The first records of the presence of Jews in the parish of Kłobuck date from the end of the 18th century. At that time, 13 Jewish families lived in the parish area, but no Jews were allowed to live in the town itself, as the Pauline monks ruling Kłobuck did not agree to that.
It was not until the period of the Kingdom of Poland that an intensive Jewish settlement began. The community was established in 1821. In 1827, Jews already accounted for 15% of the total population of Kłobuck - there were 281 of them out of 1,849 people in total. They were mostly involved in trade and small craft. In 1827, 11 plots in the town out of 574 were owned by Jews.
In 1850, 460 Jews lived in Kłobuck, accounting for 25% of the total population of the town. In 1851, a synagogue was built and a rabbi was employed. A Jewish cemetery was also established. Records from 1857 show the prominent position of Jews in the local trade. Only 3 people out of 37 involved in trade were not of Jewish origin. In crafts, they dealt mainly with baking, rope-making and cotton-weaving, as well as tailoring (77% of workshops) and hat-making (67% of workshops). At the end of the 19th century, Jews ran a local brewery, a mill and a vinegar factory. At the beginning of the 20th century the Bund appeared in the town. From 1904, Icek Henoch Goldberg held the post of rabbi in Kłobuck.[1.1].
In the interwar period, the Jewish Religious Community in Kłobuck included also the villages of Kamyk, Miedzno, Grabówka, Opatów and part of the population of the Węglowice community. On 7 November 1919, a Jewish “Self-Aid” (Polish: “Samopomoc”) cooperative - a grocers' association, was established in Kłobuck. In 1921, it had 210 members. In 1922, there was a Jewish school in the town, attended by 65 children. The school was maintained by the Jewish community[1.2]. Political activity included parties such as the Mizrachi, and there were also branches of Ha-Shomer Ha-Tzair, He-Halutz and Betar. The Agudah had as many as 200 members and also ran a school for girls, part of the Beit Yaakov network (100 female students).
As it transpires from preserved documents, after the election of 1924 the community board included: Dawid Celrowicz, Moszek Szperling, Jakób Markowicz, Milka Wajsfelner, Lejzor Zajdsztajn, Josek Djament, and Chaim Mas.[1.3] As stipulated in the correspondence of the board with the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Public Education, the projected income from ritual slaughter was to amount to 4,000 zlotys. The Ministry believed that the sum should be three times higher[1.4]. The board was therefore instructed to raise the salary of the rabbi in Kamyk. The Jewish community was also admonished that Moszek Szperling, being a member of the board, should not receive a salary of 200 zlotys a year for his duties as secretary.
In 1926, the Jewish community had 2,400 members. The board estimated its yearly revenue at 10,635 zlotys, including 4,000 zlotys from slaughter, 4,282 zlotys from member contributions, 50 zlotys from officiating marriages, 50 zlotys from leasing out the mikveh, 100 zlotys from cemetery fees. The community planned to allocate 100 zloty for aid for the poor, 140 zlotys for maintaining the orphanage in Kłobuck, and 10 zlotys for the orphanage in Kamyk[1.5]. At the end of the year, it turned out that just 50% of due contributions had been collected, which naturally had an adverse effect on the community’s economy. Its debt amounted to 3,765 zlotys, with a substantial amount owed to Rabbi Icek Henoch Goldberg, working in the town since 1904. The planned expenses included the following: salary of Rabbi I. H. Goldberg – 3,600 zlotys a year, salary of the rabbi’s assistant L. Zelinger – 1,200 zlotys, salaries of the shochetim – M. Zandercz and Sz. Dawidowicz – 1,200 zlotys each.
In 1927, the projected revenue of the community amounted to 3,884 zlotys from contributions and 9,800 zlotys from slaughter. The kehilla owned a synagogue at Bóżnicza Street, a mikveh, a cheder, a fenced cemetery with an area of 592 square metres, and an office housing the seat of the board. The mikveh was destroyed in a fire in 1927. It was renovated and leased out. The managing board also managed a shelter for poor Jewish travellers passing through the town. The erstwhile president of the board was Dawid Zelkowicz, while its members were Moszek Szperling and Rabbi J. H. Goldberg.
The rabbi was not satisfied with his monthly salary of 400 zlotys and demanded for the board to raise it to 600 zlotys, claiming that he needed more funds to provide for his nine children. In response, he was reminded that he was gaining additional income from officiating at weddings and from koshering stoves and flour for Passover. The year 1928 saw the introduction of a new slaughter tariff: 4 zlotys for an ox or a cow, 1.50 zlotys for a calf, sheep or goat, 60 groszes for a turkey, 30 groszes for a hen, 15 groszes for a pidgeon or a chicken. The rates were substantially lower than in other communities, which was taken advantage of by many traders from nearby villages, who would come to Kłobuck to have their poultry slaughtered.
In 1929, the Ministry of Religious Denominations and Public Enlightenment officially sanctioned the local Tarbut school, which was a rarity at the time.
The audit report of 1930 informs that the local kehilla had jurisdiction over Jews living in Kłobuck, Kamyk, and Miedzno – 2,425 in total. A total of 363 families was obliged to pay contributions, 20 were exempt from the duty. The contribution rate ranged from 2 to 300 zlotys. The following year, 358 families were selected to pay the contributions and 24 were exempt.[1.6].
In 1931, the board expected to raise a total revenue of 18,773 zlotys. Salaries were paid out to two rabbis and three shohetim. The community maintained a synagogue, a mikveh, a cheder, and a cemetery. Archival records include an interesting document concerning the fees for using the mikveh. For men, the price ranged between 0.30 zloty to 5 zlotys, while women had to pay between 0.30 zlotys and 1.50 zlotys.[1.7]. The mikveh was leased out to Herszlik Szplit. As it transpires from the minutes from a community board session in 1931, Mordechaj Szperling was the president,[1.8] while ordinary members were Rabbi I. H. Golberg, I. Działowski, F. Lapides, U. Goldberg, Sz. Frydman, M. Birenbaum, P. Unglik, and I. Karpin.
In 1931, Kłobuck had a population of 8,952, including 1,652 Jews (818 women and 834 men). The Jewish population lived mainly in the so-called Old Town, which was the commercial centre of the town. Most Jews made a living from trade and crafts. Among Jewish merchants there were those trading in textiles: J. Birenbaum, I. Dudek, F. Friedman, F. Klajnberg, H. Wajnman, R. Wajs; in cattle: Aron and Moszek Rajber, J. Rozental, T. Szperling, M. Szperling, I. and Sz. Urling; in sugar: Sz. Kornberg and J. Mendlewicz; in timber: I. Chodak; in horses: M. Ajzner, A. Mass, A. Wajchman; in foodstuffs: M. Ajzner, J. Djament, J. Frajtag, I. Fuks, T. Gutterman, I. Gwóźdź, J. Izraelewicz, Ch. Libicki, J. Markowicz, Ch. Mass, J. Rosental, Sz. Sznajer, I. Wajchman, Sz. Wajss, J. Zygielman; in iron: Sz. Szajner and A. Zygelman.
Among the largest enterprises in the town, there were the auto body workshop of D. Besser, dye-works of Sz. Rozyn, tanneries of Sz. Chod and Moszek Pelt, tailoring workshops of K. Mantel, H. Szperling, B. Zygelman, the mill of M. Zygielbaum, bakeries of C. Ajzner, J. Fajge, N. Gielkopf, Ch. Grank, N. Zajchman, Z. Zygelman, carpenter’s workshop of J. Gliksman, woodyards of Sz. Friedman, M. Zygielbaum, I. Chod, and D. Urbach, and the factory of carbonated water of I. Unglik.[1.9]. Jews also held a prominent position in local car transportation services. Two out of three companies of this kind in Kłobuck belonged to Jews.[1.10] Moszel Ajzner was the only person in the town who had the right to trade in PKO [Polish Savings Bank] cheques.[1.11].
The Jews of Kłobuck were represented in the Municipal Council, with Jews holding six out of all fifteen seats. The town boasted a branch of the Congress of Jewish Self-Help; its members were Aron Frydman, Icek Lewkowicz, Icek Blau, W. Kurchara, and Moszek Wajsfeler. The Kultur-Lige Association was also active in Kłobuck, as well as a branch of the Association for the Protection of Health (TOZ). In 1932, there was a Jewish interest-free bank in the town called “Gemitus Chased”, which granted small loans. Charity was carried out by the “Bikor-Cholim” Jewish Charity Society. The Maccabi sports club was active. In 1931 anti-Semitic incidents took place, during which many people were.
Preserved statistical data shows that in 1932, local shochetim butchered a total of 1,503 heads of cattle, 397 calves and sheep, 1,403 geese, 2,042 hens and ducks, and 462 chickens.[1.12] A part of the meat produced in the town was exported outside the community.
In 1933, taking into account the raging economic crisis and general impoverishment of the local population, the community board projected its revenue at 10,356.40 zlotys, including 9,132 zlotys from slaughter, 249 zlotys from contributions, 342 zloty from the sale of matzo, 57 zlotys from fees for tombstones, 77 zlotys from burial fees. The expected expenses included salaries for community officials: Rabbi I. H. Goldberg – 2,380 zlotys per year, Rabbi L. A. Zelinger – 900 zlotys, shochetim Szmul Dawidowicz from Kłobuck and Szlama Berkowicz from Kamyk – 1,800 zlotys each, secretary K. Szmulewicz – 148 zlotys, janitor A. Szperling – 269 zlotys, shulklapper Sz. Granek – 90 zlotys. In addition, the community allocated 286 zlotys for the renovation of the synagogue, 223 zlotys for aid for the poor, 154 zlotys for funerals of the poor, 370 zlotys for the purchase of matzo, 120 zlotys for the Talmud Torah school.[1.13].
In 1937, the Kłobuck kehilla had 2,001 members. A total of 234 families was obliged to pay contributions. The value of the movable property of the community was 7,536 zlotys, real estate – 57,770 zlotys, and debts – 10,179.16 zlotys. The administration was dominated by non-affiliated deputies. The last community board before the outbreak of WWII consisted of Boruch Szperling, Jakub Józef Działowski, Abraham Diament, Wolf Weis, Józef Lejba Żółtobrodzki, Jakub Chada, and Mordechaj Szperling.
On 1 September 1939, Germany attacked Poland thus beginning World War II. On the very first day of the war, Kłobuck was captured by the German army. Fifteen Jews were killed. The synagogue was turned into a stable and Jewish property was confiscated. On 15 September, Jews were ordered to wear white armbands with a yellow Star of David. At the end of October 1939, a Judenrat was established, headed by Boruch Szperling (in November he was replaced by Szymon Merin. One of its tasks was to supply labour to the labour camps in Upper Silesia, run by the Nazi Organisation Schmelt. In March 1941, the SS made a list of local Jews, counting 2,054 people. In September 1941, 150 houses belonging to Jews were destroyed.
In October 1941, the Germans established a ghetto in Kłobuck, where they crowded over 1,500 Jews. Rumours of its liquidation spread on 21 June 1942, resulting in many attempts to hide or escape. On 22 June 1942, some of imprisoned Jews were herded into the local fire station, dogs were unleashed at them and shots were fired into the crowd. Those who stayed alive were rushed to Krzepice and then deported to the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. A different fate was shared by only 35 young women and one man, who were sent to the Sosnowiec labour camp, and 7 professionals who were left with their families in Kłobuck. About 100 people survived the war, but the community did not recover.
- Klobucko, [in:] The Encyclopedia of Jewish life before and during the Holocaust, eds. S. Spector, G. Wigoder, vol. II, New York 2001, p. 637.
- Kłobucko, [in:] The Yad Vashem Encyclopedia of the Ghettos during the Holocaust, vol. I, Jerusalem 2009, pp. 322–323.
- [1.1] Kielce Provincial Office I, ref. no. 1691, fol. 4, 49.
- [1.2] Kłobuck, [in:] Polacy i Żydzi [online] http://zskosinski.website.pl/kolohis//Jero/klobuck.pl.html [accessed: 18 April 2021].
- [1.3] State Archives in Kielce, Kielce Provincial Office I, ref. no. 1501, fol. 118.
- [1.4] State Archives in Kielce, Kielce Provincial Office I, ref. no. 1749, fol. 312
- [1.5] State Archives in Kielce, Kielce Provincial Office I, ref. no. 1691, fol. 4, 49
- [1.6] State Archives in Kielce, Kielce Provincial Office I, ref. no. 1691, fol. 250, 251
- [1.7] State Archives in Kielce, Kielce Provincial Office I, ref. no. 1691, fol. 68.
- [1.8] State Archives in Kielce, Kielce Provincial Office I, ref. no. 1699, fol. 101–105
- [1.9] Księga Adresowa Polski (wraz z W.M. Gdańskiem) dla handlu, przemysłu, rzemiosł i rolnictwa, Warszawa 1930, p. 229
- [1.10] Księga Adresowa Polski (wraz z W.M. Gdańskiem) dla handlu, przemysłu, rzemiosł i rolnictwa, Warszawa 1930, pp. 228, 229
- [1.11] Spis uczestników obrotu czekowego P.K.O., Warszawa 1933, p. 375
- [1.12] State Archives in Kielce, Kielce Provincial Office I, ref. no. 1691, fol. 157
- [1.13] State Archives in Kielce, Kielce Provincial Office I, ref. no. 1691, fol. 190