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Translation of Tyszowce 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 244-247, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
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(District: Tomaszow Lubelski; Province: Lublin)
Tyszowce (T) is first mentioned at the beginning of the 15th century. Owing to its situation on the main road from Lwow to Poznan, it developed into a commercial and crafts centre for its agricultural district. Its main economic branch was leather. Many of the local inhabitants earned their living by leather processing, shoemaking and furs. In 1453 the Polish king Kazimir Jagiello granted T urban status, and in 1569 King Sigismund August allowed the town to hold market days and annual fairs.
Over time T was much plagued by hostile incursions, by epidemics and by frequent fires. The epidemic of 1571 wiped out most of its inhabitants. In 1629 the Tatars attacked the town, its citizens and their property. In 1648 T was taken by the Cossack bands of Chmielnicki, who inflicted great damage on persons and buildings. Of the 37 craftsmen in the town prior to this invasion there were in 1650 only eight. In the second half of the 18th century the economic life of the town revived.
In 1795, after the Third Partition of Poland, T came under Austrian rule; in 1807 it was incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Warsaw; and in 1815 and until the First World War it formed part of the Russian protectorate - the Kingdom of Congress Poland. At the beginning of the 19th century T was in miserable straits and its urban privileges were taken from it. In 1820 most of its inhabitants were engaged in agriculture, with a few working in shoemaking and the fur trade.
In the second half of the 18th century, when the economic situation in T improved, the number of Jews there increased. Relations between them and their Christian townsmen were generally satisfactory. In 1776 Jews possessed 66 of the 248 houses in T. The same year saw the resumption of their privileges, and their rights and obligations were on a par with the Christians. Municipal taxes of 600 zloty a year were imposed on the community.
The new bill of rights was countersigned by the leaders of the community: Aharon Ber Yehoshua and Moshe Ber Efraim. The community of T formed part of nine large communities in the district of Chelm-Belz. Its status may be gauged from the fact that some of the sessions of the Council of the Four Lands (for this and other terms, see Notes at the end of this translation) were held in the town (in1583, 1742 and 1744). At the meeting of 1583, before the departure of the Lithuanian representatives, resolutions were adopted with regard to the independent leadership of the communities and free elections of their rabbis. In 1717 a poll tax of 1,110 zloty was imposed on the Jews - a sign of the growth of the community. As early as the end of the 16th century it had a synagogue and a cemetery, and in the 18th century a new synagogue and a Bet Midrash were opened and another cemetery consecrated. Among the charitable and welfare institutions were the Chevra Kadisha (Burial Society) and Linat Zedek ), and a Provident Society.
Names of the rabbis of the community in the 18th century include R. Avraham David Ber Moshe (in 1746, moved later to Stanow); and R. Tsvi Hirsz Zamosc, author of Tiferet Zvi (moved to Brody in1771). Active in the town in this period were R. Zachariah Mendel Yaskis, one of the leaders of the Council of the Four Lands, his son-in-law, R. Yakov Emden; and the Magid R. Yakov Ber Nachum, known for his works Sfat Yosef , his commentary on Bechinat Olam (Shklow 1792 - revised edition called Or Chachamim, published in Hrodna 1799. In 1773 the rabbi of T was R. Natan Nute Hakohen Shapira (see reference in the book Avodat Hashor Halevi). He was followed by R. Yehuda Leibush Segal Ettinger, son of R. Avraham Segal.
In the 19th century the rabbinate was occupied by R. Abraham Jakob Gelernter (1807). who was inclined to Chassidism and gave his assent to the printing of the book Shivchei HaBesht ; his son, R. David; and R. Jakob Eichenbaum (in 1815). Thereafter the office was the preserve of one family: in 1866 R. David Wahl was elected (he was the son-in-law of R. Avraham Jakob Gelernter); then came his own son-in-law, R. Shimshon Mordechai Josef Glanc; R. David Wahl, who died during the epidemic in World War I; and R. Aryeh Glanc, the last rabbi of T, who perished in the Holocaust. Also the rabbi appointed by the authorities (as distinct from the elected rabbi) - R. Jehuda Leibus HaKohen Adamszik, author of Gan Raveh , died in the Holocaust. He was a Zionist rabbi, one of the founders of Mizrachi.
There were many Chassidim in the community, with stieblich (prayer houses) of the courts of Belz, Turzysk, Radzin and Husiatin.
The First World War meant ruin for the inhabitants of T. Many Jews moved to larger towns, and some later emigrated overseas.
The Jews continued to work in their traditional occupations - mainly shoemaking, but also tailoring, carpentry and the fur trade. When the general situation had stabilized, they began to rebuild their businesses with the support of old-established and newer credit and mutual help institutions. In 1925 an association of Jewish craftsmen was started, with over a hundred members. In the 1920s a Jewish Cooperative Bank of merchants and craftsmen was established. The older Provident Fund also assisted small businessmen with interest-free loans.
The community of T was a religious one, but in the inter-war period Zionist activity was on the increase. Local branches of the General Zionists, Poalei Zion, Left Poalei Zion, Hechalutz, Hamizrachi and the Revisionists arose; as did concomitant youth groups - Freiheit (Dror), Hechalutz Hatsair and Beitar (1925). To the elections to the 1939 Zionist Congress 128 of T's Jews were eligible to vote (had acquired shekels).
The non-Zionist parties in T were Agudat Israel, with its base among the Chassidim, and the Bund, supported by wage-earners in the workshops. A few young people were active Communists, although the party at that time was illegal.
Elections to the Community Council were contested by the various Zionist factions, Agudat Israel and the Artisans' List. In the 1920s of the eight members of this body four were from the latter list.
The traditional cheders had existed in T for generations - but in 1926 a Hebrew elementary school of the Tarbut network was opened. Many of the Jewish children of the period attended the Polish elementary school. The Jews had a Public Library, named after Y.L. Peretz, which also ran drama and literary circles, Hebrew courses for working youths, etc. In 1938 the Library was closed by order of the authorities, on suspicion of spreading communist propaganda.
Natives of T who acquired a reputation at the time included the Magid, R. Pinchas Nute Ginszburg, author of the book Der Weinstock (Hagefen, Warsaw, 1930); and R. Avraham Sztern, author of Eidot Beyisrael on the Babylonian Talmud, and Chutim Meshulashim (Tel-Aviv, 1960) - a collection of Chassidic stories. Also born in T was the painter Adolf Miller (died in 1965). In his youth, in 1894, he studied painting in Warsaw, and continued his education in Italy and Switzerland.
In the late 1930s there reigned in T, as in all of Poland, an atmosphere of anti-Semitism and incitement against the Jews.
In T a new Town Council was established, under the leadership of the pre-war Mayor, Zarembski. During the German occupation Zarembski defended the Jews to the best of his ability, and even helped the Jewish Aid Committee set up at the time with money, food and fuel.
During the first few months of the occupation the Jews were free to leave the town on business and to buy food from the peasants - but in the spring of 1940 restrictions were introduced. The Jews were ordered to wear a yellow patch on their clothing, with a white band and a Star of David on it. The Germans appointed a Judenrat of ten members and a Jewish Police Force. The Head of the Judenrat was Zelig Cukier, and Meir Szak was named Head of Police. The Judenrat was ordered to mobilise slave workers and to collect money and valuables from the Jews under threat of German terror. The first Jewish workers were at once sent to distant labour camps. S.S. troops came into T and assembled all the Jews in the courtyard of the Polish school, selected 154 men and women from among them, and sent them on lorries to Zamosc. Here they were divided into two groups: the one to work in German barracks, while the other was sent to the labour camp at Bialobrzegi - 12 kilometres from Zamosc - and employed on drainage work. The workers were subject to constant attack by their guards, particularly at the hands of a Jew in the service of the Gestapo, called Goldman. He was shot to death by the Gestapo on July 15th.
In the summer of 1940 hundreds more Jews were sent from T to Belzec, and there set to work diggig defence works along the Soviet border. A labour camp was also established in T, and the local Jews were joined by hundreds of Jews from Lublin, Otwock, and other places. Some 500 Jews were held in the flour-mill and from there employed on drainage ditches, roadwork, and other public works.
In 1942 there was a further deterioration in the condition of the Jews of T. Mayor Zarembski, who refused to obey German orders, was arrested and sent to the concentration camp at Dachau - and help to the Jewish Committee ceased, with the result that it also had to give up, and many Jews began to starve.
On May 25th, 1942, during Shavuot, the Germans began to deport the Jews of T to the death camps. At night Gestapo and S.S. troops entered the town, and at dawn began to turn the Jews out of their houses. That same day some 800 of them were sent to Belzec. Many offered resistance, and were shot on the spot. The Germans also executed the Head of the Judenrat and his deputy for not supplying them with adequate strong drink to celebrate the deportation.
During this action several hundred Jews fled to the woods, leaving about 600 behind in T. These the Germans moved to one area, a ghetto. As new leader of the Judenrat the Germans appointed a German Jew called Fiszleber, who was known for his cruelty to his fellow-Jews. The overcrowdng in the ghetto led to epidemics. In September 1942 the Germans executed 49 inhabitants of the ghetto. In early October, on hearing a rumour about the destruction of the Jews of Zamosc, a further number of Jews fled to the woods.
The last action in T took place in October, when 22 Jews who resisted were shot on the spot, and another 70 despatched to Belzec. Fiszleber, his mother and his sister, committed suicide. The last rabbi of T, R. Aryeh Glanc, was also among those slaughtered.
Those Jews who had fled from the town tried to find refuge with the peasants in the villages or to reach the woods. Most of them, however, fell to German bullets or were killed by Polish and Ukrainian anti-Semites. Only a handful managed to organise a resistance movement - including those who formed a combat unit in the woods between Komarow and T. With few weapons, bought from Poles, they carried out attacks on the Germans and also stole their weapons. Among these fighters were Tsvi Fingier and Chaja Helfman, who fell in battle, and Yeshayahu Sztengiel, who took part in the rising in the Warsaw ghetto.
Jewish survivors from T numbered some hundreds - mainly those who had escaped to the Soviet Union in the autumn of 1939.
Notes (in order of appearance in the text:
Council of the Four Lands: the Jewish self-governing body in Russia-Poland originating in the 16th century. Named for the four regions of Major Poland, Minor Poland, Red Russia and Lithuania, it was called in Hebrew 'Va'ad Arba Artzot'.
Bet Midrash: a traditional house of study, usually attached to a synagogue, and giving religious instruction mainly to adults.
Linat Zedek: basically a hospital for the poor and homeless, it also carried out a number of other welfare tasks.
Magid: preacher or story-teller.
Chassidism / Has(s)idism: the Jewish revivalist movement originating in eastern Europe in the late 16th century. It maintains many of the characteristics of the time, such as its dress. Diverse sects of Chassidim hail from different towns and follow different leaders or 'rebbes'.
Besht: acronym for the Baal Shem-Tov, R. Israel ben Eliezer, the founder of Chassidism).
Poalei Zion: 'Workers of Zion', a Marxist Jewish party founded in 1906. Its ideological 'father' was Dov Ber Borochov.
Hechalutz: 'The Pioneer', an organisation to train youth for immigration to Israel /Palestine, mainly to a kibbutz.
Hamizrachi: the Orthodox Zionist movement, founded in Vilna in 1902.
Revisionists. followers of the radically nationalist Zionist movement led by Jabotinsky.
Dror: 'Freedom' - at first a moderate youth movement, later more left-wing.
Hechalutz Hatsair: 'The Young Pioneer'.
Beitar: right-wing youth movement, formed in 1923, later associated with the Israeli party 'Cherut'.
Agudat Israel: the Orthodox jewish (anti-Zionist) political movement organised in 1912 in Europe, seeking to sustain the values of traditional eastern European Jewry.
Shavuot: the 'Feast of Weeks' or First Fruits; also commemorates the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.
The above notes were compiled by the translator/editor. Many of the definitions were taken from The Timetables of Jewish History, by Judah Gribetz with Edward L. Greenstein and Regina S. Stein (Simon and Schuster, 1993) and other sources.
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