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[Page 113]

Paramilitary Preparation for Jews

Written by a Maccabi Member

On returning from military service in 1927, I thought about organizing our youth into paramilitary cadres. This was suggested by my memories of the pogroms that had destroyed Ukrainian Jewry after World War I, and also the thought that future pioneers needed defence training as well as trades. I organized a unit through “Maccabi”.

The instructors were the professional junior officers Starszi, Sergeant Fuchal and Jurek Plutonowi. We practiced with weapons and also played sport. The activities of the Jewish P.W. were the same as those of the Polish military preparation groups with the Polish name “Pszyskosobiene Wojiskowa”.

Over the period of a year I noticed that the unit was becoming weaker. So for the new school year I organized a group at Betar, judging that the Betar members were more disciplined than those of Maccabi. My hunch was correct. This unit existed for two years before the new anti–Semitic movement reached us and the various Jewish self–defence military preparation groups were abolished.

For three years, our groups of about eighty men received an elementary paramilitary education. They were recruited from among the working youth.

It is worth noting that the Pabianice Jewish P.W. was the only one in the whole area and that, even in Lodz, the Berek Joselewicz [Jewish military hero of the Polish uprising of 1863] legion under the leadership of Colonel Majzner wasn't organized until much later. Majzner came to Israel a few years ago and died here.

There was also an attempt to organize a women's division (P.W.K.), but the Polish P.W.K. was run strictly by the well–known Pabianice anti–Semite Jedrichowska, the women's gymnastics coach. She did not allow a Jewish women's division for military preparation to be formed in our town.

pab113.jpg

Betar military group in Warsaw with leader J. Czawynski

[Page 114]

Maccabi

After a number of attempts to organize Jewish sport unions like “Nesher” [Eagle] and others, we began to work seriously to organize a Jewish sports club. In 1923 Maccabi was founded. It was very successful amongst the Jewish public and especially amongst the youth.

Maccabi offered sections and tours for athletics, bicycling, soccer, table tennis, military preparation and others. They also had an orchestra led by Nechemja Finkelsztejn. Szmulik Proport led the sports activities.

pab114a.jpg

Maccabi soccer team with coach Szmuel Proport

 

pab114b.jpg

Polish champion weight–lifter
Chaim (Chaimke) Zawacki
(now in Israel)

[Page 115]

General activities were led by:

Michal Sztal,

Kuba Lubraniecki,

Izak Urbach.

pab115a.jpg
 
pab115b.jpg

Gymnastics class at the Jewish secondary school with Teacher Wajskop.

* * *

The Jewish Cooperative Credit Bank

Written by M. Kochman

After World War I Jewish Pabianice was ruined financially. The German occupier had stolen all the raw materials as well as the machines, not only from the large factories but also from the small ones. For a bit of brass or copper they would ruin expensive machines.

It was therefore very difficult to create a new economic life. The new Polish government helped impoverished Poles with long–term loans with no interest charged. Jews were not allowed such loans due to the anti–Semitic attitude of the Polish government.

[Page 116]

The Jewish population of Poland, especially artisans and small shopkeepers, found themselves in an incredibly difficult situation.

Thanks to the constructive help of American Jews, who organized aid organizations – especially the “Joint” [American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee – an umbrella fund-­­raising organization to benefit Jews living in war-­­torn Europe that was founded during World War I] – Jewish financial life could be rebuilt after World War I. A network of cooperative banks was founded, which offered long-­­ term, low-­­interest loans that saved Polish Jewry from complete economic disaster. Jewish Pabianice also benefited from this aid.

In 1919 a representative of the “Joint” came to Pabianice and asked the Jewish community to call a meeting at which all financial institutions were to be represented. A plan was to be worked out so that the Jews of Pabianice could also benefit from constructive financial aid. That same day it was decided to found the Credit Bank in our city.

pab116.jpg

The board and the staff of the Pabianice Jewish Cooperative Credit Bank in 1922
Row One (from right to left): Jakob Lypinski, Michal Wolf Kochman, Josef Dawidowicz (chairman), Mojsze Klejnman, M. Tornhejm
Two: Mendl Szynicki, Jakob Wysocki, Szlama Wysocki
Row Three: Wolf Mendel, Jakob Jakubowicz
Four: M. Mendelson, Genja Rajchman, Mojsza Dawidowicz

[Page 117]

We began the bank's activities with the minimal sum of three hundred marks. Four weeks later someone from the “Joint” came from Warsaw to see how things were going. He liked what he saw and promised us an interest–free three year loan of five thousand marks, which we received. This gave the bank the ability to develop many projects. The credit institution developed a good reputation. Almost all the savings of Pabianice Jewry were held at this bank. The large merchants and factory owners also used it, and the bank treated its customers well.

After three years the bank had its own capital, amounting to ten thousand marks.

Thanks to the normal activities of the bank, almost all of the Jewish artisan workshops which had been destroyed were rebuilt and the small shopkeepers were able to fill their shops with a variety of merchandise.

The growth and development of the bank was aided by the constant efforts of its voluntary Board, which consisted of:

Jakub Wygodzki,

Josef Dawidowicz,

Michal Kochman,

Wolf Mandel,

Josef Lypynski,

Szmuel Litmanowicz,

Szlama Wysocki,

Mendel Szynicki,

Jakob Jakubowicz.

After a while the bank received the right to borrow fifty thousand zlotys from the government's Bank Polski. This made people even more impressed with our bank, which existed until the outbreak of World War II.

[Page 118]

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Farewell banquet held by the Jewish Cooperative Credit Bank for its chairman,
Josef Dawidowicz, before his Aliyah in 1935
Sitting (from right to left): J. R. Mojsza Klejnman, Josef Dawidowicz, Jakob Wygocki, Szlama Blatt
Standing: Mrs. Srumutki, Mrs. Epsztejn, Moszkowicz, Jechiel Mejer Laznowski, Hersz Halberg, Wolf Mandel, Szlama Wisocki, Szmuel Litmanowicz

 

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