THE HISTORY OF THE JEWS IN LODZ

Till 1782, the only Jews in Lodz were the local tavern keepers. The historical-political changes which took place on the turn of the 18th and 20th century allowed the development from the small, agricultural town into a strong industrial center and with it an influx of the Jewish population.

Already in 1808 there was a Jewish community of 58 members, a year later the first (wooden) synagogue was built in the to-day Wolborska street and in 1811 the so called Old Cemetery in the Wesola street was established, which served the Community till 1892.

In spite of the following economic depressions, the number of the Community members grew steadily. In the 60s of the 19 century Jewish population counted about 30 000 people. More than 1/3 of manufactures were in the hands of Jewish industrialists. In these years big manufactures fortune were established.

In the 80s of the 19 century, following the pogroms in the Moscow District, a big wave of Russian Jews fled to Lodz. At the end of the century, the number of Jewish residents of the city came near to 100 000. This growing number of the Jewish population forced the Community to establish a new cemetery in 1892 in Bracka street.

The first 30 years of the 20th century brought a rise in the Jewish activities in the culture and on the social field. The literary-music company "Hazomir" was operating and included chorus, drama circle and a library. The symphonic orchestra was established. There were active some sport associations.

On the eve of IIWW the Jewish population in Lodz numbered 233 000 people, which was near of 35% of all residents of Lodz.

The history of that world was cut short by the Holocaust. The German occupants destroyed the Lodzer synagogues and closed the Jewish population in Ghetto - a large forced labor camp. A part of the destruction came after the war. Among others the cemetery in the Wesola Street ceased to exist only in the 50s. A street was built on part of the cemetery, on Jewish graves apartment houses rose. Today only old maps of the city and dilapidated fragments of the 19th century cemetery wall are witness to the original character of this place.

The heritage of the Lodzer Jews continues to dilapidate and often succumbs to devastation. The Foundation Momentum Iudaicum Lodzense through her activities tries to save every even so small piece of this heritage.

 

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