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Translation of Lipno chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin
Translation of Lipno chapter from
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem
Published in Jerusalem
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This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot Polin:
Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland, Volume IV, pages 262 - 263, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
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The earliest records of Lipno are from the 14th century. In 1349, Prince Vladislav of Mazovia granted Lipno the title of city. Lipno was located along the road connecting Plock to Torun and served as a commercial outpost connecting the two cities. Lipno was also a hub of craftsmanship, particularly shoemaking, which enjoyed growing popularity in the city. Towards the end of the 18th century and during the 19th, various small industries were established, such as a brewery, textile concerns, leatherworks, soap and oil factory and a vinegar factory. When Poland was divided 1793, control of Lipno was handed over to Prussia, and from the year 1815 up until W.W.I it was within the realm of the Polish congress. In 1915, during W.W.I, Lipno was occupied by German forces, who maintained their hold of the city until their retreat in 1918.
There is evidence of Jewish presence in Lipno in as early as the 18th century. The beginning of the 19th century saw the rise of an organized Jewish community; it was then that a synagogue was built and the Jews were allotted land for a cemetery. A decree dated May 25th, 1824 limited Jewish residence to a specific quarter of the city (a "Hervir").
Prior to 1913, the majority of Jews made their living on minor trade and craftsmanship. A few Jews made their living fishing. The Jewish bakeries and kitchen houses were owned and staffed by Jews. During the second half of the 19th century, the Jews of Lipno erected a second synagogue, called "Ha'gadol" (The Great), and several "Shtiblach" (Cheders) of Chasidim. The new synagogue could accommodate several hundred worshippers. Several traditional Jewish charities operated in town, such as "Chevra Kadisha," (burial services), a religious hospitality charity, and a charity that provided firewood for the poor in wintertime. A patient-visitation society was established in 1889 and in 1903 a "Gemilut Chasadim" charity was established. The latter raised 2,920 rubbles for the poor in its first year of operation. Among the first Lipno Rabbis known to us is Rabbi Michael Berlin, who served the town throughout the mid-19th century. In 1877, Rabbi Yehuda Lajb Schwartzberg was appointed as the municipal rabbi, eventually to be replaced in 1895 by Rabbi Shlomo Wingate. Wingate, in turn, was replaced by Rabbi Shmuel Ha'Levy Bradt. The latter served Lipno until 1928, when he was elected Rabbi of Tomaszow Mazowiecky.
Up until W.W.I, most Jewish children studied in cheders. About sixty Jewish children studied in the Russian public school for Jews, which only had two classes. When W.W.I broke out, the Lipno Jewish community dwindled, as many Lipno Jews fled to Warsaw, never to return. During that time, the Lipno Jewry offered assistance to the hundreds of refugees who passed through Lipno daily. In 1917 alone, 800 refugees were given aid. When Polish rule was renewed, some of the refugees found their way back home.
In 1920, during the Russian-Polish war, the Red Army captured Lipno and held it for some time. Several Lipno Jews collaborated with the Bolsheviks. Four Poles and only a single Jew ("bond" member Zukerberg) served in the Lipno "revolutionary committee". The Bolshevik militia consisted of twenty Poles and eight Jews. The Bolsheviks confiscated property, making no distinction in their treatment between wealthy Jews and Poles. The Bolshevik policies particularly hurt Jewish merchants, who lost all their property. Three affluent Jews were executed. It was during this time that the Jews of Lipno began demonstrating solidarity with their fellow Poles, who were also persecuted by the Bolsheviks. When Lipno's priest Sawicky was arrested, Lipno's Rabbi Shmuel Bradt appealed to the authorities and managed to bring about his release.
The forces of the Polish army that occupied Lipno after the retreat of the Red Army persecuted Jews to no end. Soldiers from General Haller's forces tormented Jews and looted their property. Lipno's priest Savitsky, owing gratitude to the Jewish community, protected Lipno's Jews from the army officers.
In the period after W.W.I, almost all Zionist organizations operating within Poland had offices in Lipno. The first Zionist organization offices were established early in the 20th century. In 1920, the "Aguda Ha'Zionit" (the Zionist Company) renewed its operation. In the following years, offices were established by the Common Zionists, the Workers of Zion, the "Mizrahi", and in 1933 the "Tzahar". During that time, several Zionist youth groups set up chapters in Lipno, such as "Ha'Shomer Ha'Leumi", "Ha'Shomer Ha'tzair" and "Beitar".
In 1931, "Ha'Shomer Ha'Leumi" membership numbered 150. They built two kibbutz preparation camps around Lipno that numbered 15 members. Many Lipno Jews supported the Zionist movement, as is evident by the number of voters of the 16th Zionist Congress. "Ha'Mizrahi" won 96 votes, "Al Ha'mishmar" won 67 votes, "Et Li'vnot" won 59 votes, "Ha'tzahar" won 25 votes and "Po'aley Zion-Smol" won 8 votes.
The organizations "Agudat Israel" and "Bond" both had branches in Lipno. Up until the period between the two world wars, Lipno's Jewry was largely religious and observant. The orthodox held a majority in the community's council. In the 1931 community council elections the orthodox won five mandates (two mandates for the synagogue coalition, two for "Agudat Yisrael", and one for "Hasidey Alexander". The Zionists, on the other hand, won three mandates, with Mizarahi, the General Zionists, and the Leftist Workers of Zion winning one mandate each.
The orthodox majority was overturned in the 1936 election. In these elections, the Socialist bloc (Leftist Workers of Zion and "Bond") won three mandates and the Revisionist Zionist party won two mandates. The orthodox parties fared worse, with "Agudat Yisrael" winning two mandates and "Hasidey Alexander" winning a singma. In the Lipno municipal government, the Lipno Jewryhad three represe.
As previouslmentioned, up until 1928 Lipno's Rabbi was Shmuel Bradt. During that time Rabbi Bradt was elected to be a delegate to the Polish "SAYM". In 1928 Bradt relocated to Tomashov and served as their Rabbi. In 1931 Rabbi Zukerkorn was elected to be Lipno's Rabbi.
During the period between the two world wars, The Lipno Jewry developed education for Jewish children extensively. Most Jewish children continued to learn in cheders, but already modern educational institutions were established that provided education for boys and girls alike. The Jewish public school had 350 students and the "Talmud Torah" school had 72. There was also an attempt to establish a collegiate institute for Jewish adolescents. During 1920, 80 students (men and women) studied in the collegiate, but it seems it was discontinued sometime during the following year. The "Shomer Ha'Leumi" youth group held evening classes in Hebrew throughout the 30s. There was a library that housed books in Hebrew and Yiddish. During the 20s a "Macabi" sports collective was established.
In the years prior to the outbreak of WWII the Lipno Jewry suffered from continuous anti-Semite propaganda. In 1938, the local anti-Semites set up watch outside Jewish stores to support a boycott of Jewish stores. The income of Jewish storekeepers was damaged significantly and many had to turn to charity and public assistance.
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