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The Jewish Community of Krakow

Krakow

Cracow

A district city in Western Galicia, south Poland.

Its situation on the Vistula river and the commercial route to Prague attracted an influx of immigrants from Germany, with whom the first Jews arrived in 1257.


Early days

In 1335 King Kazimiez the Great founded the town of Kazimierz near the southern end of ancient Krakow and it was there that the Jews settled. For over four centuries the Jews of Kazimierz struggled for the right to work and trade in Krakow proper. At the end of the fourteenth century construction was begun of a large synagogue in Gothic style. It was completed in 1407 and became known as the Alte Shul in Yiddish and Stara Boznica in Polish. It is the oldest medieval synagogue in Poland which is still preserved. In the early fifteen century Jacob Pollack settled there and established the first Yeshiva.

In the early 16th century many Jews from Bohemia Moravia [similar to today's Czech Republic] settled in the town but some of their customs differed from those of the Polish Jews causing disputes between the two groups. Quiet returned only when the rabbis of both groups died. In the succeeding years of the 16th century further immigrants arrived from Germany, Italy. Others came from Spain and Portugal, no doubt including some new-Christians who had decided to revert to Judaism after the Spanish had continued to persecute them. This group included a number of wealthy Jews and physicians who had been enticed by special financial privileges from the king of Poland. It was only in 1563, after appeals from community leaders, that the king stopped this practice. The 16th and first half of the 17th century was a period of cultural advance by the Jews of Krakow-Kazimierz. By 1644 there were seven synagogues including the Alte Shul and the Rema Synagogue named after the Moses Isserles. A number of yeshivot were founded in the town- they made Krakow an important centre of Jewish learning. From 1650 Yomtov Lippman Heller was the rabbi. In 1666 the community was deeply influenced by the Shabbatean messianic movement. By the end of the 16th century the community was controlled by a small number of wealthy families. The leadership known as a minor sanhedrin consisted of 4 rashim [leaders], 14 council member plus five rabbis. The actual duties of administration were assumed in rotation; each of the rashim was Parnas Hahodesh [leader of the month].


17th-18th Centuries

In the 1630s many Jews fleeing from the devastation of the 30 Years War in Germany arrived in Krakow, while in the 1648-9 many others came from Ukraine to escape the Chmielnicki massacres. The community suffered serious damage during the Swedish invasion of Poland in 1655-1660 ["the Deluge"] – many shops were looted and property damaged. When Polish rule was restored the Jews were accused of collaboration with the enemy and attacks on Jewish property resumed, mainly by students and local hooligans. The kings who had previously protected the Jews were now powerless to intervene. There were s number of blood libels and in 1663 Mattathias Calahora was burned at the stake. In 1667 some one thousand Jewish residents died of the plague and most of the Jewish quarter was abandoned. The community was unable to pay its taxes and was saved only when they were granted a moratorium on the payment of their taxes and debts to the state. The non-Jewish majority was not so easy to placate. They demanded the banning of Jews from doing business in the town. Jews were also forbidden to enter the town on Sundays or Christian festivals.

The nobility and the townsfolk were increasingly hostile to the Jews as the religious tolerance that dominated the mentality of the previous generations of Commonwealth citizens was slowly forgotten. The rise of the group of wealthy Jewish families (Oligarchs) was accompanied by worsening economic conditions amongst the majority of the community and therefore be increased social tensions between the two sections. The costs incurred in the struggle against the non-Jewish elements who were continuing bringing libel cases against the Jews and the need to provide financial support for increasing numbers of impoverished Jews forced the community to take out loans from wealthy Christians and the church. During the troubles of 1722-1768 the Jews of Kazimierz suffered both at the hands of the Polish and Russian armies. Known as the `Confederacy of the Bar', it was marked by violence perpetrated against the Jews by both the Russians and the Poles who regarded the Jews as their enemies. Jews were hung on branches of trees and both sides demanded that the Jews provide them with food, housing and help with espionage. In 1772-1776 Kazimierz became part of Austria while Krakow remained in Poland. Then in 1776 Kazimierz was returned to Poland. However Jews were still forbidden to do business in Krakow and a heavy tax was imposed on the community of Kazimierz. Many Jews left the area for Warsaw or other more hospitable towns. During the 1780s Chasidism began to influence the Jews of Krakow. The movement gained many adherents especially amongst the poorer members of the community. Special synagogues were opened up by the Hassidim but the Mitnagdim imposed a ban [Herem] on them in 1785 and 1797.


19th Century

In 1795 Krakow and the surrounding areas were again annexed by Austria and in 1799 the Austrian authorities ordered all Jewish businesses to be removed from Krakow proper (i.e. not from Kazimierz). From 1800 the government determined that the exercise of civil and voting rights were dependent on the payment of a Candle tax- a tax which hit hardest the poorer people. In 1809 Krakow became part of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw. Some, but not all, of the restrictions and special taxes imposed by the Austrians were cancelled. At the Congress of Vienna in 1815 the Republic of Krakow was established. It survived until 1846. Jews were permitted to reside outside of Kazimierz if they had received a high standard of secular education, if they wore “modern” clothing and if they owned property valued at more than 5000 zloty. (In 1848 just 198 Jews out of 13,000 met these qualifications). In addition the communal organization was abolished and replaced by a committee for Jewish affairs headed by a Christian chairman. From 1832 the rabbi of Krakow was Dov Berush Meisels. He was widely respected despite opposition from the Hassidim headed by Rabbi Saul Raphael Landau. In 1844 the first Reform Synagogue was established in the town.

In 1846 Krakow was returned to Austria. The Jews of Vienna started to raise funds to assist the needy Jews of Kazimierz. As a result of the revolution two years later which granted civil and voting rights to all, Jews were for the first time elected to the Greater Krakow municipal council, with a programme of greater social justice within the community. They demanded the abolition of the tax levied on kosher meat, proposing instead a tax on poultry which was consumed mainly by the wealthy. The Jews demanded also that the inflated salaries of communal officials be reduced, that the communal hospital by run by the community itself instead of by the Hevra Kadisha. The demanded also that the privileges of the leading wealthy families ("The Oligrarchs") be abolished.

In the 1848 elections to the Austrian parliament in Vienna Rabbi Meisels was returned as the deputy for Krakow. As a Jewish element in the 1848 revolutionary ferment there was established the 'Society for the Spiritual and Material Assimilation of the Jews', which was intended to establish Jews as an integral part of Polish society. When Rabbi Meisels was appointed to a position in Warsaw, he was replaced by Rabbi Simeon Schreiber-Sofer, a strict traditionalist who frequently clashed with the Reform/Assimilationist congregation in the town lead by Joseph Ettinger and Rabbi Simon Dankovitch. After the granting of full emancipation to the Jews of Krakow in 1867-8 they were for the first time permitted to live anywhere in Krakow or Kazimierz. In place of traditional communal organizations a new Jewish religious council was established in which the assimilationist intelligentsia had the upper hand. In 1869 a total of 26 Jewish students were studying that the law faculty and the medical school of the University of Krakow and a further ten at the town's technical college. In the following decade some 200 Jewish pupils attended the municipal secondary schools and teachers' training college. The first Hebrew school, headed by Av Beth Din Chaim Arieh Horowitz, was established in 1874. The first secular Hebrew lending library was opened in Krakow in 1876. The Jewish education system in the town included chadarim and Yeshivot as well as elementary and secondary schools with Polish and German as the languages of instruction.

Towards the end of the 19th century the Zionist movement came to Krakow. To a major degree this was in response to increased anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish pogroms which made many of the Jews feel insecure. They often joined the waves of Polish emigrants to the USA. Others, especially those who spoke German, went to live in Vienna. Those who remained were the Zionists. The first Chovevei Zion society was established in Krakow by Simeon Sofer and and Aaron Markus in the 1880s and the Sfat Emet society was started there in 1892. HaHevrah LeIvrit LeTarbut (the Hebrew culture society) was also active. From 1897 political Zionism led by Osias Thon and Julius Schenwetter started to attract support. Other communal organizations included an academic society Shachar, news magazine Der Yiddishe Arbeiter, the organ of HaPoalei Zion, which was published between 1905 and 1914. In 1900 an independent group established itself in order to fight for civil equality for the Jews. This group was headed by Ignaz Landau and Adolf Gross. Krakow was the centre of all Zionist activity in western Galicia.


Between the Two World Wars

The rise of Polish nationalism, the upheavals in the aftermath of World War I brought widespread unemployment and famine to the area coupled with vicious anti-Semitism. The anti-Semitic party, Endecja, attempted to direct the discontent of the Polish masses against the Jews. The Jewish youth of Krakow, led by Jacob Billik and Y.Alster, tried to organize self-defence measures which succeeded in stopping riots started by followers of the Polish anti-Semitic general Haller in 1918- and 1919.

In 1921 the Jewish population of Krakow was estimated to be 45,000 while in 1931 it had risen to 57,000 out of some 220,000. At the beginning of World War II the Jewish population had risen to 60,000. Between the two world wars Krakow remained an important centre of Jewish political and social life. The Polish language Zionist daily newspaper Nowy Ziennik was published there and most Zionist organizations continued to be active. The Bundist magazine, Walka, was published between 1924 and 1927. The poorer segments of the community continued to live in Kazimierz.


The Holocaust

A few days after the outbreak of war in September 1939 the Germans entered Krakow and the persecution of the Jews began. The Jewish Community Council building and several synagogues were destroyed. A Judenrat with 24 members was appointed in November under Dr Mark Bieberstein and Wilhelm Goldblatt. In the summer of 1940 the two were arrested by the Gestapo. In April 1940 the Germans ordered 75% of the Jews to leave the town. In March 1941 a ghetto was erected and 20,000 Jews were forced to live within its confines. In June 1942 some 6,000 Jews were sent to the Belzec death camp wile a further 300 were shot inside the ghetto. Among the victims were the writer Mordechai Gebirtig and the new head of the Judenrat Arthur Rozenzweig. In October 1942 another 7,000 were sent to their deaths at Belzec. In March 1943 the remainder were sent to Auschwitz.

The Jewish underground began to organize in 1940 and by 1942 they were known as the Jewish Combat Organization headed by Heshek Bauminger, Aharon Liebeskind, Gola Mira, Shimshon Drenger and Abraham Leibowitz-Laban. The organization was in contact with Jewish partisans on the area and also the Warsaw Ghetto. Probably the most famous of their exploits was the attack on the Cyganeria coffee house in the town centre which was a popular meting place for German soldiers. They were also responsible for sabotage on local railway lines. After the liquidation of the ghetto in Krakow the group was active in the Plaskow labour camp. In the Zablocie district of Krakow Oscar Schindler had a factory which he used to save 1,098 Jews from Plaszow.

Some 2,000 survivors returned to the town in 1945-6 after the war, most had been living in Russia. Fearing a pogrom they made no attempt to reestablish the Jewish quarter in Kazimierz. In 1968 the last of the Jews left Kazimierz, the oldest synagogue, the Hoyche Shul became a Jewish museum and only the cemetery was restored with contributions from American and Canadian Jews. After the exodus of 1967-9 just 700 Jews remained in the town but only about 200 identify themselves with the Jewish community.

In 1997 there were 8,000 Jews living in Poland, most of them in the capital Warsaw, a few hundred in Krakow.

Place Type:
City
ID Number:
128003
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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Halicka, Alicja (1884-1975), painter, born into a family of physicians in Krakow, Poland (then part of Austria-Hungary). Halicka studied painting with Josef Pankiewicz at the Academy of Fine Arts of Krakow and following a short stay in Munich, Germany, she moved to Paris, France, in 1912.

In Paris she continued her studies with Paul Sérusier and Maurice Denis at the Ransons Academy. Louis Marcoussis, her husband since 1913, introduced her into the group of the Cubists. Halicka was affiliated with the Cubist movement until 1921. Following a trip to Poland in 1921, Halicka joined the Polish post-impressionist school. Her themes include scenes of the daily life in Kazimierz, the Jewish neighbourhood of Krakow. She also illustrated several books, including "Childlike" by Valéry Larbaud and the "Children of the Ghetto" by Zangwill. Between 1935 and 1937, Halicka traveled three times to New York where she created ads for Helena Rubinstein Company (1935) and the set the costumes for "The kiss of the Fairy", a ballet by Stravinsky performed at the Metropolitan Opera (1937). During WW2 she hid in the Allier region along with Louis Marcoussis, who died in 1941 in Cusset near Vichy.

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Talmudist

He was born in Cracow, studied in yeshivot and then took up residence in Lvov where he was inspector to the talmud torah. In 1702 he was saved from an explosion which killed most of his family and he vowed to devote his life to study. He then served as rabbi in Tarlow, Kurow and Lesko before becoming rabbi in Lvov (1718) where he established a distinguished yeshiva. However he aroused controversy in the community and had to leave. He lived for some years in Buczacz and then was rabbi in Berlin (1730-1734), Metz (1734-1741) and Frankfurt (1741-1751). Here he encountered opposition because of his support for Yaakov Emden in his controversy with Yonatan Eibeschuetz so he went to live as a private individual in Worms. He was one of the greatest scholars of his generation and his halakhic decisions were widely accepted. He wrote various works, best-known being Pene Yehoshua, novellae on the Talmud.
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Educator

Sarah Schnirer was born in Krakow, Poland (then in the Austrian Empire), into a Hasidic family in 1883, and educated in a Polish public school, as Jewish girls were not admitted at the time to Jewish traditional schools. She worked for part of her life as a seamstress. In 1914, she moved along with her family to Vienna, Austria. As following the increasing influence of the Enlightenment ideas and the Emancipation fewer educated Jewish women kept with the Jewish traditions, Sarah Schnirer saw an urgent need of establishing an educational framework for observant Jewish girls. With the blessing of the Belzer rebbe, Sarah Schnirer managed to open a school and library for Jewish girls in Krakow in 1918. Named Beth Yaakov (Beis Yaakov), this modest class of twenty-five girls grew into an impressive educational network that by the time of Schnirer's passing away had already more than 200 schools attended by some 25,000 students all over Eastern and Central Europe.
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Born in Cracow, Poland, Haubenstock-Ramati lived in Israel between 1950-1957 and co-founded the Tel Aviv Central Music Library.

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Gebirtig, Mordechai (1877-1942) , Yiddish poet and composer. Born in Cracow, Poland, he was a carpenter by profession and lived all his life in Cracow. He composed both words and melodies to his 86 songs. While Gebirtig played the melody on the flute, his friend, Julius Hoffman, wrote down the notes. The songs became popular long before critics recognized their literary and musical value. Several collections of his songs w`ere published from 1920 to 1936 and reprinted in the 40s. In 1938, under the impact of the Polish progrom in Przytyk, Gebirtig wrote Undzer Shtetl Brent (Our Town is Aflame)., which later became a hymn often sung at Jewish memorial assemblies. Gebirtig was murdered by the Nazis on June 4, 1942.
Reich, Emil (Milo) (1905-1987), manufacturer, born in Krakow, Poland (then part of the Austria-Hungary), was taken by his parents to Vienna, Austria, at the age of two. He grew up in Vienna and was awarded two degrees in engineering by the University of Vienna. In the aftermath of the First World War and the resulting economic crisis in Vienna he was unable to find work there. He was however offered the job of modernising a glove factory in the city of Chemnitz in Saxony, Germany. Initially he knew nothing about the production of gloves, but by the time Nazis came to power in 1933 he had built up the factory and had customers in Finland, Sweden, Norway and England.

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Infeld, Leopold (1898-1968), physicist, born in Krakow, Poalnd (then part the Austro-Hungarian Empire). He studied physics at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow and obtained his doctorate there in 1921. He worked as an assistant and a docent at the University of Lwow (1930–1933).

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Halahkist and codifier

Moshe Isserles, also known by the acronym REMA (pronounced REMU in Yiddish), lived in Krakow, Poland. Already in his youth he was famed for his erudition. He came from a wealthy family and founded and headed a yeshiva, keeping the students at his own expense. His "Darkhei Mosheh" was a commentary on Ya’akov ben Asher’s code, "Arba’ah Turim". When Yosef Caro wrote his standard code, the "Shulhan Arukh" (literally ‘The Table is Ready’), based on Sephardi practice, Isserles was afraid that its popularity would lead European Jews to forget the rulings of Ashkenazi authorities. He therefore wrote "Ha-Mappah" (literally ‘The Tablecloth’) which complements Caro’s work with Ashkenazi traditions and customs. Since then, the combined works have been the accepted basis of Ashkenazi Orthodox life, and to this day guide rabbinical decision-making. Rabbi Moshe Isserles was the author of many other halakhic works as well as works of a philosophic and mystical nature. Isserles’ father built the Rema synagogue in Krakow in honor of his son. This synagogue still stands. The traditional seat of Isserles can be seen inside the synagogue, while his grave is in the adjacent cemetery.
Poet and literary critic. Born in Cracow, Poland, he studied with Ben-Zion Rappaport. During World War I he studied at the universities of Basel and Zurich, and from 1918-1926 lived in Vienna, Berlin and Paris. He then emigrated to the Soviet Union and lived first in Kharkov, later in Kiev and, from 1933, in Moscow. During World War II he fell near Vyazma as a volunteer in the Soviet army.
Wiener wrote in Hebrew, Yiddish, German and Russian. He is author of, among others, a collection of elegies Messias (1920), the story Ele Faleks Untergang (1929), the collected articles Tsu der Geshikhte fun der Yidisher Literatur in Nayntsenten Yorhundert (1945/46) and the study Vegn Sholem Aleichems Humor (1941).
Kisling, Mojzesz (1891-1953), painter, born in Krakow, Poland (then part of Austria-Hungary). He studied at the School of Fine Arts in Krakow, and then moved to France in 1910 settling in Paris.

Kisling resided first in Montmartre and after a few years he moved to Montparnasse where he became a member of an artists' community made up of immigrants from various countries in eastern Europe as well as from USA and Britain.

Kisling volunteered to serve in the French Foreign Legion during WW1. After having been seriously wounded in the Battle of the Somme (1915), he was awarded French citizenship.

A member of the School of Paris, Kisling lived and worked in Montparnasse and was close friends with his neighbors, Amedeo Modigliani and Jules Pascin, and other distinguished artists. Kisling earned the widest acclaim for his surreal nudes and portraits.

Kisling volunteered for army service again in 1940 during World War II, although he was 49. He was discharged from the French army at the time of the surrender Nazi Germany.
Kisling immigrated to the United States. In the USA he exhibited in New York and Washington, DC. Eventually he settled in California living there until 1946, when he returned to France where he died seven years later at Sanary-sur-Mer, near Toulon, on the French Riviera.
Birnbaum, Eduard (1855-1920) , cantor and composer. Born in Cracow, Poland, he studied cantorial music with Solomon Sulzer in Vienna. In 1874 he became chief cantor of Beuthen, Germany. At that time he started to collect material upon which he later based his research and critical article on Abraham Baer’s book Ba’al T’fillah. Birnbaum’s collection, now at the Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, Ohio, includes a thematic catalog of synagogal melodies comprising some 7000 items. From 1879 until his death, Birnbaum served as chief cantor in Koenigsberg, where he exerted great influence through his intensive and versatile educational work.
Birnbaum composed liturgical works, including ASEH LEMA’AN, HAMELEKH, KEDUSHA and LEKHA DODI. He died in Königsberg, Germany.

Bernard (Dov Berek) Gitler (1921-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) Belgium, was born on Nov. 6, 1921 in Krakow, Poland. His father, Shalom Hersch, and his mother, Leah née Rosemary, arrived in Belgium in 1928 and lived on 16, Van Leriusstraat in Antwerp. They had five children; Chaim, Malka Chaya, Dov, Wolf (see under Wolf Wilhelm Gitler) and Joseph. His father worked as a diamond dealer. Bernard studied goldsmith's work as an apprentice.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Gitler was arrested by the Nazis in France and consequently detained in the transit camp of Drancy, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp with the 27th transport September 2, 1942. He never returned.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Wolf Wilhelm (Bobek) Gitler (1925-1942), member  of the Shahal group  of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) Belgium, was born on July. 10, 1925 in Krakow, Poland. His father, Shalom Hersch, and his mother, Leah née Rosemary, arrived in Belgium in 1928 and lived on 16, Van Leriusstraat in Antwerp. They had five children; Chaim, Malka Chaya, Dov, Wolf (see under Gitler Bernard Dov) and Joseph. His father worked as a diamond dealer.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Gitler was arrested by the Nazis in Belguim and consequently detained in the transit camp of Mechelen-Malines, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp with transport VIII  on September 8, 1942. His name appears under number 470 on the list of deported. Wolf Wilhelm Gitler was murdered in Auschwitz on September 11, 1942.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot databases, courtesy of the authors.

Messer, Adolf (Abraham) (1886-1931), painter, born in Ścianki, Poland (then in Galicia, Austria-Hungary). Messer was a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, Poland. Between 1917 and 1918 he was an apprentice of Jacek Dębicki at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. He travelled a lot and lived in Prague, Paris, Budapest and Berlin. Finally he settled in Krakow. He debuted in 1921 at the exhibition of the Devotees of Art in Lvov (Lviv, now in Ukraine). Later on he exhibited his works mainly in the Association of the Friends of the Fine Arts.

Messer painted realist scenes connected with Jewish customs and religion. and genre scenes, chiefly using oil techniques. His paintings described Jewish religion and morality, their composition is static and in subdued colours. In his time he was regarded as one of the most important Jewish artists in Poland. Some of his works are kept in the Jewish Historical Institute, and some in the Historical Museum of Krakow.
Artist

One of the outstanding Jewish artists of the 19th century. He was born in Drohobycz, Galicia, then under Austrian rule, and studied in Lvov, Vienna, Munich and Krakow which became his home. A Polish patriot, his early pictures were on Polish nationalist themes. He then moved to Jewish subjects. His most famous work ‘Jews at Prayer on Yom Kippur’ is in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. He was extremely prolific but only a fraction of his works was completed. His ‘Jesus teaching in the Temple’ was revolutionary in artistic representation inasmuch as Jesus was portrayed as a Jew preaching to fellow-Jews. He died in Krakow at the age of 23. His brother, Leopold Gottlieb, also a noted painter, was born five years after Maurycy's death.
Markowicz, Artur (1872-1934 ), artist, born in Podgorze, Poland (then part of Austria-Hungary). He studied with Leopold Loeffler, Florian Cynk and with Jan Matejko at the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts in 1886–1895.

From 1896 until 1903 he lived and studied art in Munich, Berlin, Germany, and in Paris at the École des Beaux-Arts. He exhibited his paintings in Paris at the Salons of 1900, 1901, 1903 and 1904.

Markowicz returned to Krakow in 1906 and set up a studio in the historical district of Kazimierz. He traveled to Jerusalem in 1907– 1908 and parts of Europe until 1914. His Jewish scenes and character-studies show a unique originality of his style influenced by symbolism with elements of expressionism.
Neumann, Abraham (1873-1942), painter, born in Sierpiec, Poland (then part of the Russian Empire). He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow in workshops of Jacek Malczewski, Leon Wyczółkowski and Jan Stanisławski and then at the Academie Julian in Paris, France. He lived in Krakow until in 1904 when he went to Israel (then part of the Ottoman Empire). Between 1908 and 1913 he was back in Poland and settled in Zakopane. During World War 1 he lived in Vienna, Austria. When WW1 ended, he decided to move to USA for three years, but later he returned to Israel, then under British Mandate, becoming a teacher in the Bezalel School of Fine Arts in Jerusalem.

Neumann took part in exhibitions of the Polish Artistic Company “Art”, the Viennese Secession, the Union of Polish Artist and some other groups. He participated in exhibitions of Jewish art in Warsaw and Krakow. He exhibited also in Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, Leipzig, Munich and Paris. His works included pictures of local Polish and Israel landscapes, portraits and still lifes.

Neumann was shot and killed on April 4, 1942 in the ghetto in Krakow.
KRAKOWER

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birth place, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

The Jewish surname Krakower, in which the German/Yiddish ending "-er" means "of/from", is based on the city of Kracow/Cracow/Krakau in Galicia, southern Poland, where Jews lived since the 13th century. Similar Jewish family names associated with the city comprise Cracovaner, Krakauer, Kracauer and Krackowizer.

Distinguished 20th century bearers of the Jewish family name Krakower include the Canadian-born American physician and educator, Cecil A. Krakower.
KRAKOWSKI

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birth place, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

The Jewish surname Krakowski, in which the Polish ending "-ski" means "of/from", is based on the city of Kracow/Cracow/Krakau in Galicia, southern Poland, where Jews lived since the 13th century. Similar Jewish family names associated with the city comprise Cracovaner, Krakauer, Kracauer and Krackowizer.

Distinguished 20th century bearers of the Jewish family name Krakowski include the Polish-born American philologist and educator, Meyer Krakowski, and the American literary historian, Anna Krakowski.
The Rema (Rabbi Moses Ben Israel Isserles) Synagogue in Cracow, Poland.
Built in 1553 in Renaissance style.
In the courtyard there is a cemetery with the tombs of Rema and other famous rabbis.
The synagogue was burnt down by the Nazis but
was reconstructed after the second World War.
Model.
(Beit Hatfutsot, Permanent Exhibition)
Arlozorov Visiting Cracow, Poland 1933
The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Avraham Ben-Zeev, Israel)
Rosner's Players orchestra, Krakow, Poland 1932.
Sitting first right: Yitzhak Mandelbaum, who later
immigrated to Eretz Israel and founded his own
big band.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
bequest of Yitzhak Mandelbaum, by Erela Kenan)
Mordechai Gebirtig (1877-1942), (standing, third from right),
Yiddish poet and composer, with his wife, relatives and friends: Nahman Miflev (first right), Hebrew Author, and Shlomo Monderer (second right), publisher of a Hebrew magazine for children.
Cracow, Poland, 1924.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Nahum Manor, Israel)
At the Hebrew kindergarten 'Tarbut' in Cracow,
Poland, 1931.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Irena Manor, Be'er Sheva)
The Rema (Rabbi Moses Isserles) cemetery, built in 1553,
in the background: the Rema Synagogue,
Cracow, Poland, 1920s
Postcard from photo album by 'B'nai B'rith' Organization, Cracow.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Ze'ev Aleksandrowicz, Israel)

Album Zydowskich Zabytkow Krakowa
The Stara (Old) Synagogue of Kazimierz,
Cracow, Poland, 1980.
Th esynagogue was probably built
in the late 14th or early 15th century.
Photo: Monica Levy, Italy.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Monica Levy, Italy)
The High Synagogue (Hoch Schul) in the Jewish Quarter,
Cracow, Poland, 1920s
Built in the 16th century it is now a restoration workshop.
Postcard from album by B'nai B'rith Organization, Cracow.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Ze'ev Aleksandrowicz, Israel)

Album Zydowskich Zabytkow Krakowa
The Isaac (Yacobovitz) Synagogue built in the 17th century, Cracow, Poland, 1920s
Postcard from photo album by B'nai B'rith Organization, Cracow, Poland.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Ze'ev Aleksandrowicz, Israel)
The "Popper" Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter,
Cracow, Poland, 1920s
The synagogue built in 1620, is now a Non-Jewish cultural club.
Postcard From photo album by B'nai B'rith Organization, Cracow
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Ze'ev Aleksandrowicz, Israel)

Album Zydowskich Zabytkow Krakowa
Stefania and Maria Asterblum in Traditional Cracow Costume, Warsaw, Poland, 1900
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Janina Goldhar, Israel)
Tombstone in the old Rama cemetery
in Kazimierz, Cracow, Poland, 1981
Photo: Jan Jagielski, Poland
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Jan Jagielski, Poland)
Neumann, Abraham (1873-1942), painter, born in Sierpiec, Poland (then part of the Russian Empire). He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow in workshops of Jacek Malczewski, Leon Wyczółkowski and Jan Stanisławski and then at the Academie Julian in Paris, France. He lived in Krakow until in 1904 when he went to Israel (then part of the Ottoman Empire). Between 1908 and 1913 he was back in Poland and settled in Zakopane. During World War 1 he lived in Vienna, Austria. When WW1 ended, he decided to move to USA for three years, but later he returned to Israel, then under British Mandate, becoming a teacher in the Bezalel School of Fine Arts in Jerusalem.

Neumann took part in exhibitions of the Polish Artistic Company “Art”, the Viennese Secession, the Union of Polish Artist and some other groups. He participated in exhibitions of Jewish art in Warsaw and Krakow. He exhibited also in Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, Leipzig, Munich and Paris. His works included pictures of local Polish and Israel landscapes, portraits and still lifes.

Neumann was shot and killed on April 4, 1942 in the ghetto in Krakow.
Markowicz, Artur (1872-1934 ), artist, born in Podgorze, Poland (then part of Austria-Hungary). He studied with Leopold Loeffler, Florian Cynk and with Jan Matejko at the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts in 1886–1895.

From 1896 until 1903 he lived and studied art in Munich, Berlin, Germany, and in Paris at the École des Beaux-Arts. He exhibited his paintings in Paris at the Salons of 1900, 1901, 1903 and 1904.

Markowicz returned to Krakow in 1906 and set up a studio in the historical district of Kazimierz. He traveled to Jerusalem in 1907– 1908 and parts of Europe until 1914. His Jewish scenes and character-studies show a unique originality of his style influenced by symbolism with elements of expressionism.
Eskeles, Gabriel Ben Yehudah (1655-1718), rabbi and communal leader, born in Krakow, Poland, and died in Nikolsburg (now Mikulov, in the Czech Republic). A pupil of Samuel Koidanover, it is known that in 1683 he was offered the position of rabbi in Prague, but it seems that he refused the offer. The following year he became rabbi of Olkusz near Krakow and the family name Eskeles was apparently derived from the name of the town. In 1695 he became rabbi of Metz, France, and in 1708 he was appointed the Landesrabbiner (chief rabbi) of Moravia, then part of the Hapsburg Empire, (now part of the Czech Republic), and then he became head of the yeshiva of Nikolsburg where there lived some 600 Jewish families makjng up about half of the town's population. He banned kabbalists and sabbatarians from the town. He wrote commentaries on tractates "Shabbat" and "Megilla" and also on "Perkey Avot".
Guenzler, Abraham (1840-1910), rabbinical publicist, journalist, born in Satoraljaujhely, Hungary (then part of the Austrian Empire). He had a special gift for writing which he used to defend traditional Judaism. In 1868, he published a pamphlet, "Tokhahat Megullah", in which he attacked Isaac Friedlieber's work "Divrei Shalom" and defended traditional orthodox Judaism and opposed the Reform movement, which was becoming more popular in Hungary.

Guenzler moved to Sziget (now Sighet, in Romania), a community of Hasidim and maskilim, where he began to publish a Hebrew weekly, "Ha-Tor". It was the first Hebrew journal published in Hungary and exerted considerable influence. The revival of the Hebrew language was his main ambition, and in 1876 he published in Sziget a booklet, "Das Meter Moss", most of which was in Hebrew because "there are people who understand Hebrew better than Yiddish." The journal was published for three years (1874-1876), but it seems that it was not profitable since he moved with it to Kolomyya in Galicia (then part of Austria-Hungary, now in Ukraine) and from there to Krakow (now in Poland).

In 1881 he reported in his journal the pogroms taking place against the Russian Jews with such effect that the Russian government banned it from Russia. Since most of the journal's subscribers lived there (he had nearly 300 subscribers in Russia, and about 250 in Austria-Hungary), "Ha-Tor" ceased publication. Guenzler did not, however, refrain from commenting on contemporary and local issues. He published articles in "Kol Mahazike Hadas", published fortnightly in Lemberg (now Lvov, in Ukraine). Meanwhile R. Simeon Sofer of Krakow founded the weekly "Mahazike Hadas" and Guenzler was appointed editor. The publishers of "Kol Mahazike Hadas" sued Guenzler; eventually it was agreed that "Mahazike Hadas" would cease publication and Guenzler would edit "Kol Mahazike Hadas", but he was later obliged to resign.
Kisling, Mojzesz (1891-1953), painter, born in Krakow, Poland (then part of Austria-Hungary). He studied at the School of Fine Arts in Krakow, and then moved to France in 1910 settling in Paris.

Kisling resided first in Montmartre and after a few years he moved to Montparnasse where he became a member of an artists' community made up of immigrants from various countries in eastern Europe as well as from USA and Britain.

Kisling volunteered to serve in the French Foreign Legion during WW1. After having been seriously wounded in the Battle of the Somme (1915), he was awarded French citizenship.

A member of the School of Paris, Kisling lived and worked in Montparnasse and was close friends with his neighbors, Amedeo Modigliani and Jules Pascin, and other distinguished artists. Kisling earned the widest acclaim for his surreal nudes and portraits.

Kisling volunteered for army service again in 1940 during World War II, although he was 49. He was discharged from the French army at the time of the surrender Nazi Germany.
Kisling immigrated to the United States. In the USA he exhibited in New York and Washington, DC. Eventually he settled in California living there until 1946, when he returned to France where he died seven years later at Sanary-sur-Mer, near Toulon, on the French Riviera.
Gebirtig, Mordechai (1877-1942) , Yiddish poet and composer. Born in Cracow, Poland, he was a carpenter by profession and lived all his life in Cracow. He composed both words and melodies to his 86 songs. While Gebirtig played the melody on the flute, his friend, Julius Hoffman, wrote down the notes. The songs became popular long before critics recognized their literary and musical value. Several collections of his songs w`ere published from 1920 to 1936 and reprinted in the 40s. In 1938, under the impact of the Polish progrom in Przytyk, Gebirtig wrote Undzer Shtetl Brent (Our Town is Aflame)., which later became a hymn often sung at Jewish memorial assemblies. Gebirtig was murdered by the Nazis on June 4, 1942.
Composer.

Born in Cracow, Poland, Haubenstock-Ramati lived in Israel between 1950-1957 and co-founded the Tel Aviv Central Music Library.

In 1954 he was appointed professor at the Tel Aviv Music Academy. In 1957 he moved to Vienna, Austria, and in 1973, he became professor at the Vienna Musikhochschule.

Haubenstock-Ramati belongs to a significant group of innovators who supported open forms in musical composition (i.e. his work INTERPOLATION, 1958), multi-layered time and space progressions (i.e. PETITE MUSIQUE DE NUIT, 1959/60), and experimental musical (graphic) notation.

His works include the opera AMERICA, (after Kafka, 1966); TABLEAU I-III for orchestra (1967-70); SYMPHONY K (1967); MULTIPLE I-VI for 2-7 players (1970); ENDLESS for 7 musicians and conductor (1976); SYMPHONIES for orchestra (1977). He died in Vienna, Austria.
Educator

Sarah Schnirer was born in Krakow, Poland (then in the Austrian Empire), into a Hasidic family in 1883, and educated in a Polish public school, as Jewish girls were not admitted at the time to Jewish traditional schools. She worked for part of her life as a seamstress. In 1914, she moved along with her family to Vienna, Austria. As following the increasing influence of the Enlightenment ideas and the Emancipation fewer educated Jewish women kept with the Jewish traditions, Sarah Schnirer saw an urgent need of establishing an educational framework for observant Jewish girls. With the blessing of the Belzer rebbe, Sarah Schnirer managed to open a school and library for Jewish girls in Krakow in 1918. Named Beth Yaakov (Beis Yaakov), this modest class of twenty-five girls grew into an impressive educational network that by the time of Schnirer's passing away had already more than 200 schools attended by some 25,000 students all over Eastern and Central Europe.
Weinbaum, Abraham (1890 -1943), painter from the School of Paris, born in Kamieniec Podolski, Ukraine (then part of the Russian Empire), the son of a textile industrialist who moved to Lodz. After high school, he moved to Odessa, where he studied painting.However, he decided to move to Krakow. He continued his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts under the direction of Joseph Pankiewicz, Józef Unierzyński, and Wojciech Weiss (1906-1914) . In Krakow, he met with Jewish leftist organizations and befriended the painter Joseph Leski. Encouraged by Pankiewicz after graduating in 1910, Weinbaum went to Paris where showed his works for the first time in 1910 and came into contact with the works of great painters. In Paris he participated in the artistic life, his work was exhibited in the showrooms organized there as well as in in Brussels, Belgium. After settling in France, he trevelled frequently to Lodz, where his family lived.

Weinbaum exhibited in Salon des Independants (1920-1921, 1923—1924, 1937). He used oil technique, pastels and guasch and painted landscapes, still lifes, interiors and portraits

During World War 2 he served in the French Army. In 1940 he moved with his family to Marseilles. On January 22, 1943 he was arrested and imprisoned first in Compiègne, then in Drancy. On March 23, 1943 he was included in the convoy No. 52 and deported to Sobibor Nazi death camp, where he was murdered along with his wife and daughter.
Ascher, Jerzy (1884-1944), painter, architect born in Warsaw, Poland (then part of the Russian Empire). From 1904-1907 he studied at the Warsaw Polytechnic Institute. In 1908 he continued his studies in architecture at the Technische Hochschule in Berlin-Charlottenburg, Germany.

After graduating in 1909, he settled in Krakow, where he worked in an architectural firm and participated in the work on the reconstruction of the Wawel Castle. In 1914-1918 he was an architect in Warsaw and Lvov (Lemberg, now Lviv, in Ukraine). He participated in the Polish-Soviet War in 1920.

In 1925 he went to France, where he lived in La Ciotat on the Mediterranean coast, and devoted himself entirely to painting. He painted landscapes, still lifes, nudes and portraits using decorative and sophisticated colors. In 1943 he, together with his wife, was arrested and imprisoned in the concentration Camp des Gurs, from where they were later deported to Auschwitz.

Ascher was a cousin of the painter Roman Kramsztyk (1885-1942).
Messer, Adolf (Abraham) (1886-1931), painter, born in Ścianki, Poland (then in Galicia, Austria-Hungary). Messer was a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, Poland. Between 1917 and 1918 he was an apprentice of Jacek Dębicki at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. He travelled a lot and lived in Prague, Paris, Budapest and Berlin. Finally he settled in Krakow. He debuted in 1921 at the exhibition of the Devotees of Art in Lvov (Lviv, now in Ukraine). Later on he exhibited his works mainly in the Association of the Friends of the Fine Arts.

Messer painted realist scenes connected with Jewish customs and religion. and genre scenes, chiefly using oil techniques. His paintings described Jewish religion and morality, their composition is static and in subdued colours. In his time he was regarded as one of the most important Jewish artists in Poland. Some of his works are kept in the Jewish Historical Institute, and some in the Historical Museum of Krakow.
Halicka, Alicja (1884-1975), painter, born into a family of physicians in Krakow, Poland (then part of Austria-Hungary). Halicka studied painting with Josef Pankiewicz at the Academy of Fine Arts of Krakow and following a short stay in Munich, Germany, she moved to Paris, France, in 1912.

In Paris she continued her studies with Paul Sérusier and Maurice Denis at the Ransons Academy. Louis Marcoussis, her husband since 1913, introduced her into the group of the Cubists. Halicka was affiliated with the Cubist movement until 1921. Following a trip to Poland in 1921, Halicka joined the Polish post-impressionist school. Her themes include scenes of the daily life in Kazimierz, the Jewish neighbourhood of Krakow. She also illustrated several books, including "Childlike" by Valéry Larbaud and the "Children of the Ghetto" by Zangwill. Between 1935 and 1937, Halicka traveled three times to New York where she created ads for Helena Rubinstein Company (1935) and the set the costumes for "The kiss of the Fairy", a ballet by Stravinsky performed at the Metropolitan Opera (1937). During WW2 she hid in the Allier region along with Louis Marcoussis, who died in 1941 in Cusset near Vichy.

Halicka returned to Paris in 1945. She published "Yesterday", an autobiographical novel and contgributed for the "Nouvelles Littéraires" entitled “In the Shale of the Bateau Lavoir”.

During the last twenty years of her life she traveled to India (1952), to Poland (1956) and to Russia (1960). She exhibited in France and abroad and joined the surrealism movement. Halicka died in Paris and was burried in Vichy, France.
Scholar

He received a rabbinic education in his native Krakow and his secular education at the universities of Berlin and Berne. He then served as rabbi in Dresnitz and Lostice. After World War I he settled in Antwerp where he headed the Tahkemoni school and later became a bookseller. Guenzig's scholarly work dealt largely with the history of the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskala) in Galicia but he wrote on many other topics and edited scholarly journals.
Composer. Born in Cracow, Poland, Halpern studied piano and composition as well as symphonic jazz at the Cracow Conservatory. In 1940 he won a composition competition held in Lvov. In the same year he was exiled to Russia, where he was imprisoned in a forced labour camp. At the end of 1942 he reached Samarkand, Uzbekistan, where he studied composition and orchestration with Prof. Rothenberg. At the same time he founded two music groups for Russian and Polish refugees. In 1946 he resumed his music studies at the Cracow University and wrote music for Cracow’s Grotesque Theater. He later continued his studies in Paris. In 1951 he came to Israel and between 1953-1954 studied composition with Boscovitch. Until his retirement in 1986 he was the director of the music section of the Israel Broadcasting Authority in Tel Aviv. He taught music and music aesthetics at the Beth Zvi School for Art and Theater, Ramat Gan.
Halpern composed music for stage (Zavit Theatre and Habima National Theater), and films as well as radio. His works include CONCERTINO for alto saxophone (1965), SHORT STORIES for symphony orchestra (1972), TESTIMONIUM for mezzo-soprano, narrator, choir and orchestra (1975), SONGS OF THE HAPPY CHILDREN for children’s choir and chamber ensemble (1977), INTRODUCTION FOR MAIMONIDES for symphony orchestra (1978), POEM for oboe and piano (1985). Halpern died in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Birnbaum, Eduard (1855-1920) , cantor and composer. Born in Cracow, Poland, he studied cantorial music with Solomon Sulzer in Vienna. In 1874 he became chief cantor of Beuthen, Germany. At that time he started to collect material upon which he later based his research and critical article on Abraham Baer’s book Ba’al T’fillah. Birnbaum’s collection, now at the Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, Ohio, includes a thematic catalog of synagogal melodies comprising some 7000 items. From 1879 until his death, Birnbaum served as chief cantor in Koenigsberg, where he exerted great influence through his intensive and versatile educational work.
Birnbaum composed liturgical works, including ASEH LEMA’AN, HAMELEKH, KEDUSHA and LEKHA DODI. He died in Königsberg, Germany.
Poet and literary critic. Born in Cracow, Poland, he studied with Ben-Zion Rappaport. During World War I he studied at the universities of Basel and Zurich, and from 1918-1926 lived in Vienna, Berlin and Paris. He then emigrated to the Soviet Union and lived first in Kharkov, later in Kiev and, from 1933, in Moscow. During World War II he fell near Vyazma as a volunteer in the Soviet army.
Wiener wrote in Hebrew, Yiddish, German and Russian. He is author of, among others, a collection of elegies Messias (1920), the story Ele Faleks Untergang (1929), the collected articles Tsu der Geshikhte fun der Yidisher Literatur in Nayntsenten Yorhundert (1945/46) and the study Vegn Sholem Aleichems Humor (1941).
Shabbtai Ben Meir Ha-Kohen (1621-1662), rabbi, commentator on the Shulhan Arukh, and posek [rabbinical "decider" who was recognized as having the authority to determined Jewish law]. Born in Amstivov near Vilkaviskis, Lithuania, Shabbtai studied under Joshua Hoeschel ben Joseph both in Tykocin (north eastern Poland) and then in the Yeshivah of Krakow. In Lublin he studied under Naphtali Ben Isaac ha-Kohen. Settling in Vilna, he married the daughter of Samson Wolf, a grandson of Moses Isserles. His father-in-law provided his material needs, which enabled him to devote himself wholly to study. He was appointed dayan of the Bet Din of Moses Lima in Vilna.

Shabbtai published his first work Siftei Kohen, a commentary on the Shulchan Aruch Yoreh De'ah in Krakow in 1646. The work received high praise from leading Polish and Lithuanian scholars and since 1674 has been published as an integral part of most editions of the Yoreh De'ah. In this work Shabbtai attempts to explain and clarify Joseph Caro’s rulings in the Shulchan Aruch and to rule on the criticisms of Moses Isserles. A lengthy dispute ensured with Rabbi David Ben Samuel ha-Levi, another renowned posek, who proceeded to publish Turei Zahav, his own commentary on the Yoreh De'ah. Shabbtai and Ha-Levi wrote several rebuttals and counter-rebuttals of one another’s views. The halachic dispute between the two was continued after their deaths by other scholars. In most cases the rabbis of Poland and Lithuania ruled in accordance with Shabbtai, while those of Germany accepted the view of David ha-Levi. In contrast to previous generations of Polish scholars Shabbtai gave his full support to Joseph Caro’s rulings in the Shulchan Aruch.

Shabbtai also wrote a commentary on the Hoshen Mishpat, published after his death together with the text of the Shulhan Arukh (Amsterdam, 1663). In this work he explains, but also offers some criticisms, of the rulings of Caro. Shabbtai's conclusions were based not only upon Talmudic principles and rulings of other poskim but also upon straight logic. His work is a classic of its kind and still today it is considered to be an authoritative reference work for halachic authorities.

During the anti-Jewish violence in 1655, Shabbtai fled from Vilna to Lublin. Three month later the rioters reached Lublin and Shabbtai escaped to Bohemia. He stayed first in Prague, and then for a time in Dresnitz, Moravia, after which he was appointed rabbi of Holesov, where he died. In an important historical work Meggilat Eifah Shabbtai described the Ukrainian rebellions against the Poles which to a large measure were directed against the Jews. The year 1635 saw the first big explosion of violence in Ukraine but this attempt at the revolution was crushed. It returned with new vigor thirteen years later. This second rebellion, in 1648-9, succeeded in freeing a large part of the Ukraine from Polish rule. In the course of the violence Ukrainian leader, Bogdan Chmielnicki, one of the greatest anti-Semites in history, organized the murder of an estimated 100,000 Jews in the most horrendous ways.

Shabbtai also composed Selichot (Amsterdam, 1651). His other works are: He-Arukh (Berlin, 1767), a commentary on the Arba'ah Turim (a forerunner of the Shulchan Aruch written by Jacob ben Asher), Tokfo Kohen (Frankfort/Oder, 1677), on the laws of possession; Gevurat Anashim (Dessau, 1697), on chapter 154 of the Shulchan Aruch; and Po'el Zedek (Jesenice, 1720), on the 613 commandments as enumerated by Maimonides.
Artist

One of the outstanding Jewish artists of the 19th century. He was born in Drohobycz, Galicia, then under Austrian rule, and studied in Lvov, Vienna, Munich and Krakow which became his home. A Polish patriot, his early pictures were on Polish nationalist themes. He then moved to Jewish subjects. His most famous work ‘Jews at Prayer on Yom Kippur’ is in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. He was extremely prolific but only a fraction of his works was completed. His ‘Jesus teaching in the Temple’ was revolutionary in artistic representation inasmuch as Jesus was portrayed as a Jew preaching to fellow-Jews. He died in Krakow at the age of 23. His brother, Leopold Gottlieb, also a noted painter, was born five years after Maurycy's death.
Infeld, Leopold (1898-1968), physicist, born in Krakow, Poalnd (then part the Austro-Hungarian Empire). He studied physics at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow and obtained his doctorate there in 1921. He worked as an assistant and a docent at the University of Lwow (1930–1933).

In 1933 he went to England where he was appointed a Rockefeller fellow at Cambridge University (1933–1934). Infeld was interested in the theory of relativity and worked together with Albert Einstein at Princeton University, USA, between 1936 and 1938. The two scientists co-formulated the equation describing star movements. He became a professor at the University of Toronto, Canada, between 1939 and 1950. After the first use of nuclear weapons in 1945, Infeld, like Einstein, became a peace activist. Because of his activities in this field he was accused of having communist sympathies. In 1950 he therefore left Canada and returned to Poland where he became a professor at the University of Warsaw, a post he held until his death.

Infeld was one of the 11 signatories to the 1955 Russell–Einstein Manifesto (initiated by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein and 8 other Nobel Peace Prize winners) which sought to highlight the dangers posed by nuclear weapons and called for world leaders to seek peaceful resolutions to international conflicts. Infeld also wrote with Einstein "The Evolution of Physics", a widely read history of physical theory from the 17th century to the 20th. Infeld also wrote "Quest: An Autobiography" and the biography "Whom the Gods Love: The Story of Evariste Galois."
Rabbi

Born in Trest, he studied under Moshe Sofer in Pressburg and was appointed rabbi in Aussee (Usov) and then in Gaya (Kyjov). From 1827 he was teacher and preacher in Krakow. His last years were spent in Vienna. He wrote on talmudic themes and other subjects of Jewish scholarship in both Hebrew and German.
Halahkist and codifier

Moshe Isserles, also known by the acronym REMA (pronounced REMU in Yiddish), lived in Krakow, Poland. Already in his youth he was famed for his erudition. He came from a wealthy family and founded and headed a yeshiva, keeping the students at his own expense. His "Darkhei Mosheh" was a commentary on Ya’akov ben Asher’s code, "Arba’ah Turim". When Yosef Caro wrote his standard code, the "Shulhan Arukh" (literally ‘The Table is Ready’), based on Sephardi practice, Isserles was afraid that its popularity would lead European Jews to forget the rulings of Ashkenazi authorities. He therefore wrote "Ha-Mappah" (literally ‘The Tablecloth’) which complements Caro’s work with Ashkenazi traditions and customs. Since then, the combined works have been the accepted basis of Ashkenazi Orthodox life, and to this day guide rabbinical decision-making. Rabbi Moshe Isserles was the author of many other halakhic works as well as works of a philosophic and mystical nature. Isserles’ father built the Rema synagogue in Krakow in honor of his son. This synagogue still stands. The traditional seat of Isserles can be seen inside the synagogue, while his grave is in the adjacent cemetery.
Reich, Emil (Milo) (1905-1987), manufacturer, born in Krakow, Poland (then part of the Austria-Hungary), was taken by his parents to Vienna, Austria, at the age of two. He grew up in Vienna and was awarded two degrees in engineering by the University of Vienna. In the aftermath of the First World War and the resulting economic crisis in Vienna he was unable to find work there. He was however offered the job of modernising a glove factory in the city of Chemnitz in Saxony, Germany. Initially he knew nothing about the production of gloves, but by the time Nazis came to power in 1933 he had built up the factory and had customers in Finland, Sweden, Norway and England.

In 1933 he married Minnie Gottgetreu, born in Chemnitz. The following year amidst the increasing xenophobic and anti-Semitic atmosphere in Germany, where he was both a foreigner in Germany and a Jew, he decided to liquidate his business and settle in England. He brought a number of glove making machines with him to England and in a short time he reestablished his factory in London. When the 1940 German air raids threatened the building in which his factory was situated, Milo, together with his wife and a trusted production supervisor, relocated to Worcester, a city in which a number of glove making firms were located. And so once again, for the third time, the Stylish Glove Manufacturing Company was built up.

He was interned as an enemy alien for a few weeks but was released to enable him to continue to manage his company. During World War II the company was contracted to produce special gloves for Royal Air Force pilots. The company's reputation grew, gloves were at the time an important fashion accessory for women, and he was awarded a number of special contracts to produce gloves for the royal family and other important personalities. At one stage the company employed some 200 workers. The company prospered until the 1970s when the demand for ladies’ fashion gloves fell off. The company was sold to enable his son to emigrate to Israel. Reich retired in 1978.

Reich was involved in the leadership of representative organizations for the British glove industry and was also active in the Jewish community. During the WW II the Jewish community in Worcester thrived when many families came there to escape the bombing of London and a number of allied servicemen were stationed in the area. After 1945 the community reverted to its small size. By 1960 only some 10 Jewish families remained in Worcester.
Lima, Mozes ben Isaac Judah (1605?-1658), rabbi and halachist. He studied at Krakow, Poland, where he became acquainted with many of the future leaders of Lithuanian Jewry. In 1637 he was appointed rabbi of Slonim (now in Belarus), and served as Av Beth Din of Vilna, Lithuania, from 1650. From 1655 until his death he was chief rabbi of Vilna. His spiritual associates included Rav Ephraim ben Jacob haKohen and Shabbtai Kohen. Lima's son Raphael published his written works in Krakow twelve years after his death. "Hilchat Mehokek" was a commentary on the Even Haezer part of the Shulchan Aruch (code of Jewish Law). This commentary was considered to be an outstanding work and had a great influence on Torah learning in future generations. Lima together with Samuel ben Uri Shraga wrote "Kunteres haAgunot" that deals with the conditions under which an agunah woman may remarry.
Zeew Wilhelm Aleksandrowicz was born in Cracow in 1905. He visited Palestine in 1932, and immigrated in 1935. In September 1936 he visited his hometown Cracow, and his wedding to Lea Shelush was held there. He revisited Cracow in January 1937.
Aleksandrowicz passed away in January 5, 1992.

A significant part of his photographic collection, portraying Jewish life in Poland, and a visual documentation of the Samaritan Passover at Mount Gerizim, was donated to the Photo Archive of Beit Hatfutsot in 1984/85.
Talmudist

He was born in Cracow, studied in yeshivot and then took up residence in Lvov where he was inspector to the talmud torah. In 1702 he was saved from an explosion which killed most of his family and he vowed to devote his life to study. He then served as rabbi in Tarlow, Kurow and Lesko before becoming rabbi in Lvov (1718) where he established a distinguished yeshiva. However he aroused controversy in the community and had to leave. He lived for some years in Buczacz and then was rabbi in Berlin (1730-1734), Metz (1734-1741) and Frankfurt (1741-1751). Here he encountered opposition because of his support for Yaakov Emden in his controversy with Yonatan Eibeschuetz so he went to live as a private individual in Worms. He was one of the greatest scholars of his generation and his halakhic decisions were widely accepted. He wrote various works, best-known being Pene Yehoshua, novellae on the Talmud.
Rabbi

He was a preacher in Krakow and then from 1649 was rabbi in Gnesen. As a result of the Chmielnicki pogroms in 1648-49, he fled to Germany and was appointed rabbi of Swabia, settling in Oettingen. His son, Judah Leib ben Hanokh (1645-1705), succeeded him as rabbi but took up his residence in Pfersee, remaining there until his death. A book of responsa on the Shulhan Arukh by Judah Leib was published by his son who also published a selection of sermons by his grandfather, Hanokh and his father, Judah Leib. This included excerpts from a commentary on the Pentateuch which Judah Leib had been preparing but never completed.
Kagan, Jakub (1896-1942), composer, born in Nowogrodek (Novogrudek, then in the Russian Empire, now in Belarus). Kagan was educated at the Warsaw Music Institute before 1918, and then he was admitted to the newly established Association of Polish Composers and Stage Authors in Warsaw. Two years later he took part, as a Polish soldier, in the defense of Warsaw during the Polish-Bolshevik war of 1920.

Having established his own "Kagan's Jazz Band" in 1922, he started performing at the "Mirage" cabaret and at the operetta theatre "Nowości" (Novelties) in Warsaw. During 1926-1927 his band started performing at "Bristol", at the time the most elegant hotel of Warsaw. It was during late 1920s that Kagan composed his tango "Złota pantera" (The Golden Panther) which was played for the first time in the mountain spa of Żegiestów in Poland in 1929. "The Golden Panther" immediately became a huge hit, especially when Andrzej Włast, the director of the revue theatre "Morskie Oko" in Warsaw, included Kagan's hit into his grand revue "1000 pięknych dziewcząt" (Thousand of Pretty Girls) in the fall season of 1929. The later Kagan's compositions confirmed his outstanding position among Polist cabaret authors of the time, especially with his hits "Jesienna piosenka" (Autumn Song) which was turned into a hit by the Warsaw diseuse, Hanka Ordonówna, or "Tyś mych uczuć niewarta" (You're Not Worth My Feelings), another tango.

The 1930s were for Kagan a decade of success. Helived in a large and modern flat on the fashionable Aleje Ujazdowskie of Warsaw, his orchestra performed at the best hotels and night-clubs of Poland: "Adria", "Carlton" or "Casanova" in Warsaw, "Feniks" in Cracow, "Patria" in the mountain spa of Krynica or "Ritz" in Bialystok. Kagan was the director of the house orchestra of the "Cristall-Electro" record company as well as director of some musical productions at the theatre-cinema "Colosseum" in Warsaw.

With the capture of Warsaw by the Nazis in 1939, Kagan had to give up his appartment and was forced to move to Warsaw Ghetto. He tried to make a living by playing piano at the restaurant "Splendid" and also for several productions by the ghetto music theatre "Melody Palace". Kagan died in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942.
Gross, Adolf (1862–1937), lawyer, communal worker, and delegate in the Austrian parliament. Gross founded the Jewish Independent Party in Krakow, Poland, with the objectives of attaining equality of rights and a communal organization which would concern itself with the needs of the Jewish masses. In his profession Gross won a reputation as a jurist, and in public life as a political journalist and democratic mediator. He established a public company for the construction of cheap lodgings and founded several consumer cooperatives. He achieved wide popularity as one of the most prominent members of the Krakow municipal council, on which he was active until 1897. Gross was a member of the public committee for the Relief of Poor Jews in Galicia, which was founded on the initiative of philanthropic Jewish societies in England, Germany and Austria. He was opposed to Zionism and and was against the opening of a Jewish secondary school in Krakow.
Rank (Rosenfeld), Otto (1884-1939), psychoanalyst, born in Vienna, Austria. After he met Freud, he joined his inner circle (1906). Together with others, he edited the psychoanalytic journal "Image und Intenationale Zeitschrift fuer Psychoanalyse" (1912-1924). He founded and was director of the "Internationale Psychoanalytische Verlag" (1919-1924). He was talented in explaining dreams legends and myths. He published a great work on incest myth (1912).

During the First World War he was in Galicia, mainly in Krakow (now in Poland), where according to other people, he suffered from melancholia, which caused to changes in the years later in his thoughts. He wrote a book "The trauma of the birth" (1923), in which he emphasised other elements than Freudian theory, especially the determination of anxiety, and underemphasised the role of incest and the Oedipus complex. After publishing his book, Rank broke with Freud, and left Vienna. He settled in the USA in 1935.
Lobzower (Reich), Moses Saul (1879-1940), merchant, born in Krakow, Poland (then an autonomous province of Galicia within the Austro-Hungarian Empire), just 12 years after the ghetto in Krakow had been abolished. Lobzower had neither higher education, nor any special skills nor even a financial cushion. His position was therefore precarious when Galicia was plunged into an economic crisis with serious anti-Semitica and xenophobic overtones in the 1880s and 1890s.

Shortly after their marriage in 1902, he and his wife Ernestina decided to move to Vienna, Austria, although their actually departure from Krakow was delayed for five years until 1907, after the birth of their two elder children. They had hoped for a better life in Vienna and indeed succeeded in giving their children a good secular secondary and vocational education. The economic situation in Vienna after WWI was however desperate. The city was no longer the capital city of great empire and the great depression compounded the problems. Their son Emil was forced to leave Vienna for Saxony in eastern Germany in order to seek work, and Moses and Ernestina eventually went to Leipzig, Germany. Ernestina died there in 1936, while Moses passed away there in 1940.
Moses’ father was Alter Lobzower. He married Doba Bluma Reicher and called his 8 children after mother Doba. It was quite expensive to register a wedding with the local authorities so many couples did not do so - the Jewish religious ceremony sufficed. The children were obviously those of the mother. In a few short years the name Reicher became Reich, but clearly the Reiches of 2010 should really be called Lobzower.

Bernard (Dov Berek) Gitler (1921-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) Belgium, was born on Nov. 6, 1921 in Krakow, Poland. His father, Shalom Hersch, and his mother, Leah née Rosemary, arrived in Belgium in 1928 and lived on 16, Van Leriusstraat in Antwerp. They had five children; Chaim, Malka Chaya, Dov, Wolf (see under Wolf Wilhelm Gitler) and Joseph. His father worked as a diamond dealer. Bernard studied goldsmith's work as an apprentice.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Gitler was arrested by the Nazis in France and consequently detained in the transit camp of Drancy, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp with the 27th transport September 2, 1942. He never returned.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Wolf Wilhelm (Bobek) Gitler (1925-1942), member  of the Shahal group  of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) Belgium, was born on July. 10, 1925 in Krakow, Poland. His father, Shalom Hersch, and his mother, Leah née Rosemary, arrived in Belgium in 1928 and lived on 16, Van Leriusstraat in Antwerp. They had five children; Chaim, Malka Chaya, Dov, Wolf (see under Gitler Bernard Dov) and Joseph. His father worked as a diamond dealer.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Gitler was arrested by the Nazis in Belguim and consequently detained in the transit camp of Mechelen-Malines, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp with transport VIII  on September 8, 1942. His name appears under number 470 on the list of deported. Wolf Wilhelm Gitler was murdered in Auschwitz on September 11, 1942.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot databases, courtesy of the authors.

Hella Zehngut (1924-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on May 28, 1924 in Krakow, Poland. Her father Aron and her mother Mirla nee Schneider arrived in Belgium in January 1926 and lived at 7, Marinisstraat, Borgerhout, Antwerp, Belgium.  

She and her sister Regina (see separate entry Zehngut Regina), re-opened the branch of Bnei Akiva in Antwerp on the Van der Meydenstraat, after it ceased to function when the Germans invaded Belgium.

She was a very good friend of Clara Halberthal-Padwa who survived the war.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Zehngut was arrested by  the Germans, consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, from there she was  deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on August 25, 1942, with Transport V. Her name appears under number 45o on the list of the deported. She did not return.

...........................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Regina Zehngut (1921-1942), member of the "Hadassa" group of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on July 26, 1921 in Krakow, Poland. Her father Aron and her mother Mirla nee Schneider arrived in Belgium in January 1926 and lived at 7, Marinisstraat, Borgerhout, Antwerp, Belgium.  

She and her sister Hella (see separate entry Zehngut Hella), re-opened the branch of Bnei Akiva in Antwerp on the Van der Meydenstraat, after it ceased to function when the Germans invaded Belgium.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Zehngut was arrested by  the Germans, consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, from there she was  deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on August 25, 1942, with Transport V. Her name appears under number 44 on the list of the deported. She did not return.

...........................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Isaac Aaron Prostitz (date of birth unknown – died in 1612), Hebrew printer, born in Prostejov (Prossnitz in German) Moravia, Czech Repuplic (then part of the Austrian Empire). He learned the printing trade in Italy, working with G. Cavalli and G. Grypho in Venice. There he met the proofreader Samuel Boehm (d. 1588), who later joined Isaac in Krakow, where he printed from 1569. From Italy they had brought with them typographical material, decorations etc., and in the privilege issued in 1567 to Isaac by King Sigmund August II of Poland for 50 years he is called an Italian Jew.

In spite of initial intrigues by the Jesuits, Isaac and later his sons – Aaron and Issachar – and grandsons were able to print for nearly 60 years some 200 works of which 73 were in Yiddish, using fish and a ram (symbol for the offering of Isaac) as printer’s mark. The productions covered a wide field: rabbinical literature, Bible, Kabbalah, philosophy, history, and even mathematics. The Babylonian Talmud was printed twice (1602-08; 1616-20); these were poor editions after an earlier and more auspicious beginning in 1579. The Jerusalem Talmud of 1609 has become standard in the form it was reissued in Krotoschin in 1886. Isaac was printer to the great scholars of the time: Moses Isserles of Krakow, Solomon Luria of Lublin, and Mordecai Jaffe of Prague and Poznan.

In 1602 he returned to his native Prossnitz, where he printed some works until 1605, while his son Aaron remained active in Krakow to 1628 printing apart from the Talmuds, the Zohar (1603), and the Shulhan Arukh (1607, 1618-20), Turim with Joseph Caro’s commentary (1614-15), and Ein Ya’akov (1614, 1619). Isaac’s descendants were working as printer’s assistants until nearly the end of the 17th century.

Karol Dresdner (c.1908-1943), poet, translator and historian of Polish literature. He studied at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow earning a PhD with a research on the contribution of Jews to the Polish poetry of the 19th century. He started to publish in Chwilka, a supplement of the Der Moment  Yiddish daily newspaper. He contributed to many Polish newspapers and periodicals, including Chwilą, Nowym Dziennikiem, Opinią, Naszą Opinią, Miesięcznikiem Żydowskim, Nowymi Widnokręgami, and Tygodnikiem Ilustrowanym. His poetic works include Heine and the Stranger, a collection published in 1928. He translated into Polish Exemplar humanae vitae (“Example of a Human Life”) by Uriel Acosta. Together with Maksymilian Goldstein he published Kultura i sztuka ludu żydowskiego na ziemiach polskich (“Culture and Art of the Jewish People in Poland”, 1935).

After the outbreak of WWII in September 1939, he remained in Lvov, in the Soviet occupied Eastern Galicia. Following the German occupation of Lvov in 1941, Dresdner could not leave the ghetto and in May 1943 he was murdered at the Janow Nazi forced labor and concentration camp in the outskirts of Lvov.   

Marcin (Martin) Kitz (1891-1943), painter, born in Lvov (Lviv), Ukraine (then part of Austria-Hungary). He studied in Lvov in workshops organized by Stanisław Rejchan and Stanisław Batowski, then he attended the School of Fine Arts in Krakow where he was a student of Ignacy Pieńskowski between 1919 and 1920. He also enrolled to the Free School of Painting of Ludwika Mehoffer and later studied in Berlin, Munich, and Vienna. He travelled extensively around Europe visiting France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. After 1923 he exhibited his works in Krakow, Lvov, Poznań and Warsaw. He painted landscapes, still lifes and portraits. Between 1939 and 1941 he was living in Moscow, Russia, taking part in exhibitions organized in Moscow, Charkov, and Kiev in 1940. Kitz was arrested by the Gestapo in German-occupied Lvov for hiding a group of Jews and died in Janowska concentration camp in Lvov in 1943.

Samuel Finkelstein (1895–1942), painter, born in Sandomierz, Poland (then part of the Russian Empire). Having graduated from a trade school, he decided to pursue an artistic career. He attended the Krakow Academy of Fine Arts between 1913-1914, and then studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Austria. After the establishment of independent Poland at the end of WW1, he settled in Lodz and became involved in the local artistic circles. Finkelstein was a member of the “Start” Painters Association and of the Artists’ Association of Lodz. He also joined the Jednoróg Artists Guild of Krakow. Formally a member of the Constructivist Avant Garde, his works are closer to the impressionist traditional style. He visited many times the artists’ village of Kazimierz Dolny, where he painted scenes of Jewish life. Finkelstein was murdered at Treblinka Nazi death camp in 1942.

John Gottowt (born Isidor Gesang) (1881-1942), actor and film director, born in Lvov (Lviv), Ukraine (then in the historical region of Galicia, part of Austria-Hungary). He received his artistic education in Vienna, Austria, and in 1905 he began working as an actor and director at Max Reinhardt’s theater in Berlin, Germany. He also performed at theaters in Vienna and Munich. His first appearance in a film was in Der Student von Prag, a silent movie produced in 1913. In the same year he also directed his first film, Das schwarze Los (“The Black Lot”). From 1913 through 1932 he was cast in or directed almost thirty films, including what is considered his best performance as the hunchback James Wilton in Der Bucklige und die Tänzerin (“The Hunchback and the Dancer”), a 1920 German silent movie, and an appearance in Nosferatu - A Symphony of Horror, a classic horror film from 1922. After 1920, along with his brother-in-law Henrik Galeen, he took over the management of the theater on Kommendantenstrasse in Berlin and in 1923 he directed the cabaret Die Gondel. After the rise to power of the Nazis in 1933, Gottowt had to leave Germany and moved to Denmark. After a few years he settled in Krakow, Poland. John Gottowt was murdered by a SS officer in Wieliczka, Poland.

Wolbrom

Town in Cracow province, Poland.

Jews settled there at the end of the 17th century. An organized Jewish community existed from the 18th century under the jurisdiction of the Cracow community. In 1765 there were 303 Jews in Wolbrom who paid the poll tax. The town was incorporated in Congress Poland in 1815. In 1827 the Jews numbered 724 (27% of the total population). Following the economic development of the town in the 19th century, the number of Jews increased to 1,466 (59%) despite the restrictions on Jewish settlement in force there between 1823 and 1862 because of the town's proximity to the Austrian border. The main occupations of the Jews were petty commerce, weaving, tanning, and locksmithing. In the 19th century Chasidism had a strong influence in Wolbrom.

Between 1897 and 1921 the number of the Jews increased from 2,901 to 4,276 (59%). Before the outbreak of war there were about 5,000 Jews living in Wolbrom.

During World War II, under the German occupation, Wolbrom came under the province of Cracow of the general government. The Germans entered Wolbrom on the first day of the war, September 1, 1939. Scores of people were immediately shot. Afterward all the Jewish inhabitants were driven out of Wolbrom in the direction of Zawiercie. On the three-day march many succumbed to torture by the guards. On September 7 the surviving Jews returned and were set at forced labor, particularly in the forests. In the fall of 1941 a ghetto was established in Wolbrom which the Jews were forbidden to leave under pain of death. Nearly 8,000 Jews, among them 3,000 deportees and refugees, were concentrated inside the ghetto. The liquidation of the Jews in Wolbrom ghetto began on September 6 or 7, 1942, when the German police and Ukrainians drove all the Jews to the railway station where the Germans carried out a selektion. About 2,000 old and weak persons were taken to the forest where mass graves had been made ready. After undressing completely, they were shot. The remaining Jews at the station were loaded on to train cars that evening. At the stopovers the Germans cast away the corpses of those who had suffocated in the cars.

The deportees were taken to Belzec death camp. Some hundreds of men were chosen by selection and transported to labor camps. After the liquidation of the Jewish community in Wolbrom, the Jewish cemetery became the site of executions for Jews found or denounced while hiding. From mid-September 1942 until the end of 1944 nearly 400 Jews were shot in this manner.

Only some 300 Jews from Wolbrom survived the war. They did not resettle in Wolbrom, and most of them emigrated.

Dzialoszyce

Town in south-central Poland.

The town passed into Austria in 1795 after the third partition of Poland, and to Russia after 1915; from 1919 in Poland. From 1765 it had a considerable Jewish majority. The community numbered 651 in 1765; 2,514 (83% of the total population) in 1856; 3,526 (76.5%) in 1897; 5,618 (83.3%) in 1921; and about 7,000 (80%) in 1939. Tanning, brickmaking, and tailoring were the principal occupations of the community. After World War I Jews in Dzialoszyce owned about 78 clothing stores, six tanneries, and brick kilns. In 1930 the artisans established an authorized union to protect their status and assist their members in obtaining recognized technical diplomas. Although efforts were made to reconstruct life in 1937, it had not returned to normal before the German occupation in World War II.

The German army entered on September 6, 1939, and the anti-Jewish terror began. In 1941 about 5,000 Jews from Cracow, Warsaw, Lodz, Poznan, and Lask were deported to Dzialoszyce. In June 1941 Jews were forbidden to leave the town, but no closed ghetto was established. On September 3, 1942, the Germans carried out the first aktion against the Jews, but at least several hundred succeeded in fleeing to the surrounding forests. About 1,000 Jews were shot and over 8,000 deported to Belzec death camp and murdered. Another 1,000, mostly young men and women, were deported to the concentration camp in Plaszow, where only a few survived. Several hundred Jews were allowed to remain in Dzialoszyce.

They were concentrated in the town's synagogue. On November 9, 1942, the Germans conducted a second deportation to liquidate the remaining Jews, but many of them fled a day earlier and reached the forests.

Those Jews from Dzialoszyce who fled into the woods joined other Jewish runaways from Pinczow and other places in the vicinity. A number of Jewish partisan groups were formed to resist actively the German police search units and Polish anti-semitic gangs. The biggest partisan units were those organized by Zalman Fajnsztat and Michael Majtek. They united to form the guerilla unit Zygmunt, which was recognized by the Polish people's guard. This unit fought the Nazis and provided armed cover for hundreds of Jews hiding in the forest until February 1944, when it suffered great losses in a battle near the village of Pawlowice. The surviving Jewish partisans joined different polish guerilla units, but only a few of them were still alive by the time of the liberation of Dzialoszyce region from the Germans (January 1945). The Jewish community in Dzialoszyce was not reconstituted after the war. The town retains a 19th-century synagogue built in the classic style.

Bochnia

From 1939 to 1945 called Salzberg

Town in Krakow province, Poland.

In 1555 the Jews of Bochnia, who engaged in marketing and contracting for the salt impost, were granted a general privilege by King Sigismund Augustus. Jews there were accused of stealing the host in 1605 and a Jewish miner, allegedly the instigator, died under torture. Subsequently the Jews were expelled from Bochnia, and the city received the privilege de non tolerandis judaeis. This exclusion of the Jews remained in force until 1860, but Jews were allowed to resettle in the town only in 1862. They numbered 1,911 in 1900 and 2,459 in 1921.

An estimated 3,500 Jews (20% of the total population) lived in Bochnia in 1939. The German army entered the town on Sept. 3, 1939, and immediately subjected the Jewish population to persecution and terror. In May 1940 a huge "kontribution" of 3,000,000 zloty (600,000) was imposed by the Nazis on the Jewish population. In May 1942 a ghetto was established to which the entire Jewish population from all the surrounding towns and villages was brought. In august 1942 a massive Aktion was conducted by police units from Krakow. About 600 Jews were killed on the spot and another 2,000 deported to Belzec death camp. On Nov. 10, 1942, a second deportation took place during which about 700 people were killed and more than 500 deported to ghetto a, which became a forced labor camp; and ghetto b, which served as a concentration camp. In September 1943 the entire ghetto was liquidated. Those imprisoned in ghetto b were sent to Auschwitz for extermination while the inmates of ghetto a were
transferred to the concentration camp in Szebnia, where only a few survived. No Jewish community was reestablished in Bochnia after the war.

Kolaczyce
 

A town in Jaslo county, western Galicia, Poland.

Kolacycze lies about 10 km north-west of the town of Jaslo. In records of the middle of the 14th century it is designated as a prtivate nobility town, but there is no evidence that it actually had the status of a town.
 

21st Century

A memorial was held towards the end of the 2010s for Jewish Kolaczyce emphasizing culture.

 

History

Jews settled at Kolacicze only in the first half of the 19th century, after the region became part of Austria following the partition of Poland at the end of the 18th century. At first only a few Jewish families settled in the place, running inns and taverns. Later they were joined by several more families, which engaged in trade. In 1880, 115 Jews were living in the town, out of a total of 1733 inhabitants. In the 19th century Kolaczyce was known for its home production of woolen blankets and pottery.

In the 1860’s the Jews of Kolaczyce held public prayers and had a mikveh (purification bath). The community was attached to that of Jaslo. At the end of the century an independent community was organized in Kolaczyce, with its own rabbi. The first rabbi was Rabbi Jacob Fraenkel-Teomim, who held the office only for a short time. He was followed by two rabbis of the family of Halberstam, of the Zanz Hasidic dynasty. Rabbi Huna Halberstam, known as the admor of Kolaczyce, left the town during World War I (1914-1918), and after him occupied the office Rabbi Abraham Abish Buch of Tarnow.

The traditional Hasidic way of life ruled the place also during the period between the two world wars. When Zionist activity began and a branch of the Zionist youth movement Akiva was opened, its members met with Orthodox hostility and found it difficult to operate.

The Jews of Kolaczyce suffered antisemitic harassment already in the 19th century. There were pogroms in the town in 1892 and 1898, Jewish houses were destroyed and property robbed. In 1901 the Jews were forbidden to bathe in the nearby river, but their protests, which reached the capital Vienna, were of no avail. In independent Poland, after World War I, a band of N.D.’s (members of the Nationalist and Antisemitic Party N.D.) were active in the town in the early 1930’s, and in 1936, following the law forbidding kosher slaughtering, the Jews of Kolaczyce were left without even a single butcher shop.

On the eve of World War II about 260 Jews were living at Kolaczyce.


The Holocaust Period

When the area was occupied by the Germans shortly after the outbreak of World War II (September 1, 1939) , a Judenrat was appointed in the town in December 1939. A Jewish relief organisation, centered in Cracow, helped the needy. On the 12th of August 1942 the Germans moved all the Jews of the town to a nearby wood and there shot them all dead.

Poland

Rzeczpospolita Polska -  Republic of Poland 

A country in central Europe, member of the European Union (EU).

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 4,500 out of 38,500,000 (0.01%). Main umbrella organization of the Jewish communities:

Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland - Związek Gmin Wyznaniowych Żydowskich w Polsce (ZGWŻP)
Phone: 48 22 620 43 24
Fax: 48 22 652 28 05
Email: sekretariat@jewish.org.pl
Website: http://jewish.org.pl/

 

HISTORY

The Jews of Poland

1096 | Migration of the Heretics

Where did the Jews come to Poland from? Scholars are divided on this question, but many believe that some came from the Khazar Kingdom, from Byzantium and from Kievan Rus, while most immigrated from Western Europe – from the Lands of Ashkenaz.
One of the theories is that the “butterfly effect” that led the Jews of Ashkenaz to migrate to Poland began with a speech by Pope Urban II, who in 1096 called for the liberation of the holy sites in Jerusalem from the Muslim rule. The Pope's call ignited what would come to be known as The Crusades - vast campaigns of conquest by the Christian faithful, noble and peasant alike, who moved like a tsunami from Western Europe to the Middle East, trampling, stealing and robbing anything they could find along the way.
Out of a fervent belief that “heretics” were “heretics”, be they Jews or Muslims, the militant pilgrims made sure not to bypass the large Jewish communities in the Ashkenaz countries, where they murdered many of the local Jews, mostly in the communities of Worms and Mainz on the banks of the Rhine. Following these massacres, known in Jewish historiography as the Massacres of Ttn”u (after the acronym of the year of Hebrew calendar), Jews started migrating east, into the Kingdom of Poland.

1264 | The Righteous Among The Nations from Kalisz.

In the 13th century Poland was divided into many districts and counties, and to rule them all an advanced bureaucratic system was required. In 1264 the Polish prince Boleslav, also known as the Righteous One of Kalisz (Kalisz was a large city in the Kingdom of Poland) issued a bill of rights that granted the Jews extensive freedom of occupation as well as freedom of religious practice. This bill of rights (privilegium, in Latin) allowed many Jews – literate merchants, experts in economy, bankers, coin makers and more – to fill various roles in the administrative apparatus of the kingdom.
At that time, the Catholic Church in Poland was in the habit of disseminating all sorts of blood libels against the Jews. Article 31 of the Prince Boleslav of Kalisz's privilegium tried to rein in this phenomenon by stating: “Accusing Jews of drinking Christian blood is expressly prohibited. If despite this a Jew should be accused of murdering a Christian child, such charge must be sustained by testimony of three Christians and three Jews.”

1370 | From Esther to Esther

It turns out that Esther from the Scroll of Esther was not the only Esther who saved the Jewish people. Legend tells of a beautiful Jewish woman from Poland named Esther'ke who was a mistress of King Casimir II the Great of Poland (1310-1370) and even bore him two daughters.
It is unclear whether it was love that aroused Casimir's sympathy for the Chosen People. What is known is that according to legend, like the Queen Esther from the Purim story, Esther'ke also looked out for her people and asked the King to establish a special quarter for Jews in Krakow (and this quarter is no legend). The King acquiesced to his lover's request and named the quarter for himself – the Kazimierz Quarter. In addition, and this is no legend either, messengers were sent to all Jewish communities in Poland and beyond inviting the Jews to relocate to Krakow, then the capital of the kingdom.
The invitation to come to Poland was like a much-needed breath of air for the Jews of Ashkenaz, for those were the days in which the Black Death ravaged Europe, which for some reason was claimed to have “skipped” the Jews. For the audacity of not contracting the plague, the Jews faced baseless accusations of having poisoned the drinking wells in order to spread the plague.

1520 | A State Within a State

In the early 16th century the center of gravity of Jewish life gradually moved from the countries of Central Europe to locations all over Poland. According to various historical sources, in the late 15th century there were around 15 yeshivas operating throughout Poland. The study of Torah flourished in the large communities and became the central axis of Ashkenazi religious life. It is no surprise, therefore, that the common name for Poland among the Jews who lived there was “Po-lan-Ja” - or in Hebrew: "God resides here".
The status of the Jews in Poland had no equal at the time anywhere in the world. Almost everywhere else in Europe they were persecuted, expelled and subject to various restrictions, whereas in Poland they were granted a special, privileged status.
In the early 16th century there were some 50,000 Jews living in Poland. During these years an interest-based alliance began to form between the Jews and the Polish nobility. The nobles, wishing to avail themselves of the Jews' connections and skills in business management, appointed Jews to various positions in the management of their feudal estates and gave them bills of rights according them special status.
In 1520 the “Council of Four Lands” was established in Poland. This council, which was a sort of “state within the state”, was composed of the representatives of all the Jewish communities of Poland, from Krakow and Lublin to Vilnius and Lithuania (which were then still part of the Polish “Commonwealth”). The main function of the Council was to collect taxes for the authorities, and it enjoyed judicial autonomy based on Jewish halacha. The Council operated for 244 years, and is considered the longest-lasting Jewish leadership in history, at least since the First Temple Era.

1569 | Demon-graphics

In the year 1618 the authorities of Krakow appointed a commission to find the reasons for hostility between Jewish and Christian merchants. The chairman of the commission, an academic by the name of Sebastian Miczynski, found that the reason for the animosity was the rapid increase in the number of Jews in the city, stemming from the fact that “none of them die at war or from plague, and in addition they marry at age 12 and multiply furiously”.
Miczynski's conclusion was not without basis: The growth rate of the Jewish community in Poland, known in research as “The Polish Jewish demographic miracle”, was indeed astounding. By the mid 17th century the number of Jews in Poland reached several hundred thousand – about half of all Jews in the world. By the mid 18th century their numbers reached approximately one million souls.
However, although Miczynski's diagnosis was correct, the reasons he offered for it, which were heavily tainted by anti-Semitism, were unsurprisingly wrong. Various researchers have found that the reason for the relatively rapid growth of Jews in Poland was a low rate of infant mortality among them compared to the Christian population. Among the reasons for this one can offer are the culture of mutual aid prevalent among Jews, the fact that newlywed couples usually lived with the bride's family, which offered better nutrition, and the fact that Jewish religious laws enjoin better hygiene practices than were the norm in the rest of pre-modern Europe.
In 1569 Poland annexed large parts of Ukraine under the Treaty of Lublin. Many Jews chose to migrate to Ukraine, and found a new source of livelihood there – leasing land. This they once again did in conjunction with the Polish nobility. Many of the Ukrainian peasants resented the new immigrants. Not only did the feudal lords tax them heavily, they thought, now they also “enslave us to the enemies of Christ, the Jews.”
During this time some brilliant intellectuals emerged in the Jewish areas of Poland, including Rabbi Moses Isserles (aka “The Rema” after his acronym), Rabbi Shlomo Lurie and Rabbi Joel Sirkis, and the great yeshivas of Lublin and Krakow were founded. The rabbinical elite was also the political elite among the Jewish community, setting the rules of life down to the smallest detail – from the number of jewels a woman may wear to requiring approval by community administrators in order to wed.

1648 | Bohdan The Brute

Had there been a senior class photo of all the worst oppressors the Jewish people have known, Bohdan (also known as Bogdan) Khmelnytsky would probably be standing front and center in it. Khmelnytsky, the leader of the Ukrainian Cossacks who fought for independence against Poland, was responsible for particularly lethal pogroms against the Jews of Ukraine. These pogroms were fueled by a combination of Christian revival and popular protest against Polish subjugation. The Jews, who were seen as the Polish nobility's “agents of oppression” paid a terrible price: Approximately 100,000 of them were murdered in these pogroms.
The Khmelnytsky Massacres, also known in Jewish historiography as “The Ta”ch and Ta”t Pogroms”, left the Jewish community of Poland shocked and bereaved. The community's poets composed dirges and the rabbis decreed mourning rituals. A chilling account of these events can be found in the book “Yeven Mezulah” by Jewish scholar Nathan Hannover, who fled the pogroms himself and described them in chronological order. In time many works were written based on this account. The most famous are “The Slave” by Isaac Bashevis Singer, and the poem “The Rabbi's Daughter” by the great Hebrew poet and translator Shaul Tchernichovski.
Despite the grief and sorrow, the Jewish community of Ukraine soon recovered. Proof of this can be found in the accounts of English traveler William Cox, who wrote 20 years after the massacres: “Ask for an interpreter and they bring you a Jew; Come to an inn, the owner is a Jew; If you require horses to travel, a Jew supplies and drives them; and if you wish to buy anything, a Jew is your broker.”

1700 | A Very Good Name

The year 1700 saw the birth of the man who would reshape Orthodox Judaism and become the founder of one of the most important movements in all its long history: Rabbi Israel Ben Eliezer, far better known as the Baal Shem Tov, or The Besh”t for short.
The Baal Shem Tov began his career as a healer with herbs, talismans and sacred names, thus becoming known as a “Baal Shem” - a designation for someone who knows the arcana of the divine names, which he can use to mystical effect.
Rumor of the righteous man who performs miracles and speaks of a different Judaism – less academic and scholarly, more emotional and experiential – soon spread far and wide. Religious discourse soon included terms such as “dvekut”, which means “devotion”, and “pnimiut”, meaning “inner being”. Thus was the Hasidic movement born, emphasizing moral correctness and the desire for religious devotion, placing a high premium on the discipline of Kabbalah. The immense success of Hasidism stemmed from its being a popular movement which allowed entry to any Jew, even if he wasn't much for book smarts.
The Besh”t also set the template for the form of the Hasidic circle: A group of people coalescing around the personality of a charismatic leader who provides each member with personal guidance. Among the most famous Hasidic movement today one can count Chabad/Liubavitch, Ger and Breslov, which was founded by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (the great-grandson of the Besh”t), and is unique in having no single leader or “Rebbe” or Admor, a Hebrew acronym which stands for “Our Master, Teacher and Rabbi”, the title of other Hasidic leaders, as none is considered worthy to carry the mantle of the founder.
Those were also the years in which Kabbalist literature began to spread in Poland, along with various mystical influences, including the Sabbatean movement. One of the innovation of the Kabbalist literature was the way in which the issue of observing commandments was perceived: In establishment rabbinical thought, the commandments were seen as a device for maintaining community structures and the religious lifestyle. The Hasidim, on the other hand, claimed that the commandments were a mystical device through which even a common man may effect changes in the heavenly spheres. In modern terms one may say that the meaning of observing the commandments was “privatized”, ceasing to be the property of the rabbinical elite and becoming the personal business of every common observant Jew.

1767 | What Came First – Wheat or Vodka?

To paraphrase the eternal questions of “what came first – the chicken or the egg?” 18th century Poles asked “What came first – wheat or vodka?” What they meant is, was it the great profitability of grain-based liquor that created mass alcohol addiction, or was it the addiction to alcohol that created the demand for wheat? Either way, the idea of turning wheat into vodka had a magical draw for Jews in the steppes of Poland. In the second half of the 18th century vodka sales accounted for approximately 40% of all income in Poland. The Jews, who recognized the immense financial potential of this trade, took over the business of leasing liquor distilleries and taverns from the nobles. In fact, historians have determined that some 30% of all Jews in the Commonwealth of Poland-Lithuania had some connection to the liquor business.
But liquor was far from the only field of commerce the Jews of Poland engaged in. They traded all manner of goods. In a sample of data from the years 1764-1767, collected from 23 customs houses, it was found that out of 11,485 merchants, 5,888 were Jews, and that 50%-60% of all retail commerce was held by Jewish merchants.
The reciprocal relations between the Jews and the Magnates, the Polish nobility, became ever tighter. Save for rare phenomena, such as the habit of some nobles to force Jews to dance before them in order to humiliate them, these relations were stable and dignified. Historians note that the Jewish leaser “was not a parasite cringing in fear, but a man aware of his rights, as well as his obligations”.

1795 | The Empires Swallow Poland

Until the partition of Poland, Poland's Jews could live in cities such as Krakow or Lublin, for example, with almost no direct contact with the outside political and legal authorities. Most of them resided in towns or hamlets (“Shtetl”, in Yiddish) where they lived in a closed cultural and social bubble. They spoke their own language, Yiddish, and their children were taught in separate institutions – the cheder for young children and then the Talmud-Torah. The legal system and political leadership were also internal: The tribunals and the Kahal, which operated on the basis of halacha, were the sole court of appeals for the settling of disputes and disagreements.
The only connection most Jews had with the outside world was in their work, which usually involved leasing of some sort from the nobles. Proof of this can be found in the words of Jewish storyteller Yechezkel Kutik, who wrote that “In those days, what was bad for the paritz (the Polish feudal lord) was at least partly bad for the Jews. Almost everyone made their living from the paritz”.
In 1795 Poland was partitioned between three empires – Russia, Austria and Prussia, the nucleus of modern Germany. This brought an end to the shared history of Poland's Jews, and began three distinctly different stories: That of the Jews of the Russian-Czarist Empire, that of the Jews of Galicia under Austrian rule, and that of the Jews of Prussia, who later became the Jews of Germany.
The situation for Jews in Austria and Prussia was relatively good, definitely when compared to that of Jews living under Czarist rule, which imposed various financial edicts upon them and allowed them freedom of movement only within the Pale of Settlement, where conditions were harsh. The nadir was the outbreak of pogroms in the years 1881-1884, which led to the migration of some 2 million Jews to the United States – the place that would come to replace Poland as the world's largest host of Jews. Upon the partition of Poland, most Jews living in that country found themselves under Russian rule. Please see the entry “The Jews of Russia” for further information regarding them.

1819 | The Jews of Galicia

The image of the “Galician Jew” was and still is a code not only for a geographic identity, but mostly for a unique Jewish identity which combined a multicultural-ethnicity with a cunning, humorous, warm and sympathetic folklore figure. The “Galician Jew” could be a devout Hasid, an enlightened educated person, a Polish nationalist or a Zionist activist, a great merchant or a vendor trudging from door to door. This Jew was weaned on several different cultures and could gab in several tongues – German, Yiddish, Hebrew, Russian and Polish.
Galicia extended over the south of Poland. Its eastern border was Ukraine, but the Austrian empire ruled over it from 1772 to the end of WW1. In the second half of the 19th century Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph granted the Jews fully equal rights. The city of Lvov became a magnet for educated Jews from all over Europe. Yiddish newspapers, including the “Zeitung”, operated there at full steam, commerce flourished and Zionist movements, among them Poalei Zion, played a central role in reviving Jewish nationality.
At the same time the Hasidic movement also flourished in Galicia, branching out from several Hasidic courts and dynasties of “Tzadiks”. Among the best known of these Hasidic sects were those of Belz and Sanz, which preserved the traditional Hasidic lifestyle, including dress and language, and maintained tight relations with the “Tzadik” who headed the court.
Galicia was also the soil from which the writers of the age of Haskala (the Jewish Enlightenment movement) grew – from Joseph Perl, the pioneer of Hebrew literature, who in 1819 wrote “Megale Tmirin” (“Revealer of Mysteries”), the first Hebrew novel, and ending with Yosef Haim Brenner and Gershon Shofman, who lived in Lvov and skillfully described Jewish life there in the early 20th century.
The multicultural, equal-rights idyll ended for the Jews of Galicia against the backdrop of cannon shells and flames of WW1. The region of Galicia passed from hand to hand between the Austrian and Russian armies, and the soldiers of both massacred the Jews again and again. This is what S. (Shloyme) Ansky, author of “The Dybbuk” and the writer who commemorated the fate of Galician Jews during the war, wrote on the subject: “In Galicia an atrocity beyond human comprehension has been committed. A large region of a million Jews, who but yesterday enjoyed all human and civil rights, is surrounded by a fiery chain of iron and blood, cut off and set apart from the world, given to the rule of wild beasts in the form of Cossacks and soldiers. The impression is as though an entire tribe of Israel is becoming extinct.”

1862 | The Siren Call of HaTsefira

While the Haskala, the Jewish Enlightenment movement, was born in Western Europe, its echoes soon reached the eastern part of the continent as well, and Poland in particular. One of the seminal events illustrating the roots put down by the Haskala movement in Poland was the founding of the periodical “HaTsefira” in Warsaw. “HaTsefira” became one of the most highly-regarded Hebrew newspapers and sought to take a real part in the process of secularizing the Hebrew language and turning it from a liturgical tongue to a living, everyday medium.
The newspaper gained steam in the late 1870s, when the editorial board was joined by Nachum Sokolov, journalist, author and Zionist-national thinker, who in his latter years served as President of the World Zionist Organization. Sokolov gradually reduced the emphasis of “HaTsefira” on popular science, giving it a serious journalistic and literary character instead. Under his leadership the periodical became a daily in 1886, and soon stood out as the most influential Hebrew newspaper in Eastern Europe, until it died out in the decades between the World Wars.
All of the most prominent Hebrew writers of those days published their works in HaTsefira: Mendele Mocher Sforim, Y.L.Peretz and Shalom Aleichem in the 19th century, Dvorah Baron, Uri Nissan Genessin, Shalom Ash and Yaacov Fichman in the early 20th century, and just before WW1 it was home to the works of a few promising youngsters, including Nobel-winning authour Shmuel Yosef Agnon and acclaimed nationalist poet Uri Zvi Greenberg.

1900 | Warsaw

In the first decade of the 20th century Warsaw became the capital of the Jews of Poland and a global Jewish center. The city was home to the headquarters of the political parties, many welfare institutions, trade unions, and Jewish newspapers and periodicals published in a variety of languages. Prominent in particular was juggernaut of literary and publishing activity in this city from the 1880s to the eve of WW1.
Among the most famous literary institutions of the period were the Ben Avigdor Press, which ignited the realist “New Movement” in Hebrew literature; Achiassaf Press, founded by the tea magnate Wissotzky, which operated in the spirit of Achad Haam and published books of a Jewish-historical nature; the HaShiloach newspaper, which was copied from Odessa and was edited for a year by Chaim Nachman Bialik (later anointed national poet of the State of Israel), the newspapers “HaTsofeh” and “HaBoker” and more.
All these and many others were produced at hundreds of Hebrew printing presses which popped up like mushrooms after a rain. This industry attracted Jewish intellectuals who found work writing, editing, translating and doing other jobs required by publishing and the press. In his essay “New Hebrew Culture In Warsaw” Prof. Dan Miron wrote that: “All the Hebrew writers of the time passed through Warsaw, some staying for years and others for a short time”.
Also famous were the “literary tribunals”, especially that of author Y.L. Peretz, who held a sort of salon or court at his home which was frequented by eager literary cubs. These would submit their callow works to the revered giant of letters and tremblingly await his verdict. The Peretz court was far from the only one, though. Jewish writers and intellectuals arrived from all over Russia to “literary houses”, “salons” and other establishments, convened mostly on Sabbaths and holidays to discuss matters of great import. One of the most famous of these was the home of pedagogue Yitzchak Alterman, whose lively Hanukkah and Purim parties drew many intellectuals. These, we assume, served as inspiration for little Nanuchka, the host's son, later to become famous as poet Nathan Alterman.

Jewish Demographics In Warsaw

Year | Number of Jews
1764 1,365
1800 9,724
1900 219,128
1940 393,500
1945 7,800


1918 | The First Jewish Party in Poland

Upon the end of WW1 the Jews of Poland also fell victim to the game of monopoly played by Poland against its neighbors, particularly Soviet Russia. The Poles accused the Jews of Bolshevism, the Soviets saw them as capitalists and bourgeoisie, and these accusations turned into dozens of pogroms and tens of thousands of Jewish murder victims.
In 1921, after 125 years under various occupiers, Poland once again became a sovereign and independent state. At first the future seemed bright. The new Polish constitution guaranteed the Jews full equality and promised religious tolerance. However, like many of the supposedly democratic states formed between the two world wars, the regime in Poland also swayed between the values of Enlightenment and equality and an ethnic-based nationalism.
This was the unstable reality under which the Jews of Poland lived for 18 years, until the start of WW2. During these years the Jews experienced some bad times, during which for example they were banned from public office, and were discriminated against in matters of taxation and higher education admissions, where quotas were set limiting the number of Jews at the universities. At other times, mostly under the reign of Jozef Pilsudski (1926-1935), who was known for his relative opposition to anti-Semitism, the edicts issued against the Jews were eased.
During the Pilsudski era the Jewish parties combined to form a joint list for the legislative elections, winning 6 seats in the Sejm (lower house of the Polish parliament) and 1 in the senate, which made them the sixth-largest party. This was a mere 11 years before the outbreak of WW2 and the Holocaust of Polish Jewry.
One of the most influential figures among Jewish political leadership in Poland was Yitzhak Gruenbaum (Izaak Grünbaum), leader of the General Zionists Party, who foresaw the rise of dictatorial elements in the Sejm and made aliyah in 1933. He was right. From 1935 until the German invasion Poland was ruled by an openly dictatorial, anti-Semitic regime. During these four years some 500 anti-Semitic incidents took place, the system of “ghetto benches” was put in place, separating Jewish and Polish students at universities, and the employment options of Polish Jews were limited to such a degree that the Jewish community of Poland, numbering over three million people at the time, was considered the poorest diaspora in Europe.

1939 | The Holocaust of the Jews of Poland

September 1st, 1939, the day the Nazis invaded Poland, was etched into the collective Jewish memory in infamy. Of 3.3 million Jews who lived in Poland on the eve of the Nazi invasion, only around 350,000 survived. Some 3 million Polish Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust.
The annihilation of the Jews of Poland took place step by step. It began with various decrees, such as the gathering of Jews in ghettos, the obligation to wear an identifying mark, the imposition of a curfew in the evenings, the marking of Jewish-owned stores and more – and ended with the execution of the “Final Solution”, a satanic plan of genocide, which culminated in the deportation of the Jews of Poland to the extermination camps of Auschwitz, Majdanek, Sobibor, Chelmno and Treblinka – all located on Polish soil.
One of the best known expressions of resistance by the Jews of Poland to the Nazi plan of annihilation was the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The revolt symbolized a triumph of spirit for the Jews of the ghetto, who embarked on it although they knew that their chances of winning or even surviving were nil.
Alongside the armed resistance by the Jews of the ghetto there was also cultural resistance. In October 1939 Emanuel Ringelblum – a historian, politician and social worker – started the “Oneg Shabbat” (“Sabbath Delight”) project in the ghetto, in which he was joined by dozens of intellectuals including authors, teachers and historians. This collective produced many works of writing on various facets of life in the ghetto, and thus became an archive and think tank dealing with current events while documenting them for future historians' reference.
In August 1942, in the midst of the deportation of the Jews of Warsaw, the archive was divided in three and each part buried for safe-keeping. Two of the three parts, secreted in metal crates and two milk jugs, were found after the war. These two parts, located in 1946 and 1950, serve to this day as imported first-hand sources on Jewish life in the ghetto, and also as testament to the courage and spiritual strength of the intellectuals whose only weapons were the pen and the camera.

2005 | Jewish Renaissance in Poland?

At the end of WW2 there were some 240,000 Jews living in Polish territories, 40,000 of them who survived the camps and another 200,000 refugees, returning from the Soviet Union territories. The displaced Jews lived in poverty and cramped conditions, and were treated with hostility by the general population despite their attempts to integrate into Polish society. In July 1946, just a year after the war ended, this hostility erupted in a pogrom in the city of Kielce. The pretext for the murder of 42 out of 163 Holocaust survivors in the city, and the wounding of most of the rest? The ancient blood libel about matza and Christian children.
This is where the Zionist movement swung into action, managing to smuggle about 100,000 of the remaining Jews in Poland to Israel under the “Bricha”, or “Escape” movement.
After WW2 Poland became a Communist country, which it remained until 1989. 1956 saw the start of the “Gomulka Aliyah” (named after Wladislaw Gomulka, Secretary General of the Polish Communist party), which lasted for a few years and brought some 35,000 more Jews to Israel from Poland. In 1967 Poland cut off relations with Israel and in 1968, amidst an anti-Semitic incitement campaign, another few thousand Jews made aliyah. This practically brought an end to the Jewish community of Poland.
At the start of the new millennium, Poland was considered the greatest mass grave of the Jewish people. The numbers speak for themselves: Before WW2 there were around 1,000 active Jewish communities in Poland, but in the year 2000 only 13 remained. Before the war Warsaw was home to almost 400,000 Jews. In 2000 only 1,000 Jews remained.
And then, at the start of the new century, a so-called “Jewish Renaissance” took place in Poland, and is still going on today. In 2005 a museum was opened across the street from the Warsaw Ghetto, where 1,000 years of Jewish history in Poland are on display. Once a year a Jewish festival is held in Krakow, exposing thousands of curious visitors from all over the world to Jewish songs and dance, kleizmer music and Yiddishke food. The Jewish theater is thriving (although it includes but one Jewish actor), and around the country “dozens of “Judaica Days” and symposiums on Jewish topics are held annually.

* All quotes in this article, unless otherwise stated, are from “From a People to a Nation: The Jews of Eastern Europe, 1772-1881”, Broadcast University Press, 2002

Stopnica

A small town near Busko, in Kielce province, central Poland.

Jews settled there in the 17th century. They owned 12 houses in the town in 1663. The Jews of Stopnica had certain trading rights in this period and were exempt from services to the governor (starosta). They were granted a royal privilege in 1752 authorizing their communal autonomy and rights to engage in trade and crafts, the latter being regulated by an agreement concluded in 1773 between the leaders of the community and the municipal authorities. The representatives of the province (galil) of sandomierz, within the framework of the councils of lands, convened in Stopnica in 1754 and 1759. There were 375 Jews paying the poll tax in Stopnica and 188 in the surrounding villages in 1765. Between 1823 and 1862 the authorities of Congress Poland placed difficulties in the way of Jewish settlement in Stopnica because of its proximity to the Austrian border. In 1869 Stopnica lost its status as a city. During the 19th century Chasidism gained influence within the community. The Jewish population numbered 1,014 (49% of the total) in 1827; 1,461 (69%) in 1857; 3,134 (71%) in 1897; and 3,328 (76%) in 1921. They were mainly occupied in small-scale trade and crafts, including tailoring, shoemaking, and carpentry, and in carting.

During the German occupation Stopnica belonged to the general government, Radom district, in Busko county. At the outbreak of World War II there were about 2,600 Jews in Stopnica. In the course of the fighting the town center - mainly inhabited by Jews - was burnt down. After the Germans entered, shooting Jews on the streets became a common phenomenon. The Jews were compelled to pay a high contribution (fine) and in order to ensure payment the Germans took as hostage leading Jewish personalities, some of whom were killed. On the eve of Passover 1940, 13 Jews were dragged from their homes and shot.

An open ghetto was set up but the Jews were forbidden under penalty of death to leave it. Tailoring workshops were established, providing the craftsmen with some employment and small wages. The number of Jews grew gradually with the influx of deportees and refugees from Plock, Gabin, Radom, Lodz, and Cracow, and in 1942 from the surrounding villages. By November 1940 there were 3,200 Jews in Stopnica; in May 1941, 4,600; in April 1942, 5,300; and in June 1942, 4,990. On the eve of Passover 1942, the police shot the president of the Judenrat and his son. On November 5-6, 1942, the liquidation of the ghetto took place. The German police and Ukrainian formations, with the help of the Polish police and the fire-brigade, shot 400 old persons and children at the cemetery, sent 1,500 young men to labor camps in Skarzysko-Kamienna, and drove the remainder, about 3,000, on foot to the train station in Szczuczyn (Shchuchin). On the way many were killed. Jews caught in hiding in the ghetto were shot or included in the transport. The victims were sent by train to Treblinka. In Stopnica itself about 200 young Jewish men and women remained alive, employed in workshops and on road building. This group was sent in January 1943 to labor camps in Sandomierz and Poniatow.

Wieruszow

A town on the banks of the Prosna river, district of Lodz, south east Poland.

Wieruszow was given the status of town twice; the first time in the mid-15th century. Having lost it in 1870, it again became a town in 1919.

The first Jewish residents of Wieruszow were expelled from nearby Wielun in 1585. The development of the Jewish settlement did not cease despite the change of sovereignty and restrictions due to the town`s nearness to the German border (1823-1862). Between 1857 and the First World War, Jews accounted for more than 40% of the total population.

Until the first decade of the 17th century the Jews of Wieruszow were subordinated to the Jewish community of nearby Kempno. The candle-tax they were forced to pay to the monastery was abolished in 1855. The dispute between the Gur and Aleksander Chassidim and the Maskilim caused a change among the community`s rabbis. One of them, Rabbi Chaim Yaacob Naftali Silberberg, was a member of the Rabbinical Council in Warsaw. The Wieruszow yeshivah became famous during the tenure of Rabbi Shaul Silberman, who immigrated to Eretz Israel in 1924 and served as the rabbi of Tel-Aviv. During the time Rabbi Chanoch Gad Justman served as the community`s rabbi, Wieruszow became the court of the admor of Pilicz of the Gur dynasty.

Towards the end of the First Wold War 13 Jews were killed by shellfire from the retreating Germans, and the rest suffered from robberies, confiscation of property, destruction of houses and community institutions.

Wieruszow being an agricultural center, the local Jews made their living from commerce at markets and fairs and from peddling in the villages. Some Jews were tailors, butchers, bakers and goldsmiths. Women worked in an embroidery factory. Some local Jews leased inns and breweries. Others exported agricultural products to Germany and imported coal, iron and chemicals. Until the crisis of 1928-1931 the community had no poor people.

In the first decade of the 20th century branches of Hamizrachi and Poalei Zion were opened in Wieruszow. They founded a Hebrew kindergarten and a public library. The girls studied in a governmental elementary school, opened prior to the First World War, and the boys in chadarim. Youth movements such as Hanoar Hatzioni, Beitar and Dror established clubs and libraries in 1929. The sport union Bar Kochba had a drama circle (1923). Agudath Israel founded in Wieruszow in the second decade of the 20th centruy, governed the community council, as well as seating delegates in the town council. The Agudah also set up the Tzeirei Agudath Israel, Bnot Agudath Israel and Poalei Agudath Israel associations, and opened a Bnoth Yaacob school for girls. 300 youngsters joined the Chefetz Chaim preparatory training kibbutz. The Zionist wage-earners organized trade unions.

In 1939 the Jewish community of Wieruszow numbered some 2,400 persons.


The Holocaust Period

During the occupation of Wieruszow in September 1939 the German army destroyed the main bridge and set fire to the town. Afterwards the Germans executed tens of Jews accused of sabotage. 80 Jews, with the local rabbi at their head, were taken on a Nazi propaganda campaign to Nuerenberg and Krakow.

Jewish property was stolen, houses were burnt down and searches were accompanied by torture. 1,700 Jews were compelled to forced labor. In November 1939 the Jewish intelligentsia was arrested and sent to the Radogoszez concentration camp. At the same time a Judenrat was appointed, which organized payment of high taxes and dispatched workers to camps in the Poznan area. The Judenrat established a Jewish police force, supplied food, and paid bribes trying to help Jews who had escaped from the ghetto. The ghetto, surrounded by barbed wire, was built in September 1941 and had 1,200 Jewish inhabitants. The last consignment to the labor camps in the spring of 1942 was made up entirely of girls.

The reduction of the ghetto area and the hunger (the daily ration was 250 gr. flour) increased the death rate. In able-bodied Jews were sent to the Lodz ghetto, and the rest to the railway station, whence they were despatched to their death at the Chelmno extermination camp.

The few Jews who survived the holocaust and returned to Wieruszow, fled the town for fear of the Polish population.

Chrzanów 

Hshanov, in Jewish sources

A town and seat of the Chrzanów County n the Lesser Poland Voivodeshi, Poland.

Chrzanow was mentioned as an urban center under private ownership in documents dating from 1393. During the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries it was known as a junction on the "salt route" that led from Krakow to Silesia. After the partition of Poland in 1772, Chrzanow like all of Galicia, came under the rule of the Austrian Empire. During the 19th century there was increased economic activity in the town because of its location close to the lead and tin mines and the establishment of factories in the town and its environs. from the middle of the 19th century the town became an important transportation junction in south western Poland.


it is assumed that some Jews resided in Chrzanow as early as the 17th century. In the middle of the 18th century there were 60 Jewish families in the town. Their number increased in the 19th century. During the first half of the 19th century the Jews established their community organizations and were under the jurisdiction of the Krakow community. In 1866 the Jewish community became independent.

A great fire during the 1870’s was a landmark for the Jewish community which dated events as occuring before the great fire or after it.

Most of the Jews in the town were religious, a minority were secular. there were Hasidim of the Sanz, Radomsk, Bobov, Belz, Gur, Zalishitz, Krimilov, Grodziak, Husiatin and other dynasties who supported their own prayer houses (Stiblach), other Jews prayed in the regular synagogues. There were about 30 prayer-houses and synagogues in the town, among them the great synagogue where rabbi Leibish Meisels was the Hazzan (Cantor) and the large study-house where rabbi Hersh Leib Bakon served as Hazzan.

The first rabbi to serve in the town was rabbi Shlomo Buchner. He served the community until his death in 1820. After his death, for a period of twenty years there was only a Dayan (Jewish judge). Meantime the influence of the Sanz Hasidim increased and rabbi David Halverstam of the Sanz dynasty was appointed to the position of town rabbi. During his tenure there was discord between the Sanz Hasidim and the Radomsk Hasidim. After his death in 1895 there were two rabbis serving in Chrzanow. The last rabbi in the town was rabbi Mendel, the son of rabbi Naphtali, and during his tenure the rabbinate was unified.

Rabbi Mendel was killed in the Holocaust. In the period between the two World Wars, two chairmen of the Jewish community council were Bobov Hasidim, which demonstrated their important position in Chrzanow. The two largest Yeshivot in the town were also Hasidic, the "Keter Torah" Yeshiva of the Radomsk Hasidim, headed by rabbi Haim Tobias, and the "Ets Haim" Yeshiva of the Bobov Hasidim, headed by rabbi Ziskind Gottlieb and rabbi Haim Yaacov Weissblum.

In spite of the fact that there were anti-semitic disturbances in the town in 1898 and some families left for Krakow, the Jewish population grew and was 50% of the general population. In 1900 there were 5504 Jews who were 54% of the general population. Half the members of the town council were Jews. In the elections of 1910, the poles led by the priest Kaminsky who agitated for economic measures against the Jews, tried to reduce the Jewish representation in the council. The Austrian authorities invalidated the elections but in the new elections in 1912 the Jews again succeeded in receiving their due representation.

Public groups in all spheres of life, religion and tradition, charity and culture, began to organize at the beginning of the 19th century. The "Mahazikei Limud" society published a periodical "The Jewish Religious Worker” and organized a lending library for Hebrew, Polish and Yiddish books. They also supported a drama group that performed plays.

The Jewish elementary school established by Baron Hirsch was active from 1902. In 1903 an orphanage supported by the Jewish community council was opened. Besides the traditional Jewish schools there was a general elementary school. After World War I a girls' school "Beth Yacob” was founded. The number of Jewish children who studied in the general school system also increased.

Charitable institutions and interest-free loan societies were active.

On November 5, 1918 there were riots against the Jews. Shops were looted, Jews were beaten and injured and two were killed. Those Jews who tried to organize self-defense were arrested and their arms confiscated. In 1919 the soldiers of the Polish General Haller, an avowed anti-semite, attacked the town. They beat Jews, looted their property and used the study-house as a stable for their horses.

During the entire period between the two World Wars, the Jews of Chrzanow were victims of anti-semitic attacks by the gangs who were active in the town and surrounding area. The authorities did nothing to prevent the attacks on the Jewish population. In 1935 a gang of Fascist Poles rioted in the town and desecrated the Jewish cemetery.

Chrzanow was mainly a center of commerce and crafts even though there were coal mines in the area. Thursday was market day.

In the second half of the 18th century the Jews earned their living from tailoring and hat making. There were also goldsmiths and silversmiths. In the 19th century the economy expanded and Jews traded in furs and food products even beyond the borders of the state. Towards the middle of the 19th century the number of Jews who engaged in retail trade and small industry grew. The clothing industry started to develop mostly under Jewish ownership. The tailors of Chrzanow who emigrated to Berlin laid the foundations of the garment industry there.

Until World War I some Jews found their living in upper Silesia, which was then under Prussian rule. Another source of income for the Jews was money changing.

Jewish scholars in Chrzanow worked to make a living. There were tailors, cobblers and coachmen among them. The well known Magid of Chrzanow, rabbi Moshe Hochbaum was the son of a cobbler who himself worked as a pastry baker.

World War I destroyed many sources of income and caused great economic distress among the Jews. Jewish organizations in Krakow, Katowice and Vienna and the regional aid committee, whose center was in Krakow, helped the community. Loans were granted by the Joint Distribution Committee to Jewish merchants and owners of factories and workshops.

In 1928 the "Jewish Folksbank" and the "Yad Harutzim" society of Jewish craftsmen were founded.


The first Zionist group "Bnei Zion" began to organize in 1893 and started its activities in 1898 after the first Zionist Congress in 1897. The first members were the students in the study-house who concealed their Zionist activities from their families. The first Zionist families were those of Leibel and Fanny Zipper and Mordecai Shaul and Hanna Schwarzbart. Their sons Dr. Shmuel and Dr. Yitzhak (Isadore) Scwarzbart were known for their Zionist activities in the period preceding World War I (1914-1918), a period of political and cultural assimilation. Dr. Zipper, a lawyer by profession, served as vice- chairman of the town council and fought for the rights of the Jews. After World War I Dr. Schwarzbart served as general secretary of the Zionist organizations in western Galicia and Silesia. In 1921 he was appointed editor of the polish newspaper "Nowy Dziennik". He was a delegate to most of the Zionist congresses and during the 30’s was a member of the Polish parliament (Sejm).

At the beginning of the 20th century there were branches of Agudat Israel and the Bund (Jewish socialist party) besides the Zionist organizations. In 1908 a branch of Poalei-Zion was organized and became the center of Zionist and cultural activity in the town. After the war the party was divided and the Hitahdut Zionist party with its youth movement Gordonia took the center of the stage. In 1912 a youth group "Jugeng" and a women group "Yehudit" were formed. During the years 1910-1914 a society called "Rachel" organized a center to prepare girls of the Zionist youth groups for work in Eretz Israel. They also spread the Zionist message. Their library encouraged cultural activity. The branch of Ha-Mizrachi in the town was active in combating anti- Zionist propaganda. Their youth group Hashomer Hadati was active.

In the period between the two World Wars there were branches of all the Zionist organizations and their affiliated youth groups in Chrzanow. They organized courses in Hebrew and founded libraries which conducted various cultural activities. In 1928 the Zionist sport group Maccabi was founded. The women’s organization WIZO was also active in the town.


In 1921 there were 6,328 Jews in Chrzanow, 56% of the total population of 11,392.


The Holocaust period

Several days before the outbreak of World War II (September 1, 1939) many residents fled the town, among them Jews. Most of the Jews returned after several days. On September 4, the town was occupied by the Germans and on that same day Jews were imprisoned in the synagogue. On September 8, the Germans seized 30 Jews from Chrzanow near Trzebinia and murdered them. Refugees from the town who succeeded in reaching the Soviet Zone were later deported to the interior of the Soviet Union at the end of June 1940.

In October the Germans appointed a Judenrat (Jewish council) whose task was to register the Jewish population, to supply the Germans Forced Labour, to collect “contributions" from the Jewish community and to hand over to the Germans goods and valuables. In order to guarantee the execution of their orders, the Germans seized hostages from among the important members of the Polish and the Jewish communities. A young Jew and a young Pole were executed on the pretext that they had committed sabotage against the German occupying forces.

In December 1939 the Jews were ordered to wear identifying badges on their arms, ribbons with the star of David. Now they were at the mercy of the Germans who harassed them on the town streets. Every day Jews were seized on the streets until the day’s quota of Forced Labour was filled. Jews were beaten sometimes till their death.

In March 1940 Bezalel Zucker was appointed chairman of the Judenrat. The Judenrat tried to ease the suffering of the Jews by sponsoring activities and distributing meals. The children were centered under the supervision of teachers and nursemaids. A youth club organized cultural and educational activities. The health department opened a clinic. The Judenrat earned the respect of the community, succeeded in bribing the heads of the German police and were able to prevent cruel acts against the Jews. They reopened the Jewish public baths and held public services on the high holidays.

In October 1940 the central Judenrat of Sosnowice seized 300 Jews from Chrzanow and sent them to the Labor Camps in Gogolin and Sakrau in upper Silesia.

In order to prevent the deportation of the young people to work-camps the Judenrat looked for places of work in the town itself. In the end they found working places for Jews in the rubber factory nearby Trzebinia and the mines near the town. At the end of 1940 the Jews were forced to leave the mixed neighborhoods and were concentrated in one area, prepared as a ghetto. The center of the town was declared Judenrein (free of Jews) and Jews were forbidden to go there.

At the beginning of 1941 Jewish firms were taken over by Aryans, the Jewish owners were forced to appoint German managers. In the spring of 1941 Jews who had been deported from Oswiecim (where the Death Camp Auschwitz had been built) were brought to Chrzanow. On May 9 the Jews were assembled in the square near the gymnasium and their work permits were examined. Hundreds of Jews without permits were sent to Labour Camps in upper Silesia. The conditions in the camps were harsh. On May 25 hundred of Jews were seized in the town and sent to Forced Labour Camps. Many young Jews evaded the round-ups and the central Judenrat in Sosnowice, which did not trust the local Judenrat to comply fully with the German demands, sent their own Jewish police to seize men for the Labour Camps.

At the beginning of 1942 the chairman of the Judenrat Bezalel Zucker and other members were interrogated cruelly, accused of disobedience and sabotage and sent to the Death Camp in Auschwitz.

At the end of April 1942 seven Jews were hung publicly in the town square accused of smuggling food. At the beginning of May in that same year additional Jews were sent to Auschwitz. After that there were "actions" to expose "food offenders". Those caught were also sent to the Death Camp in Auschwitz.

In the "action" on May 30 1942 a selection was carried out in the place where the Jews were assembled. They were divided into three groups. One group was left to work in the town, the second group was sent to Labor Camps and the third group which included about 3,000 people, mostly elderly sick people, women and children were sent to Auschwitz. In June that year additional groups were sent to Labour Camps. At the end of July or the beginning of August 1942 hundreds of Jews were sent to Auschwitz.

In September 1942 some workshops were set up in the town. More than 1,000 Jews of the remaining survivors of the community worked there. They did everything to remain in work in the hope to be saved from Auschwitz.

In February 1943 the shops were the only concentration of Jews in the town.

In the middle of February 1943 the Jews were again called for a population count and as a result many were sent to Auschwitz. About 550 Jews, mostly men, were sent to the Labour Camps in Markstadt. After an additional group of Jews were sent to Auschwitz, Chrzanow was declared Judenrein. Only a few Jews remained who prepared the transport to Germany of the property the Jews had left behind. When their work was finished, they were sent to the ghetto in Sosnowice.


At the end of the war (1945) only a few hundred Jews of Chrzanow survived, among them 300 who had been in the Soviet Union. Others had returned from the Labour Camps. About 15,000 Jews who had passed through Chrzanow during the war period perished. This number included Jews from upper Silesia, Katowice, Oswiecim, Trzebinia and small villages in the vicinity.

In 1948 a memorial book of Chrzanow, written in Yiddish by Mordechai Buchner, was published. In 1989 an English translation was published in New York. A translation of the English version into Hebrew was published in Israel in 1994 by the association of the sons of Chrzanow.

Nowy Wiśnicz

A small town in the sub-district of Bochnia, Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Poland.

Jews came to the town apparently at the end of the 16th century, when the ownership of the town was transferred to the family of Polish nobles Lubomirsky. In 1605 many Jews who were expelled from the nearby town of Bochnia came to settle there. In the middle of the 17th century some 200 Jewish families already lived at Wiscnitz, but many left or suffered injuries during the Swedish wars (1656).

In the 18th century there was at Wiscnitz an independent community, one of the most important in “little Poland”, and its representatives took part in the meetings of the “council of four lands”.

In the second half of the century, 151 neighboring villages were attached to Wiscnicz Nowy. At that time there were 1094 Jews in the greater community, including the villages. In 1765 979 Jews were registered in Wiscnicz Nowy itself.

When the region came under the rule of Austria, following the partition of Poland (1772), the community, like the other Jewish communities in the region, was heavily taxed, which hindered its development, and until the 1870’s there was no increase in the number of its members.

The Jewish population of Wiscniez Nowy in 1880 amounted to 1286, about one third of the entire population. The rabbi of the community in the 1880’s was Solomon Halberstam, the Admor of Bobov. He founded at Wiscnicz Nowy a large yeshiva and his Hasidim and pupils who came to the town increased the local community. At the peak, in 1890, the Jewish population of the town reached 2,278 persons, over one half of the total population. However, at the end of the century, the number of Jews at Wiscnicz Nowy decline3d again, as rabbi Halberstam moved his court to Bobova and because many Jews emigrated overseas.

Another decline in the number of Jews at the town occurred at the time of independent Poland after World War I. The economic condition of the community was poor, and during the first years after the war it was assisted by the American Joint. The heavy taxes imposed on Jewish craftsmen and the economic crisis of the late 1920’s made it difficult to rehabilitate the economy. The difficulties of the local population aroused anti-Semitism, and only the interference of the Polish police prevented loss of lives in the disturbances against the Jewish shopkeepers and the peddlers in the villages.

In 1924 the union of Jewish merchants assisted its members in obtaining necessary licenses. In 1931 a Jewish folk bank was established, which helped merchants, and particularly artisans, in maintaining their source of living. A further deterioration in the situation occurred in the 1930’s, with the trend to boycott Jewish merchants and the restrictions imposed on kosher slaughtering.

Zionist activity, which began secretly before World War I expanded and intensified in the community in the period between the two World Wars. The largest and most active was the local branch of the “General Zionists”. The branch of “Hamizrachi” was established in 1934. “Hashomer Hazair” was active at Wiscnicz Nowy from the early 1920’s, later came “Hanoar Haivri”, and in 1931 “Akiva”. There were Hebrew courses of the “Tarbut” network, and a library was opened. The “Bnei Zion’ circle, which was formed in 1933, organized cultural activities and formed the “Professional Zionists” group. The Zionist activity met with opposition of the orthodox Hasidic circles and “Agudat Israel”.

On the eve of World War II over 1200 Jews were living at Wiscnicz Nowy.

The Holocaust Period
When the war broke out on September 1, 1939, Jews and others began to escape from the town, but because of the rapid advance of the German army, not many succeeded in reaching the area which later came under the Soviet Union. Those who failed returned to Wiscnicz Nowy, which then had already been occupied by the German army. Soon after the occupation, restrictions were imposed on the local Jews, night curfew, limitations on movement, such as going to nearby Bochnia, the requirement to wear a special identification mark, and forced labor. There were many cases of looting of property and maltreatment of men abducted for forced labor.

At the end of 1939 a Judenrat was set up, and in 1940 also a Jewish police force. In addition to carrying out the orders of the Germans, the Judenrat organized help to the needy.

In the course of 1940, refugees from Cracow and nearby settlements came to Wiecnicz Nowy, and the number of Jews in the town reached 3,000.

In May 1941 Jewish men were taken away to labor camps. In the winter of 1942 many were sent to the labor camp of Plaszow near Cracow. In August 1942 the Jews of Wiscnicz Nowy were all expelled to the ghetto of Bochnia, from which they were moved, together with the local Jews, to various extermination camps in the “actions” of October 1942 and March 1943. A few scores of the Jews of Wiscnicz Nowy escaped and hid in the nearby woods. Those who survived the war went to Cracow, and most of them later settled in Israel.

Olkusz

A town in Krakow province, Poland

There was a Jewish settlement in Olkusz by the time of Casimir the Great (1333- -70) who expropriated the gold and silver mines in Olkusz belonging to his Jewish banker Levko. In 1374, however, Olkusz obtained the "privilege de non tolerandis judaeis"; Jews were debarred from residing there and left for Cracow.

During the reign of John Casimir (1648--69), a Jew, Marek Nekel, was granted the first concession to quarry in the hills and was allowed to trade in metals (1658). An agreement between the Jews and the municipality concluded in 1682 granted Jews domiciliary and trading rights on condition that they helped to defray the town debts; they were accordingly granted the customary privileges by John Sobieski (December 3, 1682) to enable their settlement.

The Olkusz community came under the jurisdiction of the Cracow community, but in 1692, the community of Olkusz and other towns in the district seceded from Cracow, a decision endorsed by the Council of the Four Lands. In 1764 there were 423 Jews living in Olkusz. The economic position of the town deteriorated in the 18th century after copper mines in the district had been ruined by the Swedish invasion.

A blood libel involving the Jews in Olkusz in 1787 was the last such case to occur in Poland before its partition. The principal Jew accused, a tailor, was sentenced to death, but the leaders of the community managed to obtain the intervention of King Stanislas Poniatowski and secure a reprieve. Under Austrian rule (1796--1809), the number of Jews living in Olkusz diminished, and when it was annexed to Russia the prohibition on Jewish settlement in border districts applied. However, there were 746 Jews living in Olkusz in 1856 (83.4% of the total population), 1,840 in 1897 (53.9%), 3,249 in 1909 (53%), 2,703 in 1921 (40.6%), and in 1939 about 3,000.

The Holocaust Period
The Germans entered the town on September 5, 1939 and subjected the Jews to beating and tormenting, plundering of property, kidnapping in the streets for hard labor, and religious persecution. The "Judenrat", created in October 1939, had to take care particularly of 800 deportees who came from other localities in upper Silesia. Transports of men to labor camps in the Reich commenced in October 1940 with the dispatch of 140 Jews. A second transport with 130 Jews left Olkusz in January 1941; the third, composed of 300 women, left in August 1941. In the spring of 1942, shortly before the liquidation of the community, the number of transports increased. In March 1942 150 women were shipped out, followed on April 20, 1942 by 140 men. One month later during "Shavuot" (21-23 May 1942) about 1,000 Jews, including women, were sent out. The victims of these transports were mainly the poor, particularly refugees and deportees; those with means could temporarily avoid such transports. By the end of 1941, a ghetto was established in a suburb. It was open and probably not fenced off, but leaving the ghetto was forbidden and the entrances were watched by German and Jewish police. There were, together with the new arrivals, about 3,000 Jews interned in the ghetto. In the last few months prior to the liquidation, transports to labor camps increased, and the German police on March 6, 1942, publicly hanged three Jews for illegally leaving the ghetto and smuggling food. Local Jews were forced to build the gallows and carry out the hanging. The final liquidation took place in June 1942. A "selekcja" was carried out to separate the able-bodied men for labor camps from the rest of the inhabitants, among them the local rabbi; the latter were all sent to Auschwitz. A group of some 20 Jews was left to clear up the ghetto; they were afterward deported and exterminated.

The community was not reconstituted after the war.

Nowy Żmigród

Village near Jaslo in Rzeszow province, southern Poland.

Passed to Austria in 1772, and reverted to Poland after World War I.

Jews first settled there in the early 16th century. By the middle of the century they had established an organized community under the jurisdiction of the Szydlowiec kahal in Sandomierz-Krakow province. In 1692 Menahem Mendel b. Tzevi Hirsh of Poznan became av bet din in Nowy Żmigród. He was succeeded by Benjamin Wolf who later became rabbi of Dessau and Metz. In 1765 there were 683 Jews who paid the poll tax living in Nowy Żmigród, and 1,025 living in 143 surrounding villages; there were 68 Jewish houses in Nowy Żmigród; a synagogue had been built in the early 17th century. Until Nowy Żmigród passed to Austria in 1772, Jews there mainly engaged in the import of wines and horses from Hungary, tailoring, and hat making. In the 19th century Jews in Zmigrod Nowy were mainly occupied in trade in timber and grain, the leasing of flour mills, and engraving. The Jewish population numbered 1,330 in 1880 (53% of the total), 1,240 (54%) in 1900, and 940 (48%) in 1921.

During 1940-1941 the Jews suffered from administrative and economic restrictions and forced labor. The Jews of the entire area were concentrated in the city, and in the summer of 1942 hundreds of Jews were killed. Later about 500 people were sent to the Plaszow forced labor camp, where many of them met their death. The remnants of the community were sent to the Belzec Nazi death camp in the autumn of 1942.

Zator

A town in the district of Krakow, western Galicia, Poland.

Zator is documented as a village since the beginning of the 13th century. In 1292, after market-days were introduced and toll-posts were established, it received the status of a town. In the 15th century, it was an important trade and crafts center.

Jews first settled in Zator in the early 16th century. In 1765, when Jews were registered as owners of twelve houses in the town, the Jewish population there numbered about 100. The Zator community was well organized. Together with the nearby community of Uschpitzin (Oswieczin), it served the Jewish population of the area until the end of the 19th century. A cooperative bank and a gemilut hasadim society were founded to help the Jews of Zator.

The local synagogue was built in the middle of the 18th century. The last rabbis of the community were Rabbi Zwi Hirsch Gutwirt and Rabbi Moshe Josef Saltz, who died in the Holocaust.

Many Jews at Zator were small shopkeepers and craftsmen. Some of them made their living as fish merchants - the fish being grown in pools in the area - and as fur dealers. The first world war brought great hardship to the Jews of Zator. Their situation worsened following peasant riots in 1919, during which great damage was done to the places of work where the local Jews earned their living.

The Zionist movement started in Zator in the 1920's with branches of Yeda, Ezra and Hazionim Haklaliim (General Zionists). The only Jewish youth organization in the town was Akiva. It opened a cultural center and a library, and prepared young people for emigration to Eretz Israel.

In 1939, some 200 Jewish families lived in Zator, out of a total population of 3500.


The Holocaust Period

The Germans occupied Zator in the first days of September 1939. The Jews were taken from their homes and put into shaky houses, warehouses and old sheds on the outskirts. Their movements were restricted, they had to pay levies and all contact with the outside world was forbidden to them.
In 1940-1941, the Jews of Zator were obliged to do forced labor in the town, and a group of Jewish youngsters was sent to labor camps in Germany.

In July 1942, the local Jews were deported to Wadowice, where a selection took place. Those fit for work were transferred to the Wadowice ghetto, and the others were sent to the extermination camp of Belrzyc. In August 1943, the Wadowice ghetto was liquidated, and all its inhabitants taken to Auschwitz.

Sucha Beskidzka

A town in the district of Krakow, western Galicia, Poland.

Jews settled in Sucha during the second half of the 19th century, when the restrictions on Jewish residence in Galicia were lifted. The former village received the status of a town in 1889. That year, 200 Jews were living there, out of a total population of 3900.

Most Jews in Sucha were engaged in commerce. Some of them were shopkeepers in the town, and many took part in the fairs in the area. A bi-weekly fair held in Sucha was a regular source of income. The town had a few Jewish craftsmen, three Jewish lawyers and two Jewish doctors.

Between the two world wars, Sucha was a well-known summer resort. Some of its restaurants and taverns were kept by Jews. The economic boycott of polish Jews in the 1920s, and the recrudescence of antisemitism during the thirties, threatened the livelihood of the Jews of Sucha, many of whom had to look for work elsewhere.

The Jews of Sucha did not have the status of a community. They belonged to the community of Zywiec. Religious services were held in private homes. It was only at the end of the first world war that the building of the beth hamidrash was completed. It housed a large prayer hall, a mikve (purification bath), classrooms and guestrooms.

The town had a mutual assistance fund (gemilut hasadim), as well as a women's organization which helped the poor and needy. Rabbi Alter Hayim Koszenick, who officiated in the town at the beginning of the 20th century, also served as a teacher. After his death, Rabbi Jacob Halberstam, grandson of the admor of Zanz, was appointed in his place. He, too, worked as rabbi and teacher. He was killed during the Holocaust.

During the First World War, several young Jews of Sucha served in the Austrian army. Delegates of Zionist organizations and the youth movements Betar and Bnei Akiva carried out some propaganda activities at Sucha. A number of local Jews immigrated to Eretz Israel in the 1930s.

In 1939, Sucha had 400 Jews, out of a total population of 6,000.


The Holocaust

On September 4, 1939, the German army occupied Sucha. Local Jews who tried to escape were caught and forced to return. In the confusion of the first days of the war, Polish rioters caused great damage to Jewish property. Somewhat later, the Germans published ordinances under which the Jews were expropriated.

At the end of 1939, a Judenrat (Jewish council) was appointed by the Germans. In 1940, all the Jews of the area were transferred to Sucha. By 1941, the number of Jews in the town had increased to 600. Most of them were forced to work for the Germans. The Judenrat opened a public kitchen and a dispensary. When the Germans started sending Jews to forced labor camps, a first lot of 50 local young men were taken to a camp near Wroclaw.

In June 1942, the Germans gathered the Jews of the town for a selection. They let 300 of them, who were fit for work, stay in the town. The others were deported to Auschwitz. A labor camp was built at Sucha, where the Jews led an orderly communal life.

In May 1943, SS men encircled the camp, another selection was made, the unfit were sent to Auschwitz, and the others deported to forced labor camps in Germany.

Trzebinia

A town in Chrzanów County, Lesser Poland, Poland/

Trzebinia, recorded as a village in the 13th century, was in the area that Austria annexed during the third division of Poland. In the course of time, with the discovery of silver and lead ores in the vicinity, industrial and manufacturing plants were established, around which a town sprang up. The development of Trzebinia occurred after it was linked to the railroad line between Vienna and Cracow. Following World War I (1914-1918) it was once again included within the boundaries of Poland. In 1931 Trzebinia (the town and the village) was granted the status of a city.

Jews settled in Trzebinia at the end of the 17th century. Until the beginning of the 19th century they belonged to the Chrzanow Jewish community, and only later became an independent community. At that time Rabbi Israel Kloger officiated as rabbi of the community. His son, Rabbi Haim Kloger, author of Pri Haim (Fruit of Life) succeeded him, followed by Rabbi Moshe Yonah Levy. His son, Rabbi Yaakov Levy, was appointed rabbi after him. The latter was blessed with many children, and one of them, Rabbi Israel, officiated as the community's judge during his father's term as rabbi. With the death of Rabbi Yaakov Levy in 1923, there Rabbi Benjamin Levy and Rabbi Dov Berish Weidenfeld. The latter was chosen. He served as head of the famous yeshiva Kohav Meyaakov (Star of Jacob), wrote the book of responsa, questions and answers on matters of Jewish law Dovev Miyashrim and was known as the Gaon of Trzebinia (the genius of Trzebinia). Rabbi Weidenfeld spent World War II in Russia, later settling in Israel, where he established the yeshiva Kochav Meyaakov in Jerusalem. Rabbi Akivah, son of Rabbi Yehezkel Gross, founded in Trzebinia the Torah Crown yeshiva of the Domask Hasidim.
In 1921 out of a total population of 1,317, there were 915 Jews residing in the town. That same year an additional heder (religious elementary school) was opened for the town's children. In 1932 the admor (Hasidic leader) of Bobowa, Rabbi Benzion son of Rabbi Halberstam, settled there.

During the second half of the 19th century, with the development of the mines and expansion of local industry, Jewish settlement grew until almost all the inhabitants of Trzebinia were Jews, and in 1914 a Jew, Rabbi Issar Mandelbaum, served as its mayor. On the Sabbath the whole town life came to a standstill, and on Passover it was impossible to obtain bread there.

Early in November 1918, with the end of World war I and the renewal of Poland's independence, the authorities prevented the Jews of Trzebinia from taking part in the celebrations. Fearing an outbreak of antisemitism, the Jews formed their own militia for self-defense. The head of the town's Polish militia disarmed the Jewish organization and just a few days later pogroms indeed began. The rioters attacked Jews, beat them, plundered their shops, broke into the synagogue and desecrated the torah scrolls. An army unit from the district city Cracow refrained from interfering and only a Pole, Adam Tzerlog, came out against the rioters.

The Jews of Trzebinia dealt in petty trade, crafts and peddling in neighboring villages. A few were suppliers for the local industry. In the period between the two world wars, the local Jewish settlement suffered from economic stagnation, and after the war it was in need of aid from the Joint Distribution Committee, which augmented the funds of the local Free Loan Society, thus enabling it to give substantial help to the needy. In the years of the worldwide Great Depression (1929-1931) the women's league ran a people's kitchen. After the court of the admor of Bobowa was established in Trzebinia (1932) with thousands of Hasidim pouring into the town, more opportunities for the local Jews became available.

The first group devoted to Zionist activity was organized in Trzebinia in 1912, a library and lecture hall were also erected at the same time. Between the two world wars the Heatid club of the General Zionists organized evening classes for studying Hebrew and Judaism, and opened an additional library. At the same time, the youth movements Hashomer Hatzair, Hechalutz, the Hebrew Youth subsequently the Zionist Youth and Akivah were active.

The Jews of Trzebinia took part in the 1935 elections to the Zionist Congress, most of them voting for the General Zionist.

In 1939 more than 1,300 Jews were living in Trzebinia.


The Holocaust Period

At the end of August 1939 a number of Trzebinia Jews were drafted into the Polish army and a few of them participated in the preparation of the city's anti-aircraft defenses. Already on September 1st, with the outbreak of war, the German air force bombed the city and its inhabitants began a mass flight, many Jews joining those fleeing eastward in an attempt to cross the border into the Soviet Union. In the meantime, German army units cut off the routes eastward and the Jews stopped in east Galicia, and suffering from want, gradually began to return to Trzebinia. A few of them were murdered on the way, and about 70 of them were executed by German soldiers who ambushed them on the road from Trzebinia to Kashanov. They were murdered there and on the football field and buried in mass graves on the sites of the slaughter. Two years later, with permission of the authorities, they were given a Jewish burial in the Jewish cemetery in Kashanov.

During the first days of the conquest the German soldiers, the Volksdeutsche (Germans born in Poland) and the Polish rabble plundered the stores and homes of the Jews.

Trzebinia was in the territory annexed to the German Reich (in eastern upper Silesia) and the decrees of the Nazi racist laws were already imposed on the Jews at the beginning of October 1939. They were ordered to wear the yellow patch, their movement in town was limited, and they were placed under curfew. Their valuables were taken away, Jewish businesses were closed down, some of them being given to loyal Aryans, and only a few were left to serve the local Jewish population. The Jewish community was required every day to supply workers for forced labor, and to pay ransom from time to time. Jews were seized in the streets and whoever was found disobeying the German orders was liable for transfer to the Auschwitz extermination camp.

In 1940 many young Jews secretly left the city in order to cross the border into the Soviet Union. Those who succeeded met with difficulty in finding employment and housing and some of them were even exiled to distant regions of the Soviet Union.

At the end of 1940 and beginning of 1941 the Germans began seizing Jewish men for forced labor in Germany and fortifying the frontier with the Soviet Union. Many died because of the back-breaking work and the inhuman conditions at the beginning of 1941 the Jews of Trzebinia were concentrated in several streets which became a ghetto. At first the ghetto was open, but gradually the Jews were forbidden to leave it, and their distress grew.

Within the ghetto members of the community developed mutual aid, set up a public kitchen for the needy and took care of the children's education by secretly operating classes on a variety of subjects.
On the 13th of Sivan 5702 (July 1942) S.S. units and German policemen surrounded the ghetto. The Jews were ordered to come to the cattle market square (Targowica) where a selection was held. One group of young men were sent to labor camps in Germany, another to the nearby city, Kashanov, to work in enterprises of vital importance to the Germans, and on the 22nd of Sivan 5702, the rest were sent to the Auschwitz death camp. Only a few of the Jews of Trzebinia remained alive at the end of the war.

In the summer of 1986 members of the Jewish community who visited the city found the Jewish cemetery broken into and in ruins. The few tombstones remaining in place had been shattered. The main synagogue, which had been turned into a garage by the Germans, was destroyed by the Poles after the war, and on the site an apartment building had been put up. The synagogue Chevrat Bikur Cholim was turned into a carpenter's shop for making coffins. This matter was brought to the attention of the ministry of religion in Israel.

In 1990 the Israel organization of former Trzebinia residents arranged for the restoration of the Jewish cemetery, and on August 13, 1990 a monument in memory of the Holocaust victims was unveiled. The survivors of the Trzebinia community and representatives of Jewish institutions and of the government participated in the ceremonies.

Szydlowiec


Town in Mazovian Voivodeship, east central Poland.

 

21st Century

There remained a few former Jewish houses in the late 2000s.
 

History

As a center of trade, smithery, and production of building materials, Szydlowiec attracted Jewish settlers from the end of the 15th century. By the end of the 17th century there was an organized Jewish community under the jurisdiction of the Sandomierz-Krakow province. In 1765 the Jewish population of Szydlowiec and its environs numbered 902 persons. Johann Philippe de Carosi, a German in the employ of the Polish King, visited the town in 1779 or 1780 and found a densely populated Jewish quarter whose population constituted about 90% of the total inhabitants of the town. The Jews engaged mainly in commerce of agricultural produce as well as timber, building materials, beverages, hides, and ironware.

In 1788 the owner of the town, Duke Radziwill, granted the Jews additional municipal land and the right to erect additional dwelling houses, a synagogue, and a cemetery. Between 1825 and 1862 Jews were not permitted to reside outside their quarter. The Jewish population of Szydlowiec grew considerably from the 19th century, numbering 2,049 (64.8% of the total population) in 1827; 2,780 (73.2%) in 1857; 5,298 (71.3%) in 1897; and 5,501 (77.1%) in 1921. In the second half of the 19th century Jewish contractors developed the building materials and tanning industries. In 1905-06 Jewish workers and youths, led by the Bund and Po'alei Zion, actively participated in the struggle against the Czarist regime.

After World War I the town quickly developed into a shoe-producing center (with 14 tanneries), completely controlled by Jews, and provided work for many hundreds of shoemakers, fitters, and travelling salesmen. The ten stone quarries also belonged to Jews, and their products were widely distributed. The Jews in Szydlowiec also had a long tradition of trading in hardware. There were several Jewish libraries, trade unions - especially a strong leather workers' union - and groupings of all parties active among Jews in Poland.
 

The Holocaust Period

On the outbreak of World War II there were about 7,200 Jews in Szydlowiec. On September 23, 1942, 10,000 Jews from Szydlowiec and its vicinity were deported to the Treblinka death camp. On November 10, 1942, the Germans established four new ghettos in the region at Sandomierz, Szydlowiec, Radomsko, and Vjazd. The Jews were encouraged to leave their hiding places in the forests, being promised security in these ghettos. Thousands of Jews, not seeing any possibility of surviving in the forests during the winter, responded to the German appeal. About 5,000 Jews were concentrated in the ghetto of Szydlowiec. The Jewish community was liquidated when the remaining 5,000 Jews were sent to Treblinka. After the war the Jewish community of Szydlowiec was not reconstituted.

אופטובייץ

Opatowiec

עיירה בנפת קז'ימייז'ה במחוז שוויינטוקז'יסקיה, פולין.

אזור אופטובייץ היה מיושב עוד בתקופה פרהיסטורית. נמצאו באזור גם ממצאים ומטבעות המעידים על סחר עם האימפריה הרומית.

ב-1085 אופטובייץ הוענקה במתנה על ידי אשת הדוקס הפולני וולאדיסלב הרמן הראשון למנזר הבנדיקטיני בטינייץ (Tyniec) על יד קרקוב. ב-1271 בזכות מיקומו במפגש הנהרות וויסלה ודונאייץ אשר שימשו להושטת סחורות ואנשים עד לנמלי הים הבאלטי, אופטובייץ התפתחה וקיבלה זכויות עיר. העיר משכה אליה בעלי מלאכה ובורגנות גרמנית. ב-1341 המלך הפולני קאזימייז' השלישי העניק לעיר בת 1,500 התושבים זכות לערוך ירידי מסחר שנתיים. העיר הפכה למרכז אדמיניסטרתיבי אזורי. במאה ה-16 היו בה בית חולים, גילדות של בעלי מלאכה, טחנות קמח ועשרות בתי מלאכה קטנים.

בפלישה השוודית לפולין (1660-1655) העיר נהרסה כמעט לחלוטין.

ב-1772, לאחר החלוקה הראשונה של ממלכת פולין בין האימפריות השכנות, אופטובייץ עברה לשליטת האימפריה האוסטרית, אך בקונגרס ווינה ב-1815 נקבע שאופטובייץ תשאר בתחומי מלכות פולין כחלק מאימפריה הרוסית. התהפוכות התכופות של השלטון גרמו להדרדרות כלכלית של העיר, מעמדה התערר ומספר תושביה פחת. בגלל המרידות המרובות של הפולנים נגד האימפריה הרוסית, בשנת 1869, אופטובייץ, בדומה רוב ערי פולין, איבדה את זכויות העיר.

בקרבות מלחמת העולם הראשונה (1918-1914) אופטובייץ סבלה הרס רב. יוזף  פילסודסקי, פיקד זמן מה על  הלגיון הפולני בצבא אוסטרו-הונגריה מאופטובייץ.

 לאחר כינונה של פולין העצמאית ב-1918 מספר תושבי אופטובייץ גדל ל-750 איש .

בפולין שלאחר המלחמה הוחזרו לאופטובייץ זכויות העיר והיום אופטובייץ היא העיר הקטנה ביותר בפולין, בת פחות מ-500 תושבים.

יהודים באופטובייץ

אופטובייץ הייתה עיר כנסייתית ולכן עד 1862 חל איסור על התיישבות יהודים בעיר.

למרות זאת כבר ב-1827 ישבו בה כמה יהודים. מאז מספר היהודים בעיר גדל בהתמדה. את שרותי הדת קיבלו היהודי אופטובייץ מהקהילה של העיר נובי קורצ'ין השוכנת על גדת נהר הוויסלה 10 ק"מ צפונית מזרחית מ אופטובייץ. ב-1862 התגוררו באופוטובייץ 35 יהודים בתוך 459 כלל התושבים (7,7%). ב-1897 נמנו בה 102 יהודים.

יהודי אופטובייץ התפרנסו מעבודת האדמה, ממסחר זעיר, מלאכה ובשנים שלאחר מלחמת העולם הראשונה (1918-1914) גם מעבודה בנמל הנהרות. בין שתי מלחמות העולם כלכלת המקום והפעילות החברתית של האזור כולו התאוששו. במקום הוקמו מפעלי מזון ומחלבות. במפקד של שנת 1921 נמנו במקום 166 יהודים מתוך כ-710  כלל תושבי העיר (23,4%).

 

תקופת השואה

גרמניה הנאצית פלשה לפולין ב-1 בספטמבר 1939. בעיקבות הקרבות העיר סבלה  משרפות ומהרס רב. ב-8 בספטמבר 1939 העיר נכבשה ע"י הצבא הגרמני. הגרמנים טבחו  ב-45 שבויי מלחמה פולנים. חלק מצעירי היהודים ברחו מזרחה לשטח הכיבוש הסובייטי, לאחר שברה"מ פלשה לפולין ב-17 בספטמבר 1939. מתוך כ-150 יהודים נותרו תחת הכיבוש הגרמני כ-120.

זמן קצר לאחר הכיבוש הגרמנים הטילו על היהודים כופר של 10,000 זלוטי. כדי להבטיח  את תשלום הכופר הגרמנים לקחו שני יהודים כבני ערובה תוך כדי שאיימו להוציא אותם להורג כעבור 24 שעות עם הכסף לא ישולם. במאמץ רב נאסף כסף הכופר ובני הערובה שוחררו. הגרמנים החרימו את הרכוש של היהודים וריכזו אותם באחד הרחובות של הבתים הקטנים והדלים והפכו אותו לגטו. נאסרה היצאה מהגטו ללא אישור ונאסרה גם כל פעילות ציבורית או דתית. ליהודי המקום נוספו גם פליטים מכפרי הסביבה ומספר יושבי הגטו ב-1941 הגיע ל-240 איש. היהודים הצעירים נלקחו לעבודות כפייה בהטיית מי נהר הדונייץ. בשנת 1941 מינו הגרמנים יודנראט חדש ובראשו עמד איגנץ קליינהאוט, שהיה יושב-ראש היודנראט קאז'ימייז'ה וויילקה, בקושיצה ובאופטובייץ.

ב-13 בספטמבר 1942 גילו הגרמנים 28 יהודים שהסתתרו בכפר מיסטז'וביצה (Mistrzowice) הסמוך לאופטובייץ. היהודים נרצחו ונקברו במקום. ב-9 בנובמבר 1942 שוטרים גרמנים, אנשי ס.ס. והגסטאפו הקיפו את הגטו וערכו "אקציה". לאכזבתם מצאו במקום רק את הזקנים והחולים. רוב יהודי המקום קיבלו ידיעות מוקדמות על כוונת הגרמנים וברחו לכפרי הסביבה או הסתתרו בבונקרים. היהודים הזקנים והחולים כנראה שולחו למחנות ההשמדה טרלינקה או אושוויץ. הגרמנים ערכו מצוד אחר היהודים הבורחים והמסתתרים תוך כדי שאיימו על הכפריים בעונשים חמורים על מתן מחסה למסתתרים. תוך ימים אחדים נמצאו רבים מהבורחים והם נרצחו במקום. ב-20 בנובמבר גילו הגרמנים באופטובייץ בונקר שבו הסתתרו 36 צעירים יהודים מצויידים בנשק. התפתח קרב עם הגרמנים, חלקם של הצעירים נהרגו בקרב, הנותרים נרצחו במקום.

ב-22 ביוני 1944 אזור לובלין שוחרר מהכיבוש הגרמני על ידי הצבא הסובייטי, אולם  התקדמות הכוחות הסובייטים נעצרה. בעורף שטח הכיבוש הגרמני שנותר עד הוויסלה ומעבר לה באזור אופטובייץ, המחתרות הפולניות, ה"ארמייה קראיובה" ו"גדודי חלופסקייה", הכריזו על "רפובליקה של הפרטיזנים". ההתקוממות זאת נגד הגרמנים ידועה בשם "התקוממות יוני". הגרמנים בסיוע של "צבא וולסוב" (היה מורכב מרוסים ואוקראינים האנטיסובייטים), ערך סידרה של קרבות אכזריים נגד המחתרות הפולניות. ב-29 ביוני 1944 אנשי וולסוב והגרמנים הקיפו יחידה של פרטיזנים פולנים באופטובייץ והרגו 45 איש מהם. "רפובליקה של הפרטיזנים" התקיימה עוד כשבועיים עד שחוסלה סופית. אזור אופטובייץ שוחרר על ידי הצבא הסובייטי בתחילת ינואר 1945. חלקים מהמחתרת הפולנית "ארמיה קראיובה" לא הניחו את נשקם והמשיכו להלחם גם בצבא הסובייטי וגם במשטר החדש בפולין המשוחררת מכיבוש הגרמנים עד השנים 1949-1948.

 

לאחר השואה

מעטים מיהודי אופטובייץ שרדו את השואה, בעיקר שרדו אותם יהודים אשר עברו לשטח הכיבוש הסובייטי ואחר כך הוגלו לשטחים פנימיים של רוסיה. רחל קאלובסקה ניצלה לאחר שהסתתרה באחד הכפרים שבאזור.

כדי שהמקום לא יישכח, אחד מתושבי מיסטז'וביצה שהיה עד לרצח היהודים שתל על תל האדמה שעל קבר ההמונים עץ מילה (Fraxinus).

כעבור 69 שנים, ב-13 בספטמבר 2011 ליד התלולית שעליו עומד עץ המילה גדול הצמרת, על קבר האחים של 28 היהודים שנרצחו על ידי הנאצים נערך טכס גילוי האנדטה ועליה לוח עם כיתוב בעברית ובפולנית: "זה המקום שנורו ונקברו 28 יהודים שרצחו על ידי הנאצים בשנת 1942"

האנדרטה הוקמה בתמיכתה של הנהלת מועצת אופטובייץ והודות למאמצי הקרן הפולנית  - "הזכרון, אשר קיים" (Fundacja Pamięć, Która Trwa), שמטרתה  להנציח ולהוציא מאלמוניותם את אזרחי פולין היהודים אשר נרצחו על ידי הנאצים וקבריהם פזורים בשדות פולין.

טכס גילוי האנדרטה נערך בהשתתפות הרב הראשי של פולין הרב מיכאל שודריך, נציג הקהילה היהודית של קרקוב יעקב הורביץ, יושב ראש הקרן "הזכרון, אשר קיים" זביגנייב ניזינסקי. בטכס השתתפו תושבים מהכפר ומהאזור כולו, חברי מועצת אופטובייץ ותלמידי בתי הספר. במעמד זה סלבומיר קובלצ'יק , ראש המועצה, אמר: "זיכרון הנרצחים על לא עוול בכפם יזכר לדורות. בין הנרצחים היו זקנים, ילדים ונוער. ניספו מידי אדם אחר, אשר שנאתו בערה בו עד כדי כך שרצח. בין הנוכחים ישנם אנשים אשר זוכרים את אותם הימים ואשר באוזניהם עוד מהדהדים קולות ירי הרובים. הם יעבירו את האמת הטראגית של הימים ההם מדור לדור לעד. מוות התמימים אשר בוצע על ידי הגרמנים ההיטלראים זכאי לזיכרון." (דבריו התפרסמו באתר האינטרנט הרשמי של עיריית אופטובייץ - Pamięć, Która Trwa” « Gmina Opatowiec). בסוף הטכס תושב המועצה, רוברט פלוטה ניגן על חצוצרה את המנגינה "שקט, שקט..."

סטארי סונץ'

Stary Sącz

שמות נוספים: צאנז, ביידיש אלט צאנז בפולנית

עיירה בנפת נפת נובי סונץ' במחוז פולין קטן, פולין. סטארי סונץ' נמצאת בחבל גליציה מערבית.

המקום מתועד לראשונה בשנת 1226 בשם סונץ' (Sącz) או סאנדץ' (Sandecz). היישוב היה ממוקם על דרך המסחר שהובילה מהונגריה לקרקוב. לאחר הקמת העיר החדשה, נובי סונץ' (Nowy Sącz), בקרבתה המקום נקרא Stary Sącz (סונץ' הישנה). היישוב סונץ' והאזור כולו הוענקו על ידי הנסיך בולסלב "הביישן" לאישתו ההונגריה קונגה בשנת 1257. ב-1273 המקום קיבל מעמד של עיר. העיר התפתחה עם הקמת המנזר ע"ש "קלארה הקדושה" ב-1280. במנזר בילתה הנסיכה קונגה את 13 שנותיה האחרונות. המנזר היה גם מקום התבודדותה של המלכה יאדביגה אשת המלך וולאדיסלב יאגללו. גם האלמנות של העצולה הגבוהה הפולנית נהגו להתבודד בו. עם הזמן המנזר קיבל מעמד של קדושה מיוחדת והיה למקום לעליה לרגל של הקתולים רבים.

סטארי סונץ' סבלה רבות משרפות ושיטפונות שגרמו הנהרות הסובבים אותה. השרפה הגדולה של 1795 כמעט כילתה את העיר.

ב-1772, בחלוקתה הראשונה של פולין בין המעצמות השכנות, סטארי סונץ' נכללה באזור אשר סופח לאימפריה האוסטרית ואשר ידוע בשם גליציה מערבית.

בתום מלחמת העולם הראשונה בשנת 1918, סטארי סונץ' נכלל בגבולות פולין העצמאית.

 

היהודים בסטארי סונץ'

היהודים ראשונים הגיעו למקום בשנת 1469. לאחר שנת 1673 הגיעו לנובי סונץ' ולסטארי סונץ' יהודים מווישניץ' (Wiśnicz). היהודים התיישבו בווישניץ אשר הייתה בבעלותם של האצילים לבית לובומירסקי לאחר שגורשו מבוכניה (Bochnia) בשנת 1606. הקהילה היהודית בסטארי סונץ' התגבשה רק בסוף המאה ה-18. היהודים העדיפו את העסקים  בנובי סונץ' הסמוכה המפותחת יותר והעשירה יותר. עם ביטול ההגבלות על התיישבות  יהודים בערי גליציה בשנת 1860 התבססה במקום קהילה עצמאית. בשנת 1876 נבנה בית כנסת במקום. בסטארי סונץ' לא הוקם בית עלמין, את הנפטרים הובילו על עגלת של חברה קדישה לבית הקברות של נובי סונץ'. ב-1880 נמנו במקום 312 יהודים מתוך 3,790 תושבים (8.2%). היהודים עסקו בעיקר במסחר זעיר, ברוכלות בכפרי הסביבה, מקצתם היו  פונדקאים, ואחרים היו בעלי מלאכה, בעיקר בחייטים, קצבים ואופים.

בשנת 1898 עבר על האזור גל מהומות אנטישמיות של האיכרים אשר תחילתו בווייליצ'קה  Wieliczka בעקבות ההסתה של הכמרים אנדז'יי שפונדר ( Andrzej Szponder) וסטניסלב סטויאלובסקי (Stanisław Stojałowski). הפרעות לא פסחו על היישוב היהודי בסטארי סונץ'. במוצאי השבת ב-25 ביוני 1898 האיכרים המתפרעים הפכו את הדוכנים של הסוחרים היהודים בשוק, בזזו את חנויות היהודים, את מחסן המשקאות החריפים ורוקנו את מחסני התבואה שלהם והעלו אותם באש. כמן כן, התארגנה תנועה לאומנית נוצרית של האיכרים אשר יצאה בקריאה לא לקנות אצל היהודים. ב-1910 הוקמו קאופרטיבים פולניים למסחר שפגעו בפרנסת היהודים.

רבני המקום נמנו עם שושלת האדמו"רים של צאנז ממשפחת הלברשטם. הראשון בהם שהתמנה לתפקיד בשנת 1876 היה הרב אשר מאיר בן הרב יוסף זאב הלברשטם. ב-1885 כיהן ברבנות הרב יחיאל בנו של הרב משה הלברשטם. ב-1904 ירש את כסא הרבנות בנו בכורו, אחרון הרבנים, הרב אביגדור צבי שניספה בשואה.

עם הכנסת לימודי חובה באימפריה האוסטרית, נפתח בסטארי סונץ' בית ספר יסודי ובית ספר לסנדלרות. ב-1909 היו בשני בתי הספר 130 תלמידים, לא היה ביניהם אף ילד יהודי. ילדי היהודים למדו או ב"חדרים" או כ"בחורי גמרא" בבית מדרש. ב-1906 נבנה בית כנסת חדש במקום הישן שפורק ב-1902. ב-1910 נמנו במקום 666 יהודים (13%). החל מ-1915 התחיל להתארגן בסטארי סונץ' חוג של נוער ציוני "בני ציון", אך עד מהרה של עבר הסניף לנובי סונץ'.

בתום מלחמת העולם הראשונה בשנת 1918 וכינונה של הרפובליקה הפולנית העצמאית,  היישוב היהודי התרושש. רבים מבני הנוער עזבו את הישוב וחיפשו את עתידם במקומות אחרים בפולין או מעבר לים. במפקד האוכלוסין של שנת 1921 נמנו בסטארי סונץ' 553 יהודים (12%). היהודים עסקו במסחר זעיר ובמלאכה, במיוחד בפרוונות, סנדלרות וחייטות. במקום פעל בית ספר לסנדלרות הידוע בכל גאליציה. ב-1927 נבחרו לראשונה למועצה האזורית של סטארי סונץ' שני יהודים ציונים. בראשית שנות ה-1930 הוקמה קופת גמ"ח אשר בשנת 1937 העניקה הלוואות ל-135 נזקקים.

בין שתי מלחמות העולם גברה בסטארי סונץ' הפעילות התרבותית והפוליטית. התארגנו סניפים של התנועות הציוניות "הציונים הכללים", "ארץ ישראל העובדת", הרביזיוניסטים, "בני עקיבא", "הנוער הציוני", ו"המזרחי". נפתחו קורסים ללימוד השפה העברית והוקמו מועדוני ספורט וחוג לדרמה. במקום פעל סניף מועדון הספורט "מכבי".

בשנת 1939 ישבו בסטארי סונץ' 553 יהודים.

 

תקופת השואה

ב-1 בספטמבר 1939 גרמניה פלשה לפולין. ב-6 בספטמבר הגרמנים כבשו את סטארי סונץ'. מיד התחילו חטיפות יהודים לעבודות כפייה לביצוע תיקון הכבישים ונזקי הקרבות. ב-17 בספטמבר 1939 ברית המועצות פלשה לפולין וכבשה את שטחי מזרח פולין עד לעיר לובלין. חלק מצעירי היהודים של סטארי סונץ' עברו לשטח הכיבוש הסובייטי, אך לאחר נסיגת הכוחות הסובייטים מאזור לובלין על פי הסכמי מולוטוב-ריבמטרופ בין ברה"מ לגרמניה הנאצית לחלוקת פולין, רוב הצעירים חזרו לסטארי סונץ' באזור הכיבוש הגרמני. עד מהרה הוטלו על היהודים הגבלות תנועה, היהודים נדרשו לשלם סכומים גדולים כדמי כופר, אולצו לשאת סרט עם מגן דוד על השרבול, ונאסרה עליהם לצאת מהבתים ללא אישור. בסוף 1939 הוקם יודנראט, שאחד מתפקידיו היה לספק אנשים לעבודות כפייה. צעירים יהודים נשלחו למחנות עבודה. בסוף סתיו 1940 היו בסטארי סונץ' 542 יהודים, ביניהם 148 עקורים מיישובים אחרים באזור.

 באפריל 1941 היודנראט בעזרת ה-י.ס.ס (האירגון לעזרה הדדית מקרקוב) אירגן עזרה לאוכלוסייה הנזקקת. בין פעילי הסניף של היס.ס. היו הנריק פינדר וד"ר ארנסט אדר. 85 יהודים קיבלו ארוחות חמות. כמו כן, היודנראט הושיט עזרה דחופה ל-250 יהודים. חלק מהיהודים עבדו במשקים החלאים באזור ובמפעלים החיוניים לגרמנים.

ב-13 בספטמבר 1941 נורו למוות עשרים נשים יהודיות. הגטו בסטארי סונץ' הוקם באביב 1942 ורוכזו בו כ-1,000 יהודים ביניהם גם יהודים מיישובים אחרים, ביניהם ריטרו (Rytro) -  בשנת 1935 התגוררו בריטרו 45 יהודים, פיבניצ'נה זדרוי (Piwniczna-Zdrój), שבה התגוררו 226 יהודים, וסטאדלה (Stadła), שבה חיו 3 יהודים.  תנאי המחיה והתברואה בגטו היו גרועים. ביולי 1942 מתו ממגפות הטיפוס ואדמת כמה עשרות יהודים. ב-17 באוגוסט 1942 הגרמנים ריכזו את יהודי הגטו ונאמר להם נאמר שהם עוברים לגטו בנובי סונץ'. 95 יהודים, החולים והזקנים, שלא יכלו לעבור ברגל את הדרך של 10 הק"מ לגטו בנובי סונץ' נרצחו ונקברו ביער פיאסקי ( Piaski) הסמוך. כל היתר הוכנסו לגטו בנובי סונץ'. קבוצה של 40 צעירים מסטארי סונץ' נשלחה למחנה עבודה והיהודים הנותרים, ביחד עם רוב יושבי הגטו בנובי סונץ', נשלחו בשלושה טרנספורטים למחנה ההשמדה בלז'ץ בין 25 ל-28 באוגוסט 1942.

ב-1944 הוקם סטארי סונץ' מחנה עבודה שבו הוחזקו שבויי מלחמה סובייטים ושני מחנות לעבודת כפייה שבו הוחזקו כמה אלפי אנשים.

 

לאחר השואה

בניין בית הכנסת לשעבר משמש כבית משרדים ובתי מלאכה.בבניין המקווה פועל היום בית דפוס.באתר קבר האחים ביער פיאסקי הוקמה אנדרטה מאבן גרנית ועליה לוח זיכרון בשפה הפולנית: "במקום הזה ב-17 באוגוסט שנת 1942 הנאצים הגרמנים ירו למוות ב-95 יהודים מהגטו של סטארי סונץ'." במוזיאון האזורי של סטארי סונץ' מוצגים מספר פריטי יודאיקה, ביניהם תלמוד בבלי בהוצאת ווילנא משנת 1930, תמונות ארכיון של תושבי סטארי סונץ'- איזידור אופוצ'ינסקי והלינה פינדר, "זגג יהודי" - ציור של הצייר אנטוני קרילוב ובובות בדמות יהודים מתפללים מעשה ידיהם של אמנים עממיים מקומיים.

 

ב-2010 הקרן "פורום דיאלוגו" (Forum Dialogu), שמטרתה ללמד את בני הנוער על העבר היהודי של פולין, ערכה מספר סדנאות עבור ילדי בתי ספר בסטארי סונץ' בהם הירצו על התושבים היהודים של העיירה שלהם, על ההיסטוריה, הדת והמנהגים שלהם. אחר כך התלמידים ביקרו במקומות ואתרים יהודיים בעבר, כגון בניין בית הכנסת והמקווה. כמו כן,  נערך טכס זכרון בהשתתפות תלמידי בתי הספר ליד האנדרטה לזכרם של 95 יהודים שנרצחו ביער פיאסקי. 

קששוביצה

Krzeszowice

במקורות היהודים: קרשוביץ; בגרמנית: Kressendorf

עיירה באזור המטרופוליטני של קרקוב במחוז פולין קטן, פולין.

המקום מתועד לראשונה בשנת 1286 כאשר הוענק לו מעמד של כפר לפי חוקי מגדבורג. בין השנים 1620-1440 המקום היה בבעלות הבישופים של קרקוב. במאה ה-17 נתגלו תכונות רפואיות במעיינות הגופרית במקום. ב-1625 התחילו להשתמש במי הגופרית לריפוי מחלות בעדרי הבקר המקומי. בהמשך המקום התפתח כמקום מרפא בזכות המעינות. בשנת 1788 הוקם אתר מרחצאות שכונה בשם "ארמון ווקסהול" (Vauxhall).

לאחר חלוקות פולין בסוף המאה ה-18 וקונגרס ווינה בשנת 1815, האזור נכלל ב"מדינת קרקוב החופשית" הידועה גם בשם "דוכסות קרקוב". בשנת 1846 "דוכסות קרקוב" סופחה לאימפריה האוסטרית. בשנת 1829 הוקמו קששוביצה מרחצאות, בית חולים ובתי הבראה נוספים. ב-1847 העיירה חוברה אל מסילת הברזל מקרקוב למישלניצה, שלוחה של מסילת הברזל בין קרקוב לווינה.

במחצית השנייה של המאה ה-19 הוקמו בסביבת הכפר מחצבות אבן וסיד, פותחה תעשיית כלי חרס והוקמו מנסרות ומפעל לייצור חביות. בשנת 1918 קששוביצה נכללה בתחומי פולין העצמאית. בשנת 1933 קששוביצה קיבלה  מעמד של עיר.

 

היהודים בקששוביצה

התיישבות היהודים בקששוביצה החלה בסוף המאה ה-18. המשפחה היהודית הראשונה הייתה ככל הנראה משפחתו של חוכר הפונדק. בשנים האלה היהודים היו חלק מקהילת טשביניה (Trzebinia). עד לסיפוחה של קששוביצה לאימפריה האוסטרית בשת 1846, מספר היהודים במקום הגיע ל-19. היהודים שהתגוררו בקששוביצה (Krzeszowice), וכמו כן אלה שליו ביישובים רודאבה (Rudawa), אלוורניה (Alwernia) ואוקלשנה (Okleśna) קיבלו את שירותי הדת שלהם מקהילת אולקוש (Olkusz).

קהילת קששוביצה גדלה עם התפתחות הכפר בתחילת השלטון האוסטרי והקמת מפעלי התעשיה והקמת המרחצאות ובתי ההבראה. היהודים עסקו במסחר זעיר, ברוכלות בכפרי הסביבה ובמלאכה. היו ביניהם גם בעלי משקים חקלאיים בכפרי האזור.

במקום השתקע הרב צבי הירש ברוינפלד, תלמיד חכם. כרב הקהילה מסוף  המאה ה-19 כיהן הרב זיידא קלינגסברג. הקהילה הפעילה מקווה, בית כנסת עבור הגברים (ברחוב וונסקה 4) ובית כנסת עבור הנשים (ברחוב וונסקה 1). לחברת "ביקור חולים" האורתודוקסית, אשר עסקה בעזרה לנזקקים ולטיפול וסיוע לחולים, היה בית תפילה משלהם.

ערב מלחמת העולם הראשונה, ב-1910 היו במקום 472 יהודים אשר היוו 18% מכלל התושבים. בתום מלחמת העולם הראשונה  וכינונה של הרפובליקה הפולנית העצמאית בנובמבר 1918, כפריים מהאזור פרעו ביהודים, התנפלו על דוכני היהודים בשוק, היכו ושדדו את מרכולתם. ההתפרעויות נמשכו עד 1919. במאי ובספטמבר 1919, חיילי הלגיון הפולני של גנרל הלר פרעו ביהודים ביום השוק, פגעו קשה בדוכנים, היכו ושדדו את הסחורה שלהם. רק התערבות השלטונות שמה קץ לפרעות.

בתקופה שבין שתי מלחמות העולם גדלה והתפתחה הקהילה במקביל להתפתחותו של המקום כמרכז תעשייה, קייט ומרחצאות. במפקד באוכלוסין של שנת 1921 נמנו ביישוב 506 יהודים מתוך 2,928 כלל התושבים (17,3%).

במשרת הרבנות כיהן הרב משה חיים קליינברג. ביישוב הייתה פעילות תרבותית, פוליטית וציונית ערה. במהלך הבחירות ל"סיים" (הפרלמנט הפולני) ב-1928, האירגונים הציוניים תמכו ברשימת האיחוד היהודי הלאומי. ב-1926 פרץ סיכסוך בין הציונים לבין היהודים האורתודוקסים סביב לימודי השפה העברית. ילדי האורתודוקסים למדו בחדרים או בתלמוד תורה.

בשנות ה-1920 הוקמו סניפים של "הציונים הכללים", "החלוץ", "בית"ר", "עקיבא", "המכבי הצעיר" וסניף תנועת הנשים "ויצ"ו". אירגון "יהודה" (Yudea)  הקים ספרייה ואירגן קורסים ללימודי העברית. ב-1933 נחנך מועדון משותף לכל האירגונים הציוניים. ב-1935 תנועת הנוער "עקיבא", בהנהלת רינה מהלר- נזר, הקימה בחווה חקלאית על יד קששוביצה, "הכשרה" אשר הכינה את בני הנוער לעלייה לארץ ישראל. בוגרי ה"הכשרה" עלו למושב כפר יהושוע שבשרון.

ב-1939 חיו בקששוביצה כ-570 יהודים מתוך 3,500 תושבים.

 

תקופת השואה

ב-1 בספטמבר 1939 גרמניה הנאצית פלשה לפולין. קששוביצה נכבשת בימים הראשונים של ספטמבר. מיד לאחר הכיבוש, הגרמנים התחילו לחטוף יהודים לעבודות כפייה. כיושב ראש המועצה המקומית הועמד הפולני ברונו קוחנסקי (Kochański) מטרנוב, סמל בדימוס שפוטר בשעתו מהצבא הפולני. על היהודים נאסרה יציאה מהיישוב, פרט ליציאה לעיבוד המשקים החקלאיים שלהם, ונאסרה כל פעילות מסחרית ונדל"ן. היהודים הוכרחו לקוד קידה לפני כל גרמני שפגשו ולמסור את המצעים והרהיטים שלהם לגרמנים. היהודים ניסו להתנגד לגזרות הללו. מנהיגי הקהילה, יו"ר כץ, סגנו פילר והמזכיר, כינסו את נכבדי היהודים בבית הכנסת של האגודה "ביקור חולים". לאחר דיונים סוערים הוחלט שלא למלא את הצווים הללו. כשנודע הדבר, החיילים הגרמנים הקיפו את בית הכנסת, פרצו לתוכו והיכו את הנמצאים בו. למחרת זומנו ראשי הקהילה להתייצב לפני קוחנסקי. היו"ר והמזכיר התייצבו, אך פילר נעדר. קוחנסקי הציב אולטימטום של שעה, בסופו של דבר פילר נמצא במרתף ביתו וזומן למשפט. בגלל המרד הגרמנים הטילו על הקהילה כנס כבד והוגדלו עבודות החובה ליהודים. כץ, פילר והמזכיר נשלחו לכלא מונטלופיך (Montelupich) אשר בקרקוב. המזכיר מת בדרך לאחר שננעל בתא המטען של מכונית הגסטאפו, פילר לאחר חקירה ועינויים קשים מסר 15 שמות של תושבי קששוביצה הקשורים לשילטון הפולני. האנשים האלה נאסרו אף הם על ידי הגסטאפו.

האזור הועבר אדמיניסטראטיבית לגנרלגוברנמן של קרקוב. קבוצת יהודים צעירים הועסקו בשיפוץ ואחזקה של הארמון בקששוביצה שהיה שייך בעבר למשפחת האצילים פוטוצקי. בארמון השתקע מושלה של הגנרלגוברנמן האנס פראנק.

בתחילת 1940 החנויות, המפעלים והמחסנים של היהודים הועברו לרשותם של "נאמנים ארים". במאי 1940 הוקם בסמוך לקששוביצה מחנה עבודה ובו רוכזו יהודים מכל הסביבה. הם עבדו במפעלים ובמשקים חקלאיים. בסוף 1940 קבוצה של 18 צעירים יהודים נשלחה לעבודה במחנה הצבאי הגרמני בדמביצה (Dębica). חלקם חזרו לאחר זמן מה שבורים ורצוצים.

בקששוביצה הוקם סניף ה"יס.ס" האירגון היהודי לעזרה הדדית בקרקוב אשר הושיט סיוע לנזקקים.

ב-1941 רוכזו היהודים בגטו פתוח, אך הגבלות התנועה הוחמרו. ב-1 באפריל 1941 הודיע הנציב הגרמני לנטשל ליהודי קששוביצה שעליהם לעזוב את המקום לגטאות בקרקוב, טרנוב, בוכניה או סקאלה. בסוף 1941 חלק מהיהודים הועברו לגטו בסקאלה (Skała Małopolska). בקששוביצה הושארו כ-150 יהודים. בתחילת יולי 1942 הגרמנים ציוו על היהודים שעבדו במשקים חקלאיים בכפרים קששוביצה (Krzeszowice), לישקי (Liszki), צ'רניחוב (Czernichów), טנצ'ינק (Tenczynek) ונובה גורה (Nowa Góra) להתרכז בסקאווינה. תחילה נאמר ליהודים תושבי הכפרים הנ"ל שהם יכולים להביא איתם לסקאווינה את כל הרכוש הנייד למעט בהמות, עופות וכלים חקלאיים.

ראש המועצה הפולני של קראשוביץ, ברונו קוחנסקי, פיקח אישית על עזיבת היהודים ו"דאג" שאף אחד לא ישאר מאחור. ידוע שהוא במו ידיו הרג כמה יהודים. ב-7 ביולי מכל הכפרים נעו לסקאווינה כ-150 עגלות. שיירות היהודים הגיעו למעבר על נהר הוויסלה בפייקרי (Piekry), שם הועברו על המעבורת לצד השני לכפר טינייץ (Tyniec) ומשם רוכזו בשדה לפני סקאווינה. נערכה בהם סלקציה, כ-140 איש, זקנים, נכים ובלתי כשרים לעבודה נלקחו במשאיות ליער טינייץ (Tyniecki Las), כ-6 ק"מ מהעיר, שם היו כבר חפורים שלושה בורות. היהודים נצטוו להתפשט ונרצחו בתוך הבורות. מגוייסים ל"שרות הבנייה" פולנים כיסו את קברי הנרצחים. בין הנרצחים שם היו גם כמה יהודים מהאינטליגנציה של קרקוב שהסתתרו בכפר בנדקוביצה (Będkowice) ואשר נאסרו עוד בתחילת יולי באקציה שהייתה שם. 200 היהודים שנותרו מהסלקציה בשדה הובאו ב-8 ביולי לגטו סקאווינה. ב-29 באוגוסט 1942 הגרמנים ערכו סלקציה בקרב כ-2,000 היהודים שרוכזו בגטו סקאווינה. הכשרים לעבוד נשלחו למחנה עבודה בפלשוב (Płaszów). כ-180 זקנים, נכים וילדים נרצחו ביער פודבורי (Podbory) שליד סקאווינה, והנותרים נשלחו ב-30 באוגוסט למחנה השמדה בלז'ץ (Bełżec). גם משא האימים האחרון היה רווי בסבל, הרכבת עם הקורבנות עוד נראתה בקרקוב ב-3 בספטמבר 1942.

 

לאחר השואה

הצבא הסובייטי שיחרר את קששוביצה ב-19 בינואר 1945. ידועים בשמותיהם 67 יהודים והמשפחות שלהם, בעלי חנויות ומפעלים אשר נרצחו בשואה, 46 יהודים מהכפר ניצלו וחזרו לכפר, ביניהם משה גוולב (Gewolb), רגינה גינגולד, ריכרד קרומהולץ, אמיל ליפשיץ, עזריאל רבינוביץ', סלומון רבינוביץ', קרולינה סאס, אדוארד סמולאז'. הם לא הצליחו להאחז במקום שוב, הקהילה של קראשוביץ לא התחדשה.

הגרמנים חיללו את בתי הכנסת של הכפר. בית הכנסת של הגברים שימש לאחר המלחמה כמחסן. ב-2001 המקום שופץ ומשמש כבית תרבות. בית הכנסת של הנשים שימש תחילה כתחנת כיבוי אש, בתחילת המאה ה-21 םעלה במקום לפיצריה. בית התפילה של אגודת "ביקור חולים" נהרס על ידי הגרמנים.