Kutno, Poland Yizkor Book

Project Name: Kutno, Poland Yizkor Book

Project Leader:
Jewish Kutno Group

JewishGen Yizkor Book Project Manager: Lance Ackerfeld

Project Synopsis

This project is being initiated in order to fund the translation of the complete Yizkor Book Kutno and Surroundings: Łęcyca, Krośniewice, Dąbrowice (edited by David Stockfish, Organization of Former Residents of Kutno in Israel and Outside, Tel Aviv, May 1968, 600 pages, written in Yiddish and Hebrew). The Yizkor Book describes Jewish life in a middle-size town (25.000 inhabitants, 7000 of them Jewish, before World War II) in central Poland during the 19th and 20th century. It contains over 200 articles in Yiddish and Hebrew about religious, cultural and political life, the two World Wars and the contribution of Kutners to the founding of the state of Israel. Kutno is located near the geographical center of Poland, 50km north of Lodz, and 100km west of Warsaw. The first document mentioning Jews in Kutno dates back to 1513. On the beginning of the 19th century, there were 1000 Jews in Kutno, representing 70% of the total population. At the end of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th , the Jewish community declined due to emigration (Europe, Americas and Israel) and the attraction of the nearby industrial city of Lodz. Kutno never developed as an industrial city but was an important railway junction, and a centre for learning Torah. It was also the birth town of a famous Yiddish writer, Sholem Asz. 50 Jews returned to Kutno after World War II, but left a few years later to Israel and USA.

Key Audiences

Jewish genealogists seeking to trace their roots in Kutno, one hundred of which are members of the Jewish Kutno Group , constitute the primary audience for the material. However, the material has the potential to be of broader appeal to scholars interested in the region or specializing in Jewish history and society

Project Importance

Yizkor books are unique sources of information on once vibrant towns, primarily in central and Eastern Europe, whose Jewish populations were destroyed in the Holocaust. Written after World War II by émigrés and Holocaust survivors, Yizkor books contain narratives of the history of the town, details of daily life, religious and political figures and movements, religious and secular education, and gripping stories of the major intellectual and Zionist movements of the 20th century. The necrologies and lists of residents are of tremendous genealogical value, as often the names of individuals who were taken to extermination camps or shot in the forests are not recorded elsewhere. Usually written in Hebrew or Yiddish, these important books are not accessible to most users, who cannot read these languages. Thus, the translation of these books into English unlocks this information to many more researchers all over the world. The JewishGen Yizkor Book Project received the award in 2002 for outstanding contribution to Jewish genealogy by the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies.

Until 2008, there was little information available to the English speaking world regarding Kutno Jewish community. Present information covers only the years 1808-1910, with little data on the years 1910-1945. This Yizkor Book is thus the only information about what happened between World Wars and during World War II to Jews from Kutno and surrounding towns. This project will result in the creation of the primary English language source of information for anyone doing research on the town and its Jewish community during World War II.

Project Description

This project is intended to result in the translation into English, of all the Yiddish pages of the Kutno Yizkor Book, about 400 pages. The 200 Hebrew pages will be translated using the Jewish Kutno Group resources. The resulting translation will be posted on the JewishGen Yizkor Book Translations site, along with a transliteration of the martyrs and necrology lists (already done). At present, the Table of Contents has been translated as well as seven articles. To complete the translation, JewishGen will hire a professional translator. The Project Coordinators will select the order in which to translate the chapters and will work closely with the translator to ensure a grammatically correct and idiomatic translation. Specific tasks the Project Coordinators will perform include proofreading, editing, and preparing the work for submission to the Yizkor Book Project.

Estimated Cost: $5,000-$8,000


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Updated 3 Feb 2010 by LA