Edited by Alex Sharon "You, Schiff, you'd better think less of poetry and pay better attention to the geometry lessons...."
It was in the third, or fourth grade in the Boryslaw high school, when the math teacher teacher, Rolski addressed those words with a smile to one student who was good in everything. It was widely known that Tun'cio "amused himself" with poetry. He was guilty of some rhymes which were considered quite good. One verse circulating among the students was widely attributed to him:
Wise Pythagoras thinksHis fame as a poet started from the following event: The Polish teacher, Mr. Woyto, wrote three subjects on the blackboard. One was to be chosen for an assignment. Tun'cio chose number three, the so-called free one, "Winter Landscape." At the very end he added these improvised verses:
That mathematics stinks
But it's Mr Rolski's guess
that it is quite harmless.
The fields are white, the villages bowThe more he read verses of the great poets, the more his interest and love for poetry grew. He tested his own talent in this field by sending his poems to literary periodicals. In reply he received encouragement and more and more often, clippings of his printed poems. He swelled with pride when another writer praised his good style. To this he replied that it's no wonder, as his "stylus" is a "genuine Pelican fountain pen " and smiled, happy with his joke.
under the blue-white fluffy snow.
His poem "Urycze Rock" appeared in the high school periodical Our Life in November, 1925, signed U.M. Schiff. His lyrical prose sounded like mature, metaphorical poetry:
"And the song went among the people. It was a true help to a man in his travails. It soothed with a soft hand the sweaty brow of the tired worker, transported the child from its mother arms into the arms of sweet sleep, spurred the people to great and glorious deeds and made them into heroes.... It was the relief and escape from all troubles and sorrows..... It was an echo of the sentiments clean and strong as steel, that it took to God... It passed through the burnt out villages, battlefields covered with corpses and silent war cemeteries - but mournful, sad and tragic. It gathered all laments to take them to the throne of Absolute".This was a fragment of the "Legend of the Song", published in Our Life .. It's not surprising that the teachers predicted that "Usher Mordehai Schiff will, without doubt, be a poet". If he had continued... who knows. But their prediction didn't come true. Other interests, both more prosaic and more romantic diverted him. Doubts too: "I'll never be equal to the masters of words. What's the point in being a mediocre dabbler?" He obviously didn't abandon writing poems, but they remained short, funny rhymes, that he called "cast-offs". They were greeted with laughter and applause by his friends, when he read them in the old office of the closed down oil well, Na Kleinerze.
Even more often he used his pen to write articles and correspondence for newspapers. These were published in various dailies, mainly Gl\os Drohobycko-Borysl\awski (The Voice of Drohobych and Boryslaw), Chwila (An Instant), the Zionist-leaning daily in Lwów. Tun'cio signed his articles M. Aszer, to remain incognito. This poorly kept secret and his activities in the Organizacja Ogólna Syjonistów ("Pan-Zionist Organisation") brought him into conflict with the high school authorities. Consequently Schiff was expelled from high school. 
He passed his high school certificate exam as an external student in 1929. A year later he started his tertiary studies in the Humanities Department of the King John-Casimir University in Lwów. During his time at the University he became ever more active in Organizacja Ogólna Syjonistów. He spent even more time organizing the farm in Syganiówka, which was the used as the hahshara for the halutzes  preparing to leave for Palestine.
Tun'cio Schiff didn't finish his diploma. In 1932 he too left for Palestine. He worked with pioneering zeal as a labourer on building sites in Rehovot and Haifa. He was no stranger to politics either and quickly made himself known as a good organizer. He became the secretary of the Union of Pan-Zionist workers. Together with Dr. E. Efron he actively participated in the hard work of organizing the Health Insurance Union.
Schiff was in his element. He accepted the duties of deputy leader of the Pan-Zionist Party chapter in Tel Aviv. At that time the leader was Dr. Boger (Bugraszow). Tun'cio became the representative of the world center of halutz in Sohnut. As an emissary of that institution he traveled to Poland early in 1939 with a mission to organize an illegal aliya . To accomplish this he collected the necessary funds with help from Jakov Grynberg and Moshe Kohl. 
In press cuttings surviving from that time we can read: "We report that Mr. Mordechai Schiff, the representative of Irgun  of the Pan-Zionists workers in Palestine, is currently in Lwów…. He submitted the report on the Palestine Jishuv  of Pan-Zionist Workers to the session of the Executive Committee of Polish Zionist Organisation.
"Recently the delegate of the Pan-Zionist Workers Irgun in Palestine, comrade Mordechai Schiff arrived in Kraców. (...) Comrade Schiff, who is one of the foremost activists of the Pan-Zionist Workers' Movement, will stay in our quarter for several days and will hold a few meetings". ( Nowy Dziennik /New Daily).
For all of us, living for the last few years in Kracow, Tun'cio's visit was a great surprise. In spite of his busy schedule he managed to get a day off, to meet with his old pal. We greeted each other heartily. There was no end to the questions and "by the way's". We remembered the years, when we were "wee young lads".....
"And what happened to your Pelican pen ?" I asked. Tun'cio smiled at the memory:
"It was so long ago.....the beginning of an old fairy tale... a world of legends..." After a minute he added "So long ago. Now I dream different "dreams of omnipotence". 
We understood each other. After all, in spite of political opinions separating us, we remained friends, just as in school.
Almost thirty years passed until we met again after our arrival in Israel, in October, 1968. Schiff was then working as a manager of Mifde Ezrahi, the company that built settlements for the new " olim  ". He also held the position of judge in the in Tel Aviv town court. He received the nomination for that post from the then Justice Minister, Rozen.
Memories of Tun'cio wouldn't be complete without highlighting his energetic and conscientious participation during his very time-consuming activities. Beside his managerial and justice posts, he also was the President of the Masonic Lodge, Lishkat Bonim Hofshiim - "Hermon".
Our greetings were as warm as in the distant past. I looked around the nice, though modest apartment. Shelves filled with books held a prominent place. We went to them. My host pointed to some shelves:
"These four hold only poetry, look, here's your favorite poet, also once mine, Tuwim,  but you'll be surprised," continued Tun'cio, "some others now take precedence. Here are excellent ones: Nathan Alterman , Haim Nahman Bialik  , Uri Tzvi Grinberg  , Abraham Shlonski .... I could read and listen for days on end to the beauty of their verses.
In 1977 Schiff decided to begin his well earned retirement. He lived for only nine years after that, and six of those years had to be shared between home and hospital.
He died in July, 1986. His death left pain and sadness, shared by his friends and wife Regina with the rest of the family.
FootnotesTN : Translators Note
AI : Author's index
1 Pelican: before World War II, this brand of fountain pen was considered the best. TN Back
2 Urycze Rock: huge rocks and caves, a destination for outings for the city youth. TN Alex Sharon writes: "Near the village of Urycze was a massive rock formation, which geologist call a geological fault. All of us had to climb it. Legend says that the Dovbusz (some call this rock skala Dovbusha ), a local Huzul Robin Hood, used to hide from the Austrian police in those rocks. We used to hike through the mountain wilderness to reach the rock, which was near Schodnica. I used to take the trip home via Schodnica, but one could also take a short cut to Skole from there. This part of Verkhovyna.was very beautiful country," Back
3 According to the school rules in Austro-Hungary, which continued under the Polish government, high school students were forbidden to publish in commercial newspapers. A breach of this rule was punished by expulsion from school TN . Back
4 Hahshara : a farm for the preparation of Jewish youth for emigration to Palestine. There were several of them in various parts of Poland. AI Back
5 Correctly halutzim : Trainees in the hahshara. Their training included learning the language, from which the older migrants were exempted. AI Back
6 Sohnut : the Jewish Agency. AIBack
7 Aliya : emigration to Israel. The bigger waves had their separate names; i.e. the 1956 aliya was called "Gomulka's"; the 1968 aliya "Moczar's. AI Wl\adysl\aw Gomul\ka, the first secretary of PZPR (Polish Communist Party), took his post during the post-Stalinist thaw in 1956 and allowed a large number of Jews to emigrate. Mieczysl\aw Moczar, the Polish Minister of Internal Security in 1968, the main proponent of the hard line and the nationalist faction of the PZPR was responsible for stirring up the anti-Zionist (i.e. anti-Semitic) campaign in Poland in 1968. TN Back
8 Grynberg, Jakow: co-organiser of the illegal emigration to Palestine. AI Back
9 Kohl, Mosze: in the late '30's helped to organize the collection of funds needed for illegal emigration to Palestine. Back
10 Irgun : an organisation, union. AI Back
11 Iishuv: The Jewish community of Palestine before the establishment of the State of Israel. Back
12 "It was so long ago" - a poem by the Polish poet, Leopold Staff, from the collection Dreams of Omnipotence (Warsaw, 1901). TN Back
13 Olim : immigrants to Israel. AI Back
14 Tuwim, Julian (1894-1953) : A poet of energetic and emotional work, Tuwim was the leader of the Skamander group of experimental poets, he also wrote the collection of poems for children, Locomotive (1938, tr. 1940) and made translations of Pushkin and other Russian poets. Back
15 Alterman, Nathan (1910-1970) : Born in Warsaw, Alterman emigrated to Poland in 1925. His literary activities have included plays, children's stories and translations. His poetry is often political and satirical but he also wrote in a lyrical, symbolist style. Back
16 Bialik, Chaim Nachman: 1873-1934: one of the leading figures in modern Jewish literature. Widely appreciated for his Hebrew poems, he was also a writer of short realistic stories which were inspired by his experiences and memories of life in Galicia. Back
17 Grinberg, Uri Tzvi (1896 - 1981, b. Bialykamien, Galicia): widely recognized and honored for his Hebrew poetry, Influenced by his experiences of pogroms in Poland in 1918, the struggles to create the state of Israel and also by his mysticim, Grinberg's work was often darkly prophetic. Back
18 Abraham Shlonski (1900-1973): born in Ukraine, Shlonski, founded Israel's symbolist school and was among the first to use colloquial Hebrew speech in poetry. Back
On the tenth anniversary of the death of our unforgettable teacher from the Borysław Humanist Mixed High School we reminisced about his educational career. To tell the truth, when we attended his German and French language lessons as students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grade, he was a mysterious personality.
In his autobiographical book On the Screen of Life (Ludowa Spółdzielnia Wydawnicza, Warsaw, 1972) Stanisław Giza wrote about Edmund Semil: For us he was a very mysterious person. Nobody knew about his past He was a man who treated our youthful pranks with a lenient understanding. Because of that he quickly became our friend.... The whole truth about Semil came out after World War II. Apparently he worked for the Polish department in one of the revolutionary committees during the October Bolshevik revolution. Then he went to Hungary, where he took part in Bela Kun's revolution. After returning to Poland ... he became a teacher, to the great benefit of his pupils.
In August Grodzicki's book In the Theatre of Life (Pañstwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, Warsaw, 1984) we find a small paragraph about his few years in Borysław .
The high school where I attended the first and second grade left just a few vague memories. I remember Edmund Semil best. He was an exacting, but pleasant, bearded man. He taught French and thanks to him I gained a good, basic knowledge of that language... After the war he went into the diplomatic service, then became a radio journalist and finally a political and historical writer...
While living in Warsaw, Edmund Semil, then semi-retired and taking it easy used to invite us, his former pupils, for a cup of tea and a barrel of Borysław reminiscences. After forty years he remembered our names, particularly those who visited him in his Borysław appartment. With every visit he remembered more and often talked about our dead colleagues: Mark Rattner,  Hesio Perlman,  Aron Tassis,  Dora and Klara Federbush,  Kuba Bauer,  Tusia Bauer,  and many others. Then, as in a dream he repeated So many beautiful lives.
Some of our high school teachers played a very negative role in relation to the Jewish students' membership in Hashomer Hatzair.  The school rules forbade students from enlisting organizations outside of the school. Edmund Semil's attitude was very different. Perhaps his affinity with Jews, even though he was completely assimilated, played some part in that.
FootnotesAI : Author's index
1 Źycie Warszawy: Polish newspaper. Back
2 Rattner, Marek: author of the never published novel about Borys³aw , pupil of Edmund Semil. AI Back
3 Perlman, Hesio: student in the Borysław High School, lecturer at the University of Jerusalem. AI Back
4 Tassis, Aron: Edmund Semil's pupil. AI Back
5 Federbush, Dora and Klara: pupils of Edmund Semil. AI Back
6 Bauer Kuba (Jakob): physician. In his youth he was a member of the board of Z*KS HAKOAH. AI Back
7 Bauer, Tusia: pupil of Edmund Semil. AI Back
8 Hashomer Hatzair: Young Guardian, a youth organization. A member used to be called a shomer. AI Back
Edited by Alex Sharon Fragment of Wilek Strasser's letter, from September 13, 1987:
"... We've been robbed recently of some of our few friends. Bolek S'liwin'ski and Romana Granas have died. The day before yesterday we attended a very sad funeral for our dear Dolka Kleiner-Taubman . At the grave in the Jewish cemetery in Stockholm we threw handfuls of earth onto her coffin. So we bade farewell to that dear, friendly and brave human being..."
After the phone call with the terrible news, on September 8, I was trying very hard to write in memory of Dolka. I had already torn quite a few sheets of paper to shreds. I didn't want it to be a diary or a record of personal statistics.
I first met Dolka in high school. Later our acquaintance became closer, during our years in Hashomer when I came to know her personality and character better. She was one of the most active members of the local Hashomer Hatzair organisation. No other kvutza  sang so much, gave so many presentations, took part in discussions and outings into - what she called "Sub-Carpathian landscape" - as ours.
Her motto was: "when you do something put your whole heart into it, in a truly " hashomer" way." (A few years later she would change this just by a fraction).
During the last holiday before the graduation exams she made the decision that changed her entire life: enough of school; her new aim would be - Palestine. She departed for the hahshara in Zielona. A few weeks later with a backpack and a small suitcase she embarked on the difficult journey in the company of a small group of young people.
After a few months her friends in Boryslaw received her first letter: "Nowhere else in the world are the sunrise and the sunset as beautiful as here.... We're working hard, but there's enough time for reading, singing and the hora. This pioneer work of building the Jewish Motherland is immensely satisfying!"
That letter circulated among her friends, both her close friends and acquaintances. We were all young and admired Dolka very much. We were influenced by her romantic attitude. Even now, after many years, we remember our excursions with Dolka, to the top of Horodyshche, or Dzial\ Werch, the singing, and dancing the hora to exhaustion.
Two, or three years later ..... news, like a bolt out of the blue: Dolka was arrested by the police of the Mandate. The letter from the kibbutz explained: communist activities.
After a year she was deported to Poland. However she didn't stop her activities. From time to time she was detained briefly, but finally she went down for good. The situation was made worse by her being pregnant. The sentence: eight years jail.
The prison authorities would allow her to keep the baby for one year only, in spite of the defense team's appeal.
Fate delivered Dolka another blow. Her parents refused to accept the uncircumcised grandson and rejected the "prodigal" daughter. They even sat seven days in mourning, as is done after the death of a member of the family. It was Dolka's brother Jonko and his wife Hela who looked after one-year-old Jurek.
Dolka was released shortly before the outbreak of the WW II after serving the full sentence. She spent a few weeks in the Hrebenov mountain resort with her son.
And then, euphoria! The Red Army marched into town. People grumbled but Dolka said that the problems would be only temporary; after all there's the war.... just wait a little and you'll see how good your life will be.
We reminisced about that time between 1941 and 1945 in Soviet Kazahstan, where the Soviet system had existed already for many years. Dolka had to struggle with many problems. Her husband, Shlomo Taubman was drafted at the start of German-Soviet war. The pitiful conditions, lack of the basic food stuffs didn't break her spirit. She firmly believed in a rosy future.
In the mid 1950's, after living for a few years in Poland she underwent an ideological shock. Wide cracks appeared in the facade of her political convictions. She stopped participating in discussions, but kept working. Her only aim now was to raise her children, her older son and the daughter, born in Wal\brzych  in 1947.
The time of the Jewish exodus from Poland was hard on Dolka. Maryla traveled to Stockholm to study for a degree. Jurek apparently had serious problems; he couldn't get permission to travel to the Netherlands. He was suspected of passing confidential documents to a foreign company. He was finally cleared, when it was realized that the whole affair was an anti-Semitic provocation. Dolka was able to leave as well. The Swedish government allowed her to be reunited with her daughter.
Not so long ago we met Dolka in Israel where she often traveled, invited by her friends. It was easy to see that the sharp ideological edges in her personality were no longer there. She lived for her grandchildren. She was already ill then.
More fragments from Wilek Strasser's letter:
"There were approximately fifty people in the chapel of the Jewish cemetery. Four huge candles stood around the coffin. The coffin itself was covered with wreaths and flowers. All present had expressions of deep sadness on their faces. A small group of family members was accepting condolences: sister Sunia with her husband Olek (from the USA), Jurek and his wife Lidka (from Netherlands), Maryla with her husband Peter and his parents".
What a pity that greetings for our dear Dolka will vanish from the letters to our friends in Stockholm.
FootnotesAI : Author's index.
1 Strasser, Wilek: friend of the young inhabitants of Podwórze (Courtyard). AI Back
2 Kleiner-Taubman, Dolka: the only Hashomer member from Podwórze who went to Palestine. Deported to Poland for communist activities, during the war she lived in Kazahstan and after 1968 in Stockholm. AI Back
3 Hashomer Hatzair : Young Guardian, a youth organisation. A member was called a"shomer". AI Back
4 Kvutsa: patrol, group. Kvutzas were often named after an animal; Dolka's kvutza was called dvora (the bee), the author's kvutza, shaul (the fox). AI Back
5 Hahshara: a farm for the preparation of Jewish youth for emigration to Palestine. There were several of them in various parts of Poland. AI Back
6 Zielona: a street in Boryslaw. Back
7 Hora: the dance that the shomers used to dance to exhaustion. AI Back
8 Horodyszcze (old Slavic for "town"): is the name of couple of towns in the Bobrka region near Lwów, but is also the name of the mountain peaks ( werchy ). Werch (higher point in Ukrainian) is a general name for a mountain peak. Back
9 Hrebenov: was a well known mountain resort village near the town of Skole. Back
10 Wal\brzych (German Wallenberg): is a town in Lower Silesia, now called Sla\sk, in the western region of modern Poland. It is a coal mining region. Many Boryslaw survivors settled in Wal\brzych at the end of the war. Back
He was born in 1863  in the small village not far from the Galician town of Podbuże, His parents' life had been less than modest but their situation quickly improved after Grandma Hana began helping the family with money. Because of her help Lipe could attend the yeshiva classes in town, though only for a short time. He stood apart from the rest of the students with his intelligence and thirst for knowledge.
In the few years that passed since Hana left for Borysław she had not forgotten her beloved grandson. On Friday evenings, when she lit the candles she prayed for him:
God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, protect him with your mighty hand....
Then Grandma's business began to prosper. She traveled back to the village to spend Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur with her family. When she went back to Borysław, she took her seventeen year old grandson Lipe with her. This was a period of rapid development in the new, and so far the only, petroleum field in the world, rich in oil and ozocerite.
At one point, Hana Brunnengraber, an enterprising and energetic woman, bought a small piece of land that was rich in ozokerite from a local peasant. Her grandson soon showed his independence, when, against his grandma's wishes, he took a job as carter in the ozocerite mine. Together with the other carters he transported the so-called lep  from the mine. It was a mixture of stones, sand and ozocerite left the ore that had been taken out of the ground was melted down. The carts dumped the mixture in the fields next to the mine. Those dumping fields stretched for hundreds of meters. creating the wysypy, or mounds of tailings, that were characteristic of Borysław's landscape.
Lipe Schutzman's entrepreneurial nature soon became evident. He worked long and hard to achieve the ambition he had when he left his village, to earn as much money as possible. The managers of the mine soon noticed this and gave him a responsible position.
A year or two passed. Lipe's ability and intelligence was recognized. He was also tall, good looking, and very popular with the local girls. He wouldn't have had any problems finding a wife but in the end, his choice was dictated by reason, not sentiment. His wife had a considerable dowry.
This was the starting point of of Lipe Schutzman's business career. With money at his disposal and knowledge of the local conditions, the job market and mining stakes on the oil and ozocerite deposits, he soon becomes a well known Borysław entrepreneur. Since technological advances in other countries interested him, he came to the conclusion that the knowledge of foreign languages was necessary. He studied German and English and his knowledge of those languages helped him participate actively in international conferences.
Borysław played an increasingly influential role in the industrial economy and Schutzman's fame grew with that of the town. Prominent people paid attention to the young Jew with his long, Polish-style whiskers. The oil wells, refineries, distilleries, and mechanical workshops under the banner of Schutzman and Co. became widely known, even outside of Borysław.
Lipe Schutzman was famous for his charitable activities as well. Through his patronage vocational schools and orphanages were established. He gave money to the Zionist women's organisation and spent considerable sums for social assistance in Borysław's kehilla. He was one of the few local entrepreneurs who helped the poor. An interesting aside: Schutzman ordered his paymaster to distribute alms every Friday afternoon, to both Jews and Gentiles.
There was a period when he was the Mayor of Borysław.
His participation as Poland's representative in the international oil industry congresses was proof of the respect he commanded in industrial circles.
In 1928 he traveled to Palestine. He looked at the region with a businessman's eye and came to the conclusion, that it was not yet time for major investments there ... perhaps in ten years ... At the same time, he expressed a wish to be buried there when he died.
He held many other public offices, not only that of Mayor. Here are just a few:
President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry,In 1938, in Lwów, during the extraordinary general meeting of the Polish Petroleum Society Lipe Schutzman received a letter of praise, that read:
Deputy President of the Polish Petroleum Exports Society (PEN),
Deputy President of the Polish Petroleum Society (KTN)
The main board of the Polish Petroleum Society and its local Lwów chapter wish hereby to express warm congratulations to Mr Lipe Schutzman for fifty years of work for the petroleum industry. In this half century, Deputy President Schutzman has attained a prominent position from modest beginnings. In the process he has rendered a great service to the industry. He invested a great deal of work and pioneering as a driller effort and always had high hopes for the future of petroleum products. He has proved to be a good citizen through his charitable work.This is signed by three people but unfortunately the signatures are illegible.
Through his appreciation of the need for collaboration in industrial activities, Deputy Chairman Schutzman has been able to find common ground for the often conflicting goals of the various branches of the petroleum industry, so that today, when he celebrates his Jubilee, the entire industry wishes him God's blessings upon his future, fruitful work.
Lwów, 9 of December 1938
Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, he was awarded the Golden Cross of Merit at the age of seventy-five.
Disaster soon followed. Schutzman lived in Lwów at that time. The Soviet authorities took away his apartment. He spent the following six years banished to the Semipalatynsk oblast in Kazakhstan. Weak and sick from his ordeal he worked on a collective farm as a cobbler. In 1946 he managed to return to Poland. He settled in Gdansk-Wrzeszcz.
One of his grandsons learned of his return and traveled there from Prague/Praga  . Although Schutzman was sometimes disoriented, he recognized his grandson. He was the only grandchild who had survived the cataclysmic events of the war. Lipe Schutzman began to weep and whispered:
How I must have sinned that I survived my grandchildren ... It's horrible!.
We cannot hide the fact that no one in the Polish People's Republic bothered to bring to the attention of the so-called authorities the plight of the sick and broken old man, to whom Poland should have been grateful. 
Lipe Schutzman died in 1949 at the age of eighty-five. His request to have his mortal remains buried in Israel was probably not fulfilled. I couldn't find any reference to that in my sources.
FootnotesTN : Translators Note
1 In the birth records for Borysław, Lipe Schutzmann is recorded as being married to Chana Brunnengräber. Back
2 lep: (Polish) sticky, gooey. Back
3 Prague, the capital of Czech Republic and Praga the suburb of Warsaw are spelled identically in Polish. TN Back
4 The Communist authorities of that period would not assist a capitalist, a class enemy. TN Back
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