The first references to Jews in Stopnica date from 1567 and concern a ban on selling alcoholic beverages and settlement near the Market Square. Another record from 1578 mentions that Jews paid 25 zlotys in poll tax. In 1589, they were allowed to build houses in the Market Square and conduct trade. In 1616, 13 Jewish houses and a synagogue were registered. In 1619, Starost Zbigniew Ossoliński exempted the Jews “from any labour, corvée, except keeping the guard”[1.1].

The first synagogue in Stopnica existed as early as 1616. A kehilla was established in 1640[1.2].This meant that the Jews of Stopnica already had a synagogue and cemetery. In 1649, King Jan Kazimierz prohibited the Jews from settling in the Market Square and near the church[1.3]. The years that followed proved unfortunate for the Jews as well. During the Swedish Invasion in 1655, the entire town population suffered. However, the army led by the Prince of Transylvania György Rákóczi, II, allied with the Swedes, caused the greatest damage to the Jewish community. Their situation was so bad that the Stopnica Franciscan-reformist monastery offered them refuge.

In 1649, King Jan Kazimierz prohibited the Jews from settling in the Market Square and near the church. The 1662 census listed 77 Jewish taxpayers and 12 Jewish houses in Stopnica. The royal privilege of 1752 guaranteed autonomy to the Jews and created an opportunity for economic growth. The 1752 royal charter guaranteed autonomy to the Jews and created economic growth opportunities. Most Jewish inhabitants of the town lived at the time between Market Square and Bożnicza Street in their own houses or apartments rented from the Christians. Another synagogue was erected in 1765 (it was thoroughly refurbished in 1928). The fact that the Council of Four Lands held debates here in 1754 and 1759 is evidence of the strong position of the Jews of Stopnica.

In 1787, in Stopnica, there were 215 Jews who constituted 23.2% of the town’s population. The percentage increased in the 19th century. In 1827, the settlement had 2,061 inhabitants, including 1,014 Jews (49.2%). Shortly after the January Uprising, Stopnica had 2,390 residents, of whom 1,591 were Jewish – 833 women and 758 men[1.4]. Rabbi Icek Szwarc, with a salary of 200 roubles, performed religious service in the Jewish community in the 1880s. Stopnica had a large group of Hasidic Jews among its Jewish population in the 19th century.

The 1909 census showed that Stopnica was inhabited by 5,861 people, including 1,342 Poles and 4,543 Jews. The Orthodox Jews wearing characteristic caps or felt hats were the most frequent sight in the streets[1.5]. From 1916, Izrael Szwarc, an orthodox Jew, was a rabbi in Stopnica.

The years of World War I saw a significant decline in the population, especially the Jewish one. In Stopnica, the Jews fell victim to the Russian army. In 1919, Stopnica’s Jews were, in turn, attacked by Polish anti-Semites [1.6]. In 1921, during the first census taken after regaining independence, there were 4,401 people here, including 1,156 Poles and 3,226 Jews (75.5% of the entire population)[1.7].

Officially, Stopnica was an urban settlement with a population of just under 4,500 in the late 1920s. The people earned their living with petty trade, craft and horse transport. Aleksander Patkowski wrote: “From Staszów, Stopnica and Busko carriages are drawn through Nowy Korczyn, a bridge on the River Nida and up to its tributary to the Vistula”[1.8]. Markets, harvest festivals and annual celebrations of the Peasants’ Day were a great opportunity to sell goods. “Peasants’ Days were most often celebrated in Stopnica (…) The village was colourful; the atmosphere was loud and pleasant”[1.9]. Markets, where cattle, horses, pigs, crops and artisan products were sold, took place every Tuesday.

There were Discount, Commercial and Cooperative Banks in Stopnica. The Jews constituted a large percentage of shareholders in all three banks[1.10]. The local elite included a dentist I. Nachtman, a defence attorney W. Reinstein, a printer Sz. Najman, feldshers M. Blusztajn and J. Nożyc, a bookseller I. Zyngier. Sz. Mandelman was known in the entire county for his legal advice [1.11].

Some bigger Jewish businesses included a printing house of Sz. Najman, a sawmill of A. Terkieltaub, a mill of Ch. Blank and A. Rajter, an oil mill E. Cukier, a soda water factory of B. Kupfer and a thread factory of Baruch Złotowski[1.12].

Jews were active and often predominant in the following crafts: cap making, tailoring, butchery, baking, carpentry, watchmaking and goldsmithing. They traded in metal sheet products, textiles, cattle, wood, poultry, accessories, dairy, footwear, feathers, grain and iron[1.13].

Jarosław Tadeusz Leszczyński recalls a manifestation of animosity between Polish and Jewish residents: “… on the initiative of the guardian of the Franciscan-reformist monastery, Father Maciej Śliwa, a pavement was built along the monastery wall. (…) The pavement was laid with cement slabs for which the money was donated by the Polish burghers of Stopnica (…)  Unfortunately, the Jews of Stopnica, despite the fact that they often walked this route, did not want to contribute in any way to the construction of the pavement, either financially or with labour. When it was finished, an inscription was imprinted on some slabs by means of a metal plate mould: ‘The Jews of Stopnica did not give any money to build the pavement, they can walk on it after paying a toll’”[1.14].

In the interwar period, the Stopnica kehilla owned a synagogue, a cheder, two cemeteries and some arable land. In the building belonging to Baruch Buchman, there was a well-kept house of prayer[1.15]. Moreover, the Jewish community had a building on Buska Street used by the board and a dilapidated mikveh on Bóżnicza Street. Towards the end of the 1920s, the value of the movables was estimated at 82,000 zlotys[1.16]. Between 1918 and 1939, a registered Gemilut Chesed fund operated in Stopnica.

The first cemetery was established in the 18th century on Kościuszki Street. The second, founded on an unknown date, was on the road from Stopnica to Oleśnica.

As indicated by the preserved records, the active kehilla members in 1918–1923 included Szmul Mandelman, Chaskiel Cukierman, Abram Sztajnfeld, Dawid Warszawski, Josek Cynamon, Symcha Silberberg, Szmul Bydłowski; deputies were Berek Szajnfeld, Josek Nozyc, Jakub Szwera, Abram Listgarten, Icek Silberberg[1.17]. After the 1924 elections, L. Nożyc, S. Zylberberg, Ch.Cukierman and A. Rozencwajg headed the board[1.18].

An inspection of the kehilla in 1925 showed that the board composed of L. Nożyc, Ch. Cukierman, A. Sztajneld, and secretary D. Boguchwał had a number of opponents, who, taking care of their interests, tried to influence the board’s decisions, mostly those concerning financial matters[1.19].

The 1927 inspection revealed that the activity of the board “… left much to be desired”[1.20]. It also indicated that: “One of the worst operating kehillot in the county was Stopnica”[1.21]. An informal group called the Finance Committee was even formed, consisting of Riwen Buchman, Mendel Zalcman, Naftula Szydłowski, Abram Cymrot, Shaja Najman, which notoriously filed complaints against the board. It even came to that that the deputy of the county governor and the municipality mayor got involved in the conflict. On 8 July 1927, a special meeting with Rabbi Szwarc was held to settle the dispute between the parties[1.22]. Some could no longer bear the tense atmosphere. When cantor Josek Ungier complained that his monthly salary was reduced by 10 zlotys, Abram Rozencwajg resigned from the board.

The revenue in the kehilla budget for 1927 was projected to reach 43,434 zlotys, but only 21,879 zlotys came in, and many clerks did not receive full salaries as a result. The overdue contributions in 1924–1926 reached a considerable amount of 7,783 zlotys. Rabbi I. Sz. Szwarc continued to file complaints, claiming that the kehilla failed to pay him regularly his salary, which inflamed the situation. According to the county office, the board did not enjoy the trust of the local community. Accordingly, in 1929, the board president Ł. Nożyc was pressured to resign.

Because the population was poor, the slaughter fee was law. A low fee of 4.50 zlotys was charged for slaughtering an ox or a cow. In 1928, the amount of 44,310 zlotys from slaughtering was supposed to support the budget; in fact, only half of the amount came in[1.23]. The projected contributions were not paid either. Three hundred and seventy families were to pay 11,000 zlotys in contributions. The amount of the contribution ranged from two to 500 zlotys.

The kehilla had a rabbi, secretary, two shochetim and three melamedim. Moszka Mendelman was the chazan. The rabbi’s annual salary was high – 7,200 zlotys, the shochet Josef Brotbekier earned 3,500 zlotys, Mendel Lipszyc – 1,600 zlotys, the secretary Dawid Boguchwał – 1,200 zlotys[1.24]. Five hundred zloty was earmarked for the poor.

In 1931, the board intended to receive 36,257 zlotys of income, including 34,893 zlotys from slaughtering, 1,500 zlotys from burial fees, 1,500 zlotys from gravestones, 1,000 zlotys from offerings, 200 zlotys from reading the Torah, 200 zlotys from rentals, and the rest from contributions. The budget plan was prepared by the board composed of Szmul Grinberg, Szmul Zylberberg, Abram Sztajnfeld and Dawid Boguchwał[1.25].

In 1932, Szmul Grinberg was at the helm of the board (composed of Szmul Baum, Moszek Żelazny, Chaim Szydłowski, Majloch Hunysz, Wolf Ajlfiszer and Josef Suwer[1.26]. The 1933 budget revenues were to amount to 53,219 zlotys, including 19,000 zlotys from contributions, 31,819 zlotys from slaughtering and 2,400 zlotys from other sources. It also included 7,200 zlotys set aside for the rabbi and 15,984 zlotys for the kehilla officials, including shochetim – 10,906 zlotys. Other costs were estimated at 6,175 zlotys, including taxes and insurance – 3,000 zlotys. Investment costs were 19,060 zlotys, subsidies for institutions and associations – 2,800 zlotys, support of the poor – 1,000 zlotys and other expenditures – 1,000 zlotys[1.27].

In 1937, the Stopnica kehilla numbered 4,038 members, and 328 families were to pay contributions; the value of the kehilla movables was estimated at 5,800 zlotys, of the immovables at 40,000 zlotys. The property included a synagogue, three buildings and a mikveh. The debt was 5,744.70 zlotys.

The Orthodox Jews dominated the board. After Rabbi Izrael Szwarc’s death, his son Abram Szwarc succeeded him.

The Germans seized the town on 8 September 1939. Immediately after entering Stopnica, they set fire to the Jewish quarter and killed four people. At the beginning of 1940, a Judenrat was established. In 1941, a ghetto was created in which not only the Jewish inhabitants of Stopnica were confined but also displaced people from Łódź, Kraków and Radom. A total of 5,300 people were confined there; by June 1941, about 400 had died of starvation and disease[1.28].

The ghetto was liquidated on 5 September 1942. Most Jews (3,000 people) were then transported to the Treblinka extermination camp. About 1,500 young people were sent to the labour camp in Skarżysko-Kamienna. About 400 disabled and sick people were murdered on the spot. About 70 Jews remained in Stopnica after the liquidation of the ghetto, who were in charge of cleaning and sorting Jewish property; they were then sent to labour camps[1.29].

 

Bibliography

  • Z. Guldon, K. Krzystanek, Ludność żydowska w miastach lewobrzeżnej części województwo sandomierskiego w XVI i XVIII wieku, Kielce 1990.
  • J.T. Leszczyński, Stopnica, Kielce 2003.
  • A. Penkalla, Żydowskie ślady w województwie kieleckim i radomskim, Radom 1992.
  • R. Renz, Życie codzienne w miasteczkach województwa kieleckiego 19181939, Kielce 1994.
  • Stopnica, in: Sh. Spector (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, vol. 3, New York 2001, p. 1248.
  • Stopnica, in: F. Skolnik, M. Berenbaum (eds.), Encyclopedia Judaica, Detroit – New York – San Francisco – New Haven – Waterville – London 2007, vol. 19, pp. 237–238.

 

 

 

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Footnotes
  • [1.1] Z. Guldon, K. Krzystanek, Ludność Żydowska w miastach lewobrzeżnej części województwo sandomierskiego w XVI i XVIII wieku, Kielce 1990, p. 31.
  • [1.2] J. T. Leszczyński, Stopnica, Kielce 2003, p. 11.
  • [1.3] Lustracja dóbr królewskich XVI-XVIII wieku. Małopolska. Lustracja województwa sandomierskiego 1789, Wrocław 1965, p. 109.
  • [1.4] State Archives in Kielce, Radom Governorate, ref. no. 10 795.
  • [1.5] ”Gazeta Kielecka”, no. 53, 1900
  • [1.6] Stopnica, in: Sh. Spector, (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, vol. 3, New York 2001, p. 1248
  • [1.7] A. Penkalla, Żydowskie ślady w województwie kieleckim i radomskim, Radom 1992, pp. 90–91; J.T. Leszczyński, Stopnica, Kielce 2003, p. 46.
  • [1.8] A. Patkowski, Sandomierskie. Góry Świętokrzyskie, Poznań 1938, p. 228.
  • [1.9] R. Renz, Życie codzienne w miasteczkach województwa kieleckiego 1918–1939, Kielce 1994, p. 172.
  • [1.10] Księga Adresowa Polski (wraz z W.M. Gdańskiem) dla handlu, przemysłu, rzemiosł i rolnictwa, Warszawa 1930, p. 301.
  • [1.11] R. Renz, Życie codzienne w miasteczkach województwa kieleckiego 1918–1939, Kielce 1994, p. 67.
  • [1.12] Księga Adresowa Polski (wraz z W.M. Gdańskiem) dla handlu, przemysłu, rzemiosł i rolnictwa, Warszawa 1930, p. 301.
  • [1.13] Księga Adresowa Polski (wraz z W.M. Gdańskiem) dla handlu, przemysłu, rzemiosł i rolnictwa, Warszawa 1930, p. 301.
  • [1.14] J.T. Leszczyński, Stopnica, Kielce 2003, p. 48.
  • [1.15] State Archives in Kielce, Province Office in Kielce I, ref. no. 1566, fol. 5
  • [1.16] State Archives in Kielce), Province Office in Kielce I, ref. no. 1516, fol. 17
  • [1.17] State Archives in Kielce), Province Office in Kielce I, ref. no. 1748, fol. 82
  • [1.18] State Archives in Kielce, Province Office in Kielce I, ref. no. 1404, fol. 271.
  • [1.19] State Archives in Kielce, Province Office in Kielce I, ref. no. 1751, fol. 799.
  • [1.20] State Archives in Kielce, Province Office in Kielce I, ref. no. 1664, fol. 9
  • [1.21] State Archives in Kielce, Province Office in Kielce I, ref. no. 1751, fol. 827
  • [1.22] State Archives in Kielce, Province Office in Kielce I, ref. no. 1751, fol. 833.
  • [1.23] State Archives in Kielce, Province Office in Kielce I, ref. no. 1664, fol. 10.
  • [1.24] State Archives in Kielce, Province Office in Kielce I, ref. no. 1664, fol. 48.
  • [1.25] State Archives in Kielce, Province Office in Kielce I, ref. no. 1664, fol. 44.
  • [1.26] State Archives in Kielce, Province Office in Kielce I, ref. no. 1664, fol. 149.
  • [1.27] State Archives in Kielce, Province Office in Kielce I, ref. no. 1664, fols. 270–273.
  • [1.28] Stopnica, in:  Sh. Spector (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, vol. 3, New York 2001, p. 1248
  • [1.29] Stopnica, in: Sh. Spector (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, vol. 3, New York 2001, p. 1248