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)
synagogue of Schneidemühl, consecrated on 15 October 1841,
blessed by Rabbi Plessner with these
“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, burnt and destroyed by notorious Nazi elements of Schneidemühl.
solemn ceremony on 8 November 2018 - eighty
years after the synagogue's destruction -
dignitaries from the city council of Piła found it in
their hearts to gather where the synagogue had
stood for nearly one hundred years, joined by representatives from the
Poznan Jewish community,
to commemorate the tragic events of 1938
a replica of the synagogue had been
created for the occasion by the local
artist Marek Brose-Kwasigroch
memorial plaque on the wall of the city's old
Royal Post Office,
opposite of the locale where
the synagogue once stood -
this place stood the synagogue of the Jewish
kehila, which was located in the middle
of the former Jewish Market.
The Temple was consecrated by the Berlin Rabbi
Salomon Plessner, October 15, 1841.
The brick, three-story synagogue building
was erected on the rectangular plan in the
inspired by the work of Karl Friedrich
Schinkel. The main facade featured
characteristic three rows of windows.
The synagogue was burnt by the Germans
during the Kristallnacht on the night of 9
"Piła, 8 listopada
Five hundred years ago this town was
known to Polish-speaking people by
such names as Pyła or Piła.
The early Low
German-speaking settlers liked to call
their town Snyde-Mole, Schnyde-Möhle, or
Schneidemühl was the German name that was given to
town of Piła by the Prussians
in 1772, after their annexation of the area.
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 kehila,
was never regarded by its Jewish community as a shtetl,
the Jews of the area simply wrote the name of their
town פילה in Hebrew letters.
the late 1700s until 1940, Schneidemühl was the home
generations 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
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
were but distortions of historical
these errors have been perpetuated to this
day in numerous books, articles and
websites that deal
with this period of the Holocaust.
The erroneous claim that the Jews of
Schneidemühl had been deported together
with the more than 1,200 Jews
of Stettin (who were subsequently
is not supported by evidence found in the
extant volume of files of the
der Juden in Deutschland.
75 C Re1, No. 483, Bundesarchiv
Berlin, and USHMM Archives:
RG-14.003M; Acc. 1993.A.059)
It must therefore be stated that
— while the deportations of the Jews of
Schneidemühl had indeed been planned by
to coincide with the
terrible events that occurred in Stettin —
those actions were NOT carried out
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 October 2019
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