Jewish Inhabitants of Krosno, Galicia, Poland

Prior and During WWII


by William Leibner

June 2001

INTRODUCTION

The compilation of this list was a very difficult task since there was no cooperation from the Polish authorities, specifically in the Krosno municipality. This list comprises most of the Jews that lived in Krosno prior and during the Second World War. The Germans killed most of the people at the Belzec death camp.

This material was gathered from multiple sources. Each original list contained a somewhat different amount of information about each person. Alphabetic letters have been used to identify on which lists a name appeared. A key to those letters is as follows:

J Judenrat list that was assembled by the Judenrat in Krosno in 1941
G Gmilat hessed or mutual fund list for aid in Krosno prior to the war
L Landesmanschaft of Krosner Jews in Israel
Y Yad Vashem testimony pages
P Private material collected by William Leibner

This key will hopefully help others trace their families by providing them clues as to where the names appear. Year of birth, and trades or occupations are also provided. The spelling of some names present serious problems since they were transliterated from Yiddish. Some people recorded the family name by sound rather than by the actual spelling of the name. Other people spelled the names in accordance with the area that they inhabited regardless of the fact that most Jewish names were Germanic in origin. Thus there are mistakes, errors and unintenional ommissions, please excuse us.

BACKGROUND

Krosno in southeastern Poland, east of Krakow, was founded in 1324 on lands belonging to the crown. The city’s weaving industry played an important role in the development of Krosno and perhaps contributed to the name of the city, loom in Polish. The city was also an important trade center for Hungarian wines. In 1348 it was granted a municipal charter based on the Magdenburg laws. Somewhat later, Krosno was granted the right to hold an annual fair that became well known. This commercial boost and the protection of a city wall enabled it to flourish.

Known to the Jewish inhabitants as Kros, Krosno became an important industrial, trade and craft center in the 16th century and had about 250 artisans organized in 10 guilds, the total population exceeded 3000 people. The city attracted many artists and became known as "little Krakow". The various wars, invasions and partitions brought a halt to the growth of the city. It remained dormant until the second half of the19th century. The first Jews to settle in Krosno were the brothers Nechemia and Lazar of Regensburg in Germany who received special permits from the Polish King, Wladyslaw Jagiello in the 15th century. But there was no continuity of Jewish life in the city. Here and there a Jew was permitted to reside within the city walls but there was no trace of organized Jewish community life. The city population vehemently opposed Jewish presence. The guild members led the fight to keep the Jews out of the city. Krosno finally received from the crown in 1569 the privilege "de non tolerandis Judaeis" barring Jews from residing and trading within the city walls. Jewish traders living in nearby townships of Korczyna, Rymanow or Dukla were frequently jailed and their wares confiscated for attempting to enter the city. Still, Jewish merchants from nearby towns maintained contact with the city and the property census of 1851 indicates that there were three Jewish families in Krosno: Loje Grusnspan, Mojzesz Grunspan and Schije Dym.

The Austrian annexation of Galicia induced several major social changes that affected Jewish life in the area. The limitations on marriages were lifted, the limitations on the residence of poor Jews were eased, professions were opened to Jews, and land could be purchased by Jews. Finally, the new Constitution of 1867 granted all citizens equality before the law.

All these changes encouraged and stimulated Jews to leave their villages and hamlets for the larger cities that offered larger opportunities. Krosno was no exception, fifty families settled in the city between 1859-1890 and another 32 families arrived in the next ten years. To these official statistics we must add the unrecorded arrival of single people who lodged with families and frequently used the family name as their own until things were settled and they obtained jobs or positions. This enabled them to bring their family or to start a family.

The population of Krosno: (the numbers in parentheses indicate estimated numbers)

YEAR POPULATION CATHOLIC JEW ORTH CATHOLIC
1870 2132 2100 26 6
1880 2461 2318 113 (127) 30
1890 2839 2454 327 (567) 58
1900 3276 2664 567 (961) 45
1910 4353 3329 961 (1559) 63
1914 5521 3893 1558 70
1921 6287 4490 1725 72

The above figures show the rapid growth of the Jewish population which outpaced the overall growth of the city as oil was discovered in the area and money flowed in to develop the industry. The railway, linking Krosno with Jaslo and Europe, followed in 1884. Industries began to develop, especially the weaving and glass making sectors. Krosno was in the midst of an economic boom. Jews kept streaming to the city and even beyond it to the distant lands of Germany and the USA.

On January first, 1900, the governor of Galicia granted the Jews of Krosno the right to organize their community or kehillah. The elected leaders then proceeded to organize various local services such as assistance to the needy and to orphans, the schooling and religious needs of the Jewish community, the creation of a burial society and the building of a cemetery. Previously, Krosno did not have a burial ground and the deceased had to be transported to the city of Rymanow.

In 1904, the kehillah selected the first and only Rabbi of Krosno - Rabbi Shmuel Fuhrer - who had earlier served as Rabbi in Milowka and Krakow. He was also the head of Jewish judicial council of the city of Krosno.

The growing Jewish population created the need to open special Jewish stores such as butcher shops, fish stores and bakeries. In 1906 there were already two established baking families in the city, Selig Findling, and Chaim Oling. Three Jewish slaughterhouses were owned by Fulka Breitowitz, Moses Breitowicz and Wolf Mahler. Sender Fessel, Jacob Grunspan and Tobiah Nagiel owned butcher shops. The metal industry was led by Dawid Mehl, Chaim Korba, Jakub Pinkas and Jonasz Steifel. The spirit industry was led by Schije Dym and Isaac Hertzig. Tax collections were in the hands of Hersh Wasserstrum and the Dym family. Jewish tailors, barbers, glaziers, shoemakers opened stores or workshops. Ritual slaughters and Hebrew teachers found employment in the city. The Jews expanded the commercial base of the city. Few Jews served in the administration or public sector, but in the commercial sphere the Jews predominated and certain business lines were totally controlled by Jews.

During W.W.I, the Russian army occupied the city. The Russian soldiers looted and robbed Jewish stores and apartments. The Jewish population was instantly pauperized. Epidemics broke out and many families fled the city only to return at the end of the war. The economic life of the city was in shambles. The American Joint Organization and the Krosner landsmanshaft in the USA {former Jews of Krosno} financially aided in the revitalization of the Jewish community. Slowly the city resumed life and with it the Jewish residents. But the Polish residents of the city resented the Jewish economic presence in the city and organized boycotts aimed at Jewish stores and supported Polish co-operatives that barred Jewish commerce. The campaign intensified with time. Only the winds of war ended the campaign of hatred.

Poland was attacked on September 1, 1939. Krosno was bombed the first day of the war for it had a small military airport, a railway station and industries. The Germans entered the city on September 9,1939. A proclamation was immediately issued ordering all Jews to leave the city of Krosno. Many Jews hid in the city or in the countryside, others crossed the river Bug into an area that the German Army left free. Slowly, the Jews reappeared in the city, even some of those that crossed the river to the so-called Russian section returned to Krosno. All of them wore a white arm band with a blue star. They were forbidden to enter parks or public institutions but they remained in their apartments and continued with their businesses. The Germans created a council of Jews, called "Judenrat" and a Jewish police that provided labor forces for the various needs of the German occupiers. The Judenrat also provided facilities for Jewish refugees that arrived from Lodz.

The establishement of a list of the Jewish population of Krosno was ordered in June of 1941. The list contained 2072 names. It is not known how accurate the registration was or whether every person was registered. Some of the survivors have indicated that the list was fairly accurate although they themselves are not listed. The pauperization of the Jewish community continued at a rapid pace, especially after Germany attacked Russia. Hunger, misery and fear were the daily lot of the Jew in Krosno. Then posters appeared on August 9th, 1942 ordering all Jews to appear the next day at 9 AM at the Targowa railway station. They were each limited to a 10 kilo suitcase. They assembled on August 10,1942. Here, the selection was held, the young and able bodied were spared, the old and sick were taken to the forest and shot and about a thousand people were pushed onto a train that went to the death camp of Belzec where they all perished. All day, the Germans searched the city for hidden Jews and shot them on the spot. The same evening, a small ghetto was created which contained about 300-600 Jews. They remained there until December first, 1942, when they were all shipped to the ghetto of Rzeszow, or Reishe. Some Jews still remained in the area of Krosno where there were several labor camps but the city was clear of Jews, except for a few Jews that were hidden in Polish homes

With the liberation of the city, Krosno became a center for assembling Jewish survivors who were then sent across the border to Rumania where they sailed for Palestine. This semi-legal base operated until the borders were closed. The Jewish officials left Krosno, the Jewish survivors of the city never returned. Thus, ended the Jewish presence in the city.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The information contained in this database was donated by William Leibner. In addition, we owe our most sincere gratitude to the following individuals, because without their efforts this information would not be available to you today.

DATA TRANSCRIPTION TEAM:   Janice Reisman, Paula Zieselman


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Last updated January 14, 2002 by RdR