SKALAT


SKALAT (Pol. Skałat), town in *Tarnopol district, Ukraine. Formerly within Poland, Skalat passed to Austria in 1772, reverting to Poland between the two world wars. There was a Jewish settlement in the town during the 16th century, and 686 Jews lived there in 1765. The Jewish population increased during the 19th century and numbered 3,256 (55% of the total) in 1890 and 2,791 (49%) in 1900. During the 19th century Ḥasidism had considerable influence in the community, but the Jews in Skalat had to contribute toward the maintenance of the German school, headed by Joseph *Perl, in Tarnopol. As a result of Skalat's proximity to the Russian border, economic life came to a standstill following World War I and many Jews were compelled to leave. In 1921 there were 2,919 Jews (49.1%) living in the town. Between the two world wars they engaged in commerce, retail trade, and crafts. The influence of the national movement and Zionism increased.

[Shimshon Leib Kirshenboim]

Holocaust Period

By 1939 there were 4,800 Jews in Skalat. When the town passed to Soviet rule (1939–41), all independent political activity was suppressed, and as private enterprise was stifled, Jews sought employment in government service and cooperatives. When the Soviet-German war broke out on June 22, 1941, about 200 Jews in Skalat fled with the retreating Soviet army. The town fell to the Germans on July 5, and that day 20 Jews were murdered by German troops. On July 6 Ukrainian nationalists killed 560 Jews. A Judenrat was set up, headed by Meir Nierler. He was accused of collaboration with the Germans in rounding up Jews for deportation. In the autumn of 1941, 200 young Jews were sent to a slave labor camp in Velikiye Borki. A group of Jewish women were sent for forced labor to Jagielnica. Early in 1942, 600 sick and elderly persons were rounded up and assembled in the synagogue, and from there taken to *Belzec death camp. In an Aktion on Oct. 21, 1942, 3,000 victims were sent to Belzec, while 153 Jews were shot in Skalat itself. On November 9, in a second raid, 1,100 were rounded up and sent to the death camp. On April 7, 1943, about 750 persons were murdered and buried in mass graves near the town. Following this Aktion a resistance group was organized, headed by Michael Glanz. The young members collected arms, but the Germans, aware of the existence of the group, advanced the date of the next Aktion, for which the group was still unprepared. In this Aktion, carried out on May 9, 1943, 660 persons were killed. The city was then declared Judenrein. Only 400 Jews survived in the local labor camp. A resistance group was formed in the camp as well, and when the partisan units under General Kowpak began operating in the vicinity, 30 Jews escaped and joined their ranks. All but seven fell in fighting against the Germans. On July 28, 1943, the last of the Jews in the Skalat camp were murdered. About 300 Jews had found temporary refuge in the forests in the vicinity, but they were attacked by the Ukrainian bands led by Bandera, and only 200 survived the war.

There are three monuments to the Jewish community of Skalat: the Holocaust memorial to the memory of what was done to the Jews of the town; The cemetery memorial for the community that lived before the Holocaust; and the Skalat Holocaust memorial in the Holon cemetery, erected by the surviving families of the people of Skalat.

[Aharon Weiss]

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Halpern, Pinkas, index; B. Wasiutyński, Ludność źdowska w Polsce w wiekach XIX i XX (1930), 121, 130, 147; M. Balaban, Dzieje Zydł w Galicyi i w Rzeczypospolitej Krakowskiej, 17721868 (1914), index; A. Weissbrod, Es Shtarbt a Shtetl: Megiles Skalat (1948).


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