The earliest historical sources to mention Jews from Frampol date back to 1748. In 1765, the local religious community had 125 members, while in 1787, Frampol was inhabited by 99 Jewish people, constituting 19.9% of the overall population[1.1]. The Jewish community was initially subordinate to the kehilla in Chełm and later to the kehilla in Zamość (since 1731). An independent kehilla was likely established in Frampol in the mid-18th century. A cemetery was founded in the north-western part of the town sometime before 1736, followed by a synagogue and a beth midrash established ca. 1760.
After the Partitions of Poland, the Jewish population of Frampol started to grow in size, especially in the 1820s and 1830s. This resulted primarily from the influx of Jewish newcomers to the town[1.2]. Towards the end of the 18th century, the Jewish community constituted 20% of the overall population of Frampol, and in the 1820s and 1830s – as much as 45%. Jews started to arrive to Frampol in large numbers after 1810[1.3].
At that time, the Jews were legally defined as a separate estate. Although the Constitution of the Duchy of Warsaw and the Napoleon’s Code provided equal rights before law for all citizens, the decrees of 1808 formally prevented Jews from taking part in the political and civic life of the country.
In 1821, Frampol had a population of 580, including 100 Jews (17%)[1.4].
In 1864, there were 668 Jewish people among the total population of 1,482 (45%).[1.5].
Most local Jews made a living from trade and crafts. There were many Jewish merchants, tanners, publicans, as well as tailors, shoemakers, and bakers. Frampol also boasted a substantial group of Jews working as butchers[1.6]. Several Jewish families provided supplies to the Russian garrison stationed near the town, while individual Jews worked in the food industry, dealing primarily with the production of kosher foodstuffs. In the 19th century, one of the wealthiest Jews in Frampol was Abus Brykman, dealing with cattle slaughter. At the turn of the 20th century, Jewish entrepreneurs were leaseholders of a large share of the local weaving industry and tanneries.
The Jewish community of Frampol lived mainly by the Market Square.The kehilla owned a wooden synagogue. There was also a bath house, located in a brick building since 1865. In 1845, Samson Kahan was a member of the synagogue supervisory board. In 1864, the same position was held by Chaskiel Maller and Haber Frampoler. In 1860, the community employed three religious officials.
By virtue of the “High Ukase” of 1862, some legal restrictions imposed on the Jewish people were abolished. However, another factor contributing to the isolation of the Jews from the rest of the society was their strong sense of cultural and national identity. As a result of the centuries of persecution, a strong bond was formed among the followers of the Judaism. Poles would maintain commercial relations with Jews, who purchased linen from the residents of Frampo, and afterwards sold it in villages and in manor houses. In turn, Christian craftsmen would purchase various goods from Jews and later sell them from their market stalls and stores.
Poles and Jews from Frampol occasionally joined forces when the town was applying for more market days or when they had a common enemy, for example one of the teachers from elementary school who just so happened to be a woman and therefore was fiercely opposed by both ethnicities. In 1883, a Jew by the name of Falk Fabrykant became the owner of the town of Frampol.[1.7].
Citing B. Koskowski, Anna Okoń thus describes an average flat of a Jew from Frampol:
There were wooden houses with numerous annexes. Rooms were overcrowded and devoid of any conveniences. Each room was usually divided with a partition wall into two or three sections in order to accommodate two or three families. A large stove was placed inside. As for the furniture, there were some beds, a wooden sofa called ‘bembetka,’ a cradle, a wardrobe, some coffers, chairs, and a barrel filled with water. The rooms had no ventilation. What is worse, Jews always had a light on at night and the air was filled with a bad smell of liquid paraffin […]. The Jews did not eat much but their food was very filling, for example bread, rolls, dumplings, buckwheat, peas, beans, meat, and fish. They used to drink a lot of tea and coffee. Onions and radish were in demand as well.
According to source documents, an election to the synagogue supervision was held on 7 June 1881. Most votes were cast for Wolf Hersz Fryling (84), Mendel Aszenberg (74), Zynbel Huf (47), Lejba Hohrad (35), Abram Icek Hohrad (29), and Haszkiem Herman (24). Another election took place on 14 May 1884, in 1887, and in 1890, when Wolf Hersz Fryling once again received the most votes. The last election before the outbreak of World War I was likely held in 1911. Abram Bendler received the most votes (95). At the time, a printing house run by Lejba Rosenfeld operated in Frampol.
In 1862, Szyja Hersz Heller became the rabbi of Frampol. He was succeeded by Abram Bronsztajn in 1902. On 18 February 1914, the post was taken by Hersz Goldsztejn, a rabbi from Modliborzyce.
The late 19th century and the early 20th century saw a period of intense socio-political changes which bore a significant impact on the life of the Jewish community. At the time, first political parties and organisations were founded in the town, with particular popularity enjoyed by Zionist groups, especially during World War I and in the first years after its end.
In 1921, Frampol had a population of 2,720, including 1,465 Jews (53%). Jews continued to operate a lot of different stores in the town. Among the local Jewish tradesmen were Mordka Kisłowicz, Moszej Wajs, Icek Lejb Jegierman, Zelik Rozenberg, Lejba Weiczer, Abram Bojm, Moszek Ganc, Chaim Harman, and Majer Knoblich. Suchym Liberbaum ran a brasserie.
In the interwar period, the community had a synagogue and four houses of prayer, a Talmud-Torah school and a mikveh. The community also subsidized the activities of the interest-free loan fund and paid out subsistence allowances for the poor[1.8].
After 1925, as a result of the mounting economic crisis, Frampol losing its position as a horse fair centre and the emergence of competitive shops run by Christian people in the town, the financial situation of the town's Jewish inhabitants clearly deteriorated. The worsening economic crisis also weakened the position of the community, which became unable to finance the activities of its institutions or carry out the renovation of the synagogue and mikveh, which were then in a deplorable state threatening a construction disaster. Only at the beginning of the 1930s, thanks to donations from the former inhabitants of the settlement who emigrated to the United States, it was possible to renovate both buildings.
In the interwar period, traditional charity institutions (including Bikur Cholim, Linas Hacedek) operated in Frampol, and the town's inhabitants received help from JOINT, the international charity organization which provided food, clothing and school textbooks for the poorest children. Nevertheless, in the late 1920s and 1930s, the deteriorating economic situation caused a significant increase in departures among the Jewish inhabitants of Frampol. Some people moved to other cities, and some decided to emigrate, mainly to the United States.
In the interwar period, in Frampol, as in other centres, there were numerous organizations and political parties and associated with them socio-cultural and educational institutions. As we mentioned earlier, various Zionist parties (General Zionists, Mizrachi, Poale Zion) gained a strong position in the town, as well as the traditionalist Aguda which came to the fore in the early 1930s. In the elections that took place in 1931, representatives of this party won 5 seats to the city council, while the Zionists won three seats. In the following elections in 1935, the Zionists retained their previous position (three seats), while Aguda, which lost some of its supporters gained also three seats; One non-party candidate was also elected. During the elections to the Frampol municipality council, which took place on January 8, 1929, 12 members were elected - three Jews and nine Christians.
In the interwar period, the buildings of the Jewish community were situated in the eastern part of Frampol. Apart from the Jews living in the town itself, the kehilla also had jurisdiction over the villages of Dyle, Sendlaki (Nadrzecze), Kąty, Radzięcin, Stara Wieś, Teodorówka, Cokołówka, Dzwola, and Czarnystok. In 1927, the community had ca. 2,000 members. It was financed from member contributions as well as fees for ritual slaughter and baking matzo. Lejzor Szulim Feder was the local rabbi until 1934. The post of the lower rabbi was held by his son, Szaja Hersza Feder. When Lejzor Szulim Feder passed away, a contest was held to select the new rabbi. The community set out extremely strict requirements – the new rabbi was to marry Lejzor Szulim Feder’s mentally ill daughter and financially support the mourning family. The post of the rabbi was eventually taken by Mosze Juda Lerner from Tarłów.
In the second half of the 1930s, anti-Semitic sentiments grew significantly in Frampol, as in the rest of the country. In the winter of 1936-1937, there was a boycott of Jewish shops and workshops, and in 1938, 40 Jews were injured in direct attacks. The Jewish cemetery was also devastated at that time - the fence of the Jewish cemetery was destroyed, and many matzevot were smashed.
On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Frampol was bombed. Many houses belonging to Jews were destroyed. Most of Jewish families were forced to seek shelter in the surrounding villages, and only a small number of people of Judaic faith remained in the town., Soon after, however, large numbers of Jewish refugees from Biłgoraj and other towns began to settle in Frampol. The Germans established the Judenrat.
In January 1942, the first executions of Jews and Poles took place in Frampol. In August 1942, the Judenrat was ordered to prepare a list of 1,200 Jews who were allegedly to be sent to labour camps in Ukraine. Due to the rumours about mass murders and the extermination of the Jewish population conducted by the Germans in extermination camps, most of the Jews escaped from Frampol, looking for shelter in forests and in nearby towns, among others in Goraj. Only six Jews remained in the town, including two members of the Judenrat. In retaliation, in October 1942, the Germans set fire to Jewish houses in Goraj, and all the Jews hiding there were relocated back to Frampol. Shortly afterwards about 1,000 Jews were shot at the local Jewish cemetery.
In November 1942, the surviving Jews from Frampol and Goraj were gathered at the market square in Frampol and driven on foot to the railway station in Zwierzyniec (22 km), where a selection was carried out. Healthy young men were taken to the Majdanek camp in Lublin, and the remaining people were transported to the death camp in Bełżec[1.9]. During the occupation, the Germans partially destroyed property belonging to the community.
Stanisław Sobczak from Frampol gave shelter to six Jewish children (according to other sources – to 12 Jews[1.10]. He was bestowed with the medal and title of a “Righteous among the Nations” granted by the Institute of Remembrance at Yad Vashem.
In the years 1944–1946, there were instances of assaults against Jews residing in Frampol. At times, they would result in the death of the victim. The four-member Sztajnberg family was murdered in Frampol by a “Home Army gang” when the war front was passing through the town. Nachman Kestenbaum met the same fate[1.11].
- Baranowski Z., “Frampol w okresie międzywojennym,” [in:] Frampol i okolice. Zarys dziejów 1918–1939, ed. R. Jasiński, vol. 1, Frampol 2005.
- Baranowski Z., Baranowski Z., “Frampol w okresie staropolskim,” [in:] Frampol i okolice. Zarys dziejów do 1918 r., ed. R. Jasiński, Frampol 2002.
- Baranowski Z., “Frampol po rozbiorach,” [in:] Frampol i okolice. Zarys dziejów do 1918 r., ed. R. Jasiński, Frampol 2002.
- “Frampol,” [in:] The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, eds. S. Spector, G. Wigoder, vol. I, New York 2001, p. 390.
- “Frampol,” [in:] Pinkas Hakehillot Polin: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland, vol. 7, Jerusalem 1999, pp. 406–407.
- Gilas A., “Frampol w latach 1795–1864,” [in:] Frampol i okolice. Zarys dziejów 1918–1939, ed. R. Jasiński, vol. 1, Frampol 2005.
- Jasiński R., “Frampol na przełomie dwu epok,” [in:] Frampol i okolice. Zarys dziejów do 1918 r., ed. R. Jasiński, Frampol 2002.
- Kubiszyn M., “Frampol,” [in:] Śladami Żydów. Lubelszczyzna, Lublin 2011, pp. 99–103.
- Okoń A., “Frampol w latach 1864–1918,” [in:] Frampol i okolice. Zarys dziejów do 1918 r., ed. R. Jasiński, Frampol 2002.
- Sefer Frampol, ed. D. Shtokfish, Tel Aviv 1966.
- [1.1] Baranowski Z., “Frampol w okresie staropolskim,” [in:] Frampol i okolice. Zarys dziejów do 1918 r., ed. R. Jasiński, Frampol 2002, p. 70
- [1.2] Baranowski Z., “Frampol w okresie staropolskim,” [in:] Frampol i okolice. Zarys dziejów do 1918 r., ed. R. Jasiński, Frampol 2002, p. 77
- [1.3] Z Izaakiem Bashevisem Singerem po ziemi biłgorajskiej, Biłgoraj 2003, p. 10
- [1.4] Jasiński R., “Frampol na przełomie dwu epok in: Frampol i okolice. Zarys dziejów do 1918 r., ed. R. Jasiński, Frampol 2002, p. 116
- [1.5] Gilas A., “Frampol w latach 1795–1864,” [in:] Frampol i okolice. Zarys dziejów 1918–1939, ed. R. Jasiński, vol. 1, Frampol 2005, p. 182
- [1.6] Baranowski Z., “Frampol po rozbiorach,” [in:] Frampol i okolice. Zarys dziejów do 1918 r., ed. R. Jasiński, Frampol 2002, p. 84
- [1.7] Jasiński R., “Frampol na przełomie dwu epok,” [in:] Frampol i okolice. Zarys dziejów do 1918 r., ed. R. Jasiński, Frampol 2002, p. 127
- [1.8] Budget of the Jewish Religious Community in Frampol for 1928, State Archives in Lublin, Lublin Province Office 1918-1939, Social and Political Department, ref. no. 761, card (k.) 4
- [1.9] Frampol, [in:] Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland, vol. 7, Jerusalem 1999, pp. 406–407
- [1.10] Szlachetka M., Tam kiedyś był mój dom... Księgi pamięci gmin żydowskich, Adamczyk-Garbowska, Monika; Kopciowski, Adam; Trzciński, Andrzej, Gazeta Wyborcza. Lublin [online] 14 Jul 2009, https://wyborcza.pl/1,75475,6817224,Tam_byl_kiedys_moj_dom___Ksiegi_pamieci_gmin_zydowskich_.html [Accessed: 31 Mar 2020
- [1.11] Bańkowska A., Jarzębowska A., Siek S., “Morderstwa Żydów w latach 1944–1946 na terenie Polski,” Kwartalnik Historii Żydów 2009, no. 3 (231), p. 363