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Encyclopaedia Judaica

Jews in Cracow 05: Holocaust and post-war times

Flight movement to eastern Poland - Holocaust with actions, deportations, ghetto - resistance groups - returning Jews from central Russia - anti-Semitism since 1945 - exodus

from: Cracow; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971, vol. 5

presented by Michael Palomino (2008)



<Holocaust Period.

[[According to the census of 1931 there were 56,800 Jews in Cracow in 1931 (col. 1036)]]

There were 60,000 Jews living in Cracow on the eve of World War II.

[[The economy of independent Poland of 1919 was catastrophic because of the new borderlines in eastern Europe which blocked the markets. There was a harsh Polish anti-Semitic government. Especially the young generation was emigrating 1919-1939 and birth rate was sinking, so the number of Jews could have been also only 40,000, see *Poland]].

[Nazi law - confiscations - actions - deportations - ghetto - deportations]

Persecution began soon after the German occupation (Sept. 6, 1939).

[[The Jewish flight movement to eastern Poland under Soviet rule and by this a reduced number of Jews in Cracow is not mentioned in the article. The Polish collaboration with the Nazis is never mentioned in this article]].

On Sept. 17, 1939, Marek Bieberstein and Wilhelm Goldblatt became chairmen of the Jewish community and tried to restore community activities. The first Aktion took place on Dec. 5 and 6, 1939, when the Eighth District, inhabited mainly by Jews, was cordoned off, and searches and mass confiscations were carried out. The Germans [[and their collaborators]] burned down the Jewish Community Council building and several synagogues. That month the Germans [[and their collaborators]] appointed a *Judenrat [[Jewish Council]], consisting of 24 members, including 11 of thee former kehillah [[congregation]] council and headed by Artur Rosenzweig.

In April 1940, the German authorities issued an order for most of the Jews to evacuate the city within four months. Some 35,000 left, while about 15,000 Jews received special permission to remain [[These numbers seem to be too high]]. Another group was forced to leave in February 1941. About the same time, Cracow's two rabbis (Kornitzer and Rappaport) were murdered by the Nazis [[probably in collaboration with collaborators]].

On March 21, 1941, the ghetto was erected and some 20,000 Jews, including 6,000 from neighboring communities, were crowded in. The physical extermination began in June 1942 when 5,000 victims were deported to the *Belzec death camp in three successive "selections". Several hundred were put to death in the ghetto itself. Among the deportees were Artur Rosenzweig and the 60-year-old poet Mordecai Gebirtig. The 70-year-old painter Abraham Neumann was shot in the street.

In the next Aktion (Oct. 28, 1942) 6,000 Jews were shipped to Belzec, while the patients at the Jewish hospital, the old-age home inmates, and the 300 children at the orphanage were murdered on the spot. The ghetto population was now reduced to 10,000, some of whom were in the work camp cordoned off from the rest of the ghetto by barbed wire.

Final liquidation came in the middle of March 1943, when the inhabitants in the work camp were (col. 1038)

transferred to the nearby *Plaszow labor camp, and anyone found hiding was shot. The majority of the Jews in the other section were either killed on the spot or dispatched to *Auschwitz [[and from there to the tunnel and bunker systems with high death rates]].


[Armed resistance groups: racist Zionist "Akiva" and leftist group - ZOB - contact to partisans]

The Cracow Jews began organizing resistance activities at the end of 1940. Their initially passive resistance soon turned into two organizations for armed resistance and sabotage: "Akiva", consisting of [[racist]] Zionist youth and headed by Laban and Szymon (Shimon) Draenger and Adolf (Dolek) Liebeskind, which published a clandestine weekly in Polish; and another group organized by leftist leaders H. Bauminger and Benjamin Halbrajch.

The "Akiva" group established a base for military operations at a nearby village in the vicinity of the famous salt mines of Bochnia.

Soon afterward both groups merged into the countrywide ZOB ("Jewish Fighting Organization"). On Dec. 22, 1942, they attacked a group of German officers at Cracow's "Cyganeria Club". This attack took on great significance. Several sabotage acts followed, including the derailment of trains.

The Cracow ZOB maintained contact with Jewish partisan groups in the Kielce district and with the *Warsaw Ghetto ZOB leaders, one of whom, Yizhak (Yiẓḥak) Cukierman, was active in the Cracow ghetto for a period. When the Cracow ZOB dissolved due to the final liquidation of Cracow Jewry, some of its members continued their activity at the Plaszow labor camp.


[[Hideouts in "Christian" families and resistance by changing name or changing religion is not mentioned]].

Contemporary Period.

[Survivors - Jews returning from central Russia]

By the end of World War II, only a few Jews who had been in hiding were saved. Only by the end of 1945 and in 1946 did Jews return to Cracow from Russia, where they had found refuge during the war years.

[[Polish Jewish refugees of 1939 in the Soviet occupied eastern Poland
The Jewish refugees of 1939 who arrived in eastern Poland got the choice to get the Soviet passport or to return to Nazi occupied Poland. Most of the Jewish refugees wanted to keep Polish nationality and inscribed for a return. This anti-Soviet gesture was taken for reason to deport the refugees to central Russia (1940). See: *Holocaust, Rescue from. A part of them was drawn into the Russian army (1941), another part lost their lives by cold and hunger in Siberia or in Soviet labor camps (1940-1944). Another part came back since 1946, and the rest stayed in central Russia and a part of them were counted as Yiddish speaking Jews in the central Soviet republics. Unfortunately there is no number indicated how many Jews came back from Russia]].

[1945-1970: anti-Semitism - no Jewish quarter in Kazimierz any more - exodus]

The Jewish quarter of Kazimierz, however, was not reestablished by the Jews after the war because 3,000 among (col. 1039)

them sought residence elsewhere in the town, fearing the outbreak of a pogrom. [[Polish anti-Semitism was harsh also after 1945. There was a pogrom in Cracow on 11 August 1945, in Kielce on 4 July 1946, see *Poland]]. [[...]]

The new Jewish community used four of the ancient synagogues for their religious services. The oldest synagogue, "Hoyche Schul" [[Yidd.: High School]], was transformed into a Jewish museum. The old cemetery was renewed and reformed as a result of contributions from American and Canadian Jews. [[...]]

A memorial book on Cracow Jewry, Sefer Kraka Ir va-Em be-Yisrael, was published in 1959. [[...]]

The last Jew left Kazimierz in 1968 [[by emigration with a visa for Palestine within the general anti-Semitic wave against all Jews in the country since the Six-Day War occupations of racist Zionist Free Mason CIA Herzl Israel of 1967, see *Poland]]. [[...]]

After the exodus of 1967-69 [[number and final destinations are missing]], 700 Jews, mainly elderly ones, remained in the city. (col. 1040)

[[The Polish government gave visas only for Palestine, but many Jews finally went to other countries, see *Poland]].



-- J.M. Zunz: Ir ha-Zedek (1874)
-- H.D. Friedberg: Luhot Zikkaron (1897, repr. 1969)
-- H.N. Dembitzer: Kelilat Yofi, 2 vols. (1888-93, repr. 1960)
-- F.H. Wettstein: Kadmoniyyot mi-Pinkasot Yeshanim ... be-Krakov (1892)
-- idem: Le-Korot ha-Yehudim be-Polin u-ve-Yihud bei-Krakov (1918, repr. 1968)
-- F. Friedmann: Die galizischen Juden im Kampfe um ihre Gleichberechtigung 1848-1868 [[Galician Jews in their Fight for Emancipation]] (1929)
-- B. Wasiutyński: Ludność zydowska w Polsce w wiekach XIX i XX (1930)
-- M. Balaban: Historia Zydów w Krakowie i na Kazimierzu, 2 vols. (1931-36)
-- I. Schipper (ed.): Dzieje handlu Zydowskiego na ziemiach polskich (1937), index, s.v. Krakow
-- Halpern, Pinkas, index
-- R. Mahler: Yiddn in Amolikn Poylin in Likht fun Tsifern (1958), 38, 62-64, 104, 126, 139, 150, 152, 156, 157, 175, 180, 187, 197; tables nos. 10, 18, 28, 42, 55, 57
-- H.H. Ben-Sasson: Hagut ve-Hanhagah (1959), index
-- S. Bronsztein: Ludnosć Zydowska w Polsce w okresie miedzywojennym (1963), 31, 103, 114, 125, 141, 143, 146, 151, 167, 168, 170, 207-10, 232, 277, 280, 281

-- B. Friedberg: Ha-Defus ha-Ivri bi-Krakov (1900)
-- idem: Ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Polanyah (1950), 1-41
-- Balaban, in: Soncino-Blaetter [[Soncino Papers]], 3 (1929-30), 1-14, 31-34, 36-50
-- HB, 4 (1900), 135-6
-- Habernmann, in: KS, 33 (1957 / 58); 509-20
-- Rivkind, in: Bibliotekbukh (Yid., 1934), 49-53

-- J. Tenenbaum: Underground (1952), index
-- Arim ve-Immahot be-Yissrael, 2 (1948), 346-52
-- Nirensztajn, in: Bleter far Geshikhte [[Yidd.: History Papers]], 5 no. 1-2 (1952), 226-63
-- G. Davidson: Yomanah shel Yustinah (1953)
-- G. Reitlinger: Final Solution (1968), index.> (col. 1040)

Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Cracow, vol.
                        5, col. 1035-1036
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Cracow, vol. 5, col. 1035-1036
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Cracow, vol.
                        5, col. 1037-1038
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Cracow, vol. 5, col. 1037-1038
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Cracow, vol.
                        5, col. 1039-1040
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Cracow, vol. 5, col. 1039-1040

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