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[Page 5]

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The Map of Lubtch

 

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Map of North-East Poland (1939)

 

[Page 7 - Hebrew] [Page 8 - Yiddish]

Preface

K. Hilel

Translated from the Yiddish by Harvey Spitzer

The task of Holocaust literature is not only to relate but mainly to remember, remind and not let the world and future generations forget what the Germans with their faithful collaborators – Poles, Ukrainians, White Russians, Latvians, Lithuanians and other murderous peoples- did to our closest relatives: parents, brothers, sisters, grandfathers and grandmothers, aunts and uncles - all those with whom are life was bound up through the holy bond of family, relationships and national ties.

To remember for generations those whose lives were cut off, not to let forget and never to forgive their murderers, to educate the young generations in that spirit, to instill in them a feeling of honor for their ancestors, to hate the Exile and love all the more the independence we have established, our national pride- the State of Israel.

It is for this very reason that we are putting out this book, a small link in the golden chain of past Jewish life, without which the future can have neither meaning nor content.

Just as the sea is reflected in a drop of water, so Jewish life in Eastern Europe is reflected in the memories, stories, descriptions, and personal experiences and accounts of the simple country people, about their Jewish homes, cities, villages, and communities of which nothing remains but destruction and mountains of ashes.

With a feeling of piety and reverence for our past, we present this book to the few survivors of Lubsch and Delatitch and to the members of our young generation as well, who will continue to forge new links in the golden chain of Jewish existence and creativity.

Let us hope that this book will fulfill its mission. Amen!


[Pages 9-10]

Chronicles of the Town of Lubtch

B.M.S.

Translated from the article by B.M.S., who translated it from the Polish from the “Povshchena Encyclopedia”, Warsaw 1864, pages 312-313.

Translated from the Hebrew by Ann Belinsky

Lubtch - a town in the region of Novogrudek ,district of Minsk, on the Neiman River, is located 6 miles from Novogrudek. The settlement is very old.. According to the Lithuanian historical archives, the student of Yatek Odrubondzh, Hoyt, the blessed priest from Krakow, also a Dominican priest, who was serving as a priest in Lithuania during the pagan period at the time of Mandog, received a friendly reception in Lubtch from Agadzhai Kian, a well known immigrant from Kiev. There he founded the Catholic church and the Dominican Mission (Spiritual Memoires, Vol. 3, page 24). Nerbet, however, assumes that the first Bishops' cathedra in Lubtch was established in the time of Mandog, a matter that does not match the facts or all the critical sources. (Vol 4, additions, page 10). These works prove that Lubtch was an ancient town.

Until the 15th century, the town belonged to the estate of the Grand Duke, until Alexander Yaglontchik presented it as a gift in 1499 to his secretary Fedek Karpetovitz. In 1528, the town was transferred - by purchase – to Albrecht Gestold., the Vivida of Vilna, and in 1547, it was passed to the ownership of Yan Kishka, the great knight of Lithuania, who was a well known sympathizer of “Aryanism” in Lithuania. In 1592, he founded a printing office for non catholic religious books in Lubtch. His first printer was Pyuter Balstos Kamita. He was followed by his son, Yan Kamita, and the third one was Yan Langa Havnagli. The printing office, which was at first only dissident, and then was definitely Aryan, ceased operating in1655 because of the wars and plague. The printed works were printed in Polish and Latin, and more than 10-15 of the well known books are rare.

King Zygmund III, according to Kishka's wishes, who was already the commander of the Vilna Fortress, on the basis of the rights of 1590, gave Lubtch rights of Magdaborg: a special symbol, fixed fair days etc. The owner of the town built a castle from stones on the banks of the River Neiman, a thing which glorified the impression of the town, which looked fortified and prosperous. This prosperity continued for several decades. In 1606, the town Lubtch was given as a present to the Radizivil family. In accordance with the request of one of the Radizivils, - Yanush –, in 1644 King Vladislav IV gave Lubtch Magdaborg rights, and fixed market and fair days. But during the reign of Yan Kazimizisch, because of the war ravages, Lubsch remained destroyed and unpopulated. Lubtch sank into economic distress, from which it did not recover. The castle of Kishka was abandoned and ruined, the Magdaborg Rights were cancelled, and from the two fairs, there remained only one fair per year, the horse fair on Saint Eliash Day.

Today the town is poor, despite its very comfortable geographical position at a commercial and industrial junction. The Jewish population is involved in wholesale commerce, some are craftsmen: tailors, shoemakers, carpenters and rope makers. There is also a small lacquer factory, managed by Jews. In the town there are 179 households, of which 75 belong to Christians, and the rest to traditional Jews. The Christians are mainly involved in agriculture and a few in weaving. This industry has the capacity to develop as they know here how to make cloth called “chamishimiot”, which is better than the Dutch materials, despite the fact that it is handmade in primitive workshops, and they don't have any spindles. Until now only farmers provided them with threads as sharecroppers or taxpayers. The local weavers are dependent on the palaces and the farmers who bring the threads for sale.


[Pages 11-15]

Documents Relating to Jewish Settlement in Lubtch

Published in YIVO “Bletter”, Vol. III, May 1932

P. Kahn

Translated from the Yiddish by Harvey Spitzer

In the historical chronicles, Lubtch is mentioned as far back as the middle of the 13th century. In 1574, the village was in the possession of the Polish magnate (Wielki Kreitshi Litewski) Jan Kishke, widely known for his wealth and as a free thinker, and who was openly an adherent of Arianism.[1]

In 1592, this same Kishke set up a printing press in Lubtch in which anti-Catholic works were printed in Polish and Latin, and which today are very rare and valuable. In 1606, Lubtch was given as a gift to the Radziwills who, at the end of the 18th century, gave the village - as a possession for generations - to the rich and influential magnates, the Sapieha family.

Jews lived in Lubtch from earliest times, but nothing is known of the actual beginning of Jewish settlement in that village (“shtetel”).

Among the material from the so-called “Radziwill Commission”[2] in Vilna, I came across an act[3] which pertains to the Jewish community of Lubtch in the 17th century. This is an original document of privileges which Kazshimiezsh Jan Sapieha[4] granted in 1690 to Avraham Hashkevitsh, a farmer and the most influential member of the Jewish community in Lubtch.

At that time there was another great fire in the village in which the synagogue and adjacent buildings including the bathhouse and cemetery were completely burned down. In order to receive permission from Sapieha , who was the owner of the village, to rebuild the synagogue, the aforementioned court-farmer, Avraham Hashkevitsh, turned to him with a request. The farmer took advantage of this appropriate moment and asked Sapieha to grant the Jews rights and freedoms which Jewish communities enjoyed at that time in the Greater Principality of Lithuania.[5]

Avraham Hashkevitch won these rights, and in the privileges of January 30, 1690 which Sapieha granted in Vilna (Vilnius) we read:

“Each and everyone, who will now and in the future have to know about this, people of all ranks, religious and secular, citizens of the city of my inheritance, Lubtch: Today and in later times, I hereby announce through this act of worldly privileges granted to the community of Jews in Lubtch that, taking into account the great destruction which God allowed to happen in the city through a fire, during which the synagogue belonging to the Jews was burned down to the ground with all the buildings and since, on account of that misfortune, the Lubtch farmer, Avraham Hashkevitch, humbly turned to me, in the name of the entire community, with a request to build a new synagogue and also to confirm other freedoms such as those enjoyed by other communities in the Greater Principality of Lithuania. Therefore, I was inclined with kindness to grant this request and, considering his faithful service, I have permitted the aforementioned Avraham Hashkevitsh and the other Jews who live here now to bring in Jews from elsewhere in order to expand the settlement of the city, to live and build a (wooden) or brick synagogue with all necessary buildings and an arched synagogue for women, everything according to their own desire as well as a “mikve” and a women's bathhouse, and to set up the gravestones on the previous places without any costs and obligations for these places. Only for places where they themselves live, will they be obligated to pay a tax into my coffers according to inventory and not having other obligations, they are free to give apartments to soldiers (and) except when I myself am in the city, they (the soldiers) can have lodging (in Jewish homes) but without any food provisions.

As for legal decisions, the Jews must come to the court in Lubtch and stand before the administrator of justice with free rights to appeal his decisions to me or to my commissars (ministers). Trials must not take place on Jewish holidays, market and fair days. I also guarantee that, according to long established custom, they may be free to own breweries and malt houses and to sell all kinds of strong beverages without any interference on the part of the farmers for whom they must bring the proper payment. They may take up any kind of trade for their own use without any hindrance from anyone…. They may also have assurance to engage in business and to bring in –whether by land or by water- whatever merchandise they want and also to own stores in the city and to sell, after bringing into the payment offices what is owed to the government treasury. These freedoms which have been accorded to them by the privileges act must not be tampered with by me or by my successors and we must keep them for all time.

Promulgating this act of privileges, I hereby affix my signature below with my seal.
Issued in Vilna, this 30th of January, 1690.

Kazshimiezsh Sapieha,
Head of Greater Principality of Lithuania”

This Charter of Privileges is written on parchment measuring 35.5 x 43 cm. Two round seals and special sheaths of the Radziwill and Sapieha families hang on a silk cord. On the margin of the parchment there is an addendum from a later period which indicates that on August 3, 1797, Avraham ben Heshel and Yitchak ben Hirsh in the name of the Lubtch community delivered the original of the act of privileges in order to enter them into the acts of the Novogrudek district.

After the above mentioned fire, Lubtch was apparently quickly built up and the Jewish community increased. At the board of assembly of the main communities of the states of Lithuania[6] which took place in Indor (Amdor, Grodno district) and which dealt with the imposition of a poll tax on the separate communities, amounting to 60,000 Polish guilder for all the Jews in Lithuania, it was determined to levy a tax in the amount of 800 guilder for Lubtch and neighboring villages. The board of assembly for the Lithuanian communities in Mir, autumn 1751, levied a poll tax of 510 Polish guilder on the Lubtch community.

 

Footnotes
  1. Arianism is a heretical system in Christianity which arose at the beginning of the 4th century. The Bishop of Alexandria, Arius, (d. 336) taught that God the son is not the same as God the father. This was opposed to the accepted dogma of the Christian faith. Those who came under the influence of Arianism showed themselves to be more tolerant of non-Christians in general and of Jews in particular. Arianism once had numerous adherents among the Polish nobility. Return
  2. The “Radziwill Commission” was created by a decree of Czar Alexander I and its task was to put order into the entangled inheritance affairs of Dominic Radziwill, who fell in battle, fighting on Napoleon's side. The Commission existed from 1816- 1838. The abundant material of the Radziwill Commission, some 2,000 fascicles, can be found in the Government Archives in Vilnius (Vilna). Return
  3. Government Archives in Vilnius, collections of the Radziwill Commission, vol. 41, 13/306. Return
  4. Kazshimiezsh Jan Sapieha was one of the greatest magnates in Lithuania and held very high positions in the Greater Principality of Lithuania. He was finance minister, senator and “voyevoda” from Polotsk and later from Vilna and was also leader of Lithuania. He died in Grodno in 1720. Return
  5. Sigmund I, King of Poland and of Greater Principality of Lithuania, confirmed the Brisk privileges as a general act of privileges for all Jews in Lithuania. Return
  6. See “Pinkas Hamedina” and “Pinkas Va'ad Hakehilot harashiot b' Medinat Litta” (Published by S. Dubnow). Return

Brought for printing: Moshe Tzinovitch

 

[Page 16]

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“3rd of May” celebrations by the “Gemina” (Local Council) Building

 

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