The Jews lived in Sandomierz at least since the mid-12th century; however, it is assumed that the first Jewish settlement there dates back to the 13th century[1.1]. The first records about Jews in Sandomierz refers to the year 1367, when they, together with the Jews of Kraków and Lwów, applied to Polish king, KAzimierz Wielki (Casimir III the Great), for having the general privileges granted to them in 1264 in Kalisz by Boleslaw Pobożny (Bolesław the Pious) confirmed[1.2]. The synagogue in Sandomierz was referred to in historical sources for the first time in 1418[1.3]. The Jews had to deliver certain amounts of pepper, sugar and other commodities to the collegiate chapter, otherwise the synagogue was threatened to be closed. What is more, in the second half of the 15th century the existence of the Jewish cemetery was attested. Morover, based on the tax paid to the king in 1507 it can be claimed that the town hosted the biggest and the richest Jewish centers in Poland[1.4]. Indeed, the Jewish community in Sandomierz during the times of the I Republic of Poland could match the community in Kraków and Lwów respectively[1.5].

In 1571 anti-Jewish riots broke out in Sandomierz[1.6]. Upon the request made by the town authorities in 1589, king Zygmunt III Waza (Sigismund III Vasa) limited the number of Jewish houses to 11 in Sandomierz – the Jews could live only in one street. However, this law was not obeyed.

In 1605 the Jews of Sandomierz were accused of murdering a 10-year-old boy, Marcin Kuczek. When the boy disappeared, children of the most prominent Jews were detained. However, the child’s body was not found[1.7].

Furthermore, in 1628 a case of a ritual murder, with which the Jews of Sandomierz were charged, came to court. The Jews were blamed for kidnapping a child of a local druggist, draining blood from its body, chopping its corpse and giving the pieces to the dog. After the trial, the Jews were acquitted.

In 1639 Krystyna Matysówna, who was accused of witchery, confessed that she had sold the sacramental bread to the Jews of Sandomierz. The accusation led to anti-Jewish riots, during which the Jewish houses were plundered. Among others the students of the Jesuit college and church services took an active part in the riots. After a trial the Jews were acquitted, while those who started the riots were sentenced .[1.8]

In 1656 Stefan Czarniecki’s army murdered a considerable number of the Jews of Sandomierz, accusing them of collaborating with the Swedish invaders. According to various historical sources, during the so-called Swedish Deluge from 23 to 600 Jews were to be killed there. Then John II Casimir Vasa gave all the real properties belonging to the Jews to the local authorities. However, already in 1658 the king allowed the Jews to rebuild their district in the town[1.9].

In 1675 a trial of a Jew from Sandomierz, Icek of Brzeźnica, took place. He was accused of attempting to commit a ritual murder. In 1696 a woman was burned for stealing and selling the sacramental bread to the Jews of Sandomierz.

In 1698 Aleksander Berek, a local Jew, was supposed to commit another ritual murder of a girl called Małgorzatka. The murder was to take place in the same house, where the Jews were to kill the boy in 1628. After the trial the girl’s mother, Katarzyna Mroczkowicowa and the accused Jew were sentenced to death. Berek was to be beheaded and his head was to be put on a pole, then his corpse was to be chopped and hanged on roads outside the town.

A next charge against the Jews of a ritual murder of a boy was made in 1710. After the trial three Jews were sentenced to death. Rev. Stefan Żuchowski, who was an archdeacon, a church official and a parish priest in Sandomierz, was a prosecutor of the Jews in trials for ritual murders both in 1698 and in the period from 1710 to 1713[1.10]. Presumably, the paintings by Carlo de Prevo, which are a part of Martyrologium Romanum painted in the years 1708–1737, in the cathedral in Sandomierz refer to the trial in the year 1710. One of the paintings in the western part of cathedral entitled Massacre of the Innocents depicts Jews, who abuse Christian children[1.11]. The painting and its existence in the cathedral was after 1989 the subject-matter of disputes and controversy. Bishops did not agree to remove the painting or to place there any explanation concerning false accusations. In the year 2006, the painting was covered with a curtain. During the celebration of the Day of Judaism in January 2014, a table with an explanation was placed under the painting. It says: “The painting shows an alleged ritual murder, which was to be conducted by the Jews in Sandomierz in order to add blood of a Christian child to matzah used during Passover. This incident is false in the light of historical facts and, what is more, it could have never occurred because Judaism's doctrinal principles forbid consuming blood. Jews could not and did not commit ritual murders. They were often persecuted and murdered due to such accusations, as it happened in Sandomierz. Since 13th century, popes forbid disseminating such false accusations and defend Jews from them”[1.12].

Accusations of the Jews of Sandomierz of ritual murders resulted in 1712 in the order made by King August II who demanded that the Jews be banished from the town and their synagogue be transformed into a Roman Catholic chapel. Those resolutions were not fulfilled but in 1757 they were recalled after a Jew of Sandomierz was supposed to take part in a ritual murder. Then the Jews were obliged to continue to pay the tribute for the Church and consequently the royal decree was never implemented.

In 1774 it was decided that the Jew were allowed to possess only 16 houses in Sandomierz. Each of them could be inhabited only by one family of the owner and one family of a tenant. Furthermore, the Jews could not live at the town walls and in the suburbs. They were also forbidden to deal with manufacturing and trading all types of alcoholic beverages. The Jews who were coming for other reasons than fairs could not stay in the area of the town longer than for 3 days. Further restrictions upon the local Jews were imposed by the Commission of Good Order in 1784[1.13]. At that time pursuant to an agreement made between the town office and the kehilla of Sandomierz, confirmed by King Stanisław August Poniatowski in 1788, the Jews were entitled to own 46 houses in Sandomierz. Except for this number of houses, there were also a synagogue, a Jewish cemetery, a Jewish hospital and a Jewish bathhouse in the town.

Presumably, there was an independent Jewish community in Sandomierz in the period from the 14th to the 16th centuries; however, Sandomierz was in the first half of the 17th century merely a small sub-kehilla of the kehilla in Opatów[1.14]. .]]. In the 18th century Sandomierz became the capital of an independent kehilla. In 1765, 801 Jews belonged to the kehilla, which placed Sandomierz among medium-sized Jewish communities in the county of Sandomierz[1.15].

During the Partition of Poland the number of the Jewish population in Sandomierz increased considerably, especially at the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century, when the Jews constituted 50% of the total number of inhabitants of the town[1.16].

However, in the interwar period, due to, among others, the emigration of the Jews and the absorption of adjacent villages into Sandomierz, the total percentage of the Jews living in Sandomierz decreased. In 1921, 2641 Jews lived there[1.17], which was approximately the same number of inhabitants as in the year 1939. In the interwar period in Sandomierz, two Jewish libraries existed there, as well as an amateur Jewish theater[1.18]. Most Jews owned small shops, whereas some of them dealt in used objects, grain, and eggs in the big cities of Poland. In Sandomierz, there were also craft workshops, where 124 people were employed by the year 1921. In the 1930s, the economic situation of the Jews in Sandomierz deteriorated significantly; however, the political and social life flourished. The Zionist parties and youth movements were very active, whereas the sport club Makabi, which was opened in 1929, had 100 members. Nevertheless, it came to anti-Semitic riots in 1934[1.19].

In 1925 approximately 4,000 Jews belonged to the kehilla of Sandomierz. In the area of the entire kehilla there was one synagogue situated in Sandomierz and 5 other prayer houses. The list compiled in 1939 demonstrated that the kehilla possessed the movable property of PLN 10,252 and the real estate of PLN 53,500. Both the incomes and expenses of the community amounted to PLN 32,944[1.20]. In the interwar period the kehilla of Sandomierz comprised the town of Sandomierz and the following municipalities: Obrazów (Bilcza, Dębiany, Usarzów, Jugoszów, Komorna, Lenarczyce, Różki, Obrazów, Piekary, Świątniki, Święcica, Węgrce, Wieprzki, Zdanów, Zagrody, Żurawica) and Wilczyce (Bożęcin, Chwałki, Dacharzów, Daromin, Dobrocice, Gałkowice, Kichary Stare, Kichary Nowe, Łukawa, Ocinek, Pęczyny, Pielaszów, Radoszki, Sadłowice, Tułkowice, Wilczyce, Wysiadłów), as well as the following villages of the municipality of Dwikozy: Bożydar, Czernin, Dwikozy, Garbów, Garbów Nowy, Gołębice, Gerlachów, Góry Wysokie, Kamień Plebański, Kamień Łukawski, Mokoszyn, Mściów, Romanówka, Rzeczyca Mokra, Rzeczyca Sucha, Słupcza, Szczytniki) and the following villages of the municipality of Samborzec: Andruszkowice, Bogoria, Bystrojowice, Kobierniki, Koćmierzów, Łojowice, Malice, Milczany, Ostrołęka, Polanów, Samborzec, Strochcice, Śmiechowice, Wielogóra, Zajeziorze, Zawisełcze, Zawierzbie, Złota, Żuków [1.21].

When the Germans took over Sandomierz in 1939, they organized a pogrom of the Jewish people. In November 1939, the Judenrat was established and subsequently, the Jewish community had to pay “contributions”. Approx. 1,200 refugees of Jewish origin came to Sandomierz from Kalisz and Siedlce[1.22]. In June 1942 they opened a ghetto, which covered the area enclosed by Żydowska Street and Berka Jozelewicza Street. As the Jews from adjacent villages were moved there, approximately 5,200 people were placed in the ghetto, which was one of the last destroyed ghettos in the region. On October 29, 1942 their majority was transported to the death camp in Bełżec. Most of those who found hiding places were captured and murdered on site[1.1.22].

On November 10, 1942 the Germans established the so-called secondary ghetto in Sandomierz. The Jews who managed to hide during the first closing down of the ghetto and the Jews brought from the Reich were placed in the ghetto. Then approximately 7,000 people were staying there. In January 1943 the ghetto of Sandomierz was finally closed down. Then about 700 Jews who were capable of working were transported to the work camp in Skarżysko-Kamienna, while approximately 6,300 people were taken to the extermination camp of Treblinka. What is more, 480 Jews were murdered during the liquidation of the ghetto. In May 1945 about 60 Jews still lived in Sandomierz[1.23].

In the period of 1944–1946, the Jews in Sandomierz and in the nearby areas were assaulted. Frequently, the Jews died in result of these assaults, e.g. both Chaim Penczyna and his wife were killed by bandits in March 1945 in the surrounding area of Sandomierz. Only in this month, 6 more Jews were killed there[1.24].

Bibliography:

  • Buliński M., Monografija miasta Sandomierza, Warszawa 1879.
  • Dzieje Sandomierza, vol. 3, red. J. M. Małecki, Warszawa 1993.
  • Dzieje Sandomierza, vol. 4, red. W. Czajka, Warszawa 1994.
  • Eth Ezkera. Whenever I remember. Memorial book of the Jewish Community in Tzoyzmir (Sandomierz), red. E. Feldenkreiz-Grinbal, Tel Aviv 1993.
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Footnotes
  • [1.1] Węgrzynek H., Sandomierz, [in:] Cała A., Węgrzynek H., Zalewska G., Historia i kultura Żydów polskich. Słownik, Warszawa 2000, p. 296.
  • [1.2] The Jews in Sandomierz, [in:] Eth Ezkera whenever I remember. Memorial book of the Jewish Community in Tzoyzmir (Sandomierz), ed. E. Feldenkreiz-Grinbal, Tel Aviv 1993, p. 582.
  • [1.3] Z. Guldon, K. Krzystanek, Żydzi i Szkoci w Sandomierzu w XVI-XVIII wieku, “Studia historyczne”, vol. 31, 1988, fasc. 4, p. 528
  • [1.4] M. Horn, Najstarszy rejestr osiedli żydowskich w Polsce z 1507 roku, “Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego”, no. 93, 1974, pp. 11-15.
  • [1.5] Dylewski A., Śladami Żydów polskich. Przewodnik ilustrowany, Warszawa 2002, p. 149.
  • [1.6] Kiryk F., Leśniak F., Skupiska żydowskie w miastach małopolskich do końca XVI wieku, [in:] Żydzi w Małopolsce. Studia z dziejów osadnictwa i życia społecznego, red. F. Kiryk, Przemyśl 1991, p. 27.
  • [1.7] H. Węgrzynek, „Czarna legenda” Żydów i procesy o rzekome mordy rytualne w dawnej Polsce, Warszawa 1995, pp. 172, 189-190.
  • [1.8] Z. Guldon, K. Krzystanek, Ludność żydowska w miastach lewobrzeżnej części województwa sandomierskiego w XVI-XVIII wieku. Studium osadniczo-demograficzne, Kielce 1990, p. 11-13.
  • [1.9] Z. Guldon, Starty ludności żydowskiej w Koronie w latach potopu, [in:] Rzeczpospolita w czasach potopu, edited by J. Muszyńska and J. Wijaczka, Kielce 1996, p. 297-299; idem, Stefan Czarniecki a mniejszości etniczne i wyznaniowe w Polsce, [in:] Stefan Czarniecki: żołnierz – obywatel – polityk, edited by W. Kowalski, Kielce 1999, pp. 101-102.
  • [1.10] Z. Guldon, J. Wijaczka, Procesy o mordy rytalne w Polsce w XVI-XVIII wieku, Kielce 1995, p. 18-34; cf.: D. Tollet, Le goupillon, le prétoire et la plume: Stéfan Żuchowski et l’accusation de crimes rituels en Pologne á la fin du XVII° siècle et au début du XVIII° siècle, [in:] Żydzi wśród chrześcijan w dobie szlacheckiej Rzeczypospolitej, edited by W. Kowalskiego i J. Muszyńskiej, Kielce 1996, s. 207-220; W. Kowalski, W obronie wiary. Ks. Stefan Żuchowski – między wzniosłością a okrucieństwem, [in:] ibidem, p. 221-233.
  • [1.11] Dylewski A., Śladami Żydów polskich. Przewodnik ilustrowany, Warszawa 2002, pp. 151–152.
  • [1.12] Radzik Z., M. K., Nareszcie: Sandomierski obraz pomawiający Żydów o mord rytualny podpisany, „Tygodnik Powszechny”, 16.01.2014 [online] http://tygodnik.onet.pl/wwwylacznie/nareszcie-sandomierski-obraz-pomawiajacy-zydow-o-mord-rytualny-podpisany/5rq27 [Access: 24.06.2014].
  • [1.13] M. Buliński, Monografija miasta Sandomierza, Warszawa 1879, p. 140-141.
  • [1.14] Bursztyn J., Żydzi opatowscy na przełomie XVII i XVIII w., [in:] Opatów. Materiały z Sesji 700-lecia miasta, red. F. Kiryk, Sandomierz 1985, p. 140; Kubicki R., Żydzi opatowscy od XVI do początku XIX wieku, [in:] Z przeszłości Żydów polskich. Polityka – gospodarka – kultura – społeczeństwo, red. J. Wijaczka, G. Miernik, Kraków 2005, p. 73.
  • [1.15] Liczba głów żydowskich w Koronie z taryf roku 1765, published by J. Kleczyński i F. Kluczycki, Kraków 1898, pp. 8-9; S. Stampfer, The 1764 Census of Polish Jewry, „Bar-Ilan – Annual of Bar-Ilan University. Studies in Judaica and the Humanites”, vol. 24-25, 1989, p. 82.
  • [1.16] S. Marcinkowski, Sandomierz w okresie Królestwa Polskiego (1815-1864), [in:] Dzieje Sandomierza, vol. 3:1795-1918, edited by J. M. Małecki, Warszawa 1993, p. 67; Z. Małecki, Sandomierz w latach 1864-1914, [in:] ibidem, p. 109.
  • [1.17] Sandomierz, [in:] Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, vol. II, red. Sh. Spector, New York 2001, p. 1132.
  • [1.18] P. Matusak, Oświata i kultura, [in:] Dzieje Sandomierza, vol. 4: 1918-1980, edited by W. Czajka, Warszawa 1994, pp. 96, 98.
  • [1.19] Sandomierz, [in:] Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, vol. 2, red. Sh. Spector, New York 2001, p. 1132.
  • [1.20] The State Archives in Kielce, The Province Office in Kielce I, shelf mark 1763, card 171; ibidem, shelf mark 1765.
  • [1.21] R. Kotowski, Z dziejów społeczności żydowskiej Sandomierza w latach 1918-1939, “Kwartalnik Historii Żydów”, no. 1 (225), 2008, p. 49.
  • [1.22] Sandomierz, [in:] Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, Volume II, red. Sh. Spector, New York 2001, p. 1132.
  • [1.1.22] Sandomierz, [in:] Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, Volume II, red. Sh. Spector, New York 2001, p. 1132.
  • [1.23] P. Matusak, Wojna i okupacja, [in:] Dzieje Sandomierza, vol. 4, pp. 170-171; A. Penkalla, Sandomierz, [in:] Żydzi w Polsce. Dzieje i kultura. Leksykon, edited by J. Tomaszewski, A. Żbikowski, Warszawa 2001, p. 408; W. Orłowski, Zagłada sandomierskich Żydów. Wspomnienia mieszkańca Sandomierza, “Zeszyty Sandomierskie”, no. 28, 2009, pp. 80-82.
  • [1.24] Bańkowska A., Jarzębowska A., Siek M., Morderstwa Żydów w latach 1944–1946 na terenie Polski, "Biuletyn ŻIH” 2009, nr 3 (231), p. 361.