The first references to Jews in Łęczyca date back to the late 15th century. Łęczyca’s good trade relations with Prussian and Lithuanian cities offered excellent development opportunities for Jewish entrepreneurs. Therefore Jews flocked to the town in the “golden age.” The Jewish Community of Łęczyca was probably established at that time and a wooden synagogue was also constructed. The Jewish district included Kaliska, Żydowska, Poznańska and Szpitalna (then Koszerna) streets. Łęczyca Jews were mostly involved in long-distance trade (of cattle, grains and material), local small trade and crafts. Some Jews were also involved in the leasing business, including duties (there was a customs house in Łęczyca). Two brothers, Mojżesz and Jakub from Łęczyca, were among the Jews who leased duty revenue[1.1]. The massacre of Łęczyca Jews carried out by Stefan Czarniecki’s troops during the Polish-Swedish wars (Jews were regarded as supporters of the Swedish aggressor) put an end to the rapid growth of the local community. The revival of the Jewish community of Łęczyca took place only in the late 18th century, when the town came under the Prussian rule (better trade relations with Prussian cities, no need to pay customs duties as well as special reliefs). Jews continued to trade cattle, grains (and general agricultural produce) as well as skins (development of tanning) and materials (cloth making). During the times of the Kingdom of Poland (under the Russian rule), Jewish trade activities largely stagnated. When World War One ended, the Jewish community halved in size (in 1910 Jews constituted 83.9% of the total population and in 1921 only 40.6%). The decline of the Jewish community of Łęczyca was a result of the general depopulation of the town due to its significant destruction during the front battles of 1914. At that time, there were the following guilds in Łęczyca: shoemakers’ (with 29 master craftsmen), bakers’ (17) and butchers’ (21) and carpenters (16). There were also 6 painters, 2 stove-fitters, 2 tawers, a brazier, 4 nail makers, 7 blacksmiths, 2 sprayers, 3 saddlers, 2 gingerbread makers, as well two dyeworks, two agricultural machinery factories, a vinegar factory, an oil mill, a water and steam mill and a soap workshop[1.2]. Jewish business in Łęczyca enjoyed its last revival in the interwar period. Small Jewish trade and crafts developed at that time. Wealthy Jewish families included the Przedborskis and the Hermans. They owned a tenement house near the market square and a warehouse of alcoholic beverages[1.3]. The town suffered significant destruction again during the Polish defensive war, in the so-called Battle of the Bzura.

Translated by LIDEX

  • [1.1] M. Horn, “Żydzi i mieszczanie na służbie królów polskich i wielkich książąt litewskich w latach 1386–1506 (Jews and Townspeople in the Service of Polish Kings and Grand Dukes of Lithuania in 1386-1506)” [in:] Jewish Historical Institute Bulletin, 1985, no. 3–4, p. 16.
  • [1.2] Vredmond DeJ.L., Krótka monografia wszystkich miast, miasteczek i osad w Królestwie Polskich (A Short Monograph of All the Cities, Towns and Settlements in the Kingdom of Poland), Warsaw, 1902, k. 137-140.
  • [1.3] A. Tuszyńska, “Kim jestem, czyli rodzinna historia lęku (Who I Am, or the Family History of Fear)”, Rzeczpospolita, 26 February 2005.