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Jewish Families of Kempen (Kepno, Poland) in Schildberg, Posen

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This project seeks to collect individuals and family members from the town of Kempen, in the Schildberg area of Posen. This is not to be confused with the town of Kempen in Germany near Dusseldorf which has its' own project.

Some 274 people in this town were made Citizens of the Grand Duchy of Posen in 1834/35. Source: Luft, The Naturalized Jews of the Grand Duchy of Posen, Revised Edition, 2004. In Luft this town is classed in Schildberg County along with Kobylagora (4 citizens), Mixstadt (4) and Grabow (11).

JRI-Poland had completed and extracted data for this town, also known as Kepno, in the Gubernia of Kalisz. Located at 51 degrees 17 minutes latitude and 17 degrees 59 minutes longitude. The Kepno Town Leader is Madeleine Okladek. This data is hosted by JewishGen. Recent JRI search (December 2017) for the Town of Kempen in Prussia delivers 380 individual records from Kempen residents or people born in Kempen who moved to nearby towns and cities and died there. Many left Kempen and moved to Wroclaw=Breslau, Ostrow, Pleszew, and other bigger cities or nearby towns for marriage or employment. This is a valuable resource to take advantage of frequently.

From the International Jewish Cemetery Project, accessed January 2016:

KEPNO: Wielkopolskie Coat of arms of Kępno Also see Dobrzany, also used cemetery at Krotoszyn. photos. Map. Alternate names: Kępno [Pol], Kempen [Ger], Kempno. 51°17' N, 17°59' E, 90 miles SSE of Poznań (Posen), 43 miles ENE of Wrocław (Breslau). Jewish population: 4,000 (1840), 739 (1910).

This town on the outskirts of the Greater Poland Voivodeship borders with Silesia and the Łódz Land, at the crossing point of two transport routes: north to south (road number 11) and east to west (road number 8) had 14,755 residents on December 31, 2004 Kępno had a population of 14,755. The Rynek (market square) was recently restored. In December 2007,workers found 200 Jewish tombstones at the bottom of a water reservoir. The stones were discovered during an excavated of area for renovation in the rynek. The stones, hidden for decades, apparently were removed from the town's Jewish cemetery and used by the Nazis to line the bottom of the small reservoir. Condition of the stones is unclear. Authorities in Kepno agreed to remove the stones and place them in the town's historic synagogue (synagogue sketch. [August 2005]). Kepno has no active Jewish community but was reportedly 60% Jewish before World War II. Jewish history of Kempen. [May 2009]

Kepno is in the outskirts of Wielkopolska Region. The 2004 Kepno population was 14,755. The cemetery is NOT at the street address given, that is the home of an 80 year-old woman. However, her entire driveway is made from Jewish headstones. We also found chunks of headstones with Hebrew etchings here and there on her property. We were told it was common for Poles and Germans to reuse Jewish headstones as paving material. The Kepno Police Headquarters now stands on the former site of the Jewish Cemetery. The Kepno/Bralin Jewish cemetery was destroyed in the 1940s and later the Russians used the headstones, dirt, and bones to make pavement for the roads. We verified this with the museum director. The museum is NEAR the old synagogue by a few hundred meters, but the web page lists the museum as being IN the synagogue. Source: Darcy Lazar [April 2007] US Commission No. POCE000471

Alternate names: Kempen in German, Kêpno in Polish. Kepno is located in region Kaliskie at 51°17 17°59, 75 km NE of Wroclaw. Present town population is 5,000-25,000 with no Jews.

Town: Urzad Miastz i Gminy. ul. Kosciuszli 5, 63-600 Kepno, tel. 22411. Preservation authorities: PSOZ-WKZ, ul. Franciszkanska 3/5, 62-800 Kalisz. Interested: M. Jerry Wojciechowski, Osiedle Odzodzenia 6/6. M. Zygmunt Piasecki, Osiedle 700-lecia 7/9.

Earliest known Jewish community was before 1674. 1931 Jewish population (census) was 262. The first synagogue was built in 1690, and the new synagogue in 1815. Living here was Moses Mannes and Rabbi Louis Levin. The Orthodox and Progressive/Reform Jewish cemetery was established in 1690. The isolated suburban flat land has no sign or marker. Reached by turning directly off a public road, access is open to all with no wall or gate. There are no gravestones. They are in Village Bralin, 30 Kepinska st., Ms. Irena Kujawa. The Municipality owns site used as a filling station. Properties adjacent are residential. The cemetery, vandalized during WWII, has no maintenance or care. Michal Witwicki, Dembowskiego 12/53, 02-784 Warszawa, tel. 6418345 completed survey in 1991. Eleonora Bergman and Witwicki visited site 19 Oct 1991.

BOOK: Author: Lewin, Isaac, collector. Title: Lewin collection, [ca. 1200]-1942, [ca. 1700]-1942 (bulk) Description: ca. 22.5 linear ft. Notes: Contains variety of records of Jewish communities in Central and Eastern Europe especially in Posen, Silesia and other German-speaking areas, including pinkasim (record books) of communities and societies, memorial books with lists of deaths, …, cemetery registers, society statutes, synagogue seat records, and other documents of communities at Kempen (Kepno, Poland), 1771-1902; …Location: Yeshiva University. Special Collections. Rare Books and Manuscripts, New York, NY. Control No.: NYYH88-A76 [December 2000]

BOOK: Gruber, Ruth Ellen. Jewish Heritage Travel A Guide to East-Central Europe. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1992. p. 75 Last Updated on Monday, 01 June 2009 19:18

The Shoah names database on Yad Vashem returns about 1500 individual records of Holocaust victims connected to Kempen Kepno. Many have Pages of Testimony, a rich resource of genealogical data. See www.yadvashem.org . If you have interest in a particular submitter of Pages of Testimony users can search on the submitter's name. This type of search may lead to currently alive families.