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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Shmuel Ben Eliezer’

Jewish Historical Institute Photo Project

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

       Whenever I go to Poland I make a point of visiting the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. It is an amazing place, known not only for its exhibits, but all the projects that go on behind the closed doors of different departments.


         One person who constantly impresses me with the tremendous amount of work he does is Jan Jagielski. Jan is head of the Jewish Monument Division and Photo Archives for the institute. From all over the world, scholars, as well as novices in the field of Polish Jewish history, praise his encyclopedic knowledge of Jewish sites throughout Poland.


         Mr. Jagielski has compiled a catalogue of synagogues in Poland that I use as a resource for many of my articles. (Plans are in the works to translate the book into English.) Last month when I visited him at his office I asked what he was working on at the moment. He got very excited at the opportunity of publicity for a new project of his – not for profit, but for posterity.


         “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Often a picture outlives the photographer and bears witness to events and times of long ago. Mr. Jagielski has been working with photographs that detail Jewish life in Poland before and during the Shoah. Using rare photos, he has made some interesting discoveries. His office is often asked to identify places, and if possible, people, in pictures sent in from around the world.



Jan Jagielski going over pictures of Jewish people and places in Poland.


         Some people sent him photographs they had bought on Internet auction sites, such as eBay. He discovered the wealth of material being sold, lost to him and other researchers.


         “In some of these pictures we can see synagogues, cemeteries, or other Jewish property, as well as a chronicle of Jewish life,” he told me. “Look at this picture here, you can see a synagogue in the background with children playing in the foreground and a cemetery off to the side. Using this photograph I hope to identify the town and maybe rescue the cemetery or synagogue from desecration.


         “I would like to ask your readers for two things,” he said. “One, if they have pictures from before the Shoah, to send a set to the Institute. (Even scans would be helpful.) Second, we need a budget to buy pictures off the Internet.” Mr. Jagielski figures that 20,000 zloty or $7,000 would be enough to buy the pictures online.


         It is interesting to note that Mr. Jagielski, foremost expert on Jewish remains in Poland, is not Jewish. There are a few Poles throughout the country that have taken it upon themselves to ensure that the history of the Jewish people in Poland is not forgotten. The chief rabbi of Poland, Rabbi Michael Schudrich, has coined this phenomenon as “The Jegielskian Complex.”


         There are many photographic collections of Jewish life in Poland; consolidating the material is underway. YIVO has a large collection for research on the Internet, and there are also photographs taken before the Shoah, e.g. by noted photographer, Roman Vishniak.


         There is also an exhibit, “And I Still See Their Faces” at the Yeshiva University Museum in Lower Manhattan. The exhibit is made up of photographs found mostly after the war by Poles, with captions telling what the donor knows of the people, places, and circumstances of each photo. The photos are on exhibit until the end of June. A review of the exhibit will appear in an upcoming issue of The Jewish Press.


         Anybody wishing to donate material or money to the project can send it to: Shmuel Ben Eliezer, The Jewish Press, 338 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11215-1897, or directly to Mr. Jagielski at: Mgr Jan Jagielski, The Jewish Historical Institute, Tlomackie 3/5 Street,00-950 Warsaw.

Interesting Polish Jewish Web Sites

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

      I am often asked, “Where do you get all the information that you write about in your weekly column?” The answer is as varied as the columns I write. Most of the material I get comes from any one or a combination of over 1,000 books in my private library. Various web sites on the Internet provide another major source. Here are a few of the hundreds of sites I have visited in the past year during my research.


        http://www.galiciajewishmuseum.org/ – The Galicia Jewish Museum In Krakow

        http://www.holocaustresearch.pl/index1(en).htm - Polish Center for Holocaust Research

        http://www.beisolam.jewish.org.pl/ - The Warsaw Jewish Cemetery

        http://fzp.jewish.org.pl/english/engind.html - The Polish Jews Forum

        http://www.jewishmuseum.org.pl/index - Museum Of The History of Polish Jews

        http://jewish.sites.warszawa.um.gov.pl/ - Jewish historical sites in Warsaw

        http://www.jewish.org.pl/wroclaw/english - The Jewish Community in Wroclaw

        http://www.dialog.org.main.html - Platform for Jewish-Polish Dialogue

        http://www.npajac.org/mission.html - National Polish American – Jewish American Council

        http://www.jewish.org.pl/english/foundati/TSKZ.html - Social and Cultural Association of Jews in Poland

        http://www.auschwitz-museum.oswiecim.pl/html/eng/ - Auschwitz /Birkenau

        http://www.ajcf.org/ - Auschwitz Jewish Center

        http://www.jewishinstitute.org.pl/ - Jewish Historical Institute

        http://www.jewishgen.org - Jewish Genealogy Society

        http://www.yorku.ca/tftf/ - The Mark and Gail Appel Program in Holocaust and Antiracism Education

        http://www.judaica.pl - Judaica Foundation – Center for Jewish Culture

        http://www.rslfoundation.org/ - The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation – Poland

        http://www.yivoinstitute.org/ - YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

        http://www.jewishgen.org/Galicia/ - Special Interest Group For Jews whose roots originate in Galicia

        http://www.routestoreroots.com/ - Tracing Jewish Roots in Poland, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus

        http://www.jewishfestival.pl/ - Jewish Culture Festival In Krakow

        http://www.wiesenthal.com - Simon Wiesenthal Center

        http://www.littman.co.uk/polin/ - Journal of Polish Jewish Studies

        http://www.midrasz.pl/ - Midrasz

        http://www.ushmm.org/ - U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

        http://www.belzec.org.pl/ - The Museum of the Belzec Death Camp

        http://www.fodz.pl/ - The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland

        www.jdc.org  – American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee

        www.wjc.org.il  – World Jewish Congress

        http://www.jafi.org.il/ - The Jewish Agency for Israel

        http://www.ecjc.org/  – The European Council of Jewish Communities

        http://www.jewishgen.org/cemetery/e-europe/poland.html  - International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies – Cemetery Project

        http://www.avotaynu.com/ - Avotaynu, Inc.

        http://www.mizkor.org/ - Holocaust education site

        http://www.yadvashem.org/ - Yad Vashem

        http://www.mznet.org/chamber/ Chamber of the Holocaust

        http://www.claimscon.org/ - The Claims Conference/Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.


         Shmuel Ben Eliezer can be reached at jpolin2@aol.com

The Old Shtetl Kiernozia

Wednesday, April 5th, 2006

No details are available on the origins of the village of Kiernozia. It existed as early as the 15th century as part of the estate of the noble family Szarpski. In the 60′s of the 19th century it was owned by members of the Lasutski family. Kiernozia’s position astride the road from Lowicz to Plock influenced its development. It was a center of trade and industry for local agriculture, and fixed market days came to be established.

In 1784 King Stanislaw August Poniatowski granted the district governor permission to hold six additional annual fairs. In 1807 the village was incorporated into the Principality of Warsaw, and from 1815 until World War I was part of Congress Poland. During the war, Kiernozia was occupied by the German army from 1915 until they retreated in 1918.

There is no specific data on the beginnings of Jewish settlement in Kiernozia. Jewish habitation is not mentioned before the early 19th century. In 1808 the Jewish population is listed as being 28 percent of the general population, numbering 48 people. The Jews were employed in small trade and handicrafts. According to statistics from the 1870′s, Jews owned eight shops and 11 workshops. In the period between the two world wars, Jews were involved in the same occupations.

There was an organized Jewish community in the latter half of the 19th century. A synagogue and religious school existed, but there was no cemetery, and the Jews of Kiernozia buried their dead in the cemetery at Lowicz. The rabbi of that period was Avraham Noah Neumann. Between the two wars the rabbi was Moshe Bezalel Frankel, who was killed in the Holocaust. Many of the Jews of Kiernozia, and the young people in particular, leaned toward Zionism. There was a branch of Beitar with some 40 members. Jewish children went to the traditional cheder schools and to the municipal Polish school.

In 1921 there were a reported 284 Jews in Kiernozia, comprising about 39 percent of the general population.

With the outbreak of war in 1939 and the approach of the German army, many Jews left their homes and fled eastward. On September 16 Kiernozia was bombed by German planes. The synagogue was destroyed and 20 Jews were killed or wounded. The village was occupied two days later. That same day the Jews who had remained in Kiernozia were rounded up and sent to Zychlin, 12 miles. away. The deportees were kept under the open sky and without food the whole night, and then sent to forced labour camps. A few days later the Jews were allowed to return to Kiernozia, and found their houses looted.

In March 1940 the Germans set up a ghetto enclosed by a fence in two streets. The Poles who had been living there were removed from their houses and the Jews herded into them. Each day the Germans took males aged 15 to 60 for forced labor.

On July 1, 1940, the Germans brought some 240 Jews from surrounding villages into the ghetto. In December of that year there were about 650 Jews in the ghetto. In March 1941 the Germans dismantled the ghetto and the Jews of Kiernozia were transported to the Warsaw ghetto where they shared the fate of its inhabitants and weresent to Treblinka, where they were killed.

The fate of the Jewish community of Kiernozia can be found in Yad Vashem’s “Pinkas Hakehilot,” Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Vol. IV, Warsaw and Its Region, Jerusalem 1989.

Although it is known that the Jews of Kiernozia were killed at Treblinka, there is no symbolic tombstone for the community of Kiernozia in Treblinka.

See www.zchor.org/kiernozia

Shmuel Ben Eliezer can be contacted at jpolin2@aol.com

The Old Shtetl Kurzelow

Wednesday, March 8th, 2006

Kurzelow is mentioned first in the 12th century, in a pastoral dispatch of the pope of that time, who fixed in it a new ecclesiastical district. In 1285 the privileges of a town were granted along with permission to hold a weekly market day. In 1540 there were 85 houses, and in the beginning of the 17th century there was a flour mill, smithy and a factory of iron products. Around that time, guilds of tailors, blacksmiths and furriers were farmed. In the middle of the 17th century, Swedish invaders conquered Kurzelow and spread destruction and ruin. After that Kurzelow declined and its position deteriorated. Only in the 19th century was there economical and demographic growth again.

Jewish inhabitants of Kurzelow are first mentioned in the beginning of the 19th century. They were very few in number. And even during World War I, when the Jewish settlement reached its climax, it numbered no more than 50 families.

In the period between the two world wars, there was a study house (Beth Midrash) which was large enough to accept all the praying Jews from the surrounding villages. The mother community of Kurzelow was Wloszczowa. We don’t have information about the public life of the Jews of Kurzelow. It is possible that due to the small number and lack of sources of livelihood, the number of Jewish citizens had decreased. Another reason for the Jews to leave were symptoms of anti-Semitism, which had increased in the 1930′s

Kurzelow was conquered by the Germans in early September 1939. There were then 119 Jews living in Kurzelow. Since it was a small and remote place, the Germans didn’t settle in it and left local rule to the Poles. For that reason, life in this community continued calmly. The local Jews were under the Judenrat of Wloszczowa. In February 1940, the Judenrat of Wloszczowa transferred to Kurzelow 275 Jewish refugees deported from Wloclawek. The refugees arrived exhausted, sick and hungry, and the welfare committee in Kurzelow helped them as much as they could. On March 10, 1940, a public kitchen was opened and it served about 300 hot meals daily to the hungry refugees. Other aid included beds, clothes and medicines.

During July of 1940, a ghetto was erected in Wloszczowa, and the ability of the Judenrat to aid the Jews of Kurzelow decreased. The refugees remained in Kurzelow until mid-September 1942, when an aktion took place in Kurzelow. In the beginning, 13 Jews were murdered on the spot. The rest of the ghetto, local residents and refugees, were deported to Wloszczowa. Two days before Yom Kippur 1942, everyone was deported to the death camp at Treblinka. In 1942, after the Jews were expelled, three Gestapo men arrived in Kurzelow and murdered seven Jews – five men and two women – who had been in hiding and were handed over to the Germans.

At Treblinka there is an impressive monument to the three quarters of a million Jews who were murdered there, with engraved stones representing all the communities from which the victims came. For some reason there is no stone in memory of the Jews of Kurzelow. A campaign has been launched by survivors of Kurzelow to correct this oversight, led by Ada Holtzman of Tel Aviv.

Shmuel Ben Eliezer can be contacted at jpolin2@aol.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/the-old-shtetl-kurzelow/2006/03/08/

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