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[Page 222]

Poalei Tzion- Left

Lopek

Translated by Bill Leibner

The Poalei Tzion Party in Zloczew [Zionist-Socialist Worker Party] immediately joined the left camp with its creation. The later split in the party did not affect the Poalei Tzion in Zloczew since it adhered to the left faction of the party. The split that took place in 1920 hardly affected the branch. The Poali Tzion-Right Wing started later its own branch. The Poalei Tzion Left Party leadership did not come from the ranks of the working people, rather they were members of the middle class. They had no proletarian origin and had little in common with the Socialist slogans. By contrast, the younger membership was already a working class membership and its recruitment was stressed in this milieu. Their influence spread throughout the Jewish population in the city although the Jewish population did not share their ideology.

In spite of their few membership drives and limited membership, they greatly influenced city life and helped solve some of the problems that affected the Jewish population. Their elected officials at the municipal council were very effective in protecting the interests of the poor city people, notably the poor Jews. At election time, they obtained as many as 40% of the Jewish votes that by far exceeded the membership of the party. The councilman Wowe Faiwlowicz and Michael Bielawski fought strenuously against the resolutions of the Endekes [Polish Nationalist and Anti-Semitic Party] and the Peasant Party that were aimed against the Jews. The party received some support from the Polish Socialist Party but the Poalei Tzion were stamped as a Communist Party.

At a city council meeting, the Agudah councilman, Orthodox Religious party, asked the council to help finance the restoration of the entrance to the synagogue and the gate leading to it. The Endek councilmen shouted that the city should not spend money on such matters. Then Faiwlowicz asked why the council approved the erection of a holy statue in the middle of the market that seriously limited the parking of coaches and horses on market days. Of course, the Endekes were furious at these statements from a Jewish councilman and shouted: "Communist to Palestine!". There was, of course, some confusion in the geography since Communists directed their attention to Moscow and not to Palestine. Still it was a daring statement to make in public when the Endekes were present, especially Father Kelkewicz . During the entire debate, the Agudah councilman kept quiet. Finally, the city council allocated the needed money, since the mayor -Niklaschinski, always received the support of Jewish voters while the Endekes and the Peasant party voted against him.

The Poalei Tzion branch was very active and expanded these activities when it moved to a new place on Koscielna Street in 1922. It initiated a program of evening courses to teach reading, writing, and elementary science courses. Each evening, dozens of poor youngsters that had to quit school or never attended school because they had to learn a trade to support the family, met and were exposed to the ideas of Leizer and Lea Baumgarten and Libe Bialowski who was in charge of the expanded library. They also heard the teachings of the ideology of the Poali Tzion Party as exposed by the elder members of the branch or by visiting lecturers.

[Page 223]

Due to the popularity of these sessions and the impact the evening courses had on the local Jewish population, the Zloczew branch became a focal point for the movement and the branch was highly respected at the central office of the party. Zloczew was visited by all the leading figures of the party, notably, Tz.B. Zroubavel, Erem,Gir, Peterzeil, Lew, Moulie, Buksbaum and even their representative to the central committee of the Histadruth. All these visitors created great interest among the local participants.

Youth of the left Poalei Tzion branch in Zloczew

 

The Poalei Tzion branch had a good dramatic club that frequently presented productions staged by local talent. It also created somewhat later a sport club, named Gwiazda [star] under the leadership of the Hashomer Hatzair member, Levi Laufert
[see the article on sports]. The club attracted many youngsters that worked all day behind sewing machines or at the leather workbenches. Here they had the opportunity to do some exercises and relax their bodies.

We also have to mention amongst other things that the elder members of the branch created a co-operative bank entitled "Save and Loan Bank". The executives consisted of: Wowe Faiwlowicz, Michael Bielawski, Binem Lefkowicz, Aron Iglitzki, Zelig Kaniarski, Yaakow Louman, and Itzhak Loutoutowski. The bank helped many small merchants and artisans that lived in poverty.

With the year 1935, we see a decline of the branch activities. There are several factors that contributed to this state of affairs. Suddenly, Wowe Faiwlowicz died. The event shocked the branch into a trauma from which it never recovered. His absence was felt everywhere, especially at City Hall. New winds started to blow over Poland with the death of Pilsudski [President and actual leader of Poland]. The new leaders mocked all opposition parties, especially Jewish parties. The Polish leaders of the country openly encouraged Anti-Semitism. Jews that defended themselves, as in the case of the famous Przytik incident, were sent to jail while the attackers were freed.

[Page 224]

Hitler's propaganda machine against the Jews found a fertile and receptive field in Poland. People started to search for safe places, notably Palestine. All Zionist parties were involved in the legal or illegal shipment of Jews to Palestine. The Poalei Tzion did send some members to Palestine but none from the Zloczewer branch. The latter never stressed the Zionist aspects of the movement and was therefore without influence in the offices that made up the lists for immigration to Palestine. This caused many members to seek other movements that would help them. The branch continued to decline until the war started. Unfortunately, none of the leading figures mentioned in the article survived the war.

Signed Lopek

Editors notice.. There is a special item in the book regarding the priest Kalkiewicz that was mentioned in the article. He perished during WWII.


[Page 225]

Agudath Israel

Dawid Grabiner

Translated by Bill Leibner

The Agudah Party had a considerable influence in Zloczew. Religious Jews formed the basis of the party. The membership of the party dealt exclusively with Jewish education, religious symbols, synagogues, religious judges, cantors etc. The political branch of the party was especially active prior to Jewish community elections or municipal elections. The party was also very active in the economic field since it had at its disposal a co-operative bank that granted loans to merchants and home owners at favorable terms. The party, however, was not involved in social or cultural activities that were usually attributes of political parties. The party did not even have an office in Zloczew, nor did it have registered members.

Youth branch of the Agudah in Zloczew, Lag Ba Omer
[33 days in the Omer] Tarzag or 5693 or 1933

 

The Agudah branch met usually at the Gerer shtibel. Most of the Gerer Hassidim were supporters of the Agudah in Zloczew. Of course, there were party meetings and private conferences between the leaders at their homes. The leading figures of the party were Yaakow Saltzberg, and Avraham Shmuel Itzis. Meetings also occurred between the active members of the party, notably the author of this contribution..

[Page 226]

Group of Religious youngsters belonging to the
Mizrahi movement before their departure for Palestine

Moshe Zaltzberger, Alter Zaltzberger and Avraham Yossef Alkan

 

The youth division of the Agudah Party already established a meeting hall. It called itself the Tziyirei Agadath Israel - Young Members of the Agudah Party. It attracted youngsters from the ages of 14-15. The meeting hall was located in the center of town. Here they met once a week, usually Saturday afternoon, where they studied the Sayings of the Sages, listened to lectures presented by out of town speakers, notably Zusia Fridensohn. Then they sang Hassidic songs and frequently finished the meeting by dancing Hassidic group dances. The youth division was also greatly attached to the return to Zion ideas. It sent many of its members to special farms where they trained as farm workers prior to their immigration to Palestine.

Members of the Youth wing of the
Agudah Party at a special training farm

Right - Meir Gershon Krakowski, Feivel Freund, Avraham Zummer,
Avraham Schlomkowicz and Yerachmiel Freund

 

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