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[Page 31]

It Once Was

 

History of the Zawiercie Area

By Sh. Spivak

Translated by Jerrold Landau

 

A General Survey

Zawiercie does not have an old history. Our fathers and grandfathers still remembered the tall wheat fields and the open areas that later became Marszałkowska Street and the new market. They still recall grain fields in the areas that became Siewierz Street, the alleyways over the Przezda and other streets and lanes with their faded, tarred, red brick houses that appeared to us, the younger generation who had already been born in Zawiercie, as old relics.

The Zawiercie area, on the other hand, has an old, interesting history that clarifies many things about the later development. (After the First World War, Germans took interest in the area, invested in Zagłębie, and created German colonies there.) The history of the area of Zawiercie and Zagłębie clarifies precisely why Hitler designated that area as a “Reichs District.” This was an area to which the Germans felt that they had historical rights (just like the “Warthegau” – Poznań, Toruń, Kalisz, and Łodz).

In ancient times, the Zawiercie area was part of Silesia (The name comes from the Ślęza River, which means “trier”, a small body of water. The Ślęza flows into the Oder near Breslau, which is today Wrocław.) Indeed, German tribes lived in Silesia 1,400 - 1,500 years ago; however, by the 6th and 7th centuries, Slavs took over the region. In the 9th century, the Poles fought with the Czechs over the region, and region was divided. The Zawiercie area was taken by the Poles, who were not Christians. In the time of Boleslaw III in the year 1109, Kaiser Heinrich V pressed into Silesia, but he could not take over the land due to the tough resistance of the fortresses of Bytom, Glogów, Siewierz and the fortress near Pozomca “Podzamcze”. In the 12th century, the princes of the Piast dynasty took over Polish rule. Władysław IV was expelled from Toruń. As a result, in the year 1163, Friedrich Barbarossa arranged for the three sons of

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the last Polish king of the Piast dynasty to take ownership of Silesia. Upper-Silesia with the Zagłębie district went into the possession of Władysław middle son Mieczysław. Even though officially the Polish crown ruled over Silesia; the subsequent princes of the Piast dynasty felt that the Polish crown was overly compliant to the German Kaiser and flooded the realm with Germans. Finally, Kazimierz the Great realized that the region had been lost for Poland, and he gave up on it in the year 1329. Upper Silesia and Zagłębie then fell under the rule of the king of Bohemia, Georg Podiebrad, but as a Polish rather than a Czech domain. After the dismantling of the Czech state, Upper Silesia fell into the hands of the Austrian Hapsburgs. A portion of Silesia was transferred to the Prussian Hohentzolers. Only three small districts remained of all the Silesian duchies: 1) Oświeiçim and the region of the current cities of Chrzanów, Słowków, Sosnowiec, Dąbrowa, and Będzin. 2) Zator which is located east of Oświeiçim. 3) Shever (Siewierz) with its regions: Zamkowice, Łazy, Mrzygłód, Zawiercie, Ogrodzieniec and Kromołów – were transferred over to the Polish Kingdom in the 15th century.

We have more historical details about Będzin. We know that in the 13th century there was a fortress of Boleslaw the Bashful (Westidlywy) atop a rocky mountain, when Poland still had some control over the Silesian duchies of the Piast dynasty in those days. Such fortresses also existed in Zamkowice (from the word Zamek – meaning fortress), Podzamek, and Siewierz. The fortresses were to serve as a deterrent against the aforementioned dukes who would often attack the area during the 13th century and capture them for a period of time. The city of Będzin was one of those cities that had received the Magdeburg Rights (to be a free city and have a civic rather than a royal administration). The entire region came under Polish control for the first time during the 15th century. At that time, Będzin and the area belonged to the Kraków Wojewoda [province].


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Ancient History of the Region

Translated by Jerrold Landau

 

Old Zawiercie

Regarding ancient Zawiercie during the Middle Ages, Dlugasz states that during the 15th century, Zawiercie belonged to Bolko, the Silesian duke who lived in Opole in Lower Silesia. His wife Elzbieta was “Dziedziczka” from Pilica. In 1431, both gave a certain Nikol (Mikolaj) Czaner a place to build an inn between two factories (smithies or linen factories) in “Zawierczska” and between “Blanowska.” The region was full of fish. The duke permitted the cutting down of forests for fields and meadows around the inn – but under the control of the Pilica Starosta [government official] and the “Blanowiczer” Wlodosz. The tavern was given the rights to sell bread and meat.

From the list of tax collections of the Lelówer Powiat [district] (at that time, Pilica and Zawiercie belonged to the Lelówer Powiat) we can learn that in the town of Zawiercie, two people paid taxes in the year 1581: a certain Podniowsky and a certain Marcziszek – for two factory workshops that together employed 17 workers.

 

Old Żarki

Dlugasz then mentions the town of Żarki. It is not known when Żarki received civic rights. Dlugasz states that Żarki lay on the border line between the Kraków and Breslau Episcopate. The line went “od Fortas” Żarki – in front of the gate of Żarki, through Mykolow, Woźniki, “Sziewior” – Siewierz, and Bytom-Beuthen. Aside from the lack of civic rights, Żarki was unable to develop due to the poor soil. The town was sparsely populated. The other towns of the region, including Wlodowa, Ogrodzieniec, Mrzygłód, and Kromołów, and Przyrów, were impoverished around 1500-1520. Due to this, the Żarki parish was merged with that of neighboring Leśniów.

In the year 1581, 13 tradesmen paid 18 florins in taxes; whereas in Częstochowa, the paid 74 florin at that time, and in Kłobuck, they paid 72. Then, Żarki was no longer able to brush it off. Around 1600-1620

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Żarki was transferred over from the Myszkows to the Korczynskis. A French upper class lady writes about a visit she made on April 17, 1646 to the small town of “Zarska,” which belonged to the Korczynskis. Korczynski hosted her in the hall of the wooden house, in which he had never hosted the Polish king. In the Żarki region, there were fights between the supports of King Leczynski and Zygmunt “Sasa” (A Saxon duke who was a pretender to the Polish throne.)

 

Old Kromołów

We do not know when Kromołów and the castle were built. Based on the name “Krom” (Chrom), Kromołów used to be a fortress city. There was a Hrimolow in eastern Galicia as well. At the beginning of the 15th century (approximately 1400), the church was owned by Count Chroby. Kromołów had already become a city by the beginning of the 16th century, and it belonged to the Boner family, who converted from Catholicism to Calvinism. The church became a Calvinist temple. Jan Pirlej, an official of the crown, married a daughter of the Boner family, and received Kromołów as a dowry. His son Mikolaj was the Wojewoda of Kraków. He later reconverted to Catholicism, and the Calvinist temple once again became a Catholic church. Later, Kromołów transferred over to the ownership of the Warszycks (who also owned Żarki), and from them to the Gostkowskis.

 

Old Siewierz

The name Sewior (Siewior according to Dlugasz) as a city appears for the first time in documents in the year 1232. It is mentioned in documents that in 1180, a duke from Kraków and Sandomierz had dominion over Sewor, which he gave as a gift to his godson Mieczysław, the Duke of Ratibor.

In 1289, battles took place between the Silesian supporters of Henryk Prybus and the supporters of Władysław Łokietek during their battles against the Polish throne. In 1448, Siewierz and Czeladz went over to the protectorate of Bishop Oleśnicki of Kraków. However the military influence was in the hands of the Silesian dukes. In 1567, auctions were conducted by the bishops of the regime, and

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auctions of that sort took place periodically in Siewierz. From the documents, we do not know whether Jews took part in those auctions. The Swedes took over Siewierz in the year 1655 and then again in 1762. Siewierz was transferred over to the Polish crown for the first time in 1790.

Regarding the arrival of Jews in the region, we only known something about Pilica. During the time of the Polish republic, Pilica was a town in the Kraków Wojewoda, Lelów Powiat. In 1765, there was already a Jewish community there with 651 Jews. In 1856, there were 1,191 Christians and 2,447 Jews. In 1897, there were 1,287 Christians and 2,688 Jews.

From the Ledgers of the Four Lands, we know that since 1761, the landowner of Pilica was the Polish Finance Minister Teoder Westel. Therefore, Pilica had several encounters with the Council of the Four Lands (once on July 20, 1760, another time on July 28, 1762, and a third time in August 1762 – first on the 7th and again on the 27th. In 1763 as well, meetings of the Council of the Four Lands took place in Pilica[1].

(According to the Ledgers of the Four Lands in “Yever Encylcopedia” [2] ).

It can be assumed that also in the small Zawiercie region, Jews settled and spread out through the surrounding rural settlements. Stanisław August Paniatowski permitted Jews to settle in the region during the years 1764-1794 on the “basis” of the “Jurisditional Privilege of the King” as workers of the land. Jews lived in Siewierz around 1830 – 1840. In 1847, two Jews from Siewierz, Sofer and Adlerfligel, were members of the community Będzin, which numbered a few hundred families.


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Modern History of the Region

Translated by Jerrold Landau

 

Zawiercie

In 1895, Zawiercie still consisted of two villages – Small Zawiercie and Large Zawiercie. Small Zawiercie belonged to the Kromołów community, and Large Zawiercie belonged to the Mrzygłód community.

In 1895, Small and Large Zawiercie belonged to the Poręba Mrzygłódska district and the Kromołów parish.

I gleaned these pieces of data from a couple of geographical dictionaries (geographical lexicons of Poland were printed in Polish at that time). The following pieces of data also come from those dictionaries.

The station of the Warsaw-Vienna railway was situated a distance of one verst[3] from the towns of Small and Large Zawiercie. In 1895, there were already factories and houses on both sides “for the people who work in the factories.” That section of Zawiercie already had the status of a manufacturing quarter (Fabryczny Osada).

In 1895, the manufacturing quarter already had a church, a synagogue, a communal office (Urząd Gminny), a manufacturing hospital, a district school, a public school with three classes, a public fire station (Straż Ogniowy), a post and telegraph office, a pharmacy, a few doctors, and weekly markets.

In 1895, Zawiercie already had 1,100 houses, mostly made of wood and approximately 17,000 residents. In 1887, there were 1,134 Jews out of 5,224 residents. 410 of the Zawiercie residents were evangelicals. In 1827, Large Zawiercie had 56 houses with 289 residents, and Small Zawiercie had 10 houses with 129 residents There were a few Jews among the residents of both towns, but the number was not stated.

In 1895, the T. A. Z.[4] company, which was in existence since 1877, already employed 6,000 employees in its spinning mill, weaving department, tin making enterprise, dye making enterprise, and in printing.

At that time, Reich's glass factory already employed 800 workers. The factory of chemical works of L. Kac (more accurately, the smelter), employed 110 workers in 1895. The Poręba iron foundry and

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agricultural machinery factory employed 120 workers. Berent's wagon enterprise employed 350 workers. The mines and brickyards in Rudnyk employed 250 workers. Aside from this, there was already a sawmill (Potok's), a water mill, and a bakery that was driven by steam.

The landowner of the farm areas in Zawiercie was a certain Zygmunt Pryngesheim

 

Żarki

By 1895, Żarki was already an urban settlement. It had a church, a synagogue, an old age home for 60 people, an elementary school, a communal organization, a charitable fund, a post office, a regional council, a pharmacy, a tree wool factory, a steam mill, and a walking garden.

In 1895, there were 369 houses in Żarki, of which 110 were brick houses. The population of Żarki was 3,673. The majority of the land was owned by landowners. Out of the 3,757 residents in 1864, 2,291 were Jewish. The population of Żarki in 1827 was 2,762. Most of the merchants were Jews, but some were also Christian. In 1881, the following places belonged to Żarki: Żarki Farm, Poloniaj, Maslońskie Piec, Myszków, Czieczów, and other places.

In 1804-1846, Piotr Steinkeler purchased Żarki. Later, in 1833, he established a machine factory, which was expanded in 1873. He produced machines, enamel utensils, and coaches which were called “Steinkelerei” at that time. He built houses for several dozen workers. There was a crisis with the factory in 1843. Together with Lichtenstajn, Steinkeler founded a large tree wool factory. In 1857, notables from Żarki purchased the factory and formed a partnership (K. Ordeng, Stan. Lesser, K. Osterhauf). They exported linden tree wool to Łodz. In 1895, 326 employees worked in the factory. At that time in Żarki, there was a chicory factory, a water mill, a brewery, a distillery, as well as a carton factory (behind Myszków), a machine factory, and a foundry. There was also a tree wool department. In Myszków. There were also mortar ovens there.

 

Lośnice

In 1895, its population was 314, and in 1827, 210.

 

Łazy

The city and farm together had a population of 59 in 1895, including two or three Jewish families.

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Kromołów (Krimelev)

It was an urban settlement in 1895. Formerly, it was a town five kilometers from the Zawiercie station. In the town, there were 72 fabric weavers, 4 barbers, and 55 cloth manufacturers. In 1895, there were 20 hand workshops for the manufacture of wool material. Pottery workers also had a great deal of employment. The textile industry was already active in 1831.

In 1827, the population of Kromołów was 1,163, of whom approximately 600 were Jews. In 1860, the population was 1,777, including 719 Jews.

In 1869, there were already 12 factories that already produced 100,000 arshin[5] of percale, valued at approximately 7,000 rubles. 100 employees worked there. 128 men worked at the factory of grey fabric. In 1895, the farm belonged to K. Mermer.

In 1867, the villages of Pomrożyce and Zawiercie belonged to the district of Kromołów.

The aforementioned data regarding productivity indeed include part of the Zawiercie productivity of that era.

 

Siewierz – Shever

In 1858, Siewierz had a population of 1,586, all Christian. In 1889, the population was 1,889 (we do not know how many Jews). In 1895, the population of Siewierz was 2,500, and our sources state that there was a majority of Christians. That means that there was already a visible number of Jews by 1895. In the community lists of Będzin from 1847-1850, two Jews of Siewierz are mentioned – proving that there were already Jews in Siewierz in the middle of the 1850s.

Among other towns, it is appropriate to mention that Koziegłowy already had 1,100 residents in 1866, of whom 756 were Jews. In Koniecpol there were 1,893 residents, of whom 817 were Jews.


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Documents and Sources on the History of the City and the Region
Zawiercie and the Region During its Development

Translated by Jerrold Landau

{According to encyclopedias and statistical works.}

The first notice about the new settlement of Zawiercie was found in the Russian General Encyclopedia of Efron-Brokhaus from the year 1893-94 (volume 23, page 110). There it is written, “Zawiercie is a manufacturing city on the Warsaw-Vienna railway line, close to the Warta. Zawiercie was a tiny village at the beginning of the 1870s. Now (in 1893-1894) it has more than 20,000 residents. Zawiercie was called “miniature Łodz” in industrial circles. Three very large factories exist there. The tree wool factory employs more than 5,000 workers.”

 

Zawiercie

In the large German Brokhaus (volume 21, page 554): “Zawiercie is a district city in the Kielce Wojewoda. In 1931, it had 32,713 residents, 2 gymnasiums, coal mines, iron mines, glass manufacturing, and large-scale textile industry. The Swiss lexicon corroborates these same facts. In 1931, there were 32,720 residents in Zawiercie.

Soviet Encyclopedia: (volume 16, page 284): Zawiercie – a city in Poland in the Katowice Wojewoda. It had 28,000 in 1948. It was a railway hub. There was mining of brown coal (lignite) and iron ore, black metallurgy, machine construction, enamel manufacturing, and chemical, textile and glass industry. There was a large paper factory.

The Great Herder (volume 9, page 1378): Zawiercie is a southern Polish city at the source of the Warta, located in the Katowice Wojewoda. It had 30,000 residents in 1951. There was machine, glass, textile, paper, and iron ore industry, as well as brown coal (lignite) mines.

Larousse (France) states: Zawiercie had 31,000 residents. Żarki on the Leszniowka River had 5,120 residents (main business: tanneries). Żarnowiec – 2,540 residents. Kromołów – 3,070 residents.

An Italian encyclopedia and a Spanish encyclopedia published in South America tell approximately the same as mentioned above regarding Zawiercie.

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The British encyclopedia and Meier's Lexicon (German) do not mention Zawiercie.

With respect to the entire Zagłębie area, the encyclopedias state that the mines were productive between 1873 and 1891. Glassworks and factories sprouted up in the area in ten lines of trade. Through those years, the number of cities with populations of greater than 10,000 rose to 26.

 

Zawiercie Region

The Russian Epron-Brokhaus Encyclopedia: Kromołów, District of Będzin, region of Piotrków. There, at the source of the Warta and the Czarna Przemsza, there were 378 courtyards and 4,087 residents. This was written in the years 1891-92. There was a steam-driven flourmill and a factory for grey fabric, as well as home industry for coarse material and linen.

According to the Epron-Brokhaus encyclopedia, in old Slavic, “Krom” means a round, fortified city on high ground.

Regarding Żarki, that encyclopedia states (in the years 1891-92) that there were 5,759 inhabitants. There was manufacturing of fabric, linen, wine, and pots.

The Wielka Ilustrowana Encyklopedia Powszechna (1932) writes: Zawiercie is a district city in the Kielce Wojewoda, on the Warta River, on the Zamkowice Częstochowa railway line. It has a population of 40,500, with significant industry.

Not long ago it was a village. Since 1875, it developed into a significant industrial center.

The Zawiercie district emerged from the Będzin district. There were 111,418 residents in the Zawiercie district, of whom 10,535 were Jews. In Zawiercie itself there were 5,677 Jews, and in the villages, 4,858. This was according to the 1931 census.


Translator's Footnotes

  1. It is unclear if this is referring to Pilce, a town west of Koziegłowy, or to Pilica, a village very close to Zawiercie, on the other side of Ogrodzieniec. The latter did have a noted Jewish community and has an old Jewish cemetery. Return
  2. Probably the Russian Jewish Encyclopedia “Yevrei” Return
  3. An old Russian unit of measure. Return
  4. Towarzystwo Akcyjne Zawiercie, the “Zawiercie” joint stock company. Return
  5. An old Russian unit of measure – approximately 28 inches. Return

 


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Statistics on the Jewish Population
of the Zawiercie area in Modern times

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Zawiercie[1]

1921 – 29,480 people. 6,095 Jews according to religion, 5,431 Jews according to nationality.
1946 – 21,225 people. 8-10 dozen Jews.

Kromolow

1921 – 2,497 people, 275 Jews according to religion, 141 according to nationality

Wysoka (village)

1921 – 651 people. 17 Jews according to nationality

Wysoka {Osada Fabryczna} (City Factory)

1921 – 948 people. 60 Jews according to religion, 34 according to nationality.

Zarki

1921 – 4,406 people. 2,536 Jews according to religion, 2,380 according to nationality.

Zabkowice

1921 – 3,544 people. 230 Jews according to religion and nationality.

Wlodowice

1921 – 1,193 people. 71 Jews according to religion, 43 according to nationality.

Siewierz

1921 – 2,385 people. 266 Jews according to religion, 212 according to nationality.

Blanowice

1921 – 908 people. 10 Jews.

Borowa Pola

1921 – 116 people. 10 Jews according to religion.

Gora Siewieroska

1921 – 257 people. 5 Jews according to religion.


Text Footnote

  1. The difference of 664 Jews who did not state that they were of Jewish nationality does not imply that all 664 were assimilated (Poles of the Mosaic Persuasion). The reason for this, and also for the following numbers is that some very Orthodox Jews did not wish to state that they were of Jewish Nationality, as this, Heaven forbid, smelled of Zionism. Return

 


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First Record of Jews in the Zawiercie Region

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Seeking traces of the first Jews of Zawiercie from the microfilms that were received by the Jerusalem Historical Society from the Warsaw Historical Society, I found some very interesting and spicy material about Jews who had a connection with Zawiercie either themselves or through their children. Unfortunately, time did not permit me, or especially the members who took responsibility for the book, to sufficiently analyze the material. That is a pity. I believe that if one is already publishing a memorial book such as ours, the historical portion should be complete. Another opportunity will not come to publish such material.

I will suffice myself with a very small portion of microfilm that I did succeed in analyzing.

First of all, let us first deal with the records pertaining to laws banning Jewish garb, approximately 100 years ago. “Naczalstwo[1] permitted certain special people who made a request accompanied with a “łapówka” [bribe] to wear Jewish clothing. It also dealt with living rights in specific places. These are complete documents with names that might interest us.

In the documents regarding both matters, we find several names such as: Kurland, Rinski, Poznanski, Pilcer, Feigenbaum, Danziger, Wigderson, Grynstejn, Trzebiner, Feiberg and other names of future Zawiercie residents. The requests came from Kromołów, Pilica and the neighboring area.

An entire set of documents relate to a dispute in the Jewish community of Częstochowa, as well as with matters relating to the Będzin community 100 to 110 years ago. A set of documents deal with a case of non-payment of a mortgage by a person named Erlich from Będzin, in which other Erlichs from Będzin became involved.

 

Częstochowa

The documents from Częstochowa and Będzin related to well-known families of Zawiercie.

First of all, we learn that, in 1847-1848, a certain Haskiel (Yechezkel) Landau was already a communal administrator and a lessee of the “Skladka Poszilkowa”. It is easy to

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surmise that he was the “finance minister” of the communal organization. Since the community was not recognized jurisdictionally, he had to present himself to the authorities as a lessee. He had to present a balance sheet to the “Nomiestnik[2] regime.

We hear from the documents that a complaint was brought to the regime by the tavern owner Yitzchak Feigenblatt and his assistant Markus Kohn (Kohen) against Meir Ginzberg and Gershon Landau, claiming that they both had taken communal funds and wanted to auction the communal house.

It appears that the aforementioned Ginzberg and Landau (who were cousins) donated a house for the community of Częstochowa. However, in order to have control over communal affairs, they placed a mortgage upon the house. Those two Jews were progressives. The other two, Feigenblatt and Kohen, were zealously Orthodox. Kohen carried out an auction against Markus Wolf Ginzberg and Ziskind Grynwald. The reason of the entire legal struggle was a dispute regarding the rabbinate. Since the position of rabbi was vacant following Rabbi Wyngot, each side wanted its own rabbi. The very Orthodox of the common folk wanted Rabbi Goldsztajn from Plonsk. The well-to do people (zamożny) wanted the enlightened Rabbi Mendel Lewensztajn, the rabbi of Posen. The first group claimed that Rabbi Mendel Lewensztajn (a relative of the Lewensztajns of Zawiercie – both were descended from the famous Gaon Rabbi Akiva Eiger, rabbi of Posen) was a foreigner, and therefore would have to obtain a passport as a foreigner. On the other hand, the other side claimed that the Plonsker Rabbi did not know Polish and dressed in the old fashioned manner. The end result was that the secretary of the Warsaw rabbinate was elected as rabbi. He went through an examination and was certified by the authorities.

Our interest in the entire matter stems solely from the fact that many Ginzbergs and many Landaus are mentioned in the documents. The founders of the Ginzberg Brothers Factory stem from the former. Thanks to them, the Zawiercie Jewish community was able to spring up. From the latter, come the family of Hendel Landau and his sons Itche Meir and Binyamin Moshe.

The following Ginzbergs are mentioned in the documents: Karol, Markus, Meir, Izak, Yaakov, and A. Ginzberg. The following Landaus mare mentioned there: Adolf-Gershon, Shimon, Yechezkel, Markus-Wolf, Gershon-Wolf, and Adolf-David.

At the same time one finds Ludwyk Mamelok, a relative of

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the Ginzbergs, in the documents. One of the Mameloks was the director of the T. A. Z. factory.

Regarding the characteristic of a few members of both families, it is further stated that, in a complaint against the candidacy of Adolf-Gershon Landau and Karol Ginzberg as communal administrators (parnassim), the two are not appropriate as communal representatives, for the former is entangled in legal proceedings and the second, Ginzberg is too young, lacking tact and experience.

We do not know from where the Ginzbergs of Częstochowa, the founders of the Ginzberg factory, originally stem. However they do come from eminent people of Częstochowa – communal leaders (dozors), and charitable people. We know this from the cited documents. We also learn from the documents that Meir Ginzberg was an entrepreneur (przedsięborca), which generally means a manufacturer. Yaakov was a shopkeeper, and Markus was a soap boiler.

zaw044.jpg
Ginzberg factory – T. A. Z.

 

It further notes that both the Ginzbergs and the Landaus came to Poland from Germany about a hundred years previously. The Ginzbergs stem from Bavaria, and the Landaus stem from the town of Landau in Germany.

Aside from the three aforementioned family names, we find in the documents other names that are well-known in Zawiercie, such as Feigenblatt, Grinwald, Moszkowicz, Meizel, Poznanski, Zajdeman (there was a Zajdeman who was a high officer in the factory), Neufeld, Zaks, Dzialoszicki, Zajdman, Windman, Wiszlicki, and Bochenek.

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Having touched upon the Ginzberg family, it is worthwhile to tell a bit about the second and third generations of the Ginzbergs in Berlin. I obtained the facts from the anti-Semitic lexicon Semi-Kirschner, under the name “Sigila-Wery.” Significant Jews in various fields are recorded there, of course in an anti-Semitic manner. I learned about a pair of Ginzbergs who were co-owners of the Ginzberg Brothers firm: the lawyer Dr. Herbert Ginzberg and L. Ginzberg. Prior to the Hitler era, Dr. Y. Ginzberg was a renter in Berlin. Aside from them, there was a Dr. Max Ginzberg, who was a relative and a steward of the estate of Herman Burchhart (the shipping society, also active in Israel). At the time Francisca Ginzberg (nee Zak) lived there.

One of the Berlin Ginzbergs was a professor or an instructor in the university in Jerusalem.

 

Będzin

In the documents, we find an episode with a certain Mordechai Erlich from Będzin, who obtained a mortgage loan on December 30, 1847 from the Bank Polski for a sum of 1,000 rubles. He only paid back 100 rubles. It seemed that the mortgage was given by a certain Hendel Erlich, but the house belonged to Marek (Mordechai) and David Erlich. Therein lay the complication. The matter dragged from one court to the next for a period of more than ten years. There was an auction after the second[3], but the house returned to the Erlichs. The documents of hundreds of pages read like a thrilling novel – and there was no end, according to the microfilms that arrived in Jerusalem from Warsaw.

The name Erlich is also known by Zawiercie natives. Herlichman and Erlichman are also mentioned in the documents.

However, in those documents from Będzin, we also find Jews registered in the Jewish community that include significant names of Zawiercie natives: Frieberger, Aharon Erlich, Binstock, Fiszer, Potok, Sanzer, Hendler, Weksler, Lewkowicz, Moshe Landau or Landoi, Shlomo Landau, Meiteles, Brauner, Wydislowsky, Roszinek, Gitler, Gold, Bugajer, Gutman, Berger, Zylberberg.

Two residents of Będzin were from Siewierz: Binyamin Adlerfligel and David Safer.

In a report from the employee who collected the communal taxes in 1860, he states (in Polish) that he was in Siewierz, Wojhyma, Bobroka Dambia and Zawiercie[4]. The assistant or

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collector demanded an addendum that asked if it would be possible for Zawiercie to pay the taxes to Będzin in 1860; due to the reasons that the journeys are far, there are few Jews in those places, and there are a great deal of trip expenses. It is possible that the district headquarters was in Będzin at that time.

***

It is worthwhile to note that we have a testimony of the first Jews in Zawiercie from a holiday prayer book (Machzor) of an elder Lewensztajn, dated 1847. We have note of this in the memoirs of Mr. Zygelboim.

 

The Railway Line

Zawiercie owes its reason for existence to a geographic point on the map of Poland – the Warsaw – Vienna railway line. A little while later, when that railway line was built through the future area of Zawiercie, Zawiercie was a tiny village, smaller than both Kromołów and Mrzygłód. Its Jewish population numbered only a few dozen families. Many Zawiercie natives, among them my friend Moshe-Mietek Najman, believed that Zawiercie was already a significant settlement at the time when the authorities began to build the railway line. The historical facts, however, are otherwise, and it is worthwhile to record them.

The Warsaw – Vienna line began to be built in the year 1842. At the time that that line was built, the only railway line in existence in the entire Russian Empire was the Moscow - Tsarskoe-Selo[5] line. The Warsaw – Vienna line was also the oldest railway line in the Russian Empire, because the line to Tsarskoe-Selo cannot be considered to be a normal line, for it was designated primarily for the purposes of the family of the Czar.

Since Zawiercie owes its economic existence, and its existence in general, to the railway line, it is appropriate to briefly note the reasons that the line was constructed at that time from Warsaw to Granica.

At that time (beginning from the 1840s) Poland had as a Nomiestnik [2] the influential duke Paskevich – Warszawski[6]. At that time, Poland was still in the “Czerta”, that means, it still had a customs limit with rest of Russia. The customs limits were first abolished in 1850. Therefore, the customs on imperial merchandise from Germany and Austria

[Page 47]

and from other countries were cheaper than from other parts of Russia. Because of this, commerce between Poland and Austria was more intensive that with Russia. Therefore, Poland was in great need of a railway line to the Austrian and Prussian borders. The Nomiestnik took up the matter and obtained a permit from the Czar to construct the railway. This was no simple matter in Russia of those days, and the negotiations lasted for a year.

At the end of 1840, the railway line was given over to a commonwealth with a concession of 90 years. (The concession would have ended on November 1, 1932 had Poland not become independent in 1918.) From the outset, the commonwealth connected the line to the Austrian and Prussian lines. The Russian lines that were built later went further on. The result of the wisdom of the Czarist regime was that the trains from Germany and Austria could reach Warsaw directly; whereas trains from Russia could not reach the Warsaw – Vienna line.

Around 1858, another commonwealth received a concession for the Warsaw - Bromberg line. On January 1, 1890, the two commonwealths merged as the Warsaw – Vienna railway line.

The line was not prepared at once: first – Warsaw – Grodzisk – Skierniewice (end of 1845); then – Skierniewice – Piotrków – Częstochowa (end of 1946); Częstochowa – Zamkowice – Granica (April 1848). For the first time, the train also reached Granica at the Austrian border. On August 26, 1859, the line to Zamkowice – Sosnowiec, near the German border, was first laid. The decision to lay the railway line to the German border was delayed for a year because a revolution was raging in Germany in March 1848, and the Czar was apparently afraid that it could spread into Russia if a train would reach the German border…

According to the documents from that time, one can conclude that the village of Zawiercie did not yet have a station. The train only stopped in Zawiercie for the first time in the 1870s.

13.3 million rubles were invested in the railway – a great deal of money for those times. For the first 20 years, its revenue came primarily from the transport of coal (helped primarily by the fact that all transport in those years was coal driven). However, more than once was “Krakow

[Page 48]

built up.” In 1858, the train transported only 946,000 pods of coal (a pod is 40 kilo). By 1864, the transport had advanced greatly to 5,543,000 pod; 1870 – to 17,714,000 pod; 1875 – 25,365,000 pod; 1880 – 77,701,000 pod; 1885 – 88,323,000 pod; 1890 – 93,815,000 pod. Between 1875 and 1890 – the greatest boom years of the transport on the line – Zawiercie became an industrial city.

The Russian Encyclopedia (Ruski Encyclopeditsheski Slovar) mentions that Zawiercie had been a small village. Now (1894), it has more than 20,000 residents. According to Efrom-Brokhaus, the settlement started in the 1870s (1872-1873).

As one can see from the aforementioned, Zawiercie first began to develop in the year 1873 (when Ginzberg laid the foundation of his factory – which was the first of three factories that were established in Small Zawiercie. The three factories united for the first time in the 1890s as Towarzystwo Akcyjne Zawiercie (T. A. Z.). The influence of the railway line continued as well for many years after the laying of the line.

The aforementioned data from the literature corresponds with the stories that I heard in the city regarding the beginning of the factory. It used to be said among us that Ginzberg (who had come from Częstochowa and had been a manufacturer in Berlin) began his factory with the water craft on the Warta. This could not have been a large factory.

 


[Page 49]

Zawiercie in Jewish Newspapers

Translated by Jerrold Landau

I went through hundreds of newspapers that were published throughout Russia during the period of the founding of Zawiercie. However, not all of these newspapers can be found in Israel, and I did not have the ability of going through every page of all those newspapers of that era that are in Israel. I will therefore give over a few details that I found on the pages of the newspapers that I was able to obtain and peruse.

The first information regarding Zawiercie in the newspapers that we found was written in “Hatzefira” (number 3, from 1893). It states: In Zawiercie, through the generosity of the rabbi of the city (apparently referring to Rabbi Yisrael-Leib Ganzweich) and the distinguished members of the community, Reb Zalman Margolis and Reb Shmuel Saiki, they collected donations from the community, and purchased five wagons loaded with coal for heating, and distributed it to the poor.

The second reference to Zawiercie deals with a matter unrelated to Zawiercie, but the writer was a Zawiercie native known to all of us. This is the text of the article (“Hatzefira” number 188 from 1893), “Mr. A. Bornsztajn of Zawiercie, district of Piotrków, writes to us: It is my great pleasure to inform you of the charitable deeds of our brethren with regard to the source of salvation in the new city in the district of Rawa, for they came to the aid of the impoverished sick people from among our Jewish brethren who came there to find relief from their illness. From amongst our 50 Jewish brethren who convalesced there that year, 25 silver rubles were collected per week and distributed among the impoverished sick people – each in accordance to his means, etc.”

The third article is connected directly to Zawiercie, and was written by the cantor, maskil and well-known writer in his time, A. B. Birnbaum, who was the cantor of the Great Synagogue of Częstochowa. He also directed the cantorial school there and published the first newspaper for cantors and cantorial issues. In “Hatzefira” 248 from the year 1893, Birnbaum writes, “Our city Częstochowa is a broad arena for weaving workshops, etc. In a nearby town, there is also a weaving workshop for wool blended with cotton, and in nearby Zawiercie, there is also the large and honorable cotton spinning workshop of the Ginzberg brothers.”

The fourth article on Zawiercie that we found in “Hatzefra” (number 240, 1902) is as follows: “On the occasion of the celebration of the conclusion of the Torah, Mr. M. Holender, his wife and their son gave large donations for the purpose of providing clothing and shoes for the students of the Talmud Torah.”

The article was signed Sh. S. (apparently Shabtai Spivak).

In “Hatzefira” (49 from the year 1902) I also found an article about the pogrom in Częstochowa and the tension in Zawiercie and the area.

There (129, from 1905) I also found about the social tension throughout the entire area. It tells about a man who was so brazen as to remove a bridge from the railway station between Łazy and Zamkowice (this refers to the bombing of the bridge). A large outburst broke out. The man was apparently from among the miners of Dąbrowa.

[Page 50]

After that time, “Hatzefira” and other newspapers had a policy to refrain from publishing articles from outlying cities, and I no longer found any articles from that era. In those newspapers that are preserved in Israel, I have found no article from that time.

However, I did find an article from 1917 in “Hatzefira” (number 8, from the 27th of Nisan), as follows:

“Zawiercie. On the first intermediate day of Passover, approximately 300 people gathered for a public meeting in the Zionist hall of Zawiercie. Many non-Zionists were among those assembled. Mr. Bornsztajn (referring to Reb Avraham Bornsztajn) spoke about the purpose of this gathering, and all of those gathered unanimously agreed with the words of the speaker regarding the need to attain national rights for the Hebrew nation. Following him, Messrs. Frank (Meir Frenk), Krohn and Spivak spoke about Zionism, nationalism, and assimilation. In their speeches, all the speakers called upon the natives of their city to join the Zionist movement and pay their shekel[7]. Many of those present responded positively to that as well.”

We find a second article from the wartime era, dated April 11, 1918, in “Hatzefira” number 15, as follows:

 

Zawiercie

The collection of money for the benefit of our brethren who were afflicted by the war in the Land of Israel was conducted by Tzeirei Zion in our city, and brought in a sum of 457 marks.

Tzeirei Zion progressively fills all the tasks put before them. They conduct all Zionist tasks and are involved with the dissemination of Hebrew literature, knowledge of the Land of Israel, and general culture. They organize parties and debates on various topics.

For various reasons, we were unable to arrange the memorial ceremony for Chelnov[8] at the right time. However, in order to fulfill our obligation to the illustrious deceased, we arranged a memorial day on Shabbat Hagadol [the Sabbath prior to Passover]. Our members Frank, Klugman, Landau, and Baumatz delivered speeches.

We find a third article from this era in “Hatzefira” from May 16, 1918: There was a general meeting of Hamizrachi here on the intermediate days of Passover. More than 100 people were in attendance. Three heads of the Hebrew community sat on the dais: Reb Levi Haberman, Reb Yosef Dimant, and Reb Avraham Bornsztajn. Reb Shmuel Hochberg was chosen as the chairman of the gathering. Mr. Chaim Kron, a member of the central committee, opened the meeting with a meaningful speech on the role of the religious foundations of Zionism. Mr. Tzvi Landau spoke about the development of the idea of Chibat Zion[9]. Mr. Spivak spoke on the eternity of the national center in the Land of Israel. A new council of 17 members was chosen. Mr. Chaim Kron gave the closing speech, in which he refuted all the claims of the opponents of Zionism and Mizrachi, with warm, enthusiastic words.

[Page 51]

Mr. Yaakov Windman was unanimously elected as the honorary president of Mizrachi.

In the same article, it is stated that: “Through the toil of Tzeirei Zion in our city, a group of chalutzim[10] was formed. The members of this group are preparing themselves to travel to the Land of Israel upon the conclusion of the war.”

Further: “On April 23, Dr. Braun of Będzin spoke to Bnot Zion about Ch. N. Bialik.” (At that time, Dr. Braun was the principal of the Hebrew gymnasium of Będzin, and presently, he is at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is a native of Krakow.)

We find a fourth article from that era in “Hatzefira”, dated June 1, 1918.

“Through the efforts of Tzeirei Zion and Hashomer in our city, a splendid excursion was arranged here last Lag Ba'Omer. It instilled a festive spirit upon all the Jews of the city, and many of them decorated the balconies of their houses with national flags and pictures of Zionist leaders. The parade through the streets of our city was greeted everywhere with shouts of accolades. Various Zionist speeches were delivered in the forest, and the hikers, young and old, spent their time at various games. That day, several hundred marks were collected for the benefit of the national fund.”

Furthermore: “On the 14th and 15th of Iyar, Rabbi Rappaport of Andriow[11] spoke twice in the synagogue. On the 19th of Sivan, a memorial prayer took was conducted by Mizrachi and Young Mizrachi in the Mizrachi hall in memory of Reb Shmuel Mohilever of holy blessed memory.”

In “Hatzefira” (number 31-75 from July 1918) we find an article about the lecture of N. Miliekowski on the Land of Israel and the Jews, which took place on the 30th of Sivan; and about a memorial in the synagogue on the 20th of Tammuz. A. Bornsztajn, M. Frank, and D. Erlich spoke. That day, Tzeirei Zion and Tzeirei Mizrachi collected approximately 800 marks for the benefit of the Herzl Forest .

On Tuesday, 22 Tammuz, an evening dedicated to Herzl took place in the Stella Hall. Cychtman's mourning dirge was played on the violin by Mr. L. Dimant, accompanied by Miss Brandes on the piano. The choir, directed by Dimant, sung “Eli Zion”[12] by Luboszicki. Miss Minus recited the poems “Yizkor” and “Al Yad Hakever” ( By the Grave). Mr. Shimon Minc Maszarki spoke about Herzl. Finally, the play “Hayehudi Hanitzchi” (The Eternal Jew) was performed by one of our members who wrote the play in memory of our great leader. The evening ended with a live portrait that described the vision of Herzl that astounded the eyes of the audience.

The evening went very well and left a deep impression upon the hearts of the community thanks to the diligent toil and work of Messrs. B. and L. Dimant.

In Hatzefira 47 (92) from August 1918, an announcement for the benefit of Mizrachi by Rabbi M. M. Landau of Zawiercie was published.

[Page 52]

***

Finally – something funny and amusing.

In the Zagłębier Newspaper (number 7, March 1939), I found a full story on the girls of Zawiercie from the Hashomer Hatzair circles, and I am including the article in its original Yiddish language.

“The story of Zawiercie is not an idyllic story, but there is no sin involved.

The history of Zawiercie had a type of homey beginning:

Several Zawiercie members of Hashomer Hatzair, headed by a certain D. Ar., felt that their 25-year-old ascetic-educational activity lacked some of the airs of this world[13]. Why had the feet, bored of the Hora, not tried modern dance – especially if it was organized around culture. If culture was, it seems, the issue of the organization.

They engaged in cultural dancing with true courage.

There was no “powodzenie[14] – as usual, there was no lack of new faces. According to the solemn assertion of our Zawiercie correspondent, they went home very happy and boisterous – so much did the dancing spoil the appetite.

In a different youth organization, one could look away – they are conducting cultural dancing. However “not with Motie”, not with the Spartan Hashomer Hatzair. At a meeting, the dancing members who perpetrated the dancing-offence were excluding from the Hashomer movement.”

They still danced, and involved themselves in fun and tricks of the intellect a few months before the onset of the Holocaust However, in that Zagłębier Newspaper number 11 from March 1938, we read the following poem, as if it was trembling in terror regarding what was impending:

“Something smells in the air
I know not what.
Something tugs and calls.
What is it?
Is it spring?”
Perhaps they already sensed was about to happen? Perhaps the prophesied and did not understand about what they were prophesying.


Translator's Footnotes

  1. Some type of leader or commissioner. Return
  2. A viceroy of Poland under the Czarist era. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Namiestnik_of_the_Kingdom_of_Poland Return
  3. Seemingly, the second court case. Return
  4. I could not identify the second and third place on this list. Return
  5. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsarskoye_Selo Return
  6. Seemingly http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Paskevich Return
  7. A shekel was a token of membership in the Zionist movement. Return
  8. Yechiel Chelnov, a prominent Russian Zionist leader. Return
  9. ;“Chibat Zion” means “Love of Zion”, but is also the name of a formal organization that predated the Zionist movement. Return
  10. Zionist pioneers who intend to make aliya to the Land of Israel. Return
  11. I could not find a town in Poland with that name. There are towns in Russia with similar sounding names. There is a town called Andrychów south of Zawiercie Return
  12. A Tisha Be'Av dirge with a distinctive melody. Return
  13. ;This does not translate well. In a religious sense, “Olam Hazeh” refers to this world, as opposed to “Olam Habah” – the World to Come”. “Olam Hazehdikeit,” the term used, would mean “this worldliness” – i.e. activities concentrating solely on enjoyment rather than on ultimate meaning. Return
  14. Success or prosperity. Return

 

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