The “Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre” Centre is a local government cultural institution based in Lublin. It works towards the preservation of cultural heritage and education. Its function is tied to the symbolic and historical meaning of the Centre’s location in the Grodzka Gate, which used to divide Lublin into its respective Christian and Jewish quarters, as well as to Lublin as a meeting place of cultures, traditions and religions.

Part of the Centre are the House of Words and the Lublin Underground Trail.

The “Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre” Centre is a local government cultural institution based in Lublin. It works towards the preservation of cultural heritage and education. Its function is tied to the symbolic and historical meaning of the Centre’s location in the Grodzka Gate, which used to divide Lublin into its respective Christian and Jewish quarters, as well as to Lublin as a meeting place of cultures, traditions and religions.

Part of the Centre are the House of Words and the Lublin Underground Trail.

Józefów Biłgorajski – history of the town

Józefów Biłgorajski, also known as Józefów Ordynacki or Józefów Roztoczański, was established by Tomasz Zamoyski in 1725, on land belonging to the village of Majdan Nepryski. It was the last town to be founded in the Zamość Estate. Tomasz Zamoyski wanted the new town to become a commercial, service and administrative center. The development of Józefów was primarily linked with trade, crafts, sieve-making and masonry.
Located on the banks of the Niepryszka river, in a physiographical region called Central Roztocze, Józefów is a place where three parks converge: Roztoczański National Park, Solska Forest Landscape Park and Krasnobrodzki Landscape Park.
Józefów Biłgorajski lies 15 km from the towns of Krasnobrod, Susiec and Zwierzyniec.


HISTORYDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

Józefów Biłgorajski was established by the 2nd Ordynat Tomasz Zamoyski in 1725, on land belonging to the village of Majdan Nepryski. It was the tenth, and last, town to be founded in the Zamość Estate. According to the town charter prepared already in 1715, Józefów was to be incorporated pursuant to the Magdeburg law.
Tomasz Zamoyski, wishing the new town to become a commercial, service and administrative center, established two market days per week and four fairs per annum. The development of Józefów was primarily linked with crafts, sieve-making and masonry. Soon after Józefów received its town charter, the construction of houses, the town hall and parish church began. The most intensive works were conducted in the years 1726-1728. In the mid-18th century Józefów was the center of a demesne comprising the town itself along with eight villages in the Zamosc Estate.
Between 1772 and 1776, after the First Partition, the town found itself under Austrian rule. Following the Third Partition in 1795 Józefów was within Austrian territory again. In 1809 the town was included the Duchy of Warsaw, and in 1815 it became part of the Russian-controlled Kingdom of Poland.
During the November Uprising of 1830-31, the people of Józefów actively supported the insurgents. However, the town also became the seat of a military court competent in all matters related to combating the insurgency and to the desertion of peasants. The inhabitants of Józefów also actively participated in the fighting during the January Uprising of 1863. One of the first skirmishes between the Poles and the Cossacks took place near Józefów on January 24, 1863. This area was the stage for the military operations of troops led by Col. Leon Czechowski, Col. Marcin Borelowski and Gen. Antoni Jeziorański. When Borelowski’s unit was attacked by Russian troops (April 24, 1863), a number of eminent men died in combat: Gustaw Wasilewski, the Commander for the Lublin Province, Rev. M. Żółtowski, a field chaplain, and Mieczysław Romanowski, a poet. Today the Primary School in Józefów bears the name of Mieczysław Romanowski.
Following the January Uprising and the loss of its town status in 1869, the previously dynamic development of Józefów slowed down. The population did not increase until the interwar period, and that was mostly thanks to the Jews.
At Hamernia, a locality near Józefów, a paper mill and copper smelting works functioned in the mid-18th century. The latter manufactured items mostly for the food industry. The paper mill flourished in the years 1820 to 1841 as it supplied paper to the newly established Hebrew printing house. The printing house was set up by the Waks family around 1820.
Furthermore, millstones were dressed in Józefów, and stones for graves were obtained from the nearby quarry.
The town was plagued by fires. A fire destroyed seven houses in 1815 and the town hall in 1818, whereas the synagogue was consumed by fire in 1850. The paper mill also burned down in 1883. In the years 1853 to 1855, Józefów was struck by an outbreak of cholera that took a toll of about 200 lives.
Between the World Wars, trade was the main occupation of the people of Józefów. Trade organisations active here included a local branch of the Union of Jewish Merchants and the Food Cooperative Association “Jedność” (“Unity”). A grocery store was run by the cooperative in the People’s House located in the market square. The inhabitants also made a living from crafts, quarrying, agriculture and occasional jobs.
During the Second World War, the Jewish inhabitants of Józefów were brutally murdered in the streets and in their homes. On July 13, 1942, German Reserve Police Battalion 101 carried out a mass execution at Winiarczykowa Góra, on the outskirts of Józefów, murdering about 1500 Jews during a single day. One June 1, 1943, the Nazis bombarded the town as part of a concerted punitive operation against the surviving civilian population, but their attempt was thwarted by units of the Home Army (Polish Resistance). The town was liberated by the Red Army on July 24, 1944.
Józefów regained its municipal status in 1988.

First mention, name, character of the town, charter of incorporationDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

First mention
The name Józefów appears for the first time in the charter of incorporation signed by Tomasz Józefów Zamoyski on December 3, 1725. Józefów was established on the territory of the village of Majdan Nepryski, founded in 1720. The charter of incorporation for Józefów was prepared already in 1715, but its signing was delayed due to a conflict between the king and Zamoyski.
Origin of the name
The town’s name commemorates the middle name of its founder, Tomasz Józef Zamoyski.
Character of the town
Józefów was established on the territory of the village of Majdan Nepryski. The town layout was centered around the square-shaped marketplace measuring 170 by 170 meters, surrounded by wooden houses with arcades, high attics and huge clipped-gable roofs. Under the arcades, commercial activity went on and various services were provided.
Date of incorporation
The charter of incorporation was signed by the town’s owner, Tomasz Józef Zamoyski, on December 3, 1725. That document was confirmed by the subsequent Ordynats governing the Zamość Estate: by Michał Zdzisław Zamoyski in 1728, and by Klemens Zamoyski in 1761.

Town crest, privileges, administrative status, demographicsDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

Seal and crest

Along with its incorporation, the town received the permission to organize four large fairs per year and weekly fairs on Thursdays and Sundays, and to produce and sell liquor.
Administrative status and changes of borders
Józefów is the seat of the urban and rural commune (gmina) of Józefów, located in the county of Biłgoraj, Lublin Province. Until the Second World War, Józefów was part of the Zamość Estate. During the First Partition of Poland, Austrian troops occupied the county of Biłgoraj, including Józefów. In 1776, part of the occupied territory, including Biłgoraj, Goraj and Janów, was returned to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth by Austria. After the Third Partition, Józefów found itself again within Austrian-controlled territory until 1809 when it became part of the Duchy of Warsaw. In 1815, after the Congress of Vienna, Józefów was within the territory of the Russian-controlled Kingdom of Poland. Pursuant to a tsar’s order of 1866, a new administrative division of the Lublin Guberniya (Province) was introduced, and Józefów was included in the newly-established county of Biłgoraj. After losing its town status in the wake of the 1863 January Uprising, Józefów was incorporated into the Aleksandrów commune whose seat was moved to Józefów in 1912. In 1915, the county of Biłgoraj regained its former borders and returned to the Lublin Region. In the years 1975-1998 the town belonged to the Zamość Province.
Population of Józefów








1921 1951 1973 1989








1344 953 1400 3050
Ethnic and religious groups in Józefów in 1865




Share of Jews in total population





Ethnic and religious groups in Józefów in 1904


Orthodox Christians



Share of Jews in total population






Jewish population in Józefów in 1921



Share of Jews in total population





Professional structure of Józefów’s residents in 1860:
elementary school teachers – 1; mayors – 1; carpenters – 2; printers of Hebrew books – 1; carters – 1; gravediggers – 1; potters – 1; bookbinders – 5; chimney sweeps – 1; blacksmiths and locksmiths – 1; stallholders and market traders – 29; tailors – 8; groats millers – 6; cloth bleachers – 1; bricklayers and plasterers – 2; soap makers – candle makers – 1; bakers – 7; parish priests – 1; riddle and sieve-makers – 4; farmers – 16; leatherworkers – 1; butchers – 2; woodworkers – 1; cobblers – 3; glaziers – 1; innkeepers – 3; salt traders – 6; weavers – 1; hired hands – 120; stove-fitters – 2
In 1865:
coopers – 1; elementary school teachers – 2; carpenters – 1; barber surgeons – 1; printers of Hebrew books – 2; carters – 1; gravediggers – 1; bookbinders – 7; chimney sweeps – 3; blacksmiths and locksmiths – 2; stallholders and market traders – 20; tailors – 8; groats millers – 4; bricklayers and plasterers – 2; soap makers – candle makers – 1; oil manufacturers – 1; organists – 1; bakers – 8; riddle and sieve-makers – 8; farmers – 30; butchers – 6; woodworkers – 2; cobblers – 6; glaziers – 1; innkeepers – 3; salt traders – 7; weavers – 1; hired hands – 10.

TimelineDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

1715 – The charter of incorporation is prepared by the 2nd Ordynat Tomasz Józef Zamoyski
1717 – The Józefów parish is mentioned for the first time
1718–1721 – The first church of St Joseph and the Immaculate Conception of the BVM, founded by Tomasz Józef Zamoyski, is built
January 22, 1723 – The parish is erected
December 3, 1725 – The charter of incorporation of Józefów is signed
1726–1728 – A wooden town hall is built in the market square
1728 – The church is consecrated
1729 – A royal charter is issued approving the organization of fairs in Józefów
1732 – The first mention of sieve-makers in Józefów
1754 – Józefów becomes the center of a demesne within the Zamość Estate
1772 – The town finds itself within lands occupied by the Austrians
1774 – A wooden synagogue is built
mid-18th century – The Jewish cemetery is established
1809 – Józefów is included in the Duchy of Warsaw
1815 – Józefów becomes part of the Russian-controlled Kingdom of Poland; a fire affects 15 houses in the market square
1818 – The town hall is on fire; the elementary school begins its activity
Circa 1824 – A printing houses is set up by Waks (operational until 1860)
1850 – The wooden synagogue burns down
1853–1855 – The town is struck by a major outbreak of cholera
April 24, 1863 – Polish insurgents fight a battle against Russian troops during the January Uprising
1883–1886 – The currently existing church is built, founded by Józef Zamoyski
1869 - Józefów is deprived of its town status
1910 – Józefów becomes the seat of the authorities of the rural commune of Aleksandrów; a post office becomes operational
October 1939 – Germans occupy Józefów
July 13, 1942 – The Jews are massacred at Winiarczykowa Góra
May 31 and June 17, 1943 – Józefów is bombed by Germans
July 24, 1944 – The Red Army enters Józefów
1951 – The health center is established in Józefów
1956 – The first residential blocks are built
1957 – Electricity is introduced in Józefów
1967 – The communal water-supply system is built
January 1, 1988 – Józefów regains its town status

RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONSDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

The parish in Józefów Biłgorajski was erected in 1723. The first, wooden church was founded by the 2nd Ordynat, Tomasz Józef Zamoyski. Built in the years 1719 to 1721, the church was consecrated in 1728. According to an inventory from 1831, the “wooden church [has] a tower with a shingled roof, a dome with a metal roof. […] The building is in a dire need of thorough and immediate renovation”. The present-day parish church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary was erected in the years 1883 to 1886. It is a one-nave brick church, its front flanked by two towers. Inside, the high altar features an image of Our Lady of the Rosary dating back to the 18th century. The church was renovated several times: in 1906 (interior), 1914 (roofing), 1924 and 1936, and later in 1972-1974. In 1922 and 1938, the bells were founded, and in 1929 the organ was installed.
Before the Partitions in the late 18th century, the parish of Józefów belonged to the Chełm diocese (Zamość deanery). A confraternity of the rosary was established at the time the parish was erected. A care home for elderly (formerly a parish hospital) functioned there until the 19th century. In 1936 the parish library was set up; in 1947 its collection comprised about 500 volumes.
Religious institutions of other faiths
The Jewish community, the kahal, was established after 1725. In 1774, a Jewish cemetery and a wooden synagogue were established; the latter suffered from several fires, e.g. in 1850. In the late 18th century or at the turn of the 19th century, a new brick synagogue was built. A strong Hasidic influence came to the fore in Józefów in the second half of the 19th century. The Hasidim had their own synagogue. In the interwar period, Józefów was one of six Jewish communities in Biłgoraj County; the local Jewish community council managed the synagogue, cemetery, ritual bath and slaughterhouse. Of all buildings and facilities belonging to the Jewish community¸ only the synagogue and cemetery have survived until today.

SECULAR INSTITUTIONSDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

Secular schools
In 1916 a two-year elementary school for girls and boys was established in Józefów. The subjects taught included religion, Polish, arithmetic, drawing, singing, needlework and gymnastics. In 1917, there was also a poorhouse taking care of the poor and neglected children. A seven-year school was opened in 1918 but it did not have adequate premises. Therefore, a new school building was designed in the mid-1930s. The construction began in 1936 and was completed after the war.
Societies and associations
The fire brigade in Józefów took an active part in the cultural and social life of the town. The fire brigade had its own band that performed during the celebrations of Constitution Day on May 3. Firemen also staged plays devoted to patriotic themes. Earnings from these performances were used to subsidize the fire brigade and the local branch of Polska Macierz Szkolna, an organization supporting Polish schools.
Scout packs were also active in Józefów. They had weekly meetings during which young people learned about the history of Poland and the scouting movement, learned songs and played games; they also took care of the graves of the insurgents who fell in the January Uprising of 1863. A similar role was played by the Jewish organization Hechaluc Pionier and the Josef Trumpeldor Association of Jewish Scouts. Other organizations operating in Józefów included a branch of Agudat Yisrael, the Rural Youth Union, the Riflemen’s Association, and the Polish Red Cross.
A majority of political parties had their branches in Józefów, including: the Communist Party of Poland, the Polish People’s Party “Piast”, the Christian Democrats, the National Party, and the General Jewish Labor Party “Bund”.
The cultural and social life in Józefów was centered in the People’s House opened in 1929. Although the People’s House was run by the “Unity” Cooperative, it was open to everyone. It was a venue for performances by amateur ensembles, and for various events marking anniversaries and celebrating holidays. The People’s House was frequently used by the Jewish community.

URBAN PLANNINGDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

The spatial arrangement of Józefów Biłgorajski is based on an open layout, without suburbs, with the marketplace forming the center of the town. The marketplace is currently rectangular, but originally it was a square measuring about 170 meters (170 meters according to Władysław Ćwik and Elżbieta Przesmycka, 173 meters according to Jan Górak). The corners of the marketplace were oriented to the cardinal directions, and its southern side was entirely built-up.
Until the Second World War, the marketplace was lined with a string of front-gabled houses with arcaded porches. The majority of buildings had wide entrance halls along their entire length. They were single-story houses, and some of them had residential attics. According to Kazimierz Moszyński, a typical house in Józefów had arcades supported on five posts. Most of the houses were covered with jerkin head (or clipped-gable) roofs, while gablet roofs, hipped roofs and simple gable roofs occurred more rarely. In 1860, only one two-story house existed in Józefów. Kazimierz Moszyński described it as “the most ornamental house in Józefów, its arcades showing foreign influences”. The first brick houses in Józefów were built after 1818: two houses built for foremen working in the quarry, and a storehouse.
In the years 1726-1728, the town hall was built in the middle of the marketplace. Built on a rectangular plan (30 by 45 meters), the town hall had arcades as well. Butchers’ stalls were located nearby. According to Jan Górak, “the first town hall had arcades used for trading purposes, and was very spacious, the only building of its kind in the Zamość Region.” The town hall burned down in 1818 (according to Władysław Ćwik) or 1848 (according to Jan Górak). Jan Górak adds that the town hall burned down “along with the entire western side of the marketplace, which now assumed a rectangular shape”. Summarizing the history of spatial development of Józefów, he writes: “In the first stage of the town’s development, buildings outside the marketplace developed along the street leading off its north-western corner to the west; a bit later a parallel street developed, leading off the south-western corner; and in the final stage, houses were built along the street leading to the manorial estate.”
Jews settled in the southern part of the marketplace. At its western side they built a synagogue, initially wooden, but after a fire in 1850 rebuilt as a brick building. The Jewish cemetery was located in the southern part of the town, and the parish church was built in the eastern part.
The Measurement Report of the Town of Józefów from 1785 lists the following: 7 streets and roads, marketplace, church, presbytery, vicar’s house, church organist’s house, 16 cottages inhabited by commoners, town hall, granary, synagogue, bath houses, Jewish school, rabbi’s house, 7 distilleries.
According to the “Geographical Dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland”, there were 174 houses in Józefów in 1834, including 157 wooden and 17 brick houses; in 1861 Józefów had 166 houses, including 20 wooden ones, and in 1887 the town had 121 houses, including 27 brick ones.
The town often suffered from fires: a fire destroyed seven houses in 1815 and the town hall in 1818, whereas the synagogue burned down in 1850.
In the 1850s, a water-well with a wooden pump appeared in the marketplace. In the late 19th century, there was not a single paved street in Józefów; the marketplace was not paved either.
The infrastructure of Józefów was improved in the 20th century: in 1910 a post office was established; slightly later a telephone line was installed, and a police station was opened. In the 1930s, plans were developed for the construction of the People’s House, a seven-year school, a steam bath and a slaughterhouse. Among the projects mentioned above, the new school was the only one that had not been completed before the outbreak of the Second World War. Józefów in the interwar period also had a water mill, subsequently converted into a motor-powered mill, as well as a sawmill, groats mill, and wood tar plant. The prewar town was destroyed by barrages of German artillery and air raids.
After the war, in the 1950s, the first residential blocks were built. The present-day town space of Józefów is thus described by Elżbieta Przesmycka: “The last decade [of the 20th century] saw the disappearance of the traditional landscape of the town, with places of worship as its dominant features, with the ordered and hierarchical architecture and centralized functions.”

MONUMENTS OF ARCHITECTUREDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

List of historic monuments:
- The town hall built in the second half of the 18th century after the first town hall burned down. The building was remodeled several times, for the last time in 1956.
- The People’s House
The People’s House was designed by J. Lekowicz from Biłgoraj, who was commissioned by the Food Cooperative Association “Jedność” (“Unity”) in 1925. The two-story building of the former People’s House is made of brick and has a tile roof. According to the design, a cooperative store with a storeroom, and an apartment for the building administrator were located on the ground floor. On the second floor, there was a theater, dressing room, changing room, and reading room. The local inhabitants provided building materials and assisted with the construction, which was completed in spring 1929.
- The school
According to a design from 1935, a seven-year school was to be housed in a building made of the local material, i.e. calcareous sandstone, and brick. The building was to have 373.5 sq m of floor space and 3843 cu m of capacity. A classroom, office, craft workroom, changing room and kitchen would be located on the ground floor. The second floor would accommodate four classrooms, the staff room, and a storeroom for teaching aids. In the attic, four more classrooms were planned. The design was approved in 1936, but the construction was interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War. The building was completed after the war.
- The Neo-Baroque church
The present-day parish church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary was erected in the years 1883 to 1886 on the site of an earlier wooden church from 1721. The cornerstone was laid in 1884, and the consecration took place in 1886. This one-nave church, its front flanked by two towers, was built of the local stone with the addition of bricks; the church has a metal roof, and its walls are plastered. The main body of the church has a rectangular plan, while the two towers in its eastern part have a square plan. The western part of the church ends with an apse. The façade is the most ornamental part of the church, with decorative cornices, pilasters and arches. The semicircular entrance is built into a portico with a triangular top, resting on columns and engaged columns. The structure is inscribed into a semicircular ornamental arcade whose intrados bears the following inscription: “Under Thy protection we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God”. The interior furnishings originated from the previous, wooden church. The most interesting items include eighteenth-century paintings in the high altar showing the Immaculate Conception of the BVM and Our Lady of the Rosary, and paintings in the side altars: Ecce Homo and St Anthony.
The church was renovated in 1906, 1914, 1924 and 1936, and later in 1972-1974. In 1975 one of the side altars was destroyed in a fire.
Within the large parish cemetery, surrounded with a wall, there is a brick bell tower dating back to the late 19th century, two large crosses (one made of metal, the other made of stone), and a figure of St. Joseph.
- The Roman-Catholic cemetery, situated by the road to Tomaszów Lubelski. Among those buried in this cemetery, there are Polish insurgents, including Mieczysław Romanowski, who fell in the battle of Józefów on 24 April 1863. Furthermore, there is a gravestone in memory of Polish servicemen killed in September 1939.
- The synagogue was built in the early 19th century on the site of an earlier wooden synagogue that burnt down in 1850. The Baroque synagogue was built of limestone obtained from the local quarry. Designed on a rectangular plan, it measures 13.8 by 20 meters. The single-space interior is divided by a wall and consists of a vestibule and prayer hall. The exterior decoration is limited to pilaster strips on the walls and the decorative entrance, flanked by pilasters topped with a cornice and vases. Inside a simple Aron ha-Kodesh and arcade niches in the walls have been preserved.
Initially, the western wall of the building was adjoined by a wooden vestibule and women’s section, dismantled in 1945. The synagogue was used as a place of worship until its devastation by the Nazis in 1941. After the war, from 1950, the building was used by the local cooperative as a storehouse. The original ceiling was destroyed when the roof collapsed in 1964. Following a thorough refurbishment, the synagogue now houses the Town and Country Public Library, as well as guest rooms.
- The Jewish cemetery was probably established around the mid-18th century. Originally, the cemetery was surrounded by a stone wall with a gate facing the town. In 1848, the cemetery area was expanded. The cemetery was devastated during the Second World War, and the gravestones were used to pave roads and build the foundations of houses. With approximately 400 matzevot placed in 35 rows preserved until today, the cemetery in Józefów is one of the largest collections of Jewish gravestones in the Lublin Region. The oldest gravestone dates back to 1743. The largest grouping of preserved matzevot, dating back to the years 1907-1940, can be found along the eastern side of the cemetery. Men’s graves women’s graves are in separate parts of the cemetery. Remnants of polychrome decoration can be seen on many gravestones. The matzevot in the Józefów cemetery face the west, contrary to the traditional orientation towards the east.
- The remnants of marketplace architecture include a brick building at Number 4. It can be seen on photographs from before the Second World War. Built on the site of the first wooden town hall, the house now serves as residential and commercial premises.
- The monument located in the marketplace and commemorating the heroes of the January Uprising of 1863 and the Second World War; the monument was designed by Adam Grochowicz.
- Exhibition at the headquarters of the Józefów Forest District. The exhibits include a historic pillory, and an 18th-century granary.

HISTORICAL EVENTS TO REMEMBERDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

On May 31 and June 1, 1943, south of Józefów, a Home Army unit (the Home Army was a Polish Resistance movement) led by Konrad “Wir” Bartoszewski, assisted by a Soviet sabotage unit led by Umer Achmołła Atamanow, known as “Miszka Tatar”, fought a battle against a German punitive unit.
On June 1, Germans attempted a punitive operation against the civilian population of Józefów, but were thwarted by the daring action of the Home Army unit. After a daylong battle, Germans were repelled from the town. At that time, the town and its environs were named “The Republic of Józefów”.
On July 13, 1943, the Jews were massacred by the Nazis at Winiarczykowa Góra.
Works of art, music, and literature
Józefów features in a short story by Isaac Bashevis Singer entitled The Old Man.
Descriptions of Józefów
The town of Józefów, densely populated by poor Jews, was largely devastated by fires caused by military operations in 1939. The central place in the town was the market square with the cooperative building, which now houses the main store supervised by the Germans. There are a few small workshops in the town, leatherworkers, glaziers, tiny Jewish stores. The board of the commune, subordinate to the Biłgoraj county authorities, resides in an impressive brick edifice. There is a physician, a midwife, and a retired, half-paralyzed veterinary surgeon who lovingly brings relief to every creature in need. The pharmacy building burned down in 1939. It is now based in the forestry building where Mr. and Mrs. Budzyński, the pharmacists, currently live.
The account is part of a memoir by Stefan M. Rostworowski, head forester from Józefów (published in 1984 in the local weekly “Tygodnik Zamojski”, as quoted by W. Ćwik in Dzieje Józefowa (History of Józefów), Rzeszów 1992, p. 153).
The town, nestled safely in a gentle valley, was a random grouping of one-storey houses gathered round the marketplace and loosely scattered along two parallel streets. Piłsudskiego Street, the backbone of Józefów, was directly adjacent to the northern edge of the marketplace… Being the main thoroughfare of the town, Piłsudskiego Street was paved and had real sidewalks in several places. The parallel Biłgorajska Street began somewhere in the meadows and led to the marketplace. It resembled a dried-up stream bed… particularly in the fall and spring.
The marketplace was spacious. Its administrative and commercial functions were emphasized by the building of the Commune Office, the two-story Cooperative building, several inns and a string of tiny retail stores. On the other side of the marketplace, opposite the mouth of Biłgorajska Street, there was a short paved street leading to the twin-tower façade of the parish church. In the vicinity there was a firehouse with a wooden turret, a wooden school and a brick building of the post office. Beyond the churchyard, there stretched a suburb of Józefów called Pardysówka Mała, with its single-story houses. Among them, the limestone shell of the uncompleted three-story school rose boldly. In the heart of the broad delta formed by Biłgorajska Street, there stood the neglected historic synagogue, converted into a grain warehouse under the German occupation.
The southern part of the Józefów valley was ringed by wooded hills serrated by a dozen or so quarries. The forests of the Zamość Estate embraced the town from three sides. The northern slope of the valley was occupied by arable fields bounded by the tracks of the crucial Lvov railroad and farmsteads of Majdan Nepryski. The forest stretched beyond.
Description of Józefów in 1942 by Zbigniew Jakubik, an employee of the Public Roads Authority (published in “Czapki na bakier”, 1966, as quoted by W. Ćwik in Dzieje Józefowa (History of Józefów), Rzeszów 1992, p. 154).

Prepared by: Agata Radkowska, Aleksandra Duź
Supplemented by: Joanna Zętar