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Jewish Families from Drohobych (Drohobycz), Ukraine

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This project seeks to collect all Jewish families from the town of Dorhobych (Drohobycz), Ukraine.

JewishGen Drohobycz page

The Ghetto

Background

Drohobych (Ukrainian: Дрогóбич; Polish: Drohobycz; Yiddish: דראָהאָביטש‎; Cities' alternative names) is a city located at the confluence of the Tysmenytsia River and Seret, a tributary of the former, in Lviv Oblast (region), in western Ukraine.

Population: 77,080 (2013 est.)

Serving as the administrative center of the Drohobych Raion (district), Drohobych itself is a city of oblast significance, thus being subordinated directly to the oblast authorities rather to the raion administration housed in the city itself.

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History

The city was first mentioned in 1387 in the municipal records of Lviv in connection with some Martin (or Marcin) of Drohobych.[2] Also, the chronicler's "List of all Ruthenian cities, the further and the near ones"[3] in Voskresensky Chronicle (dated 1377–1382) mentions "Другабець" (Druhabets') among other cities in Volhynia that existed at the time such as Холмъ (Kholm), Лвовъ Великій (Lviv the Great)

Drohobych received the Magdeburg rights some time in the 15th century (sources differ as to an exact year and some give 1422, 1460,[2] or 1496[4] but in 1506 the right were confirmed by the king Alexander the Jagiellonian). In the 14th–16th centuries the city was a home of significant salt industry.

From the early-17th century, the Ukrainian Catholic brotherhood existed in the city, In 1648, during the Khmelnytsky Uprising, the Cossacks stormed the city and its cathedral. Most of the local Poles, as well as the Greek Catholics and the Jews, were murdered at the time, while some managed to survive in the Bell tower not taken in the raid. The 1772 partition of Poland gave the city to Austria. As the significant oil resources were discovered in the area, the city became an important center of the oil and natural gas industries. https://s3.amazonaws.com/photos.geni.com/p13/a9/9c/f6/ad/5344483f3a68aba7/drohobycz_ring_platz_medium.jpg Following World War I, the area became part of a short-lived independent state, the West Ukrainian People's Republic(Zakhidnoukrayins’ka Narodna Respublyka; ZUNR). In 1919, the ZUNR was taken over by the Second Polish Republic and Drohobych became part of the Lwow Voivodeship.

In 1928 the Ukrainian private gymnasium opened in the center of the city and is currently operational. In late 1920s town's population was some 40 000 and its oil refinery Polmin was one of the biggest in Europe, employing 800 people. Numerous visitors came there to see beautiful wooden Greek Catholic churches, among them the Church of St. Yur, which was regarded the most beautiful such construction in the Second Polish Republic, with frescoes from 1691. Drohobych was also a major sports center (see: Junak Drohobycz).

In September, 1939, the city was attached to Soviet Ukraine when the territory of the interwar Poland was divided between the Nazi Germany and the USSR. In Soviet Ukraine Drohobych became a center of the Drohobych Oblast (region).

First weeks of the Nazi Invasion

Its local Polish boy scouts created the White Couriers organization, which in late 1939 and early 1940 smuggled hundreds of people from Soviet Union to Hungary, across the Soviet-Hungarian border in the Carpathians. In early July, 1941, during the first weeks of the Nazi invasion of the USSR, the city was occupied by the Nazi Germany.

Drohobych had a significant Jewish population so the city became the site of a large ghetto (Drohobych ghetto) which the Nazis liquidated in June 1943.[5] On August 6, 1944, the Nazi German occupation of Drohobych ended, however, it was immediately reoccupied by the Soviets. Despite the large Jewish population prior to the war, a current resident stated that he was one of only two Jews who came back to the village to live after the war. Following the war, the city remained an oblast center until the Drohobych Oblast was incorporated into the Lviv Oblast in 1959.

In Soviet times, Drohobych became an important industrial center in Western Ukraine with highly developed oil-refining industry, machine building, woodworking industry, light industry, and food industry.

The Nazi conquest

In early July 1941, during the first weeks of the anti-Soviet Operation Barbarossa, the city was overrun by Nazi Germany,[4] and the District of Galicia was created. Drohobych had a petrol-producing plant essential for the German war effort. It became the site of a large, open type ghetto housing around 10,000 Jews, a number of them employed at the local refinery.

The following year marked the beginning of the Final Solution in the General Government. The first deportation action of 2,000 Jews from Drohobych to the Belzec extermination camp took place in late March 1942 as soon as the killing centre became operational. https://s3.amazonaws.com/photos.geni.com/p13/5a/94/ac/1f/5344483f3a7136ab/drohob_6_original.jpg

The next deportation lasted for nine days in 8–17 August 1942 with 2,500 more Jews loaded onto freight trains and sent away for gassing. Another 600 Jews were shot on the spot while attempting to hide or trying to flee.

The ghetto was declared closed from the outside in late September. In October and November 1942 some 5,800 Jews were deported to Belzec.

During these round-ups about 1,200 Jews attempting to flee were killed in the streets with the aid of the newly formed Ukrainian Auxiliary Police. The remaining slave-workers were transferred to labor facilities, with about 450 people murdered in February 1943.

The last of the Drohobycz Jews were transported in groups to Bronicki Forest (las bronicki, i.e. Bronica Forest) and massacred over execution pits between 21 and 30 May 1943.

One of the most notable inmates of the Drohobych Ghetto was Bruno Schulz, educator, graphic artist and author of popular books Street of Crocodiles and the Cinnamon Shops. He painted murals for the children's room of one of the German officials before being shot, and after the war, became the most famous Polish writer detained and killed in the Ghetto.

Drohobych was liberated by the forces of the Red Army on 6 August 1944. There were only 400 survivors who registered with the Jewish committee after the war ended.

The Holocaust in Drohobych

The Germans imposed many restrictions limiting Jews' movement around the city and their ability to make a living. Many were ordered to vacate their homes and were not allowed to trade in the Drohobycz market. The Drohobycz Gestapo immediately started its terrorizing activities. In his testimony, Naftali Bakenrot-Bronicki talked about the extreme brutality of Felix Landau, who was in charge of the Jewish Labor assignments. The dominant Gestapo officer in Drohobycz was Karl Gunther, the man who later shot Bruno Schulz.


In September 1941 Jews were ordered, under penalty of death, to wear a Star of David identification armband. A Judenrat (Jewish Council) was established. Drs. Isaac Rosenblatt, Maurycy Ruhrberg, Bartz and Barnfeld, who had been pre-war community leaders, were appointed to head it. In November, the police arrested, tortured and later killed the leaders of the social elite. https://s3.amazonaws.com/photos.geni.com/p13/e7/56/57/30/5344483f3a68ebaa/drohob_5_medium.jpg In October 1941 the Judenrat and Landau agreed to open a dairy, fruit, vegetable and poultry farm in Hyrawka under the leadership of the engineer, Nafali Bakenrot.

Later they added a rabbit breeding facility. About 250 Jews were stationed there, among them, many women. Employment there gave many Jews an opportunity to survive. The farm ceased operations after nine months and its workers were mass-murdered in the Bronica forest.

On November 30th 1941, 320 Jews from Drohobycz were shot in the Bronica and Tustanowice forests. Many young people were taken to labor camps in Skole, Stanislawów and Ternopil (Tarnopol).


"The Germans conducted "a rehearsal" ... those without a job had to report to the synagogue ... they were to be employed ... people lined up innocently ... there was no precedent for such a crime ... When assembled, the police surrounded the trucks ... when the trucks returned with pieces of their clothing, we realized what had happened ". (Alfred Schreyer).

Ilana Shnir-Wishnitzki (see: Interwiew with Ilana Snir-Wishntzki-Hebrew) testified that while playing with friends in a field near a forest, she saw German trucks full of Jewish men, women and children coming from Drohobycz. After the trucks had disappeared into the forest, she could hear shots that lasted a long time. When the trucks returned, they were empty.


Survival

Jews tried to survive by finding and digging hideouts. n Alex Haberman talked about such a bunker. "The bunker was originally designed for 15 people and finally 46 people found refuge there. All of them survived after spending 14 months in it. The building belonged to a Jew before the war. He handed ownership over to a Ukrainian named Ivan Bur in exchange for being allowed to stay in the building's underground cellar with his family and other Jews. Ivan Bur provided them with food and other necessities for which they, of course, paid him – Shimona Godorov. Bernard Mayer talked about his experience in a bunker. Since complete silence had to be maintained during the day, most activities in the bunker were carried out at night. https://s3.amazonaws.com/photos.geni.com/p13/b7/4e/0a/0f/5344483f3a68bee3/drohobycz_synagogue_original.jpg

In Drohobycz, as in several other places, a few risked their lives to hide and provide for Jews. Eberhard Helmrich, an officer in the Wermacht, was in charge of supplying food to the German army in the area. He was also in charge of the Hyrawka farm "employing" Naftali (Tulek) Bakenrot-Bronicki and other Jews from the Drohobycz ghetto . Helmrich protected some of his "employees" during the aktions by hiding them in his house and was able to gain release for some others who were imprisoned by declaring them essential.


The few survivors, among them the last remaining Jews who worked in the oil industry, were sent to their deaths in the Plaszow camp in April 1944.The chilling, indisputable facts are these: when the Russian army re-entered Drohobycz in August 1944, only 400 Jews survived out of the 17,000 who had lived and worked there before the war. They now dared to emerge from their hiding places and the surrounding forests.


Demographics

The population of Drohobych throughout the years was:

1931 — 32,300 inhabitants 1959 — 42,000 inhabitants 1978 — 65,998 inhabitants 1989 — 77,571 inhabitants 2001 — 79,119 inhabitants 2010 — 78,368 inhabitants

  • In the middle of eighteenth century, the town had a population of 2,200 (58,8%) Jews, 1,274 (34%) Roman Catholics, and 263 (7%) Greek Catholics.
  • In 1869, of the town's 16,880 inhabitants 28.7% were Ukrainian, 23.2% were Polish or Roman Catholic, and 47.7% were Jewish.
  • By 1959 Ukrainians constituted 70% of the town's population, Russians 22%, Poles 3%, and Jews 2%.
  • In 1931, the total population of the Drohobych district was 194,456, distributed among different languages:

Polish: 91,935 (47.3%) Ukrainian: 79,214 (40.7%) Yiddish: 20,484 (10.5%)

In January 2007, the total population of the metropolitan area was over 103,000 inhabitants. Industries currently based in the city include oil-refineries, chemicals, machinery, metallurgy, and food processing.

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Sources

Photography: Drohobych, Stryjska Street ("Street of Crocodiles") Date 28 August 2008 Source Own work Author J. Naustreet in Drohobych:


"DrohobychCer3" by Birczanin Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons work by Burczanin


Rescuing Drohobych

Holocaust Survival

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