General information: First Jewish presence: late 1500s; peak Jewish population: 648 in 1810; Jewish population in 1933: 125
Summary: The first Jews of Fraustadt (present-day Wschowa, Poland) engaged in moneylending, a business from which Christians were banned by the Church. Throughout approximately the next 150 years, Jews were expelled from the town any time they tried to settle there. It was not until 1720, soon after the authorities reversed their policy on Jewish settlement, that a lasting Jewish community was established in Fraustadt. This community consecrated a cemetery in 1759. Built in 1798 on land owned by a community member, the town’s first synagogue burned down in 1801, during a fire that consumed most of Fraustadt. The community undertook its reconstruction in 1806, and it was completed three years later. When new fire and safety codes were instituted in 1880, however, the synagogue failed the inspection tests and was declared a hazard. Rather than undertaking the costly renovations, the community decided to tear down the synagogue and build a new one in its place. The cornerstone was laid in April 1885, and the synagogue was inaugurated in September of that year. An elementary school, founded in 1820, served the Jewish children of Fraustadt. In response to the difficult economic situation of the late 1800s, local Jews began to emigrate from Germany, a process that accelerated when the Nazis rose to power. On Pogrom Night, local SA troops set fire to the synagogue; crowds of locals watched as the building burned to the ground. The ruins were carted away shortly afterwards. As of this writing, there is no trace of there ever having been a synagogue in Fraustadt.
Author / Sources: Moshe Finkel
Sources: EJL, LJG, IAJGS
Located in: posen-west-prussia