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[Page 219]

Memories {cont.}

Among them were Menachem Wajnszel, Szpigelman, Nower, Zylberszac, Grynbaum, Kanarek, Futerko, sisters Nesia and Frida Sztorchajn, my sister Gita, and others.

After about half a year of continuous activity in our city's chapter of Hashomer Hatzair, Herszl and I became leaders. We became counselors of groups of youngsters. The movement broadened its activities and the groups grew larger. In our work several basics stood out which attracted the youth: exercises and trips, conversations regarding the role of the scout: we would explain the rules of the group, we held conversations about literature (about Mendele, Perez, Sholem Aleichem, Gorki, Mickiewicz, and others), and we learned Hebrew history.

dab219.jpg [37 KB] - A group of "Shomrim"
A group of “Shomrim”
With dreams of Zion and a just society

Among the new young members who came to our chapter during that period, there was also a small group of Noar Oved (Working Youth) who changed the student atmosphere and brought with them the spirit of proletarianism. (During the same period, there also arrived a Hashomer member from Galicia, Lajb Treper, today the chairman of the Kultur Farband [culture association] in Poland, the public cultural-social organization of the Jews of Poland, which took an active part in the design of our lives in the movement).

The overall awakening in the world during this period had a tremendous influence on the direction of the development of our movement. The changes that came about after the First World War also affected many of the Jews and the youth. The deterioration of the German and Austrian armies at the end of 1918 brought freedom and independence to many nations; Poland was one which had the opportunity to revive. The Jews also felt that the sun was shining upon them when the Balfour Declaration was signed at the end of 1917.

Many of us in Hashomer Hatzair who studied the history of the heroes of Poland were bitterly disappointed when Poland became an independent state. The victory of the Polish reactionism revealed a Jewish tragedy: the start of pogroms. The Jewish youth came to a conclusion: from then on we lived, day to day, with the slogans homeland, aliyah (moving to the Land of Israel), Jerusalem, the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), and the Jordan River were always before our eyes. Many of the youth who were in school began to search for professional training, work, and immigration to the Land of Israel.

I remember that when the soldiers of General “Freedom Fighters” Haller passed through our city, they caught Jews in the streets and cut off their beards. There were also instances of stores being robbed. My father was one of the victims of such an attack, which was accompanied by a vicious beating. The local policemen were afraid and didn't want to interfere. The streets emptied of Jews, and many Jewish stores were closed until the nightmare had passed.

My brother Israel came home, after having gone off to Warsaw to learn the printing trade. When he returned he was a professional with his own political views. He would always explain to us the reasons for the justified struggle of the miners in Zagłębie, and would tell us of the difficult conditions the factory workers endured. Israel was very much influenced by the Poale Zion (Workers of Zion) Left movement. (More than once he explained to us the commonality between the idea of a Jewish homeland and progressive socialism. He was also in contact with members of the leftist party of non-Jewish socialist workers). As a print worker, he got a job in a Polish printing house on the street where we lived. I learned later on that he had printed flyers against the rise of the Reactzia to political power and against the terrorist acts by the gangs of Haller's soldiers. After a few days, he was arrested. Apparently, someone informed on him.

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I will never forget that night: when the drunken soldiers entered our home the hour was late, after midnight. The loud pounding woke the entire house. They took him out of bed and ordered him to come with them. When he tried to ask the reason, they beat him cruelly and mocked him “Little Jew, Bolshevik.” My mother cried to see them beating him, and they pushed her into the other room and took him away with them. For many months we did not know where he was. Only later did we learn that they had incarcerated him in the prison at Częstochowa. He escaped from there and crossed the border into Germany. He lived and worked for many years in Leipzig, until 1933. When the Nazis came into power, he went to Paris and from there to the Land of Israel.

The year 1919 was a year of crisis for me. I fulfilled the blessing “by the sweat of your brow shall you earn your bread” (this blessing has been a part of my life ever since). As the days passed, dreams were replaced by reality. The saying that a member of Hashomer Hatzair is a working man and can live from the work of his hands became a daily topic of conversation in our group. Some of our members, through lack of choice, began to learn the sewing or tailoring trades. The stories of Shalom Aleichem about the dreamer Menachem-Mendel, which we read at our group's meetings, became a lesson for us in how to live a productive working life, and not to live a life of building castles in the air. It was a period during which we became more ideologically and politically mature. We saw more of the reality that surrounded us, and that reality taught us that reading books without any connection to life was not enough. We saw ourselves as part of a work camp, contributing something to the world, living from the work of our hands. In our work we also saw the roles we would play in our future lives in the Land of Israel. My friend Herszl and I decided to put before our parents the question of learning a profession, and if they would not help us, we determined to find help outside of our homes. Herszl's parents were fairly rich, and were able to ensure that their children did not have to work at physical labor in order to survive. But their children, including Herszl, were not willing to follow in their footsteps and become merchants. From the day we joined Hashomer Hatzair our eyes were opened and we learned that first and foremost the way to solve the problem of the persecution of our people was through productive work. At that time, I didn't dare speak to my father about that subject. He was a public figure, and I knew he would not agree with my position, which was not in accordance with his viewpoint, nor with the viewpoint of many other Jews, small business owners with whom he engaged in negotiations relating to public matters. In spite of his conservative appearance, my father was aware of everything that went on in the world, he knew of the demands of the younger generation, he always read the newspaper “Heynt” or “The Moment.” But in spite of all that, the force of inertia – the strict religious upbringing he received from his family – tied him to a characteristic conservatism, and to religious customs, and he opposed any change or new idea which did not follow tradition. In every change he saw a danger to his world, and from his patriarchic position he ran our house with a strong hand and according to his will.

I knew that my mother was always more understanding, and in spite of the fact that more than once she went against her own conscience, she was guided by her good heart and her love for her children. I went to her and told her that I could not go on without a clear goal, and that I had decided to learn the locksmith trade and that I needed her help and my father's permission. My mother raised her head and looked at me with her kind eyes, and after a few seconds it was as if she had whispered something to herself. Her eyes filled with tears when she looked at me. Her gaze made me feel I had sinned against her with my request, but I stood firm in my decision. I don't know what my mother was thinking in those seconds, perhaps she thought about the family's difficult financial situation, or about the desperate struggle to keep the family together, in which she herself had taken part for many years. Perhaps she thought about the parents' ability to provide a secure future for their children, or perhaps she could see, with her mother's intuition, the reality: her only daughter and my older brothers had all left home for another land, and perhaps there they could find a better life…? And perhaps her son Lajbl thinks that luck will shine upon him there as well?

In a faint, uncertain whisper, she tried to convince me that while such a trade was much in demand, I wasn't compelled to be a locksmith – wasn't that a very difficult profession? – she asked. My mother told me, from her memories, that once there had been a locksmith in our family, and there was a lot of talk and skepticism about that rare instance. He had participated in a country-wide exhibition of “Technical Inventions” which had taken place in Częstochowa. He was very talented – she added – and even received a prize for a lock he had invented – but – he was the only one in our family and was quite unusual.

After a moment of silence and consideration, she made her decision and said: it will not add anything of value to our family to have another worker, and a locksmith at that, but what can be done? And the small smile of my kind mother said it all.

Less than a month later I began working for a smith. In the smithy there were two others like myself. They already had some experience and I was jealous of their knowledge.

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There were days that I worked until late in order to get more experience. In the evenings, when I would return home tired and as filthy as a chimney sweep, I felt more than once my father's glance on me, as if he were looking at a heretic – but I was happy and proud. The sound of the hammer would follow me everywhere, into my sleep at night. I had a lot of self-confidence, thinking that finally I had become a worker.

Those were great days in my life.

After half a year, Herszl and I got the opportunity to go to work at the big welding plant in Huta Bankowa, a place where no Jew had ever set foot. We benefited from the favoritism of one of the managers of the machinery department in the plant, who was a repeat customer of tobacco from the store of Herszl's parents, who had the monopoly on that trade.

But our luck did not last long in that workshop. They didn't always let us work on projects from which we could have learned something. For the most part, our work involved tasks such as cleaning the tools and the tables, even though other apprentices also worked there. More than once we were affected by outbursts of anti-Semitism, the pain of which we felt deeply. For the first time we happened to see anti-Jewish slogans written on the walls of the restroom.

We worked in the welding shop for about eight months. We didn't achieve much in the way of professional work, but we saw a lot and learned to understand the workings of complicated machines. For the first time we saw a huge workshop with hundreds of workers in various departments. We were particularly interested in the mechanical department: welding, and the assembling and examination of machines.

When things became uncomfortable for us at the welding shop in Huta, we began looking for a new place to work. The experience we gained here, and in our previous workplace, gave us the confidence to look for jobs as wage earners. We found such employment in Będzin, in a Jewish workshop, in the firm called Plesner Brothers. It was a factory for mechanical equipment for doors and windows. We worked there for about a year and a half. In the beginning, the salary we received was small, but by the second year we earned a wage we could live on, although with difficulty – and support ourselves. It was that which gave us the push to decide to move out of our parents' houses.

In 1920 – 1921: time is passing quickly and one event quickly followed another. I acquired a great deal of experience in my professional work, and more responsibility for the performance of finishing work. Within the movement there was also a lot of work. New young people joined our organization from all over the city. Most of the members who had already been part of the movement for a while worked with dedication and sacrifice during much of their free time. I remember members like Rozenberg, Z. Bajtner, Rudoler, Szpilberg, Gutman, and others especially the active involvement of the Szwarcbaum brothers, Pinchas and Elimelech (Pinche and Maylech), who had joined the movement a long time before.

I also had a group of friends from very religious families. I met with them often and we discussed secular matters. I had studied in cheder with some of them, and they were also trying to find their way, a point of departure for a new life, and satisfactory answers to their questions. Their lives in the homes of their parents were very narrow, without any ray of hope for the future, and the exposed walls of the cheder of Rebbe from Żarki or Szlomo Josef did not encourage them.

Rebbe Szlomo was an unforgettable character. He was an honest and upright man, refined in his behavior, with a mystical world view filled with secrets. He was an enthusiastic Gerrer Hassid. When he prayed, wrapped up inside his tallit, he prayed with all his might. He was the embodiment of the saying “all my bones will say...” We had a great deal of admiration and respect for him; even the most disruptive students loved him. Not only for his knowledge of the smallest details, but because of his patience and devotion towards his pupils and his simple humanity.

Before him, I studied with Rebbe from Żarki (the Żarki rebbe with the little goatee). He was given that nickname because of the merciless blows he dealt us for no reason. When he would come on Thursday and demand that we know the three pages of Baba Bathra or from Masakta Kedushin, which we had studied during the week, it would be enough that one of us would ask for another explanation of some detail he had not understood as he was supposed to, he would get a heaping portion to the point where he would not want to ask again. He treated us like creatures that needed to accept his authority without question. He did not instill in us any faith in his educational method; it was easy for him and difficult on his students. The nickname “goatee” stayed with him forever, to our childish delight.

I remember other friends: Lajbel Nusbaum, Zigrajch, Jankel Abram Shochet (Jakob ben Abram the ritual slaughterer) and Lajbcze Parasol; the latter shared a bench with me in the religious school in Będzin. We were friends until the last day, when I left our city in 1922. For dozens of years we didn't hear a word from one another, but we met again during the 1950s (after the passage of thirty years) in Poland. We had both come from the Soviet Union after the Second World War.

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We met often in Warsaw and in Katowice, and we talked about our memories and experiences of the war, the miracles thanks to which we remained alive, and other memories from those times. Lajbcze reminded me of the conversations in which we always raised the idea of the need to guide the young to “labor physically, otherwise we will never be a nation.” Nothing had remained of that thought once I left our city. Today, Lajbcze Parasol lives with his family in Poland, in Katowice, and dreams of moving to Israel, though the state of his health prohibits him from making that dream come true.

Among those who took part in the discussions in my group was Gucia Wajszalc. She came to us from a respected family of workshop owners. They were a family of tailors who were occupied from morning until night in their workshop. Most of the children followed their own paths, searching out new lives for themselves. Gucia found her path with the youth of Hashomer Hazair, joining in on our conversations and trips, and dreamed along with us of life in the Land of Israel. Gucia was always cheerful, full of life and energy, but also serious. For various reasons that were characteristic of her, she didn't become a member of the movement. We parted ways in 1922, thinking we would meet again in the Land of Israel. After some years she immigrated, and I had the opportunity to meet her once in Tel Aviv. She told me then that although she had already begun to fashion a life for herself in the Land of Israel, she had to return to Poland. After many years I learned that her fate there was the same shared by so many of the Jews of Dąbrowa during the time of the Holocaust.

At the end of 1921 I decided to leave home and move to Warsaw. I left my group and my job at the Plesner Brother's factory, and I received for the first time a work certificate. In Warsaw, I found work with a plumber. The work was difficult, especially in the winter, when the water pipes would freeze and crack, but I was happy with my lot – that I was finally a free man who made his own decisions. After a short time I was accepted into the Metalworkers' Union, and my first membership card from the Union was a sign that my dream had come true. I spent most of my evenings after work in the large, lively Warsaw chapter at 50 Długa Street. In my group there were a few who were also members of the Metalworkers' Union, and with them I participated in the cultural life of the Union – we attended lectures on political and professional subjects which always led to stormy arguments, and we took part in various activities, especially preparations for the First of May.

Many of the activists in the professional union were Bundists, and members of Poale Zion Left. Among those who would come to the Union's club were members of the Communist Party, from whom I would, from time to time, receive political literature.

The time had come for me to fulfill my dream of moving to the Land of Israel with my friend Herszl. There was a very close connection between us, we wrote back and forth to one another frequently, and made plans for our future lives. At that time, it was impossible to immigrate legally to the Land of Israel. We knew that many members of Hashomer Hazair and Halutzim (pioneers) had traveled by way of Italy or Romania and had risked their lives with their wanderings and illegal border crossings. We knew we had a difficult road ahead of us, but we decided to make our way to the Land of Israel no matter the conditions, in any way we could. The wonderful poem of the poet David Shimoni (Shimonovitch), which was published in 1922, made a strong impression on the members of the chapter of Hashomer Hazair in Warsaw, and gave expression to our feelings about leaving our parents' homes and our dedication to making a new life and the idea of moving to the Land of Israel. Hundreds of us saw the poem as a symbol of our lives and struggle:

Do not listen, my son, to a father's morality
or lend an ear to a mother's belief…

We spoke about returning to Dąbrowa in the coming months to complete the final preparations for our travels. When I got home, I spoke with my mother about my journey, and she accepted my decision with a heavy heart, but she understood that nothing she could do would change my mind and she accepted it as fact and preordained. After a few days we packed the necessary items and waited eagerly for the big moment, when we would set off on our way.

I parted from our close friends, from my parents and younger siblings, who accepted my going as a normal occurrence: here is another sibling leaving home. My good mother whispered a bundle of mother's blessings for the journey in my ear: “Goodbye and good luck.” As a father showing mercy on his children, my father accompanied me from the house to the point where my journey began.

We traveled by way of Galicia. I had been given an address by someone in the Warsaw chapter of Hashomer Hazair in the border town of Sniatyn. They welcomed us warmly and with open hearts, like brothers. We rested there and waited for two days for the big evening. Our hosts made sure to find us a guide who knew the way, and on the decisive night, after midnight, we set off at his heels. We walked after him barefoot, through fields and ditches full of thorns and rocks without making a sound. After two hours of walking the guide told us in a whisper that we had reached the area of the border and that within another quarter of an hour we would be on the other side. Impatiently, we went on for that “quarter” hour, which seemed endless to us. We held our breath at every small whisper, we didn't feel the sores on our feet from the thorns and the stones; we just looked ahead to the crucial moment.

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But that moment didn't come. On one of the last circuits there suddenly appeared three men armed with rifles. In the blink of an eye, our “guide” disappeared. One of the men ran after him, while the other two brought us to the border guard station at Sniatyn. After a brief interrogation, they put us in the jail, and after three days ordered us to leave the city. From one of the members of Hashomer Hazair we received a message for the chapter at Stanyslaviv [Ivano-Frankivsk].

In Stanyslaviv they gave us a warm welcome and we felt we were among friends. They told us we would be their guests for seven days, until the situation at the crossing in a different place would be worked out. The day we were waiting for finally arrived; we crossed the border and arrived in Bukovina.

The next day, with the sunrise, we went to Chernivtsi. We met some members of Hashomer Hazair, and we remained there for about twenty days. Since we were there illegally, with no documents and no license, we were unable to get work. Our friends advised us to travel to Galatz [Galaţi], a port city on the Danube. We heeded their advice (the fact that by doing so we would be closer to the sea also had an influence on our decision).

After half a day of cautious searching, we found a place to live in the home of a Jewish shoemaker. The room was small, dark and airless. The shoemaker did not ask for a high rent, and assured us that the neighbors did not know who we were. The first night, we fell asleep, exhausted.

The next day we set out to find work. We wandered around all day, and in the evening in one of the streets near the port we found work in construction. We worked there for more than two months. In Galatz in those days there was no such thing as an eight hour work day. We worked 10 – 11 hours every day.

The money we earned was enough to live on, but not enough to put some aside as savings. The exploitation of foreign workers in Galatz at that time was indescribable. There were also Greek, Italian, Ukrainian, and Russian workers; they were not organized and there was no union to protect them. The working wages for unlimited hours was decided by the contractor or the owner of the building. After two months, we tried to find better-paying work. I found work with a welder, and my friend Herszl remained a bit longer in construction work. After two weeks he also left construction, since one of us had to take an interest in preparations for our journey.

At that time, we moved into the Pioneer House, which was used then as a stopping point for various refugees. About eighty people, most of them from Russia, who had come by way of Serbia, Poland, and Galicia, lived in Pioneer House. Among them there were also a few members of Hashomer Hazair, who had undergone preparation and had taken up the walking stick and began searching for a way to immigrate to the Land of Israel. The chances weren't good, but in spite of that we were all certain we would find a way. The Zionist Union, which existed at that time in Galatz, also tried to help us.

In the welding shop I worked only nine hours a day, and earned a good wage that was enough for us to live on, and even to save a little for our journey. The owner of the shop, an irritable and impatient Jew, employed two local workers in addition to me. At first, he treated me fairly: I worked from morning to night and he would pay me every two weeks or once a month. In the third month he began to delay giving me my wages, on the pretext that there was no money; for six weeks I didn't get a penny. At the time, there were rumors going around about the possibility of traveling by way of Beirut (then part of Syria). I began to demand that he paid me what I was owed, but it was futile. Another two weeks passed and autumn was approaching, the weather turned cool, and once again I asked for my money, or at least some of it. The man raised his voice and said I'd better not dare to ask again; when the time came – he added – he would give me what I deserved. Apparently he exploited the fact that I was a foreigner, there illegally and unable to make use of any legal aid.

On the eve of Rosh Hashanah I decided to ask once more for my money; I had nothing left to lose. I explained to him that winter was coming and I needed the money, and that he should finally pay me. He looked at me angrily and without saying a word he grabbed me and threw me out into the street, screaming that I would never again set foot in the welding shop. I rolled twice before getting to my feet on shaking legs; my forehead was injured, and with a feeling of powerlessness I returned home. I knew I had no one to turn to, and that I couldn't complain, because I might endanger the journey.

Herszl and I decided on a course of revenge. I knew the home address of my former employer, and that evening we both went to the yard of his house. I had prepared beforehand a bag of plaster. Through the window we could see him sitting at the table with the members of his family. The room was full of celebratory light, with candles lit and various delicacies on the table. Herszl kept watch at the gate to the yard. Using all of my strength, I burst in through the door and threw my sack of plaster onto the table. I could hear the sound of plates breaking – and we ran away. It was a “substitute” for the insult to my honor and for the salary he didn't pay me. Four days later we boarded a Greek cargo ship headed for Beirut.

In Beirut we spent an entire day in negotiations with the coastal authorities, who would not allow us to disembark.

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In the evening, they told us they had no need for “manpower” and refused to allow us to enter the country. We were confused, and didn't know what to do. Some of the travelers who had already notified their families and friends in the land of Israel of their departure date while still in Romania despaired, and with heavy hearts prepared for the return journey.

The ship set out on the return voyage. Herszl and I, and twelve other pioneers, who had been determined that there would be no going back, decided to try other ways. We knew the ship was making the return journey by way of Alexandria (Egypt), and would remain there for three or four days. We would decide then what to do next. The next day we arrived in Alexandria. Cargo was removed from the ship and new cargo loaded on. There was a lot of movement and noise. After some consideration, we decided to try our luck in three different ways: to obtain the Arab clothing of the porters either through payment or exchange of clothing, and leave the ship as porters; to approach the owners of the small boats that circled the ship, selling cigarettes and fruit, and offer to pay them to take us ashore, beyond the gates of the port, after sunset; or – for those who knew how - to swim the approximately 120 meters to the shore from the ship.

Only two people had the opportunity to take the first option. Herszl and I only had half of a pound sterling, so we decided that he would get into one of the small boats with another four people who had the required amount of money. Since I knew how to swim a little, I would try my luck with another three people once darkness had fallen. Herszl and I parted with the warmth of brothers, and then we lowered everyone into the boat by way of a rope from the low end of the roof. As the boat drew away, I said a prayer in my heart for its safe arrival.

We waited until 11:00 at night, when on the coastline a relative quiet prevailed. There were only four of us who knew, more or less, how to swim. Each one took one set of underwear, and the rest of our things we divided up amongst those who stayed behind. They quietly lowered us into the water and we swam safely to shore, where we encountered a smooth wall about two and a half meters tall. We began to search for places to grasp or holes so we could climb up, but we could not find any. We swam another thirty meters along the coast, and there we also could not find any footholds.

We spent about half an hour thus in the sea, until we were completely exhausted. Not one of us considered returning to the ship. We rested for a while next to the wall. The water was reasonably warm, and we began again to search for chinks in the wall. One of us found several apertures, sort of small crevices, and used them to begin climbing. When he had reached the final half-meter, he slipped and fell back into the water.

The noise we made attracted the attention of the coastal patrol, they shone a light on us and, at the very last moment - when we had finally seen a small ray of hope – they approached us in their boat and rounded us up. After a brief investigation carried out wordlessly, using hand gestures, they returned us to the ship and kept close watch over us.

The next day the ship set sail for Europe. We were hungry, because we had not brought along any provisions with us for our journey. Luckily, the supply of coal for the steam machine ran out, and the ship sailed in the direction of Zonguldak (Turkey) to load coal. The coal was brought on board in a very primitive manner – in baskets. A few dozen Turkish workers passed along the baskets of coal, from one to the next. We offered to help out with this work. For a day and a half we carried the baskets into the hold of the ship. In compensation for this work, they paid us in food from the ship's galley, until we reached Constanţa (Romania).

On the ship there were rumors that when we reached the coast they were going to turn us over to the police. I didn't wait until the last moment for the decision of the authorities, and when we reached Constanţa I had the chance, along with two others, to leave the ship without interference. It was evening. Snow was falling in the streets, and we began to look for a Jew. After an hour we found a Jew who owned a warehouse for wood and planks. We explained our situation to him; he took pity on us and was prepared to help us. He put us in a small, warm shack in the lot of the warehouse. He gave us a few mats, and empty sacks to cover ourselves, and provided us with a kettle of tea. After three days, when the ship had disappeared from the horizon, we decided to return to Galatz. Once I was back in Galatz, I learned that a small number of people from the ship had successfully run away, and some had been arrested by the police; the Zionist Union was working toward their release.

I found work in a distillery as a plumber-welder. The winter was not an easy one and I waited impatiently for spring, so that I could once again search for a way to make my journey. In time I heard from my friend Herszl in Jerusalem; he had succeeded in reaching the city after three weeks in Alexandria. I rejoiced in his letter, which encouraged me to quickly find a way to join him. After extended hardships, I arrived in the Land of Israel. I traveled to Jerusalem and found my sister and many dear members of my Hashomer Hazair family and was reunited with my dear friend Herszl. We lived together for many years in Jerusalem, in the Nahalat Achim neighborhood, worked in our profession, and continued our public involvement.

Herszl-Jakob-Cwi Sztorchajn left the Land of Israel in 1928 for family reasons. At first he lived in Dąbrowa; later he moved to Warsaw, where he lived with his family until the outbreak of the war. During the Holocaust, he had the opportunity to leave the ghetto.

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His wife was sent to Auschwitz and his only daughter, Larisa, was sent to a nunnery; for a while she lived with a Polish family (today she lives in Paris). Herszl held on in various hiding places until 1944. At the time of the uprising against the Germans in the streets of Warsaw he disappeared without a trace. When I returned to Poland after the war, I found a relative in Warsaw, the only one in our extended family. She told me that in 1944 she had met Herszl in one of the lanes in Warsaw, and he told her he was working in coal transport, passing himself off as a mute so that no one would recognize him as a Jew because of his accent. Herszl was sunk into a deep depression, for he felt he was being followed and that his days were numbered. He was not mistaken. He asked – in the event he did not survive – that someone tell his sisters in Jerusalem about him. Since then, nothing more was known about him.

Immediately after the Nazi occupation, the members of Hashomer Hazair in Zagłębie renewed the life of the movement and the number of members reached 1,200, double what we had before the war. We know of the establishment of a chapter of Hashomer Hazair in Dąbrowa in the last days before the big expulsion of the Jews from the towns of Zagłębie in July of 1942. We knew about Tosia Altman's visits to the main headquarters in the Warsaw Ghetto and the continuous presence of Mordechai Anielewicz in Zagłębie during that period. Tosia reorganized the isolated groups, and organized a joint meeting of Hashomer Hazair members from Sosnowiec, Dąbrowa, and Będzin, supported them and prepared them for working in the underground.

At that time a leader of the rebellion in the Warsaw Ghetto, Mordechai Anielewicz, traveled to Zagłębie and organized the resistance movement. He hoped to open the way to the wider world from that border region, to reveal what was being done to the Jews of Poland and to shock the world community. Mordechai was based in Zagłębie from May until September 1942.

But the death sentence did not leave any place untouched. They began to wipe out the Jews in the General Government and then later in Zagłębie. Jews from the General Government were sent to Treblinka, and the Jews of Zagłębie to Auschwitz.

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