Our objective during the last few days of travel was to get to the archives in Sanok and Rzeszow, to go back to a parish office and look at records there, and to drive to several places to hunt down leads of where documents might be stored. Our first stop was Mielec (pronounced Mee-eh-lets).
The countryside is so green and lush. Of course, the rain which has been almost non-stop is the reason for it. I could have used a few drier days during this trip. Perhaps when I return in two weeks to Warsaw, there will be less precipitation.
Our first stop in Mielec was the Office of the Civil Records. This is where records are held prior to being turned over to the Historical Archives, and many but not all of the records come under privacy laws. We wanted to find out what they had that might be pertinent to the Jewish community that was once here. The director of the Office was very nice. He showed us some books that they have which had indexes of names and spoke with us for quite a while about where records in Mielec might be. He told us that there was a ruin of the former synagogue near the central square and that the local museum might have information for us. Off we headed to explore the town and find the museum.
I know that WWII affected more than just the Jewish community. I know that a lot of innocent people were murdered in the camps and on the streets. I know this. I never claim that this wasn’t so. Poles still live and thrive in their ancestral towns. All that is left, in most places, like Mielec, of a Jewish community numbering about 3,000 in mid-20th century, is a stone in an empty field where a synagogue once stood, and a cemetery whose stones are mostly at the bottom of a nearby river.
I understand that there is a project at the university in Krakow that is trying to read and record the stones which remain in the field and in the river. At least the names will be remembered.
I’m glad that most of our time remaining here will be spent in archives, looking at old records which for the most part, don’t stir such feelings of anguish. Parish records – baptisms, marriage banns and death records are also safe places for me to go. My emotions as I walk the streets of the communities that were, just make me want to leave here, but on the other hand, I am here, we still live.
On to the museum which hopefully will be able to give us some insight into where records might be.
The director at the museum was amazing, and spent a long time with us, showing us some books. One of the books was the book we looked at while we were at the Office of the Civil Records and there was a copy he could sell us. Two other books I was able to get online – a good thing since my luggage is definitely lacking space.
He told us of identity card applications which are held in Rzeszow archives. We plan to spend parts of our last two days in those archives. We headed out to the Sanok archives first, to look for some records we hoped would be there, but they were not.
The 30th was spent primarily in doors, photographing records, and there isn’t much to report YET – we have to return to pick up the records.
As I write this, in the US it is very late at night on the 30 or very early in the morning on the 31, depending on where your are (of course) and early morning on the 31 in Rzeszow. I have to rush out to get to the Rzeszow archives around 8 AM and I absolutely must have coffee first.