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Translation of Korczyna chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin
Translation of Korczyna 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 III, pages 326-328, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
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(district of Krosno, Lemberg region)
(Korczyna is situated north of the City of Krosno and south of Rzeszow)
Small town settlement distanced 5 kilometers from the city of Krosno. As a village the place was already known in the 13th century. In the 15th century, German settlers arrived and settled the area. Then it appears the village received the municipal status based on the Magdenburg basic laws. At the first the place was named Kukenhab and only in the 17th century was the name of Korczyna attached to it. During its entire existence until 1772 when Poland was divided, the place belonged to a feudal family. Already in the 19th century, the place acquired a reputation of mass producing fine linens (in 1860 the weavers of Korczyna and vicinity produced thousands of meters of linens.).The industry was seriously affected during the twenties in the 20th century; it resumed slightly its growth between the two wars.
The first Jews settled in the area in the second half of the 17th century and by the end of the century, the Jewish community was well organized. At the old cemetery one could find old tombstones dating back to 1701 prior to World War II. We have no evidence as to Jewish community life during the 18th century. The 19th century is represented by some scattered documents.
The Jewish community of Korczyna grew rapidly during the 19th century but then it was overtaken by the nearby city of Krosno. The latter removed the anti Jewish restrictions during the second half o f the 19th century and the Jewish community grew very rapidly as did the entire city. From now on Korczyna will be in the shadow of the growing nearby city. Many Jewish families left Korczyna for Krosno. This explains the drastic drop in Jewish population in Korczyna between 1900 and 1921.The Jews of Korczyna did not suffer particularly during World War I. The anti-Jewish disturbances throughout Galicia in 1918 and 1919 did not affect severely the Jewish community. (The Polish mayor of the township Michael Monsowicz prevented anti Jewish disturbances during these years)
From the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century and one can even say to the outbreak World War II, Jewish occupations remained the same. Most of the Jews of Korczyna were small merchants, or peddlers except for some large grain dealers and forest merchants that were considered by the Jewish community as being well to do. Jews were skilled workers and practiced their trades mainly; tailoring, glazing, sawing linens and clothing, butchering, cart and wagon fixing, and hauling goods. The most important source of revenue was derived from the weekly market days in Korczyna and nearby Krosno as well as from the fair in Krosno. There were 2 Jewish restaurants in Korczyna. Between the two wars some Jews were also wholesale fruit dealers for the area had an abundance of fruits. Some Jewish linen merchants acted as entrepreneurs by providing the weavers with the necessary raw materials and then collected the final products and sold them. In 1882, the Poles established a cooperative fund to undermine the Jewish linen merchants by providing Poles with credit lines. This harmed the Jewish community, however prior to World War II the Jewish linen merchants managed to recoup some of the losses.
The Rubin family (related to the Ropshitz and Lejansk hassidic courts) provided most of the Rabbis of the Korczyna Jewish community from the beginning of the 19th century to the shoa. The first well known Rabbi was Shmuel Aaron Rubin author of the book Beith Aaron. He was the son of Hersh Eliezer Rubin a friend of the Sandzer Rabbi Chaim Halbershtam. He moved to Krakow to assume the post of religious judge and died there in 1873. The post of Rabbi of Korczyna was then assumed by Rabbi Shmuel Rubin (apparently related to Rabbi Shmuel Aaron Rubin). He was followed by his son, Rabbi Asher Rubin who assumed the post in 1901. He died in office in 1932. His son Mordechai Rubin followed him as Rabbi of Korczyna for two years. Then the post was assumed by his brother, Eliyahu Rubin, the last of the Rabbis of Korczyna (he was killed in the shoa).
The last study center was inaugurated in Korczyna in 1901 and was connected to the synagogue that was never finished. Besides these two places of worship, there were also shuls of Belzer and Dzikower Hassidim that appeared after 1930. There were two social benefit institutions in Korczyna; Bikur Cholim and Gmilat Hassadim. In 1881, Rabbi Shmuel Rubin, Rabbi of the community established a branch of the Machzikei Hadat organization.
The first Zionist club was established at the beginning of the 20th century. A delegate from this club participated in 1905 at the western Galician regional Zionist conference in Krakow. The Zionist activities were suspended during World War I and resumed in 1920. These activities were bitterly opposed by the very religious elements in the community. In 1926, some of the former elements torched the Zionist library in Korczyna. Several hundred books were burned. Jewish libraries, even the ones in Warsaw send books to the new reopened library that was located in a new rented hall. Next to the library was also inaugurated a Hebrew supplementary school and a drama club. In 1927, the Halutz movement and the Zionist youth movement Ness Tzionaopened branches in Korczyna. Soon, the Bnei Akiva opened a branch in 1930 and so did the Mizrahi movement. At the Zionist elections in 1923, 69 voters participated in the election. In 1935, 68 voters participated in the Zionist election and they voted in the following manner: 42 voted for the General Zionist movement, 8 voted for the Mizrahi party and 18 votes for the Working Palestine movement.
On Rosh Hashanah in 1939, a group of armed Germans appeared in Korczyna and entered the center. They forced Jews to leave the premises and mount trucks. They were taken to an unknown destination where they forced to carry out all kinds of tasks. To this day, no one knows whether they were German soldiers or policeman.
Between December 1939 and May 1940, Korczyna was home to several German army units. These soldiers frequently searched Jewish homes, beat up owners and stole whatever they could carry with them. Frequently, they forced the Jews to leave their homes or kidnapped them on the streets for forced labor that consisted in building barracks, cleaning the military barracks and other similar tasks. During this period of time, the Korczyna Jews were forced to work locally by order of the Krosno military commandant.
At the end of December 1939, the Germans ordered all Jews in Korczyna to wear a white arm band on the right arm with a blue Magen David in the center. All Jewish stores were forced to paint the Star of David in their windows. The Germans wanted to impose a heavy fine on the Jews in Korczyna in January of 1940 but some intervention managed to change it to a mere fine of 300 zloti. During this period, Jewish ritual slaughter was forbidden in Korczyna.
In January of 1940, the Jews were ordered to select a Judenrat within 5 days. The head was Oskar Rubin and his assistant was Yehezkel Lewitman. Both men had lived in Germany for many years and were familiar with Germany, the language and the customs. Thus, most Jews felt that they will use this knowledge to help the Jews of Korczyna. They were terribly disappointed, for these two individuals took matters in their hands and ignored the rest of the members of the Judenrat. The Judenrat imposed a monthly tax on every Jew and those that did not pay were forced to surrender their possessions, mainly their Shabbat candle holders, pillows or clothing. On occasion, the Judenrat asked the Germans to help them with the collection of taxes. Those Jews were arrested and kept in the prison of nearby Krosno. On occasion, the prison was overflowing so the Germans would pull out prisoners into the courtyard and shoot them. Sometimes the prisoners were lucky and they were released due to the intervention of Moshe Kleiner, the assistant head of the Krosno Judenrat.
The Korczyna Judenrat employed two policemen. One of them Naphtali Kirchner helped the Jewish population by keeping it informed of German schemes aimed at the Jews. The Judenrat took upon itself to provide forced labor to the Germans, first within Korczyna and then outside mainly building roads and other forced labor projects. The Judenrat sponsored a public kitchen that provided food to the poor Jews of Korczyna as well as to those that arrived from Lodz, Krakow and Radom. From May 1940 until May 1941, there were no German troops or Police units in Korczyna and the Jews were able to breathe a bit.
The Jews were forced to surrender their stores as of June 1941. Only the pharmacy remained and was handed over to a Pole from Pomerania and the two iron stores were sold by their owners to Poles who shared with them in the profits. The sale of German newspapers was forbidden to Jews. The Jews were forced to surrender all furs to the Germans in January of 1942.
In March or April of 1942, Jews were forbidden to leave Korczyna. In May of 1942, Krosno Gestapo men shot 5 people, three were mentally ill and one woman named Korbowa that was accused of having been a communist in her youth. She was shot with her two year old child. The execution took place in the priest's field in full view of the local population.
In July of 1942 (Some witnesses date this event to the beginning of 1942), the Gestapo killed Moshe Epstein, and two members of the Waleni family that had returned earlier from Eastern Galicia.. Moshe Epstein was merely wounded and managed to escape. The Germans discovered it and threatened to kill 40 Jews if he did not surrender. Epstein went to the Judenrat office that delivered him to the Gestapo where he was killed.
In July of 1942, the Jews were forced to pay all their back taxes that they owed the Polish Government prior to WWII. During the same month, Jews were forced to leave villages that were distanced from Korczyna and belonged to the jurisdiction of Krosno and Frysztak. These new refugees were housed in the study center and in the stores. The Jewish population reached 1500 people.
On August 12th 1942 the Jewish community in Korczyna was destroyed. That morning, German, Polish and Ukrainian forces surrounded the hamlet, house to house searches began and the inhabitants were forced to leave their homes and head to the market square. Those that procrastinated were shot on the spot. The searches took hours, meanwhile the crowd of Jews was sitting terrified in the market square under a blazing August sun without water or food. Finally, the old, sick and disabled Jews were taken to a truck that left in an easterly direction. Near the village of Wola Jajnicka they were all killed. Women and children were loaded on trucks and transported to nearby Krosno. The men were forced to march to Krosno. The guards brutalized the marchers. The crowd of Jews waited two days in Krosno before they boarded a train for the death camp of Belzec on August 14th 1942.
There were still 140 Korczyner Jews living at the moment that worked at various work places. 70 of these Jews were in the ghetto of Krosno. They will be transferred to the ghetto of Rzeszow in December of 1942 with the remainder of the Krosno Jews. From this ghetto they will be sent to various labor camps. 33 Jews from Korczyna will survive the shoa, 16 of them in concentrations camps or labor camps.
Bibliography:Central Zionist Archives; Z-1/414, Z-4/234-13
Archives of the labor movement, Tel Aviv; 38-III, Galicia file 7.
Korczyna, memorial book, New York 1967
Di Yidishe Shtime(newspaper) 7/2/1929
Tagblat (newspaper) ;23/10 /1912,
Machzikei Hadat (newspaper)29/7/1881
Hamitzpe( newspaper); 8/2/1907
Nowy Dziennik (newspaper); 28/2/1926, 30/7/1928, 21/2/1930, 17/12/1934. 28/4/1938
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