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The Ghetto at Kutno

Kutno is located 33 miles north of Lodz, and is roughly in the centre of Poland

 Holocaust Research Project on Ulitzer

Kutno is located 33 miles north of Lodz, and is roughly in the centre of Poland. A Jewish community existed in the mid 15th Century. A synagogue was built in 1766 and survived until 1939.  In 1753, a fire destroyed the town including all documents of the Jewish community.  

Therefore, not much is known of the history of Jewish community of Kutno until mid-18th century.

 

What is known is that the Jews were established in commercial activity, extending all the way to Germany and the Netherlands. The Jewish population in 1897 was 10,356 this was approximately 50% of the total population.
 

The city enjoyed long years of success under the reigns of diligent and enlightened owners; it also struggled with crises following turbulent history of Poland and the disintegration of feudal structures.

 

Kutno was a centre of rabbinical learning and prominent personalities such as Nahum Sokolow and Sholem Asch studied at the Yeshiva. Asch was born in Kutno 1880 and immortalised the town in his works.

 

Zionist activity began in 1898 and most of the Zionist political parties and youth movements were founded prior to the First World War. A Yiddish school was founded in 1916 and this existed until 1935. The majority of the community was employed as salaried workers during the 19th Century and they increased proportionally during the next Century, mainly in the textile and food industries.

 

The income of Jewish shop owners and artisans was adversely effected by the boycott imposed by the Endecja Party between the two World Wars. Shortly after World War One a trade union was established by the Bund and a Jewish Labour union was organised while a Jewish merchants association was set up in 1932.

 

Jews in Kutno rounded up for forced labor

In the 1924 community council elections the Zionists won 50% of the seats and Jewish representatives were elected to the municipal council. A Jewish government elementary school opened in 1926 and two years later a school with Yiddish instruction opened its doors, one year earlier a University was opened.

 

Before the onset of the war, 8000 Jews were living in Kutno. Once the Germans entered Kutno on the 15 September 1939 Jewish males were rounded up and sent to forced labour camps in Piatek and a group of seventy to a prison camp in Leczyca.

 

Jews were persecuted daily and Jewish property was plundered, the Jewish synagogue was burned down, and only the walls remained. A Judenrat was established in November 1939 and on the 15 June 1940 8,000 Jews were incarcerated in the ghetto.

Read more about Kutno here: http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/ghettos/kutno.html

The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team


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Copyright Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2009 

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