Translated by Moshe A. Davis
Village in the administrative area of Tecs (until 1928 in the administrative area of Teresif), approximately 45 kilometers east of Chust,
and approximately 5 kilometers from the train station at Neresniza. All [non-Jewish] residents Ruthenians.
The First Jews
In only one of the four Census recordings that took place in the 18th century was a Jew noted as living in Ganics. In the Census of 1746 appears a single Jew whose name was not written down, who had a wife and two children. His occupation was also not recorded, but most probably he supported himself by distilling alchoholic drinks and by peddling. It appears that this Jew did not live for an extended period in Ganics, for in the next Census in 1768 again no Jews are recorded as dwelling in the town.
We have no information as to the first Jews who settled in the town permanently, who served as the seed from which the future Jewish community sprouted.
In the 1830 Census, the following families were recorded (the number of total individuals in the family are in parentheses):
Itzik Miller (5)
Avraham Miller (7)
Isaac Miller (7)
Meir Weiner (3)
Moshko Miller (8)
Woloka Mendel (5)
Fish Shmuel (3)
Shlomo Adler (6)
Ezra Miller (7)
Dovid Miller (4)
Hasia Miller (4)
Hirsh Davidovits (6)
Marko Feig (6)
Wolf Zelikovits (7)
Hirsh Fokel (6)
Shmuel Avraham (4)
The Community and Its Institutions [, and Individuals of Note]
Jewish community life in Ganics apparently began in the beginning of the 19th century. This statement is supported by the fact that in the abovementioned 1830 Census (that is, at the end of the first third of the century), 87 Jews are reported living in the town. That size population is, in general, sufficient to support a normative religious Jewish community structure. By that date there was certainly in Ganics an established minyan for communal prayer that had been in existence for a number of years, either in a separate building dedicated for that purpose, or in a private home.
The names of four Jews from Ganics in the 1860s appear in the subscription list for the printing of the sefer Kisei Rachamim of the Chidah [Rabbi Chaim Yosef David Azulai (1724-1806)], which was published in Ungvar in 5628 [~1867]: R' Yoel Weiser (or Weisner), R' Zalman, R' Yitzchok Miller, and his son R' Menachem Miller. Some of these same names, together with others, appear in other books printed at much later dates.
At the beginning of the 20th century two wooden Batei Midrash [study halls] were built. These served as synagogues in which the residents of Ganics prayed. Besides these two study halls, there was a regular minyan in the house of the Rav. The Chevra Kadisha [burial society] had been established at the beginning of the organization of the community, with the opening of the local Jewish cemetery. Additionally, there was a Chevras Mishnayos [Mishna study group].
Most of the surrounding villages in the Dibover Rika, from the village Brister to the town Vilchovits, were dependent upon the rabbinical leaders of Ganics for guidance.
The first Rabbi of the Ganics community was Rabbi Yehuda Yoel Deutsch, who was born in Sepinka. He was a close student of the author of Yitav Lev, in whose Yeshiva he studied for many years. At the age of 17, he was chosen by the wealthy R' Meir Miller of Ganics to marry his daughter Eidel. At the recommendation of the Yitav Lev, Rabbi Deutsch was chosen as the Rabbi of Ganics in the early 1880s. R' Menachem Adler, in his personal memoirs (manuscript) writes of him as follows: In Ganics there was a great Rabbi, of whom it is possible to say that he was a gaon in Torah, whose equal was not to be found in the entire area. His name was Rabbi Yehuda Yoel Deutsch, of blessed memory. For a number of years he headed a Yeshiva which had many students. I myself in my youth learned with him one semester in the year 5658. He was a great expert in the financial laws and extremely perceptive in his ability to render judgements between opposing parties. People came to him from the entire area to render decisions in cases of financial disagreements. Rabbi Deutsch corresponded extensively with the Torah leaders of his generation, and his name is mentioned repeatedly in the contemporary responsa. A few examples: in responsa Avnei Tzedek (written by his teacher the author of Yitav Lev), Choshen Mishpat section 74 and Yorah Deah section 231; in responsa Pri HaSadeh (written by Rabbi Eliezer Deutsch of Bonihad) volume 3 section 113, dated 5672. Even though Rabbi Deutsch was a student of the author of Yitav Lev [who was from the Szatmer chassidic dynasty], over the course of time he associated himself with the Vishnitz Chassidim, becaming close to the Vishnitz Rebbe, the Admor Rabbi Yisroel Hager. The Vishnitz Rebbe himself praised Rabbi Deutsch highly, placing him first amongst his three most praiseworthy followers, in the following quote, I have three followers, each of whom are unique in their qualities the Rav from Ganics is a gaon and is so great in Torah that he can learn in one night the entire six orders of the Mishna; the Rav from Ternova (Rabbi Shlomo Eliezer Weizel) is great in his fear of heaven; and Rabbi Mordechai Chana is a [true] Chasid. Rabbi Yehuda Yoel Deutsch died the eve of the Sukkos holiday in 5679 (1918).
Rabbi Yehuda Yoel Deutsch,
Av Beis Din of Ganics and vicinity.
Died the eve of the
Sukkos holiday, 5679 (1918)
After the death of Rabbi Yehuda Yoel Deutsch, his son Rabbi Moshe Deutsch was chosen to succeed his father in the position of the Rabbi of Ganics. He also was one of the great Rabbis of the Marmaros region. A responsa to him from Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky (during his tenure as the Rabbi of the city Chust, in responsa Tshuvos HaMaharitz, vol 1, section 132, dated 5687) addresses him as the great Rav , one of the righteous who are the foundation of the world, experienced and Chasid. Rabbi Moshe Deutsch was also extensively involved in community issues in the entire Marmaros region and in greater Trans-Carpathia. As an example, in the elections for the Second Czechoslovakian Parliament in December 1929, he signed a public proclamation encouraging the populace to vote for the party which had been organized by the Jewish businessmen and craftsmen in Trans-Carpathia, among whose candidates were included Abraham Mendel Gutman and R' Moshe Rosenfeld (Tetcher) from Chust. Rabbi Moshe Deutsch was martyred in Aushwitz.
martyred in Aushwitz
in the summer of 5704 (1944)
A son of Rabbi Moshe Deutsch, Rabbi Yehuda Yoel Deutsch [named after his illustrious grandfather], published a book entitled Mishnas Beis Abba [The Teachings of My Father's House] which includes many of the writings of his father and grandfather that survived the Holocaust. He added to this work a comprehensive historical introduction filled with previously unknown material about Ganics and its Rabbis. This book was warmly received by the Jews of Marmaros, and it carries approbations from a number of great Rabbis, who heaped praise upon both the book and its author.
The earliest Shochet that is known to us was named R' Yehuda Moshe, who served in Ganics from the 1880s onwards. There is no doubt that the village had a Shochet even before that time who also served as a local halachic authority. The last Shochet was R' Ben-Tzion, who was a dedicated Vishnitz chasid. He also was martyred in the Holocaust.
Amoung the more important Talmudical scholars whose presence graced the town of Ganics was R' Binyomin Abba Wag. He knew most of the Talmud by heart. Even as a young student at the Yeshiva of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hager in Wisho, his renown had already spread. In those days it was not common to possess a full set of all of the volumes of the Talmud. When a student in the Yeshiva was having difficulty understanding the commentary of the Tosafos and would need to study a parallel section of the Talmud that was located in a different tractate, the student would approach Binyomin Abba, who would explain to him by heart the section of the different tractate that was referred to by the Tosafos. His father-in-law was R' Yisroel Isser Schwartz, who was a shochet and bodek in Tapalshan. Rabbi Binyomin Abba Wag was an expert in both the Talmud and in the Poskim, and was constantly learning. He, his wife, and their three children were all martyred at Aushwitz.
In Ganics there were many Torah scholars. One, R' Simcha Yehuda Fogel, republished the famous book Eitz Avos on Pirkei Avos (Sziget 5672) authored by Rabbi Yaakov Emden, to which he added an introduction. Included in the approbations to this book is an approbation of [the abovementioned Rabbi of Ganics] Rabbi Yehuda Yoel Deutsch. Various survivors of the town mentioned the names of the following Torah scholars, most of whom were Vishnitz Chassidim:
R' Chaim Pesach Farkash was one of the important local elders of the Vishnitz Chassidim and who was known as an accomplished chazan. He was a small shopkeeper. R' Shlomo Brovan was a teacher who spread Torah among gifted students. R' Zelig was a Sofer STaM [a professional Torah Scribe who writes Torah Scrolls, Tefillin and Mezuzos] who was also known as a beloved chazan. R' Chaim Elya was also a Sofer STaM. R' Meir Deutsch and R' Baruch Deutsch were two brothers of the Rav, who owned a grocery store.
may his spilled blood be avenged
The inscription reads as follows: Blessed is G-d. For eternal remembrance. These volumes of the Holy Zohar were donated as a gift to the Chevras Mishnayos by the deceased R' Yosef the son of Avraham Chaim of blessed memory from Ganics. It is a gift from the Chevras Mishnayos & Talmud of Ganics, in honor of our holy teacher, the beautiful crown of Israel, he should live for many years, amen, whose remembrances for the good should rise in front of the highest awesome G-d constantly. These are the words of the writer, in the name of the entire group in this town Ganics, 10 Elul 5694. Signed: Boruch the son of Eidel, trustee of the group. Given as a gift by the leaders of the Chaburas Mishnayos: Alter Mordechai the son of Brana, Mordechai the son of Rachel, Chaim Pesach the son of Miriam, Shmuel Avraham the son of Sara Rivka, Nachman the son of Sara Yehudis.
We will additionally mention here a short list of the names of important householders as they appear in the [abovementioned] book Mishnas Beis Abba authored by R' Yehuda Yoel Deutsch. We have already mentioned R' Chaim Pesach Farkash, who was of the greats of the Vishnitz Chassidim. R' Dan Einhorn and his sons R' Nachman, R' Alter, R' Mendel, and R' Moshe, who prayed with devotion. R' Mordechai Hershkovitz was a teacher who organized public recital of Psalms. His son R' Shmuel Abba Hershkovits was an experienced teacher. R' Alter Miller was an accomplished Torah scholar who taught many of the children of the town.
The lay leader of the community during the 1930s was usually R' Mendel Miller, who was a well-to-do householder and a known Torah scholar. He was an in-law of R' Yehuda Yoel Deutsch.
As we have previously mentioned, R' Yehuda Yoel Deutsch [the son of Rabbi Moshe Deutsch] published a comprehensive and information-filled book on Ganics. In that volume, survivors of Ganics and their descendants will be able to find additional information about the history of the town, and about its spiritual and lay leaders. Therefore, [since the information is available elsewhere,] we will not expound at length here on those aspects of this town.
The children of Ganics learned Torah in four Chedarim [religious elementary schools], according to age and their progress in their studies. Approximately half of the children afterwards continued their studies in the various Yeshivos that existed in the country, and especially in the famous Yeshivos in Slovakia. Some students continued their studies in Yeshivos that were located even further afield, such as in Transylvania and in Hungary. The other half of the students who did not continue with full-time study in higher Yeshivos, either learned a trade or worked to help support their family.
The occupations of the Jews of Ganics were similar to that of most of the Jews who lived in the surrounding area. There was a thin layer of well-established and wealthy householders, whereas the vast majority of the Jewish residents of the town were quite poor. Two flour mills in Ganics were owned by Jews. The abovementioned R' Menachem Adler describes [in his memoirs] the local economy: There were approximately 130 families. Many of them were wagon drivers. Of the remainder, some were farmers, and some were small shopkeepers and middlemen. Most of them were poor. According to the stories of survivors of the town who describe the economic life of the Jews of Ganics, the picture that is drawn appears as follows: There were a number of storekeepers and craftsmen (such as tinsmiths, shoemakers, tailors, and carpenters), and quite a few wagon drivers who transported lumber and merchandise. Some of the local Jews worked in lumber mills that were located in neighboring towns such as Krasinora, Mokra, Kenigsfeld, and other places. There were peddlers who travelled throughout the surrounding area but would return home every Shabbos eve. Others peddlers would travel further, reaching Slovakia. Some would travel as far as the cities of Moravia and Bohemia. A few even crossed the borders into the neighboring countries.
[In the last decades of the Jewish community] two Jewish youth movements were organized in Ganics. Pirchei Yehuda was associated with Agudas Yisroel, and was actively supported by [the Rabbi of the town] Rabbi Moshe Deutsch. Another portion of the youth of the town established a branch of Bnei Akiva, to which the Rabbi was opposed. However, he did not actively interfere in their activities. Some of the graduates of this group went on to join hachshara groups in Slovakia [that prepared them for aliya to the land of Israel].
With the breakup of the Republic of Czechoslovakia in the spring of 1939, the town of Ganics was taken over by Sitches (nationalist Ruthenians). These Ruthenians were led by Ukrainian exiles who had fled from Communist Russia after [the Russian revolution which followed] the First World War. The rule of the Sitches only lasted about two weeks, but during that short time, they spread tremendous fear on the local Jewish populace. They publicly sharpened swords and issued unveiled threats against the Jews, stating that in a short time they were going to begin a general slaughter of the Jews in the town. The atmosphere was one of total breakdown of authority, where any individual could do whatever he wanted. However, it appears that the only physical result of all of the Sitches' threats was the enforcement of a decree forbidding the local Ruthenians to act as a Shabbos Goy, that is, forbidding the Ruthenians to do menial tasks for the Jews during the Jewish Sabbath. It is no wonder that the Jews greeted the Hungarian conquest of the village in March 1939 with a sense of relief. The Hungarian army took revenge on the Sitches, who had fled in all directions. The Hungarian troops chased them down in the surrounding mountains and forests and killed many of them.
However, the Jews were soon bitterly disappointed by their saviors the Hungarians. Only a short time after the Hungarian conquest, there began a constanty increasing series of antisemetic decrees. The first stage was the shaking up by the Hungarians of the sources of livelihood of the Jews. The economy of the local Jews was not very stable to begin with, even without the new antisemetic decrees. Some of the local youth [at this time] left the area for Budapest, where they sought work and alternative sources of income.
In June 1941 the Hungarian citizenship decree reached Ganics. In a combined action, dozens of Hungarian gendarmes descended upon Ganics without warning, coming from two directions on the two roads that lead towards the town. The gendarmes surrounded the town and totally cut it off from the surrounding area, making escape impossible. A curfew was declared on the entire town. The troops were accompanied by clerks from the Department of Foreign Residents of the Hungarian Ministry of the Interior, who went from house to house, inspecting the papers of the Jews. Any individual who could not satisfactorily prove his Hungarian citizenship with valid papers was arrested and isolated, together with his family. Only the wives and children of those men who had been previously drafted into Hungarian forced-labor units were released, and that only if those women were in possession of a valid civil marriage licence. On that single day, according to some estimates, approximately half of the Jewish population of Ganics men, women and children [approximately 65 families], were forcibly deported to Galicia. According to another testimony, only about 40 [out of a total of about 130] families underwent deportation. Almost all of these deportees were murdered at Kaminetz-Podolsk and other areas of Poland, after having been mercilessly force-marched for weeks and even months along endless roads and pathways. A few survivors (according to the estimates of the survivors of the village, perhaps 10%) managed to return to the borders of Hungary, in dangerous journeys filled with horrors. Many were murdered attempting to return.
One tragic and moving story is that of R' Kopel Hershkovits, a small businessman who at the time of the deportation was about 70 years old. After succeeding in escaping from the mass murder which was the fate of most of the deportees from Hungary, he trudged his way through unmarked pathways back in the direction of the Hungarian border. During the day he hid in the forests or in fields of standing grain, during the night he tirelessly walked. All that he had to eat was grasses and roots. In either June or July of 1942 that is, a full year after the deportations he finally reached the Hungarian border. However, before could actually cross the border, he collapsed and died from exhaustion and hunger.
During the time period betwen the deportations of 1941 and the mass murders of 1944, the situation in Ganics was relatively quiet. During this time many Jews, especially the youth, abandoned the town and settled in Budapest where they attempted to acquire false papers. Those who had survived the 1941 deportations to Poland did not return to Ganics, but spread out in various other towns and cities.
On the last day of Pesach in 5704 (15 April 1944) it was announced that the remaining Jews were being ordered to leave the town, with the reason being given that the front [the advancing Russian army] was approaching the area. Two days later, the Jews were gathered together in the Beis Midrash and stripped of any valuables in their possession. From there they were taken in wagons to the train station in nearby Neresniza, where they were loaded into the local small-gauge train and taken to Teresif. From Teresif, they were then loaded onto another train which brought them to the ghetto in Mateszalka. They were placed in the part of the Mateszalka ghetto which was outside of the city itself, next to the Christian graveyard. There they were confined for two days without shelter from the elements. After two days they were moved into the part of the ghetto that was located within the city, where the overcrowding and living conditions were horrendous. In one of the trainloads which carried the deportees from Mateszalka to Aushwitz, the Jews of Ganics were also deported.
Some of the Jews of Ganics were taken to the Tecs ghetto. The distance of about 5 kilometers to the train station [at Neresniza] was travelled on foot, with the Jews carrying on their backs their only food and remaining possessions. In the Tecs ghetto, 20-25 individuals were crowded into a single small room. Young hooligans from the Lunta (a Hungarian military youth group) would break into the ghetto and would torment the Jewish men and women, robbing them of whatever possessions that the Hungarian gendarmes might have overlooked. The day before the deportation to Aushwitz, the Jews were concentrated in the brick factory in Tecs. There they were again searched in a torturous and degrading manner. The next day they were deported to Aushwitz.
The local Ruthenians in Ganics displayed great joy in seeing the bitter fate of the Jews. This included even those Ruthenians with whom the Jews had conducted friendly and honest business dealings, and with whom the Jews had seemingly had good neighborly relations for dozens of years. This [perfidy of their Ruthenian neighbors] is one of the main reasons that the Jews were afraid to flee into the surrounding forests. There were a number of incidents where local Ruthenian farmers murdered with their own hands Jews that they found hiding in the mountains. In many instances, the escapees preferred to turn themselves in to the Hungarian gendarmes rather than falling into the hands of the local Ruthenians, who would mercilessly torture their Jewish captives before killing them.
We know of two cases of local Jews who did manage to escape from the deportations and to join and fight with the partisans. Zayda Grossman was one such individual. However, unfortunately he also met a tragic fate. After the war he moved to Israel, where a short time after his arrival he was murdered by Arabs in the year 1950. Mordechai Perl was another local Jew who fought together with the partisans. At the time of this writing [~1983], he is living in Canada.
Interviews with a number of Ganics survivors.
Adler, R. Menachem (of Ternove); Personal Memories (manuscript), p. 13.
Erez, Yehuda (editor); Sefer Karpato-Rus (Encyclopedia of the Diaspora, volume 7).
Magyar-Zsido Okleveltar, Budapest, vol VII (Budapest, 1963) p. 747.
Testimonies in Yad VaShem archives: 015/633; 015/937; 015/892; 015/2825.
Translated and edited by Moshe A Davis. This translation is dedicated to the memory of my grandfather Benish Davidovits (in America, Bennie Davis), who was born in the neighboring village of Leh (Szeleslonka, Shirukiy Luh), and to the members of his family (family surnames Davidovits, Katz, and Markovits, some of whom lived in Ganics), and who were murdered by the accursed Nazis and their accomplices. Hashem Yenakam Damam!
In this translation, I have endeavored to maximize ease of readability and the grammatical flow of the material, while keeping true to the spirit and the content of the information contained therein. To this end, in many places I have taken the liberty of rearranging the sentence and/or paragraph structure from that of the original Hebrew in order to improve the clarity and natural flow of ideas in English. Also, in many places I have slightly expanded the material, in order to clarify ideas or to define concepts which may not be familiar to readers who lack background in traditional Jewish customs and who are unfamiliar with Jewish Law. My own additions I have set apart by enclosing them in square brackets [ ].
Please note that many of the original sources used by the authors of Sefer Marmaros were written in languages other than Hebrew, which is the language of the text of Sefer Marmaros itself. Those original sources were not available to the translator, and thus most of the surnames and/or place names as transliterated here from the Hebrew may in fact have been spelled somewhat differently in the original source.
List of Jewish surnames from Ganics mentioned in this article:
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