"Koniecpol (Sadeh Hadash)"
Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities in Poland, Volume I
(Poland)

50°47' / 19°41'

Translation of "Koniecpol (Sadeh Hadash)" chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem


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Acknowledgments

Project Coordinator

Morris Wirth

Our sincere appreciation to Yad Vashem for permission
to put this material on the JewishGen web site.

Our appreciation to Sandy Zimmerman, who allowed us to publish
the translations which were done by Shalom Bronstein for her private use.

This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland,
Volume I, pages 233-235, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem


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(page 233)

Koniecpol (Sadeh Hadash)[1]
(Radomsko District)

Translated by Shalom Bronstein

Population Figures

 

YearTotal PopulationJews
1764(?)394
18081,857445
18271,469444
18571,755726
18971,514656
19212,3771,077
September 1, 1939(?)1,100 approx.

 

Table of Contents

I.The Jewish Community Until 1918
II.Between The Two World Wars
III.The Holocaust
IV.Endnotes
V.Sources

The Jewish Community Until 1918

Koniecpol began as a village, the property of a nobleman, and was granted city status in 1443. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the status of the city declined in spite of the attempts to develop industry. In the middle of the 19th century, factories for forged steel and rolled copper were established. Koniecpol lost the status of a city in the 1860s and only regained that standing in 1927. There were never any restrictions to Jewish settlement in Koniecpol. Among the Jewish population in the city in the 17th century were prominent merchants who participated in the Leipzig Fair in 1675 along with Jews from other Polish cities. In 1764, the Jews numbered 110 families living in 70 houses, of which 69 were their private property. Among the Jewish breadwinners were 3 tailors, 2 silversmiths, a glazier, a bookbinder, 4 butchers, a barber, 2 musicians (klezmorim), 2 clowns (entertainers), a teacher, 2 rabbis, a cantor and a shamash (sexton).

At this time, Koniecpol was an independent community. Including the small settlements in the area subject to her, there were 733 persons paying the community tax. It had a synagogue, a poorhouse, a cemetery with a preparation building and a building for the community council.

The first known rabbi was R. Avigdor Margoliot (died in 1741), who served until 1724. Afterwards he served in Checiny. At a later time, R. [2] Solomon, son of Benjamin Wolf (died in 1761) served as rabbi until becoming rabbi of Pinczow. For some time, R. Solomon Wolf was the scribe of the Council of the Four Lands. He was the author of Vayakhel Shlomo [Solomon Gathered] on the five books of the Torah (Livorno, 1785) and a book of sermonic material Beit Shlomo [House of Solomon], Jerusalem 1926. In the second half of the 18th century, serving as rabbi were R. Moses, son of Zvi Hirsch (one of the disciples of the Besht {Ba'al Shem Tov} ?), R. Arieh Leibush, son of R. Eliezer Hakohen, the son-in-law of R. Solomon, son of Benjamin Wolf. In the beginning of the 19th century, R. Isaac Lisak occupied the position and in the middle of the century, it was R. Abraham David (registered for the years 1852-1853). In the 70s and 80s, the rabbi of Koniecpol was R. Reuben Judah Leib (registered for the years 1877-1878). For some years, serving as rabbi was R. David Dov Ber Taub, who from 1880 served in Dobzhin [Dobrzyn]. He was the author of Binyan David [The House of David]. In the beginning of the 20th century, the rabbi of Koniecpol was R. Eliezer.

Between the Two World Wars

During this time, the lot of the Jews of Koniecpol improved somewhat. The number of well-to-do Jews was relatively high. Numbered among them were those who leased the rolled copper factory, those who leased or owned the flourmills and sawmills in Koniecpol itself, the surrounding area, and the lumber and textile merchants who carried on trade with the large cities. The middle and poorer classes made their livings in the traditional Jewish occupations: artisans – tailors and shoemakers who sold their wares in the market and at fairs, and a large number of small merchants who ran shops. Regarding Jewish workers in the rolled copper factory, opinions contradict. One version is that Jews made up the majority of the workers. The other holds that the factory employed only Poles among the 40 or so workers and that only a few Jews were employed as clerks. When a Zionist Kibbutz preparation farm was opened, some of its members found work in that factory.

Among the social-economic institutions, mention should be made of the Commercial Bank – a branch of the bank in Czestochowa, the Organization of Jewish Professional Tailors and the free loan fund they maintained. Some 20% of the Jews depended on assistance. The owners and leaseholders of the firms mentioned above liberally aided those in need. In the area of health services, the TOZ[3] and its clinics are noted. Koniecpol had only one Jewish physician.

Between the wars, the old cemetery was enlarged. The community had a large old synagogue built of stone, with a copper roof. Next door to it was a Beit Midrash. Koniecpol had many Shtiblach – including those of the Gerer, Radomsk and Alexander Hasidim. Serving as rabbis at this time were R. Hayim Asher Bornstein, R. David Kleinplatz, and after his death (1936 or 1937), his son, R. A. Kleinplatz. This order of rabbis serving the community is not definite. It is known that R. Hayim Asher Bornstein perished during World War II.

In the political life of Koniecpol, the Zionists were dominant. In 1924, the General Zionist Organization (Al-Hamishmar group) was founded. It had its own clubhouse and drama group and between 1928 and 1929 its own pioneer settler preparation group. From 1928, the Zionist Youth (Hanoar Hatzioni) was active with between 70 and 80 members and a library named [in honor of] Bialik. Close to 1928-1929, Betar was founded and it, too, had its own clubhouse. Poalei Zion did not have many followers in town and they did not set up a branch. Koniecpol also had a Brit Hayal [Soldier's Covenant]. In anticipation of the Zionist Congress elections, the following number of Shekalim were sold in Koniecpol: 1921 – 108; 1929 – 23; 1931 – 17; 1933 – 36; 1937 – 74 or 75 and in 1939 – about 110. In the elections, the General Zionists (Al Hamishmar) received most of the votes; in 1933, 24; in 1937, 54 votes and in 1939, 80 votes. In second place was the League for Working Eretz Yisrael; in 1933, 5 votes; in 1937, 20 votes and in 1939, 28 votes.

Men from various professional groups formed the leadership of the community, but the dominant influence was that of the General Zionists. They were followed [in influence] by Agudath Israel of the Radomsk Hasidim and the Organization of Professional Artisans. The chairman of the community was a Radomsk Hasid who was supported by the General Zionists because of his favorable disposition to Zionism. In the town council of Koniecpol, there were 3 Jews among the 11 members: 2 Zionists and 1 from Agudath Israel. In the two elected councils closest to World War II, a Jew served as deputy mayor.

The only Jewish schools in Koniecpol were the Hadarim. There was also a Yeshiva of the Gerer Hasidim. The only cultural institutions in Koniecpol were those connected with political movements.

Anti-Semitism affected Koniecpol's Jews in 1922: the owners of the estates organized to boycott the Jewish leaseholders and attempted to remove them from that aspect of economic activity. The growth of anti-Semitism increased in the 1930s, as in the rest of Poland's cities. In 1937, on one of the market days, a farmer provoked a Jewish youngster and a fight ensued. The Jew gained the upper hand. When that word was out, the anti-Semites inflamed the crowd against the Jews and they planned a pogrom against them for the market day of the following week. However, the Jewish youth of Koniecpol thwarted their plan: they appeared on the streets with any weapon they could acquire. Their adversaries had to abandon their plan to attack the Jews.

The Holocaust

When World War II broke out, confusion reigned among the area's Jews. They fled to the country and then returned to flee again. The majority of those who fled finally returned to the city after the Germans entered. Among the first activities of the occupation authorities was the attempt to instill fear among the Jews. They were all expelled from their houses to the outskirts of the city. In this operation, Alter Shlomo Stashevsky, the leader of the Alexander Hasidim who was wealthy and greatly respected, was shot along with his wife. Those expelled were permitted to return to their homes. Beginning from the first days of the occupation, the Germans drafted Jewish men for forced hard labor such as shattering rocks and gravel for roads. This type of work was especially forced on the wealthiest and most respected Jews in the town. As time went on, the Germans sought to insure regular daily forced labor crews for the city and the area. The most difficult of all assignments was at the railroad station outside the city: the German railroad workers and police cruelly abused the Jewish workers. After a while, the Germans began sending Jewish youth to forced labor camps. Three times between September 1939 and January 1940, the Jews were assessed large fines and the rabbi of Koniecpol along with several of the wealthy respected Jews was held as hostages to assure payment.

Koniecpol's Jewish residents were assaulted several times by raids on their homes by local German police as well as occasional 'visits' by the Radomsko police, who would raid the town to attack and abuse the Jews by beatings, cutting beards, shooting their guns to terrorize the residents and other similar deeds. At the time of “The Fur Campaign,” Hayim Neufeld, among the distinguished citizens of Koniecpol, was shot after he was reported to the police and a fur was found in his house. Witnesses report on another killing in Koniecpol that claimed a young man and his entire family. The youth was shot outside the town for some 'violation.' His mother, sister and brothers had the audacity to have him buried in a Jewish ceremony. For this 'violation,' the Germans took them outside the town and shot them.

A Ghetto was not set up in the city. Many Jews did not wear the required identifying band in defiance of the order. Until the end of 1941, Jews had free access to all parts of the city. Carrying on trade with the Christian population was easy. With the remainder of their possessions, Jews bought foodstuffs, at reasonable prices, and therefore did not experience hunger. Many Jews who 'could pass' [because of their looks] used false documents and went on long forays to the areas of the Generalgouvernement, and did well by smuggling. The refugees and the displaced persons whose number was quite large were in difficult straits in Koniecpol, as in all other places. In May 1941, there were 518 refugees, the majority expelled from Plotsk [Plock], among the 1,182 Jewish residents of Koniecpol.

On orders from the government a Judenrat was set up in Koniecpol with Kornberg appointed as its head. The Judenrat followed the orders of the Germans. Its most important tasks were collecting punitive fines and providing workers for forced labor. Witnesses testify that it did no harm to the Jews. The situation began to deteriorate in the end of 1941 and in the beginning of 1942. As in all of the area of the Generalgouvernement, Koniecpol's Jews were forbidden to leave the town without an official permit and those caught violating the order were killed. In the summer of 1942, rumors spread to Koniecpol of expulsions and mass murders of Jews in the entire area. However, many people in Koniecpol did not believe this information, or they believed that a segment of the Jews whose work 'helped' the Germans would be permitted to stay in their places. As a result, everyone sought with great energy to secure a job in the copper factory or some other place, for example, the surrounding farms, or to obtain fictitious working papers.

In September 1942, the Germans liquidated the small Jewish communities in the surrounding villages of the Radomsko District (Psherov [Przyrow], Olsztyn, Zloti Potok [Zloty Potok], Cieletniki, Lelov [Lelow], Janov [Janow]) and transported all their Jews to Koniecpol.

On October 6, 1942, German and Ukrainian guards surrounded the town. Some Jewish families who managed on payment of large bribes to get work on the surrounding estates were also returned to the town. On the command of the German authorities, the son of the head of the Judenrat went to all the Jewish houses and informed the residents that they were to gather at 6:00 AM at the city marketplace. On that day the remnants of the Jews of the area were brought to the Koniecpol train station. There were fatalities in this Aktzia . For example, 25 Jews remained in the village of Koniecpol-Maly. The Germans did not feel like marching them to the train station, a distance of 4 kilometers and they murdered them in the village. In the evening, the Germans shot a resident of Koniecpol, Zezak, for attempting to make contact with those expelled who were at the train station or perhaps for attempting to escape the surrounded city. The next morning all 1,600 Koniecpol Jews who gathered in the city square were brought to the train station where they were put on trains and sent to Treblinka. This train also carried a transport of Jews from Czestochowa. At the time of the Aktzia , many Jews managed to escape to the surrounding areas or to Polish acquaintances. With the help of these Poles, some of them spent the war, some of whom were aided by Aryan documents.

Of all the Jews of Koniecpol at the outbreak of World War II, 10 survived. Four of them returned to Koniecpol. They found the cemetery destroyed but the Jewish community buildings were in tact. Polish anti-Semites murdered one of these Jews, David Grushka, on the day of the Kielce Pogrom, July 4, 1946. He was shot in a train, or perhaps was thrown while still alive from one of the windows of the moving train in the area of Radomsko. The remaining three Jews quickly left Koniecpol.

Endnotes

  1. In Hebrew Koniecpol was known as “Sadeh Hadash “ (new field). Return

  2. Many times, the Hebrew letter Resh, 'R' appears before a man's name. While it may mean rabbi, it is most often equivalent to the English 'Mr.' and would be pronounced 'Reb' and not Rabbi. Return

  3. TOZ --- The Polish initials for “Towarzystwo Ochrony Zdrowia” [Ludnosci Zydowskej]. It was a Jewish Health and Welfare Organization active in Poland between the two World Wars. Return

Sources

Central Zionist Archives – S.5 - 1706, 1714, 1773, 1774, 1801; Z.4 – 226/36, 231/46 ABC
Czestochowa Memorial Book, Jerusalem 1968, Volume II, pages 529-532.
Yad Vashem Archives – 03/2155, 03/2838, 03/2839; M-1/Q 282/285; E/87-2
“Trybuna Narodowa” – September 7, 1934.

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