OTWOCK, town and health resort near Warsaw, Poland. It became popular among middle-class Jews from central Poland as a fashionable resort. A ḥasidic dynasty derives its name from this town. There were 2,356 Jews living in Otwock in 1908 (20.9% of the total population), and 5,408 in 1921. The 357 members of the Jewish loan society of Otwock in 1924 comprised 162 artisans, 156 merchants, and 39 members of other professions.
[Encyclopaedia Judaica (Germany)]
On the outbreak of World War II there were 14,200 Jews in Otwock. In October 1939, one month after the occupation of the town, the Nazis burned all the synagogues there. In the summer of 1940 a few hundred young men were deported to the forced-labor camp at Tyszowce. A closed ghetto was established in January 1941. A year later, 150 young men were deported to the newly opened *Treblinka death camp, where they were among the first victims. In April 1942, 400 Jews were deported to the nearby forced-labor camp in Karczew. The great deportation to the Treblinka death camp began in August 1942. About 7,000 Jews were deported and exterminated in Treblinka, while 3,000 others, who offered passive resistance and hid themselves, were found, and most were killed on the spot. Another 700 Jews who succeeded in fleeing into the surrounding forests were killed by German armed groups searching the woods. The forced-labor camp in Karczew was liquidated on Dec. 1, 1942. After the war about 400 Jews settled in the town, but eventually all of them left Poland. A home for Jewish children and a Jewish sanatorium were active during the first postwar years.
Sefer Yizkor – Otwock, Karczew (Heb. and Yid., 1968); Yad Vashem Archives.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.