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Translation of Frampol chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem
Morris Gradel z"l
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This is a translation from:
Jewish Communities, Poland,
Volume VII, pages 406-407, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
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(Region: Bilgoraj; Province: Lublin)
There are no data as to when the village of Frampol (F) was granted urban status, but in 1705 it was already thus defined. F was among the settlements that suffered much damage at the hands of the Cossacks during the Period of Decrees (1648-49). In 1773 F was under Austrian rule, and from 1815 it was part of the Kingdom of Congress Poland. Fairs were held in the town twice a year, with trading mainly in cattle, horses and agricultural produce.
There was a small group of Jews in F as early as the beginning of the 17th century, but it disappeared completely during the Cossack invasions of that century. There were again Jews in F in the 18th century - engaged in trade and crafts. In the 19th century Jews set up small industrial plants - cotton spinning, rough cloth weaving and leather processing. A few families engaged in supplying food to the local garrison. Most Jews were fairly well-established, and their success aroused the jealousy of the other townspeople, who claimed that they exploited the Christians and that all the profits from cloth production went to Jews only.
The Jewish community as such had its beginnings in the 18th century. During the period of the Council of the Four Lands (for explanation of this and other terms, see notes at the end of this translation). F's community was included in the district of Chelm-Belc, but in 1731 the Council decided to transfer it to the district of Zamosc, and the Chelm-Belc region received 2,900 guilden as compensation for its lost revenue. In the 1760s a synagogue was built in F. Among the rabbinical names encountered were R. Eliezer Yitzhak (about 1862) and R. Yeshayahu Tsvi Heller. Both achieved a reputation as interpreters of Halacha (rabbinical law).
Before the Holocaust the rabbi of F was R. Eliezer Shalom Feder, who was not a Chassid and who was much harrassed by the Chassidim of the town. His successor was his son-in-law, who perished in the Holocaust.
At the beginning of the 20th century political activity began and a Zionist circle was established, but only during the First World War, and particularly after it, did Zionist activity enjoy wide support in the community.
The Jews between the Two World Wars
This period saw a deterioration in the economic situation of the Jews of F, most of whom were merchants or artisans. In addition to shopkeepers and stallholders, there were quite a few Jews whose living depended on the market and fair days held in F and the nearby townships. Most of these Jews were wont to wander from fair to fair during weekdays and to return home for Sabbaths and Festivals only. The horse markets of F were renowned throughout the district, but from 1925 they were no longer held and thus an important source of income for the Jews disappeared. Merchants of grain and agricultural produce also had difficulty in making a living, because the Poles also opened shops in the same period and competed with them.
Many of the Jews in the town needed social help. The Cooperative Bank, founded in 1925, and the Provident Fund from about the same time, tried to alleviate the effects of the economic crisis. Help was also given by the traditional bodies - Bikur Cholim and Linat Zedek. In the winter the community distributed wood for heating. Much help was also provided by the Joint, which supplied a hundred children with food, clothing and schoolbooks etc. Money was also sent from former inhabitants of F in the USA.
The economic crisis also reduced the income of the community, and it was unable to raise the funds necessary for the synagogue, which was in dire need of repair; the mikveh (ritual bath) too almost ceased to function. Only in the 1930s did the community receive from former inhabitants of F abroad the funds necessary to repair these buildings.
The worsening economic situation caused many to move to other towns, or to emigrate, espcially to the United States.
Nevertheless, this period witnessed a flowering of public activity in F. Branches of the Zionist parties (General Zionists, Mizrachi, Poalei Zion) were established, as well as a branch of the non-Zionist Agudat Israel. In the Community Council Agudat Israel was in the ascendant. In the 1931 elections this party obtained five seats, and the Zionists but three. In the elections of 1935 the Zionists held their three seats, while Agudat Israel fell to three, and one non-party candidate was elected.
Anti-Semitism reared its head in F in the 1930s. In 1936 windows of Jewish houses were often smashed. In the winter of 1936-37 Christian pickets barred the way to Jewish shops. In 1938 there were violent riots - a mob attacked Jewish shops and booths and ruffians beat up any Jew they happened to come across. Some 40 Jews were injured. The uproar continued and the Jewish cemetery was desecrated, its fence torn down, many gravestones were broken, and some graves even dug up.
F belonged administratively to nearby Bilgoraj, and the Judenrat there was responsible for the small community of F. On German orders it sent groups of Jews from F to work in public facilities.
In the first years of the war the Jews of F were not subject to severe persecution, compared to other places. The Germans were not stationed there permanently, and in effect administration remained in the hands of the Polish mayor and the local Polish police. The economic situation was fairly good, and to F came groups of Jewish refugees from Bilgoraj and other towns.
In the spring of 1941 the situation worsened. In the wake of the concentration of German forces in the area prior to the invasion of the Soviet Union, the Jews were forbidden to leave the town, which made it difficult for them to obtain food. In January 1942 the first murders of Jews and Poles took place. A unit of the Gestapo arrived in F to root out persons who had not fulfilled the task of providing food for the army units in the area. Some Polish farmers and Jewish families were seized and killed.
In August 1942 the Judenrat was ordered to prepare a list of 1,200 Jewish inhabitants of F and neighbouring townships, allegedly with a view to sending them to labour camps in Ukraine. The Judenrat had already heard rumours of deportations to extermination in various parts of the Lublin area, and the Jews were therefore advised to flee or go into hiding. When the Germans arrived in F they found it almost empty of Jews, and two of the members of the Judenrat explained that the Jews had fled. The Jews of F hid in neighbouring villages and did not return to their homes. Some sought refuge in the woods. Six Jews who were discovered were at once killed by the Germans.
Many of the Jews of F who fled from the town in the summer of 1942 reached nearby Goraj, and hid there. However, in October 1942 the Germans burnt the houses of the Jews of Goraj, and they were expelled to F.
The last deportation from F took place in November 1942. The Jews of Goraj and F were assembled in the market place and marched 22 kilometres to the railway station at Zwierzyniec. At the station they were divided into two groups: some scores of young people were sent to the concentration camp at Majdanek, while the remainder of the deportees were put into goods wagons and transported to extermination at Belzec.
Council of the Four Lands: the Jewish self-governing body in Russia-Poland originating in the 16th century. Named for the four regions of Major Poland, Minor Poland, Red Russia and Lithuania, it was called in Hebrew 'Va'ad Arba Artzot'.
Chassidism / Has(s)idism: the Jewish revivalist movement originating in eastern Europe in the late 16th century. It maintains many of the characteristics of the time, such as its dress. Diverse sects of Chassidism hail from different towns and follow different leaders or 'rebbes'.
Bikur Cholim: literally 'Visiting the Sick'. but also health service, or even hospital.
Linat Zedek: basically a hospice for the poor and homeless, it also carried out a number of other welfare tasks.
Joint: Joint Distribution Committee, an American Jewish organisation founded in 1914 to provide relief to European Jews during the First World War, later expanded to service Jewish communities worldwide.
Mizrachi: the Orthodox Zionist movement, founded in Vilna in 1902.
Poalei Zion: 'Workers of Zion', a Marxist Jewish party founded in 1906. Its ideological 'father' was Dov Ber Borochov.
Agudat Israel: the Orthodox Jewish (anti-Zionist) political movement organised in 1912 in Europe, seeking to sustain the values of traditional eastern European Jewry.
Judenrat: Committee of Jews ordered by the Germans to represent the Jews. Its main task was to provide the Germans with slave labour.
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