MIELEC, town in Rzeszow province, S.E. Poland. The Jewish community of Mielec was first organized in the middle of the 17th century. The *Council of Four Lands decided in 1757 that the Mielec community should pay an annual tax of 1,200 zlotys to the *Opatow kahal. In 1765 there were 585 Jewish poll tax payers in Mielec and 326 in the surrounding villages; among the former were 12 tailors, three hatters, three bakers, two goldsmiths, five butchers, three shoḥatim, four musicians (klezmer), and three jesters (badḥanim). In the 19th century Mielec came under the influence of the Ḥasidim of *Chortkov and *Ropczyce and descendents of the ẓaddik of Ropczyce were rabbis there. The few wealthy Jews exported timber, dealt in grain, livestock, feathers, and building materials, and ran sawmills, but the majority engaged in petty trade, tailoring, shoemaking, smithery, and building. There were also some Jewish farmers in the nearby villages. An elementary school was established by the *Baron de Hirsch fund in 1900, as well as a Beth Jacob school for girls. In 1907 the Zionist association, Benei Yehudah, was founded. During the elections of 1907 and 1913 there were anti-Jewish riots in the town. In 1917 a "Borochov circle" was organized, as well as a Jewish library and sports clubs. The Jewish population of the town remained relatively static, increasing from 2,766 (56% of the total population) in 1880 to 2,819 (57%) in 1900 and 3,280 (53%) in 1910, then falling to 2,807 (50%) in 1920. Zionist parties, *He-Ḥalutz and *Agudat Israel, were active in Mielec between the two world wars.
By September 1939 the population had reached 4,000. On Sept. 13, 1939, the eve of Rosh Ha-Shanah, the Germans set a synagogue aflame and pushed 20 persons into the burning building. Those who tried to escape were shot. German soldiers sent some Jews into the slaughterhouse and set it aflame. Then the soldiers entered the mikveh and murdered the Jews present. On Sept. 15, 1939 (second day of Rosh Ha-Shanah), a second synagogue was set aflame. Jews suffered from administrative and economic restrictions, from the local Germans living at Czermin, and from forced labor at the camp near the Berdechow airport.
Early in January 1942 the General Government decided on the deportation of the Mielec Jews. Orders were given to deport 2,000 persons, and on March 7–9, 1942, the order was executed in greater dimensions. The sick and old were shot on the spot; others were transferred to the Berdechow airport, where a Selektion was made. A group of youths was sent to the labor camp at Pustkow; the remaining population was sent to Parczew, Wlodawa, Hrubieszow, Miedzyrzec, Susiec, and other towns in the Lublin district. The Jewish population there eased the suffering of the Mielec refugees by providing lodgings and public kitchens. Some months later, the Mielec refugees and these Jewish communities were exterminated.
Mielec was among the first cities that the General Government made judenrein. Near the workshops of the Heinkel airplane company, Mielec had a labor camp under the direct auspices of the SS. At first the camp employed 250 forced laborers, 80 of whom were from Mielec and others from Wielopole Skrzynskie. The population at the camp increased with the deportation of Mielec Jews in the winter of 1942. By the summer the population reached 1,000, including Jews from Tarnobrzeg and Huta Komarowska. The mortality rate at the camp reached more than 15 per day, excluding the sick who were shot. The camp was liquidated on Aug. 24, 1944. Some of the prisoners were transferred to Wieliczka and the rest to the camp at Flossenburg. Some 200 persons of the Mielec community survived.
Halpern, Pinkas, index; R. Mahler, Yidnin Amolikn Poyln in Likht fun Tsifern (1958), index; B. Wasiutyński, Ludność żydowska w Polsce w wiekach xix i xx (1930), 111, 146, 150, 156; M. Balaban, Historja żydów Krakowie i na Kazimierzu, 1 (1931), 351, 540; Y. Keitelman, in: Fun Noentn Over (1955), 401–51.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.