Translated by Roslyn Sherman Greenberg
Lida was an industrial city with various sizes of factories and enterprises. The big rubber factory Erdl [Ardal] was famous in all of Poland. It was established in 1928 thanks to the initiative of the KUSHELEWITZ brothers, chemical engineers. Partners were first the KUSHELEWITZ family, the owners of the ironworks Benland (Brothers STEINBERG and WILENTCHIK) and the owners of Drutindustry (CHERTAK and SAVITSKY). After putting in a lot of money, the Polish financier MELUP entered the business. A couple of years later the business expanded so much that before the outbreak of WWII around a thousand people were employed working three shifts. The head engineer FORMAN, a son-in-law of MORDECAI WILENTCHIK, owner of a tobacco factory, was also a partner in the Erdl rubber factory. The engineers GURWITZ and KUSHELEWITZ were also employed. Later the engineer KUSHELEWITZ left the Erdl factory and started a small rubber factory of technical rubber products under the name of Unigum. The factory succeeded with time and employed ten or so people.
There was also in Lida a chemical factory, Corona, which made various inks, paints and dyes. The owners were S. KOTAK and PUPKO, a son of the shipping agent, PUPKO. SIMCHA KOTAK, a Socialist and Zionist worker, leader of the Judenrat, came to a tragic end because of the Nazi murderers.
A nail factory Drutindustry (owners Brothers CHERTAK and SAVITSKY, (today in Israel) also employed about ten workers.
Two ironworks, one owned by the brothers SHAPIRO, and the second under the firm Benland made various agricultural machines.
There were also two oil factories, one for olive oil, and the other poppy seed oil. During the season when the raw material was available, there were two shifts of workers. The partners were the brothers POLIATCHEK, the owners of the automatic mill under the firm name Automat.
There were two beer breweries that were famous in all Poland. One was owned by ELIMELECH PUPKO, and the second was owned by PAPIERMEISTER. They transported beer in kegs and in bottles throughout Poland. There was also a division of the Vilna beer brewery Shafen under the management of TAUB. There was also a division of a Warsaw beer brewery Haverbush and Shileh, under the management of WALLMAN and ROSENSTEIN. Five sawmills made various wood products for carpenters. The proprietors were GOROWITZ, KRANIK, POLIATCHEK, RAFAELOWITZ, PAPIERMEISTER and MELNICK. Each sawmill employed in season twenty to twenty-five workers. Most of the workers were Christians, and there were a number of Jews.
Five mills ground flour and various grains. The proprietors were the brothers POLIATCHEK and TROTSKY, WILENSKY, MELNICK, PUPKO and SIDOROWITZ. There were two windmills behind the city.
Two printing houses carried out various activities and published a weekly newspaper. The owners were ZELDOWITZ and KAPLANSKY. The head workers were MARGOLIS and A. DEMSHEK. Both printing houses had enough business from the county and city administrations, the movie house, and private undertakings. For some years there was a weekly newspaper called Lida Life under the editorship of JOSEPH ALBERT, who also wrote several books: Proletariat Bandages, Toilers, etc. Helping to distribute the books was the enterprise Literary Pages in Warsaw. The owners of the wool products and woolens factory were LEVIN and CHICHEMSKY.
There were also home enterprises such as G. FEINSTEIN and ISSER LEIB LEVIN, and various workshops.
In the area of restaurants and coffeehouses, Lida was also not lacking. Bristol, and Americanka, where the main patrons were the officers of the 77th Footsoldiers, and the 5th Fliers, were owned by SAVITSKY and RODENITSKY. There were confectionaries and other smaller sweet shops and restaurants, as well as delicatessens and wine businesses of the brothers WINOGRADOV, LEVINSON, etc. There were big businesses of home materials, like those of SHIMSHON PUPKO and PINCHAS RABINOWITZ, etc.
Hotels: Grand Hotel, owner BENJAMIN LANDAU, Europesky, owner GLAUBERMAN, where all the Zionist leaders stayed: Jabotinsky, Berl Locker, Boruch Zuckerman, Maier Yerry, etc. Other hotels were Dagmara, Italia, Paris, etc.
Four movie houses: Nirvana, Edison, Malenke and Agniska (the first three in Jewish hands).
Three apothecaries: Stara Pharmacy, owner BERGMAN Burgomeister of the city, later the pharmacy bought out LEVINSON and ZELIKOWITZ (a brother of Aloof Abner, died in Israel), the brothers ZUCKERMAN and Simikova Pharmacy (not Jewish).
Several pharmaceutical warehouses: Owners SIDOROWITZ, NACHUMOVSKY, SHIFF, and BARAN.
Several gold businesses, watchmakers, jewelers. There were also big manufacturing businesses, shoe businesses: big wholesale warehouses for spices, fancy goods, writing materials, like BERL DWORETSKY, SLUTSKY and others. Big ironworks, like G. CHERTAK, STEINBERG, etc.
In Lida, the city combined with all the small shtetls around it, in the last years before the war, to form a bus route. The first line was Stutchin Lida. Later Belitsa Lida; Lida Novogroduk; Grodno Skidel Lida; Baranowitz Novogroduk Lida; Lida Vilna; Radun Eisheshuk Lida; Ivye Lipnishuk Lida; Vasilishuk Lida. Lida almost became combined with all the nearby cities and shtetls. At the beginning there were losses, but later all the bus lines united in one cooperative, which soon succeeded, and they bought new big busses.
CAPTION OF PICTURE ON PAGE 84
Jewish soldiers in the Russian Army during WWI. Among them the Lida residents: among those standing from the left side, SHMUEL RUTSKY. Among those sitting, second from the left BORUCH SLONIMSKY
It took place in East-Prussia, at the start of the first World-War. We, a company of Russian soldiers, were employed in the forest, preparing a position for our artillery. Our commander, a youngster from Gruzin, very energetic but harsh and reckless to the point of brutality, gives out commands, suddenly there appears a soldier from another company, leading a person in civilian clothing. I look him over: young, about 30 years old, he moves like a robot, his eyes appear to see nothing. His sadness-filled and wearied pallid face expresses nothing, neither joy , sadness, fear or frustration, not more than his body shivers lightly due to the cold autumn drizzle and his whole demeanor asks wordlessly a warm room and a glass of coffee. His accompanier, the soldier, leads him to the commander and hands over a note. Our commander reads and a smile appears on his lips. At first I understood nothing. Soon it became clear to me. Our commander places the stranger under watch and he sends one soldier for a rope. A shiver passed through my flesh: Our commander had been designated as hangman and this is the victim!
In fifteen minutes the stranger was no longer living.
Who was this? What was his transgression? Who knows? And what is the difference?
Four, five months later, I and my friend are in the camp, fenced-in with electrified barbed wire, in one board dog-house, together with a hundred more on one common straw-bed. My friend newly out of the hospital, having struggled for long weeks with death, with the awful typhus disease. More than fifty die each day. He remained alive. A miracle! He is now privileged, my friend,: he receives a bigger portion of food, dried vegetables or hard beets with water, in order to sustain himself. Yes my friend is rescued. Unfortunately there is something not completely in order with my friend. He mixes up or forgets the words for various subjects. Reads with difficulty, has forgotten how to write. Waking him doesn't help, encouragement, it keeps getting worse. Until a horrible attack of insanity. He is lead away from us. Later I become aware: my friend has been freed by a neutral country, sent back to father and mother
One of my friend's imaginings did come to pass: for him the war had indeed ended- even earlier
Although over 22 years have passed, and I only saw the man for a couple of minutes, he still stands before my eyes as if he were alive.
This happened in East Prussia at the beginning of the first World War. I and a company of Russian soldiers are deployed in the forest. We are preparing a position for our artillery. Our commander, young , very energetic but strict to the point of cruelty, gives orders. Suddenly a soldier from a strange company appears, leading a man in civilian clothing. I look him over: a young man about 30 years old, he moves like a robot, his eyes as if they see nothing. His wasted, tired and pale face, reflects nothing, not happiness, sadness, fear or despair. Only his body shivers as if from a cold shower, and his whole being asks without words for a warm room and a glass of coffee. The soldier, his companion, takes him over to the commander and gives him a note. Our commander reads and a smile comes to his lips. At first I had understood nothing. Suddenly it became clear to me. Our commander ordered that the stranger be guarded and he sent someone for a rope. A shiver went through my heart: our commander is appointed as hangman and this is the victim!
In fifteen minutes the stranger no longer lived.
Who was he? From where? What is his crime? Who knows? And what is the difference?
We are going, more correctly, we are being taken to the front packed like herring in a truck. My friend, a happy boy, talks to me and fantasizes highly. First we'll rest up after the hard experiences on the front. What do you think? They'll certainly give us a room for two or three, clean, light and warm we are traveling in a cultured country! True, bread is probably hard to come by in Germany. I figure that more than a pound or another half we won't get daily, but milk, butter, cheese this isn't lacking, and what more do you need? A clean room, a bed, food, tea when you want it; you can read, write, walk around and if you have money, you can request a leave and see Berlin and the war will certainly not last long!
Four or five months later, I and my friend are in prison camp, surrounded by electrified barbed wire, in one dog kennel with another hundred men in one straw bed. My friend is just out of the hospital, having wrestled with death for many weeks, suffering from the terrible typhoid fever. Over 50 die daily. He is left alive. A miracle!
He is privileged to receive a bigger portion of food, dry gemiza, or hard beets with water, in order to be cured. Yes, my friend is rescued. Unfortunately, something is not right with my friend. He forgets the names of different objects, reading is hard; he has forgotten how to write. It helps him not to wake. On the contrary, everything gets worse, until he has a horrible attack of insanity. They take him away. Later, I learn that my friend is free .He has been sent home to his parents through a neutral country.
His dreams have finally been fulfilled: for him the war has really ended earlier.
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