to the memorial website dedicated to
the history of the former
The following pages are in
memory of this Jewish community
that existed for 300 years in the heart of Wielkopolska,
where the culture of Ashkenaz
had flourished for centuries,
the area that later became the Prussian
province of Posen.
remember the men, women and children of the
became ensnared in the Holocaust
Z'Chor - זכור — their
names are not forgotten.
(Photo courtesy František Bányai, Prague)
the venerable old synagogue of Schneidemühl,
consecrated on 15 October 1841
when Rabbi Plessner added these words:
“May this house
serve also as a monument to the unforgettable
man and father of our country,
the late King
Friedrich Wilhelm III.”
During the pogrom
night of 9/10 November 1938, (an event the
Nazis mockingly called 'Kristallnacht,')
this House of God—a government-protected
monument in the center of Wilhelmsplatz,—
was desecrated, burned and destroyed by notorious
Five hundred years ago this town was known
to Polish-speaking people by
such names as Pyla or Piła. The early Low
Snyde-Mole, Schnyde-Möhle, or Schneyde-Mühle.
* Schneidemühl was the German
name that was given to the Polish
town of Pila by
in 1772, after
their annexation of the area.
The town’s Polish name Piła —
derived from the Polish root word 'pila,'
meaning ‘saw’ — referred to a place where rushing
water powered a device used for sawing wood.
The word Schneidemühl is a literal translation from
Polish to German.
Piła, as a kehilla,
was never regarded by its Jewish community as a shtetl,
the Jews of the area simply wrote the name of their
in Hebrew letters.
From the late 1700s until
1940, Schneidemühl was the home of
of this webmaster's ancestors, the Simonstein
(Photo courtesy Bella Rothenberg, Kfar
of the Destroyed Communities'
* * *
Vashem, on the Mount of Remembrance in Israel.
The community of
Schneidemühl — one of 4,500 destroyed communities —
is commemorated here in stone, together with others
of Pomerania, Posen and West Prussia.
* * *
- What happened to the Jews of
Schneidemühl during the Nazi period?
- The Jews
of the community fell victim to the
mass deportations 1941-44. (see
- Is there a Yizkor book for
- No. But a
comprehensive book on the community's
history has recently been written that
will answer many of the questions
below. (see article below)
- How large was the Jewish community in
its heydays, and before the Nazi period?
- The size
of the community peaked during the
- By the
late 1920s only a fraction remained.
- Are there any Landsmannschaften
for the Jewish community of
Landsmannschaften were rarely formed
for communities that used to be
located in the former Prussian
province of Posen.
- What is the current name of
- Since the
end of the Second World War the
town, situated in the province of
Wielkopolskie in north-western
Poland, is known again by its
original Polish name Piła.
- Are there any extant Jewish birth,
marriage or death records available for
- With more research
they might still be located in Polish
or German archives.
- Where can one find any civil birth,
marriage, death records of Schneidemühl?
The truth about
the deportations and fate
of the Jews of Schneidemühl
Over the past
fifty years, numerous accounts
concerning the fate of the Jews of Schneidemühl
have appeared in print. However, none of
them accord with historic record. They
were but distortions of historical
facts. Regrettably, these
errors have been perpetuated to this day in
numerous books, articles and websites that
with this period of the Holocaust.
erroneous claim that the Jews of
Schneidemühl had been deported together
with the more than 1,200 Jews
of Stettin (who were subsequently
Piaski,) is not
supported by evidence found in the extant
volume of files of the
der Juden in Deutschland. (Cf.
RG-14.003M; Acc. 1993.A.059)
therefore be stated that — while the
deportations of the Jews of Schneidemühl had
indeed been planned by the Gestapo
to coincide with the
terrible events that occurred in Stettin —
those actions were NOT carried out together.
A full account of these events can be found in
the book below.
of the Jewish Community of
1641 to the Holocaust
Peter Simonstein Cullman
x 10", hardcover, 390 pp.
ISBN 1-886223-27-0 2006
While until recent times no
memorial book existed for the destroyed
Jewish community of Schneidemühl, this
publication, a comprehensive work in
English brings to life again the
true history of this 300-year-old
In documenting the growth of this
community—from the arrival of Jews in this
Poland in the 16th century to its
destruction in the 20th century—this book
reader with a keen interest in
German-Jewish history a fine portrayal of
vanished Jewish community. Viewed against
the background of major European
historical events and of Haskalah,
the Jewish Enlightenment of the late 18th
century, the reader is
also given a detailed description in word
and picture of the Tempel,
the once splendid synagogue of
As a result of many years of painstaking
research by the author, the lives and the
most members of this Jewish community — as
it existed in the 1930s — could be traced.
The chapter Z'Chor features
chronologies of all those who were caught
in the Nazis' web.
Here their fate is documented in detail to
ensure that their memory is preserved.
The complete data of the 1939 German
Minority Census for Schneidemühl, lists of
emigrants and survivors, as well as an
annotated burial register, covering the
period 1854-1940, with names and data of
more than nine hundred members of the
are just some of the many archival records
found in this work.
Although no trace of a past Jewish
presence can be found in today's renamed
town Piła —
this book brings back to memory a once
notable, vibrant and sizable Jewish
book can be purchased directly from
the publishers by visiting:
794 Edgewood Avenue, New Haven,
CT 06515 USA
The above memorial book has been
translated and published in 2017 as the
Historia Żydów w
Gminy Żydowskiej z Piły od roku
1641 do Holokaustu
translation by Agnieszki Kin -
x 6.5", hardcover, 510 pp.
book can be ordered directly from
Inicjatyw Społecznych EFFATA
ul. W Witosa 26/5,
PL 64-920 Piła, Poland
to external websites are provided in good
faith and for information
responsibility for materials contained in
any website linked from this site.
Last Update - 21 August 2017
direct any correspondence to:
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