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[Page 205]

The Martyred Chalutzim
from Slobodka Leshna (1919)

I. Teitelbaum

Translated by Claire Hisler Shefftz

During the Polish-Bolshevik war in the Ukraine, a Polish division under General Zeligowski tore through Bessarabia and Bukovina and stopped in Kolomea during its winter march to Poland.

Kolomea was then temporarily occupied by the Rumanians and the border was near the shtetl Otynia between Stanislav and Kolomea.

During their stay in Kolomea, General Zeligowski's soldiers ("the wild division", they called them) often attacked Jews. But Jewish workers organized a civil patrol and gave the hooligans quite a few beatings.

During the march to Otynia, Zeligowski's soldiers carried out a pogrom against Hachshara HaKibutza from HaShomer HaTsair which was an agricultural school owned by the Jewish Colonization Association in the village of Slobodka Leshna.

On the sixteenth of June, 1919, the hooligans killed three student Halutzim: 1) Joseph Bal- the son of butcher Moshe Bal from Franzishkaryuzifar Street, 2) Tsvi Rotenberg, the son of the restauranteur Rotenberg from Yagielanskai Street near the Post office, and 3) Shmuel Presser from Stanislav. Members of the Bartfeld family were also murdered.

The dead were brought to Kever Israel in the new Kolomear cemetery on Klebanye Street. Almost the whole city took part in the funeral. Adjoining graves were prepared for the martyred near the main entrance to the cemetery.

Even officers of the Austian army who had been former Halutzim, delivered eulogies: Lieutenant Engineer Shlomo Rores, Lieutenant

Teacher Poizer-Dresher, and an Oberlieutenant from Prague, a son-in-law of Kolomear resident Max Vaykselboim.

When the Polish army turned toward Kolomea in September 1919, the three Jewish officers who had spoken at the funeral were taken before a military court and accused of insulting the Polish people and the Polish army. The sentence was a relatively light one. Rores and Dresher were demoted to a lower rank and the Prague lieutenant was sent out of the country.

The "hero" of the "wild division", General Zeligowski, was the same one who later, in 1920, plundered Vilna for Poland and carried out a pogrom against the Jews there.

Translator's note: For another account of this incident, see Shtetl Memoirs by Joachim Schoenfeld, New Jersey, Ktav Publishing House, Inc., 1985, p. 212. General Lucjan Zeligowski (pronounced Zheligovsky) is mentioned on page 221 as having occupied Wilno (Vilna). The author, born in 1895 in Sniatyn which was some miles west of Kolomey, lived in that Galician town until World War I. He provides historical background about Jews in Galicia as well as accounts of typical Jewish life in Sniatyn and his service in the Austrian army. He also describes how Jews fared under independent Poland in the years between the two world wars.


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