[Yiddish, Pozen] - One of the oldest and most important Jewish communitites in Wielkopolska. In 1264, Prince Boleslaw the Pious granted Jews in Wielkopolska a privilege (the Kalisz privilege) guaranteeing them the ruler's protection, and freedom of residence and trade, which fostered the development of the Jewish settlement in the area.

When exactly the Jews first settled in Poznan is not known. They probably lived there as early as the thirteenth century, though the first mention of their presence in Pozna� only dates back to 1379.

During the first half of the fifteenth century, the Community developed rapidly. Jews, engaged in money-lending, comprised the city's financial elite. They occupied one-fourth of the buildings on Sukiennicza Street, which was renamed Zydowska (Jewish) Street; the synagogue was built there as well. This area was destroyed in 1447 and 1464 by fire.

Because of the fires and an influx of German burghers, the Jewish Community's economic position collapsed. The first conflicts with Christians probably also took place then. Accusations were made during this period that Jews had "profaned the Host" in 1399. This legend spread in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

The sixteenth century was a period of rapid demographic growth for the Community, even in the face of further fires and epidemics. In 1619, a total of 3,130 Jews were living within Poznan proper and its suburbs. They owned 138 buildings in the city. Overcrowding in the Jewish quarter forced its residents to apply for permission to expand its area.
During this period, Poznan's Jews were involved primarily in trade and crafts. They maintained close contacts with trading centers in Germany, Italy and Turkey. The increasing number of craftsmen prompted the establishment of guild organizations. In 1651, a Jewish butcher's guild is mentioned in historical documents. The Poznan Community had well-developed self-government, whose structure is known in detail thanks to the Community records that have survived, the pinkas books (the oldest dating back to 1611). The Poznan Community played an important role in the Wielkopolska district administration and the Jewish Sejm. The Jewish communities in the nearby towns were dependent on it (przykahalki). Poznan was seriously damaged during the Swedish invasions--or "flood", as they are known. The events of the Northern War during the first half of the eighteenth century interrupted economic renewal once again, as did a bad outbreak of the plague and a flood. The Jewish Community's difficult situation was compounded by accusations of ritual murder and a trial that took place in 1736.

As a result of the partitions, the city fell under Prussian control. The introduction of new legislation and the foundation of secular schools helped the spread of Haskalah influence, which marked the beginning of the Jewish population's Germanization in Poznan. After another fire in 1803, the Jews were allowed to live throughout the city, which meant a gradual change in their habits and fostered assimilation. The ties between the Poznan Jews and the German Communities became increasingly strong, while contacts with Jews in the Kingdom of Poland weakened. When Wielkopolska and Poznan became part of Poland after the First World War, many Jews emigrated to Germany. In the late 1930's, the Poznan Community numbered about 2,000 people.
Many Jews fled the city in fear of the Germans in September 1939. Poznan was the capital of the Wartegau, annexed to the Reich. In November 1939, it was announced that the city would be rid of its Jews (Judenrein). In December, deportations to cities in the Generalgouvernement began. From November 1939 to August 1943, a labor camp known as "Stadion Miejski" ("Municipal Stadium") existed, along with 13 satellite camps in the area. There, Jews from various cities in Wartegau, Germany and the Czech lands were put to work building roads.

After the war, there were several hundred Jews living in Poznan, but no Jewish religious or cultural institutions were reestablished. One of its original synagogues, built in 1912, still exists: made into a swimming pool, it continues to be used for that purpose today. In the Jewish section of the city cemetery, there are gravestones dating back to the eighteenth century that had originally been in the old Jewish cemetery.

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