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2013-08-08

The 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Wadowice ghetto

Last Wednesday, 7 August 2013, the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Wadowice ghetto was commemorated. Morning prayers, Kaddish and El Male Rachamim, were recited in the Wadowice Jewish cemetery and the former site of the synagogue. The ceremony was attended by former Jewish residents of Wadowice, including Zygmunt Ehrenhalt, who managed to escape the ghetto, which was liquidated on 10 August 1943. He was rescued by Wadowice-born Aniela and Józef Kamiński, who were awarded the Righteous medal in the 1980s.

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Rabbi Elizer Gurarie from Kraków highlighted that the memorial ceremonies and a common prayer for the victims were of great significance for Jews. Priest, mitered prelate, Jakub Gil, the former parish priest at the Wadowice Basilica, attended the ceremony, during which he pointed out that Jews contributed to the multicultural atmosphere of the town before the war.

The first Jew to have settled in Wadowice was Baruch Thieberg, a fighter in the January Uprising. He came to the town in 1867. Prior to that year, Jews were banned from settling in the town under an edict issued by Polish kings. In 1882, the Wadowice Jewish community purchased a plot of land, where a cemetery and a pre-burial house were still standing. From 1885-1889, a synagogue was built. Shortly before the outbreak of WWII,  Jews numbered ca 2.5 thousand people, whereas non-Jewish Poles comprised 10.5 thousand residents.

Thus far, very few Jewish sites have survived in the town. The former mikveh still stands. A tenement house formerly owned by a well-to-do Jewish merchant Chaim Bałamuth has also survived. It was there were Karol Wojtyła was born. Presently, it holds the Museum of the Family Home of John Paul II.

Source: PAP (08.08.2013)

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