“Blaszki” - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Poland, Volume I
(Błaszki, Poland)

51°40' / 18°27'

Translation of “Blaszki” chapter
from Pinkas Hakehillot Polin

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem


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Rolf Clausen

 

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This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland,
Volume I, pages 69-70, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem


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{Page 69)

Błaszki
(Kalisz District)

Translated by Amy Samin

 

Year Total
population
Jews
1764-5 (?) 247
1808 519 259
1827 1,636 871
1857 2,806 1,653
1897 3,995 2,320
1921 3,896 2,186
1.9.1939 (?) ~2,100

During the 14th century the village was owned by the Church. In 1729 Błaszki was granted the status of a city. In spite of the limits imposed from 1823 – 1862 on settlements close to the border, the Jewish population of Błaszki grew during this period. Their main source of income was trade in grain and seed, and the export of eggs. There were close to 56 wage earners in the city in 1764, among them: 9 merchants, 4 distillers, 9 tailors, 1 maker of tzitzit, 5 butchers, 3 barbers, 1 glazier, and 5 makers of ritual objects.

Until the middle of the 19th century the Jewish settlement in Błaszki was subordinate to the authority of the Kalisz community and its rabbis; after that time, it was independent. Among the rabbis who it is known served the community at that time were Rabbi Leib Vladislavski (1856) and Rabbi Yechiel Vladislavski, who served at the end of the 19th century (died in 1902). At the beginning of the 20th century there was a dispute between the Hasidim and Hovevei Zion (Lovers of Zion) as to who would be chosen as the next rabbi of the city. The latter offered as their candidate Rabbi Abba Neta Kofeffer, while the Hasidim wanted the rabbi from Chofkov. In the end, the rabbi from Chofkov was chosen, but he left the city after the fire of 1904. In 1907 Rabbi Yitzhak Kanel became the rabbi of Błaszki. At the start of the century there were two large synagogues in the city, as well as the shtiebels of the Ger, Aleksander and Sochatchov Hasidim. In 1916, a yeshiva was established in Błaszki.

In 1913 a government-run elementary school for Jewish children was established. Before World War I a sports organization called Turn Verein was established.

During the German occupation in 1916 the authorities closed all of the public Jewish institutions, including the synagogues, on the pretext of preventing epidemics. As a result of the impoverishment of the Jews during the war, a public kitchen was established in 1915 that provided hot meals to the poor of the city. After the cancellation of the prohibition against public activity by the German authorities

{Page 70)

in 1917, Zionist clubs were organized. In 1918 a branch of Mizrahi was established.

In the period between the wars, the Jews continued with their accustomed activities such as the grain trade, and the purchase of agricultural products from the neighboring villages for resale to urban centers. In the area of crafts, the manufacturing of men's clothing was of note. Fifteen percent of Jewish wage earners were tailors. The hat makers sent their merchandise to Poznań. Among the Jews of Błaszki there were: metal workers, watchmakers, carters and porters. Jewish owners of carts and carriages would convey people to the train station 3.5 kilometers away and transport cargo on inter-city roads. There were two Jewish banks in the city, the cooperative bank and the people's bank, which aided in the establishment of the Jewish economy in the city.

The most notable among the Zionist political parties were the General Zionists. There were approximately 200 young people in Hashomer Hazair, 100 in Beitar, and in Hechalutz 150. The Bund was influential within the professional associations. In the community organizations, Agudat Yisrael was the central force. During the period between the wars, Rabbi Yoel Fuchs served for a number of years as the rabbi of Błaszki. He was an active member of Mizrahi in Poland, which generated much tension between him and the community leaders.

In 1919 the Yavne School was founded. There was also a school for girls called Beit Yaacov. Courses were also organized for adults to study the Hebrew language. The Turn Verein sports association continued to develop activities in its field and had a membership of about 200 young Jews. A dramatics class run by Feibel Yedwab drew in youthful proponents of the arts. Cultural projects were implemented by the professional associations.

In the 1930s, the economic position of the Jewish merchants of Błaszki was undermined by the establishment of an anti-Semitic organization called Rozvei, which opened a chain of stores in the area to compete with Jewish-owned shops. In 1934, the local anti-Semites rioted against the Jews. The Poles attacked people on their way to the synagogue and beat them. Similar incidents happened in 1936. Merchants from Błaszki who traveled to the villages in the area for business purposes were injured and their property was stolen.

With the arrival of the Germans in September of 1939, ten hostages were taken from among the community's elders, and were executed in the Christian cemetery. Then began the theft of Jewish property, and an edict regarding forced labor was imposed. In December of 1939 the Jews of Błaszki were expelled and sent to several different cities in the General Government. There is information showing that the Jews of the place were exiled to Konstantynów in the Lublin area, to Łosice, to Sarnaki, and to Sokołów Podlaski. During the expulsion, a number of Jews escaped and made their way to Łódź and to Warsaw. A few Jews crossed the border into the Soviet area of eastern Poland.

After the war, one of Błaszki's Jews returned to the city and was murdered by Polish anti-Semites there.


Sources

Aiyosh: M-1/Q 1109/20; 03/3522/
Achli: HM 3533; HM 7526; HM 7566; HM 8066; HM 8166.
Etzem: S.5-1707; S.5-1796.
Y.D. Beit HaLevi, A History of the Jews of Kalisz, Tel Aviv, 1961, pages 83, 94, 126, 162, 192, 213, 412, 417; Book of Kalisz, Volume 2, Tel Aviv, 1967, pages 329 – 335.
Lodzher Folksblat 5.7.1915.
HaTzfirah 19.11.1885; 15.7.1895; 24.12.1902; 19.8.1904; 21.2.1916; 19.5.1916; 5.4.1917; 13.12.1917; 7.3.1918; 6.6.1918; 4.6.1920.
Kalisher Vach 3.2.1931; 23.10.1931; 30.10.1931.
Kalisher Laban 8.6.1933; 12.2.1934; 3.1.1936.


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