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Klobucker Survivors in Israel, France and in Australia

Translated from Yiddish to English by Asher Szmulewicz

 

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Like all the Jews from Eastern Europe, the Klobucker Jews, spread out all over the world. Even before the First World War, the Klobucker Jews traveled the world to find a livelihood and a better life. People went to America, England, Argentina and Eretz Israel.

Baruch Szimkowicz

 

Klobucker Jews in Eretz Israel

Just after the First World War when Poland became independent, the “Poznantshikes” and the “Haliertshikes”* threatened the Polish Jews with their anti-Semitic and hooligan actions, by cutting the beards of Jews and conducting pogroms. It was then that Klobucker Jews started to make Aliya to Eretz Israel. It was after the Balfour Declaration, (England's declaration that there should be a Jewish homeland in then Palestine), which spread the hope that Jews would receive Eretz Israel. Klobucker Jews also made their journey to Eretz Israel.

After the First World War, I lived in Warsaw and did not know exactly what was going on in Klobuck. In 1923 I left to go to Eretz Israel, as a member of the Warsaw “Young Mizrachi”. I settled in Jerusalem.

In 1925 I went to Tel Aviv, and there I was informed


*Note of the Writer: “Poznantshikes”, “Haliertshikes” : Polish military formations, the first called after the region of the city Poznan (Posen in German) and the second named after the General Haller.

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that Klobucker Jews were in Israel. My first encounter was with Feigele Skarpes and her husband, Godel, from Czestochowa.

In addition to Feigele, there were also the following Klobuckers in Israel: Shlomo Birenbaum, Kerner, Chaim Zeidman, Yaakov Dawidowicz, Esther Granek and Emmanuel Willinger. They all came with their families. Then life was very harsh in Israel, and it was very difficult from all sides. The only consolation was to say: “Troubles of the many are half of the consolation”. Boats came with Polish Jews, people called it the “Rough Aliyah”.

 

The Pioneers Aliya

When the British Mandate government stopped the Aliya to Eretz Israel, the Zionist Organization arranged for illegal Aliya, in which members of the Klobuck “Hitachdut” organization participated. Several Klobuckers (attempted to) make the journey, not in a single group, but in various groups. When they arrived close to the Eretz Israel coasts they were caught and send back to where they came from. The Olim traveled (by foot) through several countries, and later traveled with various false papers until they arrived safely in Eretz Israel.

Through this Aliya the following “Hitachdut” members entered the country (of Israel): Menachem Chadzeski, Yaakov Szperling, Avraham Goldberg, Yaakov Starjinski, Daniel Szperling, Chaim Kurland, Shmuel Goldberg, Rachel Chade, Batia Zeibel, Chava Walbram and Leah Birenbaum. When Hitler came to power in Germany, Avraham Unglick, who used to live in Berlin, left the Third Reich and came to Eretz Israel.

After the “Churban” (Shoah) came the survivors.

When the gates of the concentration camps opened, and we received information in Israel about the Klobucker Jews who survived, I received a letter from the camps through the Jewish Agency. The letter was written by a former friend from the time when I went to school in the “Beit-HaMidrash” (house of study), Yaakov Granek. He wrote in perfect Hebrew and described, in summary, the kind of sufferings he went through: his parents and wife were murdered. Granek asked to be

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allowed to come to Jerusalem to see the Gerer Rebbe and become his secretary. When he arrived safely in Israel, he would become a Gerer Chasid.

 

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Klobucker committee in Israel, National Convention,
Chol HaMoed Pesach 5717 (1957)

 

I filled out his request (application), and when he came to Eretz Israel, he went to Jerusalem for Shavuot to visit the Gerer Rebbe, and stayed by me during the “Yom Tov” (Holiday) with his son Berek.

Little by little the Klobucker Jews, survivors of the German extermination, started to come. Several went to various countries of Galut (Diaspora). We don't know how many Klobucker Jews live in the Diaspora. In Israel there are about 140 families (from Klobuck). Almost everybody had work. We work and earn, some more, some less. All of the Klobuckers took part in the Liberation War, and even earlier in the Haganah. Our children are good soldiers of Tsahal (Israel Defense Forces). We remember a son of a Klobucker who fell during the Liberation War: Eliezer Brat, the son of Shoshana Brat, the grandson of Emmanuel Willinger. He fell in the ranks of the Palmach (Elite unit) during the combat in Mishmar HaEmek.

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Eliezer Brat who fell in the ranks of the Palmach during the combat in Mishmar HaEmek

 

We did not forget the Kedoshim (martyrs)

Every year on Tammuz 17, we duly organize the “Hazkarah” (Remembrance) for the Jews of Klobuck, who were murdered, and for the entire community of Klobuck. Also we carried out the task of perpetuating the Klobucker martyrs by writing a Yiskor (remembrance) book. This book will be a tombstone that will be transmitted from generation to generation, and will relate how Jews lived in Klobuck, and how they were persecuted by the Germans.

The Jews from Klobuck in Israel gather from time to time for familial happy events, such as for a Chanukah evening, and for a Chol HaMoed Pesach celebration and the like.

We also celebrated the 10th Year Jubilee of the State of Israel. The famous singer Sarah Yaari participated in this celebration.

We also received people from Klobuck who live in other countries, and who come to visit Israel from time to time. We also regret that some of the Jews from Klobuck do not find it necessary to participate in our celebrations, or even come to the “Hazkarah” for the martyrs.

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Remembrance ceremonies for the Klobucker martyrs

 

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5716 Remembrance Ceremony (1956) in Tel Aviv with the participation of Rabbi Spir

 

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Remembrance Ceremony in Tel Aviv for the 15th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Klobuck community (1957)

 

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Banquets and Celebrations of Klobucker Jews in Israel

 

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The celebration of the 10th Independence Day

 

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A marriage celebration 1958

 

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Klobuck committee during the Chanukah evening 1959

 

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Banquet in honor of a guest from Australia: Adele Unglick, Shmuel Goldberg welcomes the guest

 

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Conference to raise money for the Yiskor book

 

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President of the convention of Klobucker Jews in Tel Aviv. Chol HaMoed Pesach 5717 (1957). A. Wolf Jasny gave a conference about the Yiskor book

 

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Chanukah evening of the Klobucker Jews in Israel


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Klobuckers in France

by Moshe Wajnman

Translated from Yiddish to English by Asher Szmulewicz

The emigration of Jews from Klobuck to France lasted for a few decades. Starting during the Czarist regime in Russia, Jews left Klobuck and went to France. In part (they left) to escape the military service, “Dinen Fonien” (Russian Service), which was characterized with blows and anti-Semitic insults, and partly for economic reasons, due to the inability to earn a living. In the aftermath of the 1905 revolution a third group left Klobuck and went to France. These were Jews with well-known political positions, and they joined the commoner emigration flow to France, and partly to Belgium. This emigration was mainly a political emigration. People exiled themselves because of the political repression.

A larger emigration flow of Klobucker Jews started before the outbreak of WWI, especially in 1912-1914, due to the boycott of Jewish trades by anti-Semitic elements, and the loss of their livelihoods by the Jews of Klobuck. The thought of emigration as a solution became more prevalent. The ones who left were those who had (financial) means or had relatives to go to. Those who had boat tickets went to America, but many others became stuck half-way in France. At that time it was not too difficult to get settled economically. Access to work or a trade in France for the newcomer was not restricted. During their first years in France, the Klobucker Jews were mainly working in trade and small businesses, primarily in the garment industry of women and menswear.

A new emigration flow from Klobuck occurred during the First World War. The famine in the Polish towns during 1914-1918 drove many young Jews out of Klobuck, and (forced many) to go to work in the coal mines of Germany, with the hope that later they would be able to settle abroad. The Jewish coal miners, in those years, were in Germany, and they also worked in various crafts (in Germany) until the rise of power of Hitler.

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In 1933 when Hitler came to power, the Klobucker Jews left Germany and settled in France.

In the beginning of the 1920's very few Klobucker Jews emigrated. The Polish economy had stabilized. The economic situation was not as bad. Jews traded and worked and made a living, but then the economic situation worsened, because Minister Grabski levied (excessive) taxes on Jews, and poverty increased in the shtetl every day.

The fortunate ones, who then had children abroad, especially in America, received a few dollars from time to time to get through the bad times. Then emigration again recommenced. Mostly those who emigrated were Jewish workers and middle class people, and also young people, who were active in the Communist movement, and were harassed and targeted by the police.

In view of the severe economic crisis, anti-Semitism took more threatening forms. The constant worry about the future didn't provide any peace of mind for people, especially for the young people. A large segment of the young people left the shtetl for larger cities, and went to Czestochowa, Lodz, Katowice, and those who had the means went to France. The Zionists found a way out by walking and traveling towards Eretz Israel.

Because of the political persecutions, the writer of these lines, together with a group, had to leave Poland, and for some time settled in Belgium, and then later in Paris.

 

Klobuck Countrymen Organization in France

The emigration from Klobuck in France, in the beginning, was not organized in the form of a countryman association. The first emigrants did not have the idea of a countryman association, but almost all of them belonged to various “Societies” that dealt with social help, and provided (at 120 years) a grave. The thought to organize a countryman association grew out of

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the great (financial) hardship that was occurring in our home shtetl. The emergency need to send money home to deal with the hunger of the Klobuck children was becoming more urgent every day.

Our countryman, Benzion Green, who was a father of five children, devoted all of his energy to organize all of the countrymen. During the first meeting a help committee was elected, and a large amount of money was raised. The fundraising went on as planned.

 

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Document concerning the action conducted in France to help the hungry Jewish children in Klobuck

 

According to our plans, then in Klobuck we established a multi-party committee, in which the entire community was also represented. We linked ourselves with the “OSE”[1] (TOZ in Poland), who made an agreement with us that through our fundraising the “TOZ” in Poland will increase its projects.

Our help for Klobuck lasted until the outbreak of the war. But no stable countryman organization was established.

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Jews from Klobuck in France

 

When the war broke out in 1939, the Klobucker Jews who lived in France were drafted in the French Army, partly as volunteers[2] , to combat Hitler's fascism. In the army were: Moshe Wajnman; Leibel Azjner; Noach Rypsztein; Kopel Mas; Yankel Moshe Unglick; and others. Together with French soldiers, the Klobucker Jews became prisoners of war, and were held in captivity in German war prisoner camps until the end of the war. Only a few managed to escape from the prisoner of war camps, and participate in the Resistance movement: Moshe Wajnman, Noach Rypsztein and Yankel Moshe Unglick (Leibkes).

The terrifying bloodshed, carried out by the German murderers, against the Jewish people, did not spare our Klobucker Jews in Paris. In France those who were murdered included: Benzion Green and his wife, who was from Czestochowa and her maiden name was Yaskel, and their four children. Only one daughter survived. The daughters of our friend, Yossel Zachs (who passed away recently), were murdered; and the wife of Israel Azjner and their children. In the French Resistance Movement (Maquis),

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Klobucker Jews had important positions, in Paris: Yankel Moshe Unglick (Leibkes)
(nowadays in Poland), and Moshe Wajnman in Toulouse (South of France).

After the Liberation, the Klobucker Jews in Paris strove to reestablish their private and social life. The writer of these lines, who was active before the war in the Czestochowa countryman society activities, in which the Klobucker Jews joined, took part in the re-establishment of the society. The orderly flow of new countrymen, the survivors of the German death camps, imposed on us an important task to help them, both for those who were just passing through Paris, and for those who wanted to establish themselves there.

Today, although not organized, the Klobucker Jews form a pleasant family. The work of creating the Yiskor Book, to perpetuate the memory of our destroyed hometown, and the murdered individuals and families, brought together even more Klobucker Jews in France. The painful loss of our two countrymen, Aliye Szperling and Yossel Zachs, seriously affected all of us.

The Klobucker Jews in Paris, imbued with the feeling of brotherhood and assisting others, will continue performing these tasks.

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Haskarah in Paris,
in remembrance of the murdered community of Klobuck

 

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Klobucker committee,
leading the Hazkarah, speech by Moshe Wajnman

 

Translators footnotes

  1. OSE (Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants), in English “Organization to Save the Children”. Return
  2. The Jews who were French citizens were automatically drafted in the army; the foreigners had to volunteer. Return

 

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