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“Podolinec” – Encyclopaedia
of Jewish communities, Slovakia
(Podolinec, Slovakia)

49°16' / 20°32'

Translation of the
“Podolinec” chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Slovakia

Edited by Yehoshua Robert Buchler and Ruth Shashak

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem, 2003


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Acknowledgments

Project Coordinator

Madeleine Isenberg

 

Our sincere appreciation to Yad Vashem
for permission to put this material on the JewishGen web site.

This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot Slovakia: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Slovakia,
Edited by Yehoshua Robert Buchler and Ruth Shashak, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.


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(Pages 429-430)

Podolinec, Slovakia

Translated by Madeleine Isenberg

(Hungarian: Podolin, German: Pudlein)

A town in the Stara Lubovna District in the Spiš Region in northeastern Slovakia.

 

Year Number of
Residents
Jews By
Percentage
1880 1,535 40 2.6
1900 1,755 138 8.0
1921 1,707 163 9.7
1930 2,510 169 6.8
1940 1,892 175 9.2
1948 1,601 15 0.9

A small settlement with mostly German inhabitants was first mentioned in 1235, but it appears it was established much earlier than this. In 1292, Podolinec was a “free town,” and in 1412, King Zigmund bestowed it with the status of a royal free town that brought it far-reaching rights. Thanks to this status and its location, on the main road to Poland, many workshops were opened as well as it becoming a member in the Association of German Cities in the Spis Region. At the beginning of the 19th century many of its previous rights were taken away and it lost its political and cultural importance. Its population, mostly German and Slovak, Catholic and Evangelical by religion, made their living from trades, forestry, and agriculture

During the period of the Czech Republic, Podolinec's character did not change much. With the breakup of the Czechoslovak Republic it became included within the boundaries of the Slovak State and a satellite of Nazi Germany. In the autumn of 1944 it was conquered by the Germans and at the end of January 1945, liberated by the Soviet Army.

 

About the History of the Community

For hundreds of years, the German inhabitants of Podolinec did not allow Jewish settlement in their town and only in the middle of the 19th century, after the abolition of restrictions on where they could settle throughout the kingdom, the first Jews from the Saris villages settled in Podolinec. At first, they belonged to the community (kehila) of Stara Lubovna (q.v.) and its rabbinate, and only in the 1880s, because of its growth, they organized themselves into an independent kehila (some Jewish families from neighboring villages also belonged to this local kehila). Communal prayer started in a prayer room in a private home. With its own kehila established, it joined with the organization of orthodox communities. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Jews of Podolinec sanctified a cemetery at the outskirts of the town; the kehila owned the land.

In the 1930 census, out of 169 Podolinec Jews, 91 registered themselves as Jewish by nationality and the rest as Slovakian or Hungarian. At this time, the Podolinec kehila reached the peak of its growth with almost 190 people (about 50 heads of households paying the kehila tax, some from adjacent villages). The kehila had a synagogue, a community building, and it was under the rabbinate of Kezmarok (q.v.). In the 1920s and 1930s Podolinec established Zionist activities whose main purpose was to collect donations for national funds and publicity (don't want to use propaganda!). On the eve of the 21st Zionist Congress (1939) Podolinec's Jews acquired 60 “shekalim[1].”

Most of the Jews of Podolinec made their living in all kinds of trades and some from businesses. In 1921, they owned four taverns, three grocery stores, three stores for fabrics and clothing, a shop for leather goods, two bakeries, a restaurant, a flour mill (Joseph Miller & Sons). Among the Jews there was also a tailor, shoemaker, two wagon-drivers, an agent selling agricultural products, and two doctors.

 

The Holocaust Period

Immediately after the establishment of the Slovakian state on 14 March 1939, the Jews became persecuted either by the authorities or the local German inhabitants of Podolinec, most of whom belonged to Nazi organizations. Many times groups of young Germans broke into Jewish shops and homes, stole and destroyed property and performed acts of physical violence. In 1940, Podolinec Jews belonged to the “Jewish Center” in Stara Lubovna. In the 1940/41 school year, Jewish children were not allowed to attend the public schools, so the Podolinec kehila opened a school for the children of Podolinec and neighboring towns. The school was run by the teacher Martin Elefant. During the year 1941, the authorities shut down most of the Jewish businesses except for some large businesses that were aryanized. In October of that same year, some of the remaining Jews who had no means of support, were drafted for hard labor and sent to labor camps.
In the spring of 1942, deportations from Podolinec began. On March 20, 1942, 20 young Jewish women were sent to a collection place in Stara Lubovna and from there to the transit camp in Poprad (q.v.). On the 25th, they joined the transport from Poprad to the Auschwitz extermination camp. A few days later, they also sent some dozens of Jewish men via Stara Lubovna to the collection camp in Žilina (q.v.), and from there they were deported to the Majdanek camp, near Lublin, Poland. On May 26th, the authorities rounded up most of the remaining Jews from the town and its surroundings and transported them to Spisske Nova Ves (q.v.). On 29th May 1942, they were sent by freight trains to the Izbica ghetto, in the Lublin Region. At the end of the deportations in the fall of 1942, 25 Jews remained who had exemption certificates. Before the Germans invaded the town in September 1944, some of them found refuge with farmers in depressed villages, and some of the others were arrested by the Germans and killed.

Immediately after liberation, some survivors returned, but shortly thereafter they all left. The synagogue and community building were abandoned.


Translator's Footnotes

  1. A shekel-owner became a partner in the Zionist Organization and had voting rights. See http://www.begedivri.com/ZionistShekel/History.htm for more information. Return

References:

Yad Vashem Archives, M5/4, 57; M48/173, 602-606, 936-941, 944, 950, 1721; JM/11011-11017, 11019, 11031.
Shmuel David Gvaryahu-Gottesman, History of the Jews of Kezmarok and the Surroundings, Jerusalem 1992.
Cohen, Chachmei Hungaria (The Sages of Hungary), p. 422.
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