Translated by Allen Flusberg
Until the end of the 13th century, Dobrzyn on the Dreventz River, in the province of Plock, was a suburb of the city of Golub, which was located on the other side of the river, and served as a border-town between Prussia and the Kingdom of Poland.
Only in the year 1684 did the owner of the estate, Zygmunt of Działyń (who was also the lord of the church of Działyń, the governor of the province of Kalisz, and even the mayor of Inowroclaw), grant the citizens of Dobrzyn the right to choose their own independent mayor, who would serve also as a judge. Alongside him were two of the elders of the town, who together with him made up a court of law. With this he [Zygmunt] provided the residents with several additional rights: the right of residency; the right to build houses, to acquire land, to work the soil, and to plant orchards.
This is the first document that indicates the granting of partial independence to Dobrzyna document that was ratified again by his [Zygmunt's] son, Jakob Działyński, in the year 1721. Only in the year 1789, after Golub was annexed to Prussia (following the partition of Poland), did Ignacy of Działyń, governor of a province of the kingdom of Poland, grant independence to Dobrzyn, bestowing on it the status of a city, with a mayor at its head.
The town, whose buildings were wooden, burned down completely in 1857, after which it was rebuilt with buildings constructed of brick.
The roots of the Jewish community in Dobrzyn are ancient. This community suffered great hardship during the period of the wars between Sweden and Poland. Only a small number of Dobrzyn's Jews were left alive after the cruel riot by the forces of Czarniecki (1656). But despite all this the community continued to exist, and already in the year 1765 the number of Jews within the synagogue reached 765, while the total number of Jews in that year within the bounds of Dobrzyn was 1,082.
The nobility (szlachta) of the city often plotted against the rights of the Jews by legislating anti-Semitic laws in the sejms. The Church also restricted their movement. Thus, for example, by decision of a high clerical council, all the Jews were concentrated in a special area (1783).
In the year 1857 the town had a population of 2,452, of which 702 were Poles, 140 were German, and 1,610 were Jews. The Jews dealt mostly in crafts and petty trade; a small number of them were employed in agriculture.
At that time the town had a church, a cemetery for each of the communities, a synagogue, a city hall, an elementary school, a customs house, and a post office.
Twice a week there was a market day, and there were fairs six times a year.
Golub on the Dreventz River was in the province of Chelmno. In earlier times it was also called Golba. It extends along the foot of a mountain on whose peak the nobleman Konrad Sach (or Schach), a Crusader, built a magnificent castle in the year 1300.
Prince Dobrzyn, an estate owner, granted the Crusader order 50 fiefs of land in the vicinity of the castle. In the year 1410, after the defeat of the Crusaders in Grünwald, Dobieslaw Puchala established an order of the infantry knights there and conquered the fortress. In the year 1422 Wladyslaw Jagiello took the fortress during a storm, captured the entire region and ordered that the towers should be destroyed. After a peace treaty was signed in the district city of Torun (the birthplace of Copernicus), Golub became a demilitarized city.
In 1605 Zygmunt III transferred authority over the city to his sister Anna, who settled here and even established an orchard of fruit trees near the fortress. She cultivated this orchard exquisitely. (The remains of this orchard, consisting of fruit-bearing trees, were visible until the 1930s.)
The residents were employed mostly in trade of grain and wood. There were two churches in the city, one Catholic and one Protestant. Likewise there were the following: a synagogue, city hall, post office, telegraph station, courthouse, customs office, salt warehouse, and two schoolsone for the Catholics and one for the Protestants.
In the distant past all the land was the property of the Church. Two heads of the ChurchSimon Gallikus and Loczek of Stolnohanded them over to land tenants to farm. The resident land tenants were forced to pay tribute to the crusaders, as well, and some of them even served as soldiers in the Order of the Knights.
In 1655 the Swedes conquered the city and the fortress. In 1772 Golub was joined to Prussia. In 1781 they began the construction of a Lutheran church there.
In the middle of the 19th century the population was 4,000, of whom about 1,400 were Jews. The first Jews who arrived in this region came after the division of Poland, when the region was annexed to Prussia. They were employed mostly in commerce: textiles, grain, wool and furs.
The Jewish community was organized and well-established. The transfer of the entire region to Poland (after World War I) strengthened ties with the nearby Dobrzyn community.
Translated by Allen Flusberg
by the Editor
Translated by Allen Flusberg
About three decades have passed since the terrible Holocaust that utterly devoured the House of Israel. As the Nazi warriors swept across the countries of Europe, they consumed the Jewish communities in the towns and cities, murdering women and children, the young and the old, with a furious hatred; and torturing those left alive with hair-raising torment…
And the enlightened world stood by, washing its hands in innocence, without coming to the rescue of these blameless millions, whose only crime was the fact that they were Jewsmembers of an ancient people that, to its misfortune, had been forced to live among other nations.
During the Holocaust it became clear to us, more than ever, that there was no one the Jews could pin their hopes on but themselves. It was then, in the face of a hostile world, that the expression all Jews are responsible for one another became profoundly meaningful. The expression was articulated most unequivocally in the establishment of the State of Israel and in the displays of devotion and volunteerism by the Jewish people throughout all of their Diaspora.
For a generation we have lived in the shadow of this terrible Destruction, while our brethren, the remnant of survivors of the Holocaust, have dwelled with us and among us, bearing within them the memory of its terror. The pain and agony of that time have not faded away; on the contrary, they have continued to grow deeper.
The significance of what was lost in the Holocaust has become more apparent with the passing years, as our admiration for all that once was and is now gone has been rekindled and has intensifiedour esteem for all those communities, poor perhaps in substance but rich in spirit; our reverence for the troops of learned sages who created the idealized image of the [religious] prodigy; and our admiration for the myriads of ordinary folk who displayed devotion to one another and faith in the Destiny of Israel.
The community of Dobryzn-Golub was only one of many, a Jewish community that had spun a rich web of Jewish life as it struggled for subsistence and livelihood while it was maintaining a spirit of transcendence and vision. Among the many memories of this town that survive are some that are heartrending, and yet others that are heartwarming.
Possibly the generation that did not know this communitythe children of those who originated from Dobrzyn-Golubwill read this Memorial Book and from it become aware of their parents' roots, lives and dreams. And perhaps this perception will enrich their lives, as well, with deeper meaning.
|El Malei Rachamim: God, full of compassion, Who dwells above, provide complete rest under the protection of the Divine Presence, within the celestial heights reached by the holy martyrs and pure onesshining as bright as the firmamentto the souls of the thousands of members of the martyred communities of Dobrzyn-Golubmen, women and childrenwho were murdered, slaughtered, incinerated, suffocated, or buried alive by the evil ones, Hitler's executioners and their lackeysmay their names be blotted outduring the years 1939 to 1944. May they find rest in Paradise; may the Compassionate One therefore bind their souls in Eternal Life; and may the Lord be their legacy. And may they rest peacefully in their resting place, and let us say Amen!|
the community of Dobrzyn-Golub
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