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The History of Jewish Wladimir [Ludmir]

by Dr. M. Dworzhetsky

Translated by Amy Samin

Edited by Jack Bader

 

Introduction

Even today we do not know if there exists a comprehensive book on the history of the Jews of Ludmir in general, or her rabbis and great men, specifically.

For hundreds of years Ludmir was known throughout the Jewish world for her rabbis and brilliant scholars. In the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries there lived and worked in Ludmir rabbis many of whom were not only the spiritual leaders of the town's Jewish community but who played an important part in Jewish life in Eastern Europe as a whole and in Poland specifically. We will mention here some of the names of those rabbis: Rabbi Yehoshua Pelek Katz, Rabbi Yom-Tov Lipman Heller, and Rabbi David Halevy Segel, who was born and educated in Ludmir.

The echoes from the lives and work of the rabbis and great men of Ludmir have reached us only because they left behind books and essays, or passed along their points of agreement in the books of essays of their time, writing next to their names that they were rabbis of Ludmir (“here the sacred community of Ludmir”), or because they are noted in the community registers on the occasion of their participation in the Council of the Four Lands, or on states' committees as rabbis, community elders, or as arbitrators in disputes; and whether they were mentioned in the Responsa or in other books that were written in their day.

It is reasonable to assume that there were rabbis and teachers, many of them held important positions in their day in Jewish Ludmir, who did not write books or participate in the Council of the Four Lands and did not give agreement to the writings of other rabbis of their generation, and are not mentioned in Responsa. They remain unknown to Jewish history - until we learn from appropriate sources of their lives and actions.

In researching the Jews of Ludmir we used various books and encyclopedias (Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian and Polish). Regarding the period of the Council of the Four Lands, we want to turn your attention to the book by Professor Y. Halperin, The Registry of the Council of the Four Lands, wherein, incidentally, frequent mention is made of the names of the rabbis and leaders of Ludmir indicating the source of this knowledge (registers, Responsa).

We wanted to show how the Jews produced a dynasty of rabbis and educators, therefore several times we have provided genealogical trees, from which we learned of the continuity of the many generations of rabbinical families.

We found a variety of sources regarding the period of the Council of Four Lands, particularly on the spiritual creation in Ludmir; on the other hand, starting in the middle of the eighteenth century, we often found antiquated statistical data and multi-faceted material on various public social events in the lives of Jewish Ludmir.

 

The Name

The city of Ludmir has a wealth of names since most of the names are similar to one another. In ancient Russian texts Ludmir appears as Vldimir; with the passage of time it was called in Russian Vladimir Vlinsk. In Polish the name is Włodzimierz.

In Hebrew texts the town appears under the names: Ladumir, Ladmar, Ludmar, and even Vladimira; in more recent years it is Ludmir. In Yiddish, the accepted name is: Ludmir.

 

Legends and Theories on the Founding of Ludmir

It is not known exactly when the city Ludmir was founded. According to one ancient story, Ludmir already existed in the eighth century and was called Ladumir.

The fact that it is known that Ludmir existed in those ancient days is borne out by the testimony of the Stone Age artifacts found there during excavations.

In 1840, at great depth, a broad area consisting of a great deal of coal was found in Ludmir. It is assumed that pagan worshippers were accustomed to make their sacrifices in that spot; and the layer of coal covered the sacrifices that were burned there.

 

The First Mention of Ludmir

The Hungarian chronicles indicate that Ludmir already existed at the time of Hungarian rule in 884, and was called by the names Ladimira and Ladumir.

Niastor wrote of the well-known times of the Russians (Liatopis), where Ludmir is mentioned for the first time in 988. Vladimir Suyatoslavic, the Grand Prince of Kiev, gave the city the nickname Vladimir as a gift to his son Vasiolod.

In those times the principality of Volhynia (Valinska Kniazshastova) was founded.

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The First Mention of the Jews of Ludmir

The first time the name of a Jew of Ludmir was mentioned was at the end of the twelfth century (in 1171). It was the name of the Jewish merchant Benyamin Handas (it could be that that name has its source in the Polish word handliaj - peddler).

At the end of the thirteenth century, in 1288, a Jewish community existed in Ludmir. We learned of this from the Liatopis Baifativ, wherein the mourning following the death of the Grand Prince of Ludmir Vasiliy Vasilzikov is described. It is said that: “…And the Jews (of Ludmir) wept for him as for the destruction of Jerusalem…”

However, information about an organized Jewish community begins only with the sixteenth century.

 

Ludmir in the Middle Ages

Ludmir had many high and low periods over the centuries. Ludmir was on the border with Poland and Russia, and the Tartar armies made their camp not far away. For this reason there were many wars, and possession of Ludmir often changed hands. It was Ludmir's destiny to be invaded and destroyed by cruel soldiers.

At the start of the eleventh century, in 1017, Ludmir was captured by the Polish king Bolislav Crobari.

After a few years, in 1020, Ludmir was captured by the Russian prince Yaroslav Vladimirovich Modri.

At the start of the thirteenth century Ludmir was at its zenith. In 1231 the Hungarian king Andrei visited Ludmir and was enchanted by its size and the beauty of the city.

However, by 1240 Ludmir had been occupied by the Tartars, who destroyed the city. Twenty-one years later (in 1261) the Tartars again attacked the city and razed it to its foundations.

At the start of the fourteenth century, in 1316, Ludmir fell into the hands of the Lithuanian prince Gadimin.

Twenty-four years later, in 1340, the Polish king Kazimir the Great took control of Ludmir.

The year 1366 was a turning point in the history of Ludmir. According to the peace agreement between Poland and Lithuania, Ludmir officially became a part of Poland and ceased to be a city of princes. Its place was taken by the city of Lutsk. Ludmir lost its influence.

In 1452 Volhynia became a Lithuanian principality, as did Ludmir.

In 1491 Ludmir was occupied by the Tartars, who once again destroyed the city.

The story of Ludmir in the Middle Ages ends with its destruction by the Tartars.

 

Ludmir in the New Age

In 1500 the Tartars attacked and destroyed Ludmir yet again.

In the sixteenth century Ludmir was once again rebuilt. A period of flourishing began. By 1552 the Jews of Ludmir owned 31 houses and worked predominantly in trade.

In 1564 the Ljubljana Union between Poland and Lithuania came into being. In 1570 the Jews of Ludmir are mentioned in the Privileges of the Polish king Sigismund Augustus, and are exempt from various taxes excluding those on salt and wax.

 

The Council of the Four Lands

In order to understand the history of the Jews of Ludmir as part of the Jews of Poland, and in order to follow the influence of the rabbis on the spiritual lives of the Jews of Poland, we must also talk about the Council of the Four Lands, the Ottoman institution of the Jews of Poland, over the course of 200 years.

It was not for the benefit of the Jews of Poland that the kings decreed that the Jews would have autonomy over their own internal affairs and allowed them to hold gatherings and assemblies of representatives of the large Jewish communities of Poland. The Polish kings allowed the establishment of this institution in order to make use of it as a tool for concentrating the collection of taxes imposed on the Jews who were spread out in the cities and villages of Poland.

The Jewish communities that were organized in the Council of the Four Lands took upon themselves the responsibility for those taxes; while for their own part the Polish kings did not interfere with nor investigate how those taxes were collected.

Over the course of time, the Council of the Four Lands broadened its influence on the Polish government on the one hand, and with the Jewish public on the other hand. In matters regarding rabbis, synagogues and education, it became the best-known representative body in Poland.

The Jewish communities of Poland willingly accepted this organization into the Council of the Four Lands not for the external reason (tax collection), but rather for their own, internal reasons (the possibility of multi-dimensional organization). In truth, there were gatherings of the leading community councils in Poland many years before such assemblies were officially permitted by the Polish government.

The leaders of the communities in Poland would meet from time to time at fairs, in order to work together on regulations by which all of the communities would be bound, to determine the relationships between the larger communities to the smaller ones, to establish high courts (which would handle matters not under the authority of the local courts), as well as to send lobbyists to the king to request rights or protection from the local authorities and the Catholic priests who incited against the Jews.

During the sixteenth century, the city of Lublin, situated on the border between Poland and Lithuania, became the gathering place for the communities. Every year in Lublin fairs would be held during the month of February (Shvat - Adar). Merchants from Lithuania and Poland would attend these fairs. The rabbis and leaders of the communities would also gather there.

The exact date of the first official meeting of the Council of the Four Lands is unknown even today. It is known that the body was first called the Council of the Three Lands (Greater Poland - Posen, Lesser Poland - Cracow, and the state of Reissen - Lvov). It is known that the meetings of the committee of representatives from those three lands was held in the days of King Sigmund the First in approximately 1514.

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When the country of Lithuania joined that council, it began to be called the Council of the Four Lands. Later Volhynia joined (Austra or Ludmir), while Lithuania resigned for various reasons. In Polish documents the involvement of rabbis from a number of Polish states was mentioned in 1533.

In 1490 a rabbinical court of the states existed with the approval and permission of the Polish government.

Gatherings of Jews began to be held more and more frequently until they finally became an established institution.

By the year 1580 the Council of the Four Lands was the official representation of the Jewish public of Poland.

Rabbis and community representatives of the most important Jewish communities participated in the Council. Elections of the elders were held annually during the intermediate days of Passover.

The councils customarily met in Lublin between Purim and Passover and at the end of the summer - in Yaruslav, that is to say at the time when there were fairs in those cities.

Before the Farbrengen [general assembly] of the Council of the Four Lands, the councils of each individual country (land) would meet individually where the Polish symikim would customarily meet before the current Polish Syem sat.

In 1594 the Council of the Four Lands decided that the books by the rabbis of Poland could only appear after they had been approved by famous rabbis; therefore rabbis from all over Poland would come to the meetings of the Council of the Four Lands to receive approval of their writings by the well-known rabbis. Next to his signature, the rabbi granting approval would customarily write the name of the place wherein he received his ordination as a rabbi (this approval was used more than once as the only source of information about the rabbis who lived and worked in various towns in Poland, including Ludmir).

The rabbis and elders of Ludmir participated in many of the meetings of the Council of the Four Lands. In the days of the service of Yom-Tov Lipman Heller as the rabbinical judge of Ludmir, he was one of the central figures of the meetings of the Council of the Four Lands and it was thanks to him that at the Yaroslav fair (Regulation 1640) the regulation prohibiting the purchasing of a rabbinate, or obtaining one through the assistance of the government, was renewed.

In 1736 the Polish General Federation decided to rescind the authority of the Council of the Four Lands and to take away from it the authority for collecting the king's taxes. However, the rabbis continued their custom of meeting during fairs to make collective decisions.

The Council of the Four Lands was cancelled completely and ceased its activity only in 1764, after existing for more than 200 years.


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The Rabbis of Wladimir

by Dr. M. Dworzhetsky

Translated by Amy Samin

Edited by Jack Bader

Rabbi Yitzhak Betzalem (1542 - 1576)
The First Rabbi of Ludmir

The first name of a rabbi of Ludmir comes to us from the middle of the sixteenth century, and for that reason we call him the first rabbi of Ludmir. He was Rabbi Yitzhak Betzales, (son of Rabbi Betzalel) one of the most famous Torah scholars of the sixteenth century.

At that time there was a large yeshiva in Ludmir of which he served as head. Rabbi Yitzhak Betzales was considered the leading authority by all of the greatest Halacha scholars of his day.

He wrote commentaries on the Talmud, the Harash and the Mordechai. Two of his grandsons who became well respected among the Jewish public in their own day were:

  1. Rabbi David, a famous adjudicator who wrote Torei Zahav, (that is, Rabbi David Halevy Segel), the arbitrator of religious life of his generation and future generations as well (1586 - 1667).
  2. Rabbi Yitzhak Halevy, who was well-known later in the city of Lvov and who wrote Siach Yitzhak (about Hebrew grammar), Brit Halevy, Be'er Asek, Yerat Rehovot, Shute Marahei Levy, and Hidushei Harav Yitzhak Halevy.

 

Rabbis of Ludmir in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

Rabbi Moshe, Mateh Moshe, Moshe Met, (1590 - 1606)
Rabbi of Ludmir and Head of Yeshiva

He was one of the thirty rabbis who, in 1590, signed the regulation prohibiting the purchase of a rabbinate. That regulation was renewed later at a meeting of the Council of the Four Lands in Yaroslav in 1640, thanks to the initiative of Rabbi Yom-Tov Lipman Heller, who was serving as the rabbi of Ludmir at that time.

vol026.jpg
The Brilliant Author of Torei Zahav

 

He also participated in the 1603 meeting of the Council of the Four Lands, at which time the regulation was made “to oversee the printing of soon-to-be-published books.”

The most famous of his books was Mateh Moshe which interpreted the customs that were an accepted part of Jewish daily life in Poland in the second half of the sixteenth century. He was also the author of a book of homiletic literature called Hoil Moshe.

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Rabbi Mendel R. Avigdoresh (1590 - 1595)
Author of the books Sefer Amudei Hagolah, Sefer Matzot Katan, Beorim Kavod Hashem, Tikkun Shtarot.

In the Yaroslav pronouncement which was released in 1640 regarding the prohibition on purchasing a rabbinate, he is remembered as one of the thirty rabbis who signed a similar, earlier proclamation in 1590.

Rabbi Efraim Naftali bar Yosef Yonah (1622)
Head of the Yeshiva of Ludmir in 1622

Dynasty of the Genealogy of Rabbi Efraim Naftali

Rabbi Yonah Rabbi Efraim Naftali of Ludmir
Rabbinical adjudicator (1622)
(author of Isur vHeter HeAruch) (Head of the Ludmir Yeshiva)
 
Rabbi Klonimis Kalman Rabbi Yaakov
Rabbi Yonah (1558) Rabbinical Court Justice in Lithuania (1630) and Lublin (1644)
Chief Justice of Rabbinical Court Austra (Lesser Russia) The brilliant Rabbi Yehoshua Heshel of Krakow
Rabbi Klonimis Kalman (of Kovel, Krakow 1578) (Rabbi of Lublin and Krakow 1663)

 

Rabbi Yehoshua Falk (bar Alexander) Ka''tz
Author of Sefer Meorat Aynayim (1595 - 1614)

After Rabbi Yeshayahu Menachem Mendel (Rabbi Avigdoresh) left the rabbinate in Ludmir (in about 1595) and became the rabbi of Krakow, the new rabbi of Ludmir was the brilliant scholar Rabbi Yehoshua Falk, known as one of the most brilliant scholars and adjudicators of his generation.

He earned his reputation in the Jewish world through his great four-volume book on the Shulhan Aruch [Code of Jewish Law]. The first three volumes together are called Beit Yisrael, and the fourth book, which was very well-received in the Jewish world, was called Sefer Meorat Aynayim. The book became so well-known that its author was known by many not by his own name, Yehoshua Falk, but rather by the initials of his book: the author of Sefer Meorat Aynayim.

We assume that he was rabbi of Ludmir from 1595 - 1607. In 1597 he was one of the signatories on the prohibition against purchasing a rabbinate. In 1603 he participated in the gathering of the rabbis that authorized the supervision of books to be published in Poland.

Rabbi Zanvill of Ludmir (1595)
Listed as one of the judges at the Gramnitz fair of 1595.

Rabbi Yehuda Leib bar Hinoch Altshuler (1603 - 1612)
Student of the rabbi of Ludmir, Rabbi Yitzhak Betzales, rabbi of Ludmir 1611 - 1612

Wrote Responsa and books on the Talmud. Gave frequent approval to books, including: Sefer Matzot Hagadol, Beuray Samech, Makor Hochmah, Tal Orot, Siach Yizthak.

From the days of our rabbis in Ludmir the names of three judges of Ludmir are known: Rabbi Shmuel Zaidel Ashkenazi, Rabbi Zvi Hirsh Baharash Margaliot, Rabbi Meir bar Natan.

From him descended a rabbinical dynasty that held the position of rabbi in communities in Germany for generations. We include the dynasty of his genealogy here and that of his descendants, starting with his father Rabbi Hinuch Altshuler.

Student of the rabbi of Ludmir, Rabbi Yitzhak Betzales, rabbi of Ludmir 1611 - 1612

Rabbi Hinuch Altshuler, Jerusalemite (of the rabbis of Prague)

Rabbi Yehuda Leib Rabbi Avraham David of Posen
Bar Hinuch Altshuler Rabbi Hinuch bar Avraham Aharon
Rabbi of Ludmir (1611 - 1612) (1600-1659)
Rabbinical Judge of Posen (1620) Vikuah Yosef V'HaShvatim, Nahalat Yitzhak, Kinot al Gezirot 1648 and 1649
Rabbi Moshe Hinuch Yerushalmi 1620 Preacher in Posen, rabbinical judge in Geniznah, Rabbi in Itingan (1659)
Rabbi Wolf Altshuler (1648) Rabbi Yehudah Leib
(author of Amud HaEsh, Esh Leha'ir, Mishnat Hasidim) (rabbi in Paparashay Snitag)

Rabbi Hinuch (the Second) 1708
Rabbi of Snitshach

Rashit Bikurim, Hinuch Beit Yehuda, also published
writings of the grandfather's grandfather of Yehuda Leib Hinuch
Altshuler (1708)

 

Rabbi Moshe Rabbi Mendels (Moshe ben Yeshayahu Menachem Mendel) (1619 - 1639)
Son of the rabbi of Ludmir Rabbi Yeshayahu Mencahem Mendel bar Yitzhak (Rabbi Mendel bar Avigdoresh); one of the most famous rabbis of his generation.

Rabbi of Ludmir in 1619: In 1622 he became the rabbi of Prague, following the immigration to the Land of Israel of the previous rabbi of Prague, Rabbi Yeshayahu Halevy.

 

Two Rabbis Since the Start of the Seventeenth Century

Information regarding two rabbis of Ludmir at the beginning of the seventeenth century has come from various books and writings:

  1. Rabbi Meir bar Yosef, who was beforehand rabbi of Austra (in the days of his rabbinate in Austra Rabbi Yeshayahu Halevy was head of the yeshiva). After Ludmir, he was rabbi of Lublin and Lvov (1638).
  2. Rabbi Nahum: his daughter Bila was married to Rabbi Meir Vahel of Brisk, son of Rabbi Shaul Vahel (who ruled one day in Poland).
Rabbi Yom-Tov Lipman (bar Natan Halevy) Heller - (1579 - 1654)
Tosefot Yom Tov

In the years 1634 - 1642 the rabbinical judge of Ludmir was Rabbi Yom-Tov Lipman Heller, author of Tosefot Yom Tov, one of the greatest rabbis of his time.

The years of his rabbinate in Ludmir were accompanied by great tension between some of the synagogue managers of the community of Ludmir. He described that dispute in his autobiographical work Megillat Haivah, and it remained etched in the memories of the Jews of Poland, and especially the Jews of Ludmir.

In the days of Tosefet Yom Tov Ludmir was one of the main communities of Volhynia. Aside from Ludmir there were three other large, important communities: Austra, Kramnitz, and Lodsk.

Rabbi Yom-Tov Lipman Heller was born in 1579 in Vallerstein. At the age of 18 he was appointed a judge in the city of Prague. In 1625 he was made rabbi of Nikalshburg, and later rabbi of Vienna

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In 1625. In 1627 he was appointed to the rabbinical college of Prague.

This was the period of the Thirty Years' War (1618 - 1648). On the Jews of Bohemia in general, and of the city of Prague specifically, a large tax was imposed to enable the government to cover the deficit in the coffers. For that purpose an appraisal committee was formed with Rabbi Yom-Tov Lipman Heller at its head. A few of those who were appraised who were unhappy with the taxes they were assessed filed a complaint against the committee with the government. They informed on the rabbi to Ferdinand the Second. According to their story, the books Lechem Hamudot and Madanei Melech were manifested against the government and Christianity. In 1629 the rabbi was arrested and brought before the court of Catholic priests, who sentenced him to death and banned his books. After great efforts by some of the dignitaries of Prague, he received mercy from the king, who transmuted his sentence from death to a large fine and cancelled the ban on his books. However, he was also prohibited from serving as a rabbi in the city of Prague. The rabbi left Prague and became the rabbi of Nemerov (Podolia). In 1634 he became a rabbinical judge in Ludmir.

As the rabbi of Ludmir he represented the Jews of Volhynia at the meetings of the Council of the Four Lands during the years: 1636, 1639, 1640, 1641, and 1642.

The rabbi spurred the Council of the Four Lands to strengthen the regulations and bans (which had been made in 1547) regarding the purchase of rabbinates. He saw that regulation as the most important in the lives of the Jewish public and for the religious authority of the rabbi who was chosen by the Jewish community, and that he mustn't be allowed to purchase his priesthood, or obtain it through the assistance of the government.

In those days it was not such a rare phenomenon that the local authority was accustomed to selling the rabbi's position to people who were inappropriate for such a position. To be a rabbi in a large Jewish community one needed to be wealthy, since a large sum of money was demanded for the position. It is clear, therefore, that there were no opportunities for brilliant, but poor, candidates to become the rabbi of the larger Jewish communities.

Rabbi Yom-Tov Lipman demanded and used his influence to ensure that a ban be placed on those rabbis who purchased their positions, as well as on the communities that welcomed rabbis who purchased their office.

In 1635 a meeting of the four main communities of Volhynia was held in Vishnievitch, and there the ban against purchase of rabbinates was renewed.

In 1640 that recommendation was brought before the Council of the Four Lands in the name of the state of Volhynia. The regulation was approved. The renewed regulation was published in all of the synagogues of Yaroslav.

This regulation created many enemies for the rabbi, and in 1643 they informed against him to the prince of the region who passed through the town, and he passed a judgment expelling him, but through the efforts of the dignitaries of Warsaw, the decree was rescinded.

In 1644 Rabbi Yom-Tov Lipman left Ludmir to become the rabbi of Krakow, replacing Rabbi Yoel Sarkis. In 1641, following the death of Rabbi Yehoshua Heshel, he became the head of the Krakow yeshiva. He died there in 1659.

Rabbi Yom-Tov Lipman Heller left behind his autobiographical book, Megillat Ha'eva, wherein he described his suffering, beginning with the accusations against him in Prague and ending with his departure from Ludmir. His book was only printed 200 years later, and appeared in many editions.

Rabbi Yom-Tov Lipman Heller was rabbi of Krakow during the edicts of 1648 - 1649. During those wild times, many women were made agunot [chained women, refused a divorce] by their husbands. The rabbi worked hard for the release of those women.

He wrote a number of slichot and El Maalei Rahamim prayers in memory of the martyred ones of the pogroms of 1648 and 1649 (Slichot for the 20th of Sivan).

His stories written in Hebrew are written in a clear style. Within them are reflected his broad knowledge of mathematics and astronomy, as well as his familiarity with the literature of Halacha and philosophy.

The most famous of his works is his interpretation of the Mishnah, called Tosefot Yom Tov. Also very well-known is his great interpretation of the book Harash in two parts: Madanay Melech and Lechem Hamudot (the name of the first part was later changed to Madanay Yom-Tov due to the accusations it was changed from Madanay Melech because the name insulted King Ferdinand the Second).[1]

Such was the stormy personality of the great scholar and Talmud authority, gifted with the dynamic force of a public fighter.

Rabbi Yehezkel bar Moshe Yaacov (1645)
The rabbi in Ludmir after Hatosefet Yom Tov.

 

The Decrees of 1648 and 1649

The decrees of 1648 and 1649 caused significant casualties to the Jewish population of Ludmir; thousands of its residents were killed, and many of the others left Ludmir. In 1649 there were only 39 Jewish families in Ludmir.

Rabbi Yaacov Kopil Margaliot of Kol Yaacov

From the same days as the Decrees of 1648 and 1649 is heard the name of Rabbi Yaacov Kopil Margaliot of Ludmir, who was exiled from Poland and went to Istanbul. He was the author of the book Kol Yaacov [Voice of Jacob] (wherein he lamented the Polish scholars, the martyrs of the Decrees of 1648 and 1649).

Rabbi Avraham ben Shmuel Ashkenazi

The decrees of 1648 and 1649 met their judgment in the book Tzar bat Rabim [Sorrow of Many] by the erudite scholar of Ludmir, the pharmacist Avraham ben Shmuel Ashkenazi, who was exiled from Poland to Venice (the manuscript was published in 1888).

 

Pogroms in Jewish Ludmir 1653 - 1658

In 1653 Ludmir was destroyed by the armies of Lithuania, and in 1658 by Lithuanian and Hungarian soldiers. Only 2 Jewish families remained in Ludmir.

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Rabbi Shmuel Eliezer bar Efraim Naftali (1655)

Between the two attacks on Ludmir referred to earlier, Rabbi Shmuel Eliezer bar Efraim Naftali is mentioned as the chief justice of the rabbinical court of Ludmir.

Rabbi Nachman ben Shlomo Naftali (1664)

A few years after the destruction of Ludmir by the Hungarian armies, the Jewish community of Ludmir began to rebuild itself. We see mention of the name Rabbi Nachman ben Shlomo Naftali, chief justice of the rabbinical court of Ludmir in 1664.

Meir ben Yosef Ashkenazi of Ludmir - (1655 - 1672)

Counted as one of the leaders of Ludmir from 1655 - 1672. His signature is found a number of times in the register of the Tiktin community in connection with arbitration of community matters in Tiktin.

Rabbi Aharon Yaacov (1669)

In 1669, Rabbi Aharon Yaacov bar Yehezkel was the chief justice of the rabbinical court of Ludmir (apparently, he was the son of Rabbi Yehezkel bar Moshe Yaacov, rabbi of Ludmir after Rabbi Yom-Tov Lipman Heller's departure).

Rabbi Avraham Avarly Harif - head of the Ludmir Yeshiva (1670)

Rabbi Avraham Avarly Harif was head of the Ludmir Yeshiva in 1670 (son of Rabbi Benyamin Bonim). His son Rabbi Yaacov was rabbi of Ludmir after him. His grandson Rabbi Yisrael was on the rabbinical court of Lukatsh in Volhynia.

Rabbi Yisrael ben Shmuel of Ternopol (1670 - 1680)

From 1670 - 1678 the rabbi of Ludmir was Rabbi Yisrael ben Shmuel of Ternopol, a central figure in the public Jewish life of Poland.

In 1678 he served as the general supervisor of the communities of the Four Lands, specifically of every Polish monarchy, and led the general committee of Lublin. That same year he was also an arbitrator in the dispute between the Council of the Four Lands and the Council of Lithuania. His approval is found in many of the books of that era. He was a pupil of Rabbi David Halevy Segel.

Rabbi Efraim Fishel ben Arieh Leib of Ludmir (1671 - 1719)
(Rabbi Efraim the Lobbyist, Trustee of the House of Israel)

In the years 1671 - 1684 Rabbi Efraim Fishel (Rabbi Efraim the Lobbyist) was a community leader of Ludmir on the Council of the Four Lands. He was a frequent participant in the meetings of the Council of the Four Lands and was one of the central figures of Jewish Poland in his day.

In a writ dated 18 April 1679 the Polish king Jan Soviesky sponsored Rabbi Efraim Fishel, naming him the Official Author Chosen by all the Jews of the Kingdom (in other words, Loyal to the House of Israel, of the Four Lands). He was granted lifelong permission to live in the court of the king, to be and to trade wherever he wished, he was granted the right to establish a brewery, and he was released from all financial obligations regarding the community and region of Ludmir. In 1699 the Polish king Augustus the Second confirmed the writ of sponsorship granted to him by the king Jan Soviesky. He is mentioned frequently in the registers of Tiktin and Opatow in connection with the gatherings of the Council of the Four Lands in which he took part; in 1719 he is mentioned as trustee of the Four Lands.

Descendants of Rabbi Efraim Fishel:

  1. his son Rabbi Yaacov was chief justice of the rabbinical court of Ludmir (1713) who, in 1713 participated in a meeting of the Council of the Four Lands
  2. his son Rabbi Tebel was a rabbi in Ludmir and a leader of the Council of the Four Lands (1717 - 1721) and took part in their meetings.
  3. his grandson Rabbi Shaul, son of Rabbi Yaacov, was the chief justice of the rabbinical court of Ludmir (1741 - 1765) and trustee of Volhynia and the Council of the Four Lands. Five generations of his descendants held the position of rabbi of Ludmir, Kramnitz, Biali, Lukatash, Brastsheko, Dovna, Austra, Tultshin, and Lvov.
Yosef ben Rabbi Moshe of Ludmir (1665 - 1672)

He was considered one of the community leaders of Ludmir from 1665 - 1672. In 1671 he participated in a meeting of the Council of the Four Lands at the Yaroslav Fair.

Shmuel Zenvils bar Meir Segel of Ludmir

During the years 1673 - 1684 the name of Rabbi Shmuel Zenvils bar Meir Segel is mentioned as one of the Jewish leaders of Ludmir. His name is written in the arbitration registries of Tiktin and Turisk.

Rabbi Asher ben Hakatzin Hakadosh [the Holy Officer] Rabbi Itzhak (1677)

Chief justice of the rabbinical court of Ludmir in 1677; the same year he took part in the meeting of the Council of the Four Lands in Yaroslav, and gave his agreement to the translation of the Tanach into Yiddish.

Community Leader Rabbi Ariyeh Yehuda bar Moshe of Ludmir (1677 - 1693)

Between 1677 and 1693 his signature is often found in the community registers . He was one of the most important leaders of the area surrounding Lvov. He was accustomed to calling himself “Ariyeh Yehuda ben harav [son of the rabbi] Moshe of blessed memory in the world to come of Ludmir, who lived in Lvov outside of the city”. He served as the chief scribe of the Jewish communities of Poland (“the chief scribe of the Jews who settled in the kingdom”).

Moshe Rabbi Mordecish Segel of Ludmir (1677)

In 1677 his signature is found in the arbitration decision in the community register of Pintshub. Apparently, he identified with “Moshe the Lobbyist” who was the general lobbyist for the Jews of Poland.

Wolf of Ludmir (1686)

One of four representatives of Volhynia at the gatherings of the Council of the Four Lands.

Rabbi Yekutiel bar Rabbi Yehoshua Aharon (1678 - 1700)

Chief justice of the rabbinical court of Ludmir for 22 years. As rabbi of Ludmir he participated in the gatherings of the Council of the Four Lands in 1678, 1687, 1688, 1696, and 1700 and gave his agreement to many books.

Rabbi Yaacov bar Rabbi Efraim Fishel, Chief Justice of Ludmir (1713)

One of three sons of the Rabbi Efraim Fishel mentioned above: his son Rabbi Shaul was chief justice of the rabbinical court of Ludmir from 1742 - 1752.

[Pages 33/34]

Rabbi David Tevel bar Efraim Fishel (1727 - 1741)

One of the three sons of Efraim Fishel mentioned above.

Rabbi Leib of Ludmir (1726)

Mentioned as the judge in the dispute between the community of Pinsk and that of Ostrog.

Rabbi Shaul bar Yaacov (1741 - 1765)

Mentioned above. Son of Rabbi Yaacov of Ludmir and grandson of Rabbi Efraim Fishel.

Rabbi Eliyahu ben Yaacov of Ludmir (1740)

A Jew who emigrated from Ludmir to Germany. In 1740 he published a book called Menachem-Cohen by Rabbi Shabtai Cohen of Samiatitsh, in the introduction to which is mentioned a fire in Ludmir.

Rabbi Yehoshua Heshel

One of the last names of the rabbis of Ludmir who is mentioned before the partition of Poland. Son of Rabbi Avraham Hacohen, chief rabbi of the rabbinical court of Zamoshatz, author of Beit Avraham [House of Abraham].


[Pages 33/34]

Periods and Events

by Dr. M. Dworzhetsky

Translated by Amy Samin

Edited by Jack Bader

 

The Second Half of the Eighteenth Century

We now address a period for which we have information relating to the Jewish population of Ludmir: the source for these numbers is various censuses for the population of Ludmir.

In the second half of the eighteenth century Chasidism began to develop in Poland. The years 1735 - 1745 were the years of great activity by Rabbi Yisrael Baal Shem Tov after his epiphany.

In the years 1750 - 1760 Chasidism spread through Volhynia, Podolia, and Galicia.

1764 1,401 Jews in Ludmir (1,327 adults, 74 children)
1765 1,327 Jews: they complained that because of the increased hatred towards Jews they are forced to bury their dead at night.
1772 The First Partition of Poland
1782 Information about the Jews of Ludmir, who are engaged in horse trading and in providing food and supplies to the army.
1784 340 Jews in Ludmir
1790 630 Jews in Ludmir
1781 - 1792 Chasidic Rabbi Shlomo Karliner, pupil of Rabbi Aharon Karliner, settles in Ludmir. During the wars between the Russians and the Poles, in 1792 he was murdered by Cossacks. He was called “the Holy One” and also “Mashiach [Messiah] ben Yosef” (his grave can be found in the cemetery of Ludmir).
1792 The famous commander of the Polish army Tdeosh Koszioszcu stayed in Ludmir after his victory over Dobrainka. The rabbi of Ludmir delivered to him gifts and a letter, written in Polish, in the name of the Jews of Ludmir.
1793 The Second Partition of Poland.

 

Ludmir in the Days of Russian Rule (1795 - 1914)

1795 The Third Partition of Poland. Ludmir becomes part of the Russian state. From this time, Jewish Ludmir loses its important role in the lives of the Jews of Eastern Europe.

Table of the Population in the Ludmir Region

Year Non-Jews Jews Jewish
Merchants
1799 1,076 1,834 18
1800 681 1,919 22
1801 672 1,909 37
1805 673 1,942 34

From this table we learn that in the first years of the nineteenth century the number of Jews in the region of Ludmir was approximately three times that of non-Jews.

1815 To Monesh Verbermacher of Ludmir was born a daughter named Hannah Rachel, who was later famous throughout the Jewish world by her nickname, “the Maiden of Ludmir.” The story of her life is enveloped in legends. Her behavior, her destiny and her end is wrapped in mystery. She was a leader in rabbinical practice.
1847 There were 14 Jewish communities in the Ludmir region, altogether comprising 14,876 Jews; in Ludmir itself there were 3,980 Jews.
1859 The great fire of Ludmir.
1861 Ludmir has 8,636 Jewish and non-Jewish residents.
1881 The governor of Kiev, Ignativ, issued a decree forbidding those Jews from living within 50 kilometers of the border, an area which at that time was packed with Jews. Ludmir was part of that area. The Russian police would hold searches for “illegal” Jews deliberately on the Sabbath and holidays and would march them on foot for three days to Kovel.
1886 In 1886 Rabbi Yaacov ben Yitzhak Schor became the rabbi of Ludmir. He started making innovations in the Jewish life of Ludmir: a workers' society, and the inspection of livestock by a veterinarian. Some of the Chasidim formed an opposition against him and sent a writ of complaint against him to the governor in Kiev claiming that Rabbi Yaacov Schor was not a man of Ludmir but rather had been born in Galicia (which was then part of Austria), and for that reason he had no right to be rabbi in Ludmir. A trial against the rabbi was held before a panel of 12 judges. The verdict was: expulsion of the rabbi from Ludmir.

[Pages 35/36]

1892 The general population in Ludmir: 8,185. The Jewish population was 6,389.
1897 The number of Jews in Ludmir declined: 5,869 as opposed to 9,883 Christians. The municipal management was made up of a chairman and two vice-chairmen, one of whom was a Jew; likewise, there was one Jewish vice-chairman on the city council.
1900 On 5 May there was a great fire. 250 houses and 6 prayer houses burned to the ground; 68 Torah scrolls were destroyed by fire. About 2,000 Jews were affected by the fire. The Jewish population of Ludmir was impoverished.
1901 Cheder Metukan [school] was established.

The Gimilut Chesed organization was founded to provide loans to impoverished tradesmen.

1903 The Jewish community of Ludmir is comprised of 2,500 families. Most of the Jews are lumber, grain or livestock merchants, grocers or tradesmen. Existing in Ludmir: Bikur Holim [hospital], a pharmacy for the poor, a Talmud Torah [school] for poor children, Gimilut Chesed, and a charity for clothing the poor.
1905 The war between Russia and Japan. In the days of the calling up of recruits and their assembly in Ludmir, fear of pogroms against the Jews prevailed. After efforts by the chief of police, the recruitment center was moved outside the city of Ludmir. Two Jews were elected to the parliament in Russia, Benyamin Wasserman and Eliezer Poyzner.

Jewish actors arrive in Ludmir and put on performances.

1906 A railway line between Ludmir and Kovel is placed: thanks to this transportation connection, Ludmir is connected to centers in Russia and Poland.
1909 A Russian government-run elementary school for Jews opens in Ludmir.
1914 Main forms of income for the Jews of Ludmir: local fairs held on the 20th of every month. There arose a class of Jewish tradesmen who would prepare their goods to sell at the fairs (ready-to-wear clothing, hats, shoes, etc). There are two yeshivas, and efforts are made to establish a Hebrew school for children. Efforts are also being made to establish a library. There is a Jewish hospital. Branches of workers' movements also existed: the Bund, and the Socialist Zionists.

 

First World War (1914 - 1917)

Ludmir in the Days of the Austrian Occupation

The First World War broke out on the 9th of Av 1914. After a few days a clash took place in Ludmir between Russian soldiers and a group of Austrian spies. Among those who fell in the battle was a Jewish Austrian soldier. The Jews of Ludmir arranged a funeral for him which was attended by many.

The Russian army suffered defeat in the war and its soldiers retreated, and as they did so they attacked the Jews, stealing from and beating them.

1915 A wave of Jewish refugees, fleeing the wrath of the rioting Russian soldiers, arrived in Ludmir.

Jewish writer S. Anski, author of “The Dybbuk”, established a committee in Kiev to aid needy Jewish refugees and those injured in the riots. He visited Ludmir. The retreating Russian soldiers passed through Ludmir and there were pogroms against the Jews. There were incidents of Jews acting in self-defense; the Jews repelled the peasants from the surrounding area who came to steal Jewish property.

Ludmir was occupied by the Austrians. The commander of the city was the Austrian officer Mozer. Jews were kidnapped and used in forced labor. Famine prevailed in Ludmir. A protest against the kidnappings for forced labor and transfer to unknown destinations was organized in the House of Study. In the Austrian parliament there was a reaction to this protest, and the Jews who had been kidnapped were returned to Ludmir.

Three Jews were murdered on the road near Ludmir: by order of the regional commander the killers (Christians) were captured and publically hanged in front of the residents of the city.

Two Hebrew libraries were founded.

At the end of the war, preparations were made for the withdrawal of the Austrian troops. A militia was founded for the purpose of guarding the city's warehouses in the event that the control of the city passed from one authority to another. The militia was made up of about 200 Jews, 100 Poles and 100 Ukrainians. The Jews were the main force of the militia because of the dispute between the Poles and the Ukrainians.

In the final days of the Austrian occupation, a city council made up of 5 Jews, 3 Ukrainians and 3 Poles was established. A Jew named Hershel Lev was chosen as vice chairman of the council.

During the time of the Austrian occupation, the Zionist Union was founded in Ludmir, as were two elementary schools, which put on shows in the Hebrew language for children. A soup kitchen for the needy was also established; they put on amateur theatricals as a way of raising funds to support their endeavors. Over time, those performances became the kernel of a cultural work. In light of the troubled times, many of the Jews of Ludmir moved to the surrounding villages and began to work in agriculture.

Political confusion prevailed with the withdrawal of the Austrians from the occupied region. The Polish legions were created, and they aspired to take over additional areas for the newly-established state of Poland. The Ukrainians also dreamed of founding an independent Ukrainian state. Both wanted control of Ludmir, which was a strategically important spot because of the transportation lines that passed through the city.

[Pages 37/38]

  Ukrainian soldiers and farmers tried to attack Ludmir; their hostile attitude towards Jews was well known. The Jewish members of the militia pushed them back from the city after a gunfight.

The Polish legions captured the city; they wiped out the militia of Ludmir. A battalion of Polish soldiers, established by the Austrian commander, entered Ludmir and attacked the Jews. They cut off the Jews' beards in the streets of the city. A Jewish baker was killed in police headquarters; a Jewish youth named Mendel Tannenboim risked his life, going to the headquarters to recover the body in order to give him a Jewish burial (he later immigrated to the Land of Israel and is counted as one of the founders of Kfar Vatikin).

 

Ludmir Between the Two World Wars

Polish Rule

After Ludmir became Polish territory and the Jews of Ludmir became part of the Jewish life of Poland, the Jews of Ludmir began to flourish. Branches of all of the various public, cultural, and political organizations were founded there, as well as the mutual aid organizations (ORT, EZA, banks for tradesmen and merchants), and all of the Jewish political streams which were rising up in all of the Jewish settlements in cities and towns of the state of Poland. Jewish Ludmir constituted one of the Jewish communities of Poland, and all of the problems that occupied the Jews of Poland were also problems in the community of Ludmir.

1918 A branch of the Joint was established in Ludmir with the goal of providing economic aid to the Jews of the city.
1919 - 1922 Troupes of traveling Jewish actors visited Ludmir and put on theatrical shows there.
1924 The parties Poalei Zion, T.S., and Hashomer Hazair are founded in Ludmir.
1925 A Tarbut [cultural] committee was established and a Tarbut Hebrew School was founded.
1927 Hashomer Haleumi was founded.
1929 Ludmir municipal elections: the Jews received 12 places out of 24 council member positions.

The organization Beitar was founded.

1932 Ludmir municipal elections: the Jews received 8 representatives.
1934 The Tarbut School numbered 500 pupils.

According to the general census, there were approximately 25,000 residents of Ludmir.

1936 two-year agricultural Tarbut Hebrew School was opened. Illegal immigration to the Land of Israel from Ludmir began (about 50 people).

The bloody clashes between Arabs and Jews in the Land of Israel reverberated strongly throughout the Jewish community of Ludmir: there were protest rallies, fundraising efforts on behalf of the Land of Israel.


[Pages 37/38]

The Decline of Wladimir

by Dr. M. Dworzhetsky

Translated by Amy Samin

Edited by Jack Bader

 

The Second World War

1939

September the Jewish population of Ludmir numbers approximately 25,000 people.
1 September Nazi Germany invaded Poland.
3 September Polish refugees arrived in Ludmir.
10 September The Germans bombed Ludmir; approximately 25 Jewish victims were killed.
14 September The Germans were close to Ludmir: many Jews left the city.
16 September There were rumors that the Soviets would occupy Ludmir; the Polish population prepared to carry out a pogrom against the Jews.
17 September The Soviets occupied Ludmir
Until 15 November The Tarbut Hebrew School continued to operate, with 500 pupils.

 

1941

22 June War broke out between Germany and Soviet Russia.
23 June The Germans bombed Ludmir, particularly the Jewish Quarter. The Jewish population suffered many losses, including the rabbi from Austila. Two basements were burned down, killing about 550 Jews who had hidden there.
24 June The Germans entered Ludmir; many Jews were killed. The Christians looted the Jewish shops. The Nazis kidnapped Jews for forced labor. A few days later - An order was given to turn the radio stations and books over to the Germans; the books were burned. A Ukrainian police force was established.
5 July 150 Jews were kidnapped by the Germans and the Ukrainian police. They never returned.

On about 7 July - The gabitscommisar created a Jewish council [judenrat] under the leadership of Rabbi Morgenstern. The members were: Simcha Bergman, Dr. Katz,

[Pages 39/40]

  Dr. Bubes, Berman. Simcha Bergman was the go-between for the Jewish Council to the German authorities (after a few months Rabbi Morgenstern died, and his place was taken by attorney Weiler).
31 July 200 Jewish men were kidnapped by the Ukrainian police; they never returned.
August Bread tickets were introduced - Jews receive 1 kilogram of bread per week. Jews over the age of ten must wear two yellow badges: one over the breast and the other on the back. The Jewish Council collected gold, watches and other valuables from the Jews and gave them to the Germans as a gift. The Jewish Council organized the dispatching of Jews to German work sites.
29 - 30 August 300 Jews were kidnapped (among them several Jewish women who did not allow their husbands to be transported). Those kidnapped were taken to the Ludmir jail and never returned (among those killed was attorney Weiler. A few days later his place at the head of the Jewish Council was filled by the dentist, Bardach).
2 days before Yom Kippur The Germans and the Ukrainian police beat the Jews in the streets. Blotiker Mantik [Bloody Monday] - About 1,000 Jews were kidnapped; 250 of them were murdered in the jail. The kidnapping was organized by the gabitscommisar (later on he was killed not far from Ludmir. Rumors spread that he was killed by Jews).
Blotiker Mitvach [Bloody Wednesday] The Gestapo and the Ukrainian police took about 500 - 600 Jews from their places of work and murdered them. The miniscule number of them who remained alive went back to work the next day. David Boxer was buried alive during work hours
October Action against the Jewish intelligentsia. The Ukrainians removed about 120 Jewish intellectuals from Ludmir. After a while an announcement was made that they had been murdered in the yard of the jail and buried in mass graves there.

 

1942

February Ten Jews who worked near the train station were ordered to dig a pit, and they were buried alive there.
7 February The Germans decided upon the area of the Ludmir ghetto.
24 February 250 Jews of Ludmir were taken away to work in Kiev.
Beginning of March The Jewish Council was given permission to bury in the Jewish cemetery the ten Jews who had been buried alive.
1 April First night of Passover under the Nazi government.
13 April The Jews of Ludmir were put into the ghetto. Two ghettos were created: the “Living Ghetto” - the ghetto of the professionals, and the “Dead Ghetto” - the ghetto for those lacking a profession.
1 May The ghetto was sealed.
Summer 30 people were working to try and establish contact with the fighters in the forests.
1 August The Jews who worked outside the ghetto lost their jobs. Many of the Jews of Ludmir were employed in digging a trench in the city (apparently that was where the secret telephone lines ran).
5 - 22 August 100 Jews dug three large pits in Piatidin [Pyatidni], under the direction of the engineer Schwartzbort. The Germans said that there would be places to park planes there, and the pits would be used for underground storage.
20 August 1,000 Jews were taken to Piatidin to dig the pits. Many Jews who worked in agriculture in the area around Ludmir were returned to the Ludmir ghetto. Many Jews in the ghetto prepared hiding places after hearing rumors that the pits at Piatidin would be used as a place for their murder.
1 September, Tuesday The First Pogrom began as Jews were led to the pits of Piatidin for their death by firing squads. The pogrom continued officially for 15 days, but in actuality they searched for about a month for those who were hiding. The massacre of the Jews at Piatidin was carried out by the gabitscommisar Wassterheide along with his secretary Anna Altputter. The murderer Hiller got 20 marks for every Jew shot. The action began in the Dead Ghetto, then moved on to the Living Ghetto. According to estimates, about 18,000 people were slaughtered; 4,000 in the pits of the jail in Ludmir; 14,000 in the pits of Piatidin, of them 9,000 in the first pit, 3,000 in the second pit, and 2,000 in the third pit. Most of the Jews who were kidnapped were from the Living Ghetto. At the time that the Jews were being led to Piatidin there were escape attempts. Most of those who tried to flee were caught and taken to the jail and from there to the killing fields of Piatidin. The walls of the jail were covered in writing: “Avenge the Jewish blood that has been spilled!”
12 September Rosh Hashanah [the Jewish New Year].
15 September The pogrom officially ended. It was announced that there would be no more kidnappings. The gathering of the Jews who survived in the Dead Ghetto (the “Small Ghetto”) was permitted. About 4,000 Jews gathered there.
After 15 September Kudish was once again granted control of the ghetto. Helping him were: Pinchas Sheincastle and Regel. A new Jewish police force was created in the ghetto. In the new ghetto the Jews did not wear the yellow badges, and they mainly were engaged in sorting the belongings of the Jews slaughtered in Piatidin. The good furniture was turned over to the Germans; the poor quality furniture was delivered to the farmers in the area. The municipality of Ludmir began selling the homes of the Jews to the Poles at low prices.
22 September Yom Kippur [the Day of Atonement].

[Pages 41/42]

13 November, Friday The Second Pogrom. The Germans and the Ukrainian police executed the Second Pogrom in Ludmir. The ghetto for those lacking professions was destroyed. Two Jewish youths with pistols wanted to break out through the barbed wire fence of the ghetto. They were shot by the Germans. Also shot by the Germans were all of the other Jews who tried to break out by way of the barbed wire fence.

This time, not all of those who possessed “certificates of profession” (blue certificates) were put to death. Fifteen young men and women who had pistols hid in a bunker outside the ghetto. The Gestapo surrounded them and killed 13 of them. Two who survived were Yosef Piltz and P. Gutman. Piltz was found dead the next day in the Smotash River near the jail. The pogrom went on for about two weeks; approximately 4,000 people were murdered. After the Second Pogrom - The belongings of those who were being led to their deaths were gathered in the red school house. The good quality items were turned over to the Germans; the poor quality things were distributed amongst the Christians in the surrounding area. In the ghetto for the professionals there were, officially, 1,500 Jews. About 500 Jews hid in Christian homes and in the fields around Ludmir.

The ghetto was made up of 17 buildings, each one for people of various professions. Winter - In the forests groups of Polish and Ukrainian partisans are fighting against one another. The Poles took control of the area surrounding Kovel; their center - Bialon. The Ukrainians took hold of the area around Austila and Zaritza.

Several attempts by the youth in the Ludmir ghetto to contact the Polish partisans were unsuccessful; it was said in the ghetto that the Ukrainian partisans cut out the tongues of the Jews who fell into their hands.

4 December The Germans, led by Kraus, searched for “illegals” in the ghetto. They found approximately 40 “illegal” Jews.
5 December, Chanukah 40 Jews were shot.
15 December Another search for “illegals”; 50 Jews were shot by Kraus.
23 December A Polish youth who snuck into the ghetto was found with a pistol in his pocket. The Germans searched for Jewish partisans. Leibel Kotziobes was found with a pistol and shot. The Germans found about 100 “illegal” Jews in the ghetto. They were taken to the jail and shot.
December A group of about 15 young men planned to establish a partisan group and began preparing weapons.

 


1943

1 January There were about 500 people left in the ghetto. A couple dozen “illegal” Jews were given permission to remain in the ghetto (here officially ends the Second Pogrom, which began on 13 November 1942).
Purim About 100 Jews were sent from the ghetto to Piatidin, to cover the open graves. They said Kaddish and El Maale Rachamim [traditional prayers for the dead]. Many recognized their parents and members of their families.
April Information was received about large defeats suffered by the Germans. Many Ukrainians left the Ukrainian police force and fled to the forests. There they created groups of Ukrainian partisans, which fought against both the Germans and the Soviets. The Germans created a Polish police force.
20 April Passover.
April A group of youth left, seeking to make contact with partisans in the Polacia Forests. They were shot on the way. One who survived, Wagman, returned to the ghetto.
7 May The Polish police surrounded the ghetto. In panic, Kraus declared: they were kidnapping Poles to send them to forced labor in Germany, and by surrounding the ghetto they were preventing them from hiding in the ghetto. In the ghetto they were of the opinion that it was an attempt by the Germans to prove that there were no weapons in the ghetto, otherwise they would open fire on the Germans who had surrounded them.
13 June A few dozen Jews volunteered to deal with the pits at Piatidin, because the ground there had settled and mounds of the dead were exposed.
19 September The first anniversary of the killings at Piatidin. Prayers. Memorials.
Simchat Torah Kudish organizes his golden anniversary.
October The Germans dug defense trenches in Ludmir.
Winter Months The gabitscommisar Wassterheide organized a kidnapping operation to send Poles to Germany for forced labor. He forced Jews to accompany the S.S. officers in the kidnapping operation. In that way he was able to exacerbate the already strong hatred of the Poles for the Jews. In revenge, the Poles began to inform on the Jews who were hiding in bunkers in the area around Ludmir.
8 December The German military headquarters gave an order that every Jew must register at headquarters: new certificates would be given to the residents of the ghetto.
12 December An announcement: The next day would be the last on which to register for the new certificates (“certificates of life”).
13 December The operation to destroy the Ludmir ghetto (the “Third Pogrom”). Germans and Russians took part in the operation (“Vallasovtzim”). Among those to be executed were the head of the ghetto, Kudish.

[Pages 43/44]

  In this case, the Jews were not led to the killing fields at Piatidin; instead, on the Ludmir - Kavalniatz road, they were burned to death.

A few dozen Jews managed to survive this action and wandered the area. The German police killed every Jew who fell into their hands.

 

1944

March Jewish partisans from Ludmir and the surrounding area were found amongst the regiments of the Polish partisans. The Polish partisans issued an order that by 24 March every Jewish partisan must leave the areas around Ludmir controlled by the Polish partisans (Bialon) and gather in Wartshin. Any Jew remaining in Bialon would be shot.
24 March The Poles surrounded 120 Jewish partisans who have gathered in Wartshin. At night the Jewish partisans were shot by the Polish partisans who surrounded them there.
15 April The Soviets were near Kovel.
16 April German reinforcements arrived in Ludmir. The Soviets returned to their previous positions. The Polish partisans from Bialon wanted to join them in retreat. The Soviets did not allow them to join them.

The Soviets near Pripiat wiped out the Polish partisans from Bialon.

22 July Ludmir was liberated by the Soviets.

Only a few dozen Jews were still alive.

 

vol044.jpg
The Dominican Tower in the center of the city.
It was used as a watch tower by fire fighters.

 

Translator's Footnote
  1. For the stories of Rabbi Yom-Tov Lipman Heller which have been printed and are still in Scripture, see the Encyclopedia of the Great Jews, pages 727 - 731). Return

 

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