The shape of the city Czestochov came about through the joining of two parts: of Czestochov village in back of the Jasna Gora and of old Czestochov which lies by the river Varta. Both parts developed separately. Old Czestochov already existed in the year 1377. In the year 1502, King Alexander, on the basis of the Magdeburg Law, gave Czestochov the rights of a city. Czestochov again until the second half of the 17th century belonged to the Olsztyn county. After the Congress of Vienna (1815), both parts of the city fell under Czarist rule. Both parts of the city continued to grow territorially and gradually neared each other. In the year 1826, both parts united and became one city. In the year 1867, Czestochov became the capitol of the county.
Ballinski indicates that the Jew received a lease of the city hall for the borrowed 100 thaler. Thereby, Ballinski reminds that, according to the privileges of Czestochowa, Jews had no right to live in the city. According to his comments regarding the privilege situation, it comes out, that this Jew did receive the right to live in the city. If this settlement of one city, one cannot yet hold as the beginning of the settlement of Jews in Czestochowa, therefore, one has to take the date of 1700 for the beginning which is reminded in the above mentioned book Guidebook of Czestochowa and its Vicinity, in which it is given that there was already a Jewish community at that time in Czestochowa.
From the time that the two parts of the city united and became a single city, Czestochowa began to grow more quickly as a business and industrial center. The number of Jewish inhabitants in the city also continued to increase. In all domains, the Jews made significant contributions to the development of the city.
The first vital undertaking that Jews made in Czestochowa was a printing business that the family Kuhn brought over from Vielon in the year 1869. The printing business was quickly converted to an important lithographical institution which, at that time, served as a school for all of Poland. From there came out capable professionals in the domain of lithography. Near this institution, the family Kuhn, in partnership with the Uderfeld family, founded a factory of colored paper. In the year 1873, the partners Ginsberg and Kuhn founded a paper factory Papierniya. In the year 1883, Kronenberg founded the textile factory Czestochowiskaya. In the year 1884, the partners Goldman, Uderfeld and Oppenheim found the twine factory Stradum which initially employed 150 workers. From the year 1902, when the factory went over to a shareholder company with Dr. Berliner Bloy as its head and began to expand, it began to employ an estimated 2000 workers. In the year 1888, Severin Landau founded a factory for celluloid manufacture which first employed 10 workers and later, several hundred. In the year 1896, the partners Ginsberg, Kuhn, Grossman, Marcusfeld, and Neiman founded a textile factory Varta in which were quickly employed an estimated 1500 workers. In the year 1897, Isadore Geisler founded in Vitsherp, near Czestochowa, the glassworks Polina which employed 750 workers. In the year 1901, a hat factory Kapelyoshar-Nay was founded through Stanislav Grossman and Henrik Marcusfeld which employed an estimated 450 workers, among them 130 women. Besides these, it is worthwhile to remind of the older Grossman's button factory, Weinberg's comb factory, and the chair-back factory of Shiya and Rosenstein which was the first chair-back and jewelry factory in Poland.
This is a good picture, more or less, of the significance that the participation of the Jews had in the industrial and economic development of the city. The Jews of the neighboring towns who, after the repeal of the Jewish precincts, began to stream toward Czestochowa also contributed to the economic growth of the city. The Jews also had a strong portion of trade.
Concerning the portion that the Jews had in trade, we find in the travel writings of Niemtzevitch who reminds that, when he was in Czestochowa (1821), the entire trade in grain with Silesia was in Jewish hands. That Jews even sold [Catholic] devotional objects and that he himself bought these kinds of things from a Jew with the name Landaver.
In the years between the First and Second World Wars, many Jewish stores were found in Czestochowa that employed a large number of Jewish male and female clerks, large factories and many small factories that made men's clothing that employed a large number of Jewish workers. Many journeymen were employed in home workshops and in large and small artisan workshops. Here it is necessary to remark that the Jewish workers in the factories and artisan workshops had to endure vexations from their Jewish owners who held that the Jewish workers were too enlightened and also incited others to rebel. No fewer vexations did the clerks have to endure from their bosses. In particular, the professional unions had a great deal of work to enlighten the less aware workers.
In the last years before World War II, as is given over by the then secretary of the professional union, M. Kushner, there were in the union about 5000 organized workers. In the tailer's union itself, to which belonged tailors, underwear sewers, and knitwear workers, more than 3000; business and office employees 600; socialist artisans 320; transport (shoulder carriers and handwagons) 240; food (bakers, butchers and sausage makers) 180; the union of the unemployed numbered 120 members and, during the busy season, city public work projects were arranged through their union; barbers more than 60 and some of them belonged to several other unions. Outside of the normal work which the mentioned unions led in Sanatzia Poland [the government of Joseph Pilsudski between the First and Second World Wars] of the time, in order to guard the workers' interests, they also had the task of fighting for the rights of Jewish workers for work even in the factories and undertakings where the owners were Jews. The unions also lead cultural activities among their members and, in general, put their seal on societal and cultural life of the entire Jewish settlement in Czestochowa.
The unions continued to grow and their activity became more intense. The power and their prestige looked so outstanding, that they became the deciding factor not only in the framework of Jewish life. Only the unions of business and office employees were left in the last years before the Second World War because of police persecution at a certain time. At the end of 1937, this union, thanks to joint efforts of the Bund with the Communists revived again and began an intensive activity. From that time on until the outbreak of the War, the union was in the house on 3/5 Volnoshtshi Avenue. As chairman of the union was elected the writer of these lines and as secretary, Vladek Blumenfruct. To the most vital action of the union of the last years belongs the great strike of the merchant clerks (Summer, 1938) for a standardized work day and an increase in wages which was crowned with a victory. This union in that time also distinguished itself with its intensive culture work among its members.
Very interesting is the information that Spiegal gives further on that a Saturday school was also established for seamstresses, (female) shipping clerks, and (female) cooks. This Saturday school, writes Spiegal, was active every Saturday from the hours of 3:00 in the afternoon to 8:00 in the evening and was attended by about 150 girls.
In the already mentioned book Guidebook for Czestochowa and its
Vicinity, is given that in the beginning of the 19th century, there
existed in Czestochowa two city schools for Jewish children, a talmud torah
that was attended by 100 children, an artisans school with 80 students, a
gardening school with 30 students, 50
with 4000 students, and 4945 Jewish students were found in the elementary and
middle schools. Here, the given numbers give us a picture of the striving of
the Jewish parents in Czestochowa to educate and bring up their children.
Despite all of the difficulties that the Jews of that time had in fulfilling
their drive to become educated, the number of self-educated continued to
advance. Very interesting material in this domain we find in the brochures
Self-Education Courses which were published in Czestochowa in
years 1915-1917. In the mentioned brochures is given that in the years 1915,
1916, and 1917, there existed in Czestochowa courses for higher education.
the years 1915, the courses had 547 attendees: 58 with higher education, 312
with middle education, 152 with 4th grade education, and 25 with home
education. Of these 542 attendees, 235 were Jews, that is 73% [Clearly, there
is an error here, probably 43%]. In the year 1917, the number of listeners was
much smaller, only 204. Of these, however, a full 50% consisted of Jews. As we
see, the number of Jewish listeners was a larger percentage. Concerning the
number of students in the period between the wars, I was unfortunately unable
to find authoritative material. The inadequate material that are left come from
the year 1939 that, B. Stellah, the former director of the department of school
and culture of the Czestochowa city management put together in the year
This report take around the majority of the Jewish educational institutions
that existed in the year 1939 and present itself as follows.
So many according to the above indicated reports. Apart from these, many children attended the Talmud Torah Machitzki Hadas in which secular studies were also taught and many students who were taught by corner religious teachers.
In the above mentioned reports are also given statistics on supplementary courses. On Gurntzarski, number 8 in the building of the Artisans School, there existed a supplementary course for apprentices under the direction of engineer Stanislav Pshisuski. The course had 6 classes with 210 students (only men). On Pshemislav, number 10 was a supplementary course for women which was attended by 102 students. The director of this course was the teacher Leila Avner.
The Artisans School under the guidance of Stanislav Pshisuski was attended by 120 students (only men). A certain number of students also attended the private music school of Ludwig Vavzshinovich and the state school for women who take care of children where just a small number of Jews were allowed.
The numbers brought above do not take into account all children and youths who received education and upbringing and also not the youth who studied in the city universities in Poland and outside the country.
Speaking of culture and education, it is necessary to remind also about the activity of the Lira Every Czestochowa Jew and also everyone else who was familiar with the book Czestochower Jews knows about the great significance of the Lira for Jewish cultural life in Czestochowa. Especially after there was, through the Jewish labor leaders R. Federman, Chrabluvski, and Aharon Peretz and, in general, of the progressive Jewish culture leaders, a fight over assimilationist tendencies which dominated in this society. Therefore, it is necessary to give some facts: The way it is related by Dr. Aharon Peretz (the past chairman of the Lira), the progressive culture leaders begun their offensive against the assimilationist direction of the Lira. First, at the end of 1911, after which the Jewish literary society was shut down by the Czarist government, the members of the closed society went into the Lira and slowly pushed out the assimilationist management leaders. The only one left was Henrik Marcusfeld who declared that the tendencies that had begun to dominate the Lira did not bother him. Further, he wants to work along with this society and to support the material because he sees that a lovely intensive cultural activity is going on and that he wants to be part of it. Among the members of the Lira, Aharon Peretz indicates, were also found those who were altogether not interested in the activities of the institution. They had here the possibility to be close to Marcusfeld so that they would be able to get credit more easily at the Jewish bank.
This elicited permission to arrange undertakings, Aharon Peretz further relates, came about in the following way. Every year in the month of January, the management of the Lira was required to put together a plan of undertakings for the entire year. The plan was sent over to Governor Yadshevski in Piotrikov. Permission was given to arrange 12 lectures and 48 concerts during the course of the year. The Lira, however, mostly arranged literary undertakings. The higher policeman Michalyuk who, in the name of the governor, watched over the activities of the Lira, used to take 2 rubles for every lecture in order that he should be at every reading and concert. Sholem Alechem, Peretz, Numberg, Vissenberg, Hillel Tzeitlin, and other Jewish writers used to come during such concerts. In the newspapers and posters, it used to say that a concert will be presented during which Y.L. Peretz or Sholem Alechem or another writer will perform a solo dance. The undertakings used to take place in their own meeting hall which had 225 seats. The hall was located in Gitler's house at the intersection of First Avenue.
Aharon Peretz gives over characteristic moments about Y. L. Peretz's appearances: Y. L. Peretz used to read his stories aloud by heart. In the time of such a lecture of A Din Torah [Legal Judgement] with the Wind, several members of the Lira took down what Peretz had said. In about a week, people were already reading the same in a Warsaw Jewish newspaper, the word-by-word that was taken down in the time of the lecture in Czestochowa. A second characteristic moment: Y.L. Peretz was very happy about his appearances in Czestochowa and gladly shared his impressions with an active culture leader and especially with his relatives Aharon and Hanna Peretz. He always used to end his letters to them with the plea, You should burn this letter of mine. I am not required to procure an easy job for my biographers.
The lovely cultural activities of the society Lira in Czestochowa ended with the outbreak of the First World War. After the First World War, a new chapter of societal and cultural Jewish life began in Czestochowa.
The growth of cultural and societal life after the First World War had a very close connection to the activities of the political parties who began to penetrate and influence Jewish life in our hometown of Czestochowa. In the domain, again, of modern education, the Jewish secular Y. L. Peretz School now had a vital role which produced students with a rich political and societal baggage which swelled and strengthened workers groups and the leftist political parties.
From the time that the new reforms of community management were carried out in Poland until the year 1936, a majority of the community management consisted of Agudah leaders and Zionists. Chairman during a succession of years was the Mizrachi worker in Czestochowa, Samuel Goldstein. From the year 1936 until the outbreak of the Second World War, the greatest influences on the community management were the small businesses and the artisans who were also supported by a certain portion of Jewish workers. Chairman was the respected leader of the newly established Jewish Democratic Party, Jacob Rosenberg, who showed a great interest in the Jewish social and cultural life of the Jewish settlement in the city, to Jewish poverty and even to cultural needs of Jewish labor. Jacob Rosenberg was the last head of the community of the large Czestochowa Jewish settlement and the only Jewish official representative who also personally felt the heavy hand of Sanatzia minister Slavoy Skladovski who had Rosenberg put in prison because the wall around the Jewish cemetery did not agree with Skladovski's decree concerning urbanization.
Supportive of this information, it came out that, in certain towns around Czestochowa there were already Jewish settlements before there was something of a remembrance of the Jewish community in Czestochowa itself. And that their material situation was a difficult one, so that it was necessary for them to borrow money which they could not repay.
From everything that has been published until now concerning the Jewish settlement in Czestochowa and from the short contribution that I have added now, one still does not get a complete picture of the history of the Jewish settlement in Czestochowa. Yet, one can still see from this what an honored member the Czestochowa community was in the renowned Jewish settlement of Poland. And how strongly visible Jewish Czestochowa was in the city itself.
This throbbing, colorful life of the populous Jewish community in Czestochowa was, however, destroyed at the moment of the outbreak of the Second World Slaughter and the Hitlerite soldiers marching into the city.
There began the great calamity which ended in the year 1942 with the
catastrophe for the entire Jewish settlement in Czestochowa which was cut
by the Hitlerite murderers, let their names be erased.
Warsaw, February 1956.
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