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Schodnica chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem
Published in Jerusalem
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for permission to put this material on the JewishGen web site.
This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot:
Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland, Volume II, pages 357-358, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
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(Drohobycz District, Lviv Province)
Translated by Susan Rosin
The village of Schodnica became a township with the discovery of oil towards the end of the 19th century. The majority of Schodnica's population worked in the oil industry and only few continued farming.
The first Jewish families settled in Schodnica in the mid-19th century and were among the pioneers of the oil industry. Some oil wells were owned by Jews. Jews worked as administrators and skilled laborers mainly in drilling and as operators of the steam machines. The Gartenberg family was among the prominent owners of several oil enterprises. Moshe Gartenberg started drilling for oil in Schodnica in 1895. The Backenroth Family was also instrumental in developing the oil industry in Schodnica.
50 Jewish families lived in Schodnica by the end of the 19th century. In addition to working in the oil industry some of these families found their livelihood as merchants and craftsmen of metal works primarily supporting the oil industry.
Jews were the main owners and operators of the wagon transportation to connect with the neighboring towns of Boryslaw and Drohobycz.
The pogroms of 1897 - 1898 by Polish anti-Semitic groups left many of Schodnica's Jews injured.
Schodnica was not an independent Jewish community but was administered by the Drohobycz Kehila. However some community services sprung in Schodnica. The Great Synagogue was built by the Backenroth family. In addition there were the Little Kloiz, the cemetery and a mikvah (ritual bath). The traditional education was headed by rabbi Abraham Kitaigorodski encouraging groups of young men to study in beth hamidrash.
During World War I and with the advance of the Russian army many Jewish refugees passed in the area on their way to Hungary and were helped and supported by the community.
25 Jews worked in various professional capacities in the oil industry in 1921 and additional 20 were employed as unskilled laborers. In 1928, 9 Jewish families made their living in agriculture/farming.
Between the two world wars, Schodnica had a number of branches of the main Jewish organizations: WIZO, Ezra, and a kibbutz of the Hehalutz (the Pioneer).
It is interesting to look at the data about the voting for the Zionist congresses in 1933, 1935 and 1939:
Rabbi Moshe (son of rabbi Yehoshua) Eichenstein officiated in Schodnica before 1939 and perished in the Shoah.
In the 1930th the attacks against the Jews, specifically by Polish anti-Semites intensified. In the fall of 1936 Polish youth attacked Jews during the high holidays prayers. Five of the attackers were arrested, but all of them were acquitted during trial. In 1937 only two butcher stores were given license to sell kosher meat.
In 1939, 2 Jews, 7 Poles and 2 Ukrainians were elected to the local council.
The German forces marched into Schodnica in mid-September 1939 during their movement to the east. The local Ukrainians prepared for a pogrom but it was averted due to the arrival of the Red army (the RibbentropMolotov Pact of non-aggression) at the end of September. The nationalization of the oil wells and the other oil industry related installations hit hard the Jewish population because many were employed in this industry. The engineers, drillers and other Jewish laborers continued working in this field and some of them even had important positions. The merchants gradually liquidated their stores. Most of the craftsmen were organized in cooperatives. Soviet citizenship was granted in 1940 but many of the previously more wealthy Jewish families were given Soviet identification documents limiting their movement and making it more difficult to obtain work. Local Jewish communists played an important role in the management of the local council institutions. In time these individuals' influence was weakened due to the institutions becoming more Ukrainian. In 1941 a group of young communists escaped with the retreating Soviet army (when the non-aggression pact was broken by the Germans).
The Germans conquered Schodnica on July 1st, 1941 and a 3-day pogrom started immediately. Some of the Jews were captured on the streets and in their homes and others from lists that were prepared ahead by Poles and Ukrainians. Some of the Jews were killed with great cruelty in Schodnica, but most of them were transported to a nearby forest and killed there. 200 Jews lost their lives in these 3 days and the Germans actively assisted the local gangs.
In August 1941after several communities in the neighboring villages were annihilated, some Jews from Schodnica decided to move to the bigger communities of Drohobycz and Boryslaw assuming that their lives will be safer there. In the fall of 1941, 280 Jews still remained in Schodnica. However the diseases, starvation and constant murders, dwindled their numbers. In August 1942, 60 people were kidnapped, sent to Boryslaw and from there to the Belzec death camp.
On October 22, 1942 the remaining Jews were ordered to leave Schodnica and move to the work camps in the neighboring town. Schodnica was declared Judenrein (free of Jews).
Sefer zikaron le-Drohobycz, Boryslaw ve-ha-seviva ((Memorial to the Jews of Drohobycz, Boryslaw, and surroundings), Tel Aviv, 1959. See pages 155, 191-192
Chwila 9.9.1934, 6.3.1936, 22.5.1936, Chwila Wieczorna 14.8.1936, 12.12.1936, 13.1.1937, 25.3.1937, 10.7.1939, Przyzlosc 20.8.1899
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