TORUN (Ger. Thorn), port on the R. Vistula, N. central Poland; founded by the Teutonic Order in the 13th century, and incorporated into Poland in 1454. Jews first visited Torun on *market days only; in 1766 six Jewish families were permitted to settle there, as in the 18th century there was a great demand for Jewish merchants who traded in cloth manufactured in Torun. In the second half of the 18th century some were attacked by members of the guilds because, in conjunction with the guildmasters, they lent money for interest to the craftsmen.
Torun passed to Prussia in 1793–1806. When included in the principality of Warsaw in 1806–14 it had a larger number of Jewish inhabitants. It reverted to Prussia from 1814 to 1920, when the Jewish population increased. It numbered 248 in 1828; 1,371 (5% of the total population) in 1890; 1,100 (2.3%) in 1905. Culturally, the Jews were closest to German Jewry. A Jewish primary school was founded in 1862. In 1891 a literary and cultural association was founded (Litteratur und Culturverein zu Thorn) with the objective of broadening knowledge of Jewish history and literature, without political or religious implications. A Jewish Women's Association (Israelitischer Frauenverein) to aid sick and needy women was founded in 1868. The increase of antisemitism in Pomerania and the regression in the economy of Torun at the end of the 19th century led to a decrease in the number of Jews living there. After Torun reverted to Poland in 1920, the local Jewish population became one of the smallest in Polish towns of that size, numbering 354 (0.9% of the total) in 1925.
On the outbreak of World War II there were about 1,000 Jews in Torun. The community was liquidated in the autumn of 1939, when the Jews were expelled to the territory of the General Government. After the war the community was not reconstituted.
Mitteilungen des Gesamtarchivs der deutschen Juden (1910); Dzieje Torunia (1934); J. Wojtowicz, Studia nad kształtowaniem sie układu kapitalistycznego w Toruniu (1960).
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.