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Remembering Those Who
Left Us for Their Eternal Rest

To their eternal memory

The list that is published here contains only a small percentage of the people who conducted the communal work of our city and deserve to have their names illuminated in the history of Jewish Czenstochow.

– – – – • – – – – 

Translated by Miriam Lebenstein

Edited by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

Mikhal and Tseshe Alter

Mikhal Alter was a member of the Zionist Socialist Workers Party from his early youth to old age; he did not know any Yiddish. He was a practical activist and planner for the party.

(Photo, caption: Mikhal Alter)

(Photo, right, caption: Tseshe Alter) (Photo, left, caption: Hankele Alter)

Tseshe Federman, whom he married in the years following World War I, was employed in the Neufeld office. She distinguished herself by her modesty and her distinctive aristocratic appearance.

Mikhal Alter, Tseshe and their daughter, Hankele, perished during the period from 1939-1945.

Dov Ber Boczan

Berl Boczan was born in Czenstochow in 1877. In 1898 he and his father, Reb Moshe Boczan, established the Yiddish printing ship on Allee 6. After his father's death, he ran the printing shop in partnership with his brother, the typesetter and printer, Shimon Boczan.

Berl Boczan was a managing member of several Jewish social institutions, and publisher of the Czenstochower Tageblat [Czenstochower Daily Newspaper] and the Czenstochower Zeitung [Czenstochower Daily].

He died on the 23 of Sivan, 5699 [June 10, 1939], at the age of 62.

Avraham Ber Birnbaum

Avraham Ber Birnbaum was born on the third day of Shevat in 1865 [January 30th] in Pultusk (Poland), into the religious family of a Kotsher Hasid, a religious scholar.

Until the age of 12, he studied in kheders [religious elementary schools], and then in the beis midrash [religious house of study]. His father married him off at the age of 17. He was one of the greatest tish zingers [table singers] at the rebbe's table, but he dedicated his soul to music. This displeased his father-in-law, and he was divorced. Birnbaum married for the second time at 19.

(Photo, caption: Avraham Ber Birnbaum with his family)

In 1890, he became khazen [cantor] and shoykhet [ritual slaughterer] in Przasnysz. In 1893, he gave up his work as shoykhet and accepted an invitation to become chief cantor in the newly built synagogue in Czenstochow. Here, a whole new world opened up for Birnbaum. He became seriously interested in music, began to write articles about music in Hebrew and German.

In 1906, he opened a school for cantors in Czenstochow, where he strove to combine cantorial arts with secular musical education. The school attracted tens of cantors, and later great opera singers, and was renowned in all of Poland and Russia. After 13 years at the cantors' school, he also became a lecturer in the German school.

In 1913, he resigned from his position as chief cantor of Czenstochow and moved to Lodz.

On a visit to Czenstochow, he suddenly fell ill with a brain inflammation, and died on Friday, November 11, 1922, at the age of 58.

[Page CXL]

Makhl Birncwajg

Makhl Birncwajg was born in 1907, his parents' youngest son. He received a Jewish religious education in kheder, then attended the Jewish gymnazia, where he was drawn into the Zionist youth groups. He soon became disappointed with Zionism, and joined the illegal Communist party.

Under the Nazi's bloody regime, Makhl Birncwajg and his brother, Pinkhas, were employed by the Germans as upholsterers. A “furniture lager [work camp]” was set up in the building of Wajnberg's factory.

There came the saddest day for the Jewish community in Czenstochow – September 22, 1942, Ukrainians and Nazis were posted all along the streets. The way to the zamlplatz [gathering place for deportation] led through the gate and the furniture lager where a German guard stood. At a certain moment, Birncwajg managed to divert the attention of the supervisor and of the guards and a stream of driven and persecuted Jews was able to escape into the furniture lager, their number reaching 600.

This was one of the most difficult feats

(Photo, caption: Makhl Birncwajg)

carried out under the noses of the Germans and of the two Jewish spies, Kulibayke [Editor's note: possibly a corruption of the Russian work kulebyaka or coulibiac – a Russian main dish pastry often made with salmon] and Gnat, sent in especially by the Gestapo. But it was made possible by the persistence and the steel nerves of Makhl Birncwajg.

Yakov Pat, describing the destruction of the Jewish population, wrote of him:

“The secret underground fighting organization under the direction of the heroic Makhl Birncwajg, also drove out the wagons of cupboards, shelves and chests, but inside there lay Jewish mothers and children who had been smuggled out under the noses of the Germans. They were taken to underground bunkers that had been prepared for them. Some of the children today live in children's homes.”

On July 8, 1943, Czenstochow's German executioner, Degenhard, entered the furniture lager with a band of police and ordered Birncwajg to gather his entire family, that is, his mother, brother and wife. He quickly realized that the Angel of Death was standing before him. Somehow he managed to escape, jumping over a fence. His 72 year old mother was shot on the spot. Makhl Birncwajg hid with well known “honorable” Poles, who constantly blackmailed him and finally turned him over to the executioners. He no longer had the will to escape. On July 28 he was shot to death with 60 other Jews in the Jewish cemetery.

Leibish Berkowicz

Leibl Berkowicz was one of the young generation of Jewish workers who were awakened by the freedom movement of 1905 to the struggle for a new and healthy Jewish life. His served the ideal of the Zionist Socialist Workers party, Socialist Territorialism his entire life. He married Yentl Sliwinski and the five children they raised: Ruzhe, Shimshon, Dalia, Genia and Matush, were in the first ranks of the beauties, the singers and the artists of the I.L. Peretz Children's Home and public school that Leibish and Yentl helped to establish.

(Photos: right, caption: Leibish Berkowicz; left, caption: Genia Berkowicz)

Leibish and Yentl Berkowicz and their daughter, Rushe, and her child, as well as Shimshon, were killed during the Nazi era. Remaining was Genia (today a teacher in the I.L. Peretz school) with her husband and Matush.

Leyzer Berkowicz

He followed the “rabbi,” Rafal Federman. Starting together in the S.D.K.P.L. [Social Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania], they went on to the Zionist Socialist Workers party, took part in the choruses of the literary society, Lira, then later in the Fareinikte [United] party. He was a shoemaker and worked for a long time in Dzialowski's workshop; later he ran his own workshop in the Second Allee. No trace remains of him, his wife from Noworadomsk and their children.

Dr. Batawia and Dr. Kihan Kulin

In addition to their activities in a whole range of charitable and communal organization, they distinguished themselves with their administration of the Jewish hospital. It should be noted that Dr. Mikulski, a Christian, contributed greatly to the development of the Jewish hospital.

Avram Brat

Quiet, calm, keeping his thoughts to himself, Avram Brat began his career in communal organizations practically in childhood during the First World War, in the office of the Zionist Socialist Workers organization in Allee 43. He later became the treasurer of the large Fareinikte [United] party, Melukhe [State] in Czenstochow, administrator of Dos Neye Vort [The New Word] and tens of other administrative positions in various institutions.

[Pages CXLI]

In 1924, he married comrade Ruzhe Plawner.

In 1926 he took over the directorship of the I.L. Peretz Children's Home and Folkshul [public elementary school], an honor bestowed on very few, but also a heavy burden and superhuman strain, under the conditions of internal party struggle from the inside and Fascist reaction from the outside.

Under the Nazi regime he and Wolf Fajge also continued to run the I.L. Peretz House, which was a shelter for refugees from Lodz and Plotsk. Letters from him kept coming in the first few years of World War II. In one letter he advised that he had lost his home, along with his furniture and clothing. The Nazis took everything he had and, along with thousands of others, confined him in the ghetto.

(Photo, caption: Abram Brat)

(Photos, captions, right: Ruzhe Plawner Brat; left: daughter of A. and R. Brat)
Shortly thereafter, he and his daughter, then already 16 years old, went the way of the millions of Jewish martyrs.

Brom, Dr. Arnold

Longtime chairman of the Zionist organization in Czenstochow. He was also a member of the community leadership and a member of the city council

Gotajner, Hershl

His main characteristic was his involvement in philosophy. He began as a schoolboy in the local commercial school, wearing a hat with blue bands. He then belonged to the group of Zionist Socialist Workers Party amateur intellectuals. Later, he studied in Krakow. In his years of cultural activities, he would go on walks through the streets and avenues of Czenstochow, philosophizing about Nietzsche, Kant, Hegel and Spinoza.

He married Miss Rajkher and ran his own business. He was an original person and a strong character, hard to beat in a discussion on social issues. He is no longer among the living.

Gajsler, Dr. Hipolit

Dr. Gajsler for the most part dedicated his communal activities to the Jewish artisan and for many years was involved with the artisans club.

Goldsztajn, Shmuel

As early as 1914, Shmuel Goldsztajn was considered first among the candidates for leadership of the Jewish community, on the slate put forward in opposition to the “assimilationists.”

During World War I, he became president of the Jewish community, and held this office for a long time.

He was in Warsaw until 1940 under the Nazi occupation. Then he returned to Czenstochow, where he was killed by the German murderers at Treblinka.

Gelber, Meir

Son of Haim Hirsh and Royze. Born in 1890. Shared the fate of the martyrs of 1939-1945.

Wilenberg, Peretz

Peretz Wilenberg was well known in Czenstochow as an artist. Some of his works earned him a name and recognition throughout Poland. He was skilled in

(Drawing by P. Wilenberg in the distinct Jewish style, honoring the Jewish martyrs and personalities.)

[Page CXLII]

drawing, ran an art school in his home and taught drawing in the Artisans School, the Jewish gymnazie [high school] and the I.L. Peretz Folkshul [public school].

During the Nazi regime he was in Warsaw, pretending to be deaf and dumb so as not to betray himself with his accent in Polish. After Hitler's defeat, he lived in Lodz, where he died February 17, at the age of 73.

Winsztok, Haim; Epsztajn, Adolf; Filipowicz, Dovid

They ran the association of small businessmen and gave a lot of time and energy to the struggle to protect the Jewish market merchants and small businessmen.

Czarnowiecki, Yakov Yitzhak

His whole life was work and poverty, from his earliest years to his martyr's death. He began as a worker making toys and a simple soldier in the ranks of the Zionist Socialists in the years 1904-05. He did not abandon his party during the reactionary years. During World War I he was a railroad worker, and during that time, he married Dorka Szacher. He was “liberated” from his work when Poland was liberated, and was the secretary of the Central Bureau of the Central Council of the Professional Associations. But he continued to struggle financially and suffered poverty. He fathered two children and his poverty grew. When the Czenstochow city administration established an omnibus route between Rakow and the city, he became, by some miracle, the only Jewish contractor among the otherwise non-Jewish city appointees. He was almost the only one in Czenstochow who went over to Poale-Zion with Dr. Kruk. His martyr's death is described in the report of Khurbn Czenstochow.

So lived and died a modest man of the people.

Fojgl, Mendl; Krel, Yitzhak Meir

They were activists in the Agudah [Orthodox political party]. The latter [Krel] was also a member of the Czenstochow city council.

Koniarski, Lawyer Mendl; Szeriker, William; Dr. Asz (a son of Rabbi Nakhum Asz)

They distinguished themselves by their activities on behalf of the Jews of Czenstochow. Dr. Asz was also one of the founders and, for many years, the president of Makabi [Jewish sports organization].

Koblinc, Rabbi Josef Shimeon, of blessed memory

Josef Shimeon Klobinc was one of the most unusual religious Jews found in Czenstochow. In his youth, he joined the Hovevei Zion [Lovers of Zion] movement, and since he was a talented speaker and great religious scholar, his famous sermons about Eretz Yisroel drew a large audience.

During the 45 years he lived in Czenstochow, he was active in a large number of social and religious organizations. He died November 1937. His death evoked great sorrow among the Jews of Czenstochow. Thousands of people took part in his funeral.

The Vad haMizrakhi [council of Mizrakhi – Religious Zionists] of Czenstochow decided to memorialize the name of Josef Shimeon Klobinc in the Golden Book of the Jewish National Fund.

Rozenberg, Yankev

Yankev Rozenberg came to Czenstochow from Warsaw in 1912 and soon became active, first in the Yiddish Literary Society, then in Lira [singing society]. He actively participated in and supported Jewish culture and social institutions, was one of the founders of gymnazie founded by Dr. Akser. He helped to create the Medem Bibliotheque and fought for Yiddish and for the rights of the Jewish masses and their own institutions in the times of the assimilationist leaders.

As a longtime resident of the Jewish community, he gained the love and appreciation if all segments of the Jewish population in Czenstochow.

Yankev Rozenberg died during the terrible time of the Nazi occupation. Not a trace remains of his family (wife and only daughter).

Fajge, Wolf

He was a worker at Fajge's candle factory. He devoted all of his free time to the party, and to the professional movement. In addition, he still found time to establish a library in Szarik [Zarki], and to participate in running the schools. In 1938, when the “Independents” were liquidated, he joined the Bund. He and his wife were murdered. His son survived and is in a D.P. camp in Germany.

Markusfeld, Henrik

It seems that no other name is as strongly associated with the industrial development of Czenstochow as the name Markusfeld.

(Photo, caption: Henrik Markusfeld)

The brothers, Henrik and Dr. Josef Markusfeld, developed and expanded the efforts in industrial, social and philanthropic

[Pages CXLIII]

fields that their father, Adolf Markusfeld, had begun.

The artisans school in Czenstochow was built at the initiative and with the support of the brothers, Henrik and Josef Markusfeld in the name of their parents, Adolf and Astina. The horticulture farm and a whole array of other philanthropic institutions were established with their participation. Of the two brothers, it was the eldest, Henrik, whose communal activities were the most outstanding.

There was hardly a social institution in Czenstochow in which he was not an official – president, chairman, or member of the management. The evening he was not occupied, he enjoyed at the Lira [singing society]. He often used to stand in front of the warm oven surrounded by a group of Liristn [members of the singing society, Lira]. He would pronounce words of wisdom and sometimes would lecture the extreme Yiddishists [advocates of Yiddish and Yiddish culture]. But even more than the oven, he was warmed by the ardor of the youth who came to Lira.

His manifold duties and pursuits never prevented him from participating in the meetings of the management of tens of institutions. He rarely missed a meeting.

He was once late for a meeting of Lira. He apologized, explaining that he had just arrived on the express train from Breslau. “I feel more comfortable with you than with the Germans,” he added.

A whole array of Jewish cultural and professional institutions that were always financially shaky continued to exist thanks to his power and assistance. He paid rent; he covered the deficits for their programs. “What is happening with the rent,” he would ask the dentist, Ahron Peretz, president of Lira. “Drop in and see me tomorrow.”

When Henrik Markusfeld died, he was mourned by all of Czenstochow, which gave him the largest funeral ever held there.

Nirenberg, Yehoshua

The Nirenbergs were known for their stationery store in the Second Allee. Their two sons, Henekh and Yehoshua, were members of the Zionist Socialist Workers Party. Henekh made his first appearance in the arena of community affairs during the first elections for the Czenstochow city council during the German occupation in 1917. Along with three others he was elected on the Zionist Socialist Workers Party slate in the sixth district. He was again elected city councilman in “free” Poland and his making public the “hard facts” about anti-Semitism among the leaders of the city council did not please them at all. Nevertheless, he later became the only Jew employed by city hall.

No trace remains of him, his wife and his only son, Marek.

Nemirowski, Shmuel

One of the most energetic social activists in the time following the First World War. Chairman of the homeless shelter, member of Makabi, chairman of the Revisionist Party and active in other institutions. Killed during the Nazi era.

Erlikh, Hershele

He was the quiet dreamer from Kamyk, his small shtetl. The dream of his life was to see Kamyk brought to life, busy at work, progressive. His greatest achievement was the children's home and folkshul [Editor's note: secular public school with Yiddish as the language of instruction] in Kamyk. He was a member of the Zionist Socialist Workers Party and of Fareinikte [United], and a Fraylandist [Editor's note: possibly a follower of Nakhman Rozensztajn, a resident of Piotrkow Trybunalski, who was a Bundist leader known as Frayland – free country]. His ambitions reflected his quiet nature – to do something for his Kamyk, to help out the editors of Dos Naye Vort [The New Word] in Czenstochow. He was the same when he was in Warsaw.

(Photo, caption: Hershele Erlikh)

He was married in Warsaw, had a child and lived in terrible poverty somewhere in the corner of a kitchen. He and his wife and child went hungry, but in the little time left to him, he gave to others. He perished during the years 1939-1945.

Rotbard, Zelig and Chesha (Sztajn)

Zelig Rotbard, a son of Itshe Ber and Szprinca, who ran a leather business at number 23 at the Old Market, was well known in Czenstochow. While still young, he belonged to the Social Democratic Party (S.D.K.P.L.); later, he became an active member of the Jewish Literary Society, where he met and married Chesha Sztajn. They raised two daughters, the older, Lola (Laya) and the younger, Sela (Feygl).

(Photo, caption: Zelig Rotbard)

Under the Nazi regime, Zelig Rotbard was a member of the Judenrat and he, his wife and younger daughter were killed with a group of Jews who were taken on Purim to the cemetery and murdered there.

[Pages CXLIV]

In 1940 their older daughter married Henry (Henekh) Helman. Both survived and now live in New York.

Rikhter, Dovid

In the revolutionary world of pre-war Poland, Dovid Rikhter held one of the most important places in the movement. Born in Czenstochow, he achieved exceptional mastery of the Polish language, and was also active as a journalist and editor in the Polish proletarian press. But he was still greatly drawn to Yiddish, Yiddish culture and to Jewish revolutionary activities. He came out of the old Polish Social Democratic Party (S.D.K.P.L.), and together with the best elements of the party, poured himself into the Communist Party of Poland. Amazingly, coming from the S.D.K.P.L., where the assimilationist and nationalist-nihilist tendencies were considerable, he nevertheless continued to focus directly on Jewish issues in the Communist movement. Dovid Rikhter remained true to this work until the end.

Dovid Rikhter shone as a splendid journalist, as a basic and uniquely keen and logical polemicist, as a fine pamphleteer and theater critic, with taste and judgment.

His serious published works in the Literarishe Tribune, his theoretical pamphlets (under the name, L. Hankes), his brilliant articles in Fraynd [Friend], (under the name D. Leybin), his brochures and literary works, brought him into the ranks of the foremost journalists.

Dovid Rikhter had a unique style, with a light touch, elegant writing, love of wordplay, and distaste for hackneyed phrases; he was consistently argumentative with tact.

Years of imprisonment in pre-war Poland, the continual bitter worries about making a living, his troubled life, did not make him angry or bitter or heavy hearted. He always had a joke, a bon mot on his lips, was always congenial, had time to discuss new artistic forms or an interesting theater production. This was a life-affirming person who loved life and friends.

In 1940 he became editor of the Yiddish newspaper, Di Bialystoker Shtern in Bialystok and devoted himself to social and literary endeavors.

He perished during the slaughter in Slonim in 1941.

Szlezinger, Dudek

He was the son of rich parents, who had a big house and a ribbon factory on Spodek Street. He studied engineering in Belgium, but did not complete the course. He began his communal activities during World War I. He worked with the workers' council with Joshek Finkelsztajn. His energy, like an endless volcano, flowed over activities of Fareinikte [United] and later, Umophendike [Independent]. He met Regina Gros, the unique beauty who grew up in the basement of the house on the corner of Spodek and Onrodow, in the party and he married her. During the Nazi regime, they tried to save their only child by entrusting it to a Christian acquaintance, who betrayed them. The Gestapo brought the child to their house and murdered it before its parents' eyes. Dudek and Regina were both killed along with all of the martyrs of Czenstochow.

Szlezinger, Dovid; Sztiller, Zigmund; Borzykowski, Dovid; the Dykman Brothers; Neufeld, Moritz

They distinguished themselves by their work with the factory owners and merchants association. Moritz Neufeld, previously an “assimilator*,” also distinguished himself with his courageous exploits against the Endekes* in the city council.

*[Editor's notes: “Assimilator” – a Jew who totally assimilated into the surrounding cultural environment. Endekes – members of the anti-Semitic National Democratic Party.]

Szapiro, Feliks

At first he was one of the leaders of the business employees, later a Zionist activist with the aldermen in city hall. He distinguished himself by his fight against anti-Semitism in the city council.

Weksler, Haim

He was an activist in Mizrakhi. He was president of the kehile and for many years, a member of the Czenstochow city council. He was beloved in the city as a good hearted person and philanthropist.

Sztarke, Mrs. Salomea

The home for the elderly and for orphans named for Mina Verde in Czenstochow was one of its most popular institutions and Mrs. Salomea Sztarke, with her exceptional energy, almost single-handedly took on the burden of sustaining the institution for over twenty years. She was able to obtain subsidies for the institution from the city government, amounting to 2,000 zlotys a month, from the Jewish community, and most interestingly, from philanthropy. This made it possible to establish a kitchen for the orphans and elderly and, in 1928, a new floor was added to the old building. The number of elderly and orphans in the home began to grow and a teaching staff was hired for the children.

(Photo, caption: Salomea Sztarke)

Representatives of the Czenstochow Jewish community published their thanks and appreciation to Mrs. Sztarke. She was killed during the period of 1939-1945.

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