later burnt down. Today at Nowy Rynek, in the area formerly holding the shuls, there is a monument honouring the memory of deported Jewish people, unveiled in 1989. Similarly, the Jewish cemetery which for centuries existed in Koło was demolished by the Nazis and is no longer

there. In the early 1970s a culture centre was built in its outskirts. The area of the former graveyard spreads between 3-Maja and Słowackiego streets, at the back of the culture centre. In 1993 a monument carrying a memorial plaque was erected there. In April 2009 the Museum of Ceramic Technology was presented with the Torah by a private donor. This is the first contribution towards a collection of judaica which the museum intends to create. Chełmno nad Nerem Large scale research, particularly the results obtained in recent years allow for a conclusion that between 160,000 and 200,000 people were killed in the Nazi extermination camp in Chełmno nad Nerem. These were mainly Jewish people from the Wartheland as well as those brought here from other areas of Poland and from other


the camp grounds there is a lapidarium with matzevahs recovered from the Jewish cemetery in Turek.

North-Western Wielkopolska

Wągrowiec – Złotów – Jastrowie – Czarnków – Sieraków – Zbąszyń

Museum of the former Extermination Camp in Chełmno nad Nerem, 62-663 Chełmno Commune of Dąbie

Wągrowiec Jewish people started settling in Wągrowiec in the second half of the 1700s. In 1807 they built a synagogue and, on a hill near Lake Durowskie, established a cemetery. In the mid 19th century the Jewish population consisted of over 800 persons; before World War II there were approx. 200 Jewish residents. The synagogue was destroyed by the Nazis in 1940. Similarly they demolished the cemetery and used some of the matzevahs as paving slabs, and as reinforcing material for the lake banks. The remaining gravestones were thrown into the lake. The cemetery was closed in the mid 1950s, its terrain was levelled in the 1960s and designated to hold a park.

Branches: Rzuchowski Forest (burial grounds, monument, Remembrance Wall, memorials, lapidarium, museum pavilion) tel. 501 610 710 Grounds of the former manor house tel. 63 271 94 47 Museum is open: Pavilion: from 1 April to 30 September, daily: 10:00-18:00; from 1 October to 31 March, only weekdays: 8:00-14:00. The site of archaeological research and manor house ruins: from June to September, on weekdays: 8:00-18:00.

Cemetery in Chełmno, photo: Z. Schmidt

countries occupied by the Nazis. Among those murdered here were also Polish and Romani people. Kulmhof camp operated from 8 December 1941 to 11 April 1943 and from spring of 1944 until 18 January 1945. Initially victims were murdered in Chełmno (in the grounds of the local manor house), and later in the nearby Rzuchowski forest, in gas vans. At the beginning the corpses were interred and from the summer of 1942 they were incinerated on pyres. The tragic events which took place in Chełmno nad Nerem have been remembered since the end of the war. Initially the nearby communities spontaneously took care of the mass graves. In the 1950s the area holding the graves for the first time was cleaned up and in 1964 a large monument was unveiled here. A work of Józef Stasiński and Jerzy Buszkiewicz, it is a homage to the victims of genocide. The back wall of the monument holds a fragment of a letter written by one of the victims, and starting

with these words: “We all were taken, old men and infants alike, between the town of Koło and Dąbie. We were brought to the forest and gassed there...” The Museum of the former Extermination Camp in Chełmno nad Nerem (branch of the District Museum in Konin) was established in 1987. A formal custodian of the place, the museum also initiated wide-ranging research and educational activities. It opened in 1990, and on that occasion in the south-western edge of the former killing centre a Remembrance Wall was unveiled in honour of Jewish people murdered in Chełmno. The concrete structure holds a symbolic gate with an inscription in Hebrew: “Gates through which the righteous alone should go”. Memorial plaques honouring the victims of Chełmno camp are mounted on the wall. The grounds of the former camp hold many statues, obelisks and plaques dedicated to its victims and new tokens of memory are continuously added. Outside


Cemetery in Wągrowiec, photo: Z. Schmidt


ken gravestones were found in 1998 during works conducted at Wańkowicza and Reymonta Streets. They were subsequently brought to the Museum of Złotów Region. Following the initiative of the Friends of Złotów Association the fragments of matzevahs were arranged into a pyramid-shaped monument in the area formerly holding the cemetery. The memorial plaque carries the following information in Polish, German and Hebrew: “For eternal memory this hill was built of old grave stones to preserve the honour of those for whom the tombstones were erected.” It was unveiled in 2002.

No. 6, Bartoszka Sq.; a seat of Jewish community authorities at 6, Łąkowa St., and a number of houses. The remains of the cemetery with the surviving matzevahs and the 19th century mortuary can be seen at Ogrodowa St. Sieraków The Jewish community existed in Sieraków in the late 18th century. It had its own cemetery, school and synagogue. The building of the synagogue at Sokoła St. was presumably erected before 1889. It has retained the old features of its exterior design even though it was no longer used for religious purposes in the interwar period. Due to the lack of Jewish people here, many years before WWII the building was adapted to hold a youth club of Sokół Rifle Association. During the war the Nazis transformed it into a storage base. After the war the building was adjusted to hold a cinema, which remained here for decades. For a few years now the building has been private property.


Old synagogue in Sieraków, photo: Z. Schmidt

The former Jewish cemetery was not commemorated until 2001. Gravestones recovered from the lake were cleaned and placed along the walkways near the lake. A memorial boulder located in the former burial grounds holds an inscription in Polish, Hebrew and German: “In honour of Polish Jews, who for centuries were part of this town”. The sparse remains connected with the Jewish inhabitants of Wągrowiec include the cantor’s timber-frame house from the early 19th century, at No. 6 Lipo����� wa St., and the building of the old Jewish school, today used for residential purposes.

within the shape is a memorial plaque with an inscription in Polish, Hebrew and German: “This location held the synagogue of the Jewish community; it was destroyed in 1938”. Jewish people lived here from the late 16th century, at times accounting for half of the town’s population. After the First World War Złotów was on the German side of the border, therefore Jewish people here were oppressed earlier than in other parts of Wielkopolska. Erected in 1878-79, the synagogue representing neo-Moorish style was destroyed as early as 1937, and a year later was blown up. The cemetery at Góra Żydowska (in the area today holding the cross-roads of Jerozolimska and Zamkowa streets) established in the 16th century was demolished by the Nazis two years later, in 1940. The matzevahs were used as construction material, for instance for hardening the surface of the municipal market square. Some bro-

Złotów No longer there, the synagogue in Złotów is commemorated in a unique way – the outline of its walls delineated with cobblestones can be seen in the paving of Paderewskiego Square. Integrated


Jewish people lived in Jastrowie from the early 17th century until the outbreak of World War II. Those who did not leave the town before the war were transported by the Nazis to concentration camps. No trace has remained of the synagogue which from the mid 19th century stood at what now is Jagiellońska St. – the Nazis demolished it in 1938. The only reminder of the former residents is the cemetery at Kilińskiego St. near the level crossing. The small graveyard, partly ruined during the war, retains approximately 70 granite and sandstone matzevahs with inscriptions in Hebrew and German. The oldest one dates from 1856. From time to time the cemetery is tidied up by the local community.

Zbąszyń If someone tried to find the synagogue which was built in Zbąszyń in 1885-90 by drawing conclusions from an old photograph, they would not be able to recognize the structure. Even though it still exists, after the damage of war and the subsequent reconstruction in the 1960s the building completely changed its appearance. Today used for residential purposes it can be seen at No. 1, Żydowska St. The old Jewish cemetery, which existed at Garbarska St., is no longer there, either. It was destroyed during World War II and later a complex of detached houses was built there. Its only reminder is a plaque, which honours the memory of Jewish people of Zbąszyń, including those who came here in late October and early November of 1938. Exiled from Germany by the Nazis, over 9,000 Polish Jews arrived here at the time.

Czarnków Staromiejska St. in Czarnków once was called Żydowska (Jewish) Street. This is not surprising as the area delineated by Staromiejska and Łąkowa Streets, in the vicinity of what today is Bartoszka Square was occupied by the Jewish quarter. In the square there was a synagogue which was demolished by the Nazis in 1939-40. Several other buildings once owned by Jewish people are still there, e.g. a school from 1878 (today a residential facility); and behind it a bath house and a rabbi’s house at


Events Related to Jewish Culture

ish Religious Communities of Poland, local government and cultural institutions of Poznań.

Days of Judaism (Poznań)

Tzadik Festival (Poznań)

From 1998 the Catholic Church of Poland celebrates the Day of Judaism on 17 January. In Poznań that one day is always extended to more than a week. The Days of Judaism have become extremely important not only as a religious but also as an artistic event. In addition to theological discussions and joint prayers, for several days Poznań hosts symposiums, conferences, lectures, panel discussions, concerts, exhibitions, and showcases; then on 17 January a biblical worship service is celebrated at St. Adalbert Church in the presence of members of the Jewish community. The Days of Judaism in Poznań are organized by the Unit for Inter-Religious Dialogue of the Archdiocese of Poznań, Coexist Association and School of Humanities and Journalism, in cooperation with the Poznań Branch of Union of Jew-

Tzadik Poznań Festival has been held here each August since 2007. It is organized by: the Foundation of the International Malta Theatre Festival, as well as Multikulti Projekt. The festival is created to “allow for describing the phenomenon of Jewish culture and tradition; its religious and musical sphere, as well as social and moral aspects”. Its programme includes concerts, exhibitions, and film screenings. Yet, the festival is unique mainly because it is an artistic intercultural dialogue rather than merely a typical Jewish culture showcase; of great significance here is the place hosting artistic events and at the same time standing as a symbol of the tragic memory – the old synagogue which since 1941 has functioned as a swimming pool. Days of Jewish Culture

Tzadik Festival in Poznań, photo: Archive of Malta Foundation, W. Barzewski

In recent years several towns of Wielkopolska have hosted Days of Jewish Culture (or Days of Jewish and Israeli Culture). Some of these have been held a few times (e.g. in Gniezno, Poznań, Kalisz). Their programmes include not only lectures and artistic events but also presentations of cooking. The Days are most often organized by local residents in cooperation with Wielkopolska-Israel Association and representatives of Jewish communities. From Zbąszyń to Chełmno nad Nerem This is an educational project implemented since 2004 by the local government of Zbąszyń, the Poznań Board of Education and Martyrs’ Museum in Żabikowo. It commemorates the events which marked the beginning of the Holocaust when 17,000 Polish citizens of Jewish descent were exiled from Germany in October 1938 and some of them relocated to Zbąszyń.


Tzadik Festival in Poznań, photo: Archive of Malta Foundation, W. Barzewski

Glossary Aron Kodesh – a closet built in the eastern wall of the synagogue or a cupboard standing against the wall, which contains Torah scrolls. Beth Midrash – house of prayer and house of Talmudic studies bimah - a platform in a synagogue from which the Torah is read and prayers are conducted matzevah – Jewish tombstone mezuzah - a decorative case containing a piece of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah, affixed to a doorframe in a house. parochet – decorative curtain covering Aron Kodesh synagogue/shul – an assembly house for followers of Judaism, house of prayer; this is not a temple as in Judaism this term is reserved for the Holy Temple in Jerusalem (destroyed in 70 CE)


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Useful addresses: Poznań Branch of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities of Poland ul. Stawna 10, 61-759 Poznań tel. 61 855 21 18 Office is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays: 10:00-12:00 Union of Jewish Religious Communities of Poland, Wrocław Branch ul. Włodkowica 9, 50-072 Wrocław tel. 71 343 64 01, fax 71 344 70 48

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Monument in Luboń, photo: Z. Schmidt

Seven Hotel ul. Częstochowska 77, 62-800 Kalisz tel. 62 764 43 43 Flora Hotel ul.Wiatraki 3, 62-800 Kalisz tel. 62 757 46 50 Granada Hotel ul. Wrocławska 93 63-400 Ostrów Wielkopolski tel. 62 738 73 10 fax 62 738 73 05 KOSiR Hotel ul. Walki Młodych 9, 63-600 Kępno tel. 62 79 127 16, fax 62 79 127 10 KONIN REGION Konin Hotel Aleje 1 Maja 13, 62-510 Konin tel. 63 243 76 00 fax 63 243 76 07 Pałacyk Hotel ul. 1 Maja 15a, 62-510 Konin tel. 63 245 77 77 fax 63 246 60 10 School Youth Hostel ul. Staffa 5, 62-505 Konin - Gosławice tel./ fax 63 242 72 35 Sara Hotel ul. Zielona 5, 62-600 Koło tel. 63 26 24 880, fax 63 26 24 840

Monument in Luboń, photo: Z. Schmidt

NORTH-WESTERN WIELKOPOLSKA CZARNKÓW Czarna Hanka Hotel ul. Kościuszki 106, 64-700 Czarnków tel. 67 255 24 58 Śmieszek Guest House Śmieszkowo, ul. Wodna 13 64-700 Czarnków, tel. 67 255 10 31

LESZNO REGION Akwawit Conference and Recreation Centre ul. św. Józefa 5, 64-100 Leszno tel. 65 529 37 81 fax 65 529 37 82 Wieniawa Hotel ul. Rynek 29, 64-100 Leszno tel. 65 528 50 50


WĄGROWIEC Pietrak Hotel ul. Kościuszki 47, 62-100 Wągrowiec tel. 67 268 58 25 fax 67 262 86 07 Jamajka Hotel ul. Kcyńska 129, 62-100 Wągrowiec tel. 67 26 85 860


Tourist Information Poznań 61-772 Poznań, Stary Rynek 59/60 tel. 61 852 61 56, 61 855 33 79

Leszno 64-100 Leszno, ul. Słowiańska 24 tel. 65 529 81 91, 65 529 81 92

Entrance, ul.27 Grudnia 61-816 Poznań, ul. Ratajczaka 44 tel. 61 851 96 45, 61 856 04 54

Nowy Tomyśl 64-300 Nowy Tomyśl pl. Niepodległości 10 tel. 61 442 38 06

Poznań International Fair 60-734 Poznań, ul. Głogowska 14 tel. 61 869 20 84

We wish to express our gratitude for assistance in writing this brochure to: - Alicja Kobus – Chairwoman of the Poznań Branch of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities of Poland - Mirosława Maćkowiak from the District Museum in Leszno - Halina Marcinkowska – representative of the Wrocław Branch of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities of Poland for the former Kaliskie and Konińskie Voivodeships - Teresa Palacz from the Regional Centre for Heritage Research and Documentation in Poznań

Piła 64-920 Piła, al. Niepodległości 33/35 tel. 67 210 94 80

Airport Poznań-Ławica 60-189 Poznań, ul. Bukowska 285 tel. 61 849 21 40

Puszczykowo 62-040 Puszczykowo, ul. Poznańska 1 tel. 61 633 62 83, 61 898 37 11

Poznań Railway Station 60-801 Poznań, ul. Dworcowa 1 tel. 61 866 06 67

Śrem 63-100 Śrem, ul. Okulickiego 3 tel. 61 283 27 04 Wolsztyn 64-200 Wolsztyn ul. Roberta Kocha 12a tel. 68 347 31 04

Gniezno 62-200 Gniezno, ul. Rynek 14 tel. 61 428 41 00 Kalisz 62-800 Kalisz, ul. Zamkowa tel. 62 598 27 31

Publisher: Wielkopolska Tourist Organization ul. 27 Grudnia 17/19, 61-737 Poznań Text: Anna Plenzler Translation: Timothy Downey Graphic design: Agencja Fotograficzna Studio-F, Cover photos: Z. Schmidt

Konin 62-510 Konin, ul. Dworcowa 2 tel. 63 246 32 48

ISBN: 978-83-61454-91-5 Poznań 2012


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Project co-financed by the European Union through the Regional Development Fund, as part of the Wielkopolska Regional Operational Program for the years 2007 - 2013 European Funds for Innovation and Development in Wielkopolska

Jewish culture trail through Wielkopolska  

Jewish culture trail through Wielkopolska

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