~ In loving memory, Sylvia Ring Rosenfeld ~
b. 2 April 1902 - d. 8 May 1998
- Southern Poland, 178.5 miles south of Warsaw
- Map Coordinates: 49°40'/21°10'
Gorlice is located on local road #98 south
of Krakow between Jaslo and Nowy Sacz in what is now
the Polish Province of Malopolskie ("Little Poland"). It lies in
the Ropa and Sekowka River Valley, ringed by ridges of the
Carpathian mountains. The Gorlice of today is in a heavily
populated region 14.6 miles from Jaslo, 21.2 miles from Nowy
Sacz, 25.5 miles from Tarnow, and 62.6 miles from Krakow. The
name "Gorlice" is pronounced as if its English spelling were
"Gor-leetz-eh," with the stress falling on the middle syllable.
Map of Poland
of the Polish Provinces
Prior to 1772, Gorlice was in Poland.
Almost no Jewish families lived in Gorlice, though Jews were
allowed to live in the nearby town of Nowy Sacz. At the time
of the first partition of Poland in 1772, the large
mountainous area that includes the northern slopes of the
Carpathian Mountains and the valleys of the upper Vistula,
Dniester, Bug, and Seret rivers--and which also includes
Gorlice--came under Austrian domination as the political
entity of Galicia. Eventually, this area was densely
populated by Jews, with many of them settling in Gorlice
during the 19th century. Between World War I and World War II,
the area that had been Galicia belonged to Poland. Today,
although some of the territory that once comprised Galicia is
in Ukraine, Gorlice and its surrounds are located in Poland.
Genealogy Question and Answers, Part I
Polish Jewish Genealogy Questions and Answers, Part II
This Web site provides a thumbnail sketch of Polish Jewish history in and around Gorlice. Those wishing an excellent in-depth view of Polish Jewish history, however, will find it by consulting the sites below:Dr. Mike Rosenzweig's Jewish-Polish Heritage
Jewish Virtual Library History Tour
Gorlice in the 19th Century
Even before the end of the 19th century, Jews in Gorlice comprised 50% of the local population, which, by the end of the century, numbered more than 6,000 souls. The non-Jewish population was engaged primarily in farming; and there was also a lumber trade, with lumber coming from the many forested hills of the surrounding Carpathian mountain region. Gorlice's Jews traded primarily in wine and corn. In the 2nd half of the 19th century, oil was found in the area surrounding Gorlice. In 1883 the Glinik machinery manufacturing plant was built, and in 1885 the Glimar oil refinery was established.
Jews communicated with each other in Yiddish, the universal
language of European Jewry despite local differences in
pronunciation. Jewish mothers in Gorlice in the 19th century
and the first part of the 20th might have sung for their
children the famous Yiddish lullaby "Rozhinkes mit Mandelen" ("Raisins
On the Sabbath, children frolicked freely on strolls with their parents through the fields to the south of Gorlice. In summer, people went bathing in the river that flowed through the eastern part of the city. They sometimes called this the "River Nile." Because of its setting in the surrounding mountains, Gorlice's Jews compared their town to Jerusalem. The Jewish cemetery was located on the western slope of "Cemetery Mountain," just beyond and somewhat lower than Gorlice's Christian cemetery.Gorlice's Jewish Cemetery
The Jewish Cemetery,
which dates back to the 19th century, has been restored and is
no longer without a gate or a fence. To take a walk through this
cemetery, just click on the link below.
A Photo Tour of Gorlice's Jewish
Pre-World War I Historic Postcards
Pre-World War I
Gorlice Area Jewish Businesses
A Polish Web Site with Clickable Pictures of Gorlice and Environs after Battle (cathedral, German dugout, view of city, typical street, market day in ruins, German soldier's grave near Gorlice, and military lines near Gorlice)
Map Showing the Battle LinesThe rebuilding of Gorlice began after the war but was halted by World War II. In between the two World Wars, though, life for Gorlice Jews continued in a normal way. Among activities were busy market days in a central square in Gorlice. A couple of photos from the Simon Weisenthal exhibit "And I Still See Their Faces" show what this was like:
Jewish Graves, Military Cemetery, Gorlice
Market Square in Gorlice
Another View of the Market Square
Had this warning been heeded, many lives could have been saved.
It is already THREE years that I am calling upon you, Polish Jewry, who are the crown of World Jewry. I continue to warn you incessantly that a catastrophe is coming closer. I became grey and old in these years, my heart bleeds, that you, dear brother and sisters, do not see the volcano which will soon begin to spit its all-consuming lava. I see that you are not seeing this because you are immersed and sunk in your daily worries. Today, however, I demand from you trust. You were convinced already that my prognoses have already proven to be right. If you think differently, then drive me out of your midst! However, if you do believe me, then listen to me in this twelfth hour: In the name of G-d! Let anyone of you save himself, as long as there is still time, and time there is very little.
What else I would like to say to you on this day of Tisha B'Av is whoever of you will escape from the catastrophe, he or she will live to see the exalted moment of a great Jewish wedding - the rebirth and rise of a Jewish state. I don't know if I will be privileged to see it, but my son will! I believe in this, as I am sure that tomorrow morning the sun will rise.
Ze'ev Vladimir Jabotinsky
Tisha B'av 1938
By the outbreak of World War II, almost 10,000 Jews lived in Gorlice. Some of them managed to get to Soviet territory before the German invasion of Poland on September 6, 1939. Some few also managed to hide or join partisan units.
in the Gorlice Ghetto
At first, Jews from the Gorlice Ghetto were used as slave laborers. Below is the story of one young Jew, Harry Balsam, who was sent to Plazow, a labor camp outside Krakow.
Harry Balsam's Story
Mass shootings of the
Jewish population began in 1942. On August 14, 1942, the Gorlice
Ghetto was established. Gorlice's remaining Jews were crowded
into it and were joined by Jews from some of the surrounding
Poland, there were organized efforts by the non-Jewish
population to resist the Nazi's plan to exterminate Jews.
There were also efforts by ordinary Poles to save their Jewish neighbors. The
Gorlice area was no exception.
Gorlice Area Righteous Gentiles
Testimony of Father Jan Patrzyk, One of the Righteous
Yad Vashem's Recognition of Father Patrzyk and Barbara Patrzyk
The Story of Righteous Gentile Maria Kotarba
In spite of such efforts, though, most of Gorlice's Jews perished--some along with their would-be rescuers, some turned in by informants seeking a reward, and some as a result of "aktions" or selections easy for the Germans to accomplish once the Jews had been sequestered in a ghetto and deprived of any means of defending themselves or escaping. Around the same time that the Ghetto was established in August of 1942, about 1,000 Jews from Gorlice and the neighboring town of Bobowa (famous for the Bobover Rebe, Ben-Zion Halberstam) were transported by truck to Garbacz, just outside Gorlice. There they were shot. Samuel Oliner, now a professor at Humboldt College but then a boy of 12, escaped detection by hiding on a rooftop the day the Bobowa ghetto was liquidated and--with the help of a plan devised by a "righteous Gentile" Polish peasant woman--was able to suvive until the end of the war by masquerading as a Polish boy. To read some of Dr. Oliner's eye-witness account of the Nazi roundup of the Bobowa ghetto's Jews from his book Restless Memories, click on the link below. Warning: This material has been put on a separate, linked page because of its highly graphic and disturbing nature. It is not appropriate for children.
The Roundup in BobowaIt can be presumed that the scene in Gorlice was very similar to what Dr. Oliner describes in Bobowa. Factory workers in Gorlice were allowed to live somewhat longer than the rest of the Jews there, since they were useful to the Nazis. But ultimately all Jews who had not been deported for forced labor, been killed, or managed to escape from the area were sent to Belzec extermination camp. About 50 surviving Jews came back to Gorlice after liberation of the area by the Russians. Some of these Jews arranged for the erection of a memorial in the Garbacz woods at the site of the mass grave where the massacre of Jews from Gorlice and Bobowa had taken place.
A Poem, "Epitaph"
The Memorial at GarbaczThe Jewish population in Gorlice dwindled down to nothing following the erection of this memorial, since returning Jews encountered little welcome from the Polish population and soon left. Nonetheless, the memorial remains as a reminder of what happened at this site.
A Translation of Selected Items from the Gorlice Yizkor Book
A Scanned Copy of the Yizkor Book, with All Its Illustrations
Information about, and Photos of, Gorlice Residents and Gorlice (Type Gorlice into the Search window.)Places specifically with information about Holocaust survivors:
Survivor Affairs Department, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Yad Vashem and Its Remembrance Projects
JewishGen's Links to More Organizations That Can Help Find Holocaust Survivors (Click on #15. Holocaust Research)
During a 1999 trip to Gorlice with his father, a Holocaust survivor, Victor Stern discovered that the museum there has photos of Jews who were sent to the Gorlice Ghetto. Below is the account of his visit.
Further Information on How to Find Holocaust Survivors
"Return to Gorlice"Memorials in Israel to Gorlice Holocaust Victims
Today, Gorlice is a large, modern city with more than 30,000 inhabitants. It has three post offices, three railway stations, a regional museum, a cultural center, a public library with two branches, a music school, a technical school, various sports facilities, a hospital, and a large hotel as well as a motel and guest houses. Its numerous restaurants even include pizzerias! Gorlice is, however, devoid of Jews; and its former synagogue has been turned into a bakery.
A Photo of the Former Synagogue
The Former Synagogue by Night (Bogusław Lewiński photo)
Despite sad sights like the former
synagogue, there is some measure of hope for the future
because of the number of young Poles who have found that they
have partially Jewish ancestry and are now eager to learn more
about their roots in this culture that was once so vibrant in
Robert Huk's Gorlice Fotogaleria PagesA Web Site All in Polish, but with Clickable Photos
A Map of Poland Showing Gorlice
Smaller Section from the Above Map
Polish Jews Forum
Although the official
word is that no 19th-century records of Jewish births,
marriages, and deaths in Gorlice have survived, some vital
records pertaining to people from Gorlice have been located in
various archives by the Jewish Records Indexing Project of
These appear to be records of events that involved Gorlice
citizens but took place in other locales. Other types of records
for Gorlice Jews, such as passport records, are also available
at JRI Poland. To search the database:
Miriam Wiener's Routes to Roots Foundation lists other types of Gorlice records, both 19th century and 20th century, available from various archives:
Search Page at JRI Poland
You can also search for Gorlice information with:
Search Page at Routes to Roots Foundation
In addition to records listed at the Routes to Roots Foundation site, there may be county records for Gorlice from 1901-1918 archived in Przemysl, Poland. [This information came from the Ukrainian genealogical Web site InfoUkes (http://infoukes.com/) but is no longer on display there.] Also, the Number 3 July 1996 issue of Galicia, a Galician genealogical magazine, included an article on a 31 December 1900 Gorlice census. For more information, address FEEFHS Representative and responsible editor Edward Tadeusz Wojtakowski, Editorial Offices, Galicia, P.O. Box 312, PL-50-950, Wroclaw 2, POLAND [phone and FAX: 48 (71) 61 32 16].
Logan Kleinwak's Search Engine for Online Historical Directories (Enter Gorlice in the search window.)
The museum in Gorlice
has limited information on prominent Jewish people who had
significant commercial interests in the area. Inquiries may be
addressed to: Regional Museum PTTK, str.Waska 7, Gorlice, POLAND
You can also search for
Gorlice records identified by the Mormons at the following site:
The book Żydzi gorliccy, by
Władysław Boczoń, published by W. Boczoń in Gorlice in 1998,
although written in Polish, has maps, photos, and charts that
should be of interest to Gorlice researchers. This book is
available through Inter-Library Loan from Florida Atlantic
University Library, Harvard University Widener Library, the
Library of Congress, Ohio State University Library, Stanford
University Library, the University of Florida Library, and the
University of Toronto John P. Robarts Library. It can also be
perused at the non-lending libraries of the Hoover Institute on
War, Revolution & Peace and the United States Holocaust
Last, a Web site with
instructions on researching Polish roots:
To search the JewishGen Family Finder for other people researching Gorlice, click on the button below.
To search for people from Gorlice in the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry
Books and Archival Documents on Gorlice at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (Click on "Search the Collections," and enter "Gorlice" into subsequent search windows. You may need to click on the name of a collection to get a search window.)
Advice for Travelers going to Poland and GorliceA Special Interest Group for People with Roots in Galicia
The Best Site for Jewish Genealogical Research
The IAJGS International Jewish Cemetery Project
A Bibliography for Polish Genealogical Research
To Find Information on Other Shtetls
The author of these pages would like to thank Alexander Sharon, Dr. Samuel P. Oliner, Mike Kazakevitch (who helped with scanning), and Leonard Markowitz for their kind assistance. By contributing all of the text on the "Roundup in Bobowa" page and the photos and text for the "Memorial at Garbacz" page, Dr. Oliner enabled the construction of a significant section on the Holocaust. The information on what life was like for Jews in Gorlice in the 19th century comes from Mr. Markowitz's interesting account of a trip to Poland, which can be viewed in its entirety at: http://www.jewishgen.org/infofiles/pl-trav.txt
An excellent Polish Web site MINIX, suggested by Mr. Sharon, was the source of much other data. Unfortunately, the English pages, with beautiful photos and much information, are no longer at the site.
Thanks also to Eric dosSantos, who allowed the author to crop and use his extraordinary photos of fiery sunsets on the pages describing the roundup in Bobowa. These sunset photos and others by Eric can be seen at: http://www.adventureliving.com/home/journeys/costa/sunsets/index.html
are certainly due Kazimierz Migacz and his brother, Andrzej
Migacz, who was instrumental in getting Kazimierz's photos of
Gorlice's former synagogue and Jewish cemetery for this
ShtetLinks site. Kazimierz, a resident of Czchów, Poland, has
been writing a book about Gorlice but allowed the use here of
his valuable photos prior to book publication--an act of unusual
kindness. The author is additionally grateful to Andrzej Migacz
for sending Bogusław
Lewiński's large photos of the
Gorlice Jewish Cemetery and the night-time view of the former
synagogue and to Bogusław
Lewiński for his permission to publish these photos at the
Gorlice ShtetLinks site.
The four historic postcards were contributed by Allen Bergman. The author is additionally grateful to Allen Bergman for making her aware of Władysław Boczoń's book Żydzi gorliccy (The Jews of Gorlice). In this connection, special thanks are due Maria Boczoń, widow of the author of Żydzi gorliccy. The hand-drawn map showing Gorlice features during World War II was a personal gift from Maria, and Maria also gave the author of this Web site generous permission to republish any material from Żydzi gorliccy, written by her deceased husband, a member of the Council for Aid to Jews (code name: Zegota). Maria--who in a single day in 1943 lost two brothers, shot by the Nazis as hostages, and her father, Jan Benisz, shot for his participation in Zegota--is a fund of information on the Holocaust in Gorlice, a local treasure who generously shared five hours of her time as well as much material during the author's trip to Poland in August of 2004.Special thanks must go also to Shlomo Balsam for putting the author in touch with Colin Balsam and to Colin for donating the amazing account of his father Harry Balsam's survival in Plaszow Camp and on a subsequent death march. And thanks are due J. Victor Stern, whose "Return to Gorlice" appears at this site and who discovered the valuable fact that the museum in Gorlice has photos of Gorlice Ghetto residents.
Last, but certainly not least, the author wishes to thank her Polish friend Robert Huk, who donated all of the colored photos that appear on this page. Robert is a Gorlice resident whose work has been exhibited at galleries throughout Poland. His fine photo exhibit of sacred folk art from the Beskid Niski region, of which Gorlice is a part, can be seen at http://www.opoka.org.pl/biblioteka/B/BG/huk/sztuka_sakralna/sztuka_sakralna1.html. Additionally, Robert has a site of his own at http://gorlice.wix.com/fotogaleria, with many more beautiful and interesting photographs.
To all of the above-named persons, without whom this site would not have been possible, the author is most grateful.
(In addition to sites to which links have been provided
following are some, but not necessarily all, of the other sources consulted.
Information was also derived from personal interviews and correspondence.)
Books and Articles
Boczoń, Władysław. Żydzi gorliccy (The Jews of Gorlice),
Bergman, Paulina. And Not as a Broken Shard (Velo
Hanishbar). Private edition printed in Israel, 1990.
Bartoszewski, Władysław and Lewin, Zofia, editors. Righteous among Nations: How
Poles Helped the Jews, 1939-1945. Earlscourt
Publications Ltd., London, 1969.
Gilbert, Martin. The
Boys: The Untold Story of 732 Young Concentration Camp
Survivors. Henry Holt and Company, New
York, NY, 1997.
Markowitz, Leonard. Unpublished manuscript on Galicia and general area of Gorlice sent to Marjorie Rosenfeld. Includes material from translation by Pawel Kursz, Mr. Markowitz's Polish guide, with editing by Mr. Markowitz, of an article from the Geographic Dictionary of Poland and other Slovanic Nations (1884), from the Gorlice Memorial Book, by M.Y. Bar-on, ed., and from Oliner, Dr. Samuel P., Restless Memories.
Markowitz, Leonard. "Tracing Your Roots in Poland," 1995. JewishGen InfoFile Travelogue.
Oliner, Samuel P. Restless Memories: Recollections of the Holocaust Years, 2nd rev. Judah L. Magnes Museum, Berkeley, CA, 1986.
Taylor, A.J.P. The First World War: An
Illustrated History. Capricorn Books, New
York, NY, 1972.
AICE American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise Jewish Virtual
Federation of East European Family History Societies: http://www.feefhs.org/
FEEFH Map Library: http://www.feefhs.org/maplibrary.html
Ghetto Fighters' House: http://www.gfh.org.il/eng/
(http://infocenters.co.il/gfh/search.asp?lang=ENG) (Type Gorlice in the Search window.)
Gorlice Municipal Web Site: http://www.gorlice.pl/
Holocaust History Project: http://www.holocaust-history.org/
Humboldt State University: http://www.humboldt.edu/
The Altruistic Personality and Prosocial Behavior Institute: http://www.humboldt.edu/altruism/
INFO Ukes: http://infoukes.com/
International Jewish Cemetery Project: http://www.iajgsjewishcemeteryproject.org/
Jewish Virtual Library: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/
Israeli Center for Holocaust Survivors and the Second
Map of Poland: http://www.mapofpoland.net/
Miroslaw Lopata's Gorlice Cemetery Web Site: http://www.cmentarze.gorlice.net.pl/
Photos of Jewish Military Graves:
Non-Jewish Holocaust Victims Site: http://www.holocaustforgotten.com/index.htm
Search for Polish Society: http://www.szukamypolski.com/
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: http://www.ushmm.org/
Wysowa Center (formerly Glimar Hotel): http://www.izc.pl/wysowa/osrodek.html
Yad Vashem: http://www.yadvashem.org/
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research: https://www.yivo.org/
Zemerl Yiddish Music: http://www.zemerl.com
Other Resources That May be of Value to People Doing Research on Polish Jewry
Bartel, Israel and Polonsky, Anthony, eds. Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, Volume 12 (Focusing on Galicia: Jews, Poles, and Ukrainians, 1772-1918). Littman Library of Jewish Civilization. For more information, see: http://www.littman.co.uk/cat/polin-12.html
Land-Weber, Ellen. To Save a Life: Stories of Holocaust
Rescue, University of Illinois Press, Champaign-Urbana,
IL, 2000. For more information, see: http://www.humboldt.edu/~rescuers/index.html
comments, corrections, and suggestions for additions to
Marjorie Stamm Rosenfeld
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Copyright © 1999 M S Rosenfeld
(Last updated on 12/24/2017)