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Polska / podkarpackie

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Province:podkarpackie / lwowskie (before 1939)
County:przemyski / dobromilski (before 1939)
Community:Bircza / Bircza (before 1939)
Other names: בירצ'ה [j. hebrajski]; Bircza [j. niemiecki]
49.6926° N / 22.4867° E
49°41'33" N / 22°29'12" E


Małgorzata Kuźma /

Bircza – a town situated in south-eastern Poland, in the Subcarpathia Province, Przemyśl County. It is located 29 km south-west of Przemyśl, 70 km south-east of Rzeszów, 369 km south-east of Warsaw.



Martyna Sypniewska

Jews were present in the town of Bircza already in 1570. Five years later, one of them, Rachwał ben Izaak, moved to Lesko. As few as two Jewish families lived here in 1577, but the number of Jewish population was growing rather fast and it was already at the beginning of the 18th century that a Jewish community operated here with their own synagogue and cemetery.

In 1785, there were 160 Jews in Bircza alone, and in 1793 a Jewish school was in operation in the town.

In 1824, the town had only 615 inhabitants, including 144 Jews. In the mid-19th century the duties of a rabbi were performed by Szmuel Szpiro (1831-1893), son of Tzadik Elimelech from the town of Dynów. He was succeeded by his brother, Cwi Elimelech from Bircza (1841-1931), whose son, Josef (-1932) became a tzadik of Dynów.

In 1870 the Jewish community of Bircza numbered 528 people, while in 1900, as many as 2,063, whereas in Bircza alone there were 1,050 Jews, who made up 50.7 percent of the entire population. Their number grew by World War One to approximately 1,200 members.

In 1921, there were 1,038 Jews in the town, who constituted almost 54 percent of the entire population. They had at their disposal a synagogue, which was already built in the 19th century. In the interwar period, the following initiatives were especially active in Bircza: “Jad Charuzim” Association of Jewish Artisans, Gemilut Chased Loan Fund and Merchants’ Association.

After the outbreak of World War Two, Bircza found itself in the Soviet occupation zone. About 2,500 Jews, who had escaped from the western territories of Poland occupied by the Germans, were gathered in the town. There were also refugees from Austria among them. Most of them were sent up the USSR.

Towards the end of June 1941, Nazis seized the town once again and formed a ghetto for Jews from Bircza and neighboring villages, as well as Jews relocated from the ghetto in Pruchnik.

The first execution was carried out in April 1942, when, outside the town, the Gestapo and SS-men shot to death about 50 Jews. Approximately 150 Jews were killed in other executions that took place in Kamienna Góra, while, in July, on the hillside of the Wierzysko Mountain, next 800 Bircza ghetto’s inhabitants were executed. In September the same year, the Germans shot dead o


Local history

Martyna Sypniewska /

Bircza | Marcin Wygocki

The earliest information about the village of Bircza is connected with the owners of the settlement. In 1418 these were men by the names of Iwanko and Łukasz. It was at that time that the name Bircza was used for the first time and has stayed in this form until present day. Throughout the history, Bircza has undergone different transformations. In 1435 the name Byrcza and in 1448 Byercza appeared, while Biercza was in use in 1645.

In 1446 the Bircza’s head was mentioned for the first time and he was the one that decided a dispute of the settlement’s first inhabitants. A year later, Bircza was acquired by Jerzy Matiaszowicz from the village of Zboiska, whose heirs started adopting family names derived from the name of the settlement.

The takeover of the settlement by the new owner resulted in the change of its profile. Bircza, originally founded under the Ancient Wallachian Law, from then on had a new village’s head whose name was Jan, and who was the head of a village that received a German Law charter. The beginnings of the 16th century were especially tragic for those who lived in Bircza.

The Tatars invaded the village in 1524 and plundered it completely. When, after two years, life was getting back to normal, a fire broke out and consumed most of the buildings that the settlement had. After these tragic years Bircza started to flourish, experiencing the best period ever. In 1597 the first mayor of the town started his office. In 1579-1585, the mayor, together with other clerks held offices in the town hall situated in a big market place. Power in the town w




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