There is no information about the presence of Jews in Torzym (German: Sternberg) in the Middle Ages. After their expulsion from Brandenburg, and thus from Neumark (Nowa Marchia), in 1573, they returned to those lands only after Frederick William's edict of 1671. Previously, they could only stay in the region of Tomrzyn temporarily. Their presence was related to the cattle trade, of which Torzym was a significant centre (three large cattle fairs and several smaller ones every year). Based on the available data, after the aforementioned edict of 1671, 7 families settled down in the region of Neumark. In that period, the first Jews appeared in the town of Torzym in 1690.

In 1777, the sources mention 4 Jews. Those were heads of families, so the actual number of Jews in the town was definitely higher. In 1804, there were 5 Jews living in the town of Torzym and 104 in the region of Torzym. Due to the relatively small number of Jews, a synagogue community was not established in the town. Based on the ministerial report from 1845, only a prayer room (German: Betstube) was active in Torzym. Its location is unknown.

Most probably, a larger number of Jews appeared in the town after 1869, when a railway line from Frankfurt/Oder (Frankfurt nad Odrą) to Poznań was built, which run via Torzym. In the second half of the 19th century, there was a Jewish school and a kosher slaughterhouse. Both institutions were managed by a teacher and a butcher, Abraham Bibo. In 1895, there were 24 Jews living in Torzym, and only 14 in 1925. No information about the Jewish community after 1933 has survived until today. Most probably, the few Jews who still lived there were deported to large cities, and from there - to ghettos and concentration camps in German-occupied Europe. In the period from 1940 to 1942, there was a labour camp in Torzym for Jews from the ghetto in Łódź who worked on the construction of the motorway from Frankfurt/ Oder to Poznań. Approximately 150 to 300 prisoners were held there in different time periods.

Andrzej Kirmiel

 

Andrzej Kirmiel

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