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SOKAL , town in Lvov district, Ukraine; within Poland until 1772 and between the two world wars. Jews first settled there in the middle of the 16th century. In 1578 the municipality restricted the number of Jews in the town to two families, who were authorized to occupy two houses. In 1609 the Jews reached an agreement with the townsmen authorizing them to erect 18 houses and a synagogue, and to acquire land for a cemetery. In 1613 the houses of the Jews were destroyed by a fire which broke out in the town; Sokal was devastated by the Cossacks under *Chmielnicki in 1648. In the 17th and 18th centuries Sokal was among the important communities in the province (galil) of Chelm-Belz within the framework of the Councils of *Lands. A printing press was established there around 1755. During the period of Austrian rule, from 1772 to 1918, the Jews were mainly occupied in small-scale commerce, crafts, and transportation. *Ḥasidism had considerable influence within the community. The Jewish population numbered 2,408 (36% of the total) in 1880; 3,272 in 1890; 3,778 (41%) in 1900; 4,516 (39%) in 1910; 4,360 (43%) in 1921; and 5,520 in 1931. Between the two world wars, Sokal was within Poland and Zionism played an important role in community life.

[Shimon Leib Kishenboim]

Holocaust Period

After the outbreak of World War ii Jewish refugees from Belzec, Krystynopol, and from cities in western Poland arrived in Sokal, and during the period of Soviet rule (1939–41) the Jewish population increased to more than 6,000. The refugees were lodged in synagogues as well as private homes and a special committee was established to aid them. Because of Sokal's proximity to the German border, the Jews of the town witnessed the tragedy of the Jews of Chelm and Hrubieszow in November 1939 when they were brought by the Germans to the Bug River, but the Soviet border patrol prevented the survivors of the "death march" from crossing the river to the Soviet side. In the summer of 1940, refugees in Sokal from western Poland were deported to the Soviet interior. On June 23, 1941, a day after the outbreak of the German-Soviet war, the Germans captured Sokal. Eight persons were shot the same day. On June 30, 1941, the Ukrainian police killed 200 Jews near a brick factory in the neighborhood of Sokal. In the winter of 1941 and early in 1942, the Jews were subjected to forced labor, economic restrictions, and physical attacks. On Sept. 17, 1942, an Aktion took place in which 2,000 Jews were deported to the death camp at *Belzec. On Oct. 15, 1942, a ghetto was set up in Sokal into which more than 5,000 Jews, including Jews from Steniatyn, Radziechow, Lopatyn, Witkow, Tartakow, and Mosty Wielkie were concentrated. The ghetto had only four wells and its inhabitants suffered from a severe water shortage. On Oct. 24–28, 1942, 2,500 Jews from Sokal were deported to Belzec. On May 27, 1943, a final Aktion took place. The ghetto was liquidated and the town was declared judenrein. Some 30 persons survived in forests and hideouts.

[Aharon Weiss]


Halpern, Pinkas, index; B. Wasiutyński, Ludność żydowska w Polsce w wiekach XIX i XX (1930), 118, 147, 152; K. Lepszy (ed.), Polska w okresie drugiej wojny północnej (1957), index.

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