The fate of Jozefow
Jozefow was one of the Jewish Ghettos that is mentioned in Ordinary Men. Originally, Jozefow was not a community created by the Nazi’s to alienate the Jews, rather a community created by Jews and Poles in the 18th century to live in harmony together. It was originally settled by the Zamoyski family, who owned and operated a paper mill that resided in the town. Many of the citizens that lived within city limits worked in the paper mill, printing books. The most common language that was printed was Hebrew, due to the large Jewish population in Jozefow.
With the onset of World War Two, Jozefow experienced many changes, in September 1939 the town was bombed by the Germans, destroying much of it. During that time the Soviets also occupied the town. Due to evacuation of Jews from other parts of Europe, one thousand Jews from Jozefow were able to escape safely into the Soviet Union before the Nazi army came, evacuated, and transported the Jews elsewhere for extermination. The downfall of Jozefow began in March of 1941, during that time over 600 Jews were placed in Jozefow from Konin in a Nazi round up. Jozefow would later become a Jewish Ghetto where the Nazis would heard all the Jews together and wait to herd them out to the camps, with the new Jews entering Jozefow the city began to encounter overcrowding problems, there were not enough homes, food, or resources for the amount of people that were inhabiting such a little village. A rationing program began in order to feed everyone equally. Each Jew would receive 72 grams of bread a day, 200 grams of sugar and 60 grams of soap a month. Toward the end of 1941 a typhus epidemic spread quickly throughout the village, impacting many that lived there.
The Jewish extermination of Jozefow began in May 1942 when the Gestapo arrived and arrested 20 Jews within the village that were marked on a list. The reasoning behind the arrests was the accusation that they were communist and taken to prison for breaking Nazi law. Later in May three more Gestapo men arrived and shot 130 Jews that were walking in the streets. This is the first known massacre to happen within the village. The fate of the Jews in Jozefow increasing went downhill. In July of 1942 the 101st Reserve Police Battalion executed between 1,300 and 1,500 Jews in a single day. The remaining survivors, roughly 300 were taken to the railway station, shoved into cattle cars where they would met their fate in a concentration camp. Many other small villages like Jozefow were subject to this misfortune. The third Reich’s goals in achieving the “Final Solution” deemed successful in the small village of Jozefow. A village that once was built up to make and distribute Hebrew books was turned into a ghost town less than 200 years later.
Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team “Jozefow,” Holocaust Research Project. Accessed 11/18/2015. http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/ghettos/jozefow.html.