views updated May 23 2018


POMERANIA , former duchy, subsequently Prussian territory; divided between Poland and Germany since 1945. The earliest references to Jewish settlement in Pomerania date from the 13th century, when (in 1261) Duke Barnim I decreed that the clauses of the Magdeburg *Law concerning the Jews would apply to Stettin (*Szczecin) and the rest of Pomerania. It is recorded that in 1320 the Jews of Templin, Prenzlau, and Pasewalk enjoyed civic equality; indeed, until the *Black Death persecutions (1350) the position of Pomeranian Jewry was relatively favorable. Originally the Jews made their living as traders, later turning to moneylending. Nevertheless, in spite of the privileges of 1481 and a grant of residence to 22 Jewish families, Boguslaw x expelled them in 1492/3. On the other hand, Frederick William, the "Great Elector" (1640–88), extended an invitation to Jewish merchants who had been expelled from Vienna in 1670 to settle in his domains, and by 1682 at least four Jewish families were living in the part of Pomerania that was under Prussian rule. However, numerous complaints against Jewish business practices caused him to threaten Jewish expulsion in 1687/8. By then 15 families had been licensed to reside in Pomerania, the gentry frequently interceding on their behalf. Polish Jewry continued to immigrate to Pomerania in spite of obstructive regulations. In 1706 a rabbi was elected by an assembly of Pomeranian Jewry (46 licensed families), but the king appointed his own nominee to the position.

In the western half of Pomerania, intermittently under Swedish rule, harsher regulations against Jews were in force. From 1728, however, all laws of Prussia applied to the Jews of Pomerania, who at that time totaled about 325 persons. During that period the Jews were mainly engaged in the wool, wheat, and amber trades, and in peddling.

The communities grew after 1812 (c. 1,700 Jews) until 1880 (13,886), after which date they began to decline. In 1932 there were 7,760 Jews (0.4% of the total population) in 50 communities, 28% of whom lived in the modern industrial city of Stettin. During World War ii the majority of Pomeranian Jews were deported and annihilated. After the war a community was renewed in Stettin.


H. Loewe, in: Zeitschrift fuer Demographie und Statistik der Juden, 7 (1911), 146–9; L. Hiller et al., in: Der Jugendbund (Jan. 1931), 1–3; Fuehrer durch die juedische Gemeindeverwaltung und Wohlfahrtspflege in Deutschland (1932/33), 69–81; U. Grotefend, Geschichte und rechtliche Stellung der Juden in Pommern von den Anfaengen bis zum Tode Friedrich des Grossen (1931); B. Brilling, in: Gemeindeblatt der Synagogen Gemeinde zu Stettin (1932), no. 9; ajyb, 63 (1962), 376–7; Germania Judaica, 2 (1968), 658; S. Stern, Der preussische Staat und die Juden (1962), 1 Akten, 125–48, 385–414, 536; 2 Akten, 713–804. add. bibliography: Der faschistische Pogrom vom 9./10. November 1938 – zur Geschichte der Juden in Pommern (1989); L. Baecker, Juden in Schwedisch-Vorpommern, Neuvorpommern von 1648–1871 (1993); W. Wilhelmus, Juden in Vorpommern (Reihe Geschichte Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, vol. 8) (1996); idem (ed.), Flucht oder Tod. Erinnerungen und Briefe pommerischer Juden ueber die Zeit vor und nach 1945 (2001); J. Sziling (ed.), Neighborhood Dilemmas. The Poles, the Germans, and the Jews in Pomerania along the Vistula River in the 19th and 20th Century (2002); W. Wilhelmus, Geschichte der Juden in Pommern (2004).

[Henry Wasserman]