Stryj, Poland (now Ukraine)
Stryj lying in the plains and lowlands at the southeastern corner of Poland Minor, was the city holding the corridor to the Carpathian Mountains, whose summits rise against the distant horizons on the way to Skole, a small town southwards in the direction Hungarian frontier. The River Stryj serves as a diadem to the wide stretching and multi-colored city, with it's embroidery of fields and forest as far as the foothills of the mountains. The river's waters moved the wheels of the mills from which the city used to obtain its flour, and beside which the townsfolk bathed in the hot summer. The city ties on a crossroads, and in the days of the Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria it linked Eastern Galicia with Hungary by the railway line that ran from Lemberg and Lawoczne to Budapest in the south, with Stanislawow to the southeast and Prszemysl to the northwest.
There were Jewish communities round and about in all directions, among those were Rozdol, Mikolayow, Zurawno, Sokolow, Zydaczow and Bolechow. Not far away lie Drohobycz, Boryslaw and Schodnica, with their oil-wells, from which most of the population of these towns made their living. By the beginning of World War II the population consisted of about 40,000 persons in roughly equal proportions of Jews, Poles, and Ukrainians. Jews were a vital part of the economy. They handled manufacturing, trade, food supply, clothing, footwear, furniture, building materials, fuel, drapery, haberdashery and the like. Their handicrafts included harness making, carpentry, tailoring, tinkering, glaziery, house painting, construction, upholstery, furriery, watchmaking, manufacturing of oilcloth, gold and silversmith work, and the handling of all other kinds of metals and skilled mechanics. Jews were some of the finest craftsmen in all branches of handicrafts. Many Jews in the surrounding villages made their living directly or indirectly by agriculture. Some lived directly from their farms, while others leased vast stretches of land from Polish barons and noblemen who were estate holders, and cultivated them on behalf of the latter. Or else they leased inns in traditional fashion, the leaseholds passing from father to son for generations.
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