“Kleczew” - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Poland, Volume I

52°22' / 18°10'

Translation of “Kleczew” chapter
from Pinkas Hakehillot Polin

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem


Project Coordinator

Ada Holtzman z”l


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This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland,
Volume I, page 245, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem

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(Page 245)

(Kalisz District)

Translated by Ada Holtzman

1.9.1939(?)about 1,000

Kleczew was granted the status of a township in 1366. Until the middle of the 19th century it was an urban settlement of private ownership.

The beginning of the settlement in Kleczew is in the second half of the 18th century. Among the Jewish artisans registered in 1764 – 2 were waggoners. Owners of the place gave privilege for free Jewish settlement in Kleczew, but during the years 1823-1862 The Russian Authorities prohibited Jews from settling there because of its closeness to the border. However, the Jews knew how to overcome these restrictions and the Jewish population grew.

The Jewish merchants served as mediators in the grain crops trade between estate owners and villagers of the surrounding areas and urban centers, mainly Łódź. The Jews also were involved in export of grain crops, wool and agricultural products to foreign countries, mainly Prussia. Small traders and peddlers wandered in the villages of the region and made a living from selling craft works and buying agricultural products. Their economical activity centered on market days and fairs.

The institutions of the community founded close to the foundation of the Jewish settlement. Known are the following Rabbis in Kleczew: R' Nachman Amsterdam (1819), R' Yehoshua Falk and after him served as Rabbis: R' Abraham Tzvi son of R' Elazar Perlmuter (1879), R' Shlomo Auerbach (approximately 1892), R' Tzvi Kaufman (1924), R' Tzvi Hirsh Zabludower (1927).

Before World War I there were 2 synagogues in Kleczew and one Beth Midrash and they continued to exist also after 1918.

In the period between the two World Wars branches of the political movement Zionim Klaliim (General Zionists, “Al Hamishmar”), Hamizrachi and organizations of the League for Working Eretz Israel. Towards the Zionist Congresses around 60 Shekels were collected in Kleczew. Most of the votes were given to Hamizrachi (in 1937 – 48 votes). Among the public institutions which existed in Kleczew were: The Artisans Association, Bank, charity fund, Linat Tzedek Society. Also a library was active and beside it, evening lessons of Hebrew were given.

Kleczew was occupied by the Germans on September 15th, 1939. Within a short time the Jews were ordered to wear marks of disgrace (bands in white and blue over their arms) and massive confiscation of the Jewish property started. The Jews were also commanded to collect contribution (kontrybucja) of 20,000 zloty, and in order to secure the collection of it and within the time limit set, hostages were prisoners from among the distinguished personalities of the community. Until the end of 1939, two more contributions were forced on the Jewish community. Many Jews were taken out of their homes and instead of them police and army men and also Germans who arrived there from the territories annexed to the Soviet Union. A Judenrat was erected and Hersz Pelc was its chairman. Among the members of the Judenrat were also Jewish refugees who were not from Kleczew. The Jews were occupied in the forced labor, building bridges, paving roads and other works in the town itself. On 17-18 August 1940 the general deportation of the Jews of Kleczew took place. The Jews were expelled to Bełchatów, Bełchatów, Grodziec and Rzgów. After a few months groups of men among the deportees of Kleczew were transported to the forced labor camp in Inowrocław. The others were murdered in the forests near Kazimierz Biskupi.

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