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[Page 671]

The Brisker Landsmanschaft in Argentina

Translated by Dr. Samuel Chani and Jenni Buch

The stream of immigration out of Poland after the First World War did not miss Argentina. The Jews who fled anti Semitic Poland arrived here without any means, and without any knowledge of the local language and conditions. Therefore, they required a great deal of material and moral support.

Amongst these immigrants were some Jews from Brest. The Brest Jews that had arrived in Argentina previously, were the ones that provided the necessary assistance and help for their newly arrived brethren. Early in 1923 the Society of Brisker People was formed. The founders were: Tabachnik, Bacharach and Munk. The Society's goals were the assistance of new arrivals from Brest, helping them obtain accommodation and employment, as well as establishing links with Brest and providing support for the social and cultural institutions of their hometown. They had already organized a book collection for the Trade Unions Library in Brest in 1925. In 1929 a Brest Bank was established which existed until 1935.

With the outbreak of W.W.2 all contact with Brest was severed. This weakened the activity of the Society, which began to disintegrate, if not for the foresight of several members who foresaw that the Society would encounter far more urgent challenges. When the first news of the destruction and Holocaust in Brest arrived, the Society strengthened and began intensifying it's activities of aid and assistance for Holocaust survivors, with priority for those from Brest.

In 1949 a split occurred within the Society. A group of Briskers who did not agree with the “Progressive Faction” and who had strong ties to the State of Israel, established their own group under the name Union of Brisk D'Lita and District. At the head of this Union were: Y. Zajonc, P. Glazer, M Youngerman, A. Kandel, Weinstein and others. During the time of its' existence this Union managed to organize and send food parcels to Israel, and collect money for the Keren Kayemet Leisrael to perpetuate the memory of the sacred victims of Brest with a memorial forest. It also published a newsletter for the group called “The New Word” (Dem Neie Wort). This Union has very close links to the Brisker Association in Israel.

 

Committee of Briskers in Buenos Aires, Argentina

 


[Page 673]

Surviving Brest Jews In Poland

By Mordechai Neumark

Translated by Dr. Samuel Chani and Jenni Buch

 

Group of Brest Survivors in Siberia 1946

 

Discussing the Brest survivors in Poland, I cannot omit relating to Brest specifically as I saw it myself whilst travelling through on our return journey by train from Russia to Poland.

This was on the 19th- 20th May 1946. A group of Brest families including Aaron Rosenberg, Mordechai Neumark, Pesach Kempel, Shlomo Shapiro, Rochel Fernig, and Genia Storch were returning from Russia to Poland after the war. We arrived in transit at the Brest railway station, where we were told to transfer to a Polish train that went to Warsaw and Lodz. In the interval the passengers, both Poles and Jews, could wander around the city to have a look, and say our goodbyes before crossing the border into Poland.

I felt duty bound to visit Dr. David Gotlib on Listowska St. Walking through the streets; I did not come across one familiar face. Only one, Mrs. Bertha Kandelsbrat, a noted music teacher, who embraced me warmly and gave me a hearty welcome from the remaining Jews of Brest. l was warmly received at Dr. Gotlib's by his wife Rachel. I also found Dr. Mendel Kummel there from whom I heard that there was barely a minyan of Jews (10) left in the city. I said my farewells and returned to the station. On my way back I saw the deserted Great Synagogue, without any people praying, without its shammes, Reb David.

The next day Piotr Grigoriev, Moshe Katzav, Genia Shedrovitzka, Raizel Razel, and others who had heard from Dr. Gotlieb that we were there, arrived at the station to see us. Piotr Grigoriev, a Christian, was a great friend of the Jews, and the treasurer of the Brest City Council until 1939. He asked me to take his greetings to all the Brest Jews and not to forget him. This man would come to the synagogue every year to hear Kol Nidre for over 27 years.

On the journey to Stettin Yosef Meirovitch, Israel Furmanovitch and Eliezer Ratnovski joined us. The journey to Stettin took a week, and Shamai Hazan met us on our arrival.

On the 5th June 1946, we established a “local committee of Briskers” in Stettin with the participation of Yakov Koppelman, Mordechai Neumark, Aaron Rosenberg, Shaina Lev and Yosef Meirovitch. The committee immediately established contact with the Brisker organizations in the U.S., Israel, Argentina and Australia.

At the same time we formed contacts with the Briskers in Lodz, Poland, who had also formed a committee that included Moshe Lev, Eliezer Hatz, Chaya Israel, Max Rottenberg, etc

After the pogrom in Kielce, many Jews left Poland. From our committee in Stettin Koppelman and Rosenberg emigrated.

It was difficult to obtain the exact numbers of Briskers remaining in Poland. The committee established a figure of 200 Briskers who were concentrated in the towns of Stettin, Lodz, Wroclaw, Warsaw, Dzergeniev, Bialalewa, Walbrzych, Krakow, Bytom, Ziembice and Klutski.

Many of these Briskers had changed their names to Polish names but it was very seldom that they had left their Jewish religious heritage. They worked in government and communal positions, in factories and cooperatives. Amongst them were Moscinska, who worked in the Government Communications department, Zelig Rosenzweig, Josef Goldman who worked in the Ministry of Trade, Leizer Gruzhevski, Adam Savaniuk, Leizer Petchanik who worked at the “Solidarnosc” co-op., Genia Silecks, who worked for the Jewish Historical Institute, Shaina Lev the director of the Yiddish primary school in Stettin named after I.L. Peretz, Miriam Weingarten who was the director of the Jewish kindergarten in Stettin and then worked for the Israeli Consulate. Eliezer Hatz worked for Keren Kayemet Leisrael, Max Rottenberg worked for the TOZ central organization, Mordechai Neumark worked for the Jewish community in Stettin, Mania Shachnievska – Graevska worked for the Jewish committee in Ziembice, Shimon Kritzin – Jewish committee in Bialaleva, Shabtai Bishkowitz – teacher in Walbzrych, Josef Meirovitch – Yiddish library Stettin, Sarah Shapiro – nurse in Klutski.

The majority of Briskers have left Poland and are now to be found in Israel, France,Belgium, Australia, etc. A very small number remained in Poland.

 

Memorial Service For the Brest Holocaust Victims
held in Stettin Poland ,1947

 

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