Row tenements in Izbica
Izbica pronounced ['izˈbit͡sa] (Yiddish: איזשביצע Izhbitz, Izhbitze) is a village in the Krasnystaw County of the Lublin Voivodeship in eastern Poland. It is the seat of the gmina administrative district called Gmina Izbica. It lies approximately 13 kilometres (8 mi) south of Krasnystaw and 59 km (37 mi) south-east of the regional capital Lublin. It has a population of 1,933.
First mentioned in a church document from 1419, Izbica became a town in 1750, granted location privileges by Augustus III of Poland including the right of a Jewish settlement. Previously, the unconcluded city rights were issued in 1540 to Hetman Jan Tarnowski, who nevertheless gave them back to the crown. In 1662 some 23 Catholics lived there. In 1744 the Jews of Tarnogóra were brought to Izbica by Antoni Granowski who secured the town privileges for them independently of the already existing old settlement.
A notable centre of trade and commerce, with time the town became a shtetl inhabited almost entirely by Polish Jews. In 1760 the city charter was reaffirmed. After the partitions of Poland in 1772 Izbica was annexed by Austria-Hungary and then purchased back from the Austrian government by Ignacy Horodyski in 1808. It remained part of the Duchy of Warsaw until the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte. Following the Congress of Vienna in June 1815 Izbica joined the Russian-controlled Congress Poland. The town was consumed by fire in 1825. In 1827 it had 51 houses and 407 inhabitants, all of them Jewish. By 1860 the population tripled to 1,450 Jews. In the 19th century the town was a notable centre of Hasidic Judaism, particularly thanks to the tzadik Grand Rabbi Mordechai Yosef Leiner and his son Grand Rabbi Yaacov Leiner who established the Hasidic dynasty of Ishbitz. After the January Uprising of 1863 against the Russian Empire, in which many of the local inhabitants took part, the town was stripped of its city rights in 1869 for punishment, and attached to the nearby commune of Tarnogóra.
Following Poland's return to independence in the aftermath of World War I, the town grew significantly. Streets were paved and the marketplace rebuilt. According to 1921 census, Izbica had 3,085 inhabitants including 2,862 Jews, but by 1939, the total number grew to roughly 6,000 with 5,098 Jews. Izbica expanded particularly well because of the paved Lublin-Zamość thoroughfare, and a railway line to Zamość inaugurated in 1917.
Following the German and Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939 during the opening stages of World War II the town was overrun by the Nazis. A number of prominent Poles were arrested and murdered in the course of the AB Action against Polish intelligentsia. In the spring of 1941 in preparation for the attack on the Soviet lines in eastern Poland the German military storage facilities were set up in Izbica, and kept under heavy guard. Also, the Izbica Ghetto was set up by the Nazis at that time for Jews expelled from Biała Podlaska, Komarówka, Wohyń, and Czemierniki. The first mass deportation of ghetto inmates to the Bełżec extermination camp took place in mid-March 1942 conducted by the Reserve Police Battalion 101 with the aid of Ukrainian Trawnikis. During Operation Reinhard the ghetto served as a transfer point to the extermination camps in Bełżec and Sobibór for foreign Jews deported from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and western Poland (Reichsgau Wartheland). Of all Jews of Izbica (over 90% of its prewar population), only 14 survived the Holocaust.
Points of interest
- Skierbieszów Landscape Park, protected area established in 1995
- Działy Grabowieckie, forested geological formation featuring deep ravines and valleys
- Jewish cemetery (kirkut) in Izbica (pictured)
- Monument to victims of independence movements from 1863, 1920, 1939 and 1940
- Historic water tower from 1911
Twin towns – Sister cities
Izbica is twinned with:
- Winterlingen, Germany
- Thomas Blatt, a Polish-American writer born to a Jewish family in Izbica in 1927
- Jan Karski, smuggled to town in 1942 in order to report on the Holocaust ghetto in Izbica
- Izhbitza – Radzin (Hasidic dynasty) formed in 1839
- Maciej Kosiarski (2014). "Izbica nad Wieprzem". Paper (Izbica, geography and history). Izbica - strona przyjaciół miejscowości i gminy. PDF insert. pp. 7–8 of 23. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
Sources include: Adamczyk Ryszard: Izbicy dni powszednie wojna i okupacja; Grzesiuk Józef: Gmina Izbica, Zamość 2010; Niedźwiedź Józef: Izbica. in: Leksykon historyczny dawnego województwa; Rucka Maria: Zdążyć przed zachodem słońca czyli wędrówka po Izbicy i jej, and others.
- Kosiarski 2014, pp. 11–12.
- Christopher R. Browning (1992; 1998). Arrival in Poland (PDF file, direct download 7.91 MB). Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland. Retrieved 27 June 2014. Check date values in:
- Izbica - a story of a place by Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland. PDF file: 1,437 KB. Retrieved April 12, 2012.
- (in Polish) Getta tranzytowe w dystrykcie lubelskim (Transit ghettos in Lublin district). Pamięć Miejsca. Retrieved April 12, 2012.
- (in German) IZBICA - Drehkreuz des Todes (Turnstile of death)—a German TV documentary
- (in Polish) An interview with Tomasz Blatt - the ghetto survivor