General information: First Jewish presence: 16th century (see below); peak Jewish population: 1,039 in 1858; Jewish population in 1933: approximately 600
Summary: By the end of the 16th century, Schneidemuehl was home to a functioning Jewish community. Members of the early community lived in a designated Jewish quarter, surrounded by a moat, on the outskirts of town. In 1655, 33 local Jews were killed by a band of Swedish soldiers, who also destroyed the synagogue and its ritual objects. Although local Jews received a letter of royal protection in 1670, it was not until the 19th century that the community began to flourish. Established in the 1830s, Schneidemuehl’s Jewish elementary school was destroyed, as was the synagogue, in the fire of 1834. In 1841, a new synagogue was built on Wilhelmsplatz; it was in the 1840s, too, that the community established a new school and a mikveh. By the end of the 1850s, over 1,000 Jews lived in Schneidemuehl. We also know that from the late 1920s onwards, Schneidemuehl was home to a district rabbinate of which approximately 1,400 Jews from 14 communities were members. In 1932/33, the leaders of the community were Isidor Lewin, Alex Soldin and Nathan Moses. Dr. Arthur Rosenzweig was rabbi, and Siegfried Sommerfeld and Samuel Rosenthal headed a representative committee of 13 members. In charge of the cemetery, synagogue and community finances were J. Lewin, S. Jacob (the chazzan) and a lawyer named Fleisher. The community was also home to a local center for Jewish welfare, which, under the leadership of Dr. Adolf Bieber, distributed food and fuel to the needy. Other local Jewish associations included the following: a chevra kadisha (88 members) led by Max Simonsohn; a sisterhood (131 members) led by Erna Frankel; an association for interest-free loans (53 members) led by Dr. Bieber; a Jewish youth group led by a man named Werner; a German-Jewish youth group led by Ludwig Rosenthal; the Salo-Adler lodge; and, finally, a sisterhood associated with the Salo-Adler lodge. In 1932/33, 62 Jewish children attended Schneidemuehl’s various schools. On Pogrom Night, the synagogue was set on fire; 63 Jewish businesses and 23 Jewish homes were also ravaged. By May 1939, only 116 Jews lived in Schneidemuehl. The old cemetery was destroyed in 1939, after which the site was converted into a public park. Gravestones were used to shore up the river banks; although two of the three surviving stones were restored in the 1990s, they were later destroyed by vandals. Those Jews who failed to emigrate were interned in the Buergergarten in March 1940, from where they were deported to the East on March 21, 1940. At least 270 Schneidemuehl Jews perished in the Shoah.
Photo: The synagogue of Schneidemuehl at the beginning of the 20th century (postcard). Courtesy of: Unknown
Author / Sources: Esther Sarah Evans
Sources: EJL, IAJGS, LJG, YV
Sources: EJL, IAJGS, LJG, YV
Located in: posen-west-prussia