NA BISTER

Bielcza

See also: BIEDACZ

Historical background

The Roma probably moved to the village of Bielcza around the mid-nineteenth century from nearby Borzęcin. The first Roma name recorded in the parish records was the name of the child – Maria Ciuraj, baptised in January 1865. Recorded in documents in various variants (Ciuroj, Cioruj, Cioruń, Cioraj, etc.) this surname is known in the surrounding towns, where the Roma lived, and, even more frequently spotted in the Gypsy villages in the south of Małopolska (Lesser Poland) Region, where the ancestors of these Cioruń came from. Cioroń is the most frequent form (in earlier documents, from Hungarian, as Čoron). The Roma bearing this surname belonged to the Carpathian (Mountain – Bergitka Roma) Roma lineage and, as everywhere,  belonged to the poorest stratum of the rural community. Until the Second World War, there always lived a few Roma families in Bielcza. They were beggar, sometimes they helped peasants in the field work. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Roma from the Kalderash tribe, who came from Hungarian territories, began to visit Bielcza. Probably taking advantage of the presence of their kinsmen here, they wintered in rented houses, often later citing Bielcza as their place of permanent residence or even origin. The Kwiek family, from whom the pre-war Gypsy “kings” came, belonged to this Kelderash clan.

When the German occupation started, there were no more Cioroń family members in the village. They probably moved to other places. However, in the autumn of 1941 (or maybe a little earlier), the Germans ordered the head of Bielcza to take into the village and report a group of 32 Roma, who told the Germans that they came from Bielcza. They were mainly members of the Kwiek family from the Kelderash tribe, so they might have previously stayed in this village for the winter. The head of the village showed them an abandoned house and a barn in the hamlet of Biedacz and they lived there. Men worked in the area, commuting by train to Tarnów as well as to other places. In July 1942, German gendarmes and Polish policemen came to Bielcza to punish Roma who had been accused of theft. They murdered almost all the people they found there, mainly women and children – the men were at work at the time. At least 19 people were killed then. Germans ordered to bury them at the place of murder. The corpses, exhumed in the 1950s, were buried at the local cemetery.

Description of commemoration

Form of commemoration: In the village there are three places commemorating the tragic fate of the Roma who were murdered by the Germans. A mass grave at the parish cemetery, where the bodies of those murdered were moved around 1958. During the renovation of the tombstone in 1973, a granite plaque with an inscription was placed on it.

A bronze plaque, on the other had, was placed on the local church wall in September 1973. It names the 28 inhabitants of the village who lost their lives in various ways during the German occupation. At the bottom, the inscription informs about theGypsy victims.

A birch wood cross set up in July 2007 by participants of the Memorial Roll at the place of the murder and the original burial site of the Roma in the hamlet of Biedacz. The cross was removed in 2011 (?).

 

Inscriptions

 

Grave:

In Polish:

ZBIOROWY / GRÓB CYGANÓW / ROZSTRZELANYCH / PRZEZ HITLEROWCÓW // W 1942 r. w Bielczy / Pokój ich duszom

 

Translation:

MASS GRAVE OF THE GYPSIES SHOT BY NAZIS IN 1942 in Bielcza. Peace be with their souls

 

The plaque on the church:

In Polish:

41 CYGANÓW Z R. KWIEKÓW OD 5 MIES. – 69 L. / (…) WIECZNA CZEŚĆ ICH PAMIĘCI!

Translation:

41 GYSPIES FROM THE FAMILY KWIEK – AGED FROM 5 MONTHS TO 69 YEARS / (…) THEY WILL REMAIN IN OUR MEMORY FOR ETERNITY!

Date of the unveiling

1973

 

Initiator

Local community

Address

Bielcza, parish cemetery,

Bielcza, church

Location

Cemetery:

50°01’49.2″N 20°43’48.2″E

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Church:

50°01’27.9″N 20°43’38.2″E

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Gallery

 

 

 

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