“Rozan” - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Polin, Volume IV

52°53' / 21°25'

Translation of “Rozan” chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem


Project Coordinator

Ada Holtzman z”l


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This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot Polin:
Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland, Volume IV, pages 427-429, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem

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{page 427}

(Makow Mazowiecski District, Warsaw Region)

Written by Wila Orbach
Translated by Adv. Meir Garbarz Gover


Rozan gained town's status in 1387. Due to its geographic location on the main road from Warsaw to Russia, Rozan was able to develop economically and strategically in the Mazowsza Region. Most of Rozan residents made their living from fishing, agriculture and cattle growing. Rozan town's privileges were reconfirmed in 1442 by the Mazowsza region Prince. In 1564 Rozan had 320 houses, most of them made of wood. In 1581 a salt storage was erected and lumber and grain trade developed. In the 50s of the 17th century, great damage was caused in Rozan during the Polish – Swedish war; only 260 houses remained after control was regained by Polish commandant Czarnejcki. During the Polish territory division at the end of the 18th century the town became part of Prussia. In 1807 Rozan became part of the Warsaw Princedom and by 1815 Rozan was annexed to the Kingdom of Poland. In 1868 Rozan lost its town privileges and was degraded to an urban settlement only. During WWI Rozan was occupied by the German Army.

The first information about Jewish community in Rozan pertains to the beginning of the 18th century but it seems that a few Jewish families settled there even before. Rozan Jews are mentioned as casualties in the Swedish war. It seems that the Rozan Jews were then under the authority of the Makow Mazowiecki Jewish community. In 1765, 173 Jews were counted in Rozan area; 98 living in town and 75 in nearby villages. In 1792 the last Polish king Stanislaw August Poniatowski issued a decree ordering Rozan authorities to respect Jewish commerce, manufacture and wine producing privileges.

Jewish count in Rozan rose in the 19th century. Jews established small factories; weaving factory and two tanneries and two mills. The main Jewish economical basis was commerce and craftsmanship depending on the town's agricultural background. Some Jews were peddlers in the surrounding villages and some were grain merchants. The 1892 census of Jewish occupations included 22 artisans (7 tailors, 4 carpenters, 4 blacksmiths, 4 watchmen, 1 hat maker, 1 locksmith, and 1 shoemaker). 12 residential houses and virtually all the town's stores were Jewish property.

In the twenty years between the two World Wars, Jews had the same professions only clientele declined because of the economic depression in the rural areas. In the late 1920s, a Gmiluth Hassadim Fund (Benevolent Organization) and Cooperative Bank which assisted the merchants and artisans were founded. "Bikur Holim" (visit the sick) Society and "Linat Tzedek" (shelter for the needy) societies were also established.

As said, the Jews of Rozan belonged first to the community in Makow. Towards the end of the 18th century, Rozan gained independence. In the last years of the existence of Vaad Arba HaAratzot – The Council of the Four Lands, Rozan is mentioned as an independent community that paid tax to the Council. The synagogue in town was build then. There in no information about the rabbis of town until the late years of the 19th century. The Rabbi between the years 1881-1888 was R' Israel Nisan Kupersztok. Between the years of 1908 and 1924 R' Naftali Yosef Freind held the position of the community rabbi.

Nearly all Jewish political parties which existed in Poland between the two Wars were represented in Rozan until 1925: "Zionim Klaliim" (General Zionists) ("Al Hamishmar"), "Poalei Zion" (Workers of Zion), "Hamizrachi" and their adjacent Youth Movements. Also operated in Rozan the Revisionist Histadrut and "Beitar" (since 1930). Also branches of "Hanoar Hatzioni" (the Zionist Youth), "Hashomer Hatzair", "Hechalutz" (the Pioneer) were established in Rozan. They founded in the year of 1930 "Kibbutz Hachshara" (preparatory Kibbutz for Aliya, immigration to Eretz Israel and settlement as pioneers, part of working Eretz Israel Kibbutzim) which was joined also by members from the surrounding towns. "Agudat Israel" established "Beit Yaakov" girl school branch in Rozan. Local "Bund" branch had dozens of members. Most parties and Youth Movements had their own clubs, libraries and sport organizations.

"Agudat Israel" orthodox party had a majority in the Jewish committee and held the position of the chairman in the period between the two World Wars. The Zionist block got usually 2-3 mandates and the "Bund" – 1 mandate, the rest were "Agudat Israel" and Chasidic groups. In the town's council the Jews held 8 out of the 18 positions: 3 "Agudat Israel", 2 Zionists groups, 1 "Bund", and 2 positions of social or economic groups. A Jew was always nominated as vice Major.

Jewish education included girls school "Beit Yaakov" with about 30 pupils, founded by "Agudat Israel", "Yavneh" School with 5 grades was established in 1920 by "Hamizrachi", and a 5 grade general Polish elementary school "Szabasowka" mainly for Jewish girls.

The 1930s saw the rise of Anti-Semitism in Rozan as in all Poland. Jewish peddlers were banned from villages, Anti-Semitic guards were placed in front of Jewish stores and Jewish market stands in order to avoid Polish population shopping in Jewish stores. 1936 and 1937 saw riots against Jews and Jewish property during which Jews were wounded and windows of Jewish houses were broken and Jewish property damages. There was also a trial to turn these riots to pogrom against the Jews but the Major and the Police prevented it. In September 1937 the Jews were attacked again; market stands were turned over and their owners were bitten. Also this time the police intervened and ended the riots.

During World War II

Around 2000 Jews lived in Rozan at 1939. This was a town with old castles. Local Jewish residents knew they need to avoid the town during war periods because of the fortresses. Starting with the first day of the war; 1 September 1939, Rozan Jews fled from it to various destinations: to Warsaw, Makow Mazowiecki, Pultusk and more. Many escaped to Goworowo [coordinates 5254 2134], on the east side of the Narew river about 8 KM from Rozan.[1]

Rozan was bombed many times during the first days of the war and totally ruined. On September 7th 1939 an advance unit of the German Army entered Rozan. The first Rozan Jewish victims were in Goworowo, on September 9th 1939. At that day, SS troops herded by shootings and murderous blows all Goworowo Jews and refugees into the local synagogue and were about to set it on fire. A high rank German officer avoided the blaze on the last moment. SS and the German soldiers expelled the Jews from town into the fields and were allowed back after 3 days.

Only few of the Rozan Jews returned to Rozan from Goworowo and other places. About 20 of them were taken to slave labor in the town's castles. On 12 or 13 September 1939 two out of this group were murdered in the Rozan Catholic cemetery: the blacksmith Hilel Szapko and the Waggoner Zelig Szapko.

On 8 October 1939 Rozan was annexed to “Bezirk Ziechenau” (The District of Ciechanów) and became an integral part of the 3rd Reich territory. All remaining Jews in Rozan were expelled from Rozan, most of them to the east, to areas of the Soviet Union.

From March to November 1942 a slave work camp was established in one of the Rozan fortresses. The work force consisted of about 200 young men from the Makow Mazowiecki Ghetto and from Rozan. The hard laborers had to clean Rozan from the German air force bombing rebel and to create a public garden. Water and food were insufficient. Work conditions were terrible. On Sundays the camp commandant invited the local Rozan Poles to watch and enjoy tortures on the Jewish slaves from the walls of the fortress.

On November 1942 the work camp was dismantled and the prisoners were return to the Makow Ghetto, from which they were transported to Death Camp Auschwitz. Survivors of Auschwitz's Sonderkommando[2] testified that some members in the Sonderkommando were Rozan Jews and that they participated in the Auschwitz Crematoriums Uprising on 7 October 1944.

More than 1,400 Jews of Rozan were exterminated in the holocaust.


Yad Vashem Archive HM/2703/2
Central Zionist Archive S-5/1773
Rozan Memorial Book, Tel Aviv 1977
Ostrow Mazowiecka, Zdziejow miasta I Powiatu, ed. St. Russocki, Warszawa 1975, p. 187
"Heint" 17.2.1924, 21.10.1926, 4.7.1929, 21.5.1930, 9.7.1930, 28.5.1931, 31.5.1931

Translator's Footnotes

  1. Rozan was situated on the west side of the Narew. Return
  2. The forced labour Kommando employed in emptying the Gas Chambers after the victim's suffocation and in burning the victims bodies in the crematoriums. Return

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