1 Execution site(s)
Jan Z., born in 1926: “I was born in Giedlarowa, it was a big village at that time. There were Catholics, a family of Jehova witnesses and several Jewish families living there. The Jewish families were considered rich, their main occupation was trade. One of the families’ names was BULWA. There were also Germans living in the village – the KONRAD family and a woman called BEKIERKA. I went to school for 5 years. Jewish, German and Catholic children went to school together. At the beginning of the war there were rumors that the Germans were very cruel, and the local Jews were very afraid of them. Many German patrols would come to the village from Leżajsk, where they established their post office in the court building. Soon after the beginning of the war, the Germans sent a large group of Jews from Giedlarowa and nearby villages to Pełkinie camp. Several dozen local Jews were shot in the Wierzawice forest called “Chojaki”. (Witness N°1000P, interviewed in Wierzawice, on April 30, 2019)
"Gendarmes and Sonderdienst officials shot about 25 Jews. Victims’ bodies were buried in 4 mass graves in the nearby forest." [Register of places and facts of crimes polled by the Nazi occupiers in Poland in 1939-1945: 08.1942-12.1942]
Wierzawice is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Leżajsk, within Leżajsk County, Subcarpathian Voivodeship, in southeastern Poland. Little is known about the prewar Jewish community from Wierzawice, although Yahad witness Jan Z., born in 1926 in nearby Giedlarowa, confirmed that at least several Jewish families lived in the village before the outbreak of war. About 8 Jewish families lived in nearby Brzóza Królewska, a village located about 12 km (7,5mi) from Wierzawice. It was a very large village that stretched over 8 km(5mi). The Jews lived in various parts of the locality.
Several Jewish families also lived in Giedlarowa, located about 4 km (2,5mi) from Wierzawice. Jan Z., born there in 1926, recalled: “Jews from my family village were mainly traders. They would buy and sell different goods. Some of the Jews were farmers or craftsmen. I remember a Jewish family named Bulwa. Jewish and non-Jewish children went to the same school.” It is very likely that Jewish communities from the above-mentioned villages would attend to the synagogue in Leżajsk, which at that time had the biggest Jewish community in the county. Just before the outbreak of war, Leżajsk was home to 1,896 Jews. The town was occupied by German units on September 13, 1939.
When the Second World War broke out, German units occupied Leżajsk, located 4 km from Wierzawice. Jan Z., born in 1926 recalled: “When the occupation started, the Germans would regularly come from Leżajsk to patrol nearby villages. They would also come to Giedlarowa. The local Jews were very afraid of them because they knew the Germans were after them.” Thanks to the Yahad field investigation, we learned that some of the Jewish families from Giedlarowa were killed on the spot after the Germans arrival in the village. Jan Z. claimed that a group of Jews was shot in the forest of Wierzawice, commonly called “Chojaki”. Jan Z. was not an eyewitness to this execution, however he had a friend who was a member of the Baudienst, a forced labor organization created by Nazi Germany in the General Government territory of occupied Poland during the war. He told Jan about the execution because he was among the Baudienst members who had been requisitioned by the Germans to dig the pits for the shooting of Jews. Jan Z. recalled: “After digging the pit, the Junaki (Polish word for Baudienst members) were told to wait at the side and not to look at the execution. But my friend looked anyway, and he said the Jews had to undress before being shot. After the execution, the Junaki had to cover the pit and take the clothes of the victims away.” According to available sources, the Jewish victims killed and buried in the Wierzawice forest were originally from Giedlarowa, Wierzawice and and Brzóza Królewska. Today, the mass grave of the victims of the execution in Wierzawice forest is marked and commemorated. According to Jan Z., the rest of the local Jews were rounded up, probably placed in the local school building, and then taken to the camp in Pełkinie. Many Jews from Giedlarowa, Wierzawice and and Brzóza Królewska, managed to flee and find shelter with their non-Jewish neighbors, but they were successively hunted down and executed. According to available sources, for less than a year, from June 1942 to May 1943, only in the village of Brzóza Królewska, commune of Giedlarowa, the Gestapo and the German military police shot 62 people of Jewish origin still in the village, as well as the farmers who were helping them. Jan Z. recalled that a group of Jews in hiding was spotted by partisans not far from Giedlarowa. They threw the grenade into their hiding place killing around 20 people. The victims were buried on the spot, but the Yahad team was unable to locate their grave due to the lack of sufficient information about its location.
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