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[Page 67]

The Jews in Bukowina (1914-1919)
- World War and Russian Occupation

by Dr. Arie Leon Schmelzer

Translated by Jerome Silverbush

On the 28th June 1914, two shots from a revolver killed the heirs to the Austrian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie von Hohenburg. At the time, few people could have predicted that the event would herald the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian empire. For the Jewish population of Bukowina however, the assassination had even more serious repercussions. The years between 1914-19 was a period of suffering and displacement eclipsed only by the events of the Second World War.

Let us now review some of the individual events. At the turn of the century, the states which comprised the Austro-Hungarian empire were ruled by an aging monarch. His authority was undermined by an inefficient administration which ruled by playing one state off against the other. Reacting to this archaic 'divide et impera' style of rule, the various Balkan states began asserting their claim to independence. They joined the widespread movement to destroy the Habsburg's superpower and to institute a federal state.

The First World War, ignited by the assassination at Sarajevo, was final proof that the empire's disintegration had set in. Yet one of the few members of the ruling class who realised this was the 84 year old monarch - Emperor Franz Josef I. He told his chief of staff Conrad von Hotzendorf, who was departing for the front lines: 'I know that my good army will fulfill more than its duty. If however Austro-Hungary should perish, let it perish with honour'.

Tens of thousands of Jews filled the streets of Czernowitz and other provincial cities in Bukowina when partial mobilisation was ordered on the 26th July, 1914. The population was gripped by war fever. Jubilant cries and martial music were heard everywhere. This patriotism was engendered by two generations of imperial rule, under which the Jews had attained equal rights and high positions in public office. Their nationalism was matched by an absolute trust in the armed forces, who had distinguished themselves in brilliantly-executed parades and maneuvers. 'We shall conquer the Russian and beat the Serb and show that we are Austrians', was the song which resounded in the streets and houses.

By May 1915 however, Austria's old allies Italy and Romania had both changed sides. In a manifesto addressed to 'My Nations', Franz Josef complained: 'The King of Italy declared war on us ! A greater breach of trust has never occurred in the history of the world'.

Bukowina was isolated in the north where the promontory at Nowosieliza fell prize to invading Russian Cossacks. From the river Pruth at Nowosieliza and up to the Dnjester at Onuth, the line was held by the regiments stationed in Czernowitz. The burghers of Czernowitz, standing on the hills and watching the battles which raged only a few kilometers from the city in those last days of August, had no idea of what was in store for them.

What jubilation greeted the entry of the first prisoners of war who were brought into the city! Slowly, however, doubt set in. Worrying news arrived from the front in Galicia. The Cossacks were killing, pillaging, and raping. Jews and peasants, gripped by panic, began to flee westwards. The wealthier Jews left for Vienna, taking only a few possessions with them.

The Russian advance continued and on the 31st August 1914, the governor, Count Meran left Bukowina. The railway line to Vienna, which ran across Galicia had been cut, so he was forced to take the southern road to Dorna - Watra while Austrian troops marched towards Galicia. The two main bridges over the river Pruth were blown up by rear guard troops.

After the bridge were destroyed, Cnernowitz was declared an open city, with not even a police force to protect it. Realising the dangers ahead, the Jews began to flee the city. Hundreds of farm carts loaded with refugees started moving southwards. In the two days before the entry of the Russian troops, between 3000-5000 Jews left.

The Jewish Mayor of Czernowitz, Dr Salo Weisselberger remained in his office . He formed a reception committee to welcome the Russian General Arjutinow, who commanded the Division of Cossacks. The general immediately ordered that the city provide a tribute of 600,000 Rubles within 24 hours, payable in gold. Twenty three citizens were arrested and held hostage to secure payment. Torture, arson and plunder followed. The Russians set up their own administrative headquarters and the city was isolated from the world. German newspapers were banned and the Jews of Czernowitz had their first experience
of an Iron Curtain.

In the unoccupied part of southern Bukowina, an armed resistance group was formed under the commander of the Regiment of Gendarmery of Bukowina, Colonel Eduard Fischer. He began to gather displaced gendarmes, customs guards and volunteers, including many Jews, to battle against the vastly-superior Russian forces. The key centres of resistance were Gurahumora and Kimpulung which both had important Jewish communities.

The Russian continued their advance, setting fire to villages and killing hundreds of Jews. The battles lasted until 21st October 1914 when the volunteers, under Colonel Fischer, succeeding in recapturing Czernowitz. The liberation of the town, enabled even more families in Bukowina to flee. Vienna was filled with Jewish refugees from Galicia and Bukowina who had escaped the flames of the Russian hell.

These camps were established in Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Salzburg, Upper Austria, Styria and Carinthia. The State set up an office to assist the refugees and provided them with them with basic resources. An assistance committee was formed in Vienna with the active participation of the Vienna Zionists. Dr Schwarz Hiller, a councilor and head of the community, as well as Mrs Anita Mueller provided great assistance.

Refugees from Bukowina and in particular those from Czernowitz brought detailed news about the destruction of Nowosieliza - Bojan - Mahala- Odstritza - Rarancze-Sadagura, as well as other Jewish communities in the Czernowitz area. In Boja, the Rabbi's Court was razed to the ground. In Czernowitz, eminent citizens were dragged from their beds during the night and deported to Siberia as hostages. Among them were Dr Salo Weisselberger, Dr Mayer Ebner, Dr Phillip Menczel and the Senior Cantor Schachter. Flats were looted and synagogues set alight. In Czernowitz, the Temple and the Great Synagogue were spared thanks to the intervention of the Archbishop of Bukowina, Dr. Vladimir von Repta. As Head of the Greek Orthodox Church, he was entrusted by the Russians power to protect the entire population. He transferred the sixty-three Holy Scrolls from the Temple to his official residence. They remained there until the end of World War I when they were returned to the Chief Rabbi.

On the 26th November 1914, Czernowitz was evacuated again. The whole of Bukowina, apart from a small corner in the south, surrendered. All means of escape for Jews were cut off. The rural population fled to the larger provincial towns: Strozinetz, Czudyn, Sereth, Radautz, Gurahumora and Kimpulung were also occupied by the Russians and the court of the Rabbi of Wiznitz was destroyed. Miraculously though, the room in which Rabbi Israel Hager used to pray his devotions escaped the flames. A grand chair, known as 'the chair of Rabbi Mendele', an ancestor of the Rabbi of Wiznitz, remained unscathed. Superstitious fear stopped the Cossacks from destroying this relic and it was eventually transported to Grosswardin, to where the Rabbi fled.

These were hard times for the Jews of Bukowina. Families were separated; wealth built up over decades was destroyed and communities were dispersed to all parts of Austria. The destruction of Bukowina's Jewry had begun. Although thousands returned and started re-building their homes, many moved to the Western part of the Austria.

On the 17th February 1915, Czernowitz reverted to Austrian rule. It remained so until the Russians recaptured the city on the 18th June 1916 and held it for a further year until the Tsar's death, in 1917. After that, most of Bukowina, including Czernowitz became part of Austria until the empire was dissolved in October 1918 and divided among its various nations. Those three years of constantly changing fortunes brought hunger and destitution to the remaining Jewish population of Bukowina. Most of the cattle was moved to the south and the abattoirs of Vienna, while all farm produce was requisitioned.

Gradually, however remnants of the population started to return to their homeland. The hostages who had been deported to Siberia by the Russians arrived by various means in 1917. The Jewish Mayor of Czernowitz, Dr Salo Weisselberger was knighted for his brave stand. Dr Mayer Ebner returned via St Petersburg to Vienna where he took over the political organisation of the residents of Bukowina. He also seized the opportunity to make a stand for the emancipation of Romanian Jewry. The proposal was discussed during the   1918 Bucharest Peace Conference through the intervention of the Austrian
Ambassador, Count Czernin.

By the middle of 1918, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy was in crisis, prompting a debate by Parliament in Vienna. The Jews of Bukowina, many of them now exiled in the Diaspora or in refugee camps, recognised the danger this event posed to them. This was made apparent when the Emperor Karl asked his nations, on the 18th October 1918, to elect National Councils to participate in a Federal State. Until then, the Jews were not recognised as a nation in terms of the Austrian constitution. All Jewish parties in Bukowina, Zionists, Socialists and Liberals agreed at a joint meeting to demand self-determination for the Jews of Bukowina.

The hour of need united all groups and splinter groups. The manifesto of the Jews of Bukowina to which hitherto opposing parties had agreed read:

To the Jewish people!

A new order is coming to the world and in particular Eastern Europe.

All nations demand the right to determine their own affairs and to lead a free national life in security. When all nations seek their national home the Jews must not tarry. Now is the hour when we must achieve our national rights otherwise history will bypass us.

Our demands are as follows:

1. The new order prevailing in all nation states is the predetermination of self-rule. The Jewish Nation proclaims its right to self determination and separate identity on the basis of the decision of a newly elected National Assembly the establishment of which is demanded.

2. The Assembly will be elected on the basis of elections and proportional representation. All male Jews who have obtained majority and who have registered in the communal register will have voting rights. The communal register is based on the register of births (which included the person's religion) but anyone who wishes can have his name removed or re-registered.

3. The Assembly will decide the Constitution and the Administration of the Jewish nation and will be responsible for relationships with the bodies of the State and the other majority nations among whom the Jewish nation lives.

4. The Administration will also have sole authority over national economic matters appertaining to the Jewish Nation as a minority nation. The Jewish Administration will care for: a. Legal equality and political and civil rights.

b. Proportional representation in national and communal affairs.

c. Freedom within the future (about to be established) other nations.

d. In external matters the Jewish Nation asks for: Full civil rights for Jews where they are minorities especially in the existing and newly established states of Eastern Europe. Free and unhindered rights of immigration to all countries and in particular to Palestine.

Extension of the Jewish settlements in Palestine and autonomy for these settlements.

While raising these aspirations we appeal to the majority nations with whom we wish to live in peace and amity to preserve our rights and to honour the agreements required for a peaceful coexistence.

We appeal to all Jews not to rest and to come forward in demonstrations and appeals to bring the above mentioned demands into existence. We have suffered enough as a dispossessed nation in prisons and ghettos and have been victimised by pogroms. Now we want to be rulers in our own home. We are being denied national rights. It is up to you work towards establishing these rights and we want all to devote all their energy towards this good cause. We call you to join in the battle for self determination of the Jewish Nation.

Signed: For the Jewish Provincial Party

Member of State Parliament - Dr Benno Straucher.
Member of the Provincial Parliament - Dr Max Fokschaner
Member of the Provincial Parliament - Dr Neumann Wender
President of the Chamber of Commerce - Wilhelm Tittinger
Director Bernhard Fleminger.

For the Jewish Social Democratic Provincial Organisation

Dr Jacob Pistiner
Markus Kaswan
Dr Berthold Friedman
Wilhelm Ippen
Dr Moritz Oberlaender
Nathan Propper.

For the Zionist Provincial Organisation:

Dr Meyer Ebner
Dr Benjamin Fuchs
Dr Solomon Kinsbrunner
 Dr Markus Kraemer
Professor Israel Schleyer
Sigmund Weissglass.

For the Provincial Organisation of the Jewish Socialist Workers Party 'Poale - Zion':

Meier Rosner
Leib Buchbinder
Feiwel Sternberg
Chaim Lecker
Hersch Essner.

The Battle for National Rights

The representatives of all these organisations traveled to Czernowitz on the 22nd October 1918, to attend a conference. There it was decided to set up a Jewish National Committee. The other nationalities of Bukowina: Ukrainians, Poles, Romanians and Germans had also formed their own National Committees. During the debate about the future of the Austrian State, Hungarians, Czechs and Slovaks as well as Croatians and Slovenians started demanding their own territories. The situation in eastern Galicia right spelling? differed as it was inhabited by Poles and Ukrainians and the Jews had hitherto, been classified as members of the majority (Austrian) nation. Bukowina prepared for a bloody battle between Romanians and Ukrainians.

Archduke Wilhelm who had been declared Regent of Ukraine and immediately laid claim for the territory of Eastern Galicia and Bukowina. Czernowitz  continued to be occupied by Austrian troops under the command of their old  officers. But within a few days a mutiny broke out. The Ukrainian National Committee called for a mass demonstration in Czernowitz.

This took place simultaneously in major venues in the city, with  participants calling for the recognition of the Ukraine as the legal authority over Bukowina. The Austrian regiments in the city were put on alert. As it became clear to the Jews that this could result in pogroms and other violence several Jewish officers in the Austrian army decided to form  a self-defence organisation. A secret meeting was called at the home of  Senior Medical Officer Dr Ferdinand Sternlieb in Mikuliczgasse No.5. Those present swore, by laying their hands on the Mezuza in the room, a solemn oath to protect the population with their own lives.

An exact plan to prevent the demonstrating peasants from entering the Jewish areas and to prevent them from crossing the city was prepared. What was now needed were weapons and munitions to protect important defensive positions. Everything had to be dealt with in secrecy. Even the smallest indiscretion might bring death to those participating as Austria, in whose army they were officers, was still in existence.

The names of these brave men should be preserved for posterity:

Senior Medical Officer Dr. Ferdinand Sternlieb, Lieutenant Alexander Rosenfeld (son of the Chief Rabbi Dr Josef Rosenfeld), Lieutenant Benno Sternberg, First Lieutenant Leon Schmelzer, Lieutenant Moses Hochstadt and Adjutant Birnbaum, and head of the regimental pay office of the 41st Infantry Regiment, Moritz Geiger were the organisers of this self-protection organisation.

Within a few hours, 25 officers and senior non-commissioned officers had joined them. Moritz Geiger procured a regimental requisition order and with the aid of this order three officers, (Geiger, Hochstadt and Schmelzer) were obtained two wagons laden with weapons and ammunitions from the central railway station. These were transferred by smaller vehicles to the senior citizens of the Jewish community. These supplies were sufficient to set up six important defensive positions.

On the 31st October 1918, a mutiny broke out among the regiments stationed in Czernowitz. This enabled patrols of Jewish soldiers, who numbered many hundreds, to disarm mutinous troops who were intent on plunder and throw them out of the city in to the countryside. On the morning of the 15th November 1918, thousands of Ukrainians streamed into the city. The Austrian head of the local legislature, Count Etzdorf, resigned. The Ukrainian National Committee declared the territory Ukrainian and occupied all public offices with soldiers of the Ukrainian Legion. The Jewish self-defence organisation secured by means of heavily-armed patrols all points of entry into the Jewish areas and sent a note to the Ukrainian National Committee informing them that Jewish life and property would be protected. The Ukrainian formed a column of over 10,000 armed men and withdrew in good order from the city while singing their national anthem. Only a few cases of violence were reported.

Thereafter, all National Committees in Czernowitz met and decided to form a Civil Guard to protect the population. The task of organising and commanding this regiment was given to First Lieutenant (of the Austrian army) Leon Schmelzer. He integrated the forces formed for the defence of the Jewish population into the Civil Guard. The headquarters of the Fire Brigade were requisitioned and mobile patrols of cars and motorcycles ridden by 500 men, mainly Jews, were sent out to prevent violence in the city. Thus Czernowitz was spared the horrors which went on in neighbouring cities and territories.
The Civil Guard carried out searches in houses throughout the city and confiscated within the first few weeks 4,480 rifles, 18 machine guns, 1460 pistols and large quantities of ammunition and explosives.

A New Chapter

On the 11th November 1918, Romanian troops under the command of General Zadic entered Bukowina and a new era began for the Jews of Bukowina. They were intent on attaining not only full rights for themselves but also full rights for their brothers in the rest of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

The entry of the Romanian troops coincided with the forced evacuation of the Jewish population from various Romanian villages in Southern Bukowina. In Dorna - Candren, Pojna-Stampi and Teodoresti Jewish homes were set alight and property plundered.

On the 10th November 1918, the day before the entry of the Romanian troops, the constituent assembly of the Jewish National Committee had its first session. The composition of its main officers was agreed upon by the various parties. The General (Steering) Committee consisted of:

State Member of Parliament for Bukowina - Dr Benno Straucher.

All other members of the Provincial Assembly and 51 representatives of the 5 Jewish political parties (Zionists, Provincial Party, Bund, Poale Zion and Orthodox communities). An Executive Committee was elected out of the same constituents and consisted of three members of equal standing: Dr Jacob Pistiner, Dr Meier Ebner and Dr Bertholt Friedman served as Secretary.

The Executive Committee consisted of 4 representatives of the Bund:

Dr Moritz Oberlaender, Dr Jacob Pistiner, Dr Bertholt Friedman and Markus Kaswan.

Four representatives of Poale - Zion:

Professor Chaim Lecker, Dr Meier Rosner, Dr Feiwel Sternberg and Leib Steinmetz

3 Representatives of the Zionists:

Dr Meyer Ebner, Dr Solomon Kassener and Dr Markus Kraemer

3 Representatives of the Provincial Party:

Dr Friedrich Billig, Bernhardt Fleminger and The Chief Rabbi Dr Josef Rosenfeld.

Additional members were Member of the State Parliament Dr Benno Straucher, and Member of the
Provincial Parliament Dr Neumann Wender.

The National Committee faced difficult tasks from the start. It had to strengthen an organisation which had been created to face the perils facing the Jews of the territory. It became responsible for raising taxes providing for reparations for those who had sustained losses during the war. The committee also had to reform the educational system through intervention with the authorities, to preserve the interest of the Jewish population.

The Romanian National Committee, which assumed a leading position after the entry of Romanian troops, co-operated with the Jewish National Committee and benefited from its advice and experience. The newly-established Romanian Government and military establishment had a high regard for the Jewish National Committee and respected its energetic intervention in instances of pogroms and pillaging.

To expand the organisation, new communal authorities were established throughout the territory. In Czernowitz, the last Chairman of the Communal Authority Professor Dr Neumann Wender ( appointed by the Austrian Government) handed the future direction of the Communal Authority to a
commission consisting of Dr Josef Ohrenstein, Dr Berthold Friedman, Dr Salomon Kinsbrunner, Professor Chaim Lecker, and Leib Schaechter.

The Jewish National Committee faced its most difficult decision during its first month. The president of the Romanian National Committee and the first Head of the Government of Bukowina, Dr Jancu von Flondor, called for a congress of all National Committees in Bukowina on the 28th November 1918.

At this congress, it was proposed that the entire territory of Bukowina be annexed to Romania. This was because the Ukrainians, the second biggest nationality in the territory (whose northern domain included Czernowitz), demanded the annexation of the area to the Ukraine. The Jews, the third biggest nationality in the territory, were able to influence the decision of the congress through their determined stand. After hours of difficult negotiations, a group of able and courageous men who headed the Bukowina  Jewish community took matters in to their own hands.

On the day before the congress was due to take place, the Jewish National Committee decided to adopt a neutral stance (in the conflict) and to decline the invitation to attend.

This memorable document, which is attributed to Mr Meyer Ebner, President of the National Committee and a participant at the first Zionist Congress read:

'Mr President' stated in response to your invitation to attend the congress on the 28th November 1918 and to accept your programme unconditionally we would like to inform you of the decision of the Jewish National Committee:

The Jewish National congress in Bukowina adheres to President Wilson's principles for  elf-determination of all nations which states that national demands should be satisfied to avoid animosities which might disturb the peace of Europe and the entire world again should be eliminated.

The Jewish National Congress recognises the unification of the Romanian territories into one state and within it the principles of self-determination to which the Romanian people is entitled. In light of the fact that Jews in Romania did not enjoy equal rights and because the current situation does not seem to promise equal civil and political rights under the law to Jews in Romania in the future, the Jewish National Congress demands that unconditional equal rights be accorded to the Jews in Romania.
In view of the position adopted by the Jewish people everywhere and in light of the neutral stance which has been adopted by us we are unable to participate in this Congress.

Signed in Czernowitz 27th November 1918,
Dr Meier Ebner, Dr Jacob Pistiner and Dr Bertholt Friedman.

It took was a brave and difficult letter to write. Many participants voiced fears that the refusal to participate might provoke pogroms and plunder. Everyone knew that their decision might affect the fate of the Jewish inhabitants of the Bukowina in their battle for rights.

The decision was reached with a bare majority.

The same night the two Presidents, Dr Meyer Ebner and Dr Jacob Pistiner handed their decision to Dr Jancu von Flondor, President of the Romanian National Assembly.

Martial law was immediately proclaimed throughout Bukowina. The Romanian population, aided by the army, began to evict Jews from their homes, confiscate property and restrict their freedom. Nonetheless, the Jews did not lose confidence in the National Committee. And the Committee, through its decisive stand, also gained the respect of the Romanian authorities.

Citizens trying to return from Austria were detained on the border for 14 days by the Romanian authorities. Only after intervention by the Jewish Assembly were Jewish civil servants, who had been dismissed by the Romanian authorities, reinstated in their posts. After this, a Jewish High School was established in Czernowitz as well as a teacher's seminary. In its first year, 105 teachers in 5 departments were trained in the Jewish educational system. A cultural dispute broke out between the Zionists and the Bund about the appropriate national language to be used during lessons. Twenty-eight members of the Jewish National Assembly voted in favour of Hebrew and 27 for Yiddish.

The energetic intervention of the Jewish National Assembly with the Romanian authorities enabled Jews who had been evicted from their homes to return to them. Most importantly, the assembly convinced the Romanian authorities to register Jews as a nationality in the popular census. It had taken decades to achieve the same rights within the Austrian universities and popular census as Jews had previously been classified as Austrians. In the struggle between Romanians and Ukrainians, the Jews emerged as victors by obtaining the right to self-determination. There was no such victory in the struggle to obtain equal civil rights as the Romanian government prevaricated and was unwilling to grant them in full.

The Jewish National Assembly in Bukowina decided to ask for assistance from sister organisations in other countries. The Jews of Bukowina were intent on preserving the rights which they had gained under Austrian rule and the question of Romanian Jewry preoccupied Jewish and non - Jewish organisation across America and Europe.

On the 15th December 1918, the American Jewish Congress under the leadership of its Chairman Judge Julian W. Mack, decided to step in and demand full emancipation for the Jews of Romania through the assistance of its delegation at the Versailles Peace Conference. The Congress handed the American delegation a memorandum containing the following demands:

1.Civil, religious and political freedom for all persons.
2. The right for minority nations and organisations to grow and develop.
3. International guarantees for the safety and rights of the Jews of Romania as a national minority with
    full political equality.

A delegation from the American Jewish Congress traveled to the Peace Conference in Versailles to liaise with the American delegation. This delegation consisted of three prominent representatives of American Jewry: Judge Julian W. Mack, Rabbi Stephen Wise and Louis Marshall.

Jewish interests at the Peace Conference were co-ordinated through the Committees des delegations Juives. This which included representatives from the USA, Canada, Poland, East Galicia, Italy, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia, Bukowina and Palestine.

The leadership of this committee consisted of the President Judge Julian W. Mack and Nahum Sokoloff, the Vice President Louis Marshall, Dr Leon Reich, Israel Rosow, Harry Cutler and the General Secretary Leo Motzkin. Bukowina was represented by Dr Max Diamant and Dr Markus Kraemer who remained in Paris for several months assisting the committee.

Unfortunately, it was not possible to integrate the Alliance Israelite (France) and the Anglo-Jewish Association into the Committee. This was because their representatives were reluctant to join in the demand for 'minority rights' and restricted their own demands to the recognition of Jews as ethnic minorities in East Europe.

On the 1st March 1919, the Peace Conference established the Commission Des Nouveaux Etats et de la Protection des Minoritees (Commission for new states and protection of minorities ) with the participants from England, France, Italy, Japan, and the USA. Their task was, among other things, to find a solution to the Jewish question and this commission was in constant touch with the Jewish committee.

Public opinion favoured complete emancipation of the Jews of Romania and demanded international guarantees.

The emancipation and granting of full citizenship for the Jews of Romania was decided by the Great Powers and Romania on the 9th December 1919. However, the Romanian representative Prime Minister Jon Bratianu refused to sign the agreement. He was dismissed from his post by King Ferdinand I after pressure from the Great Powers, and replaced by Vaida -Voeved, a Romanian from Transylvania. Vaida-Voeved became Prime Minister and signed the agreement which was ratified by law on the 30th August 1920. This was published in the Romanian official gazette (Monitorul Official)on the 20th September, 1920.

The 12 clauses of this law secured full citizenship for the Jews of Romania and granted them the rights of an 'ethnic and religious minority'.

You can read about the ensuing struggle for minority rights in the next chapter of this book (1919-1942). One of the pioneers of this movement in Czernowitz was Dr Meyer Ebner, a leader of the Jewish National Movement in Bukowina and their organisation, 'Ostjuedische Zeitung' ? this is unclear which was founded in 1919.

Dr Mayer Ebner was Editor in Chief of this organisation and edited over 20 volumes which served as the voice of the Jews of Romania and as it was written in the German language had a great readership among Jews in Romania and abroad as well the general public. His courageous stance on many issues and the articles he published were valued information and often quoted as Jewish official opinion by other newspapers, including anti-Semitic publications.

Great pressure was put on the Jews of Bukowina, in the summer of 1919, to take part in the general elections in order to prove their allegiance to the Romanian State. The National Council was opposed to this, but one member of the community betrayed the will of others and agreed to accept a position in the Senate. There he voiced the minority opinion that the situation of the Jews of Romania was satisfactory and that they were agreeable to join Greater Romania.

The Jewish National Assembly immediately lodged a serious complaint about this at the Committee de Nouveaux Etats, which supported the Committee in its struggle to secure minority rights for the Jews of Romania. One more event is worthy of mention here. During 1919, the Governor of Cluj where and former Chief of Staff, General Petala arrived in Czernowitz to prepare for the visit of King Ferdinand I. He invited Dr Ebner and impressed upon him that a declaration of allegiance by the Jews of Czernowitz would be of particular value at this stage.

He said 'We are inviting His Majesty to Czernowitz. The most wonderful present which this land could give to him would be the declaration of allegiance by its Jews.

'When His Majesty arrives we will all receive him with the utmost respect.  But our enthusiasm would be even greater if the equal participation and rights of the Jews would be proclaimed by law before his arrival'. This was the courageous answer Dr Ebner gave the General.

On the 25th December 1919, all national assemblies in the Bukowina were dissolved and the Jewish National Assembly concluded its work. During times of danger this national body had protected the Jews of Bukowina against attacks by state and military authorities. It also provided it with a national leadership which strove for equal rights with other nations. In this way, it provided the next generation with the hope of turning a temporary home into a permanent one.

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