Podhajce History and Historical Documents

The history of the town of Podhajce includes shifting national boundaries. In 1795, Poland temporarily ceased to exist as a country, and Podhajce became part of the Austria-Hungarian Empire. After WWI, it was once again a part of Poland until occupied by the U.S.S.R. in the early days of WWII. After WWII, it became part of the U.S.S.R. It is now in Ukraine and is called Podgaytsy. Its location is about 101K (60 miles) ESE of Lvov.

The first Jews settled in Podhajce as far back as the beginning of the 16th century. In the years 1580 to 1620, a great Rabbi there, Benjamin Aharon Solnik, became famous in the Jewish world because of his essay "Benjamin's Mess", which is a collection of questions and answers in matters concerned with "Halacha". (The synagogue in New York of those originating from Podhajce is call Benjamin's Mess).

Towards the end of the 17th century, many Jews of Podhajce were massacred by invading Turks and Tatars.

According to the census of 1764, there were 1079 Jews in the community. During the 19th century, the Jewish population increased, and by 1910 numbered about 6000. However, Podhajce's importance declined, and by 1939, 3200 Jews remained out of a total population of 6000. The Jews were the dynamic elements in the town's economic and cultural life.

When war broke out between Germany and the U.S.S.R. in 1941, Podhajce was occupied by the Germans, and the Jews immediately became victims of attacks by the Ukranian population. They were forced to pay fines, their movements were restricted, and they were subjected to forced labor.

In 1942, on Yom Kippur, the Gestapo and the Ukranian police sent about 1,000 Jewish men and women from Podhajce to the Belzec Death Camp. The remaining Jews were ordered into a small Ghetto, where many died of typhus. A month later, 1,500 more people were sent to Belzec. (At Belzec, more than 95% of the arrivals were killed either immediately or very soon after their arrival.) On June 6, 1943, the annihilation was completed when, with few exceptions, remaining members of the community were shot and dumped into mass graves on the outskirts of the town. (This was three days before Shavuot, on the third day of the month of Sivan.) Since there is no way of knowing when specific people perished, Yahrzeit for all of the Jews of Podhajce is observed on that day.

(Information for this article came from the Podhajce Memorial Volume (Yizkor Book) and the Encyclopaedia Judaica.)

Podhajce article from Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust

More History at: Roman Zakherii's
Podhajce website

A 2013 Blog post concerning the history of Podhajce during WWI (many interesting photos/cards plus discriptions and history -- an excellent read!)

Articles from
Die Welt 1898-1902

Newspaper Articles about Podhajce (1898-1915) from Library of Congress Collection

1891 Galicia Business Directory
1929 Podhajce Business Directory
Other business directories online

List of donors to the Rabbi Meir Baal Hannnes Fund

1926 letter of appreciation to the USA from students in Podhajce (33 pages of signatures)

The three Incorporation documents below were obtained from the American Jewish Historical Society. They microfilmed the Jewish incorporation records for New York County for the period 1848-1920.  The names and addresses in these documents should be of interest to some Podhajce researchers.

1901 Incorporation documents for the 'Podhajcer Young Men Benevolent Association'
That's right 'Young Men', not Young Mens or Young Men's.

1903 Incorporation documents for the 'Podhajcer Young Mens Benevolent Association'
'Young Mens' now; some additional officers; and a slight change in 'Purpose'.

1917 Incorporation documents for the 'Podhajcer Rabbi Schulem Lilienfeld Association'

2019 article from Baltic Worlds entitled In the Footsteps of the Holocaust Death in Pidhaitsi