General information: First Jewish presence: 1718; peak Jewish population: 455 in 1880; Jewish population in 1933: 124
Summary: Three Jewish families settled in Neustettin (present-day Szczecnek, Poland) in 1718. As one of these arrivals was a gravedigger, it is reasonable to assume that a Jewish cemetery existed in the area. We do not know when the community established its synagogue, but records do tell us that after 1828, a synagogue was located in a timber frame building opposite the city school. Concerned about noise, the authorities did not permit the community to move the synagogue to a more central location. In 1863, the synagogue was broken into and two Torah scrolls were desecrated. Egged on by the incendiary speeches of Dr. Ernst Henrici, anti-Semites set the synagogue on fire in 1881. The Neustettin authorities accused the Jews of committing this crime themselves, and several congregants were tried but subsequently absolved of any wrongdoing. The incident, however, triggered the outbreak of anti-Jewish riots throughout Pomerania and West Prussia; in Neustettin, Jewish-owned homes and stores were vandalized, and Jews were expelled from local associations. A new synagogue was consecrated in Neustettin in 1883. The congregation was served by a rabbi, a teacher and a cantor during the years 1885 to 1908, after which a community official assumed these duties. After 1895, at which point Jews made up five percent of the total population, the community began to dwindle, a tendency that accelerated once the Nazis gained power. On Pogrom Night (November 1938) the synagogue was burned down—the surrounding premises were secured—Jewish-owned stores were plundered and Jewish men were detained in the basement of the municipal building before being deported. The remaining Jews were deported in 1940/41, and we also know that more than 100 Neustettin Jews perished in the Shoah. The Jewish cemetery, located near Wasserturm, was destroyed during the Nazi period; the mortuary is now a Protestant church.
Author / Sources: Ruth Martina Trucks
Sources: EJL, LJG, FJG, YV
Located in: pomerania