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[Page 193]


Chapter VII

The End of the War

On September 11, 1944 the Russian army liberated the city of Krosno. The city was seriously affected by the war, notably the industry and the airfield. Slowly the few hidden Jews in Krosno began to emerge. Slowly and fearfully they began to appear in the streets. They were soon joined by Jews that survived in the country side of Krosno. Their numbers were abysmally small in comparison to the pre–war Jewish population of Krosno. Of the estimated 3.3 million Jews who lived in Poland when the Nazis invaded on September 1, 1939, only 42,662 Jews remained by May 1945. Soon starving survivors from the labor camps and concentrations camps returned home and increased the number of Jews to 80,000. By January 1946 the numbers increased to 106,492 with the discharge of Jewish soldiers from the Polish and Russian armies. By all accounts the number of surviving Jews in Poland was minute and Krosno was no exception. Many Jewish camp survivors did not return to Poland, not even for a visit. They said good bye to their native country from a distance.

Some Krosner Jews came back, visited the city and then left. The city was strange to them and the faces were unfamiliar. It seemed to the returnees that this was not their Krosno. Their families were gone, their homes occupied by Poles, and their businesses destroyed. The returnees would have to start from scratch, and many decided against it. They packed their few belongings and decided to leave Krosno for the big cities or to leave Poland altogether. Other Jews decided to stay in Krosno and even established a Jewish community committee to help the returnees settle in the city.

 

kro193.jpg
 
kro194.jpg

Members of the Jewish community in Krosno following WWII

The lists are difficult to read so we decided to rewrite them. We have two pages of names that follow the original name sheets. The second page has the official stamp of the Jewish committee of Krosno.

Last
name
First
name
Birth
year
Place
Koenig Helena 1910 Krosno
Koenig Ruta 1937 Krosno
Sternbach Zofia 1910 Krosno
Pferferbaum Jan 1937 Krosno
Pferferbaum Manes 1903 Krosno
Pferferbaum Fani 1917 Krosno
Maisels Hela 1906 Krosno
Maisels Fela 1914 Krosno
Trynopolski Jozef 1909 Krosno
Schwebel Alter–Aron 1887 Krosno
Schwebel Anna 188 Krosno
Schwebel Mendel 1922 Krosno
Schwebel Brononia 1924 Krosno
Schwebel Chaja 1924 Krosno
Taller Pinkas 1928 Krosno
Engel Jozef 1921 Krosno
Grunspan Donia 1920 Krosno
Rabi Klara 1922 Krosno
Gelb Dora 1922 Krosno
Grunspan Awraham 1921 Krosno
Kalb Mania 1906 Krosno
Kalb Osina 1936 Krosno
Bergman Dawid 1907 Krosno
Bergman Saul 1910 Krosno
Bergman Osias 1908 Krosno
Bergman Rubin 1919 Krosno
Bergman Markus 1916 Krosno
Bergman Lazar 1907 Krosno
Schachner Stanislaw 1908 Krosno
Schachner Hela 1918 Krosno
Schachner Moniek 1936 Krosno
Elowitz Samuel 1878 Krosno
Stiefel Samuel 1878 Krosno
Stiefel Hela 1912 Krosno
Katz Hela 1917 Krosno
Lieber Wolf 1900 Krosno
Engelhard Iza 1901 Krosno
Schiff Pinkas 1901 Krosno
Schiff Necha 1888 Krosno
Schiff Josef 1928 Krosno
Schiff Rozia 1925 Krosno
Kuflick Rpsa 1916 Krosno
Keller Markus 1912 Krosno
Keller Chune 1919 Krosno
Spira Ida 1913 Krosno
Spira Mania 1938 Krosno
Spira Meilech Her 1919 Krosno
Guzik Szyja 1903 Krosno
Guzik Jozef 1909 Krosno
Linsker Sara 1908 Krosno
Rosenthal Nuchim 1910 Krosno
Trum Jakub 1925 Krosno
Tenzer Leib 1910 Krosno
Ehrenreich Wolf 1914 Dukla
 
Last
name
First
name
Birth
year
Place
Landsberger Isydor 1885 Krosno
Fries Zofia 1921 Krosno
Lipiner Israel 1890 Zrecin
Lipiner Helena 1900 Zrecin
Lipiner Estera 1923 Zrecin
Lipiner Sonia 1935 Zrecin
Morgenstern Chaskel 1901 Zrecin
Brozinska Irena 1918 Zrecin
Bergman Awraham 1927 Zrecin
Schenker Regina 1908 Zrecin
Grunspan Herman 1899 Zrecin
Fessel Pinkas 1907 Zegwice
Bigayer Awraham 1892 Zegwice
Bigayer Regina 1888 Jedlice
Emer Genia 1908 Jedlice
Emer Alfred 1930 Jedlice
Neuman Menashe 1908 Jedlice
Schenker Rosa 1920 Jedlice
Riess Jozef 1898 Jedlice
Riess Mala 1930 Jedlice
Riess Regina 1915 Jedlice
Feld Osias 1926 Jedlice
Feld Menasche 1927 Jedlice
Feld Sonia 1938 Jedlice
Denholtz Dawid 1908 Jedlice
Denholtz Poldek 1926 Jedlice
Denholtz Lola 1922 Jedlice
Lerman Eljas 1896 Jedlice
Lerman Leona 1902 Jedlice
Lerman Bronia 1922 Jedlice
Lerman Salomon 1928 Jedlice
Ber Estera 1893 Jedlice
Ber Jakub 1905 Jedlice
Denholtz Gehardt 1906 Jedlice
Turk Herman 1918 Jedlice
Turk Dawid 1906 Jedlice
Kimel Dawid 1896 Jedlice
Kimel Esla 1920 Jedlice
Unger Lea 1912 Jedlice
Unger Samuel 1929 Jedlice
Unger Inis 1928 Jedlice
Roth Alter 1902 Jedlice
Lacher Lea 1899 Jedlice
Lacher Leon 1929 Jedlice
Fels Sara 1891 Jedlice
Fels Chana 1925 Jedlice
Hiller Samuel 1942 Jedlice
Schenbach Ricchard 1909 Krosno
Stern Cesia 1915 Krosno

We copied the names as they were written with their mistakes. We notice that the list contained many Jews who were not native of Krosno but settled in the city following WWII to increase their personal security. The hamlets were near Krosno.

On May 15, 1945, the Jewish committee of Krosno also submitted a list of officers who were elected to represent the community. Their names and titles are as follows:

President Schachner,

  1. Stanislaw Guzik, Vice–president, University graduate
  2. Josef Helena Stein Secretary, University graduate
  3. Stein, Helena Secretary, University graduate
  4. Helena Katz Treasurer
  5. Wolf Lieber, Member of the board

All members are residents of the city of Krosno. Notice the community stamp and the official notations of the city of Krosno.

 

kro195.jpg
Official letter to the mayor of Krosno.

 

The Soviet–established Polish government steadily strengthened the Polish Communist party in its quest for total power. These moves were strongly opposed by the Polish nationalist forces that were well organized. Soon armed clashes took place between these two forces. The nationalist forces considered the Polish Jews outsiders and barely tolerated them. Their hatred of the Jews increased with the appointments of Jewish ministers like Jakub Berman and Hilary Minc to important cabinet posts.

A rare event in Poland between the wars was the appointment of a Jewish official to a high position in the government. This policy changed after the war. There were some Jewish ministers and high officials in the administration. Attacks against Jews began to take place in the countryside that was controlled by the nationalist forces. In September of 1945, a pogrom against Jews took place in Krakow, Galicia. Anti–Jewish incidents multiplied across Poland, their intensity increasing as Polish citizens began to return from the Soviet Union.

The first transports were primarily Polish farmers and skilled workers where the number of Jews was relatively small. As the transports kept coming, the percentage of Jews increased substantially. By July 1946, with the massive arrival of repatriated Polish Jews from the Soviet Union, the number of Jews in Poland swelled to 240,489. Most of the recent arrivals were sent to the new Polish areas where there were plenty of apartments and jobs. The German residents of these areas were forced to leave Poland. Large Jewish communities began to appear, namely Wroclaw (Breslau) and Walbrzych (Waldenburg), among others.

The Polish government and the American Joint helped the returnees settle, but the Polish countryside continued the fight against the Government and the Polish Jews. The height of the campaign reached the city of Kielce where 41 Jews and 4 Poles were killed on July 4, 1946.[1]

 

kro196.jpg
The mass grave at Kielce, Poland following the pogrom. Under the pretext that a Christian child was kidnapped by Jews for ritual purposes, the Poles attacked the surviving Jews of Kielce. The fact that Polish security and police forces joined the mob sent alarm warnings to all Jews of Poland. Jews began to worry about their safety

 

The news of the pogrom made headlines across the world and forced the Polish government to take action. The Polish government was sympathetic and understood the plight of the Jews, but it was powerless to restore order and also did not want to be too closely allied with the Jews. The Polish government decided to let the Jews leave Poland, regardless of internal or external consequences. The Polish government was primarily concerned with its own existence. The Assistant Minister of Defense of Poland, Marshal Marian Spychalski, was ordered to conduct secret negotiations with Itzhak or Antek Tzuckerman, one of the leaders of the Jewish ghetto uprising in Warsaw in 1943 and presently a member of the Central Committee of Polish Jews in Poland. They worked out a secret agreement whereby only Jews would leave Poland. No gold or foreign currency was permitted to leave the country, and all transportation arrangements were the responsibility of the Polish “Brichah”. All medical and special problems were to be handled by the Polish “Brichah”. The Polish government and the Polish official institutions were not officially involved in the Jewish exodus. Last but not least, no individual papers would be needed to leave Poland. The agreement was to commence on July 27, 1946, and end about February 1947. The agreement was secret and applied to the Polish–Czech borders.

In 1945, about 5,000 Polish Jews left Poland and crossed illegally to Czechoslovakia. The stream became stronger and in May of 1946, 3,052 Polish Jews entered Czechoslovakia. The number jumped to 8,000 in June. After the pogrom in Kielce, the tide turned to an avalanche. 19,000 Jews left Poland in July; 35,346 in August; and 12,379 in September of 1946. During 5 months, 77,700 Polish Jews left Poland and crossed the border at Nachod in Czechoslovakia. This was a major crossing point, but Jews crossed the border at several other border points. According to American Joint records, it is estimated that 90,000 Jews left Poland in 1946. Fear struck the Jews and they decided to pack and seek safety. The Polish countryside was losing the few Shoah surviving Jews who headed to the various crossing points along the long Polish–Czech borders. The main crossing points were at Kladzko, Walbrzych, Wroclaw, Krosno and Sanok.

kro197.jpg
Crossing points of the Brichah at Krosno and Sanok, Poland to Slovakia, Subcarpathia and Romania

 

The old “Brichah” road that went from Rowno through Czernowitz, Soviet Union, was closed with the arrest of the “Brichah” cell in Czernotz. The “Brichah”[2] leader, Abba Kovner, ordered 3 of his assistants to explore a new route that led to Romania. He selected Velvele Rabinowitz from Wilno as head of the group and send them to Krosno, across the Carpathian Mountains to Humene, Slovakia, Chust in Subcarpathia and Sato Mare in Romania[3] .The group reached Bucharest and met Moshe Auerbach, chief of the “Brichah” in Romania. Rabinowicz returned to Krakow, Poland and reported to the “Brichah” that the route was now open for Polish Jews to head to Romania and eventually to Palestine. Mordechai Rosman head of the Polish “Brichah” decided to open permanent bases for Jews, crossing the border at Rzszow and at Tarnow in Galicia. From there small groups would proceed to Krosno or Sanok where they would rest and then proceed cross the border to Slovakia where the Slovakian “Brichah” would take over.

 

kro198a.jpg
 
kro198b.jpg
 
kro198c.jpg
 
kro198d.jpg
A group of Polish “Brichah” agents, amongst them Moshe Meiri or better known as Ben. He is at the right corner at the bottom of the picture. The Krosno “Brichah” station was headed by Ben or Moshe Meiri.

Ben proceeded to Krosno and organized a base where the “Brichah” brought small groups of Jews that were about to cross the Carpathian Mountains. They had to rest, stock up on food and prepare for as long trip over the mountains. The Krosno station grew in importance as the number of Jewish refugees increased. The Krosno “Brichah” station would soon decline in importance as the crossing points shifted in a westerly direction, namely Kladzko, Walbrzych.

The road changed since the Romanian authorities closed the Constanta port facilities to the “Brichah” organisation. So there was no point in sending Jewish refugees to Romania with no further exits. Instead, the refugees were sent to Czechoslovakia and then to Germany and Austria where they entered the D.P. camps mainly in the American zones. Still, individual Jews who ventured into the Polish countryside took their lives in their hands as the tombstone below shows. Jews continued to live in the big cities like Krakow, Warsaw, Lodz, and Wroclaw.

 

kro199.jpg
“Brichah” agents in Krosno; from right to left; Sarah Pressman, Lena Hemel, Stefan Grajek, Vi Feishter and a police official. The city of Krosno was located near the Polish-Czechoslovakian (presently Slovakian) border. The “Brichah” would bring groups of Jews that wanted to go to Palestine. In Krosno they received their final directions and instructions before they set out to leave Poland.

With the liberation of the city of Krosno, some Jewish survivors began to appear, some partisans and discharged soldiers also visited the city of Krosno namelly Salek Berger, a native of Krosno, who survived the war in Eastern Ukraine and with the liberation of the area was drafted into the Polish Army. Following the war. He visited his native city and joined the “Brichah” in Krosno. According to Salek: “The “Brichah” organization was a secret organization dedicated to send all Jews of Eastern Europe to Palestine. The members of the organization were ex–partisans, camp survivors, discharged soldiers from the Jewish brigade and discharged soldiers from the Polish and Russian armies”. Berger joined led transports of Jews across the Polish–Czech border in the area of Krosno where he knew the paths. According to Berger, the work was difficult, dangerous and illegal. He remained with the organization for some time and then was replaced by another volunteer. Berger himself was sent to one of the D.P. camps in Italy where he remained for several years. He eventually reached the USA.

The city of Krosno was located near the Polish–Czechoslovakian (presently Slovakia) border. Surviving Jews reached the city as individuals or small groups and were organized into transports that crossed the border to Slovakia and then to Romania or Austria. Some individual Jews tried to reach the assembly point in Krosno but never made it as the memorial tombstone indicates.

 

kro200.jpg
Yechiel Proper, the son of Arieh Proper of Sanok. This important and kind man was murdered by blood–thirsty killers on the 8th day of the Jewish month of Elul in the year Tashav or 5706. [September 4, 1946]

 

With the end of the agreement, the Polish government closed all borders but continued to grant exit visas to Jews wanting to leave the country. The Polish “Brichah” organization slowly dismantled the organization in Poland as the government tightened control of the borders. The Krosno office was closed, the officials left the city, and all the Krosno Jews were gone. A community of about 3,000 Jews disappeared within such a short period of time. Thus ended Krosno Jewish history.

May they rest peacefully wherever they are buried.


Footnotes

  1. Bauer, Flight, p.208 Return
  2. Bauer, Flight, p.28 Return
  3. Bauer, Flight, p.28 Return

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