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History of Jews in Zgierz until 1862 (cont.)

The Zgierz Magistrate is in Favor of Expanding the Jewish Quarter

At the end of the 1850s, the struggle between the Zgierz magistrate and the supervisory authorities regarding the living rights of the Jews in the city intensified. The Jewish population increased naturally. According to the magistrate's accounts, there were already 1,590 Jewish residents of Zgierz in August 1848. The ghetto was overfilled. Jews had already rented dwellings, purchased lots, built houses, and opened stores and business enterprises outside (extra) the quarter. The Zgierz magistrate “looked through his fingers” at the expansion of the Jewish business element in the city. A reaction came from two sides: from the anti-Semitic supervisory authorities – the Lodz city president Treiger who influenced the Warsaw governing authorities with his anti-Semitic reports; and the homeowners in the Jewish quarter, both Jews and Christian, who were afraid that the expansion of the quarter would depress the established prices in the restricted living area. There was also a third group that fought against the rights of Jews to live in the entire city: the German and Polish manufacturers in the extra quarter.

In August 1848, the Zgierz magistrate (city president Blumenfeld, and councilors Jarani, Esse and A. Lebelt) undertook a project to expand the Jewish quarter. The project began with the words: “On account of the complaints of the Old Believers in our city that their living accommodations are crowded in their restricted quarter, and on account of the complaints of the homeowners of the Jewish quarter that their homes apparently are empty as the Old Believers push themselves outside the quarter – the magistrate and his entourage will visit the Jewish quarter in order to determine who is correct”.

The Lustracia (population registry) of the magistrate from that time regarding the Jewish quarter presents a sad picture of the Jewish living conditions. It was determined that the empty houses were in such a state that nobody could live there. The rents were so high that the poorer classes did not have the means to rent even a one-room dwelling. Two, three or four families live in such dwellings, which causes uncleanness, discomfort and illness.

According to this, the Zgierz magistrate believes that the quarter must be expanded, for the streets that were designated in December 1824 as part of the Jewish quarter are now too small for the Jewish population. The Jewish population of Zgierz was 345 people when the quarter was established, and today (1848) there area already has 1,590 Jewish people. Due to this situation, Jews are pushing themselves outside the quarter, and the living accommodations are becoming more difficult there.

The project of the magistrate contained no indication as to how to expand the quarter. However, all of the opponents to granting Jews living rights in all of the streets of the city of Zgierz reacted to the project.

Franciszek Zalewski, a homeowner in the Jewish quarter, issued a request in the name of all of the homeowners of the area to the governing authorities in Warsaw to evict the Jews from outside the quarter. Zalewski made mention of the ordinance of December 1824, which restricted the Jews to Lodzer Street and a half of Szeradzer Street, due to the fact that the Old Believers had made various efforts to enter into the marketplace and live in the streets outside the quarter.

Zalewski ended his request to the governing authorities in the name of all of the homeowners of the Jewish quarters with the request that a delegate be sent to determine the truth regarding the submitted facts. “The aforementioned Old Believers, who have pushed themselves into areas outside the quarter, must be evicted. Also in the future, such transgressions must be halted.” He requested that the Lodz city president Treiger, well known for his anti-Semitism, be sent to Zgierz as a delegate to adjudicate on the matters that are dealt with in the request to the governing authorities.

In answer to the request of Zalewski and the other Christian manufacturers and homeowners, the governing authorities ordered the official of the Leczyca region to conduct an investigation regarding the justification of the request to ban the frequent encroachment of Old Believers outside the quarter, and the need to evict those Jews who live there illegally. The official of the Leczyca region sent the Lodz city president Treiger to Zgierz in order to adjudicate on all the issues that were mentioned in Zalewski's request and to demand a clarification from the Zgierz magistrate.

Treiger came to Zgierz in July 1849, held a meeting with the Zgierz magistrate, and posed the following questions: a) On what authority did they rely to allow the following Jews to settle outside of the quarter: Gershon Blum, Chaim Lubraniecki, Elisha Fein, Menashe Beril, the widow Blima, Eva Goldsztejn, and A. Shafir – when they did not have any permits from the regime; and why were they not immediately removed from outside the quarter? b) What type of disturbances took place that did not permit the fulfillment of the ordinance of the regional official regarding evicting the Old Believers from outside the quarter, and the submission of a protocol to the appropriate authorities?

The Zgierz magistrate gave the following characteristic answer to the questions of the Lodz city president, and to the accusation of Zalewski and his people:

“The people who made the accusation do not have the general welfare in mind, only their own personal goals. A careful investigation into their complaints will show that the owners of houses in the Jewish quarter do not want to be forced to pay for the burden of their houses, or to absorb the cost of repairs when the Old Believers would be permitted to live outside the quarter.” The magistrate continued on: “In addition, the owners of houses outside the Jewish quarter surmise that they will be able to benefit themselves by increasing their income.” (This is a reference to the fixed rents in the Jewish quarter, which the local homeowners maintained by means of the restriction of the living rights of Jews).

One month after hearing the declaration of the Zgierz magistrate, the anti-Semitic city president of Lodz went with the police to the homes of Elisha Fein, Menashe Beril, the widow Blima and Eva Goldsztejn, and evicted them from their homes, since they were not willing to leave on their own. Gershon Blum was not evicted from his home by the president, for his wife was in her ninth month of pregnancy. In order to insure that Blum would be forced to later leave his home outside the quarter, Treiger sealed Blum's textile shop and informed the civic authorities that they must act on the eviction of Gershon Blum at the appropriate time.

The magistrate of Zgierz did not give up his plan to expand the Jewish quarter, and he continued to tolerate Jews living outside the quarter. The leaders of the city continued to make requests to the official of the Leczyca region, and submitted the previously mentioned statistics regarding the number of Jewish residents in Zgierz, the difficulties of living in the Jewish quarter, and crowding that could have an ill effect on the health of the population. The regional official brought the reasons for expanding the quarter to the governing authorities. Therefore, in the year 1849, the Lodz city president Treiger was delegated to verify the situation in the Jewish quarter and the living rights of Jews outside the quarter, and bring his findings to the supervisory authorities.

From his Lustracia of the Jewish quarter, Treiger pointed out in his report that the Jews live 2-3 families per room, and that people live in cellars, attics and unheated rooms. However, the Jew hater felt that there was no danger of epidemic diseases, for the Jews live there in their usual thrifty and exceptionally economical fashion. That is their lifestyle.

In his report, Treiger denied that there was the fixing off rents in the Jewish quarter, which hinders the poorer classes from settling there. There are empty places and rooms available that Jews do not wish to rent, for they would rather push themselves into the marketplace of the old city and the extra quarter. Jews are willing to pay 25-30% more in rent, so long as they do not have to live in the Jewish quarter. The city president of Lodz also made mention of the losses that would be suffered by the homeowners of the Jewish quarter if Jews would be permitted to live outside the quarter, and decried the attempts of the Zgierz magistrate to expand the Jewish quarter. One can simply round it out by lengthening Szeradzer Street. In the latter part of his report, the anti-Semite accuses the Jews of wishing to encroach upon the Christian streets for reasons of financial gain, for the Christians would not be able to withstand the Jewish competition in their enterprises, business and speculation.

Treiger also suggested an “improvement” to the already existing ordinances that gave Jews of means rights to settle outside the quarter; namely: “Not to permit the Old Believers any rights of choice of dwelling places, but rather to make it dependent on the opinions of the higher authorities, so that Jews would not be able to become concentrated in the most important areas of the city.”

The report of the Lodzer city president regarding Jewish living rights in Zgierz was in complete accordance with the anti-Semitic reactionary leanings of the Polish ruling authorities of that time, who ruled due to the goodwill of the anti-Semitic, reactionary Czarist despots of Petersburg. The determinations of the Lodzer city president regarding Jewish living rights in Zgierz were in contradiction to the leanings of the local civic authorities who regarded the Jews as a necessary element for the economic development of the city. With respect to the conflict between the municipality and the authorities, during the 1860s there were three groups in Zgierz who had their various economic interests regarding the living rights of Jews in the city; namely: the homeowners of the Jewish quarter, both Christians and Jews, supported by the Christian manufacturers outside the quarter, who were in favor of maintaining the already designated ghetto for the Jews; the Jewish residents of Zgierz in both quarters, who struggled for free living rights in the entire city; the third group was the municipality, which had an interest in the economic development of the city, who were in favor of expanding the Jewish quarter and not permitting Jews to settle in the extra quarter.

The struggle between those groups grew stronger after the report of the Lodz city president regarding the population records (Lustracia) of the Jewish quarter was submitted to the supervisory authorities. The official of the Leczyca region affixed his own report to Treiger's Lustracia report, clarifying why Jews were permitted to live in the extra quarter.

As can be seen, the Zgierz magistrate did not hasten to evict the aforementioned seven Jewish families from outside the quarter, even though the governing authorities in Warsaw issued a strong order to the regional official regarding this matter.

The homeowners of the Jewish quarter soon made mention of the orders of the supervisory authorities to the Zgierz magistrate and city president. In 1851, Franciszek Zalewski again presented a request to the governing regime in Warsaw to not permit Jews to live outside the quarter. This time, his request also had the signatures of the Jewish homeowners in the Jewish quarter – Nathan Goldberg and David Sadokerski.

In the request, the signers complained about the Zgierz magistrate, pointing out that instead of scrupulously carrying out the ordinances of the higher authorities (to restrict the Jewish living rights), he gave matters an opposite direction. “The Zgierz city president did not issue any ordinances to evict the Jews from outside the quarter.” Later, the request mentions the aforementioned reason that “there are many empty places in the Jewish quarter that are not built up, and many dwellings that are not rented, which harms the local homeowners.”

Regarding the inimical attitudes to Jewish living rights in Zgierz, the local Jews presented their own characteristic and significant request to the Zgierz city president. The author of the request, Yisrael Litauer, wrote the following in his name, and in the name of all of the Old Believers who are residents of that city:

  1. When the quarter for the Old Believers of the city was set up a few decades ago, their number was 300 families, or 2,000 people. There were only 24 houses available for them – and these were bungalows.
  2. The increase in the population of the Old Believers in the quarter has brought great pressure upon the poorer classes of locals, who have large families. Regarding the rental rates, which are fixed very high by the homeowners, the residents become even poorer. Regarding the crowding in the dwellings, even the smallest attic rooms are occupied by several families.
  3. On account of the situation, there is great poverty, oppression, and foul air, which will eventually expose the entire population with various diseases and fatal illnesses. It is not secret to Mr. President that the first outbreak of an epidemic was in the quarter (referring to cholera). This took place in 1848 in Zgierz, and was confirmed by the qualified city doctor.

The latter points of the earlier mentioned request, claiming that there were vacant places in the Jewish quarter that should be built up by residents who possess the means, were denied by Litauer.

It was the wish of all the residents, not only Jews, to be able to rent dwellings in the entire old city, to be “permitted to expand the business and industry there, as is shown by the enclosed declaration”. (The declaration by the Christian residents of the Zgierz old city, mentioned by Litauer, is not found in the archives.)

In his further justifications, the author of the request, who knew that the German manufacturers left Zgierz and went to Lodz, stressed the painful point that, given the current situation, the Jews would be forced to leave Zgierz. Therefore, the increase in the Jewish population is a great boon for the city. For in addition to the loss of the business and work that is conducted y the Old Believers, the civic coffers will be emptier, which is certainly not the wish of the regime and others, as is known by Mr. city president.

A few months later, in November 1851, a second Jew, Shlomo Placki, presented a request to the official of the Leczyca region “in the name of the residents of the same faith” to expand the Jewish quarter, for on account of the cramped living conditions in the quarter, there is the threat of epidemic illnesses.

In the same period of time, several individual Jews requested from the supervisory authorities to be permitted to settle in the extra quarter of Zgierz. In his request to the regional official, Jozef Rzorkowski made mention of his wealth, which permitted him to live in the extra quarter in accordance with the ordinances. Aside from that “he is a broker, who is needed by the cloth manufacturers”.

The official of the Leczyca region sent the request to the ruling authorities of the Warsaw Gubernia with his note that dismiss the request of the cloth weaver's guild and the Zgierz magistrate to permit the Old Believer Rzorkowski to live in the extra quarter. A confirmation from the guild and the protocol of the Zgierz magistrate, giving their approval to Rzorkowski's request, were attached to the request.

The ruling authorities of the Warsaw Gubernia did not permit Rzorkowski to live in the extra quarter, for according to the high command of 1848, a Jew can only obtain such permission if he has a net worth of 1,500 rubles, and if he agrees to the ordinances regarding garb, and to sent his children to Christian schools, etc. “Rzorkowski does not have the qualifications”. The regional official warned him that he should not again make such requests that go against the authorized ordinances.

The Warsaw governing authorities displayed a different attitude to the request of the elder barber-surgeon Shmuel Szerpinski. They were not able to deny him living rights in the extra quarter, for there were no Christian barber-surgeons who could administer medical care to the population at the time of the spread of the cholera epidemic. The governing authorities presented this justification to the royal committee for internal and spiritual affairs to permit Szerpinski to settle in the extra quarter, which will be for the benefit of the entire population.

The royal committee for internal and spiritual affairs permitted the Jewish elder barber-surgeon, with his wife and unmarried children, to live in a house in the Christian streets, with the restriction that he must not become involved in manufacturing or with the sale of national drinks.

The salt merchant Wolf Glicksman submitted a request to the Zgierz city president that he intercede to the higher authorities for a permit for him to live on the non-designated streets and conduct business there. Glicksman pointed out that he fulfilled all the required qualifications, as is certified by the documents that should give him the rights to live in the extra quarter.

We can assume that Wolf Glicksman received this permission, even though there are no official confirmations in the archives.

A different complicated matter, that is not sufficiently clarified in the archival documents, was the question of the residency rights for Hersch Ber Szwarc, the father of the Zgierz writer and social activist Yissachar Szwarc. His struggle to live in the extra quarter lasted twelve years. His struggle started in 1849 and ended in 1861, near the time of the end of residency restrictions for Jews in royal Poland.

It is not stated from where Hersch Ber Szwarc came before coming to Zgierz. In an archive document from 1849, his name appears in a lease agreement that was agreed upon between the Old Believer merchant Hersch Ber Szwarc who lived in the city with Yisrael Litauer, leasing eight stores from the civic “Oisteria” (?) [1] . According to the agreement, Hirsch Ber Szwarc rented a store from Litauer for 40 silver rubles a year.

It is not known what Hersch Ber Szwarc did in Zgierz during the two year period of 1849-1851 that his name suddenly began to appear in all of the requests regarding the rights of Jews to live in the extra quarter, as well as in all of the ordinances that came from the supervisory authorities during that timeframe.

In the aforementioned request from Franciszek Zalewski and his support from the Warsaw governing authorities regarding not permitting Jews to live in the extra quarter – the Old Believer Hersch Ber Szwarc played a very important place. There, it is related about him that he occupies himself with small-scale business, and he is at liberty to live in the extra quarter. Even though he does not have the appropriate qualifications for this, the Zgierz city president supported Szwarc' declaration regarding his rights to live in the extra quarter. The reasons that Zalewski lists against the rights of residency of Hersch Ber Szwarc are typical: he does not know how to write, and he does not know a foreign language, which disqualifies his rights to live in the extra quarter. Regardless of this, the councilor Antony Lebelt purchased a house in his name on the market, on the Street of the Representatives, for the sum of 900 silver rubles. Through an act of the Zgierz Court of the Peace, it was shown that Lebelt purchased this home for the Old Believer Hersch Ber Szwarc, so that he will be able to live in the extra quarter.

In his request, Zalewski accused the Zgierz city president of supporting Szwarc. Regarding the fact that he cannot write and does not know a foreign language, the city president defended Szwarc by claiming that his hand was injured in an accident. In fact, he understands a foreign European language, and possesses the appropriate means, which gives him the right to dwell in the extra quarter. The defender of the owners in the Jewish quarter was not lazy, and uncovered the court deeds of the above mentioned lease agreement between Litauer and Szwarc with his signature “in Hebrew”. Zalewski attached this document to his request to the governing authorities of Warsaw and posed the questions: If his (Szwarc) handicapped hand permits him to write in Hebrew, why would it not permit him to write in Polish or in another foreign language?

In addition, the cringing Jew Sadokerski “the Old Believer who owns a home in Zgierz” who cosigned Zalewski's request to the governing authorities in Warsaw to not allow Jews to live in the extra quarter, also submitted a different request, requesting “from the royal committee for internal and spiritual affairs, to forbid Hersch Ber Szwarc from moving out of the Jewish quarter”. That request bore the characteristics of a denunciation of a “wonderful” Jew against his brethren in Zgierz who were leaving the Jewish quarter in order to settle in the streets that had been designated for the manufacturers. The denunciator wrote in his request that such business is not only a damaging influence on the Old Believers, but it will also cause a .loss to the royal treasury, for the homeowners in the Jewish quarter who have to pay higher fees will lose their tenants who move into the extra quarter.

In his request, Sadokerski asserted that he is making his request on behalf of the entire community of Old Believers. There are no confirmations available that the Zgierz community authorized him to do this. As is known from a previous description, the community interceded strongly for Jewish living rights in the entire city. The name Sadokerski [2] is also not mentioned on the list of dozors, and we can surmise that the Zgierz communal leadership had no connection to the denunciation.

On all the requests and submissions regarding Jewish living rights, the Warsaw governing authorities alerted the official of the Leczyca region regarding the repeated complaints from the Zgierz citizens who lament the indifference of the magistrate “to the encroaching of Old Believers onto certain streets”. The ordinances were not being upheld, and the meetings of the magistrate did not place blame in the situation regarding the six Jewish families who did not have the appropriate qualifications, and who were not evicted despite the fact that it has now been over a year since the ordinance was issued. Similarly, the governing authorities wrote in 1851 to the regional official regarding the illegal granting of living rights to Hersch Ber Szwarc, who was accused of slyly obtaining a house on the specified streets, and living in it.

Relying on a report from the governing authorities of Warsaw to the royal committee for internal affairs, the Lodz city president Treiger was again delegated to go to Zgierz. This time (January 1852), he issued a public defense for the Jews who wish to settle in the streets that were forbidden to them, and a defense of Hersch Ber Szwarc against the homeowners in the extra quarter, who “came together and accused Szwarc in order to remove from him and others the will to make efforts to obtain permission to settle in the extra quarter.” Those people, driven by personal hatred and even more by the intention to insure that the Old Believers remain in the quarter, had only one aim: to assure the rental income at very high fixed rates” – this is what Treiger wrote in his report to the official of the Leczyca region.

At the same time as the supervisory authorities were already prepared to expand the Jewish quarter, and the Zgierz magistrate and the president Blumenfeld pushed strongly for an expansion, they also with the same strength opposed the Jews who wished to settle in the extra quarter without the proper qualifications.

In February 1852, the governing authorities issued a plan for the city, which defined the Jewish quarter and designated which streets would be included in the expansion. The homeowners in the Jewish quarter again issued a request against expansion. The Warsaw governing authorities reacted with a letter to the regional committee for internal and spiritual affairs. In that letter, the usual arguments against the homeowners were mentioned, that they only wish to insure their own income, and that the crowding in the Jewish quarter brings the threat of illness.

In July of the same year, the regional committee for internal and spiritual affairs answered the letter from the Warsaw governing authorities. In the answer, it was mentioned that the Jewish quarter was created in Zgierz in 1824, and included only Lodzer Street and the south portion of Szeradzer Street.

The committee criticized the plan to expand the quarter with the rented parts of the following streets: Strenowska, ?, and the second side of Szeradzer Street. They left in the plan a small lane in that area, which had no name and without mentioning how many houses and empty lots are there. In its answer, the committee also expressed wonder at the growth of the Jewish population of Zgierz, which grew from 343 people in 1848 to 2,400 in 1852. It was for this reason that the dwellings were crowded. The answer brought down complaints against the local authorities, as to why they did not mention how many Jews were permanent and temporary residents, and why they did not insure that all of the Jews who settled there have the appropriate documents… It could possibly be that some are hiding from military registration. Further on, a typical question comes from the regional committee: “Why did the local authorities not take notice of the rapid influx of Jews from other places?”

Further documents regarding Jewish living rights in Zgierz are not available in the archives.


The Project of the Zgierz Magistrate to Enlarge the Jewish Quarter

In his letter and request to the supervisory authorities regarding the enlargement of the Jewish quarter, the Zgierz magistrate submitted his project, signed by president Blumenfeld, regarding which streets should be given over to the extra quarter.

In his draft, the city president gave an answer to the following question to the royal committee: “From where did such a large increase in the Jewish population come?” The answer presented a clear picture of the development of the Jewish settlement in Zgierz. President Blumenfeld wrote the following:

“Since the city of Zgierz has expanded in manufacturing, the population, both Christian and Jewish, increased. Since the Jews have many factories that require employees for their work, they brought in workers from other cities who possessed passports or formal permits of residency. For this reason, the number of families increased, that is to say the number of married couples. Due to this, many families would live in a single dwelling, for in order to purchase houses or lease factories, the working families would have to band together. This is the main reason for the growth in the city, due to the cloth and textile business. That quarter (the Jewish quarter) has become far too small.”

In accordance with the bureaucratic attitude of the officials of the ruling authorities in Congress Poland of the time, with all of their subordinate sectors, who were dependent on the Czarist regime and the supreme command of Czar Alexander II – it was not so easy to proceed with the enlargement of the Jewish quarter. The entire matter remained “frozen”. Jews from the crowded quarter as well as recent arrivals continued to settle in the extra quarter and continued to make requests and submissions to the supervisory authorities, and even to His Excellency Duke Namiestnik, regarding the permission of Jews to settle in the extra quarter. Such requests were made through the civic councilor and merchant August Kriger, “in his name and in the name of the citizens”, to Duke Namiestnik regarding 50 Jewish families who “are away from their quarter and left behind unoccupied houses”. In that same request, Kriger together with Jan Pawinski requested from the Warsaw governing authorities to permit Jews to live in the extra quarter. The supervisory authorities again made a request to the official of the Leczyca region regarding the evicting of Jews to live in the extra quarter, as has been confirmed by the governing authorities. Jews who lived illegally in the non-permitted streets should be evicted from there.

Relying on the report of the official, the Warsaw governing authorities answered the request of Jan Pawinski and August Kriger as follows: The Jews who are living illegally must be evicted, and newly arrived Jews who continue to settle on the non-permitted streets must also be evicted. Those Jews who have the required qualifications, giving them the right to live there, need not be evicted from the extra quarter.

In April 1853, Hersch Fogel, in the name of the Jewish residents of Zgierz, requested from the Warsaw civilian governor regarding not evicting 40 families from their dwellings. In his request, Fogel made reference to the visit of the civilian governor to Zgierz, “where he saw with his own eyes the crowding (in the Jewish quarter) and the need to enlarge it. I wish that a resolution to my request be given by the month of Mach in the coming year, which will permit the Old Believers to settle in places and streets outside of the Jewish quarter. Relying on this, over 40 families found dwellings in those places, and they live there until today, however a portion of the Old Believers have met with opposition.”

Hersch Fogel requested from the civilian governor that in accordance with the resolution, the 40 Jewish families should be permitted to remain in their places that they rented or purchased without disturbance.

{Photo page 95: The title page of the ledger book of the Jewish community of Zgierz from the year 5679 (1919). The artist was Mark Schwartz, the son of Yissachar Schwartz}.

Relying on the documents, the magistrate of Zgierz permitted a few Jewish families to settle on Blotene (Muddy) and Strikower streets, “taking into account the cholera that prevailed at that time, and spread due to the crowding in the Jewish quarter”. Blumenfeld made a new point in his answer: The leaders of the Jewish community (Dozor Buzniczy) came with a request to the Warsaw governor as he was passing through Zgierz to not evict the Jewish families from the streets outside the Jewish quarter. The governor, relying on his rescript, recommended to the city president to hold back on the eviction of the Jews who settled in the extra quarter.


The Ordinance of Czar Alexander II Regarding the Expansion of the Jewish Quarter

At the beginning of the 1840s, the Jews of Zgierz made up approximately 20% of the general population, and numbered 1,934 souls. Of them, 226 resided there provisionally. The reason for the provisional situation was that it was not possible to find any dwellings in the crowded Jewish quarter. Those 226 Jews, who resided in Zgierz only provisionally, were travelling merchants who were needed by the city.

Zgierz had not succeeded in becoming a large industrial center, as had Lodz, which was only 21 kilometers away.

The leaders of the city, as has already been mentioned, made efforts to expand the Jewish quarter, so that Jewish merchants and manufacturers would settle in the city and cause the industry to flourish. In 1853, the city council prepared a plan that specified the streets that should be added to the Jewish living area.

The official of the Leczyca region, who in general struggled against the expansion of the quarter, sent a report in June 1843 to the Warsaw governing commission, which stated the following in point 4:

“The growth of the population of Old Believers in the city of Zgierz caused an influx of temporary residents into the city, which is a manufacturing region that lies on a paved highway, and has developed in business and industry. – – – Among the general population of the city of Zgierz, there are 1,934 Old Believers, of whom 225 are provisional residents. – – – Regarding the expansion of the Jewish quarter in the city of Zgierz, requests have been presented to Your All-Powerful Eminence the Governor, in private, to add some streets onto the Jewish quarter in order to accommodate the newcomers.”

From the report, we can also see that the 1,934 permanent Jewish residents of Zgierz occupy 467 dwellings, which consist of one room for the most part. This translates to four persons per room. The dwellings are not all spacious. Some of them are very small, and the families that live there are large. They also contain workshops. Therefore, they require larger dwellings. There is also a need for extra dwellings for the people who come provisionally for business. The ratio of people to the number of houses translates to a great crowding.

In the summer months of 1855, negotiations were conducted with the Polish authorities regarding the expansion of the Jewish quarter in Zgierz. Regarding this matter, a reports was made to the highest authorities in Petersburg, and in October 1855, the following answer was received:

“In the name of His Majesty Alexander II, the Czar of all Russia, and the King of Poland.

To the administrative authority of Royal Poland.

The quarter for the Old Believers in Zgierz, established by the decision of the royal representative on December 21, 1824, requires an expansion in order to accommodate the growth of the local population of Old Believers. Regarding this, the royal administrative council has decided the following:

First article.

The following are to be added to the Jewish quarter in the city of Zgierz: the north side of Szeradzer Street, the north side of the Piaskowa – – – both sides of the Strikower Street, between Szeradzer and Blotene. Both side of the Blotene, between the Lodzer and Strikowr Streets, both side of the Konstantiner Street, between Lodzer and the Konstantine Highway, both side of Szlachthaus (Slaughterhouse) Street between Piaskowa and the Bzura River. Those streets are designated for Jews, and from now they are permitted to live there.

{Photo page 98: The market, the town hall, and the church of Zgierz.}

The second article of the ordinance is directed to the Jews who settled in the extra quarter without permits. The Jews who acquired houses or dwellings there were given a term of one year to leave their places of residents.

The high decree was signed by the following:

The representative General Fieldmarshal, the Warsaw Duke (signature not legible).

The high director of the presidium of the royal committee for spiritual and internal affairs, General Lieutenant Wikinski.

The secretary of the royal committee – Lebron. There are three more signatures of the high office of the regime, certifying the authenticity of the original.


The Continuing Struggle of Jews for Full Rights of Residency in the City of Zgierz

The above-mentioned ordinance regarding the expansion of the Jewish quarter, confirmed by the Czar himself, did not satisfy the Jewish population of Zgierz. As can be seen by the accusations from Christians, the Jews did not wish to follow “article two” of the ordinance, and did not leave their houses in the extra quarter, where only Christians were permitted to live. The Jews continued to acquire dwellings in streets that were outside of the Jewish quarter. There, they established stores near the Christian Neistadt, where commerce in the city was being greatly developed.

Regarding this movement of Jews “toward the new town”, Y. Bretschneider, in the name of the Zgierz citizens, sent a request in January 1856 to the following authorities: the governing regime of Warsaw, the official of the Leczyca region, and the Zgierz city president. In his request, Bretschneider accused the Jews of “penetrating into the extra quarter, and setting up businesses there”.

The struggle of the Jews for full rights of residency in the city of Zgierz continued in later years. Not paying attention to the existing ordinances and restrictions of the Old Believers from living on the streets where business and manufacturing were developing, Jews would settle in the new quarters, in dwellings and houses outside of the Jewish quarter. This would cause protests by Jew haters, lead by the Christian merchants who were afraid of the competition due to the rise of Jewish business.

The aforementioned Franciszek Zalewski made a request in 1858 to the governing authorities in Warsaw with the accusation that Jews had settled in the extra quarter without permission, in the houses numbered 1, 61, 62, 70, 72, 73, and 91. The governing authorities in Warsaw sent the request to the regional official, requesting that he investigate whether the accusation against the Jews is correct, and if so, for how long they have lived there without permission.

The further correspondence between the Warsaw authorities and the official of the Leczyca region regarding this matter is not available to us. There is only a copy of an instruction from the Warsaw governing authorities, dated September 30, 1858. The instructions made reference to the already known stipulations (regarding means and education) that gave Jews the rights to live in the extra quarter.

From the document, it can be seen that a stringent attitude was taken toward Jews who acquired dwellings outside the Jewish quarter. There are no indications of forceful eviction. In Poland, new winds were beginning to blow at that time. Jews took part in the demonstrations in Warsaw against the Czarist regime. In the Polish liberal circles, there were discussions about giving Jews full rights, conducted by the Markgraf [3] Wielopolski, who was appointed by the civilian administrator (governor) of Congress Poland. Through his ordinance, on July 5, 1862, full rights were granted to Jews.

For the Jews in the city of Zgierz, as in all other cities in Congress Poland, a new epoch began. The Jewish population of that time was 1,637 souls.


Editor's Notes

Bronislaw Waczlik, in his historical article “Zgierz, the royal town and surrounding agricultural area” (Section 1, page 32, published by A. Lach, Zgierz, 1933), he writes, among other things: “Adding the number of people who are involved in agriculture to the number of people who are involved in business, we come to 660 people. If we reckon 10 members of the clergy and the kasztelan [4] class, 12 officials, and 16 Jews – the entire population of Zgierz at the middle of the 16 th century comes to 698 souls.”

Z. W. Jasni takes that statement into account when making his estimates. Unfortunately, we do not have more detailed information regarding this matter (see page 30).


1. The question mark appears in the text. Back

2. A footnote in the text appears here, as follows: In the request of Zalewski, Sadokerski was mentioned with the first name David, and in his own request, his name is given as Jakob. In any case, according to his own submitted request in which he describes himself a homeowner in the Jewish quarter, it is clear that this is the same person. Back

3. I am not sure of the connotation of this word. It may be a first name, but is unlikely, due to the presence of the definite article. Back

4. The Polish nobility. Back

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