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Złoczew, Poland

According to documents kept in the National Archive of Sieradz, the Jewish Community of Zloczew was already in existence by 1821, when it was acknowledged by the governor of Kalisz. Jankiel Dawid Lewkowicz, born in 1878, was a rabbi in Zloczew starting in 1914. He wife was Gitla Ruchla Posner and they had two children, Moszek and Rajzla. Prior to becoming the rabbi in Zloczew, he held the post of second rabbi in Gora Kalwaria, and in 1913, for 9 months, he was the rabbi of Burzenin.

According to a record from 1921, the Jewish community then had 1795 members.

In documents from 1931, members of the district board, included: Jankiel Rotenbach – merchant, and chairman of the board, Motel Markowicz, Abram Szmul Lipszyc, Hersz Cygler, Abram Herszlikowicz, Bencjon Kempiński, Icek Jachimowicz and Hil Szpiler [1.1]. In 1931, in addition to the synagogue, located at 12 Rynek Street, which belonged to the kehilla, there were also at least five smaller prayer houses ("sztiblech"), located inside private homes.

In 1939, there were 2,067 Jews living in Zloczew, comprising 39% of the total population.

When the Nazis arrived, they burned the town. 200 people were killed; 50 were Poles, 150 were Jews. The oldest victim, Kajla Gutman, was 93 years old, and the youngest victim was four-year-old Fajwus Szczukowski. On September 4th, in a house situated at the intersection of Sieradzka and Rynek streets, a mentally ill Jewish woman named Chana was burned alive. Among the estates burned were: Klajn’s, Binem Lewkowicz’s, Majer Laks’s, Jankiel Rogozinski’s, Rywka Susek’s, Abram Szmul Lipszyc’s, Gecel Dawidowicz’s, Motel Markowicz’s [1.2] Aron Dziubas’s, Gutfrajnd’s, Ajzyk Szmulewicz’s, Gabriel Koniarski’s, Henoch Kozuch’s, Aron Blum’s, Aron Burakowski’s [1.3], Unikowski’s and Bialek’s [1.4].

Some Jews from Zloczew took part in the September Campaign and fought in the ranks of the Polish Army, including: Chaskiel Krzepicki from 31st Rifle Regiment of Kaniowo/6th division. Killed in that campaign were: Ira Grabinski, Jakub Gelbart, Zalma Dawidowicz, Kufman and Szlamkowicz.

At the end of October 1939, the Nazis arrested the local Jewish population. The detainees were transported to Sieradz, and then to a ghetto in Lublin. The following people lost their lives in the Lublin ghetto [1.5]:
Szmul Dawidowicz (died March 31, 1942)
Ajdla Dawidowicz (died September 15, 1940)
Szlama Hersz Koniarski (died September 30, 1940)
Zlota Perla Koniarska (died January 21, 1941)
Cypra Szlamkowicz (died February 15, 1941)
Ruchla Laja Koniarska (died September 25, 1939)

After the liquidation of the ghetto in Lublin, the Jews who had been detained here, were transported to the concentration camp in Majdanek. The following Jewish residents of Zloczew died in the Majdanek concentration camp: Mordka Bucherowicz, Szejwa Bucherowicz, Izrael Rubun Rywen Dawidowicz, Chil Aron Dawidowicz, Kopel Josek Dawidowicz.

Almost 1400 Jews of Zloczew were transported by the Nazis to the ghetto in Zdunska Wola and then to the ghetto in Lodz, including: Moszek Dobrecki, Zalman Kozuch, Sala Kozuch, Fajwel Unikowski, Fraszla Unikowska, Josef Lajb Unikowski, Hana Rajzla Unikowska and Rojza Zemel.

For the remaining 400 Jews of Zloczew, a ghetto was established on Kilinski Street, enclosed with barbed wire. Karol Makowski vel Moh became the executive of the ghetto. A Jew named Gerson was the leader of the order group. Antoni Sobieraj was a laborer. The population of the ghetto were forced to remove feces from lavatories with their bare hands, jump over high fires, bow to the Nazis, jump on their knees until they lost consciousness. Their peyots and beards were shaved off, usually with a blunt tool.

Food portions in the ghetto were not sufficient. Increasing hunger forced some people attempting to escape the ghetto in search of food. In September 1941, Jakub Grubiszer, who was 20 years old, was caught and shot dead while doing this, by Jozef Oberhausen, commander of the military police. According to the accounts of Stanisław Biernacki, Poles tried to help the desperate Jews in the ghetto by tossing over the fence: food, and fabrics that could be used to sew clothes.  

The number of those in ghetto decreased to 280 by 1942. In August 1942, as in nearby towns, the liquidation of the Zloczew ghetto began. The residents were taken to the parish church, where they were detained for a few days without any food or drink, then transported to a concentration camp in Chelmno on the Ner River.

This is how the Jewish population of Zloczew, which had lived there for almost 400 years, was destroyed.

Tanslated and para-phrased from the Polish at:

Google will give you a rough translation:

This site also has a page with a map showing Zloczew's location:

The Jewish settlement in Złoczewie - a small village near Sieradz - dates from at least the beginning of the 1500s, when there was a Jewish house of prayer, and the "Beit ha-Midrasz" [as well as a Jewish cemetary in 1530 - see below]. For many years the Jews were the majority of the population of Złoczew. This changed only in the nineteenth century, when a number of Poles coming from Poznań and its environs settled there.

Before World War II, 2,067 people of Jewish origin lived in Złoczew.

On September 3, 1939, Złoczew was occupied by the Nazis. Shortly after their entry, the city burned, including the ghetto (mordując) with about 200 of its inhabitants, including 150 Jews. The youngest of those murdered, Fajwuś Szczukowski was only three years old. Burned alive was the mentally ill (dziewiętnastoletnią) Jewish woman Chan. The victims of this first massacre were buried in a mass grave (mogiłach) in the town's Jewish cemetery.

The first deportation of Jews from Złoczew took place in October 1939. Part złoczewskich transported Jews to the ghetto in Lublin, from where they were later sent to the concentration camp at Majdanek.

In 1940, another group of about 4000 people were transported to [ghettos in] Lodz and Zduńskiej Wola.

For the remaining 400 Jews, a ghetto was created in Złoczewie. Those who managed to survive this, were sent, in August 1942, to the extermination camp at Chelmno nad Nerem.

The Jewish Cemetery in Złoczewie was estabished in 1530, so Złoczewski Beit Olam is one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in Poland. It is located in the forest Cegielnianej ("Brickyards"). Kahału specified in the contract for the purchase of land was its use as a graveyard (grzebalne). Złoczew was known to Jewish residents (szczycili) as the resting place of several famous rabbis. Local report: "In the first days of September 1939, the town Złoczew, with the Jewish cemetery, was completely bombed by the Nazis. Tombstones (nagrobne) were used in the construction of roads. Older people recall that, before the war, there were over 3000 graves. Now, only two tombstones have survived, taken care of by local residents."

Translated and paraphrased from:

Google will give you a rough translation:

Return to main Zloczew, Poland page

Translations and webpage are © Copyright 2009 by Felicia P. Zieff - President: Association of Descendants of the Shoah, Illinois, Inc. - 2009