ŁOSICE Yizkor Book:
Loshits; lezeykher an umgebrakhte kehile

Łosice; in Memory of a Jewish Community, Exterminated by Nazi Murderers
M. Shner, Tel Aviv, 1963


Translated from Yiddish by Viktor Lewin


Editor: Mordechai Shner (B. Feder)

Editorial Board: Ben Yaakov Josef, Goldstein Chaim Icel, Pasternak-Hochman Rachel, Rozenband - Bialikamien Chaja-Rachel, Rozal Dawid, Rozal Menachem, Szmulewicz - Goldband Belcia, Shner Mordechai

Translation to Hebrew and Editing: A. Bar-Tana


Images scanned by Warren Grynberg


The English version was edited by Ada Holtzman



The Shtetl




 Contents                                                                                                                                        page

From the Editorial Board




To the  Memory of Łosice

By Dawid Rozal (Tel Aviv)



Łosice and Łosicer Jews in the course of their history

B. Feder (Tel Aviv)



Łosice and Łosicer Jews in the course of their history

B. Feder



Can we forget?

Josef Fridman (Yosel Bubik, Melbourne)



Can we forget?

Josef Fridman (Yosel Bubik)



That was our town

Dawid Rozal (Tel Aviv)






From the Editorial Board

 (Page 7-8)


Our "shtetl" was small, seldom found on any large, ordinary maps; far from any large roadway, far even from any rail line ‑ even so Jewish life thrived there, entwined for generations like hundreds of other larger and smaller Jewish communities on Polish soil. The catastrophe which befell the Polish Jews, the inhumane hysterical enemy in our history ‑ the German Hitlerism did not forget Łosice. Our small community was uprooted and destroyed. The majority of the local population; Łosicer Jews were killed in the gas chambers, buried alive, slaughtered, and shot to death.


The few 100 survivors ‑ Łosicer Jews ‑ in the country of Israel, and across the entire world, had without exception, lost their closest and dearest ‑ fathers and mothers, women and men, brothers and sisters, children and babies, together with everything which could be called, home. There is no comfort; everyone one of us will be accompanied by pain and hurt to the grave.  This book should act as a reminder, like an honour, a tombstone for everything which we lost, for us, for our children, and for coming generations.


We brought everything which Łosicers were able to save, which reflected the happiness, the pain during their lives and their deaths. So we saw our shtetl with it's loved ones, eyes overflowing with tears, and loved ones never to be seen again: ghosts. We don't predict, therefore, to write history, but only pages which contain the materiel for history.





To the  Memory of Łosice
By Dawid Rozal

Yiddish & Hebrew

Pages 8-9


The thought of writing a Yizkor Book about our slaughtered community was decided in 1948, when the first survivors of Łosice rescued in Russia, Poland, and Germany came to Israel. We knew immediately that we would have great difficulties to untangle the memories to achieve this project. So we agreed with the Committee of the Łosicer Landsleit in Israel not to look at all the difficulties, and to do everything in order to achieve this; we agreed that it depended on us, survivors, as a debt, to remember their lives and the tragic deaths from the community of Łosice.


No historians had written about Łosice: no books, no encyclopedias. There were hardly any facts or documents about our " ordinary " Łosice and it's Jews. No newspapers were printed in Łosice, about Łosice. We, therefore, foresaw immediately the difficulties in representing a history of our shtetl, and we knew that we would have to rely upon the memories of the survivors. But it was difficult for us to stir the Łosicer Landsleit to write for the book. It took many years until they responded to our inquiries. In April, 1958 we came together to dictate the facts for the book when the editorial members Chaim Icel Goldstein and Chaja Ruchel Rozenband ‑ Bialykamien were invited to Israel. Then, we agreed upon a n editorial commission, and took to working with the material.


We agreed to record the entire history of our shtetl. We took and recorded the memories of those, who did not themselves write. The result is, a picture of Łosice during the important years of the times in which the survivors lived. Rabbis, and people from the square, the working masses, and Yeshiva students, workers and merchants. They have all perished; they were tortured and killed. They don't even have a grave, not even a blessing given. They, who were buried and blessed in our old cemetery, had their very boxes washed away, and their macevas ended up opposite the church.


Let these pages be the martyr's memorial tombstone.


The Łosicer Landsleit, spread over many continents and countries, remain a living piece of the shtetl. We have therefore devoted a special part of the book to the Łosicer Landsleit around the world, our only sorrow being the apathy of large numbers of Łosicer Landsleit who didn't send in any information despite repeated pleas by the editor.


Putting together the lists of the martyrs killed by the Nazis, we agreed that for it to be accurate we had to keep the list to a minimum. We repeatedly called for all Łosicers to send in the names of relatives who were killed. Those who didn't have only themselves to blame. We did our work with reverence and responsibly. Only I, the last survivor of my generation from the shtetl, needed and had to do this. We surely made mistakes, which were not intentional..


We did, with our individual strengths and within the borders of accessibility of information, mean to fulfil our obligations to our murdered community and its martyrs.




Łosice and Łosicers in the Course of Their History

By B. Feder (Tel Aviv)

Yiddish & Hebrew

Pages 11- 21


When I had, as a child, seen the name of our shtetl in one of Sienkiewicz's  stories, I felt very proud. One of Sienkiewicz's heroes later became the magistrate of both, Lukow and Łosice. The following story occurred in the year 1700, and I, at that time, was proud of the age of my shtetl. The reality, however, was that Łosice was much older and one can find references of it in the Polish history dating to the 1300s and 1400s. Until 1600, Łosice was more of a village than a town.


In 1444, the Polish king, Casimir Jagiellon took over Stabil, Wegrow, and the surrounding area. Then, one could say that Łosice was also a town of Podlasie, together with familiar neighbouring towns, near and far, such as, Sokolow, Ciechanowiec, Melnik, Mordy, Siemiatycze, and others. Factually, however Łosice became a genuine city, firstly, at the beginning of 1600.1n 1505 King Aleksander Jagiellon in an attempt to end injustice and to better their fate annexed Łosice from Russian and Lithuanian rule of Magdeburg. Aleksander Jagiellonczyk, by a special royal privilege, called for the annual election of a mayor, built a city hall to replace an old shack, established a sheep and wool industry, and permitted the use of all funds collected from fairs held four times a year to be used for local projects.


It is known that the great royal power from Warsaw had many problems governing the expanse of Podlasie, and other than the royal privileges, the local magistrate ruled with a strong hand and did what they wanted.


The region was poor and the inhabitants did not have the power to negotiate. They were taxed mercilessly by King Zygmunt Ist  in 1510, and again by Zygmunt August in 1569. But, the Russian encyclopedia tells us about leaders such as, Aleksander Minca, who revived Lithuanian customs and the doubling of taxes. The King punished him for doing this, in 1570, by imposing a penalty of 6,000 ZIotys, and ordered that local commerce be returned to local authorities, and the reinstatement of their royal privileges. The local magistrate and the rebel leader further oppressed the town. This forced the Sejm, which was meeting in Warsaw to call for a new king. In 1575 King Stefan Batory reinstated royal privileges to Łosice.


The Łosicer inhabitants, the "Mieszczanes" were loyal to the king and the Sejm Parliament, and among them there were surely Jews. But in the first half of the 1700s we already read of historical events in Łosice about rebellions and conflicts between the non­-Jewish and Jewish inhabitants in the shtetl.


In 1647 King Wladyslaw the 4th took notice of the poverty of Łosice, which had suffered through so many persecutions, allowed the inhabitants of Łosice to become involved in the alcohol business; to control, sell and distribute across the entire region. This was a very important privilege, but was not enough to lift themselves out of their desperate state. Exactly thirty years later, Poland was invaded by Sweden.

In order to rebuild from the ruins, the previous royal privileges were restored, one of which was that every Łosicer Jew had the right to make and sell alcoholic products in Łosice, and also throughout the land.


In those years we find the first historical references of Jews, who played a major role in the economy of Łosice.


It is difficult to imagine that a shtetl with annual fairs and markets did not have a Jewish population. But it was, at this time, very small. The Chmielinicki massacres slaughters in neighbouring Ukraine in the years of 1648 to 1649 brought to Łosice a great number of refugees and the Jewish settlement grew markedly. The Polish encyclopedia dealing with that period of time does not deal with the horrible pogroms and bloodbaths. It is mentioned, however, that a commercial war between the Christians and the Jewish merchants occurred in Łosice. It is easy to imagine that the newly arrived Jews had greater relations with communities, near and far, more mercantile dealings, and their business was better than that of the local peasantry. The magistrates sympathized with the Jewish merchants, aided their enterprises, allowed the expansion of their dealings, and opposed the anti-Semitic slanders of the Christians. The Christians reported their grievances to the King; that they were being persecuted by the magistrates and the Jewish merchants.


King August the third in the year 1700 ordered the magistrates of Łosice to carefully observe the dealings of the Jewish merchants. The historical chronicler of the time tells that the magistrates aligned themselves with the Jews, did not bother them, but instead made things easier for them. The conflicts in the shtetl intensified. The later Polish Kings, August the third in 1756, Stanislaw, and August in 1766, once more interfered with the local affairs and enterprises of Łosice. A process was brought before the royal court in Warsaw. Łosicer Jews were forbidden from handling alcohol items, or expelled from town for illegal practices. The mediation process was proper. The Łosicer peasants wanted, but couldn't achieve what they had hoped.


It is logical to assume that during these times not all Jews in Łosice were engaged in the brewery industry. In Łosice, like other Polish towns, there were Jewish tradesmen and artisans; they were the majority in the Jewish community, only they left no records.


The questions are asked: How big was the shtetl? How many inhabitants lived there? How many Jews lived in Łosice and How did it compare to the Christian population? The numbers we have refer only to the second half of the 18th century and we lack data about the population of town before that.


In 1765 throughout Poland there was a widespread census of Jews. The Sejm ordered that the census be taken. Up to that time there was only a simple head count of the Jews in Poland conducted by the government. The head count was conducted as follows: two Polish guilder for every man, woman, and even children over the age of one. In 1764, according to the simple head count, 220,000 guilder for the Jews of Poland and 60,000 guilder for Lithuanian Jews. The Sejm agreed to under take a census of all the Jews who had to pay the head tax. The census was conducted in every community by a commission of four people: the Head Rabbi, a shamash, a Polish butcher, and a leader of the concerned community. After the census, there is a sum of. 859,312 guilder for Jews in Poland and 315,298 for Lithuanian Jews.


According to the 1765 census, the number of Jews living in Łosice was 482 Jews. This census was conducted by primitive means, and the Jewish population was interested in giving as little information as possible about the real number of the Jewish inhabitants, in order to avoid the oppressive head tax.


Exact figures about the number of the Jews in Łosice and the numeric relation between them and the Christian population, we find only starting from the 19th century. From this figures we learn that  during the whole century, the number of Jews increased constantly, in absolute number and in their relation to the total population, as this table shows:


Census Year

Total Inhabitants



% of Jews






















In 1827 there were 190 houses in Łosice; in 1857 there were 193 houses ‑ six were brick and the rest were wooden; in 1862, 193 houses; 1884, 208 houses. Among these figures, which were calculated from the 1857 census, (a wooden church, two water mills, one windmill, a tannery and oil-press). Also the "Wooden Jewish Synagogue" was taken into account.


We are reminded of the wooden Czarkwa (the Provoslavic Church), which stood opposite the pharmacy on Bialer Street. After 1918 the Czarkwa was destroyed; a field is all that remained, along with a number of graves of Provoslavic priests. The Poles claim, that the Czarkwa was built to demonstrate Russian control over Poland, and to disrupt the Catholic population and it's old customs. Polish historians have different views. The geographic encyclopedia tells that the first Catholic church was built in Łosice during the reign of Zygmunt the Ist  in 1511; the church, a wooden building, was named by the Holy Zygmunt the Ist; next to it was built a brick chapel bearing the name of the Holy King Stanislaw. This encyclopedia tells that the Russian Czarkwa likely existed during an earlier epoch. Łosice had it's Jewish population and Provoslavic inhabitants and the town was never  purely Catholic as the Poles would assume.


In the 20th Century all the inhabitants prospered and a professional group grew within Łosice. Thirty‑seven years after the last census in 1884, until the first independent population census in the freed Poland in 1921, the number of inhabitants grew from 2610 to 3888 souls. The Jewish population grew at this time by approximately by  100% ‑ from 1487 to 2708 souls and in 1921 it counted for 69.7% of all the inhabitants.


This growth of the shtetl continued until the catastrophe in which the Jews of Łosice were slaughtered.



Jewish Łosice - click to enlarge

In this period of 300 years of the registered history of Łosice - from the middle of the 17th century to the 20th - the Jews more than once radically altered the economic situation and the social life of the shtetl. The first references of the Jews of Łosice were those related to the brewery. The share of the proletariat was much more than in other Jewish communities in the surrounding regions.


Survivor testimonials from the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw indicated that at the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1st, 1939 the number of the Jewish population in Łosice was 2900. Some have suggested that it's population was greater.


Historians in the Joint Archives of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw tell us that in March 1940, 900 refugees came to Łosice from Kalisz, Blaszki, Ciechocinek, Lodz, and Poznan. Later more refugees arrived from various towns and villages. In May 1942, three months from the liquidation of the Łosicer's "Large Ghetto", 500 Jews from Sarnaki were added  into it's already crammed streets. Other records suggest that the Jewish population during the Nazi occupation were: December 1940 nearly 4,000; June 1941 over 4,000; September 1941 - 4,600; January 1942 - 5,000; June 1942 -  5,500.


On August 22nd, 1942, all those thousands of Łosicer Jews were deported and perished in the gas chambers of Treblinka ‑ and thus ended the 300 year history of Jews of Łosice.





Can We Forget?

By Josef Fridman (Yosel Bubik, Melbourne)
Yiddish & Hebrew

Pages 21- 26


Can we forget a mother's breast from which we nursed, or in whose arms we were raised, or in whose hands we saw the first rays of sunlight, or with whose lips covered us with warm kisses ? So also can we forget the shtetl on which ground we took our first steps, which fields and gardens satisfied our hunger, in which fields, during the most pleasurable spring, did we hide in the shadows when the sun was exactly in the middle of the sky, and in which stormy river did we cool our heated bodies .....


Łosice was blessed with nature beauty. A tiny shtetl encircled by wide open fields and deep forests. Every field and every forest would have it's name. Each field had different flowers and in every forest, different trees. In the Niemojki and Zakrer forests grew long slender pines and their golden heads stretched towards the sky, in the Adenower forests grew wide, wet marshes, and in the Chaticzer forests grew young berries.


And the fields ? Here is the "gleches lanke"...


The Priest's field held so many happy memories. How many sweet dreams have to this day not been realized, but between the deep gasses they became reality ! Afterwards, I see the old Russian priest, with his already long, grey beard, trying to escape from the field; the Jewish youth didn't even dream of moving. How could one leave such a Garden of Eden ? How could one leave a field where we bathed the entire day in the embracing rays of the sun, and our lives reflect the "stormy" river, the Gai ‑ where one could cool off on a hot day ?


A special role was played in Łosice by the farm "Pole nowy", (new field)  with two waterfalls,  rapids, and a large field surrounded by groves of old poplars. How many happy songs were sung here during the summer months ! The Łosicer Jewish youth mixed their songs with the songs of a variety of birds. Bundists and future leaders would sing songs about work and hardship, songs about freedom, and songs about Socialism. The Zionist youth would sing their songs of hope for Zion. And when the Communists came it became a contest of whose beliefs were better.


Even though the shtetl could never boast of much wealth, even among the wealthier Jews, and especially the workers who often experienced hunger, then, we should not forget those dear, sweet, hunger‑stricken years of our youth. Who had time to think about eating when everything around us bled, when one struggled to survive. When being a party member was more revered than someone famous, who failed during the day to fulfil their debt ! How good would it have been if one could stretch the days and nights to make them as long as possible; they were all too short.... I A.M. The peasants around the shtetl had already sunk into a deep sleep, and the Jewish youth was still a wake and excited. We practiced for a theatrical play, the choir studied a new song; this was to be a " living newspaper "; a kestel evening (special evening of questions & answers on a certain issue). A free exchange of the meanings of the Bund and Zionism, a discussion about Zinoviev's 21 Points... And in the quietness of the night the songs came together, matching the shouts of the Jewish youth, far, far, past the square, boasting about the shtetl, where the peasants slept. Not one awakens.


How many sweet memories do the Łosicers carry with them from those years when Yiddishkeit shone from every comer! With a Jewish song, mother stiffed, Jewish words and songs accompanied us through our youth. From Michal Hodasas' house, over Welwel Bogacz, to Yehoszua Gemiczes ‑ were places known for their intense learning ; from the houses shone the light of knowledge. There walked important political figures, cultural, and spiritual strengths from the Bundists, Zionists, and Communists.


Łosice displayed a strong feeling of freedom, not as a religious youth movement, but when it was a holiday, the whole shtetl felt in the holiday spirit.


Growing up in the spirit of atheism, hundreds of Łosicer youth were raised as devout Jews, good Socialists, and truthful people, who were later of strong spirit in life, and throughout the world. If from Moisze Goldstein there became a writer, thanks must be given to his upbringing in Łosice. Helping Łosicers to spread the Golden Age of Yiddishkeit, is his reward to Łosice.


Our fathers and mothers are not there anymore. Gone are those who cared for us, who would kiss us, who would shudder at every step. No longer are there those, from whose eyes would shine with tears of fear, when we were frightened, and tears of pain, when we were hurt. No longer do we have our brothers and sisters with whom we shared the best years as children and youths, with whom we dreamt and often thought that in the near, near future a happy morning would dawn for all people. A terrible  Nazi wind took everyone. Who knows, who could have imagined, with what killings, all of them, our closest and dearest perished.


There no longer exists, for us, that shtetl Łosice which fostered in us the belief in G _ d and, love for mankind, and the Jewish way of life. An angry storm passed through the shtetl tearing out it's roots; Jews and the Jewish way of life. Today, wild grasses grow over Łosice streets and lanes, where no Jewish foot now treads.




I saw Łosice for the last time during the first days of 1940. It was already unrecognizable. The streets and lanes were already doubled over with deep sorrow. The houses whispered to each other like frightened. A violent wind blew against the metal roofs; the sky was enveloped with thick clouds, and from time to time it rained so heavily to cause flooding ‑ this made our terrible plight even worse, with sadness and trembling in Jewish hearts. Everyone felt the same way, that the angel of death swept over the Jewish houses and would begin it's slaughter.




That Was Our Town

By Dawid Rozal

(Pages 26-31)


Dawid Rozal

Łosice finds itself 130kms. from Warsaw in the middle of the region of Podlasie. This town lies 5 kms. from the rail station in Niemcjki. Our parents/elders told us that during the construction of the rail line from Warsaw to Volkovisk, Russian engineers came down to Łosice asking for the payment of 10,000 rubles to build the train station in the heart of Łosice. When this sum wasn't remitted, they built the train station in Niemojki instead. With the arrival of each train to Niemojki, carriages and special cars would meet it driven by Szmilka Zichkes ( Izak ), Szalom Mendelko, and Israel Yeszayahu Ginzburg, and others.


The administration of Łosice belonged to the Siedlcer Powiat and the Lubliner Voivodship.



Łosice was economically and spiritually related to: Mordy, 13 kms. from Łosice, Samaki, 14kms., Konstantinow, 16kms., Miedzyrzec, 25 kms., Siemiatycze, 23kms., Siedlce,30kms., Janow Podlaski,35kms. These and a few other towns located around Łosice were all bound together; an abundance of relatives in each and all.


In the center of the town was a big four‑sided plaza with an open space in the middle. On the plaza there only stood three large bricked houses. Two of them were built parallel to each other and shared a small street, and the third was at angle to the other two, in the shape of an upside‑down L. All three were densely bunched together. Yiddish stores were splendid. With apartments over the stores, all three houses were similar, with ten apartments not having indoor plumbing. The dwellers would have to relieve themselves near the cemetery, by the river, or by the bath house. By days end there would be large piles at and around the plaza. Around the plaza, the majority of the houses were two floors and bricked, and these were also filled with stores. Major streets ran from the comers of the plaza.


The Siedlcher Street was the start of the roadway to the town of Siedlce, the road to Niemojki, and the main walkway for Łosicer youth. On this street one could find the magistrate's office. There was also a large Christian Church, the fire station, and the Folks School. On the Miedzyrzecer Street one could find the Great Synagogue and the Bet Midrash. On the Bialer Street one could find the large grocery store. Those were the three major streets where there brick houses. The rest of the lanes : Kosciuszki Street, Szeiniarowar Street, Notewizne Street, Szmolewizne Street, Kilinskiego Street, Polinower Street, and Szpitalne Street.


Behind the church in the brewery house was a small town hospital where Dr. Grabowski practiced.


Yarid Day ( Market ) on the square in Łosice

Loved by the whole population, Jews and non‑Jews, the Czerwinski; a quiet man, always with a friendly smile on his lips. Our doctor was Dr. Naszilewski, who lived out of town. As well, for a number of years, there was a Jewish Dr. Zilberman from Galicia, who was an active and friendly Zionist leader.


The economics of Łosice was closely tied to the farmers of the neighbouring villages. Every second Wednesday was the Yarid (market day). Starting very early in the morning hundreds villagers would come into town with their wagons to set up stalls in the square and the Jews would put out special stalls with assorted fabrics. The farmers would bring grain, potatoes, fruits, eggs, hens, and also cows, sheep, and horses. Everything was for sale. During the day the farmers would sell produce, and buy dresses, boots, clothes, and linens. For the Jews they would bring fabrics from other towns. Then there was a lull in trading, and we hoped that we had earned enough to tide us over to the next Yarid (market) day, in two weeks.


During Yarid (market) days there was also enough work for the three Jewish water-mills. One belonged to Szlomo Poliakewitcz, another to Moisze Rozenboim, and Jakob Drazszniewer, far from the Mezriczer Street, and Dawid Yagodzszinski's was not far from the bath house. The regional power house was always in Yagodzszinski's mill. At the end of the Bialer Street was Niebieski's windmill.


Who from Łosice doesn't remember the pump. Exactly in the middle of the square. Water would always trickle from it, and after the first frost this would turn into ice. One could go sliding throughout the entire winter in front of all the little shops. Winter, as well as summer there were always people lined up with pails which they would fill with water. The water from the well at the square wasn't tasty, but it was good for washing and cleaning. Water for cooking was taken from Galach's pump which located on the Tode Gessel (cemetery street), and from Kowal's pump leaving Yagodzszinski's mill. Especially tasty water came from the pump at the Registrar's, next to the magistrate. There was a private pump in Łosice which belonged to Szczerbiczkis, the Kowal, which he kept locked and didn't allow Jews to draw water from it.


Every family had a water pail. The poorer Jews would start out early in the morning and only took enough water to last the day. The rich would hire water carriers, while others could afford to buy water from the water carriers on Shabbos (Saturdays), but on the other days they had to do the carrying. In Łosice, water carriers were: Pitie, Moine, Yeszaya, and later his son, Dawid. They would carry water the entire day from pump to rich household, bent over by the burden of the yoke upon their shoulders, with two hanging buckets of water on either side. The water from the town pump was cheaper, while the better tasting water from pumps further away was more expensive. Who of us never thought of stealing a bucket of water to bring back to the house.


Post Office at the corner of the square and Siedlcher Street


The big synagogue located on the Mezriczer Street was massive and it was built with red brick. The etchings and paintings on the walls and the ceiling was done by the painter Podoliak from Miedzyrzec. Guest Hazzans (cantors) from other towns would often pray in the great synagogue. It was also the venue for foreign orchestras, like the firemen from Miedzyrzec. The synagogue was the first victim of the Nazi blitzkrieg in September 9, 1939.


Next to the synagogue was the stone Bet Midrash; the synagogue was empty for most of the day ‑ teaching and praying was done in the Bet Midrash. From the first minyan at sunrise to sunset, one learned the Gemarah from the members of Chvra Mishnayes. There were always travelling storytellers at the Bet Midrash. Yosel Ziszkes and Abraham Voda would block the entrance with a table upon which money was placed to be used for charity.


There was also a smaller Bet Midrash, Chai Adom, on Notewizne Street. There were Chassidic prayer houses: Gerer, Kocker, Lubliner, Miedzyrzecer, Partsewer, Janower, and Sokolower. There was also a shoemakers' prayer room off to the side.


All of them are not here and we will be thinking of them forever.


Szaindl's Garden on Siedlcher Street. Mrs. Dobrzinski and son, Baruch picking tomatoes.








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