In all probability, Jews might have obtained the privilege to settle down in Markuszów shortly after the incorporation of the town, that is in the mid-16thcentury or so[[refr: | J. Teodorowicz-Czerpińska, Markuszów. Studium historyczno-urbanistyczne, Lublin 1984 (m-pis)]]. However, the oldest historical records that mention Jews living here date from as late as the 1630s[1.1]. In 1661, nine Jews out of two hundred and eight recorded tax payers are mentioned[1.2].

In 1681, Markuszów Jews were granted  a privilege to build a synagouge[[refr: | | A. Trzciński, Śladami zabytków kultury żydowskiej na Lubelszczyźnie, Lublin 1990, p. 24. ]] and, among many privileges issued for the townsmen by King John III Sobieski in 1686, there were also charters specifically for Jewish residents[[refr: | J. Teodorowicz-Czerpińska, Markuszów. Studium historyczno-urbanistyczne, Lublin 1984 (m-pis)]]. Although the existence of a synagogue was documented as late as 1799[[refr: | Markuszów [entry] in: The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, eds. S. Spector, G. Wigoder, vol. 2, New York 2001, p. 797.]], the sole fact that at least from 1766 on[[refr: | Some sources say that the kehila may have been set up even prior to 1686, vide: J. Teodorowicz-Czerpińska, Markuszów. Studium historyczno-urbanistyczne, Lublin 1984 (m-pis), conf. Markuszów [entry] in: The Encyclopedia…, of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, eds. S. Spector, G. Wigoder, vol. 2, New York 2001,p. 797.]] there was an independent community allows us to think that a synagouge and a Jewish cemetery already existed here at that time.

Historical sources from the 18th century  mention the existence of ‘a Jewish town’ and ‘a Jewish market’ that flourished in the south-east par t of the town[[refr: | | A. Trzciński, Śladami zabytków kultury żydowskiej na Lubelszczyźnie, Lublin 1990, p. 24. ]]. Like in many other centers, the Jewish population in Markuszów occupied themselves with trade and craft above all.  

From the second half of the 19th century, the number of Jews living in Markuszów increased rapidly. In 1861 the population of Markuszów was 826, including 387 Jews (which made 46% of the overall population) [1.3]. In 1885, the population of Markuszów increased to 1,256 people, including 672 Jews  (53% of the overall population).

A Jewish cemetery was mapped out and in 1855 the second synagogue was erected (or a house of prayer)[[refr: | Markuszów [entry] in: The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, eds. S. Spector, G. Wigoder, vol. 2, New York 2001, p. 797.]]. A pond complex was arranged in the town at that time. On their east banks, a Jewish suburb called Łachy was set up [1.4] In the late 19th century, the Hasidic movement became quite significant and so in 1916 Abraham Mosze Weintraub founded a Hasidic dynasty in Markuszów[[refr: | Markuszów [entry] in: The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, eds. S. Spector, G. Wigoder, vol. 2, New York 2001, p. 797.]]. Before the outbreak of World War I, Zionst groups were active in Markuszów, gaining significance in the interwar years[[refr: | Markuszów [entry] in: The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, eds. S. Spector, G. Wigoder, vol. 2, New York 2001, p. 797.]].

In 1909, Markuszów had a population of 2,216 people, including 1,321 Jews (59%). In 1930, J. Rubinsztejn was a rabbi of Markuszów, and A. Ejdejsztejn was the municipal secretary. A. Goldsztajn served as an overseer of the synagogue and of the cemetery, while Ch. Goldsztajn was a shochet[1.5].
 

Interwar years

In the early 1920s, Jews constituted over fifty-four per cent of the entire population of Markuszów. They lived mainly in the center of the town. The municipality administered the synagogue, the house of prayer, the old (closed down) and the new Jewish cemeteries as well as the mikveh and the ritual slaughterhouse[[refr: | Archiwum Państwowe w Lublinie [dalej: APL], Urząd Wojewódzki Lubelski 1918-1939 [UWL], Wydział Społeczno-Polityczny [WS-P], sygn. 730, s. 4; także, sygn. 817, s. 4; 722, s. 2; tamże, sygn. 817, s. 4. (National Archives in Lublin, Office of Lubelskie Province, Social-Political Division, Call No. 817, p. 4; Call No. 817, p. 4; 722, p.2; Call No. 817, p.4 )]]. Also a burial society, Chevra Kadisha, and other charity organizations helped the community.  In addition, various political parties and organizations, such as the Mizrachi Zionist Orthodox branch, were active in the community[[refr: | APL, UWL, WS-P, sygn. 484, s. 4; R. Dąbrowski, Mniejszości narodowe na Lubelszczyźnie w latach 1918-1939, Kielce 2007, s. 53. (National Archives in Lublin, Office of Lubelskie Province, Social-Political Division, Call No. 484, p. 4); R. Dąbrowski, Mniejszości narodowe na Lubelszczyźnie w latach 1918-1939, Kielce 2007, p. 53.]].

The economic situation of the town’s dwellers, including Jews, was very hard, partly due to the destruction of the town during World War I and the growing economic crisis, which entailed increasing anti-Semitic tendencies.

Shortly before the outbreak of World War II,  there were about 2,000 Jews, which made up sixty-six per cent of the entire population of the town, living in Markuszów[[refr: | A. Trzciński, Śladami zabytków kultury żydowskiej na Lubelszczyźnie, Lublin 1990, p. 24. ]].

German occupation

After the outbreak of World War II, the town was bombarded by the German Luftwaffe. The center of the town, mostly inhabited by Jews, was almost completety torn down. Over the course of the war, the Nazis ruined the Jewish district in the south-east part of the town[1.6].

Shortly after the Nazis seized the town, at the end of 1939, the Judenrat was established and in May 1941 a ghetto was set up. In April 1942 about five hundred Jews, mainly elder and ill people, were deported to the death camp in Sobibór. The deported were replaced by a big group of displaced refugees from Slovakia and, in effect, there were about 1,500 people confined to the getto then[[refr: | Markuszów [entry] in:The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, eds. S. Spector, G. Wigoder, vol. 2, New York 2001, p. 797.]]. On May 8th, 1942, after another deportation action had been announced, a certain group of Jews fled from the town but most of them were captured and executed. The rest was deported to the camp in Sobibór the day after[[refr: | Markuszów [entry] in: The Encyclopedia of  Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, ed. S. Spector, G. Wigoder, vol. 2, New York 2001, p. 797.]]. Three groups of Jewish guerillas composed of fifty Jewish refugees from  Markuszów operated in the neighborhood for some time but they got in the hands of the Nazis and were executed[[refr: | Markuszów [entry] in: The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, eds. S. Spector, G. Wigoder, vol. 2, New York 2001, p. 797.]]. During the occupation, the Germans ruined the Jewish district located in the south-east part of Markuszów, wrecking the synagouge and the Jewish cemetery[1.7].

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Footnotes

  • [1.1] A. Trzciński, Śladami zabytków kultury żydowskiej na Lubelszczyźnie, Lublin 1990, p. 24.
  • [1.2] E. Przesmycka, Przeobrażenia zabudowy i krajobrazu miasteczek Lubelszczyzny, Lublin 2001, p. 275.
  • [1.3] S. Łowczak, Burzliwa..., p. 60
  • [1.4] E. Przesmycka, Przeobrażenia zabudowy..., p. 276.
  • [1.5] Markuszów, POLIN – Dziedzictwo Polskich Żydów, http://www.polin.org.pl/cities/59/info/, [accessed on 4th July 2008].
  • [1.6] E. Przesmycka, Przeobrażenia zabudowy..., p. 277.
  • [1.7] E. Przesmycka, Przeobrażenia zabudowy..., p. 277; A. Trzciński, Śladami zabytków kultury żydowskiej na Lubelszczyźnie, Lublin 1990, p. 24.