The first Jews probably appeared in Wohyń as early as the beginning of the 16th century. Even though it was not until the end of the century that they received an official settlement privilege from the king, it is known from surviving documents that two Jewish families lived here as early as 1566 [1.1]. Thanks to royal privileges, the Jewish community in Wohyń developed rapidly and became wealthier. It can be assumed that during the 17th century, the first synagogue and a Jewish cemetery were established there. A second cemetery was established at the beginning of the 19th century, outside the town’s boundaries at that time, by the former Parczew High Road.

In 1881, a fire in the town burnt down many buildings belonging to Jews, including the Wohyń synagogue, but it was soon rebuilt. In the 19th century, the local community developed rapidly in terms of demographics. In 1897, there were 1,367 Jews living in Wohyń. They accounted for 49% of the total population.

After the First World War, the economic situation of the Jewish residents of Wohyń was difficult, although efforts were made to develop the settlement. Based on records from the late 1920s, it can be concluded that out of the approximately 90 business entities operating in Wohyń, 74 (more than 80%) belonged to Jewish owners. There were more than a dozen grocery, textile and metal stores, as well as a Jewish beer hall. A synagogue, two batei midrash, and two Jewish cemeteries – an old one (no longer in use) and a new one – were under the supervision of the community. Various Zionist party factions and several youth organizations were active [1.1.1]. In 1939, there were 1,025 Jews living in Wohyń.

During the Second World War, Wohyń came under German occupation. In the nearby village of Starowieś, a labour camp for Jews operated between 1940 and 1942. Approximately 1,000 Jews from Wohyń and the surrounding villages had passed through it. The prisoners worked on regulating the Białka River and digging drainage ditches. The camp was shut down in the autumn of 1942 – some people were shot at the site, and others were moved to other camps. In September 1942, the Germans moved some of those who remained outside the camp to the ghetto in Parczew. The Jews still remaining in Wohyń were deported to the ghetto in Międzyrzec in October and November 1942. Together with the inhabitants of the above-mentioned ghettos, they were sent to the Nazi German extermination camp in Treblinka in December 1942.

After the end of the war, the six surviving residents returned to the settlement and were murdered by members of the Polish underground [1.2]. For example, Mendel Cienki was attacked by members of the Home Army in his uncle’s flat in Wohyń on Purim in 1945; he died as a result of his wounds [1.3], A Jewish girl, unknown by name, was also wounded during this attack [1.4]].

Bibliographical note

  • Kubiszyn, “Wohyń”in: Śladami Żydów. Lubelszczyzna, Lublin 2011, pp. 435–436.
  • “Wohyn”in: A. Wein, B. Freundlich, W. Orbach (eds.), Pinkas hakehillot Polin: entsiklopedyah shel ha-yishuvim ha-Yehudiyim le-min hivasdam ve-`ad le-ahar Sho'at Milhemet ha-`olam ha-sheniyah, Jerusalem 1999, pp. 155–156.
  • “Wohyń”in: S. Spector, G. Wigoder (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, vol. 3, New York 2001, p. 1456.
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Footnotes
  • [1.1] ”Wohyń”in: S. Spector, G. Wigoder (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, vol. 3, New York 2001, p. 1456.
  • [1.1.1] ”Wohyń”in: S. Spector, G. Wigoder (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, vol. 3, New York 2001, p. 1456.
  • [1.2] ”Wohyń”, in: S. Spector, G. Wigoder (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, vol. 3, New York 2001, p. 1456; A. Bańkowska, A. Jarzębowska, M. Siek, “Morderstwa Żydów w latach 1944–1946 na terenie Polski”, Kwartalnik Historii Żydów 2009, no. 3 (231), p. 364.
  • [1.3] Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego (Archives of the Jewish Historical Institute), Relacje ocalonych z Zagłady (Accounts of Holocaust Survivors), ref. no. 301/1437.
  • [1.4] A. Bańkowska, A. Jarzębowska, M. Siek, “Morderstwa Żydów w latach 1944-1946 na terenie Polski”, Kwartalnik Historii Żydów 2009, no. 3 (231), p. 364.