1 Execution site(s)
Edward S., born in 1930:
“When I was a young boy, I used to go to Radomyśl Wielki with my father. Believe it or not, but the town was full of Jews at the time! They lived in small houses built one next to another. People would go to Jewish shops to buy different products, such as food or fertilizers. When the war began, Germany attacked Soviet Union. When the Germans entered our region, they started to eliminate the Jews. They wanted to get rid of them all. And they did.”
(Witness N°1188, interviewed in Ruda, on November 26, 2020)
Radomyśl Wielki is a town in Mielec county in the Subcarpathian voivodeship, southern Poland. The Jewish community most probably began to settle in Radomyśl Wielki at the beginning of the 18th century. By the second half of the 18th century, the town had its own Jewish cemetery, a synagogue, a bet midrash and a bath house (mikveh), and around 300 Jewish inhabitants, representing around 29% of a total town’s population. In the 19th century, a Jewish gmina (the qahal or kehila) was established for organizing and supervizing educational, religious, and social aspects of Jewish life. At the turn of the 20th century, the city was inhabited by many famous and wealthy Jewish families, including the Aisemberg, Baer, Bizgaier, Brandbaur, Chand, Eisig, Fedar and Feit families, and many others. There were also many Jewish families living on the poverty line. By 1921, Jewish community of Radomyśl had increased to 1422 people, making the town the second largest concentration of Jews in the region after Mielec. Jews from Radomyśl were mainly merchants and craftsmen, they owned small shops and stalls at the marketplace. They were also money lenders, leasing mills, and ran distilleries, taverns, and breweries as well as two cement factories, and workshops for the manufacture of sweets and cosmetics. Most of the Jewish houses, shops and religious institutions were located around the northeastern part of the market square, commonly called “the Jewish marketplace” (while the northwestern section was known as “the Christian marketplace”). In 1930, about 50% of the town’s population were Jewish (1,238 out of 2,468 inhabitants). On the eve of war, the number of Jewish inhabitants in Radomyśl increased, mainly due to the settlement of Jews from Germany and Czech Republic. In 1939, 2,517 Jews lived in Radomyśl Wielki.
Radomyśl Wielki was occupied by German forces in the first week of September 1939. The Germans immediately imprisoned 300 Jews and Catholics in a local church for several days. A few people were killed, the rest were finally released but the persecutions, especially of Jews, continued. They were humiliated, beaten, forced to perform hard labor… On the September 24, 1939, the day after Yom Kippur, the Germans gathered a group of Jews on the Market Square and subjected them to public humiliations by hitting them and cutting off their beards. This day was remembered by the Jews as “Bloody Sunday”. The Germans continued to loot Jewish houses, confiscate all their valuables and brutalize them. Eventually, the Jews were forced to wear an armband with a Star of David. From then on, they were unable to move freely without special permission. Jewish shops and workshops were also marked with a Star of David, before being eventually handed over to the local Volksdeutch. Severe contributions were also imposed to the Jewish community. On January 25, 1940, a Jewish Council (Judenrat) was established to ensure the execution and observance of all orders and restrictions decided by the German authorities. In April 1940, the arrest of young Jews to be sent to abor camps intensified. On the 17 April, a transport of 200 Jews was sent from Radomyśl Wielki to the Pustków labor camp. The next such transport was twice as big and included members of the Judenrat. Jews were also sent to the camps located in the neighboring Dulcza Mala and Mielec. Over the course of 1941 and 1942, many Jewish refugees arrived to Radomyśl, mainly from Dębica and Mielec. This important increase of the Jewish population and severe living conditions they suffered le to a typhus epidemic in the town. In April 1942, a shooting of all the Zionists from Radomyśl was perpetrated by Gestapo members from Mielec. Although the available historical sources do not give concrete information about the existence of a ghetto in the Jewish quarter of Radomyśl Wielki, it seems that in July 1942 a ghetto was created, but only for Jews from nearby villages. Other Jews continued to live among their non-Jewish neighbors. The ghetto existed for a very short amount of time preceding the Aktion. On Saturday, July 18, the Gestapo came to the Judenrat and ordered it to gather a certain amount of money, in order to avoid the deportation of Jews. Although the contribution was delivered, the deportation of Jews took place on the next day. The Aktion started on the 19 July, 1942. The Germans ordered all the Jews from the town to gather with their possessions at the market square at 7am, where a selection took place. A group of about 500 people, mostly elderly and sick, but also women and children, were led to the Jewish cemetery on 20 requisitioned carts to be executed. The shooting was carried out by the members of the Gestapo, the Gendarmerie and the Schutzpolizei. Victims’ bodies were buried on the spot in mass graves. The remaining Jews were transported on carts to an assembly point in Dębica, from where most of them was sent to the Belzec extermination camp. Some Jews managed to escape and avoid the deportation, but they were successively hunted down and executed by the Germans and collaborators. A few oral testimonies mention that in 1942, with the help of a local forester, a group of about 30 Jews was caught in the “Koziołek” forest and shot. During its research trip to Mielec region conducted in 2020, Yahad’s team interviewed an eyewitness of a shooting of about 50 Jews perpetrated at the outskirts of Radomyśl Wielki. Although it is very likely that the witness saw the execution mentioned above, we were not able to fully confirm it.
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