BIAŁA PODLASKA, town in Lublin province, Poland. The first mention of Jewish settlement in Biała Podlaska dates from 1621 when 30 Jewish families were granted rights of residence there. In 1841 there were 2,200 Jews out of a total population of 3,588; in 1897, 6,549 out of 13,090; in 1921, 6,874 out of 13,000., and in 1939, 7,439 (36.9% of the total population). The main Yiddish newspaper, Podlasyer Leben was published there between the two world wars.
On September 26, 1939, the Soviet army entered the town, but withdrew a month later when the Soviet-German boundary agreement was reached. About 600 Jews left the town together with the Soviet army. The remaining Jewish population was immediately subjected to Nazi persecution and terror. At the end of 1939 about 2,000 Jews from Suwalki and Serock were forced to settle here. A few months later about 1,000 Jewish prisoners of war who had served in the Polish army were brought to Biała Podlaska from the prison camp in Czarne near Chojna. Several score of them were murdered during the march on foot to Biała Podlaska. They were imprisoned on arrival in a forced labor camp and about a year later were transferred to a Lublin prisoner of war camp. During 1940 and 1941 further deportations to Biała Podlaska took place. Several hundred Jews from Cracow and Mlawa were dispatched there. As a result of all the "resettlements" the Jewish population in the town grew to about 8,400 in March 1942. At the end of June 1941 a number of Jews were sent to the concentration camp in *Auschwitz for giving bread to Soviet prisoners of war marching through the town. They were among the first Jewish victims to perish in Auschwitz.
On June 11, 1942, the first deportation from Biała took place. About 3,000 people were sent to *Sobibor death camp and exterminated. In late September and early October 1942, a second deportation was carried out in which the entire remaining Jewish population was sent to the ghetto in Miedzyrzecz, and from there to *Treblinka death camp in November. Only 300 Jews were left in Biała Podlaska in a newly established forced labor camp. This was liquidated in May 1944 and all its inmates transferred to *Majdanek concentration camp, where only a few survived. Several hundred Jews fled to the woods during the deportations, but only about 30 of them survived in hiding until the liberation of the region in July 26, 1944. After the war the surviving Jewish remnant, together with a few hundred former residents who came back from the Soviet Union, tried to rebuild the Jewish community, but were forced to leave the town in the summer of 1946 because of antisemitic manifestations among the Polish population. In June 1946 Polish antisemites killed two young Jews and destroyed the monument which the Jewish survivors had erected in memory of the murdered Jewish community. Societies of former Biała Podlaska residents were active in Israel, the U.S., Argentina, France, Canada, and Australia.
M.I. Feigenbaum (ed.), Sefer Biała-Podlaska (1961). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Halpern, Pinkas, index; B. Wasiutynski, Ludnosc Zydowska w Polsce w wiekach XiX i XX w. (1930).
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.