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In 1630, twenty Jews lived in Grabowiec. Jewish inhabitants of Grabowiec are mentioned in the first
half of the 17th century, and they played an important part in the development of local trade. In the
years of decrees (1648-49), when the troops of Chmielnicki besieged the town, many of the Jews
took part in its defense. Around 1720, the first Jewish cemetery was established in Grabowiec.
Expanded in 1772, the Jewish cemetery was in operation until the end of the 19th century. In 1891,
a new cemetery was established functioning until 1942. Before 1716 a synagogue was built in
Grabowiec, and before 1800 a Beit Midrash was established. In the 19th century a bath house, mikvah
and prayer house existed. The prayer house had been burned down in 1887 but was rebuilt in 1891.
In 1765 only Jews lived on the main square. There were 13 Jewish houses and a little further from the Square
-- an additional 19, behind which the gardens and buildings owned by Christian townsmen were located.
Following the town fires in 1814 and 1838, a total of 193 houses were burned down. A number of Jewish
families moved to other towns, which caused a significant decrease in the number of Grabowiec
residents. In 1860 roughly 1,000 Jews, 570 Catholics and less than 500 followers of the Orthodox Church
lived there in 310 houses. Similar to a number of towns of comparable size and infrastructure in the
region, the Christian population was engaged mostly in farming and crafts, while the Jewish population
conducted trade, liquor and wagon driving businesses. A few families dealt in grain or leased orchards.
In 1865, out of a total of 2,117 residents, Christian inhabitants (Catholics and Orthodoxies) comprised
1,113 people, and there were 1,000 Jewish residents, constituting 47% of the total population. In 1897
among 3,362 town residents, 1,717 were Jews and in 1904 there were 2,167 Jews, constituting almost
half of the population. Grabowiec was a decidedly Chassidic town. There were 'stiebelech' of the
Chassidim of Husiatin, Kock, Belz, Radzyn, and other courts. A prominent local figure was Rabbi Eliezer
Ber, a pupil of Rabbi Simcha Bonem of Przysucha. Rabbi Ber was renowned as a brilliant preacher. Also
noteworthy was Rabbi Hirsz Ber, the local leader of the Kock Chassidim.
The Jewish children attended the traditional cheders and Talmud Torah, and some of the boys went on
to the Beit Midrash. There were several cheders, as well as a Jewish library, which was operated by
Moszko-Kiwa Fink. Weekly market days were held, as well as six fairs a year.
The outbreak of the First World War brought with it a period of much distress and suffering for the Jews
of Grabowiec. The Russian authorities accused them of aiding the Germans, and many of them were
forced to leave their homes and move to towns within Russia. During the German and Austrian
occupation (1915-1918) the old restrictions on Jewish public life were removed. A local committee was
set up to help the needy. An association of young supporters of Zionism, called 'Hatikvah' (Hope) was
established -- as well as a branch of the Bund. In 1917 the Zionists of Grabowiec opened a public library.
After the war the Jews of Grabowiec continued to occupy themselves with trading and crafts. Most of
their activity was on market days. Craftsmen were organized in a union. On the initiative of the Jewish
merchants and craftsmen a Provident Fund and a Cooperative Bank were established in 1927. In the
inter-war period Grabowiec was still dominated by the traditional religious way of life, but Zionist
influence was on the ascent. It was a period that saw the establishment of branches of 'Poalei Zion'
(Workers of Zion) , 'Tseirei Zion' (Zionist Youth), 'Hamizrach' (Religious Zionists), 'Hapoel Hamizrachi'
(Religious Zionist Workers), and 'Hechalutz' (The Pioneer - from 1930). Parallel to these were the Zionist
youth movements: 'Dror' (Freiheit - Freedom), 'Beitar' (Revisionist Youth) -- and the Jewish Scouts, who
had 120 members. Some of the young Zionists went to training farms, and afterwards emigrated to
Palestine (the first group went in the 1920s). For the Zionist Congress in 1939, there were 392 votes
from Grabowiec. The non-Zionist parties included the orthodox 'Agudat Israel', and the Bund -- most
of whose members were artisans. A few Jewish youths were members of the Communist Party.
In 1933 the local Zionists set up a Hebrew elementary school called 'Tel-Chaim' (Hill of Life - after Chaim
Arlosoroff). In 1938 another school, 'Yavneh', was opened by Hamizrachi. The Hebrew schools also held
evening classes in Hebrew and Bible Studies for working youth. Two public libraries, affiliated to 'Poalei
Zion' and the Bund, and embracing drama and literary activities, were opened in the town. The Bund
library was closed by the authorities for alleged distribution of Communist propaganda.
Before the outbreak of WWII, 2,356 Jews lived in Grabowiec, who were mostly engaged in commerce,
including gold procurement and agricultural produce. A synagogue and five prayer houses were in the
village. At the beginning of October of 1939 some 200 Jews attached themselves to the Red Army units
withdrawing to the Soviet Zone. Immediately afterwards the Germans entered Grabowiec. Jews were
quickly and violently rounded up for slave labor. After a while the Germans evicted the Jews from their
houses and concentrated them in a ghetto. Some 2,000 Jews were crowded into a few streets, a few
families to each apartment. The ghetto was not fenced in, and its inmates were able to leave it and
obtain food from the local peasants in exchange for the few belongings still in their possession.
The Germans set up a labor camp 10 km. from Grabowiec and employed workers from there and nearby
towns. They appointed a Judenrat in the town, whose task it was to provide Jews for slave labor and to
obey German orders. On September 20th, 1939, a unit of the Red Army entered the town, but with-
drew after a fortnight and was replaced by German troops, in accordance with the Soviet-German agreement.
In March 1941 there were 1,435 Jews in Grabowiec. Crowding in the ghetto grew even worse when
Jewish refugees from other places were brought there. In November 1941, 50 Jews from Krakow
arrived. During the autumn of 1941, the situation deteriorated even more when the ghetto was fenced
in and exit from it forbidden. In May 1942, 600 Jews from nearby towns were crammed into the ghetto.
The total number of inmates in the Grabowiec Ghetto at this point was 2,050.
In the winter of 1941 and 1942 furs, gloves, fur hats and gold were confiscated from local Jews. On
May 21, 1942 the German troops shot 33 Jews. On June 8th, 1942, in the early morning, S.S. troops,
aided by Polish police, dragged the Jews from their houses and assembled them in the market square.
Old people, women and children were piled onto carts requisitioned from Polish peasants for this
purpose, while the men marched on foot. All of them were taken to the station at Miaczyn, some 10
kilometres away, where they were sorted. Some scores of ill people were killed on the spot; about 800
Jews fit for work were sent back to Grabowiec at the request of their Nazi employers, while the
remainder -- some 1,200 souls -- were dispatched in wagons to the extermination camp at Sobibor. In
October 1942, the remaining Jews in Grabowiec were likewise sent to their deaths there. This October
transport is described by eyewitness Dr. Michael Temchin, who also was on the transport but
was able to escape one of the train cars destined for Sobibor, in his book "The Witch Doctor."
In 1942-1944 groups of youngsters who had fled in the autumn of 1939 to eastern Poland joined
partisan units operating in the area. Among the combatants from Grabowiec were Dawid Ehrlich, his
uncle, Szyfra and Chana Szysler, Malka Rub, and Simcha Estik (Astyk). Most of the Jews who had
fled to the Soviet Union in the autumn of 1939 survived. A few Jewish families from Grabowiec
survived by hiding in the forest and among the Christian population.
Please donate to the Jewish Records Index - Poland translation of Grabowiec records.
Without your support, we can't appropriately memorialize our families.
Please review the site content below. Zachor - We Remember.
[History] [Holocaust] [Wikipedia - Grabowiec]
[Schools in Grabowiec] [Mass Grave at New Cemetery]
[New Cemetery] [Old Cemetery] [Synagogue]
[Memorial Book of Grabowiec (readable online)]
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Learn more at the Sobibor Remembrance Project
1929 Polish Business Directory Listing, Grabowiec.
Hostyk family, who later moved to Lodz.
Left photo: Hersh Lejb Szysler (rabbi, mayor, mohel), his daughter Malka, son-in-law Nachum, and 2 grandchildren.
Right photo: Nachum and Malka Sukiennik with their children Berel, Yaakov, Chana, Pola, and Yitzhak.
Group of Halutza members of the Jewish scout organization of Wojslawice, a shtetl near Grabowiec.
Wojslawice, circa 1920.
A tailoring workshop in Wojslawice.
Top center photo identified: Yakov and Chaja (Fudim) Hiter. The boys were Avraham, Baruch, or Zev.
who were killed by the Nazis. 1946, Ulm, Germany. No one currently identified.
A stone monument in memory of the Jews of Grabowiec, Poland, who perished in the Holocaust.
The monument, erected in the regional cemetery of Holon - Bat Yam, has text in Hebrew.
A stone monument in memory of the Jews of Wojslawice who perished in the Holocaust.
The monument was erected in the regional cemetery of Holon - Bat Yam; its text is in Hebrew.
Join the Grabowiec group on Facebook!
Village of Grabowiec:
Book: The Witch Doctor
Dr. Michael Temchin Collection
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin: Grabowiec
Virtual Shtetl - Grabowiec
Yizkor Book Wojslawice near Grabowiec
Families of Grabowiec:
Rabbis of Grabowiec:
Shalom Josef of Jozefow
Shalom Tzvi Goldbaum
Gabriel Ze'ev Esselke, 1909
Hersh Lejb Szysler
Aharon Yosef Shor (died 1938)
Notable Residents of Grabowiec:
Notable Descendants of Grabowiec:
Survivors of Grabowiec:
Chaim Bacher (Becker?)
Chaja Papier Rajs
Lillian Rajs Gewirtzman
Survivors of Wojslawice:
Estera Dafner Tenenbaum
Szandla Fierman Wagenfeld
Rabbi Shlomo Hochler
Yitzchak Irving Raab (Rab)
Yakov Zisman (Sussman)
Jewish Records Indexing Poland - Grabowiec
Jewish Vital Records in the Polish State Archives
Jewish Records Indexing Poland - Wojslawice
Remember Your Family:
The DNA Shoah Project: Connecting Descendants
Central Judaica Database - Museum of History of Polish Jews
Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors on Facebook
Guide to the YIVO Archives
Holocaust News/Events from Generations of the Shoah Int'l
Holocaust Survivors and Victims Database
JewishGen Family Finder
JewishGen Holocaust Database
JRI-Poland: Search for Your Family
Museum of History of Polish Jews Introduction
Yad Vashem: Search for Your Family
Yad Vashem: Submit Names of Your Family Members
Yad Vashem Requests Photos of Shoah Survivors and Families