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Our Town

by Zechariah Friedler

We will surely remember you, our town of Rozniatow!

You are etched in our memories with letters of fire that warm and light up our souls, from your breasts we imbibed influence, imagination and vision.

Our cradles of infancy stood on your ground, and we spent our youth in your precincts.  Your soul, oh our town, accompanied us on all of our paths of life, and anointed us with a very personal and spiritual way of life.

There, we received support and assistance from our parents, brothers and sisters;  we received knowledge and understanding from our teachers in its schools, and from the leaders, counselors and friends in various organizations.

All of their images are engraved, and dwell in the inner crevices of our hearts, and we find in them comfort from the cruelty on earth.

You became an orphan, oh our town, from the best of your children, and now you sit forlorn, mournful, and accursed in your heart, just like us, on account of the murderers who brought destruction upon you without mercy.  You were denuded of your most vital element, of the well-rooted Jews who for generations toiled for you greatly  –  a toil of creativity and spirit.

I remember you, Rozniatow, your children, the Jews of various stripes:  Hassidim, Misnagdim, Zionists, workers, simple people, well cultured people, upright and dear, charitable and doers of good deeds – all of them awaited the redemption, filled with love of their fellow man and self sacrifice.

I remember you, your synagogues and Beis Midrashes (study halls), your charitable and benevolent institutions, your libraries and your buildings that were dedicated to the service of the people and the land; all of the fine traits, the dreams, hopes and visions of the soul, the lofty aspirations, the love of fellow Jews and of the Land of Israel, the faith and bravery in the face of the epitome of death.

We, the survivors of your Jewish community, will remember you, in your flowering and in your desolation.  We will remember all of those who were murdered and cut off by the hands of the inhuman evildoers: those who died by fire and those by water, those by hunger and those by thirst, those by sword, those buried alive, and those who perished in the gas chambers1 – all of those who were tortured, cut off, and gave their souls in sanctification of the Name of G-d.

We will remember and bind them in the annals of history forever.


Chapters of History

by Pinchas Kanner

Lines about the History of the Town

The town of Rozniatow possesses great charm.  It is situation in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains in southeastern Galicia, in the region of Stanislawow, in the area of Dolina, about seven kilometers from the main Stryj-Stanislawow road and 7 kilometers from the Krechowice train station.  It is surrounded by hills and forests, in a wide valley that is traversed by two rivers, the Czeczwa and the Duba.  The rivers are supplied by the plentiful waters of the Carpathians, and they are tributaries of the Lomnica and Dniester rivers, which flow into the Black Sea.

From a historical perspective, these regions were under Polish rule for hundreds of years. They were populated by Ukrainians, or, as they were known then, Ruthenians.  The name Galicia comes from the word Halicza or Halicz, which is a city on the Dniester, which in former times was the place of residence of the Ukrainian dukes.  When Poland was partitioned in the 18th century between its three powerful neighbors, Russia, Austria, and Prussia, the southern portion was annexed to Austria and took on the name Galicia.

During the era of Polish rule, Rozniatow was a feudal estate, and during the era of Austrian rule, it was owned by the Polish Skarbek family, whose members were feudal barons and owners of large tracts of land in Galicia.  Their connection to the Polish monarchy was known already in the 13th century.  Testimony exists that a group of tenants in Rozniatow, numbering sixty people, responded to a request from the Skarbek family in the years 1835-1845, and made a donation for the building of a theater in Lvov-Lemberg, the Galician capital.  There was a road in that city by the name of Skarbek.

The noblemen of the Skarbek family were the rulers until the First World War.  Later leased the area to the Glesinger group, who were owners of the modern sawmill in Broszniow.  Most of the income from this family's properties was dedicated to the upkeep of the dormitory in Chirow were the children of the Polish noblemen were educated, including the sons of the Baron Walisz who lived in Rozniatow.

The building, situated on the top of a hill, was adorned with turrets.  The courthouse was also situated there. Previously, it served as the feudal palace of the Skarbek family.  The best kept area of the estate was a splendid boulevard lined by basswood trees which led to the Catholic church which was built on that same hill, overlooking the town.

With the Austrian agrarian reforms in the years 1848-1849, the farmers were freed from the heavy feudal yoke, and there was a need to establish a courthouse in order to register properties. On November 15, 1850, a post office opened.  This granted Rozniatow the status of a significant town, since it became an economic and administrative center for the many villages to the south, all the way to the Carpathians. The population of this administrative area was more than 50,000.  The fact that Rozniatow served as a supply center for the Russian troops who hurried to the aid of Austria during the Hungarian revolution of 1848, and that the Russian commander resided in the town, also added to the status of the town. 

There were many villages surrounding Rozniatow, including Perehinsko with a population of 10,000.  Many Jewish estate owners resided in the area, including:  the Weinfeld family of Swaryczow, the Mandelbaum family of Krasna, and the Lustig family of Spas.  The oil wells of Dubno and Rypne, as well the large factories of Broszniow, from which two rail lines led to the vast forests of the Carpathians, contributed greatly to the development of industry and business in the region. Without these industries, the economy would have been weak and unproductive. 

Rozniatow had a population of about 8,000 people, including more than 6,000 Ukrainians, known also as Ruthenians, who belonged to the Unitarian Greek Catholic church, 100 Poles, and 2,000 Jews.  It had barely 20 to 30 stone houses, for the rest of the houses were build of wood, including many with straw roofs, a few with shingled roofs, and only a handful covered with metal sheets.

Since the town was situated between two rivers, which overflowed in the spring due to the melting of the snow of the Carpathian Mountains, Rozniatow suffered from floods that caused great damage.  On the other hand, during the clear summers, there were fires in the town, and flames would suddenly leap from roof to roof, destroying large portions of the town. The elders of Rozniatow used to keep track of events in the city based on the large fire or the great flood.

The Jews of Rozniatow already had an organized community in the 18th century, set up according to Jewish tradition.  The Jews were engaged in all manner of business, independent professions – primarily doctors and lawyers, and all manners of artisanship, communication services – which at that time consisted of wagons and carriages, local manufacturing including a water powered sawmill, three flourmills, a flaxseed press and two soft drink factories.

The generally modest lifestyle, the work and diligence which was conducted for the most part to meet the needs of the family livelihood, and over and above all, the study of Torah and fulfillment of the commandments and customs of the Torah, all joined together to form the typical Jewish character of Rozniatow, according to its fine characteristics and customs.

Testimony of such can be found on the following pages, which are dedicated to our town and its surrounding area.

Pinchas Kanner

Translator’s Footnotes

  1. These statements are based on the Unetane Tokef prayer of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Back

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