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Coat of Arms of Drohobycz

Early History and the Commonwealth of Poland

History of the Jewish Community in Drohobycz

Drohobycz Develops as a Centre for Trade

The Marketplace in Drohobycz

From the collection of Claudia Erdheim

Austrian Rule

Coat of Arms of the Austrian Empire

The Choral Synagogue in Drohobycz

Abraham Schreiner

ca 1812-1898

Boryslaw Oil Fields

Progressive Synagogue on Stryj Street in Drohobycz

Jewish Hospital in Drohobycz

Asher Zelig Lauterbach

Shmuel Avraham Apfel

Leopold Gottlieb, Portrait of a Woman

Maurycy Gottlieb, Self-Portrait as Ahasuerus

Ephraim Moses Lillien: Self-Portrait

Dr. Leon Sternbach, born in 1864, was the son of one of the leaders of the Jewish community in

Drohobycz. He studied classical linguistics at Vienna and later Leipzig and was appointed lecturer at the

University of Lemberg in 1889 at the age of twenty-five In 1892, he became Professor at the University of


Photograph from the collection of Marie Zielinska

Dr. Leon Reich (1879-1929) was born in Lemberg, Reich joined the Zionist movement in his youth and founded

thefirst Zionist students’ union in Galicia. After studying in Paris he became known as a lecturer and writer. As

head of the Galician Zionist movement he was also involved in the political struggle for the civil rights of Jews

and was a candidate for the Austrian Parliament in the elections of 1911.

By permission of Irgun Yotzei Borysław-Drohobycz and Surroundings in Israel

World War I

Coat of Arms of Poland, 1919-1927

The Second Republic of Poland

The First Jews in Drohobycz


Published by permission of Irgun Yotzei Borysław-Drohobycz

and Surroundings in Israel


By this year, the Jewish population of Borysław numbers about 1,000. Poor people here find oil on their land

and become rich overnight. Of twelve oil refineries, Jews own ten. Only Jewish workers are employed in oil

production during this period. They establish a sick fund for fellow employees. 


The maskilim open a private, Jewish, secular gymasium (high school) with twenty children who study Hebrew,

German, Polish, mathematics and Talmud. The khassidim, aided by melameds (traditional Hebrew teachers)

oppose the school. However, as enrolment grows, they accept the gymnasium in return for the right to appoint

a teacher of religion there. Increasing contact with Jews from other cities and with non-Jews accelerates cultural

assimilation and general education among the merchant families of Drohobycz. Moderate maskilim take political

command of the community.

During this period, many die in a cholera epidemic.     


An era of constitutionalism begins. Galician Jews begin a political struggle for legal equality.


The wax industry begins to develop rapidly. More than 1500 wax wells are in operation in Borysław and

Wolanka. The industry attracts hundreds of labourers, called lebaks to Borysław. Some settle in the town and

commute from their villages.


The Groyse Shil or Great Synagogue is finished and dedicated on shavuoth of 1863. Drohobycz now has two

synagogues, twenty-four private batei midrash (houses of study). An Osei Hesed (bikur holim), a hospital is soon

founded to care for the sick.


Early in the century conditions improve for Jews who now dominate all commerce, industry and trades, including the export trade in Drohobycz. Unlike Jewish lessees in other cities, those of Drohobycz employ fellow Jews as clerks and minor functionaries, thus establishing a practice that will continue in Jewish-owned businesses in the town. Without realizing it, they lay the foundation for creating a Jewish middle class and influence Jewish life in the town for the next two centuries.

Jewish merchants also attend fairs throughout Germany, export oxen to Silesia and developing the cloth trade and banking. Jewish traders take the Drohobycz route to visit the famous Jewish moneychangers there to .

exchange their Polish money for foreign currency before


Jews first visit the Carpathian area as traders. Ashkenazim migrate to Great Poland from Germany in the West.

Jews of Byzantine cultural patterns and perhaps some traces of Khazar ethnic descent and culture migrate to the

region of Lwów from Kiev in the East.


Batu Khan, the grandson of Ghenghis Khan, leads a Tatar invasion of Galicia and southern Poland in this year.

Polish kings, anxious to rebuild devastated urban areas, welcome Jews who come from Germany.


King Bołeslaw V, the Pious proclaims the Statute of Kalisz, which serves as the basis for the legal position of the

Jews in Poland until 1795.

Larger numbers of Jews from Germany are invited by the Polish King. In eastern Galicia the western Ashkenazic

culture becomes dominant.  



Red Ruthenia, or eastern Galicia, becomes part of Poland under King Casimir the Great (1340-1370). Casimir

improves the Statute of Kalisz to protect Jewish civil rights as well as commercial privileges.  


The first record of a church built in Drohobycz.


Earliest record of Jewish inhabitants in Drohobycz is dated 1404. Only Jews who are lessees of salt mines

are permitted to live within the town; other Jews live in the suburb, Na Lanie. Jews receive permission to settle

in lands adjoining the mines but are denied permission to have a cemetery to discourage them from establishing

a permanent community.

King Władisław II Jagiełło entrusts to the Jew Wolczko the salt mines of Drohobycz because of "his industry and

wisdom so that, thanks to his ability and industry, we should bring more income to our treasury." Wolczko is also

the king’s broker and owns several villages in the area.

A Jew in Drohobycz called Detko or Dzatco, also a salt mine lessee, has trade connections in Turkey and Kiev and

supplies the royal court.

In the early part of the century, the Drohobycz government receives the right to tax beverages and salt,

establishing the legal basis for later releasing these tax collections and for licensing trade in these industries to

Jews. The Drohobycz kehilla (community) is represented on the provincial council of Rzeszów.




Yaakov Yuditz, salt mine lessee, receives the right to lease the brandy tax in Drohobycz

The case of Shmuel Markowitz and Yitzhak Jakuzow sparks a legal dispute between king Sigismund August over

who has the right to lease the brandy tax. The town wins.



The total Gentile and Jewish population of Drohobycz has reached 3,600 persons. In that year, King Stephan

Batory imposes on Jews the privilgium non tolerandis Judaeis, by which Jews are forbidden to live in or near

Drohobycz or to trade there except during fairs. For the next fifty-seven years, no Jew will live in Drohobycz or its



Reisin becomes one of the four lands of the Council of Lands, an autonomous Jewish government that meets

twice annually at the fairs of Lublin and Jarosław.


Drohobycz is destroyed by Tatars. The town does not recover and continues to be economically depressed. Yitzhak

Nachmanowitz and Yitzhak ben Mordecai (Markowitz), wealthy Jews of Lwów holding royal estates nearby, use

their influence to help reestablish a Jewish settlement in Drohobycz.


The wojwode of Reisin (Galicia), Jan Dawidovicz, gives Jews permission to settle in Na Lanie, outside Drohobycz

near the salt refineries, but denies permission for a cemetery


Drohobycz is relieved of royal taxes due to great economic depression


The Jewish population of Reisin is about 54,000 persons. In that year, Jews and Gentiles flee Cossack

massacres led by Chmielnicki. Drohobycz is relieved of royal taxes due to great economic depression

King Władisław IV confirms the right of Jews to live in Na Lanie, though the town of Lan seeks to expel the Jews.


The census of Na Lanie shows only fifteen Jewish households in the Ulica Zydówska (Jew Street). Jews are

merchants of liquor, beer and brandy.


The earliest documentation of Jewish kehilla administration dates to this year, when the guilds grant a six-year

contract to the Jews for one tavern and ten shops at an annual rent of 200 gold pieces, paid in advance. The

earliest documentation of Jewish kehilla administration dates to this year, when the guilds grant a six-year contract

to the Jews for one tavern and ten shops at an annual rent of 200 gold pieces, paid in advance.


Reb Yekutiel Zalmon Siegel Kharif, son of the Przemysl rabbi, becomes rabbi and chief dayan of the Drohobycz




The six-year contract for the tavern and shops is renewed.


The six-year contract for the tavern and shops is once again renewed.


The Jewish community prospers under King Jan Sobieski. Jews are primarily employed in the business of alcoholic

beverages and the leasing trade.


Rabbi Zvi Hirsch, son of a rabbi of Kolomea, becomes rabbi in Drohobycz.


The contract for Jews to remain in Drohobycz is renewed for 300 gold pieces annually.


The town sues several Jewish lessees for contract violations. The Jews countersue. King Jan Sobieski orders no

disturbance against the Jews until a royal commission decides the case. The town disputes with two other lessees

and the King orders a royal investigation.


The King finds against the Jewish tavern keeper Lieberman for distilling brandy near a church. Lieberman’s

involvement in disputes with other Jewish lessees also requires the King’s intervention.


Reb Yehuda ben Yaacov is rabbi.


traveling to Hungary and Austria. Jewish artisans compete with Christian artisan guilds. Jewish salt merchants of Drohobycz and Lwów compete strongly with one another.

A synagogue and a cemetery are now in existence. Jews in the surrounding villages belong to the Drohobycz kehilla.


Permission is granted to repair the synagogue.


The debts of the kehilla begin to mount. The census shows that among Drohobycz’s Jews are three tailors, three

bankers, two goldsmiths, one tinsmith, one doctor, one furrier, one bookbinder and one dyer



The body of a murdered Gentile child is discovered. The Jews are blamed in a blood libel trial. The suspects are

finally narrowed down from the entire community to one Jewish woman, Adela. Church officials who are anxious to

protect their own position keep her Gentile maidservant’s eventual confession of guilt secret. The maid’s Jewish

mistress Adela is secretly admitted to be innocent but remains publicly accused. She is offered her freedom if

she converts but refuses and is executed.



The synagogue burns down. After much effort and trouble, the Jews receive permission to rebuild the synagogue

on the same site provided that it will be no larger or more beautiful than the old one. Later, the Jewish community

has trouble with its own authoritarian leaders. It appeals to the Polish authorities for help but to no avail.

Reb Yitzhak Hior, the famous scholar and kabbalist and sharp opponent of Shabtai Zvi, who had been living in

Drohobycz, is buried there.


The notorious Zalman affair: Zalman ben Ze’ev (Wolfowicz), an arrogant, unpopular, dishonest personality of

Drohobycz, tyrannizes both the Jewish and gentile communities. He ruthlessly causes much suffering, creating

anger and unrest. King August intervenes and orders a trail. In the meantime, the Jewish community initiates a

legal suit against Zalman within the Jewish Lwów District Council but due to Zalman’s power, they do not achieve

results. The Jews of Drohobycz and surrounding communities meet in Stryj and agree to join  forces with the

Gentiles against Zalman. Royal commissars investigate and after arresting Zalman and his family, convict them.

Zalman’s property is confiscated and he is sentenced to hang. A last minute offer of a huge ransom at the gallows

dramatically commutes his death sentence to life imprisonment. To leave jail, Zalman adopts Christianity and retires

to a monastery where he dies two years later. His story becomes a legend in a Ruthenian folksong. The

community’s debts are exacerbated as a result of the Zalman affair.


The stability of the community is established by 1765. Eighty-six villages are affiliated with Drohobycz. The census

shows 1,923 Jews in Drohobycz and environs, including sixteen tailors, four furriers, three dyers, one tinsmith, one

bookbinder, two jewelers and many musicians. In the town of Drohobycz itself, 979 Jews pay the Jewish head tax

and Jews own 200 houses.



Passing Polish soldiers are billeted in Drohobycz. One third of them are assigned to Jewish houses, more than their

proper share.

A herem (excommunication) is placed against Avigdor Hershkowitz for turning the people against the community

leaders. y this time the khassidic movement has penetrated the Drohobycz Jewish community.

The khassidim believe in the emotional aspect of religious experience, favouring mass enthusiasm, group cohesion,

and charismatic leadership.

Early famous khassidim of this time are Reb Yitzhak Drubyczer, a supporter of Baal Shem Tov, Reb Yosef Drubyczer

Ashkenazi, and his son, Reb Yisraeli Nachman Drubyczer, who travels to Italy and eventually settles in Palestine.     


Reisin is annexed to the Austrian Empire and becomes known as Galicia. Jewish life is profoundly affected. By this

time the government of the Council of Lands has ceased to function. The Austrians set up their own form of

internal Jewish autonomy. The debt of the Jewish community now stands at 26,968 pieces of gold, a huge burden.


Empress Maria Theresa legislates the organization of the Jews of Galicia, changing their status for the good of the

state. The Drohobycz and Sambor Districts are headed by district parnesim (elected leaders) responsible to six

provincial parnesim. About 144,000 Jews now live in Galicia.


The town of Drohobycz again seeks to obtain the privilgium non tolerandis Judaeis in order to confiscate Jewish

houses and restore them to the Christians who sold them. Responding to local pressure, the government excludes

Jews from city council elections. The Jews struggle to prevent the forced sale of their houses. The Austrian

government takes over the salt industry, thereby hurting Jewish business. However, the central government finally

agrees to refund an earlier unfair beer tax to Jews. The refund will be invested for the benefit of the Jewish

community and the interest wil be used to pay off its debt from the Polish era.

Emperor Joseph II continues his enlightened reform and wishes to assimilate the Jews so they are no different from

other citizens: free from discrimination, paying the same taxes as others, serving in the army, and using German,

not Yiddish. He also wishes to centralize authority. The provincial parnesim are eliminated and Drohobycz Jews are

now governed by three local parnesim who are directly responsible to the District government authorities. They

represent the community, care for the poor, register births, marriages and deaths, and collect the communitty and

Jewish taxes. Rabbinical civil law and the political and legal rights of the kehilla are abolished. Jews are no longer

considerd a "national“ community but rather a "religiou" group. Taxes are now levied on individuals rather than

on the community, reducing the kehilla’s standing and power.


Empress Maria Theresa legislates the organization of the Jews of Galicia, changing their status for the good of the

state. The Drohobycz and Sambor Districts are headed by district parnesim (elected leaders) responsible to six

provincial parnesim. About 144,000 Jews now live in Galicia.


The district census shows 1,812 Jewish families (8,690 persons) in Drohobycz, Sambor, Turka and Komarno. A

Jewish school (Jüdische Normalschule) is established in Drohobycz under Herz Homberg, inspector of Jewish

schools in Galicia, but without success. Galicia Jews constantly petition the Emperor to repeal the law of

compulsory secular education.


Jews are required to take fixed and hereditary surnames. Jews must keep their financial records in the language

of the country. Books kept in Yiddish are not admissible as evidence in court. “Superstitious” books may not be

printed but because the Emperor broadmindedly opposes any alterations to the text of the Talmud, because it is

considered to be literature, it is to be kept intact for historical value.

Joseph  II’s benevolent reform will soon be undone by his successors and the status of Galician Jews will fluctuate

for the next 125 years, depending on the internal politics of the Hapsburg Empire. However in spite of economic

oppression and severe poverty, heavy taxation and government interference in communal affairs, the period of

Austrian rule (1772-1918) will be the high point of Jewish life in Galicia.


The district census shows 1,812 Jewish families (8,690 persons) in Drohobycz, Sambor, Turka and Komarno. A

Jewish school (Jüdische Normalschule) is established in Drohobycz under Herz Homberg, inspector of Jewish

schools in Galicia, but without success. Galicia Jews constantly petition the Emperor to repeal the law of

compulsory secular education.

Charges of embezzlement are brought by some Jews of Drohobycz against their kehilla leaders but to no avail.

Most Jews now live by selling alcoholic beverages or as retailers in the Na Lanie suburb. Leib Yosefsberg receives

royal permission for a shoe factory that remains in his family until 1942. At the expense of the Jewish communities

themselves, the Austrian government resettles 1,410 urban Jewish families (twenty-four from Drohobycz) from

Galicia as farmers to help solve “the Jewish problem.”


Moshe Tzekendorf, a teacher at the Jüdische Normalschule and strong supporter of the Haskala (enlightenment or

modernist) movement, with the support of a few other Drohobycz Jews presents a memorandum to Vienna to

improve the cultural and intellectual situation of the Galician Jews. He asks the government to force Jews to

exchange their traditional garb for German dress, prohibit child betrothals, prohibit Jewish trade in brandy,

encourage Jews to remain in villages rather than be influenced in “more Jewish” cities, and encourage Jews to  

abandon their customs and assimilate.

early 1800s

The district office grants a five-year extension to the Jews of Drohobycz because they are too poor to pay the

tolerance tax (Toleranzsteuer). In Drohobycz, a Jew named Hecker makes the first attempt to prospect for oil and

extract it from the ground. The Drohobycz census shows 636 Jewish families (2,492 people) and six Karaite families

(twenty-two people).


Joseph Hecker, a geologist from Prague, distilled a liquid from crude oil which he called nafta, from the Greek

word meaning rock oil. By 1817 it was used for lighting in crude, open lamps in the Drohobycz area. Hecker also

had a contract with the City of Prague for the delivery of is distillate to that city for street lighting but was unable

to fulfill this because of problems of transport. Hecker and Johann Mitis prospected for oil near Truskawiec.


In response to the Jewish community’s request, an additional tax that had been levied on Jews is withdrawn

because of widespread poverty. Christians who were the previous owners of houses sold to Jews now agree to a

financial compromise and the houses remain in the possession of their Jewish owners. The competition and legal

struggle between Jewish and Christian tavern owners grows stronger and will continue for another thirty years.


More than twenty oil wells are in operation in Borysław


Maskilim lay the cornerstone of the Great Synagogue, a

new, lavish synagogue that will become known as the

Groyse Shil. The royal decree of 1792 is reaffirmed that

any Jew in Galicia who owns a house or is a skilled

craftsman can acquire the right of citizenship from the

municipality. In practice, this right is denied by many

towns, especially by Drohobycz. The major Jewish

communities of Galicia are convened by the Lwów

community to discuss limitations against the Jews.

Abraham Schreiner, a small landholder in Borysław,

begins to experiment with the distillation of crude oil

that he finds on his land


The liberalizing revolution of 1848 sweeps across Europe. The Jewish communities of Galicia petition Emperor

Ferdinand I to abolish ghettos, taxes on candles and kosher meat, and to remove the limitations on Jews in

commerce, the crafts and the free professions. Jews attain the right to own property. They can now theoretically

participate in elections but in practice are denied that right.


Khevra Kadisha (burial society) purchases a non-traditional hearse wit a black coffin container. Unlike Brody,

where a similar hearse caused a storm of protest, the Drohobycz community accepts the hearse surprisingly

quietly. However, when the Jews of Drohobycz learn of government plans to force them to give up their traditional

garb for European dress,  they protest vigorously with the District of Sambor. Reb Eliezer Nissen Teitlboim,

educated in a famous khassidic family in Hungary, becomes rabbi and strongly increases khassidism (practice of

khassidic piety) in Drohobycz.


An era of political reaction begins. Abolishment of the 1849 constitution places Jewish property rights in question

for two years. Property rights are finally affirmed for Jews who buy real estate. About 450,000 Jews live in all of

Galicia. Reb Taytlboim dies. Contrary to customary practice, he is not succeeded by his son but by the son of an

earlier,  beloved Drohobycz rabbi, Reb Eliahu Horszowski. Like his father, the new rabbi is respected for his

practical and wise attitude. R. Horszowski serves Drohobycz for twenty-seven years. Through his tact and wisdom,

the community is spared the bitter struggle over Enlightenment that is so common elsewhere. The circle of

maskilim begins to begins to attract many merchants and oilmen.

After experimenting with inferior equipment, Abraham Schreiner brings the dark liquid

he has managed to distill from crude oil to Jan Zeh, a pharmacist working in Lemberg, to

see if he can further purify it. Zeh succeeds in making a pure distillate and the tin smith,

Adam Bratkowski creates the first kerosene lamp.



Large deposits of ozokerite or earth wax are discovered in Borysław


The first effective oil wells are dug in Borysław. Hopeful  entrepreneurs flock to the area to seek their fortunes in the burgeoning oil industry. Outsiders begin to buy the land of  the small landholders who, unaware of the potential value of their property, often sell for very little and become  impoverished.

Oil shafts are dug in the neighbouring town of Tustanowice



Only four Jews have acquired the rights of citizenship from Drohobycz. In spite of other cities’ practice in Galicia

where Jews vote and sit on city councils, the ministry of the Interior in Vienna upholds the Drohobycz city

council in rejecting the appeal of Yakov Segel, a lumber wholesaler, for citizenship.


The political struggle for equality meets with success. The new constitution gives all the citizens of the monarchy

equal rights, causing much controversy about Jewish rights. After stormy political debates, the Galician Sejm

finally abolishes restrictions on Jews.


The political struggle for equality meets with success. The new constitution gives all the citizens of the monarchy

equal rights, causing much controversy about Jewish rights. After stormy political debates, the Galician Sejm

finally abolishes restrictions on Jews.

From now on until the end of the century, the maskil circle strongly influences Jewish Drohobycz. Asher Zelig

Lauterbach, a wealthy industrialist, outstanding scholar ad typical maskil, has a profound effect on the

Drohobycz community through his generosity and writing. An outstanding and talented scholar of both

traditional and general learning, he writes many articles in Hebrew on industrial matters and belles letters as

well as religious commentary. He founds a Jewish hospital, library, reading room, a branch of Israelitische Allianz

in Drohobycz, and aided Jewish refugee victims fleeing pogroms in Russia. His incisive publications on the state

of Jewish education in Galicia and Drohobycz have a significant influence on the city’s cultural life.

Other influential Drohobycz maskilim are: Shmuel Avraham Apfel, head accountant in the Gartenberg,

Lauterbach, Goldhammer factory and Alexander Schor, a merchant and community representative, who like

Lauterbach, writes outstandingly in Hebrew. Secular primary schools, as opposed to kheders, are finally

established in Drohobycz.


Approximately 4,000 Poles, 5,000 Ruthenians and 8,000 Jews

live in Drohobycz which is the third wealthiest city in Galicia,]

after Kraków and Lwów.


Jews contribute generously to the Austrian-Prussian

(Franco-Prussian) war. Jews set up refineries in Drohobycz,

becoming the earliest oil industrialists in the region. The

numbers of workers in the oil industry increase dramatically;

Gentiles now form the majority. Maurycy Gottlieb, famous and

gifted Drohobycz painter of portraits and historical scenes,

flourishes at this time


Galician autonomy becomes a major political issue. Most Galician Jews belive that withdrawal from Austria-

Hungary would not be in Jewish interests. However most Jewish  intellectuals believe that real  improvement or

Jews lies in assimilation with Poles; they support the Polish cause and do not join their fellow Jews politically.

The elections are stormy; the Poles parade through the streets, smashing Jewish windows. A Jewish candidate

wins; the Poles appeal against him, but the election is upheld.


The Drohobycz town council is now composed of eight Poles, twelve Ruthenians and sixteen Jews. From now on

until World War II, a Jew is always elected Deputy Mayor of Drohobycz. Several years later in campaigning for

candidates to the Galician Sejm, the Poles agree to support Jewish candidates from the cities in return for

support for Polish rural candidates.

The first signs of a formal Zionist movement influenced by maskilim appear in Drohobycz. The Zionists, or

“nationalists” as they are still called, believe that real improvement for Jews can never be achieved in Galicia or

Europe and that emigration to the Jewish homeland is the only salvation for Jews. Since this solution will take

time, they favour self-emancipation and interim participation in local politics to improve the status of Jews while

they are still in Europe. Drohobycz supports a conference in Lwów whose aim is to unite all Jewry and to

modernize the rabbinate. Ultra-orthodox groups are opposed and try to split the community as they did in

Hungary. Jewish factions fight bitterly with each other; all sides finally appeal to the Austrian Ministry of



At the age of the twenty-three, the accomplished artist, Maurycy Gottlieb, son of one of the early oil and wax

refiners Isaac Gottlieb and his wife, Feige Tiegermann, dies. Of five brothers whoe all were artists: Mauriycy and

his younest brother Leopold achieved national recognition.


The “nationalists” (Zionists) set up a Volkshalle (a public reading room) as a Jewish club. They sponsor lectures

and debates on Jewish questions. The “nationalist” group Einigkeit (Unity) is established in Drohobycz to

support Zionist consciousness among the youth and to oppose assimilationism among the intelligentsia. Ha’ivri,

a second “nationalist” group of sixty members is founded; it eventually merges with Einigkeit. Assimilationists,

who have boycotted the Jewish organizations, begin to feel uncomfortable in the Polish Catholic club they

frequent. They finally agree to join the new combined Jewish nationalist club.


Goldhammer, Maurer and company open a brewery in Drohobycz.  


Aron Hirsh Żupnik, a devoted Zionist, starts publication of the Drohobyczer Zeitung in German using Hebrew

letters. It will continue to be published until World War I. He issues several Hebrew supplements and helps

improve education.


Rioting miners destroy eight Jewish homes and injure many Jews and official anti-Jewish feeling persists.


Hovevei Zion is established in Borysław in 1887. About 3,000 Jewish workers are now employed in Borysław.

Large Austrian and foreign banks, subsidizing modern techniques, begin to squeeze out smaller Jewish

enterprises and labor, although a number of wells in Borysław are still in Jewish owned.


On Erev Rosh Hashannah, a court confiscates the sifrei Torah (books of the Torah) from the house of study citing

legal debts dating back to 1876 as a reason. A period of emigration begins that will last until World War I.

During the next thirty years, over 170,000 Jews will migrate from Eastern Galicia, mostly to the U.SA.


A census shows that 92,500 Gentiles and 23,000 Jews live in the Drohobycz District; 76 percent of all Jews live

in towns and cities; half of Drohobycz and most of Borysław (90,000 out of 10,4000) are Jewish.

Industry develops rapidly; Borysław is nicknamed the “Klondike” or “California” of Galicia. Large enterprises

take over smaller companies, badly affecting Jewish concerns. The general economic position of the Jewish

community begins to decline. However, the number of educated Jewish clerks increases.

Unified regulations come into effect for all Galician kehillot. A Kultusrat (cultural council) whose members are

elected for six-year terms conducts communal affairs. A struggle break out between maskilim in favour of

general schools who oppose khassidim and haredim (orthodox traditionalists) who support kheder education.

Maskilim work to set up a modern Hebrew-language Jewish school. Drohobycz becomes an important centre

for Zionism that affects all strata of Jewish society and is the most activforce in Jewish life of the city.

Drohobycz helps found the Galicia settlement of Mahanaim in Palestine.


Drohobycz becomes an important centre for Zionism

that affects all strata of Jewish society and is the most

active force in Jewish life of the city. Drohobycz helps

found the Galician settlement of Mahanaim in


Ephraim Moshe Lilien, a gifted painter,native of

Drohobycz and active in Zionist circles, becomes

famous during this period.


The nationalists establish a branch of Zionist Union of

Palestine Settlement Societies with seventy-one members.

Drohobycz sends representatives to a Jewish national

conference in Lwów that year and to a second conference

in the following year. By then Drohobycz alone is home to

8,683 Jews.


The firm of Gartenberg, Goldhammer, and Schreier open a

brewery in Drohobycz.


Zionist activity increases; new Zionist groups organize in Drohobycz; a Galician branch of a Zionist bank is

founded; Maccabia, an academic group devoted to Jewish and Zionist studies and several Hebrew schools are

established. The Zionists and assimilationists each fight to attract the intelligentsia. Dr. Leon Sternbach of

Drohobycz, renowned scholar of classical languages, teaches, writes poetry, and publishes research in the Greek

language and literature.

By this time the ozokerite industry has declined since expansion would have required infusions of capital that

would not have yielded a return. The lebaks, the poorly paid labourers in the wax enterprises, lose their

employment. This results in an economic and social crisis for the Jews of the district.

Due to the success of the petroleum industry, Drohobycz, where the wealthy industrialists reside, has become a

handsome, affluent town that can boast of fine buildings and elegant homes. With the philanthropic generosity

of the Jewish oil magnates and owners of flourishing ancillary industries, like the wood industry, the Jewish

community is served by several social service institutions, including an orphanage, an old folks’ home, a hospital,

and a fine private gymnasium or secondary school.


About 870,000 Jews now live in all of Galicia, most of them in the eastern regions, more than half are engaged

in commerce, a quarter in industry and crafts, eleven percent in civil service and the liberal professions, and ten

percent in agriculture.    


Dr. Nathan Lõwenstein von Opoka: born in Lemberg became the leader of the

assimilationists in Galicia and the editor of the Polish nationalist-oriented weekly

Ojczyna from 1881-86. He served as a member of the Community Council for the

city of Lemberg, for the Galician Sejm (Parliament), and from 1907 was deputy to

the Austrian Parliament, as a member of the “Polish Club”. After the riot during

the 1911 elections, Lõwenstein withdrew his candidacy but after a few months,

he ran again and was elected, retaining his seat until the First World War

June 1911

Parliamentary elections cause bitter fighting among Jewish factions: the Zionists,

the National Democrats, and various small groups. The civil authorities support the

assimilationists. On election day, there are accusations that the the ballot boxes

were stuffed and many persons had prevented from voting at all. Riots occur; the  

Nathn Löwenstein von Opaka

army fires into the crowd killing twenty-two of which thirteen are Jews, and wounding many others. In reaction,

additional Zionist groups are formed and focus with increased energy on Jewish culture and education. Dr. Leon

Reich is an active and  influential Zionist.  


A landsmanshaft association of Jews from Drohobycz and Borysław is already established in New York. It will

continue to meet regularly until the early 1980’s.


The war begins and with it, the decline of the Jewish community. As the Russia army advances, many flee. The

Russians enter Drohobycz in July. Cossacks attack and pillage the Jews with extreme cruelty and the Russians

abolish the Jewish kehilla.



In May, fierce battles between the Austrians and the Russians destroy many houses in the centre of the city In

June, the Russians retreat to the Dniester River and the Austrians reconquer Drohobycz. Life slowly returns to

normal. The Jewish rescue committee of Lwów sets up a branch in Drohobycz.


The Hapsburg monarchy crumbles and the Jews are caught between the Ukrainians and Poles, each struggling

for control of eastern Galicia. The Western Ukrainian Republic governs Drohobycz and promises national-cultural

autonomy to the Jews.


The authorities break their promises, deny Jewish rights, and ruin Jewish trade and commerce. The oil fields are

nationalized. The Jews suffer severely from the lack of jobs and the community is impoverished. In May, the first

elections for the local Jewish council are held. Ukrainian soldiers loot Jewish stores and homes. In June, the

Poles again conquer Drohobycz..


After 1910, the Jewish population of eastern Galicia had declined by twenty percent to 535,000 persons, a loss

of 125,000. The census shows that there are 11,833 Jews making up forty-four percent of the Drohobycz town

population. After the war, the entire population suffers from inflation and scarcity of goods. The Jewish

community is summoned to the Groyse Shil where the chief rabbi invokes a herem (excommunication) against

any in the community who might be tempted to profiteer.

Under the Polish regime, the electoral system discriminates against minorities. Jews are not employed in the

civil service. The state policy is to edge Jews out of successful economic life. Jews suffer discrimination in all

areas, but especially in the professions. The Polish government is alarmed at the high percentage of Jews in

professions (i.e. two thirds of all lawyers and over half of all doctors are Jewish). They use quotas (numerus

clausus) to restrict Jews’ entrance to universities. A total of 567,000 Jews now live in eastern Galicia.


In Polish universities, Jews comprise 24 percent of the student population. By 1938, they will comprise

only eight percent

The Borysław community, until now affiliated with the Drohobyczkehilla, becomes independent.Bruno Schultz, a

teacher in the Emperor Franz Joseph Gymnasium in Drohobycz, whose family owns a shop in the main square

of Drohobycz opens an exhibition of drawings, prints and oil paintings at the Health Resort House in     



Bruno Schultz, Self-Portrait

Bruno Schultz, Jews in the Cemetery


In  spite of their vigorous political activity Jews have little effect on their condition in Poland. Bruno Schulz, a

native of Drohobycz, teaches art on the local gymnasium and flourishes as a Polish writer. He translates Kafka into

Polish and publishes two works of gifted visionary fantasy set in Drohobycz.

Bruno Schulz publishes his collection of stories The Cinnamon Shops and other short stories, which are

enthusiasticallyreceived by the Polish literary community.


Bruno Schulz's  collection of short stories, Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass, is published..



Bruno Schulz is honored with the Gold Laurel of the Polish  Academy of Literature.

The census shows 17,0000 Jews in Drohobycz: 13,000 in Borysław and 15,000 in surrounding villages.

After 1938

Please see the Second World War

Ephraim Moses Lillien

At the Anvil, from Songs of the Ghetto