General information: First Jewish presence: Middle Ages; peak Jewish population: 172 in 1873; Jewish population in 1933: 73
Summary: It was in 1813, when 32 Jews (10 families) settled in Loetzen (Polish: Gizycko), that the foundation for a community was established. Local Jews maintained a cemetery (established in 1807), a synagogue at 5 Boyenstrasse (1880) and a Jewish school. Loetzen was home to several prominent Jews: Paul Moritz Davidsohn (1871-1927), the “father” of the German film industry; Moritz Davidsohn, a prominent textile merchant; Daniel Jacoby and Gabriel Russ, who were involved in municipal politics; and Mrs. Friedlander, who served on the board of the Country Motherland Association. In 1931/32, the leaders of the community were Alfred Levin, L. Masur and a Mr. Schereschewski. Jewish-owned businesses were attacked in 1932, and in 1933, Julius Zacharias and a merchant by the name of Markus were arrested. On Pogrom Night, the synagogue was burned down. By May 1939, only 20 Jews lived in Loetzen. Several Loetzen Jews immigrated to the United States, others were caught in the Netherlands and many were deported. The last to leave was probably Miss Gruczinski, a nurse who had been awarded an Iron Cross in World War I; she was arrested by the Gestapo in 1944, but it is reported that she managed to escape from a transport to a concentration camp. At least 50 Loetzen Jews perished in the Shoah.
Author / Sources: Esther Sarah Evans
Sources: EJL, FJG, LJG
Located in: east-prussia