Translation of Szczucin chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin
Translation of Szczucin chapter from
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem
Published in Jerusalem
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This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot Polin: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland,
Volume III, pages 365-366, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
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(District of Dąbrowa, Region of Krakow)
|1765||?||54 (includes residents of nearby villages)|
Szczucin is mentioned as a village in documents from the year 1326. It was granted the status of a city in 1745. This status was certified by the Austrian authorizes in 1786. Szczucin is situated at the area where the Dunajec and Wisłoka rivers pour into the Wisłok. The road leading to Hungary passed through it in the 17th and 18th centuries. After the partition of Poland in 1772, the annexation of the area to Austria (Galicia), and the establishment of Congress Poland, Szczucin was located on the border of Poland and Congress Poland. Merchandise from Russia passed through the border depot of Szczucin on its way to Tarnów, and from there to the expanses of Galicia and the Austrian Empire. Weekly market days and annual fairs took place in Szczucin, where the cabbage and radish trade was centered. Flocks of pigs passed through Szczucin from Congress Poland. Ducks, feathers and eggs were sent to Poland and even to Germany. Conditions were even formed for smuggling. The town was built of wooden houses, and it therefore suffered from large fires in 1888, 1903, and 1912. The town was connected to the railway line in 1906. The town was destroyed from large-scale Russian attacks already during the early days of the First World War. The Russians were there until May 1915. Szczucin suffered from a powerful flood in 1934, and there was no home that was not damaged. During the inter-war period, Szczucin stopped being a border town, and its development was restrained. Szczucin was not recognized as a city from an administrative perspective.
The first Jews settled in Szczucin during the latter half of the 18th century. They were primarily involved in leasing and in inn keeping. With the development of the border trade in the 19th century, the Jews of Szczucin were the main workers in that area. There were cases where they tried their hands at smuggling. The Jewish peddlers went to the villages to purchase eggs, feathers, ducks, and cabbage and radish seeds. The merchants stockpiled the merchandise, sold it on market days or at fairs, or exported it.
Several Jewish merchants of Szczucin participated in fairs across the border, in the cities of Congress Poland. Natural disasters restricted the development of the Jewish community of Szczucin. (Twelve Jewish houses went up in flames in the fire of 1888, and several tens of houses in 1912.) Almost all the Jewish houses were damaged in the flood of 1934. There was also a danger of death during the flood. The Jew Emil Seiden should be remembered positively for using his boat to save more than 70 people from death by drowning in the deep water. As has been mentioned, the town, and especially the Jewish houses in the center, was almost completely destroyed during the Russian attack of 1914. Since the town was close to Tarnów, the Jewish community lived in the shadow of the large Jewish community of Tarnów.
During the inter-war period, there were 32 shops, three bakeries, and one inn all owned by Jews. Near the town, there were a liquor still, two flourmills, and a brick kiln all owned or leased by Jews. The rest of the Jewish livelihood earners worked in peddling or trades. Even the local physician and lawyer were Jewish.
At first, the Jewish community of Szczucin was subordinate to the community of Tarnów. It became an independent community, with its institutions, in the latter half of the 19th century. The local rabbis of whom we are aware include Rabbi Yitzchak the son of Rabbi Moshe Horowitz, who was appointed rabbi in 1884. After the death of his father, the Admor of Rozwadów, in 1894, he also became an Admor, standing at the head of the flock of Hassidim of the Dzików-
Rozwadów dynasty. He moved to Tarnów after several years, where he established his Hassidic court. In 1900, Rabbi Mordechai David Teitelbaum served as rabbi of Szczucin. He then served as rabbinical judge and teacher of Drohobycz, from where he made aliya to the Land of Israel. Rabbi Alter Meir Horowitz occupied the rabbinical seat of Szczucin in 1904. All of the charitable organizations and other institutions that were customary in Jewish communities of Galicia existed in the Jewish community of Szczucin. In addition, the Nashim Rachmaniot [Merciful Women] Society was established in 1900 with the aim of helping poor women with childbirth.
A chapter of the Zionist organization of Western Galicia, Tarnów district, opened in Szczucin in 1901. The Zionist organization of Szczucin renewed its activities in 1917. One year later, it already had approximately 100 members. Approximately 200 shekels were sold in the town and its area. In 1919, a Jewish library along with a reading hall was founded in the town. Chapters of the General Zionists, Mizrachi, the Akiba Hebrew youth organization, operated in Szczucin during the period between the wars. Agudas Yisroel operated amongst the Orthodox, and also had representation in the communal council. Cultural and educational activity took place around the library and the Tarbut organization, which organized courses for the study of the Hebrew Language, and set up a drama club.
Szczucin was conquered by the German Army on September 8, 1939. On the 12th of that month, the soldiers of the Wehrmacht murdered about 40 refugees, mostly Jews, in the school building, as well as 70 Polish prisoners of war. They burnt the bodies. This was a punishment for the murder of a German soldier in Szczucin.
After some time, the Jews of Szczucin were commanded to wear an armband with a Magen David, and to work at forced labor (primarily in the Polish estates in the area). They were forbidden from leaving the city. A Judenrat was set up, which concerned itself with somehow organizing the daily life of the Jews of Szczucin. There were 776 Jews there in May 1942. Jewish refugees from Krakow arrived in Szczucin in 1940-1941. In July 1941, several Jewish families from the villages of the area arrived. A chapter of the Y. S. S. was set up in Szczucin already before September 1941 in order to ease the plight of the refugees and impoverished local residents. It had 120 Jews under its care in February 1942. Szczucin already had a shelter for the refugees from Krakow, housing 45 people, during the first half of 1941. In April or the beginning of May 1941, the residents of that shelter suffered from a typhus epidemic. A public kitchen to assist the needy also operated in Szczucin.
During the first half of 1942, the Germans began murdering the Jews of Szczucin, as they were doing with the rest of the residents of the area. Several people were shot to death on March 16th or 17th. After the first aktion, in which the elderly or sick were murdered, the local Jews attempted to set up a workshop in June 1942 which would employ 35 tailors, eight shoemakers, and five locksmiths. However, this never came to be, for the permit for the establishment of the workshop had not been received by the beginning of July. Szczucin was emptied of its Jews after that. Some of the Jews were sent to labor camps, and most were sent to D¹browa-Tarnowska. Only isolated Jews of Szczucin were saved in hiding places that they had found with Poles.
Dąbrowa-Tarnowska, Zarys dziejów miasta I powiatu, Warszawa 1974, pp. 84, 101, 263, 266, 325, 385, 395, 412, 571, 576.
Hamagid, July 22, 1900; Hamitzpe, January 31, 1901; Hatzefira, August 21,1900, May 10, 1917, January 30, 1918.
Diwrej Akiba November 17, 1933, April 3, 1938; Nowy Dziennik, July 24, 1919. January 1, 1932, March 9, 1933, March 17, 1934, August 1, 1934, May 2, 1935, January 9, 1936, November 19, 1937.
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