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November 26, 2015 / 14 Kislev, 5776
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The Old Shtetl Kiernozia

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No details are available on the origins of the village of Kiernozia. It existed as early as the 15th century as part of the estate of the noble family Szarpski. In the 60’s of the 19th century it was owned by members of the Lasutski family. Kiernozia’s position astride the road from Lowicz to Plock influenced its development. It was a center of trade and industry for local agriculture, and fixed market days came to be established.

In 1784 King Stanislaw August Poniatowski granted the district governor permission to hold six additional annual fairs. In 1807 the village was incorporated into the Principality of Warsaw, and from 1815 until World War I was part of Congress Poland. During the war, Kiernozia was occupied by the German army from 1915 until they retreated in 1918.

There is no specific data on the beginnings of Jewish settlement in Kiernozia. Jewish habitation is not mentioned before the early 19th century. In 1808 the Jewish population is listed as being 28 percent of the general population, numbering 48 people. The Jews were employed in small trade and handicrafts. According to statistics from the 1870’s, Jews owned eight shops and 11 workshops. In the period between the two world wars, Jews were involved in the same occupations.

There was an organized Jewish community in the latter half of the 19th century. A synagogue and religious school existed, but there was no cemetery, and the Jews of Kiernozia buried their dead in the cemetery at Lowicz. The rabbi of that period was Avraham Noah Neumann. Between the two wars the rabbi was Moshe Bezalel Frankel, who was killed in the Holocaust. Many of the Jews of Kiernozia, and the young people in particular, leaned toward Zionism. There was a branch of Beitar with some 40 members. Jewish children went to the traditional cheder schools and to the municipal Polish school.

In 1921 there were a reported 284 Jews in Kiernozia, comprising about 39 percent of the general population.

With the outbreak of war in 1939 and the approach of the German army, many Jews left their homes and fled eastward. On September 16 Kiernozia was bombed by German planes. The synagogue was destroyed and 20 Jews were killed or wounded. The village was occupied two days later. That same day the Jews who had remained in Kiernozia were rounded up and sent to Zychlin, 12 miles. away. The deportees were kept under the open sky and without food the whole night, and then sent to forced labour camps. A few days later the Jews were allowed to return to Kiernozia, and found their houses looted.

In March 1940 the Germans set up a ghetto enclosed by a fence in two streets. The Poles who had been living there were removed from their houses and the Jews herded into them. Each day the Germans took males aged 15 to 60 for forced labor.

On July 1, 1940, the Germans brought some 240 Jews from surrounding villages into the ghetto. In December of that year there were about 650 Jews in the ghetto. In March 1941 the Germans dismantled the ghetto and the Jews of Kiernozia were transported to the Warsaw ghetto where they shared the fate of its inhabitants and weresent to Treblinka, where they were killed.

The fate of the Jewish community of Kiernozia can be found in Yad Vashem’s “Pinkas Hakehilot,” Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Vol. IV, Warsaw and Its Region, Jerusalem 1989.

Although it is known that the Jews of Kiernozia were killed at Treblinka, there is no symbolic tombstone for the community of Kiernozia in Treblinka.

See www.zchor.org/kiernozia

Shmuel Ben Eliezer can be contacted at jpolin2@aol.com

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