49°59' N 19°09'
49°59' N 19°09'
Some nine kilometers southwest of Oshpitzin lies the village of Brzeszcze, near the Oshpitzin-Dziedzice railroad spur (in 1956).
This was undoubtedly a very old village, appearing in the records of the last third of the 15thCentury. At first it belonged to various kings and princes and later was transferred to the administration of the Oshpitzin governor (Starostwo). In the middle of the 16thCentury there were 15 – 20 estate holders, who also functioned as the garrison of the fortress and castle, and guarded the fishponds. In the middle of the 19thCentury, when the village belonged to the Habsburg principality, there were 1434 inhabitants, and in the 1921 census this had risen to 3505 inhabitants and 294 houses. This marked increase was due to the opening of a coalmine in 1905 and the erection of two flourmills, as well as the distillery and the factory of medical supplies. The coal mined in Brzeszcze was of excellent quality and contained high caloric content. During the Second World War, the Germans pillaged all of the local treasures, they overworked thousands of the arrested and war-prisoners in the digging of coal, from which they also derived fuel for vehicles.
Jews had been in the village practically since it was founded, but their numbers were small, most of them occupied with trade and crafts, and some in industry and clerical work. Jewish names are to be found in the management of the mine.
Among the affluent families of Brzeszcze before the war are the Finder family, who owned the distillery, and the Berger family who were both wholesale and retail merchants. Most of the village's farmers and miners owed them money for merchandise that they took on credit. They were all deported from the place immediately after the German occupation and their property confiscated.
When the war came to an end, only the aged Mrs. Berger and her son Moishe-Munik survived out of all the local Jews. In spite of all the persuasion and efforts directed at this young Jew not to settle back in, a solitary Jew, in a village, he paid no attention to us, saying, that if he could only succeed in getting back a bit of all the debts that the residents owed him to enable him to somehow secure the wherewithal to support his aged mother, he would immediately leave the place. They, indeed, remained among their "friends and neighbors", as Munik called them. One night, the miscreants who apparently were concerned that they would have to return a bit of what they had stolen, came and murdered them both.
The victims were buried in the semi-destroyed Oshpitzin cemetery, in the earth that had absorbed the blood of millions, and again opened its maws to swallow the bodies and blood of the surviving few who had been murdered by villains.
May their memory be a blessing, and may the Lord avenge the spilled blood of his servants!
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