The Jews got the right to settle in Żabno in 1675, unfortunately there is a lack of information about the place they had come from. Maybe the then heir Rafał from Borzym brought them to the town and gave them some privileges, like: permission for the trade on fairs, the weekly and everyday markets in the town and the neighbouring villages. What is more they were premised to taproom, to run inns, to bake bread, to product meat and cured meat products, to build houses and to buy up real property from the Christians. There was a special street set in the town were the Jews could settle. The newcomers were also discharged from paying taxes for 7 years since their coming to town. Those favourable conditions caused the fast development of the Jewish society in Żabno. In 1692 the former rights were confirmed and broaden by the ability to build synagogue and cemetery. At the end of 18th century the town became the important centre of the rabbinic movement.
First famous rabbi of Żabno was Szalom Dawid Unger, the author of religious works, the son of Dawid Unger from Dąbrowa[1.1]. In 1711 in Żabno the Jewish believers paid 766.06 Polish zlotys of the poll tax[1.2]. In 1765 the commune was habited by 636 Jewish, including 460[1.3] living in the town. In 1777 there were 180 houses in the town, in which lived 155 Christian families and 94 Jewish ones. In 1777 Żabno counted 661 Christians and 333 Jews. In 1779 in 185 houses lived 146 Christian families and 79 Jewish ones. The population numbered 654 Christian citizens and 281 of Jewish believers[1.4].

19th century was the time of continuous natural disasters and poverty for Żabno. In 1813 and in 1828 there was a flood. In 1873 there was an outbreak of cholera epidemic and in 1888 there was a fire which destroyed almost the whole settlement. The Jewish citizens were unquestionably better prepared for any miseries. They had very well organised social help, their own hospital and the house for the poor and the old ones. What is more, the Community Council granted benefits for some Jewish families. Such benefits were given to four Jews during the time of 1895-1897[1.5].

The religious community of Żabno consisted of the following towns: Bieniaszowice, Chorążec, Czyżów, Demblin, Goruszów, Jadowniki Mokre, Jagodownik, Janikowice, Konary, Miechowice Małe, Miechowice Wielkie, Nieciecza, Nowopole, Odporyszów, Sieradza, Sikorzyce, Targowisko, Ujście Jezuickie, Wietrzychowice, Wola Rogowska, Zakirche, Żabno with its suburbia[1.6].

Data concerning the number of Jewish population in Żabno points that in 19th century it varied but tented to rise. In 1830 lived there 309 Jews, in 1845 210, in 1870 647[1.7] Jewish people and in 1890 672 Israelis, that is 50% of the then town population. In this time Jews still had many rights: they could sell any goods on fairs, stalls and on the streets of Żabno. They produced beer, booze, meat, cured meat products and baked bread. They could buy houses and settle on the specially administrated streets. What is more, the people of Mosaic believe living in Żabno had their own temple, the house of prayer, cemetery and baths[1.8].

On the turn of 19th and 20th century Jews were a significant group in Żabno. They took a property at the market, the majority of the trade and the craft was also in their hands. They had their representatives in the Żabno Community Council. This meant that they had great influence on the way the whole town was working, as well as on the social relations taking place in their neighbourhood. We know names of Jewish members seating in the Council[1.1.8]: in the years 1888-1894: Dawid Schneidere, Moses Ehrenberg, Izaak Lekrhaupt, Jakub Neumarkt, Dawid Bienenstock, Aron Offen, Jochene Grossbard, Jakub Tiefenbrun, Salomon Haber; in the years 1894-1903: Salomon Salpeter, Chaim Grossbard, Izaak Lekrhaupt, Salomon Haber, Izaak Haber; in the years 1903-1906: Salomon Salpeter, Salomon Haber, Izaak Haber, Chaim Grossbard, Samuel Haber; in the years 1906-1907: Chaim Grossbard, Izaak Haber, Salomon Salpeter, Salomon Haber and Samuel Haber[1.9]

In 1900 there was a private primary school ran by the foundation of baron Maurycy Hirscha[1.10], it was located in a rented building[1.11]. There were 87 pupils allocated into two standards. In years 1913-1914 Samuel Offner was the school’s head-master[1.12].

An interesting phenomenon that occurred in many parts of Poland at the end of 19th century and in the first half of 20th century was the emigration. It had its roots in a very bad economics situation, which resulted in poverty. The surveys conducted in 1907-1910 by the Tarnów diocese consistory easily show the greatness of the phenomenon. It results from the dates that in 1907 the number of overseas emigrants for Żabno was 23, plus some seasonal ones – 80[1.13]. 28 people went to Saxony, 30 to Denmark[1.14]. There is no sure number of emigrants who went to Westphalia.
In 1910 as many as 42% of believers’ community members of Żabno lived outside the town. In 1921 the percentage reduced to 52%[1.15]. We also have information concerning the percentage of Jewish citizens comparing to other people living in Żabno. In 1910 Jews composed 47% (361 people), and in 1921 29% (730) of all citizens[1.16].

The situation of Jews, as well as all other citizens, worsened after the World War I breakout. The war front that was passing the town, left many houses destroyed, including the Jewish ones. After the end of military operations the people were poor and the town was damaged. Many citizens who were living in hunger left Żabno to look for a job and a better life. The ones who stayed lived in wooden houses, often several families in one.
During the interwar era, the Żabno Jews bought up 7 trade statements in the Cracow Chamber of Commerce and Industry[1.17]. In 1939 in the town existed the Tradesmen Society. Its representative was Z. Krajzwirt.
In juxtaposition of the election to the Jewish religious community council results in years 1919-1926 we find a piece of information about the election that took place in Żabno in 21st June 1923. 148 people had right to vote, 3 mandates were given to the orthodox. Other organizations, which were Zionist, progressive and free from party adherence candidates did not get any mandates. During the election Berisz Zimmels and Lezer Fisch[1.18] had seats in the community committe. On 30th August 1928 the election report was announced. The Starosty stated there that the winners of the election were the orthodox[1.19].

In years 1921-1928 the Jewish members of Community Council were: Rafael Perlberg, Hirsch Grossbanrd, Baruch Zimmels, Salomon Salpeter, Żalel Kreichsbürth,, Zekman Menachem Mendel, Fenichel Samuel, Samuel Salpeter; and in years 1928-1933: Samuel Salpeter, Rafael Perlberg, Salomon Salpeter, Hirch Grossbard and Baruch Zimmels[1.20].

The interwar era was a good time for the Żabno Jews. They had great influence on the town’s organization and its economy. Jewish youngsters went to the same schools as Christian ones. The craftsmen had to go through the same levels of a certain profession. They got experience in family workshops. The Jewish Craftsmen Union played a very important role as well. Since 1918 the Żabno Jews could also be members of Guild’s Government[1.21].

Almost whole trade of Żabno was in the hands of Jews. They ran, among the others, shops on the market place and all the streets deviating from it. They sold there almost everything.
Moderately good situation of Żabno citizens changed together with the outbreak of the World War II. In September 1939 in town lived around 600 Jews, which was 50% of all towns’ citizens. Data from 1942 mentioned 665 Judaic believers[1.22]. In the first weeks of war there was conducted a registration of Jews, they were forbidden to listen to the radio and their radios were taken away. They were deprived of skis and skiing boots as well. In the first months of war, Jews were already given prohibition to change the place of resident and to travel by public transport. They also could not be members of political, cultural and educational societies. In the course of time occupants used more and more persecutions and mortifications towards Jewish people. In 1942 the Jewish Craftsmen Union which had been running for years was closed. In May of the same year, many Jews were shot to death. Later they set a ghetto in the town where they gathered around 700 Jews. It was located in the east side of the market place and included the beginning of Tarnowska Street. In September 1942 some Jews from Żabno were shot in Dąbrowa Tarnowska and in Żabno[1.1.8]. The remainings were deported and killed in the extermination camp in Bełżec. 40 Jews were left to tidy up the ghetto territory. They managed to hide in local forests. After getting rid of the Judaic believers, everything that was left after them was destroyed as well. Right after the action of closing the ghetto, Germans destroyed the synagogue and the house of prayer. The building of mykveh survived until the 60s, and to this day there is still the cemetery.

 

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Footnotes

  • [1.1] Przemysław Burchard, Pamiątki i zabytki kultury żydowskiej w Polsce, Warszawa 1990, p. 223.
  • [1.2] Jadwiga Muszyńska, Żydzi w miastach województwa sandomierskiego i lubelskiego w XVIII wieku, Kielce 1998, p. 99.
  • [1.3] Jadwiga Muszyńska, Żydzi w miastach województwa sandomierskiego i lubelskiego w XVIII wieku, Kielce 1998, p. 189.
  • [1.4] Jadwiga Muszyńska, Żydzi w miastach województwa sandomierskiego i lubelskiego w XVIII wieku, Kielce 1998, p. 195-196.
  • [1.5] Paweł Domański, Żabno od A -Z, Żabno 2000, p. 33-34.
  • [1.6] Jerzy Michalewicz, Żydowskie okręgi metrykalne i żydowskie gminy wyznaniowe w Galicji doby autonomicznej, Kraków 1995, p. 117.
  • [1.7] Jerzy Michalewicz, Żydowskie okręgi metrykalne i żydowskie gminy wyznaniowe w Galicji doby autonomicznej, Kraków 1995, p. 76.
  • [1.8] http://www.zabno.pl/index.php?strona=00145
  • [1.1.8] [a] [b] http://www.zabno.pl/index.php?strona=00145
  • [1.9] p. 94-100.
  • [1.10] Jerzy Michalewicz, Żydowskie okręgi metrykalne i żydowskie gminy wyznaniowe w Galicji doby autonomicznej, Kraków 1995, p. 172.
  • [1.11] Kazimierz Rędziński, Żydowskie szkolnictwo świeckie w Galicji w latach 1813-1918, Częstochowa 2000, p. 285.
  • [1.12] Kazimierz Rędziński, Fundacyjne szkolnictwo żydowskie w Galicji w latach 1881-1918, Częstochowa 1997, p. 175.
  • [1.13] Stanisław Piech, Emigracja z diecezji tarnowskiej w świetle ankiet konsystorza w latach 1907-1910, Kraków 1995, p. 152.
  • [1.14] Stanisław Piech, Emigracja z diecezji tarnowskiej w świetle ankiet konsystorza w latach 1907-1910, Kraków 1995, p. 172-173.
  • [1.15] Krystyna Samsonowska, Wyznaniowe gminy żydowskie i ich społeczności w województwie krakowskim (1918-1939), Kraków 2005, p. 62.
  • [1.16] Krystyna Samsonowska, Wyznaniowe gminy żydowskie i ich społeczności w województwie krakowskim (1918-1939), Kraków 2005, p. 64-65.
  • [1.17] Krystyna Samsonowska, Wyznaniowe gminy żydowskie i ich społeczności w województwie krakowskim (1918-1939), Kraków 2005, p. 74.
  • [1.18] Krystyna Samsonowska, Wyznaniowe gminy żydowskie i ich społeczności w województwie krakowskim (1918-1939), Kraków 2005, p. 192.
  • [1.19] Krystyna Samsonowska, Wyznaniowe gminy żydowskie i ich społeczności w województwie krakowskim (1918-1939), Kraków 2005, p. 203.
  • [1.20] Paweł Domański, Żabno do 1939 roku. Studium historyczno-społeczne od rozbiorów do wybuchu II wojny światowej, Żabno 1997, p. 112-116.
  • [1.21] Paweł Domański, Żabno do 1939 roku. Studium historyczno-społeczne od rozbiorów do wybuchu II wojny światowej, Żabno 1997, p. 118.
  • [1.22] Paweł Domański, Żabno w latach okupacji hitlerowskiej (1939-1945), Żabno 1997, p. 24.