Table of Contents Next Page »

[Page 51]

My memories

by Hadassa Rachel Birman

Translated by Sara Mages

Hadassa Rachel Birman, daughter of Asher Yitzchak Wolfowitz, was born on 3 Kislev 5636 (1876) in the village of Belerfeld not far from Ekaterinoslav. She studied Hebrew since childhood, and after she moved with her family to live in Ekaterinoslav she got closer to the Zionist circles that were led at that time by Menachem Ussishkin.

She continued her Zionist activities after she got married and established a traditional home. She didn't stray from this way even during the Soviet regime, and her home served as a center for the Zionist circles who continued to exist in secret. Moral and material help came from Mrs. Birman home during those difficult years.

In 1932 she immigrated to Israel with her family and settled in Rahovot. Also here, despite her advanced age, her home serves as a center for our townspeople who respect, admire and love her. She hasa large part in the “Yekaterinoslav-Dnepropetrovsk” book.

I was born and raised in a traditional home. My father, R' Asher Yitzchak Wolfowitz, was educated in the Yeshivot of Lita. There, he befriended R' Binyamin Zakheim who was later a rabbi in Yekaterinoslav. My father z”l immigrated to this area in Southern Russia and settled in a farm near the Egran Station. At that time, my father joined “Agudat Achim,” which bought land east of the Jordan River. He sent his brother-in-law to prepare all that was needed for the family's immigration, but as we know, this settlement didn't materialize.

In 1886, his father-in-law, R' Chaim-Yehusua Shapira, came to our village. He only talked about Eretz-Yisrael, working the land, life of austerity and the Hebrew language. He began to speak Hebrew with his family and even with the animals. He was ridiculed in the area: “Shapira is talking to the cow in the Holy Language.” He influenced my father to let me study Hebrew with my brother. To my happiness, a good teacher was found for that, but there were no reading books. When I found that there is a Hebrew library in Ekaterinoslav, I traveled to the city and signed up for it, and by doing so I met interesting people. A short time later I learned that the library was about to close for lack of funds. I decided to go to Ussishkin who received me very well. I explained to him that if the library will be closed the city and its surroundings would remain without a Hebrew book. He promised me to look into the matter, and thanks to him the library wasn't closed.

Chaim-Yehusua Shapira greatly influenced me all those years. He made sure to provide me with books in Hebrew and also invited me to Zionist meetings when he was in the city. Once, he informed me about a meeting at the home of Dr. Angel, and when I entered I found a large number of guests there. Among them was Mr. Michel Meidanski z”l, the representative of the Yekaterinoslav region. When I entered, he received me with the greeting – here's our veteran Israeli. Mrs. Paulina Yafa also participated in the meeting. She proposed to open a high-school for girls – a matter that was implemented later.

 

B.

In 1900 I married my husband, Yosef Birman, and we moved to live in Yekaterinoslav. It was an industrial city with many large factories. Since it sat by the Dnieper River the timber trade, which was sent north by rafts, was widespread in the city. There was also a grain trade that was sent abroad. Yekaterinoslav was in the Pale of Settlement and many flocked to the city from the small towns to find a source of income. There were many institutions in the city: three “Talmud Torah” schools, a Yeshiva which had a two-story building, and a dormitory. The Yeshiva had many supporters and donors like: Karpas, Yudelson, Emanuel, Meidansky, Karezov and others. The head of the Yeshiva was R' Dov from Bobruysk and the overseer was Rabbi Halperin. Rabbi Gelman has done a lot for the development and expansion of the Yeshiva.

From the other institutions I will mention the Jewish Hospital which moved from its previous location in Bulniznaya Street to Sufskaya Street. There, a block of stone buildings, which was surrounded by a red brick wall, was built for all the departments of the hospital and also apartments for the employees. A “cheap kitchen,” which was built from the donation of Mr. Karpas, was located on Banya Street. The community management offices were also located there. There were two orphanages for 80 children which were maintained by the community management. A women's committee took care of these institutions. Mr. Karpas established and maintained an orphanage for 40 children. It was a beautiful building that was surrounded with a red brick wall. In general, the social work was highly developed and a number of women's organizations devoted themselves to it.

At that time there were several schools for Jewish children in Yekaterinosla. From them: Cohen's vocational school for girls who studied sewing and other handcraft,

[Page 52]

the two schools of the Shechter brothers, Matiletzky's school, and others. Evening classes were also held in these schools. Later, Wexler's high-school for boys was established in Kazanskaya Street, and at the beginning of this century – the high-school of P. Yafa and Yudkevitz. Classes weren't held in these schools on the Sabbat and during the Jewish holidays.

 

eka052.jpg
H. R. Birman

 

There were several libraries in Yekaterinoslav. One was opened in 1895 in accordance with a license obtained by Ussishkin. The librarian was Yosef Markovsky who later immigrated to Israel with his family. This library also served as a place for meetings. There was also a small library next to the Choral Synagogue where it was possible to find a selection of new literature, and the librarian was H. Axelrod (immigrated to Israel). H. Litvak served in this position before him (his daughter Chinga – is in Israel). A large library, which was worthy of its name, belonged to the “Federation of Jewish trade assistants.” At first, it contained books in Russian and Yiddish and later also in Hebrew. The librarian was Mr. Yitzchakin. Sometimes, this federation organized balls with varied programs (music, readings) for members and guests, and it was possible to find the community leaders there.

Among the first booksellers were Avraham Rogov and his son, and Y. Henkin. Their small shops were always full of shoppers because there was a great demand for reading books. The “Pakent-Regers,” as they were called then, bought all types of

[Page 53]

reading books in Hebrew and Yiddish, prayer books and more, and brought them as peddlers to the Jewish homes in the towns and villages.

The Zionist activity in Yekaterinoslav greatly expanded after M. Ussishkin married the daughter of S. Paleim, one of the important Jewish residents in the city, and settled there in 1890. Indeed, several members of “Hovevei Zion” were very active before his arrival, and among them: M. Meidansky, Avraham Harkabi who wrote for “Ha-Melitz” [the first Hebrew newspaper in Russia] and others. However, the activity increased only after Ussishki's arrival. Meetings were held and the famous preachers, Yevzrov and Maslians?i who later settled in Yekaterinoslav, visited the city often. The synagogues, in which they've preached, were filled and many young people flocked to hear them.

Cheder Metukan” [reformed Cheder], which was under the management of H.K. Zuta, was opened about 1898 and among the teachers was also H.Y. Shapira. A lot was done for the strengthening and existence of this Cheder (Mr. Zuta wrote about it in his book “Baresit HaDerech”). The association “Safa Chaya” [“Living Language”] was established in 1901 and its energetic and devoted members were: Z. Rabinowitch, Peitelzon, Zuta, T. Shlonsky, Y. Veksler and many others. They gathered and spoke Hebrew at the homes of M. Ussishkin, the dentist Angle and others.

 

C.

We were very pleased when Dr. Shmaryaho Levin came to serve as the community rabbi after a long struggle with his predecessor – Shachor. Dr. Levin captured the heart of everyone with his charming personality and fiery speeches. It's hard for me to remember and express in writhing all the respect and affection that he acquired. In Hanukkah of that year, a party, in which pictures of Israel and its landscape were presented, was organized at the municipal theater. It was filled to capacity with teachers and their students. It was rare that so many Jewish children, who felt warmth, freedom and happiness, gathered together.

Two newspapers were published in Yekaterinoslav: one was close to the right, and the second was edited by the lawyer Zeitlin and the local Russian intelligentsia participated in it. Important cultural work was conducted by the “Association for science” which was located in a four-story building in Tzetzkebeka. There, it was possible to hear lectures on various topics from scientists and professors from the “Harari Institute” in Yekaterinoslav. In addition, various concerts and other activities were also held there, and we attended them frequently.

In 1905, on 21, 22, 23 October, pogroms, which were under the auspice of the army and the Cossacks, broke out in Yekaterinoslav. The rioters robbed, looted and killed many. The lawyer Zeitlin walked and recorded the details in all corners of the city. His newspaper published a sharp article in which the Russian intelligentsia declared that they're ashamed to be called Russian if such acts are done in the country. The yard, in which we lived, belonged to a Russian and he saved seventy people. Also his daughter, who lived in another street, stood by the gate and didn't let the rioters to enter. Our self-defense was very active and peace returned on the evening of the third day of the riots. We returned to our home, heated water and washed the babies. We were only able to talk after we drank tea because the speech was taken from us before that. On the same day my teacher, R' H. Y. Shapira, came to say goodbye because he decided to immigrate to Israel with his family.

In 1909, Dr. B. Z. Mossinson came to our city and greatly impressed us with his appearance and his speeches that he gave in Russian and Hebrew in a Sephardic accent. He tried to convince us to register our children to “Gymnasia Herzliya.” In those years Bialik, Ansky, Pasmanik and Jabotinsky visited Yekaterinoslav. There were also several concert of Jewish music.

We spent anxious days during the Belies' trial. We lived in constant fear because we knew that the mayor and his staff, who were anti-Semite, were getting ready to destroy us with all the tools of destruction. Their men of destruction stood ready and waited for the “signal.” A miracle happened to us because God saved us from their hands. The names of Rabbi Maze, [Moscow's Chief Rabbi], Gruzenberg and others were always on our lips.

 

D.

There were two rabbis in our city: Rabbi Binyaminka Zkhaim for the opponents, and Rabbi Bere-Wolf Kozhevinkov for the Hassidim. I've never heard a misunderstanding or unpleasantness between them or their followers. There were additional rabbis in the suburbs of the big city and also a “rabbi” (a good Jew).

After the death of the two chief rabbis the opponents appointed the genius, Rabbi Pinchas Gelman z”tl, who was friendly, pleasant, popular and active. A “Talmud Torah” with decent dedicated teachers, who were under his supervision, was located in the yard where I lived.

[Page 54]

The “Yeshiva,” that a seminar for teachers was added to it later, was also under his supervision. Rabbi Gelman hoped to immigrate to Israel and establish a faculty of law there, but he was unable to do so because to our great sorrow the rabbi passed away when he was only forty years old.

The Hassidism's rabbi was Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson z”tl. His Hassidim never denigrated the honor of Rabbi Gelman. I heard it myself. Of course, R' Schneerson worked quite a bit in his company. I knew his wife, the Rebbetzin, who knew Hebrew and spoke it to me when I met her. However, one day she told me that she doesn't speak Hebrew… Their youngest son was Leibale, and according to his mother he studied the Talmud at the age of five. We were very happy when our children were able to enter him to the Zionist movement. HaRav E. Broshtein (the previous community rabbi) educated his talented son, who studied the Talmud, in the Zionist movement, but in the end he was caught by Communism … It was told, that when the two of them met, R' E. Broshtein complained before R' Schneerson about his sorrow and disappointment that his favorite son became a communist. R' Schneerson answered him: like me, when I learned that my son Leibale became a Zionist…

 

E.

And now, the First World War broke out with all its horrors and hardships. The deportees from the border settlements and the refugees arrived to our city. Many settled in our city because it was located in the Pale of Settlement. The rabbis, who were imprisoned as hostages, were also brought to our city. The townspeople welcomed them with warmth and took care of all their needs. Actually, despite all the sorrow, it was a blessing for our city because it was infused with a new Jewish blood. During those years, (1915-1916), Yekaterinoslav has been enriched by genuine Jewish power of the Jews of Lita and Poland. The Yeshivot of Lida and Slabodka moved here (later it moved to Yelisbetgrad). The voices of Torah scholars rang from all the synagogues. Also the gymnasium of P. Cohen came from Vilna with is blessed cargo – the lofty teachers: Dr. Y.L. Baruch, N. Pins, P. Shiffman (Ben-Sira), Kostrinsky, Kantorowicz, Dr. Lichtenstein, and others. Gymnasia “Tarbut” was opened and the Teachers Union was strengthened. The teachers who took part in it were: Wilenzik, Polonsky, Litvak, Shragorodsky and others. From the Yidisha'im: Kazakevich, Dworkin, Robinson, Bugoslawsky, and others. Two seminars, one on of behalf of “Tarbut” and the second under the supervision of R' Gelman, were founded. Two kindergartens were also opened, one in Hebrew under the management of Mrs., Chaya Lichtenstein-Weizmann and the second in Yiddish. The Zionist propaganda was intense and comprehensive, and the study of the Hebrew language was expanded. The Yidisha'im also didn't sit idle and opened a disrespectful propaganda. In addition, lectures were held for all the teachers. I visited several of them, and Mr. N. Pins was the living spirit in them.

The public work was extensive. We took care of the soldiers' wives, the refugees and their children. In addition to the kindergartens we also organized a “kirkara” (playground) for the children under the guidance of the kindergarten teachers Chinga Litvak and the daughter of the teacher Kantorowitch. I collected the children from my neighborhood and later returned them to their homes.

By chance, I befriended a family from Pinks who came from there together with the bank. Through this family I met Yosef Bergman, the brothers Eisenberg and others from Pinks who were active and dedicated Zionists. A welding workshop, in which the student received a small salary and lunch, was opened under Ehrlich's management. At that time, the brothers Moshe and Yehezkel Zaks, who were student in “Gymnasia Herzliya” and returned to study in Yekaterinoslav, lived at my home. Their Hebrew speech left an impression on me and they taught my children to speak Hebrew.

 

F.

And here is the Balfour Declaration! It's difficult to describe the joy, excitement and hope in our city! The public work hasn't weakened and Mr. Kochanovsky's Hebrew Gymnasium was opened on Opornaya Street. Among its teachers were: the Levin brothers (today, Yehudi Leib is the Chief Rabbi of Moscow), Aresh – father of the “Habima” actor Avital, Kochanovsky's three daughters and his son-in-law. There was no lack of students and the parents committee, to which I also belonged, has done a lot to improve the Hebrew lessons and the school. Despite the danger of the civil war we organized a party for the children on Lag BaOmer. We walked in a procession through the city's streets to a forest where we organized games, sing-along and more. The Zionist activity gradually expanded and with it also the study of the Hebrew language. In Cohen's Gymnasium all the subjects were taught in Hebrew, a matter that wasn't easy to carry out.

[Page 55]

The allocation of 1000 Ruble from the philanthropist S. Barslavsky gave “Tarbut” the possibility to expand the scope of its work. Lecturers and readers gathered every week in “Tzeirei Zion” club on Opornaya Street, and the young forces – Y. Idelshon, Y. Ritov and M. Lev – took an active part in it. The brothers Gorowitz from the Pinsk group and Zalman Lubovsky were very active. Libai, who was an excellent speaker, joined later. Avraham Gutman moved to Yekaterinoslav and took an active part in the Zionist activities.

 

G.

Gloomy days arrived, and every day brought a curse worse than the last. A civil war, a robber leaves – a killer takes his place. Again and again. The roads are dangerous also in the city. Everyone is only talking about food and clothes. The trade ceased, the shops were closed and all the employees were laid off. I think that there wasn't a normal academic year, because everything was destroyed and nothing was rebuilt. Denikin's soldiers, who came after the German troops took what they wanted, robbed and killed. Everyone traveled to the villages – to exchange items for a small quantity of grits and flour. Our work didn't stop under these conditions and from time to time we gathered at the home of Dr. Y. Dolsinsky. When it wasn't allowed to study Hebrew we organized a school at the home of H. Shochat. Mordechai Gover and his wife Rivka taught there and one of the students stood on guard. Another group studied Hebrew in my apartment with Gover. Over time, Yona Kesse, his brother Mendel, Yeshayah Shar, N. Lev, Zalman Rabinowitch, S. Frumkin, Sprinzak and others joined the teaching staff. Despite the danger we organized parties in Hanukkah, Tu Bishvat, and other holidays. Once, we arranged a big Simchat Torah party at the home of Dr. Ginzburg and Natan Ternavsky, who was later exiled and was last seen in prison in Arkhangelsk, gave a lecture. A special committee took care of the finance and its members were: Moshe Risin. Ziama Yafit (Yufit} and others.

In 1921 the refugees started to return to their places. In 1921-1922 came the great drought and the famine related to it. In 1923-1924 came the arrests of the Zionists in our city. The first victim was the young man Moisyev, an only son to his parents who fell ill and died in exile. Among those arrested were: H. Reichman, Daniel Beresovsky, Tzvi Bokrinsky, Leah Lev, Rivka Volodarsky, Lioba Ginodman, Aharon Puzin and others. Some of them were released and some sentenced to expulsion. Later, their verdict was replaced by a departure to Israel. The arrests continued in the following years, and in 1927 Eliezer Tripolsky, my son Yehudah and others were arrested. The Zionist activity among the youth continued all these years, and those who conducted it with great energy were: Sara Milerowitz, the Orlov sisters, my daughter Miriam and others. The children were very dedicated and despite the danger they recruited new members for the movement. Our apartment was one of the places in which meetings and lectures took place.

Dr. B. Chanis was very active during the famine years. He received money from abroad to help the needy and especially for the rehabilitation of the Jewish Hospital and the clinic on Charkovskaya Street. He also helped those who turned to him, but in the end he was exiled. There was also a group of adults who gathered from time to time. Among them: Rozinov, Avraham Gutman, Kissin, Mostovlenski and others. The previous community rabbi, E. Burstein, who was sick and lame, occasionally visited our synagogue on Novosleniai Street. He encouraged us and strengthened our hands and our spirit. Several children studied the Torah in this synagogue and Mr. Zuker took care of their needs. We printed the movement's flyers in my apartment and in the apartments of Shlonsky, Rosovsky and Kostrinsky.

On the occasion of my illness I received a treatment at the clinic on Charkovskaya Street where Dr. Cohen-Berenstein worked. Later he moved to the hospital. My daughter, who came to visit me from Poland, brought him greetings from his daughter, the actress Miriam Cohen-Berenstein. When we came to visit him I saw the place where he lived – a large room that was divided in two by a curtain, and a kitchen which was located in a dark corner near the entrance. He was already sick and his wife left a good impressed on me. She was always busy taking care of her home. We had several talks about Israel etc., and he was very restrained. Sometime later I learned from Mr. Toporowsky that Cohen-Berenstein passed away. There weren't any notices in the city and only a few people knew about it.

Emissaries came from the center in spite all the dangers. One day I was informed that a meeting would take place in my apartment with the representative of the center. My apartment became the meeting place for the local Zionists after my husband moved to Moscow. We prepared places to sit from wood planks, brought potatoes,

[Page 56]

watermelons, pickles and tomatoes from the cellar. We peeled and cooked, and had a pleasant and cheerful meeting. The emissary was Sioma Lioberski. Once, at the request of my son Yehudah, I gave Stagier permission to hide in my apartment for a month.

In 1932 I left Ekaterinoslav with my husband and immigrated to Israel. We parted from Batya Berkowski, a devoted and faithful soul who risked her life for the movement. She sewed undergarments for the market to support her elderly parents. Everyone who came from the movement, found assistance and a place to sleep in the room that she lived with her parents. She corresponded with some of the deportees and sent them everything that they asked for. Before my journey she told me: I'm keeping a “minyan” here, meaning, that she had 10 friends who were loyal to the movement. She used to send two or three young men or women to Moscow, and others came to her from there to strengthen the movement. At the end, she was arrested and sent to Northern Siberia (today she's in Israel – after years of imprisonment and hardships).

We always lived in fear and tension. We were ready, loyal and dedicated to each other. Despite all this, it was a very interesting period and I mention it with longings.


[Page 56]

Defense in October 1905

by V. Dalman[1]

Translated by Sara Mages

The pogrom

The pogrom began in Ekaterinoslav a day or two after it started in other cities. We had no idea what was happening in other cities because of the postal strike. We still didn't have a normal service and letters and newspapers didn't arrive.

On Thursday, October 19, in the evening, the first sign was given that a pogrom is approaching. On the same evening, about 9 o'clock, we learned that a group of rioters concentrated at the entrance to the community center. The rioters, who participated earlier in a march down Prospect Street, fired several shots at those who walked out of the hall, and dispersed. Most of the assembled also left the place.

After I learned that, I joined the member Pinye and we arrived to the community center together. The discussions already ended there, and a registration of members from various organizations was carried out in several rooms on the ground floor. We were getting ready for self-defense.

Both of us received a specific role from our members, and we made our way to the defense's main assembly point on behalf of our organization.

About 150 members, who answered the call of the organization's committee, already gathered in an empty yard of one of the synagogues. The member Michael conducted a members' roll-call in a loud voice, distributed weapons and sent the groups to their locations.

I, together with Pinye, were given the duty to join our members in the organization's main residence, which was located on Kazaziya Street, and we went there immediately.

The running around to find apartments for our groups, telephones, ammunition, weapons and others lasted until the late hours of the evening. The members were divided into groups, weapons were distributed, and bombs have been prepared. We finally fell asleep and woke up on Friday morning with the feeling that there is no need to worry about a pogrom. Life went on as usual in the city… but it only seemed so…

At 11 o'clock, when I thought that it wasn't necessary to do anything more for the defense, I went to the apartment of the member Pilka. Our members already gathered there and we talked about the pogrom. Around 1 o'clock, several members came and delivered the worrisome news: processions of rioters, under the direction of plain clothes policemen, are gathering in Chechlevka and Prospect streets near the municipality building and panic is apparent everywhere. I returned to the main residence where there was a lot of activity. Information came from the observation points, instructions and orders were given, and scouts came and left. In the meantime, one of our members came running with the news that a few minutes ago one of our scouts killed a rioter on Bazarnaya Street. We were horrified, it started – each one of us though – and something cold and terrible entered the heart.

Matters have evolved in a menacing way. A “patriotic” procession took place at the edge of the city, and it was clear, the pogrom will come. We tried to locate the place and concentrate our self- defense groups there. At 1 o'clock in the afternoon, one of our groups went up Sadovaya Street under the command of the member Motele.

[Page 57]

Several members of the defense joined it on the way. On the way up the group crossed the square diagonally. Suddenly, several rows of soldiers appeared near them and opened fire without a warning, at first in the air and then directly at them. The group withdrew running back, but the gates to the houses were closed under the order of the police. In these moments the members were in mortal danger and the only victim was the member Hershel Svirsky.

Motele's group dispersed, and after it called – open the gates! it gathered in a quiet street. There, a Jew opened his gate and happily let the group enter. After a rest the group left for the street and chased gangs of rioters who filled it from all sides.

The pogrom strengthened. I was next to the telephone, together with the member Pinye, and each report that we got was more difficult than the last. It was necessary to act, give instructions, direct people and divide the weapons. There was great confusion in the street and we had no time to look at what was happening there. An unclear noise came from a distance, and the houses on both sides of the road were robbed and destroyed. However, we weren't able to pay attention to it because we held in our hands all the strings that linked our 18 defense groups, and under the bed was the most terrible weapon of the revolutionary (bombs)…

Suddenly, we heard shots right next to us, voices and noise from people – about a hundred – under our windows. A group of rioter came running from behind the corner of the house opposite us. On their way, they roared like lions, stumbled, fell, and dropped the items that they robbed. Shots were heard behind it, about eight members of our defense stood at the street corner and fired incessantly. A few minutes later the crowd dispersed and the fighting group concentrated in the middle of the street.

I would never forget this picture! Several dozen strong young men stood around the commander of the fighting group, who explained the next action plan, and disappeared a few minutes later. Now we heard the trampling of measured steps – soldiers walked in straight lines on the sidewalks on both sides of the road and aimed their guns at the windows of the houses facing them. They were afraid of the bombs that might be thrown from the windows, and were ready to shoot at anyone who appeared in the window.

I'll not continue to give a detailed description of all the events of the pogrom, all the performances of “madness and horror,” but I will write about all the acts of heroism and nobility…

 

In the mist of the night

I'll tell about one of the most notable incidents of our war that all our members mention with pride. It happened on Sabbath eve. At 10 o'clock we were informed from all the locations that the pogrom is easing. On this day – the first day of the pogrom – the defense performed well and we managed to stop the riots in many locations in the city. We were satisfied despite the large number of victims. The groups were getting ready to rest and only the guards, who walked the streets and stopped passers-by, were on duty. We thought, together with Pinye, to rest. Suddenly, terrible news came to us from one of the points in the city's port. At 7 o'clock in the evening, a ship arrived to the port with many Jews who escaped from different locations up the Dnieper River for fear of the pogrom. A great number of rioters were waiting at the port to rob them.

 

eka057.jpg
Victims of the 1905 Pogrom

 

[Page 58]

The passengers pleaded with the sailors to turn the ship back, but their request was denied. The rioters broke into the ship when it reached the dock and began acts of terror. Dozens were wounded and thrown into the water. Later, about ten bodies were pulled out of the river. The next ship was supposed to arrive at 7.30 in the morning, and we had to take all the necessary measures to prevent another disaster. We immediately informed the fighting group and suggested that it should use extreme measures at a certain hour of the morning. In addition, we began negotiations with the director of the shipping company and asked him to send a boat towards the ship in the morning to warn about the danger. And here, at that moment, we heard the loud ringing of the telephone. It was from Ulyanovskaya Street at the edge of the city, from the home of a Jewish merchant. We were informed that loud voices were being heard next to the house, at the corner of Hersonskaya and Skakovaya streets. Jews are probably being attacked there and they need our help. We called the commander of the fighting group, which included 32 members, and after a discussion he returned to his group. An hour later he came to us and his eyes were burning, he fulfilled the task, the rioters paid with their blood… However, the Jewish merchant continued to call, and according to his words – the riots didn't stop after the attack of our group. Indeed, it was quiet for a while, but the noise increased and the rioters were getting closer to Ulyanovskaya Street. It was necessary to take more vigorous measures.

We decided to concentrate four groups in two locations and to encircle Ulyanovskaya Street on both sides. Participated in the concentration: the fighting group under the command of Arkadi and Pitynzki, two regular groups from our organization which were under the command of Peretz and Pilka, and a mixed group that included our members and the people of the “Bund.” These groups had to concentrate at the corner of Voskresenskaya and Bazarnaya streets, and leave, in two detachments, for their mission on Ulyanovskaya Street.

Only three groups arrived to the meeting place. The fourth, Pilka's group, didn't arrive. At the same time the soldiers, who were standing in Bazarnaya Street, opened fire at our members who didn't see them through the fog. Our members left after several attempts to evade the shots and concentrated in two private apartments. Out of a misunderstanding, Pilka's group came to the corner of Praozanovskaya and Bazarnaya streets not to the corner of Voskresenskaya and Bazarnaya streets, and didn't notice the situation because of the fog. The group marched to Ulyanovskaya Street through the corresponding Starogorodnaya Street.

 

eka058.jpg
Victims of the 1905 Pogrom in Ekaterinoslav

 

On the way this group met the neighborhood watch which was composed of local people. After it added these guardsmen, who were armed with handguns, to its ranks, it went directly to Ulyanovskaya Street, from which came the sound of breaking furniture and smashing windows. The group went up the street and from there opened fire at the rioters. The rioters, who fled immediately, left about ten dead in the street. The group came running to the house of the Jewish merchant, and from there we've received the encouraging news from Pilka that the help arrived on time… A day later, on Saturday night, the rioters took revenge and burned the house of this Jewish merchant. They found the appropriate time to remunerate the victims who fell from their side...

 

At the hospital after the pogrom

On Saturday night the authorities disconnected the telephone. We were told by the switchboard that the telephone was out-of-order… It was clear, that the “out-of-order” telephones were those that we used to contact the defense's main residence. Later, we learned that it was done under the order of Neidhart, the district governor, to interfere with our activities. The order was given on Sunday, the day he intended to end the pogrom.

Thus, the defense, as a body that all of its parts were in constant contact, wasn't able to continue with its activities. The city turned into a military camp, soldiers and Cossacks swarmed in all directions and didn't let our groups to contact each other. Houses and apartments, which belonged to Jews, stood out in the general background. It was enough to look at the doors and windows: if white crosses weren't painted on the doors, icons with “perpetual light” weren't seen in the windows and the curtains were drawn – it was a sign that human beings, who held their breath and were abandoned to the mob, were hiding behind them …

Now, the defense operated in a disorganized way and temporarily. The main residence, where I was, was closed because it was no longer needed. We were followed and our members, the scouts, told us that we had to leave the apartment and change the telephone number. Therefore, we left the apartment broken and exhausted, and moved to another building across the street, to the apartment of a simple Jewish family.

Our members came to visit us in the morning. They told us that the pogrom ended and notices, in which the district governor announced the end of the riots and asked the defense to hand over its weapons, were pasted in all locations.

I decided to go to the hospital because I heard that they needed help.

At about 2 o'clock in the afternoon I was called to go out to the corridor. Two well dressed men, whose faces were red with excitement, stood there.

– Are you Mr. D.?
– Yes, that's me.
– Can you speak on behalf of the defense organization?
– No, I can't.
– In God's name! This isn't the appropriate time for conspiracy!
– I'm associated with our organization's defense committee but it isn't active right now.
– The district governor demands that the defense will give its weapons and stop shooting in the streets. Only under this condition the procession, which is marching from the Sobor[2], wouldn't end in a new
pogrom.
– I doubt that there would be a new pogrom. It's entirely up to the district governor, not us. So, what do you want from me?
– We're going to the district governor and you have to promise us that the defense will hand over its weapons.
– I can't give you such a promise. But, in order that the public wouldn't blame us later, I can assure you on behalf of our organization, and it's the most powerful organization of the defense, that we'll only
take action when a new pogrom will break out.
– How can we ensure the district governor that your promise will be fulfilled?
– In my name, tell the governor that I'm so-and-so, I'm located in an unknown place, and if my promise wouldn't be fulfilled – he can arrest me.
Shortly thereafter, the steps of about ten people sounded from the stairs below. About 15 middle-aged Jews, laborers and small merchants, were brought wounded in makeshift stretchers.

Doctors and nurses rushed from all directions.

The pogrom started! It started again! Sounded from all directions.

It was the attack on the Schneider's house, the well-known attack in Ekaterinoslav's pogrom. Eighteen bodies were found there, the doors and the pavement were covered with blood. The inexplicable cruelty was “explained” in this manner – the police thought that the Schneider's house was the Revolutionaries' nest.

According to the official information, 126 Jews were killed in Ekaterinoslav's pogrom by the rioters and the soldiers' shooting, and 47 rioters were killed. According to our information – 63 rioters were killed.


Footnotes

  1. From an article published in 1907 in Kovetz (Cepn), Moscow. It was written by Vladimir Fabrikant, an activist in the “Jewish Socialist Workers Party.” Translated from Russian by Y.G, Return
  2. Sobor – the main Orthodox Church in the city. Return

 

Table of Contents Next Page »


This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.


JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page


Yizkor Book Project Manager, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Max G. Heffler

Copyright ©1999-2014 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 02 Jan 2014 by JH