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The Andrychów Community

49°51' / 19°21'

 

The establishment and development of the Jewish community
in Andrychów, Rabbis and Judges

Dr. David Jakubowicz – Tel Aviv

Translated by Sara Mages

Until the first division of Poland in 1772, there were only a few Jews in Andrychów and there wasn't a Jewish community there. The reason for that is simple. Andrychów (in the past it was called Henrychów) was a village from the 14th century until 1767. Of course, a place with a status of a village didn't attract Jews to come and live in it. In 1767, Andrychów received the status of a city from King Stanisław August Poniatowski[1]. The status of a royal city influenced and encouraged the Jews to settle there. The annexation of Galicia to Austria greatly influenced in this direction.

In “Encyclopaedia Judaica” of Dr. Klatzkin[2], it is stated that the Jewish settlement in Andrychów occurred at the beginning of the 19th century. From Mrs. Antonia Hemer, who lives today in Netanya, we know that her grandmother was born in Andrychów about 1806.

According to the book “The Wadowice district in the Galician Government “[3], in 1843 there were only two Jewish communities in this district– Oświęcim and Zator. Therefore, we can determine with certainty, that in 1843 the settlement in Andrychów didn't have a legal status of a Jewish community.

Below is the number of Jews in the city:

Year Total Jews % Jews According
to
1851 1,051 181 17.1 [5]
1880 2,947 482 16.4 [4]
1890 4,053 654 16.1 [4]
1900 4,057 621 15.3 [4]
1919 4,514 511 11.3 [5]
1921 4,171 409 9.8 [2]
1939* 6,299 387 6.1 [5]
1939** 6,441 370 5.1 [5]

* Before the outbreak of the war
** In December

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According to those figures, the number of Jews increased in the second half of the19th century. We can see in it a connection to the domestic industry of white cloth weaving that existed in Andrychów for generations. In 1839, only 4 Polish industrialists from Andrychów, and the nearby villages[3], participated in the cloth industry exhibition in Vienna. The Poles managed the industry on a small scale and in primitive methods.

As opposed to them, the Jews, who flowed to Andrychów at that time, started to establish factories that employed salaried workers. Over time, they brought modern machines to Andrychów from Vienna and England, and by improving the quality of the goods and the conquest of new markets all over Austria, they were able to turn the domestic industry into a modern industry that had a reputation throughout Europe.

There is no doubt, that the lack of a Jewish community statue in an industrial settlement, with a significant percentage of Jews, was intolerable at that time. The registration the cemetery plot (in 1884) in the estate's books, testify that the Jewish community was given a legal status before that date. It's impossible to determine the exact year, but it's clear that it happened between 1843 and 1884, and before the establishment of the legal Jewish community in Wadowice (when we compare the dates of the construction of the synagogues and establishment of the cemeteries in the two communities).

The leaders of the Jewish community in Andrychów:

  1. Moritz Unger
  2. Moritz Herbst
  3. Theodore Flikes
  4. Ferdinand Stamberger
  5. Bernard Stamberger
  6. Aharon (Arnold) Weinsfat
  7. Dr. Joachim Lowitz
In previous years there was a synagogue built of wood. Because of its old age the structure started to fall apart. In 1885, a grand new synagogue was built in the same place by the leader of the Jewish community Moritz Unger.

Until 1879, an elementary religious school, where the children of Andrychów's Jews studied, existed next to the Jewish community. The teachers were the local rabbi and his assistant. Rabbi Yosef Kowak[6] was also one of those teachers. The separation between Christian and Jewish children can be attributed to the education law that existed at the time. Radical changes have occurred since 1867/68, when the Austrian Empire became a liberal state, and the Jews received equal civil rights. Then, a religious law (Konfessionsgesetz), which canceled the discrimination between the Jews and other nationalities, was posted. After several years, permission was also given to Andrychów's Jewish children to study together with the Polish children, and the Jewish Elementary School was eliminated

The cemetery plot was purchased in 1884. In the years 1922-1924

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a new Mikveh [ritual bath], a new community building with a meeting hall, and a resident for the rabbi were built next to the synagogue by the head of the Jewish community of that time, Ferdinand Stamberger.

According to the figures listed above, the Jewish population started to decline in 1919 with the revival of Poland and the opening of Galicia to the imports of textiles from the factories in Łódź. Andrychów couldn't face competition, and its industry began to decline from year to year. This situation caused the emigration of some Jews to Bielitz and to other cities. Usually other Jews didn't come, because unlike Wadowice the vast majority of Jews in Andrychów were “advanced” Jews, and the Jews of the nearby towns, Chrzanów, Oświęcim and Zator, were usually orthodox Jews who preferred to emigrate to Wadowice.

The situation in the nearby villages was worse. In 1894 there were 97 Jews in the village of Inwald, and only a few families remained there close to the war. The reasons for this decrease are listed in the history of the Jewish community of Wadowice (the implementation of the law to sell brandy, the anti-Semitic movement in the villages, and the establishment of the Polish supermarkets).

 

Rabbis and Judges

We don't have clear details about the first rabbis in Andrychów. The first rabbi, whose history was investigated by us, is Rabbi Dr. Yosef Kobak (1828-1913) who was born in Lvov. He was a great scholar and also studied at the university in Lvov. Starting from 1860, he was the principle of the Jewish School in Andrychów, and from 1862 he served as Andrychów's Rabbi. For some time, he preached and was a school principle in Liptovský- Mikuláš (Slovkia). Later, until1888, he worked as a rabbi in the city of Amberg, Germany. In 1889 he returned to Lvov and was a preacher and a religion teacher there.

Rabbi Kobak established a Jewish Science magazine, which was published in 8 volumes in Germany in the years 1856-78. He also wrote a Hebrew grammar book for schools and for self-taught. He passed away in Lvov on 7 February, 1913.[7]

We don't know who replaced him when he left the city.

From the book “Ohel Yehoshua” (questions and answerers) chapter two, by the President of the Court of Oshpitsin [Oświęcim], Rabbi Yehoshua Pinchas Bombach, it is known that:

a) In 5664 (1904) Rabbi Asher Rabin served as a judge and rabbi in Andrychów. Later, he served as a rabbi in the city of Korczyna.[8]

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b) In 5669 (1909), there was a judge and rabbi in Andrychów by the name of Rabbi Yakov Shlomo (his last name isn't mentioned).[9]

During our time, Rabbi Aba Matzner served as Andrychów's rabbi. He was a native of Zator and a religious teacher to the Jewish children in Andrychów's Elementary School. He was a cultured rabbi, spoke fluent German and Polish, and tried to give his children a secular education. His daughter Lola graduated from Wadowice's High School and studied medicine in Kraków. He was popular in Andrychów and his German and Polish speeches were impressive. An entire generation received a religious education from him.

For a certain period of Rabbi Aba Matzner tenure, also orthodox judges served in Andrychów. One of them was Rabbi Mendel Stern. When Rabbi Mendel Stern moved to serve as a rabbi in Bielitz, his son, Rabbi Moshe, filled his position. After the death of his father he also served as a rabbi in Bielitz.

After the death of Rabbi Aba Matzner in 1925, Rabbi David Avigdor was received in his place. Rabbi David Avigdor was born in Tyrawa-Wołoska in 1897. His father, who was a rabbi in Tyrawa-Wołoska, taught him during his youth. Later, he was taught by his older brother Yakov, who at that time was a famous rabbi in Drohobych and Boryslav, and after the Second World War he was the Chief Rabbi of Mexico City.

He also continued his education in secular studies and studied the art of painting.

At the outbreak of the First World War, when the Russian army invaded Galicia, he fled with his parents to Prague. There, he often visited Prague's Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Chaim Brody, and continued to study science.

After the war he returned to his hometown and got married in Sanok in 1921. He sold books and sacred vessels, and headed the district's chapter of the “Mizrachi” [religious Zionist] movement.

During his tenure in Andrychów, he worked to promote the study of the Torah among the locals and in the nearby towns, by giving lessons in Judaism to the youth and Talmud lessons to the older generation.

He was one of the principals of “Tachkemoni High-School in Kraków, and promoted the “Mizrachi movement with his enthusiastic speeches all over Western Galicia. He wrote many articles on religious and political issues in popular newspapers in Warsaw. As credit to his work, he was appointed as a member of the executive committee of “Mizrachi” in western Galicia and Silesia in Kraków. Later he was elected as chairman of the board of “Mizrachi” and “Torah v'Avodah” [Torah and work] movements.

He fled to Lvov the outbreak of the Second World War. When the Germans invaded Lvov in 1941 moved to Tarnów. On Rosh Hashanah 1942 he was probably sent from there to an extermination camp. His two sons, Avraham Yissachar and Shlomo Zalman, also perished in the Holocaust.

Throughout his life he wrote articles that were published at first in the “Yiddishe Tageblatt” [The Jewish Daily Page] and later in the “Yiddishe Shtime “ [The Jewish Voice] in Warsaw. He also wrote a weekly feuilleton under the name “Rodgiva”

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(Avigdor in reverse letters). He wrote a diary during the occupation and sent desperate letters to his friends in Israel.

His image is engraved among the circles of the “Mizrachi” movement in Western Galicia. In the commemoration committee meeting that was held at the “Religious Council” in Tel-Aviv on 16 February, 1966, it was decided to take steps to establish a “library in the name of Rabbi David Avigdor” in Ramat Karniel (near Pardes Chana).

Our small community had a great success in choosing rabbis. In many cases, the rabbi became known after the name of the city in which he served, and the city became famous thanks to its rabbis and scholars. The rabbi drew his inspiration and his prosperity from the city's greatness and history. In Andrychów it was the other way around. The rabbis didn't acquire their fame because they served in this small city, but the Jewish community acquired fame thanks to its rabbis.

Usually, small Galician communities aren't mentioned in “Encyclopaedia Judaica” (by Klatzkin), but the name of the city of Andrychów, with a description of its history, appears there only because Rabbi Kobak served there. It is a miracle that in a small city, far from Jewish centers, there were famous rabbis and editors of scientific journals like “Yeshurun “ that was published in Wrocław and Frankfurt, or journalists who wrote for news papers in Warsaw. One of them was Rabbi Avigdor. He was also a member of the executive committee and chairman of the board of the “Mizrachi “ movement, one of the major Zionist movements in Western Galicia and Silesia. He also represented the movement in global congresses.

Balaban, Sokolow, Zeitlin and Rafael Wizdman wrote special entries about Andrychów's rabbis. As aforesaid, there is a plan to build a library in Israel in memory of one of them. The Jewish community was destroyed, but thanks to the rabbis, men of science, writers and intellectuals, Andrychów's name will remain forever in the history of Polish Jewry.


  1. “Welka Encyklpedja Powszechana”, Warsaw 1955. Return
  2. Berlin 1928, Volume II, Page 827. Return
  3. “Der Wadowitzer Kreis-Mehofer”, Vienna 1843, pages 17, 23. Return
  4. Table No. 2 at the beginning of this book. Return
  5. Andrychów's city archives. Return
  6. “Encyclopaedia Judaica” by Dr. Klatzkin, Berlin 1928. Volume X Page 142, The “Jewish Encyclopedia” edited by Dr. Kacenelson, Volume viii, Page 995. Return
  7. Encyclopedias - Dr. Kacenelson and Dr. Klatzkin; Sokolow, Yizkor Book; Zeitlin, Library 174; Meir Balaban, Rabbi Kobak 1913 – A.Z.J. No. 19. Return
  8. The contents of the letter that was sent by the author: (Article 29) “The sharp learned rabbi, a Hasid from a prominent linage, our teacher and rabbi R' Asher Rabin, rabbi and judge of the community of Andrychów. His letter came to me today, it is true that my hands are tied at this appointed time, but after I saw that this was necessary for the practice and the joy of the holiday, I found a moment to write a short answer to his question that they forgot to remove the paper that was glued to the outside walls of the wine barrels, and remained there for Passover, and I have the power to determine, that they can drink the wine at Passover by the virtue that it is preserved and cooked” etc. Return
  9. (Article 30) “To the prominent Rabbi, our teacher and rabbi R' Yakov Shlomo, Rabbi and Judge of the Jewish community of Andrychów. His letter came to me and I am replying to the woman who had a leg wound that was always open and the doctor gave her medicine to heal it. A scab was formed on the wound, it is very big and embedded in the wound, and now she asks if she can perform the ritual immersion without having to remove it, because the doctor said if she does, she would be in danger, God forbid, of infection” etc. Return


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Figures and Personalities

Dr. David Jakubowicz – Tel Aviv

Translated by Sara Mages

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Rabbi Dawid Awigdor

 

Rabbi Dawid Awigdor

I would like to complete the biography of Rabbi Awigdor in a few words.

He became the spiritual leader of Andrychów's Jews immediately upon his arrival to the city. This city, which was partly indifferent to the Zionist idea and also assimilated, began, under his influence, to turn slowly into a Zionist city until all of its residents were enthusiastic Zionists. His patriarchal character made a huge impression during his appearances, and indeed, he won the honor and appreciation of all the members of the city. His speeches, in which he preached adherence to tradition and observance of the Sabbath and the commandments, were often heard in the synagogue. The Rabbi wasn't afraid to tell the truth and condemned unjust acts. He spared no effort to spread the Zionist idea and inspired his listeners to immigrate to Israel.

He participated in all of the celebrations of “Maccabi”, encouraged the movement to continue its work for the youth and their health, and was a consultant and supporter of the movement. He saw in the Zionist youth the future of the nation, and devoted a lot of his time to them by giving them lessons in Judaism and in the history of our nation. For this goal he also traveled to the nearby cities of Wadowice, Kalwaria, and the like.

He never differentiated between the social classes, the poor was close to him the same as the rich. He participated in all the family celebrations and in all the funerals.

Rabbi Awigdor was self-taught. He never studied in an elementary school or in a high school. In spite of that, he finished his studies in a high school in Krakow as an extraordinary graduate during his tenure in Andrychów.

A few days before the outbreak of war he participated as a delegate to the Zionist Congress in Geneva. Some of the delegates stayed there and saved their lives, but he, whose soul was tied to his beloved city and to his family, returned just before the outbreak of the war. A few days later he was forced to flee. He knew that because of his past appearances and his anti-Nazi speeches, there will be Poles who will hand him to the Nazis and they won't forgive him.

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Adela Enoch
A photo from the ghetto

 

Adela Enoch

She was born about 1860 in Andrychów. Her grandfather, Moritz Unger, was the head of the Jewish community who built the synagogue. She received her education in the famous lyceum [high school] for girls in Prague. She exchanged letters with Karin Michaëlis, and the cordial friendship with the famous writer encouraged her to write literary works: Fairy tales for children, songs and ballads. She also translated to German the stories of the Polish author Kornel Makuszyński. She composed works for the amateur theater in Andrychów, organized and managed it for many years, and was its director. She also wrote many texts for children's plays.

She also received many credits for her public life. She was an adviser and assistant to her grandfather and to Ferdynand Stamberger, when the leaders of the Jewish community
were engaged in the building of the community. For many years she served as chairwoman of the “Union” women's association

She was also active in the international movement for equal rights for women.
In 1905, she participated in the international congress for the emancipation of women in Vienna, and tied cordial relations with the congress' chairwoman Mrs. Heinisch, whose son was elected as president of the Republic of Austria after the fall of the Austrian Empire. She was in constant correspondence with her. When the Austrian Empire crumbled, a number of former government employees from Andrychów and the surrounding area remained in Vienna. After the new government refused to give them their old age pension, Adela Enoch, with Mrs. Heinisch's help, succeeded to aid these people in their critical situation.

In 1942, she was deported by the Nazis together with her daughter Matilda to a death camp. Her daughter Clara died tragically when the Germans entered the city. Her third
daughter, Irma, died in Theresienstadt (the information was obtained from Mrs. Yaja Neuberger from Bat-Yam).

 

Rafael Zeilender and his son Dr. Adolf Zeilender

The first was a famous figure in the whole area because of his great success in healing patients using leeches and plants. The public, including educated people, believed in his medical theory although he wasn't qualified to treat patients. Patients, not only from Andrychów and the area but also from distant towns, waited for hours in the corridor of his house to receive medical treatment. Of course, there were people who were jealous at him and reported him to the police, but he caused serious troubles when the court issued its ruling.

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He didn't neglect his son's Adolf legal medical profession, and sent him to the university in Vienna. After he completed his studies he became as famous as his father. As an excellent diagnostic doctor he attracted many patients from the whole area.

In 1943, Dr. Adolf Zeilender and his wife were shot by the Nazis in Tarnów. His children were deported from Andrychów to a death camp. May the Lord avenge their blood.

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Ferdynand Stamberger

 

Ferdynand Stamberger

Emigrated to Andrychów from Krościenko near Dunajec around 1864, and built the first factory for fabric's dye and print. He served for many years as the leader of the Jewish community, and built a modern Mikve and a community meeting hall that was also used for parties. He served as a member of the executive committee of the City Council until the day of his death. He also excelled as a great philanthropist. He has done a lot for the public by his lobbying to the local authorities. He died in 1925 at age of 85.

His youngest son, Sigmund (Siga), died a hero's death as an Austrian officer in the First World War.

His firstborn son:

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Bernard Stamberger

 

Bernard Stamberger

Was born in 1876, and was the owner of a large factory for textiles. He followed his father's footsteps and devoted himself to public affairs activities. He was the chairman of the Jewish community for several years, and cared for the maintenance of the synagogue, the community's buildings, and the cemetery. He was the first chairman of “Maccabi” and has done a lot for the community's sports activities together with his son Avraham. He was a member of the executive committee of the City Council, and when the city decided to build a swimming pool the project to given to his hands. The pool, which was built under his care, was the glory of the city and famous all over Poland, and attracted national and international swimmers.

In 1937, in recognition of thanks for his good deeds for the community, a grand assembly was held in his honor at the synagogue. A large crowd attended and he was given the honorary title "Moreno"[“Our Teacher”, a title given to great rabbis or scholars] by Rabbi Awigdor of blessed memory.

He died in 1950 in the city of Czchów. His son Avraham lives in Tel-Aviv.

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Arnold Weinsaft

 

Aharon (Arnold) Weinsaft

Aharon Weinsaft was born in 1885 in Grzymałów. After graduating university with a degree in commerce he married Regina Felix from Andrychów. He successfully ran an agency of textile products that belonged to the Tzezowizka brothers. The combination of Jewish education that he absorbed at his parents' home and his secular studies, prepared him to deal with public's needs. In 1925, he was elected as the chairman of the Jewish community, and apart from a break in the years 1937-39 he served until 1940 when he was dismissed from his office by the Nazis. He was arrested because of his demand that the Jewish residents will be provided with kosher meat.

He was loyal and impartial to his kinsman. He acted and cared for all the city's residents, from founding a nursery school to fostering the “Halutz” [pioneer] movement, from raising money for “Keren Kayemet LeYisrael” to the distribution of the “Zionist Shekel”. He stood behind the women's organizations WIZO and "Froyen Fareyn" ["Women's Association"]. He was a father and a friend to the youth whose future was his main concern, and provided their material and cultural needs. He stood proudly on public rights and fiercely protected the needs of the individual. His heart was open to all who turned to him because there wasn't a limit to his dedication to the city's residents. His work for the relations between the Jewish population and the municipally was noticeable. As a city councilman for many years he stood on guard in the conflicts between the population and the municipality or any other authorities, and didn't spare his time to help a Jew.

His wife Regina helped him and followed his ways. She was active in the women's organizations WIZO and "Froyen Fareyn”, and has done a lot to introduce the national ideas among the local women. She had a deep social sense and was imbued with love for others. She fed the poor and encouraged the helpless. Every day a number of the city's poor ate at her table, and many food rations were distributed by her to the needy. She was active in the cultural field and organized many theater productions that their income was dedicated to public needs.

The home of Aharon Weinsaft and his wife was an advanced devoted home. Both were dreamers of Zion and carried their hearts to Israel. In 1935, their eldest daughter Stella (Doron) immigrated to Israel as a pioneer. The whole family should have followed her, but only the second daughter, Irene (Wischnitzer), did. The parents and their son weren't rewarded to do so.

Weinsaft and his wife were deported to Auschwitz in 1942. The location of their burial is unknown. Their names are engraved for eternity on a common memorial in Andrychów's cemetery and in the hearts of their surviving townsmen. And so, a beautiful family was lost from the world, one of many that their children were bound to by love. It seems that righteousness doesn't protect against tyranny.

Their son, Yakov, died in Lvov after he was severely wounded in a “Luftwaffe” bombing on his flight to the east in the fateful September of 1939.

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Engineer Max Felix

 

The Engineer Max Felix

Son of Theodore Felix, an important textile industrialist, managed his father's factory from 1920-1934, and also coordinated all the Zionist activities in our city. He invited speakers, organized the national celebrations, and the fundraising for “Keren Kayemet LeYisrael” [The Jewish National Fund] together with Isidor Krumholz. He also participated as the district's delegate to the Zionist Congresses. He provided the equipment to the Halutzim [pioneers] and to “Maccabi”. Among his other activities he also established a kindergarten.

He was fascinated by the image of Herzl and preached his ideas among the youth groups. He already visited Israel in 1921, and when he returned he became an enthusiastic Zionist and preached about immigration to Israel. He immigrated to Israel in 1934, and founded the “Volev” company (Israel's warehouses for machines Ltd.). He died in 1958. His wife lives in Tel Aviv.

 

Andrychów-born Jewish Personalities

The engineer Adolf Greenspan, son of Yoachim who lives today in New-York. His invention for the oil industry is famous around the world. This invention was issued copyright certificates (patents) in different countries.

Professor Dr. Arthur Felix, bacteriologist, son of the community leader Theodore Felix, was born in Andrychów in 1887. He was a personal friend of Prof. Chaim Weitzman, the first president of Israel, and cooperated with him in a scientific research during the First World War. He became famous throughout the world in the field of serology by determining a diagnosis for Typhus Fever and Typhoid Fever. In 1915 he invented, together with Dr. Weil from Prague, the method of diagnosing Typhoid Fever that is named after both of them, the “Weil-Felix-Test”. This method is being used extensively by the modern medicine of our time.

In the years 1921-25, he lived in Israel and worked for the Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem, and was appointed as the director of the Hadassah Bacteriology Institute. Upon his return to London in 1925 he became a member of the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine. He died in 1956 and his bones were laid to rest in Israel. The Bacteriology Institute of the Ministry of Health in Abu Kabir, Tel Aviv is named after him: “The A. Felix Public Health Laboratories” *

* The “Yiddish Lexicon”, volume 2, page 618 (Dr. Herlitz-Dr. Kishner)
Bacterial and Mycotic Infections of Man-Dubos 1948, pages 382, 383 ss
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Emelia Ziskind, the sister of Arthur and Max Felix. She was the national president of WIZO in Western Galicia that its headquarters was in Krakow. She worked a lot for this organization. She died at the prime of her life

Dr. Leopold Kirshner, Shmuel's son, a famous bacteriologist who was employed after the First World War by the Dutch government as a bacteriologist in its colonies in Asia. He now lives in New Zealand


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The Andrychów Jewry at the time of the Holocaust

Yitzhak Koren

Translated by Sara Mages

At the outbreak of the war there were 387 Jews in Andrychów and all of them left the city in fear of the war. From them, around 70% returned and the rest moved to Eastern Poland which was occupied by the Russians. Therefore, the number of those who returned was about 270.

When a census was carried out by the Nazis in December 1939, it became clear that there were 370 Jews in our city. About a third of them were new. Some emigrated from Silesia. In that census all of Andrychów's Jews declared that their spoken language was Polish, unlike some of the Poles who declared themselves as “Polskie Deutsche” [Poles of German origin]. This attitude was quite typical to the Jews but not to the Poles whose country was in trouble.

During the first months the war the Jews were already taken to perform various forced labor like, cleaning the streets, clearing snow from the sidewalks, and moving the furniture that were confiscated from the Jews to the “Polskie Deutsche” apartments. The goal wasn't only to exploit free labor, but to humiliate the Jews in the eyes of the Poles. And indeed, these actions have achieved their goal. The Polish population, in particularly the rural population, rejoiced when they saw the Jews in their depression and humiliation. But, before long, this joy turned into grief and sorrow. It happened when many Poles were transferred to work for the rich farmers in Germany. The agricultural population from the vicinity of Andrychów, which was for many generations 100% Polish, was deported to the east and was replaced by Germans from Bukovina. They were forced to return to their homeland under the agreement between the Russians and the Germans.

The Jews were forced to tidy and clean the abandoned apartments, and the Nazis weren't ashamed to burn all the Christians' holy “icons” in front of the Jews. For these jobs the Nazis also used young Jewish women, who mocked the German policemen and sang Jewish and Polish patriotic songs to them. We walked to work in rows. Each row had three people. Once the Nazis ordered us to sing. We refused because we were depressed, but under the Nazis' pressure we started to sing, at first quietly and then loudly, this anti-German song:

The Poles didn't dare to do such a thing.
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The young people were also taken to clean the police station and the Germans' offices. Groups of 100, including people from Wadowice, were transferred to regulate the “Wieprzówka” river.The names of 150 people, who were engaged in this work, appear on a list that is kept in Andrychów's city archive. Among them: 47 women, ten 14 year old boys, a 15 year old girl and a 68 year old man. An employment office was arranged in Felix's magnificent house. The Poles received unemployment benefits that were paid to all the citizens, but the Jews were deprived of all rights. The Jews couldn't buy food from the Poles and they did it in secret and with many difficulties

In 1940, Munik Merin, head of the central “Judenrat”, appeared in Andrychów accompanied by several police officers to take all the Jewish youth to forced labor. The community chairman, Aharon (Arnold) Weinsaft, alerted all the young people to flee from the city after a secret consultation with the police chief. Therefore, Merin couldn't even find one young person in Andrychów.

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Compulsory labour in cleaning the Andrychów pool in 1940
Photographed during rest interval

 

One day in June 1941 the first transport was sent to a forced labor camp. People who worked for the municipality or for the Water Department were saved from this decree. About 60 people were sent to Silesia. At the same time a list of the Jewish population was prepared, probably with a plan for additional transports to forced labor camps. In this list, which is kept in the city's archive, are the names of 456 people from Andrychów, 5 from the village of Wipesh, 13 from Ziki [Rzyki], 13 from Inwałd, and 11 from Zagórnik. The Jewish population in Andrychów grew during that period (from September 1939) by about 200 people, and included those who were exiled to the city and those who fled to it from near and far.

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The community leader, Aharon Weinsaft, has done all that he could to ensure kosher meat for the Jewish community. For this action he was arrested together with Pinchas Zweig.He was sent to prison in Bielitz [Bielsko-Biała] and Mr. Zweig was sent to Wadowice. After a lot of efforts both of them returned to Andrychów, but Weinsaft was deposed from his post. He always tried to fulfill the Nazis' orders in a reasonable way. The situation worsened after his dismissal.

In 1940, Olga Farber was sent to a concentration camp on the suspicion that she sold. Shortly after, her brother Henrik Lachowicz was sent to Auschwitz for smuggling food. He perished in Auschwitz. We rarely received news from the young people who were sent to Silesia, and the information wasn't good. The news said that they were employed in hard physical labor, and received a limited amount of food. We sent them food packages. Only a small portion of the shipment was given to them.

On 26 September 1941, a [ghetto] was established in Szewska and Brzegi streets. The first big Aktzia took place on 2 July 1942. At four o'clock in the morning the Germans woke up all the Jews with shouts and screams, and an order was given to go out to the street. The people were arranged in rows of 3 and each person had a backpack on his shoulders. They were transported to the courtyard of the Czeczowiczka brothers' factory. There, they were divided into five groups by the men of the S.S., and with the cooperation of Zarna, Merin's secretary. These are the groups of deportees:

  1. Adults and young women over the age of 13. The group of about 70 people was sent to perform forced labor in Germany.

  2. About 70 women and young childless women were sent to perform forced labor in Bolkenheim.

  3. Parents and children, a total of 100 people, were added to the train that was sent from Wadowice to Bełżec.

  4. A group of about 40 people, among them members of the city's elite, Aharon Weinsaft, his wife Regina and Adela Enoch, were kept for a few days in a freight car, and then they were sent to Auschwitz.

  5. A group of about 60 Jews from the “Judenrat” and the Jewish militia was deported to work in Wadowice Ghetto A few weeks later they were brought back to Andrychów.

Those who survived from the first group, after wandering in various camps and terrible life, are: Arthur Gross, Mitler, Adolf Neiger, Pela Nichthauser, Irka Weinsaft, the writer of these lines, Arthur and Erna Kuchler, Hela Schmeidler, Munik Rozenbaum, Natan and Henrik Szpangelet (Israel), Adolf Has, Berta (United States), Adolf and Rosa Koren (Italy) and Hela Goldberger (Australia)

On 1 July 1943, all the men from the fifth group were sent to a forced labor camp. From this group only Arthur Markowitz and Isidor Krumholz survived. The first immigrated to Israel and passed away there, and the second lives in New York. On 8 August 1943, all the women from the fifth group were added to a train that was sent to Auschwitz where they perished. There is no need to explain that all the members of the third and fourth group perished. I survived after a lot of wanderings and terrible life in the camps - Gröditz, Beranda, (where I was severely beaten just for discipline), Annaburg and Auschwitz. From Auschwitz the Nazis dragged us to Buchenwald during the evacuation of the camp. On 11 April 1945, I was released from Buchenwald by the American army.

The only survivor, who hid during the Aktzia and fled from our city, was David Zilbershitz. He immigrated to Israel and passed away there. Also Lola Bader was able to escape from a transport in Skawina. She hid in a village near the city of Maków together with her son Shimon and her nephew Adam.

As described above, a total of 25 people survived, meaning, less than 10% of the general population

[Page 297]

who was unable to escape east at the outbreak of the war. Most of the people who escaped to Eastern Galicia, Siberia and other locations died from hunger and from the cold weather.

Quite prominent is the number of 4 people (!) who were saved by fleeing. The “Judenrat” didn't even give us a hint that reporting to the gathering place meant destruction! On the contrary, prior to the Aktzia we got instructions on how to prepare for the journey to our new place, to sew bags and to take personal items not exceeding twenty kilograms with money and valuables (the money and valuables were confiscated immediately).

There is no doubt that Mr. Krumholz tried his best to save us and prevent the evil decree by giving bribes. A number of times he gave enormous amounts of money as ransom, but his efforts came to nothing. If the “Judenrat” revealed the secret of what was waiting to the Jewish youth, many young people would have escaped to the forests. And there was a place to escape to! In the area there were the famous forests of Archduke Mizewitch that stretched on for many kilometers. Mr. Weinsaft of blessed memory has done so during his tenure in 1940. Andrychów Ghetto, unlike other ghettos, wasn't completely closed until May 1943, and it was possible to escape. However, the members of the “Judenrat” were kept under the illusion that the Gestapo will have mercy on our city because of its exemplary cleanliness, the dedicated hard work of Andrychów's people for the Water Department, and because of the bribes mentioned above. It was too naive on their part. To date, we can't pass in silence the fact that the wonderful children, who could have been the glory of our town and our nation, stayed in the ghetto until it was liquidated and nothing was done to save them. There were Poles in the villages that without a doubt were willing to take them in order to return them at the end of the war, if not to their parents who perished, at least to our nation. But the “Judenrat” believed that they would be able to save us only by discipline and by obeying the Gestapo's orders. There were also rumors that an escape will cause a collective liability and a group punishment, and because of an escape of family members the parents will be sent to their death. Who knew then that the fate of the entire Jewry has been decided? Was it not that we were cut off from the outside world?

The total disaster of the destruction of all of our children in the gas chambers, when they didn't even know why they were doing it to them, shocked us so much that after the end of the war none of the survivors wanted to remain in the city on the ruins of our community. Each corner reminded us of the magnificent life that flourished there until 1939, and the last tragic days. Everyone moved away from the city, some to Israel and some overseas.

We will pay respect to the memory of our holy community, honor the martyrs and those who fought hard for their existence in forced labor camps, so they can live and tell the next generation what happened there, and keep things in our hearts so we won't forget what the Nazis have done to us and to our nation.

 

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