DROGOBYCH


DROGOBYCH (Pol. Drohobycz), city in Ukraine, formerly in Poland and Austria. Information about individual Jewish contractors of the salt mines in Drogobych dates from the beginning of the 15th century. Some of them settled in the city, eventually forming a small community (kehillah). In 1578, however, Drohobych obtained the privilege de non tolerandis Judaeis authorizing the exclusion of Jews from its precincts. Although a number of Jews were subsequently found living in the vicinity, their settlement was not permanent until the end of the 17th century, enabled by royal patronage. All commerce and crafts were then concentrated in Jewish hands. Jewish guilds were formed and the records evidence the friction that existed between them and the Christian guilds of the city, as also between the citizens of Drogobych and the Jewish inhabitants. The Drohobych kehillah was represented on the provincial council of *Rzeszow (see *Councils of the Lands). In the middle of the 18th century a wealthy, despotic farmer of the taxes and customs revenues, Zalman b. Ze'ev (Wolfowicz), seized control of communal affairs. He appointed his son-in-law rabbi, and for his ruthless treatment of both Jews and non-Jews he was finally denounced to the authorities; in 1755 he was arrested, tried, and condemned to death, but as generous assistance was contributed by his coreligionists the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He subsequently adopted Christianity and died a member of the Carmelite order in 1757.

After Drogobych passed to Austria in 1772, economic oppression, heavy taxation, and government interference in communal affairs had an adverse effect on the Jewish position. It improved in the 19th century, however, especially with the exploitation of the mineral resources of Drogobych; the salt industry was also a Jewish enterprise. The first attempts to prospect for oil and its extraction were made in Drogobych by a Jew, Hecker, in 1810, and in 1858–59 a refinery was constructed by A. Schreiner in nearby *Borislav at the same time as the industry was developed in the United States. Drogobych Jews took a prominent part in oil extraction and refining, and its export was mainly in Jewish hands. Many families made fortunes in this sector. The takeover of the smaller companies by big enterprises at the end of the 19th century, however, badly hit the Jewish concerns, and the economic position of the community began to deteriorate. After World War I it became impoverished. *Ḥasidism and the *Haskalah movement spread to Drogobych at the end of the 18th century. A German biweekly printed in Hebrew characters, the Drohobitzer Zeitung, was published between 1883 and World War I, and brought out several Hebrew supplements entitled Ẓiyyon (1886–87, 1897). Toward the end of Hapsburg rule the constituency of Drogobych was represented in the Austrian parliament by a Jewish deputy, an assimilationist with sympathies for Poland, who had the backing of the authorities. He was opposed by a Zionist-supported Jewish national candidate in 1911. The authorities were accused of ballot-fixing during the elections, and the army was called out to disperse a demonstration. Shots were fired into the crowd. Thirteen Jews were killed and many injured. Drogobych remained the center of the Galician *kolel from the 1890s until the Holocaust. Ḥayyim Shapira, the last ẓaddik in Drogobych, was the first of the ḥasidic ẓaddikim to join officially the Zionist movement. He went to Ereẓ Israel in 1922. The Jewish population of Drogobych totaled 1,924 in 1765, 2,492 in 1812, 8,055 in 1865, 8,683 in 1900, and 11,833 (about 44% of the total population) in 1921.

[Nathan Michael Gelber]

Holocaust and Postwar Periods

When World War II broke out, the town with its 17,000 Jews came under Soviet occupation. The authorities arrested the Zionist leaders and closed the Hebrew schools. Jewish refugees from western Poland found shelter in Drogobych, but most of them were deported to the Soviet interior. The Germans entered Drogobych on June 30, 1941, and immediately staged a pogrom with the help of the local Polish and Ukrainian population. About 400 Jews were brutally murdered outside the courthouse and at the Jewish cemetery. Another 300 were executed in the nearby Bronice forest in November. In March 1942 some 2,000 Jews were sent to the *Belzec extermination camp. The second mass deportation took place on August 8, with the dispatch of 2,500 Jews to the same destination, while another 600 were shot in the town itself. The ghetto was established in September. The remaining 9,000 Jews, some of whom were refugees from the nearby villages, were crowded into it. Toward the end of October an additional group consisting of 2,300 Jews was sent to Belzec, and 200 hospital patients were murdered. The surviving Jews began building hideouts or sought shelter in the nearby forest. However, the Germans thwarted their efforts by continuing the Aktion for the whole month of November 1942 and by ordering the death sentence for all non-Jews caught sheltering Jews. For a while the process of extermination did not affect those Jews conscripted for forced labor in the local petroleum industries. The Bronice forest became a mass grave for the Jews of Drogobych and vicinity, including all members of the Judenrat. On February 15, 1943, 450 were executed there, including 300 women. In March 800 from the labor camps were murdered. The remnants of the Jewish community tried to save themselves by hiding or by escaping to Hungary via the Carpathian Mountains, while a few tried to obtain "Aryan" papers. When the Soviet army entered Drogobych in August 1944, some 400 Jews were still alive.

After the war, Drogobych was ceded to the Ukrainian S.S.R., and most of the Jews left for Poland in transit to Israel and other countries.

[Aharon Weiss]

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

N.M. Gelber (ed.), Sefer Zikkaron le-Drohobich, Boryslav ve-Hasevivah (1959); M. Balaban, Z historji Żydów w Polsce (1920), 129–46.


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