Index of Refugees in Zbąszyń (from Kraków, Kołomyja, and Stanisławów areas), 1938-1939


In May 2017, Jewish Records Indexing – Poland and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) entered into a collaborative agreement to enable searches of the JRI-Poland database to display links to selected holdings in the JDC Archives Names Database.

The aim of the JRI-Poland/JDC agreement is to bring the remarkable work of the JDC to the widest audience as well as to utilize the multi-faceted JRI-Poland search engine options to dramatically increase the potential for finding cards of interest to researchers.

The board of JRI-Poland expresses its profound appreciation to the JDC for enabling us to share this important information with the research community.

The initial collection of records to be shared, which is now searchable on the JRI-Poland database is

In 2018, we added a second collection, also now searchable on the JRI-Poland database:

We are pleased to add the latest collection to be shared, now searchable on the JRI-Poland database:

  • Refugees in Zbąszyń (from towns in Kraków, Kołomyja, and Stanisławów regions), 1938-1939.

The Expulsion of Jews from Germany to Zbąszyń

On 27 October 1938, the German government arrested about 17,000 Jews with Polish citizenship who were living in Germany and forced them across the Polish border, most near the town of Zbąszyń, where they were detained by local Polish police. About 3,000 managed to travel on to the interior of Poland before the detention order was received, but the remaining 5,000-6,000 faced terrible conditions in the camp set up at Zbąszyń. JDC officials and leaders of local Polish organizations rushed to the scene and began making arrangements to provide aid to the refugees.

Reports flowed in over the following weeks, among them a seven-page eyewitness account by Morris Troper, chairman of JDC’s European Executive Council, who visited on 13-14 November. In his report, Troper notes that one of the first actions of JDC staff and volunteers took when they arrived was “to organize this mass of refugees into special groups and to register them according to their cities of birth principally to put them in touch with landsleute or with relatives whom they may have in their native cities.” This recordkeeping activity forms the basis for the lists in the JDC Archives.

First page of a report by Morris Troper on conditions in Zbąszyń and JDC’s response, 13-14 November 1938. JDC Archives, New York Office Collection, 1933-1944, Folder 878.

The Zbąszyń Refugees List

The list of refugees in Zbąszyń may in fact be considered several lists, totaling 124 pages. The first list, accounting for more than half of the material, is arranged in tabular form comprising three main sections. Table I lists refugees who have known overseas relatives (principally in the United States but also in Canada and South America) with complete addresses of those relatives. Table II lists refugees who have known overseas relatives but only partial or incomplete addresses. Table III, listing those without overseas relatives, is further subdivided into two parts: the first, titled “Miscellaneous,” lists the refugees according to their place of birth in Poland; the second, “Additional,” lists refugees who were actually born in Germany according to their ancestral town of origin in Poland. This set of tables includes the following information:

  • Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Location of birth
  • Occupation (not indexed)
  • Last city of residence in Germany (sometimes Austria)
  • Present address in Zbąszyń (not indexed)
  • Name(s) and address(es) of overseas relatives, if known
  • Degree of relationship (not indexed)

Table III includes only the year of birth rather than the full date, but includes the names and birth years of accompanying family members.

First page of the Zbąszyń Refugees List

The second list, totaling 30 pages, is again organized by location of birth or family origin and in some instances includes information about overseas relatives; it lacks the detailed information contained in the tables (date of birth, occupation, last city of residence in Germany). The final sets of lists (22 pages), once again in tabular form, are in fact not from Zbąszyń but rather are refugees expelled from Germany who were residing in Kraków, Kołomyja, and Stanisławów. Fields are the same as for the first set of tables, although a portion of those on the Kołomyja list do not have known overseas relatives.

Portion of a page from the second of the Zbąszyń refugee lists

In order to make this information more accessible, the JDC Archives decided to index this 152-page list in its Names Database, which is accessible via a separate API on the JDC Archives website and is designed for more direct and straightforward names search. Volunteer indexers entered the data from the list, creating a separate record for each name. A pdf of the complete list is available on the page Lists in the Names Database on the JDC Archives website, or click here (PDF).

Accessing the Data

In addition to the availability of these records in the JDC Archives Names Database, this collection can now be searched using the many additional search options in the JRI-Poland database system.

To view images of the individual page on which a name appears, users of the JRI-Poland database should follow the link to the JDC Archives record and click the PDF icon.