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from Pinkas Hakehillot Polin
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem
Published in Jerusalem
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This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland,
Volume I, pages 46-47, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
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(District of Turek)
Translated by Jerrold Landau
|Sep 1 1939||(?)||~130
Uniejów was granted the status of a city in 1525. The Jewish settlement there began in the middle of the 18th century. Jewish settlement in Uniejów during the 19th century was unrestricted. Therefore, the community grew, and in the middle
of the 19th century it became independent, with its own synagogue and rabbi. Rabbi Yeshaya Kaplan was the rabbi of the city in the middle of the 1870s. Rabbi Efraim Shraga HaLevi served as rabbi at the beginning of the 20th century.
The Jews of Uniejów worked in commerce and trades. Several oil and oil product factories, a flourmill, tanneries, a vinegar factory, and dyeing workshops were owned by Jews. The small-scale merchants earned their livelihood from peddling in town and the nearby villages.
Organizations for mutual help and assistance operated in Uniejów before the First World War, including Linat Tzedek, Gemilat Chasadim, Hachnasat Kalla, and Hachnasat Orchim.
The years between the two world wars were marked by an economic depression that severely affected the Jews of Uniejów. This caused people to leave. Some moved to large cities, and others emigrated abroad. Thus, the community declined from approximately 200 families at the beginning of the 20th century to 130 families in the middle of the 1930s. An economic boycott against Jewish business took place through the efforts of the Endeke circles in Uniejów and with the support of the Polish authorities. Furthermore, a chain of Polish shops opened. During the period shortly before the Second World War, 21 Polish businesses were established and 12 Jewish shops were liquidated. In May 1936, the Jewish communal leadership of Uniejów, through the agency of the Jewish Knowledge Society (Jit'a), issues an appeal to Polish Jewry and the Jewish community abroad to provide urgent assistance to the local community. In this appeal, the heads of the community stressed the wild anti-Semitic incitement and the economic stress of the local Jewish community.
There were chapters in Uniejów of the General Zionists, the Revisionist Movement, Mizrachi, Poalei Zion, Bund, Agudas Yisrael, and the youth movements of Beitar and Hashomer Hatzair. The Zionist factions set up a library that served as the center for wide-branched cultural activity.
Rabbi Shlomo Rafael Zeev Leventhal served on the rabbinical seat during the 1930s. he continued in his role until the last days of the community during the Holocaust era.
Uniejów was conquered by the Germans about one week after the outbreak of the Second World War. Decrees against the Jewish people began immediately. Jews were snatched for forced labor on the streets of the town. The men were taken to pave roads and repair bridges. They were cruelly beaten as they performed this backbreaking labor. Jewish shops were pillaged. Many families were removed from their homes, without being allowed to take their belongings. Members of the German Army and Volksdeutschen (native Germans) took up residence in those houses. In December 1939, the Jews were commanded to wear yellow patches. The Judenrat was set up during that period. In 1940, the community was gathered into a special neighborhood. This was an open ghetto until June 1941, but the Jews were not permitted to appear in other parts of the city. Later, the area of the ghetto was reduced, and it became a closed ghetto. Crowding, hunger, and disease were the lot of the ghetto residents. Young Jews were sent to labor camps in the district of Poznań in 1941. On October 20, 1941, all the Jews of Uniejów were deported to the area of Kowale Pańskie, and housed in the village of Dziewiątka. This was a section of the village ghetto were the Jews of the Turek district were concentrated. The deportees from Uniejów received six houses, in which only a small number of families found shelter. Most of the Jews of Uniejów remained in the field under the cover of the sky. The fate of the Uniejów Jews in Kowale Pańskie was the same as the fate of the rest of the Jews concentrated there. Two deportees from Uniejów were among the Jews hung in Kowale Pańskie on June 23, 1942. During the liquidation aktion of July 20, 1942, a Jew from Uniejów, Lencycky, was forced to dig a grave for himself. He was then shot in it together with his child. Yaakov Waldman, a resident of Uniejów, succeeded in escaping from Kowale Pańskie to Chełmno during the deportation. He escaped to the forest and joined the partisans. He was killed on September 1, 1945 in the city of Turek by members of the Polish national underground.
Yad Vashem Archives: M-1/E 887/759
Achl'i: HM 7526, HM 7528.
Y. Waldman, The Chelmner Tragedy, in From the Last Destruction, 1946, section 1.
Heint May 15, 1936, March 12, 1937; Kaliszer Lebel June 8, 1933
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