The Jews had appeared in Nakło before 1507. In 1515 however, a fire burnt down 21 Jewish homes and a synagogue and by 1565, Jewish families owned just 4 houses, and rented 1. After the 1515 fire, the Jewish population settled in a new territory and ‘the Jewish Street’, close to Poznańska Street, adjoined the Marketplace. On a hill next to the street, a big wooden synagogue was built, along with a bet ha-midrasz, a mikvah, and a ritual slaughterhouse. There was also a cemetery outside the city in the area of Bielawy. In 1578, 20 Jews were paying 12 PLN poll tax, and the same amount in 1564. In 1601 a settling limitation was imposed on the Jewish population, and by 1628 there were 17 houses, with a synagogue and 7 Jewish bailiffs. Nakło’s Jews were killed during the Swedish Deluge (1655-1660) and their homes destroyed. However, they quickly rebuilt in another agreed-upon Jewish quarter and by 1661, there were 21 houses and a synagogue[1.1]. Further wars in the second half of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th centuries brought about the collapse of the Jewish settlement there, as well as the local municipality, and so by 1674, only 4 Jews remained in the city. Later, in 1756, Nakło’s Jewish community numbered 56, but by 1773 there were 8 families totalling 77 people (17 men, 18 women, 23 sons, 11 daughters and 3 servants). This new wave of settlement was caused by Prussia’s antisemitic policy of 1772 towards Polish Jews; whole groups of Jews, expelled from neighbouring cities, began to arrive in Nakło. Thanks to this, the municipality as a whole began to develop demographically. The Articles of Association of the Jewish kehilla were approved on the 18th of July 1834, and by 1842 the community consisted of 930 people; in 1856 – 1,056, and in 1871 – 982. The 1880s then saw a regression in the community’s size caused by immigration to the German interior as well as overseas. In 1896 the Nakło kehilla had 520 members, but by 1903 it had already gone down to 450; in 1905 – 432, in 1909 – 337, in 1907 – 336. In 1826 a new synagogue was built, which burnt down in 1852 and was replaced in 1853 in a framed structure made with the so-called timber framing method. Nakoło’s Jewish cemetery most probably dates back to the 18th century. Certainly, the oldest readable gravestone dates back to 1808. In the 19th century, the area of the cemetery was enlarged several times through the purchase of fragments of neighbouring areas, and a funeral home with a mortuary were also built there. After the cholera epidemic in 1831, deceased Jews were buried in a hastily created ‘cholera cemetery’, which was situated near the evangelical cemetery, and then in 1846 an area of the cemetery 40 metres square was fenced off. Rabbis of the time were Chenoch Henoch (died 1851), Dr. Bernhardt Friedman (to 1866), Dr. Aron Cohn (to 1874), Dr. Natan Porges (to 1878), Dr. Gabriel Perlitz (from 1881). Thanks to the efforts in 1844 of Lewin Bärwald and Salomon Baschwitz, a Jewish elementary school was opened. Until that time the Jewish children had been taught privately. From 1824 - 1844 they attended the evangelical school, for which the kehilla had to pay 100 Thalers yearly. Teachers at the new elementary school were Heim David Galliner (from Września, worked between 1844 - 86), Isidor Rackwitz (1844 - 1845), Eduard Brock (1846 - 1889), G. Lisner (1853 - 56), Gotthelf (from Witkowa, 1857 - 1859), Moritz Stillmann (from Gośliny, 1860 - 1896), Jakob Peczkowski (from 1889). Between 1844 - 1853 the school consisted of two classes, and from 1853 - 1886, three. 1886 - 1896 saw a return to two classes, and from 1896, just one. Until the 1870s the number of pupils had been on the rise: in 1844 there were 130 of them; in 1867, 220. At the end of the 19th century the numbers began to diminish (1886 – 86, 1897 – 31, 1909 – 9). At any rate, thanks to the effort and skill of a bookseller, Leser Kollmann, this private pre-middle school became a public institution, and eventually became a fully-fledged middle school.
The social-occupational structure of the Jews from Nakło can be described as typical. In 1834 they owned 41 houses, with 21 owners also having trading rights. 37 merchants did not, while there were 43 dedicated craftsmen (mainly tailors and furriers, but also bakers, a whitesmith, a haberdasher, butchers, glaziers). All these working groups played a very important role in the economic vitality of Nakło. By 1890, Nakło’s Jewish residents were owners of 87 out of 330 trading, craft and inustrial companies; in 1905, 62 out of 372. Prominent individuals connected with Nakło at the time include Dr. Hermann Bärwald, Prof. Dr. Julius Schwalbe, Prof. Dr. Abraham (Adolf) Buschke, Prof. Dr. Martin Kallmann, and Leser Berwald.[1.2]
After 1920, a mass migration of many of the district’s Jews to the German interior took place. In 1920, Nakło was home to 162 Jews, but by 1923, just 21 remained. However, in the middle of the 1920s, Jewish immigrants from deeper inside the Polish lands began to re-settle in the city causing conflicts between the local “German” Jews and the Polish newcomers.
As far as production numbers are concerned a few Jewish companies stood out in Nakło, among them Artur Leon Berwald, a businessman who lived in the Free City of Dazing. At the end of the 1930s he settled in Nakło for good. Berwald had numerous businesses in Pomeranian areas and was owner of the biggest steam mill in Nakło (employing 36 workers) and a big steam sawmill at 15 Młyńska Street (employing between 2 and 36 workers), which had its own rail connection. The Berwald Company was established in Nakło in 1830, and it seems most likely that the family had made its fortune in the grain trade. In 1937 they owned several big grain warehouses at 13 Młyńska, 8 Kilińskiego and 3 Sipora Streets. However, the biggest company in the area was managed by Oskar Robinson, who came from Stryja in Galicia. In 1924 he moved to Bydgoszcz and established the “Export Bacon Oskar Robinson” company before settling in Nakło, where he spent most of his time. In 1927 he rented a slaughterhouse that became one of the biggest companies in Krajna. Employment at the slaughterhouse took in 250 to 335 people and the business’s export and production quickly developed. In 1928, 750 tons of bacon were produced, in 1932 - 1950. Apart from bacon, canned ham (155 tons in 1932) and parcelling grease were also produced there. About 600 pigs and 100 cows were slaughtered there daily and 1937 saw a company profit of about two million zloty. Sadly, Robinson was famed for his gambling passion and rumours circulated that he spent large sums of money in casinos. He died of a heart attack in Vienna at the end of 1937, upon which his inheritors transferred the domicile of the company to Poznań. Before the outbreak of the second war, they moved to England and the company in Nakło was then managed by Henry Safir from Bydgoszcz and Bela Koekenyessy from Hungary, a relative of Robinson’s. The sawmill owned by Samuel Lipszyc at 44 Hallera Street should also be remembered as one of the biggest production companies of the time. Lipszyc, who lived in Vienna, bought it at the end of the 1930s and employed from 3 to 15 workers.
Many of Nakło’s Jewish inhabitants worked in the administration of private companies, some made their living conducting their own business, others by trading. Incoming Jewish residents were mainly small merchants and craftsmen, although a physician, Josef Lewy, also numbered among them. Leon Kałowski, a mill owner from Mrocza, also settled in Nakło. Large-scale trading was conducted by merchants including Emil Aleksander, Abraham Dawny, Henriette Deutsch, Jadwiga Leszczyńska, Jakub Piechotka, two other members of the Robinson family (Natan and Meta), a Szczupak, Hermann Zobel, Manele Rosenberg, and the Luksemburg’s company. Leon Merten, N. Neumann, H. Rynarzewska worked as rentiers, Herbert Neumann was a locksmith, and Dawid Sztybel, and a Weintraub were clerks.
In 1921, the kehilla elected a new council of representatives: Herman Sally, Leo Merten, Heymann Deutsch, Herman Fritz and Josef Lewy, with Herman Aleksander, Aron Baer, Rebeka Bernstein (sic!)as deputies, and on the board; Artur Baerwald, Louis Eisack, and Alfred Schoen. But by 1922 only Marten, Lewy and Baerwald remained, with Baer and Bernstein as deputies. From 1924, Josef Lewy acted as the informal chairman of the kehilla, unapproved by the province. He treated the existing municipality as a successor to the German municipality, something that could be considered using the phrase ‘Deutsche Restgemeide Nakel’ – <i>Nakło the German Jewish Kehilla</i>. He treated the incoming Jews very badly, for example by hampering their access to the synagogue. But in spite of these internal conflicts, the municipality had a well-planned budget. The last elections, before the kehilla of Nakło was merged into the municipality in Szubin, were held on 28th of January 1932. Josefa Lewi, Leon Marten, Jakub Cohn were the elected officials, with Markus Katz, Julius Riesenburger and Nathan Robinson acting as deputies. Despite protests on the part of the incoming Jews (who were “silently” supported by locals Frydman and Schlesinger), who accused the elected of a lack of godliness for not attending synagogue and being against permanent employment of a shochet, the provincial authorities approved their election on the 16th of August 1932. On the issue of the shochet, Fiszel Jungerlewi had worked as a shochet and cantor from September 1931, but after the 1932 elections he was dismissed by the newly chosen ‘German’ board. He was employed again one more time in 1933, but post was soon taken over by a Mr. Srebrnik. In the 1920s, those who wanted to keep the kashrut went to Bydgoszcz. Services were conducted there until 1923 by Abram Markowicz, a merchant and assistant rabbi, and then later by Jakub Cohn. From 1933, Efraim Sonnenschein, a rabbi from Bydgoszcz,<b> </b>would come to Nakło four times a year.
By 1922, there were several foundations that had survived all the way from the 19th century, including the “Jakub and Malka Henoch” (established in 1876, it supported conduct of religious ceremonies and Jewish services’ accessories), the “Fromer Baerwald” (1874, provided assistance to Jewish students), the “Nathan and Joanna Avigdor (Iztziger)”, the “Lesser and Paulina Baerwald”, and the “Dawid and Jemma Itziger”. These occupied themselves with charity activities on a large scale, regardless of religion, such as the “Jubileuszowa L. Baerwalda” Foundation which sponsored the purchase of clothes for the needy. Not all such foundations were so long-lived though, and due to a lack of capital, the “Hamburger’s Foundation” and the “Flatow’s Foundation – Rebeka Flatow” were liquidated. 'There are no signs that any of the Jewish organisations remained after the first world war' , but it’s nonsensical as it is.
The property of the municipality then consisted of a synagogue (at 81/83 Hallera Street); a plot bought in 1891 consisting of a shed in a yard; a multi-storied stone building used as a school (20 Bydgoska Street) with two stables and a shed; a multi-storied building with a flat in a yard; a dwelling house (since 1891); a fenced cemetery with an area of 6,000 square metres; a multi-storied building at the cemetery with a barn, stable, and lavatories; a meadow with an area of 4 morgens; 12 morgens on the register of “the Jakub and Malka Henoch” foundation; tangible assets taken over from two other foundations amounting to 67,000 Marks, and a war loan (37,000 Marks). The valuable equipment of the synagogue was stored at Leon Merten’s house.
The 1920s were a peaceful time without significant Christian-Jewish conflict, with the only complaint being that, children playing with a ball in some gardens near the synagogue, broke the synagogue’s windows. Between 1924/25 and 1926, the windows were again broken, prompting the municipality to cover the new panes with a wire mesh. Then, on the 17th of August 1929, during a pre-afternoon service at the synagogue, a rock was thrown through a window. In a letter to the village headman, the president of the board of the kehilla wrote that “The desire to mischief of football players oversteps the boundaries of mental endurance”. The municipality demanded punishment of all the guilty parties, created a commission to estimate their losses, and rebuilt a square in the location of the gardens, which had once existed by the synagogue. During the 1930s, a boycott of Jewish companies took place. Merchants arriving in the market place were rigorously screened and only the Christians allowed to set out their stalls. The merchants asked for the help of senator [[bios:168|Mojżesz Schorr]]on the 12th of April 1936, who then intervened on their behalf with the Ministry of the Interior and the head of the Poznań area. The senator’s intervention was very successful, and access to the market place in Nakło was re-opened for merchants of all faiths.
On the 3rd of September 1939, a group of Jews was arrested and sent to prison in Wyrzysko, although there is no information as to what happened to at least four Jewish women sent there. Those Jewish residents who remained in the city were killed under mysterious circumstances in the autumn of 1939 in Paterek, amongst other places. During an exhumation in Paterek in 1945, the bodies of Henrietta Deutsch and Harry Neumann were identifies. Not long after those killings, the synagogue was burnt down in mid-September 1939. The cemetery was destroyed, and in its place a park was created[1.3].
- [1.1] Richard Heinrich, Die Stadt Nakel und ihre Geschichte, Nakel 1910, p. 48, 61-63; Ignacy Geppert, Dzieje Ziemi Nakielskiej aż do pierwszego rozbioru Polski, [in:] Krajna i Nakło. Studia i rozprawy wydane z okazji pięćdziesięciolecia gimnazjum imienia Bolesława Krzywoustego w Nakle, Nakło 1926, p. 106-107, 129; Zenon Guldon, Jacek Wijaczka, Osadnictwo żydowskie w województwach poznańskim i kaliskim w XVI-XVII wieku, „Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego”, 1992, nr 2-3, p. 67-72; Zenon Guldon, Jacek Wijaczka, Ludność żydowska w Wielkopolsce w drugiej połowie XVII wieku, [in:] Żydzi w Wielkopolsce na przestrzeni dziejów, red. Jerzy Topolski i Krzysztof Modelski, Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, Poznań 1995, p. 25-27, 30; Barbara Janiszewska-Mincer, Od początków miasta do czasów rozbiorów, [in:] Nakło nad Notecią..., p. 142.
- [1.2] Aron Heppner, Izaak Herzberg, Aus Vergangenheit und Gegenwart der Juden in den Posener Landen, Koschmin-Bromberg 1904-1908, passim; Janusz Księski, Nakło w okresie zaboru pruskiego (1772-1920), [in:] Nakło nad Notecią..., p. 181, 193; Tomasz Kawski, Mniejszość żydowska na Krajnie w XIX i XX wieku, [in:] Dziedzictwo kulturowe na Krajnie i Pałukach. Wybrane problemy z dziejów Krajny Nakielskiej (związki Krajny z Pałukami), Nakło nad Notecią 2004, p. 217-245.
- [1.3] Tomasz Kawski, Mniejszość żydowska na Krajnie..., p. 217-245; Tomasz Kawski, Gminy żydowskie pogranicza Wielkopolski, Mazowsza i Pomorza w latach 1918 – 1942, „Wydawnictwo Naukowe GRADO”, Toruń 2007, p. 166-169; Tomasz Kawski, Kujawsko-dobrzyńscy Żydzi w latach 1918-1950, „Wydawnictwo Adam Marszałek”, Toruń 2006, passim; Jedlińska-Kawska A., Aktywność gospodarcza ludności żydowskiej w województwie pomorskim w latach 1920-1939, [in:] Demokracja i samorządność na Kujawach i Pomorzu w dobie nowożytnej, pod red. Z. Biegańskiego i W. Jastrzębskiego, Bydgoszcz 2004, p. 219-248.