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PABIANICE (Rus. Pabyanitse ; Yid. Pabianits ,), city in Lodz province, central Poland. One of Poland's most ancient towns, Pabianice was officially granted municipal status in the 14th century. The prohibition against Jewish residents, based on a privilege de non tolerandis Judaeis, appears to have been abrogated when the town came under Prussian domination. Jews then began to settle in the old city of Pabianice. The growth of the Jewish population was closely tied to the development of the local textile industry, and the spinning mills which were set up under subcontract for the textile factories of Lodz. In 1850 steam-powered machines were introduced into the Jewish-owned factories and large numbers of Jewish workers were employed in them from that time on, although Jews were compelled to compete against Polish workers who sought vigorously to supplant them. In 1913 the Polish workers of one Jewish-owned factory declared a strike because the owner hired four Jewish workers. The number of Jews increased from 27 in 1808 to 5,017 in 1897 (18% of the total population). Because Pabianice was in a battle region during World War i, the activity of the spinning mills was almost entirely interrupted and many Jews left, but they returned immediately after the armistice. In 1921 the Jews numbered 7,230, about 33% of the population. Their relative number, however, decreased so that in 1938 the 8,357 Jews in the town constituted only 16% of the total population. Economic competition between the Poles and Jews led to an encroachment on Jewish enterprises and during the 1930s Jewish poverty became widespread. Many Jews actually suffered from hunger.

The Jews of Pabianice were greatly influenced by *Ḥasidism, the ẓaddikim of *Sochaczew, *Radoshits, and *Komarno having lived in the city. One of the rabbis of Pabianice was Mendele Alter, a brother of the Rabbi of Gur. After R. Alter left to become rabbi of Kalish, his position was filled by his son, R. Abraham. The community's synagogue was first built by Jewish workers in 1847. Restored in 1880, it was famous for its frescoes and wooden engravings and the artistic construction of its Ark. Many organizations were active in the community between the world wars. The *Mizrachi organization was founded in 1918, and Revisionists began their activities in 1927. The *Po'alei Agudat Israel and Ẓe'irei Emunei Israel of the community were affiliated with *Agudat Israel. A large school, Or Torah, which also served as a cultural center for adults, was established by Agudat Israel. In 1919 the Zionists organized a Hebrew high school.

[Shimshon Leib Kirshenboim]

Holocaust Period

German forces entered the city on Sept. 8, 1939, and immediately introduced a series of repressive acts against the Jewish population. On Rosh Ha-Shanah the synagogue was destroyed and the building converted into a stable. On the Day of Atonement an intensive campaign of kidnapping was carried out in the streets and in the clandestine places of worship. In November many Jews were brutally evicted from their homes, in order to make room for Germans. At the same time the chairman and three other members of the *Judenrat were arrested and two of them murdered. In February 1940 a ghetto was formed in the old district of the town into which 8,000–9,000 Jews were crowded. Contact with the non-Jewish population was still possible and anyone could leave or enter the ghetto at will. Jewish artisans continued to earn wages, and thus supplement the meager rations allocated by the Germans. However, as a result of internal dissension, several members of the Judenrat, including its chairman, Jehiel Rubinstein, were denounced by a group of Jews, resulting in their arrest and dispatch to concentration camps in Germany where they met their deaths.

In February 1942 the Germans carried out a medical examination of all the Jews in Pabianice of 10 years of age and older. The able-bodied were stamped "a," while the elderly and sick were marked "b." The liquidation of the ghetto took place on May 16, 1942. Some 3,500 Jews in the "a" category and a few children were sent to the *Lodz ghetto. The 150 patients in the hospital were murdered on the spot, 180 tailors were detained in Pabianice to finish the work they had started, while the rest of the Jewish population – the "b" category – were sent to their deaths in the *Chelmno camp. After the liquidation of the ghetto, some 250 Pabianice Jews were employed in the large storehouse located nearby in Dombrowa where the clothing of the murdered Jewish population of western Poland (Warthegau) was processed, sorted, and repaired.

A memorial book, Sefer Pabianice (1956) was published in Yiddish in Tel Aviv by the society of immigrants from Pabianice.

[Danuta Dombrowska]


Dąbrowska, in: bzih, nos. 13–14 (1955); idem (ed.), Kronika getta lodzkiego, 1 (1965), passim. add. bibliography: M. Baruch, Pabianice, Rzgow i wsie okoliczne (1903); Sefer Pabianice, Yiskor buch fun der farpainigter Kehille (1956); Dzieje Pabianic (ed. G. Missalowa) (1968).

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