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Mielec refugees in Vilna (1939 - 1940) 


 

When Germany invaded Poland in 1939 the Jews of Poland were trapped with very few venues of escape. The USSR-German Pact of August 23, 1939, brought Soviet dominance to the Baltic area and Lithuania ranked among the few countries of refuge for Jews when W.W. II broke out.  The number of Jewish refugees from Poland grew considerably (to 14.000-15.000) in the month following the German invasion.  About 10.000 stayed in Vilna and the rest in Kaunas and other places. The Lithuanian Jews made every effort to assist refugees and International Organizations allocated funds to be administrated by the Vilna Kehillah Refugee Comm., and in Kaunas by the Ezra Refugee Comm. Other allocations went for emigration aid to refugees and notably for rabbinical groups and students and distributed in the cities via groups affiliated with the Lithuanian Red Cross.   About 5.000 refugees managed to emigrate from Lithuania.  One must make special note to two Righteous Gentiles who helped save Jews by providing travel documents and false citizenships: Jan Zwartendijk the Dutch acting consul to Lithuania and Chiune Sugihara, Japan's acting consul to Lithuania. 

On June 15, 1940, Soviet troops crossed the Lithuanian border.  During the German occupation, about 95% of Lithuanian Jewry was killed (a greater percentage than in any other community in Europe).  The remaining Polish refugees shared the fate of Lithuanias Jews.

You can find more information at:Polish Jewish Refugees in Lithuania, 1939-1940 

The Vilna Kehillah lists over 9000 refugees, a few from Mielec.  These are their names:

EPSZTEJN,  Mejer
FEUER von GRINBERG,  Moses
SCHRAUB,  Lotti
SZYPER,  Abram

 


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