Stavisk, Stawiski, Poland


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Stawisk Jewish Synagugue, 1920s
Stawiski (current Polish spelling) is a small town in Poland, about 90 miles northeast of Warsaw and about 10 miles north of Lomza.  There aIternative spellings, Stavisk (perhaps Yiddish) and Staviski (perhaps Russian).   Before the turn of the century, it had a substantial Jewish population, some of whom emmigrated to the United States (New York) and adopted the surname Stavisky, which in some cases has evolved into Stavisker, Stavis, or Stavin.
In 2001, Poland was shocked by a book and TV program concerning the massacre of Jews in the town of Jedwabne in July, 1941.  (click here for New York Times Article)  Jedwabne was only 10 miles from Stawiski, and Jews in Stawiski were similarly massacred.  This website includes some primary reports of these horrible events.

There seems to have been another town named Stavisk near Kiev, also a source of Jewish migrants to the United States, who also adopted the name Stavisky, also evolving to Stavis.  Stavis families in the Boston area seem to have this root.


Links to Information about Stawiski


Neighboring towns

Families probably from Stavisk:
  • Descendants of Moses Stavisky (Abraham, Samuel, Nathan, Rose)

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    Sandy Ferko's Visit to Stavisk, Feb. 1998

    Sandy Ferko <SFerko@aischool.org>  reports: 
    Stavisk (that's how my father and his brothers pronounced and spelled it) is now Staviski on the street signs in Poland.  It is a short way from Bialystok and Lumza in eastern Poland,  quite near the Russian border. 
    We set off, and three hours later we found a road sign indicating Stavisk. 

    It was incredible to find that the entire village was as it was 300 years ago, with a poignant exception.  The Jewish part of the village, including the synagogue where my grandfather prayed and the yeshiva where my father and his brothers studied, had been destroyed.  To set foot on the square where my father probably played and walked every day, to walk in the footsteps of my uncles was overwhelming. 

    Thanks to Henryk, we were able to talk with so many of the people there, warm, helpful, and truly caring strangers who wanted to give us as much information as they could in our search for knowledge.  One woman, a teacher, gave us a chapter of the book she is writing on the history of the  village (it is the next item on this web page); one gentleman directed us to the now empty plot of land where we believe our great aunts and uncles had a small inn. He also told us the stories of what happened to the Jews who had lived in the village, and those stories painful as they were answered questions for us. 

    Another gentleman, dressed only in a light cotton jacket and no gloves, led us deep  into the snowy woods to show us a small stone memorial to 700 Stavisk Jews who had been led there and shot to death. He stood back respectfully as Carol and I stared in silence, and then, as we turned to walk back to the car, he grinned playfully and started a gentle snowball fight with us. I have thought about him often since last Friday we could not understand one word and we are truly worlds apart in so many ways, yet we shared so much; it was a warm and tender moment that will be special to me forever.

    If this report whetted your appetite, click here for the  full report of Sandy's trip to Poland and Stavisk.
     
     

    The Jews of Stawiski

    Written by a primay school teacher in Stawiski, 1998
    Translated by Henryk Klepaci, Krakow, Poland

    A .   Jewish life in the 19th century

    The oldest record of Jewish presence in Stawiski goes back to 1820. 

    In that year a local postman wrote about that town.  "Stawiski town is a property of a landlord and is located on the main trade road leading to Saint Petersburg.  In the best years of trading it became quite known because a lot of merchants lived there. The population of Stawiski was 917 inhabitants, among them 328 were Christians and 589 were Jews." 

    Out of 2,570 people that lived in Stawiski in 1857 2,243 were Jews (87 percent).  Stawiski as well as the nearby Szczuczyn town was a typical shtetl with Jewish tradesmen, moneylenders and craftsmen.  All houses around the square were in the hands of Jewish families.  The ground floors were occupied by little shops and inns.  One local bakery belonged to a Jew named Rozwadowski. Jews were also owners of a brewery and factories producing clothing and hats. 

    Jewish children went to a Jewish school and were taught by Jewish teachers. 

    B.  The World War I Times

    The town had not been destroyed during World War 1. However, in spring 1915 Stawiski was hit by three bombs.  One of them demolished synagogue and killed one Jewish woman.  Later the synagogue which had been constructed in the 17th century was rebuilt.  There was another synagogue in this town.  In 1915-18 there was a Jewish library in Rojewski house, Lomza Street 2.  Jews were very educated people in Stawiski and therefore very often taught other children.  One of them was a Jew Perelman who taught Julian Rojewski.   (This was the man who wrote his autobiography of his childhood in Stawiski during World War I and published it in Szczecinek in 1982.) 

    Jewish children attended religious Jewish school.  Julian Rojewski was writing about young Jewish couple named Pluckich.  They both were students of philosophy, came to Stawiski to earn some money.  Mrs. Pluckich was a very attractive and tall woman.  They passed one year of hard work and many sleepless nights and the Pluckis suffering from tuberculosis, and then decided to leave Stawiski for Warsaw.  Later Jews invited a new teacher to teach their children.  After one year of being teacher in a Jewish school he also left Stawiski and went to Warsaw to finish his study. 

    C.  The years between World War I and World War 11.

    These were good years for Jewish people in Stawiski.  In 1932 Jews made up 55.9 percent of the town's 2,832 inhabitants.  It means that 1,584 people were Jewish.  During school year of 1926/27 out of 10 teachers in Stawiski 2 were of Jewish origin.  For the first four years in school Jewish schoolchildren were taught by Jewish teachers, and from 5th grade they attended classes together with Polish children.  In the school year of 1928/29 Polish schoolchildren moved to a new building of school in the Polowa Street and Jewish schoolchildren remained in the already used building in the Zjazd Street.  There was a Jewish trading market by the walls of a church.  The Jews got permission for trading in this place from the owner of this land Stanislaw Kisielnicki at the beginning of the 20th century.  Because it was too noisy at the market during Sunday morning masses the last parish priest before WW 11, Aleksy Eada, ordered that the Jewish stalls be torn down.  For that  he was taken to a court by Jewish merchants.  He was killed by Nazis in the first days of September 1939. 

    D.   Extermination of Jewish people in WW 11

    In the second half of September 1939 Poland was also attacked by the Soviet Union.  The eastern territories of Poland were taken over by Stalin.  After the Red Army soldiers entered Stawiski the Soviet authorities established a school with the Soviet education.  There were thirteen teachers at that time in Stawiski.  Five of them were Jewish.  Here are four names out of five: Bursztyn Edka, Hacker Roza, Chludniewicz Irena and H. Szapiro.  The Jewish school had its own headmaster.  The Nazi murdered a few Jews during their short time stay in Stawiski at the beginning of the Second World War.  Later they withdrew and were replaced by the Soviets.  In June 1 941 the Nazi entered Stawiski again.  This was a time when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union.  This time the Germans started extermination of the Jewish people.  They killed some Jews and confiscated Jewish property. 

    In July 1941 the Nazi gathered 700 Jews who were driven out of town to Plaszczatka Forest, about 4 km from Stawiski in the direction of Lomza.  They had to dig trenches before being shot.  In 1963 mass graves were fenced off and little memorial was erected on the spot were the Jews of Stawiski perished.  School children of the Stawiski school took care of this place and monument for years.  The rest of Jews were gathered in the square of the town and employed along the Lomza road. At this time the Nazi burnt the synagogue; the last rabbi died in the flames. 

    Other Jews had been settled in the ghetto in Stawiski, which was later liquidated.  Some Jews were sent to the Lomza ghetto.  At first conditions of living in the Lomza ghetto were to some degree not so bad.  They were no roundups.  In January 1942 the ghetto in Lomza was walled.  The Jews starved to death.  In July 1942 begun the mass transportation of Jews to Treblinka situated about 50 miles from Lomza. 

    E. Mass killing of Jews in the nearby Jedwabne Town.

    Jedwabne Town is located 17 km (10 miles) from Stawiski.  On June 25 1941 the Nazi crowded Jews in the marketplace.  Then they were driven to a farmhouse of Bronislaw Sleszyhski, locked there and burnt alive.  According to testimonies about 1,200 Jews perished there.  The rest of Jews were taken to the Lomza ghetto. 

    F.  A strange march  of Jews out from Kolno Town

    Kolno is located about 14 miles away from Stawiski.  In June 1941 the Germans gathered all old Jews in the marketplace.  The Jews had been ordered to dismantle a statue there that memorialized the Bolshevik revolution leader - Lenin.  They were to sing and carry a huge bust of Lenin out of town.  They marched up to village Mgciwuj and had to destroy it there. 

    G. The Holocaust in other places of Lomza province.

    1,000 Jews were murdered in Gacie Duze village. 
    7,000 Jews killed in Kupiski County. 
    There is a mass grave of 500 Jews in Rutki County. 
    50 Jews were shot in Jakac Dworna village and in Truski Lyski, 26 Jews.  The Germans shot about 1,500 Jews in Szurmowo County. 

    H.  Fate of Jewish women teachers of Stawiski

    The Nazi killed 12 teachers in Lomza province: 4 were from Koino, 6 from Zambr6w and 2 from Stawiski.  The latter were Edka Bursztyn, born in 1904 and Roza Hacker, born in 1904.  Roza Hacker went to the U.S. for six week summer vacation in 1 939.  Despite many letters she had received from another teacher in Stawiski saying about persecution of Jews in Germany and advising her to stay in the U.S.A., she came back to Europe.  She was arrested in Stawiski, sent to Treblinka and perished there. 

    I. The last Jews of Stawiski

    The last Jew who was arrested close to Stawiski was Chemic Z. He was born in Czernice near to Kolno Town.  In April 1943 a German policeman caught him but the brave Jew escaped.  Soon he was captured and shot. 

    Paul Kolasco, born in Raciborz, a half German and a half Pole was a German policeman in Stawiski.  He hated Jews very much.  With satisfaction he hunted for Jews in Stawiski and the vicinity.  It was he who arrested the last twelve Jews from Stawiski.  On January 27, 1944 in the village Budy Stawiskie he caught them in a farm - house of Jozef Rydzewski who was at that time in Lomza.  He himself shot them all and then killed a brother of Jozef Rydzewski. 

    The more years has passed since the war ended, the more willingly older people in Stawiski want to talk about the war, about Jews.  There were people in Stawiski that had often collaborated with the Nazis during the German occupation.  They revealed names and hiding places of Jewish people in order to be given Jewish property, houses, gold, etc.after their death.  There were cases of pulling down walls of Jewish houses in search of Jewish gold.  There were people in Stawiski that had been quite satisfied with extermination of Jews in Plaszczatka Forest in July 1941 because many killed Jews had loaned them money.  It is cruel but true. 

    There is an old Jewish cemetery half a mile outside of the town along a left side of a road towards Lomza.  It looked much better some years ago than today.  You could read inscription on some gravestones some years ago.  Because there was no one to protect it, it was devastated. This fact is very shocking for some Jewish visitors arriving from Israel or U.S. They can not understand that synagogue was converted into movie theatre (here I remember saying about fire department in a building of the former synagogue - my remarks, guide and translator). There are no traces of another synagogue that existed in Stawiski. 

    In June 1997, a Jewish man from Israel visited an elementary school in Stawiski.  He did not mention his name.  He was with his two adult children.  He wanted to show them a country of his childhood.  He spoke Polish, and his children spoke English. It very painful for him to find out that there were no records of his schoolboy years in this school in Stawiski.  His son took video of his father's school and the library and interviewed a history teacher.  When this older man got information that the last rabbi had been burnt alive in the synagogue, there were tears in his eyes.  He started to cry again when was told about death of his women teachers - Roza Hacker (that lady that came back from her summer vacation in the U.S. and was killed in Treblinka-- my remarks translator). Finally he found some traces of his family.  He escaped from Stawiski as a ten year old boy, and a few weeks later found himself near Bialystok.  He had been hidden by a Polish family that helped him to emigrate to Israel after the war, where he lives today.  He has been in contact with one of the women teachers in Lomza for years.  When he was leaving Stawiski with his children, he held in his hands a new elaborated history of his school.  His children knew that it had been worthwhile to come from Israel to Poland to see it. 

    Additional Massacres of Jews from Stawiski

    From: "Jan Meisels Allen" <janmallen@worldnet.att.net> Dec. 2, 2002 

    I met a person last year in Stawiski who mentioned that the Jews who were not massacred on July 18, 1941 and mass buried in the woods outside of Stawiski were taken to a place called Msciwuje Camp.  I was not aware of nor could I find the place on the map.  I posted the inquiry on JRI-Poland and sure enough received an answer today!  While we may not "like" what it says- it does give us some leads as to where our ancestors/family were murdered  This is the answer: 

    "I saw references to "Msciwuje/Lomza" or "Msciwuje in the vicinity of Maly Plock" as a place where Jews from the neighboring towns and villages were taken for execution by the Germans. According to one article in Polish, there was an investigation by the German court in Dortmund in 1968 concerning the execution of 4,000 Jews in "Msciwuje/Lomza" in 1941 (the article referred to German archives in Ludwigsburg: Zentralstelle Dortmund, file 45 Js 18/64, and Zentrale Stelle Ludwigsburg, file V 205 AR-Z 104/59) In another Polish article there is a reference to Jews from Kolno, Szczuczyn, Stawiski and Jedwabne being taken by the Germans in 1941 to "Msciwuje and Kolimagi near Maly Plock" for execution.  I located Msciwuje 
    approximately 15-20 kilometers northwest of Lomza. The name of the village on the map which refers to XVI century, is  Msciwuje-Puzystok; the reference in the text is to Puzowstok rather than Puzystok, in Plocko parish, purchased by a certain Msciwuj from Karwowo from a certain Przemyk, in 1414-1425, hence the name of the village, Msciwuje."



    Contact
    Website provided by
    Ben Stavis  March 11, 1999, updated April 1, 2002    ben.stavis@verizon.net