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Translation of Bobrowniki 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 79-80, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
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(in Jewish usage: Bobrenik)
(Pulawy district, Lublin province)
|1789||c. 500||c. 150|
Bobrowniki is situated on the right bank of the Wieprz River, about five or six km. from its confluence with the Vistula, at an old crossroads on the route from Lublin to Warsaw. A village called Bobrowniki, owned by a noble family, is first mentioned toward the end of the fourteenth century. In 1485, the king granted the request of Stanislaw Tarlo, suzerain of the village and [an office holder] in nearby Stezyca (q.v.), and conferred on Bobrowniki the status of a city. About two years later, Stanislaw Tarlo established a Catholic church built of brick; from 1503 onward, it served the surrounding villages as well. In 1569, the king confirmed anew the charter of rights previously granted to Bobrowniki. That year, the city had about 500 residents, nine of them craftsmen of various sorts; most of the residents were engaged in agriculture. The city at the time also contained two flour mills.
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the residents of Bobrowniki, like all inhabitants of Poland, suffered the ill effects of harsh, extended wars and frequent epidemics and fires. Dominion over the city changed hands several times during that period. Over the course of 220 years, it experienced no growth in population; in 1789, the local population still numbered some 500 individuals.
During the second half of the nineteenth century, efforts were made to industrialize Bobrowniki. Several small textile workshops were established, as were factories manufacturing soap, candles, aniline (a raw material used in manufacturing dyes), and glass. Lack of proximity to rail lines prevented these efforts from bearing fruit, and in 1891, Bobrowniki's standing as a city was terminated.
Bobrowniki had always been open to Jewish settlement, and it therefore is reasonable to assume that Jews already lived there in medieval times. Nevertheless, we know of an organized Jewish community being established only in the eighteenth century. In 1789, the community numbered 24 families (about 150 people) and was led by Barak Greenfeld, Feivel Abramovitch, and Joseph Moskovitch. At the middle of the nineteenth century, the prospects for economic development of Bobrowniki looked good, and more Jews settled there. In 1857, the community reached its peak size of 519 soulsnearly one quarter of the total population. But after the efforts to establish a thriving industrial base failed, many Jews left Bobrowniki and the community began to shrivel up. In 1921, only 164 Jews remained, and by 1939, their number had increased only slightly, to about 200some ten percent of the total population.
We have no information about Jewish life in the area during the years preceding World War II. It is reasonable to assume that most Jews earned their livings as small businessmen and craftsmen, and they may have supplemented their incomes by working plots of land or gardens.
After the German conquest of Poland in September 1939, most of the Jews remained in town until they were deported to extermination camps in May 1942. They were persecuted under German rule, as were their brethren throughout the area under the General Gouvernement, but a ghetto was never established in Bobrowniki.
On the morning of 6 May 1942, a unit of German gendarmes entered Bobrowniki and forcibly removed all the Jews from their homes. The elderly, ill, and feeble were murdered on the spot. One Jew, Yidel Biks, emerged from his house carrying his father on his back; the Germans shot and killed the father. All Jews able to travel were brought to Deblin-Irena (q.v.), where they, together with the local Jews, were confined at an assembly point. In the ensuing selection, some of the Jews were found fit to work and were transferred to four labor camps in Deblin. The others, the majority, were loaded the next day onto freight cars, sent to the Sobibor death camp, and murdered.
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