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The Holocaust in the Shtetl of Zmigrod: The Monuments

From our researcher, April 1998: " On July 7, 1942 the Jews of Zmigród and surrounding villages were taken to the mountain Halbów, where they were shot dead by the Nazis. 1250 men, women and children were massacred. With them Zmigród died. The Halbów Monument

The Halbów Monument Stands on the mass grave of 1250 Jews who were murdered by the Nazi-barbarians on July 7, 1942.

In loving memory
Here rest 1250 Jewish men, women and children of Zmigród and neighboring towns, murdered by the Germans on July 7, 1942 !
Never to be Forgotten

Erected by Zmigród Society in New York 1990
Pure of heart and consecrated they suffered a harsh death
Take my revenge from those who tormented me

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Two Zmigrod Survivors Revisit the Holocaust Sites

by Max Findling and Leo Rosner

In 199l, forty six years after the Holocaust,I Leo Rosner, Max Findling and Shimshon Findling returned to Zmigrod Nowy Poland. We were acccmpanied by Max's son Michael Findling and Shimshon's daughter Regine Findling. The purpose of the trip was to search and find the locations of the burial graves of our beloved families who were shot and killed by the Nazis in the year 1942.

As a result of our childhood memories of 1942, we were able to locate the mass grave, which was in the village of Halbuv. The grave is located about seven kilometers from the town Zmigrod on the way to the Czechoslovakian border about thirty kilometers ahead. At this site in July of 1942 the Gestapo massacred twelve hundred and fifty people, men, women and children, these victims were all buried in this mass grave.

In 1993 we returned to this mass grave and in memory of these innoncent victims we erected four The Halbów Monument monuments. These monuments have inscribed the date and the year of the execution in three languages: Hebrew, Polish and English. This mass grave is covered with a cement block measuring 30 feet long by 12 feet wide. There is a metal fence surrounding this entire site. In addition there is a road sign about two hundred and fifty meters from the gravesite. This sign informs visitors of the mass grave located within the forest ahead. The monuments and sign were erected with donations from surviving members as well as their families and friends.

Max Findling and I, after leaving Zmigrod, visited the Jaslo prison where we both were incarcerated in the year of 1942. At the same time with us were Max's sister (Geitel Findling), my mother (Esther Rosner),and my younger sister (Malka Rosner). Among the other Jewish prisoners, men women and children, included two famous Rabbi's (Rabbi Chuno Halberstarm from Kolicice and Rabbi Meilech Rubin from Jaslo. There were 35 men in one cell; the women were in a seperate cell.

One day Max and I were chosen by the Gestapo for work, along with 14 other young men. The rest of the prisoners were taken about one week later to the forest Warzyce, located outside the town of Jaslo; they were then shot and killed and buried in an unmarked grave. Days later, as Max and I continued to work, cleaning out Jewish homes of clothing, furniture, and other items, we entered a warehouse and found the clothes of my mother, my sister and Max's sister. It was the clothes they wore while in prison. This was the evidence for us to know for sure the outcome of our loved ones.

The Halbów Monument This forest Warzyce includes thirty two mass graves where over five thousand people were executed. On the unmarked grave of our loved ones we placed a bronze plaque, brought from the United States, prepared with the names of those buried.

The photographs at right were taken in 1999; they show Max Findling beside the roadside sign (top photo) and the plaque at Warzyce (below).

signed, Leo Rosner and Max Findling, May 2001

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The History of the Monuments

The Monument in Zmigród is really a collection of monuments. And the following tells of the many steps that were taken.

In July 98 our researcher was able to read the inscriptions of the gravestones on the Halbow monument. There are ten stones, excluding the 4 memorial stones (decalogue), designed by Helen Findling. From the left to the right:

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And then in 2004 a dreadful thing happened

The monuments succombed to erosion, they tumbled over, cracked and lay broken on the ground. It was through this web page, that a Polish lady saw the momuments cracked and broken, and emailed me through her brother who was residing in the States. I sent the notes to Max Findling.

Max Findling, who was born in Zmigrod, and was part of the original group which erected the monuments, was very concerned. He wrote three letters (in Polish) to three different agencies in Poland: to the Government in Warsaw, to the Governor of Rzeszow and to the town of Krempna. He sent the photos of the monuments before and after the erosion and asked for help to restore the monuments.

Weeks later Max received a letter from the office of the Governor of Rzeszow, that the government in Warsaw was allocating 20,000 zloties to restore the monument and that it would be done over the summer of 2005.

Max asked a Polish engineer to inspect the results; soon we received the photograph you see below. We are proud to present this photograph (October 2005) showing the results of the Polish Governments' labors (they even painted the gate and the gravestones):
and for this we are very grateful. Thankyou.

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The Siegfrieds

The following was written by Lillian Siegfried of Staten Island, NY:
David Siegfried who survived in Siberia, USSR, was involved in the post-war The Halbów Monument establishment of the monuments in Halbow, Poland, when he returned to Jaslo. Among the victims of the Nazi massacre was his aunt Malka Siegfried-Lerman, her husband and her children from Oscik. The only member to survive was Moisha Lerman.


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The Holocaust Remembered

A book by Leo Rosner

Leo Rosner was a child when the Holocaust happened in his native town of Zmigrod. His book is an account of a child survivor's imprisionment and redemption.

Surviving Hell on Earth and Living to Tell
The human mind cannot comprehend the cruelty that existed under the Nazi regime during the Second World War.
This is the personal account of the experiences and sufferings of a 13-year-old boy who was enslaved for three years in prisons, forced labor camps and concentration camps.
He lived to tell a story never to be forgotton--that of a boy who strove to save his father's life while endangering his own.
Against the orders of German S.S. men, he rushed to be by his father's side. Time and again he managed to join his father in a new selection line--destination unknown.
Together, they managed to come out of that hell on earth as True Survivors.
The book can be purchased by contacting
Leo Rosner at leorosner@aol.com

The following was exerpted from the book

Chapter 1: Zmigrod, My Home Town, April 4, 1929.
I was born in Zmigrod, Poland, on April 4, 1929 to Esther (Findling) and Moses David Rosner. My mother's parent were, Moses David Findling and Malka Chana Diller. My father's parents were, Markus Hirsch Rosner and Feiga Bergman.

Zmigrod was a beautiful little mountain town located near Jaslo, about 150 kilometers from Krakow and about 30 kilometers from the Czechoslovakian border. Zmigrod was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire during World War I. In Zmigrod, horse and wagon was the primary means of travel, as neither railroads nor public transportation was available.

In the winter the town would be buried under what we would call "mountains of snow;" snow so high that it sometimes reached the tops of the houses. The townspeople would dig tunnels from one house to another, or would be unable to leave their homes for days at a time. Frost would cover the windows in tiny crystals, splashing sunlight against the walls in magnificent designs, frost so thick we couldn't see outside. As children, my friends and I would spend hours playing in the deep, fluffy snow. Sledding down the hillside was the main form of winter entertainment for the shtetl's (town's) children. My parents had bought me a real sled, but there were times I didn't have my sled, and I would join the other children, sliding down the mountain on overturned tables taken from the synagogue. There were other occasions when we would go ice-skating on a nearby frozen lake.

In the spring the sparkling white landscape would explode in color. The mountainsides would be covered with flowing green pastures; cows would roam the fields outside our town. The summer air was clean and fresh, perfectly accommodating to the joys of youth. We spent the warm days hiking through hills around our hometown or picking blackberries from the bushes. We enjoyed the sport of shooting plums and apples off trees with slingshots, along with games of soccer we would play with our young Polish neighbors.

The town, too, would burst into life. The streets would become busy and fill up with people hustling to and fro. Mothers would go about their business pushing their babies in carriages, and children would sit around in the sun, singing songs. The town center would be transformed into a marketplace. Every morning the gentile farmers would bring their produce to sell to the local Jews. in return the Jews would sell supplies and housewares to the farmers, the people would spend most of the summer buying and storing food, preparing for the winter season.

Zmigrod was a thriving Jewish community of approximately 1,200 Jewish families. It had numerous Jewish organizations, such as Agudath Israel, Mizrachi, Bnei Akiva, and Betaar. There was one Jewish doctor, a Jewish lawyer, and a Jewish dentist. There was only one telephone, located at the Post Office, and one radio for the whole community. The Jewish community kept very close together. A neighbor's wedding was everyone's holiday, and a stranger's funeral, everyone's sorrow.

The town's synagogue was a magnificent 400-year-old building surrounded by a tall iron gate. The enormous sanctuary was like a royal ballroom--its dome-like ceiling beautifully painted with all kinds of animals and fish. All around the walls were covered with quotes from scripture, and the tall windows with rounded tops were fitted with stained glass scenes from the Torah. In the center of the massive room stood the bima, like a castle in its own right, with large steps leading up to it on either side. The room was illuminated by six fantastic brass chandeliers, which must have weighed nearly two tons. In the back of the schul was a room where I would learn with my teacher. Behind the schul were two smaller buildinigs, including a cheder (Hebrew school) for the poorer children.

Do you want to read more?? Send a note to Leo Rosner, the author, and order the book from him. Write to Leo Rosner at leorosner@aol.com.

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Zmigrod, a History by William Leibner, a survivor

With the outbreak of W.W.II many Jews left town for Eastern Galicia which was soon occupied by the Soviet army. Most of these Jews returned to Zmigrod with the end of hostilities. Those that remained were soon shipped to Siberian camps in Russia where many died of starvation, notably Sinai Halbershtam, former rabbi of Zmigrod . The Germans soon imposed travel restriction and the wearing of armbands. Searches were frequently conducted under any pretext. Once the Germans searched for weapons and ordered all Jewish males to report to the market. While the men were standing in the square, their homes were being looted and ransacked by the soldiers. The search finished, the young Jews were forced to board trucks that took them away. The old people were sent home. Of course, no weapons were found. A week later, Jews were praying in the synagogue on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, September 14th,1939 when German soldiers burst in through the doors and beat mercilessly the congregates who barely managed to escape with their lives. The synagogue and the beit.hamidrash {study center} were torched the last night of the holiday of Sukkoth. The policy of terror and intimidation continued unabated.

The Germans created a Judenrat headed by Hersh Eisenberg. The other members were: Yekel Bronfeld, Moshe Haim Birenbaum, Shia Wahl, Hersh Duvid Zilber, Shia Bobker, Shia Zilber, Shmiel Weinstein, Yekel Diamant and Nute Parness.

Hersch Eisenberg was ordered to conduct a census of the Jewish population in the city. The report was handed to the Gestapo in Jaslo for Zmigrod did not have an office. Based on the census, the Germans were constantly demanding more workers. The latter were hardly fed, mistreated and overworked. Some were disabled for life since they lacked the skills, tools or motivation. They worked on roads, bridges and even on farms. The Judenrat paid them meager salaries that were collected from the Jews of Zmigrod. The taxes also paid for the absorption of Jewish refugees from nearby areas and from distant places such as Krakow and Lodz. A free soup kitchen was organized that provided lunches for the needy regardless of length of residence in Zmigrod. But the stream of refugees kept coming and taxed the community beyond its means. The local jewish community was already pauperized by the harsh german economic extortion policies.

Aid arrived in the form of financial assistance from the J.S.S. in Krakow. The J.S.S. or Jewish Self Help organization, under the leadership of Dr. Weihart, borrowed money from various Jewish organizations, notably the Joint organization, and distributed the funds throughout the Jewish communities. Each community established a J.S.S. to help the Jewish community. Zmigrod was no exception and the local chapter was headed by Hersh Rab; he will pay dearly for running the office. Hersh Rab was the president of the local J.S.S. which also included Hersh Sheinwetter, Shia Tzimmet, Getzil Shiff, Haim Shia Birnhan Miriam Fessler, Idesen’s son-in-law and David Leizer. They provided the social, nutritional and sanitary needs of the poor Jews in town regardless of length of residence. They established a public kitchen that distributed each day 350 breakfasts and lunches. Money was obtained from various sources including weekly contributions from the well established families in town. The latter also maintained the Judenrat. Our office worked as well as conditions enabled us to function and we tried to be helpful. Cases that refused to cooperate with us were referred to the office of the Judenrat and they handled these situations

In the spring of 1942, the Germans transferred all the Jews from the village of Oshick in Yiddish, or Osiek in Polish, to Zmigrod. Soon the entire area was clear of Jews except for Zmigrod, which had a Jewish population of 2000 people. The conditions were appalling; people lived on top of each other with limited sanitary facilities and hunger was everywhere. The Judenrat and the local chapter of the J.S.S. {Jewish Self-help Service} did their best to create jobs, especially outside the city. This provided contact with the outside world and enabled the smuggling of food into the town. These workers soon reported that terrible things were happening to nearby Jewish communities. Eyewitness reports told that they saw heavy earth digging equipment on the road outside Zmigrod. Then, orders were posted throughout Zmigrod that all the Jews must report to the market place on Tuesday, July 7,1942, at 7 AM. Anyone disobeying the order will be shot.

Monday, July 6th 1942, was declared a day of fasting and praying. Then arrived Tuesday, the 22 day in Tamuz, the year Tashab. Jews began to congregate in the market place until the entire Jewish population was present. Then, the heads of the Judenrat came out of their office and lead the community to Bal's Meadow. The area was surrounded by German, Polish and Ukrainian police units. Here the brutal selection was carried out. Women, children, old and sick people were separated from the able-bodied people who were led to a special area. They were pushed, shoved or thrown into trucks that transported them to a place called Halbow, a wooded area near Zmigrod. Here they were lined up and shot. Their bodies then fell into the pre-dug pit. Since there were few trucks, the condemned had to wait their turn. The head of the Judenrat, Hersh Eisenberg was mercilessly beaten and had to observe the entire selection. He was sent to Halbow with the last truck as was the head of the local J.S.S. chapter. The able bodied people were led back to Zmigrod and returned home. It is estimated that 1250 Jews were killed that day at Halbow, but nobody knows the exact number. According to some Polish witnesses, the Germans covered the pits with lime and then spread sand and dirt over the area. Forest vegetation soon reclaimed the entire area. A memorial to the murdered Jews was erected following the war. On Sunday July 12th, 1942, the surviving Jews were led back to the selection site and about 150 were ordered to mount trucks. They were sent to the Plaszow death camp, near Krakow. Here they worked and starved. They appealed to the new Judenrat in Zmigrod (most of the members of the old Judenrat were killed at Halbow), for help. Assistance was provided in the form of packages and some money. On August 15th, 1942, the Germans sent skilled Jewish workers to the Zaslav labor camp. All the remaining Jews of Zmigrod were then sent in September of 1942 to the Belzec death camp. The transport stopped in Przemysl, Galicia where some young able bodied Jews were removed from the train. The remainder, including Mina Tzimet and her family, continued to the death camp of Belzec where they all perished.

Prior and during the big action, several dozen young Jews escaped to the forest. The group soon reached 60-70 people and was constantly on the move. They lacked weapons and were hunted by the Germans, local police and local villagers. During a battle between this partisan group and the German and Polish police units, several Jews were killed, others were captured, tortured and then shot. Slowly the group was eliminated. As late as 1943, several Jews from Zmigrod were captured and brought to Jaslo where they were shot. Thus, Zmigrod became free of Jews, a span of hundreds of years of Jewish existence was erased.

Here is a befitting memorial to the Jews of Zmigrod delivered by one of its native sons, Shia Tzimet at Halbow near Zmigrod following the war. The copy was given to us by his granddaughter Mrs. Bluma Engelhardt. It is written in Yiddish and was loosely translated by William Leibner. To the annual memorial day of the saintly murdered Jews of Zmigrod on the 22 day in Tamuz, in the year Tashab or July 7th 1942. I bow my head before the 1200 hundred saints of my city Zmigrod that were so brutally murdered by beastly hands. My heart is torn apart when I write these few lines. What can I as a survivor of the holy community of Zmigrod say on behalf of the massacred people? I merely a human being, an earthly creature, what can I do for them? Presently, I am not able to pay the full respect and honor that the saintly murdered Jews deserve. With the lighting of a candle ,reciting the kaddish and reading a section of mishnayot, I think that these acts will please the murdered people that suffered so much until their souls left them. My conscience is not satisfied with these deeds. I am hopeless, I stand there with my arms crossed and I do not know what else I can do for them.

Most of the Jewish population of Zmigrod, with a few exceptions, perished during WWII. May their memory be eternal.

William Leibner, Jerusalem, Israel
Updated March 5, 2007

Bibliography

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A Photograph of the Nazi officers responsible for Zmigrod and vicinity  Nazi Officers

This photograph was taken in Yaslo by Max Findling. He returned after the war to Yaslo, to the Prison where he was detained, the Prison which is now a Museum. In the Museum, Max found this picture on the wall; it was taken from a newspaper story of the court trials of Nazi officers who were responsible for Jaslo and the surrounding communities.. Some of those pictured here received prison sentences.


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A Photograph of Zmigród Survivors around 1944: Zmigród Survivors

The photograph on the left was taken in Landsberg, Germany (a D.P. Camp in the American occupied sector) after the war, and donated by Selig Eisenberg, a survivor. William Leibner, Zvi Keren, Max Findling & Shimon Lang have identified the following Zmigroders: (The Names have been updated as of June, 2000!)

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Letter from a Polish Boy regarding What Happened in Zmigród

donated by Johanna Lehr

Here's a google translation...

I come from Poland, I'm Polish, I lived all my youth during the war. Part of my childhood I spent in Zmigrod, not far from the city of Jaslo. My parents owned land with a great house, buildings for cows, pigs, horses, hay, agriculture machines, etc. The major part of our house was taken and occupied by the German police, they left us the rest.

The city of Zmigród was largely inhabited by Jewish people.

I was too young (14 years) to determine the exact amount of the population of this town, but it seems to me that there was about 2,000 inhabitants. The Jews were forced to wear signs of a star on the sleeve of their clothing to identify them.

One day they shouted an order for Jews to leave their homes and present themselves, all near the river Visloka on a field, and trucks came and they were forced to climb in. The family members were crying when they were separated from each other, when the trucks were in sight. From there they were transported to a forest in the surrounding mountains, where they dug large pits to enter after having been shot and killed. Young Poles who were forced to work, what is called, "Arbeitsdienst", witnessed and may be it was they who dug the graves. If I remember, I was told that the Germans forced the Jews to undress before being shot by machine guns, throwing them in the burial pits. Some Boujis again, when you throw the lime, as desinfectant, then the earth.

Sometime after the river was infected by the ? of their bodies. When comions Enmene Jews through the streets of the city, a Jewish mother handed her baby to Dehorter truck, to a Polish woman to pleaded that she take it. The murderer who was driving the truck arrested him. wrenched away the child, took him by the feet and crushed? his head against the wall of a house. Some of the Jewish residents of the city, did not have room in the trucks. They remained? in their homes. I saw them when they walked along the street and the palisade that divides our property from the street. I had climbed to the attic and watched by a small window.

Sometime after I was sent by my parents to the house of my grandparents in another city, but they told me what happened with the rest of the Jews. One day the Nazis (I do not know what group or what was called the unit) have encircle the city? Kills the rest of the Jewish population bullet shot on the streets and in their homes. They closed the houses by pasting the letters to ban anyone from entering, that the gendarmes had controll. These policemen were not those who Enmene and kills, but there was one, who killed the Polish Prisoner in the small prison town.

Another, I remember much later, had a brother who was hiding among the Polish peasants, in a village nearby, because he was wanted by the police because he did not go to battle in Russia.

I also saw the Nazis bring some Ziganas. The forced them to dig their graves, they mo'ont? edge when I walked, then let me go. I was told that they were killed. It was not far from the view of the Jewish cemetery, not far from our house, near the road.

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What Happened in Zmigród: Secondhand Tales

W. S. writes in May, 1998:

Jews and Poles lived together in Zmigród until the very end. They couldn't cross the borders of Zmigród, which were marked by signs. On the top of the hill of our road there was a sign. On that spot a Jew was shot by a German gendarme.

Preceding to the tragedy on the Halbów, in May, 1942 all Jews were ordered to assemble at the "Ball-place" ("ball" in the meaning of having fun!), the sports field behind the bridge on the road to Gorlice. Allegedly the tragedy was postponed to July 7, 1942, because of a large sum of ransom money.

One or two days before the grave had been dug out by youngsters of the Baudienst. The crime was committed in the same way as our officers were killed by the NKWD in Katyn: with a pistol shot in the neck. Because the Gestapo-men were allegedly very drunk, many people fell into the grave being only injured.

I rule out the use of machine-guns, because we would have heard that. The only one, who was witness of this crime, was a resident of Halbów, Lemek, who climbed up a pine-tree and sat there for the whole day. He saw the tragedy. The Lemeks lived on the mountain south to Zmigród, and were evacuated (resettled) to the Ukraine. Neither Mr. Morawski nor Mr. Winiarski could have seen the crime. Maybe they saw other tragedies. The grave was covered in with lime and soil by Baudienst-youngsters.

Einhorn Mojzesz, son of Schape Hirsch and Szajndla, born in Zmigród Nowy distr. Jaslo in 1908, testifies:

(Source: Document #3 (translated from Polish in April, 1998). Rewritten by .... April 2, 1946 prot. D.Eichhornowa)

On July 7, 1942 the Germans assembled the Jews of Zmigród on the sports field. They ordered Hersz Eisenberg, president of the Judenrat, and the entire Rabbi family to stand apart.

A whole bunch of Gestapo-men, with Müller and Ganz at the head, startedy pelting Eisenberg with beer-bottles, until they had beaten him to death. Of the rest of the assembled people they selected 1300 Jews. Together with the entire Rabbi family they were loaded on vehicles and taken to the village of Halbów, 18 km before Bardiów and 10 km behind Zmigród. There in the woods of Halbów a few days before youngsters had dug out graves with a length of about 50 m., the people were lined up over them, and shot by machine-guns, destining one bullet for each of them, since they said, that a Jew was not worth more than one bullet. In this way the half-dead were falling into the grave. Afterwards the Germans called men of the vicinity in to cover in the grave, and the people of the vicinity told, that three days later the ground was still moving.

I was told about it by my cousin Pinkas Wolmut, merchant, who lived at that time in Zmigród and heard everything of eye-witnesses. The death and killing of Eisenberg he saw himself. Besides of him I was told about it by the regent of Zmigród, the carpenter Morawski, now mayor, and by Winiarski, farmer and citizen of Zmigród. To get to this mass-grave you have to drive to Jaslo, and from there you go by cart via Zmigród to Halbów, to the woods next to the dirt road that leads to Bardiów. The grave is not fenced in, and cattle graze there. Zmigród has been destroyed and there is not one single Jew left.

Cracau, January 17, 1946, Einhorn Moses,AZIH1764,(ZIH-Archives)


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Osiek, Galicia

Osiek was just a small hamlet, 3 miles ESE of Nowy Zmigrod; its coordinates are 49°38' / 21°29'. osiek Don't confuse this southern Polish town which used to be in Galicia, to the two Osieks in Northern Poland.

This rural community is currently in the Jaslo district, but was in the Krosno region from 1975-1998. Population in 2011 was 5400 people.

Resources

There's not much on the web to point you to, except the following:

osiek

A trip to Osiek, Galicia by Rachelle Smith, 2011

Rachelle wrote: "Dear Phyllis Basically in 2011 I went to Osiek (Janielski) where my maternal grandmother came from. My grandmother, Eidel TEITELBAUM, was born on 4th March 1890, her birth is registered in Zmigrod, she was the daughter of Judah Yidell TEITELBAUM, born in Osieck on 12.7. 1864, died in Palestine in 1942 and is buried on the Mount of Olives. His wife was Ester GOLDWENDER who died on 22.5. 1908 aged 43. osiek

They had 9 children, all but the eldest had left Poland by the time the war broke out. The eldest Chaim TEITELBAUM was born in Osieck in 1886 and had 8 children. His father left him the family business (a shop?) in Osieck when he moved to Frankfurt after the death of his wife. It is assumed that Chaim and his family were all shot in the massacre at the Halbrow forest in 1942 although I have found a son, Solomon, listed as dying in Auschwitz in the Yad Vashem database. So perhaps he was the eldest and had moved away elsewhere by then.

Also according to my mother, after the war, a girl came to visit my grandmother to explain she had been sheltered in the woods during the war along with one of Chaim's daughters. But very near the war's end, Chaim's daughter had decided she couldn't stand it any more and she had to go and find out what had happened to her fiancé. She was not seen or heard of again so presumably she was caught or died of hunger and cold.

You are welcome to add anything you think suitable to your webpages.
If you have any questions, please email me by clicking on my name, Rachelle Smith osiek osiek

Cemetery Photos

Rachelle Smith osiek osiek
osiek osiek

Osiek, Galicia

by William Leibner, Jerusalem 2004

The hamlet Osiek or Osiek Jasielski as it is called in official documents is located south of Jaslo and north of Nowy Zmigrod, Galicia, Poland. The Jews called the hamlet Oshik. There is another village of Osiek but it is located near Baranow in another region of Poland. This second Osiek also had a small Jewish population. We are concerned with the first Osiek Jasielski.

We do not know the precise historical beginning of Osiek Jasielski but it is mentioned for the first time as a village administrated under the Magdenburg law. It formed part of the royal estate of the Polish Kings since 1365 and was granted the status of city already in 1502.
In those days, it was an important place since it was strategically located along a commercial route that led across the Carpatian Mountains to Pressburg or present day Bratislawa and Central Europe. A flourishing wine trade existed along this road that provided Poland with Hungarian wines. The fortunes of the Osiek declined with the building of modern roads and the appearance of the railways practically demolished the economy of the region. For it was much cheaper to ship wines or other products via rail instead of horse drawn coaches. Osiek Jasielski never recovered from the economic blow and continued to decline economically, it even lost the municipal status. During the 19th and 20th century, it became well known for its horse fairs.

We do not know when the first Jewish families settled in Osiek but in the second half of the 19th century there was already a Jewish population that consisted of 50 families.

The nearby Jewish community of Zmigrod provided the religious needs of the early Jewish inhabitants including burial services. Eventually, the Jewish population organized a small kehilla that built a synagogue and a mikveh. The community even brought a Rabbi, namely Aaron Halbershtam, the oldest son of the Zmigroder Rabbi Sinai Halbershtam to administer the spiritual needs of the hamlet. The Jews population consisted mainly of peddlers, small businessman, artisans and horse dealers. Jews began to leave Osiek prior to World War I in search of economic opportunities. The exodus continued during the war since the area was the scene of bitter fighting for control of the mountain passes. Few of the families that left returned to Osiek. The Jewish population continued to decline and sought better economic opportunities elsewhere. The Jewish population was basically very orthodox although there was some Zionist activities, especially amongst the Jewish youth. The local Christian population was very anti-Semitic and made life difficult for the Jews. Jewish children were harassed in the local public school, their peyot or earlocks were clipped or they were forced to kneel not far from a cross. Osiek accepted with joy the ban on ritual slaughter that closed the only kosher butcher shop in the hamlet. Thus, the Jews had to bring kosher meat from other places.

The Germans occupied the hamlet and immediately issued anti-Jewish orders, namely limiting Jewish mobility to the village itself. Jews were then forced to wear armbands. Their economic situation worsened from day to day. A branch of the JSS (Jewish Self-Help) was activated that distributed warm meals to the needy and tended to the sick. The German economic measures against the Jews hardened as the war progressed. The Jewish families were being pauperized while the German demands kept increasing. More Jewish forced laborers, more financial impositions and more edicts against the Jews. Then suddenly, Jews were being forced to leave Osiek Jasielski for Zmigrod, the nearby Jewish community. The process repeated itself several times until all the Jews of Osiek Jasielski and surrounding villages were driven to Zmigrod on July 7th 1942. Here they shared the fate of the Jews of Zmigrod. Namely on July 7th 1942, all the Jews were ordered to appear at Bal’s place. Here the selection occurred. The young and able-bodied people were ordered to the side, the rest of the Jewish population was driven to a place called Halbow where they were shot and fell into prepared pits. The pits were then covered with lime. The able bodied Jews were driven back to Zmigrod. Shortly thereafter, they were assembled and about 150 people were selected and sent to the death camp of Plaszow in Krakow. Another group was sent to the Zaslaw labor camp. Some Jews escaped to the surrounding forests or hid in prepared hiding places. The remaining Jews were then sent to Belzec death camp. Thus ended Jewish life in Osiek Jasielski.

Sources:
Pinkas Hakehilot

Written testimony in Yiddish of Samuel Rosenhan at Yad Vashem, a native of Osiek Jasielski
Interviews with survivors from Osiek and Nowy Zmigrod


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