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[Page 74]


A note about the history of Dąbrowa-Górnicza

Translated by Dr. Hannah Berliner Fischthal


The town of Dąbrowa Górnicza can thank, in part, a very old community for its name. “Old-Dąbrowa” was founded hundreds of years ago, among desolate forests and swamps, on a hill that slopes down to the valley, “Czarna Przemsza.” This “old” Dąbrowa was the beginning of the contemporary town, which developed in quick tempo, thanks to the black diamonds underground. It is difficult to determine when the neighborhood was created since there was no aristocratic manor around which the community could tie its history. (The name probably derives from the Dąbrowa forests, where the community was found. By the way, another neighborhood in the town carries the name of “dąbniki” ). [Both names derive from “oak” in Polish – HBF].

The coalmines from the 18th century in “Czarna Przemsza” did not develop they way they should have. In the years 1795-1806 the Prussians exploited the coalmines. Later, in the time of Warsaw's leadership, the managers, obedient to Napoleon's war, allowed the mines to become disorganized and neglected. After the Congress of Vienna in 1815, people once again became interested in the soil, when the Kingdom of Poland was created. Czarist Russia ruled the “Czarna Przemsza.” Afterwards, when Stanisław Staszic of the Kingdom of Poland took over office as Director General of the Division of Industry, Trade, and Culture, the Polish coalmines were revived. Thanks to Staszic's work and efforts, a coalmining community was established in Dąbrowa, and he laid the foundation for the future development of the entire community, “Przemsza.” In the second half of the 19th century, on Staszic's initiative, two coalmines were built (and later fell down):
(a) “Reden” in Dąbrowa Górnicza, and
(b) “Hain” in Strzemieszyce.

After 1985 [1895? – translator's note], under Staszice's management, new layers of coal were discovered in Dąbrowa. The coalmine “Kasaweri” and others were established; also in Sielce, Pogoń, Strzemieszyce. In the years 1834/39 the foundry “Bankowa” was established with funds from the Polish Bank, which in 1831 had taken over the management of textiles in the Kingdom of Poland[1]. Dąbrowa first received town rights in 1916 for industrial development . (Connected to the growth of the population in 1880, the number of residents approximated 6,000; in 1897 – 14,870, and in 1921 – 30,871.) The proletarian groups helped to fulfill Dąbrowa Górnicza as a center of revolutionary movement (it participated in the revolution of 1905-06)[2].

In 1889 a school for colliers was opened, which operated until 1905. During the revolution the courses stopped, but they later resumed and continued until WWI broke out. In 1919 the school was changed to a trade school for colliers and foundry workers[3], bearing Staszic's name.



The Jewish population

In 1931 there were 5,150 Jews in Dąbrowa Górnicza; in 1940 the number grew to 5,663. Most of them were businessmen, artisans and owners of small stores and workshops. The first deportation of the Jews to Auschwitz took place May 1942; the second in June.


[Page 75]


The mass-deportation to Auschwitz occurred in August of the same year. From the first to the seventh of August 1943, the Hitlerists deported about 3,000 Jews from Sosnowiec, Będzin, and Dąbrowa Górnicza to Auschwitz. Approximately 400 Jews were shot “while attempting to escape or resist”[4]

(from the Silesian Library in Katowice, translated from Polish).

Sources
  1. Marjan Kantor-Mirski: “From the past of Zagłębie Dąbrowskie and surroundings,” Sosnowiec, 1931, volume 1, page 236.
  2. Jan Pierzchold: “Zagłębie legend,” Katowice, 1962, page 42.
  3. There: “ Zagłębie Legend,” Katowice, 1962, page 42.
  4. “Groyse algemeyne entsiklopedye” [big general encyclopedia], Warsaw, 1963, volume 2, page 83.
  5. M. Kantor-Mirski [ibid.]: “From the past of Zagłębie Dąbrowskie and surroundings,” 1931, volume 1 pages 270-72.
  6. “Document about the extermination of the Zagłębie Dąbrowskie Jews during the Hitler occupation” and “Bulletin of the Jewish Historical Committee,” 1962 no. 33-44, page 113.

__________
  1. Jan Pierzchold, “Zagłębie Legend,” Katowice, 1962, p. 42. [This is the numbering used by the author, not the translator – HBF]. return
  2. “Groyse algemeyne entsiklopedye,” Vol. 2, p. 83. return
  3. Mirski, Vol. 1, pp. 270-72. return
  4. “Document,” numbers 33-44, page 113. return
__________

[Page 76]


Details about Dąbrowa
(related by my father Szmul Frajlich z”l)

by Cwi Symchoni

Translated by Dr. Hannah Berliner Fischthal


I first came to Dabrowa as a youth in 1900 when I paid to be a journeyman to Josel Wilkes. He lived then in Reden in the home of Lajbl Frochtcwajg. He had a nickname “Tsigush” [pipe] because of the long one which he always kept in his mouth, never taking it out, whether he smoked or not. He was an angry Jew with a bass voice, and strict. In the corridors of the courtyard stood large crates with papers which his son-in-law Jekele Rozen, who lived with him, had from his business – they were full of tobacco and cigarettes. No child outside of the family was permitted in these corridors to play with the little papers, which used to flutter around.

Out of protest, children would take revenge against “Tsigush” for not allowing them into the courtyard. They used to enter it fearfully, grab a few papers, and run away. Nobody envied the child he would catch committing this sin.

In general, the colony of Reden did not make a homey impression. The main street, from the so-called barracks until Reden, had deep ditches on both sides. When it rained, the water reached to the barracks, where it disappeared. Small, wooden bridges were scattered every few meters so we could go from one sidewalk to another.

In the small streets there were no bridges, and the mud was terrible. In the lower places the mud was a half-meter high. When a wagon with goods got its wheels stuck in the deep mud, several people had to go and help pull it out. On the sides the mud was thin. We had to maneuver and search well where to step. A person could put his foot in the mud and pull it out, minus his boot. That's how it was in the low places where there was no drain for the water. The water remained in the same place, until it dried out.

You could find a prayer minyan at old Rechnic's home on Chochlewka-Zagórcze (street). Whoever wanted to pray in Reden, cut through the coalmine “Reden,” and pushed his way through to Chochlewka-Zagórcze.

The elderly Rechnic, slightly hunchbacked, was a rich Jew; he kept horses in the colliery “Mortimer” in Zagórcze. He sat like an innkeeper in his courtyard with his whole family, and all were employed on his “ranch.”

The large factories with the tall chimneys, the Huta Bankowa, the zinc works “Huta Cynkowa,” and the coalmine “Reden,” were not encompassed by walls in those days. From the large ovens, tongues of fire of all colors issued forth. In the dark nights you could see a beautiful photographic mirage.

*

The entire administration of Dabrowa consisted, in those days, of a village ruler and a scribe. They were in “Reden,” located a story above the pharmacist. On the ground floor of the community building was the prison (“Koze,” as it was called). During the time of the Russian occupation, the “koze” consisted of two rooms, one for the arrestees and another for the guard.


[Page 77]


The ruler of the village, Lis – that was his name – a short man with a hunchback, a big anti-Semite, endorsed all the anti-Jewish legislation of the Tsarist government, and looked to catch anybody breaking a rule. If a young man from another town had no passport, nobody would envy him. Lis quickly denounced him, and the stranger was imprisoned until he was sent away in a procession of convicts.




Ripped out pages…

(from the history of the Jewish community in Dąbrowa-Górnicza)

by Cwi Symchoni

Translated by Dr. Hannah Berliner Fischthal


Our town Dąbrowa is one of the youngest towns in Poland. It grew out of the hidden, thick forest areas, where thieves loitered on the paths, waiting to rob their victims.

It was not built in the characteristically antiquated style of other old towns and villages in Poland; it did not have a market area around it, no old castles, no remains of the old Polish battles (which had invited Jews to come to develop trade), no old cemetery, and so on. This is why the town lore is woven with legends of great humanitarian personalities, of large deeds and accomplishments in all areas of society.

Sometime in the 17th and 18th centuries, when the first sprouts of industry became visible, engineers came from Germany and France (engaged through the big capitalistic concerns at the time). They met in the western corner of Poland, in the large forests surrounding the town of Będzin. The goal was to extract, from rich layers of earth of outstanding quality, great treasures of coal and iron. Intensive work was begun to dig out of the depths the precious material used to heat and to drive the machinery of industry.

The classless farmers of the surrounding villages began to stream to various points where new possibilities for work were forming. A new place to live began to be established. The neighboring Jews of Będzin were the first to step over the threshold. They actually named the new place with the name from the “brama” [gate] of the wall that used to surround Będzin, the remains of which were still visible as of late.

People did not know the names of the Jews who came to Dąbrowa. They were known by the city from which they came. For example: Proszowicer, Jędrzejówer, Szydłowiecer, etc.

The town of Dąbrowa was divided into various neighborhoods which were called “colonies.” Workers concentrated around every coalmine or factory. They built houses and, with time, constructed larger and smaller streets. In addition, social networks built apartments for their workers and employees, who received apartments in which to live at no cost. In every colony, two or three Jews, artisans or a small businessmen searching for a place to live and to earn a living, would push themselves in.

The largest concentration of Jews lived in the part of town called the “Huta Bankowa.” Esteemed artisans and employers, Chasidim and progressives, workers and toilers, lived there.

When Hitler, may his name be blotted out, and his hooligans befell Poland – our town suffered the same fate as all the other towns in Poland – it was ruined and everything was eradicated down to the foundation.


[Page 78]


A collection of articles from
the “Hatzfira” and “Mizrachi” newspapers

Translated by Lance Ackerfeld




Prohibition of Jews settlement in the city

The Dąbrowa city council decided that it is prohibited for any Jew to settle in this city, except if he had received a license for this beforehand from the city (“Glos Radomski”).

(“Hatzfira” Warsaw 25th of Iyar 5677 – [17th May 1917])




Riots

In Dąbrowa, like in many other cities in Poland, anti-Jewish riots took place. In Dąbrowa the soldiers carried out beatings and looting, the same soldiers fired at a procession of strikers and after they dispersed them, they looted Jewish shops, and with that they finished their handiwork. In Dąbrowa and the rest of the places an unseen hand was felt, that organized and supervised the riots. In Dąbrowa and Kielce there were threats of riots and the Jews were warned about them before they occurred. The rumors of riots in Dąbrowa made an impression on the Jewish laborers and they did not take any part in procession.

The Jewish weekly “Hatzfira” dedicated in its 12th edition (18th of Adar II, 5679) an article “about the forecast” of riots against the Jews in the city of Dąbrowa as well, that according to the indications, these were riots that had been organized ahead of time, that they had a political intention, and the intention was apparent and clear: to put down the laborers' strike and the uprising that was seen beforehand, not only by forceful and violent means, not only by shooting, but also by assisting the riots against the Jews. The laborer's strike, which was meant to be a strong protest against the political agenda prevailing in Poland, had been talked about for a long time. However, the authorities made preparations in order to put down the insurgence and especially in the Dąbrowa region, in which communist ideology had been spread amongst the laborers, and it seemed that the owners of the unseen hand had succeeded, and riots against Jews took place before, during and after the strike.

(“Hatzfira” 18th of Adar II, 5679 – 20th May 1919).




The Zionist “Histadrut”

In spite of the difficult conditions that the Zionist “Histradrut” had to work under in our city, the Zionist labor [party] had developed well over the last period of time. The number of organized members has grown and up to 200 “shekalim” [Zionist membership fees] have been sold. 4,397 crowns have been collected for the national fund and its institutions, from which 698 crowns are for the Jews living in the land of Israel. Likewise, the Zionists in our city endeavor to distribute Jewish newspapers, not only in our city, but also in nearby cities.


Awremele Lajb Sztorchajn - dab078.jpg [30 KB]
Awremele Lajb Sztorchajn
one of the “Mizrachi” founders in Dąbrowa


A lack of Zionist speakers and organizers of our age is felt, which could have brought about great things in our region.
(“Hatzfira” 13th of Iyar 5678 – 25th April 1918)

The Zionist movement is very strong and significant amongst the 500 Jewish families settled here. On the 20th of Tamuz a meeting was held and 2,300 crowns were raised for the Jewish National fund.

On Thursday, the 24th of Tamuz, a wonderful Herzl dinner was held in the “Odeon” theatre. The hall was appropriately decorated. M. J. Fried from Warsaw appeared as speaker, and enlightened on the spiritual profile of our leader. On the screen there were slides shown from the congress and the settlements in the Land of Israel. The orchestra played some Mendelssohn Bartholdy pieces. The dinner ended with the singing of the “Hatikva” [Israeli national anthem] amongst an incredible spiritual uplifting. As a token of recognition, the “Bet Ha'am” [organization] decided to plant five trees in the Herzl forest in the name of the speaker, Mr. Fried. The “Tzofim” [scouts] planted another three trees in the name of the speaker.

(“Hatzfira” 9th of Av 5678 – 18th July 1918)



[Page 79]


“Histadrut Hamizrachi”

Rabbi Jechiel Rapaport from Andrzejów and Mr. Juda Szczeranski from Warsaw visited our town for a month. This rabbi founded the “Mizrachi” organization, and many prominent people of the city were members of it. Mr. Szransky ran an extensive campaign for the “Mizrachi” fund and he managed, despite the small number of members, to collect a respectable sum.

On Wednesday, the 1st of Tevet, there was a founding meeting for the “Tzirei Mizrachi” [Young “Mizrachi”]. Mr. Chaim Lustiger spoke about the “Mizrachi” concept and also explained to the assembled gathering about the function of the “Tzirei Mizrachi”. After the lecture, a committee was elected in which the following people participated: Szlomo Brandys, Cwi Nusbaum, Chaim Lustiger, Chaim Grajcer and Natan Nusbaum. At the same event a sum of five hundred crowns were collected for the erection of a building in the land of Israel, and the planting of trees in the Herzl forest in the name of our founding member Mr. Chaim Lustiger. Likewise, classes were begun in the themes of bible, Talmud, the Hebrew language and the history of the Jewish people.

(“Hamizrachi”, Warsaw 14th of Tevet 5679 – 15th January 1919)

The “Tzirei Mizrachi” in our city held a dinner on the 15th of Shevat. Member, Chaim Lustiger, opened the dinner and members, Chaim Welner (Bedzin), Wajner (Sosnowiec) and Wajnszel lectured in eloquent Hebrew. At the same event a respectable sum of money was collected for the Herzl forest.

It is worth noting, that we thought about holding the dinner in the synagogue, however, the “Shlomi Emunei Israel” organization [The welfare of Jewish beliefs] influenced the community authorities and didn't allow us to carry out what we'd planned.

(“Hamizrachi” 13th of Adar I 5679 – 13th February 1919)

On the 1st of Iyar a “Mizrachi” type “cheder” [Jewish school] was opened with two departments. There were about 50 pupils. The curriculum was: Torah, the prophets, Mishnah, the Hebrew language, explanation of prayers and secular studies. There was a supervisory committee in charge of the “cheder” in which the following participated: S. Rabinowicz, J. Friedman, S. Finkelsztajn, J. Welner, A. Waltfrajnd and L. Kochen.

(“Hamizrachi” 20th of Sivan 5679 – 18th June 1919)

By request of the regional committee in Sosnowiec, on Tuesday we had a general meeting of our organization members on the 16th of Av, in which participated the Rabbi Gaon Menachem-Mendel Landau, may he live long and merry, from Zabrze, and members of the central committee, Mr. Levi-Icchak Jungster and Mr. Icchaak-Cwi Wajner from Sosnowiec. The hall was completely filled. Mr. Chanoch-Gerszon Szpilberg proposed electing the Rabbi Gaon as the chairman, and members of the presidency, Messrs Levi-Icchak Jungster, Icchak-Cwi Wajner, Jakob-Szalom Fiszel, Jakob Friedman, and secretaries – J. J. Bach and S. Nusbaum. His proposition was accepted with a prolonged applause. The honorable visiting rabbi opened the meeting with a short speech which had a deep and impression on the gathering. Mr. Levi-Ichhak Jungster presented a report on the central committee's activities and encouraged the audience to help the organization in any way they could. His speech was halted several times because of enthusiastic applause. Mr. J. Wajner spoke about the Rabbi Akiva fund. His speech made a great impression on the audience. The chairman suggested a 15 minute break and during this time, another 25 members enrolled. In addition, a respectable sum of money was collected for the “Histadrut” taxes. Mr. Szpilberg presented a report on the activities of the civic committee. Y. Jungster closed the meeting with a short speech and approached the members with a vigorous request that they work with all their power for the “Hamizrachi”. The meeting ended with the singing of “Hatikva”. It was decided to plant a garden in the Herzl forest in the name of the Rabbi Gaon from Zabrize, may he live long and merry.

(“Hamizrachi” 26th of Elul 5679 – [21st September 1919])

After a lengthy break in the activities of the KKL [Jewish National Fund] in our city, we returned to work. A five member combined committee was elected, in which two of our members participated. The new committee began working with enthusiasm. The rest of the members also devoted themselves to collecting money during Purim. A total of ten thousand marks were collected for the KKL – this was the sum of money defined by the central committee of the KKL, and it was four times larger than the sum collected in previous years.

(“Hamizrachi” 13th of Nisan 5681 – [21st September 1921])

After a short break we went back to work. We called a general members meeting, and member, S. Wajnrajch spoke about the function of “Tzirei Mizrachi” during the present period. After this, a permanent new committee presented themselves for elections, and they were organized thus: S. Wajnrajch – chairman, Ch. Grajcer – deputy chairman, Z. Liberman – secretary, C. Nusbaum – treasurer, J. Siwek – the cultural and KKL representative, Naftali Bitner – “Keren Hechalutz” representative and members of the committee: A. C. Wolhendler, S. Brandys, N. Frajman. The new committee immediately began actual work. We are certain, that its function will be satisfactory.

(“Hamizrachi” 18th of Elul 5681 – 22nd September 1919)



[Page 80]


On Thursday, the second day of Sukkot, our city was covered in order to advertise and organize our work, in particular the work of the “Keren Hechalutz Hamizrachi” [the “Mizrachi” fund], the members: Mr. Chaim Welner a member of the main committee and directorate member of the “Keren Hechalutz Hamizrachi” in Poland, Mr. Mosze Lewin in Bedzin. On the same day we immediately called for a members meeting. Member Zew Liberman opened the meeting and passed to Mr. Wolman, who gave a long speech about the various undertakings and, in particular, the spiritual undertaking of the “Tzirei Mizrachi”, and in enthusiastic words demanded for the members to learn how to be pioneers of “Hamizrachi”, and build up the country [Israel] in the spirit of the Torah. After this Mr. Lewin spoke. He outlined the reasons behind the founding of the “Keren Chalutz Hamizrachi” which was to give the material opportunity to our members to go and live in the land of Israel and build it up. At the end of his talk he proposed to organize a special committee for this fund, which would deal with collecting money, tools and work implements. His proposition was accepted unilaterally and the elected committee comprised the following six members: Efraim Lenczner, Zew Liberman, Chaim Grajcer, Ruwen Londner, Cwi Rechnic and Icchak Siwek.
(“Hamizrachi” 4th of Cheshvan 5683 – 26th October 1922)



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