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About the Characteristics of the Zionist Movement in Bukovina Between the Two World Wars
(Sidelights) (cont'd)


Palestine Work

Today since the budget of the Zionist World Organization and the Sochnuth and even more so the Israel's state budget present imposing figures and since also the size of the colonial development of Israel and the immigration in the Jewish land outstrips our boldest dreams from those times, many shrug their shoulders over the Zionist concern with small details from those beginning days, over the painfully gathered pennies for the Fund and the rejoicing over every little business enterprise which was created with untold effort and every hundred, yes even dozen new immigrants and perhaps joins those who with scornful pity or perhaps cynicism look down on the Zionism of those days. Bialik's words are meant for those people, “Who scorns the days of the detail work? Shame on them. Without that detail work no new settlements would have been created, the existing ones would have soon become desolate if there had been no new immigration and the old settlers and their children would have soon scattered by the winds. Without all the laborious preparation work of the Zionists of the Diaspora the Jewish settlement work in the Jewish state would have quickly collapsed and there would have been no Jewish state. Although these are platitudes, many seem to have forgotten them and therefore it is good that they are reminded of them in order that they see the many sided relationship between the Galuth [Diaspora] and Israel in its correct relationship.

The Palestine work of the Zionists in the Diaspora was divided into two main branches: collection the financial means for building up the Jewish land and preparing the people for emigration and building. In both areas little Bukovina, that is to say the Jewish population of Bukovina had considerable accomplishments. Considering the 120,000 Jewish population of the land and the unfavorable relationship of the buying power of the valuta at home and abroad, the financial success of the two finance instruments of the Zionist organization - the Keren Kayemet Lejisrael (KKL) [Jewish National Fund] and the Keren Hayesod [United Israel Appeal] and the results of various special actions in Bukovina - could measure up to that of much richer Jewish Communities in Europe. In the area of the organizing of the Aliyah [emigrating to Israel] Bukovina had a significance ranging far over its borders. The Czernowitz Palestine Office was a focal point of the transit path out of Poland over Romania to Eretz Israel and over the course of years tens of thousands were helped and cared for by its representatives and officials on their way to the Jewish land.

a) The Zionist funds

To give the reader an idea of the Palestine work in Bukovina I'd like to present the following data from reports of the Bukovina Zionist state conferences: In 1921 there existed a collection point of the KKL as a department of the Zionist State Committee which in 1922 became a distinct organization and which was separated by the Zionist State Committee in 1923. Later this organization strived to increase its autonomy, in particular to protect itself from interference by various Zionist parties. In the provinces KKL local committees were formed which fell under the bailiwick of the Czernowitz Central. Until August 1922 the collection points were directed by Dr. Ludwig Chajes who died during the war and who was one of the men faithful to the Zionist cause from the Emunah circle. He was followed by Dr. Manfred Reifer who in March 1923 was replaced by Dr. Leon Schmelzer who dedicated many years to KKL work. The leadership was then placed in the hands of the spry Moritz Friedmann who held it until the end. The leader was supported by a commission at whose head was for many years the vice president of the State Committee, Dr. Theodor Weisselberger. Every year a state conference took place, attended by the key people of the KKL, usually in a provincial city in Bukovina. In the early years the propaganda usually concentrated on the National Fund canisters using the motto “No Jewish home without canisters” and it succeeded in making this form of contribution so popular that the blue-white canisters became a regular household fixture in most Jewish homes in Bukovina that symbolized the families love for Zion. In the twenties the leadership was busy with the project of a Bukovina colony in Eretz Israel. According to the Bukovina collection point [Sammelstelle] representing the central administration of the KKL, a terrain of one thousand dunam [1000 square meters, about one acre] was to be set aside for the founding of such a colony under the condition that the Bukovina Jews in the course of two years collect 4 million for the KKL. Later according to a decision made at the IV State Conference of the KKL in 1934 in the presence of Menachem Ussischkin it was to be 6000 pounds for 2000 dunam. It appears that also later that the land was placed at the disposal of an organized group of Bukovina Chalutzim [pioneers or settlers in Israel] with the name of Atid but the Bukovina was never realized.

The written propaganda of the KKL in the form of brochures and flyers as well as the oral propaganda dispersed during the distribution and collection of the blue-white canisters and during collections at prayer houses and at numerous meetings in the city and the country contributed much to the spreading of the Zionist idea. The acquisition of land in Eretz Israel along with the Aliyah [emigrating to Israel] at that time was considered as the most important Palestine work and messengers permeated with the significance of the effort spread the idea of the redemption of the land throughout city and country. The number of local groups grew and the contributions increased from year to year. So, for example according to reports, in 1922 a total of 307,000 lei was collected by 67 local groups, in 1923 a total of approximately 753,000 lei was collected by 72 local groups and in the first five months of 1924 640,000 lei was contributed by 80 local groups and in a report to the KKL conference of June 1926 it was stated that in the last 20 months, in addition to the millions contributed by Markus Juster, approximately 3 million lei had been collected. In another report, concerning the period from January 1926 to May 1927, a collection of approximately 2,380,000 lei was reported.

The yearly state conferences of the top people in the KKL were another focal point of Zionist life at which delegates from the main offices like the gentlemen Esrachi, Nathan Bistrizky, Imanuel Olswangr, Dr. E.M. Zweig, Adolf Pollak and others gave reports. A very special culmination was the visit of M.M. Ussichkin to Bukovina in June, 1924.

The second financial instrument of the Zionist organization, the Keren Hayesod (KH) [United Israel Appeal] was considered to encompass all the Jewish people and parties. In Bukovina, however the situation was such that in truth, the work lay on the shoulders of the Zionists, if not entirely, than chiefly. At the head of the Keren Hayesod of Bukovina was a board of trustees which was chosen at the yearly conference and which consisted of veterans of all strata of society and all parties (with the exception of the Bund party, Jewish Communists and Agudists). The board of trustees elected an Executive and a narrower leadership called the Directorate and in the provincial towns and villages committees were formed that sent delegates to the Board of Trustees. The first leader of the Bukovina Keren Hayesod was Engineer Dr. M. Reiner (now professor at the Haifa Technical College). He was followed by the long time leader Dr. Manfrede Reifer whose brilliant speaking and organizational talents as well as his bold and generous leadership contributed much to the success of the fund. He was assisted by Mrs. Dr. Sari Lachs who had the position of secretary. The internal office work during the course of the years lay in the hands of Miss Juta Mann. For many years Director Max Seidmann, who was highly respected in commercial circles and knowledgeable about Judaism was reappointed by the KH State Conference to be president of the Bukovina KH which he represented with dignity. At his side stood Engineer Maximilian Zwilling, who was for many years a member of the Zionist executive Board who with diligence and love carried out the agenda of the managing vice president until his death in 1936. In 1931 the leadership of the Bukovina KH was assumed by Max Ritter von Anhauch, a man who had a leading position in the business life of Bukovina and whose great prestige in commercial and industrial circles was very useful to the Fund. A staff of dedicated fellow workers, consisting almost exclusively of Zionist members bore year in and year out, the load of the KH campaigns in the city and the country. The campaigns were initiated at great gatherings of the people, at which in addition to the good speakers from the Zionists of the state also foreign guests lectured, and they ended with personal visits for the purpose of accepting the contributions. In the first days after the confirmation of the Palestine mandate, while the waves of enthusiasm were high there were stirring episodes in which women, griped by the flaming words of the speaker took off gold rings and other jewelry and gave to him for the building of the Jewish state. Later, the KH tried the Maasser Idea in Bukovina. It was however only successful to a small degree and so the system of voluntary assessment of contributions was initiated and it proved to be very successful and already lead to great success in the first years. And so, the KH campaigns of the years 1921, 1922 and 1923 which with the assistance of Julius Berger, a member of the KH Executive for Central Europe provided the following increasing results: 1921, approximately 102,000 lei, 1922 approximately 683,000 lei and 1923 approximately 1,802,000 lei. From an accounting report of November 1925 on e can see that in the first 10 months of this year approximately 3,300,000 lei were collected and in 1926 the collections rose to approximately 5,000,000 lei.

The high point of the KH propaganda was the KH State Conference at which there were almost always foreign speakers. In December, 1921 Kurt Blumenfeld came to Czernowitz and as representative of the London KH Executive participated in the first Bukovina KH conference which laid the foundation for the KH work in Bukovina. The Zionist organization was at that time represented on the board of directors of the KH by the Dr. Markus Kraemer and Josef Wiznitzer. At the second KH conference of February 1925 it was Nachum Sokolow who honored Bukovina with his visit. A short time later in November 1925 a third KH State Conference took place at which time Vladimir Jabotinsky was a guest and Alexander Goldstein of the board of directors of the KH attended. Elected as vice presidents under Director Max Seidmann who remained in the post of president were Josef Wiznitzer a leading member of the board of Directors of the Zionist State Organization and for a time its vice president who was especially interested in the training of chalutzim for farming and Schaje Goldfeld a veteran of the Movement and leader of the Bukovina Misrachi. The province was represented in the Presidium by Rabbi Dr. Jakob Nacht. At the 4th KH State conference of January it was Dr. Imanuel Olswanger who represented the KH Board of Directors. The 5th KH conference of November 1928 again had as its guests Colonel J. Wedgwood, leading member of the British Labor Party and Christian friend of Zionism as well as Kurt Blumenfeld. The re-elected Director Max Seidmann had this time as vice presidents Nathan Boral, veteran of the Zionist movement and leader of Misrachi whose patriarchic figure graced every Zionist tribune as well as Dr. Josef Ohrenstein and Dr. Moritz Löwner. Other guests of the Bukovina KH at various occasions were the well known historian Dr. N.M. Gelber, the brilliant speaker Rabbi Dr. Joachim Prinz, Mr. Julius Berger, Mrs. Gerda Arlosoroff, the author Drvid Pinski, the gentlemen Blumberg and Karpin and Rabbi Dr. Kantorszick, who at various times stayed for weeks and months in Bukovina to lead the KH drives in city and country. The Bukovina Jews experienced great days when the president of the Zionist organization himself, Professor Chiam Weizmann came in November 1927 to Czernowitz and his visit was the high point of a KH campaign which the KH delegates Pinski, Blumberg and Karpin had initiated.

b) Aliyah and Chalutzim

For the second branch of the Palestine work the preparation of people for emigration and building up of Eretz Israel, Czernowitz was one of the most important centers for the migration of the Jews. After the pogrom in Petljura and Denikinbanden in the Ukraine in the years 1919-1921 thousands of Jews fled over the Dniester border to Romania and many of them came to Czernowitz. In these years Czernowitz became an important center of Chalutz and Palestine migration. Restrictions on emigration to Eretz Israel lengthened the stay of the Jews who had escaped the Ukrainian hell. The Jewish population was encouraged by the Zionist organization to provide work possibilities for the refugees and for a certain period they were also offered work in farming. This part of the work was carried out by Merkas Hechaluzs for Bukovina whose office was located at 2 Peterplatz. The Czernowitz Palestine office at that time provided travel papers for many people, single chalutzim and families.

In October 1922 began a second stream of emigration to Palestine that went through Romania. It was the transit migration from Poland. The emigrants were brought in closed transports accompanied by a representative of the Warsaw Palestine office to Sniatyn and there taken charge of by an official from the Czernowitz Palestine office. In the Romanian border station Nepolokoutz was located a rest station of the Czernowitz Palestine office run by Saul Suchestow and Breger. After the formalities were taken care of the transport was taken to the Romanian harbor Constanza [on the Black Sea] from where it was carried by ship to Eretz Israel. In this epoch, the Czernowitz Palestine office became the central point of the Palestine offices of Romania.

The following information about the structure of the Czernowitz Palestine office and the aliyah numbers can be extracted from reports to the State Conference by the Bukovina Zionist organization: In addition to the actual office there was a Palestine commission of 10 members which consisted of representatives of all Zionist parties and indeed at a certain time, 50% of the commission members were representatives of the Zionist State Organization and the Misrachi organization while the other 50% represented Poale Zion, Hitachduth and Hechaluz. Later, all the Zionist parties were represented in the Palestine commission. The emigration to Palestine that used Czernowitz as the exit point, not including the much larger Polish transports, reached the following numbers during the early years: 1273 olim[16] (1921), 1219 olim (1922), 814 olim (1923), 846 olim (1924), and 1016 olim (1925). The sinking of the emigration numbers in the years 1923-1924 and also 1925 was due to the high unemployment in Israel at that time and to the tightening of the immigration rules by the British mandate government. At that time the Czernowitz Palestine office was the Aliyah central for all of Romania. The Bucharest Palestine office handled the negotiations with the central authorities and the dealings with the shipping firms. At certain times there were four state Palestine offices in Romania and in addition a harbor office of the general Chalutz organization in Galatz [town in Romania] and a harbor service in Constanza. In the years 1933/1936 the Polish transit aliyah reached the number of 50,000 olim. Twice a month at that time special trains went from Warsaw via Sniatyn and Nepolkoutz to Constanza and for all these transports the Czernowitz Palestine office intervened at the customs stations, at luggage control and in document control.

The Czernowitz Palestine office owed its central position and significance to the drive, energy and organizational talent of its first leader, Prof. Julian Silberbusch. In later years, especially during the period of the great Polish transit aliyah over Romania this office was led by the astute Dr. Theodor Weisselberger and his secretary Dr. Karl Klinger who was very knowledgeable and competent concerning the aliyah through. Romania. Dr. Zwi Brender who now lives in Israel was vice president of the Palestine Commission and one of the leading men of Zaire Zion movement in Bukovina. At that time, this office in Galatz was held by Bukoviner Martin Hammer and another Bukoviner, Jakob Wohlfeld diligently directed for many years the Harbor Service in Constanza.

A considerable part of the Palestine emigration from Bukovina consisted of young Chalutzim, among whom there were many who came from middle class backgrounds and who were driven by idealism to do pioneer work in Eretz Israel. Several organizations were concerned with the nurturing of the Bukovina Chalutz movement: The Merkas Hechlutz, the Czernowitz Palestine office, the organization Jedidej Hechhaluz, the Bukovina Zionist State Committee, the Zionist Socialist Party Zaire Zion (Hitachduth), the Jewish Socialist Party Poale Zion and in later years also the other Zionist Parties. In the early years one was mainly concerned about providing work and room and board mostly in worker's kitchens as well as for travel papers which were only provided in part by the Joint. Later a Hachschara fund was established and a committee which consisted of representatives of the above named organizations was established to provide funds for the training and physical needs of the Chalutz youth. Work groups were formed to work on private estates in Bukovina in Negostina, Sadagura, Hermenhof and Nepolokoutz according to a report from April 1927. For about 8 to 9 months from April to October or November one worked in farming and in the winter some were occupied in wood cutting. The organizations responsible for Chalutz work in Bukovina were in contact with the All Romanian Chalutz and thus Bukovina youth worked on farms owned by the Chalutz movement in Romania - as for example in the above named report of April 1927 - in Biliceni and Iasi. In the All Romanian Board of Trustees conference for Chalutz work in Romania in February, 1928 Prof. Julian Silberbusch, Josef Wiznitzer, Dr. Max Diamant, Dr. Isidor Kottlar and Nathan Horowitz were delegated as agriculture experts by the Bukovina Jedidej Hechaluz and the Bukovina Zionist State Organization.

In the early years, it was primarily the Haschomer Hazair youth organizations which nurtured the Chalutz idea and out of whose ranks in the twenties many people permeated with the Zionist ideal went to Eretz Israel. In the course of the years it was joined by other youth organizations that followed the same Chalutz path such as Hechaluz Hazair, Hechaver, Hatechia, Gordonia, Hanoar Hazioni and Hechaluz Haklalzioni.

In the thirties, the Aliyah movement of Bukovina youth grew stronger and with it the pressure on the Zionist central officials to increase the number of emigration certificates for Chalutz youth of Bukovina. The number of those seeking certificates multiplied and all the requests couldn't be satisfied. Helping the Chalutz youth achieve their aliyah to Eretz Israel as well as organizing the Aliyah of more well off people who were destined for “middle class” colonies as well as hand workers with a certain minimal capital were the chief problems concerning the Zionist authorities of Bukovina at that time. According to a report of December 1936, at that time there were 1500 Jews from Bukovina in Eretz Israel. Later, their number grew, but, the number was always very modest since the Aliyah was throttled by restrictive regulations enacted by the mandate powers. The Bukovina State Zionist organization had done much for the Aliyah of the Bukovina Jews, but in spite of that, after all that had happened, the question that emerges today is if everything that could have been done, in spite of the restrictions, had actually been done. Were all possible avenues tried to facilitate the emigration of hand workers with 250 pounds capital and others with a capital of 1000 pounds who were allowed to emigrate in unlimited numbers? In the penultimate hour were the people in this category shaken awake with urgency corresponding to the hopelessness of the situation? Were measures appropriate for the growing uncertainty of the position taken by the so-called Aliyah Bet (emigration without a certificate)? It is a tormenting question that is difficult to answer, since we are dealing with “if and when” and trying to judge the outcome of past events based on later happenings and cognitions.


Organized Buildup

a) The Bukovina Zionist State Organization

Central to the buildup of the Zionist organization in Bukovina was the Bukovina Zionist State Organization around which the local groups, organizations, women's and youth groups collected. Also, the Zionist party factions of the Revisionists and the Radicals were up to a certain point branches of the Bukovina Zionist State Organization (also known as the State Committee). Only later in a dramatic exodus which occurred at a Zionist state conference, the above named factions created their own independent organizational framework, but after a short time the radical group led by Dr. Markus Kraemer returned to the embrace of the mother party. Somehow, even the independent special groups of Misrachi, Hitachduth and Poale Zion, as well for a certain time, the splinter group of Revisionists, recognized the Zionist State Committee of Bukovina which had its seat in the Jewish National House on Theaterplatz as the nerve center of the total Zionist movement in Bukovina. Around those offices in the third story of the Jewish House which one remembers with melancholy, was concentrated everyone who thought and felt Zionism and there ruled with unmatched constancy and holy earnestness the man who was the managing vice president for all those years and its unshakeable backbone, Dr. Thomas Weisselberger.

Even though efforts based on a decision made at the XV Zionist Congress to create an umbrella organization which was to encompass all Zionist parties, miscarried, there was a informal Zionist alliance whose middle point was the State Committee. The growth of the Bukovina Zionist State Organization was a democratic process. Its law giving body, the State Conference which met from time to time was attended by elected officials. Every member of a town group who was over 18 years old and whose dues had been paid for the current year was eligible to be a delegate. Payment of Keren Hayesod dues was also a requirement to be eligible for election. Every town group elected a certain number of delegates and substitute delegates for the conference. The conference elected an advisory body, first called the “Expanded State Committee” and later named the “Party Council” as well as a body in whose hands the leadership lay, first called the “Limited State Committee” and later the “Executive Board.” The Executive Board met and named a president, vice president and a department chief.

The organization was constructed on the “cell system” of town groups and associations. In every Bukovina town there could be only one town group, but several Zionist associations even though often the only Zionist association in the town was the local group itself. A town group was also founded in Czernowitz which later because of its leading roll became the State Committee and still later found its resurrection in the city organization founded by Dr. Markus Kraemer. The Bukovina Zionist State Organization itself found a place within the framework of the Zionist World Organization which only recognized state organizations and special groups like Misrachi, Hitachduth and Poale Zion and always insisted on the carrying out of Congress decisions concerning the creation of territorial and umbrella organizations. Finally, because of the “layering” of the organization, the attempts of many state political and personal opponents of Dr. Mayer Ebner - who gathered around Dr. Josef Bierer and Dr. Salomon Kassner to found a so called “Free Zionist Organization - didn't succeed. Because of that and also because of internal weaknesses, the Free Zionist Organization, founded in 1931 collapsed after a short time and its not very numerous members joined the various Zionist factions.

The contact of the Bukovina Zionists with the Zionist World Organization and its organs took place through the Zionist State Organization which in its turn cooperated with the local special groups. Naturally, the special organizations and factions were in contact with their world centrals and a certain direct contact on their side with the organs of the Zionist World Organization couldn't be avoided with this layering of the organizations.

From time to time special delegations of the World Organization came to Czernowitz which were exclusively or mainly concerned with organizational questions and which surveyed the state of affairs, collected information and then reported back to the Zionist main departments. Among them were top rank Zionist personalities like the member of the Zionist World Executive Board Attorney Felix Rosenblüth (later justice minister of Israel and also Rav. Fischmann, a prominent leader of Misrachi and later the first religion minister of Israel who in Czernowitz representing the Zionist World Executive Board inspected the Zionist offices, the first in spring of 1931 and the last in March 1936.

Also contact was made with the Zionists of the other provinces of Greater Romania. So in April 1927 a meeting of the Zionist organizations from the four Romanian provinces took place at which it was decided to create a central council of the Zionist organizations of Greater Romania with its headquarters in Bucharest. Dr. Mayer Ebner and Engineer Zwilling were chosen as delegates from the Bukovina State Zionist Organization to this central council.

For all those years Dr. Mayer Ebner whose high intellectual, spiritual, cultural and moral qualities, assured him unrivaled leadership in Zionist circles was elected as president of the Bukovina State Zionist Organization again and again. In the first years after the war Prof. Beinisch was the traveling secretary of the organization. The general secretariat lay in the hands of Dr. Manfred Reifer. He was followed in the general secretariat position in 1924 by Jakob Geller, a long time member of the Zionist State Executive Board who died tragically in the summer of 1941. There were periods in 1932 when Moritz Friedmann and Karl Klinger handled the Secretariat and for a period in 1933 the writer of these lines was honorary general secretary of the Bukovina State Zionist Organization in his capacity as a member of the Executive Board. Later Mr. H. Neumeier became secretary of the organization and held this office diligently until the end. The extent of this organizational work is described in following figures extracted from the report of the organization department at the 9th Zionist state conference of January 1924. Already during the period covered by the report from January 1, 1933 until January 1, 1924 there were local Zionist organizations in 68 communities in Bukovina and 403 people's and party meetings were held.

The prestige of the members of the Zionist State Executive Board was considerable. They were received by the local Zionist groups and the Jewish population with warmth and respect during their travels through city and country for organizational and propaganda purposes. The people who took part in that work remember those times with nostalgia when they were rewarded by the sympathy and respect of those who are no longer with us today.

Also in Czernowitz there was a local group which in the years 1923 and 1924 was led by Mr. Moritz Geiger. In March 1924 the local committee of these local groups consisted of representatives of Zionist groups like the diverse Zionist student organizations and the Zionist women's groups. Moritz Geiger was again elected chairman and Dr. Juda Ebner was elected as his deputy. Mr. Wiener became secretary. In the summer of the same year the local committee was restructured and this time Dr. Juda Ebner became president, Moses Schwitz became vice president and Salo Weidenfeld became secretary. In later years Mr. Moritz Liquornik was head of the Czernowitz local group[17] for a time. In 1927, the group split into the following three factions: the Worker's Association Club whose members followed the politics of the majority party which were based on Weizmann's ideas (chairman Moritz Liquornik), the Revisionist Club (chairman Benno Sternberg) and the Radical Club (chairman Dr. Markus Kraemer). There followed a period of relative decline and only in 1935 were the local groups reinvigorated by the city organization - the General Zionists - founded by Dr. Markus which rented rooms in the former café-bar of the Hotel Central which also became the seat of the Bukovina Zionist State Organization. Under the aegis of Dr. Markus Kraemer and with active help of committee members of this newly created organization, Markus Gold, Simche Eisenberg, Josef Wronski, Abraham Dresner, Dir. Isak Zehnwirt, Mendel Engler and others the social and cultural activities of the Czernowitz Zionist local groups took a noteworthy upswing.

b) Women's Groups

The Zionist women who worked closely with the Zionist State Organization at first called themselves the Zionist Women's Group and then formally organized themselves in April 1924 as the Alliance of Zionist Woman in Bukovina. In the work program of the Alliance which later joined the World Organization of Zionist Women, WIZO practical work for Palestine, local and social work as well as the studying Hebrew and Jewish literature was included. From time to time members of WIZO came to Bukovina to maintain the contact with the Bukovina Alliance like for example Miss Margit Mechner, organization secretary of WIZO in February 1927 and Dr. Martha Hoffmann in December 1932 as a guest at the 1st WIZO state conference in Bukovina. A circle of women dedicated to the Zionist cause led by Miss Klara Klinger, probably the most outstanding figure in the Jewish women's movement in Bukovina with Klara Dachner, Berta Rim, F. Glasberg, M. Katz, M. Schaechter, L.Weisselberger and others[C] at her side did the practical work and their part in the Palestine work of the Bukovina Zionist State Organization was noteworthy.

c) Youth Groups

The organizational activity of the Bukovina Zionist State Organization naturally also included the various Zionist youth groups. At every conference the youth presentations formed a natural framework for criticism, even self criticism and the Youth Office in the course of the years was a step child of the organization. And this was only to easy to understand. The Movement was above all built on idealism and volunteerism and at all times the youth were the avant-garde of the idealist movement. Before the First World War as the Movement was a great distance from the practical achievement of its goals and the theoretical outweighed the practical. It was the Jewish students of Bukovina who took up the leadership and who also dominated the youth movement. After the war the situation changed. Truer, real life Zionism also signified for the youth realization and this meant among other things giving up the warm parental home and moving to a distant land to live a pioneer life full of challenges and sacrifices. Only a small number of the young students were ready to accept this challenge and so it naturally happened that the students gave up their leading roll in the Youth Movement while those who had gone before them retained their place of leadership in the Movement. Also, those youth who had enrolled in Chalutz training became the main force in the Zionist Youth Movement outstripping the academic youngsters.

In Bukovina it was above all the Haschomer Hazair which in the early post-war years trained the youth in its ranks for chastity, sobriety, honesty, clean living, friendship, solidarity and true Chalutz spirit. In the war year of 1916 the Movement was founded in a Vienna refugee barrack and Bukovina youth who had fled with their parents to Vienna were among its first members. With the end of the war and the return of the refugees to their earlier homes the Movement came into Bukovina. The brothers Joschua and Maniu Bierer, sons of Dr. Josef Bierer and a considerable number of men, who today live in the farming communities of Israel and there in the course of decades accomplished outstanding pioneer work where among its first leaders.[D] From the ranks of the Bukovina Haschomer Hazair also came Jizchak ben Ahron, the present transportation minister of Israel.

The Socialist coloring of the Schomrim movement and the way of life in their summer camps, in many ways reminiscent of commune life made the movement suspicious in the eyes of the Romanian officials. And so, the Haschomer Hazair became the target of attacks by the Romanian press toward the end of 1921 and it had to be defended by the Bukovina Zionist State Organization against the reproach of having a revolutionary character. With time, the socialist points in the program were stressed ever more heavily and as a consequence, a certain proportion of the youth who saw in Zionism a national renewal and freedom movement began to seek other ways and so a new Zionist youth movement was created that stressed the national over the socialistic or were completely free from any Socialist ideas. The Bukovina Haschomer retained however its significance as the first Chalutz youth movement in Bukovina that also fell within the framework of the worldwide Schomrim movement.

Closest to Haschomer Hazair speaking purely chronologically was the Hechaver, the second Chalutz youth movement of Bukovina which since 1926 took a rapid upswing and had several local groups in Bukovina. Its ideology which stressed nationalism above socialism was close to that of the Zionist world youth movement Gordonia and so in the end, it came to a melding of both youth movements.

In the thirties the youth movement of the General Zionists was formed which grew ever more in significance and stood in close contact with the Bukovina Zionist State Organization. At first there were separate General Zionist youth organizations and later a General Zionist youth alliance with the name Hanoar Hazioni which was founded in the winter of 1933 and already at the start had 17 branch groups. Of the active and leading members of this group (like Engineer Harry Jeckeles, the brothers S. and M. Schaechter, B. Diener, M. Melzer, Menachem Rauchbach (Peleg), Josef Adler and later Jehuda Scheuermann (Schaari), Jizchak Herzig (Arzi) Ture Holzhacker, Rosenstock (Wardi), the Weidenfeld brothers, Zwi Ehrlich and others) most found their way to Israel and many achieved important positions in public life of Israel.

The division along party lines created a situation where other Zionist groups and factions also had their youth groups like the Betar Movement of the Revisionists which was led by Jakob Schieber as well as the Zeire Misrachi of the Misrachi Association among whose leading members were Abraham Bojar (today vice mayor of Tel-Aviv). Also the Alliance of Zionist Women had its youth movement, Jung-Debora, later renamed Jung Wizo.

The youth movement of Misrachi was apolitical but it had a Zionist character which had as its main goal the training in sports and physical culture and whose long time president Michael Schindler was a member of the Zionist Executive Board[E] for many years.

If the Zionist students of Bukovina fell behind other groups in the Chalutz Movement, they had a significant position within the Jewish and Zionist student body of Greater Romania. In July 1926 in Czernowitz a congress of the Jewish Students of Romania took place whose participants were predominately Zionists. The congress of the Zionist Students of Romania which took place in Bucharest in April 1931which was attended by the Zionist student alliances[18] of the kingdom elected a Bukoviner (the writer of these lines) as vice president of the Federation of Zionist Student alliances which was formed at this congress. Also at later congresses of the Federation like for example in August 1934 in Dorna Watra many Bukoviner were elected to leadership positions. The process of “factionization” of Zionist organizations also took place among the Zionist student alliances. The alliances Hasmonaea, Hebroniah, Heatid (Czernowitz) under the influence of Jabotinsky hewed to the Revisionist program. The middle school alliances (The so called “pre-alliances) which were attached to the student alliances took a similar path. ”Zephirah remained true to Zeire Zion and Emunah did the same with the General Zionists. In the 30s the number of the Chalutzim from the ranks of the Zionist student body increased, and in particular it was Emunah that already in1929 took a positive stance toward Chalutz at youth conferences. After the decree of 1937 by the Senate of the Czernowitz University forbidding academic alliances these groups continued their work in secret. The Boarded Zionist body of alliances which encompassed students of middle schools and trade schools (like for example the very active Czernowitz Morish) in Czernowitz and the larger provincial cities of Bukovina proved itself for the Bukovina Zionist Movement as an important “catch basin”, which prevented the loss of Jewish youth to other movements and directed them to Zionism and that was indubitably its best feature.

The diversity of the Zionist youth groups and the significance of organizing and educating the youth for the Zionist Movement showed the necessity for a Zionist Youth office and later a Youth Council of the Bukovina Zionist State Organization about whose task lively debates often accompanied by sharp criticism were conducted at the Zionist State Conferences. The organizing of the youth, a change in their upbringing and education, preventing their slipping into assimilation from the right or the left or into indifference and passivity concerning the problems of the Jewish masses were the most important Zionist youth problems of that time.

d) Zionist Factions and Groups

Both in the Zionist World Organization and the Bukovina Zionist State Organization the process of growth was accompanied a secondary process of division. First evolved the special groups of Zeire Zion (Hitachduth), Poale Zion and Misrachi and later the factions of the Revisionists and radicals and finally the special groups of the “Jewish Staters” separated from the Revisionists. Up until 1927 Revisionists and Radicals belonged to the Bukovina Zionist State Organization and were represented in the Presidium, the Executive Board and the Party Council. At the Bukovina Zionist State Conference of 1927 there were really stormy debates. The ideological fight, because of the narrowness of the framework took on personal dimensions and finally it came to an exodus of the united revisionist–radical opposition. Finally, a leadership without Radicals or Revisionists was elected at this conference and from then on these groups organized themselves as independent factions. The majority groups at first saw the election of a homogenous leadership at the conference as a necessity that offered the opportunity for good work. Actually, the polemic which was then carried on externally became more bitter and proved itself to be a deterrent to good work. The idea of creating a territorial organization caused further conflict. The growing contrasts caused the so called official majority groups which actually accomplished the business of the Bukovina Zionist State Organization to re-organize themselves as a separate group of the General Zionists, but the recognition of the damage this was causing became ever clearer and so loud voices were raised which demanded the re-combination. Finally, the XII Zionist State Conference of fall, 1930 brought the return of the Revisionists and Radicals to the mother organization. Representatives of these groups once again sat in the leading bodies of the Bukovina State Zionist Organization and inner tranquility appeared to be reestablished. The same conference brought another exodus and this time it was the members of the U.E.R. [Liberal Party] who were against the political leadership of Dr. Mayer Ebner. The rejecting nature of the conference which backed Dr. Ebner caused them to leave the hall and later organize themselves as the short lived Free Zionist Union, a group that didn't fulfill the statutes of the Zionist World Organization. The inner peace that came with the return of the Revisionists didn't last long. The representatives of the Revisionists elected at the XII Zionist State Conference in the Presidium of the Executive Board and the Party Council laid down their mandates after three months of bitter disputes and again left the framework of the organization. Once outside the framework the Revisionists took up their fight against the Bukovina Zionist State Organization and also against the special Zionist groups in an ever sharper form. So toward the end of 1932 there was an explosion of Zionist groups with different ideas and it even came to physical assaults.

The Radical group remained within the framework of the organization and its representatives accomplished worthwhile work. Also good was their relationship to the Zionist State Organizations even though from time to time there was disagreements as for example in the Palestine Commission work and with the distribution of the immigration certificates for Eretz Israel.

The calendar showed the year 1936, the Aliyah question burned hotter and a certificate became an ever more valuable possession. The frugality of the British mandate power in handing out certificates led to bitter fights in the brotherly camp. In the battle with the Revisionists was the added difficulty that they stood outside the organization. After similar events in Jerusalem and Warsaw also in Czernowitz in March 1937 there was an attack of young Revisionists on the spaces of the Palestine Office, the KKL and the Bukovina Zionist State Organization. The cause of this tragic “self mutilation” was the demand for certificates by the NZO for Betar and the reply of the Zionist World Executive Board that they could issue certificates to individual members of Betar but not to Betar as an organization. In those days Jabotinsky presented his evacuation plan to the world.

The shape of things to come sketched itself on the political firmament. In fear and confusion brothers fought one another and the approaching fate ran its course.


And now a short summary of the individual groups.

The slowest was the process of organizations separating from the General Zionists since for a long time they saw the Bukovina Zionist State Organization as the all encompassing “mother” organization. This process began already at the 12th Zionist Congress in Karlsbad (1921), since the Romanian delegation including the Bukovina group decided to join the block of the General Zionists. Later the continuing factionalization led the General Zionists to create a more disciplined inner organization. The separate Zionist political party program was ever more strongly stressed and new groups were created. In the 30s there was already besides the city organization of the General Zionists a General Zionist youth association (Hanoar Hazioni) as well as a General Zionist Chalutz Organization (Hechaluz Hakalzioni) and a Union of General Zionist Hand Workers (Haowed Haklalzioni) which combined with similar organizations in the Old Kingdom and in Siebenbuergen and also bore the name Chaluz Baalej Melacha.

The Revisionists separated in 1927 and first formed a separate club and left the Bukovina Zionist State Organization as previously mentioned at the XI Zionist State Conference in the summer of 1927. At a conference that took place in April 1928 they organized themselves as a state organization but already at the XII Zionist State Conference in autumn of 1930 they rejoined the mother organization, but only for a short time and then remained outside of it. Attorney Benno Sternberg, Moritz Geiger and Dr. Severin Lazarowicz who died in the Struma tragedy alternated holding the leadership position.

Later, a group led by Dr. Josef Mann who for a time was vice president of the Union of Zionist Revisionists separated from that body and joined the Jewish State Party founded by Meir Grossmann.

The Radical group led by Dr. Markus Krämer whose beliefs differed from the General Zionists mainly in the question of the founding of the Jewish Agency remained between the XI and XII Zionist State Conferences , that in the years 1927 to 1930 outside the framework of the Bukovina Zionist State Organization.

The conservative members of the organization first decided at a May 1921 gathering led by Chief Rabbi Dr. Hoffmann in Radauti to constitute themselves as a Misrachi faction within the Bukovina Zionist State Organization. Dr. Hoffman became the leader. That was only the first step to separation and in the same year, the State Alliance of Bukovina Misrachi was created and among its leading members were Nathan Boral, Schaje Goldfeld, the rabbis Dr. Abraham Mark, Meschulem Rath, Dr. Jakob Nacht and Baruch Hager as well as the gentlemen Hermann Hellreich, Jakob Wiznitzer, S. Rafalowicz, Saul Barnik, Feiwel Eifermann and A. Hechtlinger. In 1923 there was already the Misrachi youth group Zeire Misrachi whose driving power was Abraham Bojar.

The Bukovina Zeire Zion constituted itself at its first conference in July 1921. The gifted, many sided Dr. Benjamin Fuchs become chairman and his deputies were Dr. Spiegel and Czerniawski and in the Rayons committee were besides the above named Samson Schaechter, Bascherowker (Bar Schira), today a well known lawyer in Tel-Aviv, Dr. Emanuel Wagner, Miss Hasenfratz and Danker. The conference proclaimed the following goals of the Alliance: Building up Jewish working communities in Eretz Israel and the productivity of the Jewish masses in the Galuth [lands of exile], national autonomy of the Jewish minority in lands of Jewish mass settlement, recognition of Hebrew as national language as well as maintenance of Yiddish as a means against assimilation and as a carrier of significant Jewish cultural values. The organization's press organ was The Free Word [Das freie Wort], published weekly by Dr. Benjamin Fuchs since the beginning of 1923 in which the necessity of building up a new society in Eretz Israel on a socialistic foundation was proclaimed, but, on the other hand, the Zionist ideal rather than the idea of the class struggle was advocated. In later years new leaders stepped forward and so at of conference in May, 1924 the fifth of the Zeire Zion group, Dr. Benjamin Fuchs, Dr. J. Thau, Miss Hasenfratz, S. Preminger, J. Essner and A. Majanski were elected to the party executive Board. Besides the above named there was also Kalman Gronich, L. Ehrenkranz, J.Essner, David Kuemmelfeld and M. Talpilar in the Rayon Committee. At a party meeting of Zeire Zion in January 1927, a three branched presidium was elected, which besides Dr. Benjamin Fuchs had Prof. Dr. David Kruemmelfeld and S. Hasenfratz as members. Belonging to the Rayon Committee were Zwi Brender, Kalman Gronich, Dr. J. Thau, Dr. E. Wagner, Essner, Isaksohn and Majanski and later also Feiwel Eifermann and A. Hechtlinger. At the beginning of 1928 the Zeire Zion group suffered a serious loss through the early death of their long time president, Dr. Benjamin Fuchs, theoretician of the movement, skilled economist and gifted journalist and writer who hardly reaching 41 years left this life. Also, another leading figure in the Movement, Samson Schaechter died at an early age and left a big gap to fill. In the 30's Dr. Benedikt Kaswan joined the leadership cadre of Zeire Zion, a man with every fiber of his soul dedicated to the Zionist cause and who later paid for his Zionist beliefs with his freedom and his life.

Poale Zion was not a unified group. It was divided into “Rightist Poale Zion” and “Leftist Poale Zion.” The right wing in spite of its dominant Marxist and class struggle attitude stood fully and completely on the ground of the Zionist program. Its path later led to its combining with Zeire Zion.

On the periphery of Zionism stood however the left Poale Zion. Already in 19211 they were reproached because they spoke of the Balfour Declaration and San Remo as provocations to the Jewish masses. Their publication, the Freedom [Freiheit] which appeared in the Yiddish language campaigned strenuously against the other Zionist groups.

On the other hand, the split between the left and the right Poale Zion which took place in 1921 was not complete. Although internally already split and with the left wing represented by the Freedom, externally Poale Zion looked like a unified organization. The chairman was Leo Steinmetz and this honest man, completely dedicated to Zionism as well as other men with the same attitude (Dr. Meir Rosner, Jehuda Teitler, Dr.Mosner and later Chaim Geller, Schuetz, etc. fought developments that would lead away from Zionism.

Later after the split was complete the Leftist Poale Zion distanced itself ever more from real Zionism and remained at the edge of the Movement. Also here time brought changes and in the Jewish state the Leftist Poale Zion past was valued no less than Zionism of other shadings.


State Conferences and State Executive Boards

The Zionist state conferences were important milestones on the path of the Movement in Bukovina. They formed the constitutional organizational framework for concentrated and summarized reports as well as laying down the guidelines for future work and were to a certain degree the rule making body for the organization.

The conferences served as focal points of Zionist life and always had a festive air. Most conferences took place in the great halls of the Jewish National House and Toynbee Hall. In a celebratory mood the delegates gathered from city and country. The opening ceremonies which in the early years were attend by representatives from the state and the city also were celebratory. The conference started with foundation building lectures on general questions of Judaism and the Zionist movement. These were followed by lectures and reports by department heads which led to debates that were often stormy. With the election of Presidium, Executive Board and Party Council, the conference was concluded.

In a relatively modest framework the first Zionist State Conference held in Bukovina after World War I took place in 1919. This was the 7th conference that was held since the founding of the organization. After elections and long preparations in the press it was followed in December1921 by the 8th State Conference which took place in the ballroom of the Czernowitz Toynbee Hall. The opening was especially celebratory. Dr. Mayer Ebner opened in the Hebrew, Romanian and German languages. The Romanian government was represented by a chief minister and two ministers. The chief minister extended greetings from the government and the city president who was also present extended greetings from the city. Also, the English counsel John Cameron had appeared and gave a welcoming speech. The Zionist World Executive Board was represented by Dr. Kurt Blumenfeld. 118 elected delegates attended from city and country and they as well as the numerous public listened respectfully to Dr. Ebner's speech from which I have extracted the following key phrase: “Jewish blood still flows not only on the fields of the Ukraine but also in the holy land, but the days of mourning are passing and the time for work has begun.”

In the Presidium and in the office of the State Conference were elected Dr. Mayer Ebner (president), Chief Rabbi Dr. Hoffmann, Chief Editor Klueger, Dr. Salomon Kinsbrunner and Dr. Benjamin Fuchs (vice presidents), Israel Biber (Dorna-Vatra), Dr.Adolf Gabor (Suceava) and Dr. Lapajowker (Radauti) as assessors and Aron Stober (Siret) as well as Senior Teacher Hermann (Sadagura) as secretaries. Dr. M. Reifer gave the financial report, Prof. Julian Silberbusch gave the Palestine presentation, Engineer Dr. M. Reiner lectured about the organization of the KH, Dr. Ludwig Chajes talked about the National Fund, Kurt Blumenfeld discussed KH and the Masser obligation and Dr. Mendl Kinsbrunner discussed the position on state politics. Dr. Salomon Kassner, Dr. Markus Krämer, Karl Klüger and Moritz Geiger took part in the political discussion. Dr. Leon Schmelzer, Prof. Schamschon Schächter (Zeire Zion), Israel Biber, Dr. Lapajowker and Engineer Spindel (Storozynetz) took part in the general debate. Prof. Glaser read the names of the Executive Board. At the last meeting a smaller and an enlarged State Committee with representatives from city and country were elected, for which a presidium consisting of Dr. Mayer Ebner (president), Chief Rabbi Dr. Jakob Hoffmann (Radauti), Dr. Theodor Weisselberger and Dr. Salomon Kassner (vice-presidents) was set up. In the State Committee were elected: Chief Rabbi Dr. Josef Rosenfeld, Dr. Josef Bierer, Director Max Seidmann, Benedikt Flohr, Prof. Dr. Efraim Brenner, Moritz Geiger, Prof.Dr. Hermann Glaser, Schaje Goldfeld, Salomon Grossberg, Hermann Gottesmann, Jakob Heitner, Dr. Salomon Kinsbrunner, Karl Klüger, Dr. Kotlar, Klara Klinger, Dr. Markus Krämer, Moritz Liquornik, Prof. Dr. Julian Pilpel, Prof. Dr. Manfred Reifer, Engineer Dr. Markus Reiner, Adolf Rosenwald, Engineer Emil Rippel, Hermann Schaefer, Engineer Michael Schindler, Dr. Leon Schmelzer, Prof. Julian Silberbusch, Dr. Ignaz Schmerz, Josef Wiznitzer, Schaje Wachs, Dr. Benjamin Fuchs, Prof. Samson Schaechter, Prof. Dr. Dow Spiegel and Dr. Ludwig Chajes as National Fund commissars.

After the conference a leadership was set up which consisted of members of the Presidium and the smaller State Committee and which was divided among the departments as follows: Dr. Mayer Ebner (President of the State Organization and leader of the political department and the Rights Protection Bureau), Dr. Salomon Kassner (vice president), Dr. Theodor Weisselberger (managerial vice president) and leader of the organization department), Dr. Josef Bierer (Hebrew schools), Dr. Hermann Glaser (Culture Department), Dr. Markus Krämer (Welfare Department), Dr. Markus Reiner (KH), Dr. Ludwig Chajes (KKL), Prof. Julian Silberbusch (Palestine department), Moritz Geiger (youth work), Adolf Rosenwald (economics), Josef Wiznitzer (Finance Department) and Dr. Ignaz Schmerz (Press Department). Later there were many changes in the composition of the leadership, now called the Executive. Dr. L. Chajes, Dr. M. Reiner and Dr. J. Schmerz left, Dr. Manfred Reifer took over the KH and Dr. Leon Schmelzer the KKL Department. In the smaller State Committee Mendel Engler, Benno Sternberg and Israel Schleier were added.

In January of 1924 the IX State Conference took place after delegates were elected. For the Presidium of the conference were elected: Dr. Mayer Ebner for President and Dr. Josef Bierer, Dr. Adolf Gabor as well as Dr. Lapajowker as vice presidents. From the impressive opening speech of the president we have extracted the following characteristic sentences: “Once Zionism was an expression of romantic longing, a play of fantasy and naive hope, today it is a Zionism of actions and sober work … The creation of a Jewish Agency by the Zionist Congress in Karlsbad is the expression of this mood… Meanwhile an Anti-Semitic wave is sweeping the world… If we want to stay we are told to leave, if we go, they are angry that we don't remain. The truth is: they want us to stay so they can have the pleasure of driving us out…” The lecture of Dr. Theodor Weisselberger on “Six Years of Zionist Politics and the Balfour Declaration in which he points out the discrepancy between the will of the Jewish people and its deeds is representative of the problems of those days. Prof. Julian Silberbusch points out in his report that in the next 20 years 600,000 Jews must go to Eretz Israel if our work is not to be lost. (Actually, approximately 500,000 came in that period.)

At the final sitting a three branched Presidium, a 17 member Executive Board and a Party Council were elected. Dr Mayer Ebner (president) Dr. Theodor Weisselberger (managing vice president) and Dr. Salomon Kassner (vice president). In the Executive Board: Dr. Josef Bierer, Dir. Dr. Brettschneider, Moritz Geiger, Prof. Dr. Hermann Glaser, Dr. Mendl Kinsbrunner, Dr. Markus Krämer, Prof. Dr. Manfred Reifer, Adolf Rosenwald, Dr. Leon Schmelzer, Engineer Michael Schindler Prof. Julian Silberbusch, Benno Sternberg, Leo Wiener and Josef Wiznitzer.

The X State Conference in which about 100 delegates participated took place in December 1925. It was characterize by the above mentioned decision to create a separate framework for state politics and by the sharp opposition of Dr. Manfred Reifers who in the elapsed period since the IX conference left the Executive Board. The conference elected the following gentlemen for the Executive Board: Dr. Mayer Ebner (president), Dr. Theodor Weisselberger, Dr. Salomon Kassner, Dr. Markus Krämer and Josef Wiznitzer (vice presidents), Dr. Altmann, Dr. Bierer, Dr. Ludwig Chajes, Aron Damm, Mendel Engler, Moritz Geiger, Dr. Siegmund Neuberger, Dr. Salomon Kinsbraunner, Oskar Schächter, Dr. Leon Schmelzer, Dr. Ulrich Schnapp, Prof. Julian Silberbusch, Benno Sternberg and Engineer Maximilian Zwilling.

The XI conference with 78 delegates and Dr. Imanuel Olswanger as well as Dr. Brezis from the Bucharest Zionist Federation as guests took place in May 1927 and was characterized by the opposition of the Revisionists and the Radicals as well as their final exit. Moritz Geiger and Benno Sternberg as well as Dr. Markus Krämer spoke against the Jewish Agency and developed a program for their factions. The debaters for the majority parties responded with sharp counter criticism and a demand for more practical work. After delivering a speech concerning these matters Dr. Krämer left the conference hall to the opposition and then a leadership without Revisionists or Radicals was elected which was composed as follows: President: Dr. Mayer Ebner, vice presidents Dr. Theodor Weisselberger, Dr. Salomon Kinsbrunner; Executive Board: Dr. Josef Bierer, Dr. Ludwig Chajes, Dr. Oskar Deutsch, Dr. Juda Ebner, Dr. Jakob Geller, Rudolf Gottlieb, Moritz Liquornik, Engineer Platzmann, Dr. Lupu Rappaport, Prof. Julian Silberbusch, Oskar Schächter, Pinkas Schaerf, Engineer Michael Schindler and Dr. Leon Schmelzer.

After a long pause, in November 1930 the XII State Conference took place which was concluded by Dr. Mayer Ebner with the following words: “This conference was in spite of all storms the most beautiful, the best, the one that took place one the highest niveau. We hope that it will bring internal peace to the Zionist organizations. For me this seething mass of mostly young people was an uplifting picture of the Jewish capability for enthusiasm.

Actually the conference brought the return of the Revisionists and Radicals to the organization. In contrast to that, the participants in the conference witnessed the exodus of the Bukovina Uerists. The newly elected Executive Board was constituted as follows: President Dr. Mayer Ebner, vice presidents: Dr. Theodor Weisselberger, Josef Wiznitzer, Moritz Geiger (Revisionist) and Engineer Maximilian Zwilling (Radical); Executive Board members Oskar Alper (Radical), Dr. Juda Ebner, Attorney Moses Feller, Rudolf Gottlieb, Dr. Max Kiewe (Revisionist), Dr. Severin Lazarowicz (Revisionist), Max Lauer, Josef Mann (Revisionist), Dr. Lupu Rappaport, Dr. Manfred Reifer, Oskar Schächter, Dr. Leon Schmelzer and Leo Wiener (Radical).

The XIII State Conference of December, 1932 with 114 Delegates and Selig Brodetzky as a guest was characterized by Dr. Theodor Weisselberger after the conclusion of the general debate as the most heavily attended conference to take place since 1919. It was a working conference which concerned itself less with ideological disputes than with questions of practical work. For the Executive Board were elected Dr. Mayer, president, Dr. Theodor Weisselberger, Josef Wiznitzer, Dr. Leon Schmelzer, Dr. Markus Kraemer and Dr. Manfred Reifer (vice presidents), Oskar Alper, Dr. Ludwig Chajes, Dr. Nachman Denker, Dr. Juda Ebner, Attorney Chaim Ehrlich, Mendel Engler, Attorney Moses Feller, Moritz Friedmann, Karl Stadler, Director Georg Haller, Leo Wiener and Engineer Maximilian Zwilling.

Later, the following changes took place: Dr. Ludwig Chajes and Director Georg Haller resigned, Oskar Schächter emigrated to Eretz Israel and Engineer Josef Stadler as well ande Engineer Maximilian Zwilling passed away. In their place in 1936, Klara Klinger, Markus Gold, Simche Eisenberg, Prof. Max Jungmann and Josef were added.

Members of the younger generation who at this conference were elected to the Executive Board for the first time but who had been active in the organization brought in a certain sense a change in the attitude about many basic questions concerning Bukovina Zionism and to be sure, a stronger stress on Palestine in contrast to the work of the present and increased separation of the real Zionist work from state politics and a departure from certain basic views of the Bukovina Zionist leadership about the nature and goal of Zionism. The theory expounded by the highest authorities of Bukovina Zionism that the Diaspora is a part of the nature of Judaism and that our Zionist ideology is not based on the need of the Jewish masses in the lands with very large Jewish populations and doesn't address the “Jewish question” but the rather, the question of Judaism, if the transient character of the Diaspora work and the relative value of state politics are compared. These men of the younger generation, the writer of these lines being one of them don't advocate the concept that Zionism wants to solve the Judaism question and not the Jewish question and in meetings in city and country stress again and again the untenable situation on the volcano like ground of the East European Gola. They are also free from every state political ambition and dedicate themselves entirely to Zionist work.

After a long pause of four years the last Bukovina Zionist State Conference, the XIVth took place in December, 1936. It was a conference that contrasted the growing political and commercial pressure on the Jews of Eastern Europe with the prosperity in Eretz Israel. Dr. Mayer Ebner spoke on Judaism and Zionism, the guest Dr. Nachum Goldmann on Palestine in Light of World Politics, Dr Theodor Weisselberger on Four years of Zionist Work in Bukovina, Dr. Markus Käemer on Zionism and Jewish World Congresses and Dr. Chaim Ehrlich on Our Youth Problem (with Josef Adler as co-speaker). The newly elected Executive Board was constituted as follows: Dr. Mayer Ebner (president), Dr. Theodor Weisselberger (managing vice president), Josef Wiznitzer, Dr. Markus Krämer and Dr. Leon Schmelzer (vice presidents), Oskar Alper, Albert Dresner, Dr. Chaim Ehrlich, Simche Eisenberg, Mendel Engler, Dr. Moses Felder, Benedikt Flohr, Moritz Friedmann, Dr. Jakob Geller, Markus Gold, Klara Klinger, Dr. Karl Klinger, Pepi Selzer, Max Seidmann, Engineer Michael Schindler, Leo Wiener, Josef Wronski, Prof. Dr. Max Jungmann, (as representative of Chaluz Baalej Melacha) and Josef Adler (as representative of Hanoar Hazioni). It was the last State Executive Board elected which carried on the business of the organization until the fall into illegality.


In Contact with the Movement

Of eminent importance for the Zionist Movement in Bukovina was the personal contact with the Movement in the wider world. Great was the number of Zionist personalities who came to Bukovina. These visits were fruitful for Zionist thinking and feeling and the visitors themselves were ignited by the enthusiasm of the masses and returned from Bukovina as they sometimes said with fresh impulses to their work.

At the center of general interest of the Jewish population stood the elections to the Jewish World Parliament and the Zionist Congress and the excitement associated with the elections waked lively interest even outside Zionist circles.

In summer of the year 1921 the XII Zionist Congress took place in Karlsbad which was attended by 7 delegates of the Zionist State Organization and who were elected to the following commissions: Dr. Mayer Ebner (Permanent Board), Engineer Dr. Reiner (KH), Dr. Josef Bierer (Culture Commission and Sanitation Board), Dr. Adolf Gabor (Palestine Commission), Dr. Manfred Reifer (Palestine and School Commission), Dr. Markus Krämer (Permanent Board and Political Commission) and Rabbi Dr. Hoffmann (School Commission). Dr. Mayer Ebner was also elected to the large Action Committee. The delegates of the Bukovina Zionist State Organization formed together with those from Old Romania, Bessarabia and Siebenbuergen a Romanian national team that allied itself with the block of General Zionists. Chief Rabbi Dr. Niemirower was chairman and vice chairman was Dr. Mayer Ebner. In his Congress speech Dr. Mayer Ebner touched on the question of an understanding with the Arabs and suggested that our Chalutzim learn Arabic. Dr. Benjamin Fuchs was the delegate from Zeire Zion at this Congress.

In August 1922 a yearly Zionist conference took place at which the Bukovina Zionist State Organization was represented by its Managing Vice President, Dr. Theodor Weisselberger. In August 1933 the XIII Zionist Congress took place in Karlsbad attended by delegates Dr. Markus Kraemer, Josef Wiznitzer and Moritz Geiger as well as Prof. Dr. Hermann Glaser, Registered Manager Adolf Rosenwald and Oskar Schächter acting as backup delegates. At the congress Dr. Markus Kraemer was elected to the Political and Organization Commissions, Josef Wiznitzer to the Financial and Political Committee and Moritz Geiger to the Financial Committee.

At the XIV Zionist Congress Dr. Theodor Weisselberger and Dr. Josef Bierer were elected as delegates, Dr. Leon Schmelzer and Prof. Julian Silberbusch as back up delegates. Elected as delegates of Misrachi were Schaje Goldfeld and Hermann Hellreich as his deputy. Speaker in the Plenum was dr. Josef Bierer. Dr. Mayer Ebner was in A. C., Dr. Theodor Weisselberger was elected to the Congress Tribunal and Dr. Josef Bierer to the Honorary Tribunal.

At the elections for the XV Congress in summer 1925, the faction schekel [voting token?] was eliminated and in its place the unity schekel was introduced and because of that the Zionists of all persuasions formed an election circle. The result of the election was that both Bukovina mandates fell to the list of the General Zionists and the following candidates were elected: Dr. Mayer Ebner and Dr. Theodor Weisselberger as delegates and Dr. Manfred Reifer and Dr. Leon Schmelzer as back up delegates. Dr. Mayer Ebner spoke in the general debate and presented the Weizmann position. At the Jubilee session of the Congress he gave the concluding speech and recalled the memory of the deceased Bukovina delegates who had attended the first Congress, Dr. Schmierer and Dr. Picker.

At the XVI Zurich Congress in the summer of 1929 Dr. Theodor Weisselberger and Moritz Geiger were elected as delegates and Josef Wiznitzer and Engineer Maximilian Zwilling as back up delegates. Dr. Mayer Ebner was again in the A.C. and Dr. Theodor Weisselberger in the Congress Tribunal. In the newly created Council of the Jewish Agency Max Ritter von Anhauch was nominated for the non Jewish part and Dr. Mayer Ebner for the Zionist part. Back up members of the council were Josef Wiznitzer, Director Max Seidmann, Chief Rabbi Dr. Abraham Mark, Prof. Julian Silberbusch and Dr. Meier Teich.

Unfortunately I have no Bukovina data for the 17, 18 and 19 congresses. Delegates to the 20 Congress from Bukovina were Dr. Mayer Ebner (as member of the A.C.), Dr. Theodor Weisselberger and Dr. Markus Krämer (General Zionists), Chaim Geller and Dr. Benedikt Kaswan (Block of Working Eretz Israel), Chief Rabbi Dr. Abraham Mark (Misrachi) and Dr. Josef Mann (Jewish State Party).

On August 16 of 1939 the XXL Zionist Congress opened in Geneva at which the following delegates from Bukovina took part: Dr. Mayer Ebner (member of the A.C. as Virilist), Dr. Theodor Weisselberger, Dr. Markus Krämer and Dr. Chaim Ehrlich (General Zionists), Chief Rabbi Dr. Abraham Mark (Misrachi and Dr. Benedikt Kaswan (Working Eretz Israel). At the conclusion of the Congress Mayer Ebner again was elected Virilist in the A.C., Dr. Theodor Weisselberger became a member of the Congress Tribunal and Dr. Markus Krämer as well as Chief Rabbi Dr. Abraham Mark were elected as back up members of the A.C.

On the evening of August 24 in a tense atmosphere with the threat of war imminent the last pre-war conference was called to a close. With faint hearts the delegates of the Jewish people rushed to their homes.


The express train rolling through the landscape of Italy and Yugoslavia brought the Bukovina delegation home, each to his fate, Chief Rabbi Dr. Abraham Mark a martyr's death at the hands of the Nazis, Dr. Theodor Weisselberger and Dr. Benedikt Kaswan death in exile and others the torment of the ghetto and later rescue in Israel. Still ringing in their ears were the tear choked parting words of Weizmann: “Darkness settles around us! It is difficult to penetrate the dark clouds… No one knows what the hour brings. With a heavy heart I part from you, comrades with the prayer that we will meet again in life and then, perhaps out of the darkness a new light will shine. There are things that originate and endure without which one cannot imagine the world. Those who remain will work, fight, live until better days come….!

Author's Notes

  1. See the section by Dr. L.A. Schmelzer about the “History of the Jews in Bukovina” and the “History of Zionism in Bukovina” in Volume 1 of this work. Return
  2. See the book by Dr. Manfred Reifer: Dr. Mayer Ebner; A Jewish Life. Return
  3. See the list of names on page 107, volume 1, Dr. L. Schmelzer, the History of the Jews in Bukovina. Return
  4. The contribution of DR. L. Schmelzer about the History of Zionism in Bukovina (volume I) lists many names.Return
  5. For more details see the article by Dr. Rubel, Jewish Sport in Bukovina, Volume I. Return

Translator's Notes

  1. Old Romania or the Old Kingdom refers to the original Romanian nation state composed of the principalities of Walachia and Moldavia. Return
  2. Whenever I say “state” I am referring to the political entity of Bukovina Return
  3. The term “national” (actual the same spelling in German) is used by the author repeatedly and never defined. I guess it is just a short cut way of expressing the Zionist goal of a homeland for the Jews Return
  4. The Old Kingdom means the same thing as Old Romania. Return
  5. K.H. is Keren Hayesod [United Israel Appeal] Return
  6. After WWI, Romania was enlarged by the addition of Transylvania (from Hungary), Bessarabia (from Russia) and Bukovina and Dobruja from Bulgaria. This new state was called Greater Romania. Return
  7. State means Bukovina. Return
  8. The Zionists divided their efforts into two fields, “work of the present,” which refers to immediately pressing problems such as social aid and preventing persecution and loss of civil rights and “work of the future” referring to the goal of finding a homeland for the Jews. Return
  9. We tend to thing of propaganda as negative, but in this usage, it means spreading positive news about Zionism. Return
  10. Hashomer Hatzair (translated as The Youth Guard) is a Socialist-Zionist youth movement founded in 1913 in Galicia and Austria-Hungary. It was also the name of the group's political party in the Yishuv in the pre-1948 British Mandate of Palestine. Return
  11. The term Kultus gemeinde used by author means a community of a particular nationality or religion. The author is using it to designate the Jewish community either as a whole or sometimes to refer to the governing body of that community. When he is using the term in either way, I will capitalize the word community.” Return
  12. An academic association is something like today's fraternity. Return
  13. There is probably no English equivalent of the word “Stammtisch.” It is a table in a bar or Gasthaus where friends will meet periodically to talk, drink moderately and enjoy each other's company. Return
  14. I took the liberty of coining the word “Yiddishist” to denote an expert in the Yiddish language. Hebraist is a legitament word, so why not Yiddishist. Return
  15. Gerent isn't a current German word, perhaps it is Hebrew, so I'm not going to try and translate it. The Gerent seems to be the overall leader of the Community Return
  16. Someone who makes aliyah is called an oleh (male) or a olah (female). The plural for both is olim. Return
  17. The German phrase is “Ortgruppe” where ort can mean city, locality, location, place, etc. I decided to translate it as “local group” since city seems a little exagerated when there are small towns and villages included. Return
  18. The author uses the term “Studentenvereinigungen” which doesn't shed much light on what kind of groups these are. He also uses the expression “akademischen Verbindungen which might mean acedemic alliance. I assume that these groups are similar to fraternities, but they are more interested in accedemics than dueling (like the Burschenschafts). I'll just call them all “alliances.” Return
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