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[Column 633]

The Nightmare Persecutes Me

by Malka Lubelczyk-Malinowicz – Ramet Gan

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

Only sorrowful thoughts remain for me of our shtetl [town] Czyzewo. Dark clouds have even covered the times of my happy childhood years and of my beautiful young days. Those last years with all of the difficult events that led me to leave my birthplace forever are etched in my memory.

I also do not feel any joy from the knowledge that I was saved from the murderous Nazi hands thanks to my forced escape from Czyzewo. Knowing that I will not see my most beloved and dearest, will not hear from them again, that I do not even know the location of their sacred rest has extinguished every spark of joy in me. This often gives me an apathetic indifference to everything and everyone.

My parents would pull me out of my warm bed and carry me out or drive me out into the cold night air because of the frequent fires that would break out in Czyzewo. This would happen during the summer and winter, in rain, snow and mud. Helping to pack up the goods from the shop at each fire and, later, the weeks' long work of rearranging the goods on the

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on the shelves would leave a crushing feeling in me and made my life miserable.

In addition, my school years arrived and the gentile boys with their cynical laughter when they shouted Żydówka do Palestyny (Jewish girl, to Palestine) and the teachers with their masked anti-Semitic faces that would overflow with sweetness in affably reciting the verse: Żydówka tylko nie rozmawiać po żydowsku [Jewish girl. Just do not speak Yiddish]. We Jewish children would feel insulted and ashamed as if we had been caught at a serious crime.

The worst came at the time of the of the Endeke bandit [members of the anti-Semitic Polish National Party] rampages by Arganinski's scoundrels. Our

 

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The Malinowicz family
In the center: Chanatshe Malinowicz
The first from the left: two Malinowicz sisters

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business that was in the center of two rows of shops in the middle of the market and was the one that suffered the most from Endeke pickets. In the beginning they only came on the market day. However, later they were there every day. They placed themselves at the doors and would not let any customers in and if a customer succeeded in entering, the Endekes went inside and scooped up the customer and pulled him outside with force and even beat him, not only the Christian customer, but also the Jewish merchant.

In one such case, an Endeke threw a bottle at my mother's head. She was bloodied and we were afraid to open her mouth. The fear was very great.

I often asked my mother and my sisters:

“Let us sell everything and leave Czyzewo. Here we will not have a good life.”
My sisters answered me:
“You make a start. We will follow later.”
Alas, they did not live to do so.

It often happens that I find myself in a state as if I am dreaming although I am awake and I hear that I am being called: Malka, help! Help us!

I am sure that this was their last cry in Szulborze, standing near an open grave.

After such a dream I feel terribly broken. I blame myself. Why had I not forcefully pulled them out of the

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hell? My only answer for myself is this – that I came to Israel illegally and not more than two months before the outbreak of the war with Poland. I had no chance to even think of bringing one of my closest ones here.

For years I could not make peace with my thoughts, that I had no one there. My heart began to pound every time the door of my residence would open: perhaps it was one of my sisters.

Finally, I clearly told myself that this would never happen. Not one of my closest and unforgettable has avoided the brutal fate of the Czyzewo Jews. May the Lord avenge their blood!


What My Grandfather Said
- The Apothecary's Friendship

by Malka Lubelczyk-Malinowicz – Ramat Gan

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

My grandfather was Layzer, Solte's [son] (Wengocz). Every year at Tu B'Shevat [1] my grandfather would bring home a large bag of various kinds of candy and fruits from Eretz-Yisroel, bokser [karob], figs and dates. He would divide all of this among his grandchildren.

– I asked, Grandfather, from where are you bringing all of these good things?

– His answer was, from the apothecary.

– I was with him today to wish him a good year. Today is again a new year; he gave me all of the things. And every year when it is Rosh Hashanah, he first sends me a Shanah Tovah [good year – a new year's] card and later he comes to me

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to wish me a “good year.” It has happened like this for many years.

– However, he is still a big anti-Semite and an enemy of the Jews, I insisted.

– My grandfather answered, so I want to tell you from where such a good friendship comes.

And he related:
This was during the time when the Bolsheviks entered the city, during the Polish-Bolshevik War. They then arrested all of the Polish patriots and [members of the] intelligentsia. The apothecary was among the arrestees. When after an investigation, the arrestees were driven on foot through the city (it was whispered that they were being taken to be shot). I saw the apothecary walking with his head down and went closer to him and said: “gey gezunt un kum gezunt [go in health and come in health].”
[Column 638]

This was a risky act on my part, but I had thought about what to do.

When the apothecary returned home later, he came right to me and said that they had all been lined up to be shot, but as a miracle from God, an order was received at the same time: “Run away quickly, the Poles are here!” And the soldiers ran away and everyone was saved.

The apothecary added:

“I am completely certain that your blessing saved me from a certain death. I will never forget it…”
I remember later when my grandfather lay sick. Parisz, the apothecary, came every day and sat for hours at his bed and told him various things. He did everything to console and encourage my grandfather. He gazed at him with eyes full of sincere love.


Translator's Footnote:
  1. The 15th day of Shevat – usually in January, is often called the New Year of the Trees, when the first blooming trees begin to blossom in Israel. return


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Nuske Szajnman

by Yitzhak Szlaski

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

He stands before my eyes in all of his spiritual beauty, a tall, thin young man with a blond pompadour. He had a sharp and deep mind and a sympathetic heart.

His spiritual and fraternal devotion to his closest comrades was such that it left the deepest memory in the heart of everyone who came in contact with him.

As an orphan, without a father, in kheder [religious primary school] I had the opportunity to feel his

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warm heart. He sensed my helplessness and eased my desolation with extraordinary tenderness. Now when I think of and remember those days I wonder from where did such genteel understanding and such deep human feeling for one suffering come in someone almost still a child? I did not know then, I felt in him a large and genteel heart and I connected with him with my complete childish soul.

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czy639.jpg
Nuske Szajnman

 

Later, I saw the same internal suffering that did not cease to haunt him when he met the same fate and he was orphaned by his father's death. Yet his sincere friendship was not lessened at all.

Later in the early Yeshiva [religious secondary school] years we would have the opportunity to lie around together on a house of prayer bench. During the cold nights I felt as if someone was covering me with his own coat. The thought that one of his comrades was hungry would take his rest from him and he would literally divide the food from his mouth. When a food package would come from home he immediately divided it among his comrades, which was a great pleasure for him. He beamed with joy. In addition he was an exceptional student. Gifted with a sharp mind he would passionately penetrate into the most difficult Talmudic question under study, walk around for hours in thought about some sort of puzzle in the commentaries. Later he devoted himself to worldly education with the same passion with which we both began to strive to be admitted to the Rabbinical Seminar in Berlin. We were helped by the Warsaw rabbi of that time, Prof. Moshe Sher, who made possible our entry into the Jewish Academic Home where, without cost Jewish students were given lectures

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on Polish literature, history and grammar.

Nuske read a great deal. His inner world was enriched by new problems, expanded and deepened. However, he did not let himself be ruled by any doubts or ambiguities, but stubbornly held to his religious world view, joining the ranks of Poalei Agudas Yisroel [Workers of the Association of Israel – religious labor movement] and worked as an instructor and organizer, appeared with inspiring speeches, wrote articles in party publications. His ideas possessed a synthesis of Yidishkeit [a Jewish way of life] and worldliness. At the beginning of the 1930s, when the Zionist idea captured an even larger number of the Jewish masses, Nuske Szajnman also was carried away and devoted himself to [Zionism] with the entire zeal of his soul. He became a member of the right Poalei-Zion . He dreamed of a Jewish land where the redemption of freedom, equality and brotherhood would be realized.

Returning to Czyzewo, he threw himself with all of his strength into party work and he showed himself not only to be a good speaker, but also as a capable organizer. Later, when the original founders and organizers of Poalei-Zion left the shtetl [town] and emigrated to Israel, Nuske remained the actual leader of the Poalei-Zion organization in Czyzewo.

That was a time of great quarrels. I would have discussions with him. He defended his socialist beliefs with which I did not agree. However this did not bother his natural friendship. After such heated quarrels he would always come to my house and as if

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nothing [had happened] strike up a conversation, invite me for a walk. With the ability to feel another's sorrow he immediately felt the smallest heartache and in a moving way tried to remedy it.

Together, we devoted ourselves to the dream of emigrating to Israel. Alas, he did not succeed. In 1935,

we parted. I traveled to Eretz Yisroel and he stayed at his post. He later left for Bialystok where he continued to do Zionist work with the same idealistic enthusiasm and he did not cease to dream about going to Eretz Yisroel. He did not accomplish his dream. He perished during the annihilation of the Bialystok ghetto, may the Lord avenge his blood.


My Mother – the Teacher

by Yitzhak Szlaski

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

Born in Czyzewo, she was forced to withdraw with her husband immediately after her marriage to a distant area because he was hiding out so as not to have to serve in the Russian military. Living a number of years in a larger city in Congress Poland, she absorbed, in sufficient degree, information about the Polish and Russian languages. By nature, she was gifted with a natural drive for knowledge, While still young, she was accustomed to reading a great deal and in general loved to page through various books of religious and general content thanks to which she acquired a great deal of information about Jews and Yidishkeit [Jewish way of life], Jewish life and Jewish customs as well as information of general worth about the world and people.

The outbreak of the First World War hurt her severely. She became a young widow in 1915 during the first months of the German occupation of Poland. A short time later she returned to her family in her birthplace of Czyzewo with her two young orphans. [1] They were physically and spiritually broken because of the events of the war

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My mother, Nemi Szlaski, my sister Sura and my brother Chaim Leib

 

and lived with the poor Jews in the occupied shtetl [town] burned by the Germans.

Like many other shtetlekh in Poland at that time, our Czyzewo was backward in its attentiveness to education and secular education. It should be understood that modern schools for children, or, as they were called shkoles [secular schools], were rejected by the Orthodox. It was then the tradition that pure Hasidus and non–worldly learning ruled in these shtetlekh. As is

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known, the educational system in the area – at that time – consisted of khederim [religious primary schools] for boys. In their homes, in the small crowded rooms, our old, well–known teachers spread Torah and wisdom. In contrast, there was no place or time for the girls to study, to help them acquire the least of the basic elementary instruction in reading and writing. Sometimes the parents did this themselves, but not all parents did it, because they were able to hire a teacher]. But others did not have the ability to hire a teacher capable of teaching their young daughters to write. This was a particularly grievous problem among the class that was not rich. However, with the arrival of the young widow, Nemi, the daughter–in–law

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of Alter the sofer [scribe] (Alter Shmulkes, as he was known in the shtetl) in Czyzewo, the problem was almost completely solved. In her, everyone found a most suitable teacher for their neglected daughters and their children who were lagging behind in their education, small and grown up. And Nemi the teacher, as she was later called, undertook the filling of her holy task intensively and energetically.

She organized lectures for various groups, for the young and adults in her small room in her residence, where she taught writing and reading in the Yiddish, Polish and German languages and arithmetic. The children mainly would come in groups – organized themselves and matched up by the parents; they would stand outside and wait

 

czy644.jpg
A class at Nemi's headed by the teacher, Yitzhak Szlaski

 

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respectfully for one group [to finish] to be able to enter the hall of culture.

They would sit on the wooden bed (sofke [settee]) and seats around the small table in the small room and diligently listen with a thirst and pleasure to the teacher's every word.

It is known that in times of deep suffering and pain, in poverty and deep need in one's life, there is a drive to climb higher and stronger, a drive for knowledge, a thirst for the intellect and culture, particularly among us Jews. In a short time, the teacher's small room was transformed into a small, primitive “public school” that laid the first foundation for the further development of secular public education for the young Jews among us in Czyzewo.

The small room teemed with students of various ages engrossed for the entire day, almost to late into the evening, going in and out, with notebooks and books in their hands. They would leave the lectures satisfied and radiant. Every lecture was a separate achievement in itself [and] all the more lectures, all the more knowledge. And the parent, every simple father and mother, took pride. A trifle – their young daughters already could or soon would themselves write a letter and even with the address in Polish or in German. They would praise the teacher for her honest and dedicated work with gratitude and admiration. For that was the reality. Nemi the teacher was not only a teacher of writing and reading. Nemi more than anything else was a devoted spreader of culture

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and knowledge. She filled every day with intellectual content. When teaching linguistic subjects. she would cite examples of various old and new writers and works, various stories from Jewish history or facts from current life. The students would intently devour every word with open mouths, feeling that their accumulation of knowledge was becoming richer from day to day.

This era lasted for a number of years. With the end of the [First] World War, a short time after Poland's liberation, the war between the Poland and the Soviet Union began. Czyzewo, which was located at a strategic point (because of the railroad line), again found itself at the difficult war front. It was in the hands of the Red Army for a short time and then back again to the Poles, in the hands of the wild “Hallerczikes” [anti–Semitic followers of Polish General Jozef Haller].” There was again suffering and pain and after a few years the communal life in the shtetl little by little began to normalize. The first Polish public school opened and then the first shoots of a modern Jewish school, organized and led by the devoted doctorowa [doctor's wife], wife of Dr. Gelbaum. Most of the female students were already schooled and prepared with the most necessary elementary education that they acquired during the war years with Nemi the teacher, the only one in the shtetl at that time. However, with the opening of the first public school, she still did not end her historic task; her students now came from the older young people who had been at the public school and whose education was neglected because of the difficult war years. Most of

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the young people were saved by her from the danger of remaining illiterate forever. The young men and misses would come to the teacher in her small room at night in the darkness, quiet and ashamed, and diligently listen to her lectures which were given with full understanding and tact, adapted to the capabilities of [absorbing] and intelligence of the students.

Her educational activities for the students who called themselves Amerikankes [female Americans] make up an entirely separate chapter. These were the wives whose husbands were in America.

As is known, during the first 20 years [of the 20th century] there was a great emigration to America. The largest number of the emigrants consisted of women with children who were traveling to their husbands and parents from whom they had been torn and separated for many years both before and after the outbreak of the [First] World War. Our shtetele also was blessed with many such as these. The women, the Amerikankes, wanted to and even had to prepare themselves with the basic knowledge of reading and writing. The American consul precisely demanded this. Otherwise, he did not want to issue an American visa. So almost all [of the Amerikankes] came to the teacher to study and also for her to carry on the correspondence with their husbands because this was not easy and simple for them.

I remember the moments of sudden luck of those poor, broken–by–suffering widows of the living, when they received the first letter from their husbands in America in which were money and pictures from them. Tears of joy mixed with

[Column 648]

shame and despair. They came to the teacher to have the letter read [to them].

Pointing to a photograph of her husband, such a person would whisper quietly to the teacher and say: “Woe is me – this is my husband? He looks like a professor! How can I go to him? So faded from suffering, exhausted – what can I do now? What can I write to him?” And she, Nemi the teacher, would console them and say: “Do not worry, everything will be fine.” And then she began carrying on a correspondence with a letter from the women to their husbands in American.

She put her warm heart and genteel soul into these letters. Thanks to her wisdom, tenderness and sentimental feelings which she put into the letters, she succeeded in connecting with love, devotion and information man and wife, father and children on two continents, with different ways of life.

She lived and acted quietly and calmly. She did her holy work for an era, spread basic knowledge among the poor, backward population in the shtetl. Without commotion, without clamor, without any protest at her difficult fate, she always turned to God and to people, full of gratitude at being able to feed herself and her children during such difficult years. Time did not stand still. The years passed quickly. The small children grew up. In 1935 I, her son, the writer of these lines, emigrated to Eretz–Yisroel, carrying in my heart the hope that at some time I would be able to bring her, my mother Nemi the teacher, to Eretz–Yisroel. Her letters to me always were soaked in longing

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for Eretz–Yisroel, no less than for me, her only son. However, cruel fate chose something else.

After the outbreak of the last war [Second World War], when Czyzewo was occupied by the Soviets, I was precisely informed about Jewish life in the shtetl through her postcards, which were covered with 50–60 lines of petite writing. She avoided the severe censorship of the Communist regime by using intelligent citations, examples and aphorisms. Along with my mother,

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I hoped that we would see each other in the freed Israel, but no!

Here [Czyzewo], my mother shared the brutal fate of all Czyzewo Jews.

May these few words about your modest cultural activities for the Jewish community in Czyzewo serve in place of flowers that are refreshed by the warm tears of my red, tearful eyes.

A garland on the large mass grave of the majority of the Czyzewo Jews in which you, too, found your eternal rest…


Translator's Footnote:
  1. In Yiddish a child is considered an orphan if one of its parents has died. Also, the author writes about his mother and “TWO young orphans.” In the caption below, the author lists his sister Sura and his brother Chaim Leib, so there apparently would have been THREE “young orphans.”] return


The Light from Our Home

Berl and Chantsha

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

To the memory of our parents

I carried the idea of immortalizing the memory of our parents for many years and, therefore, rejoice with the opportunity given to me by the yizkor [memorial] book for our city, the city of my parents and grandfathers.

I strove to fulfill the mitzvah [commandment] of “honoring my father and mother” for all of my years. When the new Soviet regime arrested me in 1940 and the investigator actually wanted to know about my family matters, among other [questions] he asked me:

– Do you support your parents?
I could not imagine what he had in mind with his question and answered the complete truth:
– They were independent until the war, well situated. Today they are completely ruined. In addition, they are not young people; if I were free I would have the opportunity to treat them with honor and support them.
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I tried to make the sliedovatel [interrogator] understand the great mitzvah of honoring one's father and mother, but he was not interested in my strong desire to fulfill the fourth commandment of the “10 Commandments.” My answer was useful for his bad intentions and he wrote that we were one family.

Alas, we did not have the opportunity to help and support our dear parents. May this remembrance be a contribution to their honor and memory.

* * *

 

czy0651.jpg
Reb Yeshaya-Yakov
son of Reb Yisroel-Yitzhak
Gorzalczany

Born in the year 5641 [1881] in Czyzewo
Perished on the 28th of Av 5701 [21st August 1941] in Szulborze
During the First Aktsia [deportation]

 

In my young boyish years I once listened to a conversation between my father and his close friend. It concerned my exchanging my Hasidic garb for European [clothing]. His friend asked:
– You look at him and say nothing?
My father answered with a question:
– Why are you sure that it would help?
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– The close friend advised, You can still try.

– And if he does not obey? – My father asked further.

– Well then, there is no solution; it is hopeless.

– No! – my father called out, “Better he transgress unknowingly than knowing.” I have the impression that I will not prevail with him. At least let him not violate his “honor.” We children were not the cause of correct relations between our parents and us. But our parents never caused any situation in which we children would rebel against their will.

* * *

We do not know very much about our father's early years. There was no grandfather and no grandmother to tell their grandchildren about their father.

My father was orphaned[1] when his mother died when he was two years old and although the second mother was an aunt, a loving sister of his mother, it was more than natural that the stepchildren would feel wronged in comparison to her own children.

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The other grandmother, Matl Fayga, daughter of Faya Epsztain, truly made a great sacrifice when she was very young, beautiful and an intelligent girl, taking over the motherhood of four orphans after the death of her young, deceased sister, Yenta-Rywka. She married my grandfather, because that was what the family ordered her to do. She was left a widow at age 45. She did not get married again despite the fact that she was materially well situated. The care of her own five children surpassed for her the question of her own happiness and she was a widow for 35 years until she was murdered by the Hitler bands.

Our father spent part of his very early youth in yeshivus [religious secondary schools] and part with his grandfather, Reb Yona in Wysokie Mazowieckie. His grandfather, Reb Yona was a preeminent scholar, a follower of the Enlightenment, a renowned person in Wysokie.

In the year 1946, by chance, I met a Jew, Mr. Tumkewicz who came from Wyskoie, at the kehile [organized Jewish community] council in Lodz. Hearing my family name, he asked me if I had had relatives in Wysokie?

– I answered him, “I am a Wysokie grandchild; my grandfather was Reb Yona.” Mr. Tumkewicz stood up and asked with reverence:

– A son of Reb Yisroelke?

I told him that he could speak to me while sitting I am just a great grandchild of Reb Yona, a grandson of Reb Yisroel Yitzhak.

My father took my mother from Sterdyn, a small village 28 kilometers from Czyzewo. She was named Yehudis, a daughter of Reb Shmuel Moshe Rozenberg, an aristocratic and noble man from Sterdyn. To the day, the name Reb Shmuel Moshe and the entire Rozenberg family are remembered by all

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of those from Sterdyn as a model, as a symbol of all good deeds. I remember the year 1932 when my grandfather, Reb Shmuel Moshe, died at a very old age. This was two days after Shavous [spring holiday celebrating the “giving of the Torah”]. The Sterdyn Rabbi, Reb Eibszic, was with the Aleksander Rebbe for Shavous. When he returned a few days after the burial [of my grandfather], he called the entire shtetl to the house of prayer and publicly gerisn krie [tore his clothes as a sign of mourning]. He banged his head on the wall and cried out: “Vey, vey is tsu mir [woe is me], that I did not have the merit to eulogize the great Reb Shmuel Moshe at the open grave.” In addition, he gave a eulogy for my grandfather.

So my father lived in this house for three to four years, gegesn kest [had his room and board provided by his in-laws while he studied] and had two children. He later had a shoe business and it was not successful. In addition my father absorbed the original altruistic traits with which my grandfather's house was endowed. He also absorbed a page of the Talmud studying with my grandfather every day, as was the custom among the Sterdyn Jews.

For several years my father had suitable companionship in the house of prayer. There were then two other kest sons-in-law: the future Cienchanowiec Rabbi Brunrut and the Kamanow Rabbi Szuliewic who all were good friends until the end.

He moved from Sterdyn to Warsaw for a short time; also without much success. He finally came to Czyzewo, ran a small grocery store. He at last grew into an esteemed, capable merchant, and built and maintained a beautiful house.

My father was one of the authentic merchants, always searching for new articles, new kinds of goods that had never been brought to the shtetl.

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Yehudis Gorzalczany, neé Rozenberg

 

He later was (until the arrival of the state monopoly) the only tobacco wholesaler.

A very large part of the success of the businesses surely belongs to my mother who bore all of the responsibilities for the business with my father and sometimes even more. My mother was greatly beloved by the customers. They would come to her to entrust all of their secrets. They looked to her for advice, expert judgment about a marriage match and the like. Everyone, without exception, had great respect for Yehudis. Male and female neighbors had the greatest respect. The neighbors turned to no one but my mother, Yehudis-lebn [dear] and Yehudis-kroyn [crown – a word of endearment]. Never in her life did my mother speak a loud word even in serious matters and, as matter of fact, she did not give any [female] neighbor, even the most quarrelsome, any opportunity to speak to her with anything but reverence.

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Various people came not only to my father for advice. They also came to my mother and not just women. The old Reb Moshe-Mendl Gramadzin told my mother all of his troubles. Gershon Yid [Jew] entrusted his correspondence to his American brothers to no one but my mother.

My mother wrote about everything to his brothers: about his health, about his income, how many horses had been born in a season and the like. Gershon Yid was once our neighbor; until the end, he came from very far, from the other side of the city, telling my mother his troubles so that they could be sent in a letter to his brothers in America.

* * *

The Way of Raising Their Children

There were three of us. A sister came much later. We do not remember that there were any conflicts between our parents and we children and also none among us children.

Life in the house of our parents flowed so peacefully, so comfortably. I only remember one slap that I received from my father. It was Tisha B'Av [ninth of Av, commemorating the destruction of the 1st and 2nd Temples in Jerusalem]. A group of boys including me prepared a reserve of “small brushes” and threw them in the shtibl [one-room synagogue] as was our usual behavior. There was an old Jew there, a poor man. As it usually happened, he was the victim. The majority of the small brushes got entangled in his beard. The Jews begged us to leave in peace. But we did not stop throwing [the small brushes]. Then my father arrived and honored me with a slap. He said angrily:

– Why did you choose the very weakest? Certainly, you should try to throw [the small brushes at somewhere else]…
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Ha, are you afraid that they will break your bones?

Today I am convinced that my father was correct.

* * *

In the years 1915-18, during the German occupation, when food was very scarce, my parents worried that, God forbid, there would be a lack of bread in the house. At Kayla the baker's [bakery], they baked dark bread and 80-90 pounds of bread would come out. However, one longed for a white challah [Sabbath braided bread] in honor of Shabbos, so my mother baked several small, braided challahs. And if there was no wine, my father made kiddush [prayer over wine] on the challahs and gave everyone a piece of bread. My mother saw the longing eyes with which the children looked at the challahs. She would convince us that dark bread was certainly good and, perhaps, better with the fish. The children would agree and thus would end the Friday night banquet and a small piece of the challah remained.

Dear mother, you worried so much about the holiday and how great was your strength to bear all of the burdens of the entire year. A hidden giant slept in your every limb.

My father lived until the end communally in the Aleksander shtibl [one room house of prayer]. He would pray there and he would study and have conversations there all his free hours.

It appears that my father was among the respected men from an early age. As long as I remember, he was one of the leaders of the Shakhris [morning] prayers on the Days of Awe, and this was when the old leaders of the Shakhris prayers, such as Reb Layzer Solitis and Reb Zelik Yankl Przezakewicz, were still alive. Praying on Rosh

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Hashanah and Yom Kippur at the synagogue lectern, at that time, was a level that not everyone could attain. My father also had his place at the table among the singers of Shabbos hymns during the third Shabbos meal in the shtibl. He had a sweet voice both while singing and while studying. His Gemara [Talmud] melodies in the early morning hours, particularly on Shabbosim and Yom Kippur, would put we children to sleep so sweetly…

My father was the bal kore [reader of the Torah during services] on Shimkhas Torah [holiday commemorating the completion of the yearly reading of the Torah and the start of the reading for the new year] and always was the one designated to close the annual reading of the Torah on Shimkhas Torah. The honor obligated a Kiddusha Rabba [great kiddush – blessing of the wine] and as a right of possession, the entire congregation of the shtibl accompanied by all of the children would come to our house to our father for the kiddush. How carefully our mother would prepare everything. She welcomed the uproar and noise of the Hasidic kiddush with so much satisfaction and a sincere smile. Although the Aleksander Hasidim were a little calmer and behaved quietly and sedately, after the kiddush the house looked as if after a wedding and this was repeated twice more on Simkhas Torah, at night and the next morning.

Our house was always open at all opportunities for Hasidic get-togethers. Reb Betsalel Yair a representative of the Aleksander court, and others would come from time to time. Such visits by an emissary from the rebbe meant not only a kiddush for all of the Hasidim, but also banquets that lasted several days. Male and female Hasidim would come with kvitlekh [notes to a rabbi requesting a blessing: for example, barren women asking for a blessing to conceive a child] and various requests. A long chain of people receiving a welcome and, later, those saying goodbye, all of this was a right of possession of Beis-Yeshaya [Yeshaya –the author's father's house]. My father accepted this with love.

His excellence in singing nearly brought my father to a conflict with my grandfather. It was at the sheva-brakhos [seven wedding blessings that are recited for a bride and groom] in Sterdyn. Before the blessing, my grandfather, Reb Yisroel Yitzhak

[Column 659]

said to [my father,] the groom: “Sing Shir-haMaalot [Psalm 120-134].” My father did not want to sing.

– Why?

– With that, my father declared, I am even more doubtful about the desire of my father [to have me sing] because the entire intention of asking me to sing Shir-haMaalot is for the group in Sterdyn to hear how beautifully I sing. If I do not sing, they will think that I can sing better than I actually can.

My grandfather accepted the answer and abandoned [the idea].

My father did not belong to the fanatic [believers] of Hasidus, but tradition was one of the highest matters to him. I remember how my father would help the leader of the Musaf [supplementary] prayers, Reb Yisroel Yitzhak Yanowski, on the Days of Awe with great ecstasy, with the highest notes he could bring out in singing the Avoyda [worship service] on Yom Kippur.

For a long time I did not understand the Avoyda precisely. He did not belong to a family of Kohanim [members of the priestly class]. Recently I have found it said in the book, Kotzk, that this prayer was the most prominent in the Aleksander court. The first Aleksander Rebbe was a kohan and the rapture comes from this.

My father had an original doctrine in his spiritual life. He really was a Hasid, but with complete understanding. He was a strong follower of Reb Yakov Emden. Our house was conducted according to the prayer book of the “Yid” [Jew]: the erev tafshiln [food prepared before Shabbos or a holiday that falls on Shabbos], the Passover Seder plate, the customs for the sukkah [temporary structure in which one has meals and may sleep during the holiday of Sukkos], Shemini Atzeret [the eight day of Sukkos – the Feast of the Tabernacles]. The thick prayer book by Reb Yakov Emden was like the Shulkhan Aruch [Code of Jewish Law]. He would search in the prayer book for every doubt he had. He would bless the children on Yom Kippur according to the wording of Reb Yakov Emden.

[Column 660]

My father did not belong among the greatly extravagant people, he calculated everything, did not like to overpay in buying goods, but it was completely different with ritual objects, the best tefilin [phylacteries], the prettiest talis [prayer shawl] with gold or silver embroidery on the upper edges. Months before my Bar-Mitzvah, he ordered a pair of tefilin from Shmuelka's son, Dov Alter (Szloski).

My father had the character trait of not being proud of his lineage. He simply detested “ancestry” and “pedigrees.” My father remained the oldest man in the family after the death of my grandfather, Reb Yisroel Yitzhak, and the death of his older brother, Reb Hersh, and, as a result, he was the representative for various family matters and particularly in arranging marriages for his young sisters.

A match was proposed for his sister, Dwoyraka, with a young man from Sokolowa, Avraham Landa. The father-in-law was a prominent Jew, a rich man, a descendant of the Gerer Hasidim. My father was still a young man then. In one of the conversations at completing the marriage negotiations between the in-laws, he said to the father-in-law:

– I will tell you that you are making a mistake if you think you are buying a pedigree from me, but if you think you are selling me your pedigree, it is a waste to talk. I do not buy a pedigree and I do not have a pedigree to sell. My family brings autarkeia [personal self-adequacy] in the area of pedigree. It is enough for me and there is nothing left to sell.
My father also was never stingy with tuition money. My father is not at fault that I did not grow up to be a scholar. He gave me the best teachers, special teachers for six chosen boys. He took the greater burden of paying for the rabbi because others

[Column 661]

were poorer and could not pay a sixth of the tuition money.

Our sister, Fayga Faya, was sent to Ostrowa to study because there was not yet a school in Czyzewo. My father would not have so easily sent a girl to a strange place if not for the fact the house of the Kamarower Rebbe would give appropriate supervision.

 

The Also Were Bad Times

I remember 1915. The Russians left Czyzewo and took my father with them, under the pretext that he had not wanted to make change of one kopeka from a ruble at a sale. In those tsarist times this was a sign that Jews were hiding the small coins for the Germans. My mother remained alone with three small children. Yehielka, my father's youngest brother, came to help us pack, so that we could escape quickly, because they were saying that the Russians were setting fires before retreating.

Suddenly, someone knocked on the shutters. We could not tell from the knocks that there was no danger. We had to be ready for anything. However, Yehielka could not remain with us. He had to run home. My mother, her three sisters, young girls, had to be on watch. Night was falling. My mother closed the shutters, locked herself in and sat on the packages surrounded by her small children. Shouting by everyone in distant streets was heard; the bands of soldiers were going around raping, looting.

– Who is there?

– Me, Hersh Mordekhai. Yehudis, open up.

– What do you want?

– The officers from the headquarters who are staying with my father-in-law, Reb Zawl Edlsztajn, have sent me to bring them tobacco.

My mother answered him:

[Column 662]

– I will not give you tobacco. Let them come themselves.
A few minutes later, two officers approached. My mother said that she would sell them tobacco on the condition that they would both remain in the house until daytime.

After a short discussion among them, they agreed and sent Hersh Mordekhai home to tell the others that they were coming in the morning. My mother made supper for them, unpacked a package of bed linens and made a bed for them.

Late, after half the night [had passed], the officers were asleep; my mother and the children dozed while sitting. Suddenly a heavy knock was heard. They pulled at the door and shouted: “Open!” accompanied by terrible Russian curses. “There are cigarettes here,” they said among themselves with echoing curses. My mother woke up the officers, who immediately put on their uniforms and asked that the door be opened. Intoxicated peasants, with curses and dirty expressions in their mouths, poured in like a wave. But the two officers, with revolvers in their hands, stood opposite them:

– Scoundrels! Sons of bitches! What do you want here?

– An order was given: Let no one dare go into the alley.

A guard stood in the street until the day [began] and every new approaching band whispered a secret: “Careful, there is a colonel present here.”

Day began. My mother prepared breakfast for them. We heard the front drawing closer. There was shooting on all sides

[Column 663]

and no one noticed that the two officers had disappeared, leaving their breakfast unfinished. Their hats also remained on the table.

* * *

My father also maintained the custom of going to the rabbi, to my grandmother Matl and another aunt, Ruchl, for as long as they lived, to wish them a happy new year immediately after the prayers on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. For all the years, I was his companion on all these visits.

Hospitality for guests was self-evident. I do not remember any Shabbos [Sabbath], even during difficult times, without a guest at the table. There were wandering guests and usual ones. Moshe-Dovid der Meshugener [the crazy one] belonged to the usual ones. He actually was normal, nothing more. He had convinced himself that he was the Moshiakh [redeemer]. There were guests who lived with us for weeks. The community emissaries from the Aleksander [Hasidic] court were among those who always stayed until all of the court matters in the shtetl had been dealt with. Emissaries from Eretz Yisroel communities belonged to my father if they prayed at the Aleksander shtibl [one room house of prayer].

I do not know why my father never was a dozor [member of the synagogue council]. He always was almost forced to be a candidate of the Aleksander shtibl [one room synagogue], but he always refused. He would take part in the deliberations, in the preparations, but he did not want the task or the honor for himself.

I once planned to ask my father the appeal of the thing [not accepting the position], but did not have the time. I suppose that he did not want to put on the “clothing” of a parnes [elected member of the community council] because his father, Reb Yisroel Yitzhak, was a parnes all his life and one of the most respected community workers for public interests. This was to be an expression of “honoring my father,” according to his doctrine.

[Column 664]

In contrast, our father was the founder of the Jewish People's Bank. The founding meeting took place in our house and our father was one of the three managers of the bank. Later, our father resigned from public business. His youngest brother, Yehielke, a good head, a man of iron logic, took his place.

In his middle years, our father became a member of the Khevre Kadishe [burial society]. He was called to carry out the burial rites for the prominent deceased people. He would fulfill the task with great seriousness and preparation for the ritual purification [of the body].

The Second World War, the general destruction, did not permit my father to leave his children with any material inheritance. Therefore, he left us a spiritual inheritance that we wanted to be worthy of keeping.

We remember his principles and he would recite them to us at various opportunities: that we should not fight someone even when we are correct; that if we were upset, it is self-evident that a person always needs to think that he cannot be an objective judge of his own deeds.

At an opportunity, my father told of a case when my grandfather, Reb Yisroel Yitzhak, convinced him in his youth that he should study Hoysn Mishpet [fourth part of the Shulkan Arukh – Code of Jewish Law] [and] Yoyre-Deye [second part of the Shulkan Arukh] – he meant that he should prepare to become a rabbi. When my father did not obey, my grandfather asked him why? You will not live and behave according to my guidance? My father answered, “Father, I am following your ways exactly. You did not obey your father, the misnagid [opponent of Hasidus] and [you] became a Hasid, and a tish-zitser [one who follows a particular Hasidic rebbe] in Aleksander. I do not obey my father and do not want to become a rabbi.” Alas we children did not have enough sense to record all of the words, rules of life and logical thoughts that our father would say to us, that

[Column 665]

 

czy0665.jpg
Our sister Fayga-Faya and brother-in-law Chaim Zilbersztajn and their small daughter Chanala. Perished in Szulborze

 

I know that my material achievements up until the war in 1939 were the result of his help and even more thanks to his encouraging, smart advice and showing me what to do and how to proceed. I did not consider any matter or did any business without receiving approval from my father. My mother was a living witness against the customary opinions about wives and mothers-in-law. Speaking very little, answering one for every ten, she always listened thoughtfully to what was being said to her and never interrupted the speaker. There also were cases when my mother did not want to listen until the end. This was when a neighbor or an acquaintance spoke loshn-hora [speech critical of or derogatory about another person]. Then, my mother would interrupt the story with a scornful expression: “Never mind! Everything can be said and what wives can tell!”

The only daughter-in-law my mother had would not tell her secrets and business

[Column 666]

to her own mother, but to her mother-in-law. She always found an open ear with her mother-in-law. She would tell her [her mother-in-law] all of the eventual complaints about her mother-in-law's son and my mother always decided that in principal she [the daughter-in-law] was right.

Our father was one of the first who went to his death in Szulborze; accompanying him was our sister, Fayga-Faya, and her husband Chaim.

Our mother and our young sister, Surala, went over the Bug [River} to Sterdyń. Our mother perished on the 12th of Tishrei 5702 [3 October 1941]. Our sister Surala was hidden in terrible conditions until January 1944 when she was killed by a band of Polish murderers, Hitler's devoted assistants.

 

czy0666.jpg
Our youngest sister, Surala, perished six months before the liberation, in the Sterdyń area

Translator's footnote:

  1. A child was considered an orphan [yosem] when one parent had died. When both parents were deceased, a child was a keylekhdiker yosem [a circular or complete orphan]. Return

[Column 667]

The Pogrom in Czyzewo Described
in the Yiddish Press of That Time

Der Moment [The Moment] number 101, Friday the 30th of April 1937

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

The Great Trial About the Czyzewo Unrest

Detailed report from our special representative.

The trial for the anti–Jewish events that took place on Tuesday, the 5th of January 1937, in Czyzewo and made a ruin of this densely populated shtetl [town], where Jews and Christians lived peacefully together for many years, began last night before the Lomza District Court.

According to a series of accounts that arrived from Czyzewo, the matter unfolded thus:

[Column 668]

There was a fair in the shtetl on Tuesday, the 5th of January. It was apparently anticipated that the market day would be “lively.” Many policemen, with the commissar and the starosta [village chief] at the head, were assembled in the shtetl, as was usual on a market day during the previous months in the shtetlekh [towns] in Bialystok province. At that time, pickets stood in front of Jewish shops with white and red ribbons on their

 

Czy0668.jpg

[Column 669]

arms and stood watch… When several hours had passed and the peasants had earned a considerable amount from the products they had sold, one of the Endeke [“Endecja” – “Narodowa Demokraczja” – anti–Semitic, Polish Nationalist Democratic Party] comrades, a certain Cima, gave the signal and an entire gang immediately went to the Jewish shops with sticks and crowbars. Chaotically, Jews began to lock the shops and close the shutters. Police at once began to react in the strongest manner and chased the hooligans from the market, driving them to where the horse and cattle market was located.

The sad results in Czyzewo were:

Zelig Jelin, a wagon driver, 38 years old, was severely wounded, alas, by the hooligans when he wrestled with them, wanting to save a calf – his entire worth. Jelin was taken to Warsaw in his dying condition, where he exhaled his soul in the hospital on Friday, the 8th of January.

Yisroel Baran, a 58–year old butcher, was severely wounded and was also taken to Warsaw.

Ditto, the 22–year old Mindl Kowadle and the 19–year old Henya Fajngold, who had a few bones broken by blows from an iron bar.

Efroim Grzibak received a hole in his head. Yosef Kasower, a blacksmith, escaped with a split head.

The horse–trader, Chaim Jablkowski, had a foot and a hand broken. His son was severely beaten.

Also severely wounded were the cattle trader Shimeon Goldberg, Szifman,

[Column 670]

Wajnbrum, Nisen Feldman and Berl Lapka, a resident of the nearby shtetl, Jedrzejów.

The 36–year old Ester–Shayna Bronsztajn received wounds to her feet. Rywka Slocka, a pregnant woman in her later months, was “treated” with a rusty nail in her stomach. The latter two were taken to the Jewish hospital at Czista.

In addition, 25 Jews received light wounds in various parts of their body and face.

Since then, disregarding the fact that four months have already passed, Czyzewo has not been able to return to normal. Extraordinary need and want reign in the shtetl; the recovery is as if cut off; all of the sources have run out; dozens of families have left the shtetl. The majority settled in nearby Bialystok. Many families, previously very distinguished and well–to–do had to receive charity. Donated money arrived from many places (over four months, the Bialystok aid committee itself sent 3,000 zlotes to Czyzewo).

Now the entire shtetl, Jews and non–Jews, lives under the effects of the trials. The two dozen Jewish witnesses, starving and tortured Jews, have mortgaged their last rags and appeared at the trial.

M. Goldman

 

The Trials

Lomza ([reported] by telephone). As was anticipated, the Endekes decided to make use in their political propaganda of

[Column 671]

the trials [resulting from] the bloody events in Czyzewo.

They transferred the defense of the accused to the authority of four prominent Endeke men, the lawyers Barowski, Jeczarski, Nebudek and Mieszkowski.

The Endekes were well represented among the representatives of the press.

Endekes aged from 20 to 28 occupied the 34 seats for the accused. The 35–year old Antony Cima, who previously was accused as the main organizer of the unrest, did not find himself on the seats of the accused. The trial against him was vacated, because during the examination it was established that he was mentally unsound.

It must be remembered that Cima confessed during the first examination of taking part in the unrest and the accusing witness, Przodownik [the leader] Czechowski, had designated him as a notorious rascal and adventurist.

One of those who also played the first fiddle during the unrest was the accused Kraszewski, who was exiled to Bereza [Kartuska Prison] with the Endeke lawyer Marian Arsz and Arganinski.

The Jewish lawyers Grozbard from Lomza and Karniol from Warsaw presented themselves at the trial; the widow of the martyr Jelin was the plaintiff. They demanded 500 zlotes for moral losses because of the unrest.

The Endeke lawyer Barowski made a vehement argument against the Jewish plaintiff, but the court decided to

[Column 672]

permit the Endeke demand to call additional witnesses on the part of the defense, the lawyer Jursz from Wysockie Mazowieckie, one of the leaders of the anti–Semitic boycott in that area, also was accepted.

After taking care of the family questions, the chairman read the act of accusation, which said very little about the anti–Jewish unrest. On the contrary, much was said about the anti–police demonstrations by the accused.

 

We Approach the Witness Interrogation

The first group was 17 witnesses from the local regime against the accused. The witnesses categorically stood firm about the guilt of the accused as direct participants in the unrest and attackers of the police.

During the interrogation of the witnesses, Paprocki began a debate about the ideas of the boycott and bojka (fight).

The witness attended a conference with the starosta [village elder] from Wysockie Mazowieckie and the Endeke representatives whom the starosta warned against organizing unrest. Therefore, the witness said, the starosta had declared that he was not against a szlachetny bojkot [noble boycott].

But when the plaintiff's lawyer, Karniol, asked what he understood by the concept of szlachetny bojkot, the witness drew back and said that he had made a mistake, The starosta had said that they could carry out a szlachetny konkurent [noble competition], not a boycott…

The starosta also warned the Endekes that he would ask that the Endeke

[Column 673]

pickets be cleared if the smallest attempts at terror and violent acts were noticed.

Lawyer Karniol asked one of the witnesses if he knew that the Endeke leader from Czyzewo, Adgoninski, would lend Jews money with interest.

The chairman withdrew the question because Adgoninski was not on the accused bench…

 

Call for Help from the Czyzewo Jews

Warsaw (JTA [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]). JTA has received the following appeal from the Aid Committee for those who have suffered in Czyzewo.

Because of the violent agitation that is continuing, the Jewish population in Czyzewo finds itself in a sad state. The shopkeepers have already consumed their goods, artisans are hungry, the [conditions for the] dorfs–geyer [those who go to the villages to buy and sell things] are impossible.

Now the question is: Passover is coming. Where will those suffering get their matzos and potatoes?

It is hoped that the Jewish communities as well as the well–to–do individuals will not forget their duty to ease the need of the Czyzewo Jews.

Donations [should be] sent to this address:

Rabbi Sh. D. Zawladower, Czyzewo

 

Czyzewo

(From a trip through the “Valley of Death.”
Written by Wolf Szliapak)

Czyzewo has around 400 families. Recently over 50 of these have left the

[Column 674]

shtetl, spread all over Poland. The city is known for [having] pickets. This plague continues there all the time without interruption. There are well–known signs in the villages that it is forbidden for Jews to enter.

The shops in the shtetl were transferred to non–Jewish owners. They sold the last little bit of goods or many of the household goods and they only had a piece of bread to eat.

Thirteen cripples remain in the shtetl from last Tuesday, the 5th of January 1937, when the martyr, Jelin, was murdered.

We visit the houses [and find] pictures of poverty and illness. Almost 300 families are in immediate need of medical help, bread and coal.

The majority of the sick are spitting blood; these are victims of the time. We are followed by many Jewish artisans; several toiling Jews stick out their hands, half ashamed, and ask for bread for their children. The epidemic of children's diseases has led to the fact that six Jewish children have died in one week, among them the martyr Jelin's youngest child.

We visit the former butcher of the shtetl, Hatskl Igla, 50 years old. Last Tuesday, hooligans threw him onto a fence and broke him in two. He lies all day riveted to his bed in great suffering. He spits out his cut–up lung and his children sit in the house without any bread to eat. Today is already Monday and they live with a little warmed up potatoes, which remain from the Shabbos cholent [Shabbat stew].

[Column 675]

Who is Guilty in the Events in Czyzewo

It appears that the sad pattern of the boycott campaign in Wysokie Mazowieckie County did not yet satisfy the blood–thirsty Yidn–fresers [Jew–eaters – persecutors of Jews] because the Dziennik Narodowy [National Journal] in last night's edition – a day after the funeral of Jelin, the Czyzewo martyr, and the death of Mrs. Gwardiak by an accidental bullet – provides a description whose intent is clear and distinct:

– The special representative of Dziennik, Bidgadski, describes the terrain on which the unrest in Czyzewo occurred.

“The businesses there are all Jewish. There was a certain Szimonowski, whose son, a priest, is a well–known activist in Lodz. He could not support himself. His business is run by a brave Polish woman.

“I want to travel by bus – [but the only one is] Jewish. The bus to Nur, to Dambrow, to Czechowice (all well–known names now) belong to Jewish enterprises.”

These are such innocent observations and now comes the true “description.”

– [According to Bidgadski] During the past weeks, four Polish businesses have been founded in Czyzewo. This past week a Polish iron shop was opened. All of this irritated the Jews. They actually became wild. When a wheat firm arose, there were denunciations.

– The position of the Jews has continually become aggressive. (?) This has been a blow to their wallets. They wanted there to be outbursts; that windows be broken. The

[Column 676]

constant acts of denunciation to the starosta and to the provincial governor, in Warsaw and to their journalists terribly provoked the Poles…

And what was with the Endeke fighters, who terrorized the passersby and did not allow any customers into Jewish shops. This was all “forgotten” by the Endeke and not mentioned and according to his description was understandable because the Jews intentionally created the excesses against themselves…

The Nara [anti–Semitic political party] newspaper, Jutro [Tomorrow] sent a representative who described the place of the events in a similar objective way as the cited Endeke. The representative provides an interesting detail that right at the moment when a conference took place of all of the village magistrates from the entire county and the starosta from Wysokie Mazowieckie, Dr. Szwiratkewicz, about maintaining calm and order, an official ran into the room with a shout: “It has begun.” The unrest actually had broken out.

The Endeke representative writes further:

– The population of the poor villages, Godlewo, Lipskie, Skórki Milewek, Uścianek and Biedrusk took part in the unrest.


Today Czyzewo possesses an unusual picture:

Police patrols march in the streets and through the market. It is quiet in the city.

The local Jews complain about the boycott. Actually, no Poles enter any Jewish business. The peasants come into the city only to buy in the new Polish shops; the Jews chase after the customers without success.

[Column 677]

The Jews in the surrounding villages cannot buy anything. The Jewish women tried for several days to buy milk in the village, but the Polish peasant women did not want to sell and the majority of Jewish women returned home with nothing. Only a few of them received milk from the peasant women, but the milk did not reach Czyzewo because other peasants took the cans and poured out the raw milk into the ditch. As the Jewish merchants said, almost no one could buy a trade license for the new year.

Der Moment [The Moment] number 10.

Tuesday, the 21st of January 1937

(Y.B.) Last night when the khesed shel emes [mitzvah – commandment – to accompany the dead to their burial] hearse car arrived in front of prosektorium [Polish word meaning “dissecting room,” but more likely meaning “morgue” in this sentence] to remove the dead body of Reb Zelig Jelin, may his memory be blessed, the commissar from the 11th commissariat already was there with a platoon of policemen. The hearse car immediately stopped with the corpse at the nearby cemetery, which also was guarded by police.

[Column 678]

A large group of Jews was assembled at the cemetery.

The tragically deceased was eulogized by Rabbi Zilbersztajn, Rabbi Fetman, Reb Shlomoh Aldfang and a representative of the Czyzewo kehile [organized Jewish community]. Heart–rending scenes occurred at the funeral on the part of the widow and orphans of the deceased. A brother of the deceased recited Kaddish [memorial prayer].

Heint [Today] number 7

7th January 1939

Again anti–Jewish events in Czyzewo.

Twenty–nine Jews wounded – six seriously wounded victims brought to the Warsaw Jewish hospital. One victim died – a second is near death.

Anti–Jewish events in Czyzewo are not news. As our readers remember, several weeks ago the Endekes there showed what they could do. They beat several Jews and looted Jewish possessions.

They designated the day of revenge for Tuesday, that is, the day when

 

Czy0678.jpg
The eulogy in the name of the Czyzewo kehile was given by Mr. Berl Goczalczani – second from the left

[Column 679]

a petition was being brought to the Sejm [Polish parliament] about the exiled Endekes. In time, they admitted this to the police and on Tuesday in the morning approximately 200 policemen and police officers came to Czyzewo.

Because of the threats by the Endekes, the Jews did not open their businesses and did not go to the market with their goods. Mrs. Chava Yehudis Melcer, who was on the street, received heavy blows from the Endekes.

The unrest started in the morning because a crowd of young Endekes had shouted immediately against the Jews and against the police when the police took away their sticks. They went outside the city and provoked a riot there.

On the way, they encountered the 56–year old butcher, Yisroel Baran of Czyzewo, leading a calf. They attacked him with crowbars and beat him on the head, face and body until he was unconscious and he fell down into the deep mud.

The police had not considered that the hooligans would go to the cattle market. Therefore, there were only a few policemen there.

When the rampaging mob arrived at the cattle market, they began beating the assembled Jewish cattle merchants until they fell down unconscious. All of the Jewish cattle merchants and wagon drivers, numbering more than 20, were wounded.

The severely wounded were brought to the Jewish hospital on Czista [Street].

[Column 680]

Czy0680a.jpg
Yisroel Baran

 

Yisroel Baran from Czyzewo, 56–years old, a butcher. He was wounded in the head, face and hands;

Zelig Jelin, 36–years old, a wagon driver from Czyzewo. He did not regain consciousness. His skull was split.

 

Czy0680b.jpg
Mindl Kowadla

 

Mindl Kowadla from Czyzewo, 29–years old. The Endekes entered her residence, threw stones and wounded her in the head and wounded a few more Czyzewer.

Zelig Jelin died on Wednesday morning without regaining consciousness. In total, 41 people were arrested and accused of belonging to the band [of Endekes].

 

What Do the Wounded Say

Last night our co–worker visited the wounded in the hospital and found

[Column 681]

Baran's daughter, who did not leave his bedside.

He [Baran] answered our question [by explaining] while he was walking into the city from the market with the calf he had bought, a crowd of several hundred hooligans appeared opposite him near the cemetery and shouted: “Here is a Jew, let us attack him.” They immediately threw him into the mud and began to beat him with tools. He lost consciousness.

His daughter cried at these words. After she calmed herself, she spoke again, saying that around one–thirty during the day, several Christians came and said that they had seen Baran lying bloodied and unconscious on the road. They said the same thing about Jelin.

Truth be told, except for the daughter, people in the city were afraid to go to the place of the incident. However, we forced ourselves and ran there. We saw the horrible picture. The father lay in blood and in a deep mud and did not understand what was being said to him. He was barely revived and carried home.

About Jelin, she said that he had a good reputation in the city as an extraordinarily strong man. Witnesses said that he received heavy blows from perhaps 100 hooligans. He had his money with him, his identification card for his horse; everything was stolen from him. He left a wife and three children, the oldest of which was five years old and the youngest three months old.

She could not

[Column 682]

gain control of herself and went into a corner, again to cry her heart out.

Chaim Jablkowski spoke with great difficulty. He said that in the middle of a transaction he heard anti–Jewish shouts from a giant group. He did not have time to look, but he felt blows on his body from sticks and iron bars. One hundred and eighty zlotes, his horses and wagon as well as a hooded cape worth 70 zlotes, which covered one horse, were taken from him.

At night, after he regained consciousness, he [Jablkowski] found Yankl the butcher in his residence. He was severely beaten and breathless so that he could not speak any further.

Litman Wajnbaum still has not regained consciousness. His condition is hopeless. Miss Kowadla says that there was a fearful mood in Czyzewo last night; they constantly heard anti–Jewish shouts. The city's Jewish population did not go out into the street. The doors and shutters were bolted.

She was taken to a municipal hospital in Warsaw, but they did not want to admit her there, so she was taken to the Jewish hospital at Czista [Street].

Last night, many Warsaw and Czyzewo residents visited the sick.

Heint number 176, 31 July 1938.

Czyzewo already had a rich past in the area of “events” and boycott pickets, of anti–Semitic incidents carried out under well–known signs. Czyzewo lies in Wysockie Mazowieckie County, which has become well–known on the highway of anti–Jewish “strict picket fight.”

[Column 683]

The Jewish population of Czyzewo has already suffered a great deal because of the idol that is named “boycott and picket.” It is enough to remember Zelig Jelin, who died during the well–known Czyzewo events.

* * *

Trials about the anti–Jewish events occur often in Lomza County Court. However, the trials about the events in Czyzewo on the 5th of April, this year [1937], which were dealt with by the Lomza Country Court on the 21st of this month, earned our attention because it was a clear illustration of the well–known word play of Premier Skladkowski that “it begins with Jews and ends with anarchy.”

As always, the events began from the innocent boycott. A certain hero under the well–known sign, Kazimirz Dmochowski, would throw fear into the peaceful Jewish population of Czyzewo with his frequent anti–Jewish outbursts.

The measure of patience by the local safety organs overflowed, particularly when the outbursts of Mr. K. Dmochowski became stronger from day to day.

The Czyzewo police posts informed the vice prosecutor for Polish matters at the Lomza County Court about this, who ordered the arrest of Dmochowski in the event of a further outburst.

And it happened.”

On Friday, the 15th of April this year, when the market day fell as usual

[Column 684]

in Czyzewo, a female peasant dared to buy a kilo of onions from a Jewish street stall owner.

In the blink of an eye, our “boycott hero” tore the onions from the Christian, which he immediately trampled with his feet.

The Czyzewo police immediately approached the adventurer to arrest him.

Prosecutor Polanski in his speech of accusation strongly demanded that the accused be punished under articles 163 and 129 of the penalty codex because such deeds upset the foundation of communal peace.

Lawyer Kurcyusz, in his defense speech, tried to weaken the conclusion of the act of accusation, declaring that according to law, the collective activity of the accused at a public meeting does not qualify because this took place during the market day, which was by nature a public meeting.

However the court did not take into consideration the interpretation of the defender and sentenced all four of the accused to six months in jail and upheld the appeal of the judgment only with regard to the Tanowski father and son.

The court also decided to free under police supervision the remaining two convicted men, Josef Supczinski and Josef Stakowski.

* * *

Heint, Thursday the 29th of April 1937.

 

The Trials About Anti–Jewish Events in Czyzewo

Today, the 29th of April, the trial about the sad anti–Jewish events in Czyzewo begins in the Lomza County Court,

[Column 685]

during which the Czyzewo resident Zelig Jelin died and many other Jews from the shtetl were severely suffered.

 

What Happened in Czyzewo?

On the 5th of January 1937, several thousand men came to the fair in Czyzewo; of these, approximately 400 were members of the Endekes Party.

In connection with the information received about the preparation of the day of anti–Jewish excesses, the police regiment consisting of three platoons was even more prepared.

Before noon, the district leader of the Endekes Party, Stefan Kraszewski, appeared in the premises of the town officials, where the Wysokie Mazowieckie county chief had arrived with a demand that the village chief permit – hear and marvel! How far the Endekes nerve had reached – a people's militia with bands on their arms at the market in order to keep order during the market day. Therefore, Kraszewski had not forgotten to emphasize that he took exclusive responsibility for the members of the Endekes Party.

The village chief did not permit a people's militia and issued a court decree around one o'clock in the afternoon for the appropriate police to be at the market where 18 policemen were patrolling. Excesses, such as pushing and beating Jews by smaller groups, began breaking out in other areas. The policemen ended the events. The

[Column 686]

mob then began to attack the policemen, who were serving at the market. Some of the mob left for Targowice [Street] and began to beat Jews.

Small excesses also arose at the train station and in various parts of the city. However, they were ended entirely by police at around four o'clock.

The organizers of the events were: Stefan Kraszewski, who was exiled to an isolation camp at Bereza Kartus, as well as the leader of the boycotters of the Endekes Party, Antoni Cimer.

 

The Sum Total of the Events in Czyzewo

In the course of the events, two police officers were lightly wounded and 17 policemen [were wounded]; of these, two were severely wounded. Fourteen Jews were beaten, five of them severely. In addition, one of them, Zelig Jelin, may his memory be a blessing, died on the 6th of January 1937 in the hospital in Warsaw.

The following wounded Jews were given medical verifications [certifications of their wounds]: Shimeon Goldberg, Yosef Fribut, Berl Kapka, Avraham Pelman, Eliezer Kapka, Yisroel Baran, Chaim Jablkowski, Mindl Kowadla, Litman Wajnbrum, Ester Bronsztajn, and Yosef Kasower. As well as the tragic death of Zelig Jelin.

In connection with the cruel unrest in Czyzewo, 35 people were accused of responsibility according to article 163 of the penalty codex.

 

The Court and the Sides

The chairman of the tribunal will be Judge Sarkowski, the vice chairman of the penalty division at the Lomza County Court.

[Column 687]

Secondary chairmen, the judges: Banikowski and Krater.

The charge will be given by the prosecutor Waclaw Tuszowski, who put together the act of accusation.

Defending the hooligans, I have learned, will be the Yidn–freserishe [Jew–glutton – persecuting Jews] lawyers, Stipulkowski, Barawski, Nieburek from Warsaw and Mieczkowski from Lemberg [Lviv]. The well–known Jewish lawyer, Benyamin Blazbard, and other Jewish lawyers from Warsaw will appear in the name of the civil claim of the suffering Jews.

The Witnesses:

Forty–two witnesses will appear on behalf of the accusation, among them, 21 higher and lower police functionaries, with the commissar of the reserve group of the Warsaw police, Kazimierz Drazszrczszuski, commandant of the Wysokier police command, Alieksander Papracki and police officer, Henrik Nejman from Grodno. Among the police witnesses are several from Warsaw, Bialystok, Ostrów Mazowiecka, Wysokie Mazowieckie and Czyzewo itself.

The following 17 Jewish witnesses have been called on behalf of the accusation: Chaim Markus, Sura Ganszar, Shmuel Wengasz, Chaya Kowadla, Avraham Shmuel Wajnbrum, Zalman Goldberg, Chaim Pesakh Niewad, Yitzhak Zisman, Jakov Kowadla, Ahron Gradus, Yisroel–Ahron Kaza, Chaim Bialystocki, Mindl Kowadla, all from Czyzewo. Chaim Yablkowski from Sterdyn, Litman Wajnbrum from Nur, a Lomza commandant.


[Column 688]

Heint, Thursday, the 7th of January 1937

In Unfortunate Czyzewo

Detailed report from our special representative N. Grobia

“The Czyzewo Intervention”

Tuesday, the labor deputy, Szczepanski, put forward an intervention in the Sejm regarding the exile of the Czyzewo Nara leaders, the lawyer Marian Jursz and Albin Arganinski, to Kartuz–Bereza. At the same time, he connected his intervention to an address by a minister in the Sejm, questioning the minister as to why they were doing such an injustice to the Endeke patriots. He had, at the mention of “injustice,” the support of his ideological comrades – support without any parliamentary elaboration. – Support which reached the heads [caused beatings] of the Czyzewo Jews, those “guilty” in Jursz–Arganinski's krzywde [injury].

 

Czyzewo Tuesdays

I arrived in Czyzewo on Wednesday evening, the day after the events. The shtetl was quiet and empty. It was the quiet after a storm. Reinforced police patrols were walking slowly in the dark at the small market and in the surrounding alleys. They watched every hurrying passerby with penetrating eyes.

Just as two weeks ago, I visited the sad, now well–known shtetl [Czyzewo] on the way to Czechowice and it also was on “the next day” Wednesday, after the Tuesday fair before the gentile holiday. All of the “next day” Wednesdays after the Tuesdays in Czyzewo of recent times were similar to each other.

[Column 689]

The events of last Tuesday are actually a sequel of the other Tuesday on the eve of the gentile holiday. Something also happened then. During the fair, Nara agitators spread the news among the peasants that the arrested leaders, Jursz and Arganinski had been exiled to Kartuz–Bereza and thus the dark people called for revenge on the Jews who were guilty of this.

 

Calming Speech by the Vice starosta and Priest at the Market

With good fortune, the sad events in Czyzewo were avoided then. The large police division had energetically intervened and the presence of the vice–starosta from Wysokie Mazowieckie, Mr. Rath, had given a calming speech to the agitated crowd at the market and strongly warned against provocation and disturbance of public order.

The young Czyzewo priest, although a Nara sympathizer, also went to the Nara members and asked them to disperse. The two speeches had an effect and the hooligans dispersed, satisfied with only breaking the windowpanes in a few Jewish houses.

However the problems in Czyzewo did not end then. The members of Nara, their murderous ambition unsatisfied, “promised” bloody revenge against the Czyzewo Jews and they kept their word.

 

A Little History of Jewish Czyzewo

A meeting of local business owners takes place in the residence of the Czyzewo Rabbi Shmuel Dovid Zawladower with the participation of a delegation from the Bialystok kehile [organized Jewish community].

[Column 690]

There is an oppressive mood. Images of yesterday's fair day are still in the eyes of those present. They speak to unburden their hearts. Old Jews cry: – What will happen next?

The entire Megilah Czyzewo [Scroll of Czyzewo] is unrolled here.

The tragedy of 150 families; the ruin of an old Jewish kehile, of a shtetl where 95 percent of the population is Jewish.

Czyzewo Jews once had good income; the wheat trade was developed here. The entire area was rich; Jews and Christians lived [trading] with each other.

It is superfluous to say that the best relationship reigned between them. But, like all other Jewish shtetlekh in Poland, different winds began blowing in Czyzewo during the most recent years. The difficulties of the local Jewish population increased from the day when Czyzewo absorbed a young son–in–law oyf kest: Algin Arganinski.[1] [He was] a steward in a noble courtyard in the Pozen region, a stubborn anti–Semite. He and another one, lawyer Marian Jursz, created a Nara organization in Czyzewo and the Czyzewo Jews have had hardships since the Days of Awe because of the boycott agitation. They have not earned a groshn for many weeks. New Christian shops open every day. And it is truly a miracle from heaven that the Czyzewo Jews are not dying of hunger.

 

The Events of Tuesday

As usual, a large fair was supposed to take place in Czyzewo last Tuesday after the Christian holiday. Peasants arrived from all directions, from all of the neighboring shtetlekh

[Column 691]

and hordes of Nara members arrived, armed with sticks. The police reinforcements, who were sent to Czyzewo to protect it from the events, which incidentally were expected, had just been stationed on the roads that led into the city. The sticks and other weapons were taken from the Nara members.

And as a result, one of the members of Nara from whom the police had tried to take his stick staged a revolt and with blood–curdling curses called on his comrades not let their sticks be taken.

This was around 12 noon. Immediately, a mob of Nara members left for the market with wild shouts of “Hooray, [get] the Jews!” They began to throw stones. Jewish shops immediately were closed. The hooligans grabbed rungs from the wagons, from street stalls and began to mercilessly beat the Jews who had not escaped in time.

All of the Jews in Czyzewo emphasize the truly energetic, devoted attitude of the police, who did not permit any spilling of blood in the city itself. A larger police cordon blocked the road for the unruly mob that wanted to attack Jewish shops and residences and in an energetic manner chased them from the city. The giant mob of peasants then in confusion began to escape to the villages with the horses and wagons.

Meanwhile, the escaping young Nara members wounded several passing Jews and threw stones into Jewish houses. With shouts of hooray, they left for the cattle market, which

[Column 692]

was located a kilometer [six–tenths of a mile] outside the city, not far from the Jewish cemetery. Since the police were then concentrated in the city itself and they had not considered the possibility of serious events outside the city, only a small number of police were at the cattle market. The arriving murderous Nara members made use of this situation and they carried out their bloody work quickly before police help came from the city. Not many Jews were at the cattle market. They were horse and cattle traders, butchers from Czyzewo and from outside who had come to the Czyzewo fair to buy or sell something. These Jews did not know what was happening in the city itself. The arriving mob of hooligans was a sudden surprise to them and only a few of them had time to escape from the cattle market and to save their lives.

The wild young Nara members ruthlessly beat people with wagon rungs and iron bars. Mainly, their entire anger was poured out on the 36–year old wagon driver, Zelig Jelin, a Jew, a strong man. Several dozen hooligans battered him so that he fell on the ground unconscious. He was then taken to the hospital in Warsaw where, as is known, he died on Wednesday morning without gaining consciousness. He left a wife and three children.

A large police division arrived immediately right at the spot of the horrible murder, but the hooligans had disappeared. The police then drove away all of the peasants and then the results of the hooligans' work at the cattle market and on the way to the fair was seen.

In addition to the mortally wounded Zelig

[Column 693]

Jelin, 15 more were severely wounded and around 30 lightly wounded and beaten. Not all of the wounded were found right away. They searched for Yisroel Baran for a long time and he was found later lying wounded at the nearby cemetery among the headstones.

Several escaping Jews found a hiding place at the cemetery. A large group of Jewish traders escaped from the horse market into a nearby forest. Others hid at the neighboring farm of a gospodarz [farmer]. One Jew, Kszeckower, hid in a Christian street stall that was located at the cattle market. The Christian stall owner had pulled the Jew who was in danger into the stall, covering him with tarpaulins and boxes and thus saved him from misfortune.

The unrest in Czyzewo, in general, lasted until one–thirty. Immediately after the police successfully took complete control and forced the agitated mob of peasants out of the city. The investigating judge and prosecutor immediately came from Lomza. Police arrested 42 Nara hooligans, including the leader, Stefan Kraszewski from the village Petrases, the replacement for Arganinski and Neter, a son of the village magistrate from the village Godlewa (Kraszewski, as well as Pat, as recorded, was exiled to Kartuz–Bereza).

The hooligans, who ran so wild, came from the surrounding villages of Godlewa, Gedases, Lipskie, Skórki, Uścianek and Biedrusk, mostly sons of farmers.

At the head of the security action in Czyzewo during the events stood the starosta of Wysockie Mazowieckie District, Dr.

[Column 694]

Szwiantkiewicz, who was accidentally physically assaulted by a hooligan. On Tuesday morning, starosta Szwiantkiewicz held a meeting of 30 village magistrates from the surrounding villages at the Czyzewo community offices, among whom, incidentally, was the Jewish magistrate in Czyzewo, Mordekhai Rotszkowski.

The starosta called this meeting for the purpose of warning the village magistrates of the plague of the continuous events in Czyzewo in which hooligans from their villages took part. starosta Szwiantkiewicz said in his speech to the village magistrates:

“I asked you once nicely to calm the peasants in your villages and to stop them from their outbursts. I see, however, that it does not help. Now I will talk to you with anger. You should know that the responsibility for future events in Czyzewo will fall on you. You will suffer, no one else but you. Village magistrates will pay all of the costs that are caused by the events, such as the losses, the bringing of police and other expenses that are connected with returning order and calm to the city.

Thus, the starosta mentioned the name of the above mentioned village magistrate Neter and demanded to know why his sons were members of Nara and taking part in the anti–Jewish events. The village magistrate categorically denied this: It isn't true. His enemies had invented a false accusation against him.

In the middle of the speech, a messenger entered the room and the starosta reported that it had started… The starosta interrupted his speech and went out into the

[Column 695]

street to lead the security action. Then, the son of village magistrate Neter was caught during the agitation.

 

What Will Happen Next?

So ask Czyzewo Jews with concern. As long as the police reinforcements are present in the city, it is quiet, but there will not always be so many police reinforcements in Czyzewo. What will happen if the usual small number of policemen remains in the shtetl? The hate is still great.

The morning after the events, when the Czyzewo milk–women went as usual to the nearby villages for milk, the [female] peasants did not want to sell any milk. And those who did receive milk had the milk poured out immediately afterward and the poor Jewish peasants were badly beaten.

The boycott was strong; the pickets caused misfortune for the Czyzewo Jews. The newly opened Christian shops took the last Christian customers who until then had dared to enter a Jewish shop through a back door. At the new year, the majority of Jewish shop owners had not bought [trade] licenses, simply because there was no reason to do so. Tuesday morning, an official and an overseer from the urzad

[Column 696]

skarbowy [tax office] came to supervise the [trade] licenses and collect taxes. However, they immediately left because of the events…

Perhaps now that they achieved what they wanted and destroyed an innocent Jewish life, they will leave us alone – grieves a proto–proletarian Jewish woman.

Innocent Jewish life… Zelig Jelin saved other Jewish lives with his own life; when the wild hooligans – it is said now – went to the horse market, the hero Jelin remained and did not move from the spot. He was not afraid; what would they do to him, the strong man, the giant who would stand against 10 attackers at once? However, many more than 10 and more than 20 went after him. Zelig wanted to sell his horse at the market, exchange it for a better one to have for the rides to Bialystok. He was the last to remain at the market, asking all of the Jewish traders to escape and Zelig Jelin fell as a victim at the hands of murderers.

Perhaps now… perhaps Zelig Jelin's innocent spilled blood will also atone for the sin of the Czyzewo Jews. The “sin” of wanting to live on the land and not wanting to die from hunger! May God avenge his blood!


Translator's note

  1. a previous reference to Arganinski has his given name as Albin. The reference to oyf kest ,– support given by a father to his daughter's husband so that he could study Torah – is ironic. Arganinski was a leader of the anti–Jewish agitation. return

 

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