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Gostynin, Poland

GOSTYNIN, town in central Poland. The Jewish population numbered 157 in 1765, 634 in 1856, 1,849 in 1897, and 1,831 (27.5% of the total) in 1921. Between 1823 and 1862 there were special residential quarters for the Jews. The old synagogue, destroyed by fire, was rebuilt in 1899. It was situated in the former Jewish lane, and a side alley there was popularly known as the "alley of the dead," recalling the location of the old Jewish cemetery. The ḥasidic leader and rabbi Jehiel Meir *Lipschuetz lived in Gostynin in the 19th century. There were 2,269 Jews living in Gostynin on the eve of World War II.

Holocaust Period

Immediately after the German army entered the town in Sept. 1939, mass arrests and attacks on Jews began along with requisition and looting of Jewish property. Jews were ordered to hew the old wooden synagogue into pieces and carry them to German inhabitants for fuel. They were ordered to pay two "contributions" (fines) in succession; when the president of the community was unable to collect the second sum in time, he sent a delegation to the Warsaw Jewish community (on a German suggestion) and received the required amount.

A ghetto was set up in Gostynin which was at first open, but subsequently surrounded by barbed wire. Order was kept by Jewish police. Most of the Jews left the ghetto every morning for hard labor assignments. In August 1941 transports of men and women began to be sent to labor camps in the Warthegau. The ghetto was liquidated on April 16–17, 1942, when nearly 2,000 Jews were sent to the death camp at Chelmno.

By the end of the war all traces of Jewish life in the town had been obliterated. The cemetery had been desecrated and destroyed, the tombstones hauled away, and the tomb (ohel) of the local ẓaddik destroyed. The few Jews from Gostynin who survived the Holocaust subsequently emigrated.


Pinkes Gostynin: Yizkor Bukh (1960); D. Dąbrowska, in: BŻIH, 13–14 (1955), 122–84 passim.

[Danuta Dombrowska]

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