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Translation of Grybów chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin
Translation of Grybów chapter from
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem
Published in Jerusalem
Our sincere appreciation to Yad Vashem for permission
This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland,
Volume III, pages 100-104, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
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(district of Nowy Sacz, region of Krakow)
(East of Jaslo, Galicia, Poland)
Most of the Christian inhabitants were farmers or artisans while the Jews were the businessman and artisans. Grybów was known as a producer of grains, timber, flax, and animal skins. At the end of the 19th century the place was connected to the railway which gave it a serious economic boost.
We have no official record of Grybów's first Jewish inhabitants. It is possible that there were a few Jewish families in the hamlet or in the vicinity around the 17th century who operated inns. In the middle of the 18th century, Grybów had 41 Jewish families who owned 16 houses. We are informed that one family owned the inn and two families had beer breweries. Two or three families provided the area with religious services and the rest were engaged in commerce. Of course, there were a number of old people and new grooms who lived with and wee supported by the wife's family.
The Jewish population grew steadily throughout the 19th century until WWII. Most of the growth was due to natural Jewish growth. Commerce or rather small trade and artisanship was the mainstay of the Jewish population between the wars. These sectors are seriously affected following WWI due to instability and price fluctuations. Furthermore, the attempt of the government to increase taxes on Jewish merchants and the various anti-Semitic campaigns to boycott Jewish commerce had some desired effects and weakened the Jewish economic base. The Jews of Grybów created a Jewish merchant association and later established a Jewish guild association when the Polish artisan guild banned the Jewish members in 1938.
In 1925, the Jews in Grybów established the first co-operative bank. It had a membership of 105 people who received cheap loans. The bank extended loans in the amount of 22,871 zlotys to its members. There was also the Gmilat Hessed Fund or revolving non-interest fund that the Joint Organization helped to establish. It functioned until the outbreak of WWII. The loans were small and limited to 25 zlotys. In 1929 the fund granted loans totaling 2,830 zlotys. The hamlet also had a Bikur Holim Society or an association to help the sick, and a Linat Hatzedek or a society to provide sleeping accommodation for transient Jews. Both of these societies existed for some time and were also supported by the Joint Organization. In 1922 the latter also repaired the public bath house that served the Jewish and gentile population. One day a week the bath house was free of charge for poor people of the city. There was also a program to change under garments at this institution, but we do not know for how long it continued.
We have very few facts about the inception of the Jewish community of Grybów. We know that the Rabbi of Grybów since 1881 was a member of the Halbershtam Hassidic family. The first one to assume the post was Rabbi Arieh Leib the son of Aaron of Sandz, who retained the post until 1905 when he was appointed to be dayan or judicial rabbi of Nowy Sacz. His son, Rabbi Mordechai Zeev, inherited the post of Rabbi in Grybów and retained it until 1930 when Rabbi Baruch Halbershtam became Rabbi. The latter Rabbi perished in the Shoa.
The Jewish community council was in the hands of the Hassidim of Sandz until 1928 when the Zionists elected four members to the eight member council. This impressive show of force was not achieved in one day, but a long campaign of education amongst the local Jews produced results. Already in 1905 at the Congress of the Western Galician Zionists in Krakow, Grybów had been represented by Itzhak Goldberg also in 1912 a West Galician Zionist local committee had been established.
The Zionist Movement began an active and intensified public campaign following WWI. All major Zionist parties established branches in Grybów, namely; the General Zionists, the Mizrahi and the Hitachdut movements. The first organization was by far the most influential and was inspired and leaned towards the ideas expressed by Dr. I. Thon. Amongst the youth organizations the Noar Hatzioni or young Zionists of the General Zionist movement was the most dominant. Another active youth organization was the Akiva organization. There were also two Zionist women societies namely the Miriam and the Wizo Associations. At the elections for the Zionist Congress, the General Zionists usually received the largest number of votes. In the elections of 1935, the votes were as follows; General Zionists 28 votes, Mizrahi 19 votes and Labor 49 votes.
Since 1912 Grybów had an official Talmud Torah where tens of students received an education. In 1923 the institution included three classes, 74 students and 5 teachers. Of course there were a number of traditional heders. The Zionist parties were very active in education and culture. The first courses of the Tarbut program were already offered in 1919 and 107 students (72 girls) studied Hebrew and Jewish Studies in the program. A kindergarten was established and courses to teach Hebrew for adults were opened in Grybów. They functioned until the outbreak of WWII. The only library and reading room in town were established with Zionist help and served the Jewish and non-Jewish population. The youth movements also established a dramatic club and the sport club Hacoach was established in 1933.
The Jews of Grybów and vicinity suffered from anti-Semitic outbursts and pogroms such as 1898 when Jews were dragged from the inns and the breweries in the villages and beaten, robbed and their property plundered. Only an army unit restored order. In 1918, anti-Jewish outbursts took place in Grybów and surrounding areas where small children were injured and Jewish property plundered. The events repeated themselves the following year when the mob broke into Jewish homes and bullied Jewish people, robbed, plundered and destroyed their property. The estate of Yossef Lehner in Cieniawa near Grybów was totally destroyed. Jewish peddlers were also attacked during the years 1936-1939.
In the first days of the war, in September of 1939, many Jews of Grybów (mostly men) joined the refugees who headed East.
Some of these refugees remained in Eastern Galicia which had been annexed to Russia and some returned to Grybów. About one week after the war began, units of the German army entered Grybów and immediately grabbed Jews for forced labor. The latter were forced to repair roads and bridges damaged by the war. There were also new anti-Jewish orders imposed namely; money contributions, limited mobility and arm bands.
Towards the end of 1939, the Germans imposed a Judenrat or a Jewish council on the Jewish community and latter created a Jewish police. The Germans demanded that the Judenrat conduct a census and then forced it to supply a daily quota of forced laborers. As the general poverty increased, the Judenrat helped needy Jews and a branch of the local J.S.S. (Jewish Self Help) opened a free soup kitchen. At the end of fall of 1940, there were 1320 Jews in Grybów which included 191 refugees. According to a local J.S.S. report sent to the central office in Krakow, there were 606 people who needed help but only 500 Jews received assistance.
About 400 Jews were expelled from the surrounding areas and brought to Grybów in May of 1941. They came from the villages of Labowa, Librantowa, Muszyna, and Krynica. The new arrivals came empty-handed and the local community could not help but the local branch of the J.S.S. asked for immediate help from Krakow. The round ups of Jews for forced labor camps increased towards the end of 1941 and throughout 1942.
The head of the Judenrat tried to create local jobs to protect the Jews from being grabbed on the streets and sent to forced labor camps where the living conditions were beyond description. The local J.S.S asked the Gestapo for permission to open a clothing factory in March of 1942. It also began to operate a training course for female workers for such plant.
In the spring of 1942, the Jews of Grybów were removed from the main street and moved to the side alleys and severe limitations were imposed on their movements. Many families suffered terrible hunger and the Polish police prevented Poles from trying to help the Jews. A Polish woman was caught by the Polish police giving food to a Jew and she was forced to dance with the Jew in the market square in front of the local citizens who emerged from church. After this occurrence, many Poles feared to help Jews. The public kitchen in Grybów expanded its activities during the first months of 1942 and provided hundreds of warm meals a day. There was also a health clinic where the workers tried to stave off the spread of diseases amongst the local Jews.
The police actions of rounding up Jews in Grybów concurred with those of nearby Nowy Sacz. As a matter of fact, on the 29th of April 1942, 30 Jews were arrested in Grybów and taken to Nowy Sacz where they were killed at the Jewish cemetery. The same day the Poalei Tzion left members were rounded up in Nowy Sacz and shot at the same place. 10 more Jews were arrested in Grybów on that day and killed locally in front of the members of the Judenrat who had to witness the event. There is another version to this event, the Gestapo from Jaslo and Gorlice arrived and asked Dr. Neugroshel, head of the local Judenrat, for a list of local Jewish communists. Dr. Neugroshel answered that he does not know Jewish communists whereby they arrested him and some Jewish policemen and killed them. The round up of Jews continued unabated and they were sent to labor camps. The sick and the old were sent to the ghetto of Rabka or to the local prison where they were tortured by the local Gestapo and S.S men.
In August of 1942 the Germans imposed a tribute payment on the ghetto of Nowy Sacz in the amount of a million and a half of zlotys, a staggering amount for an impoverished community. The Germans ordered the nearby communities including Grybów to partake in the tribute. On the 16th of August 1942, the Gestapo informed the Jews of Grybów that they have four days to move to the ghetto of Sandz. They were permitted to take with them 20 kilo of luggage per person. On the 19th of August 1942, the Gestapo ordered all the sick people to assemble at the Stemlach School.On the 20th of August 1942 all the Jews assembled next to the Judenrat offices.
The Germans selected the old people and joined them to the sick group that came from the Stemlach school. Both groups were then taken about 5 kilometers to a place called Grodek and murdered. Another group was murdered in the Piontekowa area. Youngsters who did not want to be separated from their parents during the selection joined them in their final destination. About 1,500 people (including the Jews from the surrounding villages) were taken to the Sandzer ghetto and shared the fate of the local Jews.
Several dozen Jewish youngsters remained in Grybów to collect the Jewish property left behind by the expelled Jews. A labor camp was established at the railway station of Grybów on the 2nd of August of 1944. It contained about 200 laborers, some of whom were Jews. They worked along the fortifications. The camp was liquidated on the 15th of January 1945, but we have no information on the fate of the inmates.
Yad Vashem Archives, 021/19, 021/15, 021/6, 03/1695
YIVO Archives; A DRP 20
Central Historical Archives of the Jewish People in Jerusalem; HM/7921,
Central Zionist Archiv;Z-4/226-24B; Z-4/222=23,Z-3/820, Z-1/414 Z-4/2997, Z-4/2348
American Joint Archives; COUNTRIES-Poland, Cult.Rel. 344, Medical report 377. Reconstruction 399.
The book of Sandz, New York-Tel Aviv, 1970, pp711-793
Noar Styczen 1932
Nowy Dziennik (newspaper) 1919, 1922, 1924-1929, 1936, 1938, 1939
Tygodnik Zydowski 18/11/1932, 18/11/1938
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