Przemysl: Outline of Jewish History

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For more information, please refer to the sources.

YEAR EVENT 
700-760 CE Przemysl is founded by Przemyslaw, a Lechite Prince. Lechites (Lechici) were descendants of Lech, the legendary founder of Poland
981 Ruthenian prince Wlodzimierz conquers Przemysl. This event is recorded by Nestor, a Ruthenian Chronicler
981-1340 Przemysl is ruled alternatively by Ruthenia (Rus) and Poland
early 11th century A colony of Jewish merchants exists in Przemysl
1018 Przemysl is conquered by Polish king Boleslaw Chrobry
1031 Przemysl under Ruthenian rule
1071 Again, Przemysl under Polish rule, conquered by Boleslaw II Smialy
1087 Przemysl under Ruthenian rule
1087-1134 Przemysl becomes a capital of a Ruthenian Duchy (Rus Czerwona). It loses its status when  the capital is moved to Halicz. Przemysl is a capital of a Ruthenian Duchy once again for a short time in 1264 and 1270
1222-1229 Przemysl under the rule of Hungarian prince Andrew
1334 Polish King Kazimierz Wielki ratifies the Statute of Kalish (Statut Kaliski) of 1264, a charter issued by prince Boleslaw Pobozny granting the Jews of Wielkopolska (Great Poland) their rights. The scope of the statute is now expanded to cover all provinces of the Polish kingdom
1340 King Kazimierz Wielki incorporates Ruthenia into Poland. The Zamek (Castle) in Przemysl is built. City is fortified.
1346-1379 King Kazimierz Wielki extends the scope of previous privileges granted to the Jews. Jews are placed under the jurisdiction of the king and are granted rights to transit through the whole country, settle in its cities and villages, and lend money. King Kazimierz Wielki encourages the settlement of craftsmen and tradesmen from the West, particularly from Germany. According to Hauser, Jews settled in Przemysl around this time, particularly thanks to the privilege of 1367, allowing Jews to settle in Malopolska (Little Poland) and Ruthenia
1370-1387 Poland and Ruthenia under Hungarian influence
1387 Poland takes control of Ruthenia (including Przemysl)
1389 King Wladyslaw Jagiello grants Przemysl its city laws based on Magdeburg Law
1402-1445 According to some sources, names of Jewish merchants and bankers appear in the Przemysl court documents
1419 Official mention of "Jewish street" (Platea Iudaeorum) in Przemysl
1437 According to Jewish Encyclopedia, Jews in Przemysl are mentioned for the first time in the official municipal records (Akta Grodzkie XIII,No.682)
1466 According to Schorr, Jews in Przemysl are mentioned for the first time in the official municipal records
1542 Census lists 18 Jewish families living in Przemysl, 7 of them own their houses, 9 are leasing.
1559 First legal regulation of the Jewish community in Przemysl. The privilege, granted by king Zygmunt August, allows Jews to settle permanently in Przemysl and grants them trading rights. Jews fall under the jurisdiction of the king. This privilege stipulates that "Jews have been living on the Jewish street in Przemysl for a long time" but that "they have not yet been granted a privilege which would allow them to settle permanently, or guarantee them peace and security"
1559-1570 Documents from this period show that there is a synagogue and a Jewish cemetery in Przemysl
1561 Przemysl synagogue is attacked by the burghers
1562 Przemysl Jews are granted a privilege by king Zygmunt August, temporarily releasing the Jewish community from some taxes, in order to "cover the expenses of founding of the major communal institutions" --Schorr p.6
1565 Jews own 13 houses, 9 houses are leased by them
1571 King Zygmunt August appeals to the municipal authorities and the residents of Przemysl to uphold the rights granted to Jews. A penalty of 6000 zlp (Polish Zloty) is to be imposed for violation of such rights
1576 Privilege "ad bonum ordinum" by king Stefan Batory, grants Jews the right to elect their own religious and lay leaders and awards them full autonomy
1592 Construction of a stone synagogue building begins in Przemysl, to replace the wooden structure
1594 New stone synagogue opened
1595 A contract is achieved between the Przemysl magistrate and the Jewisch community, regulating its financial participation in the fortification of the city. In return, the Jews are given access to a piece of land to build a hospital, and a house for the cantor and the szkolnik (sexton). The community pays a yearly rent for the land
17th century Beginning of economic decline of the city. Economic competition between Jewish and Christian merchants intensifies
1608 A complaint is brought before the Przemysl municipality against the Jews, alleging that they "by their subtlety and slyness" constitute a dangerous competition to the burgher merchants
1628 Attack on "the Jewish street". Private houses are demolished, Jewish hospital and Jewish stores are plundered
1630 A Christian woman, while questioned under torture, accuses Jews of having persuaded her to steal a consecrated host (she eventually dies at the stake). As a result, Moses (Moszko) SZMUKLERZ is imprisoned by municipal authorities, tortured and burnt at the stake. This event was commemorated yearly at one of the Przemysl synagogues
1630 A mandate of the royal commander-in-chief (hetmam polny koronny) to the Polish army, ordering them not to mistreat or hurt the Jews who "have in recent years experienced many of God's plagues"
1633 King Wladyslaw IV confirms general Jewish privileges and criticizes the city magistrates in Poland for "usurping their jurisdiction over the Jews" and confirms that the Jews fall under the jurisdiction of the king, not that of the municipalities
1633 Privileges granted to Przemysl Jews are ratified by king Wladyslaw IV
1637 The "Jewish street" in Przemysl is almost completely destroyed by fire. However, the synagogue is spared
1638 King Wladyslaw IV issues a privilege asserting the Przemysl Jewish community’s right to rebuild after the fire. The king expresses his concern that Jewish rights are not being respected and that the royal treasury might suffer if the Jews are not able to rebuild. The privilege grants the Przemysl kahal hegemony over the surrounding Jewish communities. This allows the city kahal to raise money through tax collection
1644 Jews own about 40 houses in Przemysl
1645 The long lasting economic conflict between the Polish and Jewish communities is normalized after years of disputes and prolonged litigation. A historic contract is achieved, regulating the boundaries within which Jewish merchants and artisans were to "ply their vocations". This a agreement was in effect until the first partition of Poland in 1772
1648-1649 The Chmielnicki revolt. Przemysl is rescued by Karol Korniakt, a nobleman (szlachcic) from the nearby Zurawica. Korniakt helps the besieged town by mobilizing thousands of men. Jews participate in the defense of the city. The Chmielnicki troops leave town
1656-1657 The Swedish war. Przemysl is besieged twice but left unharmed.
1656 King Jan Kazimierz appeals to the Polish military to "have mercy upon the Jews and not oppress or harm them in any way". Apparently, Polish troops going through various cities tended to "be a nuisance", particularly to the Jews
1660 Mandate of king Jan Kazimierz, which stipulates that the Przemysl Jews suffered greatly during the recent war "cum per hostem cum per militem nostrum"
1661 King's decree allowing the Jewish community to use the synagogue as a collateral to borrow money. This illustrates the desperate economic situation of the Przemysl Jewish community
1671 Jews own about 100 houses in Przemysl
End of 17th century and 18th century The economic situation declines. The Jewish community is forced to borrow money from Polish nobility, which tries to recover their money using all available means. Jews are assaulted at market places, their merchandise is looted
1678 Jewish quarter destroyed by fire. Jews are granted privileges temporarily easing them from the burden of taxation so that the community can rebuilt
1681 King Jan III Sobieski extends due date for debt repayment
1692 The king further extends due date for debt repayment, fearing Jewish emigration due to inability to pay their debts
18th century The economic situation of the city declines further. Many Jews leave the city seeking relief from debt and severe taxation
1743 Decree of the Catholic bishop of Przemysl, Waclaw Sierakowski, dictating ways in which Jews should behave vis a vis Christians, including forbidding them to be out in the street during a Christian procession, and prohibiting them from working on Sunday and other Christian holidays, etc.
1746 Jesuit students plunder the Jewish quarter, looting Jewish homes. They beak into the synagogue and demolish its interior. The holy Ark and the Torah scrolls are destroyed. The synagogue archive, which includes important documents from the wojewoda's court, is also destroyed
1752 Prince August Czartoryski, the Przemysl wojewoda, issues a decree for Jews to return to the city or face severe penalties
1757 Przemysl magistrate allows Jews to settle and trade outside of the Jewish quarter
1759 Trial in Przemysl of 7 Jews from Stupnica (Dobromil county) for the alleged ritual murder of a 3 year old child. The defendants are subjucted to torture. Six are sentenced to death, one (a woman) is spared her life but is sent to city prison
1765 Total Jewish population in the Przemysl area (33 kahals) -- 25,724. There are 2418 Jews in Przemysl. Other surrounding towns include: 

Drohobych-- 1923
Rzeszow -- 1202
Sieniawa -- 1115
Dobromil -- 1153
Stryj --1727
Jaroslaw -- 1884

1772 First partition of Poland. Przemysl is incorporated into Austria as part of Galicia
1867 Jews granted equal rights to those of other residents of the Austro-Hungarian Empire
1874 The statute of the Przemysl kahal is officially confirmed by the authorities. Jewish communities from over 100 surrounding towns fall under its jurisdiction
1890 Przemysl population is 35,209, including 10,998 Jews
1890 Progressive synagogue "Tempel" is established
1890 Construction of the Zasanie synagogue begins
1892 Zasanie synagogue opens
1905 Scheinbach synagogue on Slowackiego street is opened
1907 Herman Lieberman elected to the Austrian Parliament in Vienna. In independent Poland, Lieberman will be a PPS delegate to the Polish Parliament
1908 Przemysl has electricity
1910 Approximately 16,000 Jews live in Przemysl (30% of total population)
1914 Sept.-Oct. First siege of the city by the Russians
  Nov. Non-essential personnel is evacuated from the city
  Nov. Second siege begins
1915 March. Przemysl surrenders. Much of the Przemysl fortress is destroyed. Soon after Przemysl’s surrender, Jews are expelled from the city
1916 June. Austro-Hungarian and German army takes over Przemysl
1918 Oct. Proclamation of Independence
  Nov. Ukrainians capture part of the city on the right bank of the San River, soon to be taken over by the Poles
1919 Przemysl becomes part of independent Poland
1921 Przemysl population is 47,958, including 18,360 Jews
1931 Total Przemysl population is 51,038. There are 17,326 Jews (34% of total population)

1939

Sept. 14 -- Przemysl falls to the Germans

 

Sept. 16 - 19 -- First arrests and executions of the Jews, mostly political activists and members of the Jewish inteligentsia. Many are refugees from the West. A number of 102 killed is often quoted in the sources but some sources, including the Przemysl Yizkor Book, report that as many as 600 Jews were killed at that time. The locations where the executions took place include Przekopana, Lipowica, Pralkowce and Pikulice. The bodies have been exhumed and moved into a mass grave at the Jewish cemetery on Slowackiego street. A memorial plaque was recently unvailed at the cemetery, listing the 102 names.

 

Sept. 21 -- the Germans leave the territory on the east bank of the river San and burn down the Old Synagogue and the Tempel on Jagiellonska street

 

Sept. 28 -- According to the Ribbentop-Molotov Pact, the Soviet Army marches into the city. State border is set along the river San, with the left bank under German and the right  bank under Soviet control

1940

Spring -- Judenrat is established in Zasanie

 

April-May -- Approximately 7,000 Jews are deported from Soviet occupied Przemysl to Asian Russia, mostly refugees from the West

 

June 27 -- Establishment of “Deutch-Przemysl”, which includes the areas of Zasanie, Ostrow, Kunkowce, Buszkowce, Buszkowiczki, Zurawica, Walawa, Przekopana Polnocna, and part of Ujkowice and Bolestraszyce. Jews are forced to move to the Russian occupied section of Przemysl. Some relocate through the military bridge, others by swimming accross  the San River. According to the Przemysl Yizkor Book, the forced relocation happened shortly before the Soviets entered town in September 1939. The 66 Jews who remain in Zasanie, mostly sick and elderly, are placed in 2 buildings on Dolinskiego 11 and 13. This ghetto will be liquidated in June, 1942

1941

June 20 -- Przemysl total population is 65,798, with 16,500 Jews (25% of total population)

 

June 22 -- Germany attacks the Soviet Union, breaking their Pact

 

June 28 -- The entire city of Przemysl falls to the Germans. Judenrat is established a week later

 

Oct. 24 -- Przemysl population is 71,337, including 16,408 Jews

1942

June 20 -- approximately 1,000 Jewish men are transported to the Janowska camp in Lvov. According to the Przemysl Yizkor Book, this happened on June 18 (see p. 379)

 

July 15 -- deadline for the Jews to relocate to the ghetto

 

July 16 -- Przemysl ghetto is closed. Death penalty is imposed for those who illegaly leave the ghetto (except for work) and those non-Jews who try to help them. Estimated population of the ghetto -- 22,000

 

July 27 -- First Aktion starts. In stages, transport of those who are unable to work -- the disabled, sick, elderly and children to the nearby woods in Grochowce, where they are killed. Approximately 6,500 Jews were sent to death camp in Belzec. July 31 & August 3 -- another 6,000 are transported

 

Nov. 18 -- Second Aktion. 3,500 are transported to Belzec. Those attempting to flee or are found hiding in bunkers as well as children from the orphanage are killed. The ghetto is downsized and divided into Ghetto A (for workers) and Ghetto B (for non-workers). Approximately 800 are in Ghetto A and 4,000 in Ghetto B

 

Dec. 31 -- Total Przemysl population is 50,738, with 3,030 Jews

1943

Sept. 2-3 -- Approximately 3,500 Jews, who had been hiding in bunkers, are transported to Auschwitz. About 600 people from Ghetto A are sent to labor camp in Szebnie

 

Sept. 11 -- 1580 Jews are murdered in the courtyard of the Piramowicza school on Kopernika street, next to the prison. Their bodies are burning for 5 days. 250 people are kept to clean the area. (In 1956, a memorial plaque will be placed on the school building)

 

Nov. 28 -- Some of the 250 people are transported to Szebnie, and the rest of them are transported to Stalowa Wola or Auschwitz by the end of February, 1944

1944

July 27 -- Soviet Army reenters the city

1945

Przemysl population is 28,144 including 415 Jews

1956

Unveiling of a plaque on a former ghetto building on Kopernika Street, commemorating the martyrdom of the Przemysl Jews

Thank you to Blossom Glasser for contributing information used in the compilation of  this outline.

The above has been compiled by Barbara U. Yeager and Blossom Glasser. The sources used include the following:

Dr. Schorr, Mojzesz. Zydzi w Przemyslu do konca XVIII wieku (Jews in Przemysl until the end of the 18th century). Lwow, 1903. Reprinted  in Jerusalem, 1991
 
Krochmal, Jacek. Jews in Przemysl from the 11th to the 20th Century. In: John J. Hartman and Jacek Krochmal, eds. I Remember Every Day: the Fate of the Jews of Przemysl During World War II. Przemysl: Towarzystwo Przyjaciol Nauk and Remembrance and Reconciliation, Inc., 2001
 
Krochmal, Anna. Przemysl Jews During World War II. In: John J. Hartman and Jacek Krochmal, eds. I Remember Every Day: the Fate of the Jews of Przemysl During World War II. Przemysl: Towarzystwo Przyjaciol Nauk and Remembrance and Reconciliation, Inc., 2002
 

Schattner, M. From Outbreak of World War II Until the Liberation. In: Menczer, Arie. Sefer Przemysl (the Przemysl Memorial Book). Israel, 1964

Zebrowski, Rafal. Dzieje Zydow w Polsce. Kalendarium (History of  the Jews in Poland). Warszawa: Zydowski Instytut Historyczny, Warszawa, 1993
 

Encyclopedia Judaica
 
Jewish Encyclopedia, 1905
 
Hauser, Leopold. Monografia Miasta Przemysla (A Monograph of the City of Przemysl). Przemysl :Nakladem ksieg. Braci Jeleniow, 1883, 2nd edition (reprint), Poludniowo-Wschodni Instytut Naukowy, 1991

For more information regarding the history of Jews in Przemysl, see Menczer, Arie. Sefer Przemysl ( the Przemysl Memorial Book). Israel, 1964


For questions about researching your family from Przemysl, Poland contact Sheila Werter Schneider.

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Copyright © 1998 - 2002 Barbara U. Yeager
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