The Jews of Wyszogród are first mentioned in 1423, when a list of 18 Jews paying fees includes 8 from Wyszogród. On April 23, they contributed 30 florins of dues called soluciones. Wealthiest among them was one May, who must have been known in the court of Duke Janusz I. He appeared in a variety of document in 1414-1425. In one of them, the Duke gave him a vineyard located behind the church behind the Franciscan monastery.
The Jewish community was created in the 15th or 16th century, at the same time as a Jewish cemetery, which functioned until the early 19th century. The cemetery was closed in connection with the plague of 1831, and a new one was founded on the outskirts of the town. The Jewish settlement of a few dozen people was not numerous in the 15th-16th centuries.
In 1563, the Wyszogród Jews paid a per capita tax of 12 Hungarian gold coins. Since there is no mention of them in the lustration of 1569, one can assume that they had left the town. Forever? Most probably not, since in the 17th century a Jewish settlement was created at the foot of the castle, Podzamcze, whose inhabitants were placed under the protection of the town starosts. The Jews specialized in trade, which they quickly monopolized. Trade in grains, including transporting them down the Vistula, proved especially profitable. Distillery also was important. The privilege granted the Płońsk Jews by King Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki confirmed the primacy of the Mazovian Jews. It guaranteed them the freedom to trade all goods and the unlimited right to produce and distribute alcohol. Its text was registered in 1677 in the town’s records of Wyszogród. These privileges were in force throughout the 18th century.
A synagogue was built on the edge of a high river embankment at the foot of Castle Hill in the late 18th or early 19th century, probably by Dawid Friedländer. In the 18th century the Jews began to dominate the population numerically. By the end of the 18th century the Jewish inhabitants of Wyszogród were employed almost exclusively in trade, services and crafts. There were 53 tailors, 5 furriers, one goldsmith, 1 comb maker, 7 bakers and 20 pub owners.
The synagogue was partly damaged during World War I. It was repaired in 1919-1929. In the interwar period, Dawid Bornstein i Naftali Spiwak served as rabbis. The best-known figure was Nachum Sokołow, one of the outstanding journalists and activists of the Zionist movement.[1.1].
In the interwar period, the town experienced disputes over the question of Sunday rest. The local police and officials forbade Jews to do their laundry and hang it outside on Sundays. A police sergeant stormed into a mikvah on a Sunday and demanded that all those present leave, claiming that they were there illegally.[1.2]
In December 1940, a closed-off Jewish district was created between the Old Market Square and Rebowska, Kościelna, Płocka and Ogrodowa Streets. Work commandoes made up of Jews were employed for a variety of jobs; one of them was to demolish the synagogue. Some Jewish were transported to a forced labor camp in Bielsk.
In March 1941 some inhabitants of the Jewish district were deported to a forced labor camp in Działdowo, and then to Nowa Słupia. The ghetto was definitively liquidated on November 29, 1941. The people remaining in it were transported to the ghettos in Czerwińsk and Nowy Dwór, and from there to Treblinka[1.3].
- [1.1] Archiwum Państwowe w Płocku, Zbiór kartograficzny, Plan sytuacyjny Wyszogrodu; Maria and Kazimierz Piechotkowie, Bramy Nieba. Bóżnice murowane na ziemiach dawnej Rzeczypospolitej (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Krupski i S-ka, 1999), passim; Marek Piotrowski, “Próba rekonstrukcji obrządku pogrzebowego ludności żydowskiej na podstawie badań archeologicznych cmentarza w Wyszogrodzie,” Rocznik Mazowiecki, 1987, vol. 9, pp. 224-26.
- [1.2] Interpelacja poselska P. Farbsteina, “Sprawozdanie stenograficzne ze 186 posiedzenia Sejmu Ustawodawczego z dnia 17 listopada 1920 roku,” CLXXXV/30.
- [1.3] http://www.kirkuty.xip.pl/wyszogrod.html