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[Page 163]

The Kadima Student Corporation

(An abridged summary of the article in the Hebrew section of the book. {Hebrew article is on page 124})

pod163.jpg
A group of academics
From left to right: Dr. Ber, the teacher Kestenblat,
the veterinarian Dr. Matis Kohn

 


[Page 164]

Meir Mass – the Hero of the Town

by Y. Grussgott

Translated by Jerrold Landau

(An abridged summary of the article in the Hebrew section of the book. {Hebrew article is on page 126})

pod164.jpg
The Market Square
Mordechai Messing and Abba Milch
are standing in the center

 


[Page 165]

Memories of Years Past

by Dr. M. Pomeranz

by Y. Grussgott

Translated by Jerrold Landau

I have beloved memories from my childhood years in Podhajce, especially from the long walks with my parents in the areas outside of the city, to the hill, to Siolko, to Zahajce or to the train station. During those walks, my revered father took the opportunity to discuss with me lectures from the synagogue, as well as issues of general education.,

Today, when I think about Podhajce, the thoughts are filled with sorrow. When I recall the souls of my kin who were murdered there, the city as I saw it for the final time before the outbreak of the Second World War stands before my eyes. This was a city with Jews, exotic orthodox ones as well as non-observant, rich and poor people – a city in which Jews lived and flourished for hundreds of years.

Aside from the city, the Podhajce area includes three towns, Zlotniki, Wiśniowczyk, and Zawalow, and approximately 70 villages. The Jews were a small minority among the Poles and Ukrainians in the region. However, the city itself was mainly Jewish. Thanks to their astuteness, the Jews took the first place in all economic endeavors.

For example, there were only 3 gentiles from among the 20 lawyers. I believe that all of our natives still remember the eldest lawyer in the city Dr. Finkel, as well as the lawyers Nutik, Pel, Gross, Salpeter, Ratner, Rotenberg, Kestenblatt, Falver, Pomeranz, Bin, Greenberg, Marbach, Abend, Rauch, Horowitz and Fein, along with their wives. The younger generation of lawyers included Lilienfeld, the Gand brothers and Sher. The lawyer Leon Pomeranz should also be noted. He died a few years before the war. He was well-known among the Jews and Poles. He was vice mayor for a few years after the First World War. A large number of lawyers left Podhajce and settled in other cities, including Binyamin Pomeranz, Yaakov Wolf, Rudolf Rusmak, and the lawyers Margolis, Messer, Milch and Goldschlag.

There were a total of two gentile doctors. The Jewish doctors included the eldest, Dr. Landau, as well as Drs. Kornowicz, Reichman, Dik, Falver, Neuman, Silberman, Heller, and three women: Roth, Aszenfeld, and Bider (in Zlotniki). From among the younger doctors, Drs. Milch, Weinles and Heller should be mentioned.

The pharmacies were completely in Jewish hands, and only Jews worked in them: Eker, Goldschlag, Nussbaum, Weintraub, Bezen, Margolis and Balin (in Zlotniki). The younger practitioners of this profession included three young women: Ornstein, Falver and Salpeter.

There was no shortage of Jews in the courthouse and other regional offices. The Jewish magistrate Dr. Aszenfeld always found the need to highlight his Judaism. A few officials remained in the courthouse from the Austrian era, including Gang, Lilla, Postel, Melcer, and Zomerstein, who died before the war. Rusmak worked in the tax office. Falver, Mrs. Alter and the mailman Zin worked in the post office. Isidor Rozmarin and later his son Tadeusz Rozmarin worked in the city administration.

There were two engineers in the city who worked in surveying: Hirschberg and Lilla, who died before the war.

The director of the insurance office was Tovia Ratner until almost the last years. He employed Jewish officers and doctors.

Despite the fact that was no gymnasium in Podhajce, a large number of Podhajce youth graduated with a Ph.D.: Welger, Trajaner, Poliszuk, Friedberg and Kestenblatt. The youngest of this group were three women: Falver, Zeidler, Salpeter and Heller.

[Page 166]

pod166.jpg
A gala evening of the local intelligentsia
Most of the participants were Jews

 

Jews directed very little energy to agriculture, but in proportion to their numbers, this was no small percentage. From among the largest landowners, we must include: Julius Rotenberg from Belokrinitsa, Alfred Somerstein from Burkanow, Gelber (Gelewski) from Shumlyany, Dr. Slomnicki from Bozhikowa, Adler from Szweykow, Roth from Malowud, Silberman and Zimmer from Zatuzhyn, Dolberg from Tustowawy, Blaustein and Shmirer from Kotuzowa, Mehr and Ales from Wolica, Zusman Kahn from Poplawa, Engineer Kogan from Zastowcza, Dr. Landau from Tarasowka, Leon and Eli Kohn from Buda and Michael Kohn from Sianokoski.

In truth, several of the aforementioned landowners strayed from the path of Judaism and became apostates. However, at the time of the murder of Jews, this did not help them, and they were murdered along with the rest: such as, for example, Somerstein, Gelewski and Dr. Slomincki. Aside from the landowners, there was also a large number of land lessees. Many Jewish managers and “economists” worked also for Jewish landowners.

Many Jews were also employed in the agricultural industry, such as owners and lessees of mills and mines from Jewish and gentile landowners. I only remember a few of these: the Lilienfelds, Avraham Milch and Shimon Wassermil.

Podhajce also had a large mill, a sawmill and an electric generator. The mill and the sawmill were owned by the brothers Oscar and Yaakov Haber. The electric generator was established and run by Engineer Roth in partnership with the Habers. The Habers also owned the concession for chopping the large and ancient forest in Solewa. They cut the wood in their sawmill and then exported it.

Connected to agriculture was also the exploitation of the three ponds in the Podhajce region. One of them belonged to the Habers. The other two belonged to the landowners in Nowosiulka and Zahajce. Jews worked for them.

The grain business was completely in Jewish hands. Grain exporters included Zusman Kohn, Michael Kohn, Shmuel and Mendel Fiszer and Rachmiel Hessel. Henryk Rozmarin was known as a middleman in the grain business. Yaakov and Yosef Werfel and Fishel Milch (died before the war) were involved with land partitioning, and the farmers had complete trust in them.

Some Jews also did business with building materials, particularly with wood, and had large storehouses: Moshe-Baruch Bezen, Dr. Gross, Leon Kohn and Kune Hochman, Hirsch Leib Horowitz and Don Horowitz, and primarily the Habers. Involved in the production of bricks were

[Page 167]

Abba Fisz and Yisrael Silber, as well as Berish Welger who was also involved in bee keeping.

There were a few wholesale businesses in Podhajce, which served the entire retail business in the city and region. Chaim Lehrer, Hersch Kimmel and Avraham Milch owned wholesale food businesses. Moshe Zimet, Marcus Ohering and Dik owned wholesale iron businesses. Berel Weiss, Yehoshua Walfisz, Zelig Milch, the Ettingers, Boral and others owned wholesale leather businesses. Weintraub, Mauer, and Eisenberg were in the textile branch. Marcus Lehrer was in the haberdashery business. Sonia Schechter was involved with wine. Rabbi Lilienfeld, Hazelkorn and Tovia Ratner were involved with beer.

In brief, all business was entirely in Jewish hands. However, in the latter years, particularly in 1938 and 1939, the tendency increased for the Polish and Ukrainian nationalists to take over businesses from Jewish hands. In Podhajce, a special committee was set up for this purpose under the chairmanship of the manager of the court Ritarowski. They set up Polish institutions and conducted a strong propaganda campaign toward the Poles that they should have as little as possible to do with Jews. The Ukrainians did the same thing. This continued until the outbreak of the Second World War.

The Jews also played a very fine role in the handworker trades. Despite the fact that there was no shortage of Christian craftsmen, the Christians themselves gladly hired Jewish craftsmen.

Yehuda Marbach excelled in the mechanical trade. All landowners, Jews and Poles, would hire him to construct and repair their mines, for they esteemed his abilities and honesty. The artistic workshop of Shlomo Silver, his father-in-law, Zimmerman, and Degen was involved in carpentry. Well known tailors included Kressel and Berg; shoemakers – Sekler and Lebensfeld; Kressel was known among the furriers; the entire Glazer family was involved in glassmaking; with paints and chemicals – Bergman and Bodzanower; sheet metal – Dik, Fistener, Biller and others. There were also Jewish tradesmen who worked with wood and stones for building, smiths (like Poliszuk) and various other trades.

The hotels of Gross and Schechter were known in the city. Aside from these, there were, of course, a large number of restaurants and taverns (Yosef Werfel, Shaul Friedman, Moshe Ornstein, Zeinwil Weisman and David Ajlen, Mrs. Fiszer, Haken, and others). Aside from these, there were several Christian restaurants. There were also a few Jewish bakeries: Moshe Gross, Chaim Yehoshua Beker, Statmauer, Buchwald, Wolf, among others.

There were two printing shops in the city, both of which belonged to Jews – Weinles and Moszel. The owner of the bookstore was Eli Kressel.

The saddle making profession was also solely in Jewish hands (Citron, Lew and others). Several Jewish families, such as the Goralnik family, were involved in the transport business. Shmuel Szmiczler conducted an automobile and autobus enterprise. Two workshops (Zeidler and Rohatyner) were involved in watch making, as well as with selling various electrical appliances and furniture. Sellers of firewood included Meir Falver with his son-in-law Rutin, Abba Fisz with his brothers-in-law, and several other Jews. Of course, there were several Jewish hairdressers – for example, Szmicler, Scher and Pik.

In one word – both business and the most important trade enterprises were in Jewish hands at the time that the Christian population were mainly occupied with agriculture and gardening. Only in the latter years were a few Christian cutting enterprises and grain purchasing cooperatives formed.

For generations, the owners of the houses in the city were Jews. An anti-Semitic adage used to circulate: we would prefer it if Jews purchase houses, where they will dress well and eat well; the houses will, in the end, fall into our hands… Thus did they think, and they were prepared for the time when Hitlerism came to the world, and Jewish lives and possessions became a free-for-all in all of the lands in which the nazi murderers overtook during the Second World War.

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