עלקיש
אולקוש
We Remember Jewish Olkusz!

 

 

 

 

My thanks to Halina & Chaim Birenbaum for drawing my attention to the book about the extermination of the Jews of Olkusz and giving it to me. I thank also Jan Jagelski from the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw for giving me the permission to use and post the photographs in the Institutes' collection.

My deep gratitude and appreciation to the author Mr. Krzysztof Kocjan, for writing this book so that the world will know... I thank him from the bottom of my heart for his cooperation, patience and the material he sent me to be included in this web site.

Messages may be sent to the author, email: krzysztofkocjan "at" poczta.onet.pl at (replace "at" by @ to avoid spam). The author will be very pleased to get any message from someone who was born in Olkusz or is a descendant of a Jew from Olkusz.

The book may be ordered from Mr. Kocjan, using the same email as above

It is available also via Internet at : www.jewish-bookshop.com | www.jarden.pl.

Krzysztof Kocian:

Zaglada Olkuskich Zydow

Olkusz, 2002

ISBN 83-913688-5-8

SUMMARY

The Extermination of the Olkusz Jews

Translated by Katarzyna Kocjan


Olkusz: deportation to Auschwitz

The German forces seized Olkusz on 5 September 1939. Between 5 and 7 September 1939 Germans killed in Slawkow 98 retiring Jews. Soon after the German forces' invasion Jews were forced to participate in public works and to clear the snow from streets. They were removed from nicer houses from a center of the town and their property was robbed. As of 26 October 1939 a part of the Olkusz district together with the town itself, was included into the Reich III, and the eastern part of this district was included into General Gouvernement. Probably also in 1939 the Judenrat (the Jewish Council appointed by the Germans) was established by either Azryl Flaszeneberg or its chairman, Szwarcberg. The Olkusz Jewish community - together with the rest of the communities of the region - was incorporated into the Headquarters of the Jewish Communities in the Upper and Eastern Silesia (Ostoberschleisen) with its seat in Sosnowiec.

Probably also at the beginning of December 1939 Jews were forced to wear an armband with a Dawid star on a left sleeve. Even earlier, on 8 September 1939, when German marks were put into circulation, the occupying authorities introduced first limitations of Jewish people's freedoms by forbidding them to have more than 1 thousand RM or 2 thousand zloty in their houses. The obligation to mark Jewish shops and workshops with a special sign was introduced. Jews were forbidden to give their possessions to Aryans and all their deposits of securities were blocked.

According to a German census of 23 December 1939, 4,097 Jews (7,8% of the whole society) lived in 6 towns of the Olkusz district. Most of them (3,080) lived in Olkusz, then in Slawkow (960), in Ogrodzieniec (27), in Gorenice (14) and in Boleslaw and Klucze (in eighths). The considerable majority - 4,053 people - used the Jewish language at home (3,049 in Olkusz, 951 in Slawkow, 24 in Ogrodzieniec, 14 in Gorenice, 8 in Klucze and 7 in Boleslaw).

In January 1940 the Sosnowiec Headquarters was likely to appoint a commissioner of the Judenrat (Jewish Council appointed by the Germans) in Olkusz - a Sobol. Jews were forced to make a contribution in gold. Sobol organized the police, which made sure that no Jew evaded public works. At the same time, the synagogue was profaned. In February 1940 a part of Jewish shops was closed down, the others were taken over by Germans. Jewish cemeteries were also systematically destroyed by means of using the tombstones to harden the surface (e.g. a square near a former grammar-school's building at Pilsudskiego Street), to clean up surfaces and for construction (e.g. fire dam in Pomorzany at Pomorska Street).

On 15 June 1940 most of Chorzow Jews were resettled in Olkusz (the others were resettled in Jaworzno). Another source states that about 1500 Jews from Chorzow, Piasnik and other places of the Upper Silesia resettled in Olkusz. The resettled Jews were put among local Jews, whose number reached 4000 at that time. Information on a displacement of Silesian Jews, among other things, to Olkusz, is confirmed by another source, which mentions a displacement of Jews from Bielsk, Cieszyn (and surroundings), Mikolow, Myslowice and Zywiec to concentration places in Chrzanow and Olkusz districts.

Jews, like other inhabitants of this town, were the victims of the so-called "bloody Wednesday" on 31 July 1940. From the survived documentation appears that the person who was particularly tormented in a physical and psychological manner in the Olkusz market (Rynek) was Mosze Ben Icchak Hagerman, dajan (a religious judge) of the Olkusz Jewish community. An Olkusz Jew, Majer, a citizen of the US, was exceptionally mangled then.


Olkusz, 31.7.1940: The Dayan Hangerman being abused by the Germans while the men were ordered to lie down in the square of town


Olkusz: "Bloody Wednesday", 31.7.1940

 


Olkusz: 31.7.1940

4,021 Jews (8,1%) lived in the part of a former Olkusz district included into the Reich on 10 October 1940.

Deportations of Olkusz Jews to labor camps in the Reich began in October 1940 with deporting 140 people. The second transport with 130 Jews departed in January 1941, and the third one - consisting of 300 women - left in August 1941.

In September 1941 a white shoulder band was changed for the yellow patch in the shape of the Star of David with the word "Jude", which every Jewish man and woman from the age of 12 had to wear on the chest sown to their clothes.

In September 1941 Jews were displaced from the center of Olkusz to the ghetto established in the suburbs of the town near Pareze, Sikorka and Slowiki. The displacement was carried out by a special displacement commission consisting of Germans not from Olkusz in the presence of officials of the Sosnowiec Jewish Judenrat. Jews were allowed to transport all their belongings to the quarter by carts, which were assigned by the Jewish Community. Houses were emptied systematically according to streets. This displacement lasted about 10 days. Jews were informed about the displacement a few days earlier. Each Jew received a call from the Displacement Commission of the Judenrat and had to pay a certain amount of money, set by that Commission, for a flat. Housing conditions in that quarter were very hard. Those who paid a lot of money got better flats. The best flats consisted of one room and a kitchen. The poor, about 7 or 8 people, lived in one room. The rich received flats in the part of the quarter, which was near the town, and the poor lived in Sikorka Street. At the same time, Germans resettled Poles from Sikorka to Jewish houses in the town. An Olkusz ghetto was probably not walled off, but the German and Jewish police guarded its entrance.

At the beginning of 1942, between February and April, three Jews were executed by hanging in order to warn local people against illegal trade. They were: Jakub Mordka (Leon) Glajtman, Chaim Pinkus and Herz Moszek Matner, caught while smuggling sausages on the way from Olkusz to Chrzanow and sent to jail. In the morning, on the day of their execution, Germans fetched 20 Jews, elder and respected citizens, who had to prepare 3 gallows. 100-200 Jews were forced to assist that execution. The men condemned to death went to gallows saying the prayer "Szma Israel". After the execution the crowd was dismissed, and the condemned to death were hanged till the following day. They were guarded by the German police. The following day Germans took the bodies away.


Olkusz: the public hanging.

In the spring of1942 the number of deportations of Olkusz Jews to forced labor camps increased. On 12 March 1942, 117 Jewish women at the age of thirteen to twenty eight were sent to labor camps; their list is now in the archives of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. On 20 April 1942 a transport of 140 men departed from Olkusz and one month later, on 21-23 May 1942 during the Shavuoth holiday (Pentecost), 1,000 Jews, including women, were deported.

There was a kitchen for poor Jews in Olkusz, organized by the community, in which 300 dinners were served. There was also a kindergarten for about 30 children aged less than 7, who were entertained, they received meals and in the evening went home. The Jews in Olkusz worked in the suitcase factory and in the branch of the Rosner's tailor shop. There was a Jewish hospital in a former girls' grammar-school building, which was run by a doctor Marian Auerhahn-Gluszecki.

In June 1942 the Olkusz ghetto was liquidated. From the surviving Jews' reports appears that the Aktion of the liquidation started on the night of9 June or before dawn on 10 June 1942. The German forces took decisions regarding liquidation of the Jewish ghetto but it was the Jewish police who carried out the liquidation action directly. At the beginning, first Jews were placed in the community kitchen (a former boys' grammar-school) adjoining the Jewish hospital. Here, guarded by the Jewish police, they stayed till the following day when next Jews (total of 3,400 people) were brought to a square next to the kitchen. Also in that square the SS-man Kucinski made the selection. From that square the majority of people was led to a National Health Service's building under construction at Mickiewicza Street. A small number of (about 200) - considered to be able to work - stayed in the building with a community kitchen, from which they were deported to Sosnowiec the following day, and from there to forced labor camps (Annaberg, Blechhammer, Gross-Rosen and Buchenwald). It is not unlikely that workers of the Rosner's shop (although they probably left Olkusz two weeks earlier and went to Bedzin together with sewing machines), officials of the community and the Jewish police, medical personnel (about 200-300 people) stayed in that building, and were deported to the camp in Sosnowiec afterwards. On Saturday morning Jews from the small neighboring towns and villages were brought to Olkusz and gathered at a small square vis-a-vis the National Health Service's building. Jews gathered in that building were divided into two groups: the first one was taken to railway station on 13 June (Saturday), placed in the cars and sent to Auschwitz Birkenau. The next deportation consisted of the Jews who stayed in the Health Service's building, departed on 15 June (Monday). Patients from the Jewish hospital were also deported along with this deportation. After the ghetto's liquidation, 10 to 20 workers of a suitcase factory still remained in Olkusz, they had to live in a building belonging to a factory and were not allowed to leave it. In July 1943 they were deported also to camps. On 1 August 1942 there were 78 Jews in Olkusz. On 10 October 1943 there were no longer Jews on the territory of the Olkusz district.

On 15 December 1944, the SS shot two people in Pomorzany - a worker Wladyslaw Was (born in 1898) and a butcher Wiktor Was (born in 1895) - suspected of killing a Jew. From Pomorzany inhabitants' reports appears that a victim of the murderers-brothers was a Jew hidden by them during the war. What is significant is the fact that among 16,858 victims of the German occupation on the territory of the Olkusz district Jews constituted up to 15,067 people (89,4%).

After the war, although some of the surviving Jews returned to Olkusz, the local Jewish community failed to be reconstituted because most of Jews left the town soon. However, shortly after the war, the Jewish temporary committee existed in Olkusz.

In 1948 the Munich Court of Honor declared Mair Kiwkowicz, a Jewish policeman from the Olkusz ghetto, to be a traitor of a Jewish nation for his activities during the war.

Families of Rejia and Tobiasz, and Chaja and Josek Zilberszac, stayed in Olkusz the longest, till April 1966 and they carried out together a dust-absorbing mask manufacture "TEZET".

In 1972 the Olkusz Association in Israel published in Tel Aviv a commemorative book (Yizkor Book) of Olkusz Jews: "Olkusz; memorial book to a community that was exterminated during the Holocaust". Zwi Yashiv was its editor. The book, published in Hebrew (several fragments in Yiddish), contains many memoirs and unique photographs, among other things, of an Olkusz synagogue.

Till now only few Olkusz Jews live, scattered all over the world (Austria, Israel, Germany and the US).

OLKUSZ

(District: Olkusz; Province: Kielce)

Coordinates: 50170' : 1934'
240.2 kilometers SSW of Warsaw

 

This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot Polin: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland, Volume VII, pages 44 - 49, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 1999.

Written by Shmuel Levin z"l (until WWII) and Abraham Wein (the Holocaust).

 

The Article Will Be Translated by Ada Holtzman and will be Donated to JewishGen December 2003

 

Year

Total population

Jews

%

1827

1,213

26

2%

1857

1,650

750

45%

1897

3,433

1,835

53%

1921

6,660

2,700

41%

1938

9,916

 

 

 

List of the Jews of Olkusz Deported from Olkusz, Poland to Death in Auschwitz


Deportation - the end of Olkusz Jewry

Deportation - Part 1: A - K

Deportation - Part 2: L - Z

Photographs of the Deportation

The Yizkor Book of Olkusz

אולקוש (עלקיש ביידיש) ספר זיכרון לקהילה שהוכחדה בשואה

Olkusz; Memorial Book to a Community that Was Exterminated during the Holocaust
Editor: Zvi Yashiv, Tel Aviv, Olkusz Landsmanschaft 1971

List of Jewish Women Deported from Olkusz, Poland for Forced Labour Camp
Date: 12.3.1942
Krzysztof Kocian
: Zaglada Olkuskich Zydow
Pages XXI - XXIII

The List

The Cemetery

Dariusz Rozmus: Olkusz Jewish Cemetary, Olkusz 2002

NOWY CMENTARZ ŻYDOWSKI W OLKUSZU
Weight: 458 g
Author: Krzysztof Kocjan, Anna Michałowska, Dariusz Rozmus, Marta Rozmus, Andrzej Witek
Price: 32.00 ZŁ
Available at: : http://www.jewish-bookshop.com/ | http://www.jarden.pl/

Information about Olkusz Cemetery and the Surrounding Towns IAJGS: Cemetery Project

BRAMA

There is a special Cultural Association in Olkusz "Gate" (Polish: Stowarzyszenie Kulturalne "Brama") which make the efforts to preserve the heritage of the Olkusz Jews. Among other activities, they published Krzysztof Kocian's book: Zaglada Olkuskich Zydow.

LINKS:

German Police Activity in Olkusz

Olkusz Today

This Web Site is a Work in Progress!

 Last Updated December 10th, 2003

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