[Yiddish: Sandomir, Sudomir] - A city in the
Swietokrzyskie voivodship that received its town charter in 1286. It was
home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in the Malopolska region.
Sandomierz was very significant politically in Poland's early
history, serving as the voivodship capital at one time. Situated on the
water and land routes leading from Krakow to Wilno, it was an important
center for trade and the shipping of grain on the river.
Early Jewish settlement dates back to the thirteenth century; by the
fourteenth, an organized Community probably existed already. The level
of crown taxes paid in 1507 suggests that Sandomierz was one of the
largest and wealthiest Jewish communities in Poland at that time.
Because of competition from Jewish merchants and artisans, in 1521
Sandomierz became part of a coalition of towns demanding that the king
limit Jews' freedom to trade.
A register of the municipal tax (szos) (taxes) from the year 1563
mentions ten Jewish houses; the lustration of a few years later
indicated the number was somewhat less. On this basis, it is difficult
to estimate the size of the Jewish community in the second half of the
sixteenth century. During this period, the city had at least 3,500
residents. The lustrations of 1611 and 1615 mention sixteen Jewish
houses, rebuilt after a fire.
Sandomierz Jews were primarily involved in
trade. The wealthiest of them were also engaged in credit activities,
and they leased the right to collect customs and tolls, as well as the
town�s mills. They also owned some of the buildings along the market
Not much information has survived on the subject of Jewish crafts.
In the second half of the seventeenth century a Christian-Jewish
butchers' guild was founded. The town was seriously damaged during the
Swedish "flood"; the Jewish Community suffered particularly much, having
been decimated by the Swedish army. On the basis of the privilege of
1658, the Jews rebuilt the destroyed buildings. A new masonry synagogue
was built at that time.
Trials involving accusations of "profanation of the Host" (1639) and
"ritual murder" (1698 and 1710) took place in Sandomierz. These events
sparked riots and looting of Jewish homes.
Despite the town's gradual economic decline during the eighteenth
century, the Jewish Community continued to grow. In 1778, Jews inhabited
46 buildings. After the Congress of Vienna, Sandomierz became part of
the Kingdom of Poland. After the restrictions on Jewish settlement were
lifted, the number of Jews began to grow gradually. In the 1880's, there
were almost 2,700 (37% of the total inhabitants). Their main source of
livelihood remained trade in agriculture products.
The town's character did not change during the
interwar period. In 1939, approximately 2,500 Jews lived in Sandomierz.
After the town was occupied by the Germans at the start of the Second
World War, the Germans staged a violent pogrom. In June 1942, they
created a ghetto where Jews from the surrounding area were resettled;
its total population was approximately 5,200. Almost all perished in the
death camp in Belzec in October 1942. Remnants of the ghetto still
existed, where Jews from the surrounding areas and the Reich were moved,
with a total population of approximately 7,000 people. The ghetto was
liquidated in January 1943, when about one thousand able-bodied people
were sent to the labor camp in Skarzysk-Kamienna; the rest were killed
An eighteenth century synagogue still stands in Sandomierz, with
extensive painted decorations; it currently houses an archive. There is
also a nineteenth century Jewish town hall (kehilah). A lapidarium was
built in the destroyed Jewish cemetery to display the fragments of
gravestones and memorials.