Translated by Jerrold Landau A memorial to the soul of my revered father Reb Yaakov the son of Reb Shraga Feivel of blessed memory, who died on the 8th of Elul, 5685 (1925), and to the souls of my dear mother Rachel the daughter of Dov, my oldest brother Tzvi the son of Reb Yaakov, my younger sister Chava the daughter of Yaakov, my brother's wife Fanchi, and their children Nechemia Shraga and Shimon, who were murdered in sanctification of the Divine Name on 4 Tevet, 5702 (1941), may G-d avenge their blood.
A. After the Ukrainians left Stanislawow, the Polish military organization ATzP (Polska Organizacja Wojskowa) took control of the military government. This was declared with a special proclamation that stated, We are taking the Ruthenian population in the town under our protection, and we are granting the Jews assurance of property and life. The civilian government passed to the district Polish council (Polski Komitet Powiatowy). Already during its first days, it fired all of the Jewish teachers and officials from their government positions, deposed the Jewish mayor Dr. Arthur Nemhin, appointed the Christian Stajger in his place, and gave the district responsibilities (Sarostowo) over to the physician Dr. Dobrocki. A Jewish delegation with representation from all the streams and parties approached him, and he informed them that the authorities do not condone the existence of a Jewish National Council. This council had announced its foundation in November 1918 to the Polish District Council. This brought to the fore the question of joint activity with it. Indeed, during the time of Ukrainian rule, that committee turned to the Jewish council more than once with a request for it to intervene with the Ukrainian government. The council took that task upon itself, and often succeeded in its intervention.
However, all of this was forgotten by the Poles when they conquered the city. The members of the Polish military organization would snatch Jews on the streets for forced labor. They had no mercy on women and the elderly, and they derived special enjoyment from conscripting the intelligentsia of the city to harsh labor. The Jewish children were expelled from public schools, and all of the Jewish teachers were fired from the Orzeszko private girl's gymnasium. The Jewish students arranged a protest strike, and classes were interrupted. In a set of directives from June 3, 4, and 6 1919, the national educational council (Rada Szkolna Krajowa), ordered the immediate opening of the Polish schools, and ordered that all teachers
and students who perpetrated or incited criminal acts during the time of Ukrainian rule be pushed aside. The extent to which this decree, which was issued with full force, was directed toward the Jews is demonstrated by the fact that the Ukrainian teachers who came to work were permitted to teach.
After the liquidation of the Jewish council, the Jewish community had no advocate or intercessor. Increasing the difficulty, the authorities informed them that they had appointed as head of the community the district judge Dr. Shmuel Nebenzahl, a member of the Polish District Council. The appointed commissar, a Pole of the Mosaic persuasion, did not succeed in setting up an advisory council (Rada Przyboczna), for Jews from all the factions refused to receive a writ of appointment from the authorities who had disbanded the Jewish National Council. Even Edmund Rauch was among those who refused, for he did not wish to work against the community. Dr. Nebenzahl rightfully regarded himself as a lone and isolated commissar. Since he was not able to maintain his stand, he informed the district governor (Trembelowicz, the advisor to the Galician commission, had been appointed as district governor) of his resignation. The text of his letter was as follows:
Number 99/19 to the district authorities. I was appointed as the government commissar of the community according to a directive of May 28, 1919, number 8748. In accordance with this directive, I took over this office from Dr. Karel Halpern on May 29, 1919. I now give over this role to the district authorities for the following reasons:
The acts of embezzlement and caprice that were perpetrated by the Ukrainian Army made the Jewish population very amenable to welcome the Polish army and Polish rule. This spirit was rapidly destroyed completely from a psychological perspective; the atrocities, degradation, acts of caprice that befell the Jewish population were beyond what was humanly imaginable. Jews, and only Jews, were conscripted on the streets for labor. Children and elderly people were snatched for forced labor, at times with the help of sticks, without concern as to whether the day was a Sabbath of a festival. They would storm the synagogues to remove worshipping Jews. They would even beat rabbis, and they would derive special enjoyment from snatching members of the high intelligentsia.
These events, repeated and taking place in many places, have proved to the Jewish population that they are outside the bounds of the law on Polish soil, and that there is no respect for religion or for fundamental human rights for the Jews.
The conditions have not changed. On the contrary, they are deteriorating from day to day, and it would not surprise me if the disturbances that took place on November 1918 in Lwow and recently in Krakow will be repeated here.
I have no ideas as to what to do, and lack power. Therefore, I return to your hands the position that was given to me and that I accepted in good faith for the benefit of the entire community.
During those days when the Jews were under pressure, as is described in this letter, the Polish authorities not only turned their attention away from their tribulation, but also found it to be a propitious time to add to the persecution. For example, the government only permitted Polish or Ukrainian addresses, and forbade Yiddish addresses. This decree also included death and
funeral notices. The eyes of the authorities were on the lookout for any Yiddish letter in a sign. They turned a blind eye to the proclamations and mottoes of the Endeks: Cleanse Poland from its Jews, A war without mercy against the Jewish invasion, Nationalize Polish life, and the like. These proclamations bore fruit: the Jews were pushed out of commerce, manufacturing and labor. A ban was imposed upon Jewish lawyers, doctors and engineers. Jewish officials from the time of Austrian rule were pushed out of any Polish communal office.
Hunger grew amongst the Jews in the city. For three months, it was impossible to obtain a piece of bread. The city provisionary office allotted them small portions of food -- famine portions. Typhus broke out in the Jewish neighborhoods, felling victims every day. The authorities behaved in a cruel fashion toward the Jewish population and did not even permit the people to bring in provisions from the nearby villages. The following is a description of the appearance of the city in a protocol of a city council meeting. The city council, in its meeting of May 27, 1919, has determined that the city is immersed in poverty and famine. Food provisions and wood for fuel are lacking. A typhus epidemic is spreading. The sanitary conditions are terrible. Many houses in the center of the city and its suburbs are islands of dust. The streets and sidewalks are ruined. The general illumination is substandard, and the city is immersed in darkness. Manufacturing is dead, business is very weak, and the population is continually dwindling. The population in 1920 is 28,200, in contrast to the 33,700 residents in 1910 -- the year of the general census... And what of the community? The community has ceased functioning. The commissar Judge Nebenzahl left the city and left the Jews on their own. Before he left, he requested that Dr. Karel Halpern take over the helm of the community, however he was unable to do so for understandable reasons, and the community of 40,000 Jews was left as sheep without a shepherd. When a French military delegation visited the city on June 11, the Jewish representation was called to appear before it. However, since such a delegation did not exist in truth, Jews who had never played a role in communal life appeared before the delegation, and by pure chance, two members of Poale Zion were among them.
However, this was not the situation on August 31, 1919, when the American ambassador Henry Morgenthau visited the city accompanied by the Polish general Jadzabyn He received Dr. Karel Halpern and Dr. Reuven Junas for a long interview. They described to him the difficult economic and political situation of the Jews, who were caught between the two Slavic peoples. He took particular interest in the Jewish officials who were fired by the Polish government. The members of the Jewish Rescue Committee, Dr. Maksimilian Blumenfeld, Dr. Aleksander Riterman an Dr. Hillel Zusman also appeared before Morgenthau. They describe to him the difficulties, torments and poverty of the Jews. Following them came the delegates of the Zionists Dr. Anselm Halpern and Dr. Yaakov Laufer, the Mizrachi leaders Dov Weiss and Yerucham Fishel Szwarc, the leaders of the national faction Dr. Eliahu Fiszler, Dr. Michael Lam, Mordechai Moriwer, and representatives of the merchants, manufacturers and tradesmen. The fact that the representatives of the United States of America was a Jew raised the honor of the Jews in the eyes of their neighbors. However, all of this honor was fleeting, and the days of tribulations and degradation once again returned.
Of all of the difficulties, the problem of community representation was the most severe. A half a year had passed already, and the district governor had not yet decided who would replace Judge Nebenzahl. Furthermore, in October 1919 he stated that as long as they would not find a person who could sign a declaration that he is a Pole without any reservations to serve as the head of the communal council, the question of the community would not be resolved. Nobody was found who would fulfill the desire of the governor. All of the communal offices were locked except for the Chevra Kadisha, for the authorities could not oppose the burial of deceased Jews. In the meantime, the district Polish council continued with its civilian-military dictatorship. The leadership of the council would impose bans important Jews with the pretext Suspect from a political perspective. The actions of the council aroused the wrath of the moderate Poles and their friends. Since the opposition elements of the Polish District Council saw no possibility in expressing itself in Znicz (Perpetual Fire), they founded their own mouthpiece called Kreswiec (Son of the Book), in which they openly opposed the Endek gangs as being nothing other than inciters and sowers of discord.
The persistent stance of the Jews and the voice of the Polish opposition forced the district minister to open the communal offices in November, 1919, and to appoint Dr. Karel Halpern as head of the community. This was satisfactory to the Jews of the city, for they liked Karel Halpern and they were able to breathe easily from the day that he took over the seat of communal leadership. His first task was to lessen the suffering of the community an to provide aid to the Jewish prisoners of war in Russia, especially in Urals, whose numbers had reached 10,000 at that time. This aid was actualized along with the central committee in Lwow for the giving of assistance to the prisoners of war in Russia.
On January 17, 1920, Dr. Galecki, a delegate of the central government, arrived in town. A Jewish delegation consisting of Dr. Karel Halpern, Shalom Zusman and Dr. Reuven Junas sat with him and discussed with him the denial of the rights of the Jews. Despite the fact that they form one half of the population of the city, they lack any representation on the autonomous institutions, they have no delegate in the council of the district minister, just as they have no representative on the district council (Rada Powiatowa). Any Jews on the mayor's council are ones who the Jewish community do not regard as valid mouthpieces for their concerns. They demanded the return of the Jewish government teachers and officials to their jobs. He answered that demand evasively, stating that this matter is outside his jurisdiction and would be dealt with by the Rehabilitation Committee associate with the leadership of the Ministerial Council. It goes without saying that such evasive answers did not satisfy the delegation. Dr. Karel Halpern in particular knew the meaning of the Rehabilitation Committee. He knew that the Paderewski government, which could not resist the demands of hundreds of Jewish officials in the country, and especially the demands of the communities of England and the United States, unwillingly appointed the Rehabilitation Committee in October 1919, consisting of delegates of the ministries of Justice and the Interior, representatives from the affected ministries, as well as two delegates of the Jews of the country, Dr. Karel Halpern and Dr. Henryk Rozmarin. However, these two delegates were unable to offer salvation, for the rest of the members of the committee worked according to the principle: do anything that is necessary to keep out the Jews. A modicum of comfort came from the response of the Minister of Communication, Dr. Kazimierz Bartel,
during his visit to the city on January 21, 1920. He promised to return the railway officials to their jobs within a few days. However, this too was a false comfort, for he was unable to keep his promise. Therefore Dr. Karel Halpern an Dr. Henryk Rozmarin saw fit to resign from the committee on March 11, 1920. They left the meeting hall after the committee accepted their resignations. It must be mentioned that the opposition to the return of the railway officials was especially strong in the district of Stanislawow, for even after the Jewish railway workers in the district of Lwow returned to their jobs, their comrades in the district of Stanislawow were still unemployed. The Endeks constantly libeled the Jews through their Znicz mouthpiece. In an article of April 24, 1920, they did not refrain from announcing that the Jewish railway workers founded an organization named Hanokem (The Avenger) in the city, whose purpose was to foment attacks against the Poles. The Endeks convened a public gathering in which they expressed their lack of faith in the Minister of Communication regarding his forced intervention for the benefit of the Jews in affairs of the railway leadership in the district of Lwow. They threatened a general strike of railway workers if the government returns the Jews to their jobs. This problem had already transformed from a local political problem to a problem whose solution was a test of faith of the authority of the central government. The decision was now in the hand of Prime Minister Skulsky. It would be seen if he would act in accordance with the law or, on the other hand, with the realities of the street. Who ruled Poland -- the government in Warsaw or the Endecja in Stanislawow? -- That was the question posed by the mouthpiece of the Zionists, the Cwjla, on May 31, 1920.
It was not only the teachers, railway workers and officials (of the post, courts, city council, etc.) who were suffering from the disgrace of unemployment and hunger. There was another class, the academic youth, before whom the gates of the university in Lwow had been locked. In the 1920/1921 school year there were thousands of youths in eastern Galicia who were unable to continue their university studies in Lwow. The university authorities made service in the Polish Army a prerequisite to university. This was something that was outside the realm of possibility at that time, for the enlistment into the Polish army was forbidden in eastern Galicia, since it had not yet been recognized as an inseparable part of Poland. It was impossible for Jews to enlist. Furthermore, in accordance with a government statement, the Jews were exempt from army service. Even were Jews to volunteer, the authorities forbade accepting them. The Endecja took advantage of this complicated situation to shut the doors of the University of Lwow to young Jews.
Apparently the Poles, who knew that eastern Galicia was still considered as occupied territory in the eyes of the allied powers, were not supposed to behave in this manner toward the Jews -- if not for the benefit of the Jews, then for their own benefit. They were dependent on the opinion of the world rulers, who would not look favorably upon a young nation that oppresses its weakest minority. However, action does not always follow logic. The government actively assisted the displacing of the Jews from commerce, and even utilized means that were questionable according to the laws of the land. The following is a small example. At the end of June 1920, the city council of Stanislawow sent a notice to the Jews, with the following text: Number 9741. By edict 18701-2798 of the district government issued on June 19, 1920, the community is informed as follows: The district committee of approvals decided in a meeting
held on June 11, 1920 to obligate the butchers to open their butcher shops also on the Sabbath. If they do not do so, their permits will be revoked. It goes without saying that such an edict, explicitly supported by the district minister, left a particularly oppressive impression, for it explicitly obligated the Jews to violate the Sabbath. This was not only an open attack on Jewish holy matters, but also an attack on chapter 11 of the charter of protection of religious minorities, which was also signed by the delegates of the State of Poland with great pomp. There it states, Jews shall not be compelled to perform any act that constitutes a violation of their Sabbath.
the non-Poles were mistaken. On the contrary, the government, which was very influenced by the nationalistic circles, continued to do evil to the Jews. For example, based on an Austrian law of 1869, the government did not permit the founding of Jewish youth movements and Jewish-nationalistic organizations, and they refused to certify the charter of the nationalist-Zionist organizations, to the point where they plotted against the Jewish nationalist movement. They added new decrees to the old economic decrees. The permits for the sale of liquor, given to the Jews during the Austrian times, were taken from their hands and given over to the Christians.
Jewish-nationalist life in the city was still quiet when 1921 began. All of the institutions closed with the exception of the agricultural-pioneering farm for girls. The community was still chained in the fetters of the government, without an elected council. The appointed members of the council were from the Edmund Rauch school, who were even afraid of their own shadows and did not convene the council. The community was only able to withstand the breach through the work of Karel Halpern and the few Zionists on the council. With the appointment of Glazewski, an old wrongdoer and Jew hater, a full set of decrees and oppressive acts came to the fore -- and the Jews of the city were in need of protection during those days. That evil person relied on the evil decrees of the national organization Rozwój (development), but the Jews called him Rozbój (murderous) -- for he promoted wild anti-Semitism, and his motto was an economic boycott of the Jews, who were refereed to as destroyers of Poland in the literature and broadly disseminated newspapers of the organization. The Rozwój chapter in Stanislawow ran a civic public hospital, which was headed by Dr. Dobrocki, the leader of the Endeks. The nuns who were nurses in that hospital disseminated the proclamation to uproot the Jews from our organization among the Christian patients. The district governor, who was the chief promoter of this group, cut off the livelihood of the merchants and tradesmen through the statements of his mouth, and instilled his fear upon the entire community. He especially persecuted the Zionist movement, and he banned the raising of money outside of the city for the Jewish National Fund and the wearing of the Zionist armband, even though the authorities in Lwow did not oppose this. They even forbade the collecting of donations on the streets for the orphanage, for The Jews have enough millions, they can sustain the orphans, and there is no need to collect money. He became a symbol. The city council itself treacherously restricted the rights of the Jews, and they even dealt wrongly with the poor Jews. The Fund for the Poor that was managed by the city council was quite rich, for it was funded by all of the funds and a portion of the taxes of the theaters and movie theaters. However, since the appointed mayor Dr. Ferensiewic did not ask the Christian and Jewish councils and did everything as he saw fit, only the Christians benefited from this fund.
The district and city governments were able to assist the central government in Warsaw through their treacherous opposition. Not only did they not return the Jewish officials and railway workers from their straits to their jobs, but they also perpetrated libels in their relations with the Jewish teachers in the public schools. These teachers did no wrong -- for they did not stop teaching their children to read and write even during the time of Ukrainian rule. The
government rehabilitation committee did not find any other fault in its investigations. When these teachers were permitted to return to teaching in school in 1921, this was not permitted in the city, but only in the remote villages that were far from the train stations; their salaries were reduced by two or three degrees; their seniority was canceled, and they were considered as beginning teachers. This was a decree that not only affected the teachers, most of whom were forced to separate from their husbands and children, but also the Jewish community -- for the Jewish children, who made up fifty percent of the public school student body in the city, remained without Jewish teachers.
In the meantime, the decrees became harsher. Among them was a decree to expropriate communal buildings. For example, the appointed mayor expropriated the building of the Avraham Golfaden organization and rented it to a private Christian group Ziemianin (the farmer) and also expelled the children's home, which educated 35 orphans, from its premises. Only after he realized that he had overdone it, he expelled the American soup kitchen on Sobieski Street from its premises and moved the institution there. Of course he was loathe to do anything with the Christian organizations. This treachery reached its peak when the city council informed the leadership of Beit Haam in October 1921 that its entire building was expropriated for the provincial minister (Wojewoda). The intention of the government was to liquidate the many institutions that were housed in that building, which was a center of Zionist life. If the expropriation of that building was not sufficient, new oppressive actions came from the district minister Glazewski. For example, we will note his refusal to issue a permit for a meeting at which the delegates to the 12th Congress would give a report. Persecution of the Zionists was a common phenomenon through the entire region. Various places in the district issued complaints that the authorities did not permit them to conduct meetings in Yiddish, closed national-Zionist organizations, and disturbed the work of the Zionist youth groups. Their clear intention was to stifle the national Zionist life, which in those days was a line toward aliya and development. The same government that persecuted the Jews also made the stale claim that the Jews were nothing other than Poles of the mosaic persuasion, and therefore it was not possible for them to be represented by the Zionists who were leading them to naught. How great was their anger when the state conducted a census of its residents at the end of 1921, and 95% of the Jewish residents of Stanislawow registered themselves as being of Jewish nationality in the census forms. The mouthpiece of the Endeks, Kurier Stanislawowski published incendiary articles against the Jews who were Poles during Austrian rule and Jews during the Polish era. That is to say, they were pining for the days of Austrian rule, when during the census of 1910 the Jews of Galicia were forced to report the Polish Language as their spoken tongue, and therefore the Polish activists were able to prove in Vienna that eastern Galicia has a large Polish population. Now, in 1921, when the Jews, like the rest of the small nations, did not want to forgo their rights for self determination and independence that was granted with great festivity in Versailles -- the Poles felt, and from this stemmed the enmity of the Kurier Stanislawowski, that they would not assuage their wrath until they would ironically promise the Zionists that they would attempt to create conditions for a strong immigration to the Land of Israel.
When it was seen that the commissar of the city, Dr. Michel Feransiewic had taken things too far, he was fired from his position. In his place came the assessor Dr. Teodor Zeisler, a very honorable lawyer, who filled
his position to the satisfaction of all segments of the population. Since he was proper and just in his actions, he only concerned himself with the needs of the city, and all of the citizens of the city were equal before him, the government saw fit to remove him from his position and to appoint Stanislaw Teodorowicz from Lwow. This was the first time in the history of the city that the mayor was appointed from outside. His first action was to expropriate the building of the Safa Berura Hebrew school on Smolki Street. This meant that he kicked out 600 older students. The furniture was removed by emissaries of the appointed commissar and put outside. The authorities knew very well that the Safa Berura School was a very important artery in the national life of the Jews of the city, for it was a sort of island of the Land of Israel. The teachers taught in Hebrew and influenced the community of older students in the Israeli-Zionist spirit. They also instilled national consciousness into the homes of the parents of the students. The Jews of the city regarded the expropriation of Beit Haam and Safa Berura schools as acts of open hatred intended to weaken their spiritual situation following the attempts to weaken up their economic situation.
Regarding the weakening of their economic stance: the district minister Glazewski began to afflict the shops, restaurants and liquor stores. If they found any legal irregularity at all, they would impose a fine of 50-70 thousand mark. Policemen would arrive early to stalk them, and of course that they would not return empty-handed in the evening. Those who were fined groaned and paid; and if they did not have cash, the police would take their furs or even their household objects and furniture in order to insure the payment of the fine. The district minister answered, with a door one third open, to a delegation of liquor sellers, Tomorrow it will be worse (Pod jutra bedzie jeszcze gorzej).
When a Rozwój chapter was founded in the city (headed by a high official from the district office of the Silesian District) a flood of complaints, notices, and all types of printed matter and libelous writings flooded in. One of the leaflets stated that the Jews rule over commerce and manufacturing, and that the free trades are primarily concentrated in the hands of the Jews who betrayed the Polish Army for the benefit of the Bolsheviks, spread rumors throughout the world about pogroms against the Jews of Poland that never took place, that those who Poland nurtured fatten themselves on Polish blood and fight against the Poles by voting in favor of the Germans in Upper Silesia, lower the value of money, smuggle money outside the land, forge monetary contracts, cause anarchy to prevail, and denigrate Polish culture. The Jews were classified as sinners, doers of inequity, and a disgrace to the homeland. It was said that Poland would have been a land flowing with milk and honey were it not for the Jews living therein. At the end of the placard, it was written Kto Polak ten z nami, kto, Zyd ten przeciw nam (Whoever is a Pole is with us, and whoever is a Jew is against us). The district government authorized the content of this leaflet, although the procurator of the district court banned it since he regarded the text as being words of incitement against a segment of the population of the city. However, what was the value of the ban after the leaflet was speedily distributed in the city and the district, and even reached Mikuliczyn, where
there were only a few Jewish shops and one Ukrainian cooperative. The conspiracy between Glazewski and the members of Rozwój was open. The offices of the district government did not answer the letters of the Jews. Their issues were hidden away for several months until they became stale-dated. This was also the intention of the refusal of the district governor to issue a permit for the collection for the benefit of the Jewish victims of Ukraine, but the Jews of the city did not wait for the permit, and donated a sum of 4,000,000 mark. We can see how far the oppression went from his habit of complaining about the Jewish merchants and restaurant owners in order to impose of them prison sentences (of 1 to 10 days without bail) for trivial matters. This caused the Polish merchants to join in a general protest against the district minister.
With such arbitrary acts by the government, and without elected Jewish representation, it was necessary to set up a defense force to protect the lives of the Jews, which would give expression to organize national Jewish communal efforts. With the initiative of the active committee of the Zionist organization in Lwow, on May 1, 1922, delegates of Jews from Jewish communal organizations and civic councils convened and heard a lecture by Dr. Leon Reich about personal-national autonomy, in order to turn the communities into new organizations of life without injuring matters of the state or its leaders. Tasks of the community would include: research into the economic life of the Jews through statistical surveys; a fierce battle against the law that obligates Jews to rest on the gentile Sabbaths and holidays; a constant ideological struggle with the chauvinistic circles who organize boycotts against Jews; making requests from the government to give the Jews their fair share of the national reconstruction funds; reproductivization support for the Jewish community in general and for the youth in particular; organizing credit unions; assisting the professional organization and spreading the idea of professional and agricultural associations; easing the pressure of unemployment from the poorer classes; protection for those who returned from enemy prison and who were injured at war; setting up an office for giving free legal advice; organization Jewish emigration; and a large scale active organization for economic restoration funded by Jewish funds from abroad. A special committee was selected, and the convention charged it with the task of coming up with a unified active plan. The delegates from Stanislawow for this committee were Dr. Karel Halpern, Berish Weiss, and Dr. Aleksander Riterman.
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