AUGUSTOW


AUGUSTOW, district town in Bialystok province, Poland. Jewish inhabitants are mentioned for the first time in 1630 and numbered 239 in 1765. Many were occupied in the local lumber industry, rafting logs to Danzig. The Russian limitations on Jewish settlement in border towns, in operation from 1823 to 1862, barred further Jewish settlement in Augustow in this period, although the community did not decrease until the regulations were stringently enforced. The Jewish population numbered 3,764 in 1860 (45% of the total), and 3,637 in 1897 (28.5%). The first synagogue was founded in the 1840s. There were five synagogues in Augustow by the beginning of the 20th century. During World War I, Augustow was heavily damaged and the community diminished, in 1921 numbering 2,261 (25.8%) members, mainly employed in ready-made tailoring.

[Nathan Michael Gelber]

Holocaust Period

Nearly 4,000 Jews were living in Augustow prior to the outbreak of World War II. On Sept. 20, 1939, the Soviet Army entered the town. Jewish political parties were outlawed and a few local leaders arrested, but the cultural and religious institutions continued to function. On June 22, 1941, the German Army captured the town. Shortly after, about 1,000 Jewish males rounded up in the town were concentrated in the forest near Szczebre and executed. In October 1941 a ghetto was established. In June 1942 all the remaining Jews, mostly women and children, were deported to the camp in Bogusze, near *Grajewo, where about 7,000 Jews from the vicinity were concentrated. Within a few weeks about 1,700 of them died of hunger and disease. In August 1942 the German and Polish police conducted an Aktion. The Bogusze camp was liquidated and all its Jewish prisoners deported to *Treblinka and *Auschwitz death camps, where all but a few were put to death.

[Stefan Krakowski]

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Sefer Yizkor li-Kehillat Augustow ve-ha-Sevivah (1966, Heb. and partly Yid.; incl. bibl.).


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.