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Translation of Rozniatow chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin
Translation of Rozniatow chapter from
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem
Published in Jerusalem
Our sincere appreciation to Yad Vashem
This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot Polin:
Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland, Volume II, pages 512-514, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
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Today in Ukraine: Rozhnyativ, 101 km S of L'viv (Lwów)
(District of Dolina, Region of Stanisławów)
Translation by Ada Holtzman
|The Jews||The Total
The Jewish Community from Its Beginning to World War II
Rożniatów was founded as a private town of the nobility at the end of the 17th century, or at the start of the 18th century, where there was a village by this name. In its environs there were salty springs and a factory was founded for evaporation of salt. Since Rożniatów lies at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains covered with forests, lumber commerce developed. Rożniatów was also near the main roads of Slovakia and Hungary, and the transit trade of beef and horses took place.
A big fire erupted in Rożniatów in 1848 and most of its houses were destroyed. In 1923, another fire broke out and burnt down the houses of 30 families.
Few Jews lived in Rożniatów while it was a village. In a certificate from the year of 1620, it was reported that some farmers from the nearby village of Barchaczów assaulted R' Aharon Hoskiewicz, the leaseholder of the estate. At the beginning of the 18th century the Jewish population increased and there were tens of Jewish families. In 1717 the Jews of Rożniatów paid 267 zloty as head taxes. In 1758 the Jews of Rożniatów owned 15 houses, and in addition nine families lived in rented apartments. We may learn about the occupations of the Rożniatów Jews from a leasing contract signed at that year between the owners of the town and a Jew named Bendoszewicz (son of Bendit). He leased from the landlord the winery and taverns and two flour mills, the income from which was collected from the Jews by the town owners, and the customs from the beef heads which were transported through town. The contract specified the tax payment due from the butchers for the butchery of large and small cattle and the sale of kosher and non-kosher meat. The lessee was granted the exclusive right to market brandy on holidays (except Passover) and days of the Sabbath. In addition, the lessee received from the landlord a plot of land and a meadow and during days of the fair he was supported by two watch guards who assisted him in collecting the taxes due to the court. In 1758 two other Jews, Jakob, son of Fiszel, and his son, Szmuel, son of Jakob, leased from the town owners the factory for evaporation of salt and in exchange paid 2,208 zloty annually.
But only a minority of the Jews was wealthy; the rest made a poor living from petit-commerce and workshops, and thus the community accumulated debts to the kingdom from the head tax which it could not collect. In 1767 the treasury committee of the kingdom demanded that the Rożniatów community pay its debts without any further delay.
In the 19th century Jewish settlement increased, but towards the end of the century the population decreased due to departure of its residents to larger cities and to America. The place of those who left was replaced by nearby villagers who moved to town. This process continued into the 20th century. In that period, the number of small merchants increased, as well as traders and artisans, becoming the main occupations of the Jews of Rożniatów. Few Jews had better sources of income than lumber traders. Near the town were some Jewish agriculture workers and even some Jewish farmers. Among the borrowers from the charity fund (founded in 1929) were 50 merchants and traders and 35 artisans in 1936. The total of their loans was 7,553 zloty, the average being less than 100 zloty per person, illustrating the limited scale of their businesses. The poorest among the poor were badly hurt by a fire which erupted in the market place in 1923, and as a result 30 families (29 of them Jewish) were left with nothing. All those families then lived on welfare. The help extended to them by the Association of Jewish Merchan,t Yad Haruzim [Hand of the Diligent], and other institutions was not sufficient for their rehabilitation.
An organized committee existed in Rożniatów in the 18th century. It is possible that at the beginning it was under the authority of Stryj community, but then a wooden synagogue was built, which burned down in the fire of 1923. The other synagogue made of bricks was built in the second half of the 19th century.
Known among the Rabbis of Rożniatów is R' Arie-Lajb, son of Yosef H'Kohen Heller, writer of Ketzot Hachoshen, Avnei Miluim. By the end of his days he moved to Stryj, where he died in 1813. Another rabbi was R' Israel Yosef Glat, who served in the Rożniatów rabbinate between 1900 and 1907. After him (around 1910) R' Icchak Cwi Hamerling was appointed as the rabbinical judge of Rożniatów.
At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, there was a professional intelligentsia (advocates, clerks) and other enlightened people that in 1900 initiated the foundation of the first Zionist organization in Rożniatów: Hovevei Zion [Lovers of Zion] and Tzeirei Zion [The Youngsters of Zion]. Benedit Elimelech H'Levy Gross, author of Kol Mevaser [Voice of the Messenger] in which he preached to the settlement of Eretz Israel, was a native of Rożniatów. In 1911 a branch of the Hamizarachi movement was organized in Rożniatów.
In 1909 a Hebrew school was founded in Rożniatów by the movement Safa Brura [clear language] with 106 pupils in four classes. This school renewed its activity after a four-year break during World War I. In 1922 200 pupils studied there (138 of whom were girls) in six classes.
Zionist activity was renewed after the First World War. During the period between the two world wars branches of Zionist movements and parties were active in Rożniatów: Zionim Klaliim, Hamizrachi, the Revisionists, Hitachdut Poalei Zion, and the Radical Zionists. Youth Zionist movements were active as well: Achva, Hashomer Hatzair, Gordonia and Beitar. Near the club Kasino was a library with more than 2,500 books and a drama group. The sport associations Maccabi and HaKoach were active in Rożniatów, as well.
In the 1935 election to the Zionist congress, Zionim Klaliim received 171 votes; Hamizrachi, 82; working Eretz Israel Haovedet (Working League of Eretz Israel), 279; and the Radical Zionists, 9. In the election to the Community Committee in 1924 the Zionists won the majority of votes.
The Second World War
Refugees from western Poland started to arrive in Rożniatów a few days after the outbreak of the war between Germany and Poland. Some of them continued to the Romanian border and some found refuge in the place. By the middle of September 1939, the delegates of the Polish administration fled from Rożniatów. The Ukrainian nationalists took advantage of no rule whatesoever until the appearance of the Soviet Red Army on September 20,1939 to riot, abuse the Jews, and rob them of their property. Reuwen Diamand was murdered by them.
During the Soviet rule and according to its nationalization policy, some factories were confiscated, among them those of Jewish ownership. In the spring of 1940, a group of formerly rich Jews received Russian identity cards, with special clauses in them which limited their civil rights. Some of them were also expelled from Rożniatów due to its nearness to the border.
After Germany invaded the Soviet Union, the Russians evacuated Rożniatów on June 30th, 1941, and about 150 Jews left with them. Some of them were killed not far from the town during a bombardment of the train on which they fled from town.
The local Ukrainians started to abuse the Jews of Rożniatów on July 4, 1941, before the entry of the Hungarian units, allies of the Germans. The Ukrainian militia, which was organized then, searched for Communist Jews, and whoever worked in the Soviet administration was now a victim of its cruel brutality. Undder the pretext of searching for Communists, the militia and other Ukrainian local groups robbed Jewish property.
On August 5th, 1941, the Jews were ordered to wear a white ribbon on their right arm. They were allowed to buy food in the city market only twice a week.
In the autumn and summer of 1941, groups of Jewish men were taken to a forced labor camp in Skole and to other forced labor camps in the region of Stanis³awów and Stryj. During the spring and summer of 1942, the Jews tried to be accepted for work in vital German enterprises because they thought that this would save them from being kidnapped to the forced labor camps.
On August 27, 1942, the Jews of Rożniatów were ordered to evacuate the town. The date of deportation was set for September 1, 1942. They were given the possibility of being transferred to one of these places: Krechowice, Kalusz, Dolina, or Bolechów. Panic seized the people of the community. There were attempts to cancel the decree, or even just to postpone it. A lot of money was collected and the Judenrat members even traveled to Stanis³awów, endeavoring to avoid the deportation, but to no avail.
On August 29, 1942, the town was encircled by Ukrainian villagers from the surrounding villages who came to watch the Jews' deportation and to plunder their remaining property. On September 1, 1942 the expulsion took place. Even before the Jews had left their houses, the Ukrainian started robbing them. Also on the road where the carts of the deportees moved, the villagers stopped them, robbed them of whatever they could put their hands on, and generally abused them. The deportees suffered mainly from thirst, as the Ukrainians stopped them from getting any water on their way. Most of the Jews of Rożniatów arrived at Dolina and Bolechów, and their fate there was the same as that of the Jews from these communities. After the deportation, only four Jewish families remained in Rożniatów: three families of doctors and the Rokach family. They were all murdered later.
In Dolina, Hersz Gelojbter, native of Rożniatów, attacked the Germans with an ax in his hands when they came to take him during one of the Actions. He wounded some Germans and was killed during the struggle. After the liquidation of the Dolina and Bolechów ghettos, some of their remaining Jews, Rożniatów Jews among them, wandered in the nearby forests. Most of them were caught and murdered on the spot by the Germans and their Ukrainian collaborators. However, there were also Righteous among the Nations, like Miszko Jalowicz and Stach Bawi, who granted shelter to a few Rożniatów Jews. After the liberation on September 27, 1944, about 10 survivors gathered in town and in 1945 every Jew left Rożniatów.
Yad Vashem Archive 039/27
The Central Archive of the Jewish People, Jerusalem, P83 (E 36), P 83 (F 3)
The Central Zionist ArchiveA.214-6
The Hashomer Hatzzir Archive, Merchavia (1) 78
Sefer Zikaron Rożniatów V'Hasviva, Tel Aviv 1974
Tagblat 14.7.1912, 9.9.1923 ; Morgen 25.1.1924, 24.1.1927 ; Hamitzpe 9.11.1906, 8.9.1905; Di Zionistishe Woch 8.9.1933.
Chwila 16.9.1923, 4.6.1924, 3.12.1933, 30.5.1934; Chwila Wiecorna 13.3.1935, 22.8.1936; Wschód 10.1,1906
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