OZORKOW


OZORKOW, town in Lodz province, Poland. Founded in 1811, the settlement expanded rapidly and was granted urban status in 1816. Its Jewish population grew in size because it was dependent on the development of the textile industry in Lodz. In 1860 there were 1,978 Jews (38% of the total population) and on the eve of the Holocaust in 1939 they numbered about 5,000 (33% of the total population). During the 19th century Jews established workshops for weaving. Jewish tailors were also employed by industrial enterprises in Lodz on a contractual basis. The first democratic elections to the community council were held in 1922 when 12 members were elected representing the Zionist parties, *Mizrachi, *Agudat Israel, *Bund, and *Po'alei Zion-Left. On the eve of World War II Solomon Winter, the delegate of the Zionists, was president of the community. There was a ramified network of schools in Ozorkow established at the initiative of the Zionists (Yavneh) and Agudat Israel (Yesodei ha-Torah). The public libraries established by the Zionist Organization and Po'alei Zion stimulated cultural activities such as drama circles, evening schools, and the sports societies *Maccabi and Ha-Kokhav (Gwiazda). In addition to the two large synagogues, the Great Synagogue and the Bet ha-Midrash, there were shtieblach (ḥasidic houses of prayer). The last rabbi of the community was R. David Behr. The Jews were also represented on the municipal council and their delegates held the position of vice mayor.

[Shimshon Leib Kirshenboim]

Holocaust Period

At the outbreak of World War II there were several battles around Ozorkow, and immediately after occupying the city on Sept. 5, 1939, the Germans seized and shot 24 Jews in the street. The beautiful synagogue and the bet ha-midrash were burned and the Jews were forced to demolish the walls. Frequent raids took place for slave labor in addition to the regular supply of labor contingents from the *Judenrat. Toward the end of 1939 many Jewish families were evicted from their homes and the ghetto was gradually established. The liquidation of the community took place during the spring and summer of 1942 in a series of Aktionen, the first of which was the selection of 500 Jews who were sent in an unknown direction, probably to the *Chelmno death camp. In April the Germans carried out a public hanging of eight Jews to "punish" the community for the escape of a woman from the ghetto. The largest Aktion took place on May 21–23, 1942, when 2,000 Jews were sent to Chelmno and 800 of the able-bodied to the *Lodz ghetto. All children below the age of ten were seized and deported. The final deportation took place on Aug. 21, 1942, when about 1,200 craftsmen and artisans were transferred to the Lodz ghetto. A memorial book, Ozorkov, was published in Hebrew in 1967.

[Danuta Dombrowska]

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Dabrowska, in: BŻIH, no. 13–14 (1955). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Ozorkov, 1967; S. Lipman, "In die Lagern arum Poisen," in: Bletter fun Payn un umkum" (1949), 86–87; Sefer Lentshits (1953), 178–92.


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