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[Page 539]

Banking and Industry

Translated by Dr. Samuel Chani and Jenni Buch

One hundred years ago the Finkelstein Bank existed in Brest. It belonged to one of the prestigious families in our city (Finkelstein was the father of Dov Finkelstein and the grandfather of Nechama and Noah Finkelstein the editor of the 'Heint' Warsaw newspaper).

In 1888-90 the bank of Soloveitchik and Morgenstern was established in Brest, a branch of the Warsaw bank of this name. The Brest branch of this bank existed until 1905.

The first big bank to open was the Credit Bank of Brisk D'lita in 1901. Its director was Pinchas Kroll. This bank conducted large business deals and assisted the development of trade and commerce in the city a great deal. The first chairman of the board was Yerucham Schatz, board members were Aaron Matetski and Mordechai Baraks. The basic activity of this bank was the discounting of promissory notes and savings. Amongst the employees were Yosef Meir Padua and Asher Hari.

In 1905-6 the United Moscow/ Brest Bank opened. This bank was the central bank for industry, and conducted big business for the merchants and businessmen of Brest.

Between 1897-1907 there was a Bank Horoditche – Horoditche was a famous Zionist figure and a delegate to the first Zionist Congress. The Zionist activities were concentrated in this institution; this was in the time of Chovevei Zion. In 1908 Horoditche transferred to Warsaw and the bank was liquidated.

An important credit institution which began it's activity in a small room was the Kupec Bank (Merchant Bank), which grew rapidly. Although called the Merchants Bank, it assisted all levels of society without discrimination. The founding director was Benjamin Padua, the board consisted of: Meyer Metchik, Aaron Padua, Shmuel Hammer, Nachman Berliner, Zyskind Neumark, and others. This bank existed until the destruction of the city.

In 1924 the People's Bank (Bank Ludovi) was formed under the directorship of David Zisman, an energetic and influential official in the city council and various philanthropic institutions - (he was exiled to Siberia in the time of the Bolsheviks, but he now resides in Israel). His deputy was Shmuel Pomerantz, and employees were: Ze'ev Braunzel, Tzvi Lomazhevski, and Wolf Kirshroit.

Amongst other important banks one should mention the Shares Bank (Bank Udzielowy), which would not conduct banking operations unless the client agreed to buy an Israel Shekel. All the financial operations for the Zionist institutions were conducted through this bank. The Board was: L.Y. Winnikoff, Yakov Ramo, committee members were: Avraham Skorbnik, Chaim Zalman Wolsky, and Asher Ashkenazi. Employees were: Finkel, Gelerstein, Tennenbaum and Mrs Katz.

The last bank to be established was the Cooperative Bank in 1932, and its director was Dr. Nachman Landau. The Savings and Loan Fund that was founded in 1905-6 became an important institution in Brest for the Jewish national institutions. The founders were Zionist activists who led a fight for the management. This was the first financial institution in Russia with a higher ideal – to assist Jews with their savings and loan monies. The bank had deposits of 1,200,000 rubles, and could compete against the larger banks of the city. The interest was according to official guidelines and many Jews withdrew their money from the government banks and deposited their money in the Savings and Loans Fund. The Savings and Loan Fund enjoyed their trust and lent money to businessmen, gave tradesmen and merchants credit, as well as lending to the middle class. The first chairman of the board was Leon Horoditche and the director was Dr. Kasavery Shteinberg. In 1910 Levi-Ytizhak Winnikoff, Moshe Baruch Bishkowitz, Shmuel Mervil, Zacharia Rosenthal, and others joined the board of administration. The board members also included Dr. Leon Shereshevski and Dr. Meir Wolfson. In 1911-12 Michael Rosenberg was elected as director - a prestigious businessman, he was a learned man and talented man. However, he was not a Zionist. The bank had 22 employees including Ben Zion Neumark and Mordechai Sheinerman, Zev- Dov Begin, Y. Ribetsky, Leizer Korlander and others. This bank existed until W.W.1.

Brest did not have a strong industrial base; because of the fortress the ruling powers had forbidden the building and development of industry. Despite this, the Jews still built and managed factories in the city. One must remember the mills of the Kwiartevski brothers and Chaim Zelman Wolski, and the large sawmills owned by the Kwiartevski brothers, Michaelson and Finkel. The large chemical factory “Feinalin” owned by Mordechai Fein. The paper mills owned by Glaser, the glass factory owned by Gdanski, Epstein and Grossman. The oil paints factory owned by Padkorene and Winnig, and the soda water and fruit essence (cordial) factory owned by Krantz and Savitshitski.

Directors and staff of the Shares Bank (Bank Udzielowy)

Seated R-L: L.Y. Winnikoff, A. Ashkenazi, A Skorbnik, M. Zisman,
Y. Hari, Y. Ramo, Z. Ayin.
Standing: A Sirota, unknown, D. Rosenberg, Y. Gelerstein,
Finkel, and S. Tennenbaum

 

Savings and Loan Fund 1906
Seated R-L: Sheinerman, Zev Dov Begin, Leon Horoditche, Padua, unknown.
Standing: Unknown, Ribetski, Korlander, and Birenboim

 

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