Introduction

According to Jerzy Michalewicz in "Jewish Register Districts and Jewish Religious Communities in Autonomous Galicia" (Krakow: Jagiellonian University, Institute of History, 1995, in Polish) the Jewish religious community in Wielkie Oczy kept vital books from the time of the Austrian occupation of  south-eastern Poland (Galicia). The relevant order was promulgated in the proclamation of the Austrian emperor Joseph, dated 20 February 1784. The order defined the general ways of keeping vital books (births, marriages, deaths) of all the religious communities, adding that "Jews should keep all three kinds of books with section headings relevant to their particular religious beliefs" (e.g., circumcision instead of baptism).

The next document dated 7 May 1789 related to the Jewish religious communities in Galicia placed the duty of keeping birth, marriage and death books of the Jews on the communities themselves. In the beginning, the chief rabbi of the community was personally responsible for the keeping of the register books. Only in accordance with the law of 10 July 1868 was there established in every religious community a special vital records clerk, whose duty was to keep such records. In 1875 the Austrians started to implement "register districts" that in most cases were territorially identical with religious community units. In all Galicia there were 261 register districts but this number changed slightly in the following years.

Galician Vital Records and Register Districts

Wielkie Oczy was geographically identical with the religious community unit. In 1870 there were 969 Jews in the Wielkie Oczy district living in the following villages: Boza Wola, Budomierz, Drohomysl, Hruszow, Klonice, Skolin, Szczeploty, Swidnica, Wielkie Oczy, Wilcza Gora, Wulka Zmijowska and Zmijowiska.

On 24 April 1896 the Governor of Galicia published a proclamation announcing that effective 1 July 1896 three villages west of Wielkie Oczy were to be added to the Wielkie Oczy register district. These included Fehlbach (now Potok Jaworowski), Kobylnica Ruska (which also included Kamienisko and Rutysko) and Kobylnica Woloska (which took in Hryckowa, Mielniki, Szczeble and Pidlozy). Before this change these villages belonged to Lubaczow register district. In 1900, there were 1,449 Jews living within this newly defined register district.

Saga of the Vital Records

According to the data we currently have, we know of 11 different volumes of the vital books of the Jewish Wielkie Oczy community. As early as 1939, the oldest of these (Volume 0) was kept in an archive in Lwow, while ten other voulmes (numbered 1-10) were kept in Wielkie Oczy.

When the Jews of  Wielkie Oczy were expelled to Krakowiec and Jaworow in June, 1942, these ten books were taken by the order of the Judenrat to Jaworow. We can find confirmation of this fact in two letters that Josef Smutek, the Ukrainian Head of Wielkie Oczy, addressed to the German Chief of the Lwow-Land county marked IV.24/2/42 and IV.24/9/42 and dated 2 November 1942 and 10 December 1942: "...we inform that all the vital books and other genealogical documents related to the Jewish community were taken by the chiefs of the Judenrat at the time the Jews were expelled to Jaworow."

The mayor of Jaworow informed the chief of the county in document 383/34/24 dated 20 November 1942 that  "all vital books of the Jaworow Jewish population are safely stored in the Jaworow town office. He added also that "we have no possibility of transferring these books to Lwow". Thus it appears that of the ten volumes that that had been kept in Wielkie Oczy and later, we must assume, and that were subsequently "safely stored in the Jaworow town office" are now missing and were most likely lost either during the expulsion of the Jewish population from Wielkie Oczy to the ghettos of Jaworow and Krakowiec or perhaps in Jaworow itself. The five surviving volumes are:

Books of Births
Vol. 1, 1843 - 1874
Vol. 4, 1877 - 1890
Vol. 7, 1891 - 1902
Books of Marriages
Vol. 8, 1893 - 1934
Books of Death
Vol. 10, 1903 - 1935

However, a way was later found to transfer these books from Jaworow to Lwow, because on 23 August 1943 the chief of the Lwow Land County sent a truck to the Interior Department of the office of the Governor of Galicia.. On the truck were 5 wooden boxes marked with the letters A, B, C, D and E that contained vital books from all over the county. Attached to these boxes was a document identified as J.BuF.1007-3408/43 with detailed specifications of the books. According to the specification the box D included the following books from Wielkie Oczy:

Books of Births
1843 - 1874 (including deaths)
1891 - 1902
Books of Marriages:
1893 - 1934
Books of Death
1903 - 1938

From a comparison of the list prepared in November, 1942 in Jaworow and the list prepared in Lwow in August, 1943, we note the following differences:

  • book of births 1843 - 1874 (Vol. 1) also includes data on deaths from these years;
  • book of births 1877 - 1890 (Vol. 4), which for unknown reasons, was not among the volumes contained in the list of August, 1943; and
  • according to list from August 1943, Vol. 10 includes deaths to 1938, and not only to 1935.

Archives and Holdings

The existing vital records of the Jewish community of Wielkie Oczy are stored in these three different locations:

Archives

Holdings

Archiwum Glowne Akt Dawnych (AGAD)
(The Central Archives for Historical Records)
ul. Dluga 7
00-263 Warszawa
Poland

tel. (+ 48)(22) 831-54-91
fax. (+ 48)(22) 831-16-08

  • Vol. 0
    Births:   1791 - 1843
    Deaths: 1822 - 1843

  • Vol. 1 (fond 300)
    Births:   1843 - 1874
    Deaths: 1843 - 1874

Archiwum Panstwowe w Przemyslu (APP)
(The State Archives in Przemyslu)
ul. Lelwwela 4
37-700 Przemsyl
Poland

tel: (+48) 16-670-35-38
fax: (+48) 16-670-76-34

See also:
http://www.jewishgen.org/Jri-pl/psa/psaprzemysl.htm

  • Vol. 4
    Births: 1877 - 1890

  • Vol. 7
    Births : 1891 - 1902

Urzad Stanu Cywilnego (USC)
(Registrar Office)
ul.Lesna 2
37-627 Wielkie Oczy
woj. podkarpackie
Poland

tel. (+ 48)(16) 631-01-26
fax. (+ 48)(16) 631-01-92
  • Vol. 8
    Marriages: 1893 - 1934

  • Vol. 10:
    Deaths: 1903 - 1938

The following table describes the status of the various volumes of the vital records known to exist:

Volume

Commentary

0 This, the oldest of the existing vital books, includes births for the period 1791-1843 and deaths for the period 1822-1843 and three death records from 1853. Tthis book was kept in the Lwow archive, and as far as is known, it had been there prior to 1939.  Sometime in the 1990s this volume was unexplicably lost. In 2002 it was offered for sale by a collector in Lublin. The book was purchased by a private party and donated to the Central Archives for Historical Records (AGAD) in Warsaw, where it is now stored. An index for this volume and images of its contents are available from the Wielkie Oczy Foundation, Inc.
1 Includes data on the births and deaths in the years 1843 to1874. In July, 1942 the book was taken from Wielkie Oczy to Jaworow according to order of the Judenrat at the time the Jewish population was expelled from Wielkie Oczy. From Jaworow it was transferred in August, 1943 by the Germans to Lwow. It is now stored in the Warsaw AGAD archive.
2 No information - Probably lost during the expulsion of the Jewish community of Wielkie Oczy to Jaworow in June, 1942.
3 No information - Probably lost during the expulsion of the Jewish community of Wielkie Oczy to Jaworow in June, 1942.
4 Includes data on the births in the years 1877 to1890, and a record of one birth in 1876. In July, 1942 the book was taken from Wielkie Oczy to Jaworow according to order of the Judenrat at the time the Jewish population was expelled from Wielkie Oczy. For unkown reasons, it does not appear among the specifications of the books transferred in August,1943 by the Germans to Lwow. In the summer, 2000 it was sent from Warsaw to the Wielkie Oczy Registrar Office, and on 21 April 2004 from there to the State Archive in Przemysl, where it is now stored.
5 No information - Probably lost during the expulsion of the Jewish community of Wielkie Oczy to Jaworow in June, 1942.
6 No information - Probably lost during the expulsion of the Jewish community of Wielkie Oczy to Jaworow in June, 1942.
7 Includes data on the births in the years 1891-1902. In July, 1942 the book was taken from Wielkie Oczy to Jaworow according to order of the Judenrat at the time the Jewish population was expelled from Wielkie Oczy. From Jaworow it was transferred in August, 1943 by the Germans to Lwow.  In the summer, 2000 it was sent from Warsaw to the Wielkie Oczy Registrar Office, and on 21 April 2004 from there to the State Archive in Przemysl, where it is now stored.
8 Includes data on the marriages in the years 1893 to1934. In July, 1942 the book was taken from Wielkie Oczy to Jaworow according to order of the Judenrat at the time the Jewish population was expelled from Wielkie Oczy.  From Jaworow it was transferred in August, 1943 by the Germans to Lwow.   In the summer, 2000 it was sent from Warsaw to the Wielkie Oczy Registrar Office, where it is now stored.
9 No information - Probably lost during the expulsion of the Jewish community of Wielkie Oczy to Jaworow in June, 1942.
10 Includes data on the deaths in the years 1903 to1935 (or 1938). In July, 1942 the book was taken from Wielkie Oczy to Jaworow according to order of the Judenrat at the time the Jewish population was expelled from Wielkie Oczy.  From Jaworow it was transferred in August, 1943 by the Germans to Lwow.   In the summer, 2000 it was sent from Warsaw to the Wielkie Oczy Registrar Office, where it is now stored.

Graphic representation of the identified and existing Jewish vital books of Wielkie Oczy.

   

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