The Jewish settlement in Lubawa was one of the oldest, if not the oldest Jewish community in the territory of the present-day Warmińsko-Mazurskie Province. The oldest preserved information about Jews living in Lubawa dates back to 1581. In the 16th century it was only one of four towns in the Royal Prussia where the Old Believers lived.
The local Jewish settlement should, however, be regarded as temporary because in Lubawa, a town belonging to the Chełmińskie Bishopric, there Old Believers were under an official prohibition on the settlement. In the middle of the 18th century, one Jewish family living in Lubawa was mentioned in records.
Political and settlement situation changed in 1772 after the First Partition of Poland had taken place and the Land of Lubawa went under Prussian rule. Rapid population (and economic) growth of the town took place and an even faster expansion of the Jewish community which numbered 116 members in 1792 constituting over 8% of the population. The Diaspora was most numerous at the turn of the 1860s and 1870s; in 1867 there were 532 Jews in the town (over 13% of the total population). The highest percentage of Jewish population was recorded in the first third decade of the 19th century - 19-21%. One of the oldest inhabitants of Lubawa in its history was a Jew - Isaac Abraham, who died on 13 October 1825 at the age of 112.
Relatively numerous Jewish community settled in Lubawa possessed its religious cemetery on Wzgórze Fijewskie already at the end of the 18th century. A synagogue was erected in 1847, at which time, in accordance with legislative changes, the community's activity was formalised. A private school for Jewish children had been operating since 1833.
The local community was strongly economically diversified. Most of its members made a living from trade and commerce, but also from shipping and craft. The Jews of Lubawa, who had family and cultural roots in Polish lands (e.g. the forms of the oldest matzevot), were subject to gradual Germanisation, just like in other towns of West Prussia. More and more often they identified themselves as Prussians, and later as Germans of Mosaic faith. During World War I, eleven Jews connected with Lubawa by birth or residence died in the ranks of the German army.
A rapid turn in the history of the Diaspora of Lubawa occurred with the return of the Land of Lubawa to Poland in 1920. Admittedly, the number of the community inhabitants had been falling systematically since the 1870s, but after Lubawa changed its state affiliation, a complete collapse of the community took place. In so far as in 1910 211 Jews lived there, in 1921, there were only 26 Jews in the community. The outflow of former inhabitants was not compensated by the influx of Jews from the Congress Kingdom and the Borderlands of the Second Republic, although already in 1921 the Kółko family lived in Lubawa - new settlers who probably came from the border town of Grajewo.
In 1921, the Lubawa community consisted only of 17 people, although there was still a board of directors and a religious teacher. Two years later, however, the Diaspora numbered only 10 people, and there were no longer any community functionaries. The synagogue was closed and the equipment was sent to the community in Torun. The kosher butchery did not function either. The community authorities assessed the situation at that time (1923) as follows: “The community will decrease in the near future by the departure of several people to Germany (optants). As a result, the Jewish community in Lubawa ceased its activity completely”.
In 1930, due to the process of dying out of the religious communities in the Lubawa region, A. Bednarski, the starost of Lubawa, proposed to merge the communities of Nowe Miasto and Lubawa. However, the idea was rejected by the Lubawa residents. In 1932, the Jews of Lubawa were incorporated into the Collective Jewish Religious Community with its seat in Brodnica, which also included Nowe Miasto, Lidzbark Welski and Działdowo.
In 1931, there were 38 Jews living in Lubawa, and another 5 in the surrounding towns.
In 1934, the steam mill was owned by Jan Kalski. In 1939, the cult property of the Jews of Lubawa was appraised at 15,000 zlotys. It included the synagogue (8,500 zlotys) and cemeteries - old (1,500 zlotys) and new (5,000 zlotys).
At least 86 people connected with Lubawa by birth or residence perished during the Holocaust. Most of them were Germanized Jews who left the town before the 1920s. During the Second World War they were most often deported from Berlin and other large cities of the Third Reich to ghettos in Theresienstadt, Riga, Kaunas, Litzmannstadt (Łódź), Piaski, Izbica, Mińsk, Warsaw and to the German Nazi camp in Ravensbrück. Those who survived the deportations died in the German Nazi death camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, Bernburg on the Saale, Dachau, Mittelbau-Dora, Grossbeeren and Stutthof.
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