Examining the history of a small town is like looking for a pin in an an expanse of desert sand. It is as though history skipped over these small and out-of-the way places, leaving them by the side of the road. Despite the fact that the economic, religious and social activity in the small town was was tense with energy, nothing remains of this day-to-day experience.
The poverty of history is even greater regarding the Jewish towns. This poverty relegates these small towns to a forgotten destiny, to extinction of memory. Towns where Jews lived for hundreds of years will not be remembered in future generations.
The Holocaust sealed the fate of the small town. With the gracious
assistance of Yad VaShem in Jerusalem, particularly that of Mr. Yitzhak
Lan, we were able to find traces of Skalat history in a few sources:
1) Encyklopedia Powszechna T. 23. Rok 1866.
2) Encyklopedia Powszechna Krowlewstwa Polskiego T. 10. Rok 1889.
According to the 1866 Encyklopedia Powszechna, Skalat was originally under Russian rule. In the second half of the nineteenth century, Skalat is under the jurisdiction of Galicia, near the Ganila River. An old fortress, built in the sixteenth century for defence purposes, made the city well-known. During this time, there were about 3000 residents.
"Encyklopedia Powszechna, published in 1889, has more details about the town. At the end of the nineteenth century, Skalat was a district (Miasto Powiatowe) in eastern Galicia, southeast of Tarnopol. In 1870, there were 4952 residents, 2553 of them Jews.
According to Korpetnicki in Geography of Galicia from 1786, Skalat was the property of the Terlov family of Czecanowicz. The property was transferred to the Poniatowski princes and they sold it around 1869 to a Jew named Ziskind Rosenstock.
Ziskind Rosenstock was a famous Jew in his time and a baron. One of his descendants, Alexander, became a Christian. He sold the Skalat lands. In 1920, Josef Tenenbaum bought the Novosiolka lands from him.
The next available information is from the 1921 census of Poland. According to that census, Skalat had 5957 residents, 2919 of them Jews.
According to Bleter Far Geschichte from the Institute of Polish Jewish History in 1953, there were 4600 Jews in Skalat in 1941. In 1942, Jews of the surrounding area were brought to Skalat, bringing its Jewish population to 8500.
According to Weisbrod in his book Es Starbet A Shtetl, 160 Jews of Skalat survived.
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