GDANSK: Pomerania Print

Coat of arms of Gdańsk Alternate names: Gdańsk [Pol], Danzig [Ger], Dantsik, דאנציג [Yid], Gedania, Dantiscum [Latin] . 54°21' N, 18°40' E, Poland's main seaport, on the Baltic Sea. Between the two World Wars, a Free City. Jewish population: 2,535 (in 1890), 2,717 (1910). Słownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego (1880-1902), II, pp. 513-532: "Gdańsk". Yizkors:Treasures of a Destroyed Community (Detroit, 1980); Pinkas ha-kehilot; entsiklopediya shel ha-yishuvim le-min hivasdam ve-ad le-aher shoat milhemet ha-olam ha-sheniya: Poland vol. 6: Poznan and Pomerania Districts; Gdansk (Jerusalem, 1999); and Yehude Danzig 1840-1943: hit'arut, maavak, hatzala (Israel, 1983). The fourth-largest metropolitan area in Poland, Gdansk is Poland's principal seaport as well as capital of the Pomeranian Voivodeship. Historically the largest city of the Kashubian region, the city is close to the former boundary between West Slavic and Germanic lands. Normal 0 The Teutonic Order prohibited Jewish settlement in 1308 in this city at the estuary of the Vistula on the Baltic, but this tolerance was limited in 1438. Around 1440, a "Judengasse" appeared on the bank of the Motława. At the end of the 15th century, after the town was governed by Poland and became the wealthiest city of Poland with very lucrative commerce in grain and goods between Western and Eastern Europe, the commercial possibilities attracted Jews whose activities were restricted. The Polish king recommended the city council to permit two Jews in 1476 with equal rights with the other merchants. A Jewish settlement grew up in Gdansk after 1454, but opposition of the merchants in 1520 drove the Jews to Schottland and other ex-urban places not under municipal jurisdiction. King Sigismund I intervened in 1531 so that the council withdrew the regulation prohibiting Jews from trading at the fair, but the discrimination continued. In retaliation, the Jews of Lithuania boycotted the Gdansk's banking house in Kaunas that eventually went bankrupt. They Gdansk merchants were tossed out of the Lithuanian salt trade. In 1595, the city council permitted them to stay in Gdansk during fair days only, but by 1616, about 400 to 500 Jews lived in Gdansk in addition to those settled on land owned by the aristocracy or clergy. In 1620, the king approved Jewish residence in Gdansk and permission to trade in grain and timber in the commercial sector and Langengarten (port area.) that were extended to the whole of the city. The mid-17th century saw conversions by Jews that were problematic for the Jewish community. During the 18th century, the main opposition to the Jews in Gdansk came from the of small trades and craftsmen. A chevra kaddisha and bikkur olim were founded in the old Jewish quarter in Schottland (Stary Schottland) in 1724. In 1748, the Jews who had been expelled returned "only temporarily." About 1,098 Jews lived in the areas outside the city jurisdiction in 1765, 504 in Schottland and Hoppenbruch, 230 in Langfuhr, and 364 in Weinberg. In 1773, 50 families received the rights of citizenship in Gdansk with 160 Jews were permitted to reside there. After Gdansk was incorporated into Prussia in 1793, the restrictions on the Jews remained in force. When Langfuhr and Schottland were destroyed in 1813, the Jews moved into the city. When Gdansk was a Free City (1807 and 1814), Jews there received citizenship under the Prussian liberation decree prompting anti-Jewish incidents in September 1819 and August 1821. Thirty-three Jews joined the merchants' guild just as the city's commercial importance diminished. Jews permitted to engage in crafts founded a Jewish craftsguild in 1823. Some Hebrew printing was done there in the 1500s. In 1888 the communities of Schottland, Langfuhr, Weinberg, Mattenbunden, and Breitegasse were amalgamated. Jewish population: 3,798 in 1816; 2,736 in 1880 (2.4%); 2,390 in 1910 (1.4%); and 4,678 in 1924. In 1920 Gdansk was again a Free City of 356,000 of whom in 1923 7,292 were Jew. The number rose to 9,230 in 1924, over half in Gdansk itself where the Jewish community had four synagogues and many Jewish organizations. Nearby Sopot was a popular summer and sea resort for many Polish Jews in the interwar period attracting Jewish émigrés from Russia. In 1937, Nazi influences began to impact the Jews with a program in October 1937  that prompted half the Jews to leave Gdansk within the year. Two synagogues burned between Nov. 12 and 14, 1938; two others were desecrated while shops and homes were looted. The Jewish community decided to immigrate so many more left. By September 1939, about 1,700 mostly elderly Jews remained. By early 1941, only 600 still stayed. Many then left for Palestine on the Patria, which the British sunk in Haifa port. Of those remaining, 395 were deported during February and March 1941 to Warsaw and 200 from the Jewish old age home to Theresienstadt. 22 Jewish spouses of mixed marriages remaining in Gdansk survived the war. After the city reverted to Poland in 1945, a number of Jews settled there, but few remained by the end of the 1960s. [May 2009]

synagogue sketch. [August 2005] Cemetery photos [May 2006]

Established around the mid-16th century, the cemetery is one of the oldest Jewish burial sites in this part of Europe. The first documentation is from 1694.  In the 18th and 19th century, the area was enlarged to the current 2.3 hectare with a separate part available to the Chevra Kadisha from the municipality to which the cemetery belonged. The vertical gravestones were returned to face east towards Jerusalem, symbolizing light, which at this point at Chelm is of special significance since from the hillside cemetery is a view on the entire Gulf of Gdansk and in the sea that reflects the emerging sun. Primiarly constructed of sandstone, a few gravestones without rich Jewish symbolism remain in the newest part of the cemetery (the oldest from 1841). Ornamentation is limited to relief. Epitaphs in Hebrew and German are names, Hebrew names, and dates of birth and death and possibly the origin and occupation of the deceased. The cemetery survived until the end of WWII. Closed in 1956, systematic devastation began, particularly intense in the 1970s, when part was completely destroyed -- the lower terrace of the oldest and most valuable tombstones. Today, the cemetery borders residential blocks built on the steep hill leading to the stairs (like in the past with nearby Royal Jaśkowa Hill Valley. Of a number of eminent rabbis oheli, only one remains, that from the 1920s, now a meeting place for local hooligans .History. Gdansk Jewish Community website.  [May 2009]

formerly Danzig, Westpreussen, Germany: FHL Microfilm #1,184,407 has the index listed as "Register of Jewish births, marriages, deaths and cemetery records 1839-1939". Many names were totally illegible. Some records are as early as 1819-21. Some parts are very dark and unprintable. The title of the section is "Kadischa Beerdigungs- Register der Weinberger Chevre Kadischa zu Danzig". Cemetery info is at the end of film. Source: Sal and Ellen Barbieri

274. III 80 Schottland (suburb of Danzig), Pinkas of the Bikur Cholim (records of the society for visiting the sick), 18th-19th centuries; with a list of burials, 1806-1848. Source: Leo Baeck Institute

GDANSK-CHELM:     US Commission No. POCE000002

Alternate name: Danzig-Stolzenberg in German. Gdansk-Chelmis located in Gdansk (54º22 18º36), 391km from Warsaw. The cemetery is located at ul. Cmentarna. Present population is over 100,000, with 10-100 Jews.

  • Town: Prezydent Miasta, Urzad Miejski, ul. Drugie Ogrody 8/12, 80-803 Gdansk, Tel: 32-30-41.
  • Regional: Dr. Hanna Domanska, ul. Wladyslawa IV 34/3, 81-742 Sopot, Tel: 51-04-22.
  • Interested: Regionalny Osrodek Studiow i Ochrony Srodowiska Kulturowego., ul. Sw. Trojcy 5, 80-822 Gdansk, Tel: 31-77-12, 31-75-22.

The earliest known Jewish community was 1694. 1939 Jewish population was 3900. Effecting the Jewish Community were the bans on permanent settlement in 1309 and 1457; 5 suburban communities that existed in the late 17th century and the 2nd half of the 18th century; permission to settle in the town (granted in 1773 and 1814); the unification of the communities (1883) with the building of a synagogue (1885-7); and the reprisals, pogroms, and emigration from 1933-1939. Living here were Rabbis: Elchanan ben Samuel Sanwel Aschkenazi, Israel ben Gedalja Lipschutz, Abraham Stein, Robert Kalter and lekarz Adolf Wallenberg. Kolekcjoner Lesser Gieldzinski also lived and is buried here. Buried in the cemetery are Rabbis: Elchanan ben Samuel Sanwel Aschkenazi, Israel ben Gedalja Lipschutz, Robert Kalter. The cemetery was probably established in the 2nd half of the 16th century with last known Orthodox and Progressive/Reform Jewish burial in 1929. Communities in the Gdansk district (up to 60km away) also used this landmarked cemetery: Register of Monuments under No. A 904. The urban hillside and crown of a hill, separate but near other cemeteries, has no sign or marker. Reached by turning directly off a public road and crossing the property of a housing estate, access is open to all wit no wall or gate. The size of cemetery both before WWII and now is 2.30 hectares. There are between 100 and 500 gravestones, between 25% and 50% toppled or broken, date from 1806 to 20th century. The granite, sandstone and other materials finely smoothed and inscribed stones or flat stones with carved relief decoration have Hebrew and German inscriptions. There are no known mass graves, but there is an ohel. The municipality owns the property used for recreation. Properties adjacent are residential. Frequently, organized Jewish group tours or pilgrimage tours, organized individual tours, private visitors, and local residents visit. Vegetation overgrowth in the cemetery is a constant problem that damages the stones; water drainage is a seasonal problem. The cemetery was vandalized during World War II and occasionally in the last ten years. No maintenance. Weather erosion and pollution are moderate threats. Security and vegetation are serious threats. Vandalism and incompatible development (both planned and existent) are very serious threats. Stones are stolen and the cemetery land is being developed.

Dr Hanna Domanska, ul. Wladyslawa IV 34/3, 81-742 Sopot, tel: 51-04-22 completed survey 19/07/1991. Documentation: Archives, bibliography, and The Tree of Stone Tears; The Jewish Communities of the Gdansk Vovoidship; Their History and Culture. H. Domanska, Gdansk 1991. Dr. Domanska visited the site in July of 1991.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 May 2009 19:43