THE JEWISH COMMUNITY
The town of Gostynin is located in the region known as Mazovia in the former Plock Province of Poland. January 1999 brought about the consolidation of the 49 provinces to 16 and Gostynin is now part of the Mazowieckie Province and the Powiat (County) of Gostynin. Founded in the 13th century, Gostynin is located on the Skrwa Lewa River amid an area noted for its forests, lakes & nature parks. The town is located 14 miles southwest of the city of Plock and approximately 60 miles northwest of Warsaw. The present population of Gostynin and the surrounding area is approximately 32,000 people. Noted historic structures in the town include a castle, town hall, market arcade and old inn. Commerce includes brick manufacturing, flour milling, saw milling, the state-owned operations of ELGO, a lighting manufacturing company, & ERA, an electronics producer. A number of private companies in 1989 were opened in Gostynin as well.
The Jewish Community of Gostynin dates to ca. 1765 though in 1626 there are reports of Jews owning the town brewery and a malt factory. In 1765 the Community had about 157 members. In 1779 a wooden synagogue was built near the Rynek or marketplace. The structure burned down in 1899. By the end of the 18th century, Jews formed 26% of the population of Gostynin. They were involved in trade, innkeeping, tailoring, the fur business, and butchering. Between 1823 and 1862 there were special residential quarters for the Jewish population. Yehiel Meir Lipschuetz, a local Hasidic leader and rabbi, lived in Gostynin in the 19th century. By 1921 1,831 Jews formed 27% of the population. There are some estimates that on the eve of the Holocaust, almost 4,000 Jews lived in Gostynin, though a more reliable number is 2,269. Jews lived, primarily, in the center of town. The synagogue & beit hamidrash were situated north of the Rynek. This is where the train station now stands.
The Jewish Community of Gostynin suffered the same fate as thousands of other Jewish Communities during the Holocaust. When the German army entered the town in September 1939, there were mass arrests of Jews and Jewish property was looted and destroyed. The synagogue, which was rebuilt in 1899, was ordered dismantled so that the wood could be used for fuel for the houses of new German inhabitants of the town. Exorbitant fines were levied by the Nazis against the Jewish Community. In January 1941 a Ghetto was set up in the town. It occupied the area of Plocka, Buczka, Wojska Polskiego and Bagnista Streets, and was an open ghetto at first. It was later enclosed with barbed wire.
Approximately 3,500 Jews from Gostynin and the nearby town of Gabin (Gombin) lived in the Gostynin Ghetto and were employed in laundering and tailoring workshops. In August of 1941 transports of Jewish men and women to the Konin Concentration Camp and others began. The ghetto was liquidated during June and August of 1942 with most ghetto residents being deported to the Chelmno Extermination Center near the village of Chelmno nad Ner and the rest being taken to the Lodz Ghetto and the Konin Concentration Camp. Other sources report that the Ghetto was liquidated on April 16-17, 1942 with 2,000 Jews being taken to the Chelmno death camp.
Gostynin once had two Jewish cemeteries, the "old" and the "new". The old Jewish cemetery was located in the northeast part of the town on a side street that was called "The Lane of the Dead". The new Jewish cemetery was located on Goscinna Street. No traces of either cemetery exist today, having been destroyed by the Nazis. The site of the new Jewish Cemetery on Goscinna Street is now owned by the Gostynin municipality and is occasionally cleared of grass and tree saplings. Adjacent properties are recreational and residential. No burials have taken place in the cemetery since between 1939 and 1945.
There are no Jewish residents in Gostynin today. In existence are a number of memorials to the former Jewish Community of Gostynin. One large marble plaque is part of the Chamber of the Holocaust Memorial Museum on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Gostynin is included in the "Valley of Communities" memorial at Yad Vashem, also in Jerusalem. A Yizkor book for Gostynin, "Pinkas Gostynin" was published in 1961 as a joint publication of the New York and Israel Gostynin landsmann groups. Only the Israeli Gostynin landsmann group exists today.
Two Gostynin cemetery sections exist in the New York City area, the older section is at Montefiore Cemetery and the newest one at the New Montefiore Cemetery. These cemetery sections were established by the New York Gostynin landsmann group, "First Independent Gostynin Benevolent Association", in order to assist with burial space for new immigrants and their families from Gostynin. It is not known whether any of the former Jewish sites in Gostynin have markers, though there are a number of war related markers in the town and in the town cemetery. As was common during the Communist era, the wording of the various monuments does not "specifically" refer to Jewish residents of the town. A very well-done promotional booklet for the town of Gostynin written in Polish, German and English does refer to Jewish residents of the town and to the murder of most of these Jews by the Nazis during World War Two. This booklet was published in recent years. Most of the Jewish vital records of Gostynin were destroyed during the war, some records from ca. 1917 to 1938 are still found in the town's Civil Records Office.
Today former residents of Gostynin are living in the metro New York City area and in various parts of Israel. Those with ancestral connections to the town can be found in North America, South America, Israel, and England.
"Gostynin Informator Miejski"
Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw
Acompiled by Julian H. Preisler of Wilmington, Delaware - USA.
If you have connections to the town of Gostynin, please contact Julian H. Preisler, email:email@example.com
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Last Updated December 25th, 2002