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Translation of Markuszów chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin
Translation of Markuszów chapter from
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem
Published in Jerusalem
Our sincere appreciation to Yad Vashem for permission
This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland,
Volume VII, pages 315-317, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
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Markuszów is mentioned in 1565 as a center of the King's estates, and that year was awarded city rights. For decades the town developed and flourished, but fires that broke out there in 1620 and 1647 and the Swedish invasion in 1656 brought about catastrophe and put an end to the boom period. The population dwindled greatly and it lost its city status as a result. Only decades later economic and demographic growth resumed, and then a weekly market began to be held. After the Second division of Poland (in 1783) it was included in Austria between 1815-1807 as part of the principality of Warsaw and from 1815 as part of Congress Poland.
Economic recovery also drew Jewish settlers to Markuszów. A few Jewish families lived there in the late 17th century, but the Jewish community grew mainly in the second half of the 18th century. Then Jewish innkeepers, a group of merchants and various craftsmen settled in Markuszów. In the 18th century Jews had land, houses and fields, or gardens. After the annexation by Austria, the number of Jews in Markuszów increased and this trend continued during the reign of Congress Poland.
Economic structure and sources of income of the Jews in Markuszów crystallized in the middle of the 19th century, with Jews mostly engaged in trade and crafts in the market and annual fairs and peddling in the surrounding villages. Some Jews established tanneries, two mills and a brewery.
In 1766 there was already in Markuszów an independent Jewish community. In 1799 a synagogue was established. In 1841, when the building was unstable and broken-down, the community applied for building a new synagogue, which was inaugurated in 1855 along with the cemetery. Community rabbis in the 19th century known to us by name included Rabbi Yosef Aidlish Ashkenazi and Rabbi Avraham Ben Jacob (d. 1837), who served later as a Judge and law-teacher in Warsaw. In the year 1880 the office was held by Rabbi Chaim Yaakov, and in 1910 Rabbi Moshe Eliyahu Goldwasser was appointed. Other who served as rabbis of the community in Markuszów were Admor [Our Master, Our Teacher, and Our Rebbe] Rabbi Avraham Moshe Veintroyb, who established a new Hasidic dynasty. His son Rabbi Yehoshua Uziel Veintroyb moved to Warsaw and perished in the Shoah.
During the First World War, under the Austrian occupation, Markuszów Jews began to develop public and political activity. They founded in 1916 the first Zionist group Kadima. And in 1917 they established there a supplementary Hebrew school. Before the end of the war there was a Zionist branch in town.
The Jews in between the Two World Wars
After the [first world] war most Markuszów Jews found a livelihood as petty traders, artisans and vendors. Their livelihood was meager. In 1926 the town established a Jewish cooperative charity, which lent merchants and craftsmen credit on favorable terms. Also the community and its institutions helped with charities for the elderly and groups for Bikur Cholim and Linat Tzedek to render aid to the sick and needy.
In the 30s the economic situation of the Jews from Markuszów worsened further due to the economic boycott by anti-Semites on Jewish trade and work. Guards were placed before the shops and stalls of the Jews in 1937 and in the town there was a threatening atmosphere. In April 1937,anti-Semites desecrated the Jewish cemetery and smashed 50 gravestones.
Regarding the branch of the General Zionists, the oldest in Markuszów was founded in 1929 were the branches of the Mizrachi and Poalei Zion (the Union). There were also Zionist youth movements there. Also Agudat Yisrael was active in Markuszów and established a branch. Community council elections in 1924 and 1929 were won by Agudat Yisrael with half the seats, but in 1931 the Aguda was the minority bloc, while the unified bloc of General Zionists and Mizrahi won a majority.
In the 1920s Rabbi Moshe Eliyahu Goldwasser (died 1930) continued to serve as chief rabbi, and after him his son Rabbi Peretz was elected. After him, in 1933, the chief in Markuszów was Rabbi Elchanan Weizmann, one of the leaders of Hamizrahi. In 1925 a school was founded in Markuszów built as a network of Bet Yaakov, sponsored by Agudat Yisrael. The Zionist movements also included various cultural activities, holding evening classes for adults and opening libraries in their clubs. In 1929 the Bar Kochba sports team was founded in Markuszów.
In the Days of the Second World War
At the beginning of September 1939 hundreds of Jewish refugees reached Markuszów from Western Poland. On the 8th of September the town of Kurów (q.v.) near Markuszów was bombed and was almost completely destroyed. Many Jewish families from Kurów escaped and found refuge in Markuszów. The Germans occupied Markuszów on September 11, 1939. During the occupation the town was bombarded, which caused great destruction.
A few weeks later, a Judenrat was established there whose members were selected from among members of the community before the occupation and headed by Shlomo Goldwasser. Secretary: Yitzchak Fishbein, who was before the war the Betar branch secretary in Markuszów, and a member of the Judenrat Michael Weiner was the former head of the community. One of the first demands the conquerors imposed on the Judenrat was Jewish forced labor. Workers were employed in the Vistula River drainage and Warsaw - Lublin road expansion.
In early 1940, after the German government in the region was stabilized, Jews continued to live almost as usual, and compared with their brethren elsewhere did not suffer severe persecution. Although restrictions were placed on the freedom of trade and theoretically they were forbidden to travel from more than 5 km from Markuszów. However, the Judenrat succeeded, using bribery and other means, to obtain exit permits for even larger distances to support people's livelihood. Jewish artisans had no imposed restrictions at all; Jews of the town also could carry on living in their homes as before.
In summer 1940, the Germans increased Jewish labor quotas. The Judenrat was required to send groups of workers to fortification work at the German-Soviet border. In summer 1941, the Germans set up in the village of Kloda near Markuszów a labor camp in which several dozen Jewish forced laborers worked.
In May 1941, a ghetto was established in Markuszów. At first it was an open ghetto. But with the outbreak of war between Germany and the Soviet Union the exit of Jews was banned there were very severe food shortages when it was also filled with refugees from other localities in the region and the density in the ghetto increased.
The first Aktion in Markuszów was conducted in April 1942. About 500 Jewsmost of them old and sickwere put on a train and were assumed to be deported to the Sobibor death camp. After the expulsion in April, Jews deported from Slovakia were moved to Markuszów. And the number of inhabitants of the ghetto rose to about 1,500. On May 8, 1942, five trucks containing the German and Ukrainian gendarmerie entered Markuszów. The Judenrat was ordered to hand over to the Germans a list of names of all the Jews of the town. The next day the Jews were concentrated in the marketplace. Judenrat head Shlomo Goldwasser, who understood what was happening, urged them to try to escape to the forests. Indeed, many managed to escape from the town even before the expulsion. The remaining, especially women, children and the elderly, were concentrated on May 9, 1942 in the marketplace. The Germans searched the homes and the Jews who were hiding were captured. Sick people who did not have the strength to get to the concentration place were killed on the spot. From a group of deportees they removed some young people that according to their appearance were found fit for work and sent to labor camps in Kłoda and Końskowola (qv). The remaining Jews of Markuszów were marched to the train station in Nałęczów (qv) nearby and deported the same day to Sobibor.
Even before the deportations from Markuszów a group of young Jews managed to acquire weapons and food. Members of the group of about 50 people set up in the Wola forests three partisan unitsone led by Mordechai Kirshenboim, the second led by brothers Yerukham and Yaakov Gotheilf and a third group, called the Cossacks. These groups also joined the Jewish prisoners of war who escaped from a Prisoner of War camp for soldiers of the Red [Soviet] Army in the Lublin region. Following the deportations from the region, in the early summer of 1942, the Germans carried out an extensive roundup of those who had fled to the forests. Jewish partisan units, whose equipment was poor and who had to worry as hundreds of other Jews from nearby towns had fled to the woods, could not withstand the forces of the German gendarmerie. Local farmers also joined in the hunt, and turned the fugitives in to the Germans. Most of the Jews who had fled from Markuszów into the woods a few months later were caught and killed.
A few Jews from Markuszów found refuge with the peasants in Markuszów and its surroundings. However, the Germans launched extensive searches throughout the area and located some of these hideouts. On December 10, 1942 the Polish farmers were executed: Jan Nalwaika, who hid Jews, and Aniela Kaminska, who provided food for Jews who fled into the forest.
* pronounced Markooshoov return
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