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Meisel, Maurycy

(1872–ca. 1942), politican and community leader. Maurycy Meisel completed secondary school in Warsaw, where he worked in a large trading house as a manager. Beginning in 1897, he was a board member of the Association of Trade Workers. In 1905, he took part in the fight for the Polish character of schools, and during World War I he was active on a committee assisting refugees. Elected in 1919 to the city council of Warsaw from the lists of the Orthodox and merchant organizations, he was particularly active in the public health commission. From 1927 to 1934 he again served on the council, this time as a representative of the Jewish National Bloc.

In the first years of Poland’s independence, Meisel was, among other positions, a member of the board of the committee of customs tariffs in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. He was a judge of the district court of Warsaw from 1919 to 1923, and then was a trade magistrate and counselor. He also served as vice president of the association of merchants, and president of the main council of Jewish trade in Poland and of the Warsaw chamber of industry and commerce.

On 1 September 1936, Meisel was elected to the Jewish community council in Warsaw, but divisions in the group prevented it from electing a board. Subsequently, on 15 January 1937 he was appointed by the Polish government to be the temporary chair of the Jewish community in that city; he held this position until 6 September 1939. The role enabled him to save the organization from financial ruin.

Meisel devoted a great deal of attention to education, creating departments of statistics and the press. He undertook his job in a hostile atmosphere, but the resulting reforms led to a change in attitude toward him as he sought to balance his loyalties to the Jewish community and to the state. Meisel published articles on economic and social service; while he was president, these pieces appeared in almost every issue of Głos gminy żydowskiej (Voice of the Jewish Community).

The circumstances of Meisel’s death are not clear; according to Oyneg Shabes sources, he was murdered by the Nazis in Kowel (Kovel’, now in Ukraine) on 1 June 1942. Other sources indicate that he died after 1940 in Siberia.

Suggested Reading

Alexander Guterman, Kehilat Varshe ben shete milḥamot ha-‘olam: Otonomyah le’umit be-khavle ha-ḥok veha-metsi’ut, 1917–1939 (Tel Aviv, 1997).



Translated from Polish by Karen Auerbach