The first Jews settled in Trzebinia in the 16th century. According to sources, in 1581, they numbered 54[1.1]. Unfortunately, nothing more is known about this group.

Jewish settlement in Trzebinia began anew in 1731, thanks to the efforts of Antoni Schilhar Trzebiński, who gave the Jews the right to free trade and even declared that Sunday would be a market day. The First Census of Jews in the Republic, compiled in 1765, lists 468 Jews living in the Trzebinia and Chrzanów area. In 1783, there were 80 Jewish residents in Trzebinia, working in wayside inns and breweries, Somewhat later, in 1792, Trzebinia is supposed to have had 11 Jewish households, a brewery and a prayer-house[1.2]. Towards the end of the 18th century, the number of Jews in the towns and villages surrounding Trzebinia was seven in Dulowa, five in Myślachowice, five in Siersza and eight in Młoszowa. In Trzebinia itself,  there were 23 Jewish families, comprising 96 individuals[1.3].

The turn of the 19th century saw a significant increase in the number of Jewish residents in Trzebinia, resulting from the attitude of the Trzebiński family which governed the town, “especially the last of the family, Antoni (died 1802), who supported Jewish settlers and allocated some of the buildings and agricultural grounds, belonging to the estate, for this purpose”[1.4]. The two men, considered to possibly be the first Jewish residents of Trzebinia, were Abush Fleischer and David Mandelbaum. What is known for certain are the names of the leader of the Trzebinia community, Chaim Kluger and the first Trzebinia rabbi, Moshe Yona Levy, as well as his son and successor, Jacob Levy[1.5].

In the second half of the 18th century, Trzebinia Jews most probably fell under the jurisdiction of the Olkusz Jewish Community Council but, by the 1780's, they began trying to establish their own community. “In the years 1786-1787, they brought a suit against the Jews of Olkusz to the royal judiciary in Warsaw. (...) they complained about the amounts they were required to pay to the Council, which they considered to be too high and about the Rabbi of Olkusz who paid no attention to their spiritual needs. (...) The Trzebinia Jews lost the case on September 15th 1787 and were forced to remain under the jurisdiction of the Olkusz Community Council”[1.6]. The foundations for an independent Trzebinia Jewish religious community were laid with the building of a small synagogue, towards the end of the century, and the opening of an unofficial Jewish cemetery. Significant names in the initial history of the Trzebinia Jewish community were Fleischer, Mandelbaum, Lieblich, Gross and Reich.

The Trzebinia Jewish Community Council  was established in 1815. On July 1st of that same year, land was officially purchased for a cemetery. However, due to some legislative changes, the Council began operating officially only in the period of the Galician autonomy, namely after 1867. The 19th century saw the building of three new synagogues, the largest of them being, the “Shule”, at the market square and the merchant synagogue on ul. Piłsudskiego[1.1.6].

Beginning in the 1870's, the Trzebinia municipal authorities consisted mainly of Jews, as they constituted the majority of the town's residents. Until the 1920's, until the moment when the urban and rural municipalities were unified. almosty all  Trzebinia’s mayors were Jewish. In 1905, the mayor was Nochem Rosenberg, his deputy being S. Rosenberg. Interestingly enough, in the November 1905 council elections, Jewish candidates in the Region 1 included Chaim Kluger, Alter Mandelbaum, Samuel Fortgang and Salomon Rosenbaum. There were also Jewish representatives in other regions. For example, in Region 2, there was Abraham Landau, Abraham Glass, Abraham Mandelbaum and Emil Blumenfeld[1.7].

In 19th century, the Jewish community’s main occupations included trade and distilleries, which is indicated by the privileges granted to Mojżesz Zelichowicz who, apart from having a house and a garden by the market square, was also given a licence to open a distillery. Similar privileges, extending to the wholesale of alcoholic products, were granted to Jonasz Markowicz. Additionaly, other distillers received their privileges in 1801, among them being Szloma Herszlowicz, Moshe Szymonowicz and Szymon Józefowicz, who were also involved in agriculture and trade[1.8]. Archival information tells about even more Jewish distilleries in Trzebinia which, at the beginning of the 19th century, were obliged to pay an annual fee of 10 zloty “per jug” to the town treasury.

At the turn of the 20th century, the community already had four synagogues, a ritual bathhouse (mikveh) and a ritual slaughter house[1.9]. The Trzebinia Jewish community functioned on the basis of a charter which was legislated on June 20th, 1897. Apart from the town of Trzebinia itself, it took in Czatkowice, Dębink, Frywałd, Grojec, Krzeszowice, Lgota, Miękinia, Mirów, Młoszowa, Paczółtowice, Psary, Pisary, Rudno, Radwanowice, Rudawa, Sanka, Siedlec, Trzebionka, Żary with Dubik and Żbik[1.10]. The town of Trzebinia also functioned as a Jewish registration district, under the judicial supervision of Chrzanów. The most well-known families from this period included Mandelbaum, Fleischer, Gross, Reich, Klagsburg and Rosenbaum.

In 1907, the leader of the Jewish Community Council was Szymon Rosenbaum. His deputy was Dawid Kluger and Council members included Maurycy Buchsbaum, Nochemie Rosenberg, Berek Glass,  Markowicz, Dawid Schukin Majer and Abram Landau[1.11]. The person responsible for the community’s spiritual care was Rabbi Szloma Bornstein. S. Lundern ran a canteen for single and sick women[1.1.9].

The turn of the century saw the establishment of the first communal organisations, among them being the Hatikhav Jewish Library and Reading-Room. The Jewish theatre group, established by Icchak Fleischer and Gottlieb, brought fame to the town. The son of a local teacher, the Hebrew poet Meit Rosenbaum, began his career at that time. During the inter-War period, he was published in "Ba-Derech”. He was an outstanding intellectual and a passionate supporter of the Zionist movement[1.12].

At the beginning of the 1920's, 513 Jewish families lived in Trzebinia and the surrounding area. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Jews of the Chrzanowki district, among them the Trzebinia Jews, had a natural population increase, 15% more than at the end of the previous century. Interestingly, they married Jews from outside of their gmina - from Rzeszów, Tarnów, Nowyo Sącz and from the former Congress Kingdom[1.13]. Records of the Jewish Community Council were written in Polish. It even had a seal with the Polish "Zwierzchność Gminy Wyznaniowej Izraelickiej w Trzebini”. It differed from Chrzanów, whose seal was in German[1.14]. This does not mean that the local Jews were Polish-speakers nor that the assimilated Jews dominated. Their everyday language was a mixture of "Hebrew, German and a very mutilated Polish”[1.1.14].

The period of the Second Polish Republic was a great time for the Jews of Trzebinia. The city became a centre of Jewish spiritual and cultural life, thanks to, among others, the presence of a yeshivah run by Berisz Weinfeld ( the Trzebinia Gaon), and also, during 1932-1937, the presence of Bencjon Halberstam, the Bobowa tzaddik[1.15].

W 1921, the Rabbi was Jakub Fränkel, a lawyer from Kraków. In 1923, it was Izrael Lewi (died in 1924)[1.16]. In 1925, the position was first held by Moses Rottenstricht and, from September of that year, by Berisz Weinfeld.

At that time, a communal conflict broke out as some Jews supported Beniamin Lewi, son of Izrael, from an old rabbinical family. "A scuffle ensued in front of the synagogue and the police intervened when, on 26th September 1925, Weinfeld's opponents would not let him make a speech”[1.1.10]. A court decision ruled against Lewi's supporters. The result of all this disturbance was a fall in the support of the Orthodox[1.17].

Other political groups emerged - for example, in the second half of the 1920's,  the Zionist Agudat youth group Ha-Noar Ha-Iwri[[refr: | Trzebinia.  The outline of the history of the city and the region, the ed. F. Kiryk, Cracow 1994, p. 345.]].  The change of political mood was not reflected in elections to the Jewish Community Council. In 1919, after the counting of 218 votes, seven Orthodox members and one independent were elected. However, in May 1929, those elected were five Orthodox two Zionists and one Aguda. [1.18].

The German army accupied Trzebinia in September 1939. Already by Tuesday, 5th September, the Wehrmacht had shot, by firing squad, 87 Jews from Chrzanów and Jaworzno. On 8th September, 40 Chrzanów Jews were rounded up on the Trzebinia market square and, in the evening, were shot near the Salvatorian monastery. Executions and round-ups continued on 10th September (among others, on ul. Narutowicza and ul. Stanisława). Around forty Jews perished. On Saturday, 16th September 1939, the Wermacht shot a Jew and a Pole on ul. Kościuszki. On 23rd September, on Yom Kippur (Saturday), thirty Jews were shot near the local school and seven others were shot near the railway station[1.19].

The remaining Jewish population was persecuted. Religious Jews were forced to publicly shave off their beards and were subjected to performing demeaning acts. Jewish property was confiscated. Jewish shops were closed under the pretext that Jews were raising the prices of food and were hiding goods[1.20]. Between October 1940 and June 1941, the Germans transported 8,000 Trzebinia Jews to the ghetto in Chrzanowa. There, they were in tailoring workshops or in quarries in Libiąż and Pogorzyce. The Chrzanowa ghetto was liquidated on 18th February 1943. All its inhabitants were sent to the Auschwitz death camp[1.21].

Eight hundred Jews still remained in Trzebinia, whom the Germans put into a slave labour camp. The camp, named "Za Torami" was established in 1942. It contained eleven barracks for the prisoners. "It was surrounded by a fence wire netting and barbed wire. The fence (…) was not electrified. The barracks were cramped, with prisoners sleeping two or three to a bunk. Toilets were outside the barracks”[1.22]. Jewish men comprised the majority of the prisoners. There were also several dozen women and children, mainly from France, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, the Soviet Union and Poland.

Witnesses recall that, in the camp, prisoners were not required to wear prison garb as in other camps. Prisoners wore their own clothes marked with a Star of David. Their main work related to the expansion of the railway station. Typhus and hunger were prevalent. The camp commandant was Herman Berkman. His wife ruled the kitchen. A cousin ran the office and they all lived together, on the camp grounds, with the commandant's ten-year old son, Ditto (Dieto)[1.23].

The dead from the camp were all buried together in a mass grave in the Trzebinia Jewish cemetery, where bodies were probably taken weekly. In total, there were around 150 victims. The liquidation of the camp's inmates to that time, took place in 1943 or 1944 when the Jews were most probably transported to Auschwitz. Their places were taken by Belgian or Ukrainian prisoners or slave labourers, together with "armed Ukrainian and Russian guards”. The camp was finally liquidated on 20th January 1945[1.24]. Another camp, one for women, was established in Trzebinia in 1943. Jewish women there were used to build local roads. This camp operated until 1944. One more element in the tragic history of Trzebinia Jews was the camp at the Trzebinia Petroleum Refinery, a branch of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Only a small group survived the Holocaust. After the War, in Israel, they formed the Komitet Obywateli Trzebini (Trzebinia Ciitizens Committee)[1.1.15].

Bibliography

  • Trzebinia. Zarys dziejów miasta i regionu, ed. F. Kiryk, Kraków 1994.
  • Trzebińskie historie, ed. A. Kostka, J. Piskorz, Trzebinia 2008.

 

 

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Footnotes
  • [1.1] Trzebinia. Zarys dziejów miasta i regionu, red. F. Kiryk, Kraków 1994, s. 2
  • [1.2] Trzebinia. Zarys dziejów miasta i regionu, ed. F. Kiryk, Kraków 1994, p. 130, pp. 246–247.
  • [1.3] Trzebińskie historie, ed. A. Kostka, J. Piskorz, Trzebinia 2008, p. 130.
  • [1.4] Trzebińskie historie, ed. A. Kostka, J. Piskorz, Trzebinia 2008, p. 21.
  • [1.5] Trzebińskie historie, ed. A. Kostka, J. Piskorz, Trzebinia 2008, pp. 21–22.
  • [1.6] Trzebinia. Zarys dziejów miasta i regionu, ed. F. Kiryk, Kraków 1994, p. 273.
  • [1.1.6] Trzebinia. Zarys dziejów miasta i regionu, ed. F. Kiryk, Kraków 1994, p. 273.
  • [1.7] Trzebinia. Zarys dziejów miasta i regionu, ed. F. Kiryk, Kraków 1994, p. 184.
  • [1.8] Trzebinia. Zarys dziejów miasta i regionu, ed. F. Kiryk, Kraków 1994, p. 230.
  • [1.9] Trzebinia. Zarys dziejów miasta i regionu, ed. F. Kiryk, Kraków 1994, p. 274.
  • [1.10] Trzebinia. Zarys dziejów miasta i regionu, ed. F. Kiryk, Kraków 1994, p. 339.
  • [1.11] Trzebińskie historie, ed. A. Kostka, J. Piskorz, Trzebinia 2008, p. 22.
  • [1.1.9] Trzebinia. Zarys dziejów miasta i regionu, ed. F. Kiryk, Kraków 1994, p. 274.
  • [1.12] Trzebinia. Zarys dziejów miasta i regionu, red. F. Kiryk, Kraków 1994, p. 277.
  • [1.13] Trzebinia. Zarys dziejów miasta i regionu, red. F. Kiryk, Kraków 1994, s. 248.
  • [1.14] Trzebińskie historie, red. A. Kostka, J. Piskorz, Trzebinia 2008, p. 22.
  • [1.1.14] Trzebińskie historie, red. A. Kostka, J. Piskorz, Trzebinia 2008, p. 22.
  • [1.15] Trzebińskie historie, red. A. Kostka, J. Piskorz, Trzebinia 2008, pp. 22–23.
  • [1.16] Samsonowska K., Wyznaniowe gminy żydowskie i ich społeczności w województwie krakowskim (1918–1939), Kraków 2005, pp. 119–120.
  • [1.1.10] Trzebinia. Zarys dziejów miasta i regionu, ed. F. Kiryk, Kraków 1994, p. 339.
  • [1.17] Trzebinia. Zarys dziejów miasta i regionu, red. F. Kiryk, Kraków 1994, p. 340.
  • [1.18] Samsonowska K., Wyznaniowe gminy żydowskie i ich społeczności w województwie krakowskim (1918–1939), Kraków 2005, p 203.
  • [1.19] Trzebinia. Zarys dziejów miasta i regionu, red. F. Kiryk, Kraków 1994, p. 484.
  • [1.20] Namysło A., Zanim nadeszła Zagłada... Położenie ludności żydowskiej w Zagłębiu Dąbrowskim w okresie okupacji niemieckiej, Katowice 2009, p. 22.
  • [1.21] Trzebinia. Zarys dziejów miasta i regionu, red. F. Kiryk, Kraków 1994, s. 485.
  • [1.22] Trzebińskie historie, red. A. Kostka, J. Piskorz, Trzebinia 2008, p. 59.
  • [1.23] Trzebińskie historie, red. A. Kostka, J. Piskorz, Trzebinia 2008, s. 60.
  • [1.24] Trzebińskie historie, red. A. Kostka, J. Piskorz, Trzebinia 2008, p. 60.
  • [1.1.15] Trzebińskie historie, red. A. Kostka, J. Piskorz, Trzebinia 2008, pp. 22–23.