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Translation of Osowa Wyszka chapter from
Translation of Osowa Wyszka chapter from
Published by Yad Vashem Published in Jerusalem
Elaine Dolores Zaks
Our sincere appreciation to Yad Vashem
This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot:
Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland, Volume V, pages 31-32,
edited by Shmuel Spector, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
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A Jewish agricultural settlement in the district of Stydyn, region of Kostopol.
Translated by Jerrold Landau
Osowa Wyszka was founded in the year 1836, during the days of Czar Nikolai I. At that time, 137 Jews of Brisk and its region obtained 28,950 dunams of land from the landowner Wawlewska. The number of Jews grew until the end of the 19th century, to the point where the population was 577 in 1898. However, the area of the land became constructed because a portion of the purchase did not materialize and remained under the lease of the Polish farmers, and because the Jewish owners sold portions of the land for various needs. Since agriculture was not able to sustain all of the families, many supplemented their income with trades and commerce. Whereas the majority of the Jews of Osowa Wyszka still earned their livelihoods from agriculture in 1912, by the middle of the 1930s, the situation changed and only 115 of the 150 families who lived in the settlement owned land. The average size of each farm was between 5.5 and 6.5 dunams. From this we can see that only a minority were able to maintain a farm sufficiently large to ensure their livelihood. As has been said, the majority were forced to become involved in commerce or trades. At that time, there was a brick kiln, a flourmill, a factory for tanning hides, 18 shops, 6 tailors, 5 shoemakers, 4 smiths, 3 carpenters, and 2 glassmakers in Osowa Wyszka. The shopkeepers and tradesmen earned most of their livelihood from the residents of the towns of the region.
There were three Beis Midrashes and one primary school in Osawa Wyszka. There was a rabbi and two shochtim [ritual slaughterers]. Chapters of Hechalutz, Hashomer Hatzair and Beitar operated in Osawa Wyszka from the end of the 1920s. However, these were closed at the order of the authorities, for the authorities suspected the heads of these chapters of being Communists. Seven families of farmers made aliya to the Land of Israel under the auspices of Aliyat Chodikow.
During the Second World War
Osawa Wyszka was conquered by he Germans during the first days of July 1941. At the end of that year, some of the houses were surrounded by barbed wire, and a sort of ghetto was formed, which was guarded by the Ukrainian police. The Jews of Osawa Wyszka continued to work their fields under the supervision of the guards, and the youths were sent to a work camp in Kostopol. In the month of October 1942, after the crops had been harvested from the fields of Osowa Wyszka, the Germans gathered together all of the Jews of the settlement and marched them by foot to Janowa-Dolina. From there they were sent by train to Kostopol, where they were all murdered.
Prior to the liquidation, a group of 30 youths under the command of Yitzchak Zakuska took refuge in the nearby forests. Yitzchak served as a soldier in the Soviet Army. He fell in German captivity near Smolensk. He escaped and returned to Osowa Wyszka. Since they suspected that he was a Soviet paratrooper, he escaped once again and hid in the forests. Women and children also joined him during the liquidation. During one of the operations after the liquidation of the ghetto, the members of the group set the houses of the Jews on fire and seized the weapons from the Ukrainian guards. During the first operations, many of the non-combatants fell at the hands of the Germans.
In April 1943, the unit numbered 63 people. At the end of that month, a battle was conducted against the Germans in which 29 men fell. In May of that year, the group joined an unknown Russian partisan unit. Later, it was annexed along with that unit to the Death to Fascism brigade of the first Rovno union, under the command of General Vasyl Begma.
Osowa Wyszka was liberated at the end of January 1944. Approximately 15 of the local Jews survived in the forests and hiding places.
Yad Vashem Archives 03/1312
YIVO, G'A 65-I
Y. Babitsky, Jewish Agriculture in Wolhynia, Jewish Economic, Warsaw-Vilna, 1937.
The Wolhynia Anthology, Aleph, booklet B, (5705 1945), pp. 23-24.
Kostopol, the Life and Death of the Community, Tel Aviv, 5727 (1967).
Wolhyner Life, Rowne, November 23, 1928.
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