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[p. 157]

The Zionist Movement

Translated by Eszter Andor and finished by Judie Goldstein

Trends Within the Movement and What They Supported

In the interwar period the most important activities of the Zionists in Krinki were to prepare the youth for aliya to Eretz Israel, educate children in a national-Hebrew spirit, and win people over to the Zionist idea and its realization. At the same time the Zionists were also ready to tackle the various needs of the Jews in Krinki.

The most important elements of the Zionist movement in Krinki were the groupings called “For the Labouring Eretz Israel,” especially the Tsairei Tsion, which later united with the rightist Poalei Tsion. They pursued a wide variety of activities. They attracted the Zionist-socialist and pioneer youth and devoted themselves to Hebrew education in the shtetl. Beside this, they carried out a vigorous general Zionist activity in the Keren Hayesod, the Jewish national fund, the so-called Shekel campaigns, the Hebrew Tarbut societies, and so on.

kry157a.jpg - The leadership of the Hashomer Hatzair organization
The leadership of the Hashomer Hatzair organization

The elected representatives of the Tsairei Tsion were active in the town council as well as in the council of the Jewish community since the first democratic council elections, which had been carried out at the end of the First World War. “Despite the fact that many of our comrades in the Tsairei Tsion had no franchise because they were too young, and not only could they not be elected but they could not even vote in the elections to the town council, we had a great success thanks to the popularity of our leaders in the various domains of social life of the shtetl, especially in education”, writes Bendet Nisht about the leaders of the above-mentioned trend.

The Tsairei Tsion founded the Hekhalutz movement by 1919 in Krinki. They provided Hebrew evening classes for the workers who were preparing to make aliya to Eretz Israel and in 1921 they arranged locksmith courses for the olim (the new immigrants). In the same year -- similarly to other areas in Poland -- they carried out a successful collection of tools and money to buy tools for the workers in Eretz Israel in Krinki and the neighboring shtetls.

kry157b.jpg - The council of the the Poalei Tsion with the drama circle and the leadership of the Hebrew elementary school
The council of the the Poalei Tsion with the drama circle
and the leadership of the Hebrew elementary school


kry158.jpg - Committee of Poalei Tsion [Youths of Zion] - Krynki 1929
Committee of Poalei Tsion [Youths of Zion] – Krynki 1929

In the same year they also opened general evening courses on Jewish history, geography, natural sciences, political economy, Yiddish and Hebrew.

By the beginning of 1926, the Poalei Tsion Union had already set up a youth organization with 100 members and 80 adults. “Our comrades”, describes a report from Krinki, “participate actively in various social institutions, like the People's Bank, the orphans' committee, and so on, and they have a great influence on the life of the local society.”

In 1934, 500 workers, common Jews and young people from the Poalei Party, the Hekhalutz, the Ha-Oved (The Worker), the Freedom Party and the Ha-Poel sports club and the Hekhalutz Hatsair kibbutz, participated in the solemn First of May demonstration organized by the League for the Laboring Eretz Israel.

But the movement flourished and reached its greatest influence in the last year before the outbreak of the Second World War. That year the Freedom-Hekhalutz Hatsair movement had 200 members and the Ha-Poel 50 in Krinki. And in the elections to the 21st Zionist Congress, the League for the Laboring Eretz Israel received 406 out of the 449 votes in Krinki.

The Poalei Tsion Party entered the elections to the Krinki town council with the slogan “for or against Israel now” at a time when the English government had just published its White Book against Jewish immigration to Eretz Israel and its colonization by the Jews. [The party] won 6 seats out of the 8 seats accorded to Jewish deputies (the other two seats were won by the Bund). The Jewish public of Krinki identified with the “for Israel” slogan.

The Hekhalutz Aliya To Eretz Israel

As mentioned before, a Hekhalutz union was founded in Krinki in 1919. And it started immediately to prepare its members for manual work and communal life. They leased a huge garden near the bath-house and a group of young boys and girls started to “learn agriculture” there and to get as much practice in it as possible until the gates of Eretz Israel would be open to aliya again. In 1919-20, Krinki was a transit point for pioneers who arrived in the shtetl from the surrounding area in order to go on a hakhsharah and then make aliya to Eretz Israel. This is how Sheyme Kaplan describes this phenomenon:

[p. 159]

kry159.jpg - Pioneers at work in the hakhsharah-kibbutz in Krinki, 1935
Pioneers at work in the hakhsharah-kibbutz in Krinki, 1935

“At that time Krinki was within the so-called Curzon line, which was considered a territory occupied by Poland where a number of Polish laws, such as compulsory military service, did not apply. 'Hares,' that is, young boys from the territories that were already annexed by Poland by law, used to come to our town. The young people arrived with a recommendation letter from their local Zionist organization in which we were kindly asked to help the bearer of the letter, pioneer candidates for aliya to Eretz Israel. The idea was that we would provide these boys with documents proving that they were residents in Krinki (that is, that they were not liable to military service) so that they could get a passport and an English visa to Eretz Israel.”

“First of all we memorized with each of them street names in Krinki and the names of some local residents so that the boys would be able to argue and “prove” to the authorities if necessary that they were really locals. At the same time, we invited the chairman of the town council to a feast at Heykl Olian's and made the “gentleman” rather drunk with liquor. And [Hebrew quotation] we would have him sign the appropriate certificates on the basis of which the pioneers who arrived in our town could get the necessary documents and make aliya to Eretz Israel.”

In 1919 Bendet Nisht participated in the first conference of the Hekhalutz of Lithuania (strictly speaking, of the Grodno-Vilnius district), which assembled in Grodno, as the delegate from Krinki. He also represented Krinki on the national Hekhalutz conference organized in Warsaw a year later and he was elected to be a member of the central committee of the movement.

The first group of pioneers from Krinki made aliya to Eretz Israel in the summer of 1920. Among them Sheyme Zak and Zvi Rotbart (Carmeli), may he rest in peace, Eyzik Ostrinski, and Avrom Neyman, Yofe Furman (a farmer today) and her brother Motke.

They spent the first few years in Eretz Israel working in a group with the pioneers from Grodno on the forestation of Mount Carmel and in Atlit and in the citrus plantations in Petakh Tikva, and later in construction in Rishon LeTsion, Ramlah, Jerusalem and Motza. Then a part of them went into agriculture with the Geva Group in Jezereel valley where they were joined by Lea Nisht (Zak) and Lize Rotbart (who is now the wife of Dovid Tubiu, the first mayor of the reconstructed Beer Sheva and its builders).

The first pioneers, including the young Krinki pioneers, laid the foundations for the subsequent wider aliya to Eretz Israel, which built a country for the Jewish people that would be independent until the end of time.

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