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[Page 131]


How Buczacz Jews Voted
in Austrian Parliamentary Elections

Translated by Adam Prager


In Galicia elections for the Austrian Parliament at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries were always accompanied by major scandals in which the municipal, regional and occasionally the central authorities were involved. The decisive factors that determined election results included forgeries, bribes, and threats. Voters were warned that if they did not vote as instructed from above, measures such as raising of taxes and cancellation of permits would be taken against them. * Forgeries in voter lists were apparent and no serious efforts were necessary to uncover them. Names of long-deceased citizens were added to the lists; people miraculously came back to life during election time. Some members of the ruling group would even vote two or three times. Most of the Jews in Galicia had two first names, enabling them to vote separately with each one. This was possible since the election committees consisted mainly of people from a specific party. With no representatives of other lists present, they were able to determine in advance the election results.

Moreover, great pressure was put on the voters by the Polish Club, whose rule in Galicia was unchallenged. Even though most of the population was Ukrainian, the Polish intelligentsia with the help of assimilated Jews and "Moshkes" (ordinary Jews) knew how to dominate the public affairs of the region and dictate to the voters the choice of candidates. The Polish rulers let nothing interfere with their goal and spared no means to reach it. The Polish Club was aided by regional officers, municipal heads, council members, and leaders of the Jewish communities, including Hasidic masters and their followers. The Polish press, whose editors included assimilated and converted Jews, also served the Club’s ambitions. Woe to the man who dared submit his candidacy without prior approval from the Polish Club. Such a submission was doomed to fail. No wonder then that nearly always the candidate chosen by the Club was the one elected. At times the Club did the Jews, who constituted 10% of the population, a favor by allowing the candidacy of a few assimilated Jews or of "Moshkes" that were loyal to the Poles.

In the electoral district Buczacz-Kolomyya-Sniatyn – all three comprised one region – the situation was similar to that in the rest of the Galician towns: the candidate of the Club, at times a Jew, was almost always chosen. However, in 1883 something occurred in the Jewish community that was an upheaval of sorts. That year the chief rabbi of Krakow, who for over two years had been the parliamentary representative of the Buczacz-Kolomyya-Sniatyn electoral district, died. Rabbi Schreiber was a loyal member of the Polish Club even though his insufficient knowledge of the official parliamentary languages prevented him from giving speeches in parliament and participating in debate. However, during votes he was always present and voted together with the Poles. On the Sabbath eve, a “minyan” was arranged for him in the parliament building to enable him to pray with a quorum while being present when voting took place. Following his death there was a parliamentary vacancy for a candidate from the above three cities. A public election committee was assembled immediately to choose an articulate delegate who could stand up and fight for the interests of the Jews. This committee had its eyes set on Dr. Joseph Samuel Bloch, a rabbi in Floridsdorf near Vienna, who consented to the committee’s offer, adding that a parliamentary position would give him an opportunity to explain to the peoples of Austria – and to the Jews themselves – the truth about Judaism.

As election day approached, a great storm arose in the Polish press. The Jews were accused of betraying the Poles and were threatened with a national ban of the aforementioned three towns. To the Poles each mandate given by them was a reward for a favor done for them. Rabbi Schreiber was chairman of the “Makhzikey Hadat" ("Upholders of the Faith") Society. Aided by the influence of this society and the Rabbi of the Belz hasidic court, he contributed greatly in the various elections to Polish success. The Poles in return felt obligated to hand over the mandate of these towns to him. However, following his death a political figure appeared who was unknown to them and whom they did not trust, despite the fact that he expressed his willingness to join the Polish Club. The uproar in the press grew from day to day. There were also some Jews whose greed and lust for power drove them to bribery and incitement of the press against Dr. Bloch.

Approximately 14 days before the elections, a group of so-called prominent Jews met to protest against Dr. Bloch’s candidacy, which was allegedly harmful to Judaism. They decided to demand that Dr. Bloch abandon his candidacy. The chief speakers and instigators in this group were Dr. Emil Bick, the president of the Lvov [Lemberik/Lemberg/Lviv] community and head of the “Shomer Yisrael” [Watchman of Israel] Society, and the preacher Levinstein, father of the parliament delegate Nathan von Levinstein. In their youth these two followed the German centrist line in politics, but were now Polish patriots. In their speeches they emphasized that the duty of the Buczacz-Kolomyya-Sniatyn Jews was to award a mandate only to natives and residents of the country, adding that choosing a man from Floridsdorf would only anger the Poles against the Jews.

A letter in this spirit was sent to Dr. Bloch. He answered immediately, stating that the “well known” gentlemen had approached the wrong man and should turn to the election committee of the three towns and warn of the dangers of Bloch receiving the mandate. He added that to his knowledge a few Polish delegates lived in Vienna without causing any harm to the daily national affairs of Galicia. He added that he had done nothing to receive the candidacy and was willing to forfeit it if the committee so requested. The Polish rulers and assimilated Jews of Galicia naturally found this response unsatisfactory. A national ban against Dr. Bloch was decided upon and the mayors of all three towns were instructed to announce the ban to all the voters. But none of this helped. Dr. Bloch won by a two-thirds majority and was chosen to be the delegate in the Austrian Parliament. Interestingly, Dr. Bloch was chosen without his voters knowing him and without their hearing any election speeches from him. He didn’t even have the financial means of traveling to the election district.

The fact that right after the elections Bloch identified with Count Eduard Taaffe's government raised much anger and resentment among the Jewish gentlemen of Vienna. They believed that all Jews must stand by the German party. Thus, any Jewish attempt of reaching an understanding with the Czechs and the other Slavic nations undermined the supreme German rule and rendered one a bad Jew. The war against the Taaffe government was to their minds a Jewish issue. Because Bloch supported this government, he was endlessly persecuted. Indeed in Western Austria Jews contributed significantly to the spreading of German nationalistic thought until this policy boomeranged. Only after anti-Semitism among the Germans increased year by year and reached alarming proportions did these Jews slowly begin to understand and respect Bloch’s political views.

Together with the formal announcement of his election, Dr. Bloch received funds enabling him to travel to the three towns, Buczacz, Kolomyya and Sniatyn, and introduce himself to his public. He was everywhere received with great enthusiasm; his entrance into the towns was like a legendary victory march. Horsemen in colorful attire on decorated horses paraded out to welcome him, and to the loud cheering of the crowd he was escorted to the city council where he was congratulated on his outstanding victory and where he gave his first speech before his supporters. There was great joy throughout the towns despite the fact that certain public figures such as mayors, their friends and other community leaders did not participate in the welcoming festivities.

Dr. Bloch's first parliamentary action in matters concerning the Jews was to raise the issue of the hunting of Jewish souls and their forced conversion to Christianity, for children were literally being kidnapped in Galicia. Word of stolen children was very common and was often reported in the daily press. Every Christian who had sinned or had committed a crime and wanted to atone for his sins could kidnap the first Jewish child he saw and present him as a sacrificial offering at the nearest monastery. The child would be doomed forever. This child represented the payment for the kidnapper’s sins. What did he care about the parents and their grief? They were merely Jews. The authorities seemed to investigate such matters only to announce finally that there was nothing to be done against the church.

The parliamentary term ended with the coronation speech of Kaiser Franz Joseph the 1st. According to the law, new elections were announced. Dr. Bloch felt it was his duty to go to his electoral district to update his supporters concerning his actions in the parliament in which he had served for a year and a half. However, a Jew from Kolomyya named Vizelberg, a member of the community board and the city council, advised Dr. Bloch not to do so for his being reelected was unthinkable. Apparently Dr. Emil Bick took advantage of the situation to conduct intensive propaganda to win the support of the mayors, their friends and other community leaders. However, soon enough it became clear that Dr. Emil Bick’s party was a party of officers without an army. A voters' assembly was held in the Buczacz synagogue where Dr. Bloch’s candidacy was declared unanimously. Also in Kolomyya and Sniatyn the majority were in favor of Dr. Bloch. These moves obviously annoyed the Polish intelligentsia greatly and in the meeting of the national central elections committee in Lvov it was decided, contrary to the views of Franz Smolka, president of the Austrian Parliament and Count Potocki, to reject Dr. Bloch's candidacy and to impose on the voters an unwanted candidate, Dr. Emil Bick.

Even the Polish press instigated outrageously against Dr. Bloch and the Jews. For many years, Count Potocki was the governor of Galicia and developed friendly ties with many Jews. He supported Jewish cultural ambitions and sympathized with the Jews in their sufferings. Even the preacher Levinstein in Lvov used his synagogue to warn the Jews of their duty to vote only for the candidates chosen by the Poles.

The uproar over the elections spread throughout Galicia, dividing every Jewish community into parties for and against one of the candidates. The wit that was unique to Eastern European Jews became part of the elections and a weapon in the struggle. Two sayings in particular among those that passed among the voters merit notice. The Tora portion of the week read in the synagogue at that time was "Vayeshev" [Genesis 37-40] ('and he dwelled'), spelled vav, yod, shin, bet. These letters were read as an anagram for the words "Veylt Yosef Shmuel Bloch" ('elect Joseph Samuel Bloch'). Also used as evidence against Bick’s party was the question: "How can a Jew give his vote to Bick when it is says in the Bible 'thou shalt not bow down'" – al tishtakhave – du zolst nisht bikn [bukn, Yiddish 'to bow down to' is in some dialects pronounced bikn].

The blind hatred with which the press persecuted Dr. Bloch caused much resentment among the Galician Jews and a few hundred Jews from Lvov appealed to the central elections committee of Galicia to certify Dr. Bloch’s candidacy which was supported by almost nine-tenths of Galician Jewry. Their appeal, however, was to no avail. The central elections committee in Galicia decided upon the candidacy of Dr. Emil Bick. Dr. Bloch, who relied on Jewish votes, did not give up. He went to his electoral region to present a report to his voters. He first went to Kolomyya and Sniatyn and was once again welcomed by the cheering Jewish multitudes; the houses of the towns were festively decorated. Voters’ assemblies in which he gave speeches were very successful despite individual attempts of obstruction. From Sniatyn Dr. Bloch planned to continue to Buczacz. However, the arrival of news, proudly presented by Dr. Bick, regarding Dr. Bloch's ineligibility to be elected forced the latter to return immediately to Vienna to investigate the matter. His name did not appear on any list, neither in Vienna nor anywhere else, meaning he had no right to vote or to be elected. This news struck everyone by surprise. In Vienna Dr. Bloch learned that he had neglected to keep his voting rights. Previously he voted in Floridsdorf which at the time was not a part of Vienna, However, by relinquishing his rabbinical post there and moving to Vienna to serve in the parliament, he lost his right to vote and did nothing to assure himself of that right in Vienna. Dr. Bick was quite happy to learn this, although his joy proved premature. The deadline for submitting appeals for corrections in the voter lists was not overdue and several days later Dr. Bloch's name was added to the Viennese voters’ list.

Dr. Bloch returned to Galicia and on his way spent a few days in Lvov where Dr. Bick, aware of Bloch’s financial situation, tried to bribe him into selling his candidacy. Bloch, of course, rejected the offer outright but took the opportunity to suggest to his rival that they end the ugly mutual war that only benefited the enemies of the Jews. Furthermore, he invited Dr. Bick to accompany him to the electoral region and allow the voters to choose one of them as candidate. Dr. Bick was not enthusiastic about this offer. From his parliamentary experience he knew the voters were not on his side. When he tried to speak at Buczacz’s great synagogue, there was no audience. When the mayor Berish Shtern promised to pay a gulden to each man who would come to hear Dr. Bick speak he was advised to dress the peasant boys in Jewish clothes and bring them to the synagogue.

Dr. Bick was well aware of the Jewish voters’ views, but he believed in the ultimate strength of wealth among the Jewish population that suffered great poverty. Furthermore, he believed in the crafty election hypocrites who in each election always achieved their goals. His confidence lay in the fact that in all three towns he could enjoy the services of the mayors, members of the city councils and clerks of the local authorities who prepared the voter lists.

Berish Shtern once bragged out loud about the tricks he would use during the elections. Those who had two personal names he would list three separate times in the voter lists. If they were loyal to him, he would let them vote three times, while if they belonged to the rival party he would disqualify them altogether – an easy task, for he was the chairman of the voting committee.

With the approach of election day, the conflicts between the parties grew to quite monstrous proportions. Polish journalists swept through the region conducting propaganda in favor of Dr. Bick. Anyone who wanted to earn a few guldens was at his service. Even the central elections committee in Galicia sent a man to warn the voters against voting for Dr. Bloch.

In Buczacz the mayor Berish Shtern told the Christian inhabitants that the Jews were protecting Dr. Bloch because of his hatred towards Christians and that Dr. Bloch wanted to imprison two respectable Catholic priests. Public notices, written by Jewish lawyers, attacked Dr. Bloch and supported Dr. Bick.

A few days before the elections Dr. Bloch left Lvov and set out for Buczacz. Prior to his departure he visited the region’s governor and demanded that his list receive appropriate representation in the local election committees in order to assure clean and honest elections. This was promised to him. On his arrival in Buczacz nearly all of the town’s Jews were waiting for him at the railroad station. He was received by a cheering and joyous crowd, but was forced to take private lodgings since the regional officer forbade all hotels and restaurants to offer him a room. Inspection of the voters’ list was impossible because it was delivered by the mayor Berish Shtern. Two days before the elections the Jewish voters had still not received I. D. cards and ballot slips.

During these two days – Saturday and Sunday – all the Jewish voters gathered in front of the city council demanding I.D. cards and ballot slips. However, the mayor refused to issue even a single card. (The demonstrators did not leave the premises even for a moment and conducted the Sabbath service under the stars.) After sending a telegraph to the regional governor, an order was given to comply with the voters’ requests. However, the mayor issued only 20 ballot slips. The voters ran to the regional officer, who commanded they at once be given the necessary documents – although only those containing Dr. Bick’s name. Once again war burst out. The voters were not deterred and did not leave the battlefield. The demands for the documents only grew as time went by. The gendarmerie intervened and tried to drive away the grumbling voters from the city council. But to no avail! The gendarmes threatened with rifles only to see the voters expose their chests and cry out: "Shoot!"

The struggle lasted two days and finally, after many protests before the prime minister and the regional governor, the voters received I.D. cards and ballot slips. On Monday the elections, which were to last two days, began. The mayor appointed two of his men to be representatives of “the Bloch party” and introduced them to the regional officer, who in turn appointed them members of the election committee. The Bloch party was without representation on the electoral committee, thus enabling Berish Shtern to carry out his plan without interference. Indeed after counting the votes for the first day of the elections, Dr. Emil Bick had received almost a two-thirds majority. The results from Kolomyya and Sniatyn weren’t that satisfying either. Dr. Bick’s agents and supporters rejoiced after hearing the results and Dr. Bick himself arranged a festive meal in Lvov to celebrate his victory. In Jewish quarters spirits were low. The Jewish leaders were in despair. Shtern's trickery had gained Dr. Bick's party a majority of approximately 450 votes and they were close to accepting defeat. However, after a secret conference at three A.M. it was decided to fight on. The motivating spirit for this decision came from a Pole, the writer Wisniowski, who personally supported Dr. Bloch. His reasoning was based on the fact that the voters who sold out to Bick's agents had voted under their supervision that same day, while voters voting according to their own free will had no one to press them, meaning they could have chosen to vote the next day. Assuming that these people were Bloch supporters, one could conclude that the next day would be Bloch’s and therefore the struggle must go on.

The Polish writer's encouraging words introduced new motivation. Carriages were brought to transport suburban voters to the polling station. Women and children went from door to door urging people to vote. Some individuals such as teachers and butchers, who feared the community leaders, were in hiding. However, their own wives handed them over and they were taken to vote. There was great excitement. Women ran to their family graves to pray for Bloch's victory. Synagogues were full of praying crowds.

The Pole's wonderful idea proved to be correct. The majority of voters the next day were Bloch supporters. The promises of Bick's agents to build a synagogue for the Jews and a church with an organ for the Christians did not change people's minds. The Jewish heart was not for sale. At the election's end, the Jews’ efforts on the second day turned out to be decisive. Dr. Bloch won by a small majority and was to be the representative delegate in the parliament. Word spread wide and fast. The expressions of joy throughout the streets of Buczacz, Kolomyya** and Sniatyn can hardly be portrayed. Joy and festivity were not witnessed in the towns alone but throughout all of Galicia. Everywhere Jews wanted to hear of the electoral struggle between Bloch and Bick, more than of the elections in their own regions.

It was a David and Goliath struggle. On one side stood the great power of wealth, the central elections committee, the mayors’ and their clerks’ violence, regional officers and the local election committees, the outrageous incitement of the biased press and the opposition of the Jewish community leaders. While against them stood a man on his own, empty-handed, with nothing but the support of the Jewish voters.

However, Dr. Emil Bick, who had invested great sums in the election confrontation, refused to acknowledge defeat. He commanded the collection of evidence for acts of fraud committed during the elections and submitted an appeal to the parliament. Interestingly, this appeal included all the acts of fraud perpetrated by his supporters, such as counting votes of the dead, multiple voting of individuals, etc. Bloch's supporters submitted memoranda to the parliament which proved that acts of fraud were committed by Bick's party supporters. In the memorandum that arrived from Buczacz the violent acts by the mayor and the regional officers against the Jewish voters were described. The parliamentary certificates committee proposed to conduct an investigation and to submit a report before the parliament. The report, which was submitted 3 years later, confirmed only the acts of coercion and fraud of Dr. Bick and his agents. His appeal was rejected and by a majority of votes the parliament accepted Dr. Bloch's candidacy.

The electoral district of Buczacz-Kolomyya-Sniatyn, the most populated one in Galicia, had a Jewish majority. Every voter believed it was his right to demand of his representative in parliament that he stand beside him in all matters concerning his business. If heavy taxes were laid upon him, if a governmental clerk offended him in any way, or an anti-Semitic judge poured his wrath upon him, in all such cases a Jew would turn to Dr. Bloch for help. Also Jews from other parts of Galicia turned to Dr. Bloch for assistance. Day after day he visited the central authorities and various ministers lobbying for the sake of the mistreated Jews in Galicia. Although this sort of lobbying was burdensome and unpleasant, Dr. Bloch fulfilled his duty patiently and faithfully, reminding himself that "the needs of the Jewish people are great but their knowledge is small." He hoped that in the next elections the Jews would learn to appreciate his committed service and that no Jew would vote against him. However, even this hope proved false.

By the end of the year 1890 the parliamentary term had ended and new elections were set for the beginning of 1891. In the electoral district of Buczacz, Kolomyya and Sniatyn Dr. Bloch's rivals had long begun the process of undermining his third attempt for a parliamentary seat. Once again Dr. Emil Bick was the opposing candidate, although with the aid of prominent Galician Jewish figures a recurrence of the previous dirty struggle between the two was prevented. Dr. Bick was promised the candidacy for the towns of Brody and Zloczow on condition that he waive his right to candidacy for the three towns Buczacz-Kolomyya-Sniatyn, which Dr. Bloch would receive. This concession was correctly seen as a victory for Dr. Bloch. However, not for long. Suddenly a new candidate appeared who also believed that the mandate could be bought with money and taken from the hands of Dr. Bloch.

This new candidate was a Jew from Paris named Leon Meizlis, grandson of the famous Rabbi Horshai and son-in-law of the Russian millionaire Brodski. His candidacy was supported by the “Makhzikey Hadat" Society and by the Belz hasidic court. The aforementioned society published a weekly Hebrew newspaper. Two months prior to the elections the society turned to Dr. Bloch and asked him to donate 5000 guldens for the paper, a sum that weekly papers had to deposit as security at the law court. Since the society lacked this sum, they believed that by promising Dr. Bloch their total support he would provide it. Dr. Bloch, whose total belongings did not add up to this amount, naturally refused. Furthermore, he refused to collect donations from the Jews of Vienna for this purpose. This rejection brought about the candidacy of Leon Meizlis, representing the ultra-orthodox.

Leon Meizlis, with great confidence and enthusiasm, set out to achieve his goal. He visited the regional governor in Lvov and plainly stated to him that the mandate must be his and that he was positive he would get it even if it cost him 100,000 guldens. Meizlis spoke with such conviction that it was clear how certain he was of his victory. On his return to Paris certain doubts concerning his Austrian citizenship and right to be elected arose. However, Berish Shtern, the mayor of Buczacz, helped him in arranging all the necessary documents. Meizlis’s representatives swept through the region distributing money, especially to the poor. He circulated defamatory leaflets addressed to both Jews and Christians. To the Jews he wrote that Dr. Bloch’s deeds were always harmful to the ultra orthodox. His representatives traveling through the villages told the peasants that Dr. Bloch quarreled with Catholic priests in order to ridicule them before their congregations and added that if he were chosen for the third time he would probably become Minister of Labor and enact a labor law forcing all peasants to do hard labor for the Jews.

The agents would also claim that Dr. Bloch was planning to convert churches and monasteries into governmental warehouses. Such lies were spread widely among the peasants for many days. Peasants received wine in abundance. Christian propagandists were given large sums in order to unite all Polish and Ukrainian peasants in favor of Leon Meizlis. However, Meizlis’s notion that with the help of the Christian vote he would succeed in overcoming Bloch was doomed to fail. The Jews weren’t tempted by the large sums and they also knew how to treat Leon Meizlis. At Kolomyya he met with abuse and cursing that would have made any honest candidate resign immediately. He dared not even enter Buczacz. His men went out to meet him an hour’s ride away from town, received his money and promised that his candidacy was guaranteed.

Thus was conducted the Bloch-Meizlis electoral struggle, one between two obviously unequal strengths. On the one hand there was a rich candidate distributing a fortune without achieving a thing. On the other hand was a man who knew how to fight against anti-Semitism and for Jewish rights. One could, of course, guess the results in advance. Bloch’s victory was not doubted for a moment. However, in the midst of the campaign something unexpected occurred. The Polish priests, who were always known for their anti-Semitic views, decided suddenly to take the mandate from the Jews and to announce a candidate of their own. They told the peasants that there was no great difference between Dr. Bloch and Leon Meizlis and that good Christians must not vote for Jews whatever the case. Thus arose the candidacy of Count Starzanski, a Pole and a true enemy of the people of Israel. This candidacy was supported, of course, by the Polish central elections committee at Lvov. Also the Polish press, with its well known anti-Semitic editors and assimilated Jews, supported Count Starzanski and poured out daily words of slander against the Jews and against Dr. Bloch.

Clerks in the region began persecuting the Jews in various ways. The Poles were hoping to intimidate the Jewish majority with the incited drunken peasants. The Poles saw that the Jews were competing among themselves and believed that for this reason their candidate would receive the mandate. However, their assumptions turned out to be false. Even though Dr. Bloch had to fight now on two fronts he did not give up. Everywhere he went he was received with great enthusiasm. In Buczacz a great reception was held for him at the train station; clapping and cheering followed his speech. He was unanimously declared as the town’s candidate. Indeed, the elections of the 4th and 5th of May 1891 proved that the Jews were committed to Dr. Bloch. He was reelected, receiving 2118 votes, Count Starzanski 1178 votes, and Leon Meizlis 97 votes.

Elections in Buczacz and Sniatyn were held without disruptions, although there were riots and bloodshed in Kolomyya where farmers supporting Count Starzanski went through town abusing Jewish voters. All shops were closed. One Jew was stabbed to death and others were wounded; the town's Jewish cemetery was desecrated. The rioters were later punished. Leon Meizlis the pathetic candidate who was mainly responsible for these riots and who wasted a fortune in order to receive 97 votes, fell ill a few months after his defeat and died.

*******************


Dr. Bloch’s blessed actions for the Jews in the Austrian parliament were like thorns in the eyes of the anti-Semitic delegates headed by Prince Lichtenstein. These delegates were resolved to do anything in their means to bring about Dr. Bloch’s resignation. They weren’t content with the spreading of outrageous propaganda from the parliament's podium, but also reached an agreement with the president of the Polish Club, Mr. von Zlaski (who was known for his anti-Semitic views) in which he was to force Dr. Bloch to return his mandate. In June 1895 the head of the Polish Club suggested that Dr. Bloch give up his mandate voluntarily. He explained to Dr. Bloch that he gave his word to Prince von Lichtenstein to have this done. Von Zlaski continued to threaten that the mandate would be canceled completely if he refused to comply, for as president of the Polish Club he was capable of gathering a majority in favor of such a decision. Dr. Bloch had no choice but to surrender to the forces against him and to turn once again to the voters.

However, the attacks on him from the anti-Semitic party did not cease after his concession. The anti-Semites did all they could to prevent him from being reelected. Dr. Bloch could not imagine that under such conditions there would be Jews who would stand against his bid to be reelected, thus turning them into allies of the anti-Semites. However, one such Jew existed, the lawyer Maximilian Trachtenberg, a former mayor of Kolomyya.

The Prime Minister at the time was Count Badni who took upon himself to rule over Austria by Galician methods. The former president, Count Taaffe, often expressed his view that as long as there were anti-Semitic delegates in Parliament it was only fair and to the government's benefit that a man capable of standing up to them also be there. However, Count Badni had his own views. His statesmanship was based solely on power. This policy of his was a complete failure. His failures were so many that shortly afterwards he had to resign. He was successful, though, in one matter. He prevented Dr. Bloch from being reelected in order to save from disgrace the head of the Polish Club. An order was given to all the governors’ clerks in Lvov to use any means possible against Dr. Bloch. Jewish voters left town during elections to avoid complications. Factory owners, who supported Dr. Bloch, were summoned by the regional officer and forced to pay large sums for election expenses for Dr. Trachtenberg. They couldn’t refuse, for if they did their factories would be shut down for “sanitary reasons.” Tax collectors warned voters against failing to vote for the government's candidate, Dr. Trachtenberg. A warning from a Galician tax collector could not be taken lightly. Gendarmes stood by the hall where the voting took place, preventing Jewish voters from even coming near it. Thus, Dr. Trachtenberg's victory was guaranteed.

Also the anti-Semites in Vienna headed by Dr. Karl Lueger, who was one of the Christian-Social Party leaders, did not stand by. Telegrams sent by them to various people in the electoral district contained promises of donating great sums for propaganda financing and urgent demands to fight against Dr. Bloch. Acts of violence during these elections and all kinds of trickery determined the election results in advance. Dr. Trachenberg received the mandate.

Liberal members of the Club were very upset by the way their president acted, but they were a minority. To protests of this sort, Zlaski once cynically responded: “I admit that Dr. Bloch has been of great benefit to the Jews and that he was essential to them, however I do not admit that the Jews’ messiah had to be born right in the middle of the Polish Club.”

The newspaper “Idishe Prese” wrote among other things: “Dr. Bloch removed from the parliament the “scientific” aspect of the “Jewish question,” the “scientific” reasoning for the slander of Jews and Judaism. By this he earned a permanent place for himself. He has now left the parliament, the doors closing after him with a jarring sound. But in the very moment that they closed, there slipped back into the parliament the terrible demon of corruption. He is here once again, for the person who drove him out is no longer here."

Dr. Koppel Blum






*  Closure of factories for “sanitary reasons,” unlawful use of police force, etc. Back

** In Kolomyya a Bloch party was founded. It was named “The Good Youth” and had an agreement with Polish intellectual circles headed by the Polish writer Wisniowski. According to this agreement the Poles promised to support Bloch's candidacy on the condition that Bloch's party would support their candidate in the municipal elections that would take place shortly after the elections for parliament. This agreement was carried out fully. Back






A voters' meeting in 1907 [picture]. The candidate was Dr. Nathan Birnbaum (Mattityahu Acher), who appears in the middle of the assembly below; also Agnon is at this meeting. Here are some of the people who were identified:

Dr. Nathan Birnbaum (marked by arrow) Leon Wechsler
Farnhecht
Matisyohu Weinrib
Joseph Wahrmann
Samuel Hirsch Leblang
Dr. Feller
Samuel Teller
Bertshe Tanne
Leibush Glantser
Samuel Berger
Sh.Y. Agnon (marked below to the right)
Moses Gutwald
Zusia Avner
Khayim Kreminer
Alter Tishler (tinsmith)
Shvarts (tailor) (Prince)
Leyzer Horowitz
Khayim Shechter
Hersh Izner
Isaac Pohorile
Dr. Isaiah Hecht
Abraham Spirer
Joel Harzes
Betsalel Kreminer
Moses Joseph Gotfried
Solomon Frankel
Asher Zilbershein (brother of Dr. Zilbershein)
Heinrich Edelshtein
Mikhl Zisberg
Itshele Anderman
Moses L. Kornshpan
Leyzer Frifeld
Lucyow (Christian, socialist activist Nagurzenka)
Solomon Rosenblum (tailor)
Aaron Rauchov
Fibush Leibush Pohorile (grandfather of the translation coordinator)
Khayem Gaster
Hersh Ginsberg
Yosl Potoker (carpenter)
Ziskind Hertsman
Mordekhai Segal
Sholem Klemper
Abba Gross
Mikhl Haller
Isaac Hersh Visser
Isaac Balin
Jacob Nacht
Moti Kokols (on the cart)
Khayim Helitser
Kopl Hazokn
Eber Vitsinger
Khayem Bauchman (carpenter)
Ezekiel Sh. Rosenthal (carpenter)
Berish Hofman
Borekh Langberg
Isaac Cohen
Tsvi Heller, Leyzer Gotfried (on the balcony)
Ben-Zion Berler
Mendl Shternberg


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