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[Page 298]


Chapter XIV

Krosno

by Elzbieta Raczy

 

The Polish historian Elzbieta Raczy did an extensive study of Jewish Krosno. She published her findings in several small publications in Polish under the name of Krosno Library. Having access to many state and city documents enabled her to describe a very fine table of Jewish life in Krosno. The wealth of historical details gives us an excellent perception of Jewish life in Krosno. We want to thank the author for her gracious permission to use her written material in our Yizkor or Memorial book for the Jews of Krosno.

The editors, graphic artists, and other involved personnel did a fine job of presenting the material in a presentable and cohesive format for which we want to thank them.

We want to thank Monika Hendry for her excellent translation of the Polish text to English.

Arrangement and editing of the material by William Leibner.

 

The Krosno Library

Historical series

 

Notebook 9 [1995]

Elzbieta Raczy

Jews in Krosno to 1919

Krosno 1995

Translated by Monika Hendry from Polish to English

Arrangement and editing by William Leibner

Editor of the series is Ewa Mankowska. Proofreader is Iwona Jurczyk.

Copyright by Museum Rzemiosla w Krosnie Krosno 1995

ISBN 83–902057–8–5

Na Okladce; I Arched galleries in Krosno [pocz XX w.] karta pocztowa.

[Page 3]

The editor lists the offices that sponsored the publication of the series.

[Page 4]

The main purpose of this publication is to portray the history of the Jewish community in Krosno.

The sources available about the Jewish community in Krosno until 1919 are insufficient, fragmented and scattered. The Jewish communal archives did not survive the war. I base my research on the materials available at the Archives in Skolyszyn, the Museum of Crafts in Krosno, the Central Military Archives in Warsaw, the Jewish Historical Institute Archives in Warsaw, and the Yad Vashem Institute Archives in Israel. I also used materials from the Central Historical Archives in Lwow [Lembeg, presently Ukraine], that provided information regarding the privilege de non tolerandis Judeis {non–acceptance of Jews} given to Krosno in the 16th century.

Among the existing publications, valuable information was obtained from Kronika gmin– Encyklopedia Osad Zydowskich od zalozenia po ich zaglade w II wojnie swiatowej (Chronicle of Jewish communities– the Encyclopedia of Jewish settlements from their establishment until WWII) published in 1984 in Jerusalem and the city's monograph. The gaps were filled by testimonies of surviving former Jewish residents of Krosno. I would like to thank all of these people.

[Page 5 See document below.]

[Page 6]

The beginnings of Jewish settlement in Krosno

Krosno's status as a royal town was the most important factor in shaping the history of the Jewish settlement there. Jewish settlements flourished mainly in the gentry–owned cities in the Sanok area. The gentry encouraged Jewish settlements mainly due to common economic interests. Jews made good administrators and tenants. Their flair in trade provided a boost to the city economy and their involvement in crafts created goods for the market. Cities such as Lesko, Dynow, and Rymanow were in private hands and Jewish communities developed basically without restrictions.

The opposite was the case with royal towns such as Krosno (a royal town until the 18th century) where the legal status of Jews was determined by royal privileges that were secured by the city dwellers. Townspeople usually resented Jews, mainly due to their prowess in trade. In the Sanok area, there were other royal cities, among them Mrzyglod and Sanok[1]. The situation was similar in towns belonging to the church, such as Brzozow and Babice, that opposed Jewish settlements for religious reasons.

The first mention of Jews in Krosno appeared in the first half of the 15th century in an undated document by King Wladyslaw Jagiello, who allowed two brothers from Ransburg, Nachem and Lazar, to settle in Krosno[2]. They were allowed residence for three years and were free from taxes for that period[3].

[Page 7]

Nachem was rich. In 1427–28 he extended a number of loans to Poles and Hungarians. His debtors included Mathias Mild, Hanus Olbracht, Johanes Ronchyn, and Stenczel Bone. The last one pledged to repay the money and interest to “Jew Nacham in Lancut after Christmas.” Nachem's brother, Lazar, lived in Krosno much longer than three years as confirmed by a privilege given to him by Casimir Jagiellonczyk, freeing him from transport duties in the whole country. The sources do not mention when the brothers left Krosno. The permission to allow them to live in the city seems to have been an exception, as a document from 1569 states that the town never had Jewish inhabitants. Krosno, however, was not the only town in the Sanok area to exclude Jews under the so–called non–tolerandis Judeis Act [the Exclusion of Jews]. Other cities also received this type of privilege or exclusion.

[Page 8]

A modest influx of Jews into Sanok and Mrzyglod seemed to confirm that these places removed, at least for a period of time, their restrictions on Jewish settlement. The next sources mentioned Jews in the area in about the 16th century. It was then that they emigrated from Western Europe to settle in Lesko, Sanok, Rymanow, Dukla, and other places in the area.

 

kro298.jpg
Above is a copy of a document, issued by the Polish King Wladyslaw Jagellon to the Jews Nachema and Lazare that granted them the right to settle in Krosno

 

The town's royal privilege

The scarcity of references to Jews in Krosno in the second half of the 15th century indicates that there were few such residents in town. This can be directly attributed to the efforts of the local citizens against Jewish settlement. The pressure was very successful and in 1569 Jews were formally forbidden to enter Krosno with the granting of the non tolerandis Judeis Act privilege, or right of Jewish exclusion, to the city fathers. The document read: “We (the King) are informed by the residents of the whole district and the town that since its establishment, Jews had not resided and have no settlements or buildings here and they [local population] seek protection to remain free from such settlements in the town and vicinity. We regard the request as just and hereby give them a privilege that no Jew in Krosno or vicinity can buy for himself or his heirs any property. Nor are they [the Jews] allowed to establish any dwellings in the town and vicinity. They are also forbidden to sell goods that will harm the community interests…” These privileges or exclusions were reiterated subsequently several times. At the beginning of the 17th century, the town elders passed a resolution–forbidding resident to receive Jewish guests for longer than a day and to lease or rent stalls to Jews to trade or to store goods. The punishment was a fine of 30 “grzywna” (local currency)[4]. It seems that these rules were largely ignored because in documents from 1587 we read that one town mill was leased to a Jew named Leon and in 1694 there is a note about the death of Joseph Seygadlo (baptisatus addescens). So despite the explicit prohibition, Jews continued to live in Krosno[5].

 

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Panoramic view of Krosno in 1838

 

[Page 9]

Below is a document issued by King Zygmunt August in 1569 that barred Jews from residing in Krosno, the so–called non–tolerandis Judeis Act.

 

kro300.jpg
Royal document granting Krosno the right to prevent Jews from residing in the hamlet of Krosno

 

The privilege de non suscepiendis Judeis [of not hosting Jews] did not extend to Jews visiting from other towns. Fair day drew not only Jews but also tax collectors. In 1634, Cracow merchants Jakub Kozielkiewicz, Wojciech Dzieciolowski, Matias Kasprzycki, and Tomasz Grodkowicz accused Mayor Rapowicz and the council members of conspiring with a Jew, Jakub Aronowicz from Przemysl. He was supposedly a crown treasury administrator who did not exempt them from duties, although they were entitled to this as residents of Cracow.

[Page 10]

The mayor sent the most bellicose, Jakub Kozielkiewicz, to prison, and the other three were kept in Krosno until they paid the tax[6]. Jews from Dukla and Rymanow frequented Krosno fairs and competed with the town merchants. In the 17th century, demand for crafted goods dropped and contributed to the growing friction between Polish and Jewish communities. This resulted in the ordinance issued by the Krosno town board that “a robbery or killing of a Jew from Rymanow should not be punished.” Rymanow Jews were also banned from entering and trading in Krosno[7].

[Page 11]

The contacts between Jews from Rymanow and Poles from Krosno were frequent. In 1700, the Jewish elders from Rymanow, Jakub Chaimowicz, Jakub Kisiel, Jakub Jerychowicz, and Joseph Hankowski borrowed 500 zloty from Wojciech Gierlinski, a priest from the Farny church in Krosno. The collateral for the loan were: the Jewish school, the synagogue, the property, the land, the houses and shops of the leaders of the community.

It seems that from the end of 17th century until the middle of the 19th century, no new Jews settled in Krosno as there is no mention of them in the sources. Przyjaciel Ludu, a local paper, wrote on 3 November 1838: “Krosno inhabitants are involved in industry, especially trade with Hungary and can't stand starozakonnych (Jews). Local laws and long traditions prohibited Jewish settlement.”

 

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Jewish population in Galicia toward the end of the 19th century

 

[Page 12]

The Jewish community in Krosno between the 19th and the 20th century

In the 19th century, Jews were first mentioned in 1851. A census of houses and properties mentioned three Jewish owners: Loje Grunspan, Mojzesz Grunspan, and Sehije Dym.

In the 1890s and the first ten years of the 20th century, the Jewish community grew very rapidly. Between 1859 and 1890, about 50 Jews settled in Krosno, and in the next ten years another 32 Jews settled there. Among them were: Jachet Balzam, Chane Bilet, Riwe Beiz, Mendel Mozes, Chaim Beck, Aprel Samuel and his wife Sara, and their children: Israel, Chaim, Estera, and Ryfka.

In 1880 Jews represented 11.6% of all Krosno's inhabitants and 28.2% in 1910. They came mainly from Dukla, Korczyna, Sanok and some from farther corners of Galicia. The growth rate of Krosno's Jewish population was the highest in all of Western Galicia.

The population of Krosno

Year Population Catholic Jews Greek Orth.
1870 2,132 2,100 26 6
1880 2,461 (2,810) 2,318 (127) 113 30
1890 2,839 (3,251) 2,454 (567) 327 58
1900 3,276 (3,310) 2,664 (961) 567 45
1910 4,353 (5,582) 3,329 (1,559) 961 63
1914 5,521 3,839 1,558 70

The numbers within the parenthesis are the numbers provided by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel.

Column 1 is Year, total population, Roman Catholics, Jews, and Greek Catholics

Column 2 represents the total population of Krosno that grew by 96.5% between the years 1870–1910. Column 3 represents the Catholic population that grew by 60.5% between the same years. Column 4 represents the Jewish population that grew between the same years by 376% . If we go by the numbers within the brackets provided by Yad Vashem, the Jewish population even grew by a much larger percentage. Column 5 represents the Greek Catholic church that grew between the same years by 17.2%

Between 1880–1910 the general population grew by 96.5%. According to religious affiliation we have recorded a growth of 60.5% of Roman Catholics,17.2% Greek Catholics, and 376% of Jews. The rapid growth of the population was mainly due to the excellent geographic location of the town and the discovery of oil. Money and prospectors arrived in large numbers and created an economic boom. Krosno was linked to the railway in 1884. The line extended from Zagorz and Sanok to Jaslo, and provided the city with the proverbial “window to the world.” Until then the only communication link was the so–called “subcarpathian trail” from Gorlice via Krosno to Sanok and Przemysl.

[Page 13]

 

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Fragments of the constitution of 1867
that granted equality to the citizens

 

The Austrian government's policy also played a significant role in the growth of the Jewish population in Krosno. Until 1860, Jews were forced to maintain a separate judiciary and communal system of administration that marked the Jews as an alien element. The government also tried to restrict the number of marriages and to expel poor Jews from the country. In 1859 the restrictions were eased (on 29 November the marriage restriction was removed). The emperor also removed some rules banning Jews from certain professions and allowed them to buy land. All these measures were civil rules and did not grant citizenship or political rights to the Jews. Only on December 21st1867, a new constitution was promulgated that granted equality among all inhabitants of Poland.

[Page 14]

Occupations of Krosno Jew

In the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, Jews in Krosno, as in other places in Poland, mainly engaged in trade. Crafts were weaker and catered mainly to the needs of the Jewish community. There are no records regarding Jewish bakers in the second half of the 19th century in Krosno. We know that such bakeries existed since observant Jews were not permitted to buy bread from non–Jews due to religious rules. Of course, many Jews also baked bread at home, as was the custom then. In 1906, Krosno had six bakeries that included two Jewish bakeries: Seling Findling and Chaim Oling. Sandek Fessel, Wolf Mahler, Jakub Grunspan, and Tobiasz Nagiel owned very prosperous butcher shops. Buying the right to slaughter and sell meat was quite an expensive proposition so we can assume that these butchers belonged to the richer elements of the Krosno Jewish community. Jakub Grunspan and his family owned properties in the city and around it, confirming his affluence. There are no detailed records about the butchers in the first ten years of the 20th century.

 

kro303.jpg
A Galician Jew about 1899

 

[Page 15]

Jews were prominent in the metal industry in Krosno: Dawid Mehel, Chaim Korba, and Jakub Pinkas. Jonasz Steifel was involved in metal and tin. Jozef Flama, Dawid Tabzel, and Isaac Wielopolski were also involved in the metal industry but the sources give no details. The only brass manufacturer was Mojzesz Springer. Jewish craftsmen preferred the light industry. The Grand Guild record books from 1910–1914 mentioned tailors, shoemakers, barbers, painters, and watchmakers, footnote: watchmakers: Chaim Just, Jakub Berenger, and Benzion Montaga; barbers: Natan Zorna and Jakub Bender.

We know quite a bit about Krosno's merchants who dominated the trade in terms of the number of shops and the variety of goods that they provided. They traded in cattle, grain and other agricultural products, furs, leather, building materials, agricultural machinery, and crafted products.

The main square was the trading center. Every Monday Krosno held its weekly fair. Jews differed from the crowds with their long black “chalats” or coats. They busied themselves around the square, buying as much as possible at the lowest price. Traditionally, a drink in a tavern followed a successful transaction, and this custom was very popular. Not surprisingly, alcoholic drinks represented one of the mainstays of Jewish trade. One of the most profitable trades was the selling of spirits. Abraham Weisman and Szymon Pastor dominated the area.

[Page 16]

A Krosno Jew, Szyja Dym, sold alcohol in his own tavern in Biaolobrzegi. He won the tender in 1868 by defeating three other Jewish competitors. Jews ran the taverns throughout the Galician period. In 1867–70, the exclusive right for the sale of alcohol was granted to Sehija Dym. She paid an annual tax of 4,017 zloty. After her contract expired, Issac Herzig took over the lease. In 1872, Issac Herz, Kuna Feissel, and Szyja Dym jointly entered the alcohol market and were granted the exclusive right to sell liquor in Krosno and all the villages belonging to the town, such as Bialobrzeg and Suchodol.

Jews dominated the economic area of leases known as arrendar in the 19th and in the first half of the 20th century. The biggest group among Krosno's Jewish lessors were those who were granted the lease to collect public revenues. One of these lessors was Hersch Wasserstrum. He won the right to collect the tax on wine consumption from 1916–18. Wasserstrum agreed to pay 5,900 zloty in 12 installments for this lease. Others involved in this type of activity were Rebeka and Leja Dym. They obtained the lease in 1917 to collect the fees on alcoholic drinking production in Krosno.

Another group was made up of lessors of public buildings. In 1869, Isaac Heller and Szulima Leker leased the market place. We don't know for how long nor who took it over later. We suspect it could have been a Jew, because such leases required large sums of money and traditionally Jews contended for them. The city authorities were also eager to give them to Jews because large capital investment was needed and Jewish merchants were capable of raising these sums. Often, there were competitions amongst the Jewish merchants for these leases. In this manner, Saul Babinowicz gained the lease for the town property of Suchodol in 1867[8].

 

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The Synagogue of Krosno in 1930

 

[Page 17]

The Jewish communal organization

All Jewish communities had a certain degree of autonomy in establishing and administrating their particular needs. The latter were implemented through the offices of the gmina or kehilla, or communal center. This body of the Jewish residents carried out many roles in the community's life, mainly meeting the religious, administrative, and educational needs of the particular community.

In the second half of the 19th century, the Krosno region had two well–established Jewish communal centers: Dukla and Korczyna. Jewish inhabitants of Krosno seemed to have belonged to the one in Korczyna. Footnote 35– the Jewish communal center in Korczyna provided religious services for Krosno, Guzikowka, Bajdy, Bialobrzegi, Bonarowka, Borek, Bratkowka, Czarnorzeki, Dobieszyn, Glowinka, Jaszczew, Jedlicze, Iskrzynia, Kombornia, Krasna, Kroscienko Wyzne and Nizne, Lezany, Odrzykon, Polanka, Potok, Rzepnik, Suchodol, Swierzawa Polska, Turaszowka, Weglowka, Wojtkowka, and Wola Komborska.

Materials published in Israel state that Krosno's Jewish community belonged to Rymanow. However, this was not confirmed by our findings. The Rymanow communal center, or gmina, was established probably in the 16th century and, as such, was the oldest in Galicia. In the 19th century, Rymanow became a famous hasidic center in Poland. Its prestige might have attracted Krosno Jews to visit the famous Rabbi of Rymanow. However, when in the second half of the 19th century Jewish settlers appeared in Krosno, the Korczyna gmina provided the religious needs such as the cemetery for the Jewish inhabitants of Krosno. Thus we can conclude that the Krosno Jews belonged to the communal center of Korczyna.[9]

[Page 18]

The Krosno communal organization was created on January 1st 1900. The governor of Galicia granted the request for the organization on September 12th 1899. It covered the following communities: Bajdy, Bialobrzegi, Borek, Bratkowka, Chlebna, Chorkowka*, Dlugie*, Dobieszyn, Jaszczew, Jedlicze, Koptowa and Stanowiska*, Kroscienko Nizne, Krosno, Lesniowka*, Leazny, Miejsce Piastowe*, Moderowka with Bialkowka and Budzisz, Piotrowka*, Podniebyle*, Polanka, Poraj*, Potok, Suchodol, Szczepancowa, Swierzowa Polska, Targowiska, Turaszowka, Ustrobna, Wojakowka, Wroblik Krolewski*, Zrecin*, Zarnowiec*, Zeglce* (* asterik denotes communities removed from the communal center of Dukla while others were removed from the control of the communal center of Korczyna)[10].

 

kro305.jpg
Jewish Cemetery of Krosno in 1946

 

Each Jewish community drew up its own statutes that were then submitted to the authorities for approval. The original statutes for the Jewish community of Krosno did not survive. However, all the documents of the Galician Jewish communities were based on the government ordinance from July 6th 1894[11] that outlined the legal framework for Jewish communal organizations. Based on that regulation we can recreate, in general terms, the manner in which the communal organization of Krosno, or the kehilla, functioned. According to the ordinance, the kehilla had to meet the religious needs of its members and had to set up the necessary facilities to implement these needs. Caution had to be exercised that all steps were in accordance with the rules of the government.

A governing body ruled the Jewish community of Krosno but we do not know the names of the members due to lack of sources.

[Page 19]

The kehilla leadership controlled all officials within the Jewish communal organization; it approved budgets and administered the finances of the organization. It supervised houses of prayer, ritual places, and charitable organizations run by the community. It also mediated in disputes among the community members through officials who headed its judiciary division. The most important official in the community organization was the head of the kehilla, or the Jewish community. He called and chaired the meetings of the governing body. He issued membership certificates, kept records of the members and communal possessions, ran the chancery, and made sure that the rules passed by the governing body were within the scope of the law. He signed all official documents and stamped them with the seal of the head of the Jewish community in Krosno. If documents were related to obligations to a third party or a matter for which an approval of the council was necessary, they had to be signed by two other members of the council and bear its explicit approval[12]. The council or governing body appointed rabbis, assessors, religion teachers, cantors, mohels or circumcisers, and shochtim or religious slaughterers. They all received regular wages from the kehilla.

In 1904, the governing body selected Rabbi Samuel Ozon [Aron] Fuhrer as the Rabbi of Krosno[13]. He was highly recommended and was appointed for a probationary period of three years, which was extended for a long period of time. He was the only Krosno rabbi and remained in office until 1939. This led us to believe that the position was given to him for life.

The main duty of a rabbi was to tend to the spiritual needs of the Jewish community, supervise prayers, deliver sermons during Sabbath and other holidays, and answer questions pertaining to the faith in matters of ritual. He officiated at marriages and supervised the bathhouses and butcher shops so that they would conform to religious laws.

[Page 20]

Each member of the community had his personal rights that included use of all the ritual, educational, and charitable facilities of the kehilla. He had a passive and active right to elect the communal authorities. Only men were granted these rights: active rights to those over 24 years old who paid annual contributions and passive rights to those Austrian citizens over 30 years old who were members of the Krosno community for at least two years[14]. The members also had duties, including obeying the authority of the kehilla and its rules, providing money for the community needs, and performing ceremonial functions when requested by the community.

 

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Saved Jewish gravestones from the Jewish cemetery in Krosno in 1946

 

Krosno Jews between 1914–1918

The role of Krosno Jews in the Polish independence movement in 1914–1918 cannot be overlooked. The rising national awareness prior to WWI led the Jewish youth away from Polish national organizations, in which their participation was never high and was made up of people who considered themselves Poles but of Judaic persuasion.

Two Jews were members of the Zwiazek Strzelecki (Rifle Association) in Krosno and Mehel Rubin[15] was a representative of Jewish members of the Powiatowego Komitetu Narodowego (Regional National Committee). Three Jews were members of Polish Legions: Szymon Stilmann, who joined on September 4th 1914; Jozef Jadas, who joined an auxiliary battalion on November 9th 1914; and Maks Adermand, who joined Polish forces but later deserted[16].

Such negligible Jewish participation in the fight for Polish independence could lead one to make false assumptions, notably that the Jews opposed Polish independence. This was not the case. We must remember two things about the Jewish population: (1) the situation in Krosno was similar to other Galician towns, and (2) Jewish attitudes and ways of thinking were conditioned by the historical circumstances of the Jewish Diaspora.

[Page 21]

The differences in language, religion, culture, and the lack of political rights until the mid–19th century led to Jewish isolationism that manifested itself in religious conservatism and Zionism. Some Jews in Krosno identified with slogans of other Jewish communities in Poland, “a nation within a nation”[17].

We can however conclude that the Krosno Jewish community supported the Polish independence movement because it took part in the celebrations of Polish national anniversaries and other important Polish events. When the Act of November 5th 1916 was announced, Jews in Krosno illuminated and decorated their houses with national symbols and Jewish craftsmen volunteered their help in preparation of equipment for the Polish legionnaires.

 

Material Culture of Krosno Jews

Along with the annihilation of Jewish residents, the monuments of their material culture were also destroyed. The synagogue and Jewish archives were destroyed and the only surviving trace of the Jewish

[Page 22]

community is the cemetery. It is a very precious but not quite appreciated monument. It is a source to understand the Jewish presence in the city and a monument of national memory. Germans buried murdered Jews here. The content of inscriptions on tombstones, the size and opulence of the cemetery depended on the wealth of the community. Krosno's Jewish cemetery is one of the few cemeteries that wasn't totally devastated because it was surrounded by a wall. Krosno citizens of Jewish ancestry who survived and came back in 1946 saved it from total destruction[18].

A Krosno resident, Baruch Minc living in Israel gave us information about the efforts that were made to save the cemetery after WWII. His father was involved in these efforts. According to him, the cemetery tombstones were removed by unknown people and sold to someone in Bialobrzeg who wanted to build a house and wanted the tombstones for the foundation. Thanks to prompt legal action, the tombstones were returned to their original place.

[Page 23]

It is difficult to ascertain the credibility of this story. Oral testimonies can be subjective and imprecise. In this case, however, they sound credible and were confirmed by the pictures of the Krosno Jewish cemetery from 1946. According to the evidence, the case of the tombstones was taken to court that ruled that they should be returned to the Krosno Jewish cemetery from where they were removed. A search of the various court records in Skolyszyn, Sanok, and Jaslo yielded no results. The records may have been misplaced, discarded, or destroyed due to the low archival importance attached to them.

The cemetery is located on a slope behind the Zawodzie Park, squeezed now between private buildings. Originally it was on the fringes of the city. As with the community, it is difficult to determine when the cemetery was established. Undoubtedly, it was created some time towards the end of the 19th century. However, since Jews resided in Krosno since 1850, it is likely that they buried their dead at the Korczyna Jewish cemetery before the Krosno cemetery was established.

The matzeva, or tombstone, was a characteristic feature of the Jewish cemetery. They were lined up in rows and faced east. A wall surrounded the cemetery; at the gate there was probably a place to wash hands for those who participated in the burial ceremony. There is no trace of the water basin. The watchman's brick house is also gone. The tombstones were sandstone slabs with semicircular tops. The tops were adorned with reliefs; below them were inscriptions. Symbols and writing commemorated those aspects of life of the dead that were related to the Old Testament, his religious role or his propensity to do good deeds.

[Page 25]

 

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Tombstone of Samuel Lilbera who died in 1928

 

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Tombstone of Sara, daughter of Samuel, died in 1948

 

[Page 26]

 

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The tombstone of Bernard Munz who died in 1930

 

It is difficult to ascertain which of the signs are symbols and which are just pure ornaments. There are about 100 tombstones at the Krosno Jewish cemetery. It is not known how many were lost, but the sunken graves with shattered reliefs and illegible writing testify that the destruction was extensive. Most tombstone writings were in Hebrew.

The tombstone of Jakub Jeszai, son of Zwij, who died in 1919, has a crown on top that probably symbolizes religious piety or the head of a family. The text reads: Here lies in eternal rests a modest and honest man devoted to God. He raised his family in good faith and respect. He rendered his soul before the age of 70[19].

The tombstone of Shmuel Lielberg, who died in 1928, reads: Here lies in eternal rest

Shmuel Lielberg, a simple and honest man, a member of the Elimelach Segal family. Let his name be remembered forever.

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The tombstone of Sara, daughter of Shmuel, is adorned with a candlestick, a characteristic feature of female graves. On it is written: Here rests our blessed mother Sara. Honest, she was very good to people. The daughter of Shmuel, she died in September 1936. Blessed be her memory[20].

Apart from candles, birds and flowers inform us about the life of women. The matzeva of Chaia Libenschow indicates her age. The text reads: Her life ended in her youth, only three months after she was married. She died on Saturday, 1926.

Only three gravestones are different from traditional tombstones. One lacks any symbols and the text in Polish informs us of the death of Zygmunt Heller, son of Baruch and Dora Shuman; and Ryszard Blum, son of Oscar and Lola Heller. The second one has a broken tree, a symbol of death on it and informs of the death of Hersch Kern in Hebrew and Polish. The use of Polish and laconic inscriptions including only the name and the date of death are unusual, as most gravestone writings are in Hebrew. This may be a proof that some Jews in Krosno were being assimilated.

[Page 28]

The third gravestone is one of the most interesting at the Krosno Jewish cemetery. It belongs to Bernard Munz, who died in 1930. A stone base with a Hebrew inscription on the front is topped off with a sculpture of a broken tree. Under the Hebrew text there is an inscription in Polish informing of his birth and death.

The undertakers who tended to the burial of the dead were members of the Hevra Kadisha[21]. They were pious people who knew all the customs pertaining to religious burial. There were full members who had full rights and newly accepted members who had no rights. After a period of apprenticeship they were granted active rights that allowed them to participate in elections of the board of the Hevra Kadisha. The organization derived its income mainly from donations paid by families of the dead, from donations paid for prayers, and from fees for gravesites[22]. The kehilla authorities set the fees. In line with the general rules of Jewish communities, they could not exceed 500 zloty. The money was used to cover the expenses of poor people who could not afford burial expenses and the wages of the cemetery watchman. The latter also maintained the cemetery.

[Page 29]

The Final Word

This work, although not exhaustive, allows us to formulate several conclusions. The Jewish settlement since the Middle Ages until the 19th century was frequently hampered by the actions of towns people who tried to protect themselves from the competition of Jewish merchants. This was the reason Krosno, like other Polish cities, received privileges forbidding Jewish settlement. These prohibitions, though frequently ignored, excluded the city from the Jewish settlement until the 19th century. Only then can we begin to talk about the history of Krosno's Jewish community.

The main source of income for Jews were leases, trade, and to a smaller extent crafts. The Jews were very active in food production and light industry. They controlled the trade in town. Jewish economic activities boosted Krosno's market through attracting the peasantry into monetary exchanges and thus spurred economic growth of the city.

WWII destroyed the Jewish community and ended the common history of Jews and Poles who lived in Krosno together, linked through a peculiar bond of closeness and animosity. Today this is all history.

 

Index

Introduction 4
The beginnings of Jewish settlement in Krosno 6
Royal prerogatives for the city 8
Jews in Krosno in the 19th and 20th century 11
Jewish economic life in Krosno 14
The Jewish community or gmina 17
Jews in Krosno from 1914–1918 20
Jewish cultural activities in the city 21
The end 28
List of merchants 29


Footnotes

  1. M.Horn, Jews in Sanok to 1650.[W] Bulletin of the Jewish Historical Institute of Warsaw 1970,nr.76,s.4. Return
  2. We also find several references to Jewish residents in Krosno between 1385–1427. Return
  3. Liber cancelariae Stanislai Ciolek, J. Caro, Wien 1871, nr 30, s.67–68. Return
  4. Gazety Lwowskiej from Lwow 1856 nr.42. Return
  5. St. Cynarskie, op.cit. s.81 Return
  6. M. Horn, op.cit., s. 23. Return
  7. T.A. Olszanski. Jews in the Carpathian areas. Beskid Niski–Bieszczady–Pogorze, Warszawa 1991, s.20. Return
  8. APS, AMK, Book of records for the city of Krosno 1867–1872, Sygn.1 Return
  9. M. Koczynski, Zbior ustawyrozporzadzen adm. Krakow 1897, t.I. S.412. Return
  10. Miejscowosci oznaczona symbolem. Return
  11. M. Koczynski, op.cit., s.471. Return
  12. Ibidem. Return
  13. Kronika gmin, op.cit., s.526. Return
  14. M. Koczynski, op.cit., s.488. Return
  15. Archiwum Panstwowy w Krakowie, Naczelny Com.sygn.510 s.734. Return
  16. APKr, NKN Korespondancja z Powiatow. sygn 290, s.321. Return
  17. APKr, NKN Korespondancja z Powiatow. sygn 510, s.915. Return
  18. Wedlug wspomnianej relacij sprawa. Return
  19. Teksty hebraiskie zostaly przetlumamaczony. Return
  20. Kronika gmin, op.cit., s.527. Return
  21. Ibidem. Return
  22. Oplaty za miejsce. Return

 

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