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Members of the Sailing Club by the Huczwa River, Hrubieszow, Poland 1933

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Members of the sailing club by the estuary of the Huczwa River, Hrubieszow, Poland 1935.
The Oster Visual Documentation Center, ANU - Museum of the Jewish People, courtesy of Aharon and Joel Esteron, Israel.

ID Number:
184393
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Hrubieszów

A town in he Lublin Voivodeship, southeastern Poland.

21ST CENTURY

There are three Holocaust memorials in the town, two of which are located in the area of the Jewish cemetery. The cemetery itself is surrounded by a fence with a locked gate. Only two tombstones have remained in the original location.

 

HISTORY

The first information about Jewish settlement in Hrubieszów dates back to 1444. Additionally, two Jewish merchants are mentioned in 1456 as suppliers to the royal court.

In 1578 Jews were authorized by charter to reside in any part of the town, to engage in their customary professions and to establish a synagogue. While most of the town’s Jews worked as agricultural traders, that year a Jew named Abraham obtained a contract for distilling in the town.

Like all Jewish communities in the region, Hrubieszów’s Jewish community suffered from the anti-Jewish violence of the Chmielnicki massacres during 1648-1649. In 1672 the community was once again the target of violence by the invading Tatars. The community was also at the mercy of natural disasters; the synagogue and 27 Jewish houses were destroyed in a fire in 1736.

The leaders of the community and its rabbis were active in the Council of the Four Lands, the governing body of Poland’s Jewish community.

At the end of the 19th century the community numbered 5,350 people (about half of the local population). On the eve of World War II (1939-1945) it numbered 7,500 people.

 

THE HOLOCAUST

The Germans occupied the city on September 15, 1939 and immediately began a campaign of violence and persecution against the Jewish population. Ten days later, however, control of the town was transferred to the Soviets. They held the town for two weeks, after which it was returned to the Germans in the wake of the border agreement between Germany and the Soviet Union. More than 2,000 Jews left along with the Red Army.

In April 1940 the Jewish population numbered 4,800 people.

In the summer of 1941 members of the Zionist youth movements, most of them former residents of the Warsaw Ghetto, tried to organize an underground base in the outskirts of the town. Their efforts failed due to the lack of support from the local farmers. Nonetheless, hundreds of young men managed to escape to the forests and join combat units. Notable figures included Shlomo Brand, who was among the leaders of the resistance in the Vilna Ghetto, and Arieh Peretz (Leon Porzki), who served as a captain in the Polish National Army during the Warsaw Uprising.

At the end of May 1942 the Jews of Hrubieszów and the surrounding area (more than 10,000 people total) were concentrated in the city itself or in the city of Belz, to the south. At the beginning of June, those in Belz were marched to Hrubieszów. The stragglers were shot on the way by SS guards. A short time later about 3,000 Jews from Hrubieszów were deported to the Nazi death camp Sobibor. A second deportation took place at the end of October. The remaining 200 Jews were later sent for forced labor at Budzyń.

 

POSTWAR

The Jewish community was not revived after the Holocaust.

A monument named the Wall of Death was erected in 1997 to commemorate victims of the Holocaust. The monument consisted of 110 parts of tombstones that were collected, and was built with the help of donors among the city's residents. Another two Holocaust memorials were erected later in the area of the Jewish cemetery.