by D. L.
Translated by Lance Ackerfeld
At the initiative of members Mosze Openhajm, Israel Gertner and Dawid Liwer, a branch of Hitachdut party was founded in our town after the party was established in 1921. The following is a collection of articles that were published in the movement magazine Folk on Land about the party branch in Będzin.
In the newspaper edition from July, 1921 we read: When a notice was received from the main office, we convened a meeting, which welcomed the world organization of Hapoel Hatzair [Young worker] and Tzirei Zion [Young Zionists]. It was unanimously decided to join the new Hitachdut movement, whose political outlook was close to our hearts, and it had good prospects of wide development in our town and in the whole region. There is no doubt, that in the course of time that it will be an important entity in the Jewish public. The lack of an independent center is an impediment to the activities being carried out in not so convenient room of the Tarbut association. Hilel Lipszyc visited us and lectured on the subject of What was learnt from the bloody riots in Eretz Yisrael (1921)
In the July edition of 1924, it was written: We were visited by Dr. Gur-Arje Tarlo, who lectured on the origins of Labor Zionism. Our branch has set out in heightened activity thanks to a visitor from the main office who motivated us to this. In the near future the number of our members will grow, since we declared a conscription drive for new members.
In the edition of February 1925: For some time the Zionist parties have
been discussing the Hechalutz organization in our town. For this issue a
committee of four members was founded, amongst them two of ours. This committee
announced a collection drive for the Hechalutz fund. Members of
ours who took part in this project were: Israel Gertler, Bencyjon Fogelewicz,
Mordechai Korb, J. Openhajm and Dawid Liwer. Our member I. Gertner was
appointed secretary of the collection drive. In the general meeting of our
branch a great deal was spoken about the need for Hechalutz to be apolitical.
Our member Israel Aron Liwer, who was given the distribution of Folk on
Land, did good work for our magazine and acquired 30 additional
conscriptions. In addition the weekly from Eretz Yisrael Hapoel
Hatzair is distributed amongst our members with seven copies. The new
committee of our party in comprised from our members: Mosze Rozekner (chairman)
Rechnic, Gertler, I. A. Liwer, Dawid Liwer, M. Korb, Fogelewicz and D. Bajtner.
We rented a spacious center in Nachum Cukierman's house that allowed us to
increase our activity which has already been noticed: We founded the very
promising Gordonia youth organization.
|A group of members of the Hitachdut party
Standing from right to left: Alter, Szlomo Liwer, Spiegel (Israel), Dancygier,
Cwi Ginsburg (Israel) Seated: Yoro (America), Szlomo Feldman (London),
Joel Openhajm, Fiszer, Elkana Manela, Dow Liwer (Israel)
On Sabbath evenings discussions were held on various current issues of Jewish life and Eretz Yisrael. There were questions and answers (kestel-oventen) evenings, free debates with representatives of other parties. From time to time the party published, in particular before various festivities, a humorous newspaper Der Knayper (the Whip) edited by Dawid Liwer.
Our branch took on an important position in the public life of the town, and was represented over the years up until the outbreak of war, in all the civic institutions by Mosze Rozenker in the kehila, and Dr. Ruwen Rechtman in the town council.
In 1925 our first members made aliyah to Eretz Yisrael and amongst them the founders of our party: Openhajm, Gertner, Dunkelman, Fogelewicz and Liwer. Their aliyah was an event in the town and many came to bid farewell to them at the train station, which encouraged members of the party, who took on more intensive activity. A new committee was elected: I. Gertler, Berisz Liwer, I. A. Liwer, M. Korb, Mosze Groncki, Iser Londner and Fiszl Zygrajch.
In the Folk on Land (September and October 1926) we read amongst other things: In the last town council elections we were very active. Our member Dr. Rechtman was nominated with the active town council members and is active in all fields. We have penetrated to the large towns in Zagłębie and Silesia. Our branches in Katowice and Sosnowiec are satisfactory. We have also managed to organize branches in Dąbrowa, Königshütte, Wolbrom, Olkusz and Ząbkowice. On Sunday, the 10th of October, a meeting of our party took place in which branches from all the Kielce region participated. The main office was represented by member Mordechai Jafe, a member of Hapoel Hatzair [Young labor] in Eretz Yisrael.
In edition no 4 from March 1927: Last month a general meeting of our party took place in which all our members were present. After an opening by the chairman, Dr. Rechtman, reports were given by Mincberg (secretariat), Londner (treasury), Zygrajch (cultural committee), B. Liwer (newspapers). Members Hampel, Londner and Zygrajch lectured on coming activities. Many members participated in the discussions about the reports and in the lectures and they expressed their recognition of the committee which had done everything to strengthen and develop the party. The last to lecture was our member Hampel about the third conference of the labor Histadrut [union] in Eretz Yisrael. On the 29th of January of this year a founding meeting of Gordonia was held that had renewed its activity, comprised this time of youth from the common people based on pioneering principals. Arie Liwer opened [the evening], and Dr. Rechtman lectured on the importance of the Gordonia movement and its place amongst the Jewish youth movements. Greetings on behalf of the Hitachdut were heard by member Sznycer, Hashachar [the Dawn] by Lustiger, Hashomer Hatzair by Szpajzer, Tarbut by Altman and representatives of Hechalutz, K.K.L. and the League for a Working Eretz Yisrael. Member Mordechai Hampel lectured on A. D. Gordon and his doctrine, and Szlomo Najmark on the mission of youth at this time.
In edition no. 14, July 1927, we read: It is accepted that Tzirei Zion
(Z. S.) [Young Zion], in their merge with Poalei Zion Yamin [Right-wing
Zionist Labor] would forgo Hebrew, but they also placed a condition, that the
secretariat of the K.K.L. committee in Będzin should not use Hebrew
something that was unheard of up until then. Yes, this happened here, purely
and simply: Poalei Zion (most of who were from the former Tzirei Zion)
affronted the K.K.L. committee with a threatening letter, that if they don't
stop carrying out their correspondence and meeting protocols in Hebrew
they would leave. In order to ingratiate themselves with the Poalei Zion Smol
[Left-wing Zionist Labor] they were willing to desecrate the dearest values of
their party, Achdut Ha'ovada [Labor Unity] in Eretz Yisrael. Bravo, Poalei Zion
Z. S., you are making progress!
|The young guard of the Hitachdut in 1936
with Israel Gertler, the party chairman
Dancygier (Israel), Stawski, Grosman, Noyman (Brazil), Golenzer,
A. Liwer (America), Szwarc, Prager, Rozenberg, Broner (Israel), Rozyner (Israel), Fiszer
Szer, Rozyner (Israel), Himelfarb, Erlichman,
Wolgryn, Israel Gertler, Frydman (America), Szapir
Benek, M. Grosfeld, S. Dafner, Wajsbord, Golenzer,
Skoczylas-Szwarc, J. Lencner, Dancygier
|A group of Vitkinia realizers, 1932,
with the sponsor, Dawid Liwer
First row from right:
G. Buchbinder, Wolf Golenzer (Israel), Aron Cukierman, Cwi Grosfeld (both in Israel),
Carola Gutman, Josef Neufeld, Alter Rechnic (fell in the War of Independence),
Dow Rapaport, Sara Skoczylas-Szwarc, Jecheskiel Syskind (Israel), Dow Londner (Paris)
Aron Werdygier, Tonia Neufeld, Arie Liwer, Jadzia Mirowski, David Liwer, Chedwa Honigman, Dow Liwer
Joszua Federman, Grosfeld, Tuwia Kokotek (all three of them are in Israel), Aron Golenzer,
Wajsbort-Golenzer, Ruwen Alter
When Gordonia, which we founded and nurtured over many years, became independent and unaffiliated, our party saw a need to organize a youth movement called Vitkinia. The first committee was comprised of the following members: Arie Liwer, Golzner, Tuwja Kokotek, Sara Skoczylas, Cwo Szwarc, Rozenberg and Grosfeld. Attached to the committee on behalf of the party was D. Liwer. Over some time the Vitkinia comprised about 200 active members who were in all the Zionist activities and also in the Hechalutz. Its members left for hachshara in Królewska Huta (Silesia), Radomsko and other places, and at the end of their training made aliyah to Eretz Yisrael. Evening Hebrew classes were organized run by a professional teacher.
With the development of the party, Vitkinia rented a spacious apartment with a number of rooms in the Duwidl Zmigrod home and our previous clubhouse, which had become too small for us, we left to Gordonia, which also grew and grew and didn't disappoint us on the day when their numbers were counted.
In the May 1933 edition Arie Liwer wrote: The liquidation committee of
the Hitachdut in Danzig [Gdańsk], which decided on the merge of our party with
Poalei Zion, did not have an influence on us at all. On the contrary: our reply
to the capitalization of our movement will be increased activity
for the existence of an independent and sovereign Hitachdut. And indeed, the
party in Będzin serves as an example, greatly increases its activity and
is destined for greatness. The housewarming of our new clubhouse took place in
high spirits. 250 members participated in the celebration, apart from our youth
and many of those who were invited from our nearby branches. Our orchestra
opened with the playing of the national anthem. Dr. Rechtman welcomed the
visitors and representatives of the Histadrut and the Zionist institutions who
came to celebrate together with us. The main office envoy Josef Lewi presented
problems of the movement, which should under no circumstances be liquidated and
should retain its ideological and organizational independence, and wished that
the party building would serve as an abundant source of light to all sectors of
the people. At this opportunity A. Liwer bade farewell to the first group of
Vitkinia members leaving for hachshara. Ruwen Alter gave thanks on behalf of
the Vitkinia pioneers. The celebration took place next to laid out tables and
our orchestra played pleasant Hebrew and Eretz Yisrael tunes.
|Members of the Vitkinia
on a Lag B'Omer outing
Activity continued at a tempo and with vigor till the outbreak of war, and didn't let up for a moment, and even though the ideological discomfiture relating to the merge with Poalei Zion brought the movement in Poland to a crisis point, the branch in Będzin was not rattled and remained faithful to the main office which intensely strove to retain existence as an independent party. Our branch was renown throughout the movement in Poland as the most established from all aspects that served as an example to others. Our members didn't rest their activity for a moment, even during the difficult period in the whole movement. Our senior members made aliyah to Eretz Yisrael, and in their place came the young generation and the succession continued.
During the war years, as well, we didn't abandon our activities which took place in underground conditions, and we took a distinguished position in defense and in the well known agricultural farm in Będzin, that served as a camouflage for Zionist activity.
Thanks to our covert connections with Eretz Yisrael envoys in Switzerland, who equipped us with foreign passports, several Hitachdut activists managed to save their souls, and after the war settled in Israel.
The chapter of the Hitachdut life in Będzin is completely over, for which a glorious page in the movement history in Poland has been written.
Our Hitachdut party had a name for itself in the town and excelled in its
activities to the credit of its dedicated members, of which I will note some of
the most active: Julek Openhajm, Szlomo Liwer, Icchak Buchbinder, Elkana
Manela, Sznycer, Dawid Richter, Efraim Goldminc, Najman and Ichaar Hozenes. All
of them were killed in the Holocaust.
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