The earliest mention of Jews living in Karlino appears in a report drawn up on 2 April 1718 by commissioners Massow, Somnitz, and Borck. According to the document, Karlino had one Jewish resident – Abraham Levin. He did not hold any privilege and thus was admonished to apply for the necessary papers. Another report, issued by the town magistrate on 1 August 1720, confirmed that Abraham Levin still lived in Karlino. A complaint had been filed against him to the magistrate, claiming that he was involved in illegal slaughter and hawking. At the same time, Levin himself complained that other merchants were buying out hides (sheep, lamb, and others) all around Karlino and its environs and thus he was unable to purchase any himself. Wishing to solve these issues, the authorities decided that Jews would be ordered to obey the slaughtering patent of 10 November 1694 and stop hawking.

Abraham Levin’s wealth was assessed as rather meagre. He lived in a rented flat, and his behaviour had changed enough to start enjoying a good reputation in the town. However, he was often visited by Jews from other towns, engaged in businesses unfavourable to the local Christian population. For this reason, the local townsmen became rather hostile towards Levin, which likely prompted him to leave the town sometime before 1728 – data from that year suggests that not a single Jew resided in Karlino.

The report of the Pomerania Government (Pommersche Regierung) drawn up on 10 August 1731 in Szczecin mentions that only one Jew was allowed to reside in Karlino, provided that they held a valid privilege. Six years later, the town magistrate informed that a whole Jewish family had settled in the town. It was the family of Marcus Nathan, who had a privilege allowing him to trade with cloth. He lived in Karlino with his wife Nechle, his mother-in-law (Abraham Israeli’s widow), farmhand Jacob, and foster child Levin Moses.

According to data from 1752, Marcus Nathan’s family consisted of six people; he had three daughters and a servant. There was also another Jewish family residing in town at that time – Salomon Isaac with his wife, two sons, and a servant. Thus, there were 12 Jews in total in Karlino, which had a population of ca. 600.

During that period, all Jewish families living in the region of Farther Pomerania (Hinterpommern) were obliged to pay a defined annual tribute to the Prussian royal government. A selected member of the Jewish elders’ council was responsible for handing in a list of sums collected from each family. Usually, they paid an amount ranging from 1 to 4 marks, with the families from Karlino paying 4 marks a year. Apart from this tribute, in 1764 the Jews from Karlino paid a total sum of 42 thalers and 12 groschen for state protection – 18 thalers and 12 groschen from Marcus Nathan’s family and 24 thalers from Salomon Isaac’s family.

The body of preserved documents concerning Karlino Jews includes the recommendation issued for Marcus Nathan by the local wool producers in 1776. The document was confirmed by the magistrate on 20 February 1778. It stated that Marcus Nathan had lived in Karlino for 45 years, and made a living from trade in silk and woollen goods. Every year, he sold goods worth 800–1,500 thalers in Karlino and Białogard (Belgard), and paid all fees in a timely manner. His son, Joachim Marcus, was engaged to Merle, born in 1764. He was granted a trading license on 1 August 1778.

Ca. 1763, porcelain production became popular in Europe, and Frederick the Great was determined to convert his country into a powerhouse in the field. He bought an indebted porcelain factory for 225,000 thalers and nationalised and monopolised it as the Royal Porcelain Factory. However, there was no demand for the produced goods, as the largely impoverished Prussian society could not afford to buy expensive tableware and settled instead for more modest wooden or tin goods. The state was forced to implement campaigns encouraging the people to buy porcelain goods. This involved both rewards and positive incentives as well as threats and punishments – anything that helped improve the royal finances.

On 21 March 1769, the king signed a cabinet directive addressed to the General Directorate (Generaldirektorium) which stipulated that all Jews wishing to settle within the territory of Prussia, even if they had already obtained a permit to buy a house, were obliged to buy a defined amount of porcelain goods from the royal factory. Jews holding the general privilege or applying for it had to buy porcelain worth 500 thalers, and Jews holding normal privileges – 300 thalers. Anyone seeking to purchase a home or applying for any other permit needed to buy porcelain for 300 thalers as well. The purchased goods were then to be sold abroad, which was to help guarantee solvency to the factory and promote its products outside the country. However, it soon turned out that Jews were causing “unnecessary problems” because they only wanted to buy the cheapest products. As a result, another directive was issued on 5 December 1769, addressed to all War and Domain Chambers (Kriegs- und Domänenkammer). The document stipulated that the following proportions of porcelain should be purchased by Jews: ⅓ of highest quality, ⅓ of average quality, and ⅓ of lowest quality. Jews were also forbidden to sell the goods in Prussian provinces and instead obliged to export it to foreign markets. The strict Prussian policy soon led to considerable deterioration of the economic standing of the Jewish population in Pomerania.

On 5 August 1779, Hoffiskal Hartwig Kretschmann sent a letter to the Karlino magistrate, demanding that all arrears in payments for porcelain be immediately paid off by the indebted. Penalties were imposed on four Jews with outstanding payments. On 29 October, two of them – Marcus Nathan and Joachim Marcus – claimed that they were ready to clear their debt, but they wanted to do so in instalments. The state’s ruthless policy met with a wave of protests, mostly among the residents of small towns where trade was practically non-existent. Among them were the inhabitants and councillors of Karlino, which at the time had a population of ca. 900 people. They sent a protest letter to the central authorities, arguing that it was impossible to claim such a large amount of porcelain within the defined period, especially since the Berlin Government did not allow to purchase the porcelain on credit and demanded for the price to be paid in cash.

Indignant at the Jews’ sluggishness in fulfilling the royal orders, on 29 May 1779 Frederick II instructed the General Directorate to thenceforth never grant any privileges, licenses or other permits to Jews until they presented a document from the porcelain factory confirming that they had exported the entire obligatory amount of goods abroad. As a result, Israel Salomon from Karlino was only allowed to marry Henne Isaac from Bobolice (Bublitz) after he bought the necessary amount of wool and exported the porcelain. In 1782, Karlino had a population of 894 people, including 33 Jews. In 1794, there were only 10 Jews among the 909 inhabitants of the town, and in 1812 – 21 Jews among 1,060 inhabitants.

In 1812, Jews were obliged to assume German names. The list of Jewish people who took on official surnames and thus were granted Prussian citizenship includes nine people (family heads) from Karlino.

Over the following years, the overall population of Karlino and the size of its Jewish community continued to grow. In 1816, there were 55 Jews among 1,225 inhabitants, and in 1831 – 96 Jews among 1,745 people, that is 5% of the population. Around the same time a Jewish cemetery was founded in Karlino, a synagogue was erected, and a building was purchased to open a mikveh. Until 1843, the number of Jews living in Karlino did not change, while the size of the total population increased to 2,000.

Following the adoption of the Act on the Formation of Synagogue Communities (Synagogengemeinde) on 23 July 1847, the Jews of Karlino established their own community in the town, with its jurisdiction extending to nearby villages. Subsequently, the election for community representation was called. According to preserved data, in 1848 the community included 26 people eligible to vote. The size of the community steadily grew in the following years, mainly thanks to the influx of Jewish migrants from West Prussia (Westpreußen).

In 1852, Karlino had a population of 2,600, including 131 Jews. In 1861, there were 148 Jews among the town’s 3,100 residents. The Jewish community continued to constitute ca. 5% of the entire population. However, the number of Jews living in Karlino had fallen to 112 members by 1887, and continued to shrink. Despite the decreasing size of the community, the Chevra Kadisha burial society was still active in the town (est. 1883).

In 1893, 25 members of the Karlino community were taxpayers. Four of them did not live in the town itself but in nearby villages. The annual earnings of community members ranged from 120 to 3,290 marks, while the community tax rates amounted from 6 to 164.50 marks. In total, the community’s annual income reached ca. 889.50 marks. In the late 1890s, the community had some 76–83 members, and 9–11 children attended a religious school. The new statutes of the Karlino Synagogue Community adopted in 1898 regulated the tax system, instituting three tax brackets on the basis of the rate paid. The community board was to consist of three members, while the council of representatives was to include five people.

According to the available population register of 1898, there were 20 Jewish families living in Karlino.

At the beginning of the 20th century, between 1901 and 1905, the budget of the community amounted to 1,050 marks. While in 1901, the community still had 57 members, in 1907, their number decreased to 38 people, gathered in 13 farms. Six Jews living in the neighbouring villages also belonged to the community. The whole community constituted a little more than 1% of Karlino's population, which consisted of 3,000 inhabitants. The number of Jewish children attending the school was four to five, and the school of the Karlino community was supervised by Dr. Goldschmidt, a rabbi from Kołobrzeg.

The last permanently employed religious functionary in the community was a teacher called Simon who worked between 1910 and 1913. Later on a cantor from Drawsko Pomorskie (Dramburg) gave lessons to one or two students. The budget of the community in 1903 was still 1,260 marks, ten years later it decreased to 955 marks. In 1911, a half of 32 members of the community paid taxes, two years later the community consisted of 33 members, 25 of which lived in Karlino and the remaining 8 in Dębnica (Damitz) and Rzeszników (Reselkow). Only 14 Jews paid taxes at that time.

One soldier from the Jewish origin of Karlino was killed at the front during the World War I, and his name was Hans Salomon (1896-1918).

In the post-war years, the community decreased even more and there were only 20 members, and its budget amounted to 870 marks at the turn of 1923/24. Six years later the budget was only 495 marks, and out of 18 members of the community only 7 paid taxes. According to the census of 1935, there were only 9 Jews living in Karlino. It is known that merchants called Gotha, previously living in Dębnica and Rzeszników, gave up their business there and left the town. The events of the Kristallnacht (9-10 November 1938) were as tragic for the Jews of Karlino as for those living in other towns of Pomerania.

The 1939 census shows that 12 people of Jewish origin lived in the town at that time. It is known that some of them were deported, some went to Terezin (Theresienstadt), some were deported to Auschwitz. Their further fate is unknown.


  • Salinger G., Zur Erinnerung und zum Gedenken. Die einstigen jüdischen Gemeinden in Pommern, vol. 2, New York 2006, pp. 457–469.