BEREK, JOSELOVICH (called also Berko):

Polish colonel under Kosciusko and Napoleon I.; born at Kretingen, government of Kovno, Russia, in the second half of the eighteenth century; killed in the battle near Kotzk, government of Syedletz, Russian Poland, 1809. He was an agent of Prince Massalsky, the owner of Kretingen and bishop of Wilna, who often sent him with commissions abroad, where he learned the French language. In 1794 he was commissioned by Kosciusko to form a light-horse regiment from among the Jews of Warsaw. Berek revived the courage of his coreligionists in the struggle for the fatherland, and fought bravely with his 500 men, especially in the defense of Warsaw. In the siege of Praga (a suburb of Warsaw) by Suvarov he lost almost all his soldiers. He then served under Napoleon, in the Polish Legioncommanded by General Dombrowski, and was killed in an encounter with Austrian hussars near Kotzk, as before stated. There the people raised a mound to his memory; and until 1831 his widow and son received a pension.

Berek was a knight of the Polish Gold Cross and the Virtuti Militari.

  • Voskhod, Oct. 1897, p. 87;
  • Syn Berka Josielovica, Supplement to Swiat, Cracow, 1889;
  • Entziklopedicheski Slovar, iii., St. Petersburg, 1892, s.v.;
  • S. Orgelbrand, Encyklopedja Powszechna, ii., Warsaw, 1898, s.v.
H. R.
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