What happened on 7 March 1612 in Poznan? Mass death of Jews #poland #general

Gerson Sher

From multiple Ancestry records, there must have been a mass execution of Jews on 7 March 1612 in Poznan (some records say Prague, but it seems to have been Poznan). Does anyone have any information about this?


I googled 'pogrom 1612' and came up with lots of answers.  Rather than copy each try that google search.
Good luck
Sue Diamond


When you have a Google search with multiple results, a nice way to share it is to offer the meta-search link.  
Barbara Sloan
Conway, SC

Gerson Sher

Good suggestion, thank you. It was all connected to the Fettmilch Uprising of 1612-1616.

The first major mass program in that uprising was in 1614 in Frankfurt, but evidently as early as its beginning in 1612, when Fettmilch came to head the merchant guilds in Frankfurt, there must have been a strong echo on Posen/Poznan, also a major trading city, and in Poland, on very ripe ground for anti-Jewish sentiment. While Fettmilch was eventually executed, the anti-Jewish sentiment grew and exploded in the infamous Khmelnitsky Uprising (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khmelnytsky_Uprising) of 1648-1657. 

Two references to the Fettmilch uprising are at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankfurter_Judengasse#The_Fettmilch_Rising and https://www.jstor.org/stable/4546068?seq=1

Gerson Sher
Washington, DC

Alexander Sharon


I'm afraid that Jewish pogrom in 1612 Poznan is not noted in Poland's historiography and the reasons for Ukraine Khmelnitsky 1648 Uprising is not related to Fettmlich's Frankfurt pogrom either.
Alexander Sharon

Krzysztof Witaszek

Hello Gerson

First question: What the records  really say?

How did you figure out from them that there must have been a mass execution of Jews on 7 March 1612 in Poznan”.

Aren’t there any other possible causes for sudden death of many? ( fires, accidents, plaques)

I don;t know what the cause was, but for example in 1613 there was a fire that destroyed the Jewish quarter in Poznan. 


When you write „in Poland, on very ripe ground for anti-Jewish sentiment”

the words of Moses Isserles ( XVIc Rabbi of Cracow), come to mind:

If God had not given the Jews Poland as a refuge, Israel's fate would have been unbearable indeed”.

And why the Poland was called at that time “Paradise of the Jews”?

And Chmielnicki’s uprising? – that was a completely different story.

Let's try to seek the truth about the past, instead of building  fantasies out of stereotypes.

Krzysztof Witaszek


Gerson Sher

Hi Krzysztof - 

Thanks for your comments. The records - the genealogical records of this particular family tree I have come across - say that many members of this family line perished exactly on 7 March 1612 in Posen/Poznan. Young people, old people. People closely related, people not closely related. The fact that the date is stated so precisely is very unusual in such records. So it was something significant. The only other time I have personally seen such a large number of deaths attributed to a specific day was in a well-documented family tree of Holocaust survivors in Lithuania - in that case, it was apparently a mass execution in October 1941.

We may well ask about the authenticity of these records. It is highly unusual to see a Jewish family tree so well documented, for literally over a thousand years. It's my understanding that some great rabbinical lineages are carefully documented. and what I have found does indeed appear to include and weave around such rabbinic dynasties, where records may well have been kept. All one can see in the trees are dates of birth and death. I'm inclined to assume that at least this much is correct, but it appears to be very hard to trace back to the source.

I agree that in thinking about history we must be based on fact, but facts do not usually jump out by themselves and announce themselves as indisputable fact. History is often about finding links, finding clues, finding patterns, and pursuing bits and pieces of minutiae that may or may not add up to something. And yes, absolutely - without stereotypes.

In this case, I acknowledge, what I have said about whatever happened on 7 March 1612 in Posen/Poznan is conjecture - but not wild conjecture. We know that there was anti-Semitism in Poland both before and after 1612, and much more after. (If we cannot agree on that, there is probably little point in this discussion.) As far as fires in the Jewish quarter of cities, look at the accounts of the Fittmilch rebellion and you'll see multiple pogroms between 1614 and 1616 - the most intense period of the rebellion - involving fires in Jewish quarters. That's what happened in those days. That's fact.  Unfortunately I do not read Polish so I cannot study the Wikipedia link you kindly provided, but does it say anything about what *caused* the fire in 1613? If Jewish quarters in German and Polish cities were going up in flames between 1612 and 1616 as part of a rebellion that victimized Jews, wouldn't it be reasonable to suppose that one such fire in 1613 had similar origins?

Your rhetorical questions about the relationship between Poland and Jews are helpful, but they do not answer themselves. For example, it is well known that certain Polish kings (e.g., Stefan Batory) gave Jews certain privileges and protections. It is known that Jews fleeing Germany in the 14th-15th century were welcomed in Poland by the monarchs. It is known that the Jewish community of Poland was extensive and vibrant. By the same token, it is also known that not everything went so well for the Jews in Poland. Perhaps one could argue that the Khmel'nitsky Uprising was not Polish at all, but Ukrainian, and there's some truth in that, but on my reading of the Khmel'nitsky Uprising, its social origins were in the complaints of the peasanty in present-day eastern Poland about the oppressive taxes of the Polish szlachta nobles, who in turn blamed the Jews who had been delegated by the King to collect taxes from the nobles in order to shelter himself from their wrath. It's all very complicated, indeed. But it's not a completely different story.

Clearly we have different views about these matters. I understand that these issues are very poignant in Poland today. 

Gerson Sher
Washington, DC

Sherri Bobish


I wonder if March 7, 1612 might be the date that the deaths were officially recorded for a previous amount of months, rather than the date of death for all those people?

Just a thought.

Sherri Bobish

Gerson Sher

All -

in a private exchange of messages, a member of this group suggested that I share with the group more detail about what I found. I'm therefore copying/pasting from my response to that member to the entire group.

Thank you very much for your kind note and suggested resources.
I must share with you that I had no intention whatsoever of lifting up corners of rugs in Polish history or anywhere... I was following a very interesting genealogy where it led. BTW, it led also to the Maharal of Prague, the Ba'al Ha-Levushim, and even to Rashi (not directly). Once I saw the name of Rashi, I went over to Wikipedia, where there's a statement that his lineage cannot be proved because of a "seven-generation gap" after the expulsion of Jews from France under Philippe le Bel. Well, there's Rashi in the tree. I didn't bother to look further into his direct lineage, but there is certainly a continuous set of links that includes him going back, purportedly to Venice of the first millenium CE, and even farther - if it is to be believed.
Do you know any about rabbinic lineages? There seem to be several, specially tagged, in this tree.
From my comments you may have gathered that I have some background in history and historical method. That's true, especially in the history of Russia and what we used to call Eastern Europe. The latter is a little spottier but it's by no means trivial. One of my favorite genres of literature, both fiction and non, is the role of falsehood in history - e.g., Barbara Tuchman, Umberto Ecco...
What I find fascinating about genealogy is precisely where it leads you historically, if you're at all curious. I wasn't happy to find what I found about that day in March 1612...
I'm probably not going to pursue these leads (and I actually came across some of them myself), but am most grateful for your message and your interest.
Gerson Sher
Washington, DC

Peter Lobbenberg

I was intrigued to note that among those who are said to have died in Posen/Poznan on 7 March 1612 was the eminent Chief Rabbi of the city, Mordecai Joffe or Jaffe [numerous sources].

Peter Lobbenberg, London, UK 

Krzysztof Witaszek

Hello Gerson

Probably the explanation for this matter may be the flood in Poznan that took place (according to the „Chronicle of Poznań city writers”) in  Lent  of 1612.   Lent in that year began with Ash Wednesday on 7th march! 

This chronicle says that the water was so high that submerged all the city bridges.


Maybe the chronicle itself would give more information, I’ve read only this article.

An explanation, that the documents were created later and a particular day (the beginning of Lent) was chosen as a death day, sounds reasonable.

Frankfurt and Poznań are some 800 km apart, were situated in different kingdoms, and it seems that the Fettmilch Rebelion was a local event.

The omniscient wikipedia says that the fires in Poznań started usually in the Jewish quarter or in suburbs and were spreading further to the city. The houses in that quarter were wooden in contrary to the brick houses inside the city walls.

We can believe that the fires started because of antisemitism, but remember that in realities of that time such antisemitism would end on the gallows as with the case of Fettmilch. It is far less risky to set a fire these days.

Krzysztof Witaszek

Gerson Sher

Dear Krzysztof - 

That is certainly the answer, then. The flood of Lent 1612. Thank you! In that case, my initial guess was wrong and I'm most happy to acknowledge it.

It certainly would have been nice if those who recorded that piece of vital data had been noted in the genealogical entries I came across. Historical analysis is very tricky indeed.

I deeply appreciate your interest and effort to shed light on this issue.


Gerson Sher

ירוחם צבי קינסטליך

hello gerson.ohh... what information you have i am happy for you.first what really happened in poznen 1612?
as a religious man i read the book יון מצולה.Is there a place to have the lists victims in 1648-1649 for example in bilgoraj poland.the writer says all bilgoraj jewish were murdered this time.
anyway thanks a lot gerson !!!
y.z.kinstlich kinstlich123@gmail