Welcome to the memorial website
dedicated to
the history of the former
Jewish community

Schneidemühl / Piła (Poland)

The following pages are in memory of this Jewish community
that existed for 300 years in the heart of Wielkopolska, Great Poland,
where the culture of Ashkenaz had flourished for centuries,
 the area that later became the Prussian province of Posen.

We remember the men, women and children of the community
who became ensnared in the Holocaust and did not survive.

Z'Chor - זכור
their names are not forgotten -


(Photo courtesy František Bányai, Prague)

The venerable synagogue of Schneidemühl, consecrated on 15 October 1841,
was blessed by Rabbi Plessner with these words:

“May this house serve also as a monument to the unforgettable man and father of our country,
the late King Friedrich Wilhelm III.”

During the pogrom night of 9/10 November 1938, (an event the Nazis mockingly called 'Kristallnacht,')
this House of God—a government-protected monument in the center of Wilhelmsplatz

was desecrated, burnt and destroyed by notorious
Nazi elements of Schneidemühl.

In memoriam

In a solemn ceremony on 8 November 2018 - eighty years after the synagogue's destruction -
dignitaries from the city council of Piła
found it in their hearts to gather where the synagogue had
stood for nearly one hundred years,
joined by representatives from the Poznan Jewish community,
to commemorate the tragic events of 1938


Symbolically, a replica of the synagogue had been created for the occasion by the local artist Marek Brose-Kwasigroch


.a memorial plaque on the wall of the city's old Royal Post Office,
opposite of the locale where the synagogue once stood - reads:

"In this place stood the synagogue of the Jewish kehila, which was located in the middle of the former Jewish Market.
The Temple was consecrated by the Berlin Rabbi Salomon Plessner, October 15, 1841.

The brick, three-story synagogue building was erected on the rectangular plan in the eclectic style,
inspired by the work of Karl Friedrich Schinkel. The main facade featured characteristic three rows of windows.
The synagogue was burnt by the Germans during the Kristallnacht on the night of 9 November 1938."

"Piła, 8 listopada 2018 r."

*    *    *
  Five hundred years ago this town was known to Polish-speaking people by
such names as
Pyła or Piła. The early Low German-speaking settlers liked to call
their town Snyde-Mole, Schnyde-Möhle, or Schneyde-Mühle

* Schneidemühl was the German name that was given to the Polish
town of Piła
by the Prussians in 1772, after their annexation of the area.

The town’s Polish name Piła — derived from the Polish root word 'pila,'
meaning ‘saw’ — referred to a place where rushing water powered a device used for sawing wood.
The word Schneidemühl is a literal translation from Polish to German.
, as a kehila, was never regarded by its Jewish community as a shtetl,
the Jews of the area simply wrote the name of their town פילה in Hebrew letters.

From the late 1700s until 1940, Schneidemühl was the home of
seven generations of this webmaster's ancestors, the Simonstein family.

*    *    *


(Photo courtesy Bella Rothenberg, Kfar Giladi, Israel)
'Valley of the Destroyed Communities'

at Yad Vashem, on the Mount of Remembrance in Israel.
The community of Schneidemühl — one of 4,500 destroyed communities —
is commemorated here in stone, together with others of Pomerania, Posen and West Prussia.

*    *    *

Frequently asked questions
  • What happened to the Jews of Schneidemühl during the Nazi period?
    • The Jews of the community fell victim to the mass deportations 1941-44. (see article below)
  • Is there a Yizkor book for Schneidemühl?
    • No. But a comprehensive book on the community's history has recently been written that will answer many of the questions below. (see article below)
  • How large was the Jewish community in its heydays, and before the Nazi period?
    • The size of the community peaked during the 1850s;
    • By the late 1920s only a fraction remained.
  • Are there any Landsmannschaften for the Jewish community of Schneidemühl?
    • No. Landsmannschaften were rarely formed for communities that used to be located in the former Prussian province of Posen.
  • What is the current name of Schneidemühl?
    • Since the end of the Second World War the town, situated in the province of Wielkopolskie in north-western Poland, is known again by its original Polish name Piła.
  • Are there any extant Jewish birth, marriage or death records available for Schneidemühl?
    • With more research they might still be located in Polish or German archives.


The truth about the deportations and fate
of the Jews of Schneidemühl

Over the past fifty years, numerous accounts concerning the fate of the Jews of Schneidemühl have appeared in print. However, none of them accord with historic record. They were but distortions of historical facts. Regrettably, these errors have been perpetuated to this day in numerous books, articles and websites that deal
with this period of the Holocaust

The erroneous claim that the Jews of Schneidemühl had been deported together
with the more than 1,200
Jews of Stettin (who were subsequently sent to
Piaski,) is not supported by evidence found in the extant volume of files of the
Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland. (Cf. file 75 C Re1, No. 483, Bundesarchiv Berlin, and USHMM Archives: RG-14.003M; Acc. 1993.A.059)

It must therefore be stated
that — while the deportations of the Jews of Schneidemühl had indeed been planned by the Gestapo to coincide with the
terrible events that occurred in Stettin — those actions were NOT carried out together.

A full account of these events can be found in the book below.


History of the Jewish Community of Schneidemühl:
1641 to the Holocaust

by Peter Simonstein Cullman


7" x 10", hardcover, 390 pp.
ISBN 1-886223-27-0   2006

While until recent times no memorial book existed for the destroyed Jewish community of Schneidemühl, this publication, a comprehensive work in English brings to life again the
true history of this 300-year-old community.

In documenting the growth of this community—from the arrival of Jews in this part of
Poland in the 16th century to its destruction in the 20th century—this book offers any
reader with a keen interest in German-Jewish history a fine portrayal of this now
vanished Jewish community. Viewed against the background of major European historical events and of Haskalah, the Jewish Enlightenment of the late 18th century, the reader is
also given a detailed description in word and picture of the Tempel, the once splendid synagogue of Schneidemühl.

As a result of many years of painstaking research by the author, the lives and the fate of
most members of this Jewish community — as it existed in the 1930s — could be traced.
The chapter Z'Chor features chronologies of all those who were caught in the Nazis' web.
Here their fate is documented in detail to ensure that their memory is preserved.

The complete data of the 1939 German Minority Census for Schneidemühl, lists of
emigrants and survivors, as well as an annotated burial register, covering the period 1854-1940, with names and data of more than nine hundred members of the community,
are just some of the many archival records found in this work.

Although no trace of a past Jewish presence can be found in today's renamed town Piła —
this book brings back to memory a once notable, vibrant and sizable Jewish community.

The book can be purchased directly from the publishers by visiting:


 Avotaynu, Inc.
  794 Edgewood Avenue, New Haven, CT 06515   USA

Tel. 1-800-286-8296


The above memorial book has been translated and published in 2017 as the Polish edition:
Historia Żydów w Pile
Historia Gminy Żydowskiej z Piły od roku 1641 do Holokaustu

by Peter Simonstein Cullman

 - a translation by Agnieszki Kin -

9.5" x 6.5", hardcover, 510 pp.
ISBN 978-83-940943-0-0   2017
The book can be ordered directly from the publishers:
Artur Lazowy
Stowarzyszenie Inicjatyw Społecznych EFFATA
ul. W Witosa 26/5,
PL 64-920 Piła, Poland


Additional webpages


Faces of the community

In memoriam


The kehilla's rabbis in the
20th century

Schneidemühl  revisited

Bygone days

The old cemetery


- then and now


Jewish commerce in Schneidemühl

The kehilla's patriots



Links & searcheable databases

Links to external websites are provided in good faith and for information only.
Disclaimer: no responsibility for materials contained in any website linked from this site.

Last Update  - 21 October

Please direct any correspondence to:


KehilaLinks is a project of JewishGen, Inc., which aims to provide a place where anyone with an interest in a place where Jews have lived
to commemorate that place.  This is accomplished by creating an individual web page for that place with information, pictures, databases,
and links to sites that provide additional information on that place. 
KehilaLinks is not confined to Ashkenazim (descendants of eastern European Jews);
it is open to Sephardim (descendants of Jews from Spain and Portugal), Mizrachim (Jews from Asia) and Jews from other places as well. 

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