The first Jews settled in Radom probably in 1568[1.1].
In 1724 King August II, at the townsmen’s request, granted the privilege de non tolerandis Judaeis; as a result Jews were forbidden to reside in the town and run business[1.2]. The ban was suspended during the Sejm session. In addition, the Jewish merchants were allowed to enter the town at that time. However, despite the ban, a few Jews stayed illegally in the town anyway and majority of them was forced to leave Radom by virtue of further decrees issued in 1743 and 1746[1.1.2].
According to the preserved sources it is known that in 1765 approximately 65–67 people, who professed Judaism, lived in the Radom suburbs and in 1787 – over 90. In 1798, at the request of the county’s head, Aleksander Potkański, the Jews were allowed to return to the town and to settle in the assigned quarter on a territory which was under the jurisdiction of Starocin. Despite the ban, the Jews ran businesses, which led to conflicts and arguments with Catholics in Radom. After 1814 the Jews were allowed to settle outside the so-called Jewish quarter, however only the wealthiest representatives of the Jewish community in Radom could live in the centre, i.e. mainly bankers, rich merchants, lawyers and doctors. Despite all these restrictions, in 1902 the Jews owned 41% of all real estate in the town.
In 1831 the Jewish choleric cemetery was established, which functioned from 1837 on as a communal burial cemetery. In 1820s and 1830s the first synagogue was erected, which was burnt down and demolished in 1945. In the second half of the 19th century, not only the orthodox community but also the Chasidim gained a significant position. Shtiebels operated in the town; they gathered the followers of tzadiks from Góra Kalwaria, Aleksandrów and Kozienice. The Haskalah movement also gained many followers in Radom.
In the 19th century the Jewish community of Radom experienced the time of intensified economic development. In 1838, 20 Jewish merchants traded in alcohol and perfume, there were also 14 food producers and 15 shopkeepers. The Jewish entrepreneurs made a pioneer contribution to the growth of industry in Radom. When in 1841 all bans for the Jewish economic activity were abolished, a building materials factory, run by the Beckerman family, was opened, as well as other numerous private enterprises producing, among others, candles, soap and fertilizers.
During the interwar period, the Jews who constituted about 30-32% of all citizens of the town, formed one of the biggest kahals in the central part of Poland. Next to the synagogue, which was situated at the corner of Podwalcza and Bożnicza Streets, there were also 12 other private prayer houses, run, among others, by Abram Mentlik, Zelik Goldfarb, Nusyn Rozencwajg, Szlomo Frydman, Szmul Frydman, Mordka Opatowski, Szlomo Margulis, Mojżesz Szmendra, Luber-Majlech Rokcach, Icek Leslau, Josek Tejchman and Józef Rabinowicz. In a building on 6 Obozisko Street, there were Jewish Orphans Home, Shelter for the Elderly and a small synagogue where the Jewish soldiers from the 72 Infantry Regiment could pray[1.3].
The Jewish society of Radom was assimilated only to some extent and the process of acculturation of some individuals and groups was of a rather superficial and marginal character. At the same time, the Jewish citizens of Radom contributed to development of the town. They were very active in the local government and the economic growth, as well as they took part in political, social and cultural activities and were very active in the banking area. Furthermore, they were clerical intellectuals and representatives of freelancers[1.4].
Soon before the outbreak of the Second World War, about 58 % of the Jews living in Radom earned their living by craft and services – about 18% were workers, another 12% worked in trade and 2.5% practiced free professions[1.5]. The Jews owned about 60 – 75% of the private tanneries and leather and shoe works. In the town, there were following tanneries: “Praca”, which belonged to Mordechaj Cemach, and “Żakowice”, which was set up at the beginning of the 19th century by Szmulek Adler and run by his heirs. It was sold in 1925 to Iser Lipszyc. Another tanneries “Firlej” were established near Radom; they belonged to Abram Mordka Den. In 1926 this work started production of luxurious leather. There were also some smaller Jewish tanneries: ”A.D. Rottenberg i Sk-a”, ”Gelka”, ”Lux”, ”Makower”, ”Ogniwo”, ”Elgold” and many others. Almost all private metal casting works operating in the town were also in the Jewish hands, like: Goldamn’s, Stellman’s, and Salbe’s foundries, Tannenbaums’ and Reinfeld’s Nails and Wires Factory, Forged and Poured Cast Factory, “M. Horowicz i S-ka”, M. Rubinsztajn’s iron foundry and the Iron and Enamel Casting Factory “Glinice”, which was the property of Izrael Rozenberg and Józef Diament. The Jews constituted the majority of all owners of the building materials works in Radom.
From 1901 on a brickyard “Firlej”, which belonged in the interwar period to Abram Mordka Den, started to operate and it produced annually about 2.4 million bricks. There were also a brickyard “Halinów” set up in the early 1920s by Marian Rozenbaum, and a brickyard “Żakowice”, the owner of which was Samuel Adler. Since 1933 there was a steam brickyard, and from 1937 – a brick company “Celestynów”. In the early 1930s Polish-Jewish companies were set up and they rented a considerable part of the brickyards in Radom. In 1901 the Faience Goods Factory, belonging to Abram Mojżesz Rottenberg, functioned in the town and it exported production of basins and water-closets. The Jewish entrepreneurs also owned the Bent-Wood Furniture Factory, the Veneers, Plywood and Barrels Factories as well as the Chicory and Groceries Factory “Jawa” [1.6].
In 1920s and 1930s the Jews co-constituted also a great part of the trade and services market in Radom. Only in Radom, according to the data from years 1926- 29 the Jews were owners of almost 90% of all small craft works or utilities operating in the town, i.e. the majority of steel sheet works, hairdressers, cap-makers, jewellers, tailors, boot tops producers, hatters, painters, box makers, saddler’s, carpenters, metal-workers, shoemakers, wallpaper makers, turners and watchmaker, as well as the majority of all cake shops.
There were also Jewish printing offices in Radom – one of them belonged to Naftali Hersz Żabner and was in 25 Żeromski Street; another one was Chil’s Majre Herc in 20 Szwarlikowska Street, and there were also some smaller ones, which were set up in the early 1930s, e.g.: “Polonia” belonging to M. Cuker, “Rekord” belonging to Dawid Szajnbaum and also the printing offices whose owners were Jankiel Frydman, Moszke Fiszer, Oszer Rydz and Szlomo Gotlib[1.7]. About 500 people were associated with the Jewish guilds, which operated in Radom, and some representatives of the Jewish community acted in the Kielce Craftsmanship Chamber board.
According to the estimated data, during the interwar period the Jews also dominated in wholesale and retail trade. The Jews had also about 60–70 % of all warehouses and shops, including mainly haberdashery, textile, shoes, with colonial goods, butcher’s and grocer’s, paper, leather, fuel and building materials shops[1.8].
In Radom, which was a very important economic centre, there were also numerous Jewish financial institutions. According to the data from years 1933 and 1934, there were 18 Jewish banks, as well as payment, savings and credit banks. In 1920s one of the most prosperous institutions of this sort was the Credit Cooperative for Trade and Craft, run by Maurycy Frenkel and W. Adler. It collapsed at the beginning of 1933, as a result of embezzlement done by its staff. Among other Jewish financial institutions the following ones should be mentioned: the Craft Bank (Bank Rzemieślniczy) managed by Mojżesz Rubinsztajn, the Merchant Bank (Bank Kupiecki), run by Natan Zygman and Piotr Frenkel, the People’s Bank (Bank Ludowy) managed by Wajcman, the Credit Cooperative Bank (Kasa Spółdzielcza Kredytowa) managed by Jechiel Frenkel and the Credit Bank (Bank Kredytowy) managed by Rozenberg. During the years 1925–1937 the Jews sat in the supervisory board of the Credit Society of the Town of Radom made up of numerous members. They were also members of the Manufacturers of Radom District Society and the Radom District Society of Merchants[1.9].
From the beginning of the 20th century many Jewish parties divided by fractions, social organizations and cultural institutions operated in the town. In the early 1920s orthodox and socialist organizations were the most important ones; however, the Zionist movement also gained more followers in the course of time, becoming in 1930s the strongest political movement.
From the beginning of the 20th century Radom was becoming the centre of the Jewish culture – numerous educational institutions and Jewish sports clubs were established there.
During the interwar period, 18 Jewish newspapers and magazines of various types were printed in Radom; they were published mainly in Yiddish and most of them were of the ephemeral character. In February 1919 a left-wing magazine “Dos Fraye Wort” (“The Free Word”) was published, from 1920 to 1922 “Radomer Wochenblatt” (“The Weekly Magazine of Radom”) and from 1923 “Radomer Lebn” (“The Life of Radom”) in 1927 transformed into “Radomer-Kelcer Lebn” (“The Life of Radom and Kielce”). From 1922 to 1925 the Zionist “Radomer Tsaytung” (“The Radom Newspaper”) appeared, reactivated in 1928 as “Radomer- Kieltsar Tsaytung” and finally closed in 1929. In 1924 two new magazines were published during a few months: an independent weekly “Radomer Nayes” (“The Radom News”) and “Radomer-Kieltser Moment” (“The Radom and Kielce Moment”). In 1932 other local magazines started being published: an orthodox daily “Radomer Folksblatt” and a magazine “Radomer Shtime” (“The Voice of Radom”). In 1933 for a month “Radomer Express” (“The Radom Experss”) came out. In 1936 in the local market three new Jewish magazines appeared. They were published in Polish: an independent “Nasz Tygodnik” (“Our Weekly”), a Zionist “Trybuna Młodych” (“The Tribune of Youth”) and an independent “Trybuna” (“The Tribune”). The two first magazines were dissolved very soon due to financial problems, only the third one survived till 1939. Jewish literature and art magazines were also printed in the town: in 1926 a single issue of “Naye Vintn” (“The New Winds”) came out, in 1930 and 1931 two issues of “Literarishe Grupe” (“The Literary Group”) were brought out and from 1930 to 1932 a periodical “Junge Dichtung” (“The Young Poetry”) was published. There were also two school magazines in Radom – “Jutrzenka” and “Ku wyżynom” – and, appearing from 1925 to 1930 a few times a year, a daily paper “Der Radomer Shpigl” (“The Radom Mirror”) and other occasional publications, e.g. “Dos Literarishe Radom” released in 1928 and “Shtaplen” (“The Stairs”) in 1929. The Jewish press published in Kielce was also distributed in the town, i.e. “Keltsar-Radom Wochenblatt” (“The Kielce and Radom Weekly”), “Naye Keltsar Tsaytung” (“The New Kielce Newspaper”) and nationwide newspapers: “Der Moment” (“The Moment”), “Nasz Przeglad” (“Our Review”), “Haynt”, “Undzere Express”, “Folks Tsaytung” and “Nobeyter Tsaytung”, as well as “Sibn Tag” published in Vilnius[1.10].
In 1930s many Jews left Radom and emigrated, as a result of the deepening ethnic conflicts as well as the worsening economic situation and growing popularity of the Zionist ideology. According to the estimated data, from 1932 to 1939, about 5000 Jews emigrated permanently from the Kieleckie province to Palestine and another 5000 to North and South America, as well as to other countries such as: France, the USRR, Germany, Austria, Belgium and England[1.11].
During the September Campaign, about 1,000–2,000 Jews escaped from Radom to the USRR. At the beginning of the German occupation in November and December 1939, about 1,500 Jews, mainly from Łódź area, were sent to Radom after Himmler’s announcement concerning eviction of all people of the Jewish nationality and some Polish people from the so-called Warthegau. In December 1939 the Radom Judenrat was established and Josef Diament was its leader.
At the beginning of 1940, labour camps for Jews were set up in Radom area, especially in Chruślice, Jedlanka, Kruszyn, Kacprowice, Jedlińsk, Wola Gozdowska, Lesiów, Dąbrowa Kozłowska and Wolanów. Contingents of selected labourers were sent to particular centres. In August 1940 approximately 2269 young men and women were deported to the labour camps in Lublin area, mainly in Bełżec, Mircze and Cieszanów. Some of them were sent to work to build the so-called Otton Line, that is antitank ditches and fortifications on the border between Germany and the USRR. In December 1940 another decree was issued on the forced eviction from the town of about 2000 people of the Jewish nationality, who were to be directed to places in Buskie and Opatowskie counties. The Radom Judenrat selected mainly the old, ill, disabled and poor[1.12]. At the beginning of 1941 Jews displaced from the Northern Masovia (Regierungsbezirk Zichenau) started coming to Radom, and later they were sent to some smaller places in the Radom district. In spring of 1941, the day before the ghetto was set up, there were about 32,000 Jews in Radom.
The April decree resulted in creating two separate ghettos. The so-called “big ghetto” was situated in the centre and it contained the area of the traditional Jewish quarter (i.e. Wałowa Street and adjoining streets). The so-called “small ghetto” was in the poor suburb Glinice, where the Jewish and Catholic communities lived together before the war[1.13]. About 32,000 people were placed there, and the majority of them were ordered to stay in the “big ghetto”. On 7 April both ghettos were closed.
On 19 February 1942, on “bloody Thursday” the first mass execution was performed, during which about 40 people were shot, while a few dozen others, mainly left-wing activists, were deported to Auschwitz. The second execution took place on 28 April 1942. About 70 people were shot, including members of Judenrat, and a few dozen others were sent to Auschwitz.
At night 4/5 August 1942, the first mass deportation from the “small ghetto” took place. Approximately 100–150 people, mainly children and the elderly were killed in the ghetto area and on the way to the railway station. About 80–100 people working at plants involved in production for the needs of the Reich were left on the spot, while another 8,000 people, including 2000 from the “big ghetto”, were deported to the death camp in Treblinka. At night 17/18 August the “big ghetto” was partially liquidated. About 1,000-1,500 people were murdered in place and the remaining 10,000 were deported to Treblinka, while a selected group of people were directed to the labour camp, which was established in Szwarlikowska Street. In the so-called Penz’ Garden grounds in Starokrakowska Street, the Nazis murdered all pensioners of the Home for the Elderly and Disabled, they also killed all patients of the Orthodox Jews Hospital. During one of the executions all members of Judenrat who survived were shot. Next stage of the liquidation took place during the following night – 18/19 August. From among the rest of the ghetto dwellers about 1500 people able to work were selected, and another several thousand (about 8,000) were deported. 200 people who were unable to walk were shot on the spot, the rest were driven to the railway station, from where they were taken to the death camp in Treblinka. Altogether about 80–100 people were killed from 17 to 19 August, and 18,000 were sent in two transport groups to Treblinka. However, a few hundred people from the ghetto managed to escape and hide in the surrounding forests, where they organised partisan detachments; some of them reached Warsaw and took part in the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944. Probably only one man escaped from the transport, it was Nusyn Berkowich, who jumped out of the train. When the liquidation was over, many children were left on the ghetto grounds. They were killed by Nazis with grenades thrown into the buildings[1.14].
The Jews remaining in the town (about 3,000) were resettled to the labour camp in Szwarlikowska Street. At first they were employed to bury people killed on the ghetto grounds, later they were involved in sorting the Jewish belongings, some were directed to small establishments, the products of which were sent to the Reich. In November 1942 the camp in Szwarlikowska Street was liquidated. Some prisoners were transported to the new camp in Szkolna Street, others were sent to labour camps, mostly in Płaszów and Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski (about 300 people). The prisoners who stayed in the camp in Szkolna Street worked for the Radom Armour Factory, which belonged to the concern Steyer-Daimler-Puch, and also for craft plants operating on the camp grounds – tailor’s, shoemaker’s, watchmaker’s and printing establishments. Some people extracted peat, sorted Jewish belongings, removed matzevot from the Jewish cemeteries in Radom or exhumed bodies[1.15]. On 13 January 1943, 1,500 people were sent from this camp to Treblinka, and on 23 March 1943 a group of 117 people were shot at the Jewish cemetery in Szydłowiec. Another group was executed probably in Firlej near Radom or in Biała Street on 9 November. It is assumed that it was a group consisting of women, children or people unable to work.
On 17 January 1944 about 150 people were deported from the ghetto in Radom to the labour camp in Pionki, on 2 March – 235 people were sent to the camp in Majdanek in Lublin. On 26 July 1944 the camp in Szkolna Street was evacuated – about 2,500 prisoners working there were sent on foot to Tomaszów Mazowiecki, from where they were transported to Auschwitz death camp. Some men from this transport were sent to the labour camp in Vaihingen near Stuttgart, where they were involved in building fortifications and ditches. A small group of the survived workers was liberated by the French Army. Some Jews from Radom were deported to camps in Dachau, Hessental and Kochendorf, where also they lived to see their liberation[1.16].
After the liberation of Radom on 16 January 1945 there were about 300 Jews, including 180 citizens of Radom, and in May 1945 there were about 400 Jewish people. The kahal operated there till 1951. In 1965, 7 Jews lived in the town[1.17].
- Glicksman W., Radom, [in:] Encyclopaedia Judaica, red. F. Skolnik, M. Berenbaum, vol. 17, Detroit – New York – San Francisco – New Haven – Waterville – London 2007.
- Penkalla A., Radom, [in:] Żydzi w Polsce. Dzieje i kultura. Leksykon, red. J. Tomaszewski, A. Żbikowski, Warszawa 2001.
- Piątkowski S., Dni życia, dni śmierci. Ludność żydowska w Radomiu w latach 1918–1950, Warszawa 2006.
- Radom [in:] The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, ed. S. Spector, G. Wigoder, vol. II, New York 2001.
- [1.1] A. Penkalla, Radom [in:] Żydzi w Polsce. Dzieje i kultura. Leksykon, ed. J. Tomaszewski, A. Żbikowski, Warszawa 2001, p. 391.
- [1.2] Radom, [in:] The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, ed. S. Spector, G. Wigoder, vol. II, New York 2001, p. 1045.
- [1.1.2] Radom, [in:] The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, ed. S. Spector, G. Wigoder, vol. II, New York 2001, p. 1045.
- [1.3] Piątkowski S., Dni życia, dni śmierci. Ludność żydowska w Radomiu w latach 1918–1950, Warszawa 2006, p. 54.
- [1.4] Piątkowski S., Dni życia, dni śmierci. Ludność żydowska w Radomiu w latach 1918–1950, Warszawa 2006, p. 9, 75.
- [1.5] Piątkowski S., Dni życia, dni śmierci. Ludność żydowska w Radomiu w latach 1918–1950, Warszawa 2006, p. 59.
- [1.6] Piątkowski S., Dni życia, dni śmierci. Ludność żydowska w Radomiu w latach 1918–1950, Warszawa 2006, p. 60–63.
- [1.7] Piątkowski S., Dni życia, dni śmierci. Ludność żydowska w Radomiu w latach 1918–1950, Warszawa 2006, p. 65–68.
- [1.8] Piątkowski S., Dni życia, dni śmierci. Ludność żydowska w Radomiu w latach 1918–1950, Warszawa 2006, p. 68–69.
- [1.9] Piątkowski S., Dni życia, dni śmierci. Ludność żydowska w Radomiu w latach 1918–1950, Warszawa 2006, p. 70–72.
- [1.10] Glicksman W., Radom, [in:] Encyclopaedia Judaica, ed. F. Skolnik, M. Berenbaum, vol. 17, Detroit – New York – San Francisco – New Haven – Waterville – London 2007, p. 56; Piątkowski S., Dni życia, dni śmierci. Ludność żydowska w Radomiu w latach 1918–1950, Warszawa 2006, p. 131–135.
- [1.11] Piątkowski S., Dni życia, dni śmierci. Ludność żydowska w Radomiu w latach 1918–1950, Warszawa 2006, p. 37.
- [1.12] Piątkowski S., Dni życia, dni śmierci. Ludność żydowska w Radomiu w latach 1918–1950, Warszawa 2006, p. 161–172.
- [1.13] Detailed information concerning the area and borders of the Radom ghetto: Piątkowski S., Dni życia, dni śmierci. Ludność żydowska w Radomiu w latach 1918–1950, Warszawa 2006, p. 178 and following.
- [1.14] Piątkowski S., Dni życia, dni śmierci. Ludność żydowska w Radomiu w latach 1918–1950, Warszawa 2006, p. 218–226.
- [1.15] Piątkowski S., Dni życia, dni śmierci. Ludność żydowska w Radomiu w latach 1918–1950, Warszawa 2006, p. 225–227.
- [1.16] Piątkowski S., Dni życia, dni śmierci. Ludność żydowska w Radomiu w latach 1918–1950, Warszawa 2006, p. 227–238.
- [1.17] term “occupation” [in:] S. Krakowski, Radom [in:] Encyclopaedia Judaica, ed. F. Skolnik, M. Berenbaum, vol. 17, Detroit–New York–San Francisco–New Haven–Waterville–London 2007, p. 56–57.