The beginnings of the Jewish settlement in Łuków go back to the 14th century. The first synagogue in this town,
which was later burnt down in a fire, was built in the 16th century. In 1648, as a result of Cossacks’ attack and numerous marches and stopovers of armies – both of Poland and Lithuanian, fire was set also to a new synagogue and a lot of Jewish households were destroyed. The war between Poland and Sweden, especially the invasion of the king Carl Gustaw and his Transylvanian ally, Rakocy prince, brought fatal effects. In April 1657 the town was totally devastated and about 1000 Jews lost their lives.

In the latter half of the 18th century Łuków experienced an economic boom. Two new synagogues were built, the Jewish community started to flourish. In 1765 543 Jews (137 families) lived Łuków, and in 1827 the number grew to 2023 (which accounted for 60% of the town population). In the half and at the end of the 19th century the numbers were the following: in 1857 – 2114 people (68%), in 1897 – 4799 people (55%).

In 1921 6145 Jews lived in Łuków, which accounted for about 50% of the town inhabitants. They ran 85% of 530 local industrial and commercial companies, created 30 associations, issued a weekly „Dos Łukower Wort”. However, the time between the two World Wars meant for the Jews of Łuków not only prosperity but also growing anti-Semitic actions and commercial boycott. In 1920 pogrom took place. In August, when the Polish army was waging a counteroffensive
in the war against Bolsheviks, 12 Jews were executed without any trial by the soldiers in the neighbourhood of Łuków. The pogrom was going on for two days in the town itself. Officers did not try to stop it, allowing soldiers shops plunder, hitting Jewish inhabitants.

World War 2nd led to the total extermination of the Jewish community in Łuków. Before it happened the town was
a stopover on the way to gas chambers for thousands of Jews from the neighbouring villages, many Polish towns and even from other countries. In December 1939 more than 2500 Jews from Serock, Nasielsk and Suwałki were displaced
to Łuków, a year later almost 1000 Jews from Mława, and in Mai 1942 more than 2000 Jews from Slovakia.

The first mass executions of Łuków Jews started already in March 1942. At that time Germans shot 47 people. In the summer the Jews were forbidden to leave the town. A regular action of liquidation of the Jewish community started
on 5th October 1942. On that day about 4000 people were transported to Treblinka and about 500 were executed in the town (the last rabbi of the community, Aaron Note Freiberg, was among them). Other 2000 people were transported to Treblinka on 8th October. After this action the area of ghetto was decreased and the Jews from the neighbouring towns and villages, such as Kock, Wojcieszków, Adamów, Stanin, Tuchowicz, Trzebieszów and Ulan, were forced to come to Łuków. After that, between 26th and 27th October and between 7th and 11th November, other 4000 people were taken to Treblinka and a few hundred Jews were executed on the court of the Łuków magistrate and on the Jewish cemetery. The Jews who survived were closed in the ghetto at the beginning of December and were regularly executed. The ghetto was finally liquidated on 2nd May 1943, when the SS troops with help of Ukrainians deported about 4000 people to Treblinka.

Summing up, at the turn of 1942 and 1943 about 14000 Jews from the Łuków ghetto and the neighbouring towns and villages were sent to the gas chambers in Treblinka, approximately 2000 Jews were executed in the town. In this way the Jewish community in Łuków stopped to exist. 

This website is based on the book Żydzi Łukowa i okolic (The Jews of Łuków and Its Vicinity) by Krzysztof Czubaszek (Warsaw 2008).

© 2011 and subsequent years by Krzysztof Czubaszek, All rights reserved