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Translation of Osięciny chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin
Translation of Osięciny chapter from
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem, 1989
Published in Jerusalem, 1989
Our sincere appreciation to Yad Vashem for permission
This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot Polin:
Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland, Volume IV, pages 140-141,
published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 1989
JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of
the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material
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We do not have details about the beginning of the rural settlement Osięciny. Even before the partition of Poland there was a village in Osięciny owned by local nobility. Since the year of 1815 until WWI, Osięciny was in the territory of Congress Poland. In the year of 1823 Osięciny was granted privileges of a city. Market days and annual fares were held in Osięciny.
We do not have exact details about the beginning of the Jewish settlement in Osięciny. We assume that its beginning was in the second half of the 18th century. Then, a few Jewish families lived there. Organized Jewish settlement occurred in the beginning of the 19th century. In the 20s of that century, Jewish lodging was confined to two streets only and there the Jews were allowed to purchase property. One of the streets even had the name Ulica Zydowska (the street of the Jews). In that street a Beth Midrash made of wood was erected (later its walls were changed to stone). Due to the closeness to the Prussia border, starting from 1822 new Jewish settlement was forbidden in Osięciny.
The first Jewish settlers dealt in small commerce and peddling. Few of them lived on artisanship and had traditional occupations, such as tailors, hat makers etc. After the abolishment of the lodging restrictions in 1862, the Jewish population in Osięciny grew in number and the Jews were allowed to settle in any parts of the town. Around that year, the municipality gave the Jewish community an area near the cemetery, where a synagogue made of bricks was erected. Traditional societies were active in the community life, such was Hevra Kadish (burial society) and Hachnasat Orchim (hospice for the poor), founded in 1906.
Also in the period between the two World Wars the Jews of Osięciny made a living mainly from small trade and artisanship. In addition to the Community Committee, there were other welfare institutions for mutual aid which helped the poor and needy. In 1933 the society Bikur Holim (visit the sick) was founded and it helped the poor sick people and purchased medicines for them. The end of the 20s saw the establishment of Kupat Gmilut Hassadim (Charity Fund) and it too helped the needy with credit on easy terms. It had about 70 members. In the year of 1936, the capital fund of this society was 6,000 zloty and at that year it gave 200 loans to the community members.
During the inter-war period, branches of almost all the Jewish parties in Poland were active in Osięciny. Amongst the Zionists the strongest faction was that of the General Zionists and Hamizrachi. In 1923 branch of Beitar was established. Also branch of Agudath Israel who was based mostly on the Gerer Hasidim, Aleksandrów, Stryków and Sochaczew Hasidim.
Among the rabbis who served the community we mention R' Benjamin Eliahu Kantor who held the service from 1885 and then moved to Sokolów Podlaski. For some years held the position the (ABD) Head of Court R' Szlomo Zalman Najman (died in 1921). More information was recorded on his son, R' Abraham Noach Najman, the last Rabbi of Osięciny. R' Najman was born in 1877 and perished at Chełmno in 1942. In the years of his service there was a small Yeshiva by the Beth Midrash where pupils of the shtetl studied. One of the pupils was R' Perlmuter, who served for few years as the local Rabbi in Osięciny and then moved to Warsaw.
The leaders of Agudath Israel controlled the administration of the community. The head of the local branch was R' Abraham Noach Najman, the community's rabbi. The last chairman of the community's committee was Wolf Ber Wojdeslawski from Agudath Israel. Between the two World Wars the Jewish pupils in Osięciny continued to study in the local heders and the local Talmud Torah. In addition, the children studied in Polish state schools. In the 1930s, a library of Beitar was established.
The Anti-Semite propaganda in the 1930s influenced the polish population in Osięciny. There were many attacks on Jews passing by and the Jews suffered from the boycott of Jewish trade and workshops.
Units of the German army marched into Osięciny in October 1939. Soon after the occupation the Germans started in confiscating merchandise from the Jews. They imprisoned 20 citizens of the town (10 Jews and 10 Poles( and held them as hostages until all their demand of confiscating property and merchandise were met.
When the region was annexed to the Reich in October 1939, persecutions of the town Jews worsened. In the autumn of 1939 a Judenrat was erected by the Germans' command. The main aim of the Judenrat was to supply the Germans with quota of Jews, age 15-60 for forced labor in the field, the forest and in building shacks. The Jews were ordered to wear yellow band. Particularly they abused Jews wearing beard. A few Jews were murdered.
In November 1939 the Germans forced the rabbi of the community, Abraham Noach Najman to take out Holy Scrolls of the Torah out the synagogue and burn them. He was murderously bitten up while refusing this command.
In the year of 1940, a ghetto was established and the Jews were forced to move into it. At the same time, some tens of young Jews were transported from Osięciny to forced labor camps in the region (Bielsk, Moglina and other places within the Reich).
In January 1942 the Jews were assembled in a big hall. They were forced to bring all the valuables they owned. At the same time, other Germans looted their houses. Some of the Jews learned about the German intentions to liquidate the ghetto and they escaped town. Unfortunately most of them were caught by the Germans and shot to death.
On April 15th 1942, the final liquidation of the ghetto of Osięciny occurred. The remainder of the Jewish population was assembled in the local church and from there was deported in truck to the extermination camp Chełmno. From the Jewish population of Osięciny only 15 survived the war: 12 survived the concentration camps and 3 escaped in the beginning of the war to the Soviet Union.
The Central Zionist Archive in Jerusalem Z-4/3569/IV
Rafael Olewski, The Tear, Osięciny Kujawski's Chapters of Memory, Tel Aviv 1983
Wloclawker Wochenblat 23/4/1937, 9/5/1937, 18.6.1937, 27.8.1937,
Welt Journal 28, June-July 1964
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