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[Pages 54-61]

Boryslaw of our Youth

Translated by Inga Karliner

Puffing with the effort, the slowly moving train climbs, from the county seat of Drohobycz towards our town. There are only a few cars attached to the steam-engine. “If you arrive at night (“Jesli nocna przyblizysz sie doba”) [1]you will face an enchanting view from the train window: these must be city lights... If you arrive here for the first time at night, you will have an impression that these lights come from high-rise buildings. Daylight reveals the truth. On the forested hill of Ratoczyn [2]there are hundreds of oil well towers, illuminated with thousands of electric light bulbs, often more than ten bulbs on each tower.

While growing up, we considered our town the beginning and the end of the universe. From here, trains departed on their long journeys, pulling passenger and tank cars. Here they also stopped once they reached the great train station with its large sign written in fat black letters, BORYSLAW - TUSTANOWICE - that was the end of the tracks.

BORYSLAW. Whenever and wherever the town is mentioned, even among people who grew up far from these Carpathian foothills, the first thought is “oil”. And so it was. The oil epic began in the first half of the nineteenth century. Some extreme patriots even try to hypothesize that oil was first discovered in Boryslaw. Even if it's not quite so, the town was famous for its “black gold”.

While my generation grew up, studied, and began to work, we loved Boryslaw, whether or not we considered it the center of the universe. We loved the town, the nearby islands, the deep forests in the hills, and the river Tys'mienica.

The town had its own folklore, closely connected to the oil industry. Close to the end of Boryslaw as we knew it, in mid 1941, there were about fifty thousand inhabitants. Seventeen thousand of them were Jews. Most Jews worked in the oil industry, in ozokerite [3]mines, and in manufacturing. Some Jews, Poles and Ukrainians worked in trades.

We already mentioned the lebaks (people who extract oil from water). Only Jews did this. Boryslaw had many small streams, the tributaries of the Tys'mienica. You couldn't take a refreshing swim in any of them. Their surface was covered with a film of oil leaking from broken pipes or from wells in the hills. Often, the oil completely covered the surface. For the lebaks [4]this meant good “fishing”. They fished for oil in a unique way. No-one knows who first thought of this. Using long straws of grass, they made a kind of thick broom, somewhat reminiscent of a horse's tail. The top was tied with rope and held by hand. Armed with this simple but clever tool and two buckets, the lebaks fished on the surface of the river and saturated the broom with the oil. They pulled it out, waited for the water to drip off, and squeezed the oil into the buckets from their “fishing line”. They carried the buckets home, filled with the black gold, in special carriers called koromysly.[5]In their backyards, they created another small industry, mixing the oil with thin wood shavings into balls, as I have described earlier.

Some lebaks who had barrels on wheels, delivered their find to small refineries, where it was used as the raw material in low-tech kettle distillation. [6]

All over town you could be hear the voices of the tretjaks[7] - the third fellows ? the lowest paid help at the oil drills. In singing voices they called out “Hej jam, hej jam goto'w” "I'm ready, ready, ready”. Following the repeated singsong you could hear wheels turning, pistons pushing, and ropes moving.
We recall a poem, Posag ( Statue), by the poet Juliusz Wit, [8]the bard of Boryslaw, brutally murdered by Nazis:

The earth almost shivers with loving engines
every living nerve of the earth
breathes of oil
no, not breathes
listen clearly how it thunders
with lungs full of Carpathian air
eagerly-widening in pink
loudly pulsates rhythmic labor
through the sleepless rattling apparatus
cuts the day with a bell
in oil bathed marble
chisels your luminous statue.
During our school days when we wrote essays about Boryslaw, we never dreamt that we might grow estranged from our town. We could not possibly anticipate the fear and horror that we would come to associate with it or that one day we would not want to see the town ever again.

My town became Boryslaw without true Boryslawians, without these malacho'w[9]as the people from Drohobycz called us (we called them cebulniki, “the onionheads”). The old Jewish-Polish-Ukrainian folklore is gone. Jews used to be one third of the town's population. Where are they? Thousands were murdered and burned in the Belzec [10]crematoria and in other death camps, including Auschwitz. Hundreds were killed at the center of town near the butcher's shop. Actions, actions [11]: the first, the second, the third. And who knows how many people died fighting in the war or of hunger in the vastness of the Soviet Union…

We want to save the memories of the Jewish streets of Boryslaw, even if only very few of us are still around. There are one or two thousand, perhaps, scattered around the world.

This epitaph is due to a lucky coincidence.

In the summer of 1978 some ex-Boryslawians happened to visit Stockholm. They came from Poland, Canada, Australia, and Israel to visit their friends who had immigrated to Sweden. No wonder that memories poured out at these reunions after ten, twenty and more years...

People who survived the German occupation in Boryslaw talked about the "actions”. The first one was organized by the Ukrainian Nationalists. In the early July, 1941, on “Bandera Day”, [12]about 200 Jews lost their lives. During the second “action”, the Germans killed about 600 Jews in the nearby forests. The third action took place in the second half of August, 1942. This time, the Germans took about 5,000 Jews to the death camp at Belzec. Altogether, there were probably twelve such actions. The very last one took place few days before the Nazi retreat from Boryslaw. In addition to the massive "actions”, people died every day, massacred and tortured. On all the streets, coffins were riding to cemeteries. With the macabre sense of humor, people called them “the Boryslaw trams” (Marian Jachimowicz,[13]"Boryslaw-Poetic Valley”, published in the monthly Tworczosc[14]April, 1958)

Many Ukrainians and Poles made good money hunting Jews. But there were also heroes. The Grzegorczyk [15]couple saved fourteen Jews. Mrs. Jadwiga Markowska [16], an activist with the Polish Socialist Party from Boryslaw, survived the occupation in Warsaw where she organized help for Jews, searching for food and places to hide. Mr. Stanislaw Dziedzic was shot for helping Jews, together with the Jews he tried to help.

In Stockholm, the memory of these horrible events mixed with events from before World War II. Some of us recalled the Hashomer Hatzair[17]and other organizations, some Zionist, some leftist. There were also Jewish labor unions. We remembered the Kadimah sport club. Kadimah helped youth develop physical and sport skills, and organized various cultural events. These events often took place in the Jewish Community Center, near the Hebrew School. The Jewish Community Center also housed the Anski drama club. The club founder, Dunio Schiff,[18] reminisced fondly till the end of his days in Tel Aviv about its performances. Sometimes, the memories brought a tear or two to his eyes.

 We remember the important Jewish Library, its thousands of volumes, its numerous subscribers, many of whom were not Jewish. In 1939-41 it became the City Library and its youthful director “absorbed in literature and dreaming of drama” (Marian Jachimowicz, “Boryslaw-Poetic Valley”) was a popular member of Boryslaw-Drohobycz bohemia. The well known members of this group were Maciek Zwilich  [19](Fleischer), Bruno Schulz [20],and Juliusz Wit, [21]killed later by the Ukrainian and German murderers.

Maciek Zwilich was an accomplished and successful painter. During the “first Soviet”, as we referred to the period from September '39 to June '41, Maciek taught art in the high school where he encouraged talented youngsters. One of his promising students was Baruch (Buzio) Wahl,[22]later killed by Gestapo.

In Stockholm, we spent a lot of time remembering the Podwórze (the Courtyard). What was the Podwórze? People who lived near the mine Na Kleinerze blessed the day when its oil ran out. The noise and the stink disappeared. The youth, including the owner's children and their friends and neighbors, took advantage of this event, one which was unfortunate for the mine owner, Itzhak Kleiner[23], (who was later killed in the first action). The area, called Podwórze(or Podworz) attracted boys and girls. The office building of the closed mine became a meeting hall; the youth gathered there to sing, to hear lectures, and for meetings of the Shomrei kvutzot, [24]. In whatever strange foreign places we ended up, all of us who had spent time in the Podwórze fondly remembered it. In our youth, we barely knew where these strange foreign places were on the map.

In Stockholm, we recalled the charming Albert Schlesinger [25]with his many jokes and anecdotes. We remembered stories with humorous endings presented by Tuncio Schiff, [26]who frequented Podwórze all the time.

We recalled Tadzio Zucker [27]who organized spiritual seances. We remembered very bright Marek Rattner, [28]who was later killed in the war. Very well read for his age, he attempted to write a novel about Boryslaw. I was proud to be one of the friends who got to read the manuscript.

Another good friend was Hesio Perlman. [29] A very good student, he sometime went too far. As a high school senior, Hesio wrote in his essay (I do not recall the context) “I, Mary Stuart and the King John Casimir”. The Polish literature teacher had a fit:

- Perlman, you're fit to sell herring, not for high school!

Hesio had then already surpassed his teachers in his erudition. The Perlman family immigrated to Palestine soon after Hesio finished high school. There Hesio went to college and after few years became a lecturer at the University in Jerusalem. We heard that he was killed in a bombing. Some years later, Dr. Friedlaender,[30] who had taught German and history in the Boryslaw gymnasium, remembered Hesio with tears in his eyes: "He would have been a great scientist”.

That same Dr. Friedlaender was murdered by Nazis in Brody. I have a small booklet he wrote about Romain-Rolland, written under the pen name Al Steve. The booklet used to belong to Marian Bauer. [31]Marian Bauer survived the war in Boryslaw, but his wife, parents, and some of his siblings perished. Marian died in Israel few years ago.

Another Podwórze friend was Milek Russ. [32]When we formed the “Do Not Forget Boryslaw” committee in Tel Aviv, he was its secretary. We were all very shaken when we heard few years ago that Milek was shot by an Arab during an excursion to Shchem. [33]

As always, when girls and boys spend time together, they make friends, pair up, and fall in love. So Podwórze produced some couples who later married. Some of these couples set up periodic reunions in Israel.
Do you remember?…

That year in Stockholm we were remembered hundreds of names. We looked at the photographs saved by our friends in Sweden. We looked at the two Fichman sisters, Ruchka Gartenhaus [34]and Fanka Bleiberg, [35]both killed near the butcher's shop. Similar fate fell to Dinka Rapp,[36]one of most beautiful girls in town. She could have saved herself if she agreed to sleep with a German officer. Instead, she spat at him and he killed her.

We look at a photograph from the Kadimah club showing Szymek Rand, [37] Kuba Weitz [38] (he was expelled from high school and finished college abroad), Hertz Schmer[39] (he survived the war in Boryslaw but later died in Warsaw), Hertz Schaller [40](he finished medical school before the war but during the 1939 escape he died of intestinal obstruction. His funeral took place before the Germans entered town.)
Another school photograph shows Lonka Samet. [41]He also was a doctor. After the war he was a general in charge of the Health Department for Poland's military.

We quietly looked through the photographs. There were photos from Kazakhstan. We looked at Mundek Weitz [42]standing with a cane. He worked at an oil drill in Kazakhstan. After the war until his death, he wrote to us frequently from Australia.. Next to Mundek sits my sister Betka.  [43]She died tragically after returning to Boryslaw, Dec 3, 1945. Her death added another grave to the remains of the local Jewish cemetery.

The photo albums lie on shelves, next to hundreds of books. Two of these books are about our town in the time of horror: Ziemia bez Boga (Earth without God”) and Jesli Cie Zapomne (If I Should Forget You). Their author was Koppel Holzman [44],who died in Vienna in the 70's, after a prolonged illness.
Boryslaw does not have a Book of Yizkor.  [45]. Its written history consist of the books by Holzman and of parts of the book Antworte, Mensch! by Renata Reinke, [46]published in German in Bremen.

[Pages 62-80]

From Schor's Field to Kadimah Stadium

Translated by Inga Karliner

Out of the blue, Schor's field became a battleground for a prolonged war between the boys from ław and from Wolanka[47]. The battles started one Saturday, and occurred every week without a miss during the Muscovite[48] occupation. “Muscovites” was the local name for the Russian army, which under the orders of the Tzar Nicholas II fought the armies of His Majesty Franz Joseph I.[49]

Why did the boys fought and what were they fighting for? Nobody knew. However, they were not fighting for fun. Bricks and stones flew both ways. Some who were more aggressive threw broken bottles and even heavy metal objects that fell outside the category of “conventional” weapons. The participants did not feel that they were bound by the Hague Convention that tried to make war more humane. Ironic, isn't it. Perhaps it's even cynical... How can the concept of war be combined with being humane... The boys often returned home injured to the scolding of their parents sometimes accompanied by a beating.

Sometimes the battles moved to the mounds. You may remember that these were heaps of stones, gravel, earth and mud, and refuse from the ozokerite mines.

During the rest of the week, Sunday through Friday, Schor's field was used for games and play. In the spring, it was full of young children and teenagers. Nine- and ten -year olds played czajchy. Other kids would work on a structure of wood and metal - and suddenly there was a swing! Some teenagers could be found kicking a shmacianka[50] (a shmata-ball) before they were ready for soccer. A shmacianka was usually made of a long sock, stuffed with old shmatas, and formed into a ball with a thread and a rope. It was a very popular game. The kids divided into teams and scored goals. The goal line was defined by two large stones placed seven and a half steps away from each other, the steps measured by the tallest player.

Even after it was no longer called Schor's field but “the stadium”, the Borysław-Wolanka battles continued every Saturday.

This continued until a powerful “general”, Blum Eisenstein[51] also called “the war king”, became a soccer enthusiast. He called up his Borysław friends and delivered such a defeat to his adversaries that he forced the Wolanka leader, Moyshe Mendel Hulaj, to capitulate. Mendel was forced to make a solemn promise to both sides that the war was over. After many years, peace was made. From then on, the battlefield was transformed into a real stadium. The agreement, while not written, specified that the past adversaries might use the field for sports and only for sports. But before the peace was made...

One Saturday, the battle was particularly fierce. Stones flew both ways like bullets from machine guns. Suddenly, a huge Cossack appeared between the two fighting sides, and yelled at them to stop. Paying no attention, the boys continued to throw rocks. Some of them even began to sing in Ukrainian “Tzar Nicholas gave the order, sent his soldiers to the Carpathians, yob yego matu” ( f… your mother).” The Cossack went nuts, yelled and ran like crazy. Suddenly he fell to the ground holding his bare head because his hat had fallen off. The boys were terrified when they saw the blood trickling from the Cossack's forehead. Even the bravest boys ran.

God only knows what could have happened to the parents of the boys when the Cossack tragically died after being hit by a sizeable rock on Schor's field. It took a lot of effort and many visits to persuade the town's military commander to halt the investigation. For this act of mercy, the military commander, the representative of the officialdom, received a custom-made fur-coat, courtesy of those Borysław Jews who could afford it.

Not long after this incident the Russian army was expelled from Borysław. Austro-Hungarian soldiers entered the town singing “Gott erhalte, Gott beschütze unsern Kaiser, unser Land”.[52] They were supported by the soldiers of King Wilhelm II, who assured the world with “Deutchland Deutchland uber alles”[53] The town was immersed in a long dark night because the retreating Muscovitess set some oil wells and oil tanks on fire. Huge, dark clouds enveloped the town.

Three or four years later these memorable events culminated in the Versailles Treaty, while the Borysław-Wolanka battles continued. It took a gentleman's agreement between Blum Eisenstein and Moyshe Mendel Hulaj to stop this self-perpetuating and unexplained hatred. Throughout this period, the soccer players progressed from schmacianka to cows' bladders that they obtained easily from the city butcher nearby.

Finally one day, a new sensation at the stadium, Hebik Heimberg[54] arrived with a real leather ball!

"I was happy beyond dreams”, remembers Hebik, “when my parents gave me a real soccer-ball for my birthday. They couldn't have given me a better gift."

Hebik's new ball was the beginning of the official team SKS Świt (Student Sports Club “Dawn”.[55] It was a sports club for high school students. Some non-students also joined. At the beginning, the club also had some non-Jewish members (Dzięciołowski, the Jamro brothers, and others.) After a while the team consisted exclusively of Jews. The members came from all social levels. Some had fathers in the leadership of the oil industry; others came from families of blue-collar workers; still others from families of merchants, craftsmen, and physicians. The boys got along well, no matter what their background and formed many lasting friendships.

The first team included (listed alphabetically) Chayim Aberbach, Marian Bauer, Lipa Buchwalter, Ulek Dienstag, Blum Eisenstein, Munio Hauser, Hebik Heimberg, Srulek Littman, Józek Luks, Hertz Schaller, Hertz Schmer, Munio Seidman, Adolf Wagner, and Kuba Weitz. We could write whole chapters about each of them, four physicians, four engineers, and other highly qualified professionals. The surviving members of our generation of old-towners who survived the war and in their sixth and seventh decade know and remember these names and know who is who or who was who.

Manek Schaller, Hertz's older brother, became the President of the club. He worked as a high level administrator in the oil industry.

After three or four years, Blum Eisenstein proposed that the club change its name to the Hakoach Jewish Sport Association.[56] Thanks to Manek Schaller, Hakoach moved to the green field belonging to the Lindenbaums, the owners of the oil fields near Borysław. From that time, soccer training and competition took place in this park near Bania Kotowska.

Apparently, Lindenbaum initially felt bad that he allowed soccer to be played on shabbas. However, he didn't change his mind. Watching the boys playing happily quickly calmed his troubled religious conscience.

Schor's field continued in its role of a sport stadium. Small sport clubs appeared in its vicinity: Moriah, Higibor, Fortune, Hasmonea, and others. They fed the young athletes into the Jewish Sport Association Hakoach and later, into many sections of the Kadimah Jewish Sport Association. This was where many successful Borysław athletes began their careers. Among them there were the brothers Ciulo[57] and Motl Ginsburg, Duvko Gartenhaus, Bronek Jäger, Max Krochmal, Shlomo Wagman. Izio[58] Wegner devoted his life to physical education, both theory and practice. After completing a degree in Physical Education at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Izio worked as a high level official in the world of sport, first in Poland and later in Israel. Other accomplished sportsmen from these days include Hesio Backenroth, Benio Feldinger, Kulo Meisels, Dolek Rosenschein, and Misio Sperber. These young athletes considered admission into Hakoach or Kadimah a great honor.

Shimek Rand was a great addition to Kadimah, first as a superb soccer player, and later when he returned from the training in Hrebenow as a track and field coach. Shimek Rand made news in Israel but not as a sportsman. On June 22, 1980, the Evening News (Hadashot) announced that Shimon Rand of Haifa saved the lives of dozens of people who were enjoying the beach at Bat Galim that day.

This is what happened. Three Arabs came to the beach. They seemed suspicious to Shimek, so he decided to watch them. He was right. The 'guests' buried briefcases and thermoses in the sand and turned to leave. Shimek warned people to keep away from the buried objects and together with a friend, prevented the Arabs from leaving the beach. Police arrived and confirmed that the buried objects contained explosives. The police disarmed the explosives and arrested the perpetrators.

As a young man, Shimek Rand had accomplished many heroic acts on the stadium of his beloved Kadimah. In an interview for the press, he stated that he credited Kadimah with giving him the strength and perseverance that helped him and his wife avoid perishing with thousands of his countrymen during the war.

Kadimah was the final version of the sport club which had started as ŚWIT (the Student Sport Club “Dawn”).

The board of trustees of the Hakoach Sport Association spared no effort to create and develop many sections of the club. The leadership consisted of (in alphabetical order): Elo Bander, Kuba Bauer, Moshko Burg, Shimek Burg, Blum Eisenstein, Hebik Heimburg, Hertz Schaller, Manek Schaller, Hertz Schmer, Adolf Wegner, Kuba Weitz. The broad age span of the members didn't cause any friction. The oldest member was Manek Schaller, already an accomplished professional, while most of other members still attended high school. For example, Kuba Weitz was then in eleventh grade.

Kuba was an excellent center forward in soccer, popular in high school and among his sport club friends. He was taller than his contemporaries.

One time, a few weeks before the end of school year, Michał Gładysz, the math teacher, called Kuba to the blackboard. Kuba stood there filling the blackboard with numbers and other mathematical notations to solve second order equations. He stopped for a moment in order to think before proceeding. The teacher arose from his chair and approached Kuba, a smirk twisting his mouth, giving his face a look of malice. “Well, this is not as easy as playing soccer?” And then he added, “Where is your Jewish head?” Kuba turned red. He struggled to control himself but lost it. He threw the chalk on the floor and with full force, hit the teacher whom all the students despised hard on the face.

Eventually, Kuba ended up with a so-called “wolf ticket,” which meant that no school in Poland would admit him. When he emigrated to continue his education, Kadimah lost one of its best players. He kept in touch by mail with the club. Later, already as an engineer, he wrote that the years spent in the Kadimah Stadium in his youth were his best memories of his hometown.

After the much mourned and premature death of Manko Schaller, a new board took over the club, with Dr. Michał Meisels, a buyer for the oil firm Petrolea, as its President. The board was made up of members who from the beginning of he Club had devoted themselves to its general welfare regardless of their interests in particular sports: Samek Backenroth, Elo Bloch, Shimek Burg, Dunio Gertler (forever the treasurer) Józek Oberländer, Izio Wegner (in addition to other jobs, he assisted in coaching many sports), Wendlinger (buyer for Premier), and Turnschein.

The board members did a good job developing many sport disciplines and taking care of the players. They showed appreciation for individual effort and for team play. After a successful game, the board always invited the team to a generous supper. God forbid the team lost, because then Dunio Gertler ran around foaming on the mouth and screaming “Shit! No supper but shit!"

Thanks to Dr. Meisels and the entire board and to the faithful fans among whom were many prominent citizens of Borysław, the sport center expanded and soon the stadium at the Lindenbaum field was ready to open. This was quite an event for Borysław, especially for its Jewish population, the first stadium in town sponsored by the Kadimah Jewish Sport Club! True, it was not huge, but it was the first in this oil town.

We should mention here a man who, while he was neither a club member nor a Jew, nevertheless was very important for the club. His name was Stefko Górniak. He took care of the stadium, and made sure that nobody stole a board from its fence to feed a fire on a cold autumn or winter night. Stefko worked very diligently. Thanks to him the stadium was in a tip-top shape. We must not forget the heroism of this Gypsy during Hitler's occupation. Fully conscious of the danger and the mortal risk he took, Stefko, devoted to Kadimah, saved many Kadimah members and their families from certain death. Those rescued included Shimek Rand.

The stadium grew, and more sports were added: gymnastics, track and field, skiing, basketball, volleyball, tennis, and table tennis. Soccer was still at the core, with more and more youth joining. The Kadimah stadium was the center of activity for the young Jews of Borysław.

At that time, the club joined the Polish Soccer Association. Kadimah participated successfully in championships, first in the C-class, then B. The team got into class A with the following players: Berger, Duvko Gartenhaus, Ciulo and Motl Ginsberg, Grabow, Bronek Jäger, Max Kreisberg, Max Krochmal, Shamo Okerman, Izio Parnes, Manes Pfeferbaum, Shimek Rand, Shlomko Wagman, Hesio Wechselberg, Izio Wegner.

Some players deserve special mention, among them Shamo Okerman and Hesio Wechselberg who advanced with the club, beginning with Class C, until the second World War interrupted the attempt to enter the regional league. Both were national class players.

Many of the athletes participated in more than one sport. Shimek Rand coached track and field. Izio Wegner coached skiers. Hebik Heimberg and Izio Wegner together coached gymnastics. In the late 20's and early 30's, skiing was an elite sport in Borysław, since it required expensive equipment and clothing. Nevertheless, Izio Wegner put a ski team together and coached it. Gecek[59] Friedland, Herbert Lantner, Zenek Sobel and Mordecai Weiss distinguished themselves among the skiers. They also participated in gymnastics.

Gecek Friedland was a great athlete. He was very handsome and self-disciplined beyond his age. During Hitler occupation he belonged to the few who tried to collect weapons to fight the occupiers. Procuring weapons was very difficult and dangerous. He then had to return with his priceless acquisitions to his hiding place. On one occasion, overcome with fatigue from his exertions, he lay down on the green moss before crawling back to his shelter and fell asleep. The barking of dogs awakened him but too late for him to use his weapons. And that is how the Germans killed Gecek.

But let us return to Kadimah.

Chaskiel Gitter, one of the top soccer players, took prizes in table tennis. The board strongly supported general physical development and participation in many sports. That was why gymnasts played soccer, soccer players ran in track and field events, and skiers did other sports. When goalie Ciulo Ginsberg emigrated to Israel, he was replaced by Jozek Ullenberg, and later by the skier, Gecek Friedland.

In the winter, the gymnasts practiced in the Jewish Center on the Standa Street under the direction of instructors Wegner and Heimberg. Practice groups were organized: winter practice for soccer players, women's gymnastics, and groups for teenagers and children.

A number of the members of Kadimah were students of the Gymnasium despite the fact that the rules of the school participation in any clubs outside school, even athletic clubs. This rule was a spoiler for both the club and the students who loved soccer and other athletic disciplines.

For example: the soccer team was preparing for a match against the local team Strzelec (The Strikers). A meet like this would bring out Jewish and Polish fans. Among them appeared Mr. Jan Chociej, the literature teacher, a fan of Strzelec, not the Jews. To make things worse, the principal of the Gymnasium, Tadeusz Remer also showed up. No wonder that Izio Wegner was afraid to come out onto the field and join the practice before the game. Izio thought about his upcoming high school graduation exam and decided... Dr. Meisel, Kadimah's president, entered the locker room and reassured Izio that since two of Strzelec players also went to the Gymnasium[60] and one was related to Chociej. it was safe to play. Izio overcame his fears, well, almost. He played defense. Kadimah won 1:0.

Kadimah means “forward"! This wasn't just the name of the club but an inspiration for the club members to succeed. Sometime, they risked their safety and even their lives for the club's sake.

Consider these two examples of sacrifice and bravery in the fight for the championship of division A.

The soccer players traveled to Stryj, a forty kilometer[61] bus ride from Borysław. They were already able to see the skyline of the town when the bus suddenly came ot an unexpected halt about five kilometers from Stryj.

The bus driver announced that the engine was broken. What should they do? The players were distraught. Since they knew that if they were late, they would forfeit the game 0:3, they decided to get to the game at all costs. They changed into their uniforms, and ran to the stadium. A number of young fans would not be left behind and ran behind he players, determined to cheer the team on. They arrived at the stadium of the opposing team, Dror just in time. They were hot and tired but a request to postpone the match for a few minutes was denied.

The first minutes of the meet were difficult. The Dror took advantage of their fatigue and led 3:1 at half time. But a short break at half time allowed the Borysławians to recover their breath and the game finished at 5:3 in their favor. At the next meet, in Borysław, the Borysław players annihilated Stryj 11:1.

The second example is entirely different.

During the meet against Lwów's White Eagle, the anti-Semitic spectators from Zamarstyn (a street in Lwów) yelled at the players, calling them names. The Lwów team played hard, fouls were called frequently. In spite of this, Kadimah was holding its own, shooting goals even though the referees were biased in favor of the Lwów hosts. The odds changed only after Ciulo Ginsberg, the Kadimah goalie, was kicked in the head after a spirited defense by a White Eagle player and had to be taken to hospital. Max Kreisberg became the goalie, for the first time in his life.

Worried about the consequences of winning against the White Eagle, the players slowed down and lost the meet 2:3. The “heroes” of Zamarstyn were not satisfied with their team's victory. They stoned the departing bus of the Borysław players. Luckily, they succeeded “only” in breaking the windows. This is what happens when nationalism enters into sports. Kadimah complained to the Polish Soccer Association to no avail.

We could go on and on about examples of Kadimah players' devotion to their Club.

In addition to playing in the local league, the Kadimah soccer team played the national league teams in non-tournament games. There were many good games to watch against such Lwów league teams as Pogoń , Czarbia, Lechia, and Hasmonea. The fans were pleased when Kadima faced the Viennese team Hakoach (twice), or played against the DFC from Prague, or against Hungarian Bocskaj, all true powers within Europe. In 1933, Kadimah hosted the Hapoel team from Tel Aviv.

The fans were both teenagers and members of the older generation. It was a rare Jew in Borysław who didn't root for his favorite team. The fans traveled to the meets with the team. We have already heard about the meet in Stryj against the Dror. When there was no more room on the bus, the fans didn't spare money. They took taxis. We can appreciate the depth of the attachment to Kadimah among to the older generation when we recall that Motl Frisch had a heart attack when it looked like the home team might lose the meet.

Nahum Murłakow exemplified the most devoted type of fan. Murłakow escaped from Russia after the revolution and settled in Borysław. He was a good kettle maker, a very important job in the oil industry. He was also a nice guy, well liked by grownups and by the youth. He was the ultimate Kadimah fan. He never missed a game. People said you could tell the score from his looks. When his mustache was up, we knew that Kadimah had won. When his mustache pointed down, it sadly told of the Kadimah's defeat.

Many distinguished citizens of Borysław were fans of Kadimah. Among them was Natan Koch, owner of the sawmill, Josały Fleischer, and others. Owners and administrators of the oil companies, together with workers and youth all cheered together for Kadimah at the games.

Beside soccer, other sports were also doing well. The 1934 gymnastics show was a great testimony to the progress made by that section. Hebik Heimberg and Izio Wegner were the organizers of the show, with the support and help from gymnastics section directors Samek Backenroth and Shimek Burg.

Everyone felt totally prepared after the final rehearsal. However, the gymnasium students among the gymnasts were breaking the school's prohibition rule. This was going to have consequences.

Posters all over town advertised where the show would take place. No wonder that Mr. Weinert, the physical education instructor at the Borysław Gymnasium, learned about the show and showed up just before the show started. Even though he smiled politely at his students, the gymnasts worried. The Club leadership decided not to risk the young gymnasts' future and pulled Herbert Lantner and Zenek Sobel from the show. Luckily, no teachers came from the Drohobycz Gymnasium, attended by some of the Borysław students, such as Mordecai Weiss (Eidman) and Fritz Kudisz. The short Fritz did a wonderful job of jumping over the horse to great applause. The youngest members of the team also impressed the audience with their jumps. They were Milek Bloch (Wegner) and Munzio Respler, all of them members of Hashomer Hatzaim.

The young gymnasts gave their best effort, trying to make up for the absence of the older performers who had been pulled from the show. The audience applauded Mordecai Weiss, Wolko Ober, Max Kleinman, and even younger Menzio Dörfler and Henek Wegner.

The top girl gymnasts were Chevka Eidman, Sunia Kleiner, Rutka Feldinger, the sisters Ruchka and Fanka Fichman, Hela Wagman, Alka Henenfeld, and Cesia[62] Backenroth.

The gymnastics show played an important part in establishing the role of Kadimah in Borysław. The club came to be perceived not only as a place to discharge excess energy, but also as an important educational center outside school and home.

In the summer of the same year, 1934, big posters, hung on the walls of buildings, on fences and in store windows, announced Jewish Sport Day. This was the first time Borysław had organized this event. The stadium was packed, and the audience clapped continuously, applauding Shimek Rand in the high jump, the 120 meter dash, and in the javelin; Izio Wagner in the high jump, the discus, and in the shot put. They competed against Mr. Weiser, who was an oil worker in nearby Schodnica.

Among the girls, Chewka Eidman was a good sixty meters runner, Wikta Astman and Rutka Feldinger jumped, and Richka Fichman threw discus. Milka Engelberg and the Fink sisters, Wiśka[63] and Róźka ,[64] were excellent volleyball players.

The organizers of this great success of Kadimah were, among others, Samek Backenroth, Shimek Burg, and Mordecai Weiss. They took care of the running and jumping tracks, the volleyball and basketball fields, and the tennis court. Janek Begleiter, who was a memorable soccer and gymnastics coach during 1931 and 1932, dominated the tennis court.

A friend remembered the Fink sisters: “there were three of them, each charming in her own way. Stella was very pretty. I couldn't believe that boys didn't notice her. I also could not believe how she always answered every question that the teachers asked her perfectly. She was calm and composed. In temperament, she was the opposite of her two younger sisters. Wiśka was a devil, a tornado. She combined a love of life and sports with good schoolwork. The youngest, Róźka , was similar in temperament to Wiśka , and, like Wiśka , loved sports."

The Polish poet Marian Jachimowicz[65] wrote this memorial to the Fink sisters and to their father:

The letters
Without words fly
speak through colours

In the sun,
And in the shade.

And she
This German girl
caught by the war in Poland

Also wrote letters.

to nowhere.

And Fink asked me
to leave a bunch of flowers someday
near the field tunneled with slaughter

with eight hundred others
they also buried his
last daughter.

He thought
one day he too would lie near the slaughterhouse.

But they took him with us
"the Aryans”
together with the rest of the camp after the ghetto

under the office window
the last march marched

they smiled
at us
in the window

The march
escorted by men in helmets
and cars with guns aimed
against escape.

The March to Oswiecim.[66]

ending with smoke
from the chimney.

So where,
where am I to take these flowers
when the slaughtering field is beyond
the border

and the smoke from Oswiecim
is blown by wind
to the sky, earth and eternity?[67]

In the winter, Kadimah also offered skiing. This started in 1933, after Izio Wegner returned from the Makkabi skiing training camp in Sianki, organized by the Polish Skiing Association. On winter Sundays and other holidays, the Kadimah skiing section took trips to the beautiful skiing areas, Schodnicki Dział , Chuchowy Dział , Orów, and others. Beginners and experienced skiers came and were often joined by people from outside Kadimah.

During the opening ceremony of the Kadimah chalet at Dział Schodnicki, the organizers proposed a game, “follow the fox”. Among others, the participants were: Mordecai Weiss, Zenek Sobel, Gecek Friedland, Herbert Lantner and Izio Wegner.

Winter was also the time of year when various other local clubs were most active. The first of these clubs was near the tollgate. A dealer in scrap metal allowed Kadimah to use the space as they saw fit. Frequently there were still pipes, metal fences, and even complicated tools used in the petroleum industry. The dealer's nickname was Ajzyk Małach . He was an ardent fan of Kadimah; he even forgave his son Mechele's frequent transgressions and bad grades, as long as he was an active member of Kadimah.

The club housed not only sport-related events but also lectures and cultural and political discussions for adults and high school students. Different views, left and right, sparred here. Some of the participants were future physicians such as Poldek Würzberg, Herz Schaller, or students, Rubin Feryszka, Kulo Meisels, and others.

Kadimah also used the Jewish Center for its activities, dances, even balls during the carnival. It was always crowded. The student orchestra led by Samek Backenroth played until dawn. The participants ranged from workers and students to high-level administrators of the mines, and wealthy merchants. This mixing didn't seem to bother anyone. , Dr. Michał Meisels, the President of Kadimah attended every dance. A wealthy man, he was a generous supporter of social causes and supported Kadimah to great extent.

Other Kadimah cultural activities were concerts given by its student section. The concerts with the music of Chopin, Grieg, Brahms, and Händel were performed in Borysław and outside the town. The musicians included Jozek Malz, Awrumko Seifert, Dolek Lichtgarn, Adolf Wegner, and Hebik Heimberg on violin, Jozek Luks on flute, and Lonek Hauser on the piano. Sometimes the students were joined by professionals, such as trumpet players from “Silva Plana”, the Drohobycz violinist Hartenberg, or the base player from the Klos orchestra.

The Jewish Sport Club Kadimah grew every year, absorbing new young participants from children's sport clubs. This lasted until World War II. The “sports exchange” discussions lasted until a few days before the first Sunday in September, when Kadimah was going to participate in an important meet.

What was this sports exchange?

It was located in the center of Borysław on a set of stairs, five steps that led to a coffee house with the pompous name of Corso. The noisy discussions and arguments on these stairs were audible to the entire street. Who will defeat whom? In the bad weather these animated discussions moved into the Corso, where the owner Józek Oberländer, would join in. (He was called Kukumuc for his small stature). Józek was a great Kadimah fan.

Sports fans hurried here to discuss coming events. Bets were taken. People would bet Danusia[68] chocolate or tutti-frutti ice cream, sold, of course, in the Corso. The hairdresser Koch (called Rudy because of his hair color) would lead the discussion and usually had the last word. The last word was usually “Kadimah has to win”.

Along with the many athletes and their supporters from Borysław, we should add those who died in the crematoria and gas chambers, those who fell on many fronts in the Second World War and those who succumbed to the passage of time and put the traditional “of blessed memory” next to their names.


AN: Author's note in the original edition. All other notes are supplied by the editor or the translators.
AI: Author's index. At the end of the printed book is an index of names and a glossary. For the purpose of publication on the Internet, these entries have been put into the footnotes for each chapter.

All other notes have been supplied by the editor, the translators or consultants to the editor.

  1. A line from the poem Switez by the great Polish poet, Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855) (http://www.ohiou.edu/~chastain/ip/mickiew.htm) about approaching an enchanting and enchanted lake at night. The full text is:
    "Jezeli nocna przyblizysz sie doba, I zwrocisz ku wodom lice, Gwiazdy nad toba igwiazdy pod toba, I dwa obaczysz ksiezyce.”

    "When you arrive at night and look at the waters, when the stars are above and below you, you will see two moons"

    Switez is the name of a forest lake in the Nowogrodek region, formerly in Lithuania, the birthplace of the Adam Mickiewicz. Now Nowogrodek and the lake are located in Belarus. Back

  2. Ratoczyn used to be an osada or hamlet which became an integral part of Boryslaw. It is located on a hill.Back
  3. As a natural hydrocarbon, ozokerite, known popularly as “natural wax” has been known to humanity since antiquity. It is found only in a few places on earth. According to Prof. Fahri Goodarzi, director of the Geological Survey of Canada, it was used in ancient Egypt for the embalming of mummies. The discovery of ozokerite in the Boryslaw/Drohobycz area was the main reason for the establishment of candle factories in the nineteenth century. Back
  4. L\ebac: a person making a living by skimming the oil, most often from the surface of Tys'mienica river. It was done using a “horse's tail” made from the long grass, or a tin pot with a perforated bottom. AIBack
  5. Koromysly (Polish): yoke Back
  6. The author refers to the primitive crude oil distillation carried out in home-made boilers or 'kettles as opposed to the distillation process in the professional oil refineries. Back
  7. Tretjak: the oil rig operation was carried out by a crew of three people: the rigger (master), his deputy (the rigger's assistant), and the “third”, the lowest paid, inexperienced or less experienced member of the oil rig crew. This third man had no title. Usually he was a village boy, and such a fellow would be known as a “third”. Back
  8. The translation of this poem was done by George Lee who explains the challenges posed by the text for the translator. “The style of Juliusz Wit's poem reminds me very much of the famous Jewish-Polish poet Tuwim. His Lokomotywa had similar style, using certain letters throughout the poem to underline the sound of the locomotive. InPosagthe poet emphasized the sound made by the letters “Z”, & “RZ” “ to imitate the sound of petroleum drilling machines. To do that in English is very difficult because the essence of the poem would have to be changed.”Back
  9. Malach or often malachojecwas a common nickname for the Boryslawian boys. Sharon writes that his uncle from Drohobycz would call him by this name. Back
  10. Belzec: a village of about 2,000 people before world war II, located in the Rawa Ruska district of Lwo'w Province on the main road from Lwo'w to Zamosc. It was captured in 1939 by Germans and became a frontier town on German-Soviet border. In 1940, the camp was established by the Germans, initially as a one of the harshest forced labour camps for the building of the trenches along the border with the Soviets, then in 1942, as a death camp. Belzec, linked by railway with the whole of Galicia, from Krakow in the west, to Lwo'w in the east and beyond, and with the whole of the Lublin district, became a graveyard for over 600,000 Jews who were gassed there. Back
  11. Action: the word used by Jews to describe pogroms, street closings, searching for Jews or others, and the capturing of people to send them to the camps. (AN) Back
  12. Bandera Day: Leopold Held probably meant “Petliura Day”, which was dedicated by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) to commemorate Symon Petliura, born in 1879, who for a short period was President of the Ukrainian National Republic after the first World War. He was assassinated in 1926 in Paris by a Jewish radical. On the Petliura Days, Ukrainian nationalists initiated a pogrom in Lwów and its environs from July 25 to July 27.in which many hundreds of Jews were killed. Stepan Bandera was the leader of the OUN during second world war and immediate post-war period. Back
  13. Jachimowicz, Marian: poet and author of an essay about the Boryslaw artistic milieu. AI Back
  14. The name of the periodical, Tworczosc, translates as “Creation”. Back
  15. Grzegorczyk, Wl\adysl\aw and Olga, “Righteous Among the Nations": They saved numerous Jews. AI Back
  16. Markowska, Jadwiga: PPS organizer in Boryslaw, helped Jews in Warsaw during the war. AI Back
  17. Hashomer Hatzair: Young Guard, a youth organization whose members were referred to as shomer. AN Back
  18. Schiff Dunio: Established the amateur drama group at the Jewish Community Center in Boryslaw. AI Back
  19. Zwillich Maciek, painter, teacher in Boryslaw High School (Gymnasium), 1939-1941, a friend of Bruno Schulz and Marian Jachimowicz.. AI Back
  20. Schulz Bruno: writer. AI (http://www.echonyc.com/~goldfarb/schulz.htm). Bruno Schulz (1892-1942) was a Polish author and painter famous for his short stories.. In 1938, he was awarded a prize by the Polish Academy of Literature. Back
  21. Wit, Juliusz: poet from Drohobycz, Boryslaw song writer. AI Back
  22. Wahl, Baruch (Buzio): pupil of Maciek Zwilich. AI Back
  23. Kleiner, Icyk: owner of the oil wells called “Na Kleinerze” and a slice of Podwórze (the Courtyard) AI Back
  24. Shomer Kwutz: a social group. These groups were often named after animals, such as dwora, (a bee), shaul, (a fox.) (AN) Back
  25. Schlesinger Albert: frequenter of Podwórze(the Courtyard). AI Back
  26. Tuncio Schiff: see the later chapter, “The Schiff: Family Saga, He went among people with his song. “(AN) This refers to Anski Drama club performances. Back
  27. Zucker, Tadeusz: frequenter of Podwórze(Courtyard), where he organized spiritualist seances. AI. Back
  28. Rattner, Marek: pupil of Edmund Semil., author of the never published novel about Boryslaw. AI. Back
  29. Perlman, Hesio: student in the Boryslaw High School, lecturer at the University of Jerusalem. AI. Back
  30. Friedlaender, Michal P.H.D: teacher of German and history in the Boryslaw High School. AI Back
  31. Bauer, Marian: one of the first players of SKS S'WIT AI Back
  32. Russ, Milek: brother of Gustav Russ, Secretary of Boryslaw's “Don't Forget” Committee in Tel-Aviv. Shot and killed by an Arab while walking with his family. AI Back
  33. Shchem is the Hebrew name for the West Bank city of Nablus. Back
  34. Gartenhaus, Ruchka: sportswoman from KADIMAH.AIBack
  35. Fichman, Fanka: a gymnast in Z'KS KADIMAH AIBack
  36. Rapp, Dinka: Borislaw girl, famous for her beauty. AI Back
  37. Rand, Szymek: KADIMAH sportsman, certified coach of the athletics section. Back
  38. Weitz, Kuba: engineer,. expelled from the Boryslaw High School, he completed his education abroad. AI Back

  39. Schmer Hertz: one of the first players of SKS S'WIT, member of the board of the Z'TS HAKOAH. AI
     Note: SKS S'WIT is the Polish abbreviation of Studencki Klub Sportowy (Student
    Sport Club) “S'WIT (means dawn in Polish). The club's initially drew its membership
    from the students of the Boryslaw Gimnazja (Senior High School).
     Note: Z'TS HAKOAH is Polish abbreviation of Z'ydowski Towarzystwo Sportowe
    (Jewish Sport Association). “HAKOAH” (means force or might in Hebrew).Back
  40. Schaller Hertz: physician, one of the first players of SKS S'WIT, member of the board of the Z'TS HAKOAH. AI Back
  41. Samet, Lonek: after the war held the rank of General, Chief of the Medical Services in the Polish Army. AI Back
  42. Weitz, Mundek: a drilling expert in Kazahstan, after the war in Australia. AI Back
  43. Held, Betka: the author's sister, evacuated with him to Kazahstan. AI Back
  44. Holzman Koppel: author of the books about [German] occupation of Boryslaw: Land without God and If I ever forget you. AI Back
  45. Yizkor Book: Book of Remembrance. (AN)Back
  46. Reinke Renate: Author of Antworte, Mensch!AI Back
  47. Wolanka: a suburb of Borysław. Back
  48. Muscovite: a translation of Moscali, the word meaning Russian in a derogatory in reference to Russian occupation. Back
  49. The author is referring to the First World War. Back
  50. shmacianka: a word made from shmata, rags. Pronounced shmachianka Back
  51. Eisenstein, Blum, one of the first players of SKS ŚWIT, member of the board of the ŻTS HAKOAH. AN Back
  52. "God keep, God protect our Emperor, our land.” This was the Austrian national anthem, set to a melody by Joseph Haydn. Back
  53. "Germany, Germany above all”. These words were set to the same melody to become the German anthem. Back
  54. Heimberg, Hebik: owner of the first real football, one of the first players of SKS ŚWIT, member of the board of ŻTS HAKOAH, soccer player, coach in KADIMAH, musician. Back
  55. SKS ŚWIT is the Polish abbreviation of Studencki Klub Sportowy (Student Sport Club) “S'WIT (means dawn in Polish). Back
  56. ŻTS Hakoah is Polish abbreviation of Żydowski Towarzystwo Sportowe (Jewish Sport Association). “ Hakoah “ means force or might in Hebrew, Back
  57. Ciulo: pronounced chulo. Back
  58. Izio: pronounced Eezho. Back
  59. Gecek: pronounced Getzek. Back
  60. gymnasium: secondary school. Back
  61. About twenty-six miles. Back
  62. Cesia: pronounced Cheshia. Back
  63. Wiśka: pronounced Veeshka. Back
  64. Róźka: pronounced Roozhka. Back
  65. Marian Jachimowicz (1906-1999): Polish poet. Back
  66. Auschwitz Back
  67. (Prosiles o Kwiaty, “Żelazne studnie” Wydawnictwo Literackie, Krakow, 1972
    You Asked for Flowers, “Iron Wells”, Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków, 1972) Back
  68. Danusia: brand of chocolate, still available in Poland. Back


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