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Kutno and Surroundings, Poland

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Connecting all Kutno, Poland researchers. This project is presently configured to include any persons from or connected to this large multicultural town in the center of Poland.

For a general overview and some details of the town please refer to English Wikipedia here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kutno

You may also utilize the Virtual Sztetl site here:

https://sztetl.org.pl/en/towns/k/493-kutno

For Jewish history you may refer to the JewishGen Yizkor book project on Kutno here:

http://www.jewishgen.org/Yizkor/kutno/kutno.html

Additional work on a Memorial to the victims of Kutno is here:

http://jewish.kutno.free.fr/

Also information on the Jewish Ghetto, from the HEART project here:

http://www.HolocaustResearchProject.org

Jewish Records Indexing project JRI-Poland.org states that there are microfilms of the town birth death and marriage available as LDS numbers 730039, 730040, 730041, 730042 and 730043. This data is available in the Kutno Town Project organized by Town Coordinator Marla Cohen. JRI-Poland is hosted by JewishGen. Sign in to JewishGen to enable searching.

The Jewish Online Worldwide Burial Registry JOWBR has data on the town, comprising about 150 burial or gravestone records.

The JewishGen Family Finder has about 300 names being researched by 165 researchers.

Yad Vashem lists over 11,000 people from or connected to Kutno that perished in the Holocaust.

For Jewish historians there is a nice selection of material at this site: http://www.kirkuty.xip.pl/kutno.htm

From the International Jewish Cemetery Project, accessed July 31, 2020:

KUTNO: łódzkie The first documentation of Jews in Kutno (Moses, Solomon and Lewku) was 1513, but certainly the Jews lived here before that date. In 1753, a fire destroyed the town and the local Jewish community documents. Jews developed commerce reaching even Germany and the Netherlands. The Jews of traded livestock to make leather goods, shoes, and felt items. Skins of wild animals like hares, foxes also were used. Crafts such as tailoring were common. An additional source of income was breeding horses and cattle so 29% of animals belonged to Jews. In 1765, 928 Jews lived there. The 19th century was busy with construction of a railway line to transport goods from the factories of Lodz and construction of the brick synagogue and many Jewish communal organizations. The Jewish population multiplied: 1800-1,376 (70.2%) to 1908-8,978. Kutno's rabbi, Jechiel Jeszaja Trunk, for thirty years was a Haskalah, or Jewish Enlightenment, advocate. [Note: That probably was Israel Yehoshua TRUNK, not Jechiel Jeshaya TRUNK who was his great-grandson and a Yiddish writer in New York.]

Kutno is also the home town Asza Shalom, Yiddish playwright, prose writer, and essayist. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Jewish population began to decrease due to WWI, movement to Lodz, and immigration to America so in 1921, 6,784 Jews lived there. The Germans occupied Kutno on September 15, 1939. The synagogue was destroyed in the first months with many Jews taken for forced labor. A Judenrat was appointed as early as November 1939, with increasing numbers of refugees from nearby, but the ghetto was officially established in June 1940 on the grounds of the "Konstancja" sugar factory for more than 7,000 Jews. Franz Hansen, a Wehrmacht soldier posted there, photographed the Jews moving to the ghetto surrounded with barbed wires and watchtowers. Since several factory buildings had been bombed, many Jews lived outdoors. Black markets and smuggling kept ghetto prisoners able to preserve some semblance of normality, but disease was rampant and food scarce. Liquidated at the end of March/early April 1942, the ghetto prisoners were sent to Chelmno. [May 2009]

The Kutno Jewish cemetery is located on a hill between Sobieski and Tarnowski Zdrojowa streets. Established in the 18th century, the cemetery burials are difficult to calculate. The oldest Kutna inhabitants remember hundreds, perhaps 1,000 graves before WWII. Still remaining are the ohel of Rabbi Jechiel Jeszaja Trunk and the grave of Shalom Asz. The Old Cemetery is located on a hill with trees overlooking the gravestones. Some names are etched in stones in the town's streets and backyards: Reb Johanan in an alley, Reb Moszego in a garden. Archival photos of the cemetery before WWII. Approximately 6,700 Jews (25%+) lived in Kutno (Lodz district) prior to WWII. The Nazis destroyed the cemetery using stolen gravestones for pavements, squares and residential yards occupied by the Germans. At the cemetery, they planned to build a Victory Monument to the Third Reich, but never did. In the Jewish cemetery buried, dead or murdered in the ghetto. They also executed Jews there. After the war, few kutnowscy Jews brought ashes of their loved ones from Chelmno nad Nerem to the cemetery for burial. They unveiled a monument to the victims of the Holocaust, a stylized matzevot with Mogen David and the words in Hebrew and Polish: "Eternal memory Jews murdered by the Nazi ___, buried in the fraternal grave. ___ your memory." Unknown perpetrators however, very soon destroyed the obelisk. The last burial at the cemetery took place in 1948. Later, the cemetery gradually slipped into oblivion. Gravel gathering and rubbish dump became its fate. Residents graze livestock, which at least keeps down the vegetation. A few time graves have been opened and searched of valuables. A few surviving gravestones were stolen. Gravestones or fragments for many years can be found in many cities including in Murku fair and square on the cobbles of ul. Sowińskiego. In the 1980s, thanks to the involvement of Andrej Urbaniak, a former director of the museum in Kutno, the members of the kutnowski Friends of the Earth began to recover and protect the Jewish gravestones. Gravestones from surrounding yards, streets, and gardens were gathered for several years, until several hundred matzevot were found. With the Związkiem Religijnym Wyznania Mojżeszowego, matzevot planned to transfer them to the cemetery and create a lapidarium of the Wailing Wall from the damaged tombstones. These plans are not finalized so the gravestones remain stored in a warehouse the Regional Museum in Kutno. At the cemetery by a monument is this dedicated to the memory of the Jews of Kutno in Polish, English, and Hebrew: "This is the resting place of Kutno Jews, who were settled in the city since the beginning of the 15th century. The cemetery located on the hill was established in 1793. The Jews were kept there until March 1943. Take this seriously." Today, the cemetery on the hill has damaged and destroyed gravestones. "Newspapers in the Mazowsze Region," describes it thus: "In winter, the cemetery turns into a toboggan run and is a summer playground for sports, organized by the residents' children in the vicinity. In addition, regularly, drinkers use it. The aggressive hooligans knock over plaques dedicated to the Jews and paint offensive graffiti."

Video. Photos. Photos. Yad Vashem photos of the Holocaust. Map [May 2009]

US Commission No. POCE000621

Alternate name: Kutna in Yiddish. Kutno is located in Plock at 52°13' 19°23', 41 km from Plock and 50 km from Lodz. Cemetery location: ulica Tarnowskiego. Present town population is 25,000-100,000 with no Jews.

Town: Urzad Miasta, Plac 19 Stycznia 18, tel. 42785. Regional: Wojewodzki Konserwator Zabytkow, 09-400 Plock, ulica Kolegialna 15. Earliest known Jewish community was 1579. 1921 Jewish population was 6,784 and in 1931 was 6,440. Living here were Jozef Kutna (2M. 1829), rabbi in Hungary and Szalom Asz (1880-1957), writer and playwright. The Orthodox, Conservative, and Progressive/Reform Jewish cemetery was established in 16th century with last burial 1939-1945. The isolated urban crown of a hill has no sign or marker. Reached by turning directly off a public road, access is open to all with no wall or gate. The size of the cemetery before WWII and now is 3.0 hectares. 1-20 gravestones, less than 25% are toppled or broken, [in the Museum] date from 19th-20th century. Removed stones are in the Regional Museum at Kutno (approx. 150 pieces). The sandstone finely smoothed and inscribed stones or flat stones with carved relief decorations have Hebrew inscriptions. No known mass graves. The municipality owns the property used as a Jewish cemetery only. Properties adjacent are residential. Occasionally, organized individual tours and private visitors stop. The cemetery was vandalized during WWII. There has been no maintenance. Authorities clean or clear occasionally. There are no structures or threats.

Pawel Fijalkowski, 96-500 Sochaczew, ulica Ziemowita 11, tel. 227-91 visited site 6/1991 and completed survey 21 Nov 1991. Documentation: Official Register of Jewish Cemeteries of 1981.

BOOK: Kutno Society B'nai Jacob (New York, N.Y.) Records, 1884-1974. Description: .9 linear ft. Notes: Landsmanshaft organized in 1872 by Jewish immigrants from Kutno, Poland. It dissolved in 1974. … YIVO collections are in Yiddish, Russian, Polish, English, Hebrew, and other European and non-European languages. Location: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, New York, NY. Control No.: NXYH89-A738 [December 2000]

Subject: Kutno sources - new online and seeking info From: Logan Kleinwaks <kleinwaks@alumni.princeton.edu> Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2018 13:59:07 -0400 X-Message-Number: 2

1) Scans of two volumes of Kutno Books of Residents (syg. 108 and 109) were recently posted on szukajwarchiwach.pl. I believe these volumes (and others) are being indexed by JRI-Poland. Links to thumbnail images:

https://szukajwarchiwach.pl/51/2/0/-/108/str/1/2/400#tabSkany https://szukajwarchiwach.pl/51/2/0/-/109/str/1/1/400#tabSkany

Clicking on a thumbnail will enlarge it. On the enlarged image, there is an icon near the bottom right that looks like a white rectangle on a black circle -- clicking that will open a new window to display a high-resolution image. Because of the size of the high-resolution image, it might not be fully visible on your screen, but you can click, hold, and drag it with your mouse to change the visible region. To save a high-resolution image to your computer, click the Download/Pobierz link below the image, in the bottom center.

2) A few scans of a transcription of the Pinkas of the Chevra Kadisha of Kutno are viewable at http://polishjews.yivoarchives.org/archive/index.php?p=collections/controlcard&id=21452. Does anyone know whether YIVO (or anyone else) has the complete transcription? Has it been indexed? While YIVO describes the pinkas (or the transcription) as beginning in 1808, an article by Lipman Comber in the Kutno yizkor book suggests that might apply only to the bulk and there could be be some surviving entries as early as 1755. Comber's article states that a transcription (the same one?) was made under the auspices of the Kutner rabbi Y. L. Trunk and was then in the "archives of the Kutner community."

3) The Kutno yizkor book describes in detail a 1796 statistical document about the Jews of Kutno prepared by Prussian authorities. Of particular interest to genealogists, the document apparently includes the names of homeowners (not reproduced in the yizkor book). Does anyone know where this 1796 document is currently located? It seems likely the document survived at the time of the yizkor book. In discussing this document, the yizkor book cites a 1937 article by M. Kremer from the Hebrew-language journal Zion, but that article does not include the original document and does not seem to indicate its (then) location. On szukajwarchiwach.pl, there is a catalog entry for "Acta Specialia betreffend Die Einrichtung des Juden-Wesers. Akta wzgledem urzadzenia Zydow," dated 1796-1798, 159 pages, located in the Kutno branch of the Polish State Archives in Plock, which seems like it might fit (or might just be a list of regulations without genealogical content): https://szukajwarchiwach.pl/51/2/0/-/11#tabJednostka. Is anyone familiar with this item?

4) Also at szukajwarchiwach.pl are catalog entries for "Acta Generalia betreffend die Heiraths Concessionen der Juden. Akta tyczace sie sprawy malzenstwa Zydow" (https://szukajwarchiwach.pl/51/2/0/-/22#tabJednostka) and "Acta Specialia betreffend die Legitimatiosscheinen der Juden. Akta dotyczace legitymowania ludnosci zydowskiej" (https://szukajwarchiwach.pl/51/2/0/-/23#tabJednostka) both from 1799-1805 and at the same Kutno branch of AP Plock, which sound like they might be of genealogical interest. Is anyone familiar with these?

Thanks very much.

Logan Kleinwaks kleinwaks@alumni.princeton.edu near Washington, D.C.