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The History of Our Shtetl (Cont'd)

{277}

Abraham Hoffmann

 

Abraham Hoffmann was an interesting figure in the shtetl, especially for his dynamism and unique abilities. In addition, he had an extraordinary thirst to learn and to know. He learned, read, simply devoured books, and elaborated for himself a very serious look at life, the world, and people.}

Wolf Landsmann was a peddler in his younger years, always somber, and not satisfied. Sitting Saturday evening at twilight in the House of Study, he used to complain of a headache. When it became intense he called out, “may an apoplexy hit such a head.”

Sosye Feige Gelobter used to conjure an evil eye, melt wax, bake bagels, and made her living from that. Her house was across from the Russian Church, where later on lived Chaim Leizer Turteltaub, a leather merchant. His wife was a pious person, and during the good times a poor man could eat there to satiety.

Sosye Feige's husband, Meir Avraham, was a butcher. He was a mighty Jew who could stop a running wagon hitched up and pulled by two horses with his two hands at the hind wheels. This is not an exaggeration; it is a fact.

His son, Hersch Gelobter, resembled his father. He was tall, broad-shouldered, strong, and an artilleryman in the army. He lived in Krechowice. His grandchildren Jack, Sam, Aharon, Sidney and David Zemel live here.

Avraham Hoffmann was an autodidact. He knew a little bit of Hebrew, stenography, accounting, chemistry, and photography. He was tolerant of everybody. He loved to do favors and he gave practical advice. He had good humor, sympathetic to people, said bon mots, and was active in the Jewish drama circle. He lived across from the synagogue. His father was Yehoshua Hoffmann, a pious Jew and a peddler who traded in dry mushrooms. His mother Sosye used to sell grease for wagon wheels.

Shaya (Shayenyu) Katzmann was a man of principles and a cobbler. Later, he made embankments for bridges, managed affairs for the Baron Walysz, and delivered gravel to pave streets for the baron.

Avrahamele Shaya's former spouse, Gitzye, lives in America.

Yisraeltshe Rosenmann was eager to occupy himself with civic politics, but he did not take part in the social life. He managed a tavern in his brick house on the Ringplatz. His regular guests were Polish “Pany” 70 a joyful fellowship. Yisraeltshe Rosenmann's daughter, Lotke Sapier, lives in Poland. Two of his three nephews from Dolina, Pitzye and Monik Enis, live in New York, while Solek Enis lives in New Jersey.

The second half of the brick house belonged to Yissachar Friedler, the son-in-law of Moshe Rosenmann and a brother of Leibish Friedler from the old town. Yissachar Friedler was an egg merchant and exporter.

It is normal and natural for parents to be devoted to their children. But such devotion as Yissachar and Hentshe Friedler showed to their only son Sender is worthy of admiration. His father never took his eyes off of him. Sender Friedler enjoyed a good childhood, but his father died prematurely in 1915, at the age of 56 years.

Sender owned in Rozniatow a good conditorium that sold confectionery, cigarettes, soda water, and other good edibles. But the times went from bad to worse, and some people became unemployed and ill humored. Sender and his family succeeded. A few months before the outbreak of World War II, Sender Friedler, his mother, his wife, and two children went to America. In this way they escaped the catastrophe.

Sender began here like every one of us — with a heavy gait, as one says. Then he settled satisfactorily in Brooklyn.

Even in his early years, Sender Friedler showed some talent as an actor, possessed a good sense of humor, and could play the fiddle. On Saturday afternoons he performed in the attic of their house. Young folks came running to the performances. Admission was three buttons. The kids tore off the buttons from their pants and tied them with the suspenders of their coats just to see the comedy. I came on trust, because I was not willing to tear buttons on Sabbath.

Old benches and patched up chairs were used as the seats. The scenery was placed in front on propped up boards. Somebody was the comedian. He performed dressed in a long skirt, his head wrapped in a shawl, and his face smeared with soot. He made faces, jumped, sang and did somersaults. People watched with pleasure.

Sender was active in the amateur's club and distinguished himself in comical roles. He was the initiator and the leader of many performances played in Yiddish. He was the president of the Rozniatower Society in America.

Sender died as a young man, he was just 59 years old. His mother died a few years earlier at the age of 80. He left his wife and two married daughters.

Hersch Mendel Orthmann was a respectable grain merchant in the city. His grandchildren Leo and Butzi Tepper, the sons of Sarahtshe Tepper; Butzi Widmann, Shlomo Widmann, a grain merchant lives in New York. Dr. Orthmann, Isak Orthmann's son, lives in Poland.

Orthmann lived in Broszniow, had affairs with the Glesinger firm in Broszniow and was in partnership with Yankel Rosenthal from Perehinsko for a little sawmill in Sliwka. I was employed by them for a few years in Perehinsko, since I was a partner in the mill and sawmill in Sliwka as was his brother-in-law Shmuel Rechtschaffen.

Shlomo Widmann has two brothers who live here. Not long ago Yosef Orthmann, a son of Hersch Mendel, died here. He was a pious Jew who was in the shoe business in Vienna for many years. The son of Pinchas Rechtschaffen, Yechezkel, owned a boarding school in Haifa and died in Israel. His daughter Chana Gelber lives in Haifa.

Yosef Shimon Stern was a non-commissioned officer in the Austrian army. He was a Hassidic Jew. He did business with flour, tobacco, and other merchandise. He lived and conducted his business in the Ringplatz. He had a thick blond beard. He was the gabbai in the Kloiz. His wife Mamtzia helped him in business, and his children were also good merchants.

The seal of the firm of Bermann & Co

 

It reads as follows:

Sprawozdania
KOMERCYALNEGO TOWARZYSTWA KREDYTOWEGO
(Przedtem Komercyalny Bank kredytowy)
stawarzyszenia zarejestrowanego z ograniczona poreka
w Rozniatowie
Dyekcya:
Leib Bermann
Dyrektor

Chaim Schwarz Pinkas Rechtschaffen
Kayser kontrolor.

Komisya rewizyjna:
Wolf Hoffmann Berisch Friedler
Feiwel Rosenberg Leiser Geller
Sacharias Dawid Liebermann}

Y. Sh. Stern's son-in-law was Zeyde, the son of the slaughterer Moshele Weiser, a slaughterer himself and a reader of the law in the Kloiz. His wife Broche, the daughter of Yosef Shimon, managed a food store on the Ringplatz.

Yankel Diamond was an intelligent, smart craftsman. He was the president of the “Poalei Zion” 71 association during the Ukrainian reign. Besides carpentry, he dealt with patents his whole life. However, both these professions could not provide him with a good livelihood, and he died at a young age as a poor man. His faithful wife, a clever and active woman, took over the livelihood yoke. She did hard labor, baked, and carried heavy baskets with baker's wares to sell in the old town. Their children were very successful. Shimon Diamond used to erect tombstones, made signboards, ran a matzo bakery for Passover, and was a prompter during the rehearsals of the Yiddish theater performances in Rozniatow. His brother Ruvale was a good tinsmith and a strong man. The youngest, Anshel, was successful as well. Manye Diamond lives in Israel and has a responsible job.

Baruch Diamond, a tall and broad-shouldered man, sometimes managed the bathhouse. Then he became the community shamash. During Purim he used to go around with the Purim players. He had a brother-in-law, the brother of his wife, who died here.

Bunim Geller was a prodigious scholar and distinguished himself with special sagacity and understanding for the idea of the return to Zion. He was one of the founders of the local Zionist association and inspired the younger generation to Zionism. During World War II, he fled as a refugee to the Soviet Union, but could not endure the bad conditions and died there. His son Yitzchak lives in Israel. Two other sons and a daughter, Sarah, live in Sweden. Another daughter lives in Belgium.

Dr. Leopold (Lipa) Adlersberg, a religion teacher for Jewish students in the government “Folks Schule” 72 was a pious man and a good teacher. He went blind in both eyes and had to be carried to the school to teach Jewish religion to the Jewish students. He was also a tutor and gave private lessons and specialized in preparing students for the entrance examinations to the Gymnasium. I was also one of his students and I learned my lessons by heart. His sons Wilek, Sigo and Lonek were very intelligent people. Wilek was a good Medical Doctor.

Hertz Shapira was a cattle merchant who lived in the same house as Rachel Widmann, who managed a bakery. On the same street lived Leibish Frisch, who owned a shoe store and was Hersch Mendel Orthmann's son-in-law. Scheintzie Kasner, the widow of Leib whom people called Aybie Kasner and who fell in World War I managed a bakery in her house near the Beis Midrash and provided in this way for her and the children's livelihood.

Avraham, called Amie Kasner, was a cobbler. He was Aybie's brother. He married Samuel Rosenberg's daughter, Bina. He returned from Russian captivity, lived near the rivulet, and died at a young age. Their sister lives in New York. Before the war, Wolkentreiber possessed a regular bakery. He did not return home from the war. Having no choice, his wife managed the bakery. Her father was Berl Berger, who lived on the Ringplatz and worked in the slaughterhouse. Years ago, I encountered one of his brothers here. One of his sons, Getzl, died here. Eli lives in California. Note possesses a grocery in Brooklyn. A married daughter, Esther, lives in Georgia. A married grandson, the son of his daughter Chaya, lives in New York.

Munye Mintz managed a regular bakery in the school director Korecky's house, across from Binyamin Stern. Baruch Mintz, his father, worked for him.

Munye Mintz got his bachelor degree in Stryj and was authorized by the Zionist Organization to collect money for the “Keren Kayemet” in Rozniatow and the surrounding region.

Lipa Sofer wrote the Torah Scroll that the Zionists donated to the Rozniatower Synagogue before the war. His wife Tehilla was in America, died several years ago, and according to her will and wishes was buried in Israel. His children Bracha and Shmueltshe live in New York.

Zisye Arye Kupferberg, a merchant of agricultural products, lived on the way to Szwariczow. He was deported to Russia during World War I, and returned safely home after the war. His daughter Adela Tepper lives in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The Russians also deported Yaakov Yehuda Leinbrat, a handsome man. He hid in the trenches, dug out in the village of Rakowy, and came home safely as well. He enjoyed conducting the services. I still remember his father, Shimshon, who lived across from the Beis Midrash.

Lipa Taneh was a good merchant, ran a middle-class household, and did many favors for Jews. He was a strong man and a good swimmer. One of his sons lives in New Jersey and two daughters, Shlomtzi and Merke, live in Israel. Another son, Yisrael, lives in Argentina.

Yisrael Hersch Landner, a brother of Berl Landner, was a renowned charitable man and died at an early age. Yisrael Hersch was a Hassid and used to worship in the Kloiz. He managed a grocery and was one of the few Jews in the city who still wore the Streimel on Sabbaths and festivals. Their father, Reb Aharon Meir the Kohen, departed for Israel by the end of the 19th century, where he became the head of a kollel 73. His grandson, Reb Yehoshua Spiegel, lives in Israel. Another grandson, Yehoshua Landner lived in Antwerp and distinguished himself with his generosity for Israel as well as some charitable institutions.

Leib Falik, Eli Yona Koral, Israel Treu, and Shmuel Friedlender were respectable merchants who were sons-in-law of Vove Hoffmann. Leib Schnitzer, a peddler, and his son were house painters. Shimshon Strassmann, an exporter, was once our neighbor and used to conduct the “Ata Hareita” 74 prayer on Simchat Torah in the Beis Midrash.

Shalom Laufer was a merchant, a quiet Jew, and a decent man. After his second marriage, he used to sell newspapers, magazines, periodicals by order, writing implements, and other small items. His daughter, who was very beautiful, used to perform in the Yiddish theatre and was one of the prima donnas. Her older sister, Rivtshe, was married to Chaim Zeinfeld, a rich wood industrialist in Perehinsko. A younger brother Yoska left Rozniatow years ago. Her stepsister Regina Hochdorf was active in social enterprises.

Shmuel Horowitz, the son-in-law of Leizer Itzik Lew, was an intelligent man who managed a grocery in the brick house of Sosye Heller. Near him was the dry-goods store of Mates Willner, a son-in-law of Leizer Itzik Lew another quiet person. Dr. Leo Horowitz, the son of Samuel Horowitz, was an advocate who directed the city library for a certain time and played in the Yiddish theatre.

Moshe Yaakov Lustig, a cattle-merchant, was for many years Gabbai in the synagogue and conducted the services as well. He had a seat near the eastern wall.

Moshe Mechel Kornbluth lived in Germany for many years. His son Srulke studied to be a cantor but did not finish the course. Although he had a nice strong voice, he could not make his career with it. He married the daughter of Samuel Wirth and had a little store on the Ringplatz where he sold various merchandise.

Aharon Weissmann married the daughter of Moses Mechel and lived for a long time in Germany. Dr. David Weissmann, a brother of Aharon Weissmann, was my colleague in the Gymnasium and one of the best students. Then he was a teacher in a private Jewish Gymnasium in a shtetl in Eastern Galicia. The daughter of Mechel Weissmann, Sime, lives in Israel.

Mendel Nemlich, a brother-in-law of Ben Zion Yankel, lived many years in Germany then in America, came home and managed a hardware store. His two daughters Freida and Gittel played Yiddish theatre in Rozniatow.

Sara Samuels Erdmann and her husband sold flour, salt, petroleum, and other good things. Years ago, I encountered a member of their family, Anshel Efraim Michel, at a meeting of our club. Allegedly, he was a clergyman, a reverend, or a rabbi.

Yankel Spiegel traded in petroleum and food articles. He lived and had his store on the Ringplatz. He immigrated to Israel after World War I. Shalom Hoffmann, a son of Vove Hoffmann, bought the house and continued the same trade.

For many years David Wohl was a civic night watchman who slept in the daytime. His wife managed a little tavern. David Wohl boasted that he was a descendant of the renowned Wohls, one of who was once a Polish King according to Polish legend.

Hersch Tzales Wechter was a Jew with disheveled red hair and a beard and side locks. Malka, his wife, was a trustee, a prompter at the cemetery 75 and a kneader at the matzo bakery. Their son Leib was for many years a cook at Vove Hoffmann's house. He cooked, baked, did the dishes, cleared off and cleaned the house. He was very reliable and responsible in his job, the only man in the city to do women's work. His brother, Yisrael Yankel, toiled as a porter. His brother-in-law, called Biegem was a porter as well and another brother-in-law, Chaim Reuvel, was a coachman.

I remember his youngest brother as a boy, he was called Eli Pogodes. Why? Pogoda in Polish means good weather. Eli always used to wear his hat on his head twisted, sometimes upwards, other times on a side, never in the right place. If Eli appeared to the morning service with his cap upwards over his forehead, the Jews said that today will be “pogoda” — good weather. Proof? Eli wore his cap upwards! If the cap was under his forehead this was a hint the weather was bad. Actually, there was no prophecy in his behavior, it was simply his habit to wear his cap up on a nice day and down on a rainy day.

There were good dentists in Rozniatow including: Berko Litauer; Bekesz; Blau, the son-in-law of Printz; Shaya Lutwak; and Wilek Turteltaub, who died in Poland. Yankel Scharf, a brother-in-law of Leibish and Yissachar Friedler, was a merchant and lived near Dr. Wassermann. His sons Sender and Avraham live in Israel. Yossel Kreiter, a Jew with a white beard who lived near the Kloiz, had a son who was a captain in the Austrian army. Nobody of my age has ever seen him in Rozniatow since he left the city for his army service. His brother Yankel, whom I remember very well, left Rozniatow as a young man and never returned.

A son of the old Meir, called “the red teacher,” was a good service conductor and was attracted to the cantor's desk like a magnet. One of his sons, called “Chaim the Rabbi-le” with long side locks (later cut short), was musically talented and died at a young age.

Yisrael Yakum Wassermann was a tailor. I remember him as an old man with a white beard. A physically strong Jew with a high resounding voice, he was the head of the Psalm Society. Every Sabbath after the siesta he used to chant at the cantor's desk almost all 150 psalms with his resounding, hearty voice and in clear words. He had three sons, all of them were tailors.

Itzik Aharon Wassermann, a brother-in-law of Pintzi the shamash, enjoyed conducting the services and he did that very well. He was a tailor, then he managed a store for used articles, and finally he was a tailor again.

The second one, Yehuda Wassermann, a former tailor, was in America and came home. He helped his wife Chana Grunim's, a stall-keeper in the market.

The third was Simcha Wassermann, worked formerly at Konye Kortschmann's, and married in the village of Jassin where he was a tailor.

The female stall-keepers, Leitzonye, Devora-Henye, Yutele Pinchas Leib's Neiman, Polye Landmann's sister and Chana Grunim's Wassermann, had bad fortune for earning a livelihood. Their stalls were near the well (the meeting point of all maid servants). They used to sit at their stalls until the deep autumn, in heat and rain, selling cherries, berries, sour cherries, apples, pears and plums. They had a difficult life with their meager earnings.

Mechel Fessberg, a scholar and an enlightened smart Jew, was a teacher in Rozniatow during the war, and then moved to Broszniow.

{286} Folks-Schulen 76

For six years when I was a child, I attended the elementary school that was located where the City Council is now. Besides this, some classes were held in three different places: one in the reading room near the Russian Church, another at the cobbler Dombrowicz's over the rivulet Malinowka, and the third at Wolf Horowitz's where Strauchler the watchmaker lived later on.

The school for girls was where Dr. Korbas later had his advocate office.

For us boys, the school was a punishment not because we were not willing to study but because of the beatings. All teachers, without exception, beat us. The beating was such a natural, accepted phenomenon that it was usual in all schools and for all kinds of transgressions: for not learning well, jumping over the benches, etc. The procedure itself was a simple one. The guilty person was taken out of his place, laid down on a bench, his pants lowered, and hit with a stick over his rear end. The conviction of the fathers and teachers was that if you hit the bottom the effect rises upwards, i.e., into the head. The mothers, thanks to their gentle hearts, did not believe in that theory.

There were some guys who refused to be dragged away from their seats to be beaten. In such cases the school guard Andras Szpycak Grabowski, a brutal gentile, was called in. This happened frequently to Avrahamele Hoffmann. The class went awry. Afterwards, his mother Sasil used to come crying to the school director, while Avrahamele did not attend school for a week. During such a struggle, he once used a pin and tore open the hand of the teacher Korecki or Kowalski.

Some students were beaten right in their seats. There was a gentile student whose name was Szliachetka, who was sitting near the window. When he got beaten, he used to jump out through the window and run home. I cannot remember a case when Jewish or Christian parents had brought a complaint over that brutal educational method either to the court or to higher school authorities.

The girls were not beaten so brutally. Their teachers just beat their hands with a ruler; this punishment was called “patza.”

My teachers in Rozniatow included a wicked woman who was an old unmarried spinster. She was always angry and somber and an experienced beater who beat us successfully. She was our teacher for a short time only. Our second teacher was Wladyslaw Heinrich, who was blind in one eye, a good teacher but an intractable alcoholic. Sometimes he did not attend school because he could not get sober. Other teachers substituted for him. He loved gymnastics and used to exercise with us outside. He was the head of the Polish sports club “Sokol.” He was an excellent dancer and used to organize the summer festivals in the open air on the hill.

Our next teacher was Michael Korecki, a Ukrainian, a liberal person and good teacher, a solid and true family man. He had a son who was a captain in the Austrian army and a wife who was friendly with Jewish women. He was our teacher until I entered the Gymnasium in Stryj. While Heinrich was our teacher, Pyotr Rozwany, a son-in-law of Korecki, taught us only Polish for a short period. He used to send us to learn different craft specialties like glazing, carving, etc. During the Russian invasion he was a teacher in a village near Rozniatow and did other work as well. Later on Rozwany became the director of the boys' elementary school in Rozniatow and the president of “Sokol.” Before him as school director there was the Pole Kowalski who was an old bachelor. Teachers of other classes were: Titus Karbanowitcz, Wladyslawa Kiernicka, whose husband was a tax officer and an alcoholic; Miss Mondszein, a pretty person, who lived at Chaim Yoel Taneh's, where Abraham Groll later lived. She quickly abandoned her career as a teacher.

Korecki was the school director when I was a student. Later on Heinrich became the school director, but I was no longer there.

A few years before the war, a new brick house was built on the hill to serve as the elementary school for boys and girls. The old premises became the residence of the city council. I still remember when the city council was in the old house, where later on the new pharmacy of Macyadzinski was located. Petro Woloszynowicz, a rich landlord, was mayor at that time. He was hardly able to sign his name but he was a descendant of the well-known and aristocratic Woloszynowicz clan. His son Wasyl was my classmate.

My Jewish classmates were: Abraham Hoffmann; Chaim Schwalb, who was the son of Pintshe Schwalb and who passed away while young; both Yissachar Bergers, the sons of Pinye and Yossel; Shlomele Rosenbaum, a brother of Blumke, and who died at an early age; Moshe Berei, who died as a young man in America; Leonik Erber; Itzye Reiss a nephew of Meir Frenkel; Schitzye Korn the son of the judge; David Reiner who managed a flour store on the Ringplatz and was well educated in Torah; Azye Friedler; Yankel Rubinstein; Anshel and Avraham who were brothers; Moshe Leib's Leizer whose sister Rikl was married to Meir Schoel's Kornbluth from Dolina; Herschele Sarah Mamtzi's; Yankel Kreiter and a son of Baruch Shimshon Chaim's Klinger. I am not familiar with the later structure of the schoolteacher's staff in Rozniatow.

{288}

The Mobilization

The Jews carried on their life in Rozniatow quietly and peacefully and were concerned only to provide for their livelihood. No new rich men appear, the poor did not get poorer, and sensational events did not occur. All of a sudden, the peacefulness of the city and of the whole world was disturbed and destroyed. This happened in the summer of 1914 on Saturday, August 1st which was Tisha B'Av 77. On that day, a general mobilization was officially proclaimed through posters and personal summonses to reservists. That Sabbath the Jews worshipped with half a mouth, for it was really Tisha B'Av. The whole city was on alert; people walked around as if in a dream. After almost fifty years of peace, why was there such a misfortune? It is impossible! The Jews were Austrian patriots and many predicted that the war would not last long. We will participate in a just war and victory will, with G-d's help, be ours. Nobody thought to take the Sabbath siesta. Groups of people started to assemble in the city — a group here, another there. Some individuals ran from one group to a second in search for some news. Maybe there will be some good news. But, as zealous as the patriotism of the Jews of that time may have been, nobody was eager to jump into the fire.

On that Saturday a delegation of Rozniatower people, with Dr. Feuer as its leader, departed for the Starosta in Dolina. They came back the same day with precise information about everything. Those who will not be inducted now will be required to go later. Gentiles drank. The gendarmes were on alert to maintain order in the city, which looked unusual, like neither a Sabbath nor a weekday. But the war was already ongoing. Czarist Russia declared war on Austria-Hungary and Germany. The countries allied with Austria declared war on Russia, Britain, and France. After small patrol battles, the Austrian Army retired to the Eastern and Western Carpathian Mountains. How did Rozniatow look and how did it live before the Russian invasion?

Whereas Rozniatow was a remote town a distance of 7.5 kilometers from the railroad station at Krechowice, almost no military movements occurred there. Army units were transported by railroad to the eastern front. Various military formations marched along the major roads to carry provisions and war materials for the army.

People were tense and they talked and debated. They were eager to hear good news from the front. It was rumored that Russian soldiers rob, kill, and rape young girls— one rumor more horrible than the prior one. Local older gendarmes-reservists, summoned by the gendarme's commander Furmankewicz, guarded the bridges and roads. The courts, the schools, the tax offices, and the post offices closed. For the present, there was enough food. Only later on, when the refugees from the eastern border cities arrived, did it became obvious that the front was approaching.

The railroads were only transporting military units, and railroad commerce stopped. Meanwhile the families of those summoned to military service had enough food because they bought sacks of flour and other products for the monthly stipend that they received from the government, some more and some less depending on the military rank of the mobilized family member. Besides that, everybody stocked up with unlimited free potatoes from fields outside the town. The flour merchants and grocers restrained themselves from selling food because no produce came in, even with simple wagons. Therefore, the prices became sky high.

The question “what to eat?” hit heavily on the remaining older governmental officials who were left without salaries and on the poorer inhabitants as well. With enough time on their hands, they strolled through the city and complained about the high prices. Worse yet was the plight of the tobacco smokers. Tobacco prices were sky high and it was difficult, almost impossible, to buy tobacco. Many people smoked dry leaves that were rubbed into small pieces.

Hungarian Hussar units appeared in the city on patrol service in Rozniatow and environs. A larger military unit with many wagons of provisions rested several days on the Moczar hill outside the city. Then they left. The Hussars left Rozniatow as well. It was a question of just counting the days until the Russians would occupy Rozniatow. The Jews hid their meager assets in cellars out of fear of Russian burglary, being convinced that cellars were the best places to avoid robbery.

Thanks to the horrible rumors about the Russian atrocities, the fright grew from day to day. The city looked empty without people, for people stayed indoors.

Finally, the uninvited guests appeared in Rozniatow on a weekday. It was already autumn, just before the High Holy Days. Thus started a new chapter in the life of the Rozniatower Jews.

A patrol consisting of two Cossacks on horseback came into town. The Mayor Vove Hoffmann, accompanied by the policeman Majewski, went out to meet them with palpitation of the heart. The encounter ended with a little bit of fear. When the Cossack patrol left the city, other Russian military formations appeared. The girls hidden in the cellars started to come out, because the rumors of the abuses perpetrated by the Russian soldiers appeared to be exaggerated. Indeed, some burglaries occurred here and there and there were other acts of violence. But by using bribes — and this means was always helpful — one could always avoid trouble.

To the credit of all inhabitants of Rozniatow, it needs to be emphasized that in the time between the withdrawal of the Austrians and the Russian invasion, when the city was actually left as a free-for-all without any administration, no robberies or other bad incidents happened.

The following people left the city before the Russian invasion: Dr. Wassermann; Dr. Feuer; Dr. Sapier; Dr. Barth; Michel Orthmann who left two administrators in charge of his house and flour store, Aharon Wolf Press the son of the rabbi and his brother-in-law Yankel Rubinstein. Shaya Frisch left the administration of his house and the dry goods store to Itzik Aharon Wassermann, the brother-in-law of Pintzye the shamash.

All other inhabitants remained in Rozniatow. The city became the main road that led to the Eastern Carpathian Mountains and the front between the Austrians and the Russians developed along the Carpathians.

The front stabilized itself around the mountains. For weeks and weeks, different Russian military formations passed through Rozniatow in the direction of the Carpathians. Many Russian soldiers fell, because the Austrians had the better position, shooting down from the mountains. The Russian military commander and his staff occupied the mansion of the Baron Wyszla. The soldiers were ordered strictly to not harass the civilian population. Some merchants began to do business. Special permission was needed to ride from one place to another. Civilians could ride only on horse drawn wagons, the railroad being reserved for the military. Obviously, products became more expensive, but there was not any shortage. Russian tobacco was sufficient as well. There was a cheap tobacco, which looked like small splinters, called “machorka.” Its price was affordable for the poor smoker as well. It was possible to buy a good black bread from the Russian soldiers. The situation was more complicated with garments, but people were not overly concerned about that, because everybody still had clothes from the good times and wore them now. Some people purchased military clothes, dyed them over, and had them refurbished by a tailor to fit them properly. Others wore them as is, if they fit. The same situation applied to shoes. Some people put patches upon patches and waited for the end of the war.

The Jews learned Russian relatively quickly. That is, they could not really speak Russian, but they could understand what the soldiers wanted from them and what the question was. When the Russian soldier said to the Jew “davay chasy” or “davay diengi,” the Jew understood immediately that he must give away his watch or empty all his pockets and give up all his money…

A stable Russian garrison was quartered in the city in both public buildings and in private homes. A military hospital was established in the school building. Military units that marched to the front rested on the Ringplatz with their convoy and field kitchens, the soldiers being quartered in private apartments where they slept on straw on the floor. Soldiers came and went. It was permanent motion.

Camping in the city, the soldiers first set about to light fires to boil tea. Meanwhile they broke fences to obtain combustible material. Tea was their national beverage and they used to drink 4-5 seething glasses of tea while biting sugar candy. To avoid burglaries and other acts of violence, it was strictly forbidden under threat of the harshest punishments to buy and sell alcoholic beverages in the bars, taverns and restaurants. The soldiers were good sources for realizing appreciable money from sales, especially in the tearooms, where white bread, white loaves, baker's wares, potatoes, sweets, tobacco, and other tidbits were for sale. Every front room in the city became a tearoom. Besides this, stands with various food items were erected in the market. The whole trade was concentrated on food and useful articles like petroleum, candles, and others. Elderly people and ordinary Jews who were temporarily without occupation spent their next winter in the Kloiz where it was warm, discussing the general political situation. There were pessimists and optimists and everybody tried to prove his point of view. All agreed that the war was going to last.

What little news there was from the battlefield was brought in by strangers and merchants who “have heard from others this and that”. No official war reports were publicized and the data from the Russian soldiers were absolutely unreliable because according to their stories they had reached Vienna already.

Some incidents occurred in Rozniatow, but they ended smoothly and peacefully. Thanks to the intervention of the Baron Walysz with the military commander of the city, Vove Hoffmann and Chaim Schwartz were exempted from being deported to Russia. The interventions were also helpful in other cases. Naturally, it cost money.

Late in the winter, the Austrians started an offensive from the Carpathian Mountains and advanced up to Rozniatow, where a battle lasting seven days took place. The Russians dug trenches on the hill and shells flew over the city. The civilian population remained indoors. As soon as the shooting ceased, people went out to breathe fresh air and some even dared to venture into the city.

The Russians pushed back the Austrians, who withdraw to their prior positions in the Carpathian Mountains. The fallen soldiers were buried at the edge of the woods and some Russians were buried in the fenced garden of the Russian Church, right at the entrance near the bell tower.

The shells damaged the school on the hill. The Austrians knew that the Russian general staff were there and they aimed towards it, killing several officers. There were no civilians among the victims. Small pieces of shrapnel damaged some roofs but only insignificantly.

During the battle, some families stayed in the Kloiz and in the small synagogue. They thought that there they will be better protected from the bullets.

After the eight days of depressed mood and fear, people recovered their breath and normal life — as normal as it could have been in those circumstances — was restored. As time passed, the problem “what to eat” became more acute. All other needs could be neglected. If there was a shortage in many provisions, e.g., in coffee, the women fried barley and this replaced coffee. Instead of sugar, saccharin or candies were used and so on. Potatoes became the main product, which was served three times per day, and even the Sabbath pudding was made of potatoes.

After a siege of more than six months, the stronghold of Przemysl fell, which was a bad event that caused much depression. The Jews cherished the hope that Przemysl would hold out and that the Russians would be defeated there, but the opposite occurred.

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