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[Page 92]

Radauti
(Romania)

47°51' / 25°55'

Translation of chapter
“Radautz” from Volume II:

Geschichte der Juden in der Bukowina

Edited by: Hugo Gold

Written by: Alter Wassermann

Published in Tel Aviv, 1962

Translated by:

Bruce Reisch

Dr. H.L. Striem, with assistance of Isak Shteyn


Our sincere appreciation to Chaim Wasserman, son of Alter Wassermann,
for permission to put this material on the JewishGen web site.


This is a translation of the chapter “Radautz”, pp. 98-105,
from Volume II of Geschichte der Juden in der Bukowina {History of the Jews in the Bukowina} (Hugo Gold, ed.),
written by Dr. Leo Bruckenthal, Olamenu Publishers, Tel-Aviv, 1962 (German).


Radautz

Alter Wassermann (of blessed memory)

in Geshichte der Juden in der Bukowina. Volume II. Hugo Gold (ed.), Olamenu, Tel Aviv, 1962. (in German) pp. 92-97.

Freely translated by Prof. Dr. H.L. Striem, Rehovot, Israel, 1999.

Assisted by Dr. Bruce Reisch, Geneva, New York, USA.

This translation is dedicated to the memory of Rose Schachter Reisch (1893-1975,

grandmother of Bruce Reisch). Born in Radautz in 1893, she emigrated to

New York in 1909. She is remembered as a devoted wife, sister, mother and grandmother.

The sources for this report stem solely and only from oral information. There was no Pinkas, the chronicle of the community, as is used in other large communities. This the community Radautz had not. The Rabbi Hornik (of blessed memory) did indeed try to write about Jewish life of the town, but after his demise, such notes were not found. One can not expect that he used particular sources for his notes.

Jewish settlement in Radautz began at the end of the 18th century. The families Harth, Herzberg, Goldschläger, Gewölb, Herer and others were among the first Jews who emigrated with the Germans from Bohemia. Later came Jews from Galicia and refugees from Russia.

The trade with the forty villages of the surrounding area, the wood industry and the richly supplied weekly market days brought prosperity to the population. Development proceeded gradually. Still in the year 1807, Radautz had only 3 Jewish families paying taxes. The first couple whose marriage ceremony had official recognition, on the strengths of the proof of attendance at school and thus acquired knowledge in reading and writing, had the names Jacob Gerbel and Ester Zahler, with Family Number 382 in 1807. In the year 1880 there were 3,452 Jews among the 11,162 inhabitants of Radautz.

In the old times there was no organization of the community at all. The ongoing agendas ("dus Kestel" in Yiddish) were led by the merchant Josef Rudich 1 and his secretary; their arrangements (or orders) were acknowledged without dissent.

In the year 1859, the Jews of Radautz separated themselves from the head community of Suczawa [Suceava] and formed their own community consisting of a council of six, three leading members on the Community Council and three others.

In the year 1888, the Jewish community of Radautz consisted of 523 families and they already had a Temple and six official shuls. By the year 1914, there were about 6000 Jews in Radautz. Beginning in 1872, the community had both a Rabbi and a religious advisor. The income of the community in the year 1888 amounted to 6,100 floren 72 kreutzer and the expenses amounted to 6,446 floren 46 kreutzer. In this period of time, the community also had an organization to care for the sick. Later, they founded the organization "Machsike Schabath" [- "those that keep the Sabbath" -] whose leader was Judge Rachmuth. Other humanitarian organizations were "Bikkur Cholim" ["visiting the sick"] under the leadership of Michael Rudith; another was "Chesed Weemeth" ["to do good deeds, charity"] (Moses Beer Mik); "Chessed schel Emeth" ["Charity of Truth"] (Nathan Harth); further there was the Worker's Support Organization under the leadership of Hersch Mahler and the "Frauenverein" (under President Anna Rosenfield).

The Jews were particularly active in commerce and in industry. Of the Jewish industries, the following should be mentioned: the beer brewery whose owner was Salomon Rudich - he was a delegate in the Assembly of Bukowina for one legislative period; The factory of alcoholic beverages and liquor (Leon Rudich); The button factory, Mück and the brothers Kern; the wooden plank manufacturers, Samuel Harth, Schapira, Katz, Birkenfeld; the factory of cement and glass, Friedrich Fisher, Putna-Radautz; the factory for soap and candles, Samuel Goldschläger and Sons; the shoelaces factory, Joel Schurberg; the leather industry Berl Drach; the hat factory, David Weber and Mendel Harnik & Mathias Mayer; the brush factory, Nathan Korn; the lumber mill Mendel Bitter, Eisik Pressner, Chaim Mechel, Hermann Feiger, and the brothers Schüller; the metal industry, Jacob Rosenblatt; the battery factory, Engineers Kinsbrunner & Fleminger; likewise the battery factory "Vega", Nachman Guttman & Berl Josler.

Pursuant to the law of 11th March 1890 R.G.Bl. 57 the representation of the community was re-organized. They chose a council of 24 members. The President was Berl Terner, who received later the honorary title of "Kaiserliche Drat" (Councillor to the Emperor). He kept this title until 1914. In this year, the members of the community council were: Nathan Harth, Moses Maidanek, Judge Friedrich Rachmuth, Dr. Leon Luttinger, Nuchem Herschleifer, Samuel Resch, Aron Stein, Moses Beer-Mik, Salomon Weissler, Dr. Josef Bierer, Dr. Leon Hellmann, Dr. Kalman Weber, Moses Kranzdorf, Chaim Mechel, Abraham Rothberg, Berl Lehrer, Jakob Peretz, Samuel Salzberg, Feiwel Dolberg, Kaman Menczer, Uscher Singer, Dr. David Harth and Leiser Kirmayer. The secretary of the community was Chaim Kupferberg. In the year 1914 the community consisted of 1450 taxpaying members. The income and the expenses of the community amounted to about 30,000 Kronen.

The income of the community consisted of the fees for slaughtering, and the additional payment for kosher meat, fees for marriages, cemetery, the baking of matzot, and lastly, direct taxes. The expenses concerned the payment of salaries, upkeep of the cemetery, the mikvah, support for social assistance, subventions for the Talmud Torah, the home of the aged, the Temple, and also the upkeep of the Hebrew school as well as donations for the national funds.

With the beginning of the Romanian rule, 1918, uniform statutes were formed for all Jewish communities with a secret ballot by a Party system (lists). At that time there were five party lists, namely the General Zionists, the Poale Zion, the Jewish Social Democrats, as well as the Rumanian parties of the Liberals, and the Jews registered as National Zaranisten [translator's note - were these Russia Jews of the Czar?]. These Parties delegated their representatives proportionally to the Community.

During the last years, there were no elections. Each reigning government party in Rumania nominated out of their Jewish supporters' representatives to the Jewish Community, and with each change in the Rumanian government in Bucharest, the management of the Jewish Community changed.

During the whole time, Chaim Mechel 2 , Dawid Wasserman 2a , Dr. Riven Lang 3 , Dr. Jakob Lapajowker, Dr. Meier Menczer, Dr. Schaje Lecker, Dr. Bernhard Schimmel and Eisik Pressner acted as heads of the community. Since the return from Transnistria, Dr. Bruno Shiffer and Dr. Adolf Mechel headed the community. Later, under the communist Jewish Democratic Committee (Comitetul democrat evreesc) the appointed leader of the community was Dr. Meir Weinstein. After a short while, Prof. Kamil succeeded him but he also was shortly afterwards removed. In the era of those two named, a different spirit reigned in the community but the Jewish character was maintained by the participation of the Zionists Dr. Lapajowker, Alter Wassermann, Dr. Schaje Bercovici, Dr. Adolf Mechel, Attorney Bigo Harth, Efraim Goldschläger and Ch. Hersch Liebersohn as well as representatives of other parties, Israel Sternschuss, Dawid Wassermann, and Aron Leib Meer.

At the Declaration of the Jewish State of Israel, a ceremonial session was arranged at which Alter Wassermann could still give a speech in Hebrew with impunity, honoring the event.

Synagogues, Foundations and Institutes

The first synagogue was built about 1830 and named after its founder "Eli Gewölb Shul". With the increase of the Jewish population, the need to establish a temple in the center of the town arose. The building parcels that could be considered were on government land. So the community approached Kaiser Franz Josef with a request to provide a suitable site for building the Temple. The Emperor acceded to this wish by deciding that the community should be given a plot in the center of the town. When the Kaiser visited Radatwo years later, he asked to be informed about the building of the Temple and he voiced his recognition of the sacrifices made by the Jews to build the Temple.

At that time, exclusively Hassidic groups established their own shuls ["Klausen"]. The supporters of the Chief Rabbi Mendel Hager from Wiznitz, headed by the family Jurgrau, established the "Wiznitzer Klaus". Hassidim from Bojan built the "Bojaner Klaus". Jankl Besner built a shul for the supporters of the Rabbi Schmelkes from Sereth, and Mechel Rudich built such a house for the Sadagorer Chassidim. Dawid Jossel Hecht secured his memory by establishing a Shul in his own house, likewise did Meier Schorr.

The Rabbis residing in Radautz, Israel Hager, Zwi Gottlieb and Joel Moscovici had their own Klausen near their houses. There were also further shuls: Chessed schel Emeth, of the artisans, of the family Harth, and on the outskirts of town the shuls of the families Hübsher, Buller and Harnik.

A cemetery was first established about 1830. Until that time, the dead were buried in Sereth 4 . When the agrarian land reform of 1921 was enacted, the community obtained a plot to enlarge the cemetery 5 .

Foundations should be mentioned: the Café Paris, established by Mendl Fischer and his wife, for feeding and clothing of poor children of the Talmud Torah School; the Michel Ruckenstein Foundation, consisted of one of the largest houses of the town with shops and apartments established by a bequest to give support to the Talmud Torah organization for supplying poor girls with doweries and to the Hebrew School; the David Herzberg Foundation consisting of a house in the town center with a provision that the annual net income should be personally distributed by the reigning Community President to poor people in the Land of Israel. Since this could not be fulfilled, the community used the income for medical help and medicines for the poor of the town. Jankl Besner left two houses of great value with a provision to build a temple after the kind of Seitenstettentempels in Vienna and in this way to commemorate his name. The inheritors did not fulfill his last will and built, in contradiction to the intention of the deceased, a tiny shul in the backyard of one of the houses which was donated. Dawid Jossel Hecht left a large house to the community but his wife contested his testament. In the process, the community obtained only half of it.

Since the end of the First World War, until the year 1940, there existed a home for the elderly in which 40 men and women were accommodated. The following took part in the founding and the management of this home: Chaim Mechel, Abe Reinhold, Benjamin Klein, Wolf Tannenbaum, Alter Wassermann, Berl Schuler, Moritz Flicker and with particular sacrifice, Mrs. Channa Harnik, as well as many others. The above mentioned founded in the year 1906 an organization called Chessed Schel Emeth ["charity of truth"] which gave its members assistance in cases of illness as well as death if no descendants or only poor descendants remained; assistance for burial, erection of a headstone, and saying of Kaddish.

In a modest and a discreet way, Pini Katz, Jossel Schächter (*jun.), Alter Wassermann, Jakob Katz and Isak Rosenthal supported the organization "Matan Basesser" ["the giving of alms in secret"] to support poor people and also the organization "Machsike Schabath" to feed poor travelers passing through. Under the leadership of several women headed by Ms. Lisa Lecker as well as some other men there existed a "soup kitchen" for poor children and adults.

Following the repatriation of Jews from Transnistria in 1945, almost concurrently the work of the "OSE" began as well as the World Jewish Congress.

1) The branch of OSE in Radautz was founded under the leadership of Dr. Mrs. Mela Jancu 6 and after some unlucky starts was reorganized by Dr. Adolf Mechel. Under the management of an enlarged committee with Mrs. Dr. Shiffer as president, the organization was enlarged. With financial support of the head office in Bucharest, food was given to about 250 children 3 times daily. Also, the organization took upon itself the medical and social care for sick children. In the year 1947, OSE had rented the entire ground floor where there was a dining room, an office, and a kitchen with other rooms, as well as a large garden in the center of the town where they held a summer camp for children. Weak and sick children were sent in groups to the summer camp of OSE in Dorna Watra.

This humane work ended in the year 1948 when the Jewish organizations were dissolved and their leaders went to prison such as Dr. Mrs. Mela Jancu, who was a very acclaimed leader of "OSE" in Romania.

2) The World Jewish Congress founded a representation for South Bukowina with a seat in Radautz. Its committee consisted of Mr. Folio Goldschläger, Dr. Adolf Mechel, Dr. W. Wolizer, Alter Wassermann, Rabbi Hornik and others. It did a lot of useful work in affairs concerning the repatriation from the USSR and also looked after the collection of statistical material.

Under the Romanian regime, there lived in Radautz fewer Jews than before the first world war. In the year 1924 the expenses of the community were 645,000 Lei and the income amounted to 589,000 Lei. In the town council, there were two Jews (from Kreppel, Jews and Judaism Today, Vienna, 1925 p.735).

The Rabbinate

The first Rabbi of the community was Rabbi Zwi Shapira. His grandson, Rabbi Schimeon Schapira, was for many years the "Dajan" (religious judge) of the community. He was followed by his son-in-law Rabbi Eriel Kawe, who came to a miserable end in Transnistria. Several years after the demise of Rabbi Schapira, there were two candidates for his position, the Rabbis Jizchak Kunstadt, and Zwi Lichtenstein, both from Hungary. The community chose Rabbi Jizchak Kunstadt 7 but the Chassidim headed by Jankel Besner preferred Rabbi Lichtenstein and engaged him at their own cost. Since Rabbi Lichtenstein died after a year, Rabbi Kunstadt remained the one and only official Rabbi of the community.

To follow Kunstadt, the community chose Rabbi Dr. Yacov Hoffman 8 . Rabbi Dr. Hoffmann was called to Frankfurt am Main in 1923. In the year 1925, the well-known scholar and Zionist fighter, Rabbi Dr. Yakob Nacht was nominated for the position of Rabbi in Radautz. At the Czernowitz Keren Hajessod Conference (Conference of the National Fund) he was elected in the year 1925 to the executive council. In the year 1928, he took up an appointment to become a Professor of Judaism in Strasbourg. Thus the town lost the last of its renowned Rabbis.

In the year 1932, Mr. Samson Stein, a graduate of the seminary for Rabbis in Wien and who originated from Radautz, had some following and was appointed Rabbi against the will of the larger part of the population. However, he fell ill after 2 years and died in Bucharest. He was followed by Rabbi Rabinovici from Vasluj and in the year 1941 he was called to Piatra Neamt. Following his return from Transnistria, Rabbi Israel Hornik 9 looked after the affairs of the Rabbinate.

Education

Jewish children obtained elementary education at the public (non-Jewish) elementary school; also the national gymnasium was open to Jewish pupils. At the public school in the year 1871 there were 4 Jewish boys and 6 Jewish girls. Five years later, there were 22 boys and 73 girls. In the year 1880, the number of Jewish boys came to 32 (2.1%) and that of the Jewish girls 151 (39.9%) out of the total number of girls going to school. Since there was a vocational school since 1885, in the first year 22 Jewish pupils (15.8%) were in attendance, in the year 1886, 25 pupils (17.3%) and in 1888, 28 pupils (19.5%).

Religious schooling was given to 3 generations of Jewish children by Schimon Schapira, and the Rabbi David Chaim Feldmann. The last to officiate as religious school teacher was Oberlehrer Hermann ["oberlehrer" =above the level of teacher]. At the state gymnasium, both the current Rabbi as well as teacher Bickel taught religion.

Specific Jewish education was given in the Cheder. In the course of time arose the nto make available such education to poorer children. In the year, 1830, Joine Grabsheid with the support of Dawid Gropper founded the Talmud Torah school for poor children. In the year 1918, the school was reorganized by Josef Postelnik, Alter Wassermann and Mendl Katz with the assistance of Rabbi Dr. Hoffmann and by the employment of suitable teachers it was brought to a level which attracted also children of well-to-do families. The administration was in the hands of Councillor Phöbus Gottlieb.

The Hebrew School

In the year 1907 the Hebrew School "Safa berura" ["clear language"] was established by Moses Feintuch, Schalom Streit, Jakob Feldmann, Alter Wassermann, Josef Postelnik, and Elkane Kornblüth with a Kindergarten and courses for adults. The school existed until the year 1938 when it was dissolved due to the persecution of the Jews. During its existence, Chaim Shärf, Dr. Lauterstein, Bezirksrichter [??] Dr. Anschel, Dr. Brecher, Mendl Katz, Abraham Weidenfeld, Efraim Goldschläger and Alter Wassermann were active in the management of the school. Alter Wassermann was a member of the management of the school from its establishment until its dissolution.

The Jewish Gymnasium

From the year 1919 until 1926 there existed in Radautz a Jewish private gymnasium, founded by the organization "Judische MittelSchule" (middle between the elementary and the high school levels) in Czernowitz, at which taught Prof. König, Dr. J. Sonntag, Prof. Eva Rosner, Dr. Siegfried Weinstein, Prof. N. Alpern and others. With the onset of legislation hostile to Jews, this institution was denied its public standing which made its continued existence impossible. The pupils continued their studies at State institutions and many found their way to Eretz Yisroel. During the years 1937 and 1938 there was a girl's school named Beit Yaacov Schule under the leadership of Miss Schreiber from Sereth. From the year 1940, Jewish children could no longer attend general schools because of the anti Jewish measures. Therefore the community established its own school at which the suspended teachers found employment. The children had breakfast at the school. Jakob Katz and Max Schulsinger collected "money" so that at a time of need, 75 children could be provided clothing and shoes.

The Zionist Movement

At the time of the "Bilu" movement, a few young people thought about Zionism without being able to realize their aim. In the year 1892, there was in Radautz an organization "Ahavot Zion" ["the love of Zion"] among whose founders was Dr. Nathan Birnbaum (Mathias Acher). Rabbi Isak Kunstadt led the organization; his deputies were the religious guides, Simon Schapira and Eisik Grabscheid; Josef Kaswan and teacher D. Feldmann participated and deserve mention. Only in the year 1900, when the physician Dr. Josef Bierer came to Radautz and founded the organization "Dorschei Zion" ["those interested in Zionism"], did a proper Zionism movement begin in Radautz. Representatives of Zionism became active in the management of the community. Collections for the National Fund were undertaken at several opportunities in the Beithäusern (shuls). After a hard fight, Alter Wassermann and Leib Weidenfeld succeeded in breaching even the strongest fortress of Chassidism, the Wiznitzer Klaus (Yeshiva).

Radautz was a center of active Zionism. There were organizations of all Zionist colors, which in contradiction to other towns of Bukowina, cooperated in spite of the sharp differences.

In Radautz the "Schomer" was founded in the year 1918, from which in later years grew the "Hashomer Hazair". The founders of these Zionist youth movements were Jehoschua and Imanuel Bierer, who returned from Vienna, and Abraham Buller, the first leader of the Histadrut [Labor Federation] in Radautz. Buller was at the same time the leader of the first Kwuza called "Avodah" which only spoke Hebrew. This Kwuza formed the seed of the subsequent Kwuzoth to which belonged the following people of note: Engineer Abraham Klier (at present, the co-owner of the textile plant "Argaman" in Ramat Gan and president of the Federation of Industrialists in Israel); Engineer Architect Imanuel Halbrecht in Ramat Gan; Professor Mosche Sternchuss in Canada; Dr. Mosche Weinlös (Canada); Ophthalmologist Dr. Isaac Brecher (Bucharest); Dr. Wucher; Maier Lecker; Avraham Buller (known in Israel under the name Drori; he went there already in the year 1920 as the first one to Israel, he joined the Kwuza "Dagania" and was subsequently one of the co-founders of the "Ginegar" and was its mayor until his death in 1957). "Haschomer Hazair" developed subsequently and comprised the elite of the Zionist youth from all layers of society in the town. >From them came a line of prominent personalities which at present are actively participating in the development of Israel among which were Zwi Yechieli (Schächter), (one of the leading directors of the shipping company Zim and a member of the Kibbutz "Giwat Chaim"); Dr. Chaim Gelber, Dr. Yosef Feiger; Engineer David Zinger (Omer), the head of the technical department of "Hashomer Hazair" and a chaver ["member"] of the Kibbutz "Beth Alpha"; Prof. Dr. Jizchak Halbrecht, head of the gynecological department of the Hospital "Hascharon" in Petach Tikvah; Neimah Klier, born Halbrecht, wife of the industrialist engineer Klier and formerly leader of the Kwuza "Chawazeleth"; Malka Pantika-Halbrecht, wife of the architect E. Halbrecht; Poldi and Bracha Dollberg (Doleb) in Haifa; Fischl Genzer (Haifa); Chaja Falk born Schächter (Kibbutz Giwat Chaim); Zippora Laufer born Schächter (Ramat Gan); Dr. Zwi Altdorf (Tel Aviv); Max Herer (Petach Tikwa) Oscar Eckhaus (Haifa); Jakob Wucher and wife (Rechoboth) and many others.

Also, other Zionist organizations became notably active such as: General Zionists, Revisionists, Zeire Zion ["the young ones of Zion"] "Misrachi" and "Poale Zion", as well as the youth organizations "Brith Trumpelodor" - "Betar", "Bne Akiba" and "[Ha] Owed Hazioni". The leaders of Zeire Zion were Efraim Goldschläger, Dr. Isaksohn (KKL), Schärf and Dr. Bretschneider. The "Poale Zion" [labor section of the movement] was led by Salo Grossmann, Leon Wender, Max Goldschläger and Salomon Stenzler. Goldschläger was for many years the leader of Poale Zion in Rumania and emigrated to Israel in 1933.

In the year 1918, a "Nationalrat" ["National Council"] was developed in Radautz in which the "Bund" developed a socialist activity. The Nationalrat was however of short duration since the Rumanian oligarchy dissolved all national councils in 1919. Even after the dissolution, the "Bund" attempted to gain influence over the composition of the Kultusgemeinde Kehillah ["Community Council"]. Under the leadership of the Obmannes (head) Mendel Drimmer, a Nationalist Socialist activity unfolded. Dr. Drimmer found support from the members of his party and even democratic bourgeois elements. Among his collaborators were Wolf Tenenbaum (later murdered by the Legionnaires [Arab Legion]) Samuel Heitner, the pharmacist Berall; Josef Horn; Berl Schuller; Moritz Flicker. In yearlong struggles, the "Bund" pushed through a new order of elections, whereby the laboring class were given an opportunity to influence the activity of the community, via equal, direct and secret right of proportional election, in order to gain influence on the activity of the Kehillah.

Some excellent things were done in the field of social welfare. Of significance were the donations of the philanthropists Berl Rath, Isak Ausländer, Mendl Bitter, Hermann Feiger, Bär Schuller, Benno Hirsch and others. At the head of the section for social welfare stood Dr. Drimmer, to whom was appointed an assisting council made up of the representatives of all parties. In the year 1925 the bank of Jewish Businessmen and Tradesmen was founded and lead by Moritz Flicker and Dr. Drimmer. The Jewish labor movement took an active part in establishing the Creditbank "Joint". This bank was under the leadership of Munio Sattinger, Anczel Barat, Benno Hirsch, Samuel Heitner and others. Samuel Heitner also founded a small lending bank forartisans. The capital for this foundation came from the donations of well to do merchants. To these belonged Berl Rath, Isak Ausländer, the industrialist Mendl Bitter, Hermann Feiger, Pressner and others. Berl Schuller donated a house in the center of town and thus enabled the establishment of a Jewish hospital and old age home, where the active involvement of the corporation of Chaim Mechel, Berl Schuller, Elias Schuller, Dr. Schimmel and Dr. Drimmer must be prominently noted.

In the post war period, Leib and Abraham Weidenfeld, Mrs. Prof. Rosner, Elieser Schapira, Alter Wassermann, Dr. Schaje Bercovici, Zwi Metsch, Schäfer and Dr. Bretschneider functioned as commissioners for the national funds. Thanks to the cooperation of Efraim Goldschläger, Jakob Katz, Joel Schurberg as well as the youth organizations, the sum total of the collected donations were second only to the amount collected in Czernowitz.

The "Keren Hajessod" was founded in the year 1921. Dr. Schaje Herzberg was elected to lead the non-Zionist representation on "Keren Hajessod".

The Zionists were very active and successful in their work for the Jewish national candidates before 1914. Notable and meritable Zionists were Isak Ausländer (formerly Councillor in the Kehillah, he was decorated with the Romanian order of "Meritul commercial, First Class", father-in-law of Dr. J. Emanuel Wildmann in Tel Aviv), Dr. Josef Bierer; Dr. Jakob Lapajowker; Prof. König; Chaim Halbrecht; Dr. Schaje Lecker; Chaim Schärf and Alter Wassermann. There also was a strong Misrachi organization 10 .

In the years 1945-49, the "Histadrut - Zionists" was under the leadership of Alter Wassermann, Attorney Bigo Harth, Zwi Metsch, Attorney Dr. Wollitzer, Baruch Rath, Dr. A. Mechel and Efraim Goldschläger. Zionist personalities who visited Radautz, apart from the leaders from Bukowina, were: Dr. Nathan Birnbaum, Prof. Dr. Arthur Mahler, Prof. Dr. Leon Kellner, Dr. Schmarjahu Lewin, Elieser Rockach, M. M. Ussischkin, Dr. Imanuel Olswanger, Josef Sprinzak, Meir Grossmann, Nathan Bistrizky, Aron Schapira and Dr. Wolfgang von Weisl.

Great credit for the deepening of the Zionist idea in the intellectual circles of the town goes to the academic association "Barissia". This "Barissia" was founded in August 1912 by some "Kadimanern" who had studied in Vienna and was founded in Radautz during their holiday stay. Among the founding members were Engineer Buchbinder (today in Haifa), Engineer Schindler, Niederhoffer, Biebermann and Dr. W. Schimmel.

"Barissia", as a dueling Jewish national fraternity during the whole time of its activity, fulfilled a dual purpose: educating Jewish academic youth in a National spirit and instilling in them the fighting spirit in order to be able to stand up to the anti-Semitic student fraternities, which were usual in that period. In the course of time, "Barissia" became the national Zionist and social center of the academic youth but after the 50th semester celebration in the year 1937, they had to suspend their activity because of the persecution of the Jews under the Goga-Cuza government.

In the field of sports, the Jews of Radautz distinguished themselves. The Jewish national sporting club, "Hagwirah" was founded in August 1912 in Radautz. To its founders belonged the brothers Druckmann, of whom Prof. Dr. Adolf Druckmann is today active at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. After the first World War, the re-organization of the sporting club was lead by Dr. Preminger, Im. Rosner (of blessed memory), Engineer Imanuel Halbrecht, Dr. Halbrecht, Dr. A. Mechel, Dr. J. Feiger, Engineer Jacques Feiger, Dr. Sonntag, David Mechel, Dr. M. Weinstein, Max Weber, Arie Wolloch as well as Engineer Abraham Feiger who is still active in Tel Aviv as the leader of the tennis section of "Makkabi" Tel Aviv and at the same time one of the leaders of the Macabee World Association. From small beginnings, the "Hagwirah" developed especially after the first World War into one of the best-organized sporting clubs in all of Bukowina. With time, the club enlarged its activity to cover all branches of sports and excelled in heavy athletics as well as light sports and in gymnastics. Thus, "Hagwirah" conquered the great Makkabi Sports Festival in Czernowitz in 1920 in the stadium near the sawmill of Götz, winning 15 out of 20 1st place awards. The events of the "Hagwirah" were the biggest sporting events in all of Bukowina, and achieved its pinnacle of success in the year 1935 reaching the participation of 24 actively participating groups under the leadership of Dr. Weinstein and Dr. A. Mechel participating in the 2nd Maccabiah in Israel. The activity of the sporting club was interrupted by the persecution of the Jews in Romania during which all movable assets [the equipment for gymnastics and light athletics such as tennis] were ruined. Nevertheless, "Hagwirah", after the return of the surviving members from Transnistria and during the Presidency of Dr. J. Feiger, re-activated at least the football and gymnastics sections. Under the leadership of Dr. A. Mechel, even the football team of South Bukowina won in a hard fought match against a Romanian sports club.

In the summer of 1947, "Hagwirah" celebrated its 35 years of existence with a great sports and gymnastics event. This was its last production because the authorities then dissolved it and all possessions were confiscated.

The End

After Hitler's rise to power, the persecution of the Jews of Rumania began in full vehemence. This was first seen during the government of Goga-Cuza when the Jews of the villages fled to the towns and left all of their property and assets behind. But even in the towns, Jews in the open streets were thrashed and Jewish businesses, shops, and institutions were forced to open on Saturdays. A delegation headed by Rabbi Rabinowicz and Alter Wassermann was sent to Czernowitz, a second delegation under the leadership of Chief Rabbi Dr. A. Mark was sent to Bucharest, both without success. The government of Goga-Cuza was of short duration (until Jan 1939), but it got worse when the Iron Guard came on the scene. Jews were murdered as the Iron Guard revolted on the 23rd of January. Among the victims were Wolf Tannenbaum, Benjamin Klein, his son-in-law Harth and N. Donnenfeld. Already by the 8th of December 1940, the police of Radautz ordered 70 Jewish families who came from Suczawa and Kimpolung, who had fled to Radautz, to leave the town within 24 hours. They were then given a certain postponement. On the 29th of December, the above families were arrested, thrown into a prison, and only released when they gave a declaration that they would leave the town within 2 days.

When the Germans came to North Bukowina, the persecution of the Jews reached its peak. Jewish soldiers were expelled from the army and on their journey homeward, they were thrown out of the train while travelling at full speed. Jewish teachers were removed from state schools and Jewish officials from governmental service. Thirty Jewish personalities and a number of younger persons were kept as hostages under guard. Men under 60 could only stay overnight in side streets to which they were sent, and evacuation from the villages soon began. The Jews from Seletin and its surroundings were brought to Radautz during the first days of July 1941 and placed in synagogues where they were kept for 2 weeks under guard. The Jewish community of Radautz took special care of them and when they were to be expelled to Jedinetz in Bessarabia by foot, they put cars at their disposal. For this purpose, Eisik Pressner, Moses Katz and Dr. Wilhelm Schimmel collected money. With great financial sacrifices, during about one and a half years, more than 2000 refugees from the surrounding villages and from Sereth, were supplied with clothing, food and money.

In the beginning of October 1941, all Jews had to leave town within 2 days. Money, jewelry, as well as stock certificates, bonds, etc., of the National Bank, furniture and their other property had to be left behind. They could only take what they could carry by hand, and 2,000 Lei per p. Due to the intervention of the community president Eisik Pressner and David Wassermann with the Prefect, the Jews were permitted to carry larger suitcases. During the last 2 days of Sukkoth, the 9th and 10th of October, 1941, the Jews were carried to their death in train wagons meant for animals which had been prepared for this purpose.

In Lipkany (Bessarabia), these transports were divided: one part was sent to the Dniester through Atachi, and the other part to Markulesti. In Atachi, they were driven from the wagons into an open street. Only a few found a place to stay in the half destroyed Jewish houses whose owners had been murdered. On the walls of these houses it was written that Jews who dwell there should say Kaddish for those murdered.

After a few days, the Jews were transported by ferry over the Dniester River to Moghilew from where transports were organized to Djurin, Kopaigorand and other places. The larger part remained in Moghilew, and some dwelled in the ghetto and destroyed houses without windows and doors where 2 or 3 families had to live in one room. They confronted a painful death; due to hunger and cold the mortality rate rose.

A self-help committee was established which got into contact with the Jews of Bucharest who sent support in the form of food and money. However, the larger part of this went astray on the way. When Engineer Jägendorf from Czernowitz obtained permission to repair the water works and electricity, and to put into service an iron foundry, several hundred Jews found employment (see volume II, Moghilew). Food distribution was established for the poorest of the poor, with the support of the ladies Lisa Lecker, Dora Schiffer, Jenka Jekeles and Etty Kostiner, as well as the camp inmates Josef Wolf and Alter Wassermann. The patrons of this were Isak Pressner, Bendit Wolf, Uscher Wolf and other persons from Radautz in Bukarest. In this way, 1000 portions of nourishing soup and one piece of corn bread could be served, until the arrival of the Russian troops in 1944.

Many people of Radautz were in Djurin, where a self-help committee constituted under the direction of Moses Katz and Dr. Max Rosenstrauch established a cooperative, a kitchen, a hospital, and an orphanage under the direction of Lawyer Bigo Harth. Great help was given by Rabbi Baruch Hager and Rabbi Kapralik.

The two religious heads of the community took care in a high minded way of the unfortunate victims of Nazi power so that in Djurin only a small percentage of death occurred among the deported people of Transnistria.

A large part of the deportees from Radauti came to Markulesti, where they were quartered in the deserted houses of the Jews murdered there. After they had been deprived under threat of death of all valuables, they were sent on foot to the unknown. Many old and sick were left by the wayside and were shot by the accompanying soldiers. Their family members were driven by being hit with rifle butts. Thus, mothers were forcibly separated from their children and children from their parents. After 12 to 15 days, those remaining alive came to the villages Odobowka, Balta, Berschad and others. Enfeebled, naked and barefoot, they had a miserable life and had to do forced labor while being subjected to severe brutality. Many were sent over the Bug River to the Germans where Nazi beasts murdered them. In March 1944, only a small portion of those from Radautz returned from the hell of Transnistria. They found their houses destroyed, their shops and apartments plundered or occupied by Romanians. Only a few of them were given back their furniture or machines which they had given to Christian friends before their deportation. Without any means, those unfortunates began to establish themselves. The Joint came immediately to their help. A kitchen was opened and for a few weeks they were sent additional financial support. Due to the initiative of Mrs. Mela Jancu (Bukarest) a branch of OSE was established in Radautz. The Jewish World Congress established a representation for south Bukowina with its seat in Radautz. Many people from Radautz living in the USA sent food and clothes. The economic life had a moderate uplift, which was later hindered by internal political problems in Rumania. In the year 1948, a large Aliyah to Israel began and many from Radautz had the luck to emigrate to Israel.

(Reported by Alter Wassermann, of blessed memory)

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Footnotes :

1 Josef Rudich was the father of Michael Rudich. His wife Sara, nee Gross, was the founder of the first Jewish supported institution in the Bukowina. Back

2 Chaim Mechel (1878-1947) came to Radautz from Kuty as a young man after the early death of his father. In Radautz, he achieved renown and property through diligence and force of character. For tens of years, he was the President of the Jewish Community, founded many philanthropic institutions, established the hospital and the old age home, and many other humane institutions. He was well recognized by the non- Jewish population, was elected regularly to the Radautz community council, and attained the position of Vice-Mayor and the person responsible for finance and the head of the finance department. He became the director of the Savings Bank of Radautz and several times was sent as a delegate to represent the interests of his home town, Radautz, to the authorities in Vienna, and later, under Romanian authority, to Bukarest. For his Zionist achievements (he belonged to the Jabotinsky movement), he was inscribed into the Golden Book of the KKL (Keren Kayemet L'Yisroel).

This man of achievements, together with his wife Sima was deported in 1941 by order of the Rumanian Nazi criminal clique to Transnistria. After 3 years of suffering and severe indignities, he returned to Radautz where he again dealt with philanthropic work. But his body, exhausted by the physical suffering endured, had lost its power of resistance. He died suddenly at the age of 70 in Radautz. Back

3 Dr. Riven Lang, born in 1876 in Kimpolung, an outstanding legal scholar, was a lawyer from the end of the first World War, until his deportation from Radautz, where during the unification of Bukowina with Romania, he functioned as a city Councillor for 30 years. During all those years, from 1918, he was also a Councillor for the Jewish community and its vice president for many years. He was also the President of the Jewish Federation of Masons and Artisans as well for a large number of Jewish foundations. His wife, Mrs. Anna Lang, nee Schapira, a teacher by profession, was the first female city Councillor in Radautz and was exemplary in this function. Dr. Riven Lang died in 1944 in Transnistria and his wife in the following year. Back

4 Old people relay that as the first ritual slaughterer of the town, he consecrated the cemetery, died shortly after that, and was the first buried there. His gravestone shows the year 1832. Back

5 Later, when Jonel Bratianu, the leader of the Liberal Party in Rumania, stayed in Radautz, he mentioned the donation of a plot for the enlargement of the cemetery as his achievement and commended this in the manner of the Rumanian Bojar, "may they fill it up rapidly". Back

6 Mrs. Dr. Mela Jancu came to Israel in 1960 together with her husband, the pediatrician Dr. Jancu. Until then, they had been victimized by the Rumanian persecution of the Zionists. Back

7 Rabbi Isak ben Elieser Lipman Kunstadt (1838-1909) born in Pressburg, pupil of Rabbi Schmuel Benjamin Schreiber, functioned as Rabbi in Nagy-Abony (1850-1882), in Grosswardein (1882-1994), and afterwards in Radautz (1884-1907). Back

8 Rabbi Dr. Jacob Hoffmann was born on 9 March 1881 in Papa. He was a pupil of Rabbis Gedalje Schmelkes, S. B. Schreiber and M. A. Roth. He was promoted in 1919 to Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Vienna and from 1906-08 he was the Rabbi at the Montefiore Temple in Vienna. From 1908 to 1912, he was rabbi in Kostel (Mähren), 1912-1923 in Radautz, 1916-1918 military Rabbi, 1923-1937 in Frankfurt am Main, and Rabbi for the Congregation Ohav Zedek in New York (1938-1953). He was a leading member of the Misrachi movement; fro1904-1937 a leading member of the Zionist Action Committee. He was the author of many publications on the subject of Jews and Judaism. He was a permanent advisor to Hebrew, German, and English journals. In 1954 he emigrated to Israel where he died in June 1956. Back

9 Rabbi Israel Hornik, born in 1878 in Zalesczyky, was a significant Talmud scholar, a pupil of Rabbis Jakob Weidenfeld and Leib Bernfeld of Zalesczyky. In 1900, when he was Rabbi in Oberwikow, he published a large collection of rabbinical decisions. He was deported to Transnistria, but survived and after his return he became Rabbi in Radautz. He died in 1948. Back

10 Among the leaders of the Misrachi movement in Radautz must be mentioned Simon Halbrecht. He and his wife Chaje Ruchel were well known not only in their permanent residence in Radautz, but in the whole of the Bukowina. Simon Halbrecht was a long-standing council member of the Jewish community. In spite of his Hasidic attitude, he was an enthusiastic Zionist and educated his family (five sons and a daughter) in the love of Zion.

All his children live in Israel intimately connected with the establishment of the country, with the exception of Dr. Mordechai Halbrecht who died in New York prematurely, shortly before he was to take up residence in Israel, and who was buried in Sichron Jakob. His eldest son, Samuel Halbrecht, who already had settled in the USA, was the last of his children to move to Tel Aviv. Chaim Halbrecht fought as a 17-year-old boy in the Jewish legion under General Allenby, and is today already a well-recognized industrialist (textile industry) in Tel Aviv. Engineer Architect Imanuel Halbrecht, who as a student was a member of the gymnastics section of the sporting club "Hagwirah", is presently living as an architect in Ramat Gan. In this town also lives the only daughter of Simon Halbrecht, Neimah, the wife of leading industrialist Abraham Klier. Professor Gedalie Jizchak Halbrecht is head of the gynecological department of the Hascharon hospital in Petach Tikwa. Back


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