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Translation of "Cmielow" chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem
Our appreciation to Sandy Zimmerman, who allowed us to publish
the translations which were done by Shalom Bronstein for her private use.
This is a translation from:
Jewish Communities, Poland,
Volume VII, pages 420-421, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
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(Subdistict of Opatow, Kielce District)
Until the 14th century known as Cmielow Szydlow or Szydlowiec. The town already had a Catholic church in the 13th century. At first, Cmielow was a village settlement, but in 1505, King Alexander Jagello granted it city rights and built a castle on an island in its vicinity. In 1661, King John II Casimir [1648-1668] granted it city privileges and added the right to hold seven fairs a year. There were then 77 craftsmen including 4 distillers of whisky and one producer of pitch. Between 1658 and 1702, Cmielow was badly damaged by the Swedish invaders. A few years after the first Swedish war, in 1663, the town numbered 373 inhabitants and 44 houses.
In the beginning of the 18th century, Cmielow became noted throughout Poland for its pottery production that began to develop very rapidly. It was especially famous for its flinty-rock utensils and the bone china that was produced by Cmielow's potters. King August III in 1750 granted the potters of Cmielow the right to sell their products throughout the country. A factory to produce pottery from the loam and special clayey earth that was found in abundance in the area's marshes began operating in 1809. Over time, the factories expanded and became well known for their production of sets of china; especially noted for their large china serving pieces for parties. In 1892, the factory employed more than 250 workers. In the 20th century, china production expanded in Cmielow and the city became the largest center of china manufacturing in Poland. At this time in the region, very large deposits of loam and clean clay were found.
Jews lived in Cmielow from the middle of the 17th century. The Cmielow community was considered under the jurisdiction of the Opatow (cf.) community and is mentioned many times in its Pinkas.
Most of our information about the Cmielow community is from the inter-war period. During that time, the Admorim [Hasidic dynastic leaders] R. Alter Moshe Epstein and R. Abraham Joseph Epstein (both perished in the Holocaust) lived in Cmielow. From 1928, R. Abraham Joseph Lainman served as the town's rabbi. The town had a synagogue.
It is assumed that also in Cmielow, as in other similar towns, the Jews made their living through retail trade, peddling in the villages and as artisans. The percentage of Jews in the general population of Cmielow was small and never exceeded 25%.
In the 20s and 30s, the Zionist movement was active in Cmielow and it had branches of "Al Hamishmar" (General Zionists), Mizrachi and the Revisionists. In the elections to the 15th Zionist Congress in 1927, The "Al Hamishmar" group received 40 votes; the Mizrachi received 12, and the Revisionists, 29. In 1931, the number of people who purchased the Zionist Shekel was 134.
During the 30s, an Anti-Semitic mood spread in Cmielow. There was a boycott of Jewish stores. The Poles opened up co-operative stores and the Jews lost many of their customers. Attacks on Jewish peddlers increased. A number of Jews left Cmielow and moved to larger cities in the area.
In 1939, when the Germans captured it, Cmielow had close to 500 Jews. The Germans enacted various decrees, such as the requirement to wear a white armband with a blue Star of David, the prohibition to walk on the sidewalks and the prohibition of purchasing food and other items from the area farmers. Later on, the Jews were forced to pay large fines. These enactments, along with the policy of confiscating Jewish property, led to the total destitution of the Jews.
In April 1940, 128 Jewish refugees from Radom (cf.) were brought to Cmielow. They arrived beaten, hungry and penniless. In 1941, additional larger groups of Jews arrived from the villages and towns of the area.
A closed ghetto was created in Cmielow on 1 June 1942, according to the order issued on 13 May 1942 by the Nazi governor of the district Ritter. In the summer of 1942, there were 900 people in terribly crowded conditions in the Cmielow ghetto. All the previous public buildings were filled with Jewish families who were expelled or escaped from other locations. Typhus soon broke out causing many deaths.
In the end of October 1942, nearly 900 Jews from Cmielow were sent to Treblinka and Cmielow was declared "Judenrein," (purified of Jews), in spite of the fact that according to plans a secondary ghetto was to be established. The few Jews that remained in the town were held in a closed camp that was created in January 1943, after the Mass Expulsion [Aktzia] in the region in October 1942. Jews who were discovered hiding in bunkers, in the forests or other hiding places were concentrated in this camp. The Nazis never let up their hunt after Jews in hiding in the area of Cmielow.
We do not know the exact date that the Jews of the closed work camp of Cmielow were sent to Treblinka.
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