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Jewish Families of Turka, Ukraine

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This project seeks to collect all of the Jewish families from the town of Turka, Ukraine, also known as Turka al nehar Stry.

Gesher Galicia - Turka

JewishGen - Turka

Germans captured the town - Yizkor


Survivor story



Turka (Ukrainian: Турка, Турка над Стрийом (old), Polish: Turka, Turka nad Stryjem(old), German: Turka, French: Tourka, Yiddish — טורקא) - is a city located at the confluence of the Stryi River and the Yablunka River (Ukrainian: Яблунька) in Lviv Oblast (region) of western Ukraine (in the Carpathian Mountains). It is the administrative center of Turka Raion. Population: 7,143 (2013 est.)

The name Turka originates from Ukrainian word, тур (English: tur, meaning aurochs or urus (Latin: Bos primigenius), the ancestor of domestic cattle - a type of huge wild cattle which inhabited in the surrounding forests (it survived in Europe until 1627). In another version the city's name derives from the Ukrainian name of the gate-towers,"Turia" (Ukrainian: Tурія), "Turja" (Ukrainian: Тур'я), "Turnia"(Ukrainian: Турня), which stood at the entrance to an ancient settlement. Origin of name in no way is linked to the Turks.

The city is located in the south Lviv Oblast, in the Carpathian Mountains, on the left bank of the Stryi River, with its tributaries, the Yablunka River (Ukrainian: Яблунька) and Litmyr River (Ukrainian: Літмир), and between the mountains Shymenka (Ukrainian: Шименка), Kychera (Ukrainian: Кичера), Vinets' (Ukrainian: Вінець) and Osovnya (Ukrainian: Осовня).

The location of the initial settlement outpost, from which Turka arose, was determined by the so-called "Path of Rus" - Neolithic trade route that connected through the Turka Western Europe to Hungary, Moldova and the Balkan countries.




There were many mentions of Turka in history. A few important ones are summarized in brief.

On June 27, 1431, King Władysław II Jagiełło presented Turka to a man named Vancza Valachus. This was confirmed in 1444 by King Władysław III of Poland, and by Sigismund I the Old in 1517. In 1730 Turka received Magdeburg rights, and three years laters, a Roman Catholic parish was opened here. Until the Partitions of Poland, Turka remained in Kingdom of Poland’s Przemyśl Land, Ruthenian Voivodeship. From 1772 to 1918 the town belonged to Austrian Galicia.

The Tatars, who prior to this never came between the mountains out of fear of the difficult passage and of ambush, were forced to escape in 1594 through the mountains of the region of Turka and Skola, when the Polish army headed by commander Jan Zamojski pursued them. The Tatars left a trail of ruin and destruction in the wake of their escape.

Queen Buna commanded that the road from Sambor to Turka be paved, so that all sorts of good things could be transported to her native land. She visited the area frequently in order to hunt in the forests of Turka. In the 16th century, there were already many Wallachians there who fled there to escape Hungarian oppression. They brought their customs and laws with them, which became accepted and customary there. Indeed, the settlement in all of the villages in the region of Turka was conducted primarily by the law of the Wallachians. The rights of these locales were frequently emphasized.

Historical information about the local disputes and battles of the “Szlachta” (Polish nobility) remain with us to this day, including the attack of Szlochtong on the court of Jaworski Prakowicz near Turka, the attack of Wysocnaski on Rozmir, and of Pamientowski from Rozluch on the Dwornickes of Bobarka, and finally -- the dispute between the Szlachta of Wysock and Komornik with the people of Skoli.

Ownership of the Town

There was no further mention at all of Turka for almost 100 years after Turka was first mentioned in history

In 1431, King Wladyslaw Jagiello bequeathed Turka and the surrounding estates, through the rights granted to him in Medukha, to one of his warriors of the Wallachian families and their dynasty, who excelled in their faithful service to the kingdom. The bequeathment included the rights of inheritance.

In 1444, Wanko of Turka, one of the confidantes of King Wladyslaw, who was called Waranczyk after his death, received, due to his many rights, a plot of three square miles located between the Bukowiec River (that flows into the San) until the borders of the village of Zurawno. This right was given in Wardein, Hungary. In addition, he received a permit that applies to his former rights, that is to the bequeathment of Turka to his father by King Wladyslaw Jagiello. Their sons and grandchildren, who received Turka and its environs from the kings as a gift, called themselves Turcki. Those who belonged in Jawor called their name Jaworski, and those who settled in the Ilnyk area called themselves Ilnycki. //
// However, the borders of the inheritance were not explicitly defined. The Stryj River, along whose banks the estate was situated, was mentioned in the documents. It mentions the trees, called “Ayl” on the fields of Isa, Sursur, and Brod, as the border point between separating between the lands of the Wallachian fighter and the royal lands. For this reason, King Zygmunt I was forced to appoint a special commission in order to precisely establish the borders of the Lords of the Turcki family and the royal estates.

Szymon Turcki

From a certain document from 1494, which states that Szymon Turcki gave over a portion of his lands to his four sons, we learn that the landsof the Turcki family -- after whose name the Turka family was called -- include Vyaory and Jasinicka aside from Turka. According to the most reasonable estimation, the highest mountain peak of the mountains surrounding Turka was called Szymunka after Lord Szymon Turcki.

In 1729, Turka, along with its suburb of Zawiznice, transferred from its previous owners, who lost their means due to the previous attack, to the hands of Jan Antoni Kalinowski. He built four rows of houses in the form of a square (the market) on a gigantic field near his palace. Kalinowski rented those houses to the new residents at an particularly low price, even relative to that time period. Similarly he concerned himself with their religious and social needs. That year, he built the first synagogue in Turka with his own money, costing 30,000 Polish zloty at that time. He also donated through his own initiative a Jewish old age residence and gave the Jews a suitable plot for a Jewish cemetery from his private land.

All the local Jews were permitted to take the necessary amount of wood from his forests for building their residential homes and for heating. Kalinowski even set up a Jewish printing press, which published various prayer books and study books. One copy of this ancient prayer book was kept in the archives of the community of Turka until the Holocaust.

The following text is written on the front page of the prayer book in both Polish and Hebrew.

W Turce. Dziedzicznym miescie I. W. Imci Pana Antoniego, Pana Na Wielkich Kamionkach Turce, Beniowycz X. Kalinowskiego, Podkomorzego Inflantskiego Wojsk Jego Krolewskiej Mosci y Rze. Pos. Pulkownika Pana y Dobrodziedz.

In the Second Polish Republic, Turka was the seat of a county in Lwów Voivodeship. It was home to a county court, private high school and tax office. In 1921, Turka had the population of 10 030, including 4 201 Jews. At that time, its starosta was Tadeusz Zawistowski, and the mayor was Michał Grudziński. Following the September 1939 Invasion of Poland, Turka was occupied by the Soviet Union. In June 1941, the town was captured by the Wehrmacht, and its Jewish population perished in the Holocaust.

The area of Turka also witnessed mass murders of Poles, carried out by Ukrainian nationalists (see Massacres of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia). After World War II, the town was reattached to the Soviet Ukraine, and its Polish community was expelled to the so-called Recovered Territories.

Between the two Wars

The members of the communal council returned in the autumn of 1918 and began to renew their work. However, after some time, this was again interrupted due to the Ukrainian Revolution, and the authority of the communal council transferred to the Jewish National Council. This council only existed in Turka for a period of six months, after which authority was again transferred to the Jewish community that came to life again after the end of Ukrainian rule. The same members who had been elected a long time before the First World War continued to serve on that communal council.

The next elections for the communal council in Turka took place only in 1925. The members of the new committee were: Dr. Lowinger as chairman, Dr. Glik as vice chairman; and six members that including the rabbi of the city Rabbi Eliezer Mishel as vigilist. There were twelve council members, headed by Mr. Adolf Bernstein.

It is difficult to establish exactly when the first Jews arrived to Turka and its area. However, it is clear that Jewish settlement in great numbers was connected to the name of the Magnate Jan Antoni Kalinowski. In 1729, Kalinowski purchased the town of Turka.

One year later, with the authorization of the king, this town was raised to the status of a city in order to turn it into a commercial center, on account of its proximity to the Polish-Hungarian border. In order to attract new residents to the city, especially businessmen and tradesmen, Kalinowski sent his assistants throughout the area to promise in his name that all new residents will be granted freedom of action in business and trade.

Administrative status

The primary factor in the settlement and building up of Turka and its dependencies was undoubtedly the rivers and the abundance from the mountains. The primary administrative division was in essence the town itself: Turka on the Stryj River, which was the “capital” of the district, and which contained all of the district government offices. 273 villages and settlements were dependent on it.

The population is 7306 people in 1114 homes (2006) 99% of the population are Ukrainian.

Dynamics of population in the past:

1880 - 4685 inhabitants (1786 Rusyns, 537 Poles 2356 German; of them: 1837 Greek-Catholic, 450 Catholics 2398 Jews).
1916 - 6080 inhabitants (including - 3000 Jews)
1921 - 10030 inhabitants (including - 4201 Jews).
1989 - 7982 inhabitants (3992 men., 3990 female)
2001 - 7440 inhabitants
2006 - 7306 inhabitants


War erupts

War became a reality on September 1, 1939. The general mobilization took place and many Jews were enlisted into the Polish army. That same day, at 11:00 a.m. a German airplane bombarded the sawmill in Stryj with two Jewish victims. Two other Jewish workers were wounded, and the first panic in the city ensued. A few days later Polish army divisions arrived and began to demonstrate what they were: they beat Jewish passers-by with rods and sticks.

Fortunately the Polish Army did not remain for long in the city. However, the nervousness of the Jewish population grew daily as German airplanes flew through Turka from Slovakia every minute. The moment that an alarm signaled that they were flying people hid in their cellars. The news in the city spread from mouth to mouth that the situation was bad, that the Germans were nearing.
The Polish army started to leave Turka along with a portion of the Polish population of official status. Turka was left without a government. It became known that a certain division of the Polish army murdered two Jews in the city – a Jew from Rymanow and a youth from Nizhneye Vysotskoye, a certain Feiler who attended the Yeshiva.

The Germans suddenly entered into the city on the eve of Yom Kippur, and remained in Turka for a total of 26 hours. They did nothing to the Jewish population.

Arrival of the the Russians

The morning after arrival the Russian commando posted several ordinances, prices of good were fixed and not allowed to rise. Soldiers and officers fell upon the stores like hungry wolves and purchased everything that was possible. Within 14 days stores were completely emptied of good sold at old prices. At the time when the same articles would have cost 40-60 percent more in Russia. The Jewish population in Turka was greatly impoverished and left without livelihood. It was no longer possible to do business in Turka as there were no places of work and household goods were sold in order to buy bread.

Jews were arrested without cause. People were slandered, removed in the dark of the night. Very many Jews were arrested during the brief time that the Reds were in Turka. Turka had never seen so many Jewish criminals, people were dragged off for interrogation and jailed.
// // A small number of Jews were working, but their salaries were very small, and impossible to live off. The handworkers mostlygave up their own work rooms and went to work in the army workshops. Monthly salaries were sufficient only for a week of living.

Turka was one of the poorest towns in Poland. Jews packed small bags and fled from Turka to wander around in larger cities while party leaders also fled from Turka, for they would have been among the first who were searched and arrested.

The war between Germany and Russia broke out in June 1941 – and the Jewish misfortune began.

Destruction [Page 225]

The Holocaust

Turka was occupied by the Soviet Union. In June 1941, the town was captured by the Wehrmacht, and its Jewish population perished in the Holocaust. The area of Turka also witnessed mass murders of Poles carried out by Ukrainian nationalists (see Massacres of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia).

After World War II, the town was reattached to the Soviet Ukraine and its Polish community was expelled to the so-called Recovered Territories.