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Translation of chapter
“Kotzman” from Volume II:

Geschichte der Juden in der Bukowina

Edited by: Hugo Gold

As told by: S. J. Seidmann, Raanana Israel

Published in Tel Aviv, 1962

Translated by:

Jerome Silverbush z”l

This is a translation of the chapter “Kotzman”, Geschichte der Juden in der Bukowina
{History of the Jews in the Bukovina} Edited by: Dr. Hugo Gold,
As told by: S. J. Seidmann, Raanana Israel, Published in Tel Aviv, 1962

The small town of Kotzman was situated to the north of Chernivtsi. In the Austrian period, it was the seat of the planning section of the district administration and it had a district court and a state gymnasium 1 where instruction was given in the Ruthenian language. The Ruthenian farmers from the 13 surrounding villages brought their produce to the market in Kotzman Out of the population of 6000, approximately 700 (11.6%) were Jews who had immigrated to Kotzman from nearby areas of Galicia at the beginning of the 19th century and who dealt mainly with commerce in agricultural products. They also were occupied as craftsmen and were practically the only representatives of the intellectual professions. There were Jews in the ranks of the judges and in the bureaucracy. To name a few, Nathan Seidmann, a clerk in the planning section of the district administration in Kotzman who in his time as a member of the executive committee 2 during the years 1921 to 1927 and intermittently as chairman of the Zionist organization, performed notable service. Before 1914, the Jews and the Ruthenian population of the town and the surrounding villages got along well.

The Jews of Kotzman had their own community. In 1914, Anschel Dauber was the leader and his deputy was Aron Weintraub. The members of the community council were Salomon Merdlinger, Samuel Fritz, Jakob Beer-Gruen, Chaim Schorr, Hersch Kreisberger, Leibisch Rosenblatt, Samuel Oberwaeger, Hermann Schulmann, Markus Stier, Abraham Schorr, Moses Tannenbaum, Alter Tennenblatt and Hersch Zimmer. The rabbi was Samuel Schaechter, followed by David Fraenkel-Hager. The rabbi's deputy was Berl Teitelbaum. The Secretary was Josef H. Herzan, Jankel Seidner was director of the Endowment for the Poor and Leibisch Rosenblatt directed the Organization for the Support of the Sick. The community had a synagogue and a cemetery. It also provided for the religious needs of the minyan organizations 3 in Nepolokautz, Luzan and Oroszeny. There were also two smaller prayer houses in Kotzman.

There was a Talmud Torah school in the town for whose growth, the Seidmann family must be given particular credit. Wolf Meiselmann was an outstanding teacher at this school. Also, there was a Zionist Culture organization under the leadership of Dr. J. Sperber and later Dr. Leo Auerbach stood at the helm of this organization.

The activities of the Jewish doctors, Dr. Josef Silber (died in Transnistrien) and Dr. Benjamin Schorr remain unforgettable. The Jewish lawyers Dr. Josef Sperber, Dr. Josef Wagner and his son, Dr. Richard Wagner (both of whom perished in Transnistrien), Dr. Chaim Birnbaum (died in Transnistrien), Dr. Siegfried Herzan, Dr. Leo Auerbach, Dr. Arnold Auerbach (Paris) and Leopold Rieber (Bucharest) were at the forefront of the population. The engineers Philipp Herzan (Paris) and Elias Gaertner (Grenoble), bank director Fritz, the merchants Mottel Binder and his sons Jizchak and Israel (died in Transnistrien), Schmuil Binder (Haifa), Arie Awineri, Leib Binder, Rabbi Baruch Hager, the long serving president, Chaim Gaertner, the last president Baruch Auerbach, the last rabbi Uscher Rubin, the Schorr brothers, Runes, Josef Liebermann, Willi Scherl, Jizchak Teifer, the officials Karl Rieber, Samuel Auerbach, Jakob Nathan Seidmann, printer Hermann Warmflasch, Salzmann, the craftsman David Baum, David Berger, Kreitmann, the merchants Koenigsberg brothers, Schwarzkopf brothers, brothers David and Josef Katz, the Harnik brothers, Simon Teiler, Hersch Spierer, David Staar and others.

During the period of Romanian rule, no great changes took place. The Romanian Chauvinists viewed both the Ruthenes and the Jews as enemies of the state whose suppression was one of the goals of the state and the Jews profited from the fact that they were not the only ones being systematically persecuted.

During the years of persecution the Ruthenian (Ukrainian) leadership became nationalistic rabble rousers. They joined forces with the Nazi hoards and the Romanian Soldateska 4 Jews were robbed, tormented and murdered. In the Summer of 1941 after the Russian troops withdrew, the following Jews were shot at the Luzanerberg: Rabbi Uscher Rubin, president Baruch Auerbach, the Schwarzkopf brothers, the Berl Brothers, Isiu Hecht, Hersch Spierer, two sons of Simon Schorr, Hersch Gaensler and Simon Rottenberg. These victims were on a list that the Ukrainian lawyer Dimitrie Hrehoriak (now in Cluj) compiled and handed to the Nazis.

Among those deported to Transnistrien, among many others were Jakob Nathan Seidmann, his brothers Abraham Hersch and Moses Seidmann, his sister Ida, Josef Herzan, the mailman Meier Schulmann who at the time of the deportation was 104 years old and who perished with three sons and a daughter, Chaim Gartner from the village of Suchowershow with his family. The victims Jakob Baer Schorr, Moses Chaim Schiffer and Leib Nagler who together with their families lost their lives were also from this village.

As told by S.J. Seidmann, Raanana

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1) The gymnasium is a secondary school that prepares students for the university. Students attend for 9 years and receive a degree called the “abiture.”

2) Under Austrian rule, any community with a considerable number of Jews had to have a rigidly defined form of self government whose officers were elected by the community. The basic term for the Jewish community and government is “Kultusgemeinde” which I simply translate as “community.” There was a Kultuspraesident which I translate as president, two committees, the Kultusrat which I define as “community council” and the Kultusvorstand which I translate as executive committee. There was also a vice president, a secretary and several other positions. Jews in small villages surrounding a town with a Kultusgemeinde would belong to the Kultusgemeinde of the larger town.

3) Towns which were to small to have their own synagogue or prayer house had a minyan organization. A minyan is the minimum quorum (generally, 10 men) necessary for saying important prayers.

4) Soldateska is a derogatory term for soldier.

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