BELZYCE (Yid. and Heb. Belzitcz, Belshic, Ba'al Shitz), small town in Lublin province, Poland. A charter of privileges granted to Belzyce in 1432 designated it a compulsory halting stage for merchants traveling to the Lublin fair. Jews settled there at the beginning of the 16th century, probably connected with this traffic. The physician Jacob *Naḥman lived in Belzyce at the end of the 16th century. The Council of Four Lands convened in Belzyce in 1643. The community suffered heavy losses during the *Chmielnicki massacres of 1648–49. The ḥasidic rabbi Gedaliah Samuel Jacubson lived in Belzyce in the second half of the 19th century. In 1764 the Jewish population numbered 949; in 1897, 1,705 (out of 3,182); in 1921, 1,882 (over half the total population); and in 1939, 2,100.
[Nathan Michael Gelber]
The German army entered the town in mid-September 1939, and the Jewish population became subject to the persecution and terror carried out throughout Lublin Province. In February 1940 about 300 Jews from Stettin (then Germany) were deported to Belzyce. In February and March 1941 about 500 Jews from krakow and another 500 from Lublin were forced to settle there. On May 12, 1942, several thousand Jews from central Germany (Sachsen and Thuringen) arrived. The town's Jewish population grew to about 4,500 by the time the mass deportations to the death camps began. In spring 1942, the Germans conducted an Aktion to liquidate the remaining Jews in Belzyce. They rounded up over 3,000 Jews for extermination at Sobibor. Subsequently the Germans established a concentration camp in Belzyce in a few houses around the destroyed synagogue. In May 1943 the Belzyce camp was liquidated. Several hundred Jews, mostly women and children, were shot, while another 250 women and 350 men were sent to Benzin, where only a handful survived. After the war the Jewish community in Belzyce was not reconstituted.
T. Bernstein, in: Bleter far Geshikhte (Jan.–June 1950), 51–78. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Halpern, Pinkas, index; R. Jakov, in: Galed I (1973) 13–30; PK.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.