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[Page 5]

Buildup

 

The Rise of the Jewish Settlement
in Czestochowa 1700 – 1939

A Contribution to the History of the Jewish Settlement in Czestochowa

by L. Brenner

Translated by Mark Froimowitz

Translator's comments are indicated by [ ]


The shape of the city Czestochov came about through the joining of two parts: of Czestochov village in back of the “Jasna Gora” and of old Czestochov which lies by the river Varta. Both parts developed separately. Old Czestochov already existed in the year 1377. In the year 1502, King Alexander, on the basis of the Magdeburg Law, gave Czestochov the rights of a city. Czestochov again until the second half of the 17th century belonged to the Olsztyn county. After the Congress of Vienna (1815), both parts of the city fell under Czarist rule. Both parts of the city continued to grow territorially and gradually neared each other. In the year 1826, both parts united and became one city. In the year 1867, Czestochov became the capitol of the county.[1]

The Beginning of Jews in Czestochov

Concerning the rise of the Jewish settlement in Czestochov, much has already been written. Particularly, this question is broadly handled in the book “Czestochover Jews”.[2] However, the oldest data concerning Jews in Czestochowa is given by the Polish society of Land-Kendenish.[3] There, it is reminded that the Jewish community in Czestochowa came into being in the year 1700. There it is also given that, in the year 1765, there were already 51 Jewish families in Czestochowa. In both cases, the number of persons is not given. The Polish writer Julian Niemtzevitch[4] indicates that in the era of the Swedish wars, that is, in the year 1655, the city borrowed 100 thaler from a Jew for which he later got a house. Niemtzevitch, however, does not indicate whether the Jew who made the loan settled in the city. The historian Michal Ballinski speaks about the same situation with the loan.[5]

Ballinski indicates that the Jew received a lease of the city hall for the borrowed 100 thaler. Thereby, Ballinski reminds that, according to the privileges of Czestochowa, Jews had no right to live in the city. According to his comments regarding the privilege situation, it comes out, that this Jew did receive the right to live in the city. If this settlement of one city, one cannot yet hold as the beginning of the settlement of Jews in Czestochowa, therefore, one has to take the date of 1700 for the beginning which is reminded in the above mentioned book “Guidebook of Czestochowa and its Vicinity”, in which it is given that there was already a Jewish community at that time in Czestochowa.

The Development of the Settlement

Along with the growth and development of the general population in Czestochowa, the Jewish settlement also grew. In the third and last charter of the Christian bakers' guild in Czestochowa, which was confirmed by King August the Third and approved by city council on the 6th of October 1760, it is written in clause 11 which was dedicated to the question of Jewish bakers: “Because the Jews have increased their number and are a disorder for the guild and they bake on the important holidays and fire lightings, the guild master will guard that they should not have this protection, and the magistrate is obligated to help”. From this, one can deduce that the Jewish workers were already so active that they already played a role as competitors. Concerning the growth of the Jewish population in that time and their part in the prosperity of the city, we learn from Niemtzevitch's writings in which he reminds that, when he was in Czestochowa in the year 1821, half of the 3000 inhabitants in the old city were Jews and that all of the houses in the old marketplace, except for three, belonged to Jews.

From the time that the two parts of the city united and became a single city, Czestochowa began to grow more quickly as a business and industrial center. The number of Jewish inhabitants in the city also continued to increase. In all domains, the Jews made significant contributions to the development of the city.

The first vital undertaking that Jews made in Czestochowa was a printing business that the family Kuhn brought over from Vielon in the year 1869. The printing business was quickly converted to an important lithographical institution which, at that time, served as a school for all of Poland. From there came out capable professionals in the domain of lithography. Near this institution, the family Kuhn, in partnership with the Uderfeld family, founded a factory of colored paper. In the year 1873, the partners Ginsberg and Kuhn founded a paper factory “Papierniya”. In the year 1883, Kronenberg founded the textile factory “Czestochowiskaya”. In the year 1884, the partners Goldman, Uderfeld and Oppenheim found the twine factory “Stradum” which initially employed 150 workers. From the year 1902, when the factory went over to a shareholder company with Dr. Berliner Bloy as its head and began to expand, it began to employ an estimated 2000 workers. In the year 1888, Severin Landau founded a factory for celluloid manufacture which first employed 10 workers and later, several hundred. In the year 1896, the partners Ginsberg, Kuhn, Grossman, Marcusfeld, and Neiman founded a textile factory “Varta” in which were quickly employed an estimated 1500 workers. In the year 1897, Isadore Geisler founded in Vitsherp, near Czestochowa, the glassworks “Polina” which employed 750 workers. In the year 1901, a hat factory “Kapelyoshar-Nay” was founded through Stanislav Grossman and Henrik Marcusfeld which employed an estimated 450 workers, among them 130 women.[6] Besides these, it is worthwhile to remind of the older Grossman's button factory, Weinberg's comb factory, and the chair-back factory of Shiya and Rosenstein which was the first chair-back and jewelry factory in Poland.[7]

This is a good picture, more or less, of the significance that the participation of the Jews had in the industrial and economic development of the city. The Jews of the neighboring towns who, after the repeal of the Jewish precincts, began to stream toward Czestochowa also contributed to the economic growth of the city. The Jews also had a strong portion of trade.

Concerning the portion that the Jews had in trade, we find in the travel writings of Niemtzevitch who reminds that, when he was in Czestochowa (1821), the entire trade in grain with Silesia was in Jewish hands. That Jews even sold [Catholic] devotional objects and that he himself bought these kinds of things from a Jew with the name Landaver.

Professional Unions

This particular problem gets discussed thoroughly in the book “Czestochower Jews”.[8] I believe, however, that it is necessary to give certain supplements concerning the professional unions for the period between the wars.

In the years between the First and Second World Wars, many Jewish stores were found in Czestochowa that employed a large number of Jewish male and female clerks, large factories and many small factories that made men's clothing that employed a large number of Jewish workers. Many journeymen were employed in home workshops and in large and small artisan workshops. Here it is necessary to remark that the Jewish workers in the factories and artisan workshops had to endure vexations from their Jewish owners who held that the Jewish workers were too enlightened and also incited others to rebel. No fewer vexations did the clerks have to endure from their bosses. In particular, the professional unions had a great deal of work to enlighten the less aware workers.

In the last years before World War II, as is given over by the then secretary of the professional union, M. Kushner, there were in the union about 5000 organized workers. In the tailer's union itself, to which belonged tailors, underwear sewers, and knitwear workers, more than 3000; business and office employees – 600; socialist artisans – 320; transport (shoulder carriers and handwagons) – 240; food (bakers, butchers and sausage makers) – 180; the union of the unemployed numbered 120 members and, during the busy season, city public work projects were arranged through their union; barbers – more than 60 and some of them belonged to several other unions. Outside of the normal work which the mentioned unions led in Sanatzia Poland [the government of Joseph Pilsudski between the First and Second World Wars] of the time, in order to guard the workers' interests, they also had the task of fighting for the rights of Jewish workers for work even in the factories and undertakings where the owners were Jews. The unions also lead cultural activities among their members and, in general, put their seal on societal and cultural life of the entire Jewish settlement in Czestochowa.

The unions continued to grow and their activity became more intense. The power and their prestige looked so outstanding, that they became the deciding factor not only in the framework of Jewish life. Only the unions of business and office employees were left in the last years before the Second World War because of police persecution at a certain time. At the end of 1937, this union, thanks to joint efforts of the Bund with the Communists revived again and began an intensive activity. From that time on until the outbreak of the War, the union was in the house on 3/5 Volnoshtshi Avenue. As chairman of the union was elected the writer of these lines and as secretary, Vladek Blumenfruct. To the most vital action of the union of the last years belongs the great strike of the merchant clerks (Summer, 1938) for a standardized work day and an increase in wages which was crowned with a victory. This union in that time also distinguished itself with its intensive culture work among its members.

Artisanship

Artisanship is also fully discussed in the book “Czestochower Jews”.
[9] However, all this is, according to my opinion, worthwhile to complement with some information, which was given over to me by the former artisan leaders Shayeh Granek, Yossel Goldberg, and Shmuel Altman. In the years before the Second World War, almost all of the artisans were organized in 13 guilds which comprised the following trades: Tailer, hat-makers, sweater-makers, rope makers, upholsterers, shoemakers, box makers, bakers, barbers, carpenters, lathe operators, locksmiths, goldsmiths, watchmakers, engravers, butchers, (artistic) painters, and electricians. The largest and most beautiful building of the artisans was the house of the mechanical bakeries which was built just before the Second World War and which was supposed to be converted to a baker cooperative. Also, the small business union was a strong and numerous organization that included hundreds of small businesses and market-vendors and also about 50 village peddlers.

Culture and Education

Culture and education are widely discussed in the book “Czestochower Jews”.[10] There is precisely given the rise, activity, and significance of such cultural and educational institutions such as: gardening school, artisans school, Y. L. Peretz Folks School and Home for Children, Jewish Gymnazia, evening courses, Lira, Jewish libraries, Jewish theater as well as Jewish newspapers and sports clubs. Yet it is necessary to complement this with some important moments: In the book “Rudshnick Czestochowski” [11] is found an account of the former vice chairman of the society “Dubrutshinushtesh”, Dr. Henrik Spiegal. In this account, it is mentioned, among others, that “until the year 1888, about 40-50 needy Jewish children were taught at the expense of the community. The rabbi of that time, Dovinson, lead a Talmud Torah for 125 children in the community building on Garntzarski Street. In the year 1897, artisans workshops were arranged near this talmud torah, including a locksmith workshop with 30 students, a carpentry workshop with 15 students, and an upholstery workshop with 6 students. In the year 1900, the community managing committee bought 11 acres of land on which was set up a gardening farm. The initial number of students in the practical course were 14. Evening courses were also established for 50 attendees composed of students in the artisans workshop, of students on the farm, and from workers in the city”.

Very interesting is the information that Spiegal gives further on that a Saturday school was also established for seamstresses, (female) shipping clerks, and (female) cooks. This Saturday school, writes Spiegal, was active every Saturday from the hours of 3:00 in the afternoon to 8:00 in the evening and was attended by about 150 girls.

In the already mentioned book “Guidebook for Czestochowa and its Vicinity”, is given that in the beginning of the 19th century, there existed in Czestochowa two city schools for Jewish children, a talmud torah that was attended by 100 children, an artisans school with 80 students, a gardening school with 30 students, 50 cheders with 4000 students, and 4945 Jewish students were found in the elementary and middle schools. Here, the given numbers give us a picture of the striving of the Jewish parents in Czestochowa to educate and bring up their children. Despite all of the difficulties that the Jews of that time had in fulfilling their drive to become educated, the number of self-educated continued to advance. Very interesting material in this domain we find in the brochures “Self-Education Courses” which were published in Czestochowa in the years 1915-1917. In the mentioned brochures is given that in the years 1915, 1916, and 1917, there existed in Czestochowa courses for higher education. In the years 1915, the courses had 547 attendees: 58 with higher education, 312 with middle education, 152 with 4th grade education, and 25 with home education. Of these 542 attendees, 235 were Jews, that is 73% [Clearly, there is an error here, probably 43%]. In the year 1917, the number of listeners was much smaller, only 204. Of these, however, a full 50% consisted of Jews. As we see, the number of Jewish listeners was a larger percentage. Concerning the number of students in the period between the wars, I was unfortunately unable to find authoritative material. The inadequate material that are left come from the year 1939 that, B. Stellah, the former director of the department of school and culture of the Czestochowa city management put together in the year 1940. This report take around the majority of the Jewish educational institutions that existed in the year 1939 and present itself as follows.

  1. A Frobel school named after Z. Weinstock with 49 children (girls 23, boys 26), directed by Leah Zelkovitch. This Frobel school was located in a house on Second Avenue, number 20.
  2. A Frobel school lead by Miriam Freizerovich-Glivitzka on Berka Yosselovich street, number 13 with 20 children (7 boys and 13 girls).
  3. A Frobel school lead by Lotta Factor on the Avenue, number 8, with 12 children (6 boys and 6 girls),
  4. a preschool from the society “Dubrotshinushts” on Pshemislova Street, number 6, under the guidance of Rozsha Gelbart (“Achrunka”) with 220 children (60 boys and 160 girls).
  5. Y. L. Peretz Home for Children on 22 Krutka Street, under the guidance of Sureh Ginsburg with 102 children (28 boys and 64 girls).
  6. A Frobel school lead by Bella Lifshitz on Vulnushtishi, number 11 with 25 children (11 boys and 14 girls). To this should be added the group of preschool children that was privately lead (not legalized) through qualified energetic people and which were not on the list of the School Inspector. Also not included are the summer groups of preschool children that took place in various orchards in the open air.

Elementary Schools:
  1. School number 12 for Jewish children on Pshemisluva Street, number 10/14. This school had 14 classes and was attended by 808 children (245 boys and 563 girls).
  2. School number 15 with 12 classes on Narotovitsha Street number 19/23 with 694 students (468 boys and 226 girls).
  3. A 4-grade school by the Axcer Gymnazium on Pasha Street, number 26 with 33 students (only boys).
  4. A 6-grade school by the Jewish Gymnazium on Yasnogurska, number 8/10 with 205 students (90 boys and 115 girls).
  5. A 7-grade school named after Z. Weinstock on Avenue A 20, with 122 students (49 boys, 73 girls).
  6. A 4-grade school by Grilack on B. Yosselevitshe number 9 with 70 students (only boys).
  7. A 5-grade school by D. Weinberg on Avenue, number 8 with 50 students (only boys).
  8. A 7-grade meyl [unknown] School on Berka Yosselevitshe Street, number 15 with 125 students.

Middle Schools: Private Lytzium (the Jewish gymnazium) on Yasnogurska, Number 8/10 with 9-grades with 300 students (135 boys and 165 girls). 2) the Axcer Gymnazium on Pasha Street, number 24 with 8-grades with 200 students (120 boys and 80 girls).

So many according to the above indicated reports. Apart from these, many children attended the Talmud Torah “Machitzki Hadas” in which secular studies were also taught and many students who were taught by corner religious teachers.

In the above mentioned reports are also given statistics on supplementary courses. On Gurntzarski, number 8 in the building of the Artisans School, there existed a supplementary course for apprentices under the direction of engineer Stanislav Pshisuski. The course had 6 classes with 210 students (only men). On Pshemislav, number 10 was a supplementary course for women which was attended by 102 students. The director of this course was the teacher Leila Avner.

The Artisans School under the guidance of Stanislav Pshisuski was attended by 120 students (only men). A certain number of students also attended the private music school of Ludwig Vavzshinovich and the state school for women who take care of children where just a small number of Jews were allowed.

The numbers brought above do not take into account all children and youths who received education and upbringing and also not the youth who studied in the city universities in Poland and outside the country.

Speaking of culture and education, it is necessary to remind also about the activity of the Lira Every Czestochowa Jew and also everyone else who was familiar with the book “Czestochower Jews” knows about the great significance of the Lira for Jewish cultural life in Czestochowa. Especially after there was, through the Jewish labor leaders R. Federman, Chrabluvski, and Aharon Peretz and, in general, of the progressive Jewish culture leaders, a fight over assimilationist tendencies which dominated in this society. Therefore, it is necessary to give some facts: The way it is related by Dr. Aharon Peretz (the past chairman of the Lira), the progressive culture leaders begun their offensive against the assimilationist direction of the Lira. First, at the end of 1911, after which the “Jewish literary society” was shut down by the Czarist government, the members of the closed society went into the Lira and slowly pushed out the assimilationist management leaders. The only one left was Henrik Marcusfeld who declared that the tendencies that had begun to dominate the Lira did not bother him. Further, he wants to work along with this society and to support the material because he sees that a lovely intensive cultural activity is going on and that he wants to be part of it. Among the members of the Lira, Aharon Peretz indicates, were also found those who were altogether not interested in the activities of the institution. They had here the possibility to be close to Marcusfeld so that they would be able to get credit more easily at the Jewish bank.

This elicited permission to arrange undertakings, Aharon Peretz further relates, came about in the following way. Every year in the month of January, the management of the Lira was required to put together a plan of undertakings for the entire year. The plan was sent over to Governor Yadshevski in Piotrikov. Permission was given to arrange 12 lectures and 48 concerts during the course of the year. The Lira, however, mostly arranged literary undertakings. The higher policeman Michalyuk who, in the name of the governor, watched over the activities of the Lira, used to take 2 rubles for every lecture in order that he should be at every reading and concert. Sholem Alechem, Peretz, Numberg, Vissenberg, Hillel Tzeitlin, and other Jewish writers used to come during such “concerts”. In the newspapers and posters, it used to say that a concert will be presented during which Y.L. Peretz or Sholem Alechem or another writer will perform a solo dance. The undertakings used to take place in their own meeting hall which had 225 seats. The hall was located in Gitler's house at the intersection of First Avenue.

Aharon Peretz gives over characteristic moments about Y. L. Peretz's appearances: Y. L. Peretz used to read his stories aloud by heart. In the time of such a lecture of “A Din Torah [Legal Judgement] with the Wind”, several members of the Lira took down what Peretz had said. In about a week, people were already reading the same in a Warsaw Jewish newspaper, the word-by-word that was taken down in the time of the lecture in Czestochowa. A second characteristic moment: Y.L. Peretz was very happy about his appearances in Czestochowa and gladly shared his impressions with an active culture leader and especially with his relatives Aharon and Hanna Peretz. He always used to end his letters to them with the plea, “You should burn this letter of mine. I am not required to procure an easy job for my biographers”.

The lovely cultural activities of the society Lira in Czestochowa ended with the outbreak of the First World War. After the First World War, a new chapter of societal and cultural Jewish life began in Czestochowa.

The growth of cultural and societal life after the First World War had a very close connection to the activities of the political parties who began to penetrate and influence Jewish life in our hometown of Czestochowa. In the domain, again, of modern education, the Jewish secular Y. L. Peretz School now had a vital role which produced students with a rich political and societal baggage which swelled and strengthened workers groups and the leftist political parties.

Representation in the Jewish Community

Regarding the representation in the Jewish community in Czestochowa, this is precisely handled by Dr. Y. Schatzki.[12] From Dr. Henrik Spiegal, we learn that the management of the community at that time consisted of  H. Ginsberg, M. Henig, and M. Marcusfeld. As is related by Dr. Aharon Peretz, the same community representatives were elected several times by a majority of Jews in the city because they were voted for both by poor Jews, who came to them for support (they gave charity), and by small business people and merchants, who came for their support in receiving an interest-free loan.

From the time that the new reforms of community management were carried out in Poland until the year 1936, a majority of the community management consisted of Agudah leaders and Zionists. Chairman during a succession of years was the Mizrachi worker in Czestochowa, Samuel Goldstein. From the year 1936 until the outbreak of the Second World War, the greatest influences on the community management were the small businesses and the artisans who were also supported by a certain portion of Jewish workers. Chairman was the respected leader of the newly established Jewish Democratic Party, Jacob Rosenberg, who showed a great interest in the Jewish social and cultural life of the Jewish settlement in the city, to Jewish poverty and even to cultural needs of Jewish labor. Jacob Rosenberg was the last head of the community of the large Czestochowa Jewish settlement and the only Jewish official representative who also personally felt the heavy hand of Sanatzia minister Slavoy Skladovski who had Rosenberg put in prison because the wall around the Jewish cemetery did not “agree” with Skladovski's decree concerning “urbanization”.

Jews in the Towns Around Czestochowa

As for Jews in the towns around Czestochowa, it is worthwhile to remind about certain facts: In the year 1914, a brochure was published in Vlotzlavek by a certain priest Stanislav Moznerovski with information about Kzshefitz, supported by archival documents.[13] There,[14] among others, it is also given that the oldest information about Jews in Kzshefitz comes from the year 1633. How many Jews in Kzshefitz itself is not known since the Jews of Kzshefitz were included with the Jews of Dzalushin and, together, they numbered 1956 souls. It is reminded there again that, in the year 1720, three Jewish families lived in Kuznitski (a suburb of Kzshefitz). In the indicated brochure is also reminded that, in the year 1765, 30 Jews lived in Kuznitski and that they had already built their own synagogue which had previously been forbidden, and in the end, they received permission from Archbishop Adam Kamarovski. Moznerovski later indicates that in the year 1810, there were 270 Jews in Kzshefitz, in the year 1847, 1045 Jews, in the year 1860, 1069 Jews, and, in the year 1914, an estimated 2500 Jews. In the same brochure is also reminded that the priest Voytek Rupinski, from the gathered together capital of the Kzshefitz church, on the 25th of June 1711 and the 10th of December 1715 lent the management of the synagogue in Kunyetzpol (a town near Czestochowa) 13 thousand zlotys on 10% interest. On similar conditions, Rupinski lent the management of the synagogue in Dzialoshin 5000 zlotys in the year 1716. In the year 1721, he again lent out 500 tinpess (a silver coin in the time of Jan Casimir) and, 5 years later, the 20th of August, he lent a further 2700 zlotys to the Jews of Dzialoshin. Incidentally, it is also mentioned there that the Jews did not conform to the conditions of repaying the loan and were threatened with excommunication (Kalyondova [a curse]).

Supportive of this information, it came out that, in certain towns around Czestochowa there were already Jewish settlements before there was something of a remembrance of the Jewish community in Czestochowa itself. And that their material situation was a difficult one, so that it was necessary for them to borrow money which they could not repay.

*

From everything that has been published until now concerning the Jewish settlement in Czestochowa and from the short contribution that I have added now, one still does not get a complete picture of the history of the Jewish settlement in Czestochowa. Yet, one can still see from this what an honored member the Czestochowa community was in the renowned Jewish settlement of Poland. And how strongly visible Jewish Czestochowa was in the city itself.

This throbbing, colorful life of the populous Jewish community in Czestochowa was, however, destroyed at the moment of the outbreak of the Second World Slaughter and the Hitlerite soldiers marching into the city.

There began the great calamity which ended in the year 1942 with the catastrophe for the entire Jewish settlement in Czestochowa which was cut off by the Hitlerite murderers, let their names be erased.
Warsaw, February 1956.


 

Bibliography

  1. Report concerning the history of Czestochowa, written through Czestochowa magistrate for an occupation-committee, the 15th December 1942, number 0-1224/1/12, signed by the city master Rubitzki. Return
  2. “Jew in Czestochowa until the First World War” by Dr. Jacob Schotzki, “Czestochowa Jews”, page 9. Return
  3. “Polskiya Tuvazshistava Krayoznavtse” Pshevodik Pa Tschenstocoa eey Akolitze”, Warsaw 1909. Return
  4. Pudrudzshe Historitshna Pa) Ziemiach Polskich”, published in the year 1958.
  5. Return
  6. “Fielgzshumka Da Jasna Gora”, Warsaw 1846. Return
  7. Vintzenti Satkoviski: “Monograph of the industry in Czestochowa”, 1913. Return
  8. Catalog of the exhibition in Czestochowa, put together before the First World War. Return
  9. “Czestochower Jews”, page 50. Return
  10. “Czestochower Jews”, page 61. Return
  11. “Czestochower Jews”, page 66. Return
  12. Printed in the year 1903. Return
  13. “Czestochower Jews”, page 23. Return
  14. Kzshepitzia, v. Pshelastsh Return
  15. Page 88 Return

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