The Jewish kehilla in Trzemeszno, which was established in the 18th century, was one of the most numerous in the region, as it included also the Jews from neighbouring Grochów and later Glisno and Lubniewice. The Jews were subordinate to the village’s owners. After paying a fee, they were allowed to build a cemetery and a synagogue, which was a wooden construction erected in the second half of the 18th century. At that time, Jews constituted about 30-40% of the town’s population, which amounted to 700-800 people.
Well-organized and numerous kehillas profited from proximity of the country border trading with Brandenburg and Śląsk, as well as from location by the trade route from Frankfurt an der Oder to Poznań. Along this route travelled more prominent traders and the Berlin-Warsaw Post Riders. In order to outstrip the competition on the route form Międzyrzecz to Frankfurt, the Jews used a shortcut through the forest.
After the Second Partition of Poland, the king of Prussia issued an edict which made the Jews settle in towns. The Jews of Trzemeszno started moving to the nearby Bledzewo. Although the local abbot and the townsmen opposed, 12 Jewish families from Trzemeszno and 9 from nearby Goruńsk settled there and established a community. In order to stop the migration of the Jews, the then owner of Trzemeszno von Kalckreuth secured town’s charter for Trzemeszno on 31 January 1805.
In the 1820s and 1830s, 300 Jews resided in Trzemeszno, which constituted 40% of the town’s population. In 1823, the community built another synagogue just in front of the old one. It was constructed on a rectangular plan, made of fieldstones and plastered. In the 1830s, a Jewish school was build next to the synagogue. At that time, the community used a seal with an image of Themis and an inscription in Hebrew and German “Juden Gemeide zu Schermeisel” (“The Jewish community in Trzemeszno”).
In the second half of the 19th century, the Jewish community decreased, as migration to larger centres such as Berlin began. Another privileges which Jews were granted in Prussia (1815, 1833, 1847, 1869), gave them the right to move freely, hold offices and run businesses. This, together with the fact that Trzemeszno lost its city charter in 1870, made emigration even easier.
In 1855, still 177 Jews inhabited Trzemeszno. Soon the community grew and encompassed also Grochowo, Glisno and Lubniewice. The community chairman in 1881 was Salomon Guterman, a representative of the most prominent Jewish family in the town, and his deputy was Moses Heymann. In the same year the brick synagogue was renovated.
In 1910, although there were only 24 Jews living in Trzemeszno, they still played and important role in the economy. They ran a holiday house, located in a castle, and owned companies and stores. The owner of the largest shop was Max Guterman, who died in 1930; he was the last person to be buried on the cemetery in Trzemeszno.
In 1932, the town’s population amounted to 1,000 inhabitants, including 27 Jews. The community chairman was then Juliusz Guterman and his deputy was Paul Paul. After Hitler had seized power, some of the Jews converted to Evangelicalism, but it did not protect them from repressions. In the 1930s, at Hauptstrasse (nowadawys Poznańska Street) still operated a synagogue and a ritual slaughterhouse.
In 1942, only one Jew lived in Trzemeszno; probably secured by a marriage with an “Aryan”, but the couple’s fate remains unknown.
After 1945, the synagogue building was turned into a shop and a village after-school club. The building was pulled down in the second half of the 1990s. The only remembrance of the centuries-old Jewish history in Trzemeszno is a cemetery next to the road to Sulęcin.
- Żydzi w Trzemesznie, A. Kirmiel (ed.), Sulęcin (2010).