Hometown Histories – Dora Kresch – Czudek, Galicia (Poland)

The Hillinger line is quite sparse, and I only have absolute locations for my grandfather and his mother, so this will be the last of this line. My grandfather's line only goes back two generations on either side of his family. I have a name for his father's birthplace, but I have yet to confirm a location for him, as I have found several towns with that name or similar. And I have no absolute locations for either set of his grandparents, though I know where they lived when my great-grandparents were born and grew up. It's a relief as much as it saddens me, because researching Frankfurt and Czudek has given me enough taste of anti-Semitism to last me the rest of my life. Someday I hope to learn more, but right now, I think I need to step away from this branch for a while.

Dora Hillinger, nee Kresch, was born in 1892 in a small town called Czudec. It is now located in south east Poland, though at that time, the area was in a country called Galicia. I do not know if she and her siblings were the only ones in my line to be born there, but I suspect at the very least her mother was as well. It is quite likely that one branch or the other, or both lived there for several generations. This was true at least until the end of World War I, when the remaining members of Dora's family left the area forever.

Photo of Czudek by janusz_k
Czudec is a town in south-eastern Poland. At the time of my great-grandmother Dora's birth, it was part of the Austrio-Hungarian Empire. Before my great-grandmother's birth in 1880, the population was about 1000 people. The Jewish population was about a third of this population, totaling around 300 people. It changed little during her time in the town, despite some attacks on her people. The current town has a population of about 3000. I am uncertain of the remaining Jewish population in the area, if there are any, though there is a saying now in Poland that there are no Jews in Poland today.

As a town, Czudec dates back to the year 1185, when it was granted to a Polish abbey. Between that time and 1326, it became a fortress privately owned by the nobility. It was finally granted rights as a city 1461. It was situated on a trade path leading from the east to the west. This meant that the area was a good location for tradesmen, for their goods could be easily sold to traders. By the beginning of the 16th century, there were even organized guilds. The tailors and weavers' guilds were especially prominent. Over the centuries, the town's nationality shifted from Polish to German. From 1772 to 1918 at the end of World War I, the town was part of the state I mentioned, Galicia, which at the time was a Germanic state. By that time, the condition of the area had declined greatly, as the artisans of the area could no longer compete with modern industry. In 1935, it was stripped of a town charter, and has been a village ever since.

Jews in Czudek are first mentioned in 1499, when a Jewish bath is mentioned in text. They next appeared in texts written in 1633 regarding Jews and the local guilds. According to guild regulations, Jews were not allowed to sell any products without guild permission. By the 18th century, there were 171 Jews in the town, who had their own rabbi. As with any other Jewish community surrounded by gentiles, they were disliked and treated to strong anti-Semitism.

Their numbers included a smith, a saddle maker, a barber, and even a beadle. They even had a synagogue, though it had been decried by the local vicar, who claimed that he should have been consulted on the area it was placed before building, as it might disturb the Catholic mass. There was no Jewish school in the area, though, and no teachers. I do not know how the children of the area were taught, though I can imagine this was a task left to their mothers, as I cannot imagine them attending the school for local children, which was likely run by the Catholic church.

Dora (l) and her sister Minna (r) in 1919
In November to December of 1918, at the end of World War I, the Polish farmers in the area attacked the Jewish population. Their homes and lands were pillaged, and many were beaten and injured, including their Rabbi at the time, Shmuel Hercyk. I have strong reason to believe that my great-grandmother, Dora, and her family were affected by this attack, for the first dates I have for her aside from her birthdate is that she moved to Frankfurt about 1919. At the very least, I believe that it played into her decision to leave. At most, it may have been the attack that eventually led to her father's death, though that is only speculation on my part, as I do not have an absolute date on his death, only guesses.

I do believe that by the Second World War, none of my great-grandmother's family lived in the area any longer. I am quite certain that once Dora left, she never returned to the area. She moved to Frankfurt, where she met and married my great-grandfather, and they had six children. In 1933, they left and moved for a year to Paris before coming here to the US. She lived here until her death in Chicago in 1969.

Dora's mother Feige in Frankfurt in the late 20s
The Jewish population of Czudek was almost completely wiped out by the war, and most of the buildings and remains of the community were destroyed. All of the Jewish residents were moved to the ghetto in Rzeszow, and those who survived that move were then moved to camps, most notably Belzec. None of them returned after the war. The cemetery where my great-great grandfather was likely laid to rest was razed by the Nazis, and used by the locals as agricultural land. The Synagogue was mostly destroyed as well, and afterwards rebuilt and used as a cinema. I believe, from what I was able to read, that the building has now been reclaimed and used as a library of Jewish books and artifacts.

Czudec (Polish translated to English)
Czudek Municipality: Czudek town (Polish translated to English)
Hillinger Family Tree
Hillinger Family Photos
Jewish Cemetery in Czudek (Polish translated to English)
Synagogue in Czudec (Polish translated to English)


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About this blog

This blog is maintained by two sisters who have had a life long interest in geneology.
Mika writes here mostly about our family (Hansen, Hillinger, Bordewick, Park, etc), and her search for more information.
Shannon mostly uses this space as a place to make the many stories written about and by her husband's family (Holly, Walker, Walpole, etc) available to the rest of the family, present and future.

Our blog is named Oh Spusch! mostly because Shannon is bad at naming things. The first post I put up includes a story about the time Walker's great grandfather took his whole family out to see a play and the littlest kept saying "Oh! Spusch!" No one ever figured out what she meant by that.