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[Page 345]


Gzichów

Translated by Lance Ackerfeld


The town of Bedzin, which was populated mainly by Jews, in the 19th century expanded its old borders and annexed the settlements of Malobadz, Warpie and Gzichów into it. However Gzichów was a matter all by itself, since it had existed for a long time as a village and estate located on the banks of Przemsza and Bogria Rivers, and finally was swallowed up by Bedzin that immortalized it by the original naming of Gzichówa Street. This street remained populated by Christian Poles. And the Jews of Bedzin served as a target of anti-Semitic pressures even after Bedzin had become entirely a Jewish town and a Jewish mayor as a result of this.

Even during the Russian occupation in the 19th century Gzichów was an independent community, with the congregational office located there, and in the 1860's it numbered 87 homes, 665 residents, and it was comprised of six settlements: Gzichów, Malobadz, Ostrogórka (even before Sosnowiec existed), Pogonia, Pola and the Sosnowiec village. Two tin mines were founded in this vicinity, in Pogon in 1842 and in Bromani in 1860. There was also a tin-flint mine, coal and lime, apart from an American flour mill and a brandy and beer factory. The Przemsza River gave power to the threshing and hay chopping machines.

The Gzichów properties in the Swierz Princedom before 1678 belonged to Jan Miroszewski, the Swierz district minister. With the passing of time there was also a transfer of the owners of these estates, till in the end they were passed on to the Kramasti family. When the First World War erupted the Russian authorities abandoned Poland and the German occupation began bringing changes into the Zaglembian region, as well, and according to the town's ability to absorb population, neighborhoods and villages were added to the Zaglembian towns. Even Gzichów became one of the streets of Bedzin. In Gzichówski Street the Jews also rented apartments from the Christians and felt themselves as part of a town with a majority of Jews, with a certain amount of freedom. However this isn't how the Polish Christians felt who were unable to rid themselves of the anti-Semitic disease, and it seems behaved under the training of religious and spiritual leaders. The attacks on the Jews of Gzichów reached a peak in the spring and summer months of 5694 (1934). Acts of hooliganism by the Polish Christians in Gzichów began in the evening hours. Almost every evening there were attacks on Jewish residents in this street, and the local police didn't place a guard in the street to maintain order. Thanks to this neglect, and perhaps because of the lack of protecting against the evil endangering the lives of the Jews in the street, the disturbances against the peace abiding Jews spread amongst the Nazi followers, and in the offices of the kehila [Jewish community] the names of the injured Jews was recorded, like: Jecheskiel Szwarcbaum, Abram Sztajnbok, Mosze Erlich, Lajb Kuperberg and others.


[Page 346]


Apart from this a larger group of Jewish residents approached the Jewish kehila with a memorandum, demanding that the administration of the kehila inform the appropriate authorities about the anti-Jewish disturbances occurring frequently.

In the pages of the “Zaglembie Zeitung” newspaper one could read about the disturbances of this kind almost every day. Even the “Seleks” appointed to the “daily layout” of the newspaper found it appropriate to react in a special article on these disturbances. And according to his words: A number of times we have announced in our newspaper about the attacks being carried out by anti-Semites on the Jews in Gzichów Street on its peaceful Jewish residents. We allocated this a place in order to bring the attention of the authorities that they should find methods to put an end to these disturbances. And to our regret we must point out that the number of disturbances has grown and spread, and even taken on a graver and more dangerous character. Up until now there are wounded and injured also in hospitals and in private centers. It seems that the Hitlerian hooligans are displaying signs of progressing in their deeds and boast that their actions have been successful. The injured have been coming to the kehila office and the newspaper editorial office and pouring out their hearts and requesting to expedite assistance to their affairs. They were frightened to leave their homes and they can't deal with their normal work, since in the evenings they can't return to their homes for fear of disturbances and attacks on Jews that don't desist. Indeed we have come to an intolerable situation that the hooligans carry out their deeds in the same corner of the street and only because of the fact that those going along the street are Jewish. And at the time of writing these disgraceful words the louts have turned the disturbances into a daily event and there is almost no news without an item on beatings and attacks. The local residents tend, without choice, to accept this situation. However we should not relate apathetically to these anti-Semitic acts of evil, and a response should be made by all appropriate means. Otherwise there is a fear that this issue will achieve frightening manifestations, and then there will be a need to respond differently, in a way that won't be as easy as it is now.

Whilst writing these lines our representatives have not yet carried out all the steps. It is possible that until our newspaper is published it will already be after “initial steps”. For all that, we find it appropriate to bring to the attention of our representatives in our kehila and also our public activists, that they should not be apathetic to this question. Since anti-Semitism is growing and taking on more frightening manifestations, and we have the obligation to repel the arrows hitting our camp, whether they are being thrown by well organized anti-Semites, or whether they are being used for some an unknown purpose by others. We know that there are various obscure people that don't know what they want and are only carry out what they're told their dispatchers to do: they are told to beat and punch and given them the opportunity, they obey, otherwise they aren't accepted into the gang. Regarding our representatives, its possible that they have already begun to react on this matter, and its possible that their efforts will be met with success, but whatever happens they need to stand guard and make sure that these deeds will not take on a severer aspects. We believe that the communal powers and also the police will give assistance to those who take an interest in the unwanted disturbances, and even will take pains with a goal of avoiding that the same corner will take an abnormal situation only because the underworld people, the hooligans, would like to cause mischief and cause serious disturbances.

Hence, there is an obligation to keep our eyes open, without making a “great fuss” to go peacefully and fully conscientiously, to get rid of the local mischief which has a clear goal at the auspices of the hooligan gangs in Gzichów of persecuting the quiet Jewish residents. This problem needs to be taken care of by those who know how to react to these evil anti-Semitic deeds.

The name Gzichów meant horror for the Jews of Bedzin, who on one hand achieved a Jewish major and their own various institutions, and on the other hand were forced to suffer from Polish hooliganism that was influenced by the neighboring German Nazis, and the Polish authorities turned a blind eye as if the issue wasn't part of their field of responsibilities. Efforts carried out by the authorities were not aggressive enough, and the acts of hooliganism were not quelled by them. In the meantime the attacks against the Jews of the street continued. In the newspapers there were items about stones being thrown through the windows of the Jewish homes of Futerman and Martin that continued on for days and nights. The second of which only returned home several days before from hospital in which he lay for several weeks because of injuries endured by the hooligans of Gzichów.

With the strengthening of acts by the German Nazis themselves and in neighboring Silesia there were Poles and Germans involved, attacks by Polish hooligans intensified in Poland as well, in the Jewish settlements, however the Jews in the Zaglembian region were more susceptible, and Gzichów served as a symbol of hooliganism.


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