1 Execution site(s)
Zofia N., born in 1925: “I was born in France, but I moved to to Kolbuszowa in Poland with my family in 1936. Before the war, it was a small, typical Jewish town. All the shops were Jewish in the market square. I remember some of the Jewish family names from the town really well, like Zilber, Fenichl, Hawer, Walderman, Giawend. I had two really close Jewish friends: Mala Gilsberg and Rywka Plawker. We were classmates! Before the war, Jewish and Catholic children went to school together. There were 16 Catholic girls and 17 Jewish girls, even a rabbi’s daughter in my class. We sat separately and greeted the teacher in different way: “Praise Jesus Christ” or “Praise the Lord”. I also remember that our history teacher was Jewish, he was called Mr. Thau (…) There was a brick synagogue in Kolbuszowa where women had to sit separately from men. Catholic children were very curious about Jewish religious life. There were also mikveh and kosher butcher houses in the town. Most of the Intelligentsia was also Jewish – a doctor, a lawyer, the mill owner. There was a Jewish cemetery with beautiful gravestones. The Poles took the gravestones after the war (…)” (Witness n°1005P, interviewed in Kolbuszowa, on May 1, 2019)
1. Date and place of execution: 1942 in Kolbuszowa; 2. The type of execution/ shooting, hanging or other types: shooting 3. Data concerning the victims executed: 50 Jews and Poles shot by the gendarmerie and buried in a mass grave at Kolbuszowa;
1. Date and place of execution: 1942 at the Jewish cemetery; 2. The type of execution/ shooting, hanging or other types: shooting 3. Data concerning the victims executed: 26 Jews killed by the Gestapo and buried in the Jewish cemetery of Kolbuszowa in two mass graves; there was no exhumation; [Court Inquiries about executions and mass graves in Kolbuszowa village, Kolbuszowa County, Podkarpackie voivodship; p.273-276; IPN RG-15.019M]
Kolbuszowa is a small town in southeastern Poland. Situated in the Sandomierz Forest in the Subcarpathian Voivodship, it is the capital of Kolbuszowa county. Kolbuszowa belongs to the historic region of Lesser Poland. The first mention of the presence of Jews in Kolbuszowa dates back to the beginning of the 16th century. They appeared in the town as buyers of local furniture products. Later, Jews in Kolbuszowa mastered craft professions, such as carpentry, tailoring, shoemaking, bakery and butchery. In the mid-18th century, Jews constituted half of the town’s population. The Jewish community of Kolbuszowa had at least two synagogues, as well as a Jewish cemetery, a mikveh and kosher butcher houses. The economic situation in the interwar period was very difficult for the Jews in Kolbuszowa, resulting in many of them leaving the town. According to different sources, in 1939, between 1,756 and 2,500 Jews lived in Kolbuszowa. According to Yahad witness Zofia N., born in 1925, “The local Intelligentsia in Kolbuszowa was mainly Jewish – there was a doctor, a lawyer, the mill owner (…) Jewish and non-Jewish children went to the same school and general relations between both communities were pretty good.”
The Germans started to submit local Jews to forced labor and loot Jewish houses as soon as they arrived in the town. When the Gestapo arrived in the autumn of 1939, it ordered all Jews to leave, threatening them with the murder of a group of Jewish prisoners. Following that threat, many Jews fled town in order to reach the Soviet-occupied zone, but a large number of them eventually returned to Kolbuszowa a few weeks later. In December 1939, all Jews over the age of 12 were forced to wear armbands with a blue Star of David. In March 1940, a Jewish Council (Judenrat) was established in town to help the German authorities with finding and supervising the Jewish forced laborers. In September 1940, 50 Jews were sent to the forced labor camp in Rzeszów, in November about 80 Jews were chosen for forced labor in Pustków camp. In June 1941, the period preceding the establishment of the ghetto in Kolbuszowa, all Jews living in the market square were resettled to Rzeszów by the order of the Landkommissar Twardon. The ghetto was created on June 13. The remaining Jews were given 48 hours to leave their houses and move into the ghetto area, located in the poorest part of the town. About 90 Poles were relocated from the area to create more living space for the Jews. The Jewish shops were transferred to Poles by the Germans. The living conditions in the ghetto were extremely difficult, with disease, starvation and executions rife. In the summer of 1941, an large number of Jews from the Kolbuszowa ghetto were sent to the concentration camp at Huta Komorowska. In January 1942, posters were put up around the ghetto, prohibiting Germans “and other Aryans” from entering the ghetto without a special pass, and in February of the same year, a Jewish Police force was established in the ghetto. On April 28, 1942, the Gestapo members arrested and shot a group of 20 Jews from the ghetto. The victims’ bodies were initially buried in a mass grave at the local Jewish cemetery, but were eventually reburied by their family members in the family plots. On June 25, 1942, the Germans decided to liquidate the Kolbuszowa ghetto. The ghetto area was surrounded by approximately 100 SS men, who would go from house to house in order to assemble all the Jews near the ghetto gates. Jewish belongings were put on requisitioned peasants’ carts, leaving no space for the Jews, who had to walk about 35 km to Rzeszów, escorted by Germans and Polish police. The evacuation took two days, after which the abandoned Jewish houses were looted by locals. On June 28, several Jews were brought back from the Rzeszów ghetto to Kolbuszowa to dismantle Jewish houses. The rest of Kolbuszowa Jews were deported from Rzeszów ghetto either to the Jasionka camp, where they were murdered or died from starvation, or to the Belzec extermination camp. The liquidation of the ghetto was accompanied by several shootings of Jews. According to available archival sources, about 1000 Jews were executed and buried at the Jewish cemetery. However the Yahad team’s investigation was unable to confirm this information. In fact, several witnesses pre-interviewed by Yahad denied that such a large execution took place in Kolbuszowa during the German occupation. Our team did however managed to establish that in 1942, several Jews were shot near the local railway, in the place called “kolejowisko” over the course of a few individual shootings. Unfortunately, it was impossible to locate the exact shooting site of the victims because of the lack of eyewitnesses to those executions, as well as significant topographic changes over the years. Even though several Jews managed to survive the war, the Jewish community from Kolbuszowa was never reestablished.
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