Jews began to settle in Jaworów (Yavoriv) in the middle of the 16th century. A Jewish quarter was established in the town sometime before 1629. In 1857, there were 1,873 Jews living in Jaworów, that is about 22% of the entire population (8,585). At the end of the 19th century, their number rose to about 2,400, which was about 25% of all the inhabitants. They were mainly engaged in trade and crafts.
In 1765, according to sources, Jews constituted the majority in the tailors’ guild (11 Christian masters, 15 Jewish). The local commerce was fully dominated by Jews, who traded mainly in construction wood, timber, grain and lime. Jews preserved their strong position after the introduction of the Austrian rule in the region. In the 19th century, the community experienced a period of significant economic development, as the number of Jewish skilled tradesmen and specialists was continuously increasing.
In 1857, Ludwik Gajewski, a retired syndic, established several charity foundations in the town; their articles of association were confirmed in 1878. One of them was a foundation distributing interest from the capital deposit of 5,408 zlotys – ¾ for poor Christians and ¼ for poor Jews.
The majority of Jaworów Jews were followers of Hasidism. Until World War I, the Zionist movement remained on the sidelines of the socio-political life of the local Jewish population[1.1].
From the end of September 1939 until the end of June 1941, the Soviets held power in Jaworów. Only a handful of Jews had managed to run away with the retreating Red Army before the Germans entered the town. They immediately started to organise a forced labour system. At the end of June, the Ukrainians carried out a pogrom of Jaworów Jews, during which Jewish homes were plundered and many people were killed. At the same time, a Security Police unit shot 15 Jews in the woods on the outskirts of the town. They were arrested on the basis of lists provided by the Ukrainians.
On 1 August 1941, Jaworów, like all towns of East Galicia, was placed under the German civilian administration and was initially incorporated into Kreis Lemberg-West, and from 1 April 1942 to Kreis Lemberg-Land. A post of the German military police and a criminal police station were established in the town together with a unit of the Ukrainian auxiliary police, headed by a man named Posławski. Anti-Jewish activities in Jaworów were coordinated by the Secret Police of Lviv with the help of the German military police and the Ukrainian police.
In July 1941, the German military administration ordered the creation of a Jewish Council (Judenrat). It was headed by Joel Fuss and later by Sender Blum. A Jewish police, an auxiliary body of the Judenrat, was also formed. Jews were ordered to wear white armbands with the Star of David, and a census was conducted. Jewish people were also forced to become slave workers. The Judenrat had to gather 400 Jews who worked daily on road construction, cleaning, searching for ammunition left by the Soviet troops in the forest, and in the Soviet POW camp. At the construction site, skilled craftsmen were paid a fee of 1 zloty per hour and, once a week, an additional loaf of bread.
During the first eight months of the occupation, the Jews lived in their homes. However, they could not use the main streets of the town (Mickiewicza, Aleksandrowicza, Krakowiecka). There was also a curfew – from 6pm. At any instant they could be arrested or beaten by the Ukrainian police, there were also numerous instances of robberies and rape. Moreover, the Jews were not allowed to seek payable work, and many of them were starving. Until the spring of 1942, the only large deportations involved several hundred skilled Jews taken to local forced labour camps like Jaktorów and Winniki.
In early April 1942, the chairman of the Judenrat, Sender Blum, was ordered to destroy the Jewish cemetery within two weeks. He was also ordered to donate a huge amount of silk, leather and gold as part of contribution. Shortly after, Blum died of a heart attack and his position was taken by David Badian, who readily fulfilled all the orders.
A month later, on 5 May 1942, the Germans carried out a deportation operation in Jaworów – about 500 Jews were sent to the labour camp in Płuchów. Some were killed immediately after arrival. Shortly after the operation, on 10 June 10 1942, 442 Jews from Wielkie Oczy were resettled to Jaworów (and, to a lesser extent, also to Krakovets).
The next deportation operation took place on 7-8 November 1942 – around 1,200-1,300 Jews were sent to the extermination camp in Bełżec and 200 were murdered in the streets and in their own homes. Nearly all members of the Judenrat and all patients of the Jewish hospital were killed. On 9 November 1942, German military policemen and the Ukrainian police started searching for hiding Jews. This resulted in about 200 people being executed in the Jewish cemetery.
Soon after the operation, on 10 November 1942, a ghetto surrounded by barbed wire was created in the southern part of the town. Ca. 600 Jews were enclosed there. In the following days, about 20 of them who had been caught outside the ghetto were killed. On 15 November 1942, the Jews working for the Wehrmacht were transferred to a separate block outside the ghetto, where the living conditions were better. Initially it was a group of several people, but later it grew to 60.
Jews from nearby towns were relocated to the ghetto in Jaworów – in November, from Dobromyśl, Szkło, Bonów and Twierdza, and in early December, from Mostyska, Janov, Sudova Vyshnia, Krukenychi, Husakiv and Krakovets. In the middle of December, about 6,000 Jews were enclosed in the ghetto. They were crowded in eighty houses.
The liquidation of the ghetto in Jaworów began on 16 April 1943. Around 3,500-4,000 Jews were murdered. Most were killed before noon of the first day, and the rest over the course of the following days. Those who survived were ordered to work in the cemetery, while the rest were gathered in the burnt down synagogue, from where they were later transported in trucks to the forest in Porudno and shot. The ghetto was largely destroyed by a fire meant to drive Jews out of their hiding places. Several hundred Jews survived in the camp block for about a week after the end of the action. In the following days, another 200 people who had left their hideouts were shot, and few managed to escape. The remaining 200 Jews were transported to the labour camp at Janowska Street in Lviv at the end of April 1943.
On 20 July 20 1944, the Red Army entered Jaworów. Only about 20 Jews, who had been hiding in the surrounding forests and other places, returned to the town[1.2].
- Słownik geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego i innych krajów słowiańskich, vol. 3, eds. F. Sulimierski, W. Walewski, B. Chlebowski, Warsaw, pp. 519, 521.
- The Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos 1933–1945, vol. II A, ed. Goeffrey P. Megargee, pp. 783–784.
- The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, vol. 1, eds. S. Spector, G. Wigoder, New York 2001, p. 569.
- [1.1] The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, vol. 1, eds. S. Spector, G. Wigoder, New York 2001, p. 569; Słownik geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego i innych krajów słowiańskich, vol. 3, eds. F. Sulimierski, W. Walewski, B. Chlebowski, Warsaw, pp. 519, 521.
- [1.2] The Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos 1933–1945, vol. II A, ed. Goeffrey P. Megargee, pp. 783–784; The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, vol. 1, eds. S. Spector, G. Wigoder, New York 2001, p. 569.