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Translation of Tarnobrzeg-Dzików chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin
Translation of Tarnobrzeg-Dzików chapter from
Published by Yad Vashem Published in Jerusalem
Gayle Schlissel Riley zl
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This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot:
Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland, Volume III, pages 191-194,
edited by Shmuel Spector, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
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(District of Rzeszów, Region of Lwow)
Translated by Jerrold Landau
The village of Dzików on the banks of the Wisla River was owned by the Tarnowski family of noblemen. The 17th century castle of this family, which was known until the 19th century for its art collection as well its library of rare, ancient books and manuscripts, was located in that village. In 1734, several hundred members of the nobility signed the confederation agreement in Dzików, which promised support for King Stanislaw Leczynski against the influence of the Saxons and Russians in Poland. The confederation failed, and King Leczynski was forced to leave Poland. We do not know when the town of Tarnobrzeg, located one kilometer from Dzików, was founded. After many years, the village of Dzików was annexed to Tarnobrzeg. Between the two world wars, they formed a single urban settlement. The village of Dzików was considered part of Tarnobrzeg for the censuses, and was not considered to be a separate administrative unit. At that time, Tarnobrzeg was a district city. Large sulfur deposits were found in the area after the Second World War, and Tarnobrzeg became a large center in all of Poland for the mining and working of sulfur.
Tarnobrzeg was known for the demonstrations of farmers and their political organization in 1898 as well as in 1918, when the farmers set up the Tarnobrzeg Republic. The city was also known for its anti-Nazi underground and for the armed struggle of the farmers within the ranks of the partisans against the Nazi occupation during the Second World War.
The Jews of Tarnobrzeg-Dzików who had settled there from olden times maintained their old location of Dzików until the outbreak of the Second World War. They stubbornly referred to themselves as natives of Dzików, and they were called that by all the residents of Poland. They were counted as residents of Tarnobrzeg rather than Dzików in the censuses, but until the end, the local rabbis were registered in Jewish documents as rabbis of Dzików rather than Tarnobrzeg.
Apparently the first Jews had settled in Dzików already by the latter half of the 17th century. Most of them were lessees, innkeepers, and various middlemen, who offered their services to members of the Tarnowski nobility and their castle. During the latter half of the 18th century, the Jewish settlement of Dzików was one of the largest in the Sandomierz (Tzuzmir) Wojewoda. It had 70 family units, and also oversaw 159 Jewish residents of nearby villages. The Jewish livelihood earners also included small-scale merchants, peddlers, and tradesmen. Among the livelihood earners, the documents mention goldsmiths, boilermakers, a barber and a porter. The community maintained a poorhouse with an employee.
With the beginning of Austrian rule over the district, all of the physical and other decrees of Kaiser Josef II and his heirs were imposed upon the Jews of Dzików. Among other things, the Jews of Dzików were obligated to furnish six families with money and utensils, so they could send them to settle in the villages and work the land. By 1793, three families set out from Dzików, but no additional family went out to settle the land until 1805. Taxes impoverished the Jews of Dzików to the point where they were not even able to pay the meager salary of the rabbi of 20 florins per year. However, the Jewish community knew how to overcome the legal and other restrictions, and by the latter half of the 19th century, the Jews formed the decisive majority of the population of Tarnobrzeg-Dzików. A Jew was elected as mayor during the first elections to the city council in 1878 that were conducted in accordance with the new charter.
Since they had economic connections to the various estates of Count Tarnowski that were scattered throughout the entire district, several of the agents and lessees of the count became small landowners in the district. In 1880, nine such estate owners possessed more than 5,000 dunams of cultivated land and pastureland, as well as 20,000 dunams of forest. The economic base of the Jews of Tarnobrzeg-Dzików also contributed to the courts of the Admorim of the Ropszyce- Dzików dynasty. The founder of the dynasty, Rabbi Eliezer the son of Naftali Tzvi Horowitz of Ropszyce, was chosen as the rabbi of Dzików during the 1840s. At first, the veteran rabbi who served there, Rabbi Eliahu Spiegel, objected to the appointment of Rabbi Eliezer, and to the giving over to him the local agency for the sale of salt. However, due to the pressure of the Hassidim as well as his advanced age, he finally agreed that Rabbi Eliezer serve alongside him. In 1848, Rabbi Eliezer was coronated as an Admor, and hundreds of Hassidim flocked to him. After his death in 1861, his son, Rabbi Meir, the author of Imre Noam inherited his place, and served as the head of the rabbinical court and Admor until his death in 1877. His son Rabbi Yehoshua became the head of the rabbinical court already during the life of his father, and was coronated as Admor in 1871. Rabbi Yehoshua authored Emek Halacha, Ateret Yehoshua, and other compositions and booklets. In 1909, Rabbi Yehoshua transferred the rabbinical position to his son Rabbi Alter-Yechezkel, who took over the leadership of the Hassidim after the death of his father in 1913. He escaped to Vishnitz during the First World War, and settled in Tarnów upon his return.
Rabbinical judges and teachers also served there alongside the rabbis and Admorim of the Ropszyce-Dzików dynasty. One of them, Rabbi Shimshon the son of Rabbi Eliezer Hartz, served there from 1890 to 1929. Later, he made aliya to the Land of Israel, and served as a rabbinical judge and teacher in the Old Ciy of Jerusalem. He died in 1935.
A fire broke out in Dzików in 1888, and 80 houses,
two Beis Midrashes, and the bathhouse went up in flames. Many were left without anything. In 1898, the masses of farmers of the region celebrated 50 years from the time they were freed from the yoke of irrevocability. During the celebration, three farmers attacked a Jewish tavern owner, beating him and wreaking havoc in the inn. Fear and confusion overtook the Jewish residents of Tarnobrzeg-Dzików. Since they were familiar with what took place in such cases in other places, they awaited bad things. A few members of the community even left the town with their families. This commotion was in vain, however. The district governor spoke before the large mass of farmers, and pointed out the contribution of the Jews to the development of the district. The crowed accepted the words of the orator with appreciation, and no attacks took place against the Jews.
The first Zionist group of Tarnobrzeg, Eretz Yisrael, was established already in 1893. Members of the group organized courses for the study of the Hebrew Language, with the participation of some 30 people. In 1904 or 1905, the group apparently changed its name to Tzion Hametzuyenet. At that time, the group already had 100 members, and in 1912 it joined the establishment of the local Zionist organization committee of Western Galicia. A Poale Zion chapter existed in Tarnobrzeg from 1906. Courses for educating the daily wage earners were conducted by the chapter. Until almost the end of the 19th century, Jewish families avoided sending their children to the local public school, even though a law of compulsory education existed. However, in 1910 there were already 46 Jewish students out of 100 students in this school.
Jewish life was conducted peacefully in Tarnobrzeg and Dzików until the First World War. In general, relations with the gentile minority in the city and the neighboring villages were proper. Jewish delegates participated in all festive receptions for high level visits of dignitaries to the city, and the Christians even included them in meetings with the bishop. However, this situation came to an end with the outbreak of the war, and never returned to its former situation throughout the remaining duration of the Jewish community of Tarnobrzeg and Dzików.
A few days prior to the outbreak of the First World War and during its first days, most of the Jewish residents left the city. Only the poorest of the poor remained. After the Russians conquered the city, the set approximately 20 houses on fire and tens of stores were pillaged. Cattle, wheat and fodder were confiscated for the needs of the army. Many of those who remained in Tarnobrzeg and Dzików became ill due to epidemics, primarily cholera, and several died. The Alliance of Vienna came to the aid of the Jews of Tarnobrzeg and Dzików. Food and clothing were sent to the needy from them. In 1916, the Alliance donated a sum of 6,894 Crown to the Jews of Tarnobrzeg and Dzików.
In November 1918, the Jews of Tarnobrzeg were afflicted by pogroms perpetrated by the Polish riffraff from the city as well as the neighboring villages. Some Jews were beaten, and many shops were pillaged. The Jews of Tarnobrzeg set up a self defense group consisting of 90 people, 30 of whom were freed soldiers. Attacks against the Jews were repeated in 1919, as an addendum to the pogroms of November 1918.
During that era, traditional sources of livelihood, such as brokering, stewardship and leasing connected with the estates of Count Tarnowski dried up. Similarly, sources of livelihood connected with the court of the Admor also dried up (as has been noted, Rabbi Yehoshua did not return to Tarnobrzeg, but rather settled in Tarnów, to where most of his Hassidim flocked). All that was left for the Jews of Tarnobrzeg was commerce, primarily small-scale, and trades. In 1921, the small manufacturing enterprises and especially the workshops of the Jews of Tarnobrzeg were enumerated, and it was determined that a total of 112 enterprises existed, employing 206 people. Most of the employers, 146 in total, were the owners of the workshops themselves as well as their family members, and only 48 were hired workers. The division by field of the enterprises, or more precisely the workshops, demonstrates their restricted scope, for traditional Jewish sources of employment were no different in the poor cities of Galicia. Of the 112 workshops that were enumerated, 54 were in the field of clothing (hat making, tailoring, ready-made clothing and fur products), which employed 118 people, 38 of whom were employees. In the 20 food businesses, there were 33 owners and family members as well as only 13 employees. There were 14 factories and workshops in the wood and building fields (including carpentry and wood warehouses), employing 26 owners and only 2 employees. During the inter-war period, there were several dozen Jewish practitioners of the free professions in Tarnobrzeg, including teachers, lawyers, and physicians.
The Public Bank, affiliated with the Jewish cooperative union in Poland, was established in Tarnobrzeg in 1928. In 1930, this bank received 10,000 Zloty from the headquarters in Warsaw. The low cost credit given by the bank as well the long-standing charitable fund designated for the Jewish merchants and tradesmen greatly helped many people to maintain their businesses, especially during the Great Depression of 1929-1930 and the years of economic recession that followed. During the final years prior to the Second World War, Tarnobrzeg was annexed to the Central Industrial Region. The government of Poland intended to return and build several large industrial enterprises there, or transfer those that existed in the region of Silesia to Tarnobrzeg. However, this plan was not brought to fruition. Manufacturing indeed developed in Tarnobrzeg, but only after the Second World Warn, when not even one Jewish family resided there.
The majority and leadership of the communal council of Tarnobrzeg were in the hands of the Agudas Yisroel. The chairman of the council was chosen from its ranks. In the elections to the communal council which were to take place in 1932,
the votes of 250 electors, primarily Zionists, were invalidated. The council that existed in 1925 continued to operate with its original makeup until 1935. That year, the chairman of the communal council, Yehoshua Ost, wrote a personal request to the authorities. Among other things, he made note of his merits through political participation with the Sanacja governing party, as well as his constant battle against the Zionists.
In the elections for the regional council that took place in 1928, 20 Jews were elected. However, by 1934, only one Jew was elected, and he was a member of the Sanacja list. The Jews boycotted the elections, for the government invalided the Jewish nationalist list.
During that era, Rabbi Chaim Menachem-Mendel the son of Alter-Yechezkel Horowitz occupied the rabbinical seat of Tarnobrzeg, and also conducted the court of the Admor. He was imprisoned in the Płaszów Camp during the Holocaust period, and perished in Theresienstadtin 1944. During the inter-war period, the Zionist organizations representing almost all the Zionist streams in Poland conducted vibrant activity. The largest and most influential of them the General Zionists chapter, and the second in importance was Mizrachi.
The Hashomer Hatzair chapter, which inherited the Young Zion organization (established in 1916) was one of the veteran youth organizations. The chapter had 59 members in 1935. Hashomer Hatzair maintained a local Hachshara Kibbutz under the rubric of Hechalutz Haklali. In 1933, 19 chalutzim (pioneers) prepared for aliya. A youth organization of the General Zionists, which later changed its name to Akiba, was organized in Tarnobrzeg in 1931. This was the largest Zionist youth organization in Tarnobrzeg, and it also maintained a Hachsharah kibbutz in which 26 male and female members prepared for aliya in 1933. Other youth organizations in Tarnobrzeg included the Young Mizrachi and Hashomer Hadati, both affiliated with Mizrachi, and Beitar affiliated with the Revisionists. From among the Zionist organizations that were vibrantly active until 1939, we should point out WIZO, Hechalutz, and the pioneering Ezra.
In 1935, 362 shekels (Zionist organization memberships) were sold in Tarnobrzeg. For the Zionist Congress that took place that year, the 275 voters voted as follows: 197 for the General Zionists, 51 for Mizrachi, and 27 for the Working Land of Israel list. The results encompassed the most organized movements.
Bnai Zion was active in the cultural domain. It encompassed the majority of the professional intelligentsia of the city. During the 1920s, most of the Jewish children in Tarnobrzeg received their education from Jewish educational institutions. In 1919, a Tarbut Hebrew school was founded in Tarnobrzeg. In 1923, 95 male students and 137 female students studied there. The school had five grades and five teachers. In 1923, 283 male students studied in the five grades of the Talmud Torah under nine teachers. It had been established in 1920, and was under the supervision of Agudas Yisroel. The Mizrachi set up the Hebrew Cheder in 1921, and after a few years, approximately 240 students studied there in three grades under seven teachers. Girls also studied at that school in later years.
A Hebrew kindergarten opened in 1931 and operated until 1939. Two Jewish libraries operated in Tarnobrzeg until 1928. They had many books in Hebrew, Yiddish, Polish, German, and other languages. That year, an additional library called Sifriat-Am opened. A Jewish sports hall called Haratzon operated there in 1931. We do not know the duration of its existence and the extent of its activities. During the late 1930s, open anti-Semitism existed in Tarnobrzeg, most of whose population was Jewish. Strong anti-Jewish propaganda was conducted, with government backing. The district governor (Starosta) convened a mass meeting in 1936 to demonstrate against Communism. At this meeting, the Jews were accused of spreading Communism, and the meeting quickly took on a sharp anti-Semitic tone. Decrees and calls to get rid of the Jews, to free Poland from the Jews, and the like were heard.
Tarnobrzeg was captured by the Germans on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, 5700 (1939). Five elderly and mentally ill Jews were immediately shot to death. The soldiers of the Wehrmacht did not delay. They began to capture Jews for forced labor, and they perpetrated deeds of torture and theft of property. A night curfew and restriction of motion were imposed upon the Jews. On the eve of Sukkot 5700, Jews who had been uprooted by the German authorities from nearby settlements were brought to Tarnobrzeg, and a deportation of the Jews of Tarnobrzeg took place on the intermediate days of Sukkot. The German soldiers went from house to house and removed all the Jews to the market square. A table manned by S.S. men was set up in the square. The heads of families were forced to approach the table and sign a declaration that they were leaving the city of their own free well. Later, a search of those gathered in the square took place, and all valuables in their possession were taken from them. The Jews were warned that anyone hiding money or valuables would be taken to be killed. Indeed, there were victims. When the searches concluded, the Jews were arranged in three groups, and hauled to the direction of Radomysl-Mali on the San River. Those unable to walk were murdered in the Jewish cemetery of Tarnobrzeg. When they approached the San, the Germans conducted another search of the deportees, this time removing rings from their fingers and taking articles of clothing. The deportees were transferred to the eastern bank of the San on barges and shaky boats. At that time, units of the Soviet Army had not yet reached that district, and the Germans forced the Jews of Tarnobrzeg to continue wandering eastward to the direction of Ulanów and Lubaczów.
The refugees of Tarnobrzeg scattered into many settlements in Eastern Galicia under Soviet rule. They suffered difficulties in finding a roof over their heads, and a lack of sources of livelihood. Many of them refused to accept Soviet citizenship, and were deported to far-off regions of the Soviet Union in the summer of 1940.
During the time of the deportation from Tarnobrzeg on Sukkot 5700, several Jewish families succeeded in hiding and escaping from the city. They hid in various settlements in the region, and attempted to hide the fact that they had come from Tarnobrzeg. Only in August 1941 were approximately 15 families permitted to return to live in Tarnobrzeg. During the following months, the number of Jews in the city increased. Most were deportees from Nisko, Jaroslaw, Rozwadów, and nearby villages. The Jews were concentrated in a separate quarter, which was turned into a ghetto at the end of 1941. Twelve people were murdered during the period of the existence of the ghetto.
The ghetto was liquidated on July 19, 1942, and its residents were transferred to Baranow and from there to Dębica, where they met the same fate as the local community. In the spring of 1941, a work camp was set up in Tarnobrzeg. It was located in the rabbinate building as well as in adjacent bunks that were built next to it on Sroka Street. Approximately 500 Jews, brought from the entire district, were imprisoned there. The prisoners were employed in the camp workshops and in paving roads for the German Berman Company. A typhus epidemic broke out in the camp, causing the death of tens of people. Many others met their deaths due to hunger and harsh labor. The camp was liquidated in the autumn of 1942. At that time, the Germans murdered some of the prisoners on the spot and in Baranow. The rest were taken to an unknown destination.
Archives of Yad Vashem: M-1/Q 1424/244; M-1/E 2348/2395, M-1/Q 1541/301, M-1/Q 1556/302, M-1/Q 1819/388.
YIVO: Adrp. 20.
ATz'M: S-6/2181, Z-1/414, Z-3/820, Z-4/234B, Z-4/2178.
AJDC Archives: Countries Poland, Cult. Rel. 344a, 349; Medical Report 377.
Yiddisher Arbieter January 3, 1907.
Hamagid, January 18, 1897, May 19, 1898, May 26, 1898, July 14, 1898.
Hamitzpeh, September 2, 1904, March 24, 1905, July 24, 1907.
Hatzefira, 23 Elul 5654 (18934), June 15, 1916, July 1,1928.
Diwrej Akiba December 8, 1933, April 3, 1936.
Jüdische Rundschau, November 22, 1918.
Nowy Dziennik, May 3, 1919, May 25, 1920, February 17, 1927, November 30, 1928, May 30, 1929, January 17, 1931, July 12, 1931, December 29, 1931, October 27, 1932,January 13, 1933, January 1, 1934, November 2, 1934, January 10, 1935, January 5, 1936, June 19, 1936, November 8, 1938.
Tygodnik Żydowski, November 18, 1932.
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