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[Page 13]

Pages of History


From the “Geographical Dictionary
of the Kingdom of Poland”

second volume, Warsaw, 1881, Polish

Translated by Pamela Russ

Gostynin is a county in the province of Warsaw near the Skrwa River[1] on the west and Ostenja on the east, lying on the geographical latitude of 52°42'.8 and in the longitude of 37°11'.3, on the highway from Kutno to Plutsk, at a distance of 22 viorst [one viorst is slightly longer than a kilometer] from Kutno, 21 viorst from Gombyn, 24 viorst from Koval, 129 viorst from Warsaw; it possesses a brick parish Catholic church, a brick Evangelical church, a beginners school and an English school, a Justice of the Peace from the third district that belonged to the judges association in Wloclawek and which includes the city of Gombyn, the administration of the province, the city hall, the administration of the government forests, and a post–office.

In the year 1827, there were 98 houses in Gostynin and 1523 residents. In 1861 there were 37 brick houses and 138 wooden; 3311 residents, and the total – 1160 Evangelists and 785 Jews.

Now[2] there are 6174 residents in Gostynin (2889 men and 3285 women). The income of the city treasury is 9443 Russian ruble. The city reserve capital – 41985 Russian ruble, the steel capital – 9177 Russian ruble.

Among the factory operations are three tanneries and two small oil mills.

[Page 14]

The local population's business is wool–weaving that developed from the time in 1824 when 105 cloth experts settled here. They were brought over from Germany, and a wool press was set up for them, [as well as facilities for] shearing, and dyeing.

Gostynin is a real old settlement, and its beginnings are attributed to [being a] defense castle which likely originates from the pre–historic era. This castle as the central point of defense for the entire area, and gave its name to the whole Gostyniner country. This castle was frequently the residence of the Kujawy dukes and others. The castle itself was often the object of conflict: In the year 1286, Konrad from Mazovian forcefully seized it, and captured Woclaw the Czech in the year 1300. Ziemowit, the Mazovian duke, changed the status of the settlement near the castle by giving it municipal rights in the year 1382, receiving the so–called Khelm laws, and gave the city the same rights that Plock had. After the death of the Plocker dukes who did not leave behind any successors, Casimir the Jagielloner integrated Gostynin, in the year 1462, along with the whole country, into the kingdom, thereby establishing the municipal rights and liberties.

In the year 1552, King Sigmund August was the sovereign in Gostynin for the course of a few weeks. Kristof Szydlowiecki, the crown counsellor, rebuilt and reinforced the castle at the beginning of the 16th century, but already in the year 1564, the official examiners determined that in was in a bad condition. They built up the castle once again, when in the year 1611, it was established as a residence for Wasyl Szujski who was imprisoned there along with his family. Here Czar Wasyl died, and his brother Dimiter in the year 1612; also his wife [died there], and their bodies were the first to be buried behind the castle village.

[Page 15]

Gostynin was a city county in the Rawer province [voivodship]. Werdum, at the end of the 17th century, found the old castle here surrounded by swamps behind the city. This castle was destroyed during the 18th century; only the four–cornered tower survived thanks to the fact that the remaining walls had been rebuilt into an Evangelical church. In the year 1809, a terrible fire destroyed the entire city…

The government estates of Gostynin, according to the information of the year 1859, existed in the city of Gostynin and the surrounding areas: Bielany, Khoyenka, Nagadow, Ostrovin, Polesie, and Sokhor's sawmill.

The Gostynin county in the Warsaw governorate lies on the left shore of the Vistula River, which is its northeast border, and stretches for 45 viorst in length; the east borders the Sochaczewer and Lowiczer provinces, the south [borders] the Lowiczer and Kutner, and the west [borders] the Wloclaweker provinces.

The Gostyniner county was established, as a result of the last division of the kingdom in the year 1866, into about half of the former Gostynin county, and separated from the Wloclawek county, which today comprises the Duninower municipality…

The main communication artery for grain transportation is the Vistula … a second rate highway (government) that cuts through the county in the direction of Kutno through Gostynin to Plock. A similar highway runs from the city of Gombyn to the village of Sonyk, and from there it runs in one direction to the city Sochaczew and in the other direction to the city of Lowicz.

The Gostynin county is made up of two cities: Gombyn, and the county–city of Gostynin; of two settlements, formerly towns: Kernoz and Osmolyn, and 676 villages, estates, etc. The county is populated with 78,165 souls (37,336 men, 40,809 women) – Prawoslavs [Russian Orthodox] – 6,139; Catholics – 52,259; Evangelists – 13,646; Jews – 5,279; other religions – 842 …

Translator's footnotes

  1. In the Yiddish vernacular, Skwra was called Bug. Return
  2. In 1881, when the document was discovered. Return


[Page 16]

From the “Jewish Encyclopedia”
with the overall editing of Dr. L. Katzenelson and Baron,
D.G. Ginsburg, sixth volume, Peterburg (Russian)

Translated by Pamela Russ

In Polish times,[1] Gostynin was an administration point in the so–called country[2] which was a constituent of the Rawer voivodship [province].

According to the numbers of the year 1765, in Gostynin there resided 157 Jews, and 1791 was the total in the whole country.

Now – a county city in the Warsaw province. In the years 1823 until 1862, there existed a Jewish quarter in Gostynin. Only the privileged Jews – who fulfilled certain criteria – were permitted to live outside the designated streets (according to the model of Warsaw).[3]

In the year 1856, there were 2445 Christians and 634 Jews living in Gostynin. In 1897, the population was 6747, of which 1849 were Jews. In the whole Gostynin country there were over 80,000 souls, of which 5709 were Jews.

In each of the settlements in Gostynin with a population of no less than 500 souls, the Jews comprised the largest percentage. In Gombyn, the population was 5137, of which 2539 were Jews; in Kerniezhe the general public was 536, of which 222 were Jews; and in Sonek, there were 1409 souls, of which 216 were Jews.

Translator's footnotes

  1. Before the division of Polish kingdom. Return
  2. Gostyniner country. Return
  3. Among others, those Jews had to send their children to public schools, pay a high tax, and [the children had to] be dressed in shorts. Return

[Page 17]

From the “Judaistic Encyclopedia”
under the editing of Dr. Yakov Klatzkin and Prof. Dr. Y. Elbogen,
seventh volume, original Eshkol, Berlin (German)

Translated by Pamela Russ

A county city in Poland in the Warsaw voivodship [province]. In the year 1765, there were 157 Jews living in Gostynin. In 1856 – 634; in 1897 – 1849 Jews (general population 6747); and in the year 1921 – 1831 Jews (general population 6684).

In the year 1823 – 1862 existed in Gostynin, with separate quarters for the Jewish residents. The old synagogue burned down, and in the year 1899 it was rebuilt. The street where the synagogue stood, was formerly the Jewish street. A side street off this very street was called “Death Street” in colloquial speech, because the old cemetery was there.

From the “Book of Horrors”
with the editing by Binyomin Mintz and Dr. Yisroel Kloizner,
first volume, 5705, 1945 (Hebrew)[1]

Translated by Pamela Russ

On Shabbat Shuva[2] the Nazis captured Gostynin. They quickly gave out an order to the Polaks and to the Jews to assemble in the city plaza. After that, they ordered the Jews to move to one side of the plaza and the Polaks to the other side. Later, they ordered the Jews to lie on the ground. Every minute, they [the Jews] thought the shooting would bring their end, but suddenly they ordered the Jews to get up on their knees and recite the confession. Everyone had to give up everything they had in their pockets. About five in the evening, the Germans began beating them with their whips. The entire plaza was transformed, in one blink, into a bloody swamp. The screams reached …

[Page 18]

… the heavens. After a certain amount of time, they were let go and they were permitted to return to their houses. The following morning, the looting began. The Nazis ransacked all the seforim [religious books] from all the Jewish homes, and burned them. Some of the respected Jews in the city were beaten almost to death. There was no end to the mockery [of the Jews]. The Germans forced one Jew to ride on the back of another, to spit in the face of one another, and to beat one another.

On Yom Kippur, the Nazis assembled all the Gostyniner residents, Jews and Polaks, and herded them into the Christian church. This came as a punishment for the few “minyanim” [quorum of men for prayers] that they had discovered that day [Yom Kippur] that is holy for Jews. All of these people were locked into the church for three days without food or drink. They had to take care of their personal needs there, and that's how they desecrated the Christian holiness. After three days, when they were freed, they were forced to clean the floor of the church with their bare hands.

The Germans forced the Rav to collect the horses' feces from the streets of the city and put it into his shtreimel [fur–trimmed hat worn by chassidim]. They also shaved the Rav's beard and his hair was also put into the shtreimel.

They set fire to the synagogue, and they did not permit anyone to put out the fire in the house [synagogue] that burned along with the Torah scrolls. The Beis Medrash [Study Hall] was taken over by the Jews themselves who were forced in there by the Nazis who beat them with whips and butts of guns. The Beis Medrash was built of wood. The Jews were forced to hand over the wood from the destroyed Beis Medrash to the Germans who lived in the city. At great risk, the Jews saved the Torah scrolls and hid them in the ritual baths. The Germans commanded the Jews to break apart the baths and they were terrified that the Germans would discover the Torah scrolls. The Jews were saved by a miracle when they managed to remove the scrolls and the Nazis did not notice.

Translator's footnotes

  1. Protocol of a witness testimony in Tel Aviv, February 17, 1940. Return
  2. Year 1939, with the onset of World War II. Return

[Page 19]

From Bulletin of the Historical Institute
Number 13–14, Warsaw, 1955, in the detailed work of D. Dombrowska,
titled “The Destruction of the Jews in Warsaw” (Polish)

Translated by Pamela Russ

Under the German occupation, Gostynin belonged to Wartheland, to the district of Inowroclaw.

Before September 1, 1939, there were 2269 Jewish souls in Gostynin.

In December 1941, there were 2250 Jews living in Gostynin, of which 1650 were Gostynin residents and 650 were refugees from different cities.

Before April 1942, at the time when there was the evacuation of Jews who were then sent to Chelmno, there were 2000 Jews living in Gostynin.


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