“Krosno” - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Poland, Volume III
(Poland)

49°41' / 21°47'

Translation of “Krosno” chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem


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Acknowledgments

Project Coordinator

William Leibner

 

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This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot Polin: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland,
Volume III, pages 329-331, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem


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(pages 329-331)

Krosno, Poland

( district of Krosno, Lemberg region)
(Krosno by the river Wislek is situated south-east of Krakow and south of Rzeszow)

Translated by Bill Leibner

Jewish
Population
Total
Population
Year
3272,8101880
5673,2511890
9614,4101900
1,5595,5221910
1,7256,2871921

Krosno was established as a city that belonged to the royal estate in 1324. It was chartered along the Magdenburg basic laws. It was granted the right to hold annual fairs. Krosno had very close commercial ties with Hungary based on the import of Hungarian vines. The city remained dormant for a long period of time, and then in the middle of the 19th century oil was discovered in the area that resulted in a minor economic boom. Refineries were built that provided plenty of work. The weaving industry also made great strides.

Jews were not permitted to reside in Krosno. The city received that privilege in 1568. A few individual Jews managed to reside in Krosno until the middle of the 19th century. The records indicate that a Jew named Nahum lived in the city in 1426 and that a Jew leased the flour mill in 1587. We can assume that the Jews were involved in the import of Hungarian vines and provided the feudal manors in the area with various services.

The city residents of Krosno vehemently objected to a Jewish presence in the city. They even forbade Jews from nearby townships (Rymanow and Dukla) to trade in the city or even visit the fairs. The municipal authorities had the right to seize the merchandise of Jewish merchants that visited the city. Even their personal safety was not guaranteed.

The Jewish community of Krosno was attached to the Jewish community of Rymanow and used the latter's burial ground. The community also maintained close contact with the community of nearby Korczyna. Little is known of Jewish life in Krosno until the beginning of the 20th century. The first and only rabbi selected to be the official Rabbi of Krosno was Rabbi Shmuel Fuhrer, author of the book “Har Shafar.” He assumed the post in 1904 and tended to the needs of the community until its destruction.

The first Zionist circles appeared in Krosno at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1905, a “ Hovvei Zion” club was established and in 1912 we already find an active Zionist branch in the city. During this period, we also see the appearance of a “Mizrahi” branch and a “Poalei Zion” branch. The youth sector is represented by the appearance of a “Noar Tzioni” club.

In 1914, the Russian Army invaded the city. Russian soldiers immediately started to rob and beat local Jews. Many of the latter died as a result of an epidemic of cholera and typhus that spread throughout the city. On returning home following the end of the war, many Krosno Jews found their homes looted and some were even destroyed.

The Jewish community of Krosno was in dire financial straights following World War I. There were many orphans and widows and the able bodied men had no work. The Jewish population received assistance from the American Joint Organization and from former Krosno Jews in America. The slow process of economic recovery also improved the conditions of the Jewish community. In 1921, there were 49 workshops that employed 112 people. 38.4% of the workers were the actual owners of the places, 16% were members of the family and 45.5 were salaried people. 82.4% of the latter were Jews.49% of the workshops dealt with clothing, 21.8% dealt with food, 14.6% were connected with the building line and 10.9% dealt with metal.

The depression years of 1928-1930 seriously affected the Jewish community. The campaign of the Polish cooperatives to boycott Jewish firms further deteriorated the Jewish economic situation. To strengthen their economic base, the Jewish workshops owners formed a close supportive economic association (in the mid-twenties) called ”Yad Harutzim” and the Jewish merchants also formed an association of self-assistance. These associations established two financial funding institutions, namely, the “ Kupat Gmilot Hassadim,” that granted small loans without interest and the “ People's bank” that granted larger loans at a small interest rate. The former fund was supported by the American Joint Organization. The first year of its existence in 1929, it granted 158 loans totaling 17,477 zloti. Among the receivers of the loans were young merchants, workshop owners and workers. We should also list the social institutions of the city notably, the “Tomchei Aniim” and the “Bikur Cholim,” that helped the poor sick people and the “ Association of Women” that provided 70 hot meals daily to poor children..

The Jewish children received a traditional Jewish education in the heders and in the “Beit Yaakow” school for a girl that was established in 1925. Other Jewish students attended the Hebrew school that followed the curriculum of the “tarbut” movement. The school was opened in 1920 and had between 80-100 pupils divided into five classes. The school contained a library that had 100 regular readers. There was also a musical and drama club. The various Zionist youth groups in the city maintained their own public oriented libraries.

The influential Jewish political parties in Krosno were the Zionist parties mainly the “General Zionists”, the “Mizrahi party” and the “Hashomer Hatzair” party. The strengths of the parties can be seen by the results of the election returns for the various Zionist parties prior to the Zionist International Assemblies.

Palestine
workers
RevisionistsUnited
labor
MizrahiGeneral
Zionists
year
-------77140771927
------------9642661929
7246--------461141931
160-------------732261935

The “Agudah Israel” branch in Krosno was very influential amongst the religious and Hassidic Jews of the city. The municipal council of Krosno consisted of 18 members, six of whom were usually Jews. The first elections for the kehilla or community leadership during the wars were held in 1925. Prior to this date, the Polish government appointed a director for the Jewish community. The elections of 1925 gave the Zionists the largest number of seats at the community council.

During the thirties, anti-Semitism was on the rise in Krosno. Jews were attacked in the streets of Krosno in 1934 following vicious anti-Semitic campaigns. In 1936, anti Jewish posters were plastered on the walls of the city and windows of Jewish stores and homes were smashed. The boycott of Jewish stores grew in intensity and the public schools became a hotbed of anti-Jewish feelings that were spread by the students and the teachers.

World War II

With the outbrake of the war, many Krosno Jews fled eastward. Some of them returned soon while others remained in the area that was now annexed to Russia. At the end of 1939 or beginning of 1940, all Jews aged 12 and over had to wear a white arm band with a blue Star of David. Jews were forbidden to enter public places such as parks, movie houses, and so forth. The Jews remained in their flats and continued with their prewar activities.

At the end of 1939 or beginning of 1940, a Judenrat was appointed in Krosno headed by Yehuda Engel. His assistant was Moshe Kleiner. A Jewish police force was also organized similar to other occupied cities. The Germans imposed forced labor on the Jews especially at the military airport of Krosno. In 1941, Krosno Jews were sent to a labor camp in Frysztak that was involved in building local military headquarters for Hitler in the area. The Judenrat of Krosno not only provided Jewish laborers but also paid them small wages. The money was provided by the wealthy Jews of Krosno who were then exempt from forced labor. The workers were primarily poor Jewish refugees that were brought to the city from other areas of Poland, mainly areas annexed to Germany, at the end of 1939 and the spring of 1940. Most of the refugees in Krosno were lodged in the synagogue near the river Wislek and the Judenrat helped them and also established a public kitchen for them.

It seems that the Germans insisted that the Judenrat conduct a survey of the Jewish population towards the end of 1941. The survey gave them the necessary answers as to the age of the population, their labor skills and their occupations. The list was completed and submitted to the Germans on the 10th of February 1942 but it actually related to the 22nd of June 1941. The list contained 2,072 Jewish names that comprised: 1,181 women, 885 men, 395 children under the age of twelve that included 84 babies below the age of three, and 172 people aged sixty and over. The employment skills listed were primarily referring to the occupations that the people held prior to the war. Of course, most of the Jews continued with their prewar activities until August 1942. According to the survey there were in Krosno in 1941, 744 skilled workers, 262 workers, 329 shop and workshop owners ( amongst them 109 women), 67 merchants and sales people ( including 18 women), 84 professional people (amongst them 21 females). In spite of German demands, the list did not mention people unfit to work except for 42 sick and aged people that were obviously unfit to work. The list indicated that 544 people were capable of working, 26.3% of the total Jewish population of Krosno in 1941.

In November of 1941, 85 former Jewish residents of Krosno returned to the city from the presently controlled Russian areas of Poland. Contrary to other places where returning Jewish refugees were killed by the Germans, in Krosno the returnees were permitted to resume their life.

In December of 1941, all Krosno Jews were forced to part with their furs. The order was brutally executed and resulted in the death of the Jewish woman Furst, shot by the German translator Oskar Becher in Krosno. According to unconfirmed information, the Germans arrested 10 Jews as hostages during the winter or spring of 1942 and they were never seen again.

We must point out that the Judenrat of Krosno managed to organize and help the local Jewish population and even helped financially the Jewish community of Stzyzow to pay a heavy contribution that was imposed on them by the Germans. The community did not have the means to meet the financial demand.

In August of 1942, the Germans ordered all the Jews of Krosno to assemble early in the morning at the “horse market”. Each person was ordered to bring 10 kilo of luggage. On the 6th or the 10th of August, the Jews assembled at the designated place that was already surrounded by SS men, German, Polish and Ukrainian police units. The Germans conducted a selection that removed the young people (men and women) to tables were they were issued special work permits. They were then led away to another place in Krosno. The sick, infirm and disabled were trucked to a nearby forest where they were shot. The remainder of the population, more than a 1,000 people including mothers and children were sent via rail to the death camp of Belzec.

Following the selection, searches were conducted throughout Krosno by the Germans and their local helpers, any Jew found was immediately shot. The same day, a new ghetto was established in Krosno along the Franciskanska and Spoljialtcha streets, at the “egg market” square. The ghetto had two entrances and contained between 300 to 600 people including the wives and children of the Jewish workers at the Krosno military airport, at the quarries in Dukla and various jobs in the city proper.

On December 4th 1942, the Jews presented themselves again in the Franciskanska square by order of the Germans. The later conducted searches throughout the ghetto and dragged everybody to the square where some executions took place. Even some children were killed. The entire assembled population with the exception of 25 people was sent to the ghetto of Rzeszow. The Germans then searched for Jews throughout Krosno and shot each and every Jew found hidden amongst them Rabbi Shmuel Fuhrer, Rabbi of the city. The Hassidic Rabbi of Krosno, Moshe Twersky died in the ghetto of Rzeszow.

Krosno still had a few Jews, namely the ones that worked at the military airport where a labor camp was established in August of 1942. 125 Jews lived in this camp that was closed down on January 27th 1944 and the inmates were transferred to the Szebnia death camp. It is to be noted that the city of Krosno had a labor vamp in 1941 and many of the inmates were from the city of Warsaw.

Krosno also had many labor camps in the vicinity and some of them had Jewish and Polish inmates. They worked along the roads and in the quarries. They were employed by the German firm ” Eskania. We can assume that this company also was involved in the building of military headquarters in the area. When these projects were finished towards the end of 1941, many of the workers were killed while others were sent home or to the death camp of Pustkow.

A few Jews, old and young, managed to survive on the so-called other or Aryan side with the help of non-Jewish friends notably the priests Jan Gawnicki and Hodoreski Kandra, Mrs.Yadwiga Naipukoi and the driver Neizgoda. Some of them perished while helping Jews.


Bibliography:

Gordonia-Maccabi Hatzair Archives, Hulda,28/6
Yad Vashem Archives, JM/1572, jm/1848-1867,M-1/E990/865; 06/18,06/19,
016/337, 016/2832,021/16, 053/105-II P.154. TR.10/797 pp.11-24
YIVO Archives; ADRP 20,21
Central Historical Archives of the Jewish People in Jerusalem;
HM/7921
Central Zionist Archives; S-6/1876, S-6/2181, S-6/2196; Z-3/820, Z-4/222-23
Z-4/226-24B, Z-4/234-13,Z-4/2997-II, Z-4/3732.
Shomer Hatzair Archives, (3)84,1,2.
American Joint Archives; Poland, CULT.REL.344a,399.
Korczyna, memorial book, New York 1967, pp.85, 103-111, and 174.
J. Garbacik, Krosno, studia z dziejow miasta I regionu
Krakow 1975, Jaslo, Oskarza, Warszawa 1973, pp39-40,47.
Tagblat (newspaper) ;7/11/1912,
Hamagid; 23/6/1898.
“Hamitzpe” (newspaper) ; 28/8/1908, 25/6/1909
Chwila (newspaper): 8/1/191929, 17/1/1930
Chwila Wieczorna(newspaper): 15/1/1937, 29/1/1937, 28/3/1938
“Divrei Akiva” 9/4/1937, 16/4/1937
“Chwila Wieczorna” (newspaper) 15/4/1935
“Noar Hatzioni” (newspaper) 15/4/1935, 10/11/1935,15/6/1936
“ Nasha Walka”14/8/1938
“Nowy Dziennik” (newspaper); 1919, 1926, 1927, 1930-1932,1934-1929.
“ Slowo Mlodych” listopad 1930

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