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Translation of "Ilza" chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem
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This is a translation from:
Jewish Communities, Poland,
Volume VII, pages 75-76, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
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(Known to Jews as Drildz; subdistrict of Ilza, Kielce District)
|Year||Total Population||Jewish Population|
Ilza is first mentioned in the beginning of the 13th century as a community in the bishopry of Krakow. In 1241 the town was virtually destroyed in the aftermath of the Tatars' invasion, and was not rehabilitated until the beginning of the 15th century. In 1413 King Wladyslav Jagiello afforded the town the status of a Magdaburg city and settlement renewed in the place. In 1512 King Zygmunt August renewed the 1413 privilege, and King Jan Kazimierz renewed it again in 1658. In 1665 the Swedes invaded Poland and Ilza became the temporary seat of the Swedish command in the entire area.
The first Jews settled in the city in the beginning of the 19th century, but until the end of the century they numbered very few. In the second half of the 19th century they took part in the development of the glass and porcelain industry. In 1886/87 Ludwig (Zelig) Sunderland established a glass factory equipped with state of the art machinery and soon controlled the entire glass industry in the area. The factory employed 40 workers, mostly Jewish. The development of industry in the area brought about an increase in the Jewish population of Ilza. In addition to the factory, Jews owned 3 flourmills, 5 gypsum quarries and 10 various trade workshops.
The Jews of Ilza maintained contact with the community of Radom and enjoyed the communal services that they needed. In the beginning of the 20th century the number of Jews declined after the porcelain factory was moved.
Between the two world wars, Jews supported themselves in trades and small businesses. In May 1920 conflicts rooted in anti-Semitism erupted among the young people in the community. Shlomo Teitelbaum, secretary of the Zionist Organization in Ilza, reported to the Zionist delegates that the Polish police arrested 4 Jews, among them a boy of 15, for participation in a fight. Those arrested were tried and sentenced to short jail terms on charges of disturbing the peace. Even though the district governor intervened on their behalf, their sentences were not commuted.
Between the two world wars, the community's activities were mostly in the Zionist realm. In 1923, 18 million (inflationary) Marks were collected under the auspices of the Zionist Shekel program. Approximately 200 individuals purchased the Shekel in 1930. In 1925 a campaign was launched on behalf of the Jewish National Fund. Participants included Rabbi Baruch Grossman, the community's rabbi for 60 years.
Through the initiative of the Zionists, a Tarbut day school was established in 1930. Children from the community, as well as from neighboring communities were enrolled in the school. Under the influence of the Zionists, assemblies and protests were staged in the synagogue voicing dismay at the British policy in Eretz Israel, namely limits set on the numbers of immigrants allowed to enter and the White Paper policy in general. Towards the end of the 30's Zionist support waned. In the 20th Zionist congress (1937) only 22 delegates participated. The Et Livnot (Time to Build) party won 12 votes and Al Hamishmar (On Guard) won 10 votes.
The Germans conquered Ilza in the early days of the war. On September 11, 1939 Jews were caught in the streets and taken into slave labor. Hundreds of Jews were recruited for sanitation work and to clear the ravages of war. Smaller groups were sent to do agricultural work in neighboring farms.
In November 1939 a Judenrat of 20 members was set up. It was composed of pre-war members of the community leadership. Heading the Judenrat was Baruch Kaminski. As soon as it was established, the Germans ordered the Judenrat to collect two large contributions of gold and cash. In the process of collecting the funds, several Jews were shot in the streets.
The Judenrat also handled social and welfare issues. They did so with the help of funds received from the Joint. In February 1941 the Joint sent to Ilza, through the organization of Jewish Self Help, in Krakow, approximately 4,500 Zloty. Locally they collected 16,000 Zltoy.
In April 1940 a fight broke out between Jews and Poles, several local Germans were involved as well. The cause of the fight was disagreement over drawing of water from a local well. The Poles attacked the Jews who came to the well to draw water. They were beaten and dragged through the streets. Two weeks later an order came down that the Jews were to wear armbands bearing a Jewish Star. In March 1941 Rabbi Grossman , aged 88, died.
In July 1941 the Jews were concentrated (1,900 people) in a ghetto of a few streets east of the municipal market place. While it was an open ghetto, its meticulously maintained and guarded by the Germans. A Jew who ventured out without a permit could expect to be shot on sight. Parallel to the establishment of the ghetto, the Germans recruited approximately. 60 young Jews as slave laborers in a nearby slave labor camp adjacent to a munitions factory in Skarzysko-Kamienna.
In October 1942 the Polish police guard surrounded the ghetto with the assistance of SS officers. The Jews were led out to the train station and transported to Treblinka.
Yad Vashem Archives, Jerusalem: M1/E/1837; JM/3489.
Central Zionist Archives, Z4/2065, 3569 III, V; S5/1801.
Burchard, P., "Zydowskie rzemioslo ludowa w dawnej Polsce (Jewish folk handicrafts in early Poland), " Biuletyn Zydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego [Bulletin of the Jewish Historical Institute], Warsaw, March 1961, No. 37.
Haint, 24.4.1925, 3.3.1930, 8.20,1930, 9.9.1930, 9.3.1939.
Gazeta Zydowska, 7.2.1941, 4.3.1941.
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