The history of Jews in Poznań dates back to the first days of the city, though like so many other towns in Central and Eastern Europe this rich heritage was all but extinguished with the horrors that followed Hitler’s rise to power. Although first recorded mention of a Jewish presence is dated to 1364, it is commonly accepted that the first Jewish settlers arrived in the 13th century when Prince Bolesław the Pious issued a decree granting Jews his protection. As Poznań grew so did the Jewish population, and by the start of the 15th century it’s estimated that one in four buildings on ulica Sukiennicza - the de facto centre of the Jewish community - were occupied by Jews, a fact not lost on city planners who promptly rechristened it ‘ulica Żydowska,’ or ‘Jewish Street.' An influx of German burghers and suspicious arsons marked a 15th century decline for Poznań’s Jews, though Poznań’s Jewish population stood around 3,000 in the early 17th century when racial tensions reached a nadir with the infamous 1736 trial of Rabbi Yossef, who was accused of ritual slaughter and publicly burnt at the stake.
When the city fell under Prussian jurisdiction in the 19th century, however, Jews slowly found themselves accepted into the fold. Following the Great Fire of 1803 they were allowed to live freely throughout the rest of the city and as such ties between Jews and Germans strengthened. In fact, so solid were these relations that the Jewish community rallied around the Germans during the 1918-1919 Wielkopolska Uprising, a fact not forgotten by the local Poles.