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Coat of arms of Jaworzno Alternate names: Jaworzno [Pol], Yavarzna [Yid], Arnshalde [Ger], Javožno [Cz], Jaworzyna. 50°13' N, 19°17' E, 30 miles WNW of Kraków, 12 miles E of Katowice, 8 miles NW of Chrzanów. Jewish population: 684 (in 1890), 1,346 (in 1921).  Słownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego (1880-1902), III, pp. 532-533: "Jaworzno". This city in Zagłębie Dąbrowskie in southern Poland near Katowice is in the east district of the Upper Silesian Metropolitan Union - metropolis with the population of 2 million in the Silesian Highlands, on the Przemsza river (tributary of the Vistula). [May 2009]

Jewish settlement dated from the first half of the 18th century. In 1748, 15 Jewish families were documented. At the end of the 18th century, 55 Jews lived there as the tenants of the local breweries and doing various crafts. The Starozakonnych kahal expanded 752 Jews including 406 in Jaworzno in 1886. The 1900 general population of 9,181 had 955 Jews. During the 19th century, this Jaworzno Jewish population grew rapidly, establishing their own synagogue and cemetery on a private plot belonging to Abraham Bester. In the early 20th century, the synagogue was built on ulicy Królowej Jadwigi was replaced with one on ulicy księdza Stojałowskiego. A mikvah functioned as did Jewish schools and charitable organizations. The kahal was a branch of Chrzanowski's kahal; and Chaim Zev Rosenblum was rabbi. From 1914 to 1929, the local rabbi was joined by his brother Chaim, who had lived in Auschwitz for many years. With two rabbis, Jjaworzno Jews tried to organize their own religious community. The first request was in 1914; but Lviv did not agree. The Jews of Jaworzna asked again in 1927 when their community had fewer than 200 Jews (10%) while nearby Szczakowa had about 500, most Orthodox with a minority of assimilated Jews.  Despite their differences, the groups maintained friendly relations. In 1928, Jaworzno had three houses of prayer, a ritual bath, and a Jewish cemetery with a number of educational associations and two rabbis. All  were maintained by contributions from the local Jewish community and required regulation, but Jaworzno Jews never created a separate religious community. [May 2009]

On the eve of WWII, two large Jewish communities in Jaworzno-Szczakowa, one small and one with almost four hundred in Szczakowa, were subject to the religious community in Chrzanowie. Both groups developed separate social lives but were friendly. The rabbinate had their own synagogues, mikvahs, and well-organized religious education for men and women at the primary level. Both operated a number of organizations and associations. The Third Reich occupied both and almost immediately and forcibly displaced or destroyed existing residents. Etermination of the Jewish community was first and foremost. The situation of the Jews from the first days of occupation was very difficult and deteriorated. Violence, repression, and strict regulations restricting freedom were the rule. In both municipalities, burning of synagogues and other communal buildings occurred. Jewish property and businesses were confiscated. They wore "Judenzeichen", a band with the Mogen David on the left arm. In Spring 1940, a big group of Jews arrived from the liquidated ghettos of Katowice, Chorzów and Siemianowice. Slave labor in Germany began. In January 1941, a police regulation banned Jews from using public bathing areas and from movement of certain streets Jaworzno. Unemployed men were deported to work until the beginning of 1942 when young girls were taken. In 1942, the Nazis began final liquidation of the Jaworzno Jewish population. At the end of May was the first deportation to the death camp leaving some 1,200 Jews. Abandoned Jewish housing were sealed. The final deportation was on July 9 after which left Jaworzno Judenrein. Actually, two Jewish families (twelve people) were kept at the request of the Director of Mines, included the glazier with his family). The two families were removed on August 1, 1943. In Szczakowa "the final solution" was different. German authorities briefly created a ghetto and then transported them to Auschwitz. At the selected concentration area between the mountain and the river called Pasternikiem (Hirtenstrasse) fourteen "host" families lived . In the meadows, where cattle grazed, the Nazis imprisoned the populace-- at the inlet on a high railway embankment convenient for observing by German officers. The river was a natural barrier preventing escape. An additional hurdle was two dump heaps (slag) - the refuse of the soda factory. The entire area had a barbed wire fence and was created probably \sometime in spring 1942 when the men were ordered to leave their homes. In March, the empty farms of the Pasternik family held a total of 87 people in thirty-four rooms. In the city still waiting for resettlement were 336 Jews. Germany wanted to settle 423 people in the ghetto. Remarks on the conditions prevailing in the Pasternik made in a March 1942 document say, "Summary figures. The authorities wanted to locate at any price in Pasternik a large number of people and in addition, intend to keep ten rooms for offices for the municipality and its institutions and a separate space for the public kitchen, food storage, dining room for children, dispensary, and baths. Also on the premises will be the office of bakeries and grocery shops to supply the population. The document noted high population density, lack of basic facilities, and the danger of epidemics. Germany assumed in the higher density of population was one in 4 sq m. Conditions were horrendous. The final liquidation occurred on the morning of June 8, 1942 when the army and police went to the 14 homes. They divided the Jews into group of minors and elders together to Auschwitz (287) and the strong to work in Germany, (40) sent to the Sosnowiec ghetto, 240 to the Chrzanowie ghetto where in February 1943, they were deported to Auschwitz. Afterward, the area was thoroughly cleaned. They burned things found unnecessary: pillows, quilts, etc after carefully checking every crease in case something had been hidden. Some items left by the Jews, including furniture or cars were distributed to poor Germans and the inferior quality of goods sold to the Poles. In the autumn, former owners of farms were allowed to return. They hesitated; traces remained. [May 2009]

CEMETERY: Established in the second half of the 19th century on Avenue J. Pilsudski, the oldest known gravestone dates from July 1884, when Jakob Bester was buried, and then in the autumn his son, Joseph. The cemetery was originally on private land of the Bester family. Eighteen years later, the Chesed Emet took ownership and established the cemetery for the local Jewish community, who earlier transported their dead to neighboring towns: initially to Będzin, and after to Chrzanów Trzebini, Szczakowa and Ciężkowicach. After the "final solution" of local Jewish community in WWII, the cemetery was closed and intact during occupation. After the war, mainly due to neglect, systematic devastation occurred. In the 1990s, former inhabitants of Jaworzna restored the site. Ms Rose Gerstner-Sonntag found the cemetery in extremely bad condition in the 1970s. After returning to home in New York, she contacted other Jaworzno Jews in America and Israel. For a dozen years, funds were collected for renewal of the cemetery. In July 1995, on the fiftieth anniversary of the third deportation of Jews from Jaworznaa solemn unveiling of the Holocaust memorial in the cemetery. First was Kaddish and other prayers and then the reading of the names of the dead. About fifty Jews, who came here with their families, children and grandchildren, attended the ceremony. Also present were the authorities of the city. The mayor of Jaworzna received a symbolic key to the cemetery with a request to care for it after their departure. Only preserved fragments remain on the 0.25 ha surface that before the war reached the road and contained more than three hundred gravestones. Gravestones preserved and rows of licami face east, toward Jerusalem. The vast majority of the memorials are rectangular stones, in some cases set on a base or foundation. Among are three basic types. The first is a simple vertical rectangle, which differ from another at the top of the crown. The second type presents a more developed form, where a stone disc is divided. This division can be a plinth, the body of the plane, with Hebrew inscriptions and symbols. The third type is a form of gravestone is the so-called Tumby. Only one such tombstone survives, although initially more existed, as evidenced by other foundations. The gravestone is not complete. Interesting is an isolated obelisk gravestone. Despite the diversity of form, all matzevot face have a single schema. In the upper part is symbolism relating to the deceased, while below is the Hebrew inscription identifying the deceased and extolling his merits. In two cases, below the Hebrew inscription on the pedestal are German. The variety of symbolic representations reflect on the local Jewish community. On this basis, in some cases, the sex of the deceased is evident. Some of the symbols reflect the Jewish faith in eternal life. The most common are the bowl and pitcher of Levites, hand blessing of Cohanim, books, crowns, candlesticks, and others. photos. [May 2009]

US Commission No. 000553. The US Commission is not finished rechecking this file. [2000]

A new wall was completed in 1990. 300+ existing stones are mostly legible and mostly on original graves. Rose Gerstner Sontag, together with the help of a few other landsleit and a former Christian Polish neighbor, were the ones who restored the cemetery. For more details and pictures, pls e-mail me. I have been there in 1990, 1992, 1995, and 1999. Mrs. Sontag, my mother, goes annually. Source: Sam Sontag, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . [February 2002]

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 May 2009 16:47
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