Małomiasteczkowe judaica z Kujaw (XVIII-XX w.)
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Kuyavia is a part of Poland situated between Eastern Pomerania, the Great Poland and Mazovia. The history of the lewish community in this region goes back to the 15th c. Between 1815 and 1918 the eastern part of the area was controlled by Russia, while the western one by Prussia. This situation contributed significantly to the emergence of two distinct types of Jewish communities. In 1939 the Jewish population in western Kuyavia did not exceed 250 people (about 0.1 % of the whole population), while in eastern Kuyavia there were about 23 000 Jews (about 7% of the population) in 14 communities (Aleksandrów Kujawski-Nieszawa, Brześć Kujawski, Chodecz, Ciechocinek-Służewo, Dąbrowice Kujawskie, Izbica Kujawska, Kowal, Lubień, Lubraniec, Osięciny, Piotrków Kujawski, Przedecz, Radziejów, Włocławek). The largest urban Jewish community was the one in Włocławek, which in 1939 numbered about 13 000 people (19% of all inhabitants). The other communites had from 400 to 1 600 members. After World War II, in December 1946, there were 845 Jews in Kuyavia, 86% of whom lived in Włocławek. In eastern Kuyavia there are three surviving classicist synagogues: in Izbica Kujawska (1880-1895), Lubraniec (about 1750) and Osięciny (about 1860). Western Kuyavia has only one in Gniewkowo (1850-1875), in the neo-renaissance style. A few other religious buildings (prayer houses, ritual baths, schools) have been preserved in Włocławek and Piotrków Kujawski. They do not have any religious functions at present. Another class of memorabilia are dwelling houses, industrial buildings and Jewish public utilities, comprising altogether about 200 objects. All the Jewish cemeteries in Kuyavia were destroyed during WW II or shortly afterwards. Their remnants are a few tombstones from Włocławek, Inowrocław, Przedecz and Łabiszyn. Many tombstones from Osięciny and Służew were sunk in nearbly lakes. There are two mortuaries preserved in Ciechocinek and Lubraniec. A separate group of memorabilia are 35 Torah scrolls, probably coming from Włocławek and now kept in the library of the Theological Seminary there. Some surviving religious artefacts and documents concerning Jewish communities are scattered in archives, museums and private collections in Poland and Israel.
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