The First to be Destroyed: The Jewish Community of Kleczew and the Beginning of the Final Solution

The First to be Destroyed: The Jewish Community of Kleczew and the Beginning of the Final Solution

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A. Glowacka-Penczynska, T. Kawski, W. Medykowski
T. Horev (Ed.)

Series: Judaism and Jewish Life
ISBN: 9781618112842 (hardcover) / 9781618114846 (paper)
Pages: xxvi; 648 pp.; 74 illus.; 32 tables; 7 maps
Publication Date: July 2015

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The Jewish community of the city of Kleczew came into existence in the sixteenth century. It remained large and strong throughout the next four hundred years, and in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it constituted 40-60% of the total population. The German army entered Kleczew on September 15, 1939, shortly after the outbreak of World War II. The communities of Kleczew and the vicinity were among the first Jewish collectives in Europe to be totally destroyed. The events presented in this book reveal that the organization of deportations and the methods of mass murder conducted in this district, by Kommando Lange, served as a model that would be applied later in the death camps during the mass extermination of Polish and European Jewry. If so, it was in the woods near Kleczew that the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question” began.


Anetta Głowacka-Penczyńska has been working at the University of Bydgoszcz since 1998 and defended her PhD dissertation in 2006. Since 2007, she is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cultural History, Institute of History and International Relations at the Kazimierz Wielki University in Bydgoszcz.

Tomasz Kawski was born in 1969 in Włocławek, Poland. He studied law at Mikołaj Kopernik University in Toruń and social science and history at Kazimierz Wielki University (UKW) in Bydgoszcz, receiving a PhD in history in 2001. Since 1994, he works as a Researcher in the Institute of History and International Relationships (IHiSM) at UKW in Bydgoszcz.

Witold W. Mędykowski, born in Lublin, is a historian and political scientist, and a senior specialist at the Yad Vashem Archives. He is a graduate of the University of Life Sciences in Lublin and Tel Aviv University. He received his PhD in political science at the Institute of Political Studies — Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw and his PhD in Jewish studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has published numerous articles and books on the Holocaust, Polish-Jewish relations and ethnic conflicts in Central and Eastern Europe.

Tuvia Horev (PhD, MPH, DMD) has served in high-ranking positions in the Israeli healthcare system, as well as in research institutes and academia. His latest executive position was as Senior Deputy Director General for Strategic and Economic Planning in the Ministry of Health. Since November 2014, he has been an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Systems Management at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. As a descendant of a family that lived in Kleczew, Poland for generations, Professor Horev’s contribution to the current project has been given out of a personal commitment to promote historical research on Jewish life in Eastern Greater Poland.