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Bydgoszcz, Poland

BYDGOSZCZ (Ger. Bromberg), capital of Bydgoszcz province, north central Poland. There were Jews living in the fortress of Bydgoszcz (castrum Bydgoscense) in the 11th and 12th centuries. Later a considerable number of Jews, engaged in trading provisions with Gdańsk, were found in the city adjoining the fortress, which was built by the order of Casimir the Great in 1346. In 1555 the city was authorized to expel the Jews, who moved to the nearby city of Fordon. The authorization was annulled by Frederick the Great after Bydgoszcz was annexed by Prussia in 1772. By 1788 there were 41 Jews living in Bydgoszcz, chiefly occupied in the silk trade, but a community was not officially established in Bydgoszcz until 1809. Jewish settlement in Bydgoszcz was subject to the agreement of the municipality until this restriction was revoked by the "Jewish Law" of July 23, 1847; subsequently the number of Jewish residents increased. The status of the Jewish community was enhanced through the efforts of the banker Louis Aronsohn, a member of the Prussian Landtag (Diet). In 1884 a magnificent synagogue was established, as well as a school and benevolent institutions. The 27 communities of the district formed a federation, presided over by Aronsohn in 1897. In 1905 the Jews numbered 2,600 out of a total population of 54,231. When the city was incorporated into Poland in 1918, most of the Bydgoszcz Jews moved to Germany; the community archives were transferred to the general archives of the German Jews in Berlin. In 1924 there were only 1,000 Jews living in Bydgoszcz, but by 1931 their number had increased to 3,000.

[Nathan Michael Gelber]

Holocaust Period

In the period of World War II Bydgoszcz was the second main town (after Danzig) of "Reichsgau Danzig-Westpreussen," a district created and incorporated into the Nazi Reich by a decree of Oct. 26, 1939, several weeks after the outbreak of World War II. Many of the Jewish families living in Bydgoszcz had fled before the entry of the German army on Sept. 5. Those who stayed behind were murdered or expelled to General Gouvernment territory, making the town one of the first in Poland to be "free of Jews" (juderein). After World War II the community was not rebuilt.

[Danuta Dombrowska]


J. Herzberg, Geschichte der Juden in Bromberg (1903); G. Sonnenschein, in: Polski Almanach gmin Ẓydowskich (1939), 99–108.

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.