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Wizajny chapter from Pinkas Hakehillot Polin
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem
Published in Jerusalem
Our sincere appreciation to Yad Vashem
This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot Polin:
Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland, Volume IV, page 189, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
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(Region Suwalki, District Bialystok)
Translated by Sheryl Stahl
Wizajny is mentioned in documents from the 16th century as a village (kefar) in the possession of a noble of the house of Radziwill. In 1604 it was granted status of town (ir.) The site was damaged during the Swedish war in the mid 17th century. In 1659, a hospital was established in Wizajny which served the whole region.
The town's rights were confirmed again in 1693. Over the course of the 18th century, W' developed and by the 1789, there were 144 houses. There was a large weekly market and four fairs a year which drew many visitors.
Jews were known to have been in W' from 1646. It was mentioned in documents from that time that Jews were allowed to settle in Wizajny, purchase houses, and build a synagogue. By 1766, there were around 300 Jews in Wizajny. Apparently in that year there was in place an active association of Jewish artisans.
Between the years 1904-1914, the position of chief rabbi in W' was held by R. Mosheh Mendel Wizansky. The last rabbi of the community was R. Mosheh Yehudah Lederman. In W' there was a synagogue and a Jewish school (bet midrash) built of wood.
Most of the stores in the city were in the hands of the Jews (building supplies, iron, shoes, textiles, groceries). Some Jews traded grain and bought and sold linen and carded wool. Some families were engaged in agriculture.
In the final days of September 1939, units of the Red Army entered W', but after a while they left. In the beginning of October 1939, the city was handed over to the Germans. Before they left, the Soviet officers suggested that the Jews quit W' and retreat with the Red Army to the Soviet Union, so that they would not fall into German hands. They even offered trucks to the Jews. Many of W's Jews took the opportunity and left town, but more than 200 Jews remained. On the 27th of October 1939, in the course of an hour, the Germans expelled all those remaining to the Lithuanian border. The Lithuanians hadn't agreed to accept the refugees and returned them to German territory. For over 2 weeks, the Jews of W' camped in an open field in harsh winter conditions between the two countries and were the subject of negotiation between the two sides. In the end, the refugees were able to steal across the border to Lithuania. In the years after that, they all died, except for a few in their residences or in camps.
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