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Translation of Gorzkow chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem
Morris Gradel z"l
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This is a translation from:
Jewish Communities, Poland,
Volume VII, pages 118-119, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
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(Region: Krasnystaw; Province: Lublin)
Gorzkow (G) is first mentioned in1689, as a private townlet of the noble family Goszkowski, who gave it its name. In the same year it was granted urban status and its citizens were allowed to hold a weekly market day and an annual fair. Most of the inhabitants were peasants, while a few were merchants and artisans. Because of its distance from the railway, G was unable to compete with other towns in the area, to which access was easier - and therefore did not develop economically or demographically. In the second half of the 19th century it lost its urban status.
The Germans occupied G on September 15th, 1939, but handed it over on October 1st to the Red Army. The Russians, however, remained only a fortnight and then withdrew eastwards, across the River Bug - in accordance with the terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. The Germans then returned to G.
The Jews of G are first mentioned at the beginning of the 19th century. Their number then was small, and even in 1921, when it reached its maximm level, there were no more than 100 families. It may be assumed that the Jews, as in other towns, were small merchants and artisans, espcially on market and fair days.
The Jews were a part of the community at Krasnystaw, as in G there was only a Bet Midrash (religious school) and a shochet (ritual slaughterer), who ruled on religious matters and taught the small children. Because they were so few the local Jews could not establish any social or public activities, and cultural events took place very infrequently.
In the period between the two world wars many of the Jews of G moved to other towns. The reason appears to have been the constantly increasing anti-Semitism, which found expression in boycott of Jewish shops and workshops, and attacks on Jewish pedlars who went round the villages.
In September 1939 the Germans at once began to round up Jews for slave labour - cleaning the streets, clearing up rubble, and carrying out various tasks for the German army. When the Russians withdrew after their short stay they were accompanied by a group of young local Jews.
At the beginning of 1940 a Judenrat was set up in G, with offices in the school. Its head was Israel Edelstein, and his deputy was Chaim Kajzman. Other members of the Judenrat were Josef Kajzman, Leib Goldstein, Zaidel Honigman, Mattias Orland, Szlomo Cymerman, Daniel Wasser, Ajzyk Farber, and Meir Merensztejn. To begin with the Germans adopted no sharp measures against the Jews, who were, however, obliged to supply a certain number of slave workers - but they were allowed to continue in their normal occupations and their freedom of movement was not curtailed. However, in the spring of 1940 the Germans ordered the Judenrat to send a batch of Jews to the camp at Belzec, and also imposed on the Jews a monetary contribution. At the beginning of 1942 a further consignment of Jews was despatched to Belzec.
In November 1942 the Germans assembled the Jews of G and the nearby villages in the market square, and from there they were marched 12 kilometres to the ghetto at Izbica - the assembly point for all the Jews of the area. In the autumn of 1942 and the beginning of 1943 all the inhabitants of this ghetto were removed to their deaths in Belzec.
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