« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

[Page 224]

II. The Development Of The City;
Statistical Figures Concerning Jews In Sandz and
Vicinity in the 19th and 20th Centuries

by Rafal Mahler

Translated by William Leibner

Edited by Renee Miller

Information about the events that greatly influenced the development of the city of Sandz in the second half of the 19th century is available. A tragic event was the cholera epidemic that spread throughout the city and neighboring derfer [villages] ( Labowa, Nowa Wies, Wola Radziszowiska) at the end of August 1866. The population of the city and environs then stood at 10,904 people of which 7550 lived in the city proper. The terrible disease struck 191 people of which 110 people died [1].

At the same time, Sandz began to enjoy the benefits of modern communication. On August first 1863, the city was hooked up to the Imperial Telegraph system [2]. In 1876, Sandz was connected to the railway system Tarnow-Orlo (or the so-called “old line”) [3]. In the eighties, Sandz was connected with Limanowa, Sucha and Western Galicia by the “Traversaler” railway line with its own station called Parszistanek or “ the new line”. During the same period, the city built the first garden under the name “ Plants” [4]. At that time, 1880, the city had 657 houses of which 438 were within the city and 219 were in the environs [5].

Most of the houses were built of wood. Not only did this give the city a poor appearance but the slightest fire threatened to engulf the entire city. Such an incident did indeed occur towards the end of the century. On April 17th 1890, “The First Fire” started in Sandz and destroyed many houses. Four years later to the day, on April 17th 1894, “The Second Fire” started that almost burned to Sandz ashes.

At that time most of the market, the city hall, and the entire Jewish section ( Kazimierza and the nearby streets, Piaren Street, Francziskanska, Krakowska, Wonska, Zamkowa Streets) were destroyed. and Swienczego Ducha Street that paralleled the East side of the market were also burned. [6]. *

Because of the two great fires the old city disappeared and was rebuilt in modern stone and brick style. The old nice wooden style of building disappeared without a trace. No more Renaissance type woodcarvings with overhang balconies. The old city hall that was similar to the one in Tarnow was replaced with a pretentious building ohn tam un ohn kheyn [tasteless and without charm]

* This second fire was immortalized in the poem that appears on page 231.

[Page 225]

The growth of the Jewish population in Sandz in proportion to the total population can be seen from the census of 1880 and the one of 1931 in Poland. The figures are listed below.

Total pop.11,18512,72215,72425,00426,28030,298
Jewish pop.5,16341204,6877.9909,0099,084
% Jews46.232.4303234.330

While the total population of the city constantly grew especially during the 20th century, and in 1931 was three times as large as 51 years earlier, the Jewish population grew at a much slower pace than the general population. The proportion of the Jewish population to the general population declined by almost a third from 46.2% to 30% during the last half of the century. Already during the 20 years from 1880-1900, the Jewish population fell by a third namely from 46.2% to 30%. The proportion picked up a bit during the first twenty years of the 20th century, 34.3% in 1921 as opposed to 30% in 1890.Then there was a slight decline during the next ten years and in 1931 the Jewish population accounted for 30% of the total population of the city. This time we have to deal with not only a reduction in proportion but also other much graver phenomena must be considered:

During the years 1921-1931, the growth of the Jewish population of Sandz stood still; there were a mere 75 additional Jewish people in the city (9009 to 9084). During the same period the non-Jewish population grew from 17,271 to 21,214 people, an increase of 3,943 people or a growth of 22.8%. Throughout Poland, the total municipal Jewish population grew steadily during the years 1921-1931 although in percentage it fell in relationship to the general population since the latter grew much faster. In Sandz however the non-Jewish population grew rapidly while the Jewish population remained at the same level as it had been ten years earlier. The truth of the matter, many Jews left the city and thus deprived the Jewish population of its natural growth.

Aside from emigration abroad, and especially to Eretz Israel that was then very popular all over Poland, there was also an internal migration to the bigger cities in Poland. The reason is not difficult to understand: in commerce and

[Page 226]

crafts, the Jews of Sandz were barely able to hold on to their economic position because the competition with the Polish population was very keen and grew steadily. The city had no industry to speak of. The hapless Jewish existence in Poland between the two great wars was expressed in the complete tragedy of the shriveling of the Jewish kehile in the city and the simultaneous growth and rise of the non-Jewish neighborhood in the same city.

The Jewish population in the entire district of Sandz (powiat) during the years 1880-1931 developed as follows in numbers and percentages [8]:

Total pop99,542110,249119,793131,336130,792183,867
% Jews9.5%8.8.%8.7%9.3%10.4%8.2%

Contrary to the city itself where the Jews formed about half the total population in 1880 and about a third in later years, the Jewish population in the district area barely reached the 10% figure. This is very plausible since the Jewish proportion in the towns around Sandz was smaller than in Sandz and mikolshkn [all the more so] in the derfer.

Just as the Jewish population lost ground in the city of Sandz, so did it lose numbers in the district from 1880 to 1900 and the percentage expressed itself in a reduction from 9.5% to 8.7%. Just as in the city, the number of Jews increased in the district after 1900 and reached a high in 1921. It went from 8.7% in 1900 to 9.3% in 1910 and 10.4% in 1921. In 1931, the Jewish population again declined in the district in relationship to the total population. The decline was similar in the city of Sandz proper. The Jews percentage in 1931 reached 8.2% of the population in the district.

A decline in the proportion of Jews to the total population during the years 1921-1931 continued in all of Poland and it fell even more in the cities in the relation of Jews to the total population. The Jews also had a relatively larger emigration than the general population, especially to Eretz Israel. The Jewish birth rate was also lower than among the non-Jews.

The main cause for the drop in the Jewish population of the Sandzer district was local and mechanical as a result of the

[Page 227]

redrawing of the borders of the district that occurred between the two censuses of 1921 and 1931. According to the new administrative district organization of 1926, the district of Grybow was eliminated and most of it was assigned to the district of Sandz. Here lies the explanation for the large population increase of the district. The population went from 130,792 in 1921 to 183,867 in 1931, that is, a growth of 40.6%. The increase in the Sandzer district affected the Jewish population: Grybow district had less than half of its earlier proportion of Jews, a population of 4.8% in 1921 while in the enlargement of the Sandzer district, the proportion of Jews in the official statistics fell considerably in 1931. Because of the incorporation of a part of the Grybow district, the Jewish population decreased considerably in relationship to the growing general population.

The Jewish population of the district of Sandz was divided as follows in accordance with the census of 1931 [9]:

From every
100 Jews
Total for district183,86715,1358.2%100

As we see, two thirds of the Jews in the district lived in the city proper. About 20% of the Jews lived in the small towns (including Grybow) of the district and less than 20% of the Jews lived in the derfer of the district. In reality, the number of Jews in the latter category was even smaller, for the division included among the derfer places that were relatively speaking small towns like Labowa and Lancek. Thus the percentage of Jews in the derfer category was smaller than the 2.1% given.

With regard to the district, the Jewish population in the towns was half as great as that in the city proper. This factor can easily be explained by the historical fact that the Jews of Sandz already had their legal residential rights in the 17th century, [10] while the Jews in the smaller towns with the exception of Grybow did not have such rights until they were granted them by the Austrian Imperial constitution in 1867. The Jewish settlements like Old Sandz, Piwniczna, Muchinaware were relatively young and did not manage to reach such a proportion as Sandz.

[Page 228]

We also provide the statistical figures for the development of the Jewish settlements and the towns in the Sandzer region up to1921. (The number of Jews for 1931 was never published). [11] We also included the Jewish figures for 1921 for the derfer of Labowa, Lacko and Tylmanowa that had a significant percentage of Jews.

Niesandz (Nowy Sacz) District

% Jews26.12126.229.228.9?
Population1,436 1,544 1,422?
Jews643 749 565?
% Jews44.8 48.5 39.7 
Old Sandz
% Jews8.210.111.312.911.6 
% Jews6. 
% Jews10.511.212.316.116.8 
Krynica Zdr
Population    2,3474,626
Jews    1,023?
%Jews    43.7 
Population    2,0012,179
Jews    232?
% Jews    11.5 
Population    6781.128
Jews    221 
% Jews    25.2 
Population1,392 1,293 1,255?
Jews131 118 139?
% Jews9.4 9.1 11.1 

[Page 229]

Different than in Sandz, the Jewish population in the district kept growing until 1910. But in 1921 there was a decline in the Jewish percentage everywhere (except in the city of Muszyna). The non-Jewish population also declined but the Jewish population declined relatively sharply.

During the years 1921-1931, the Jewish population in the towns of the Sandz district grew again as in all of Poland but we can meshaer zayn [assume] according to the examples of towns in all of Poland that the increase in the number of Jews was smaller than the non-Jewish population, and therefore, the Jewish percentages declined. We can find an example in the town of Limanowa, the only town in the nearby district of Limanowa, although it was attached to the Sandz district court house during the German occupation. The Jews of Limanowa were mamesh [literally] rounded up one day before the liquidation of the Sandzer ghetto and evacuated to Sandz, so that together with the Jews of Sandz they were deported to their death in Belzec [12]. The number and proportion of the Jews of Limanowa amounted to: [13]

City of Limanowa

% Jews29.735.643.14542.239.3

[Page 230]

Just as in the towns of the neighboring district of Sandz, bederekh-klal [as a rule] the Jewish population of Limanowa also kept growing until 1910 and reached 45%. Just as in Sandz the Jewish proportion fell in 1921. In 1931 the proportion was even smaller, just as it probably also got smaller in the derfer of the Sandzer district.

[Page 231]

After the Sreyfe [Fire] *

Text presented by Baruch Shtern as his mother sang the song to him.

Translated by William Leibner

Edited by Renee Miller

Oh you, Sandz, how bitter it is for you
To be tested again in this unhappy hour,
You, barely recovered from the
Previous fire and a new one started,
A new threat.
How long ago is it
Since the last fire,
Barely a year passed
Since the last destruction.
G-d was angry
At the Jewish quarter
And sacrificed it as an offering.
People wandered all over
To rebuild some of the destruction
And a terrible tragedy happened
On the same day
April the 17th.

* See page 224

[Page 232]

(photo) President Ignacy Moszcicki in Sandz
in October 1928, is being greeted by leaders of the kehile. In front of him
stands Alish Klapholtz, showing how the greeter, R'Aria Halberstam carries
the seyfertoyre [scroll of the Torah] in front of him

[Page 233]

Jewish Melokhe [Trade] and Industry in Sandz in 1921

We have very little information regarding Jewish crafts or industrial enterprises in Nowy Sacz between the two wars. Most of the information we do have pertains to conditions in the period following WWI. In 1921, the American Joint Committee made a study in Poland of the Jewish industrial activities including both crafts and the number of people that were employed by the workshops and plants in Nowy Sacz. The results of the study were published in table form that we show later*

According to the table, there were in Nowy Sacz in 1921, a total of 279 Jewish artisan workshops and small plants. Of these, 260 were active while 19 were temporarily closed. Of the 260 active ones, 136 establishments employed wage earners while 124 had none. Thus a little more than half the shops had wage earners (approximately 52.3%) from among all the Jewish enterprises in the city. The total numbers in themselves, indicate the small extent of Jewish participation in the industrial production in the area. Even that half that employed wage earners used no more than a total of 304 people in full season. The 136 enterprises employed not more than two (2.23%) wage earners. When we divide the number of workers per 260 workshops, we reach a little more than one (1.27%) workers per work place.

All the employed people in crafts and industry in the 260 active Jewish shops consisted of 257 owners**, 83 helpers from the families involved and 304 Jewish and non-Jewish workers. The total number of employed people in season was thus 644.That includes workers, owners and their children that helped in the workplaces. The average per enterprise reached barely 2.5 people.

The composition of the enterprises in Nowy Sacz reflects a similar characteristic Jewish composition throughout Poland. The clothing industry represents almost half (48%) of the Jewish enterprises or 135 out of 279 active enterprises, that is, to be precise, 124 working enterprises out of a total of 260 small plants.

* A.Heller, Jewish Industrial Enterprises in Poland According to the Survey of 1921, Warsaw 1923,
vol.5-6. Annex, table A

** The number of owners, 257, is somewhat smaller than the number (260) of active workshops, that is, three owners had
two workshops or small factories

[Page 234]

The number of wager earners in the clothing industry represented 43% of all the Jewish enterprises and 46% of all the Jewish workers. The next industry after the clothing industry was the food industry comprising butchers, bakers, pastry makers, and makers of sweets and so forth. This industry accounted for 12-13% of enterprises and the same percentage for workers. In third place came the building industry, primarily glaziers and painters in the Jewish sector. This branch accounted for 10% of the work force and the enterprises. Next industry according to the number of enterprises is the wood industry with 17 working enterprises and 30 wage earners. The wood industry represents 6.5% of all the enterprises but almost 10% of the workers. The metal industry has 16 enterprises or 6% of all the enterprises but employed 33 wage earners (27 Jewish and 6 non-Jewish workers) that represented almost 11% of the working force of the enterprises.

The wood and metal workshops were the largest of all in the city. While the average enterprise has 2.23 people employed, the wood industry has 3.75 people employed (30 wage earners in 8 enterprises with salaried workers).

Photo: The Kehile administration house

[Page 235]

The metal industry has 5.5 people per establishment (33 workers in 6 workshops with salaried workers. The final sizable industry was the leather industry with 13 shops (12 actually active). All other industries did not reach the minimum number of 10 enterprises.

Of all the 53 Jewish workingwomen, 41 worked in clothing and some in millinery, leather (probably ladies handbags) and the last two in chemical branches. The 30 non-Jewish workers in Jewish enterprises were employed as follows: 9 food industry, 8 wood, 6 metal, 4 in chemical and one worker in the garment industry. The 6 non-Jewish women employees were all working in the garment and millinery industry. All the 608 Jews that were employed in the enterprises that participated in the study represented about 1,900-2,000 people* of the Jewish population of 9,000 in the city of Nowy Sacz. Thus, only 21-22% of the Jewish population earned a livelihood from crafts and industrial plants. No doubt that in the ensuing 18 years until the outbreak of the Second World War, there was a process of industrial acceleration that increased the number of Jews in the industrial world in Nowy Sacz as well as throughout Poland while decreasing the proportion of people in commerce. Of course, the process also applied to all of Poland. Unfortunately, we lack the necessary statistics for that period for Nowy Sacz.

* We apply the proportion of 215 passive to 100 active shops of Jews in Poland in 1921 who made a living by industry or

[Page 236]

The Jewish industrial and craft enterprises in Nowy Sacz in 1921 according to industrial branches and employed people

 Inact.Active Act+InactOwnersFam. mbrs TotalWAGE EARNERS
  W'out wage earnersWith wage earners Wkg.%Wkg% JewsNon-Jews
             MenWomenChild.%Total MenWomenChild.%Total
Metal 010616 1627.6915.558 270046.627 60010.36
& rest
0639 956.3212.516 50031.25 00000
Wood 19818 1937.323.951 190343.122 80015.78
Leather 15713 1241.1413.829 310044.813 00000
Textile 1304 3751254 00000 00000
115767135 12243.7279.7279 7941344.1123123 1602.57
Paper 0325 535.7428.614 10435075 00000
Food 2151835 32332525.897 3131.90031 9009.331
Chemical 0257 626.1417.423 739.1204 40017.44
Building 3121530 2746.646.958 270000 00046.627
Graphics 0011 00001 10001 1001001
Cleaning 0246 642.917.114 50035.75 214.3002
TOTALS 19124136279 25739.98312.9644 20541.65310268 30605.636


  1. Teki Schneidera No 1792 (wycinki z gazet krakowskich) Return
  2. Ibid. Return
  3. Slownik geografiiczny Krolestwa Polskiego Return
  4. Ibid. Return
  5. Ibid. Return
  6. J. Syganski, Nowy Sacz w epoce Wazow Przewodnik nauk. I. Lit. XXVII Return
  7. B. Wasiutynski, Ludnosc zydowska w Polsce w wiekach XIX I XX, Warszawa 1930, p. 112; Statystyka Polski, Serja C, zesz. 88, tab. 11
  8. B. Wasiutynski, op. cit., p. 94; Statystyka Polski, Serja C, zesz. 88, tab. 11 Return
  9. Statystyka Polski, Serja C, ibid Return
  10. cf. above, about Jews on the royal castle Return
  11. B. Wasiutynski, op. cit., p. 111-112; Statystyka Polski, Serja B., zesz. 80; Skorowidz Gmin Rzp. Polskiej, czesc III (woj. Pld) Return
  12. See further in the chapter on the destruction and violent death Return
  13. Statystyka Polski, Serja C, zesz. 88, tab. 11 Return

[Page 237]

IV. “The Plunder”

The Jews of Sandz had barely recovered after the second great fire of 1894 when a new affliction descended on them, “The Plunder”. Under that name the pain and suffering of the summer of 1898 was engraved in the memories of an entire generation of Jews in Sandz, Alte Sandz and in the surrounding shtetlekh and derfer. Murderous robbing attacks on the part of organized makhnes [multitudes] of peasants in ferocious bands created panic. Although the wave of “plunder” poured over a great number of Jewish communities in cities and villages in central and western Galicia, the high point was reached in Sandz and its environs.

For a hundred years under Austrian Imperial rule Jews in Galicia had felt safe. There were no pogroms. Until 1848 they were burdened with heavy special Jewish taxes and until 1867 they were subject to oppressive, limiting restrictions. The simple Jewish masses suffered badly from need even after they received legal equality before the law because of their poor and abnormal socio-economic structure. Still the Jews felt relatively safe after 1881 when a series of bloody pogroms swept Russia.

The rise of anti-Semitism on the entire European continent in the last two decades of the 19th century was also strongly felt in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Here as elsewhere, anti-Semitism's aim was the social and political diversity: to divert the attention of the working classes and the poor population from burning social questions by picking out the Jews as the soer-lazozl [scapegoat] for all their hardships and miseries. Anti-Semitism was the reaction to the growing strength of the worker movements and the spread of the socialist movements. This is the origin of the social demagogy of modern anti-Semitism that already at that time, just as later in their last murderous phase, in Hitler's National Socialism, fought against either capitalism or socialism in the name of “social justice” but in reality to remove the “danger” of socialism.

[Page 238]

Of the two anti-Semitic movements that developed simultaneously in the seventies of the 19th century in Germany, racial anti-Semitism and the Christian Social party, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the second type of anti-Semitism, that is, social demagogy appealed mostly to the embittered hypnotized lower middle classes and impoverished peasant elements according to the design by Hungary and Vienna where it served to divert these elements from the real problems. The Social Christian party appeared in 1895 and managed to select Karl Luger, the social demagogue as the mayor of Vienna in the same year (in 1896 when he was elected for the third time he was confirmed by the emperor). A Christian-Social party was also formed in Galicia.

The terrible condition of the Galician peasants was a well-known fact throughout Europe. Besides the isolated and lonely condition of the Polish peasant in all of Poland, he also suffered from another terrible condition, that most of the land belonged to the few princely landholders. The land the peasant possessed was constantly subdivided among the succeeding generations of children and that resulted in tiny farms that barely managed to feed the large families. In addition, the Carpathian soil was very stony and produced meager crops. Galicia was also the most backward province in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in industrial development. The factories were small and few. Thus, there was no gainful employment in the city for the excessive farm hands. They remained in the rural areas and provided excellent breeding grounds for Social anti-Jewish demagogy.

The reactionary clerical demagogy had already started to spread poisonous anti-Semitic agitation amongst the rural population in the sixties. This resulted in anti-Jewish disturbances against Jews in Galicia that were very systematic and in imitation of Austria. In 1893, at a conference of the “National Catholic” party in Krakow, an open boycott of Jews proclaimed. The priest Stanislaw Stoyalowski, a former Jesuit, had launched such appeals decades earlier in his agitation amongst the peasantry in the name of the Christian People's Movement. His intention was to dissuade the peasants from joining the Polish Social-Democratic Party that begun its work in Galicia at the same time.

In 1898, Stoyalowski saw an opportunity to enter big time politics. The Austro-Hungarian Empire introduced for the first time, voting for Parliament based on new voting ordinances from 1896.

[Page 239]

These ordinances signified a partial reform in the reactionary voting system in practice until then, which was based on four voting districts and on a census based on wealth: in addition the rolls that in the 4th, the municipal voting district (to which only 23 cities belonged) had decreased Since the rolls in this vote were rather small, another category of voter was added and called the fifth voting district row. All adult men in Galicia could vote in this row. As a result of the reforms, the number of eligible voters increased threefold and the representation would increase by 15, from the original 63 seats to 78 seats.[1]

The priest Stoyalowski saw an excellent opportunity to increase his party's chances of winning the election. He did not satisfy himself with only anti-Jewish propaganda, but began to organize mass attacks by peasants against Jews. His aim was threefold: to spread the influence of his party amongst the peasantry and prevent them from joining the socialist movement; to increase his party's chances in the elections thus win votes; to terrorize Jewish voters with pogroms so that they would stay at home, or abstain from voting for parties that were opposed to him (particularly in the voting in Jaslo where he saw chances for himself)

A preview to Stoyalowski's pogrom-agitation actually took place in March of 1898 when Jews were attacked in Wieliczka. At the same time in Krakow and vicinity in western Galicia, a brochure was published accusing Jews of conspiring against the authorities. The priest Matues Jez, a high school staff member, wrote the brochure. The Imperial procurator of Krakow confiscated the brochure but the accusations and innuendos continued throughout the area. Rumors were spread in Tuchow that the Jews killed a Christian child “for matzos” [translator's note: in order to use his blood for making matzos].

Beginning in June of 1898 the plunder spread like fire over Western and Central Galicia. Stoyalowski thus prepared the ground for the parliamentary elections, especially in the Sanok district where elections were supposed to be held on the 23rd of June 1898. Stoyalowski published a pamphlet entitled “Pszczulka” in which he implied that ten thousand Jews needed to be killed in order to improve the situation of the peasants. Agitators from Stoyalowski's party spread through the derfer carrying this and other similar messages. Furthermore, rumors were spread that an order had come from Vienna that they might rob and even kill Jews frank un fray [without fear of punishment]. At any rate, enflamed, easily convinced peasants were given a heter [rabbinical permission, used here ironically] that they could rob and plunder without fear of punishment.

The plundering of Jewish homes began in the first days of June in several western Galician cities such as Zeibusz (a suburb), Mislenic and vicinity, Brugel, Skawina. and Kalwaria, central Galicia and in Przemysl and also, simultaneously, as far away as eastern Galicia: Tluszcz.

[Page 240]

Several days later, central Galicia became a center of plunder: Jaslo, Kolaczyce and nearby hamlets and villages such as Dukla, Zmigrod, Biecz, Fristak, and as far as Gorlice in the west. Besides peasants, some of them drunk, workers also joined in the plundering. In Jaslo, Polish high school students increased the panic by throwing stones at the Jews as they were leaving their homes. The tsevildevete pogromchikes [wild pogromists] were not satisfied to only steal merchandise from shops stores and liquor from taverns but in accordance with all the rules of pogroms, also broke windows, torched shops and destroyed what ever they could and sometimes set fire to a plundered tavern, or a liquor refinery. The plundering affected primarily the Jews, especially in the suburbs. The worst suffering was among the dorfsyidn [the Jews in the villages], the innkeepers. Many Jews in shtetlekh and derfer left their hob-un-guts [their possessions] and fled to the cities in order to save their lives.

During the second half of June, the center of plundering activities moved to the area around the city of Sandz. Here it attained a violent momentum. Already on Sunday June the 19th, a huge mob of peasants appeared in the Sandz market. But when they made their first attempt to rob, a military unit with appeared and arrested 25. But the aroused peasants were well organized into bands and used well-planned tactics: they left their derfer and plundered entire areas of Jews, appearing suddenly in various places but avoiding confrontation with the police or army. We can also assume that the local officials did not feel it was necessary to be very energetic in pursuing the marauding bands of peasants. The military or police units always appeared just about too late, after the plunder. It was also not a surprise that often the soldiers stood by while the rioters carried on their plundering. These soldiers were reservists from Sandz and vicinity that were just activated by the government. They showed no inclination to intervene on behalf of the Jews but permitted their neighbors and probably family members to continue robbing Jewish property.

The Jews were desperate and helpless as if in a trap; they saw no solution in view. The Sandzer district commissioner stated that he could only guarantee the lives of the Jews but not their property. The Polish population felt that the riots were none of their business, and there were anti-Semites that supported the riots and even helped them. When the judge Majewski heard that Jews were being robbed on the Przetakiwka {editor's note: possibly a street name) he shouted through the window ”Let them kill the Jews; why do they incite the peasants?” *

* Niech morduja Zydow, poco draznia naszych chlopcow

[Page 241]

The book dealer Roman Fisz traveled through the derfer and incited the peasants against the Jews. He and the local doctor Kias reported to the police the names of those Jews who defended themselves or protested against the plunder. On the basis of their denunciations, on the following Sunday, June 26th, the police arrested 30 local Jews.

Similarly to the Jaslo region, in the area of Sandz the worst affected were the dorfsyidn [village Jews] Characteristic was the fact that, the plunderers were always peasants from other areas while the local peasants remained aloof, although on occasions, the local peasants felt it was their duty to help and protect the Jews. There were even instances when the local peasantry prevented the bands from plundering the local Jews claiming that if any one was to rob the local Jews it would be the local peasants and not strangers from far away. Such actions occurred in the villages of Klenczan and Biegonic.

The Sandzer region also suffered terrible destruction in the shtetlekh, especially in Alt Sandz [Stary Sacz] where a real pogrom took place. It was well planned and coordinated in every detail. It started on Friday night in several places at the same time. The Polish municipal authorities were aware of the upcoming pogrom since Polish homes lit candles or lamps and placed them in their windows. Some of the citizens of the hamlet, among them “esteemed citizens” participated in the plunder of Jewish possessions. The boarded-up Jewish homes were no match for the attackers that came prepared for the job and robbed the Jewish homes.

Next day, Sunday the 26th of June, about 500 peasants came to Sandz supposedly to attend mass but really ready to plunder: they had brought with them large bags. The military garrison took matters in hand and stopped any attempt at robbery. The Jewish population was very thankful for they had feared the worst. However besides the terror they experienced, the financial and economic losses to the Jewish community were great over the entire week of the plunder in the area. The shops and workshops had been closed; trade and business became paralyzed. The danger of hunger became a reality since the city was in such disarray that there was no way to get foodstuffs into the city.

Commercial establishments in Krakow and Tarnow took the first political steps to help. They sent a telegram on Sunday the 26th of June to the “Viennese Merchant Association” in Vienna.

[Page 242]

They told them of the damage to trade in western Galicia urged memorandum to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. On the following day, June 27, the official Leon Pininski from Lemberg arrived to learn about the situation in person; he even met with a Jewish delegation. However even this intervention did not cause things to improve.

The pogroms in Sandz and in the environs of Sandz and in Jaslo came to an end when the Austrian government in Vienna decided to handle things energetically when it realized that it might lose control over the entire area. The peasants were only robbing Jews but that might even turn into a Socialist peasant revolt. According to a report on July the 3rd in the Polish press (Slowo Polskie [Polish Word], in contrast with Jaslo, some Christian homes in the Sandzer area were already robbed and plundered.

Following the week of the pogroms in the area, a Jewish delegation consisting of the Zionist leader Dr. Leon Zilberman, and the merchant (Itchele) Moiz left Sandz for Vienna. The delegation met with the Prime minister on Tuesday the 28th of June and began to plead for help. The Prime minister, Count Thon, assured the delegates that the government would do everything in its power to reestablish order and informed them that the government had just enacted a curfew for the city of Sandz as well as martial law for many districts in Galicia. The same day, the 28th of June, the news was published that 33 judicial districts in Galicia including Sandz and Limanow that were badly affected had been placed under martial law. These acts really put an end to the tragic chapter of “Plunder” in Sandz and middle Galicia (the Jaslo area). The situation had improved to such extent that by October 6th, 10 districts were removed from the martial law list. The city of Sandz however remained within the list of 23 districts still under martial law.

The “Plunder” period was a terrible experience for the Sandz kehile. For many decades, they recalled the details of those terrible events. But did the Jews of Sandz and of Galicia study the lesson of that storm? The Orthodox Jewish leaders that ruled the masses still adhered to the traditional line and saw the “Plunder” in exactly the same way as all puronyes [afflictions]: a punishment minashomaim [from heaven] for the misdeeds of the Jewish people.

[Page 243]

At the height of the plunder, the rabbi of Sandz Rabbi Aron Halbershtam, “the Kreyzer Rov” [District Rabbi] urged the Jews to close their stores and stay indoors. A tones [fast day] was decreed and in all the botemedroshim [Jewish prayer and study houses; small Orthodox synagogues] the congregants zugt tilim [read the Book of Psalms]. The old custom of visiting graveyards and “aynraysn kvorim” [pleading with the dead] to invoke heavenly protection was also restored. Toward the end of July, several weeks after things quieted down a bit in the city thanks to the martial law, the Rabbi of Sandz said it was necessary for the people to meoyrer zayn [rouse themselves{spiritually}], tsu tshuve [to repentance] for the sins that they have committed that brought on this period of the plunder: on Saturday, the Rabbi announced at the synagogue that the plunder was due to the sins that the Jewish women committed when they dressed in the latest fashion. Starting that day, he urged the congregants to see to it that their wives were not allowed to grow any hair under their shaytl [wig], nor may they wear any hats. They must cover their heads with a tikhl [kerchiefs] and from this would come G-d's help.

The young Zionist movement barely a year old followed the tragic plunder events with great anxiety. In the Viennese weekly “Di Velt' [the World] that was edited by Dr. Herzl regular news about the plunder events appeared, as well as articles by correspondents including items from Sandz[2]. A Zionist committee was created to help the affected Galician Jews immediately after the arrival at the end of June of the first news items about the plunder events, especially in the area of Sandz. The weekly “Di Velt” started a “Galitizianer Hilfsfund” to collect money for the needy Galician Jews and published lists of contributors. The first name on the first list of contributors was Dr. Herzl who donated 100 gildn.

The Zionist press was also the only organization to analyze and study the situation of the Jews in Galicia and draw the necessary rightful conclusions about Jewish national politics. They condemned the weak and indecisive Jewish community leaders, the assimilated group and its prudence and calmness as well as the two-faced stand of the Galician political administration in connection with the plunder of Jews during the plunder period. The Zionist press called for the Jewish masses to defend their own poor and helpless brothers and the poorer Jewish class that suffered the most during the period. But most importantly, the Zionist press saw clearly the implications of the Galician plunder in 1898 as a new confirmation of the basic Zionist truth about the Jewish lack of territory being the cause for the many national tragedies that befell the Jewish people. Thus concludes Dr. Herzl in his feature article in “Di Velt” about the “fire in Galicia”:

“Israel! Also other people are affected by tragedies but for them another period of peace always comes. After each war, a period of peace follows. Only the dispersed Jewish people constantly suffer and never have a time to recover following their defeats…This is why we dream with a full heart and strive with all our might to achieve material security for our people and this can only be achieved in his own land…”[3].

The seeds planted by the Zionist press were well received in Sandz and produced the first results. At the end of July, several weeks after the “Plunder”, a group of Jewish High school students met in Sandz and by memorandum, asked the school authorities to institute a course of study in Hebrew, Hebrew literature and Jewish history for Jewish students at the high school[4]. The cultural stagnation period in the Jewish quarter had begun to thaw …


  1. See St. Kutrzeba. D.Ts. W., volume 4, p.200-199 Return
  2. From these reports in “ Di Velt” 1898, numbers (24—30--41) we took all the details about the “Plunder” that we used in our article. Return
  3. “Di Velt”, Second year, num. 25, 24th of June 1898, (our translation, R.M.) Return
  4. “Di Velt”, 1898, num .30. The correspondence from Sandz was signed: “one of the Bar Kokhba people”. Return

« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.

JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  Nowy Sacz (Poland)     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page

Yizkor Book Director, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Max Heffler

Copyright © 1999-2022 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 17 Jun 2009 by LA