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

Schneidemühl / Pila

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)

This was the venerable old synagogue of Schneidemühl, consecrated on 15 October 1841
when Rabbi Plessner added 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, later flippantly called 'Kristallnacht,'
this House of God, a government-protected monument in the center of Wilhelmsplatz,

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

  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 called
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. But 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.

*    *    *

Valley of the destroyed communities
(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 were rounded up in 1940 and 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. (see article below)
  • How large was the Jewish community in its heydays, and before the Nazi period?
    • Approximately twelve hundred members during the 1850s;
    • six hundred and twenty-five members in the late 1920s.
  • 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 Mohel books (detailed chronological name lists of circumcisions performed by a Mohel) for the Jewish community of Schneidemühl?
    • No. Unfortunately, the only Mohel book that was kept by the community during the 19th century was destroyed during the pogrom night of 9/10 November 1938.
  • Are there any extant Jewish birth, marriage or death records available for Schneidemühl?
    • No. None of the Jewish records that were begun in 1821 have been located yet. It is feared that they did not survive the Nazi period.
  • Where can one find any civil birth, marriage, death records of Schneidemühl?
    • All the civil records for Schneidemühl, 1874-1945, were safely transported to Hamburg in 1945; they are currently located in 
    • the Geheimes Staatsarchiv in Berlin. The LDS Mormon Church has a complete set of 165 microfilms of these records.


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 erroneos 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 former 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.


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

by Peter Simonstein Cullman


Published by
Avotaynu, Inc. USA

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

While until recently no memorial book existed for the destroyed Jewish community of Schneidemühl, the recent publication of this new 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 who has 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, several 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 not the slightest trace of a Jewish presence remains 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.
155 N. Washington Avenue, Bergenfield, NJ  USA
Tel. 1-800-286-8296   FAX: 201-387-2855

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This site was last updated 7 March 2009

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Copyright © 2006-2009  Peter Simonstein Cullman

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Web-apprentice: P. S. Cullman

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