The Jewish communal structure and its institutions disbanded. The activists and leaders of the Zionist parties were imprisoned, including Anselm Halpern, R. L. Arnold, Mendel Kaswiner, Yitzchak Hefter, Mordechai Kimmel, Asher Krauthammer, Binyamin Fichman, Shevach Aksmeyer, Reuven Fahen, and many others. Some were exiled into the interior of Russia. Some of the Zionist youth, in particular the Shomer Hatzair, continued to carry on their activities for a time in an illegal fashion. A few of them managed to regroup in Vilna.
All of the large private enterprises, especially the Jewish factories, disappeared. Storehouses and stores were confiscated. The authorities organized show trials in the Warszawa coffeehouse against the most prominent Jewish merchants and manufacturers, on the pretext of profiteering and acting in bad faith against the population. Those tried includes Samuel (of the clothing trade), Angel, Shomer, Horowitz and Sternberg (textiles), Yaakov Hauser (cosmetics), and they were sentenced to ten years of exile. For official reasons, the authorities permitted a portion of the smaller merchants and artisans to continue with their trades, however, due to the officially set prices, high taxes, and shortages of merchandise, they were ultimately forced to close their businesses. The Jewish masses lost their traditional sources of livelihood, and were forced to seek employment in the nationalized factories, estates, stores and offices. Fortunately, work was easily found in these areas. The authorities assisted in setting up cooperatives of tradesmen. Groups of tailors, shoemakers, pastry bakers, and other artisans grouped into cooperatives, and gave over their machinery, equipment and raw materials to the authorities. Some of these cooperatives became nationalized, and employed hundreds of Jews. Even some of the prosperous Jews, who up until now had been able to maintain their livelihood, attempted to join the "Productive Foundations", so that their passports would not be stamped with "Seif", which would limit their rights due to their former status40. Citizens who had formerly been part of this class were forbidden to live in central cities, and were rounded up and forced to live in rural areas, where there was no appropriate employment, and where they would arouse the suspicion of the local authorities. Many well- off Jews from the smaller towns in the area came discreetly to Stanislawow, so that they would be able to "disappear" in the large city, and thereby they would elude suspicion and persecution in their own small towns, where they would be more noticeable to the authorities.
A difficult wave of persecutions befell the Jews of Stanislawow, along with the Jews of the other large cities, in the summer of 1940, when many Jews -- particularly the refugees -- were exiled into the depths of Russia. The local Jews exhibited brotherly feelings at that time, and hid the persecuted ones in their houses.
After the communal organizations disbanded and the leaders of the Zionist organizations were imprisoned, the synagogues remained the only institutions where the social and spiritual life of the community was able to function. But the synagogues suffered from great financial difficulties due to the high taxes that were imposed on them. Some public assistance organizations were able to function, such as a soup kitchen for refugees which functioned for several weeks in the sanatorium that was formerly run by Dr. Geit, and an organization to help the locals who had lost their source of livelihood. The authorities permitted the establishment of an Yiddish elementary school. The Goldfaden theater was also able to continue functioning.
With the outbreak of the Soviet-German war, many Jews from Stanislawow, in particular the younger people who were not involved with raising families and the communal functionaries who worked under the Soviets, attempted to flee eastward; but there were very few opportunities to do so. Only several hundred managed to reach the Soviet border. This number included some of the youths who had enlisted in the Red Army. At this point, as the Soviet authorities left, the Ukrainian locals began to persecute the Jews. The Hungarian army, which entered the city on July 2, 1941, stopped the pogroms that were being perpetrated by the Ukrainians. In the brief two week period of Hungarian rule, no harm befell the Jews of Stanislawow, with the exception that property was expropriated for the use of the army. The Ukrainians did not behave as civilly to the Jews when they took over the local government: they removed the Jews from the best positions of employment, forced them into manual labor, pillaged their houses, and persuaded the Hungarian authorities to force the Jews to wear an identifying badge -- a yellow arm band. The Hungarians attempted as much as possible to curtail the Ukrainian abuses against the Jews, which included their removal from the right to receive food rations, etc.
A dramatic event which took place at that time was the arrival of several thousand Jewish refugees from the Carpathians, who were exiled by the Hungarian government. The refugees were in a dreadful situation: broken, worn-out, frail, hungry, ill, and destitute, since they had been plundered en route by the Hungarian and Ukrainian population. They were put up in the flour mill that was owned by Samuel Rudolf, an unfinished building several stories high on Halicka St. Very few of them, only the most resourceful of them, were able to move on from there, to find some sort of job or source of livelihood, and to intermingle with the local population. The majority remained in that place even afterward, when the ghetto was set up. The local Jews attempted to assist these refugees from Hungary. The baker Yaakov Krigel was very active in this effort. Day after day, he went from house to house with a hand drawn carriage, collecting food and clothing for the refugees. The Judenrat41 that had been set up attempted to assist these refugees as much as possible, by providing a kitchen and other necessary facilities. They also provided a full time doctor. Nevertheless, this building turned into a house of death, due to the hunger and the cold. This building was separate from the ghetto, and was supervised over by the Jewish fire fighters. About 1,000 sick and frail Jews lived in this building until the main aktion of March 31, 1942. They were the first to be killed in the aktion.
There were more than 40,000 Jews in Stanislawow when it was occupied by the Germans on July 26, 1941. This number included refugees from western Poland, the Carpathian exiles, and refugees from neighboring villages who sought refuge in Stanislawow due to the persecutions by the Ukrainian population that took place after the departure of the Soviets. With the assistance of the Ukrainians, the German police entered the Jewish quarter and kidnapped Jews, beat them, cut off their beards, and photographed these deeds. The Ukrainians and Poles perpetrated riots against the Jews in the center of town at the time of the destruction of the statue of Lenin. At the outset of German rule, the Germans called upon Yisrael Seibald, who had been active in running the community before the war, and forced him to set up a Judenrat. He set up a Judenrat consisting of those who had previously been active in communal affairs, and appointed himself as head, and the lawyer Michael Lamm as his deputy. A significant personality in the Judenrat was the lawyer Dr. Tennenbaum, who served as the liaison between the Judenrat and the Gestapo. Several other people who had not been active in communal affairs prior to the war became involved, such as the lawyer Blumenfeld, the engineer Krausch, Dr. Rosenbaum, and the teacher Yoseph Fulger. By a decree of the authorities, all Jews of the independent professions were required to register by profession. People rushed to register, with the hope of finding suitable employment. On August 2, 1941, all the Jewish intelligentsia of Stanislawow were required to assemble (with threat of death for those who refused) on the 3rd, 4th, and 8th of August at the Gestapo Headquarters (which was set up at the central courthouse on Bilinski St.), ostensibly to discuss communal affairs, and to receive appropriate work assignments. Different gathering times were set up for the professionals. There were differing figures (varying from 500 to 1,000 people) as to how many people assembled at these gatherings. Those who assembled included lawyers, engineers, physicians, pharmacists, teachers, officials, Rabbis (including Rabbi Horowitz and the preacher Bertisch), mohels42 and many others. These people were incarcerated for two days in the courtyard next to the jail house. The Germans starved them, beat them, and pounced upon them. Afterward, with the assistance of Ukrainian policemen, they were loaded onto trucks and taken to the Pawelcze forest, outside of Stanislawow. There they were commanded to dig a communal grave and undress, and they were murdered43. Of those assembled in the Gestapo building, 8-10 physicians were kept alive, since the Germans would require their services in the event of epidemics in the city, as well as a group of thirteen engineers, who managed to convince the Germans that they filled vital roles, and had vital expertise that would be necessary for the Germans.
For a few weeks, the officials of the Gestapo succeeded in convincing the Jews of Stanislawow that there had been no massacre, and that all those imprisoned were alive in labor camps. They permitted the families to send care packages of food and clothing to the camp, via the Judenrat. Laam, the vice head of the Judenrat, pleaded with the Gestapo to return those 'exiled' to the camps, but after some time, the truth became known to the Jews.
At the beginning of August 1941, the German authorities commanded the Jews, under threat of death, to wear arm bands with Magen Davids. One by one, all the decrees against the Jews that were in effect in the Generalgouvernement44 were imposed on the local Jewish population. Jews were evacuated from their houses. All the choicest houses and neighborhoods were emptied of Jews. Permission to take along any of their belongings was dependent on the whim of the German official who oversaw the evacuation. The kidnapping of Jews for hard labor was a daily occurrence. The Judenrat set up a local work bureau in order to attempt to free themselves from the kidnappings, and to arrange the work requirements in an orderly fashion (for the Germans required 1,000 workers each day). The aforementioned lawyer Dr. Tennenbaum set up this work bureau and stood at its head, and later Horowitz and Last headed it. This work group prepared lists of Jews who were prepared to work -- people who did not have steady employment, and who were known to the authorities. The Jews on these lists were required to assemble daily at the office, and from them were selected people to do the work that the Germans required. These laborers received paltry wages, soup, and sometimes a slice of bread from the employer or from the Judenrat. Later on, when the ghetto was established the work bureau set up a list of regular workers from the Ghetto and from outside of it, and provided them with work permits.
In August and September 1941, a pillaging of the houses of the wealthy Jews took place. One decree of the authorities required all Jews to give over within three days -- via the Judenrat -- all gold and silver valuables that they possessed. The Germans required the Judenrat to furnish them with food, merchandise, and silver. The Judenrat was required to provide maintenance and supplies to the Gestapo headquarters on Bilinski St., and the Schupo45 prison that was next to it. The Germans had brought to this prison all the provisions that the families of the intelligentsia had provided for their murdered relatives at the time of the aktion. The Judenrat was also forced to supply the houses of the German generals. Therefore, the first division of the Judenrat, after the work bureau was the office of provisions "Beschaffungsamt", under the direction of Vogel. This division confiscated the needed provisions from the houses of the well-to-do Jews, and also imposed a tax to meet these needs.
At the outset of German rule other hardships befell the Jewish population. For example, in August, a fire broke out in one of the Jewish houses. The German and Ukrainian officials found an opportunity for their entertainment here, in that they blamed the Jewish firefighters for being derelict in their duties. As a "punishment" for "allowing the fire to take place", 50 men were imprisoned and brought to the Gestapo. Not one of these men returned. About a week later, the Germans complained that the Jews shot a Ukrainian official. 30 young Jews were imprisoned, and not one returned. The Gestapo established a Jewish orchestra under the direction of Zygo Weiss. This band was forced to entertain the Germans at their parties -- and also to provide entertainment during torture of Jews at the Gestapo headquarters or the prison.
At the beginning of October 1941, news of the murder of Jews in the small villages in the Carpathian mountains reached Stanislawow. Many Jews refused to believe these terrible tidings, but nevertheless, frightful signs that this news was indeed true began to reach Stanislawow. For a few days, members of the Ukrainian "Baudienst" appeared in the new Jewish cemetery with spades and picks in their hands. They dug large pits there, ostensibly to protect against air raids. At that time the Ukrainian police made lists of all the Jews in the city. On the 10th or 11th of October, 1941, the news spread that the Gestapo had ordered the Judenrat to provide 1,000 men to be sent out of the city for work. The Jews realized that a terrible fate awaited them, but only few were able to escape the city.
At dawn on October 12, 1941, the day of Hoshana Rabba46 5702, the houses of the Jews in the center of the city were surrounded by German police, Ukrainians, and members of the "Bahnschutz" armed with machine guns and police clubs. The Jews were ordered to wear their finest clothing, and to take all valuables, as they were being taken to work camps. These people were brought to the city market. On the way they were beaten and tortured by the guards, and when they reached their destination, they were required to kneel on their knees in front of the town hall. Afterward, they were made to walk in a row on Batory St. The weak and the ill were tossed onto trucks. At the sight of this procession, the remainder of the Jews who remained in their houses realized that the city was being evacuated, and they quickly packed their belongings. But when it became clear that the procession was making its way to the new cemetery, everyone tried frantically to hide. At the cemetery, the guards assembled the Jews near the wall, and commanded them to give over their valuables, and hid them in that place. They checked the Jews' work permits, but only a small portion of them were honored. After this enumeration, over one hundred (according to another authority, several hundred) Jews were freed. The work permits that the Judenrat had issued were not honored. In the afternoon the general slaughter began: the people were ordered, group by group, to strip and to arrange their clothing in order, and then they were shot at the foot of the large grave. They fell forward, or were ordered to jump inside. As the slaughter progressed, the tumult at the wall increased, as everyone moved back in an attempt to delay their turn. In this tumult, many of the weak and the children were trampled to death. Some of the Judenrat officials were brought to the cemetery as well, and were forced to witness this spectacle, and then they were shot along with their families. Seibald, the head of the Judenrat succeeded in hiding, and it appears as if he managed to escape from the city. The lawyer Dr. Tennenbaum acted bravely. When the head of the Gestapo, who had been presiding over the slaughter, offered to free him, Tenenbaum said that he rejected the favors of the murderers, and would prefer to die with his brethren. Of the members of the Judenrat who were gathered in the cemetery, only the lawyer Lamm and his family were freed. The slaughter terminated at sunset. From among the more than 10,000 Jews who were brought to the cemetery, there were still a few thousand who had not been shot; these were sent back home. Another tumult arose at the gates, and some other were killed. The communal grave was not covered over that night. Some of those shot who had remained alive, managed to crawl out from among the corpses. Some reached their houses, and others died on the way. About 10,000 people were murdered that day. The aktion did not include the distant neighborhoods such as Gorka and Meizle. Some of the Jews who resided in the center of the city had managed to hide. The local riffraff chased after those who attempted to hide during the aktion, giving them over the Germans, and pillaging the deserted homes. The next day, the grave was filled with dirt, and those who filled the grave were shot as well. According to one version, the Jewish firefighters covered over the grave. Decrees were posted in the city that after the "riots of the previous day", life should return back to normal.
News of the establishment of a ghetto in Stanislawow reached the Jews already by September 1941, since the German authorities discussed the matter with the Judenrat. The discussions focused around the location and the date. The Judenrat attempted to delay the decree with bribery. The Germans at first planned a bloc of huts, so that all of the Jews would be gathered into one locale. On October 11, 1941, one day before the slaughter in the cemetery, the Schupo ordered the Judenrat to prepare several plans for the ghetto. After the aktion of Hoshana Rabba which reduced the Jewish population significantly, the Germans abandoned their plans for a bloc of huts, and decided to gather the Jews in the traditional Jewish quarter. The authorities submitted their plans for the ghetto in October or November 1941. For a time the borders were not firmly established, and the Judenrat attempted to add neighboring streets to the boundaries. Eventually, the boundaries of the ghetto were established as follows: Kazimierzowska St, the beginning of "Chavva", Roguski St., Sedelmajerowska, Kollontaj, Piotra Skargi, Minihinen, Halicka, Garbarska, Szewczenki, Szkolna, Kowalska, The River Bystrzyca, and back again to Kazimierzowska. Since some of the streets extended outside of the boundaries of the ghetto, or served as passageways, the ghetto was formed with a central area, and two or three separate areas, which were called isles. The ghetto was in the most neglected area of the city. Its area was one eighth of the area of the city. There were not enough reservoirs of water that was fit for drinking, and the houses were in poor states of repair. The Aryans were ordered to leave this area by the end of November, so that they would be able to gather the harvest from the fields and local gardens. The Jews were ordered to move into the ghetto between the 1st and 15th of December 1941. The most prosperous of the Jews were able to move in on time, and without difficulty, since they were able to hire movers. They were able to take their belongings, and to get the best houses. The thousands of poor people who did not have sufficient resources to pay for movers (the government had confiscated the horses and wagons of the Jews), moved in with great difficulty, and in many cases, only arrived at the last minute. They constructed wagons of suitcases, basins, and bathtubs. A few of the most fortunate ones had hand carriages or baby carriages. Thousands of poor people in the ghetto remained with no roof over their heads, as there was not sufficient housing. The Judenrat put them up in storehouses, garages, and synagogues -- in any free place.
The ghetto was separated from the Aryan side by closing off the gates and windows of the houses on the edge of the ghetto with bricks or boards. A wooden fence, 2.5 or 3 meters high with barbed wire on top, was set up in the open areas of the boundary. A white stripe with yellow Magen Davids was painted on the outside wall of the ghetto. At the beginning, the ghetto was open to the outside world through three gates. Later on, the Judenrat persuaded the authorities to open another three or four gates. Guardposts, nicknamed "sacharim", stood next to these gates. Policeman of the Shupo and Ukrainian guards guarded these gates, and they were aided by Jewish guards. A chain of guardposts was also spread along the banks of the Bystrzyca River.
The ghetto was officially sealed on the 20th or the 22nd of December, 1941. The exact number of Jews enclosed therein is not known. It is probable that there were between 28 and 30 thousand Jews, but it is also possible that there were more, since in the autumn of 1941 Jewish refugees from the neighboring villages, which had been evacuated by the Germans, reached Stanislawow.
Very quickly frightful conditions became the norm in the ghetto. Food rations for Jews were cut down, and were set at one half kilogram of bread (or flour) per person per week. Other provisions were provided in token amounts, such as 50 grams of sugar per month. The quota of 50 kilograms of potatoes per person, which was set in the fall before the ghetto was established, did not last long, due to the lack of other provisions. The Jews were permitted for a short time to own fruit and goats. The government took a portion of the milk, and the rest was used by the ghetto, primarily to serve the needs of the hospital.
Stark contrasts were evident in the Jewish settlement. The situation of childless couples, the elderly, the orphans, and the Hungarian refugees was indeed tragic. Many poor people died of hunger and of cold already in the first winter (1941-1942). Beggars bloated by hunger, dressed in worn out rags, dying on the street were a daily sight. In contrast the more well-off fared better: they sold their property and bought smuggled food at exorbitant prices, for the black market in the ghetto had all sorts of good provisions. The legal sale of property to Aryans took place in the "Komision stores" which were set up the Judenrat in the former communal building under the direction of Eckhaus. These were later named "Umschlagstelle". The illegal business took place through smugglers or through Jews who were employed by the authorities. Employment outside the ghetto enabled the masses not only to get food at their work place and a minimal salary, but also opened up the possibility of smuggling goods from the ghetto in exchange for food. However, those who were caught by the guards would be sent to labor camps or executed. Members of the Judenrat and the Jewish guards, as well as those Jews who were employed, were allowed to go regularly into the Aryan side. One time permits were also issued by the Jewish guards for special occasions, and those who had connections were able to obtain these permits for a high price. Thus, those who fared best in the ghetto included the employees of the Judenrat and all its divisions, the guards, and also the energetic and resourceful people who engaged in illegal business and manufacture (which included bakeries, small scale manufacture, and workshops, etc.).
The German authorities employed many Jews outside the ghetto. Those who were skilled professionals such as artisans, engineers, and clerks, generally had regular employment. Groups of workers who would work in the underground market were brought out daily from the ghetto by Ukrainian police. Those German institutions which employed the most Jews included first and foremost the Gestapo, the Shupo, the Ostbahn (railway) and the German Army Quartermaster Office and Maintenance Shops (the Heeresunterkunftsverwaltung47). About sixty building experts under the direction of Herman Last were employed by this latter institution, aside from the simple workers. Last was a textile manufacturer in his prime, so he also supplied the army with cloth, and thereby he was able to employ even more Jews. The workplace of the army residences was in the barracks on the Third of May Street. The Jews employed there were treated well. Jews were also employed in the farms surrounding the city. Several businesses involved in the collection of scraps and refuse employed a significant number of Jews: "Viktor Karmin" (rags and scrap metal), "Lindberger" (glass and bottles), and "B. Wolf" (paper). The workers in these industries, which numbered initially 450 Jews and later even more, were permitted to wander around the entire city and environs. They were provided with special certificates and metal tags, and they used wagons or hand-drawn carts. The right hand man of the Germans was Yaakov Mandel, who was responsible for garbage collection. He established several depots in the ghetto for exchange of refuse and other objects, and in return he provided the residents with foodstuffs. Mandel's work also enabled him to play a large role in the smuggling and underground market of the ghetto.
The work for the Germans took place in the old factories of Stanislawow, which included several which had previously been owned by Jews, and now were turned over to German trustees ("Treuhandler"). Some of these employed Jewish workers and engineers: The leather factory of Margosches, the yeast and alcohol factory of Lieberman, the metal smelter which was run by Abzug, sawmills, carpentry workshops, shoe factories, jam factories, and many others.
The Judenrat attempted to organize Jewish life in the difficult ghetto conditions. The Judenrat offices were now located in the former Kazimierz the Great elementary school on Sedelmajerowska St. After the aktion of Hoshana Rabba 5702 and the disappearance of Seibald, the head of the Gestapo appointed the lawyer Michael Lamm to head the Judenrat. He had previously been the deputy head. Lamm served as head of the Judenrat until the summer of 1942. He appointed Mordechai (Marcus) Goldstein as his deputy. Goldstein had previously been the head of a sawmill in Mikuliczyn. The Judenrat lost many of its members in the aktion, so it now included new members. These are the names of the Judenrat members that are known to us: the engineer Julius Feuerman (as a replacement for th engineer Krausch who seemed to be now employed in some sort of German enterprise near Stanislawow), Shaul Lamm (the brother of the head), Aaron Keusch, the pharmacist Baumer (as a replacement for Dr. Rosenbaum, who succeeded in leaving the Judenrat), Haber, Shmuel Gotlieb, Henio Seibald, Wilhelm Zuckerberg, Hersh (Hasin) Vogel, the lawyer Susskind, Nunio Eckhaus, Mandler, Last, Hersh (Heinzio) Horowitz, Halpern, Salo Frahlich, Eliezer Shafir, and possibly Chaim Horowitz. Aside from the work division and the supply division, which existed to fulfill the needs of the authorities, the Judenrat set up numerous other divisions which were involved in the various aspects of ghetto life. These divisions were for the most part run by members of the Judenrat. We should single out for mention the division of assistance and the division of health and food allocation. The division of assistance ran the Old Age home on Halicka St. as well as the orphanage. This division also was responsible for the public soup kitchen on Belwederska St., which distributed daily a watery soup to the poor. The division of assistance attempted as much as possible to additional provisions and bread rations, but all of its activities were merely a drop in the ocean in relation to the need. Furthermore, a branch of the J.S.S. was set up in the ghetto, which received a monthly allotment from its headquarters in Krakow. The division of health ran the Jewish hospital, which was moved at the time the ghetto was established from its former building on Sapiezynska St. to the monastery which was on Dluga St., at the ghetto boundary. Dr. Meier ran the hospital. An additional hospital was set up on Mlynarska St. (or Yashinski St.) to care for people with contagious diseases. This hospital was run by Dr. Brill (a female doctor). A general clinic, dentist office, and the only pharmacy in the ghetto were all located on Belwederska St.
The technical division filled a specific role; aside from general repairs and improvements (e.g the ghetto gate, houses, wells, etc.), this division also prepared maps and technical drawings for the authorities. This division was also responsible for the care of the horses, which were the only mode of transportation allowed in the ghetto. In accordance with a command of the authorities, the number of horses was restricted to eight. All were under the care of this division, since private individuals were prohibited from owning horses.
The aforementioned Jewish police was organized under the command of the Shupo. The police force was set up by former sergeant of the Polish army, Zahler, who also commanded the force. His deputy was Parser. There were about 100 policemen in the force. The aforementioned fire fighting division also filled an important role in ghetto life. The members of this division assisted the Jewish police, looked after the refugee camp in Rudolf's depot (they were also headquartered there), collected bodies from the camp and from the streets of the ghetto, and brought them for burial in a communal grave in the cemetery. The head of the fire fighters was Chaim Horowitz.
The conditions of the ghetto population degenerated until March 1942. The conditions varied according to the whims and commands of the Nazi rulers. On occasion, groups of youths were gathered and sent to the infamous labour camps in the vicinity (primarily the Plochow camp that was near Zborow), and from were only few returned. In December 1941 the Jews of Stanislawow were commanded, under threat of death, to turn in all of their furs. Searches by the German authorities for smugglers, underground storehouses, and small scale business without permits were daily occurrences, and those found were imprisoned. The German police would also break into the ghetto for other pretexts, and pillage property and shoot people. In the evenings the Germans would arrange for themselves sadistic entertainment, by compelling men and women to dance naked. One one occasion, the Admor (see footnote 10) of the Burstyn dynasty, who resided in the Stanislawow ghetto, was chosen for this display. Deportation of individuals and groups for extermination did not cease during the entire time of the existence of the ghetto. On occasion, the ghetto populace caught sight of the covered trucks of the German army, which brought the victims to the cemetery, or to the area surrounding the city.
In March 1942, rumors spread of an impending aktion, which would include the liquidation of those unfit for work, a shrinking of the area of the ghetto, and other such things. The reaction to these rumors was not unanimous: most of the Jews ignored this dark forecast, however these rumors did indeed materialize. On the eve of Passover 5702, March 31, 1942, toward evening, German and Ukrainian police surrounded the ghetto. The Jews were expelled from their houses into the yards and streets. Many hid. Several houses were set on fire in order to force out people from their hiding places, and in order to light up the area of the ghetto. The police shot at anyone who tried to flee and threw grenades into the houses. Numerous Jews were burned alive, including the Admor Anshilo: the police found him in his hiding place and ordered him to enter into a burning house on Belwederska St. with a Torah scroll in his arms. The Admor continued to pray even as the flames engulfed him, and never let the Torah scroll fall from his arms. The central gathering point of this aktion was the open square between Belwederska and Batory streets. There the Jews were gathered and forced to kneel on their knees all night. Any slight movement would invite a Nazi bullet. The employees of several government institutions, and other workers who were considered important were the only ones freed after a check of work permits. The vast majority of the Jews were brought in the morning to the train station, loaded onto wagons, and transported to the Belzec extermination camp48. The first victims of this aktion were the beggars who roamed the streets, the homeless who were crowded into the public shelters, the last remnant of the Hungarian refugees who lived in Rudolf's depot who were shot or sent to Belzec, the residents of the Old Age home and the orphanage (the murderers tossed the children out the windows, and the remnant were drowned in the Bystrzyca River). The Nazis murdered 5,000 people in this aktion, included several hundred who were killed right in the ghetto.
After this aktion, the authorities commanded that the area of the ghetto be shrunk, and ordered all those who dwelled outside the new boundaries to move inside by April 21, 1942. From this time on the ghetto served primarily as a camp for those healthy Jews who were employed in the German economy. The area between Kazimierzowska, Batory and Siemiradzki streets was torn from the ghetto, and it seems as well that one of the 'isles' was also evacuated. The area of the ghetto was reduced by one third. At that time the Germans conducted a census of the residents of the ghetto. The residents were ordered to gather at the bureau of employment by alphabetical order on specified days. There they were classified by representatives of the Gestapo: A -- the young and healthy who were experts in required fields, and who worked in important institutions, as well as those who had special 'protektia'; these were permitted to remain in the ghetto; B -- those who were called to work on occasion; C -- the weak and the infirm. The category letter was written on the work permits of those who were employed. Since many Jews did not gather together of their own free will, the Germans ordered the police on several occasions to bring them in by force. Most of the Jews of category C were taken directly to Rudolf's depot, which had already become known as the gathering place of those who were designated for extermination. After some time,those people were murdered in the cemetery or were sent to Belzec. Those of category B were in danger. However, for the time being, they were permitted to live in one of the isles of the ghetto. Many of them attempted to hide in the ghetto proper when the Germans began to send people of their category to labor camps or to include them with those designated for extermination in Rudolf's depot. Round ups of Jews of categories B and C began to take place in the ghetto. These selections resulted in the deaths of several thousand more people.
After the bloodshed of March and April 1942, those who remained alive sought feverishly to secure positions in the most vital institutions, which would guarantee them their A category. These vital endeavors provided for the needs of the local authorities, who were interested in the slave labor of the Jews. In April and May, several new work places were established, such as a carpentry workshop on Dluga St., a knitting factory on Halicka St. which employed 300 women (in the Old Age home which had been liquidated), and a factory for wooden shoe soles on Belwederska St. In the "Umschlagstelle" area, the Judenrat established workshops for tailors, shoemakers, furriers, hat makers, knitters, watchmakers, tinsmiths, electricians, and sign painters. Only those workers who had their own instruments and machinery were accepted for work. Some workers were able to receive placements by bribery or by connections. The workshops manufactured products for the Germans, or for private Aryans. The Judenrat set up a manufacturing division to oversee these new work ventures. These workers received paltry wages, since the authorities did not pay at all, and the wages obtained from the private orders were mostly taken for the requirements of the Judenrat. At that time, a Jewish janitorial group was established (Baudienst), which employed several hundred people, and also a group of about 200 men who worked in demolition and building for the government. The most prominent workplace was the "Wirtschaftshof" building of the Gestapo, which was next to the former brick factory of Urman. 400 Jews were regularly employed there, first in building, and later in services. The Wirtschaftshof was a new agricultural endeavor which produced livestock, poultry, and contained vegetable and fruit gardens. It also had sports facilities. The local Shupo, who were the rivals of the Gestapo, also founded their own Wirtschaftshof and employed about 70 Jews of their own. Providing for these two farms proved to be a heavy financial burden on the Judenrat.
This intensive productivity did not improve the lot of the population, who suffered the disgrace of starvation. The poor fed themselves with wild plants, which caused dysentery and intestinal typhus. The Judenrat attempted to set up areas for the growing of vegetables in open areas of the ghetto. The Judenrat established the agricultural division for this purpose, which provided those interested with small sums of money to purchase seeds and saplings. A larger field was located on Bosacka St., near the gas factory, and apparently the Judenrat had control of its harvest. It seems that this farm at the edge of the ghetto, which was set up in April-May 1942 by the local branch of the J.S.S., employed 366-455 agricultural workers with two supervisors.
The productivity of the ghetto did not halt the bloody process of liquidation of the Jews of Stanislawow. The German police would very frequently conduct searches in the ghetto for Jews of category B, smugglers, and underground manufacturers and merchants. The gates (socharim) became dangerous, for people were captured there as they went out to work outside the ghetto. These victims were holders of "invalid" work permits, even if they were from category A, if they did not meet the favor of the eyes of the guard who was on duty at the time. Those caught were sent to Rudolf's depot. Not only were those designated for execution of the Jews of Stanislawow concentrated in that depot, but also thousands of Jews of the neighboring areas which had been liquidated (Kalusz, Halicz, Nadworna, Tlumacz, Wojnilow49, etc.) This depot, and the building next to it, which was the former factory of Shutzman, were able to contain 3,000 Jews in cramped quarters. The poor Jews were kept there for several days without food and water, and then they were transported to the train station for deportation to Belzec, or they were brought to the cemetery for mass extermination by the German and Ukrainian police guards. On occasion, there were also executions in the basement or the yard of the depot. Very few Jews were able to escape from this depot by their own devices, by the aid of their acquaintances, or by large bribes. Jewish and Ukrainian police stood guard over this depot. The Jewish firemen assisted in the striping of the victims before the killings. After the executions, they organized the clothes into piles which were then given over to the authorities, they cleaned the execution area, and buried the bodies in the cemetery. The supervisor of the Jewish police at this time was Zygo Weiss.
At the end of June or July 1942, the situation of the ghetto residents declined further. The supervision of the work of the Jews was officially taken over by the Gestapo. The Jewish work division was liquidated. The number of Jews who were employed in the German factories and institutions was reduced significantly. Furthermore, Jews were allowed to leave the ghetto to go to their workplaces only in groups, supervised by German or Ukrainian guards. The connection between the ghetto and the Aryan side was now limited to one gate (on Belwederska St), and the surveillance became more stringent. Around this time frame, the members of the Judenrat were ordered to present themselves at the Gestapo headquarters one day without warning. Of those that went (which included the head Lamm, Goldstein, Vogel, Horowitz, and Eckhaus), only Goldstein, the deputy head, returned alive after a few days. The rest were transported to the Pawelcze forest, and were shot together with a group of Jews who served the German officials in the city. Also at this time, the Germans liquidated Rudolf's depot for the last time. There were still several hundred Jews from the city and from the neighboring villages living there. They were shot in the cemetery together with Zygo Weiss. After some time, knitting and clothing workshops were opened in this depot that had now become empty.
After the liquidation of the second Judenrat, Goldstein was appointed as head against his will, since he was very wary of taking this position, due to the obvious danger. Apparently, he made preparations to escape to Hungary, but he did not succeed. The Judenrat was now made up of 24 people, including Feuerman, Haber, Susskind, Aaron Keusch, Schipper, Baumer, Mandler, Shmuel Gotlieb, Herman Halpern, Buchwald, Nachbar, Wilhelm Zuckerberg, Imanuel Weingartgen, Kimel Reich, Dr. Bires, Drach, Abzug, and Jonas.
In the second half of July or early August,54 there was further bloodshed in the ghetto, on the pretext that a Jew shot a Ukrainian guard, who was his partner in a smuggling operation. The Germans imposed a punishment on the Judenrat: that they must supply 1,000 men within three days. Apparently, the Judenrat did not follow this order. A large grave was dug on Belwederska St (in the yard of Bandler's house). A large gallows was erected by the police building, seemingly for the family of the assassin. The German and Ukrainian guards surrounded the ghetto, sealed the gate on Belwederska St., and conducted a search. Hundreds of men, women and children were gathered near the large grave, and were shot. Small children were thrown alive into the pit. The members of the Judenrat were forced to witness the killings. Several of them were also killed. The head of the Judenrat Goldstein was forced to bring rope for the gallows with his own hands from the "Umschlagstelle". He was the first to be hung. When the rope broke, the Ukrainian guards killed him with the butts of their rifles. Afterwards, about 20 Jewish policemen were hung from streetlight posts and balconies on Belwederska St. Their bodies were left hanging for three days, so that populace should take note and fear. The Aryan people were permitted to stand by the gate and watch the murders, and they were also permitted to enter the ghetto to feast their eyes on the spectacle of the hung men. Approximately 1,000 people were killed that day. Some of the Jews who worked in Aryan institutions were forewarned of the impending murder, and were allowed to spend the night in their workplaces outside of the ghetto. After the aktion, the ghetto was further shrunk. A fence was not put up around the new boundary, only barbed wire.
On Rosh Hashana 5703 (September 12, 1942) another aktion took place50. The Ukrainian and German guards surrounded the ghetto. The frightful events of the aktion of the previous March were repeated: the setting on fire of the houses, the tossing of grenades, and the gunfire. The Jews were chased from their houses and the streets into the square that was between Batory and Belwederska Streets, where they were tortured all night. In the morning they were all brought by foot to the train station and sent to Belzec. 5,000 people were killed in this aktion. In the ghetto itself there were from between several hundred to one thousand murdered. Among the others, the patients of the two hospitals in the ghetto were liquidated.
In September and October of 1942, the groups of Jews who worked for the Germans were searched several times. Many Jews had their work permits revoked, and consequently the number of Jews who worked for such institutions as the Gestapo and Schupo was markedly reduced. The building services were also reduced. All of the workshops in the "Umschlagstelle" were liquidated. Many of the Jews who were fired were sent to labor camps, and to the Janowska camp in Lvov. The ghetto was significantly reduced in size. All that remained was the section between Batory, Sedelmajerowska, Rejtana and Dluga streets. The crowding of the Jews in this area was severe, since most of the smaller houses in the area had been destroyed. The ghetto population suffered from hunger and cold, but nevertheless they went out through the dangerous gate daily to work. They were searched and surveilled constantly, their cards were stamped anew, and in this manner those that were sick, emaciated, or employed in unstable positions were selected out. Rudolf's depot was no longer used as a concentration point, so those selected were gathered in the Gestapo or the courtyard of the prison, which became known as the "courtyard of the Jews" or the "courtyard of death". On many occasions Jews were kept there under cover of the sky for several days without food and water, and then they were tortured and shot right there in the place, in the cemetery, or in some other spot in the ghetto. A group of fire fighters and undertakers under the command of Ganger brought the bodies to burial. In these frequent killing episodes, Jews who were caught hiding in the Aryan side were murdered.
Due to these terrible circumstances, several institutions sought to protect their Jewish employees, so in November and December 1942 they set up camps beside their workplaces. The head of the army barracks set up a residence for 140 Jews, and the austobahn set up a residence for approximately 100. About 120 Jews dwelt near their workplaces in the army transport division (Heereskraftfahrpark), Margosches factory, the carpentry workshop on Piast St., the untanned skins department (Rohhaute), the junk and garbage collection unit (Rohstofferfassung), and several sawmills. Several of the Jewish janitors lived near the Gestapo headquarters. The city clinic housed the approximately six remaining doctors of the ghetto. One other doctor, who worked in the city hospital from the time of its founding, lived in the hospital with his family. Apparently, a larger camp was set up on Mlynarska St., in the area of the former meat storage plant and the hospital for contagious diseases. The Jews in this camp worked in unskilled labor, such as loading trains, demolition of buildings, kitchen work, etc. Those Jews who were captured by the police roundups, or from among those imprisoned in the "courtyard of the Jews" who were nevertheless still fit for work, were also taken to this encampment.
Those Jews imprisoned in these camps were given special identification labels of letters and numbers -- each according to the type of work they did. Their situation was relatively good, and they were given enough food. They were permitted to visit their families in the ghetto on Sundays, and thereby they were able to bring in food secretly, to take out objects for sale, and to visit the bathhouse. They were freed from having to use the ghetto gate on a daily basis, where many Jews were selected for death. Therefore, many Jews tried to gain entry to these camps by bribery, or by use of connections. Those who had the better connections were able to bring their entire families to these camps, and to employ them in whatever work was available, such as supervision of the camp functions, or some sort of fictitious work. The Germans would frequently examine the composition of these camps, and would uncover those who were there illegally.
According to a decree of the authorities on November 10, 1942, as of December there was to remain only one Ghetto in the district of Stanislawow, which would contain 2,000 Jews. In reality, the number in this ghetto was about double that. According to the rumors, this ghetto was only supposed to exist until March 31, 1943, but the Jews pinned their hopes on goodwill that might come with the a quick end to the war. Some of them, especially those who had connections and acquaintances among the Christians, prepared hiding places for themselves on the Aryan side, and others build hiding places in the ghetto itself. Very few were able to obtain Aryan identity cards for themselves, and fewer still succeeded in escaping to Hungary or Romania. From among those who sought refuge in the neighboring forests, most returned since they could not withstand the cold and hunger, and they were also chased away by the local Ukrainian population.
At this time, a reduced Judenrat functioned in the ghetto. After the elimination of Goldstein and the members of the third Judenrat, the Germans appointed Schoenfeld as head of the Judenrat. Schoenfeld had been the head of the Jewish Baudienst, and he was not a native of Stanislawow. He also filled the role of head of the Jewish police. The jurisdiction of the Judenrat was restricted to residential issues of the Jews in the small area of the ghetto, the listing of the many deaths, and the preparation of population lists after each aktion, as requested by the authorities. The head of the fire fighters, Ganger, was also an influential person in the ghetto.
In January 1943, the process of liquidation of the ghetto continued. According to the plans, the Germans police with the assistance of the Ukrainian guards would surround the area earmarked for liquidation and chase the Jews out of their houses. After an inspection of work permits, and liberating of very few people, the remainder would be shot on the spot, in the "courtyard of the Jews" or in the cemetery. After each aktion on one of the streets, the residents of the neighboring streets would convince themselves that they would be able to remain alive. The Germans would strengthen these illusions by promising that a small portion of the ghetto would continue to exist. Therefore people would attempt to escape, as much as possible, to the streets of the ghetto that were considered the safest at that moment, and the population became more and more crowded. Finally, only a few houses were left in the ghetto. The density became such that there were 40 people living in one room. The bloodiest manhunt at that time was on January 26, 1943, when 1,000 "unemployed" Jews were shot.
On February 22 or 23, the liquidation of the ghetto was completed. The remaining houses were surrounded, and all the residents were taken out and shot, including Schoenfeld and Ganger.
After the liquidation of the ghetto, signs were posted in the city indicating that Stanislawow was now "Judenrein", and that any Aryan who would help a Jew would be executed. A notice was publicized that the Jews who were still dwelling in their workplaces would be allowed out on the streets only in groups, under police guard. These Jews were also gradually liquidated. On April 25, 1943, all the employees of the Austobahn were murdered. In June, the Jews who worked for the Gestapo and Schupo, and all other institutions that employed Jews were murdered. The camp on Mlynarska St. was liquidated, and all of the Jews were shot. Some managed to escape at the last minute, and others swallowed poison. June 25, 1943 was the final and main day of murder of the Jews of Stanislawow who still lived by their workplaces. Only several dozen expert professionals were kept alive. They were kept by the Germans in the central prison, and they included engineers, technicians, artisans, a group of expert drafters and cartographers, and several seamstresses. The women were shot on September 29, 1943. The remainder of the prisoners were apparently kept alive until the Spring of 1944. The manhunts and slaughter of the Jews in hiding continued in Stanislawow until the retreat of the German army.
At the time of the 1942 aktions, a small group of youth escaped to the forests surrounding the city, and formed three partisan groups, along with Jews of neighboring cities. They were able to obtain some arms. One of these groups was made up solely of Stanislawow residents. It was headed, by Anda Luft, a female chemical engineer who had worked in the Margosches factory. This group was surrounded by the police on May 11, 1942, and was wiped out in a battle. Most of its members were shot, but some managed to escape and join up with other Jewish groups in the area. Anda Luft fell bravely, as she used her weapons until the last moment of her life.
Stanislawow was liberated by the Soviet army on July 27, 1944. Only about 1,500 of its prewar Jewish population remained alive. Most of them waited out the war in the Soviet Union. About 100 were saved by hiding in the city, with the assistance of a number of Poles and Ukrainians. the owner of the "Vatzk" wagon factory in Stanislawow saved a number of Jews in the basement of his house. On 54 Sapiezynska St. there was another hiding place, were several Jews survived. Some Poles saved protected 20 Jews in a hiding place in the Meizle quarter. A few Jews also survived in the Gorki quarter.
After the war, the surviving Jews of Stanislawow spread out all over the world51.
Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People - P 83 (E 33), P 83 (E 36), P 83 (E 50), P 38 (E 82), P 83 (F 3), P 83 F 134)
Central Zionist Archives - A.214-6; F.3-3; F.3-22; F.3-38; K.6-1/2; Z.4-2996
Archives of HaShomer Hatza'ir - (3)84.1.2
AJDC (American Joint Distribution Committee) Archives: Countries -- Poland (1919-1921), Localities 221.
L. Gerber "Zichronos fun Stanislawower Ghetto", in "Fun Letztn Churbon" (Yiddish for "Memories of the Stanislawow Ghetto" in "From the Final Destruction), 1948, 8;
A. Vitz, "Al Churbonotaich Stanislawow" (Hebrew for "On Your Destruction Oh Stanislawow"), Tel Aviv 1948; Stanislawow "Arim Veimahot Beyisrael" Vol 5, Jerusalem, 1952
(This is from the Arim Veimhahot Beyisrael series -- Hebrew for Important Cities of The Jewish People -- published by Mossad Harav Kook in Israel [see footnote53];
A. Streit, "Geshichte Fun Der Groiser Shil In Stanislawow" (Yiddish for "History of the Large Synagogue of Stanislawow"), Stanislawow, 1936.
J. Feuerman, "Pamietnik ze Stanislawowa" (1941-1943), in "Biuletyn Zydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego" 1966, no 59 (Polish);
L. Streit, "Ormianie a Zydzi w Stanislawowie w XVII i XVIII Wieku", Stanislawow 1935 (Polish -- I believe it means "History of the Armenians and Jews of Stanislawow in the 17th and 18th Century").
"Unzer Vort" (Yiddish for "Our Word"), 27.1.1928;
"Der Yidisher Arbeiter" (Yiddish for "The Jewish Worker") 6.5.1910, 8.9.1910, 14.5.1911;
"Yiedenfriend" (Yiddish for "Jewish Friend") 5.2.1867;
"Der Eizraelit" (Yiddish for "The Israelite") 21.4.1871, 23.3.1872;
"Di Voch" (Yiddish for "The Week") 2.6.1939, 9.6.1939;
"Tag" (Yiddish for "Day") 3.3.1912, 3.8.1912;
"Tagblat" (Yiddish for "Daily Page") 22.8.1912, 5.10, 1917, 2.8.1922, 24.1.1924, 18.4.1924, 2.5.1924, 7.5.1924, 16.5.1924, 27.5.1924, 4.7.1924, 17.10,1924, 13.9.1924;
"Der Yud" (Yiddish for "The Jew") 11.9.1912;
"Yidishe Arbeit-Yugent" (Yiddish) March 1912;
"Moment" (Yiddish transliteration of "Moment") 28.9.1930, 13.10,1930;
"Morgen" (Yiddish for "Morning") 14.1.1927, 3.10,1927, 17.10.1927, 18.7.1928, 29.11.1928;
"Hamitzpeh" (Hebrew for "The Observer") 13.5.1904, 21.1.1906, 27.7.1906, 26.5.1909, 30.7.1909, 11.10.1912, 17.1.1913, 29.8.1913, 3.7.1914, 14.2.1918;
"Neies" (Yiddish for "News") 30.7.1937, 21.8.1937;
"Der Neier Yidisher Arbeiter" (Yiddish for "The New Jewish Worker") 30.3.1926;
"Stanislawower Nachrichten" (Yiddish) 11.7.1902, 19.3.1903, 29.9 1911, 20.11.1911, 11.12,1911, 5.1.1912, 19.1.1912, 26.1.1912, 19.3.1912, 24.5.1912, 9.6.1912, 5.7.1912, 19.7.1912, 23.8.1912, 7.12.1912;
"Folksblat" (Yiddish for "People's Page") Zolochov, 9.5.1919;
"Folksblat" (Yiddish for "People's Page") Kolomia, 15.5.1939;
"Die Tzeit" (Yiddish for "The Times") 10.10.1930, 17.10, 1930;
"Hashomer" (Hebrew for "The Guard") Elul 5679;
"Chwila" (Polish) 1937;
"Chwila Wieczorna" (Polish) 1935-1939;
"Diwrej Akiba" (Polish transliteration of Hebrew "Words of Akiva") 30.11.1936;
"Jednosc" (Polish) 21.3.1937;
"Judische Volkszeitung" (German for "Jewish People's Newspaper) 12.4.1912, 21.2.1919, 28.2.1919, 7.3.1919;
"Nasz Glos" (Polish) 8.9.1934, 22.9.1934, 17.11.1934;
"Nasz Jubileusz" (Polish) April 1934;
"Opinia" (Polish) 5.3.1947;
"Przyszlosc" (Polish) 5.6.1894, 20.2.1898, 20.8.1898;
"Slowo" (Polish) 1935-1937;
"Wschod" (Polish) 1902-1912;
"Zew Nlodych" (Polish) 1938 #11, 1939 #5;
40 I am not sure what this means exactly, but perhaps it means that the new Soviet communist authorities had more respect for the working people than the former prosperous business owners. Back
41 Judenrat is the name of the Jewish council that was set up by Nazis in their occupied areas. They generally did their best to act in the good interests of the Jews under their supervision, but more often than not, their hand was forced by the Nazis. Back
42 Ritual circumcisers. Back
43 This was an Einsatzgruppen aktion, which was the prime manifestation of the Holocaust in the Ukraine at the time. The largest einstatzgruppen aktion was in Babi Yar, outside of Kiev, where approximately 40,000 Jews were murdered. Back
44 Generalgouvernement was the name given to German occupied Poland. Back
45 Schupo is the abbreviation of Schutzpolizei - the German Police. They recruited young Ukrainians for auxiliary local Ukrainian Police units acting under German orders. Back
46 The seventh day of the festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles), the day before Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. On this day, there are seven circuits in the synagogue with the lulav and etrog, and a multitude of Hoshana prayers are said (hence the name). Hoshana Rabba is considered a day of judgement, with echoes of Yom Kippur, which occurred 11 days previously. This day is well known in WWII Jewish History as the day in 1946 of the passing of sentences in the Nurenberg trials. Back
47 This is one long word in Hebrew letters! Back
48 Belzec, northwest of Lvov, was the nearest major extermination camp to Stanislawow. It is just within the eastern border of present day Poland It was functional from March-December 1942. It was one of the three main extermination camps used during the liquidation of ghettos in the Generalgouvernement, which took place 1942-1943, the others being Sobibor and Treblinka. This liquidation was known as aktion Reinhard, after Reinhard Heydrich. Belzec had a gas chamber which made use of a carbon monoxide engine. Back
49 I found all these towns in the National Geographic Atlas, in the neighborhood of Stanislawow. Back
50 The fact that many of these aktions were scheduled on Jewish Holidays (3 so far in this article) was surely no coincidence. Back
51 The name of the city was changed to Ivano-Frankovsk in 1962, in honor of the Ukrainian poet and writer Ivano Franko. The city is now part of the independent Republic of Ukraine, and is known as Ivano-Frankivsk. Back
52 I will put my own notes in parentheses. I will indicate in parenthesis the language of the source, when obvious. I will not be able to translate the Polish. I cannot make out some of the Hebrew abbreviations of sources. I left an empty line between the paragraph breaks in the original -- in some cases, many sources were run together in one long paragraph. Back
53 In 1996, at the request of Joyce Field, I wrote to Rabbi Sender Shizgal, the executive director of Mossad Harav Kook publishing, to see if I could purchase a copy of this book for Joyce. Rabbi Shizgal wrote back to inform me that it is no longer in print. Back
54 The correct date is Sunday, August 23, according to Mr. Joachim Nachbar, a survivor from Stanislawow and from this aktion itself. He stated "I was there and my parents and my sister were killed right in this aktion." Back
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