The first records of Jews in Czarny Dunajec date to the 19th century, even though Jews had likely appeared there sometime earlier. According to the census carried out in 1847, among the residents of the town were Hersz Breitkopf, Joseph Jacobshon, Izaak and Hirsch Korngut, Isaac and Mendel Ungar, and Salomon Glucksman. Their main sources of income were trade and sale of liquor, but they also purchased land from peasants. The local Jewish community started to grow after the abolishment of the Jewish settlement ban by the Austrian authorities in 1860.[1.1]

In 1880, there were 221 Jews living in Czarny Dunajec, constituting 8.9% of the total population.[1.1.1] They were subordinate to the Jewish community in Nowy Targ. The professional structure of the Jewish population was gradually changing. At the time, Czarny Dunajec had two houses of prayer, a mikveh, several cheders, and a cemetery. The Jewish community was largely dominated by Hasidim and Orthodox Jews.

In the interwar period, the population of Jews was systematically growing. In 1921, there were 341 Jews living in Czarny Dunajec, in 1927 – 400, in 1939 – 405, that is ca. 14% of the population.[1.2] It might not be an impressive percentage compared to other localities in Lesser Poland, but the influence of Jews on the life of Czarny Dunajec was very significant. In 1920, Bernard Schwarzbrand was taking attorney internship and Jakub Stiller worked as a legal clerk in Nowy Targ. In the 1930s, there were three lawyers active in Czarny Dunajec: Leser Lamensdorf, Szymon Pacanower, and Kopel Schlesinger. Yet, the largest professional groups among the local Jewish population were petty craftsmen (tailors, shoe makers, bakers, butchers), businessmen, traders, and publicans. Among the local industrialists were Szymon Bronder, Juda Szabse Blitz, Izaak Aron Feit, Emil Faust, Adolf Horowitz (who later became a publican), and Józef Hirsch Spitz. The craftsmen were: four butchers – Chaim Salomon Bachner, Mojżesz Józef Flank, Izak Goldman, Pinkus Weiss; seven bakers – Mortko Feuer Salommon Gutfreund, Wegdorf (Wiktor) Horowitz, Izak Jonas, Salomon Jonas, Georg Jonas, Bernard Lorberfeld (apprentice); five shoemakers – Józef Horowitz, Hirsch Langer, Mojżesz Lemmuler, Leibisch Trepper, Chaim Trepper; three tailors – Chaim Kleinzahler, Adolf Stiller, Gedalje Weissmann; five publicans – Izak Kluger, Pinkus Kohn, Izak Kraus, Adolf Horowitz, Jakub Langer (restaurant owner).[1.3]

The most lucrative enterprise in the area was the local sawmill, owned by Landau from Kraków and employing ca. 200 workers. Its example reflects the disparities in the economic status among Jews from Czarny Dunajec. Income was usually invested in real estate (houses, building plots, gardens), or enterprises, e.g. bakeries, inns, restaurants or shops. Jews rarely decided to purchase arable land.[1.4]

A Jewish elementary school, with separate classes for boys and girls, operated in Czarny Dunajec. Only the wealthiest residents sent their children to continue their education in Nowy Targ and Kraków. In 1929, a Tarbut school was opened in the town. It soon became the main educational facility for the local youth. There were also various organisations founded by Zionist activists, such as Hashomer Hatzair, Akiva, or Hehalutz. In 1930, a library and a kindergarten run by Anda Ceisler from Dębica were opened in Czarny Dunajec.

The relations between the Jewish and the Christian community were generally amicable. There were occasional clashes and provocations, but they never escalated to bloodshed. Besides Jews, Czarny Dunajec was also home to a group of the Roma, but only the Jewish community had its representatives in the Municipal Council. In 1920, eight members of the council were Jewish.

From the very beginning of the German occupation, Jews fell victim to various forms of repressions. In January 1940, their property rights and freedom of movement were limited. They were forbidden to use Hebrew and forced to perform various clean-up works. They were systematically transported to the ghetto in Nowy Targ, established in May/June 1941. They were later murdered in the extermination camp in Bełżec.

Although there was no ghetto in Czarny Dunajec, a forced labour camp was established in the town in 1942. Its prisoners were held near the railway station, by the road to Nowy Targ. The camp population comprised ca. 90 people, mainly deportees from Jordanów, Mszana Dolna, Limanowa, Ochotnica, and Szczawnica. They worked in the Homag sawmill, where hangars were prepared for the air force. The camp was liquidated in May 1943 and its prisoners were transported to Bełżec.[1.5]

On 20 May 1942, the Germans killed Józef Lehrer and his daughter together with a Pole by the name of Karol Chraca, who was supplying them with food. They were buried in a mass grave in the Jewish cemetery. In July 1942, the Pacanower family were shot in their flat. In August, the Nazis executed a group of around a dozen ill people from Czarny Dunajec and nearby localities, including: Georg (Gerson) Jonas and wife, Natan Neugewirtz and his wife, Henryk Balitzer with his wife, daughter, and father, and Nina Kaus. Only several people survived the occupation. They emigrated from Poland soon after the war, mainly to Israel.[1.6]

Bibliography

  • Chrobaryński J., “W latach drugiej wojny światowej,” [in:] Czarny Dunajec i okolice. Zarys dziejów do 1945 roku, ed. F. Kiryk, Kraków 1997.
  • Cza“Czarny Dunajec,” [in:] The Encyclopedia of Jewish life Before and During the Holocaust, vol. 1, eds. S. Spector, G. Wigoder, New York 2001, p. 284.
  • Słuszkiewicz B., “W dwudziestoleciu międzywojennym,” [in:] Czarny Dunajec i okolice. Zarys dziejów do 1945 roku, ed. F. Kiryk, Kraków 1997.
  • “Western Galicia, Silesia,” [in:] Encyclopaedia of Jewish Communities. Poland, vol. 3, eds. A. Wein, A. Weiss, Jerusalem 1984, pp. 302–303.
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Footnotes
  • [1.1] “Czarny Dunajec,” [in:] The Encyclopedia of Jewish life before and during the Holocaust, vol. 1, eds. S. Spector S., G. Wigoder, New York 2001, p. 284.
  • [1.1.1] “Czarny Dunajec,” [in:] The Encyclopedia of Jewish life before and during the Holocaust, vol. 1, eds. S. Spector S., G. Wigoder, New York 2001, p. 284.
  • [1.2] Czarny Dunajec i okolice. Zarys dziejów do 1945 roku, ed. F. Kiryk, Kraków 1997, p. 371
  • [1.3] Słuszkiewicz B., “W dwudziestoleciu międzywojennym,” [in:] Czarny Dunajec i okolice. Zarys dziejów do 1945 roku, ed. F. Kiryk, Kraków 1997, p. 375.
  • [1.4] Czarny Dunajec i okolice. Zarys dziejów do 1945 roku, ed. F. Kiryk, Kraków 1997, p. 376
  • [1.5] Chrobaryński J., “W latach drugiej wojny światowej,” [in:] Czarny Dunajec i okolice. Zarys dziejów do 1945 roku, ed. F. Kiryk, Kraków 1997, p. 448; “Czarny Dunajec,” [in:] The Encyclopedia of Jewish life Before and During the Holocaust, vol. 1, eds. S. Spector, G. Wigoder, New York 2001, p. 284.
  • [1.6] “Western Galicia, Silesia,” [in:] Encyclopaedia of Jewish Communities. Poland, vol. 3, eds. A. Wein, A. Weiss, Jerusalem 1984, pp. 302–303.