The date of the beginning of Jewish settlement in Trzciel (Ger. Tirschtiegel) is not known. As a result of the great fire in 1655 (during the war between Poland and Sweden), all town documents burned down together with the town hall. Despite their absence, it is presumed that this may have started as early as the Middle Ages.

In any case, the first preserved document concerning Jews in Trzciel comes from 1745. It contains statutes drawn up in the German language granted to Jews by the owner of the town Ludwik Szołdrski. It is unclear whether its addressees had already been in the town for some time or had just arrived. Perhaps, they returned after a prolonged absence while the town was recovering from the Swedish destruction. However, 90% of the Jews chose New Trzciel as their place of settlement. The 1765 census of the Jewish population to determine the poll tax listed 223 Jews. In 1770, they built a wooden synagogue in Nowy Trzciel. However, no details about it are available.

According to the Prussian census of 1793, Trzciel had 253 Jewish inhabitants. They were mainly engaged in trade, which was lucrative thanks to the town’s location on the route from Poznań to Frankfurt an der Oder. In 1833, a Jewish school was built in Trzciel. Until 1851, the teacher there was the later rabbi and preacher Dr Gustav Gottheil (died 1903 in New York).

On 3 December 1869, the statutes of the kehilla were drafted. The following towns and villages were listed as part of the synagogue community: Dübnow, Jasieniec, Hameritzke, Jabłonka Nowa, Jabłonka Stara, Lubień, Lutol Mokry, Łęczno, Miedzichowo, Neumühle, Papiermühle, Prądówka, Rybojady, Siercz, Szklarka Trzcielska, Trzciel, Waldvorwerk and Zachodzko[1.1]. The kehilla also used a seal with a diameter of 2.5 cm, depicting two crowned lions in the centre facing each other in profile, holding the tablets with the Ten Commandments between them. Around them was an inscription: “Vorstand der Synagogen-Gemeinde /at the top/ *zu Tirschtiegel* /at the bottom/”. The seal imprint survived on some documents from the second half of the 19th century, including one from 1893[1.2]. In 1889, the Jewish community in Trzciel took over the property (bequests, etc.) of the liquidated community in neighbouring Brójce. The signatories to the document included Oscar Greiffenhagen, Boas Krause, Bernhard Krause, Koppel Hamburger, Gabriel Bein, Moses Rychwalski, Jacob Rosenberg, Albert Boas, Moritz Boas, Elias Zirker, A. Aron, Wolf Aron and A. Friedländer[1.1.2].

From the second half of the 19th century, the number of kehilla members decreased systematically. It was linked to emigration to larger cities in the west of Germany. In 1910, the school was closed because there were not enough children. After its closure, the building, which still exists today, was converted into an old people’s home. It is now a residential building.

In 1920, the town was divided by the border drawn by the Treaty of Versailles. The western part of Trzciel remained in Germany, and the eastern part was incorporated into Poland. By the time the Nazis came to power in 1933, there were only 22 Jews in German Trzciel.

Kristallnacht in Trzciel had a different course than in big German cities. In the 1920s, the kehilla sold the synagogue to the town, which was then converted into a fire station. The main symbol of the kehilla ceased to exist. As in many other small towns where people knew each other well and were not always willing to act against their Jewish neighbours, inspiration to do so came from the outside. In Trzciel, it was a newcomer, court clerk and SA member by the name of Seiler. The linen shop owned by the Boas family was destroyed.

According to Gretel Lehmann, the daughter of the last German mayor of Trzciel, Karl Zimmermann, in the 1930s, Trzciel had the following inhabitants of Jewish origin:

 

  • Benno Boas and his wife, an elderly married couple, merchants who owned a linen and handicraft shop at the market square in the Old Town, emigrated to the USA.
  • Goldstein and Krause, two women (mother and daughter) of Berliner Straße, remained in Trzciel in the first years of the war.
  • Hamburger, Manfred and Kurt – Kurt was a dentist; his family emigrated to the USA; they corresponded with some old friends from their youth in Trzciel until the 1990s.
  • Bernhard Krause and his family – he had two children; people called him “merchant Krause”; the family lived in Trzciel during the war.
  • Eugen Rychwalski and his wife and their youngest son Heiner – merchants from Nowomiejski market, were sent to the ghetto in Theresienstadt; their older sons Horst and Kurt emigrated to England, they corresponded with some old friends from their youth in Trzciel until the 1990s.
  • Schwerin(chen), a married couple – they died in the old people’s home in Trzciel before the war.
  • Weich, an old lady, died in the old people’s home in Trzciel before the war.
  • Wolf, a four-person family of horse traders in Trzciel, son Manfred emigrated to Canada and corresponded with his friends from Trzciel for many years.
  • Zirker, an old lady, died in the old people’s home in Trzciel before the war.

In addition, Martin Figulla and his family also lived in Trzciel. In the 19th century, the family converted to Catholicism. Until 1945 they peacefully ran a textile shop in Trzciel (New Town, near the market square).

 

Bibliography

  • A. Heppner, J. Herzberg,  Aus Vergangenheit und Gegenwart der Juden und der jüdischen Gemeinden in den Posener Landen, Bromberg (1909), pp. 989–991.
  • A. Menzel, Geschichte der Stadt Tirschtiegel, Typescript from 1938, in the collection of Heimatkreis Meseritz, Troisdorf.
  • J. Schmidt, Zur Geschichte der jüdischen Gemeinde in Tirschtiegel, Typescript from 2007, in the collection of the author.

 

 

 

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Footnotes
  • [1.1] Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz, GStA PK, XVI HA, Abt. I Polizeisachen, Volkskultur, Juden, Tirschtiegel, Rep. 32, no. 5244.
  • [1.2] Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz, GStA PK, XVI HA, Abt. I Polizeisachen, Volkskultur, Juden, Tirschtiegel, Rep. 32, no. 5241.
  • [1.1.2] Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz, GStA PK, XVI HA, Abt. I Polizeisachen, Volkskultur, Juden, Tirschtiegel, Rep. 32, no. 5241.