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Synagogue


The synagogue in Gostyń was built around 1902. It was the most impressive building of this type in Gostyń district.

It wasn’t the first Jewish place of prayer in the town. Until that time, this role had been occupied by the building at today’s address of 1st of May Street.

The synagogue in Kolejowa street was destroyed by the Nazi Germans in 1940.

Until 14th of April 1775, a formal prohibition had been in force, which meant that members of other religions than Roman Catholic were not allowed to settle in Gostyń. The situation changed when the new town owner, Nepomucen Mycielski issued a tolerance edict. Even though, up until 1793 there were no formal mentions of Jews living in the town. They started to come to the town in larger numbers at the beginning of the 19th century. By 1840 there were 176 Jews in Gostyń, which stood for 7,6% of the whole population. 30 years later the number rose to 311 (10,4% of all citizens). The fall in the number of Jews in Gostyń started between 19th and 20th century. In 1903 there were 155 Jews (3,2%) domiciled in Gostyń, and two years later – only 146 (2%).

The start of the World War I, and later – the return of Wielkopolska into the reborn Polish state, caused a vast emigration of Jewish people. From 1920, in Gostyń lived only a handful of them. Because of that, on 7th of July 1922, the Governor of Poznań Province decided to liquidate the community in Gostyń. The assets were given to the State Treasury. The municipalisation process began. The religious objects were sent to the Jewish Community in Leszno. The process continued until 1939.

The synagogue neighboured a Jewish school. In Gostyń, the first teacher of religion and Hebrew language was Natan Mordechaj Täubler (who died in 1891), who arrived in the town in the 1830s. In 1865, 43 Jewish children attended the school. The Jewish school operated until 1913. Later, the children were sent to Evangelical school, where one of the teachers was Jewish (Joseph Lewin).

The Jews were mostly dealing with industry and trade. There were also plenty of Jewish doctors in Gostyń, who were highly trusted by the Polish citizens – for example, Samuel Julius Catt, who lived in the town from 1827, partook in the November Uprising, for which was sentenced for 6 months in prison. Dr Elias Wachtel took care of the wounded insurgents after the battle of Książ, in a secret lazaretto in Gola. He was also one of the local conspirators, who contributed to the rescue of general Michał Heidenreich “the Crow”, from Prussian hands.

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