1 Execution site(s)
Stanisław M., born in 1936: “There were many Jews living in Pruchnik before the war. There were also some Ukrainian and Polish families here. The Jews were mainly merchants and artisans. I remember some names of the Jews from Pruchnik: Josel, Majle. When the war began, the Germans forced the Jews to work. In winter, for example, they were taken by the Germans in groups to clear the roads of snow. The Germans forced them to sing during the work. There was no ghetto in Pruchnik during the German occupation, but all the Jews had to wear armbands so that they could be easily distinguished from the non-Jews. Finally, almost all of them were deported to Bircza, but a large group was shot here, in the field that belonged to the local parish. I saw this execution from the Catholic cemetery (…)”(Witness N°1164, interviewed in Medyka, on October 21, 2020)
Pruchnik is a rural town in Jarosław County, in south-eastern Poland. The first Jewish families settled in Pruchnik in 16th century. From that moment, the number of Jewish inhabitants in town continued increasing, especially in the years leading up to the First World War. In 1900, there were 800 Jews living in Pruchnik. They were mostly merchants and small artisans, such as tailors, shoemakers, or bakers. They mainly occupied streets around the market square, such as Kanczudzka, Dluga and Koscielna streets. At the turn of the 20th century, there were 68 shops in the town, 55 of which were owned and ran by Jews. There were also several Jewish restaurants and inns, as well as a few religious and social Jewish associations. The Jewish community owned a synagogue and a Jewish school in town, as well as a Jewish cemetery located at the outskirts of town. In 1928, 7695 Catholics and 1090 Jews lived in Pruchnik.
The town was occupied by German troops in September 1939. On the September 9, the Germans humiliated and shot a group of fifty Jews. In November, 150 Jewish families were moved to the other side of the San river, to the Soviet occupied territories, but most of those families came back several weeks later because of the refusal of the Soviet occupiers to accept them. Some available sources mention the existence of an open ghetto established in town in 1939. However, YIU’s witness Stanisław M., born in 1936, claimed that there was no ghetto in Pruchnik during the German occupation. In August 1942, a large number of Jews from Pruchnik were removed from town. Many of them were sent to the Bircza ghetto, from which they were transported to the forest in Wólka Pełkińska where they were shot. However, 67 Jews were shot in a field behind the Catholic cemetery in Pruchnik. According to Stanisław M., an eyewitness of this execution, the Jews were shot in two groups by Germans with machine guns. The mass grave was dug and filled after the execution by the ‘Junaki’, young Polish men, members of the German forced labor organization called the Baudienst. Today, the execution site and the mass grave of the victims are commemorated with a monument erected in 1969 in the vicinity of the Catholic cemetery. The remaining Jews from Pruchnik were sent to the transit camp in Pełkinie and on to the Bełżec death camp.
The buildings of the Jewish school and the synagogue were dismantled after the war and the Jewish cemetery no longer exists. All traces of such large and vivid Jewish community of Pruchnik were completely obliterated.
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