By Lucjan Kołodziejski.
Today, there are no Jews in Borzęcin. Only empty houses remained, full of new people. These houses are the last witnesses of their presence. Holocaust meant extermination of Jews and their culture also in Borzęcin. Few people here remember their names.
Antoni Sonimski wrote in his “Lament over the Jewish shtetls”:
There are no more Jewish shtetls in Poland,
In Hrubieszów, Karczew, Brody and Falenica.
In vain you would look in the windows
Searching for candles lit for Shabbat
Or sounds of songs from a wooden synagogue…
In the village of Borzęcin, devout Jewish women also lit two candles in their homes on Shabbat evening, saying a blessing over them to welcome holy Sabbath…
Only emptiness has remained after the destruction of the Jewish world.
The purpose of this work is to save from oblivion Jews, inhabitants of the village of Borzęcin, based on documents from 1817–1942 and testimonies of their Christian neighbours.
Jews lived here alongside Christians, but were exterminated by Germans during World War II. Now, after so many years, it is often difficult to determine even the basic facts about those Jewish families. Even the exact date of deportation of Borzęcin Jews to Brzesko ghetto and later to the Bełżec death camp is not known. In respect to my research, the work of Józef Bratko (Józef Bratko, Dzieje Borzęcina 1364-1939, typescript) proved to be very valuable. Quotes from this book are italicised in the text. There are also several other authors who mention local Jews, including Iwona Zawidzka (“Jewish cemetery in Brzesko”, Brzesko, 2001). Jewish vital records books were also an essential source of information. These records are kept in the Civil Registry Offices in Radłów, Borzęcin and Brzesko and in the Tarnów Archives. School records were also an important source of information about Borzęcin Jewish community. Another valuable source of knowledge, especially about the number of Jews in Borzęcin, is Schematismus Universi Venerabilis Cleri Saecularis et Regularis Dioeceseos Tarnoviensis from 1817-1939 (from 1936 called the Yearbook of the Tarnów Diocese) located in the University Library of Tarnów and the Diocesan Archives. Tarnów archives have got another valuable document, Registration Book of the 57th Galician Infantry Regiment, which includes the names of Borzęcin Jews serving in the Austrian Army. And finally, 7 tombstones of Borzęcin Jews survived at the Brzesko Jewish cemetery.
I want to express my gratitude to Iwona Zawidzka, curator of the Bochnia Museum, for the time devoted to me, joint search for Jews from Borzęcin buried at the Bresko Jewish cemetery and for translations from Hebrew.
Adam Bartosz, Director of the Regional Museum in Tarnów, advised me, shared his knowledge and experience while I was working on this article.
I’m also grateful to Kazimierz Bratko for information and photos of Bluma, Rachel and Maks Schrank and to school principal, mgr Kinga Białek, as well as to priest mgr Czesław Paszyński.
Census of Jews from Krakow Province carried out in 1765 did not show any Jews living in Borzęcin. We also do not find them in Radłów Inventory from 1773. At that time, inns were rented by Catholics. Back then Jews couldn’t settle in Borzęcin, a village owned by Krakow bishops. However, in the neighbouring Przyborów, village owned by the king, 1765 census listed 5 Jews. Situation changed due to the First Partition of Poland in 1772, when Borzęcin became a private village. The first information related to Borzęcin Jews comes from 1817 and can be found in the Schematismus Universi Venerabilis Cleri Saecularis et Regularis Dioeceseos Tarnoviensis, which mentions 13 Jews living in the area. The first Jew from Borzęcin, whose name has become known, is Nachman Kopald (born onApril 15, 1834 ). In1880s and 1990s, he was the first renowned Jewish architect in Krakow. From 1877, he had a concession for masonry works, and from 1882 he worked as an architect. In 1876-1887 he built 6 tenement houses, including 3 at Dietla street. In 1896 he built the synagogue Chewra Thilim preserved to this day.
Borzęcin Jews belonged to kehilla (Jewish religious community) of Brzesko. They buried their dead at the local cemetery. Rabbi also lived in Brzesko. In 1939, over 50% of the city residents were Jewish. They had three synagogues and several prayer houses there. Births and deaths of Borzęcin Jews were registered in Brzesko till 1876 and since 1877 – in Radłów.
In 1817-1939, the number of Jews in Borzęcin ranged from 13 (1817) to 270 (the highest number, 1894) with a total population of the village from 4,411 to 7,895.
Systematic records of Jewish children born in Borzęcin were kept from 1892 until 1940. Non-systematic records from 1866-1883 cover six births. 205 Jewish children were born in Borzęcin during the entire period, 111 girls and 94 boys, including three stillborn babies.
These children had only Jewish fathers; some of them had been born before their parents got legally married. Birth records of such children usually have this type of comments: Josef Radwan in the presence of witness confirms his fatherhood of the child.
Ceremony of namegiving to a girl usually took place at home or in the synagogue. It happened on the first Sabbath after the birth of the child. At that time, the girl’s father read a fragment of the Torah called paraszat haszawua during the Sabbath service.
In case of male children, circumcision was performed on the eighth day after the child’s birth, that is, foreskin was removed. This procedure is a symbol of the covenant between God and Abraham. It means admission to the Jewish community. Circumcision was carried out at the boy’s birth house, less often in the synagogue. Functions of mohel were fulfilled by Aron Kauffman, Juda Kauffman, Jakub Kleimahler, Menasche Kauffman, Chaim Teitelbaum, Józef Herbst. It was then that the boy’s name was solemnly announced for the first time. Circumcised child rested on the lap of a person important to his parents, who was sitting on a chair in the middle of the prayer room. In Borzęcin these were: Baruch Helfgott, Dawid Tellerman, Heinrich Teitelbaum, Jakub Kleinzahler, Jakub Goldstein, Lejb Schmalholz, Chaim Teitelbaum, and Mojżesz Lipschitz, rabbi from Brzesko.
Marriage records book of the Israeli Record Office in Radłów did not survive, probably it was destroyed during World War II or later. Based on the residual information, I conclude that it consisted of 2 volumes embracing years 1877-1942. Fortunately, there exists complete Jewish marriage records book for the same years in Brzesko. It’s worth noting that Jewish birth records contain annotations regarding the place and time of marriage of child’s parents, and due to that it’s possible to recreate marriage records from Borzęcin.
The oldest recorded wedding, that of Alumela Blautem and Alte Wasserberger, took place in Borzęcin in 1875. The last recorded wedding happened on August 12, 1930, when Józef Leibel married Anna Sattler in Radłów.
In addition to “official” husbands – those from officially recorded marriages – there existed so-called “ritual” husbands. “Ritual marriages” resulted from a ceremony officiated by a rabbi according to Jewish religious law. Under state law, children born of such a union were considered illegitimate and had their mother’s surname. It resulted from the fact that Austrian law defined relatively high fees for weddings. If the newlyweds could not afford a state wedding, or did not consider it important, they had only religious ceremony. Later, if they paid appropriate fees, their marriage changed the status and was recognized by the state.
Weddings usually took place in a courtyard in front of a synagogue (“under the stars”). Couple stood under a canopy (chupa). Wedding ceremony started with a rabbi blessing the wine and the couple. Then rabbi gave them a cup of wine; groom drank first and then gave cup to the bride. The groom (who had to be at least 18 years old) put the ring on the bride’s finger (she had to be at least 12 years and one day old) in the presence of two witnesses and said: “Here you are dedicated to me with this ring according to the Law of Moses and Israel”. After that the couple was considered married and the guests confirmed this fact by shouting: “Married!” (Hebrew: mekudeszet!). At that moment, the guest of honour read the marriage contract (ketuba) and gave it to the bride to be kept eternally. It provided security for her existence. In Judaism, contrary to popular belief, a woman holds very high position, and ketuba confirms her rights and lists her husband’s duties.
The book of death records embraces years 1877-1942. Until 1882, all entries were recorded in German, and later in Polish. In total, 107 people (60 women and 47 men) died during this time period. Borzęcin Jews were buried in Brzesko, first at the old Jewish cemetery, and later (form around 1824) – at the new one.
Below you can find translation of the inscription on one of surviving matzevot.
Here is buried
Towa Sattler, daughter of Mr. Abraham Leib.
Died on Adar 2, 687 [4 February 1927]
May her soul be bound in a bundle of life.
Woman pure and righteous.
Below is an inscription in German:
Vital records allow to identify houses where Jews used to live. It should be noted, however, that not all vital records have this information. We managed to establish numbers of the following houses inhabited by Jews: 1, 4, 25, 55, 243, 556, 560,566, 577, 655, 656, 677, 720, 725, 743, 755, 773, 799, 810, 816, 827.1000, 1018.
Borzęcin Jews mainly dealt with trade. “I remember that a Jewish woman, Rywka, and a Jew, “Jabron”, probably Abraham were buying eggs from villagers… There was also another Jew who walked around the village with a sackcloth on his back and every now and then shouted loudly “sell, sell – skins, feathers, chickens – sell” (J. Bratko, Dzieje Borzęcina 1364-1939, p. 198).
Analyzing available sources, I recreated partial fate of some Jewish families living in Borzęcin.
House number 755. Wyźroł. Józef Weigler.
Józef Weigler, son of Nathan and Ruchla, was married to Sima, daughter of Kopel and Reisel Helfgott, merchants from Borzęcin. Villagers called him Josek. He bought calves and cattle for slaughter. He performed ritual slaughter in a slaughterhouse located in Borek (see the map), and had to be accompanied by a shochet who supervised slaughter. The idea was to kill cattle with a single stroke of a knife by cutting carotid artery and throat. Meat had to be completely bloodless.
He changed his place of residence in Borzęcin many times. On August 8, 1894, his daughter Chane Kile was born, who many years later emigrated to France. She lived in Bar sur Aube during the war and perished in Auschwitz on November 4, 1942.
Their second daughter Gitel was born on June 20, 1899 in the house number 25, during the war she lived together with her sister Bar sur Aube (France), she perished in Auschwitz on August 29, 1942.
Their third daughter Feiga was born in 1890. On May 25, 1903, at the age of 4 months, their son Riwan died of “bowel disease”. They lived then in house No. 755. When the family lived in house No. 575, on June 30, 1904, their daughter Meisel was born. On October 22, 1907, son Mayer was born in house No. 25. Izrael Pinkas born on July 27, 1910, was the third recorded son of the Weigler family. In 1910 they lived in the house number 556.
Józef Weigler, also known as Biegles, died on May 21, 1941 at the age of 72 in the house number 755. In July 1942, his widow Sima Weigler was taken to Brzesko ghetto and later to the Bełżec Extermination Camp. This house no longer exists, it was set on fire in the 1970s. I remember this wooden house standing in front of Uszwica. There was a wooden porch in the front. A religious school (cheder) used to be in it. After the age of three, Jewish boys started their education in cheder. Classes lasted all day with a short break for a meal. The youngest boys were taught to read, studied Torah and the Talmud. They attended cheder until the age of 13. The teacher didn’t live in Borzęcin, but came from Brzesko. The only known teacher called Melamed or Rebbe of the religious school in Borzęcin was Józef Hirsch Müller, who taught in 1896.
House number 556 [a]. Wyźroł. Eliasz Reiss.
Originally, Oser Sattler, 31, lived in the house number 566. He married 18-year-old Taube Warenhaupt on March 5, 1877 . The groom came from Borzęcin, and the bride from Jadowniki near Brzesko. Rabbi Tobiasz Lipschütz blessed their marriage in the Bresko synagogue. On December 11, 1895, their daughter Rachel was born, who on March 21, 1923 married Wolf Werbel, manufacturer born on March 13, 1887. Chaim Teitelbaum blessed their relationship.
Another information about this house comes from March 13, 1886. 66-year-old Estera Satler, daughter of Juda and Chana Kamholtz, a workman in Borzęcin, died on that day. Later, two families lived in the house: Reiss and Baumgarten. The house no longer exists. Eliasz Reiss was married ritually to Lene, daughter of Estera and Wolf Sattler, baker from Borzęcin. He was called “Hela” by the inhabitants of Borzęcin. In 1901, their two daughters died of angina: on March 31 two-year-old Cirel, and on April 3, five-year-old Sara. Lena, aged 44, died of cancer on May 28, 1909.
Eliasz Raiss remarried: information about it can be found in birth records of his children coming from the second marriage. He got legally married to Esther, daughter of Kresla and Hirsch Heűberger, a merchant from Krzeczów in Radłów on July 31, 1927.
Two children were born from this relationship: daughter Eidel on July 25, 1913 and son Aron on April 8, 1919. Aron was a talented student, in 1931/32 school year he did not miss a single lesson. Mother-in-law of Eliasz, Kresla Heűberger , died in his house on September 10, 1918 aged 73. In 1941, Eliasz and Aron were shot while trying to escape. Ester was taken to Brzesko ghetto in July 1942 and then to the Bełżec Death Camp, where she perished.
House number 556 [b]. Wyźroł. Hirsch Baumgarten.
Hirsch Baumgarten was the second resident of house number 556 [b], he was called “Heśla” by the villagers. He was rabbinical assessor, merchant and ritual husband of Estera Heller from a merchant family living in Brzesko, whom he married in Radłów on March 23, 1909. On August 15, 1892, his son Izrael died of pneumonia. Daughter Pesel was born on June 19, 1910 , son Wigdor on January 11, 1914, and daughter Leűe on December 1, 1919. Rywka Baumgarten died on June 4, 1932 at the age of 75. Hirsch Baumgarten died on January 1, 1938 aged of 77.
Chana, daughter of Riwka Sattler, the first wife of Hirsch Baumagarden, also lived in this house. She was born in Borzęcin on April 10, 1898 and on August 12, 1930, she married Józef Leibel, tinsmith in Borzęcin, born on December 1, 1904. They had four children: daughter Hensche born on On July 8, 1931 and three sons: Majer born on April 13, 1933, Samuel Schaje born on February 27, 1937 and Abraham Hirsch born on April 9, 1940.
All were taken to the Brzesko ghetto and murdered in the Bełżec Death Camp in 1942.
House number 560. Wyźroł. Hinda and Abusch Sessler.
On January 7, 1908, Abusch Sessler/Pistrong married Hinde Goldstein, 20, daughter of Jakub Goldstein, merchant from Borzęcin, and Lieba Scheindel nee Grűndberg. Abusch Sessler was a merchant, owner of a textile store. On December 22, 1908, the first child of the Sesslers, daughter Riwka, was born, and on September 28, 1910, son Simon. The next children were: daughter Breidl (1912), son Maks Izaak (1919) and son Ferdynand (1923). In September 1929, Ferdynand began his education in the first grade of the 7-grade primary school in Borzęcin Górny. The Sesslers moved to a house number 1018. On November 10, 1925. Abusch Pistrong/Sessler married Frimeta from Borzęcin, daughter of Lejb Goldstein and Sara née Grűnberg, innkeepers in Wiewiórka. Why did Abusch marry Frimeta while Hinde was still alive? Abusch’s first wife died on December 9, 1927, at the time she was 39, and the cause of death was pneumonia. Even before Hinda’s death, on July 12, 1927, her and Abusch’s 8-year-old son, Maks Izaak, died of a stomach infection. On January 2, 1930, the new spouses gave birth to daughter Rozalia, who died on the 22nd of that month.
Prayer house. Borzęcin Górny.
On the left side of the road after the bridge in the direction of Przyborów, there used to be a one-story wooden prayer house covered with zinc roof. Borzęcin Jews gathered there for services on Sabbath. It was oriented east. In its vestibule there was probably a vessel for ritual hand washing (oblution). The main room of this synagogue was a prayer room with a central podium (bimah) from which the Torah was read. The room was filled with benches, where Jews had purchased seats. Women prayed in a separate room; windows had frosted glass and wooden shutters.
Informal function of Szames, janitor of the Borzęcin synagogue, was performed by the unknown Wolf. His task was to maintain order and cleanliness in the house of prayer. Probably in 1930s Aleksander Mojżesz Tellerman presided over the prayers (more: house No. 677). Birth records of some Jewish girls state that they were given their names in the Borzęcin synagogue. The first name was given on December 5, 1925. The first recorded wedding took place on March 12, 1912, when Pasa Schmalholz and Szymon Ormianer called Wolf (More: house number 743) got married. The synagogue was burned on January 16, 1945. Nobody was interested in unburned remains of the synagogue and fragments of prayer books piled up here and there. Image of papers spread by the wind testified to the “otherness” of the Jewish community.
House number 816. Borzęcin Górny. Fischel Grundberger.
(…) Fischer, tinsmith by profession, lived there; he also ran a shop. On September 20, 1880, 3-month-old Jozef, son of Fischel Grundberger, tinsmith in Borzęcin, died. The child’s father was 56 at the time of his birth. On May 7, 1882, his six-month-old son Isak died.
Wedding of Jakub Goldstein and Liebe Scheindel, daughter of Fischel and Chana Reisla Grundberger took place in Brzesko on January 2, 1891. On March 18, 1892, their son Józef was born.
On February 16, 1892, Riwka, 3-month-old daughter of Jankel Wolf and Elka Spilman, died. her father was a merchant in Borzęcin. On January 16, 1893, Sarah, daughter of Elka Grundberger and Wolf Jakub Spilman, was born.
On September 1, 1894, Estera, illegitimate daughter of Wolf Jakub Spilman and Elka, daughter of merchant Fischl and Sara Estera Grundberger from Borzęcin, was born in the house No. 817. Parents got married in Żabno on May 20, 1900.
On May 5, 1903, their daughter Chaja was born. She attended primary school in Borzęcin in 1912/13-1913/14. On December 6, 1904. their son Izrael Hirsch was born. Ella Spilman, 35, died of cancer (sarcoma) on June 6, 1906, in the house No. 816.
On February 26, 1901, Grundberger’s second daughter Feiga married tinsmith Pinkas Lederberger in Wiśnicz. On October 5, 1902, their firstborn son, Kiwa, 7 months old, died, and on April 9, 1903 their son Moses was born. Grandfather of the child, Fischel Grundberger, was present at his grandson’s circumcision. Two years later, on April 14, 1905, their daughter Zlate was born, who in 1912–1919 attended primary school in Borzęcin Górny. After the death of his first wife, on December 5, 1906, J. Spilman married Sara Jukla, 20-year-old daughter of Abraham Jakub and Leja Műngelgrűn, propinator in Wokowice.
On September 10, 1907, Pinkas and Feigel Lederberger gave birth to a daughter Ella. She later attended primary school in Borzęcin Górny in 1915-1922. Their next child, son Aaron, was born on November 28, 1909.
On March 24, 1912, their next son was born, who was given a double name: Efraim Fischel, probably in honor of grandfather Fischel Grundberger, who died at the age of 85 on April 16, 1911.
His wife Chane Reisel died 5 years later on April 15, 1916. Daughter of the Lederbergers born after her grandmother’s death on December 8, 1915, received her name, Chane. Their last child was daughter Chane Reisel, born on March 1, 1921.
House number 806. Stara Wieś. Szymon Schrank.
Simon (Szymon) Schrank was born in Łętowice near Tarnów on October 15, 1888. He was the son of Ropel and Bluma Linzenür. He got married in Brzesko synagogue on September 3, 1912. His bride, Erna Sattler from Bielcza, born on April 4, 1891, was the daughter of Chaja Gella Waserreich and Efraim Mendel Sattler.
Their daughter Bluma (at home she was called Blinka), who was named after her grandmother, was born on November 9, 1916. Bluma attended primary school in Borzęcin in 1922-1929. On January 31, 1930, she moved to Tarnów and probably attended Hebrew gymnasium operating there. Later she studied medicine at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, she spoke 7 languages.
On September 2, 1918, the second daughter Chane, and on March 24, 1922 (according to another version on February 5, 1920) another daughter Rachel (Polish: Rozalia) were born to Szymon. Rachel studied at the primary school in Borzęcin Górny in 1926-1933, and continued her education in junior high school just like her sister.
On January 26, 1925, son Maks was born in this family. Erna and her son Maks perished in Bełżec.
The Schranks lived in the left part of the house, an inn was in another half. After 1945, Peasant Cooperative launched “Bar by Uzwica” there. Currently (2008) there is a shop in the northern part of this house.
House number 773. Jackówka. Hirsch Jakubowicz.
On December 24, 1904, Chane, daughter of Hirsch (Herman) Jakubowicz, trader in Borzęcin, and Riwka Rachel, daughter of Isaac and Sara Figla Neuman, merchants in Borzęcin, was born. The girl died on January 29, 1911 at the age of 6 of meningitis. On July 2, 1907 another daughter, Debora, was born. In the years 1913–20 she attended primary school in Borzęcin Górny. Debora died on February 24, 1920. The next girl, Ester Pezela, was born on July 5, 1910. She attended school in Borzęcin Górny in 1917-22. Remarks in her school record state that she “left for America”.
House number 1000. Borzęcin Dolny. Lejzer Feiligut.
Leiser Feiligut and his wife Sara lived in the first wooden house on the right in the direction of Rylowa, behind a wooden bridge on the Uszwica river. They came to Borzęcin from Brzesko. Leiser was born on April 21, 1872, and Sara on August 26, 1866. Her first illegitimate child, daughter Beila, was born on November 20, 1891. The girl attended school in Borzęcin Dolny in years 1897-1903. From the second half of 1903, due to her weakness, she stopped attending school. Sara’s second illegitimate child, Moses Wolf also called Moritz, was born on February 1, 1894. He had his mother’s maiden name Weisbart. In the years 1900-1905 he attended primary school in Borzęcin Dolny. From May 3, 1905, he settled in Brzesko, where he also attended school.
Leiser Feiligut and Sara got legally married on December 25, 1895 in Brzesko. On November 10, 1896, their son Wolf Jakub, circumcised 8 days later by Aaron Kauffman, was born. In the first half of the 1904/5 school year, he attended primary school in Borzęcin Dolny. In the second half of the school year he moved to Brzesko. On July 1, 1899, another child, daughter Ruchel was born in the family. She died of pneumonia on July 20, 1901.
Feiligut was the last innkeeper in Borzęcin Dolny. The inn was rented from the owner of the Radłów estate, professor of the Jagiellonian University Maurycy Straszewski. Later he ran a small shop at home. From September 1, 1893, it housed a folk school.
Sara Feiligut died on November 29, 1936 at the age of 72. Her husband Leiser Feiligut died on January 22, 1938 at the age of 66.
Second daughter Rywka married Chaskiel Schindel Hollender on October 20, 1936. On June 2, 1938, their son was born. In July 1942 entire family was taken to Brzesko ghetto, all of them perished in the Bełżec Death Camp.
House number 743. Borzęcin Dolny- village. Szymon Wolf
In 1882, family of merchants Lejb Schmalholtz and Schindla née Helfgott lived in this house. On May 25, 1882, their daughter Riwka died of smallpox aged 12 months.
On March 30, 1883, second daughter Gella Rachel was born. From September 1, 1893, she started attending the newly established one-class folk school in Borzęcin Dolny. Another daughter Sara, born on April 2, 1886, also attended the same school in1893-1898. The father of the child was referred to as Leib the trader. On July 10, 1888, their only son, Majer, was born, who enrolled in a one-class folk school in Borzęcin Dolny on September 1, 1894.
On March 26, 1912, Szymon Wolf married Sara. On April 10, 1915, their first daughter Rachel was born. On October 6, 1919, their son Tobias was born, but no house number was provided in the birth record. The next child, daughter Reisla, was born on January 20, 1920, in the house number 743. Daughter of Sima was born on February 28, 1923, and the last daughter, Witta, was born on June 9, 1924.
Szymon Wolf ran a shop. Around 1937, he sold his possessions to Michał Zaleśny and left for Żabno. He was widely liked. Wolf is a Jew who lived near Zaleśny, at the turn right next to the road, he was very obliging, intelligent and trustworthy, I had a lot of affection for him. My interlocutor emphasizes that as a child she used to receive from his wife a piece of matzah (paschal cake from unleavened dough), which she ate with appetite in times when people often didn’t have enough food.
House number 677. Ciernie. Moses Alexander Tellerman.
Hirsch and Riwka Schmahlholz were the first people living in this house. Their son Majer died on December 3, 1880 aged 67. Majer’s son Hirsch married Gitel, daughter of Moses and Estera Neűer from Rzezawa, on April 21, 1882 in the Bresko synagogue. At that time, the groom was 31 and the bride was 20 years old. On April 16, 1886, their 10-month-old daughter Riwka died of measles. On February 21, 1887, their daughter Ruchel was born and in 1889, Syma called Anna. Both girls attended schools in Borzęcin Dolny.
On August 2, 1892, Gitel gave birth to a stillborn daughter. Another child, daughter Cirel, was born on June 1, 1895. On April 25, 1896, widow Syma Schmalholz, daughter of Berl and Reisel Tellerman, traders in Borzęcin, died in the same house at the age of 78. It can be presumed that she was Majer’s widow.
In 1904, a house was built which exists to this day. According to the principles of Judaism, a box with a roll of parchment was nailed to the front door frame, on which a quote from the Torah was manually written. It was a mezuza which every Jew is supposed to touch when crossing the threshold and be reminded of God of Israel.
Frimeta, the next daughter of Hirsch and Gitla Schmalholz, was born in this house on March 15, 1905. Merchant Mojżesz Aleksander Tellerman married Syma, daughter of Hirsch and Gitla Schmalholz, on March 15, 1921. The young couple lived with the widowed mother Gitla who ran a shop at home selling tobacco to the peasants. Later also Syma … ran a “Mixed Goods” store. I often visited this store, because one could buy needles for the “Singer” sewing machine only from GitlaTellerman, and that’s what our mother often needed. When you entered this store, the door bell rang Then the owner came to the store from the side entrance and served the customer. She never sat idly behind the counter but was always busy with something in the back room, probably in the kitchen. She knew what I was coming for… I bought one, at most two needles for this “Singer”, and she always gave me a cookie with the words: so that you would always come back to me. No wonder I wasn’t worried when my mother broke Singer needles.
Their first child was Josek Hirsch born on June 13, 1922. He first studied at the elementary school in Borzęcin Dolny and from 1932 in Borzęcin Górny. The second child of the Tellermans was Mendel Majer (also called Mońek), born on March 22, 1924. He attended primary school in Borzęcin Górny since 1930. The first daughter was born to the Tellermans on January 24, 1929, and the rite of giving her name Reisla took place in Borzęcin house of prayer. Reisla – Róża studied in a primary school in Borzęcin Dolny in 1935-1938.
On June 29, 1936, second daughter Feiwel was born. Moses Alexander Tellerman was called “Synder”. He ran a farm and concrete plant where concrete elements (roof tile, hollow blocks, well circles, etc.) were produced. Alexander Tellerman was one of the Jews whom people valued very much. He was an honest man with a good heart, he helped his neighbours as much as he could. He had a shop where many people came. When they had no money, Alexander told them to take what they needed, and pay later when they have the money. Many men and women came to him to help in the field, and when work was over, Tellerman’s wife invited them for refreshments.
To this day, the date 1936 appears on his “plant”. In July 1942, the family was taken to the Brzesko ghetto. There is also another version specifying the time of their departure to the ghetto. In the autumn of 1941, the Tellermans, like all Jews, had to move to the Brzesko ghetto. Apparently Tellerman said goodbye to his neighbours and gave them all agricultural tools and machines saying: If I come back you will give everything back to me and if I don’t come back they will remain yours. I remember, it was an autumn rainy day, a cold day. I sat by the window of our house, which stood by the road and saw Tellerman leaving for the ghetto. One of the neighbours drove them away. The ladder wagon was loaded with furniture and bundles with bedding, clothes and food. Tellermans sat on top of these goods. I paid special attention to the boys who were wet and frozen, although they only travelled 1 km of the road, and 14 km were still in front of them. Everyone perished in the Bełżec extermination camp, except for Josek. Twenty-year-old Josek worked on the construction of an electrical line from Mielec to Katowice passing through Borzęcin near the drainage ditch called Wróblówka. Young Jews were working there. Their parents were deported to Bełżec from the Bresko ghetto. None of them survived. Josek managed to escape. Some said that he had been hiding at Pawula’s house. The same Pawula worked for Tellerman before the war, helping in the production of cement roof tiles and wells… Others said he was hiding somewhere near Mielec. He survived the war… but was murdered later in mysterious circumstances.
House number 394. Wielka Strona. Inn. Jakub Spilman.
On December 5, 1906, Jakub Spilman married Sara Sisel. She was the daughter of Lejb Mingelgrűn, propinator in Wokowice, born on January 27, 1886.
On October 1, 1907, their son Efraim Samuel was born, and on May 6, 1909, their daughter Riwka. Spilman rented the longest-running inn in Borzęcin – it functioned till 1908. Villagers called him “Jabron”. The inn was a brick, one-story house with a sloping roof. It was about 30 m long and about 10 m wide. The building was divided into three parts. In the middle there was a wide hallway with a huge door, similar to that of a barn. One could enter with a cart and spend the night in the rooms in the northern part of the building. The southern half of the house was intended for residential and utility purposes…
Since the inn building faced the embankment, but was located at some distance from it, there was a natural square ij front of it used for public gatherings and other socio-economic needs.
When their daughter Riwka was born, they lived in house no. 394 opposite the inn which had been closed a year earlier. In 1913, the Spilmans left for Kraków. The inn, which later served as the People’s House, was demolished in April 1923. A Jew remembered as Berek also lived in this house for some time. In the corner building opposite the [old] People’s House, there was a shop of the Jew Berek, who used to sell tobacco prior to World War I. He had a long, gray beard and general patriarchal appearance.
House number 827. Wielka Strona. Moses Apfelroth.
In the part of this building, which no longer exists, there lived Mosiek who was a butcher. There is practically nothing left of this house but a trace on the wall of the above mentioned Berek’s house. Just an outline of the roof… of a house that used to stand right next to it. Analysis of data from Radłów Jewish vital records books allows to rediscover that world, people who once lived here.
First information about people living in house number 827 comes from June 11, 1884, when 2-year-old Chaja, daughter of tailor Mendel and Henia Helfgott, died. On March 4, 1888, 26-year-old Sisel, daughter of Jakub and Estera Leue Rosenberg, merchants from Grabia, died in this house shortly after giving birth. Her funeral took place on March 11, and her 3 week old daughter, Estera Leue, died 5 days later. Sisel was the wife of Baruch Helfgott, merchant from Borzęcin, son of Kopel and Reisel. After the wedding, she lived with her husband’s parents. Baruch Helfgott, who was also 26 at the time of Sisel’s death, remarried, His second wife was Ruchla nee Rosenberg from Borzęcin. We know that the couple had daughter Lissel, who married Mendel Stern, merchant from Borzęcin, on November 25, 1913. Mendel was Baruch’s brother and thus her uncle. They had a sister Chana, wife of Moses Apfelroth, a butcher/trader from Borzęcin, whom the villagers called “Mosiek”. On January 6, 1903 their son Leser was born. Little is known about his further fate. He lived in Chorzów, was arrested and imprisoned in KL Auschwitz, where he was murdered on March 7, 1942. Another son of the Apfellroths, Aron, was born on August 23, 1904, but lived only 2.5 months.
On February 7, 1906, daughter Lene/Leie was born, but, unfortunately, this child died as a baby. Another child, again a boy, was born on April 15, 1909. He was named Kopel after his maternal grandfather. The next son, Mrdeh, was born on October 1, 1910, and the last child of Moses and Chana, born on December 27, 1916, was Pisel. Comments on his birth record stated that his parents Moses and Chana got legally married in Bochnia on February 23, 1915. Before the arrival of Russian troops on December 15, 1914, Borzęcin Jews left their houses and shops out of fear of pogroms and took refuge in the territories occupied by the Austro-Hungarian army. On August 15, 1917, Lissel Stern, niece of Chana Apfelroth, gave birth to her daughter Sara in the house No. 827. And on February 8, 1929, Jakub Helfgott, bachelor, son of Baruch, died here of tuberculosis. His matzeva has survived at the Brzesko Jewish cemetery. Here is the translation of the Hebrew inscription:
Here is buried
young man Yakov,
son of Mr Baruch Helfgott.
He died on the eve of the New month Adar I, 689 .
May his soul be bound in the bundle of life. From Borzęcin.
Baruch Helfgott died on July 20, 1936, aged74, also in this house. He was buried in Brzesko the next day. His matzeva can also be found at the Brzesko Jewish cemetery:
Mr. Baruch Helfgott, son of Mr. Yakov Kopel, is buried here.
Died at old age and deep wisdom.
Distinguished by his deeds, talents and charity.
Trusted, God-fearing husband. He faithfully dedicated his days
to community needs. He died on 2 of Av 696 [07. 21.1936].
May his soul be bound in the bundle of life.
House number 396. Wielka Strona. Siesman and Bracha Steinlauf.
Siesman Steinlauf married Bracha, daughter of Nuta and Ides Elsner, propinators from Brzeźnica, on August 15, 1909 in Brzesko. The Steinlaufs ran a store in Borzęcin. They had two daughters: Sima and Debora, who was born on March 6, 1892. Son Mojżesz was born on July 10, 1894. Siesman died in Borzęcin on June 7, 1925 aged 77. On September 8, 1937, his wife Bracha Steinlauf died aged 84.
Sima married Abraham Goldstein, insurance agent from Borzęcin, on January 14, 1906 in Brzesko. Their first daughter Ida was born on May 11, 1908. In the years 1914-19 she studied at a primary school in Borzęcin Górny, and starting from 1919-20 school year she attended gymnasium in Brzesko. On January 24, 1911, their second daughter Regina was born. The girl attended local primary school in 1917-19. On October 3, 1913 a stillborn child was born to them. It had to be a delivery with complications as it’s the only recorded case when Dr. Biernacki assisted the woman. In 1919, the Goldsteins left Borzęcin and moved to Brzesko. Later, Abraham left for the Netherlands, and perished, like most Jews from Western Europe, in Auschwitz on October 30, 1944.
Debora married Józef Goldstein, merchant from Borzęcin, on March 8, 1914. By that time they had already had a daughter Ida born on December 1, 1912, and a son Ferdynand Fischer born on December 28, 1913. Their birth records state, that they were born illegitimate, but were to be considered legitimate after their parents’ legal marriage. Debora Steinlauf ran a shop in the house number 396, “sale of vodkas in closed glass vessels”. In July 1942 she was deported to the Brzesko ghetto and perished in the Bełżec Death Camp.
House number 752. W Sadzie. Jukiel i Beila Pesel Goldstein.
Between current houses number 600 and 601 there lived Jukiel and had a store. 7-day-old son of Beila Pesla and Jukiel Goldstein, merchant in Borzęcin, died on March 27, 1892. Their daughter Blima Roza married Mizdor Blatt in 1925. (See No. 833) Little is known about them. In 1910 they were still running a store, and Pesel (J. Bratko uses the name Pepi) applied to the local administration in Brzesko for permission to sell alcoholic beverages. Pesel died of “heartbeat” on March 17, 1929 at the age of 65. J. Bratko wrote in 2010: “House of Jukiel family used to be next to our house. There were two children living there, my peers, Ola and Tolek. There was also a grandfather with a long gray beard, who made wooden toys for us.”
House number 4. Granice. Józef Tellerman.
Józef Tellerman (born in 1864), merchant from Borzęcin, and Reisel, daughter of Feiwel and Łaja Zeighäuser, merchants from Bielcza (born in 1870), got married in Tarnów on February 1, 1893. They lived in a house number 4 rented from the Wrębski family. Their store and farm were popularly called “in Wrębskówka.” On July 1, 1904, their son Józef was born, who attended primary school in Borzęcin Górny in 1910-16.
Their daughter Friedla was born on July 25, 1907. She attended elementary school, where she was called Frania, in 1913-18. Second daughter, Estera, was born on March 2, 1909, and the third, Adela, on February 28, 1910. Adela attended elementary school in Borzęcin Górny in 1916/17 and 1918/19.
On March 2, 1911, their fourth daughter was born, who was also named Esther, maybe Ester, who had been born two years earlier, died by then?
On November 28, 1916, Eidla Tellerman née Blonder died aged 74. Her husband Mendel Majer Tellerman, died on December 11 aged 86.
Reisla and Józef Tellerman left Borzęcin for Podgórze. on May 21, 1918,
House number 656. Brzeg. Gempel (Gimpel) Sternreich.
The oldest information about the family comes from 1870s. Two brothers with their families lived in this house, Józef and Pesla Sternreich as well as Gempel Sternreich and Chaja nee Taglehner.
Gimpel Sternreich from Borzęcin, son of Jakub Szabas and Riwka Stela Sternreich from Wiśniowa, died in this house on September 23, 1908 because of liver disease. He could have been the brother of Józef.
These are extremely tragic families.
Four children of Józef and Pesla Sternreich died: 9-year-old Hersch on October 23, 1877 , 12-year-old Wilhelm – on July 14, 1883, 2-year-old Abraham Isaac – on August 19, 1886, and 3-year-old Dawid Uscher – on September 7, 1894.
Three children of Gempel and Chaja Sternreich also died at a very young age: 5-year-old Ryfka died on November 27, 1878, 3-year-old Chane on December 4 the same year and another daughter – on January 24, 1879
First son of Gempel and Chaja, Isaak, was born in 1889. During World War I he was a soldier of the 57th Galician Infantry Regiment. Also the second son, Dawid, born on January 8, 1891, was a soldier in the regiment. His wife was Sojka Liebmann. They lived in Weissenfels (Saxony) for some time, but during the war they returned to Brzesko and were murdered.
On May 8, 1893, the second son Wigdor was born to Gempel and Chaja Sternreich.
On April 1, 1896, Salomon, illegitimate son of Chemse Bransdorfer, trader from Borzęcin and Chaje Reisel, daughter of Sehyje Ucher and Malka Schancer, merchants from Wiśnicz, was born in this house. Parents id Salomon married on February 9, 1901 in Frankfurt am Main. Salomon became a merchant and lived in Strasbourg (France). During the war he was in Alier, Vichy (France); was murdered in Auschwitz on February 13, 1943.
Later, shoemaker Isaac Wolf Radwan and his wife Sara lived in the house number 656. Sara was the daughter of Chajia Kamholz and Gimpel Stermeich. They got married in Radłów on February 15, 1910. Their first daughter Gimpela was born in Dołędza on June 4, 1912. Second daughter Malka was born on December 28, 1914, third daughter Etla – on December 28, 1917, and fourth daughter Regina was born on May 8, 1925.
House number 655. Brzeg. Majer Heller.
Majer Heller was, similarly to most Borzęcin Jews, a merchant. He married Esther, daughter of Hirsch and Riwka Baumgarten in Radłów on March 23, 1909. His father-in-law was a baker in Borzęcin. Their daughter Pezela (Paulina) was born on June 22, 1910. She attended local elementary school in 1916-22. First son Wilhelm was born on January 11, 1911. He began schooling in the 1920/21 school year. In grade IV, he received 5 unsatisfactory grades. Based on the above progress, he was not promoted to the next grade. Second son, Wigdor, was born on January 11, 1914. The next daughter Leűe was born on December 1, 1919. Another daughter, Etla, born in 1917, attended the local primary school in 1924-28.
Number 799. Krzaki. Hirsch Kleinzahler.
On March 3, 1876, 17-year-old Jakub Kleinzahler married 20-year-old Pesel (Perla) Malka Feldbrand. The bride came from Brzesko (and that’s where the couple got married), the groom was a merchant in Borzęcin. On June 12, 1887, their son Hirsch was born, and on July 28, 1893, the second son, who died after two days. At that time, parents lived in house number 810. On October 22, 1895, Ruchel Lene was born to them. However, she also died of pneumonia on January 5, 1896. In 1897, when their second daughter Chaja was born, Jakub and Pesel already lived in house no. 799. Pesel Kleinzeihler died on October 24, 1914, suffering from tuberculosis at the age of 58, and her husband Jakub died on July 21, 1933.
Hirsch Kleinzahler also called Hersek married Feige, daughter of Józef and Syme Weigler, in Radłów on March 19, 1912. (Feige was born on November 28, 1890 in house number 755, see above.) Their first child, daughter Ruchel Leue, was born on April 28, 1913. During the war she was taken to the Brzesko ghetto, where she worked as a seamstress. Ruchel Leue perished in Bełżec. Second daughter Perel Malka was born on October 22, 1916. In the 1924/25 school year, she graduated from class III and was promoted to class IV. She survived World War II.
Mother of the girls died of tuberculosis at the age of 30, on January 29, 1921, and was buried at the Brzesko Jewish cemetery on January 31. Hirsch, 33-year-old widower, married 28-year-old Frida, daughter of Marjem Westheimer, on August 24, 1926, in the Bresko synagogue.
On February 1, 1925, their son Mendel Emil was born. He began his primary school education in 1931/32 school year and was promoted to the second grade. During the war he was murdered by Germans in the Bresko ghetto.
On December 1, 1926, second son Abraham Isaac was born. During the war he was also murdered by Germans in the Bresko ghetto.
Third son of Hirsch and Frida, Wolf, was born on January 5, 1931. He began his education in the 1st grade of the public primary school in Borzęcin Górny in 1937. During the war he was murdered in the Bresko ghetto.
According to the findings of Malka (Amalia?) Kleinzahler, her father Hirsch Kleinzahler lived in Słotwinaa during the war and perished Auschwitz on November 4, 1942. However, I personally believe that Frida and Hirsch Kleinzahler were murdered in Bełżec in 1942.
House number 833. Stara Wieś. Mizdor Blatt.
Mizdor (Wiktor) Blatt married Blima Roza Goldstein, daughter of Jukiel Goldstein and Beila Pesla née Mondezen, in Radłów on November 10, 1925. The synagogue in which they got married was converted into a cinema after the war. The Blatts ran a shop in Borzęcin. On September 26, 1926, their daughter Felicja was born. She attended primary school in Borzęcin Górny in 1933-37. On March 4, 1931, their son Abraham was born. In 1938, the Blatts moved from Borzęcin to Kraków.
House number 720. Za Karczmą. Israel Sterrnlicht.
Israel Sterrnlicht, trader, later a craftsman from Borzęcin. On April 2, 1907 he married Chaja, daughter of Malka and Sűssl Apfelroth, merchant in Borzęcin. Earlier, on December 18, 1906, their daughter Bline (Bluma) was born, and on December 9, 1909, daughter Frinel, who died on September 3, 1917. On August 25, 1917, son Markus was born, and on June 20, 1919, second son, Natan.
House number 810. Stara Wieś. Jakub Mingelgrűn.
Mendel and Sara Helfgott had son Salomon, who was born on September 12, 1896. Salomon began his education in Borzęcin Dolny in 1904. However, he changed school in the second half of the year, because the family moved to Borzęcin Górny. Sara, daughter of the Helfgotts, married Jakub Mingelgrun, trader in Borzęcin, on December 6, 1911. Young couple lived with the Helfgotts. They had 5 children: Józef born on September 27, 1912, Natan Lipe born on June 20, 1914, Helena born on July 25, 1919, Hirsch born on June 16, 1921 and Rózia born on December 1, 1925, daughter Rózia. Sara Mingelgrűn died on December 8, 1925, mere 7 days after the birth of her last child. She was buried on December 9 at the Brzesko Jewish cemetery. In-laws helped Jakub Mingelgrun who was left with five small children.
We’ve got very little information about many other Jewish families, this subject requires further research.
- Emilia Beigrert, daughter of Majer and Udla Heüleger, was a teacher in Przyborów. Her portrait painted by Władysław Duda is kept in the regional museum in Wojnicz.
- Moses Helfgott, born in Borzęcin on October 1, 1892, was illegitimate son of Sima, daughter of Kopel and Reisel Helfgott, and Nathan Bigles, merchant from Dąbrowa Tarnowska. Before the war, he lived in Berlin, was deported to the Terezin ghetto (Theresienstadt), in transport number I/75. Murdered in Auschwitz.
- At the end of the 19th century, the family of Oser and Tauba nee Warenhaupt lived in the house number 577. This couple got married in Brzesko on March 5, 1877. Their son Leon was born in Borzęcin in July 1882. He was a tailor married to Chana Malka. During the war, he was in the Bochnia ghetto and perished in Bełżec in 1942. They had two daughters: Chane, born on October 19, 1894, and Rachel, born on December 11, 1895. Rachel married Wolf Werbel on March 21, 1923. Their only son Aleksander was born on February 19, 1924. They were taken to the Brzesko ghetto and perished in Bełżec.
- Aron and Hene Schmalholz lived in the house number 572. They had four children: Moses Salomon born September 19, 1899, Hirsch born on February 2, 1903, Majer born on April 28, 1907 and Reisele born on April 15, 1909.
- Mayer and Chana Scharfing lived in the house number 244. On March 19, 1894 their son Abraham Hirsch was born, who attended primary school in Borzęcin Dolny from September 1, 1900.
- Mayer and Chana Mindel Scharfing lived in the house number 244 in Borzęcin Dolny. On March 19, 1894, their son Abraham Hirsch was born. Mayer Scharfing was a shoemaker, he sold shoes at nearby fairs. He was robbed and murdered around 1904 in the Radłów Forests when he was returning from the fair in Dąbrowa Tarnowska.
- Jochn Grosbart, married to Rose of Malter, rented an inn in Borzęcin Górny in 1856-1872 (see house number 394). They had 5 daughters: Liwa (born in 1856), Reisel (born in 1858; she married Ekib Finder from Więckowice in 1884), Sehya (born in 1859), Sara (born in 1865) and Breindla (born in 1872).
Tarnów archives possess records of 57th Galician Infantry Regiment from 1914, which mention 3 Jews from Borzęcin who were mobilized to the Imperial Army:
– Majer Steinlauf born on in 1894 -he was commissioned on September 13, 1914.
– Isaac Kammholz, son of Gimpel and Haje, born in 1889, mobilized on February 18, 1915.
– Józef Mayer Karugold recte Helfgot born in 1886, son of Gimpel and Frimeta, mobilized on November 19, 1914.
In 1939, 42 Jews lived in Borzęcin Górny, 10 in Borzęcin Dolny, and 9 in Bielcza. World War II started by the German attack on Poland on September 1, 1939, was the beginning of extermination of the Jewish community in Borzęcin and in general in Poland. Nazi genocide policy was first directed against Jews and the Roma. Borzęcin was seized by the German army on September 7, 1939. Starting from December 1, 1939, Jews over 10 years of age had to wear armbands with the star of David on the right shoulder. Starting from October 26, 1939. Jews aged 14-60 were forced to work. Anti-Jewish repression intensified every month. Starting from November 22, 1940, all Jews had to register and carry ID cards, and a month later all prayer houses – as well as that in Borzęcin – were closed. In July 1942, all Borzęcin Jews were deported to the Brzesko ghetto.
Franciszek Kowal and Stanisław Czarny secretly supplied food to the ghetto. According to J. Bratko, 49 people were deported to Brzesko: 12 men, 17 women and 20 children. We do not know, how many of them died of starvation or were shot in Brzesko, and how many were murdered in the Bełżec Death Camp.
Death of Aaron and Eliasz Reiss in 1942 (J. Bratko. Dzieje Borzęcin 1939-1945, p. 53,54)
(…) in the late spring of 1942 a pack of armed Nazis passed through the village (…). They came to the house of a Jew, Eliasz Reiss, on “Wyźrol”. Aleksander Kobyłecki, who lives in the neighbourhood, told me about this accident. Germans found several Jews there, especially young people, because Reiss’s house was out of the way and it was thought that it would be safer there. First, they set fire to Eliasz’s beard. Then they took his son Aaron with the intention of shooting him on the spot. One of the Gestapo men walked outside the house to look for a suitable execution spot. In a moment he summoned an officer, pointing to a place near the basement. Then Aron Reiss, taking advantage of the temporary inattention of the Gestapo men, jumped into the field and started running through the neighbours’ farm land. Shooting and the pursuit of the runaway began. When he was about to jump over the fence at Aleksander Kobyłecki’s house, he was injured. He crouched down, and one of the Germans caught him, put a rifle barrel to his head, and shot, killing him on the spot. Nazis returned to the Reiss home, but found only old Reiss there. All the young Jews took advantage of the confusion and fled hiding in the fields. So the Gestapo took the old man and led him out of the barn to the land of Aleksander Kobyłecki. He walked ahead, but turned to the Gestapo men, saying: “Well … Well … as if asking them to shorten the torture of waiting for death. They shot him in the back of the head behind the barn.
Names of 86 Holocaust victims born in Borzęcin were established based on data from Yad VaShem archives, documents from the Brzesko city court, archives of the Institute of National Remembrance in Poland and of Brzesko high school. Some of them lived in Borzęcin, others moved to other places. Information about all of them can be found in the Book of Remembrance at this website.
Questions regarding Jews from Borzęcin as well as sources of data presented above, can be addressed to the author of the article, Lucjan Kołodziejski: firstname.lastname@example.org