HISTORY OF BIALYSTOK, POLAND
accounts of Jewish settlement in Bialystok date from 1658 to 1661. In
1692 there was a branch of the kahal of the Tykocin community operating
in Bialystok to serve the needs of local Jews. Tradition has it that
the Jews came to Bialystok in 1749 by invitation from Count Branitzky,
who built houses and stores for them as well as a wooden synagogue.
Throughout its history, the city remained predominately Jewish. An
industrial city 52 miles southwest of Grodno, Bialystok (also known as
Byelostok) prospered from its two major products—cloth and
the early part of the nineteenth century Bialystok had a Hebrew
printing-office, from which the first book known to have been printed
was issued in 1805 and the last in 1824. Bialystok had one large
synagogue, four or five large batei midrash and about twice as many
small minyanim. It also had of the finest Jewish hospitals in the area,
plus a home for the aged, two free loan institutions, a Talmud Torah
with about 500 pupils in 1900, and many other benevolent societies.
(Excerpted from the 1900 article The Jewish Encyclopedia at http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=1636&letter=B&search=bialystok)
Museum of Tolerance provides pictures, maps and information on
pre-Holocaust Jewish life in Bialystok (http://motlc.wiesenthal.com/pages/t008/t00828.html)
Pogrom of 1906
1, 1906 saw the outbreak of a pogrom by the Czarist forces (http://www.zabludow.com/bialystokpogromdavidsohn.html)
that resulted in the flight of many Jews from the city. Some of them
came to New York City and contributed to the growth of the Bialystok
community on the Lower East Side.
Holocaust in Bialystok
see what Bialystok looked like in 1939 on the eve of World War II,
eleven minute Yiddish video with English subtitles (http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2rq1s_jewish-life-in-bialystok-1939_politics).
June 27, 1941, the Nazis occupied the city, which at that point had
50,000 Jews in it and 350,000 in the province. Over the course of the
next month, the Nazis burned down the synagogue and murdered 5,000
people. On August 1, 1941, the
Jewish population was enclosed
in a ghetto.
The Holocaust Research Project
pictures of the
Bialystok Ghetto (http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/ghettos/bialystokgal/index.html)
February 12, 1943, the Nazis began to liquidate the ghetto. When they
entered the ghetto on August 16, 1943 to complete the liquidation, the
Nazis were met by resistance fighters led by Mordechai Tenenbaum
(Tamaroff), who had previously been attacking the Nazis from the
forests. The Ghetto fighters, lead by Zerach Zylberberg, Hershel
Rosenthal, Haika Grosman and Israel Margulies, held out for a
more about the revolt from the writings of Tilford Bartman (http://www.zabludow.com/Bialystok.html)
and from The Jewish Virtual Library (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/Bialystoktoc.html)
the end, the Nazis deported 40,000 Jews to Treblinka and Majdanek.
the war, 1,085 Jews were left in the city, 900 local inhabitants and
the rest from the neighboring villages.The 1890 Piaskower Beth Midrash
on Piekna Street, one of the few surviving synagogue buildings in
Bialystok, was renovated in 1997 (http://www.isjm.org/jhr/no2/bialystok.htm)
Bialystok’s tour guides still note the presence of a Jewish
community there, but all of the verbs are in the past tense (http://www.diapozytyw.pl/en/site/slady_i_judaica/bialystok)
memory of the community lives on—commemorated through
projects such as that initiated by Tomasz Wisniewski of Poland,
Tilford Bartman of the U.S.,
Halpern of the U.S. and Ada
Holtzman of Israel. (http://www.zchor.org/bialystok/bialystok.htm)
Their online memorial to Jewish Bialystok provides links to people,
such as those who are seeking family from the city (http://www.zchor.org/bialystok/bialygen.htm)
to places, like Kiriat Bialystok in Yehud, Israel (http://www.zchor.org/bialystok/kiriat_bialystok2.htm)
Dr. Heidi M. Szpek has been involved with the restoration of the Jewish cemetery at Bagnówka in Białystok. In a special report for Jewish Heritage Europe,
she described the long-term efforts to restore the cemetery and her
attempts to translate the epitaphs on the cemetery’s gravestones.
past lives on in songs and films about the city as well. Some examples
Mayn Heym,” with words by Avrom Shevakh and music by J.
1939 film “Jewish Life in Bialystok” directed by
Saul Goskind (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VP9a7yBnvc)
those seeking genealogical records about family from Bialystok, try the
Bartman’s Bialystok Links http://www.zchor.org/bialystok/bialygen.htm
Bialystok Region Research Group (BRRG) http://kehilalinks.jewishgen.org/Bialystok/GrodnoProject.htm
Records Indexing—Poland http://www2.jewishgen.org/jri-pl/bialy.htm
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