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Izbica Kujawska chapter
from Pinkas Hakehillot Polin
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem
Published in Jerusalem
Our sincere appreciation to Yad Vashem for permission
This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland,
Volume I, pages 53-54, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of
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Translated by Leon Zamosc
|Sep 1 1939||(?)||~1,600|
An urban settlement founded in 1595 and granted city status in 1754. The first Jews settled in Izbica Kujawska in the 17th century. They engaged in trade and craft. Shoemakers and bakers stood out among artisans. In the 19th century, there were a number of small Jewish-owned factories for vinegar, textiles, and lace. Jewish merchants had economic ties with the ethnic German settlers in the area. In the 19th century, the community established a synagogue and a beit midrash in Izbica Kujawska. Over time, Hasidim formed miyan groups. There was also a yeshiva. In the period between the two world wars, Jewish economic activity did not change substantially compared with previous years. About 70% of all Jewish breadwinners were engaged in handicrafts. Jewish merchants in Izbica Kujawska established flour mills and grain warehouses. Craftsmen's guilds and an association for visiting the sick (Bikur Holim) were also formed.
Zionist parties and youth movements were active in the town, among them Betar and Hashomer Hatzair, which attracted many Jewish youngsters. Agudat Israel had considerable influence in the community's institutions.The rabbi of the community between the two world wars was Rabbi David Beer Cohen. After his death, the community chose his eldest son, Rabbi Moshe Baruch Cohen, for this position. He served as Izbica Kujawska 's rabbi for only two years - until the outbreak of the war. The yeshiva mentioned above was prestigious and young Jews from all over the area flocked to it. In 1938 there were plans to expand the yeshiva and build a boarding school, but they were not carried out because of the war. The Beit Yaakov school functioned during this period. Wealthy Jewish families sent their children to the Hebrew gymnasium in Wloclawek. The Jewish public library, which was established in 1917, expanded its work and had about 5,000 books in Yiddish, Polish, German and Hebrew. The library had a reading room that, among ther things, was used for the performances of the local drama circle. There were three sports clubs in Izbica Kujawska: Shimshon, Hakoach and Maccabi. The Maccabi club hosted an orchestra and offered art classes.
In mid-September 1939 the city was occupied by the Germans. On September 16th a group of community leaders were detained. The Germans abused them for a month before releasing them. At the initiative of the local ethnic Germans a Star of David was removed from the synagogue facade and the building was turned into a grain warehouse. The mikveh was demolished and its building was converted into a warehouse for iron and building materials. The Germans soon began confiscating Jewish property and evicting the Jews from their apartments.
A Judenrat was established in Izbica Kujawska. It was headed by Eliahu Itzvitski, chairman of the community board before the war. Other members were Abba Cohen, A. Bibrowski and Fogel - a Jewish refugee from Gdansk. The Judenrat had to supply a daily quota of men to perform forced labor for the Germans. It was also used by the Germans to requisition jewelry, gold, furs, rugs and other valuables.
At the beginning of 1940, Jews from the area were brought into the ghetto, including froups from Nowiny Brdowskie and Babiak. In the ghetto, overcrowding increased and typhus spread. The sick hid in basements for fear of being deported. In May 1940 all the men were ordered to report for a census and a large number of young men were taken to the Mogilno labor camp. In addition to the German police, local ethnic Germans also took part in the rounding of young people for deportation to the labor camps. On June 24, 2001, more young people were transferred to a labor camp in Inowroclaw. A few weeks later, a group of Jewish women were also sent to various labor camps.
On January 15, 1942, the liquidation of the ghetto began. The Judenrat warned the members of the community against the impending Aktion and many Jews dispersed to surrrounding villages. When the Germans learned that the Judenrat had alerted the ghetto residents, they murdered the members of the Judenrat in a nearby forest before the deportation began. Within two days, all the Jews of Izbica Kujawska, about 1,000 in number, were deported to extermination in the Chelmno camp.
When the war ended, some survivors and refugees who had fled to Russia returned to the town. The Jewish Committee in Wloclawek had a branch in Izbica Kujawska. Shortly afterwards, the Jews received threatening letters from Polish anti-semites stating that they should leave the place or their lives would be in danger. The threats had their intended effect: the survivors left Izbica Kujawska.
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