Elbinger Schutzjuden

source: courtesy Fred Rump

In 1783, Moses Simon paid 40,000 Thaler to the city to earn protection and the rights to compete with his Christian counterparts in Elbing for himself and his descendants. (Schutz = protection and Juden= Jews)

By 1812, 33 such families had settled in Elbing. Most had paid a fee to the Prussian state and were permitted to settle anywhere. Some chose the city of Elbing. Hardenberg’s edict of 1812 gave full citizenship rights to all people of the Jewish faith in Prussia. Up to this time Jews were known by their biblical names and they now were required to chose a proper German name so as to be integrated into society.

I should add that the word Schutz has no particular negative connotation. All during the 19th century cities in the HRE (Holy Roman Empire) were somewhat independent of the local lords around them and often arrived at Reichststadt status were they were only nominally answerable to the emperor. In short they made their own laws and rules based upon commerce and what was good for the town. Taxes were paid to continue these relationships. To come to live in such a city was not just a matter of moving there. Newcomers of all sorts needed permission and often paid a fee to be placed in temporary Bürger status. They were called Schutzbürger and were then allowed to do whatever they had applied to do. The locals were often against such newcomers because they were seen as competitors to the trade and the local status quo.

Because of the potential friction with the locals the city managers provided protection via socalled Schutzbriefe or letters.

Elbing was never in the HRE but was a free city state under nominal protection of the Polish king. As a German city it pretty much did it’s own thing without involvement of the crown. This nominal Polish status had been arranged by the Prussian League of cities at the treaty of Oliva outside of Danzig in 1661 with Poland, Sweden and Brandenburg-Prussia.

Here is a list of Elbing’s first Jewish families with their “new” surnames:

  1. the widow Beile (Albrecht)
  2. Zacharias & Michel Daniel (Bendon)
  3. Simon Samuel (Blum)
  4. Josefine (Clausdorff)
  5. Wolf Samuel (Frankenstein)
  6. Moses Joachim Levi und Salomon Mendel (Goldschmidt)
  7. Wolf Lewin ( Goldstamm )
  8. Samuel Isaak (Goldstein)
  9. Hanna und Bune Abraham (Heidenreich)
  10. David Hirsch (Hirsch)
  11. Ww. More Jacoby (Jacoby)
  12. Lewin Jacob (Jacobsohn)
  13. Josef Lewin & Jacob Josef ( Jost)
  14. Israel Kaufmann (Kauffmann)
  15. Barend Isaak ( Kuhn)
  16. Wolf Samuel Laaser, Wulff Saul Laserun (Laaseron)
  17. Abraham Isaak ( Lewinson)
  18. Leib Jakob Lewin (Loewenthal)
  19. Beile Mendel (Mindheim)
  20. Mendel Moritz Daniel (Moritzsohn)
  21. Moses Koel (Mosheim)
  22. Meyer Israel (Ries)
  23. Josef Schaul (Rosenberg)
  24. Widow Roese Markus (Rosenberg)
  25. Isaak David (Saphir)
  26. Moses Lewin (Lewinsohn )
  27. Kaufmann Simon (Simson)
  28. Lewin Liepmann (Spiro)
  29. Salomon Isaak (Stoltzenberg)
  30. Lewin Abraham (Weinberg)
  31. Wolf Abraham & Itzig Wolff (Wollmann)
  32. Leonora und Hanna Wulff (Wulff)
  33. Bendix Oppenheim (Oppenheim)

To find the origins of those early families under their pre-Elbing names would seem to be a rather difficult task. […]

By 1824, 51 families had built a substantial synagogue and school. Many became leading citizens of their town serving in various municipal and business leadership functions.

An additional bit of directly related information (a bit more expansive):

Brief Jewish History in Elbing, Ostpreussen from 1772 to 1945
(today: Elblag, Poland) a city near Danzig, Westpreussen (today Gdansk, Poland)
Jews were reported to have been burned there during the Black Death. There were no Jews living in Elbing after the first partition of Poland in 1772, but in 1783 Moses Simon was permitted to settle in the city and provide for visiting Jewish merchants, obtaining a trade license in 1800. There were 33 Jewish families in 1812 and 42 in 1816, all of whom had been granted the right of settlement despite opposition from the local merchants. The community opened a cemetery in 1811, an elementary school in 1823, and a synagogue and mikveh in 1824. A rabbi was engaged from 1879. In 1932 the community numbered 460 and maintained three charitable and five welfare organizations, and a school attended by 60 children. The synagogue was burned down by the Nazis on Nov. 10, 1938, and most of the homes and shops of the Jews there were looted. Part of the communal archives (1811–1936) are in the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People in Jerusalem. There has not been an organized Jewish community in Elbing since World War II.
Neufeld, in: Zeitschrift fuer die Geschichte der Juden, 2 (1965), 1–14; 5 (1968), 127–49; 7 (1970), 131f.; Neufeld, in: AWJD (March 25, 1966); Germ Jud, 2 (1968), 200.
[Ze’ev Wilhem Falk] Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.

We have placed several reference documents on Die jüdische Gemeinde in Elbing in our Prussian Histories library.  If you have additional information that you believe others may find of interest, we are happy to archive it here.