The first record of Jews living in Końskie dates back to 1588 when King Zygmunt III Waza allowed them to buy food and other goods in the towns and villages of the Kingdom. These rights were confirmed by Władysław IV in 1635. Jews were also given permission to build houses.
In the 18th century Końskie was inhabited by 1,556 people, including 164 Jews (i.e. 10.5%). A religious community existed there most probably already in the second half of the 18th century. Some of the Jews from Końskie were engaged in trade. Among 18 Jewish merchants trading in Frankfurt in 1765, Jews from Końskie are listed.
The town was not incorporated until 1748. In 1759, there were 15 Jewish houses in Końskie. In 1775, Jews owned 207 smokes (houses), and they also obtained permission for a new synagogue.
In 1787, King Stanisław August came to Końskie - he was also welcomed by the Jews. In 1790, Jews lived in eleven out of 212 houses in the town, as well as in seven houses belonging to Catholics. The first rabbi known by name in Końskie was Jekutiel (1820), a student of the Seer from Lublin. Later, Mendel (ca. 1829) and Joszua Kinsk performed this function. In the second half of the 19th century, Mojżesz Jechiel Ha-Lewi Staszewski was the rabbi in Końskie, and in 1896 - Joaw Joszua Weingarten.
Jan Małachowski, the owner of the domains around Końskie, allowed the Jews to settle within his domain and decided on the related fees. In 1817, in the market square, the Małachowski family built stalls, called Annotarg. These trading places were mostly leased by Jews. In 1846, wooden butcheries were built at Jatkowa Street (Polish: ul. Jatkowa), which were also rented by Jews. The Jewish population lived mainly in the streets in the centre of the town, around the market square. These were: Żydowska (later Berka Joselewicza), Pocztowa, Szewska, Warszawska, Bugaj, Piotrkowska, Zatylnia and Kazanowska Streets (Polish: ul. Żydowska, Pocztowa, Szewska, Warszawska, Bugaj, Piotrkowska, Zatylnia and Kazanowska). Berka Joselewicza Street, inhabited by the Jewish proletariat, was particularly neglected.
Ironmongers from the years of 1810-1827 were: Icek Rozenfeld, Mosiek Chęciński, Dawid Manowicz, Herszla Wajsman, Szmul Przednówek, Abram Jakubowicz, Herszek Cyna, Herszla Kronenblum (later Szaja) and Rafał Rafałowicz. The craftsmen of Jewish faith also specialised in the production of carriages, carts and wagons. They sold their goods in the area, but also in Warsaw and outside the Kingdom, for example, in Ukraine. In the middle of the 19th century, Hil Wiślicki and Welwa Neufeld were famous ironmongers.
In the 1860s, Jews were granted civic rights. They lived in the vicinity of the Market Square because of the convenience of trade and craft places. These streets were: Berka Joselewicza (Jewish), Krakowska, Kazanowska, Kopce, Trzeciego Maja, Nowy Świat, Jatkowa, Przechodnia, Warszawska and Małachowskiego (Polish ul. Berka Joselewicza (Żydowska), Krakowska, Kazanowska, Kopce, Trzeciego Maja, Nowy Świat, Jatkowa, Przechodnia, Warszawska i Małachowskiego).
The Jews influenced the character of the town. In 1871, this is how Końskie was described in the „Gazeta Kielecka” newspaper:
„[Jews accounted for] the greater half of the population, so that on a Saturday day in the streets of the town, when the Old Believers are at prayer, there is a solemn silence throughout the town, so that your own footsteps are heard echoing, in the empty streets”[1.1]. Jewish traders were prominent in the town: "The centre of the town is a square with trees all around, on which stands a building called Pociejów, built on the model of a hospitable manor house in Warsaw, with Jewish shops inside and outside”[1.2].
The religious community covered the area of the town of Końskie and the surrounding villages: Czarna, Stąporków, Krasna and Wąsosz. In the years 1866-1868, the synagogue supervisors were: Izrael Grundman, Mosiek Wiślicki, Icek Szainfeld. The rabbi was Mojżesz Staszowski, the cantor - Judka Dembiński, the melamed - Berek Jakubowicz and the synagogue caretaker - Icek Wajsman. The community in Końskie owned the following buildings: a wooden synagogue, a cheder and mikveh. The Jewish community also benefited from its own hotel and hospital. During World War I, the situation of Jews was complicated, they were treated as outlanders. Some were driven deep into Russia as hostages, such as Moses Hochberg. In 1918, a decision was made to forcibly deport all people who had not lived in Końskie before the outbreak of war.
In 1919, General Haller's army stationed in nearby Barycza. Soldiers conducted searches in Jewish houses and confiscated valuable items. Several Jews were beaten.
In the interwar period, Jews participated in elections and sat on the Town Council. In 1921, the councillors were: Eljasz Bialer, Mojżesz Bialer, Leon Birencwajg, Szymon Edelist, Mojżesz Hochberg, Abram Lewin, Szlama Langa, Mordua Rajchind, Josek Rozen and Ezryl Wajntraub.
In 1925, the Religious Community in Końskie had one synagogue and 8 houses of prayer. The number of community members was estimated at 5,600 people. [1.3]. The community received 31,232 zlotys from contributions, and 52,000 zlotys from the ritual slaughter; from other sources, 6202.12 zlotys. The total income of the community was 89,434.12 zlotys. The rabbi of Końskie received the salary in the amount of 6,030 zlotys, expenses for administration consumed the sum of 5,6028.10 zlotys. The community allocated the amount of 8,000 zlotys for investments, and 600 zlotys for charity[1.4]. On 24th August 1925 the Community Board was elected.
The following are members of the Board:
- 1. Manes Goldbach, 52, trader, non-partisan,
- 2. Berek Shayevich, 46, brass worker, nonpartisan,
- 3. Alter Dombrowski, 34, stone worker, Non-Party,
- 4. Szmul Ejzenberg, 44, weaver, mizrachist,
- 5. Hejnoch Josek Trajman, 48, merchant, Orthodox,
- 6. Eliasz Bialer, 68, house owner, Orthodox,
- 7. Icek Rozenfeld, 43, merchant, Orthodox,
- 8. Chaskiel Garfinkiel, 58, Orthodox.
The following were appointed as deputy members:
- 1. Josek Sztarkman, 40, trader, non-partisan,
- 2. Josek Milsztajn, 42, trader, Zionist,
- 3. Alter Liberman, 50, baker, non-party,
- 4. Herszek Manela, 70, trader, non-partisan,
- 5. Jankiel Chęciński, 40, tailor, Non-partisan,
- 6. Moszek Staszewski, 55, merchant, Orthodox, before World War I, he was a member of the board,
- 7. Symcha Ostrowiecki, 55, merchant, Orthodox,
- 8. Emanuel Rozenblum, 38, merchant, Orthodox.
The budget of the Jewish Religious Community in Końskie for 1927[1.5]
- 1. Cash balance as of 31 December 1926,
- 2. Outstanding contributions for the years of 1924, 1925, 1926: 12 684.99 zlotys,
- 3. Income from ritual slaughter: 33,000 zlotys,
- 4. Income from burial fee: 300 zlotys
- 5. Income from monuments: 200 zlotys,
- 6. Torah reading: 200 zlotys,
- 7. Income from baths and mikveh: 6,000 zlotys,
- 8. Income from contributions: 10,208,65 zlotys.
- 1. arrears to be paid for 1924, 1925, 1926: 17,717.97 zlotys,
- 2. annual salary to Rabbi Majer Wajngarten: 6,704 zlotys,
- 3. annual salary to the butchers: Majer Symchowicz: 5,341 zlotys,
- 4. to Berek Lewkowicz: 4,926 zlotys,
- 5. to Alter Abramowicz: 4,926 zlotys,
- 6. annual salary to the ritual slaughter collector Litman Majer Kozlowski: 1,800 zlotys,
- 7. annual salary to ritual meat watcher J. Praszkicz: 1,000 zlotys,
- 8. annual salary to the synagogue cantor Israel Rucz: 500 zlotys,
- 9. annual salary to the cantor of the School of Divinity Chaim Blisimski: 450 zlotys,
- 10. annual salary to the shkolnik of the synagogue Boruch Colka: 600 zlotys,
- 11. annual salary to the shkolnik of the synagogue school Israel Goldberg: 400 zlotys,
- 12. annual salary to Boruch Warszawski, the borough secretary: 2,080 zlotys,
- 13. annual salary to the caretaker of the synagogue Wojciech Ciniak: 200 zlotys,
- 14. annual salary to the caretaker of the Jewish cemetery, Mendel Jakubowicz: 300 zlotys,
- 15. annual salary to the Jewish Commune Co-operative caretaker Majer Rozenfeld: 780 zlotys,
- 16. for the construction of a poultry slaughterhouse: 2000 zlotys,
- 17. for the renovation of the synagogue school: 600 zlotys,
- 18. for the heating of the bathhouse and mikveh: 6000 zlotys,
- 19. rent for the premises for the community office: 200 zlotys,
- 20. for fuel and light in the community office: 200 zlotys,
- 21. for stationery, various forms and questionnaires: 650 zlotys,
- 22. for the fire contribution on the property of the commune: 846 zl,
- 23. fuel and light for the synagogue and synagogue school: 600 zlotys,
- 24. for unforeseen expenses for local and passing poor Jews: 1,000 zlotys,
- 25. purchase of 12 chairs for the community office: 100 zlotys,
- 26. for apples of paradise for the poor Jews of the municipality: 100 zlotys,
- 27. for the Sickness Fund: 1,000 zlotys,
- 28. for settling the rent from the perpetual lease for the square for the Jewish cemetery for the years 1925, 1926, 1927: 50 zlotys,
- 29. for the costs of settling the title to the community’s property: 500 zlotys,
- 30. pension to the widow of the butcher Fajga Łaje Symchowicz: 300 zlotys
- 31. pension to the widow of the butcher Cyrle Szafharce: 300 zlotys,
- 32. subsidies for the Jewish religious school “Talmud Torah”: 300 zlotys,
- 33. subsidies for the Orphans' Home for poor children of the Mosaic faith: 200 zlotys.
In total: 62,671.10 zlotys
During the elections of 1931, Josef Szymon Kinderlerer was elected chairman of the Town Council, Josefat Henoch Trajman as deputy chairman, Moszek Hochberg as chairman of the Community Council and Mojżesz Mordka Mintz as deputy[1.6]. On 19 November 1932, the meeting discussed the ritual slaughter fee. The following persons were present:
- 1. Kinderlerer Josef – president,
- 2. Ejzman Chil,
- 3. Dąbrowski Alter,
- 4. Sakowski Moszek,
- 5. Sztarkman Josek,
- 6. Szarfarc Berek,
- 7. Wajngarten Majer – rabbi.
The following did not attend: Hejnoch Trajman and Zelig Grundman.
The fee for ritual slaughter has been set at:
- From oxen and cows: 7 zlotys
- Calves and goats: 3 zlotys
- Geese: 0.50 zlotys
- Geese for export: 0.30 zlotys
- Ducks and hens: 0.40 zlotys
- Hens and ducks for export: 0.20 zlotys[1.7].
In 1933, two anonymous complaints were received by the Voivodship Office in Kielce about the way the Religious Community in Końskie functioned. One of them concerned the tenant of the bathhouse, Jakub Wigdersohn.
The Council of the Jewish Community in Końskie was elected on 8 November 1936, whereas the Board of the Council was elected on 20 June 1937. The Jewish community was dominated by non-partisans (33%). In the elections, the same result - 25% each - was achieved by Zionists and Aguda supporters. The same percentage of support was also achieved by Orthodox and Mizrachists - 8.5% each.
A practice of carrying out illegal ritual slaughter in the town was uncovered. It was carried out, among others, by ritual slaughterer Berek Strobiński. From 1922, Majer Wajngarten was the rabbi in Końskie. He was born on 4 June 1885 in Lutomiersk as the son of Shija and Sura Małka. He received his education at home. He was married and had one child. He lived at 3 Maja Street (ul. 3 Maja). The approval of Majer Wajngarten was problematic - after his father's death he served as rabbi illegally. From 1911, he assisted his father in his office as an unapproved sub-rabbi. On 16 January 1931 he passed an oral and written exam on the knowledge of the Polish language before the Examination Board in the Voivodship Office in Kielce[1.8].He was approved by the Ministry of Religious Denominations and Public Enlightenment (Polish: Ministerstwo Wyznań Religijnych i Oświecenia Publicznego) as a rabbi in Końskie on 7 June 1933. He did not engage in political or social activity, he was an orthodox[1.9].
The influence of Jews on the economic development of Końskie was considerable. 26 of 34 undertakings registered in 1927 - were owned by the Jewish population. The following industrial undertakings functioned:
- “Słowianin” cast iron and enamelled castings factory, was established in 1899. Its owners were Abraham Ajzenberg and Mojżesz Hochberg. The products were sent to Denmark, Finland, Bulgaria and deep into Russia;
- Foundry and mechanical works, founded in 1901. The owner was Mendel Piżyc;
- Factory for iron castings, agricultural machinery and fans, founded in 1903. The owner was Szaja Kronenblum. The factory operated throughout the interwar period and during the war. Several buildings belonging to the Kronenblums have remained to this day;
- Josek Mintz, a tradesman, in 1910 bought foundries in Krasna and Nieborów near Stąporków. “Neptun” foundry was established in 1913. The owner did not enjoy a good reputation among workers. Mintz used underage workers, dismissed those who were inconvenient and took them back under worse conditions. Some people were dismissed before they had worked a full year and lost their rights to leave and unemployment benefits. There were frequent strikes in the factory. In 1935, about 60 Jews were employed in the “Neptun” J. Mintz factory in Końskie[1.10];
- soap factory owned by Lejbuś Młynek[1.11];
- brass foundry of Kałma Rozencwajg and Judka Tin and Wolf Borensztajn;
- Z. Grundman and W. Szlachter’s (Szlamter) sweet vodka factory[1.12]. In 1920 the factory employed 13 workers;
- Berek Rabinowicz's oil mill[1.13].
Mojżesz Hochberg, who came from Bar, made a significant contribution to the development of the metal industry in the Kielce region. He came to Poland at the end of the 19th century and took a liking to the town of Końskie. In 1899, he set up an iron casting factory called “Słowianin”, focused mainly on exporting products to Russia. The factory produced iron castings used for sewage systems, parts for furnaces, ironing machines, raw and enamelled pots. In its heyday the plant employed about 1,000 workers (in 1913 - 850 labourers). In the first years of the Polish state, the company was experiencing problems, which was evident in the employment figures. In 1920, the factory provided work for only 300 workers. In 1929, the enterprise was transformed into a company. The management board consisted of Mojżesz Hochberg and Jan Marciniak. Szymon Weinberg, Wacław Styburski and Zdzisław Miedziejewski became directors. The company's capital amounted to 650,000 zlotys.
Mojżesz Hochberg was a social activist. Thanks to his initiative, a house for Jewish orphans was established in Końskie. Hochberg sat in the assembly of the District of Końskie and was a councillor of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Sosnowiec. However, he also committed large-scale forgery. He signed products manufactured in his plant with the monogram of “Herzfeld et Victorius” company from Grudziądz. The crime was discovered and the owner of "Słowianin" was fined heavily, which led to financial problems of the company. Mojżesz Hochberg stepped down as the owner of the factory, he took the position of its manager. Jews predominated among the traders in Końskie in the interwar period. In 1919, 20 people rented stalls in the Market Square, 12 of them were Jews. In 1925, 12 people, including eight Jews, took part in a tender for the lease of town crates. In 1934, 20 out of 34 stalls in Annotarg were rented by Jews.
In 1927, Abram Gancwajch, the owner of a printing house, published “Konsker Cajtung” (Polish: “Gazeta Konecka”). This was a weekly published in Yiddish. The Germans marched into Końskie in September 1939. The Germans started to repress the Jewish population, among others by taking over their businesses. They also levied contributions, e.g. by 1 December 1939, the Jews of Konin paid 150,000 zlotys: “to compensate for the warlike attitude caused by the world Jewry”[1.14]. On the first day after the occupation of the town, in the evening hours, they burned down the synagogue. Soon a Judenrat was formed. Józef Rosen (a pre-war clerk) was appointed chairman; Alter Stark and Jechezkiel Gottlieb, among others, were members.
The first mass execution of Jews took place on 12 October 1939 when 22 people were killed. Initially, chosen Jews from Końskie were forced to dig graves in the square next to the church for German soldiers killed in the battle of Kazanów (7 September 1939). After the work was completed, the Germans started a shooting chaotically towards fleeing Jews.
The pre-war office building of the Hochberg Iron Foundry housed the headquarters of the German police authorities during World War II. It was the seat of the criminal police, and later the seat of the Gestapo[1.15] There was a jail in the basement of that building.
In February and March 1941, the first transports of Jews from the Polish territories incorporated into the Reich arrived in the town. In 1941, a ghetto was established on Strażacka, Trzeciego Maja, Warszawska Street from number 25 upwards (Polish: ul. Strażacka, Trzeciego Maja, Warszawska), and Bóżnicza Street (Polish: ul. Bóżnicza). Driesen was then the occupational head of the town. Jews were transported to Końskie from various places, such as Łódź, Sosnowiec, Kielce, Łopuszno, Wieloń, Gniezno, Aleksandrów, Przedborze, Gowarczów, Opoczno, Kraków, Skarżysko, Toruń, Kalisz, Żyrardów.
In November 1942, the ghetto was liquidated and its inhabitants transported mainly to the Treblinka extermination camp. In total, about 7,000 people died after the liquidation of the closed quarter. The few Jews who survived the liquidation of the ghetto were transported to the Szydłowiec ghetto in January 1943.
- Dymerska G., Ludność żydowska w Końskich w okresie międzywojennym, „Skarbiec Kultury Ziemi Koneckiej” 1996, no. 4.
- Dymerska G., Żydzi koneccy, [in:] Końskie. Zarys dziejów, ed. M. Wikiera, Końskie 1998.
- Końskie (Kinsk), [in:] Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities in Poland, vol. 1 [online] http://www.jewishgen.org/Yizkor/Pinkas_Poland/Pinkas_Poland1.html [accessed: 19 December 2020].
- Kulczykowski M., Ze studiów nad lokacją miasta Końskich, [in:] W kręgu historii, gospodarki i kultury. Studia dedykowane profesorowi J. Piwkowi, Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski 2004
- Jarosiński J., Strajk okupacyjny w koneckim „Neptunie” w 1936 r., „Studia Kieleckie” 1977, no. 2/14, p. 77.
- Markowski M. B., Udział ludności żydowskiej w rolnictwie i handlu wiejskim województwa kieleckiego w latach 1918–1939, „Kieleckie Studia Historyczne” 1990, no. 8.
- Markowski B.M., Sfery przemysłowe i ziemiaństwo w województwie kieleckim 1918–1939, Kielce 1990, s. 220;
- Muszyńska J., Żydzi w miastach województwa sandomierskiego i lubelskiego w XVIII w., Kielce 1998.
- Pawlina-Meducka M., Kultura Żydów województwa kieleckiego (1918–1939), Kielce 1993.
- Urbański K, Główka J., Drobne żydowskie zakłady przemysłowe i handel żelazem w Staropolskim Zagłębiu Przemysłowym 1918–1939, [in:] Społeczności małomiasteczkowe w regionie świętokrzyskim (XIX–XX w.), Kielce 1999.
- Wilczur J. E., Sosny były świadkami. Ziemia konecka w latach okupacji 1939–1945, Warszawa 1982.
- [1.1] Na cmentarzu, „Gazeta Kielecka” 1871, no. 20, p. 1.
- [1.2] Na cmentarzu, „Gazeta Kielecka” 1871, no. 20, p. 1.
- [1.3] State Archive in Kielce, Voivodship Office in Kielce 1919–1939 I, file no. 1763, sheet 155.
- [1.4] State Archive in Kielce, Voivodship Office in Kielce 1919–1939 I, file no. 1593, sheet 2.
- [1.5] State Archive in Kielce, Voivodship Office in Kielce 1919–1939 I, file no. 1689, sheet 96–99.
- [1.6] State Archive in Kielce, Voivodship Office in Kielce 1919–1939 I, file no. 1523, sheet 35.
- [1.7] State Archive in Kielce, Voivodship Office in Kielce 1919–1939 I, file no. 1689, sheet 1
- [1.8] State Archive in Kielce, Voivodship Office in Kielce 1919–1939 I, file no. 1743, sheet 11, 15.
- [1.9] State Archive in Kielce, Voivodship Office in Kielce 1919–1939 I, file no. 3354, sheet 10; file no. 3358, sheet 6.
- [1.10] State Archive in Kielce, Fabryka Odlewów Żeliwnych „Neptun” w Końskich (Polish: Fabryka Odlewów Żeliwnych „Neptun” w Końskich), file no. 12, sheet 11–14.
- [1.11] State Archive in Kielce, Voivodship Office in Kielce 1919–1939 I, file no. 12783, sheet 116.
- [1.12] State Archive in Kielce, Voivodship Office in Kielce 1919–1939 I, file no. 12783, sheet 101
- [1.13] State Archive in Kielce, Voivodship Office in Kielce 1919–1939 I, file no. 12783, sheet 99
- [1.14] State Archive in Kielce, Końskie town files, file no. 423, sheet 7.
- [1.15] Faworski B., Koneckie zakłady odlewnicze, „Tygodnik Konecki” 2003, no. 23, p. 14