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The Hashomer Hatzair Organization (cont.)

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One of the last groups of Hashomeir Hatzair before the outbreak of World War II
One of the last groups of Hashomeir Hatzair before the outbreak of World War II

Picture Index

All this was just the outer adornment for the earnest discussions and lectures about Jew and humanity, Jewish people and redemption, what is right and just, wrong and unjust, freedom and slavery. In these discussions a knowledge of Eretz Yisroel was primary: the borders of the Jordan, the peaks of the Carmel Mountains, the plains of the Eretz Yisroel valleys over which the blue Eretz Yisroel sky spreads.

The activities and discussions, the lessons and events, all turned the Inba into a second home for the Ciechanow youth.

There was not always peace, though, between this home and the home of mother and father.

The Hashomeir Hatzair organization did not know of any compromises. It demanded the total youth and showed her/him another way of life, other than the perception of mother and father. Hashomeir Hatzair tried, and mostly with success, to tear the young people out of the small town atmosphere and introduce them to a new way of thinking that was oft times in contrast to the outlook of the parents.

But in the end the parents understood us and changed their attitude to the Hashomeir Hatzair movement.

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Together with the worry over the future of their children, mother and father also wanted their children should receive an education. The parents appreciated the tremendous educational significance of Hashomeir Hatzair. They observed the spiritual development of their children that went hand in hand with their character growth.

It is also worthwhile to mention the attitude of the school teachers to Hashomeir Hatzair, The Polish state school for Jewish children did not think about, nor could they recognize, any youth organization. The teachers, almost all Jewish, tried to be loyal state employees, but they shut their eyes to our youth movement. Other than small incidents, we did not suffer any wrong from our Jewish teachers.

With the growth of the Hashomeir Hatzair movement, the Zionist activities of its members also grew. The “birds” left their nests, grew up and started to be active in the Zionist activities of the Zionist structures. The older chaverim worked along with and also led in various community institutions, J.N.F., Hechalutz, League for Israel Workers, and were active in Tarbut and in organizing various other activities.

Unfortunately, the chaverim of Ciechanow's Hashomeir Hatzair did little to fulfill their ideal of joining the kibbutz net of Eretz Yisroel. With sorrow and pain we recall all those dear and precious chaverim who did not realize their goal. They went through terrible suffering and treachery.


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Yaacov Warshavsky

Beitar, Hatzhar - Hatzakh, Beit Hakhayal

The cradle of Beitar was the Hashomeir Hatzair movement that in 1925 was founded by the Ciechanowers: Sh. Fried, the twin brothers Mundzak, M. Kanarik, the Novogrodsk brothers, the brothers and M. Lifsky. A short time after the establishment of Hashomeir, the whole organization with its membership joined the ranks of Beitar that was one of the first founded in Poland.

Chaverim of the Beitar Organization
Chaverim of the Beitar Organization

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In Beitar there was a woodwind orchestra whose founder and director was Sh. Frid. He devoted much time and energy to the movement, especially for the children with whom Beitar dealt.

In the early years Beitar met in the same place as Hashomeir Hatzair. The site was in the empty building of the Menshtik brothers. When the movement grew, we got a permanent place on Pultusker Street.

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The main activities of the organization were Hebrew lessons, History, Zionist lectures, sport and exercise, and the woodwind orchestra. I particularly remember the Lag B'omer activities which meant going out to the nearby forest, accompanied by the woodwind orchestra. The march through Ciechanow with the orchestra was reason for the Ciechanow population to look upon us with honor.

The bloody events in the Land of Israel in the year 1929, when the Arabs made pogroms on the Jews there, strengthened the Beitar movement. The youth and the older people streamed to the Beitar organization. At that time the Hatzair organization was founded that took into its membership the older members of Beitar.

The first Beitar members who went to the Hachshara were: N. Kanarik, I. Skurnik, and E. Fizner. They were on Hachshara in Klosov and in Ivadavitz. A. Zilberstain was sent to Agricultural School in Vienna. Those who completed Hachshara had a right to get certificates, but only E. Fizner got a certificate. The others had to use illegal means of Hatzair to enter the Land. Their motto was “Af Al Pi” which means: in spite of all difficulties, stumbling blocks and disturbances of the British Mandate. The movement brought many Jews to the Land of Israel to spite the angry British.

Many of the Jewish emigrants from Ciechanow reached the Land of Israel in this way, not knowing that the illegal immigration is organized by Hatzh”r. I. Skurnik was one of the founding members of the Ciechanow Beitar who arrived in the Land of Israel through this illegal means.

We also spread our educational work through organizing frequent meetings, readings and lectures, to which a large crowd came. From the Warsaw Beitar headquarters we got a permanent instructor, H. Furluck who, in addition to his organizational work, also gave Hebrew lessons for Chaverim of the movement.

The number of members grew and we rented larger premises. On Friday evenings we organized discussion s that attracted a large number of young people. I. Zabludowicz, after completing an instruction course, became the head instructor of Beitar in Ciechanow. Since many new members joined, such as : I. Tchurek, the teacher, Isadore Mansheim, Elimelech Treicher, B. Lubintzki and many others -- we conducted elections in Hatsh”r and so chairman I. Tchurek was elected, a good speaker and lecturer.

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The Committee of Beitar
The Committee of Beitar

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Nearly at the same time, there came to Ciechanow Dr. Strikovsky, a member of the Warsaw center. He influenced the growth of the movement very much in Ciechanow. A large crowd always attended his lectures at the local cinema.

In the year 1932, I Zabludowicz and the writer of these lines went to a Hachshara at Hantzevich, where we worked as a woodchopper in the nearby Polesher forests. A few months later we, together with I. Oistriak and Krivanofsky, transferred to the Hachshara at Proshnitz, closer to Ciechanow.

We organized frequent outings in the area, such as to: Plonsk, Pultusk, Proshnitz. Our outings, accompanied by the woodwind orchestra, made a great impression everywhere. Once, after such a visit in Proshnitz, when we organized a parade in the shtetl, the local Jewish communities tried to attack the train. The instructor, I. Zabludowicz, the leaders of the communists who participated in that attack, I happened to meet during the war in Soviet Russia. He was arrested there and sent to Siberia.

In 1933 we, together with the orchestra, participated in the World Conference of Beitar that took place in Warsaw. We marched through the streets of Warsaw in the grand parade. A large number of participants were armed with guns, which made a strong impression on the Poles.

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After the second congress of 5695, the movement took on the same Hatz”kh and the leaders of the movement in Poland started to organize the “illegal” aliyah that brought thousands of Jews of the Land of Israel, which saved them from the later Holocaust brought about by the Germans.

When news arrived that the British Mandate-power closed the gates of the Land of Israel for Jews, we organized a public meeting in the Ciechanow shul. The Beitar members came in their full uniforms. After the meeting communists attacked us. A fight erupted. Police intervened and the Beitar chaverim who were seized got two days of imprisonment. These were the first Zionist prisoners in Ciechanow.

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