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Wlodawa

WLODAWA

WLODAWA (in Jewish sources: Vlodavi ), city in Lublin province, eastern Poland. Jews first settled there in the second half of the 16th century. A community was organized in the early 17th century under the jurisdiction of the *Brest community. In 1648 *Chmielnicki's armies massacred the local Jews, as well as others who had taken refuge there, and set fire to their houses. However, the community was reconstituted soon afterward. In the second half of the 17th century a stone baroque-style synagogue was built; enlarged 100 years later, it was still standing in 1970. In the 18th century the Jews of Wlodawa engaged in the leasing of estates, the timber trade, tailoring, and tanning. In 1765 there were 630 Jews who paid the poll tax. The community grew rapidly, numbering 2,236 (74% of the total population) in 1827 and 4,304 (72%) in 1857. It decreased to 3,670 (66%) in 1897. In the 19th century Wlodawa Jews engaged in commerce in agricultural products and manufacture of alcoholic liquor, as well as tailoring, furriery, and hat-making. *Ḥasidism gained many followers in this period.

Between the two world wars, in independent Poland, all Jewish parties were active in the city. The Jewish population numbered 4,196 (67% of the total) in 1921. In the 1929 municipal elections, 11 Jews were among those elected for the 24 seats. The last rabbi of the community, Moses Baruch Morgenstern, perished in the Holocaust.

[Shimshon Leib Kirshenboim]

Holocaust Period

In 1939 there were 5,650 Jews living in Wlodawa. The German army entered the town in mid-September 1939 and immediately subjected the Jews to persecution. However, no ghetto was established at the beginning, and until the end of 1941 life for Jews in Wlodawa was somewhat easier than in most of occupied Poland. The situation deteriorated drastically at the beginning of 1942. In April 1942 about 800 Jews from *Mielec, in Cracow province, and about 1,000 Jews from Vienna were deported to Wlodawa. On May 23, 1942, the first deportation to *Sobibor death camp took place (the exact number of deportees is unknown). In June 1942 all the children up to the age of ten were taken to Sobibor and murdered. On Oct. 24, 1942, the entire Jewish population was sent to death in the Sobibor gas chambers. During these deportations hundreds of Jews fled to the forests and organized partisan units, the best known of which was commanded by Yehiel Grynszpan and operated in conjunction with Soviet and left-wing Polish guerrillas. Most of the Jewish partisans fell in the forests, but a few score managed to survive until the liberation of the Wlodawa region, while several others succeeded in crossing the River Bug and joined Soviet partisans in the Polesie forests.

In the late autumn of 1942 the Germans ordered the establishment of a special ghetto in Wlodawa for all Jews who voluntarily left their hiding places in the forests of the northeastern Lublin province. They were promised that no further deportations would take place. Several thousand Jews who had taken refuge in the forests, but who lacked arms and food supplies and could not survive the winter there, trusted the German promise, and settled in the new Wlodawa ghetto. On April 30, 1943, all were deported to Sobibor and murdered. Jews from Wlodawa who managed to survive in the partisan units left Poland immediately after the war. The Jewish community in Wlodawa was not reconstituted.

[Stefan Krakowski]

bibliography:

Halpern, Pinkas, index; S. Dubnow (ed.), Pinkas ha-Medinah (1925), index; B. Wasiutyński, Ludność żydowska w Polsce w wiekach xix i xx (1930), 34, 63, 64, 77, 201, 210; A. Wein (ed.), Żydzi a powstanie styczniowe (1963), index; N.N. Hannover, Yeven Meẓulah (1966), 57, 58; bŻih, no. 21 (1957), 21–92.

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