Jews are first mentioned in Plonsk in 1446. They engaged in moneylending, traded at the nearby fairs, and maintained commercial ties with Plock.
Virtually destroyed in the Swedish war of the mid-17th century, it was revivied under royal authorization and a new synagogue was built.
The Jewish population rose to 2.630 in 1857 and 4,447 in 1897 (of a total of 7.897).
The Zionists became active in the 1880s, with Avigdor Gruen as one of its earliest proponents. Avigdor's son David, who adopted the Hebrew name Ben-Gurion, was born in Plonsk in 1886 and became Israel's first Prime Minister.
The Jews were victims of a typhoid epidemic in the aftermath of WWI and suffered from deteriorating economic conditions.
Polish anti-semitism intensified in the late 1930s, including an economic boycott and occasional outbursts of violence. The Germans captured Plonsk on 5 September 1939, instituting a regime of forced labor and extortion. An influx of refugees brought the Jewish population up to 7,000 to 8,000; all were confined to a ghetto in May 1941.
On 28 October 1942, 2,000 of the old and sick were deported to Auschwitz. Three more transports went out at two-week intervals, each with another 2,000 Jews.
A number of Jews formed an underground group affiliated with the Polish Workers Party and a few were able to escape and join their military arm in partisan action. They either fell in battle or were murdered by the Gestapo after capture.
The Family History Library has nine microfilms of Jewish vital records for births, marriages, and deaths in Plonsk for the years 1826-1873. JRI-Poland is still indexing these microfilms. Additional records are located in the Poland State Archives for the years 1826-1906, non-inclusive.
Roman Catholic and Protestant parish records are also available at the FHL as early as 1673 and as late as 1899.
My genealogy research conducted for the town of Plonsk was for Avram, whose Banka/Banks family originated there. I was able to trace that particular family back two more generations, as well as fill in siblings and cousins to the people he already knew.
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