Włodawa - The Card of Cultural Heritage
A powiat [county] town in the Lublin voivodeship, located on the western bank of river Bug, near the Belarus border. Nearby a small river Włodawka [Little Włodawa] flows into Bug. Geographically it is on the eastern edge of Garb Włodawski. The town used to be an important transportation hub. A route from Lublin to Kobryn (nowadays it's the 831 and A241 highways) and further, to Minsk, used to pass through Włodawa. There was also a railroad from Chełm to Brest which crossed a once navigable Bug there. Nowadays both these roads, car and rail, end in Włodawa. The town still remains an important transportation hub. Highway 83 from Chełm to Biała Podlaska, local road No. 816 from Dorohusk to Terespol both pass through it, and highway 831 from Lublin through Łęczna ends up here. The railroad line from Chełm comes here as well, and ends here too, however. On the opposite (eastern) bank of Bug, on Belarus there is a train station with a remaining pre-War name "Włodawa" [czynnej linii kolejowej do Brześcia].
History of Włodawa
The first mention of Włodawa comes from 1242 and is found in the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia's chronicle. With this kingdom the town was bound until 1366, when king Casimir III the Great, as a result of a victorious confrontation against Lithuania, incorporated the western part of that state with Poland. The area where Włodawa is located – at the border between the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania – was taken away from the Chełm area in the first half of the 15th century and merged with Lithuania by Casimir IV Jagiellon. In 1475 they were excluded from the Crown's lands and conveyed to the house of Sanguszko in exchange for other lands. Włodawa received town rights from duke Andrzej Sanguszko ca. 1520. It was connected to giving the town a new spatial arrangement with a town square and a network of streets branching from it, as well as with establishing the rules of its functioning. The founder erected a castle for himself and his successors.
Włodawa was developing well, located on the road from Kraków to Vilnius, and on the crossing of land- and water-ways, with a neighbouring competitor city Orchówek. Poles, Ruthenians and Jews arriving from Poland and the Grand Duchy settled here. The town remained in the hands of the house Sanguszko until the end of the 16th century, when, by means of an alliance it passed to the house of Leszczyński. During their times, Włodawa for almost a hundred years had been an important centre of Polish Reformation. The wars of the first half of the 17th century brought heavy destruction to the town. First when in 1648 Khmelnytsky's Cossacs sacked the town, burned it and murdered almost the entire population, and then in 1657, when Swedish and, probably, Transylvanian troops passed through here, once again destroying a rebuilding town.
The rebirth of Włodawa occurred during the times of Rafał Leszczyński, in the 1780s, and was supported by privileges and entails granted to the residents. Near the end of that century the lands of Włodawa were purchased by Ludwik Konstanty Pociej who continued the work of restoring order to and rebuilding the town after the destruction by Swedish and Russian armies during the Second Northern War. The new owner invited the order of Saint Paul monks from Jasna Góra, for whom his successor and nephew Antoni Pociej later started the construction of a church and a monastery.
In 1745 the lands and the town were purchased from him by Jerzy Flemming, during whose times a significant development had occurred in Włodawa, undoubtedly supported by the famous local fairs. The town was cared after also by its next owner (since 1771), Flemming's son-in-law – Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski. By regulating the building developments, he took care of rearranging the town. After the Third Partition Włodawa was briefly a part of Austrian New Galicia (1795–1809), and then of the Duchy of Warsaw (1809–1815). During Napoleon's war against Russia the town was sacked by both Russians and the French.
After the Congress of Vienna the town ended up in the subordinate to Russia Congress Poland. Russian regulations restricted the development of border towns, although it did not cause any larger regress in Włodawa's development. Since the Duchy of Warsaw time it had become a powiat [county] town, usually belonging to a bigger administrative unit (department, voivodeship, governorate) with a seat in Siedlce. 
By population it was the fourth biggest town in today's Lublin region, ranking below Lublin, Hrubieszów, and Ternogród, butr above Chełm or Zamość. The large wartime operations of the November and January Uprisings missed Włodawa. The latter uprising resulted in a progressive russification of the entire Congress Poland (administration, education). The town owners, who in 1818 in Włodawa's case was the house of Zamoyski, were, by Tzar's ukase, depraved of possession rights. During the next hundred years – since the beginning of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th – the town population grew from ca. 3300 residents in 1809 to ca. 15200 in 1913, which was only a result of the growth in Jewish population – from 1079 to 12557 (82,5% of population). The Christian population – both Roman-Catholic and Uniate (until 1875) and then (since 1875) Eastern Orthodox – remained on a similar level (ca. 2200 people).
The end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century was a time of developments for Włodawa. Through it went a railroad from Chełm to Brest – with a border crossing and Customs Chamber. In the development of the town, brick buildings started to become a majority, streets and the city square were paved, oil (and then electric) lamps were set up, artesian wells were created, small-scale industry was developing. In 1912 Włodawa ended up in a Chełm governorate (created by Russians from the eastern powiats [counties] of Congress Poland) which was subsequently incorporated into the Russian Empire. This change had little significance, as soon after that World War I broke out. In August 1915 tzar's administration left the town with the retreating Russian army – Włodawa was taken over by Austrian-Hungarian and German forces. Near the end of the war (February 1918) German occupants gave Chełm region and Podlachia to the Central Council of Ukraine, which had little significance due to the Germans losing the war.
In a reborn Poland Włodawa stopped being a border town. This fact, as well as the destruction wrought by war, led to a gradual decrease in the number of residents, to a 6263 total, where ca. 4200 were Jews (67%). Until the outbreak of World War II, the number of residents grew to ca. 9500, including 5600 Jews (60%). The interwar period was a time of rebuilding in Polish administration, education, as well as social, cultural, and political life. New organisations, libraries, and political parties, Polish, Ukrainian, and Jewish, were created.
At the beginning of World War II Włodawa was bombed twice. Germans took the city on 16 September 1939, but they retreated under attack from Polish forces. Russian army came in their place a few days later. Germans came back in the middle of October and established their own administration, army, and police, supported by the Ukrainian police. Soon round-ups began, transportations to the camps, executions, especially for the Jewish population. A forced labor camp was being constructed and later on – a POW camp for Soviet prisoners was created. Near Włodawa the Sobibór extermination camp was set up, where the majority a Włodawa Jews were murdered. On 22 July 1944 the town was taken over by the Red Army.
After the war Włodawa became a powiat [county] town in the Lublin voivodeship once again, as well as a border town – it is located near the point where Polish, Belarusian, and Ukrainian borders meet. After the reforms of territorial division between 1975–1999 Włodawa became a part of the Chełm voivodeship. In 2000 the previous administrative setup came back. Each year Włodawa hosts the Three Cultures Festival, as well as the crossborder carol singers meetings.
History of Jews in Włodawa
Jews came soon after the foundation of the town and since 1531 they had been noticed at Lublin fairs. A good location of the town, on the crossing of trade routes (from the Lesser Poland to Lithuania and to Rus', and over the navigable Bug) encouraged them to settle there. Initially they were under the jurisdiction of the qahal in Brest, but in the second half of the 17th century they had to become self-sufficient by making their own quahal.
In 1648, after the town was taken by Khmelnytsky's Cossacs, the population of Włodawa was largely murdered, including Jews. Further destruction was brought in 1655 Swedish army, and Transylvanian forces of Rakoczy. The works on rebuilding the town were supported by Rafał Leszczyński's 1684 privilege for Jews, in which he allowed them to build a school, synagogue, and jatki [meat stalls] on the "court grounds". In his entail to the residents in 1688, Leszczyński specified especially both their rights, and their obligations. Jews were to perform certain "court duties", take part in night watch, and pay for stationing armies just as other residents had to.
The beneficial location resulted in faster rebuilding of the town and of the Jewish population. In the inventory from 1693 it was noted, that around a half of 197 houses was owned by Jews. It was one of the biggest qahals between Bug and Wisła at the time. Soon the town was once again destroyed during the operations of the Northern War, so that in 1716 there were only 75 place osiadłe [settler's plots], 41 of which were owned by Jews. Włodawa's aforementioned good location helped greatly in rebuilding, just as its next owners did – Jerzy Flemming, and Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski. The inventory from 1773 says, that out of 307 houses in town, 165 – mostly located near the city square and the streets spreading out of it, and in the western part of town – were owned by Jews. Jews were almost a half of the town's population (numbering at ca. one thousand) and mostly dealt in trade, innkeeping, and crafts connected to their traditions (tailors, bakers, butchers, tanners), as well as shoemakers, furriers, hatters, and goldsmiths. Christians were mostly farmers, potters, carpenters and woodworkers, masons, and also shoemakers.
The beginning of the 19th century is a time of stagnation, brought about by the partitions and further destruction during Napoleonic wars. The next period of development of Włodawa, especially of the Jewish population, was the time of Congress Poland. Despite uprisings and pandemics, as well as a regulation limiting settlement of this community in border towns, Jewish population, as previously mentioned, grew a lot over the next hundred years – from 1944 (59,9%) in 1819 to 12557 (82,5) in 1913. Jews were drawn by the famous fairs, the border crossing, and the customs chamber, all of which meant good opportunities for trade with Russian Empire.
The 19th century in Włodawa is a time of developments of Hasidism. Near the end of the 18th century a tzadik from Karlin arrived, and in the 19th century representatives of other dynasties came. Out of them, the representatives of Morgenstern dynasty – both from Kock and from other centres (Łuków and Puławy among others) – had the most followers. The source materials from the 19th century do not mention this movement, but one can extrapolate it when reading about conflicts within the gmina at the beginning of the 20th century and in the interwar period.
In the 19th century sources we learn of Włodawa's rabbis, their substitutes, people serving as rabbis, and other personas leading the Jewish gmina – "kahalni" [people of kahal service], "szkolnicy" [teachers etc.], and "clerics". It is known that in the first quarter of the 19th century "kahalni" were Szoel Joselewicz and Lejbko Szacki (1817). In the second quarter was Szmul Fridman was the "podrabin" [subordinate rabbi] (1829), and Nuta Szapira – the "Starszy Duchowny" [elder cleric] (1835). Josef Aron Szyffer – was the "podrabin" from 1846–1848. After him Josel Zelcer acts as the "zastępca rabina" [substitute rabbi] (1848–1851) – previously (1846) and afterwards (1852) also mentioned as a "Senior Cleric". "Szkolnicy" of that time were Froim Rosman (1826), Chaim Wachter (1827–1830), Josef Giter (1844–1850), Icek Fajncyngier (1848–1852), Josel Finkelman (1849–1855), and Chaim Lerer (1849–1853).
Icko Rotenberg in 1828 was specified to be a "dozorca bożniczy" [synagogue beadle], although in this case it probably means a custodian. It is important within the context of "abolishing" qahals by partition administration in 1823, and replacing them by"okręgi bożnicze" [synagogue circuits], which in turn would be governed by "dozory" [supervisor board] each made up of three "dozorcy bożniczy" [synagogue supervisors]. Due to a limited execution of this ordinance, the administration renewed it in 1844. It suggests, that even in 1828 the name "dozorca" would still mean a custodian. Uszer Gdański, frequently mentioned in the archives as a "merchant" (1829) was called "dozorca bożniczy" in 1849 – this may already mean the supervisor's position, especially since in the later archives (until 1859) he appears as just as a "merchant".
In 1834 there is a mention of Dawid Kirman – "posługacz przy szkole" [school assistant] – one of the longest active representatives of the Włodawa's elders. In 1859 he is mentioned as a "szkolnik", and since 1861 to 1877 as "śpiewak" [singer, chanter], or in other words, a "kantor".
In 1850 Herszko Timen (born 1790) became a rabbi and served this function until at least 1868, a position for which he was paid 275 rubles a year. In 1856 with other residents he swore loyalty to the tzar. His substitute was Josel Rosenblum (1852–1859). "Szkolnicy" of the time were: Szoel Goldberg (1853–1863) – at times noted as a "śpiewak", the aforementioned Dawid Kirman (mostly functioned as a "śpiewak" however), Szulim Szrajer (1857), Berek Halpern (1868), Moszko Ber Szyfman (1873–1878), Szmul Hersz Sznajderman (1875–1879), Zewel Landau (1878–1888), and Beniamin Kac (1889).
Due to incomplete source materials, the next known rabbi is Fiszel Liberman, mentioned since 1888 until 1893 (it is unknown when excatly he became a rabbi). The rabbi after him was Jones Gejerman (from the end of 1893 until the autumn of 1900). Since the end of 1900, the duties of a rabbi were served by members of the dozór bożniczy [synagogue supervisors] – Hitel Borensztejn (1900), and then Gdal Wajnberg (since the end of 1900 until the end of 1902). At the beginning of 1903 Joel (Josef) Chaim Segal (Segał) became a rabbi and served this function until World War I – maybe he left in August 1915  [się razem z administracją carską].
At the beginning of the 20th century, the members of "dozór bożniczy" were Lejzor Barenholc and Dawid Bekerman (presumably 1909-1911), then Nachman Markiter, Gitel Berensztajn, and Dawid Bigman (1911–1914). This team was supplemented by G. Wanjberg in 1915.
After Poland regained its independence, Wlodawa lost its importance as a border town and became one of many provincial towns. Population dropped by over a half – from ca. 15200 to around 6200, losing mostly Jews – from ca. 12500 (82,5% of total population) in 1913 to ca. 4200 (67% of total population) in 1921. Soon the Jewish community began to regain strength here, however. In 1922 Włodawa's Żydowski Okręg Bożniczy [Jewish Synagogue Circuit] numbered at around 6000 people, from which 1200 had suffrage, and 502 paid contributions for the gmina's upkeep. The leading the gmina was a board of six people – chairman Hersz Grinhaus, his substitute – Moszek Różanka, and Berek Rotenberg, Symcha Kelerman, Icek Lejb Feldman, and Mordko Icek Rozenblat. According to some of the documents, there was no rabbi nor a "podrabin" [subordinate rabbi] at that time, while according to other document of the same time there were two rabbis in Wlodawa – Abram Trochanowski (since 1915) and Mejer Rozenberg (since 1918) – but they weren't "approved". There was also a previous "government" rabbi – Segiel Josef Chaim, although he wasn't active anymore. All this was probably a result of divisions in the gmina which are unclear today. In 1923 the previous rabbi filed a request to the Voivodeship Office in Lublin to return him to his former duties. It didn't happen, however.
After the war, the gmina owned two synagogues (one had burned down), two prayer houses, a mikveh, a Talmud-Torah school, a cemetery, an almshouse, and a square where a hospital used to be. Apart from this, there were 11 private prayer houses – probably Hasidic "klauza". In 1926 Mosze Boruch, a representative of the Hasidic Morgenstern dynasty, was chosen a rabbi. The chairman of the gmina board at the time was Moszek Różanka, the secretary was J. Cymering, and regular members were M. Mandelbaum and Ch.S. Szternfeld.
In 1939 the Jewish community in Włodawa numbered at ca. 5600 people (60% of total population). After the German incursion into the city, repressions against the residents began, especially against Jews – shops and workshops were being closed, there were forced contributions, resettlements, closing the synagogues and associated buildings, and destruction of three cemeteries. A forced labor camp for Jews was created in 1940. At the beginning of 1941 a ghetto was formed, where Jews were relocated from other cities in the General Government and Vienna. In the spring of 1942 deportations began from the ghetto to the extermination camp in Sobibór, located near Włodawa. They ended in the spring of 1943. Several dozen people escaped the ghetto and formed their own resistance (Jechiel Grynszpan's unit), supporting Polish left-wing, and Russian guerillas. Only about 40 people of Jewish descent lived to see the Liberation, but they left the town over the following years.
It is unclear whether Włodawa kept its original urban planning despite the successive destruction in the wars of the first half of the 17 century and the Northern War, or its current shape is a result of the ordering rearrangements executed by the town's owners in the second half if the 18th century – Jerzy Flemming and Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski.
Despite the destruction wrought by World Wars I and II, Włodawa retained its historical shape, with an equilaterally rectangular town square in the centre and an irregular network of streets spreading from it. In the centre of the town square there is a so-called Czworobok [Quadragon], a building constructed on the plan of a square, with a courtyard holding shops in the centre. To the North-East of the city square, beyond the second urban block, there is a church complex with a Pauline monastery, to the East of the square, also beyond the second urban block there is an Orthodox church – currently Eastern Orthodox, while to the West, beyond the first line of buildings, there is a synagogue complex. River bug and smaller Włodawka [Little Włodawa] flowing into it limit Włodawa's eastward development so the town currently develops mostly towards the West, North and South.
1) An Eastern Church parish, founded probably before the location of the town, possibly during the time of the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia. It had been mentioned since 1564. Since the end of the 16th century to 1875 it was Uniate, after the liquidation of Union by the Russians in 1865 it became Eastern orthodox and remains so to this day.
2) A Roman-Catholic parish, created probably due to the town location in the 17th century. During the rule of the house of Leszczyński it was an important Calvinist centre. In 1698 the next owner, Ludwik Pociej, brough Pauline monks here, for whom a church and a monastery were then built. The Pauline monastery was discontinued by Russians in 1864 and the temple became a parish church. In 1992 the parish was once again taken by Pauline monks.
3) Local Jewish community existed ever since the 16th century, initially subordinate to the qahal in Brest (a sub-qahal?), but in the second half of the 18th century it was already an independent qahal. Since 1823 it had been a Włodawa Synagogue Circuit, and since 1918 – a Jewish Religious Community. It ended with the extermination of Jews by Germans during World War II.
1) Town's authorities – mayor and councillors, voyt [village head] and jurors – were specified by the Magdeburg Law, which was a basis for the town's functioning. During the interwar period there were also representatives of the Jewish community on the town council.
2) The craftsmen were gathered in guilds, and since the end of the 19th century – in corporations and trade unions.
3) Societies and associations of economical kind started to appear as far back as near the end of he 19th century, while educational, sport, and cultural organisations came during the interwar period.
4) From among Jewish political parties active before World War II Mizrachi and Agudas Isroel must be mentioned. Some Jews also belonged to the KPP [Communist Party of Poland].
Architecture and building monuments
1) a brick St. Luis church and a Pauline monastery founded by Pociejowie, designed by Paweł Fontana, and finished by Flemmingowie and Czartoryscy – erected 1739–1780 it belongs to a series of interesting baroque churches by Fontana, erected on an oval plan, with a two-tower facade – known from his other projects across Lubelszczyzna [the Lublin area], for instance in Chełm and Lubartów.
2) a brick Orthodox church in a Russian imperial style, built from Wiktor Iwanowicz Syczugow's, erected 1893–1895, one of around a dozen projects of that architect in Lubelszczyzna.
3) a brick synagogue founded by Jerzy Flemming, designed probably by Paweł Fontana, erected on the same locatrion as previous synagogues. It had been in construction since 1764 and was finished during the times of Czartoryscy and from their funds in the 1880s. A baroque building with two bow windows and a mansard roof, it is one of the more interesting projects for this type of building, and one of the few synagogues, which survived World War II, thanks to it serving as a warehouse. It was a building in the complex of former Jewish gmina's constructions. Currently (since 1986) it is one of the buildings of the Leczna-Wlodawa Lake District Museum.
4) a brick old prayer house (Beth Midrash). The previous one already existed near the end of the 18th century, this one was erected 1915–1916, incorporating some of the previous one's walls. During World War II it was converted to a military warehouse, which resulted in the destruction of interior equipment. After the war it still served as a warehouse, in 1999 it was taken over by the Leczna-Wlodawa Lake District Museum.
5) the new Beth Midrash – brick, erected in 1928, currently an office building of the Leczna-Wlodawa Lake District Museum and a place for temporary exhibits.
6) Christian cemetery, founded in the first half of the 19th century, currently active.
7) the oldest Jewish cemetery, possibly from the 16th century, but maybe just from the last quarter of the 17th century – located to the South-West from the synagogue. Currently, after the destruction of World War II, the signs of graves are gone, just most of its area is preserved.
8) the old Jewish cemetery from the 18th century, located near the Wiejska and Krzywa streets, destroyed by Germans during the war, after the war rebuilt by  [co to jest GS?]
9) new Jewish cemetery from the 19th century, currently located between the Reymonta and Mielczarskiego streets, destroyed during World War II. Currently a square, where recently a monument commemorating the Jewish community of Włodawa was erected.
1) the furnishings of the St. Luis Church
2) the furnishings of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Orthodox church
3) the Jewish ceremonial art in the Leczna-Wlodawa Lake District Museum
Central Archives of Historical Records in Warsaw
Centralne Władze Wyznaniowe Królestwa Polskiego [Central Confession Authorities of Congress Poland]
State Archive in Lublin
Archiwum Zamoyskich in Włodawa
Civil Registry – Jewish confession.
Lublin Gubernatorial Government I
Siedlce Gubernatorial Government
Chełm Gubernatorial Government
Voivodeship Office in Lublin, Socio-Political Department.
J. Baranowski, Zabytkowe bóżnice we Włodawie i w Chęcinach [w:] Biuletyn ŻIH, Warszawa 1959, nr 29, s. 59-71
Wlodawa; ner zikaron; sefer dokumentari im sekira kelalit (red. D. Rowner), Jerozolima 1967/68
Sefer zikaron Wlodawa we-ha sewiwa Sobibor (red. S. Kanc), Tel-Aviv 1974
Włodawa [w:] Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, t. 8, województwo lubelskie (red. R. Brykowski, E. Smulikowska), z. 18 (oprac. E. Smulikowska), Warszawa 1975, s. 52-74
Dzieje Włodawy (red. E. Olszewski, R. Szczygieł), Lublin 1991
I. Wojczuk, Bóżnica Włodawska [w:] Zeszyty Muzealne (red. nacz. M. Bem), Wydawnictwo Muzeum Pojezierza Łęczyńsko-Włodawskiego, z. 5, Włodawa 1996, s. 3-30
K. Skwirowski, Z „Księgi Pamięci Włodawy i okolic". Dzieje gminy żydowskiej we Włodawie XVI - XIX w., [w:] Zeszyty Muzealne (red. nacz. M. Bem), Wydawnictwo Muzeum Pojezierza Łęczyńsko-Włodawskiego, z. 6, Włodawa 1997, s. 10-20
K. Skwirowski, Z „Księgi Pamięci Włodawy i okolic” Włodawscy chasydzi [w:] Zeszyty Muzealne (red. nacz. M. Bem), Wydawnictwo Muzeum Pojezierza Łęczyńsko-Włodawskiego, z. 7, Włodawa 1997, s. 3-11
J. Nastaj, Stary bet ha-midrasz we Włodawie [w:] Zeszyty Muzealne (red. nacz. M. Bem), Wydawnictwo Muzeum Pojezierza Łęczyńsko-Włodawskiego, z. 8, Włodawa 1998, s. 15-47
K. Skwirowski, Z „Księgi Pamięci Włodawy i okolic”. Włodawa i włodawscy Żydzi na przełomie XIX i XX w. [w:] Zeszyty Muzealne (red. nacz. M. Bem), Wydawnictwo Muzeum Pojezierza Łęczyńsko-Włodawskiego, z. 8, Włodawa 1998, s. 76-89
K. Skwirowski, Życie społeczno-kulturalne włodawskich Żydów w latach 1918-1939, [w:] Zeszyty Muzealne (red. nacz. M. Bem), Wydawnictwo Muzeum Pojezierza Łęczyńsko-Włodawskiego, z. 10, Włodawa 1999.
M. i K. Piechotkowie, Bramy nieba. Bóżnice murowane na ziemiach polskich dawnej Rzeczpospolitej, Warszawa 1999, s. 369-372
[oryginał zdania: "w rozwoju Włodawy, która od czasów Księstwa Warszawskiego stała się miastem powiatowym, należącym zazwyczaj do większej jednostki administracyjnej (departamentu, województwa, guberni) ze stolicą w Siedlcach. " nie mam pojęcia, czy to dwa zdania się zlały w jedno, czy co sie stało]
 (?) [prawo dominialne]
Oryginał: “pełnił tę funkcję do czasów I wojny światowej – być może wyjechał w sierpniu 1915 r. się razem z administracją carską”Nie wiem, co z tą administracją zrobić.
Oryginał: “przez Niemców w czasie wojny, po wojnie zabudowany przez GS”