Koslin (Koszalin)

(This article is attributable)

Koszalin is a town with a rich Jewish heritage. The first information about the Koszalin Jews comes from 1669, when people from a lot of towns, among them Koszalin, complained about Jews engaging in trade. The complaints were filed mainly by merchants’ guilds which felt increasingly threatened by the competition. In spite of that, the Great Elector issued a directive for the Pomeranian government (in German Hinterpommersche Regierung) on the protection of people of Jewish origin.

In 1705 there was a family with a very rich history, well-known in the whole Koszalin. It was the family of Borchard Philipp, who was a member of the Association of Pomeranian Jews (in German Pommersche Landjudenschaft) established at that time. He had held this position until 1728, when he resigned it due to his advanced age. In 1706 a session of the Association was held, during which a rabbi for Pomerania as well as the Board of Elders were chosen, and decisions about finances were made. As for the fees which the Jews had to pay for the right to live in a given town, the rate set for Koszalin in 1712 was 8 thalers. However, the rescript addressed to the Pomeranian government forbade Jews to settle in towns which were until then “free from citizens of Jewish descent”. Borchard Philipp was granted the privilege on 29 April 1715, and his son, Bernd on 9 April 1718. Although his document was issued for Koszalin, he settled in Slawno (Schlawe). The privilege cost him 100 thalers. Borchard Philipp’s family also provided the teacher Marcus with full board.

In 1718 a fire broke out in Koszalin, as a result of which local stallholders, among others, suffered great losses. Three years later the stallholders’ guild lodged a complaint against the competition of both Polish and Jewish tradesmen, getting a promise that the matter would be investigated. In the meantime, Borchard Philipp was one of four Pomeranians who got the right to own money exchange offices. However, in 1721 cloth cutters in Koszalin lodged a complaint against him claiming that he wanted to grab the whole cloth and wool trade for himself. He was saved by a testimony signed by eight craftsmen who testified that in spite of the difficult economic situation caused by the fire, Borchard Philipp  regularly supplied them with first class wool as well as supported them financially, which allowed them to work smoothly. Borchard Philipp was also defended by the tax clerk (in German Steuerrat) called Zuquer and general-major von Wessen, who wrote that it would be a great loss for the officers and local aristocracy if Borchard Philip was to be forbidden to trade in cloth of any quality. In answer to this complaint, the government stated that indeed, Jews were not allowed to cut linen, but there was no law forbidding them to export whole rolls of linen or other fabrics to Gdansk or other countries. In those days trading goods, money exchange and commission sale were so closely related that they were often done by one person. Also wholesale and retail, as well as import and export were not separate areas of economy. Both Jews and people of other descent were allowed to practise all those professions without any restrictions.

In 1731 the Szczecin government accepted Borchard Philip’s offer to nominate trustees, who would collect taxes from Jews. Three years later Borchard Philip and another elder, Loyser Marcus from Resk (Regenwalde) filed another petition to the Szczecin government and then to the king himself.  This time, it regarded the problem that married sons of Jews could not live in certain towns due to the limits on the number of citizens of Jewish descent. However, since Jewish families were quite often badly-off, they could not afford to pay 1000 thalers a year. The argument was that forcing Jewish sons and their families to move was against the king’s interests.

In 1736 a complaint from Jews living in Stargard Szczecinski (Stargard) to the Szczecin government was lodged. For the above mentioned reasons they expressed a grievance that Borchard Philip had decided to raise annual taxes paid by individual families. Nevertheless, in the letter addressed to the government he managed to defend his stance.

In 1737 Borchardt Philip’s family included his wife, son, Jochim Borchardt with his wife and two sons Jacob Jochim (3 years old) and Philipp Jochim (1,5 years old), Borchard Philip’s other son, Samuel Borchard and his daughter Johanna, both single. The family also included the teacher called Levin, the servants Rahel and Hinde, the foster child called Laser and the farm worker of Christian descent.

In 1740 Borchardt Philip planned to open a factory in Koszalin which was a national town. In a document addressed to Pomeranian officials he expressed fear that the possible competition later on could lead to closing the factory, since it wouldn’t be able to survive on the market. In this way he hinted at the creation of a monopoly as a solution. Two years later, a survey commissioned by the Pomeranian Chamber (in German Pommersche Kammer) was conducted in Koszalin to establish how many wool factories in Koszalin were owned by Jews and if it would be possible to replace Jewish owners with Christian ones. It turned out that in that year no Jew owned a factory in Koszalin. In the same year the Jewish Board of Elders and master wool makers protested against the methods of production used by Joachim Borchard.

According to the statistics of 1752 there were three Jewish families, that is twelve people living in Koszalin. Their names are enumerated in the book[1.1]. Twelve years later, in 1764 Jochim and Jacob Borchard paid 65 thalers and Salomon Borchard paid 63 thalers and 12 groshes for protection. At that time it was also mentioned for the first time  that Leyser Salomon was exempt from the fees on the grounds that he was an undertaker. In those days all the Koszalin Jews also provided the teachers with full board.

In the meantime, the rest of Borchard family settled in other towns of Further Pomerania (in German Hinterpommern) such as Slupsk (Stolp) or Slawno (Schlawe). Levin Joachim Borchardt lived in Slupsk for a longer period of time, where he died in poverty. After his death the widow left the town with their children.

The Pomeranian government (in German Pommersche Regierung) was responsible for dealing with all the issues related to Jewish citizens until 1723. However, at that time the Pomeranian chamber started to encroach upon its area of competence. It led to a power struggle which had to be handled by the Berlin government. It was decided that the Pomeranian Chamber would receive safe conducts and supervise the Jewish settlement in Pomerania. In 1764 the Chamber sent a special body consisting of War and Domains Chambers’ members (in German Kriegs- und Domänenkammer) to Koszalin. On 6 January 1772 the Chamber also called a meeting of Jews in Trzebiatów (Treptow an der Rega) under the supervision of the local assignee, Moldenhauer. The meeting discussed the elections to the Board of Elders, the division of payments made for the protection and the way of collecting them. The newly elected members of the elders were Joseph Salomon from Stargard Szczecinski and Salomon Borchardt from Koszalin. The duties of the Pomeranian elders, like in other provinces, included among other things keeping a book with the dates of Jewish boys’ circumcisions and births of girls. The book was supposed to help to specify the age of newlyweds later on.

Since Frederick II wanted to extend the royal factory of china, Jews, and among them the Jews from Koszalin, were charged with a duty to buy a given number of products from the factory in return for the permission to settle in towns. This order meant a lot of problems for the Jews, especially for those who lived in smaller towns, because they didn’t have enough money or possibilities to export goods. In 1782 Jacob Salomon Borchardt from Koszalin wanted to take over a factory producing, among other things, gloves, wallets and stomach warming belts. However, after just two months he was forced to give up the concession, probably in fear of him becoming the competition for Christian tradesmen. However, it didn’t, in fact, mean he had to halt production. In the document from 7 January 1784 he revealed that he had already had two such factories opened at the request of the king in Szczecinek (Neustettin) and Koszalin, which were doing so well that it was possible to export 3000 thalers’ worth of goods to Lipsk (Leipzig), Amsterdam and Hamburg. As Jacob Salomon Borchardt said himself, he got an offer to take over the factory in Szczecinek from the Berlin Government because the previous owner had not had the ready market for his goods and there hadn’t been a Christian tradesman suitable for this position. The fact that Jacob Salomon Borchardt had an experience in this field was confirmed by the official called Heinitz who was a member of the Berlin government. There were 56 workers and 100 weavers employed in the two factories and Jacob Salomon Borchardt submitted a request to the king for a permission to trade in other fabrics as well, asking him at the same time for an advance payment of 2000 thalers.

After introducing a municipal ordinance in Koszalin in 1809, a census was conducted taking into account the division into districts. According to the census there were 3585 citizens living in Koszalin, including people of Jewish origin, however only 298 people were classified as having the right to vote. Soon before town councillors were to be elected in 1809, Jacob Salomon Borchardt had contacted the Pomeranian Chamber in order to apply for the citizenship. According to the new ordinance he should have applied for it long before, however, since the Jews were to observe different regulations, he decided to withdraw his application. He made another attempt after he had heard from his relations in Chojna (Königsberg) that they had been forced to apply for the citizenship under threat of punishment. He declared he would take the oath after coming back from a fair in Frankfurt. Having examined his application, the government stated that the Jews owning a house in town or doing business there were obliged to take the citizenship. However, the fact that they received the citizenship did not lift the restrictions placed on them at all. The Jewish citizens took the oath in the synagogue with all the formalities and if they had sufficient education, they were allowed to stand for election to the town council. The legitimacy of electing Jews for such positions was always carefully verified by the government. According to the general census of 24 March 1812 comprising all the Jewish families which had taken the Prussian citizenship living in Pomerania there were 13 such families in Koszalin. Their names are listed in the book[1.2].