I do not remember the name of the last teacher-instructor in Vishkov but also he as all the pure and martyrs in town all perished. I have attempted to recall from my memory certain figures of our annihilated holy community of Vishkov. I know that this is only a part: These are only bits (crumbs) of what our town had and possessed. I recalled the familiar, those who I knew. Those who I came together with them on various occasions, to cooperate or to see their activities. I know that I have omitted many names they should not have a grudge against me. The (SHOROT) of mine should be a modest mournerís prayer to remember all the martyrs and purified ones (Tíhorim), who, along with the sayer of the mournerís prayer "perished for the martyrdom of being a Jew".
Those who remember or know what the Poles did during the "honey times" at the creation of the independent Poland, after World War I, will not be surprised by the behavior of the Polish population, at least by its majority. When the Polish country took its first steps at the birth of the new "Zhetchpospolita", the Jews experienced pain and paid in blood at the creation of the new country.
This is not the place to discuss the wave of pogroms that took place in the years 1918-1919. Specific details, materials and documents are recorded in several publications. The classic work by the known activist of Poali-Zion. Leon Khazanovich, describes the facts, the documents, the pogroms and the excesses in 105 towns and villages in Poland in November-December 1918. [L. Khazanovich: The Jewish pogroms in November and December 1918. Acts and Documents. Stockholm, 1918.]
Two particularly horrible massacres carried out by the Polish military, the extermination In Lemberg of that time, and the shootings in Pinsk in Nisan of 1919 are described in special publications. [Joseph Bendoov: "The Lemberg Jewish Pogrom" (November 1918 January 1919), Vienna. About Pinsk: Abraham-Asher Feinstein -"Story of a Catastrophe", Tel-Aviv, 1929.] Here we are discussing a second wave of anti-Jewish actions which came at the time of the communist invasion. At that time an anti-Jewish conspiracy developed in Poland. Circles of official military leaders, starting with orders from the general staff and down to the Polish underworld propagated a libel that Jews collaborated with Bolshevik "Revcoms", and that Jews spied for the Red Army, and shot at Polish military units, etc.
At that time in Poland there was already some Jewish representation in the form of the Jewish National Board, whose members were elected representatives in the Polish Seim (parliament). The National Board began to collect facts about the horrible actions; send their representatives to a series of places where pogroms or other misdeeds against Jews took place; published a series of materials; and brought into the Seim various presentations, etc.
The materials about this bloody period was published by the Jewish parliament faction in a series of issues where authentic facts were presented about the executions of hundreds in little towns. [Two articles under the name "Invasion by the Bolsheviks and the Jews" issued by the National Club of Jewish representatives in Parliament for the Temporary Jewish National Advisory Board. Both appeared in Warsaw in 1921.] In the first collection there was material about an urgent presentation, entered on September 1920 in the Polish parliament by Jewish deputies: Greenbaum, Farbstein, Hartglas and others about the politics of Jewish persecution led by the Polish government. The presentation tells about pogroms in tens of little towns and hundreds of robberies and destruction incidents that were carried out by the Polish military in cooperation with local Polish groups (official and civil).
Among the documents that were presented, two were from Vishkov. We present these documents here translated into Yiddish. Such publications are a rarity, therefore it is important that this chapter not be missed in the "Book of Vishkov". The first document describes the protocol delivered by Joseph Gravitzky who was sent by the Jewish deputies group in the Polish parliament to Vishkov, in order to establish exactly what happened. The second document is a declaration obtained from some of the arrested Jews.
Actually I bring here three declarations attached to the documents which I succeeded in obtaining from one of the three Jews that signed document number 2.
On the 11th of this month, in the afternoon, the Bolshevik military came into Vishkov. The military behaved reasonably peacefully. The Bolshevik commissar created a group of police to keep order in town. The police consisted of Christians and Jews. On the evening of the 18th of this month the police left town as a result of the Polish counteroffensive. Before leaving town the Bolshevik soldiers, particularly the rear guard (the group withdrawing last), robbed the stores and houses, particularly those belonging to Jews.
The same evening when the Polish military moved in, there were already
occasional cases of robbery. The following morning words spread among
the military by the Polish population that shots were fired from Jewish
homes at Polish military personnel. Based on these declarations all
inhabitants of the Reichman house were taken out to be shot.
Chaim-David Goldwasser, 60 years old, his wife and three children.All above mentioned were lined up in the yard, and were told that they are to be shot. The entire house was searched and money, clothing, and other valuables were taken. Thanks to a declaration by Polish neighbors that the rumors about shots having been fired from windows of this house have not been confirmed, the people were released.
Leo Zrenchi, 32 years old.
Samual-Leo Holland, 26 years old, with his wife and children. Haikal Hiller, 40 years old, with his wife.
Abraham Reichman, 65 years old, with his wife.
Moishe Barak, 32 years old, with his wife.
Eisik-Meyer Krishtol, 50 years old, with his wife.
Ytzkhak-Hersh Bialistok (the blind), 60 years old, and his wife. And other inhabitants of the house.
Before the Bolsheviks left the town of Vishkov, several hundred Jews who feared possible war action, left town on the 17th of the month for Ostrov. Two days after their arrival in Ostrov, Polish soldiers entered the town. The Vishkov Jews turned to the military commander of Ostrov and the local mayor with a request for travel documents to Vishkov. They also asked for a police escort. They were afraid to go by themselves because the roads were full of military convoys. The mayor assigned to them 4 policemen, for which they paid 7300 marks.
Tuesday, the 24th in the morning they arrived in Vishkov. In the village Komisarka (7 miles from Vishkov) the Vishkov police already waited for them and together with the Ostrov policemen accompanied them into town. The Jews were brought into the firemen's hall. Immediately, a civilian Pole by the name of Liskevich showed up and declared that they will be shot because they are Bolsheviks. One half hour later they were transferred from the firemen's hall to the so called "senators garden".
In the garden were already assembled several hundred Polish inhabitants of the town, actually the worst element, mostly young. About 200 Jews were lined up four in a row and terribly beaten in the process. The police requested that the youths find Bolsheviks among the Jews, and at the same time they called the town's Christian citizens to bring forth their grievances against the Jewish Bolsheviks, among whom there were also old people.
Those identified as Bolsheviks were taken out of formation and beaten with whips, sticks and wires to which they attached stones, as well as with rifle butts.
From the magistrate's office were brought tables. At one table sat down the secretary of the regional court, Voevudski and two senior military officers. From the point where the Jews were lined up to the tables were stationed two rows of civilian Poles and soldiers. Every Jew who passed through between the rows of men to the table was beaten harshly from both sides with sticks, wires, whips, rifle butts and even with bayonets. Anyone who approached a table was searched, undressed and left wearing a shirt only. During the searches everything was taken from the Jews and they were asked to get up on a table. While standing on a table they were asked to shout "long live Poland, and death to the rabbi". They also had to ask the crowd: "does anyone have a request? Have I ever done anyone an evil deed?".
Meanwhile they were beaten without interruption. Naturally, some people from the crowd would speak up and say that someone was a Bolshevik or that he harmed someone. Later the Jew was thrown off the table in such a way that the table landed on him, making it impossible to get up. When they ultimately got up, they had to return through the lineup and the beating was repeated once again. During the beatings some Jews lost their consciousness.
During my visit I personally saw Jews with bleeding wounds. I also saw wounded women who were beaten when they tried to approach their brothers or fathers.
The action lasted from 9 in the morning till 3-4 in the afternoon and caused great anxiety among the Jewish population and among some Poles, causing the soldiers and policemen to shoot several times in the air to scare and "pacify" the crowd. I was told that prior to the commencement of the action, soldiers and policemen visited houses and invited the Polish population to gather in the garden for a "game". During the "game" I determined that the following were present: the town's mayor Stanislaw Pavlovski, the town's physician Ribka, the military physician Sharkevich, two priests and many of the local intellectuals.
After the action was over, the wounded and bloody Jews were brought to the town's jail and on the way were beaten again. The same happened inside the jail.
Now the Jews are in jail. While I was in Vishkov a temporary investigation was started and a few Jews were set free. In the coming days a larger number will be freed.
The arrested Jews are taken to work every day near the bridge over the river Bug. At work they are still beaten. They started to feed them one day before my arrival Friday the 27th of this month. The citizen militia, composed of Christians only (among them are those who were policemen at the time of the Bolshevik invasion) are guarding the arrested. I determined that they let into the jail any passing soldiers who beat the inmates and are allowed to enjoy themselves.
The current town's commander has forbidden such behavior, and in the last couple of days such incidents were not repeated.
The Jewish population in town live under very difficult conditions. The beating of Jews and cutting of their beards by passing soldiers is a very frequent occurrence.
Warsaw, the 29th August 1920. I. Gravitzky
Tuesday the 17th of the month (August) we went to Ostrov. We were there 2 days, after that Polish soldiers came into Ostrov. Together with the other refugees from Vishkov, we went to the military commander of Ostrov, the mayor of this town and asked that he assign a policeman to take us to Vishkov. We were fearful to go without protection because the roads were teeming with soldiers. The mayor agreed to honor our request and assigned 4 policemen, for which we paid 7300 marks.
the 23rd of the month, the policemen took us to Vishkov.
Tuesday the 24th of the month in the morning we arrived in Vishkov.
In the village of Komisarka (7 miles from Vishkov) 5 policemen from Vishkov waited for us. Together with Ostrov's policemen they brought us into town. While walking through the town nobody was allowed to come close to us, not even to look through a window at us. Shots were fired to scare those who attempted to contact us. We were brought to the firehouse where the civilian Pole Liskevich declared that we are Bolsheviks and therefore we will be shot. A half hour later we were taken to the "senator park". In the park we were aligned four in a row and were beaten without mercy. There were present many soldiers, policemen as well as civilian inhabitants of the town. The police asked the Polish youth to identify Bolsheviks among the detainees. The youths carried out the order. At the same time they called the town's Christians to voice their grievances against the Jews.
Among us were also old people. Those pointed out by the youths (as being Bolsheviks) were taken out of the rows and beaten with sticks, whips, wires to which stones were attached and so forth. These people were positioned separately. Then a table was brought and the secretary of the regional court, Voevudski, and two senior military man sat down. From the point where the rows of Jews (the so called Bolsheviks) were lined up and up to the table were stationed rows of civilians and soldiers. Every one of us who came through between the rows was cruelly beaten with sticks, whips and wires. When we approached the table we were searched and undressed and left standing wearing a shirt only. We were robbed of all our possessions. Then they asked us to get up on the table, from where we had to shout: "long live Poland and death to the rabbi". Naturally, the crowd voiced demands from every one of us for the presumed misdeeds we inflicted upon them.
Later we were thrown off the table by turning it upside down and landing the table on us. We were not allowed to get up, and while laying on the ground we were again beaten with whips and sticks. When we ultimately got up and went back through the rows we were beaten once again.
After this action, we returned bloodied (many of us lost consciousness)
to our rows and were beaten again.
This action continued from 9 in the morning till 3 in the afternoon. At 4 o'clock we were put under the town's arrest. In the jail yard we were told to sit down like "Turks" that is bend our legs under our bodies. Those who could not do it were beaten with rifle butts. We set like that (like "Turks") until 7 o'clock. Then we were taken into the garden for the night.
During the action in the garden, there were shouts in town from mothers, sisters and others. To quiet the crowd rifle shots were fired to scare the people.
During the action the following were present: the town's mayor Stanislaw Povlovski, the town's physician Ribka, Dr. Sharkevich, a military physician, the priest,and the so called intellectuals. We were beaten by the town's police, headed by commissar Stazinski.
Now we are under arrest. We are 200 locked up Jews. Soldiers are constantly allowed to come in to beat and humiliate us.
Read: Itzik Barab, Shloima Rosenberg, Itzek Neuman.
Firstly, there is a question as to how did hundreds of Vishkov's Jews come to Ostrov. After the Bolsheviks were expelled, not only Vishkov's, but youths from many Polish towns and villages, found themselves outside their own towns. This happened not because Jews were Bolsheviks and retreated together with the Red Army (there were some, but a small minority) but because they were scared due to warning from the Poles that when "our people" (meaning Poles) will come, we will get even with the Jews for their service to the Bolsheviks. Actually, during the Bolshevik reign the "Revcoms" (Revolutionary Committees), the police (or militia) as well as other positions were to a large extent occupied by Poles from the general population. Generally, against such Poles no repressive measures were taken.
Many Jews (Itzkhak Barab among them), were hidden during the Polish reign because they did not want to serve in the Polish Army. At that time "patriotism" vis a vis the army was non-existent because of its extreme animosity toward Jews. Some were hidden outside their villages. When the Polish reign stabilized, some began coming back to their villages. Actually, for those who were hidden an amnesty was proclaimed absolving them from being deserters, provided they would report to the military commission.
Hundreds of Vishkov's Jews who were in Ostrov as refugees, were generally far from being politically active and particularly from being Bolshevik sympathizers. These were young and old from business backgrounds who suffered from "red" confiscation of their business goods (or where business goods were not confiscated, they were simply "bought" for worthless rubles). Many of them were known for their Zionist sympathies, among them were some real Zionist activists.
The group which appealed to the Ostrov mayor to provide an escort to Vishkov consisted of about 100 men. The local Zionist activist Shultz was helpful in obtaining the required permission. The 7300 marks that was paid to the mayor was collected from the refugees. The people who signed the affidavit from jail were also (besides Itzkhak Barab who was mentioned above) the following: Shloima Rosenberg, then a bachelor; his father Itzkhak-Ber Rosenberg was a clever Vorker Hasid who owned a yard goods store. Shloima himself was a Zionist who later married Malka, Shmuel Elbein's daughter and lived in Warsaw where he had a leather business. He was killed together with his family and all other Warsaw Jews.
Itzkhak Neuman, his father a Gerer Hasid, had a wholesale business of salt, herring and oil. He was then a bachelor. Later married the daughter of Mendel Shkariat; after the wedding had a flour wholesale business. During the Nazi offensive of 1939 escaped with many other Jews to Bialistok. Itzkhak Barab actually met him in Bialistok together with his wife and 2 children. Neuman evidently took a Soviet passport and stayed in the Soviet occupied parts of Poland, and was killed together with his family by the Germans.
And now a few words about the people mentioned in the report by Joseph Gravitzky.
Chaim-David Goldwasser, a Gerer Hasid, had the whiskey monopoly. Evidently died before the World War II.
Samuel-Leo Holland, was a horse trader. Killed with his family during the Nazi reign, apparently in Yadeve, whereto he escaped from Vishkov.
Haykal Hiller, representative of Warsaw Jewish newspapers. He and his wife were killed. Some of his children may be in Israel.
Abraham Reichman, a tailor by trade. He owned a house from where the people were taken. He was a short time in America, where he made "a few dollars" and then returned and bought the house.
Moishe Barak, it should be Barab, brother of Itzkhak Barab, son of Motel Shokhet. He was a watch repairman. Killed with his family in the Warsaw ghetto.
Eizik-Meyer Krishtol. Had a tobacco store. Perished.
Moishe-Mendel Greenberg had a hardware business. The last years lived in Ostrolenko.
Itzkhak-Hersh Bialistok, who was blind, was killed with his wife in Vishkov, before the start of the general murder campaign. It ought to be added that Vishkov's sacrifices included two additional Jewish youths who were shot under the pretense of being "deserters". Abraham-Itzkhak the tailor, Frieda's son. The name of the second youth will perhaps be recalled by other Vishkov residents. This became known about a week or two after the above described "games" took place. The town's commandant called upon the chief rabbi Mendel Bressler to administer the death prayer for the two who were sentenced to death. They were shot beyond the confines of the town. Actually, many Poles had committed the sin of "desertion" but were never convicted for these offenses.
As a conclusion, a few additional details about Joseph Gravitzky who wrote the report about the story of Vishkov, according to the "Lexicon of the New Jewish Literature", Volume 2, New York 1958.
Born in Warsaw on November 8, 1900, died in Israel in December 1955. Lately went by the name of Joseph Rogav. Received a Jewish and general upbringing.
Graduated from Krinski's gymnasium (high school) in Warsaw and studied government science in Vienna. Was a member of the Zionist movement from his early youth. Was the founder and general secretary of the Ze'iri-Zion in Poland. In the years 1921-1932 was a member of the central committee and general secretary of the Zionist organization in Poland. In those years was a delegate to all Zionist congresses. In the years 1928-1932 was a member of the community council in Warsaw. In 1932 emigrated to Israel. Was active in the Jewish Agency. From 1948 until his death was director of the press service of the Israeli government.
I was ten years old when the Red Army retreated from Warsaw. About 400 Jewish young men who did not want to fall into the hands of the Poles ran off together with them. At Ostrov-Mazovietsk they were overtaken and brought back to Vishkov, where they were triumphantly paraded throughout the city, imprisoned in Senators Garden and there tortured.
I was curious to see what was being done with them. I went up to the Women's section of the small synagogue and from there observed everything that took place in the garden.
All the prisoners were seated on the ground. In the center there was a long table to which each was brought separately. The Jews were beaten from both sides with hoses and sticks, which the Poles had prepared. After three days in captivity almost all were released. The only ones kept were those that had deserted the Polish army. Almost all answered "yes." Only one answered "no." He was Avraham Yitzchak Shneider's son. The court sentenced him to death and he was shot there in Senators Garden and buried there. It was only eight days later that the Chevra Kadisha brought him to a Jewish cemetery.
Three more Jews were killed on the way back from Ostrov. The Bolsheviks had given them explosive materials that detonated on the way and killed the Vishkover Jews: Reichman, the son of Avraham Moshe Brock, the son of Nachum Stoller, and Sana Shuster, Chaya Neshe's husband.
Vishkov provided another noticeable activist of Communist leanings, Chaim Trembelinski, in the year 1939. At the outbreak of the war he was freed. I met him in Bialostok. Eventually he was arrested in Lemberg and we know nothing more of him. I know that Trembelinski was one of Stalin's trusted men in Poland and he helped Stalin to liquidate a whole group of his opponents among the Polish Communists.
This institution was supported by the left Poalei Zion and existed until the year 1928. In that same year a Yiddish school organization was founded, in which the left Poalei Zion, the Bund, and the Communists worked together. The staff consisted of the following friends:
Tsembal, Yisroel Moshe
and Ostroviak, Beinisch.
A dramatic crisis now existed in the Yiddish school organization, in which the following took part:
Marcushamer, Moshe and others.
From time to time they played at theater. The income was set aside for the school organization. The Jewish sports club of the school organization under the leadership of Baruch Chutnitsky, ran a lively sports activity. The school organization in Vishkov existed for three years. Because of the inner party conflicts, which more than once brought about the intervention of the area organizers, and with the approval of the Warsaw headquarters, the school was disbanded in the year 1930.
That years the Jewish sports club "Stern" was started, where I was a member. We only played on Shabbos because that was the only day we were free. Because of that, the local Sabbath observing leadership called for an ostracism. In the synagogue a notice was posted that all non-observers would, after death, be buried behind the park.
In the town, there was a baker, a certain Chana-Yidel. He was a member of Stern. Once on a Sabbath while bathing in a lake he drowned. Since he was a non-observer of the Sabbath, the Chevra Kadisha decided to bury him in a plot behind the park. All the townsfolk, from right to left, organized to prevent this disgrace from taking place. Police were brought in from Proviat and under a strong watch, the decision of the Chevra Kadisha was realized. He was buried in a back plot. But this was the first and last such episode in Vishkov.
Around 150 people attended. In the assemblage two separate groups were set up --- a society management and a youth management. In the first group the following were chosen: Yisroel Granat, Yoel Tchervanagura, Alter Popovsky, Sima Marcus, Sarah Zuzel, Simcha Gershonovitch, and Pinchus Sherok. In the youth group were Yechiel Shikur, Chaim Garnek, Yosef Zeltman, Faivel Gurshtein, Grushka Kartufel and Menusha Kahn.
The first task was setting the work day. Until then the work day was from morning to night, without counting the hours. Thanks to the actions of the organization the work day became established as eight hours. The second task was a battle against a law which mainly had been passed against young workers and practically made them slaves. Because of that a strike broke out which lasted four weeks and ended with a complete victory. As a result, the law was never enforced in our town.
The organization ran a broad cultural program for the worker youth. Every Shabbos there were readings and other programs. There were discussion groups, where a broad range of problems were dicussed. Many different opinions were offered by the group.
In Vishkov, there existed almost all the political parties. The left Poalei-Zion---at their head Valman and Popovsky --- the Bund, with Avraham Yedvab --- the Communists with Frider. Also active were the Shomer Hatzair and Poalei Hamizrachi. The Chalutz ran their Hacshara (preparation for immigration to Eretz Israel) programs.
Almost 300 Jews were driven to Poplivess, behind Pultusk. There they were forced to dig graves and were later murdered. Since I lived in Pultusk the last year before the war I went there after Rosh Hashanah. There I was told about the tragedy and the last moments of the Jews of Vishkov.
Those Jews of Vishkov that remained alive ran off in all directions. Some to Russia, where they were then sent to Siberia. Others ran off to surrounding cities, like Vengrov, Yadov, and others.
I escaped to Russia and ended up in Siberia, where some of those from Vishkov died.---Abe Altmark and his wife, David Yosef Tsimet, Shimon Altmark and his wife, Beinish Holland and his wife.
After being freed from Siberia, some of the Vishkov Jews died in Turkistan from various sicknesses. Faigel-Tsirel Holland, Shimon Kiris, Dobres, Sarah-Raiza Holland, Avraham Zuzel.
Many Jews of Vishkov took part in the Partisan operations --- Faivel Filler, Rachel Filler, Simcha-Moshe Naiman, and the Yanovich family.
During the first world war a group of friends (Klosky, Mittelsbach, Mendel Rosenberg, Yakov Shtellung and others) set up a branch of "Yugent" [youth] in the city. This was an organization of Zionist-socialist youth (of the Poale Tzion party). We devoted much effort to this organization; educational activities, and many-branched cultural work, classes, lectures, parties, and a library. The work was semi-legal; we were always suspect by the government. Nevertheless we also started to organize the youths who were working at the shopkeepers tailors, shoemakers and carpenters learning a trade.
The custom then was that these apprentices would work three years without pay and they were also exploited by the shopkeepers to work in their private homes. It was very difficult work for us. Even the parents of the youths objected to our efforts for fear that the youths would be fired. The meetings with the youth would always take place out of doors, in remote corners of the city, in order to hide from the shopkeepers and the police. Nevertheless we often succeeded in improving the lot of one youth or another.
These youths later became members of the youth organization and the parties. For all these projects we volunteered willingly, with the aim of helping these working youths. More than once we contributed our own funds for the expenses. At the same time there existed in the city a youth group of the "Bund" "Zukunft" [future]. We always had debates with them, for they were opposed to Zionism. But the main debates were in public, following the speeches of lecturers that each party would invite from Warsaw. But besides that we were very active and there were endless meetings in connection with every important incident in Judaism or in the world.
In the city there was a large library in Yiddish and to a lesser extent, in Hebrew. We were proud of this library. We all derived knowledge from it. There were many scientific books there. And when parties arose, each tried to influence the library according to its outlook, and to introduce changes consistent with its spirit. This led to arguments, and whoever had more readers at the library pulled it toward his view. Assemblies of readers more than once pulled in the other direction, towards a different party. Finally a group of us friends arose with the goal of maintaining a proper library, as a general cultural asset, and we worked out a special set of bylaws for the assembly of readers. In it there was a paragraph that all the parties would have equal representation, and that it was forbidden to transfer the library to any one party. The assembly approved the bylaws and from then on the library proceeded to grow. No community board or institution supported this library. There were token charges for use of the books and we covered the expenses by arranging parties, performances, etc. and particularly by voluntary donations. At the end of the first world war it was partly destroyed through removals and confiscations by the Polish government, in whose eyes everything was 'tref' and forbidden.
In those years there was also a clubhouse on Shkolna Street that we called the "Verein" (a special interest group). Actually it was a place for various cultural activities in Yiddish by individuals, members of socialist parties, who could do cooperative work quietly without political debates. In particular, I remember my good friend, Beinush Ostrovyak. I was a Zionist and he a leftist, a communist. Nevertheless together we did almost all of this intensive work. We established a chapter of "Tzisha" (Central Yiddish School-organization). We had strong ties with the central [office] in Warsaw. We organized a school, both in the day and the evening, for poor children.
We acquired books and writing materials and hired teachers. This school existed for several years and the funds for it we got from monthly membership dues and from modest admission fees to lectures. All of the administrative work was by volunteers and the students paid nothing. It must be remembered that the hostile government, particularly the Polish, did not give us rest. Every lecturer that we brought to the city was suspect in their eyes. We had to use subterfuge and all kinds of covers so that they would not interfere.
Once, during a lecture in the "Verein", at 10 o'clock at night, the police surrounded the building and started an intensive search. This was a result of some informer. However, they found nothing suspicious except for one socialist book and some papers, among them a draft of bylaws of a "Hechalutz" chapter that I had. Before the search I had hidden the notebook, but after we had left the hall they overturned everything and found it. The next day, with the intervention of some respected individuals, the police returned the bylaws for they already had suspected that there was an illegal organization. The bylaws were in Hebrew and when it was translated for them they left us alone. However, they held us all night until almost dawn; but that did not prevent us from continuing our work in the succeeding days. The town was like a cauldron over this affair, and for several weeks we were forced to move the school to a different building.
Because of such events we were also forced to arrange our First-of-May meetings in the forest with a circle of guards surrounding them. Of course only the members of the socialist parties participated. Almost all the parties existed and held activities under some sort of cover. Only the General Zionists, "Aguda" carried on legally and had an open clubhouse. And since the adults among them were not active, we, the Hechalutz youth, used their clubhouse frequently. We even moved the large library there, because that was the most secure location.
I recall a meeting in the home of Eli-Meir Goldman on the "Warsaw Road" (Kosciucsko Street), while the Red army was in the city, at the end of WWI. The meeting was called at the initiative of the Communists, with the participation of an army officer who chaired the meeting. They ordered, in the name of the government, that all the socialist parties disband. The "Bund" then announced that it was disbanding because "socialism has come" and the Jewish question would be solved. We, Poale Tzion, felt and knew that this was not true. We announced, after some discussion, that we were connected to the center in Warsaw and that when the Red army would shortly enter Warsaw an answer would be forthcoming for the country as a whole, since we were only a branch chapter. Our answer was received with disbelief, but the meeting broke up. The army was in our vicinity for a week and when it retreated many communists retreated with it. The next day we heard that the Polish army that entered the city shot and killed two Poles and a Jew of the communists who were caught, without any trial.
The Poale Tzion party of course continued to operate, but the "Bund" for a long time could not raise its head, because they had disbanded. After that our Zionist activity intensified. We collected money for the JNF [Jewish National Fund] and for the KPAI (fund for the workers of Palestine) of that time. We expanded "Hechalutz", etc. When the oppression and the persecution of the Jewish minority in Poland began, emigration to Palestine began from Wyszków, too, naturally from the younger generation.
I remember, however, the emigration of one adult Jew before this. And this was the event: A Jew by the name of Rosenzweig, a simple shoemaker, came to my father in 1920, as I recall, and since he knew him to be an active Zionist, asked that he help him go to Palestine. My father was very surprised and asked the Jew how he would make out in Palestine with his large family? And there were [violent] incidents then in Palestine and only young people, if any, went there, not adults. But the Jew announced that he was travelling to Jerusalem and was taking a pistol. He would bake a loaf of bread and put the gun inside the loaf. My father, when he saw the enthusiasm of Rosenzweig, helped him and recommended him to the "Mizrachi" institutions. The Jew went and later brought his family. And to this day part of the family lives in Jerusalem. This was a unique event in those years. Most of the Jews were either apathetic toward Zionism or opposed it because of their religious orthodoxy. My father had many arguments with these Jews, the Chasidim and the rabbi. He frequently spoke in the "beis medrash" [study] on Zionist topics on behalf of "Mizrachi". The chasidim and the rabbi called him an "apikoros" [non-believer] because of his Zionism. And when my father z"l died, the rabbi and the chevra kadisha objected to erecting the gravestone on his grave because there was a star of David on it.
There was a great conflict in the city between the Zionists and the "misnagdim". This was in 1926. But even before this, in 1924, the first of the "Hechalutz" members from Wyszków left for Palestine and this was a great joy for us. The dancing at the train station went on for a long time. And in 1925 I too went.
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