Andrzejewo was founded  in 1534 by the bishop of Plock, Andrzej Krzycki, under the privilege granted by king Sigismund I of Poland in 1528. Since the town was under the jurisdiction of Plock bishops, Jews were prohibited to settle on the account of de non tolerandis Judaeis ban. “Seeing to it that solely Christian citizens would dwell in the city, succeeding bishops of Plock, confirming previous privileges of bishop Krzycki, did not allow Jews in”.

The first Jews settlers arrived in Andrzejewo at the turn of 1802. In 1808 there were 28 Jews per 726 inhabitants (3,9 % of the town’s population).; in 1827 Jews constituted 14,4% of the population (111 per 773 inhabitants). 30 years later the number of Jewish settlers grew to 220 (26,3%). At the end of the 1870s Hebrews made up 48,33% of the whole population (580 Jews per 1200 inhabitants). The census held in 1921 recorded 277 Jews per 985 inhabitants (28,1%).[1.1]

In 1826 the oldest Jewish Congregation was established in Andrzejewo. At the same time, probably before the mid-1800s, a Jewish cemetery and synagogue were founded. In the interwar period Jewish Religious Community operated in the town, exercising authority over the Jewish congregation. At this time the position of rabbi was held by Abram Spektor (1923-1924) and Jankiel Jablonka (1928-1935) among others.

The biggest Jewish house and square complex, constructed of wood and stone, was scattered over the main market square. This is how the village was described in 1908 by a Catholic priest, Fth. Walenty Zaluski:

“At present Andrzejewo  has 1500 inhabitants, half of the population being Jewish. Jews became so large in numbers and arrogant, that they drove Christians out of the spacious market square to the outskirts of the town.  Prior to the liquor monopoly, up to 20 Jewish inns surrounded our vast square (…) These days small trade stores with artificial raisin wine and other Jewish articles of that matter remained.”

In the interwar period small merchants and shopkeepers maintained retail stores and traded during fairs: Szuster L. (grain); Ejdem J., Ofnajem M. (silk); Ejdem P., Felman S., Maslo F., Pasternak M., Felman S. (groceries); Ejdem I., Golda M. (various articles). Jews also participated in other aspects of town’s economy: they held oil manufactures (Bursztejn G., Goldberg Sz.): bakeries (Frejdmuter M., Frydman F., Frydman N.); they owned mills (Bursztejn M., Mankuta M., Nyska G.),; in addition Jews ran a brewery (Ejdem J., Goldberg M.) and a teashop (Frydman N.) They also mastered professions such as bookbinding (Wolberg); shoemaking (Anker I., Endzel H.), tailoring (Chalupowicz M. and S.) and smithing (Bursztyn J.)

Right before World War II broke out, there were 330 Jews living in Andrzejewo. Germans invaded the town as soon as September 9, 1939 and stayed for over two weeks plundering Jewish property. At that time they deported Jewish and Polish citizens of Andrzejewo, as well as the inhabitants of Ruskoleka and Letownica villages, to Lomza. The exiles returned home after two weeks.

On September 12-13, 1939 a bloody battle was fought halfway between Andrzejewo and Letownica. Eventually, Germans defeated the 18th Infantry Division.

Pursuant to a Ribbentrop-Molotov treaty, Andrzejewo was subjected to the Soviet occupation at the end of September, 1939. In June, 1941 Germans invaded the town again.The era of Nazi occupation was above all the ordeal of Andrzejewo Jews. In the fall of 1941 the Nazis slaughtered Jewish population of Andrzejewo, Czyzew and Zareby Koscielne. In 1942 those who survived were deported to Treblinka where they were exterminated. In the course of war the Nazis devastated the cemetery and the synagogue.

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Footnotes
  • [1.1] Andrzejewo, [in:] Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and Durinfg the Holocaust, ed. Sh. Spector, G. Wigoder, New York 2001, p. 45.