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ShtetLinks: Sejny

Sejny (Poland)

Other Names

  • Seini (Yiddish)

Brief Description

Sejny is located in Poland near the Lithuanian border between Warsaw and Vilnius. It's coordinates are 5410 longitude, 2335 latitude. During the Russian Empire and Polish Kingdom it was considered part of the Suwalki Gubernia.

Short History

The area comprising the Suwalki gubernia, of which Sejny is a part, changed hands many times during the last several hundred years. The gubernia was almost entirely included in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania until 1386, when it was incorporated into Poland. The territory became part of Prussia in 1797. With the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, it then became part of the Russian Empire. After World War One it became Poland again.

According to the Yizkor Buch Suvalk, there are records of Sejny as early as 1522 when King Sigmund gave the forest to Jan Wishnevski who established Seiner Manor. By the Swedish War it was a town with municipal rights. There were over 200 stone buildings and a printing press in the town in 1797.

Sejny Synagogue

Sejny Synagogue postcard picture courtesy The Borderland Foundation.
Click on it to enlarge.

To encourage commercial activity, the Dominican Order helped the Jews build a synagogue in 1768, although records and monuments indicate Jews had been present in the town for many years before that. In 1885 a beautiful synagogue was built at the cost of 12,000 rubles. (The synagogue still exists today as a museum of the Borderland Foundation.)

Sejny was an important cultural and economic center. The Lomza Lyceum had moved to the town in 1808. In 1835 there was a high school with seven classes and a public school. After the railroad from St. Petersburg to Warsaw was built in 1896, the town went into decline, the benefit going to Suwalki city.

In 1797 the population was 516. By 1897 the town had grown to a population of 3,778, about half of which was Jewish.

Economically the Jewish population was engaged in trade and commerce. Surprisingly, there was a major involvement in agriculture. There were a significant number of Jewish landowners around Sejny. According to the yiskor book Jewish landowners numbered 196 out of 1200.

On September 1, 1939 Hitler invaded Poland and with that commenced the destruction of Jewish Sejny. On that very afternoon Suwalki was bombed. In October, the Jews of Sejny were driven out and were left to roam around in the no-man's land between Germany and Lithuania. Some made it to Lithuania, but later perished when the Nazis invaded that country. Others perished when the communities they fled to were caught up in the Holocaust.

Sources:
Yiskor Buch Suvalk; Landsman, publication of the Suwalki-Lomza special interest group.

Modern Sejny

Please contribute pictures, accounts and sketches.

The Legacy of the Holocaust

         Yizkor Books

There is no yiskor book for Sejny, but information about the town is contained in the books for Suwalki.

    • Yizkor Bukh Suwalk (Memorial Book of Savalk) New York, 1961
    • Sefer Kehilat Suvalk u-Benotehah (Jewish Community Book Suwalki and vicinity) Tel Aviv, 1989

Related Links

The JewishGen Family Finder

This is where you can find the names of others interested in Sejny. The Family Finder is an interactive database that allows genealogists to trade family and town names, make connections and expand their circles of information. Click the JGFF button to get a list of names and addresses, or click here to add your own information to the database.

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Suggestions or comments? Contact Benjamin M. Eisenstein

 


 Compiled by Benjamin M. Eisenstein
Updated by BME May, 2005
Copyright 2002 Benjamin M. Eisenstein

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