Timeline of Lublin Jews - the Most Important Facts
Events related to the history of the Jewish community in Lublin.
1336 – unconfirmed record of Polish king Casimir the Great letting Jews settle in a suburb of Lublin called Piaski.
1475 – Rabbi Yaakov of Trento settles in the town.
1518 – Shalom Shachna establishes a yeshiva in Lublin; the oldest confirmations of the privilege de non tolerandis Judaeis come from that year.
1523 – king Sigismund I vests the Jews living near the Lublin Castle with the same rights as other Jews in Poland, especially those in Lwów. Jan of Pilcza, the starost of Lublin, put forward the motion, claiming that Lublin Jews had an important and useful role in the city.
1532 – Shalom Shachna, who, together with the Rabbi of Cracow Moshe Fishel, was Chief Rabbi of the Lesser Poland (Małopolska) region, is appointed Chief Rabbi of Lublin.
1541 – Jakub (Yaakov) Kopelman haLevi buried in the Jewish cemetery – his is the oldest preserved tombstone at the old cemetery.
1547 – first publications of Hebrew books and prayer books printed in Lublin.
1550 – king Sigismund Augustus issues a permit allowing two Jews: Yoseph and Eliezer to establish Jewish printing houses in Lublin.
1567 – the great Maharshal synagogue is built in Lublin by virtue of a privilege issued by the king. It is named the Maharshalshul, in honour of Rabbi Shlomo Luria.
1580 – the Vaad Arba Aratzot (The Council of Four Lands), the central body of Jewish authority, is established by virtue of a privilege granted by king Stephen Bathory. Its proceedings usually took place in Lublin (the last session was held in 1725). The Council played a great role in the social and cultural life of Jews in Poland.
1598 – first blood libel trial in Lublin. The Lublin Royal Tribunal sentences four Jews to death four Jews for “murder of a Catholic boy” in the town of Łosice (Siedlce region).
1638 (1641) – by virtue of a privilege issued by king Władysław IV, the Kotlarshul synagogue (the coppersmiths synagogue) is built by Tzvi Doktorowich at 20, Szeroka Street.
1655 – Russian troops set fire to the Jewish quarter. The Podzamcze area plundered by Cossack - Muscovite troops that kill about two thousand of Jewish residents of the city.
1672 – the Tatar invasion of Lublin results in complete destruction and looting of the Jewish quarter.
1682 – the last session of the Vaad Arba Aratzot (The Council of Four Lands) in Lublin.
1696 – king John III Sobieski permits the Jews to trade without no restrictions both in the city and outside its boundaries; the permission would be confirmed by king Augustus II in 1698.
1702 – fire of the Jewish Quarter.
1786 – Nowa Street (formerly a part of Lubartowska Street), where Jews would open clothes shops, is built.
1790 - 1800 – in that decade, Yaakov Yitzhak haLevi Horowitz, “the Seer”, settles in Wieniawa, then moves to Lublin, and lives in Szeroka Street.
1815 – the Seer of Lublin, Yaakov Yitzhak haLevi Horowitz, dies, and is buried in the old Jewish cemetery.
1829 – an epidemic of cholera decimates the Jewish population of the city. Because of that, and given the population growth, the new Jewish cemetery is established. First burials would take place there a year later.
1851 – opening of a big market square at Świętoduska Street. It would stay unchanged until the 1920s. Nowadays, it is called the Square of the Victims of the Ghetto (Plac Ofiar Getta).
1856 – Maharshal and Maharam synagogues destroyed in a construction disaster.
1859 – first Jewish elementary school is officially opened.
1862 – the Wielopolski reform enables Jews to live in Lublin, and take part in the Municipal Council elections.
1870 – the qahal purchases a building in Grodzka Street, planning to open an orphanage for Jewish children there. Józef Goldsztern becomes the curator of the orphanage. In 1942, the children and the orphanage staff were murdered by Nazis.
1887 – the Jewish Religious Community Hospital is opened.
1897 – opening of the first private Jewish secondary school ran by Nusym Rajchtensztajn.
1903 – establishment of the Circle of the Socialist General Union of Workers Bund in Lublin.
1908 – foundation of a cultural society to promote literature and Jewish songs under the name Hazomir.
1910 – a society for promotion of Jewish-Hebrew language and culture is established under the name Hovevei Sfos Ever (lovers of past language).
1916 – first secondary schools in the form of gymnasium founded in Lublin – one for boys, directed by Szymon Szper and the other for girls, with Róża Szper as the headmaster. After Szymon’s death (1919), Mrs. Szper establishes a co-educational gymnasium that existed until 1932; the Wieniawa suburb is incorporated into the Lublin Qahal. Wieniawa had a historic synagogue and a cemetery. A weekly socio-cultural magazine in Polish titled „Myśl Żydowska” (Jewish thought) is published.
1917 – opening of the Jewish Public Library in Lublin.
1918 – the first issue of Yiddish "Lubliner Tugblat” (Lublin journal) is published. The editorial office is situated on 12, Królewska Street, and the first editor in chief is Shlomo Baruch Nisenbaum.
1924 – laying of the cornerstone of the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva (22 May 1924), attended by approximately 20 000 people.
1930 – solemn opening of the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva (Lublin academy of sages); erudite talmudist Meir Shapiro, for many years a member of parliament for the Agudas Yisroel, becomes its rector and Chief Rabbi of Lublin.
1933 – death of Meir Shapiro.
1936 – the Jewish Community passes a resolution protesting against introducing ghetto benches for Jews at Polish universities. Beginning of construction of the Yitzhak Peretz (Icchak Perec) People’s House in Czwartek Street.
World War II
1939 – Lublin has more than 120.000 citizens, including over 42.000 Jews.
18.09.1939 – the Germans march into Lublin, on 9 September the SS removes all Jews (500 families) from Krakowskie Przedmieście and adjacent streets, giving them 10 minutes to leave their apartments. A census of Jews is taken, and all of them are obliged to wear a white armband with the Star of David on the right sleeve. Roundups begin. The Germans move into Jewish houses, destroy and loot their property; a labour camp for Jewish captives is created on Lipowa Street.
1940 – the Germans nominate a Jewish Council (Judenrat) in Lublin, with Henryk Bekker as chairman and Salomon Kestenberg and attorney Marek Alten as vice chairmen. The Judenrat consists of 10 members. All the synagogues and houses of prayer are closed.
1941 – the Lublin ghetto is established. It includes Jewish quarter with the following streets: Lubartowska (odd numbers), Kowalska, Szeroka, Cyrulicza, Zamkowa, Nadstawna, Krawiecka, Podzamcze, Czwartek and Jateczna.
1941 – the Germans build the Majdanek concentration camp in the suburbs of Lublin.
1942 – liquidation of Lublin ghetto starts in March. It is considered to be the beginning of Operation Reinhardt. Every day, around 1.500 Jews are transported away. In a very short time, Germans transport more or less 30.000 Jewish people to the Bełżec extermination camp. 4000 remaining Jews are transferred in April to the Majdan Tatarski ghetto, from where they would all be taken to the Majdanek concentration camp and eventually murdered there in the autumn of that year (9 November 1942).
1942 – the Germans start to demolish buildings in the Jewish quarter incorporated into the ghetto.
1943 – Majdanek, Poniatowa and Trawniki become the biggest camps of extermination of Jews in the Lublin region. In the beginning, they were labour camps where prisoners were forced to carry out gruelling work. In November 1943, in one day, 18.400 people are killed in Majdanek, and in the next few days, 15.000 perish in Poniatowa and 10.000 in Trawniki. In that short period, more than 42.000 Jews were murdered. The Nazis called that operation the “Harvest Festival Operation” ("Aktion Erntefest”).
22 July 1944 – liberation of Lublin. Jewish survivors originating from Lublin return to their hometown from various places. In the second half of the year, the Jewish Historical Commission in Lublin (Żydowska Komisja Historyczna w Lublinie) is founded. Its goal is to examine the history of Jews in Poland during the Nazi occupation period.
1947 – Żydowski Komitet Ziomkostwa Lubelskiego (the Jewish Committee of the Lublin Landsmanshaft) organizes a congress of former Lublin citizens of Jewish origin.
1963 – a monument dedicated to the murdered Jews of Lublin is placed between Świętoduska Street and Nowa Street, on the former market square, nowadays called the Square of the Victims of the Ghetto.
1968 – 1969 – period of the largest emigration of Jews from the Polish People’s Republic. Many thousands of citizens who have Jewish roots leave Poland. Only a small group of Jews (approximately 25 people) stays in Lublin, among whom it is not possible to find 10 men to form a minyan which is necessary to perform prayers in synagogue and during the funerals.
1984 – Polish Television produces "W każdej garstce popiołu..." (in every handful of ash...) – a film in which Symcha Wajs presents a few fragments of life and activities of Lublin Jews in the interwar period.
1985 – 55th anniversary of the opening of the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva, a commemorative plaque embedded into the wall of the Collegium Maius building in Lubartowska Street, where the Yeshiva was situated until 1939.
1989 – on 18 January, the Society for the Preservation of the Relics of Jewish Culture in Lublin (Towarzystwo Opieki nad Pamiątkami Kultury Żydowskiej w Lublinie) is established by virtue of the decision of the voivodship office. Book titled “Mój Lublin” (my Lublin) by Róża Fiszman Sznajdman is published.
1990 – ceremony of the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva; Dov Shapiro – rabbi Shapiro’s nephew and student of the yeshiva in the 1930s – comes from Israel to take part in the celebrations.
1994 – academic session “Żydzi Lubelscy” (the Jews of Lublin) takes place from 14 to 16 December, organized by the Society for the Preservation of the relics of Jewish Culture in Lublin (Towarzystwo Opieki nad Pamiątkami Kultury Żydowskiej w Lublinie), the Lublin Castle Museum and the “Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre” Centre. The session is dedicated to Jewish culture.
1995 – the Lublin Concert of Jewish Songs in Yiddish - Katherina Muether, Urlich George.
1996 – “Brama Pamięci – Miasto żydowskie” (“Gate of Memory – the Jewish City”) – an academic session at the “Grodzka Gate - NN Theatre” Centre.
1997 – first Polish exhibition of Simcha Nornberg’s works in Lublin, presenting watercolours and other paintings.
1998 – opening of the exhibition “Wielka Księga Miasta” (the great book of the city) to remind of the Jewish community of Lublin.
1999 – presentation of art installation "Shrine – Świątynia Pokoju" (the temple of peace), commemorating the 55th anniversary of liberation of the Majdanek concentration camp; a session-debate “A Meeting with Messianism and Jewish Mysticism”.
2000 – mystery play “Jedna Ziemia – Dwie Świątynie” (one land – two temples) in the Old Town, mystery play “Dzień Pięciu Modlitw” (the day of five prayers) at the Majdanek camp.
2002 – “Misterium Światła i Ciemności” (mystery play of light and darkness), the 60th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lublin ghetto.
2003 – Hanukkah – the Festival of Lights. A holiday meeting in the building of the defunct Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva.
2004 – there are a few dozens of people with Jewish roots living in Lublin; Talila, Ben Zimet and le Yiddish Orchestra Concert – memories of the pre-war Jewish world in French and Yiddish; Purim – the Holiday of Lots – a festive meeting organized in the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva with the cooperation of the Social-Cultural Association of Jews (Towarzystwo Społeczno-Kulturalne Żydów); visit of David Peleg – Israeli ambassador in Poland; a symbolic Shabbat in the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva – a celebration organized together with the Warsaw Jewish Community.
17 March 2005 – solemn celebration of the 9th Siyum HaShas in the Yeshiva with participation from Hasidim from America, Western and Eastern Europe. Internet transmission of the events to the New York celebrations.
2006 – International academic conference “Żydzi w Lublinie. Żydzi we Lwowie. Miejsca – Pamięć – Współczesność” (Jews in Lublin. Jews in Lwów. Places - memory – the present day).
2008 – “Pamięć Sprawiedliwych – Pamięć Światła” (Memory of the Righteous - memory of light). A social-artistic mystery play commemorating the Jews of Lublin and their Polish rescuers during World War II.
17 March 2012 – mystery play “Ocalone Losy” (saved fates) – several dozen spots arranged inside the Centre, for the Lublin Jews who survived the Holocaust to tell their stories to high school pupils from Lublin.
17 March 2012 – the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the ghetto in Podzamcze. Two works of Krzystof Penderecki: “Death Brigade” and “Kaddish. To all Łódź Abrameks Who Desired to Live. To Poles who saved Jews” are played back in the presence of the composer.
5 November 2012 – mystery play “Ocalone Losy” (saved fates) with participation from Witnesses of History – dwellers of the city who remember the times of the German occupation and the Shoah. They passed the memory of those events on to the high school pupils of Lublin.
Edited by Marzena Gruszecka
Translated by Magdalena Dziaczkowska
Revised by Jarosław Kobyłko