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Translation of Dukla chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin
Translation of Dukla chapter from
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem
Published in Jerusalem
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Our sincere appreciation to Yad Vashem for permission
This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland,
Volume III, pages 111-114, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
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Dukla is known as a village since 1357. The status was changed in 1384 when Dukla received municipal status. In 1405, the hamlet was officially designated as a city based on the Magdenburg laws. The Hungarians invaded Dukla in 1474, looted and burned the city. This event caused economic retardation in the development of the city for years to come. Only in the 16th century with the growth of commerce between Hungary and Poland did we see a rapid growth of the city that is situated along the Carpathian mountain pass. Already in 1540, it is granted the royal privilege of holding a semi annual fair as well as a weekly market.
During this period, the custom house was built. The citizens of Dukla are permitted to store and purchase wines. A beautiful palace and nearby a flour mill driven by water power were built by the city rulers, during the 17th century. The commercial activities in the city were so extensive that the king extended the number of fairs for the city to seven per annum. Each fair was to last seven days. The commercial activities however began to decline with the building of a railway towards the end of the 19th century. The line connected Poland with Slovakia and Hungary at the crossing point of Lupkow in the Carpathian Mountains. The place also suffered severely in 1914 where great battles took place between the Russian and Austrian forces. The Russians tried to cross the Carpathian Mountains into Slovakia.
With Polish independence in 1918, commerce between Galicia and Hungary dwindled very rapidly. The commercial smuggling activities between the borders were of a limited commercial nature. These activities hardly reflected the previous commercial ties that were developed over centuries and provided Dukla with a sizable income. Between the great wars, the economy of Dukla continued to decline.
The Jewish community in Dukla already existed in the 16th century. The local Jews dealt with the import of wines from Hungary to Poland. Some merchants even traveled to Hungary across the Carpathian Mountains to purchase the wines and bring them back to Poland. The Jewish community was well established by the 17th century and had its own cemetery. During the restoration of the Tarnowski castle in Dukla in 1932, two Jewish tombs were discovered dating to the end of the 17th and the 18th centuries. It seems that the place was the sight of the ancient Jewish cemetery of Dukla. To understand the extent of the commercial activities of the Jewish merchants in town in the first part of the 17th century, we know that in 1740, the Jewish community barrowed from the church the sum of 2,000 thalers, an enormous sum in those days. The Dukla Jewish community played an important role in the regional council of Jewish communities of Small Poland or the council of Krakow -Tzizmir communities. Itzhak Segal Landau signed in 1754 on behalf of the community of Dukla the letter that was circulated by the so-called council of the four countries against Rabbi Yehonathan Eibschitz.
At the council session of 1765 in Filitz or Filice, sat Mordechai from Dukla (Markus Duklowski). He was a financial supporter of the council of the four countries.
In the second half of the 18th century, the Jewish community of Dukla was considered one of the larger Jewish communities in the area. The community reached 600 people including toddlers aged one in 1765. It also administered the needs of 232 Jews that lived in 29 villages in the area. 59 houses in Dukla belonged to local Jews.
There were 109 households in the city and 40 of them exercised the following occupations: 1 leased the brewery (owned by the royal treasury), 3 leased inns, 1 merchant, 2 storekeepers, 8 tailors, 3 furriers, 1 glove maker, 4 jewelers, 4 butchers, 23 rabbis, 2 synagogue caretakers, 1 cantor, 4 Hebrew teachers, 1 financier, and 1 musician.
In 1781 under the Austrian administration, the government insisted that 188 Jews of Dukla pay taxes. The sums assessed would indicate the extent of taxation of the local Jews. 122 Jews were assessed 25 gulden in taxes per annum. 65 were assessed between 65-125 gulden and one was assessed between 100-300 gulden per annum.
The tax assessments were a heavy blow to the Jewish community since the Austrians also insisted in 1781 that all tax arrears be paid instantly. Some of these late bills amounted to 25 gulden. As part of the drive to settle Jews on the land in 1791, the Jewish community of Dukla was required to settle 9 families on the land and to provide all expenses to the amount of 250 gulden per family. The community adopted the same tactic that other communities used, namely procrastination in the hope that time will pass and the law will become obsolete or ignored. Indeed in 1797, only two Jewish families left Dukla to settle on the land and they were the only families to have taken advantage of the law until 1805. Meanwhile the law was forgotten. The same fate befell the so-called reforms in Jewish education under the auspices of H.Homburg. A school was founded in Dukla in 1794 that supposedly followed the outline of Homburg but there are no records of its existence. Perhaps the school was never activated. The school like other schools of this gender was abolished in 1806 in Galicia
The Jewish community grew and expanded rapidly in the first half of the 19th century due to the growing trade with wines and beef that were imported from Hungary into Poland across the Carpathian mountains pass. During the period in question, the number of Jewish merchants and artisans also increased. The noble family Mecinski that resided in the castle was well disposed to the Jews and hired many of them in various capacities mainly as lease holders that provided various services to the estate. The close paternalistic relationship between the feudal family and the Jewish community can be attested by the contribution the count Mecinski made to the Jewish community in 1901 for the benefit of poor Jews in Dukla. He granted 500 ketarim to be distributed amongst the poor Jews and granted another thousand ketarim to build a public bathhouse as well as a mikweh or ritual bathhouse.
The economic growth of Dukla stopped with the building of the railway that crossed the Carpathian Mountains at Lupkow. The decline of the economic activities also affected the Jewish community.
Many Jews left Dukla with the approach of the Russian Army and still more left with the beginning of the battles in the area that were fierce. Many of these Jews never returned to Dukla. The city also experienced a pogrom in November of 1918 that left many injured Jews and a great deal of property damage.
The Jewish community was already very influential in the 18th century. The position of town rabbi carried with it weight and prestige. As a matter of fact, Dukla had two rabbis in the 18th century as well as 7 additional religious positions within the community namely sextons, heder teachers- or Hebrew teachers and a cantor. Some of the
Rabbis that served the hamlet were later chosen to be rabbis of important cities in Poland and abroad. The first known rabbi of Dukla, Rabbi Arieh Leib ben Rav Shmuel served the community in 1719 and somewhat later was selected to be the judicial head of the Jewish community of Tarnopol and later of Rzeszow. In 1730, he assumed the post in Glokow ( Silesia-Germania) and from there he moved to Lwow and then to Amsterdam. He died in 1755. Rabbi Yaakow Itzhak ben Rabbi Yekutiel Zalman Halevi the author of the books Imri Ravrevi and Mayanei Hayeshua was appointed rabbi of Dukla in 1732 and moved to Tziltz in Silesia in 1759. He then moved to Presburg where he died in 1765. For a short period of time Dukla had a rabbi by the name of Yehuda Leib Halevi, descendant of the famous rabbinical family Heller, who then became the judicial head of the Jewish community of Yaroslaw and later, in the seventies of the 18th century, already assumed the rabbinical post of the city. His place in Dukla was taken by Rabbi Chaim Yaakow Shtrois ben Rabbi Abraham who died in 1776 in the city. Dukla then selected as Rabbi, Itzhak Eisik Halevi Weistman (or Ekstein) who already resided in the city in 1882. He was Rabbi of Dukla until 1804 when he passed away. Rabbi Yehoshua Itzhak Yair Horowitz administered the spiritual needs of the city for some time, then became judicial head of the Jewish community of Lwow and later on of Zurabno, where he died in 1850.
Rabbi Yaakow Hacohen Gutwirt was appointed judicial head of Dukla and remained in this post until he died in 1848. His place was taken by the former Rabbi of Potok, Yehuda Leib Ashkenazi ben Rabbi Gershon, author of Meorot Nathan. He was a bitter opponent of the Hassidic movement that spread throughout the area and was forced to leave the post. He became Rabbi of Tishmenitza. The post of judicial head of Dukla was granted to Avigdor Halbershtam, under pressure from his brother, the famous Rabbi Chaim Halbershtam of Sandz. Rabbi Halbershtam died in 1877. His post was assumed by his son in law Rabbi Dawid Hesh who was primarily interested in being a Hassidic rabbi. The community appointed in 1881 Shmuel ben rab Zeev Wolf Engel as the judicial head of the community. He remained until 1886 when he moved to Radomysl. His place was assumed by Rabbi Dawid Tzvi Tebel Zeman author of Kav Zahav. In 1907Menachem Mendel ben Reb Arieh Leibush Halbershtam was appointed to be the judicial head of the community and remained at this post until 1935.
In 1892, a yeshiva named Kove Etim Latorah was opened in Dukla. It was headed by Rabbi Awraham ben reb Yona Halevi Etinga that functioned until the outbreak of World War I. The head of the Yeshiva wrote some papers that were published in Bnei Brak in Israel in 1972
under the name of Othar Sihot Hahamim.
The Jewish community of Dukla was predominantly Hassidic in outlook in the 19th century. The local Hassidic leadership was divided between the Hassidic courts of Rymanow and Sandz. In 1881, a branch of the Mahziki Hadath movement was opened in the hamlet. A school under the auspices of Baron Hirsh was established in Dukla in 1895 but it met bitter opposition from the Hassidic population. Only 32 students registered the first year. But the enrollment kept growing with time. In 1906, there took place a large Zionist meeting in Dukla and the local school had 140 students in 1908.
The poor Jews of Dukla were assisted by the American Joint in 1919, a public kitchen was established that fed mainly the children, food and clothing was also distributed to the needy. In 1923, the Joint also extended help to the local branch of Bikur Cholim that provided free medical assistance to the needy Jews of Dukla. An orphanage for orphans of World War I was established in 1919 by former residents of Dukla in the USA. The children went to regular school and then were taught trades. An association was also established to help the orphans and in 1929 collected 1700.00 zlotys that were donated to the orphanage. About 70 poor children received free meals from the Centos Organization in 1936.
Jewish small merchants, artisans and peddlers availed themselves of cheap loans that the mutual help fund provided since its existence. 80 loans amounting to 4,000 zlotys were granted in 1929. The same year, former residents of Dukla in the U.S.A established a financial cooperative to provide cheap credits. The cooperative was called the Polish American cooperative. The branch joined the Polish Jewish cooperative movement and received a loan of 6,000 zlotys to start a revolving credit program. The cooperative was very busy and helped many Jewish small merchants, artisans and peddlers throughout the period.
The period between the wars also witnessed the growth of the Zionist movement in Dukla. Its influence now extended to the various Jewish institutions in the city in the thirties. The Tehiya (general Zionist party) opened a Hebrew speaking school in Dukla in 1919. The school followed the Tarbut School program and had an enrollment of 110 children in 1926. The school consisted of 4 classes and had a staff of 7 teachers. In 1922, a library was established by the Zionist movement and in 1924 a reading room was opened. Next to it was also established a social club and an amateur drama club. The cultural and political activities of the Zionists antagonized the religious Jews, especially the Hassidic Jews. However the protests failed for the popularity of the Zionist cause gained favor with the Jewish public as time went by. The young rabbi of Dukla, Yehezkel Shragai, son of Menachem Mendel Halbershtam, threatened in 1924 to excommunicate any Jew that attended the performance of the drama club. The performance drew a huge crowd. The Zionists even managed to organize election meetings for the Polish Parliament in the Kloiz and the study center of Dukla. Ezra , an assistance association for pioneers in Palestine was established in Dukla. The city also had several Zionist youth clubs namely: Akiva, Hashomer Hatazair and
For the elections of the Zionist Congress delegates in 1935, Dukla bought 132 shkalim. The votes were divided as follows: 70 votes went to the General Zionists, 16 votes went to the Mizrahi movement, 30 votes went to the labor movement and 21 votes went to the country party. The Orthodox and well to do parties controlled the kehilla until 1934. Then the council elected the Zionist Shimon Shtof to be the head of the community. The rabbis that served the community between the wars were as follows: Rabbi Menachem Mendel Halbershtam until 1935, followed by his son Rabbi Yezkel Shragai Halbershtam. The head of the Judicial court was Rabbi Dawid Tzwi Taabl Zeman (killed in the Shoa).
The Jews represented 64% of the population of the city and therefore had a majority of the votes. An agreement was worked out with the non Jewish parties that the head of the municipal council will always be a non-Jew and his assistant will be a Jew. Furthermore, the Jewish representation in city hall will always have two more votes that the non Jewish parties. Thus, in 1931, the head of the city council was the priest Tiprowitch and his assistant was Dr. D. Shmulewitch. These two gentlemen did an excellent job in Dukla without religious or ethnic distinctions. As a matter of fact, the city council allocated 1,000 zlotys to various social and cultural Jewish activities in the community. The money was divided as follows: 360 zlotys went to society that helped the orphans, 200 zlotys went to the Bikur Cholim society and maternity ward, 200 zlotys went to the revolving fund association, 50 zlotys to the Hachnassat Orchim society, 100 zlotys to the library and the reading club. We have to stress that the relations between the Jewish and non-Jewish population was very correct until the outbreak of World War II.
At the beginning of 1940, there were several hundred Jews in Dukla, some were residents of the city and others were expulsed from nearby small communities. A 'Judenrat was established and some of the members were: Itzhak Meil , Pithiya Hendler and Mordechai Tobias.
According to one source, Shimon Shtof was the head of the Judenrat in 1942. The Judenrat was of course forced to provide daily labor quotas for forced labor, to pay all kinds of money fines, and to surrender all valuables.
The Jewish economic situation steadily worsened especially in 1941. A public kitchen was established by the local branch of the J.S.S (Jewish Self Help Association). The kitchen provided meals for the needy. At the beginning of 1942, Jews were brought to Dukla from other areas mostly from the nearby villages where their belongings were robbed from them. In the spring of 1942, all Jews of Dukla were concentrated in one area, and according to one source, it was a closed ghetto.
On August 10th 1942, the action began. All Jews were ordered to assemble in the market place. Those that hid and were caught were shot on the spot. The selection took place in the market square. The sick and the aged were immediately removed and taken to a nearby forest and shot. The able bodied people, mostly men, were taken to the labor camp that was established in the city. The rest were sent to the death camp of Belzec where they were killed. The inmates of the labor camp worked at the area quarries and at road construction. They built the road between Barwinek and Nowy Zmigrod. Two German companies did most of the work and exploited mercilessly the Jewish workers. 140 Jewish workers worked for Arthur-Walda, Breslau company and 170 Jews worked for the 'Emil Ludwig, Munich company. The work was exceedingly difficult and the guards killed any worker that did not keep up the pace. The labor camp was closed in December of 1942 and the remnants were sent to the labor camps of Rzeszow and Wola Duhacka near Krakow, Galicia.
About 150 Dukla Jews survived the war, 100 of them were in Russia.
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