The Jews of Krakow and its Surrounding Towns

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Krakow was one of the largest Jewish centers in Poland/Galicia, and, as such, needs no introduction. In 1938, Krakow's Jewish population numbered over 60,000, or about 25% of the city's total population of 237,000. In 1948, the post-holocaust Jewish population had been decimated to about 5,900, and by 1978, the number had dwindled to a mere 600.

Can we trace and identify the original pre-war population? What do we know about them? Is it possible to trace their ancestors, or are their names now lost forever? This website will hopefully answer some of these questions, and should provide you with the resources needed for tracing your ancestors.

This website is not meant to provide a comprehensive historical account of the Jews in Krakow, their culture, their enormous Talmudic contribution, or their decimation during the Shoah ...there are numerous books on these topics. Rather, this website is intended to provide the reader with data, ...hopefully lots of data, ...data that can be used to trace one's ancestry. In fact, this site already has pointers to over 150,000 individuals from Krakow, spanning a period of more than 2 centuries. Since many of these records also have secondary references listing the names of parents, spouses or children, the total number of individuals probably exceeds 200,000!

In order for these records to grow, your input is needed. We would welcome any list comprising 30 or more Jewish names from Krakow ...be it members of a society, a synagogue committee, or a sports club. Although such lists may not directly contribute to genealogical research, they do provide us with a better perspective of the lives of our ancestors. Also, they at least provide a date at which the individual was known to be alive.

Use of Terms: In 1335, Casimir the Great established the town of Kazimierz specifically for Jews. His benevolence towards the Jews supposedly was based on his love for a Jewish girl Esther, who - according to the same legend - lived at 46 Ulica Krakowska in Krakow. Although Kazimierz was originally a separate and independent city, it later became incorporated into Krakow. The original area of Kazimierz, however, remained a Jewish district and was even called the Judenstadt. Although Jews were compelled to live there, Kazimierz was not really a ghetto. The actual Jewish ghetto was established much later - during World War II - in Podgorze, a southern suburb of Krakow on the other side of the Vistula river.

 

Krakow's Rema Synagogue

The Rema synagogue (acronym for Rabbi Moses Isserles) is located in Kazimierz, the Jewish quarter of Krakow, and was founded in 1553. The Rema was considered to be the 'Maimonides of Polish Jewry' and was known for his universal outlook, his extensive Talmudic and secular knowledge, his manner of study, and his humility. His published works included treatises on halakhah, philosophy, kabbalah, homiletics, and science.

The adjacent Rema cemetery was used until 1799, and contains the graves of the Rema and his family. (Click here to see eminent burials in the Rema Cemetery). Prior to World War II, thousands of Polish Jews visited his grave every year on the anniversary of his death. After the war, the cemetery was restored and pieces of broken headstones which could not be matched were used to make a memorial cemetery wall.

Images from this shul can be seen in the Krakow Album.

 

Isaac Shul Members - 1939

The table below lists the male members of the Izaaka (or Isaac) Synagogue in Krakow for the year 1939. Follow this link to see a picture of the Isaac Shul.

(Data entered by J. Schamroth. Source material: Sprinzak Library, Jerusalem)


ABRAHAMER          Leon
ABRAHAMOWICZ       Leib
ALEKSANDROWICZ     Pawel
ALEKSANDROWICZ     Jozef
BANDET             Joachim
BECKMANN           Markus
BECKMANN           Maks
BERGER             Jakob
BERTIG             Moses
BERTIG             Jozef
BIRNBAUM           Emanuel
BIRNBAUM           Edmund
BLASBALG           Salo
BLAUFEDER          Henryk
BLEIBERG           Fischel
BLOCH              Naftali
BLOCH              Hermann
BOCHENEK           Salomon
BORGENICHT         Majer
BRANDSDORFER       Jakob
BRANDSDORFER       Dawid
BREIT              Jakob
DALLET             Hirsch
DAM                Izrael
DAM                Leib
DANZIGER           Izrael
DAWIDOWICZ         Wiktor
DR. WETSTEIN       Ignacy
DREKSLER           Leon
EBER               Hirsch
EINSEIDLER         Osiasz
EINTRACHT          Izak
EISENBACH          Mendel
FADEN              N.
FEIL               Markus
FEUERSTEIN         Zygmund
FINDER             Abraham
FINKER             Jozef
FISCHER            Tobias
FISCHER            Dawid
FLINK              Benjamin
FLINK              Markus
FREI               Hesie
FREI               Jozef
FREUNDLICH         Jakob
GASTFREUND         Wolf
GEMEINER           Adolf
GESCHWIND          Izak
GOLDBAUM           Samuel
GOLDSTEIN          Oheim
GOLDSTEIN          Leib
GOLDSTEIN          Leizer
GOLDSTEIN          Moses
GOLDSTEIN          Natan
GOLDSTEIN          Samuel
GOLDZIUK           Jakob
GREI               Szymon
GREI               Osiasz
GROSS              Izak
GROSS              Akiwa
GRUNBAUM           Markus
GRUNBERG           Efroim
GRUNWALD           Markus
GTENSTEIN          Leib
HALPERN            Lazar
HALPERN            Pinkus
HALPERN            Mozes
HAMMERSCHLAG       Samuel
HAUSER             Samuel
HERZOG             Zyga
HERZOG             Izrael
HEUBLUM            Markus
HEUBLUM            Izak
HOLLANDER          Schachne
HORN               Abraham
HOROWITZ           Salo
HUDES              Juda
HUPPERT            Szymon
ICKOWICZ           Lazarz
ICKOWICZ           Filip
IMMERGLUCK         Izak
JOCHMOWICZ         Gerson
KALMUS             Abraham
KANDEL             Jakob
KELLER             Adolf
KELLER             Hierz
KEMPLER            Jozef
KEMPLER            Markus
KIRSCH             Markus
KLEINER            Salomon
KLEINMANN          Efroim
KOBYLKA            Jozef
KRAKAUER           Chaim
KRANZ              Hirsch
KRISCHER           Henryk
KUNSTLER           Leon
LEBENHEIM          Maks - Inz.
LEFELHOLS          Chaim
LENER              Jozef
LERNER             Hirsch
LERNER             Mendel
LEWKOWICZ          Leib
LIEBERMANN         Feliks
LILIENTHAL         Samuel
LINKER             Leib
LINSNER            Adolf
LIPSCHUTZ          Abraham
LOBZOWER           Leib
LUNDNER            Gerson
MANGEL             Abraham
MANHEIMER          Mozes
MARKOWICZ          Artur - Dr.
MARMUR             N.
MARMUR             Izak
MESSINGER          Markus
METZGER            Markus
MINGELGRUNN        Jakob
MINGELGRUNN        Izak
MIRISCH            Abraham
MIRISCH            Benjamin
MONDERER           Bernard
MONDERER           Ferdynand
MUHLSTEIN          Bernard
MULLER             Heinrich
MULLER             Paul
MULLER             Bernard
MUND               Jakob
MUNZ               Mozes
NADEL              Bernard
NEIGER             Dawid
NEUFELD            Hirsch
NEUFELD            Jozef
NOWOMIAST          Gerson
OFFNER             Emil
OSIEK              Salomon
OSIEK              Mendel
OSIEK              Adolf
PANZER             Hirsch
PAZANOWER          Leib
PAZANOWER          Efroim
PEISNER            Jozef
PELZMANN           Abraham
PFEFERBERG         Adolf
PFEFERBERG         Chaim
PIASECKI           Szymon
POMEKS             Osias
POSS               Ferdynand - Inz.
PROKESCH           Zygmund - Inz.
RACHES             Markus
REDNER             Mozes
ROMER              Schmaje
ROSENBERG          Zygmund
ROSENZWEIG         Hilel
ROSNER             Salomon
ROSNER             Ignacy
ROSNER             Chaim
ROTH               Peretz
ROTH               Samuel
ROTTER             Jakob
RUBINSTEIN         Jakob
SCHAFER            Mozes
SCHAFFER           Wolf
SCHAMROTH          Israel
SCHAPIRA           Aleksander
SCHARF             Mozes
SCHARF             Leib
SCHAUMER           Markus
SCHAUMER           Adolf
SCHEIDLINGER       Ignacy
SCHIFFER           Jakob
SCHIFMANN          Jozef
SCHLAGLIED         Majer
SCHLAGLIED         Dawid
SCHNEIDERMANN      Abraham
SCHNITZER          Adolf
SCHONBERG          Alter
SCHULTZ            Jozef
SEIDBAND           Izak
SEIDEN             Akiwa
SEITLER            Jonas
SILBER             Gedalja
SPIEGEL            Chaim
SPIERER            Oskar - Aptekarz
SPINER             Adolf
SPIRA              Benjamin
SPIRA              Natan
SPRITZER           Izak
STAHL              Pinkas
STEIGBIEGEL        Bernard
STEINER            Mordche
STERN              Hirsch Dawid
STERNGAST          Zewilim
TAUBENFELD         Chaskel
TEMPLER            Jakob
TENNENBAUM         Markus
TENNENBAUM         Chaim
TIRAS              Chaim
VADEN              Wilhelm
VIERTEL            Jozef
WASSERLAUF         S. Dr.
WEINFELD           Wigdor
WEISSBERG          Leib
WEISSBERG          Jozef
WEISSBROD          Jakob
WERBEL             Herman
WETSTEIN           Wolf
WETSTEIN           Chaim
WIENER             Hirsch
WIENER             Osias
WIERNICKI          Mozes
WOHLFEILER         Ascher
WOHLFELD           Nuchem
ZUCKER             Pinkas
ZUCKER             Naftali

Portrait Cards by Szymon Balicer

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The above Balicer portrait was donated by Eilat Gordin Levitan. It depicts Hela Weindling Spira (Daughter of Feygl RAKOWER and Izak WEIDLING) and was taken from Roman Rakower's book The Rakowers from Krakow.

Szymon Balicer was a photographer in Krakow whose ancestry (also from Krakow) can be traced back to the mid-18th Century. His photographic portraits appear to be from the period 1876 to as recent as about 1910. Each portrait card (or 'Cabinet Card') has Balicer's name inscribed on the bottom or reverse of the card. From these inscriptions, it is apparent that he had several shops or that he moved a couple of times. Although most portraits were black-and-white and printed on hard cardboard, there were some that were hand colored and some that were copied on metal.

The following info comes from Dan Aronson whose ancestors were Balicers:

Szymon Balicer (who appears in our family records also as Süssman Balicer) was my great-great grandfather's brother. His studio operated from about 1870, and he is recognized in the Krakow photographic museum as one of the earliest of the photo studios in the city. For a while (the dates are uncertain) he operated as Atelier Kamera*. Some of the card-style photos "signpost" the studio (which had two or three addresses but was situated for the longest period on ul. Gertrudy) by saying it was  "opposite the Hotel Royal." (This hotel is still in existence and has a website). There is also a sketch of the hotel and of the Castle, under the walls of which is the hotel.

Balicer's children reported that some of his work was for the military and the castle staff, allowing him to brag that he was a court photographer, but we have no evidence of that. Szymon Balicer died in 1895, and immediately that year a nephew (my grandfather's half-brother) was named after him.

It may also be of interest to know that the skills were passed to my own grandfather, who was involved in the studio until he moved to Vienna in the early 1890s, where he carried on a photography business with a partner, doing experimental work on transferring photos to cloth. There, they were visited by Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), the writer, who was very interested in new inventions. It was that work that brought my grandfather to America, "brain-drained" by the Ansco Camera works of Binghamton, New York in 1905. Meanwhile, the original Balicer studio had been passed to a brother-in-law, Wilhelm Kleinberg, who, with his entire family save two, perished in the Holocaust. The namesake of the original Szymon, Simon Balicer, had also immigrated to the US.

The following two Balicer portraits (front and back) were generously donated by Paul Auerbach. The first depicts his great-great grandmother Esther (Taffet) Rosenlicht by herself and the second photograph is of both his great-great grandparents, Joel and Esther Rosenlicht.

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    *The following portrait is of Simon Rakower (1885-1941), son of Getzel RAKOWER and Sara nee ZUCKER. Simon was the brother of Esriel (Edward) RAKOWER, father of Roman Rakower. The picture was taken from Roman's book about the Rakowers of Krakow.

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    More Balicer portraits can be seen in the Krakow Album. Should you have any Balicer portraits that you wish to donate to this site, please contact Eilat Gordin Levitan at eilat.gordinlevitan@gmail.com.

     

    Who Are We?

    • Eilat Gordin Levitan

    Eilat has adopted the Krakow page and wishes to dedicate her contributions to her mother-in-law Ilana Levitan Z"L, her first cousin Uri Helberg Z"L, and her second cousin Roman Rakower Z"L, who were all very involved in Krakow geneaology work. Ilana was the daughter of Yechiel Zadok ROSENBLUM and Ester, daughter of Shmuel and Sarah Helberg. Sarah was the daughter of Szymon RAKOWER and Golda nee LEBENHEIM, granddaughter of Elias RAKOWER and Hindy LEWY, who were also the great grandparents of Roman Rakower. Eilat currently works on translating Yitzkor books and adding to her other website (www.eilatgordinlevitan.com), which also contains a page for Krakow. If you have any pictures or other information to contribute, please email Eilat at eilat.gordinlevitan@gmail.com.

    • Judie Goldstein

    Judie - a descendant of the FENDLER and EBERSOHN families from Krakow - was one of the first genealogists to get involved in the collection of genealogical records from Krakow. She is responsible for providing most of the available vital records indices from Krakow. Judie lives in New York State.

    • Dan Hirschberg

    Descended from the HIRSCHBERG family from Krakow, Dan maintains his own Krakow site which has a powerful search engine and is the place where new research, surname inferences etc is done. He is our expert on early Krakow records. Dan is a professor in the ICS Department at the University of California, Irvine, with research interests in the theory of design and analysis of algorithms.

    • Miriam Romm
    A Holocaust survivor, and descended from the GRAJOWER family from Krakow. Miriam lives closenext to Tel Aviv, Israel. Miriam maintains a close working relationship with the Krakow Archives and coordinates joint projects with them.
    • Julian Schamroth

    The original WebMaster for the Krakow site (until 2005). Descended from the SCHAMROTH family from Krakow. When not involved in genealogy, he is a dermatologic surgeon living outside Jerusalem, Israel. For his new site which is dedicated to the preservation and propagation of information relating to the Jewish communities of Poland go to http://www.shoreshim.org/default.asp

    This site is hosted at no cost to the public by JewishGen, Inc. and is part of the ShtetLinks Project.  If you find this site of value, your Jewish Gen-erosity is greatly appreciated.


    Compiled by Eilat Gordin Levitan. Updated May 11, 2008 Copyright © 2007 Eilat Gordin Levitan (eilat.gordinlevitan@gmail.com).