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Stopnica chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem
Published in Jerusalem
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to put this material on the JewishGen web site.
This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland,
Volume VII, pages 343-344, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
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Translated by Jerrold Landau
Stopnica was founded in the 12th century. At first, it was a private village. It was transferred to the kingdom at the end of that year. In 1362, King Kazimierz the Great granted Stopnica the rights of a city. Its new status helped its development. Within a short time, the population of Stopnica was 870. In accordance with the privileges from the 14th and 15th centuries, the residents of Stopnica had the rights to conduct three market days per week, and one annual fair. In the year 1578, there were 62 tradesmen of various professions, and two merchants. Stopnica was destroyed during the war with the Swedes, and it only began to be renovated at the beginning of the 18th century. However, it never regained its former status. Stopnica lost its rights of a city in the year 1869.
Jewish residents of Stopnica are first mentioned in the middle of the 17th century. In 1663, a few years after the Swedish War, the Jews of Stopnica received a general privilege that included permission to build a synagogue and to dedicate a cemetery. They were granted an exemption from some of the taxes to the royal treasury. This privilege attracted additional Jews to the place. With time, the Jews filed an important role in the areas of commerce and trade. The privilege of 1663 was reconfirmed in the year 1752. In exchange, however, the Jews were obligated to sign an agreement with the Christian merchants of the town. This agreement was signed in 1773. Through it, the Jews restricted their areas of business. Furthermore, their rights to live in Stopnica were restricted to specific quarters.
The importance of the local Jewish community in the 18th century can be seen from the fact that in 1754, representatives of the Council of Four Lands from district of Sandomierz-Krakow convened in Stopnica. From the 17th and 18th centuries the following names are known to us: Rabbi Aryeh Leib, the author of Shaagat Aryeh and Kol Shachal (he served in Stopnica from 1679 to 1682 and moved from there to Zamosc see entry); Rabbi Aryeh Leib HaKohen (died in 1721 in Rzeszow); Rabbi Yitzchak HaKohen Rappaport (from approximately 1767, from where he moved to Piñczów see entry); as his well as his brother who was more famous than he, Rabbi Yitzchak Avraham HaKohen Rappaport (died in 1809).
In the 19th century, when the number of Hassidim in Stopnica increased, Rabbi Mordechai HaLevi Pardes was chosen as the rabbi of the community. He was the brother of Rabbi Meir of Apt (Opatów, see entry), a student of Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk and the Chozeh of Lublin. He moved to Staszów (see entry) at the end of his days. Rabbi Menachem Mendel, the author of Nefesh Chaya served in the town in 1877. In 1906, Rabbi Chaim Yitzchak HaKohen, one of the signatories of the call to join Agudas Yisroel served in Stopnica. Rabbi Shmuel HaKohen served as the rabbi of the community in 1920. Rabbi Shaul HaKohen Schwartz served the community from 1924-1937.
The Jewish community of Stopnica grew during the 19th century, with the percentage of Jews in the population reaching approximately 70% by the beginning of the 20th century. Most of the Jews earned their livelihoods from small-scale commerce and trades. Stopnica was conquered by the Germans at the outbreak of the First World War, but the Russian Army returned to rule it for a brief time in 1915. The Russian soldiers accused the Jews of Stopnica of collaboration with the enemy. The persecuted them, pillaged their property, and deported many to the interior of Russia.
Even in 1919, a short time after the war ended, the Jews of Stopnica were attacked by Polish anti-Semites. The Jewish delegates of the Polish Sejm presented a report to the Prime Minister about the terrible pogroms that took place in Stopnica, during which property was pillaged, Jews were beaten, and some of them injured.
After the government in Poland consolidated, The Jews of Stopnica began to rehabilitate their businesses. The Commercial Bank and the People's Bank were set up with the assistance of the American JOINT. These banks provided loans to their members who wanted to reestablish their businesses. A chapter of the Bank Handlowy of Agudas Yisroel opened up at the beginning of 1928.
Many from the community, especially the youth, joined the Zionist movement and parties during the 1920s and 1930s. The first and most important Zionist party in Stopnica was the Mizrachi. The regional council of Mizrachi set up its location in Stopnica during the 19302. There was also a chapter of General Zionists in town. The Left leaning Poale Zion party stood out among the Socialist-Zionist parties. Its members founded Jewish workers unions in Stopica. A chapter of Hechalutz was founded in 1931, with sixty members at its founding. Twenty members of this movement went out on agricultural Hachshara [aliya preparation activities] in a nearby village in 1935. One of them was killed in a work accident. The Young Mizrachi and HaNoar Hatzioni youth movements also functioned in the town. Members of the Zionist movements were also involved in cultural and educational activities. Among other things, they founded a library, opened a hall, and offered Hebrew classes. Zionist leaders from the Land of Israel and Poland visited Stopnica from time to time. Yitzchak Grynbaum visited the town on the eve of the 1930 elections to the Polish Sejm, and received an enthusiastic welcome. Before the elections, a regional convention of representatives of communities of the district took place in Stopnica. Moshe Jacobson of Tel Aviv also visited that year, and lectured on the work of the Jewish National Fund.
In the elections for the 21st Zionist congress in 1939, the Mizrachi received 133 votes, the Al Hamishmar list received 44 votes, the left leaning Poale Zion received 31 votes, the General Zionists received 18 votes, and the Working Land of Israel Block received 15 votes.
The Bund and Agudas Yisroel with its youth movement Tzeirei Agudas Yisroel functioned in Stopnica alongside the Zionist parties. An Orthodox girls school of the Beis Yaakov network opened in the town in January 1932 with about 150 students. It was supported by the Bank Handlowy. Some of the boys studied in the traditional cheder. During that period, many children of the community, both boys and girls, studied in the local public school.
The Orthodox had control over the communal leadership and its institutions for many years. In 1931, the Zionists first participated in the elections to the communal leadership. The joint list of General Zionists and Mizrachi then received 209 votes and three seats on the communal council. Agudas Yisroel received 212 votes and four seats on the committee. The independent Hassidic list obtained 62 votes and one mandate.
With the outbreak of the Second World War, the local residents took advantage of the confusion that arouse from the lack of a government, and pillaged the Jewish shops and dwellings. The Germans conquered Stopnica on September 8, 1939. Immediately after their entry to the city, they burned down the Jewish residential quarter and murdered four Jews. From that time, the Jews of Stopnica were subject to acts of abuse as well as official decrees. At the beginning of 1940, the German governor of the city, Niderman, issued a decree obligating the Jews to wear a white armband with a Star of David. A Judenrat was set up in Stopnica at that time. Its first task was to collect 50 million zloty from the Jews as a contribution to the Germans. On the eve of Passover in April 1940, the Germans removed 13 Jews from their houses as they were sitting around the Seder table, tortured them on the street, and finally shot them to death. In the summer of 1940, the Judenrat drafted forced laborers for the Germans to work in agriculture and in digging trenches for sanitation and drinking water in the local villages for a weekly salary of four zloty.
At ghetto was set up in Stopnica at the beginning of 1941. Even though it was not fenced off, the Jewish residents were only permitted to leave its bounds for work. The Judenrat established workshops, mainly in the textile field, in the ghetto, which employed about 200 tradesmen. That year, hundreds of refugees from Lodz, Krakow, Radom (see entries) and Plock were brought to the ghetto. In May 1941, the number of Jews in the ghetto reached 4,600. A typhus epidemic broke out among the Jews due to the great overcrowding. The Judenrat opened a public kitchen and infirmary with the help of the J.S.S. (Independent Jewish Assistance) in Krakow. 4,700 Jews lived in the ghetto in February 1942. In April 1942, their number grew to 5,300. The death toll among the refugees was high. Approximately 400 people died from hunger and disease by June.
On September 5, 1942, the S.S. men, Polish police and Ukrainian help units surrounded the ghetto. The next day, September 6, the Jews were ordered to gather in the large yard at the entrance to Stopnica. Germans and Ukrainians combed the houses, searching for anyone hiding. Approximately 400 Jews were captured, most of them elderly and handicapped people who had difficulty leaving their houses. They were taken out to be shot on the spit. A selektion took place, and approximately 1,500 young people fit for work were separated and sent on trucks of the Hasag militia company to the Skarzisko-Kamienna labor camp (see entry). Those that remained, approximately 3,000 men, women, and children, were marched by foot to nearby Szczucin, from where they were sent by train to the Treblinka Death Camp. About 70 Jews remained in Stopnica. They were employed by the Germans in burying those who were murdered and in collecting and sorting the property left behind by the deportees. Seven weeks later, these workers were transferred to a second ghetto set up in Sandomierz (see entry). They were sent from there to various death camps along with the last Jews of the district.
Only a few Jews of Stopnica survived to the liberation. Today, there are no Jews in Stopnica.
Archives of Yad Vashem 02/515; 03/1353, 2885; M1/E/5112, 1634, 1709, 1836, 2655.
Das Yiddishe Tagblatt, February 1, 1932.
Heint February 7, 1930, July 31, 1930, September 16, 1930, June 3, 1931, March 20, 1935, July 16, 1938.
Gazeta ¯ydowska April 18, 1941.
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