TOUR OF KOLBUSZOWA (1997) By Phil Birnbaum.
My full day tour from Krakow to Kolbuszowa started at 7:30 a.m. and finished at 6:30 p.m. For a non-Jew my English speaking guide demonstrated an astonishing knowledge of the history and traditions of the Jews in the area.
The highways are 2 lane roads going through very picturesque farmland. Being early June it was hay harvesting time and interesting to see practically no tractors, only carts and horses with the women working alongside the men. Also note all the new churches – exceptional architecture.
Try and spot stork nests on top of telephone poles. The nests are made out of grass, very large and usually have the stork standing upright on top of it.
I stopped first in RZEZSOW. It is a city of 200,000. I was told that the archival records for Kolbuszowa might be there. It was very coincidental that the registry office is housed in a former Synagogue. You wouldn’t have known it was a Synagogue except for a plaque on an outside wall.
Apparently there are no Jews left in Rzeszow. I was told that the man who knew where the records were was on vacation but all records for Kolbuszowa are kept in Kolbuszowa.
On to KOLBUSZOWA. Population 10,000.
I went to the town Hall which has the Registry office. I got terrific co-operation from the women in charge. Their records started in 1948. Pre ’48 records were kept in the Synagogue and they were destroyed during the war.
My only contact for information was a Mr. Pochinsky who supposedly had the keys to the Jewish cemetery. Being a small town with everybody knowing everybody’s business. I was told he was in hospital. I visited him. He is 83 years old and the last living "Jew" in Kolbuszowa. His name was Plawker. After the war he married a Catholic and converted and changed his name to Pochinsky. He was quite open about talking about his background – his father and he were both Kosher butchers. He told us that only 2 Jewish families survived WWII and they left in 1968.
He has a Jewish boyhood friend named Max who lives in Memphis, Tenn. I haven’t been able to trace him.
I then went to the former Synagogue which now houses the Kolbuszowa Historical Society (Museum). The Mikvah building was next door which is now used as a construction company office. The building was locked and I found the town historian:
UL Kosciuski 2
Work tel: 48 17 227 1296
Fax: 48 17 227 2939 (this is the Town Hall’s fax)
He was extremely helpful and opened up and showed me through the museum/synagogue which had maps, documents, furniture, artifacts of Kolbuszowa history. They also had items from the Synagogue. He said he would try and trace my family names and would write if he had any information, which he did. He said he is available to help others.
I then went to the cemetery which is located outside the town. It wasn’t locked but if it had been, I could have climbed the fence. The cemetery was much bigger than I expected, overgrown, uncared for, with many headstones still standing. It had not been desecrated.
I returned to Krakow.
Tour of Kolbuszowa (1997) Photos. By Phil Birnbaum
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