TOPICS

Danzig -- Religions - Jews

Although there are no records of it, by about 1400 Jews had probably settled near Danzig on land belonging to the Bishop of Cujaven. In 1454, after it attained its freedom from the Teutonic Order, Danzig continued to insist that "no Lombard, N├╝rnberger, Scot, Englishman, or Jew" should enjoy the privileges of citizenship. However the King of Poland continued his relatively tolerant attitude toward the Jews in view of their value as merchants in his lands, so the Danzigers did have commerce with Jews. Many Jews persecuted in Brandenburg or Silesia fled to Poland or Bohemia. Supplications by jewish merchants to attend trade fairs in Danzig were regularly denied. Despite prohibitions, however, by the end of the 17th century Jews had settled in Langgarten section of Danzig and were conducting religious services there. Despite attempts by the Council to forbid it, Jews employed by Polish nobility on nearby estates controlled trade in certain areas and were not banished. Around 1616, when they were banished despite intercession on the part of the Polish crown, there were probably 500-600 practicing Jews residing in Danzig. It was largely the Third Order which opposed the Jews. Nevertheless, areas surrounding Danzig and belonging to Polish nobility -- Altschottland, Hoppenbruch, Stolzenberg, Weinberg and Langfuhr -- frequently protected Jews and permitted communities to establish themselves. (They were still obliged to pay various fines and purchase certain wares.) These settlers proved stiff competition for Danzig tradesmen. Some Jews lived unofficially within the city walls, but these were always in danger of losing their homes.

In 1710 the Bishop of Cujaven expelled the Jews living on his land, but by 1725 there were again Jews in Altschottland and Hoppenbruch. In records from 1724 a synagogue is documented in Altschottland. Some of these traveled between trade fairs in Leipzig and Danzig.

[Samuel Echt. Die Geschichte der Juden in Danzig. Leer/Ostfriesland: Verlag Gerhard Rautenberg, 1972.]