It is likely that Jews began to settle in Annopol as early as the start of the 17th century,[1.1] though the oldest documents confirming their presence in the town date back to as late as the 18thcentury. According to a 1787 census, the town was inhabited by 106 Jews who constituted approximately 44% of the total population of the town.[1.2]

The majority of Annopol Jews were involved in grain and cattle trade, alcohol production, inn leasing, salt storage-depot leasing, orchard leasing, crafts, and financial services. It is unknown when a formal community was established; different sources give different dates ranging between the 16th and 18th centuries.[1.3]

To the north-west of the Market Place stood a synagogue with a Jewish cemetery nearby. In the 19th century, there were as many as two synagogues, one built in stone and the other of wood, and toward the end of the century a new cemetery was established outside the borders of the town. The duties of rabbi were performed over the years by Nachman Rubinstein (1828-1878), Elimelech Rubinstein (1878-1923), and Nachman Baruch Rubinstein.

The community developed rapidly in the 19th century, and Jews played a significant economic and social role in the town. There were many Jewish craftsmen (mostly tailors and shoemakers) and Jewish-owned stores and manufacturing/service businesses in the town. There was, in addition, a Jewish hospital funded and financed by the most affluent residents of Annopol.[1.4] The town was known at the time as a center for the study of the Torah.

In the mid-19th century, town authorities issued a decree banning Jews from wearing traditional garments, side locks, and beards. Jewish schools and the Jewish hospital were closed. The situation led to numerous protests by the local Jewish population that sparked anti-Jewish riots. As a result of these events, as well as of the deteriorating economic situation toward the end of the 19th century, Jews began to migrate from Annopol and head for larger cities and locations overseas.[1.1.4]

During the interwar period, Annopol was a typical shtetl inhabited mostly by Jews. Despite extremely difficult economic conditions caused by the aftermath of World War I, the Annopol community grew so quickly that in 1921 Jews comprised approximately 73% of the total population.

During the interwar period, 57 Jews worked for Polish farmers as day-laborers, which may suggest a difficult economic situation in the town. The records additionally mention 50 traders, 94 merchants, 3 cattle traders, 2 horse buyers, and one horse trader. Most Jews worked in crafts (42%) and trade (37%). The community also included two cheder teachers, one private tutor, two medical assistants, and two bookkeepers. 

In 1931, Annopol was inhabited by 1,388 Jews.[1.5] Of 1,253 children born in Annopol before World War II, 859 were Jewish. In the 1930s, Jews made up 68.5% of the total population of the town.[1.6]

Local units of many Jewish political parties were active in Annopol. In the 1920s and 1930s, the most influential Zionist parties, though the Orthodox Aguda party also held a strong position.[1.1.1] In 1928-1929, there was also a strong Communist presence in Annopol.

A Hebrew school called Tarbut played an important culture-shaping role in the town.[1.1.4] Among its students were many members of Zionist youth parties (Hashomer Ha-tzair and Hechaluc Ha-tzair) active in Annopol in the 1930s whose members migrated to Palestine before the outbreak of the war. The town had a number of cheders, a communal Talmud Torah, as well as modern secular Jewish schools for girls and boys.[1.1.4] There was also a small yeshiva which prepared boys aged 14-17 to take up studies in the rabbinical school in Lublin.

During the second half of the 1930s, the economic situation of the Jews of Annopol was deteriorating. People in financial difficulties could count on the assistance of numerous charities operating in the town. Thanks to the financial support of Jews living in the USA and Canada, there was a loan bank and a loan fund providing help to the poorest.[1.1.4]

Following the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, Western Poland found itself under occupation. Shortly after the war had broken out, many Jewish escapees from other towns arrived in Annopol causing an increase in the number of people in the town, which turned into an open ghetto. In May 1942, there were nearly 2,000 people in the area, including Jews from nearby villages and smaller localities as well as from Kalisz and Łódź. During the war, the Germans formed a labor camp for Jews in nearby Rachów and Janiszów, and established a ghetto in Annopol in spring 1940. The occupants destroyed two synagogues and devastated the cemeteries.

The dissolution of the ghetto began on 15 October 1943. After a preliminary selection, about 400 people were sent to labor camps in Gościeradów and Janiszów. The elderly and the infirm were shot on the spot, and the remaining inhabitants were deported to the Kraśnik ghetto, from where, in November, they were sent to the extermination camp in Bełżec.[1.7] In November 1943, around 630 Jews were transported to the labor camp in Rachów from Budzyń, and after arrival they were shot. These were Jews transported from Austria and Germany.[1.8]

A group of men who escaped from Annopol before the deportation operation hid in the nearby forests and in early 1943 took part in the liberation of the Jews imprisoned in the Janiszów labor camp.[1.9]

Bibliography

  • Annopol-Rachow, in: S. Spector, G. Wigoder (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, 1, (2001), 46–47.
  • S. Nitzan (ed.), Rachow-Annopol; Pirkei Edut We-Zikaron, (1978) [online]http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/Annopol/annopol.html#TOC [Accessed 7 January 2015].
  • W. Szymanek, Z dziejów miasta Annopol, „Regionalista” (2000).
  • W. Szymanek, Z dziejów powiatu janowskiego i kraśnickiego w latach 14741975, (2003).
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Footnotes

  • [1.1] Annopol-Rachow, in: S. Spector, G. Wigoder (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, 1, (2001), 46.
  • [1.2] Annopol-Rachow, in: S. Spector, G. Wigoder (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, 1, (2001), 46.
  • [1.3] S. Nitzan (ed.), Rachow-Annopol; Pirkei Edut We-Zikaron, (1978) [online]http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/Annopol/annopol.html#TOC [Accessed 7 January 2015].
  • [1.4] S. Nitzan (ed.), Rachow-Annopol; Pirkei Edut We-Zikaron, (1978) [online]http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/Annopol/annopol.html#TOC [Accessed 7 January 2015].
  • [1.1.4] [a] [b] [c] [d] S. Nitzan (ed.), Rachow-Annopol; Pirkei Edut We-Zikaron, (1978) [online]http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/Annopol/annopol.html#TOC [Accessed 7 January 2015].
  • [1.5] W. Szymanek, Z dziejów miasta Annopol, „Regionalista” (2000), 67.
  • [1.6] W. Szymanek, Z dziejów powiatu janowskiego i kraśnickiego w latach 1474–1975, (2003), 69–71.
  • [1.1.1] Annopol-Rachow, in: S. Spector, G. Wigoder (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, 1, (2001), 46.
  • [1.7] Annopol-Rachow, in: S. Spector, G. Wigoder (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, 1, (2001), 46.
  • [1.8] W. Szymanek, Z dziejów miasta Annopol, „Regionalista” (2000), 11.
  • [1.9] Annopol-Rachow, in: S. Spector, G. Wigoder (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, 1, (2001), 46–47.