Like few towns in Poland, Małkinia can praise itself for a legend about the origin of its name deriving from a beautiful Jewess who ran an inn on a busy road along the Bug River. As befits the heroine of a legend, Małka was wise, good and helped the needy. Soon a village grew around the inn, taking its name from her first name. The origin of this legend is unknown, but the first known records of it ware made in the 20th century.

The villages of Małkinia Dolna and Małkinia Górna were part of the scattered estates of the Płock bishopric, subordinate to the bishop's castle in Brok. The Jewish community in Brok settled there earlier than in Małkinia. According to Encyclopaedia of Jewish Communities it happened as early as the 17th century, but the first written records about Jewish settlers date back to 1781. Małkinia, which belonged to the parish in Brok, was described in the visitation that took place at that time. It stated "there are 22 old and young Jews in the parish. There are no other dissenters." Information on individual places belonging to the parish includes Małkinia (Nowa), where 2 Jews lived among 174 Christians of the Roman Catholic church[1.1].

The reasons for the late arrival to Małkinia of the Jewish settlers can be explained by its status as episcopal property. Ecclesiastical lands were generally less hospitable to visitors from other countries or followers of other religions than those belonging to the nobility. The situation on the lands of the bishops of Płock can be deduced from the privilege of 1667 issued for the town of Brok by bishop Jan Gembicki: „As for the foreigners and dissenters according to the Laws of the Masovian Principality, we do not want them to be citizens of this Town neither can they be members of Public offices nor any handicrafts Guilds, unless they abandon the old error and to Roman Catholic Latin Religion they convert”[1.2].

The secularization of church property after the first partition (1772) meant that both Małkinia (Dolna and Górna) were transferred to the state treasury as part of the Brok national estate[1.3]. Soon after, these areas. As part of the so-called New East Prussia, were annexed by Prussia. Old privileges and restrictions on the Jewish population were abolished. The Jewish communities began to expand. This also happened in Brok - according to the census of 1808, out of 723 inhabitants, there were 122 "Orthodox Jews"[1.4]. For comparison, the visitation of 1781 noted five followers of Judaism among 521 Christians.

Other sources for learning about the fate of the Jewish community of Małkinia are record books or parish registers kept by the registry offices, and de facto by clergy (from 1807), which was in fact legalized by the Kingdom of Poland’s Civil Code of 1825. Part of the preserved files, which are a source of knowledge about the Jews of Małkinia, are kept by the State Archives in Warsaw, branch in Pułtusk.

According to the 1821 census, 27 Jews lived in Małkinia Górna, and 20 in Małkinia Dolna. The 1897 census showed that Małkinia Górna was inhabited by 1,091 Christians and 348 Jews. In the 1921 census, 252 out of 1,684 inhabitants of the town declared Jewish nationality. It can be assumed that the decrease in the number of Jews as shown by the censuses in 1897 and 1921 was caused mainly by the great emigration at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Let us add that “In 1851-52 both villages were colonized; both Małkynia, Górna and Dolna, were joined into one whole"[1.5] under the name of Małkinia Górna. Małkinia Górna also incorporated a town that already had its own Jewish community - Zawisty Dzikie. According to the memorial books, the number of members of these communities before the Holocaust was as follows: Małkinia Górna - 275, Zawisty Dzikie - 181[1.6]].

According to Encyclopaedia of Jewish Communities, an organized Jewish community in Małkinia, i.e. with its own synagogue, mikveh and cemetery, existed from the end of the 19th century; it seems that this should be corrected to at least the beginning of the last quarter of that century. Unfortunately, no documents indicating the location of the synagogue and cemetery in Małkinia have yet been uncovered. The synagogue that was within the plot belonging to Josek Szczupakiewicz (now 12 Przedszkolna Street in Małkinia) served the Jews living in Zawisty Dzikie and was located within the former boundaries of this town. It is known, however, that the Jewish community of Małkinia occupied the areas known as Piaski - the name, identical to the name of a street in the vicinity of the railway junction, also appears in descriptions and memoirs.

At the end of the 1880s, an entrepreneur Jakow Meir Rakowski came to Małkinia. He initiated the construction of a modest synagogue. Part of the cost of its construction was borne by Alfred (Abraham) Gincburg, the fifth son of Horacy (Naftali-Herc) Gincburg - one of the largest bankers of pre-revolutionary Russia, who at that time was taking part in the manoeuvres near Małkinia. Gincburg served in one of the regiments as a cornet (second lieutenant); he was apparently the only Jewish officer in the army. Invited by Rakowski to his home on Rosh Hashanah, he was favoured by a call to read the Torah. Grateful for this distinction and hospitality, he donated funds for the completion of the synagogue[1.7]. It is not known whether the synagogue erected thanks to Rakowski's support was the same as the one in Zawisty Dzikie. Rakowski appears in the registers as a resident of Małkinia, and not of Zawisty. His presence was related to numerous business conducted at the local railway junction.

Little is known about the life of the Jewish community in Małkinia in the interwar period. All political parties were represented in Małkinia, including Zionists and the Bund; Hashomer Hatzair and the illegal communist party were also active. Most of the Jews made a living from small trade and crafts. The 1930 address book contains the names of people of Jewish origin running various businesses in Małkinia: haberdashery - E. Cukierman and W. Goldfarb; shop with colonial goods - Ch. Farbstejn, oil trade - J. Ekhajzer, oil mill - Ch. Blumsztejn, "Mars" roofing felt factory - B. Kelmanowicz, M. Kohn, bakery - A. Wajngort, butcher - H. Zytner, leather production - J. Wolberg, shoemakers - E. Frydman, M. Winterman, R. Winterman, L. Wolberg, soda water - E. Lewin[1.8].

On September 1, 1939, German planes bombed the units of the 1st Division of Infantry Legions disembarking at the railway station in Małkinia. Bombs also fell on buildings near the station, including Jewish houses in Piaski.

Probably some of the Jews of Małkinia moved eastwards to the territories that were soon under the Soviet occupation right after the outbreak of World War II. Then, as it was situated close to the German-Soviet border, in October-November 1939, Małkinia became a place where people moved from one occupation zone to another. In 1941–1942 there was a transit camp in Małkinia for the Jewish population, set up by Germans in the eastern part of the town, along Nurska Street. According to memories, it was under the open sky[1.9]. It is known that terrible conditions prevailed there, and people stayed in pits dug in the frozen ground.[1.10]

Małkinia found itself on the route leading to the Treblinka Nazi death camp the German Nazi Treblinka death camp. Trains manoeuvring at the local station carried hundreds of thousands of victims of the Holocaust on their final journey. In August 1942, the chimney of the glassworks, operating in Małkinia in the interwar period, was dismantled for brick needed for the construction of gas chambers in Treblinka.

Most of the Jews of Małkinia who did not manage to escape to the Soviet Union perished in the Treblinka extermination camp. In the camp, next to the monument to the Victims of the Death Camp in Treblinka, there is a stone with the inscription Małkinia, reminding about the Jewish inhabitants of this small town along the River Bug.

Few of the survivors of the Jewish community of Małkinia returned to the town after the war. From the preserved memories it is known that they did not stay there long, soon leaving for Ostrów Mazowiecka, Warsaw and further on. Today, the descendants of the Jews from Małkinia live in the United States and Israel, among other countries.

Renata Płotczyk

Bibliography

  • The Ringelblum Archive, Underground Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto, Accounts from the Eastern Borderlands, prepared by A. Żbikowski, Warsaw 2000.
  • Czech D., Kalendarium wydarzeń w KL Auschwitz, Oświęcim 1992.
  • Grzybowski M. M., Ziemia nurska.  Materiały do dziejów ziemi płockiej.  Z archiwaliów diecezjalnych płockich XVIII wieku, vol. 12, Płock 2011.
  • Holtzman, A., List of Communities, Poland. Translation from Jewish Communities destroyed in the Holocaust Published by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem [online] https://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/pinkas_poland/pol0_00001.html [access: March 9, 2021].
  • Iwri I. (ed.), translated by Ćwiakowska A., Drezner Z., Raczyńska Sz., Księga Żydów Ostrołęckich, Ostrołęka 2001.
  • Sulimierski F., Chlebowski F., Walewski W. (eds), Geographical Dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland 1880-1902, vol. VI, Warsaw 1880-1914.
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Footnotes
  • [1.1] Wizytacje parafii diecezji płockiej.  Wizytacja parafii Brok 1781 r. [in:] Grzybowski M. M., Ziemia nurska. Materiały do dziejów ziemi płockiej. Z archiwaliów diecezjalnych płockich XVIII wieku, vol. 12, Płock 2011
  • [1.2] Central Archives of Historical Records, mutual applications and original evidence in the case of the Municipal Office of the town of Brok against the Treasury of the Kingdom about fishing, ref. no. 1/191/0, 4285
  • [1.3] Sulimierski F., Chlebowski F., Walewski W. (eds), Geographical Dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland 1880-1902, vol .VI, p. 33
  • [1.4] Brokowski Rotszyld [in:] Madzelan J., Opowieści Brokowskie, p. 3
  • [1.5] Sulimierski F., Chlebowski F., Walewski W. (eds), Geographic Dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland 1880-1902, vol .VI, p. 34.
  • [1.6] Holtzman, A., List of Communities, Poland. Translation from Jewish Communities destroyed in the Holocaust Published by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem [online] https://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/pinkas_poland/pol0_00001.html [access: March 3, 2021
  • [1.7] Iwri I. (ed.), translated by Ćwiakowska A., Drezner Z., Raczyńska Sz., Księga Żydów Ostrołęckich, Ostrołęka 2001, p. 317
  • [1.8] Małkinia Górna [in:] Address book of Poland (including Gdańsk) for trade, industry, crafts and agriculture, Warsaw 1930 [online] https://www.wbc.poznan.pl/dlibra/publication/6492/edition/11649/content [access: April 12, 2021].
  • [1.9] Czech D., Kalendarium wydarzeń w KL Auschwitz, Oświęcim 1992, p. 297-298.
  • [1.10] The Ringelblum Archive, Underground Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto, vol. 3 of the Polish version, Relacje z Kresów, p. 70