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The History of DUKLA

Our wonderful researcher found quite a few references to Dukla. She extracted interesting notes from many sources. Most touch on the synagogue, the cemetery, the Jewish Population and the Holocaust.

The notes above were translated August, 2000, under the auspices of the Zmigrod Nowy Research Group.

The Dukla Pass

from an encyclopedia article from Britannica.com.

Polish Przelecz Dukielska, Slovak Prusmyk Dukelskż, passage through the Carpathian Mountains (locally, the eastern Beskids), on the frontier between Slovakia and Poland. The Russian army used the pass to cross Slovakia southward into Hungary in 1849 and used it again in World Wars I and II. It constitutes a major commercial route for traffic and goods between Slovakia and Poland.

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Travelogue from Dukla

By our researcher, 8/98.

"A nice little town, less destroyed than Zmigród (or rebuilt?). With the ruins of the synagoge of 1758, that looks similar to the ruins of the shul in Rymanow.

The main attractions in Dukla are:

  1. The church: a well restored and freshly yellow painted church (18th century) with two huge modern figures in bronze in front of it, that are discussing next to a huge wooden cross. I suppose, one of them is St. Jan of Dukla.
  2. The Historical Museum dedicated to the battles of Dukla and vicinity, with military vehicles and tanks in the garden (and a stork nest on the chimney!);
  3. The market place with the unusual Town Hall (19th century). It wouldn't surprise me, if the architect had just returned from the American Wild West, when he was engaged to draw the blueprint.
dukla street-petia

What was going on in the market a hundred years ago, is shown by a postcard that belongs to an interesting exhibit on the third floor of the musem. Stalls surrounded by hundreds of people - women with mostly white scarfs and colorful aprons and large wraps, in front of them on the ground, on carpets and blankets piles of pots, pans, pails, bowls and baskets, men in black suits, white shirts and dark hats standing around, examining the merchandise, bargaining and haggling. It is so noisy, that they don't hear their own voice. All the stall-keepers, day laborers, merchants, traders, helping hands, cart-drivers and carriers we know from the records are gathered on the 250 (?) square meters of the market place.

The gentlemen from a book-store in Krosno told us that a book with old postcards and photographs of Dukla is soon to be published.

Back to the cemetery. It is fenced in, has a (open) gate, and it was cleaned up a while ago. No bushes, only a few trees, but knee-high grass and hip-high stinging nettels. Wearing a solid pair of jeans, socks and running shoes, Deb did the impossible of indexing the gravestones she could reach and read. Being not that smart and wearing only a skirt and tennis shoes, I had to meet a real snake (in Dukla, not in ZMIgród!) that was sunbathing on an open place between the stones. Because I have greatest respect for this kind of animals I decided to leave him alone, and to follow from that moment on only the footsteps of Deb. Of course I forgot to tell her that the cemetery is full of vipers and pythons...

The USC is located on the second floor of a depressing komuna building. Thanks to the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw we were allowed to look through all the vital records, that are in perfect state. The woman in charge was a young official, who served us coffee, and her superior was a warm hearted, energetic woman in her fifties. On the second day we met the kierownik, a woman in her thirties, tall and neat.

It was a wonderful experience. "

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The Cemetery in Dukla

by Malka Shacham Doron, Israel August 2009

We've been visiting Dukla cemetry this Sunday, 16th of August 2009 and we found it in a very good condition - cleaned and very well maintained. It is completely different from last year, when we were visiting this place - it was neglected, full of bushes and high grass - please see at the pictures from 2008.

Today, we've met Mr. Mieczyslaw Hinc from Dukla who is taking care of it voluntarily, without any help from nobody. He was cutting the grass and bushes at least 4 times from this spring - as you can see at the pictures from 2009 - every tombstone is clearly visible and accesible - the cemetery looks just great!

This man should be supported by Dukla municipality and your organization - he's not taking money but he needs the right equipment to do this job.

Editor's note: The first few photographs are from 2008, the next few are from 2009; you can see the wonderful difference in the cemetery.

2008 Cemetery Photographs


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2009 Cemetery Photographs


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For further information, please contact Malka Shacham Doron, Israel

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The Cemetery in Dukla

A few years ago the United States Commission reported on the Cemetery, as follows: The cemetery is south of Dukla, before you dukla cemetery entrance enter village. The cemetery location is suburban, isolated, and about 20 meters off the road. It is marked by a sign in Polish, which is used in Poland to mark places of martyrs, victims, Polish or Jewish, who suffered from the Third Reich. The cemetery is surrounded by a hedge or row of trees or bushes around it, with a gate that does not lock. The present size of cemetery is 20x30m. Approximately, twenty gravestones are in cemetery. The vegetation overgrowth in the cemetery is a constant problem which is disturbing graves and disturbing and damaging stones. Water drainage at the cemetery is like a meadow. The present owner of the cemetery property is unknown. The cemetery is known to have been vandalized: stones overturned, broken or stolen stones, graffiti painted on walls or stones, etc.; graves desecrated.

In 2010 a Polish Cemetery Site summed it up this way: The Jewish cemetery in Dukla is situated on the southern end of the city, on the right site of the road towards Barwinek. The necropolis consists of two parts - the so called old cemetery, established at the beginning of the XVIII century, and the new cemetery, which, adjacent to the old one, functions since about 1870. The old cemetery some of matzevot retained, lots of which are broken and mossy. The new cemetery, where one can find about 200 well-preserved gravestones, is walled. Unfortunately, many of matzevot were used by Germans for the regulation of the Smereczna stream or for building works. The Jewish cemetery in Dukla has a landmark status. In 2005 the necropolis was tidied up by the members of the Polish Jewish Students` Union, which, in cooperation with the Association for the Development of Dukla Region , aims to gain some funds for the workmanship of the synagogue`s roof and its fence. (source: http://www.kirkuty.xip.pl/dukla.htm)

And then, in 1998, Deb Raff went to Dukla. Her notes follow. I went to Dukla...while researching for our Zmigrod Nowy Research Group, and had the opportunity to visit the Dukla Cemetery. At the time I tried to take some notes using my VERY primary level Hebrew skills. Most gravestones did not seem to have surnames on them. I actually have photographs of many of the stones!! The Gate was on the Left and there were 5 rows.

For further information, please contact Debbie Raff, Calif.

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Possible Grave of the Dukla Tzadik

Robert S, our friend from Dukla, just finished cutting the grass in the cemetery...and sent me an email which said: "Recently I spoke with the oldest living Jew from Dukla, Herman Altholz. He told me that these ruins next to the Jewish cemetery, it is not the mortuary chapel. These are the ruins of the Ohel Tzadik. Probably the tzaddik Horovitz., But this is not certain. Could you at your website placed the question. Maybe someone knows something and I need all the information. I will be very grateful. from robert from robert
And the latest photograph of the old cemetery...again, from Robert, May 2013: from robert

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Restoration of the Dukla Cemetery, 2013

I received the following message in May of 2013 from Robert Szczepanik, the Dukla resident who has been sending maps and photographs to this site for 3 years. He seems to be serious about upgrading the Jewish memory in Dukla.

My name is Robert Szczepanik. I made contact and cooperation with the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage (www.fodz.pl), which owns the cemeteries in Dukla. We want to start renovation, revitalization of the Dukla cemeteries. They are in a deplorable state.

The work that would be done include:

  1. Repair wall and gate at the new cemetery. (The cemetery should be closed because the gravestones are systematically stolen)
  2. Repairing the wall of an old cemetery.
  3. Excision of trees, whose roots raise the walls (tip up) and roll their gravestones.
  4. Construction of lapidary with other tombstones solved origami
  5. Recovery of tombstones from the stream in Tylawie and connect them to a lapidary. (Gravestones the Germans took to the woods in Tylawie and had put them on pipe length of about 50 meters)
  6. I would also like to raise the walls of the cemetery chapel
  7. Fabrication and laying of the foundation board with first and last names of the Jews who were murdered and buried in a mass grave near the Dukla.

We need help for specific renovations. Me and Foundation FODZ (www.fodz.pl - the legal owner of cemeteries) prepare everything. Currently, we have guidance from conservator. We are looking for help for the architectural design. It would be a big step to undertake further work. In addition to the ruins of synagogues, Jewish cemeteries are the only monument and memorial of the Dukla Jews before the war was more than is currently Dukla residents. If we do not save what has been, the memory of the Jews in Dukla will be lost. And graveyards and cemeteries fall into increasing disrepair. If you are interesting in helping us, click on my name to email me.


Thank You Robert Szczepanik, Tel. 505 696 416

Mowing the Old Dukla Cemetery, 2013

Robert sent this message in June of 2013: "Hello. I was mowing the old cemetary. I was mowing the hand scythe, because the grass was too high. In the attached are pictures. Best regards"

And he sent these photographs:
from robert from robert
from robert from robert
from robert

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from robert from robert
from robert

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Thank you again, Robert, for all your wonderful photographs!

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Restoration of the Dukla Cemetery--Dr. Norman Weinberg april 2004

I received the following message in April 2004, from Dr.Norman Weinberg: “I have received a message from Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Rabbi of Warsaw and Lodz, regarding Dukla. The municipality of Dukla has generously offered to pay 40% of the cost of restoration of the Jewish cemetery of Dukla. This is an unprecedented opportunity! The total cost of the project is estimated at 100 000 zl (about 25 000 USD). In addition, we need to recover the Dukla cemetery matzevot from the river in Jasliska where they were dumped during the Holocaust. The matzevot would be photographed, documented and be incorporated in the restored walls of the cemetery. The resulting documentation would be available to everyone at no charge, posted on JewishGen.

Why should you be interested in restoring the cemetery and recovering the matzevot? For many reasons, including: the cemetery is sacred ground where ancestors are buried, including for some, parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins; cemetery care and restoration is among the greatest mitzvot one can do; and, the recovered matzevot are a valuable genealogical resource.

What is needed to get this project underway? Your support in getting this news to family and other descendants of Dukla. And someone to volunteer to be the Dukla PJCRP Coordinator to be the intermediary between the The Poland Jewish Cemetery Restoration Project (PJCRP) and Dukla descendants.

What is The Poland Jewish Cemetery Restoration Project? The PJCRP's mission is to restore all 1200 of the devastated Jewish cemeteries of Poland. See www.pjcrp.org, and as an example, the website of a PJCRP successfully restored cemetery at www.ozarow.org. The PJCRP is supported by the US and Polish Governments and by many Jewish Foundations and organizations. Rabbi Michael Schudrich is Halachic Coordinator of the PJCRP.

Please participate in this important project
Dr. Norman L. Weinberg, PJCRP Executive Coordinator,
Tel. 716-688-5272. Click here to email Norman Weinberg

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Quote from Doorposts of Thy House

Upon the Doorposts of Thy House, Jewish Life in East-Central Europe, Yesterday and Today, the 1994 book by Ruth Ellen Gruber, provides some insight into what this area was and is like. As part of her most recent travels, Gruber drove from Hungary to Poland through the Dukla Pass toward Rymanow, " the town in southern Poland whose Jews had been so active in the importation of Hungarian wine, and whose Hassidic masters, among the most famous in Eastern Europe, have had such devoted followers in the wine villages near Tokaj."

" The Dukla Pass is the lowest and easiest north-south route through the western Carpathians, and by the sixteenth century it was already a well-established artery for trade, including the wine trade. The town of Dukla itself prospered as a major center for the import of Hungarian wine...

During World War II the Dukla Pass was the scene of bitterly fought battles between combined Czechoslovak and Soviet armies and the Germans. The bloody mountain fighting in the autumn of 1944 destroyed German defenses and left a hundred thousand soldiers dead. The towns of Dukla, to the north of the pass, and Svidnik in Slovakia, to the south, were almost totally razed. I passed numerous memorials to this fighting as I drove along the gentle curves through the wooded hills. Monuments had been erected to the fallen, and ruined tanks, artillery pieces and airplanes had been left in place where they had been at the close of the conflict, rusting memorials to the battle.

Dukla itself was a small town clustered around a stage-set market square with a white market hall at its center. Nearby, I found the synagogue. It had been built around the middle of the eighteenth century...Now it was a ruin. It had been destroyed during the wartime battles and had simply been left as it was, four massive stone walls and little else, looming in a small hollow. At the edge of town, a few graves still stood in the Jewish cemetery, surrounded by a brilliant carpet of wild spring flowers."

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Information from Chester Cohen's Shtetl Finder

The following was abstracted from Chester G. Cohen's "Shtetl Finder", Heritage Books, Inc., 1989)

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The Last Days of the Dukla Jewish Community - by William Leibner

Rumors spread throughout the hamlet that it too is marked for elimination. Jewish communities in the area were disappearing at an alarming rate. Nobody knew what happened but the fact remained that they were gone. No trace left of entire communities. Of course, people were killed and massacred but what happened to entire communities. These thoughts remained with every Jew but there was no answer. Everybody hoped that perhaps this hamlet would be the exception. Of course, the Germans always gave assurances that no changes are in sight. Then things began to move in a rapid succession.

On Sunday the 5th of August 1942 (26th day of the month of Ab, Tashab), Von Rauschwitz, (Gestapo commander of the Jaslo district to which Dukla belonged) with two other henchmen arrived in Dukla. They went directly to the Judenrat and demanded that it prepare 40 pair of boots until Monday evening. Shimon Shtoff, the head of the Judenrat collapsed upon hearing the demand. Still the Judenrat sat for hours and debated the ultimatum or rather how to fulfill it. By evening, the council agreed on a resolution, namely, every Jew will pay a tax of 10 zlotys. This will establish a fund of 35,000 zlotys that will suffice for 35 pair of boots. It was estimated that a fine pair of boots cost about 1,000 zlotys. To cover the shortage, the council imposed a tax of 100,000 zlotys on wealthy Jews of Dukla. Mr. Mordechai Tzehngut immediately gave 20,000 zlotys and Mordechai Postrung ( married to Sima Leibner of Zmigrod ) gave 10,000 zlotys.

The council also decided to send a delegation of three members of the Judenrat with 100,000 zlotys to a Mr. Margolies in Gorlice. Supposedly, the latter who lived in Germany for many years was a close friend of Von Rauschwitz. The thought was that he could influence the German to cancel the extermination that was scheduled for Dukla. The Judenrat already knew that the Jewish communities of Zmigrod, Fristik, and others had already been removed. The dayan (Jewish religious judge) Yeshajahu Schapiro of Dukla received a letter from his father in law, the Rabbi of Strzyzow. The letter was written on the road and stated that the entire Jewish community of Strzyzow is being sent to an unknown destination. He ends the short note with the famous historical invocation: "May God have mercy on us".

The delegation with the 100,000 left for Gorlice on Monday morning, the 5th of August 1942. Later in the day, a police limousine pulled up in front of the shop of Yehoshua Guzik, the famous tailor. He used his connections to help Jews whenever he could. From the car emerged, Mentz, the assistant of the Gestapo in Jaslo, Paul, the head of the Judenrat division in Jaslo and two more henchmen. Mentz ordered two suits and insisted that they be ready within a week. The entire community received the news of the visit and believed that nothing will happen during the week The general feeling however was very depressive. Even optimists like the watchmaker Leib Altholtz began to change their view. In the evening, the delegation returned from Gorlice and reported that Margolies stated that nothing will happen to Dukla according to Von Rauschwitz. At the same time, reports filtered into Dukla that the city of Krosno is surrounded with Ukrainian police forces in full battle gear.

The people liked to believe the report of the Judenrat committee from Gorlice and dismissed the news about Krosno. Then, about 2 P.M.on Tuesday 6th 1942 the Dukla committee that carried food to the Jewish workers at the nearby quarry returned to the shtetl. They stated that large pits are being dug in the forest near the village of Tilawa that is located about 10 kilometers from the hamlet of Dukla. The committee, headed by Itsche Borenstein, delivered daily food shipments to the Jewish workers in the quarry since the Germans hardly fed them in spite of the heavy work. Itsche Borenstein was also the party that initiated a kitchen that provided food to the resettled Jews in Dukla. These Jews were deprived of everything and needed all the help that they could get. Later, a local JSS (Jewish Self-Help) was established to provide meals to the needy. The committee was headed by Itsche Borenstein and received help from the Judenrat and the JSS office in Krakow.

The oppressive atmosphere of Wednesday, August 7th, 1942 affected everybody. This was the eve of the new month of Elul. People went to the cemetery and invoked their parents' intercession on their behalf. Even children came to pray at the cemetery. Candles were lit in many places. The shuls and the shtibelech were full of people praying for the cancellation of the order that was about to descend on the community. Later that day, Mentz arrived at Guzik's place and insisted that the suits be finished today. He assured everybody that nothing would happen in Dukla.

Thursday, August 8th 1942, the first day of the month of Elul found the Jewish community in a hopeless state. The shtetl was surrounded with Ukrainian police forces. At 7 A.M the Judenrat announced throughout the city that all the Jews are to assemble at the Graf's garden by 9 A.M.. Anyone hiding will be shot on the spot. Many Jews had the feeling that this was their last journey and took with them the bare essentials, notably the talith and phylacteries. The women assembled hastily some items notably clothing and some food. Thus started the Jewish community to move to the assembly point. Old, sick, children, parents and entire families headed in silence to the garden. Inside the garden, there was a table, next to it stood Von Rauschwitz, Schmatzler (head of the Gestapo in Krosno), the head of the Ukrainian forces, Shreter, and a few other henchmen that nobody could identify.

Precisly at 9 A.M. Rauschwitz gave the order of total silence. He then called the head of the Judenrat, Shimon Shtoff and gave him instructions. The latter stood up on a chair and announced that all workers of the quarry of Emil Ludwig-Breslau and Arthur Walde- Munich, of the Gutes Management, of the sawmill and of the various German enterprises and offices are to move to one side with their wives and children. Those Jews that do not work to move to another section. Children up to the age of 15 years to move to another section. All sick, elderly and disabled Jews were ordered to another section. Suddenly, a police car arrived at the scene, an SS man named Dr, Haze stepped out of the car and ordered Rauschitz to his side. They spoke for a few minutes and Dr. Haze re-entered the car. A Gestapo man then grabbed Shimon Shtoff by the collar and booted him into the car that soon left the area. The Jewish population was terrified.

Meanwhile the Ukrainian police searched the area for hidden Jews and shot those that they found. The Jewish police was also busy searching for hidden Jews. They checked the cellars, attics and hiding places and located an old couple that was led to the assembly center. The head of the Jewish police presented the culprits whereupon the Gestapo chief slapped him across the face and blood started to stream from it. The car returned to the assembly area and Shimon Shtoff was tossed out of it and fell to the ground. The car left the area and a Gestapo man read the following order. All men between 15-35 are to line up along the wall and face it. All men above 35, all women and children under 15 years of age are to line up in another group. Sick and disabled people to assemble in another group. Nobody spoke, people were terrified and said their good-byes by merely blinking their eyes.

A detail of Jews was taken to help load the sick and disabled onto trucks. Soon the convoy of trucks left for the forest of Tilawa where they were shot and buried. About 300 Jews from Dukla and about 200 Jews from Rymanow found their resting place in the prepared pits of the forest. Amongst those shot were also the former commander of the Jewish police, Yehezkel Goldman and a member of the Judenrat, Mordechai Tobias and his wife the secretary of the Judenrat. The men above 35 years of age, the women and children were pushed aboard trucks and transported to the railway station in Iwonicz where they were loaded aboard a transport for the death camp of Belzec. Amongst the last to be tossed onto a truck was Shimon Shtoff. The group of men that faced the wall was then lined up three abreast and marched to two buildings. There were about 350 men that were divided into two groups, each group received a building.

Thus on Thursday, August 8th 1942, (the first day of the month of Elul, Tashab) ended the existence of an old established Jewish community, namely the kehilla of Dukla. May it be memorialized for eternity.

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List of Survivors from the Polish Archives

The following is a list we found on the Yad Vashem web site. The source is the Polish Archive "Zydowski Instytut History Cznyzih" in Warsaw. The List contains 110 names. If you wish to see the original, go to www.yadvashem.org and click on Shoah Databases. I've translated the titles as best i could:

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List of Dukla Jews killed in the Shoa-compiled by William Leibner

The following is an incomplete list of Jews of Dukla, Galicia, that were killed during the Shoa. The names were found in the testimonials, witness documents of survivors, witness pages at Yad Vashem and Beth Hatfutzot. Many of the names were provided by Dukla survivors or their relatives.

( In Jerusalem, the HALL OF NAMES gathers information on Holocaust victims and preserves their memory, with recorded PAGES OF TESTIMONY. These pages are a paper tombstone, with names and biographical details of Jews who perished. The pages include the name and address of the submitter.)

William Leibner, October 3rd 2000. Jerusalem, Israel

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