Koeslin

General information: First Jewish presence: 1700; peak Jewish population: 361 in 1880; Jewish population in 1933: 140
Summary: The history of Jewish Koeslin (present-day Koszalin, Poland) began in 1705, when Borchard Philip and his extended family settled in Pomerania. Philip, a rich merchant who provided local cloth manufacturers with wool and money, eventually opened his own textile factory, employing 100 workers. During the 18th century, Koeslin Jews attended services in the Neustettiner synagogue. Later, on an unspecified date in the 19th century, the growing community consecrated a prayer hall on Hohetorstrasse, which they used until a domed synagogue was built on Am Wall in 1885. Unable to employ a permanent rabbi—Rabbi Heymann Jolowitz served for a brief period during the mid-19th century—the congregation instead employed a teacher of religion and Hebrew who also performed the duties of cantor and sermonizer. We do not know when the community consecrated its cemetery on Badegasse (near Muehlenbach), but records do tell us that in 1900, a new cemetery, morgue and guardhouse were built on Schwarzen Berg. Jewish-owned businesses, for example, a paper factory, a brewery and a bank, contributed to the economic development of the city. Many young Jews, however, left Koeslin in the late 19th century, when anti-Semitic riots swept Pomerania. Later, soon after Germany’s defeat in World War I, community membership dwindled further. During Pogrom Night, on November 10, 1938, the synagogue and morgue were set on fire, gravestones were desecrated and Jewish-owned stores were vandalized. Several Koeslin Jews tried to immigrate to Shanghai during the Nazi period, but it is unclear whether or not they reached their destination. In 1942, all Jews under the age of 65 were detained in a local sports hall and deported to Auschwitz; six weeks later, the remaining Jews were deported to Theresienstadt. The Polish authorities later cleared the cemetery’s ruins, after which a residential building was built on the site.
Photo: The synagogue of Koeslin. Courtesy of: Unknown.
Author / Sources: Ruth Martina Trucks
Sources: LJG, FJG
Located in: Pomerania