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Research support

How did it start?

Exactly a year ago, when I started my amateur search for information about Jewish society in Trzemeszno, I was driven mainly by emotions. As I often underline, it was rather the desperate act in the face of stagnation of various institutions against the terrible conditions of the Jewish cemetery and surviving matzevas, than a smooth research work. At the same time I had serious doubts if I had the right to start such actions, having no education in this field. My doubts were dispelled by a historian-genealogist Jason B. Bley, descendant of Jews from the Gniezno area, who said: “If we had waited for the specialists in each case, we would have waited for ages”. To support his words, he described the research method used be the Mormons. They engage volunteers-amateurs in reading old documents. The results of their work are then verified by specialists. Since it is time which is one of the key items when you work on archive documents. Despite their most sincere wishes, historians are not able to handle everything.

The reasonableness and effectiveness of my searching and queries has been proved by the articles on the history of this society that I have written. They uncover totally new facts from the life of this society or verify information published before. During the work on the documents I have received invaluable help from a German language translator, Krzysztof Tomala. Knowledge of several German alphabets, including kurrenta, which is used in most documents concerning Jewish community in Trzemeszno, is rare today. Moreover, there are difficulties with reading handwriting, which requires painstaking work. This work has been done for months by Mr. Tomala.

I have never applied for financial aid from any source to cover the costs of the documents’ scans, their translations or the travel expenses. I have covered them myself. I have done my work completely free of charge, I was guided by the conviction that it just has to be done. It was my free choice and my own initiative. I was not “employed” by anyone.

For the first three months I received great help from the mentioned Jason B. Bley (but it was me, who had fortunately found him). He showed me the main sources and the methods of searching for information. He bought the scans of Yizkor Book from the Trzemeszno synagogue that will be available to you (as well as the translation of the texts).

Agnieszka Kostuch in the State Archive in Bydgoszcz, Inowrocław Branch

What does this work give?

This experience in research is an invaluable experience on a personal level. At first, I have learnt a lot about the history of my hometown and the history of the Jewish society that I had no idea about. For the first time in my life I looked at the history as at fascinating living science. I have met fantastic, wise, sensitive people from Trzemeszno, other sites in Poland and from abroad (I have refreshed my English a little!), that want and can work together for one thing, regardless of their views, nationality, etc. This is very encouraging.

Katarzyna Sudaj in State Archive in Bydgoszcz

Who can help and how?

I am deeply convinced that everyone who has good will and is ready to devote less or more of their time, can help in these research works and – more widely – in the act of commemorating Jewish society from Trzemeszno.

One of the latest examples is the visit of Dr. Mateusz Koteras and his father in the State Archive in Bydgoszcz, where they took pictures of the documents concerning Jewish commune in Trzemeszno (more are waiting to be photographed).

I will give any detailed information by mail or by phone:

Agnieszka Kostuch

Translated by Jolanta Wojciechowska