Most of the immigrants to the land of Israel were never organized into landsmanshaft groups. Israel settlement always strove to realise the goal of reversing the Diaspora and of uniting all Jews from Diaspora lands into one people. It is also understandable that we could not create landsmanshaftn on the soil of the land of Israel: not in the broader sense based on a common homeland nor in the narrower sense of a common home town. The immigrant to the land of Israel is, after all, not like any other immigrant in the accepted, well known sense of the word, a sort of greenhorn, as they say in America. Someone who arrives in a new country usually needs, first of all, to turn to those who share their home town, or else to a wealthy relative, a sort of Uncle Moses [Yiddish novel by Sholem Asch, about the exploitation of new immigrants by a wealthy relative]. The average immigrant to the land of Israel, however up until the last World War, so tragic for us was generally young, a pioneer who, after a short or long amount of time for settling in, headed for the kibbutz to which he or she had belonged before emigrating, or else deliberately accepted physical labour building roads, or working in an orchard. Therefore, up until now there was no reason to create landsmanshaftn in the land of Israel.
When the horrific news about the destruction of European Jewry reached us, the necessity of forming an organizational framework became clear to us. It would help new immigrants who had entered the country illegally under the British Mandate to settle in. The most rational way of doing this was as a landsmanshaft organisation.
In 1944 we organised the first temporary committee of the Pabianice landsmanshaft in the land of Israel and called it the Union of Pabianice Immigrants in the Land of Israel. It consisted of the comrades:
Dr. Josef Ben Renan (Szwarcwasser),
Engineer Dawid Dawidowicz,
Uszer Wynter, Mojsze Cohen,
Szulem Edini (Zylberberg),
Hinda Szapira Perlberg,
The first self help work began during the War. This was for the remnants of Jewish Pabianice who were mostly to be found in the Soviet Union and in Asia. After the Nazis surrendered, we sent help to the remainder who returned to the Jew free Pabianice. This help consisted mostly of sending clothing and food packages.
When the first refugees arrived here, we published a number of lists of surviving Jews of Pabianice. These lists were printed on stencils and included about two hundred and fifty names. We printed thousands of copies and sent them to all Jewish centres where Jews from Pabianice could be found. These lists were very important because they aided the survivors and, most of all, in many cases they brought the good news that a family member or a friend had survived. In those tragic years this was a comfort.
In addition to the lists of survivors, we also published the first list of the Jews who returned to Pabianice after the war. Their names were sent to us in August 1945 by the Temporary Jewish Committee of Pabianice, which consisted of:
The list consisted of two hundred and ninety one names two hundred and ninety one Jews remaining from the large Jewish community in Pabianice, which consisted of over ten thousand before the War. The number of Jews who returned to Pabianice fell sharply later on. Once the first chances appeared to allow them to leave the large Jewish cemetery that was Poland all that remained after the destruction of millions of Jews the surviving Jews of Pabianice, just like Jews from other places, left their former homes.
In order to contact the surviving remnant in Pabianice, we turned on 16 August 1945 to the mayor of Pabianice. We expected that we would find out the fate of our brothers, about their war time experiences, about those who had been saved and their fate as well as about what help they needed. After two months, we received a censored answer in the form of a single postcard a laconic, dry answer. The answer did not come from the mayor, but from an official who signed on his behalf. Here is the text of this letter as a sign of the times:
To answer your letter of 16.10.1945, we advise that:
In March 1940, the Jews were locked into a Ghetto, which was located in the old part of the city. In May 1942 all the Jews were taken away to the Grusza Ender sports field and two and three days later they were sent from there in an unknown direction. Since that time there has been no sign of them.
Now some have returned to Pabianice and according to the figures of the Department of Public Evidence, they number two hundred and thirty eight persons. They have organized themselves into a committee, which is headed by Citizen J. Goldring.
I thank you in his name for your greetings to the Citizen President.
on behalf of the City President.
This was the first post war greeting that we received from destroyed Jewish Pabianice, sent to us on behalf of the Citizen President.
As the number of Jews in Pabianice shrank, the Jewish committees grew. After a certain time we received the first photographs of the destroyed synagogue, of the desecrated gravestones in the cemetery, of the former home of the Jewish Community Council and of the comrades on the new Jewish committee. It consisted of:
These photographs the witness to destroyed Jewish monuments were the last greeting that we received from Jewish Pabianice.
The further work of the newly created Pabianice landsmanshaft in Israel included contacting Pabianice survivors throughout the world in order to help them and supply them with food, clothing, etc. We created the possibility of constructive help for new immigrants, most of whom arrived in the country without any money and some of whom were ill (after all their difficult experiences). Many of them were simply without clothing and without shoes. For this reason, we contacted all of those from Pabianice and collected statistics on those from Pabianice who were in the land of Israel in order to strengthen our new landsmanshaft. At the same time, we started to work on our Memorial Book in order to eternalise the memory of our departed, holy community.
We did not wait until our unhappy brothers contacted us for help. We sent a letter to each new immigrant, in which we greeted him as a new Israeli citizen and asked whether he needed our help, whether or not he was searching for surviving relatives and whether or not he knew the fate of other survivors.
On 8 December 1945, the first convention of people from Pabianice throughout Israel occurred in the Jewish National Fund building in Tel Aviv. Over a hundred people participated, amongst them many new immigrants. This is when we heard for the first time a sad report about the fate of our brothers in Pabianice. The report was given by Comrade Mojsze Bejrach, one of the Jewish partisans. The meeting voted in a committee consisting of:
Dr. Josef Ben Renan,
Engineer Dawid Dawidowicz,
Mojsza Kaspi (Zylber),
and Gerszon Rajchman.
After the first memorial, which occurred at that first convention, we decided that we would commemorate our dearest ones on the date of 1 and 2 of Sivan, the date on which they were tragically sent away to the death camps in 1942. All honour to their memories.
The contact that we made with our landsmanshaftn outside of Israel had good results immediately.
We are in touch with the Pabianice landsmanshaftn in Buenos Aires, Montreal and New York. These landsmanshaftn promised to help our survivors as much as possible and to collect funds to publish a
Memorial Book. The Canadian landsmanshaft received a list of our survivors from us. It was published in their newspapers.
With the help of those from our home town outside of Israel, the Union of Those From Pabianice in Israel began to carry out two of its most important imperatives to help our newly arrived brothers and to publish this Memorial Book.
Engineer D. Dawidowicz
After the disbanding of the first temporary committee of the Union of Those From Pabianice at the end of 1946, we created a new landsmanshaft organization, in order to help those who were saved from Hitler's hell, who entered the land of Israel secretly during the British Mandate. I turned to two comrades from the earlier, disbanded Union Engineer Dawidowicz and Gerszon Rajchman and after lengthy discussions we decided to regenerate the Union. We co opted a few more comrades and founded the Union of Those From Pabianice. The first temporary board consisted of:
At the first meeting of this new Union of Those From Pabianice we decided to found a free loan society. Towards this purpose we collected money amongst those who had been in Israel for a long time. We raised a hundred and fifty lirot.
The first loans were in the amount of thirty pounds, to be repaid within a year.
We also turned to the landsmanshaftn outside of Israel in the United States, Canada, Argentina and Australia. We received positive answers from them, saying that they would help us. We received foreign help. We did not limit ourselves to the loans and busied ourselves with philanthropic activities. Wherever a loan wouldn't help, we have up until now donated help to the sum of around twelve thousand lirot.
We also decided to organise annual commemoration ceremonies on the date of the murder of our parents, brothers and sisters in Pabianice. The first large commemoration occurred in 1947. Hundreds of survivors from Pabianice attended. There were tragic scenes when relatives and friends met when one didn't know that the other had survived.
We also organised annual evenings that were attended by almost all of those from Pabianice from all corners of the country. This strengthened our free loan society, so that we were able to increase the size of the loans to fifty pounds and lately to one hundred pounds. The Union is also trying to find work for many of the new immigrants.
The thought of publishing a Pabianice Memorial Book to preserve the memory of our murdered Pabianice martyrs did not allow us to rest. In the end we decided to publish such a Memorial Book, because we consider that to be the most important of our activities.
We collected the materials for the Memorial Book with great difficulty. We of Pabianice do not have many writers amongst us who are capable of preserving the memory of our destroyed community of Pabianice. In the end we overcame this difficulty and collected rich historical materials for the Memorial Book. We also planned to build a number of flats for those in need, those who still do not have homes of their own. There was meant to be a room in this building that would serve as the office of our landsmanshaft. Three years ago, when I was in America and in Canada, I conferred with some of our former citizens of Pabianice who now live there and they promised that they would support the building of flats for people from Pabianice in Israel. We decided to finish the publication of the Memorial Book first, so we have temporarily postponed the building of the flats.
M. W. Kochman
Right to left: Standing: M. Caspi, J. Wysocki, Grembek, J. Urbach, J. Gruzynski, P. Rosensztejn.
Sitting: Dr. T. Lifszyc, Engineer D. Dawidowicz, M. W. Kochman, G. Rajchman, G. Rosensztejn.
Front: Szeracki, Dzezynski.
On Sunday, 3 January 1915, a few of us from Pabianice came together in the home of our good friend Mayer Itzkowitz in New York. We talked about how to create a landsmanshaft organization for people from Pabianice who now lived in New York. We decided to organize a society so that we could get together and enjoy one another's company.
The leadership that was elected at the first meeting consisted of:
Moishe Smith (chairman),
Abraham Zimmerman (vice chairman),
Alla Keller (secretary) and Jacob Goldberg (treasurer).
After electing the leadership we began to discuss the name of our self help society. We decided to call our society The Pabianice Progressive Young Men's Society in New York. This is how we eternalised the name of Pabianice. As long as our society still has seven loyal members, the name cannot be changed.
The new committee consisted of:
Joshua Bloom (Klepkarczyk),
David Joseph Gothelf,
The Pabianice Progressive Young Men's Society in New York has carried out aid activities on behalf of needy people from Pabianice for forty years, from the day it was founded until this very day. The Pabianice Progressive Young Men's Society has always felt organically connected to all people from Pabianice in all the countries in which they now find themselves.
Our initial aid activity began with and served the suffering victims of World War I. We organized various activities with the intention of raising funds so that we would have money to send to Pabianice once the war ended.
When the war ended in 1918, we quickly sent the first two hundred dollars to Herszl Faust, Jakob Wygodski and Chancza Klepkarczyk. This committee dispersed help for the needy in Pabianice. Then a large quantity of clothing was shipped.
In 1920 we sent two thousand five hundred dollars to Pabianice with our member Gershon Gothelf, which was handed over to the local committee. In 1926 we sent fifteen hundred dollars to Pabianice with Devorah Cohen for the medical clinic.
In order to expand the activities of our landsmanshaft, we founded a Ladies' Society in 1927. The foundation meeting occurred in the home of Moishe Yoskowitz. The Ladies' Society worked on behalf of the aid society together with the male members. This is how our work progressed up until World War II.
During the war years, we set out to raise money for the survivors of Hitler's destruction of the Jewish people. In 1944 we and the Ladies' Society raised money for a United Pabianice Relief. Help for the surviving remnants of Pabianice Jewry was sent mostly to Germany and also to the land of Israel.
In 1946, the remaining Jews from Pabianice came to America from Europe.
The Pabianice Young Men's Society helped the refugees as much as possible. When the number of arriving refugees grew, they organized themselves into the Pabianice Youth Club. The first money that they raised was sent to the Pabianice Committee in Israel.
In 1953, the club merged with the Pabianice Young Men's Society. This strengthened the organization, which became more active. The aid that we sent to Israel for individuals and for the local committee also grew.
It was the desire of the newly arrived members that we build an eternal monument in the new Pabianice cemetery in New York. This was a gravestone for the honour of our murdered martyrs in Pabianice, in order to honour their memories, never to forget the butchers and never to forgive them. We hope that we will continue in the coming years to continue our work for the benefit and the joy of us here and for our brothers in Israel and wherever they may be.
In 1955, the leadership of the Men's Society in New York consisted of:
M. Bialik (chairman);
A. Greenberg (vice chairman);
D. Handelsman (secretary);
H. Hertzlich (financial secretary);
R. Friedman (treasurer);
Mrs. Tenenbaum (Review Committee);
H. Budiman and
R. Yoskowitz (hospitaler) [responsible for organizing visits to hospitalised members] and
A.J. Yoskowitz and
L. Keller (Managers of cemetery).
written by Dora Sewush
In 1943, at the mid point of the war, the Pabianice Ladies' Society foresaw the necessity of founding an aid fund for those from Pabianice who would survive the Hitlerite destruction wherever they ended up. We already knew from newspaper reports that Hitler was murdering our dear ones.
The Ladies' Society suggested to the Pabianice Men's Society that they should work together with this goal in mind.
In August 1944, the first meeting to unite the two societies in order to carry out joint relief work occurred. Now we were called the United Pabianice Relief. A bank account was opened under this name. The Men's Society brought in US$740. The Ladies' Society brought in US $1,009.31. The total was US$1,749.31.
The committee of the United Pabianice Relief consisted of:
Arnold Cohen (Kamelgarn),
The executive consisted of:
Dora Sewush (chairlady),
Chaily Denberg (secretary),
Fanny Bloom (treasurer).
The United Pabianice Relief existed for three years, during which $7,266.72 was raised. These funds were divided up as follows:
$2,634.38 directly to Pabianice
$3,625.38 to Germany
$648.03 for new Pabianice immigrants to New York
The sum of $358.51 remained in the bank account when the United Pabianice Relief was closed down. This was sent to the Pabianice Relief Committee in Tel Aviv. We should also mention our relief work here in America.
In 1944 refugees began to arrive in the United States. The first to arrive were the so called prisoners (Roosevelt's Support Children). They were kept in Camp Oswego near the Canadian border. We supported them with pleasure. In 1946 the first refugees from Germany arrived in America. Their numbers grew over the coming years. We helped them to settle in. We also sent funds to people from Pabianice in Sweden, Australia, China and Lower Silesia (Poland). We also helped unhappy
people from Pabianice who were held on the island of Cyprus. As well we did not neglect our participation in the United Jewish Appeal in New York when Golda Meyerson came to the United States in 1948.
On 30 November 1948, the Men's Society withdrew from the United Society and the Ladies' Society continued its aid work under the name United Pabianice Relief.
This same work continues to this very day with the same presidium.
From 1949 until 1955, the Pabianice Committee sent $800 to private individuals.
We gave $200 to buy medicine for people from Pabianice in France.
We gave $750 to new immigrants to America. We gave $300 to buy medicines.
We spent $135 on the Pabianice Memorial.
Until to now we have given $100 towards the publication of the Memorial Book. Total: $3,285.
To this very day all of our members give an annual donation towards relief work.
Written by Joshua and Esther Bloom
All of our lives we have wanted to see the land of our ancestors with our own eyes. We did not have a chance to do so before the declaration of the State of Israel. With the proclamation of our Jewish State our dream became reality.
In January 1954, we told our landslayt that we would travel to Israel. This news was met with joy by the Pabianice organizations.
The Pabianice Young Men's Society in New York prepared a bon voyage banquet, which occurred on 27 February 1954. The banquet was a huge celebration. The hall was packed. A similar banquet was hosted by the Ladies' Society in March. Our surprise and joy were great when, on 29 March 1954, we left the Port of New York on board the ship Jerusalem. Our landslayt from New York and Patterson [New Jersey] who came to farewell us had tears in their eyes when the ship began to sail.
The trip was a pleasure. The days of travel passed quickly. On 14 April we had our first view of the Israeli coast, Mount Carmel and Haifa. On arriving in Israel I first understood the meaning of a Jewish country. Meeting with relatives and landslayt was very moving. I will never forget how the Pabianice Committee in Israel hosted us and took care of us during our time in Tel Aviv. We heartily thank them for the honour that they paid us on the radio and in the newspapers. We will never forget them.
Written by Alter Vilner (Montreal)
I remember my childhood years in Pabianice. I attended the cheder of Reb Mendl Pinies a Jew with a bad temper who didn't begrudge his students any slaps. On winter evenings, when the streets were dark because Pabianice had no streetlights, we walked home from the cheder with little lanterns in our hands. Little candles burned in the lanterns.
The police station was located not far from us. One day a person with a drum came out of there. People were attracted by the sound of his drum, and we cheder boys were attracted too. The drummer said something in Russian which I didn't understand. The crowd got louder and some people were wringing their hands in worry. Some of the women cried. Mobilisation into the Tsar's army was being announced. This was the outbreak of World War I.
In a few weeks time the Russians left Pabianice. The German army entered, but they didn't stay long. But while the Germans were in our city, my cheder teacher hung up a portrait of Kaiser Wilhelm on the spot where Tsar Nikolai's portrait had hung before. The armies changed and so the teacher changed the portraits of the emperors again, back to Tsar Nikolai.
My father, Herszl, had a bakery. Together with his business partner, Szlama Wysocki, he had opened the first mechanised bakery in Pabianice. He had an honourable position amongst Pabianice Jews. He was one of the founders of the medical clinic and of the artisans' union of Jewish bakers. My father was the chairman of both of these institutions until 1931, when we left Pabianice.
Our house was always open to honoured guests when rabbis or rebbes came to our city. Whoever sought help for the needy always found an open door and open hands when they approached my parents. My father gave our house to our guests. Often people came to us for support and no Friday night passed without guests being invited to our table. Yeshiva boys ate with us daily.
As I grew up, I participated in the local Zionist movement. In 1925, I went to the Land of Israel together with other Jews from Pabianice. I was present at the founding of the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus. Later, I returned to Pabianice and was active in every action to raise funds for the Land of Israel.
In 1931 we emigrated to Montreal, Canada. Here we created an aid society for our landslayt in Poland together with other people from Pabianice. It was called the Pabianice Relief Society. I was active in this organization, which developed a broad range of activities. After the great destruction that the Germans brought upon the Jews, we sent help to Jews from Pabianice.
My father passed away at the age of eighty two. I, his son, continued my father's activities. I am the president of the Pabianice Landsmanshaft in Montreal. Our work consists of fund raising. Every year we organise a public memorial ceremony in memory of the martyrs of Pabianice. We also remain in contact with New York, Argentina, Poland and Israel.
To the best of our ability, we support our landslayt in whatever country they may find themselves. We will never forget our families, sisters and brothers, friends and acquaintances and the entire Jewish community of Pabianice, which was tortured by the Nazis.
After the great tragedy that befell Polish Jewry which did not miss Pabianice after wandering through the German camps and the ghettos, we, a small number of remaining Jews from Pabianice, organized ourselves in the D.P. [Displaced Persons] camps in Germany. Finally we were able albeit with great difficulties to arrive in Montreal, Canada, during the years 1948 1951. We were approximately fifty two families. The idea occurred to us that it was necessary to organize and to found a Pabianice landsmanshaft. This would give us a chance to meet and to discuss our joys and our miseries, while simultaneously helping our needy landslayt in Israel and in Poland, as well as helping those who were newly arrived in Montreal to settle in.
In 1954, Mrs. Sewush and her husband from the Relief Society, that is, the Pabianice Aid Committee came to visit us. We started to work energetically. We elected an executive of six people at a General Meeting. The chairman was Alter Vilner and the vice chairman was Lejbl Papjernyk. We also created a committee, which aimed to visit our landslayt who were taken ill.
We organized various events, such as banquets and evenings that brought in large sums of money. Thanks to them we were able to help about thirty families in Israel, three families in Poland and we also provided some families in Montreal with necessary help.
We received dozens of thank you letters from our landslayt in Israel, which illustrate the importance of our aid work.
We organized commemorations in memory of our tortured Pabianice Jews. We honoured their memories with great respect. No one from Pabianice missed these commemorations.
During the years 1953 1954, we organized various cultural events with the participation of our landslayt. These brought in large sums of money. In this way we had other opportunities to help our needy landslayt. In 1954 we were able to help about thirty four families and some families in Pabianice (Poland).
We would especially like to note that at each event that we organized, the Feifer brothers donated appreciable sums of money to our landsmanshaft. When our landslayt in Israel contacted us about publishing a Memorial Book in memory of our tortured brothers, we donated $300 and sent memoirs of our landslayt. It is a great honour for us to participate in the holy work of eternalising the memory of our tortured holy community in the city Pabianice. Such an important book will have a place in the home of everyone from Pabianice. It will eternally serve to remind us of our destroyed community and our murdered landslayt.
In 1954 Mrs. Sewush and her husband came to visit us from New York. She was interested in our activities and said that we should not be ashamed of our efforts compared with other landsmanshaftn.
We have many plans for the future and we are sure that we will see them all come to fruition. Our committee consists of:
The secretary, Mrs. Bella Kotek; The treasurer, Sam Szmiala
and the remainder of the committee:
The Pabianice Landslayt Union in Argentina was founded on 27 October 1940. The following and their families participated in the foundation meeting:
Jerachmiel Feldman, Mojsze Banet,
Jehuda Lejb Lenczynski,
Josef Majer Bresler,
Abram Fyszer and wife (of blessed memory),
Chaim Mojsza Orbach,
Jehuda Lejb Banet (of blessed memory),
Mordcha Gecel Banet.
The opening speech was given by Friend Mordcha Zylbersztejn. He greeted all who were present and suggested choosing a presidium to lead the meeting. This was accepted unanimously by those present.
The members of the presidium were:
The honourary chairmen were the two people from Pabianice who had been in Argentina for the longest time, Ruwen Bresler and Jerachmiel Feldman (both of whom have since passed away). Then we heard the greetings. Ruwen Bresler greeted the Pabianice Landslayt Union and wished it success in its work on behalf of the landslayt.
Friend D. Dawidowicz, the delegate and executive member of the Central Union of Polish Jews in Argentina, spoke movingly about the foundation of another Landslayt Union, another member from the family of the Central Union of Polish Jews, which will hopefully be able to help out our relatives in the old country in the near future, to help them in their need in the current unhappy and dark time. He also mentioned the fallen martyrs to the German destructive madness. All those present stood in their places with great respect.
Mojsze Banet spoke about the responsibilities of the newly founded Pabianice Landslayt Union in Argentina, which would need to carry out aid activities for the victims of war in our old home at war's end.
Wolf Bresler also spoke about the importance of the Pabianice Landslayt Union, which would bring help to our relatives in the old country and would prepare to give the greatest possible support at that time. The following spoke about the aims and responsibilities of the Union: Mrs. Naporstek and Herszl Banet. The main goal must be to help our dear ones in the old country. All those present unanimously agreed with these words.
Leadership in the form of two commissions were elected, consisting of the following: Men's Commission:
Abram Gothajiner (of blessed memory),
Jichak Bresler, Wolf Bresler, Josef Fyszer,
Judis Bresler (of blessed memory),
Hadassa Bresler (of blessed memory),
Mrs. Feldman (of blessed memory).
A large sum of money was collected at the foundation meeting for the Union's fund and the Pabianice Landslayt Union in Argentina began its activities.
Written by A. Wolf Yasni
We are closing this book about Pabianice with the feeling that we have brought everything into this Memorial Book that is connected to the life and the tragic end of this community. The memoirs of the survivors who were born in our city and the collected historic materials about the beginning of the community in Pabianice have fully reproduced the way this Jewish settlement looked and thrived.
Pabianice was the strongest evidence against the various anti Semitic theories of all the thick headed German professors and anti Semites of all kinds, about the inability of Jews to do productive physical labour. Not only did Jews do physical work and successfully produce in Pabianice, but they also fought with everything at their disposal for the right to work and the right to live from honest labour. Workers built mechanised weaving factories together, built textile factories, and their Jewish production spread throughout the world.
The Jewish desire to work and the good work habits of the Pabianice weavers and spinners could not avoid the German destructive madness. Jewish Pabianice was destroyed exactly as foreseen by the German destructive plan (which was accepted at the Berlin conference of war leaders led by Hitler, which occurred in December 1941). The destructive plan known as the Reinhardt Action, using the name of its author foresaw that the Jews of smaller cities would be forced to concentrate in the ghettoes of the larger cities. There they would be used as slave labour, exhausted by hunger, torture and constant deathly fear, so that, when the moment was ripe, they could be strangled in the gas chambers and go to their deaths without any opposition.
Jewish Pabianice was led down this road to its destruction. After the theft of Jewish property after bribes and shootings came the final destruction. Those Jews who were capable of working were sent to Lodz, so that their strength could be used up in the local ghetto factories. The rest of the Jews children, women and the elderly who were less capable of work, were immediately sent to the death camp Chelmno. Those who could work were sent to Lodz, where they were considered strangers by the ghetto regime of Rumkowski [chairman of the Lodz Ghetto Judenrat]. At the first opportunity, they were sent out to work, where they were tortured by the Germans. Only a small minority survived by the time of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto. Then they were sent to die in Auschwitz.
Jewish Pabianice no longer exists. We think about the tortured martyrs with deep sorrow. Their honest, hard working lives and culture were cruelly cut down. At the same time, we turn our gaze to the past of this holy community, at the hundred and fifty years of its existence, in order to see the community in its totality and in its historic development.
During the 19th century, a Jewish settlement grew there. It was one of the most recent Jewish settlements, which even as it developed brought new forms of Jewish life to Poland. The settlement in this city belonged to the textile family of the Lodz industrial region. It was recognisable as a part of this region. Yet its individual appearance separated Pabianice from all the other Jewish communities in the Lodz region and from Lodz itself.
Jewish communal life in Pabianice developed in its own style. Characteristically, this centre of Jewish textile workers had a deeply rooted profoundly religious Jewishness. During the last years of its existence, it was led by such a strongly religious personality as Reb Mendele Alter. On the other hand, it was missing very important branches of Jewish communal life, such as the Jewish Labour Bund.
What was once the General Jewish Labour Bund of Lithuania, Poland and Russia, and later became the Polish Bund, did not succeed in developing an organization in Pabianice despite constant attempts to do so. In 1906, the Bund's Vilna newspaper Folkstsaytung [People's Newspaper] printed correspondence written by Ron (the pseudonym at the time of one of the Bund's professional organizers, who was known in Lodz during the inter war period under his real name, Ch. L. Poznanski). In this correspondence Ron complained that Pabianice did not receive the necessary attention from the Bund's leadership. There was almost no Bund organization in this factory town.
During my years of Bundist activity, I also tried to develop a Bund organization in Pabianice. In 1919, immediately after World War I, I, together with a young fellow from Lodz named Wysznija, tried to organize a Tsukunft [Future, the name of the Bund's youth organization] group in Pabianice. We did not succeed. In later years, I tried twice to organize a Bund group unsuccessfully. The second time was during the 1930s. We did succeed in putting together a committee, which organized a club in a basement, but the small Bundist group was taken over by Communists and was forced to disband.
Proletarian Pabianice, however, was not left without a Jewish workers' movement. The role of the Bund was fulfilled by the Poeli Zion, later with the addition of its Left Wing.
Why was the development of Jewish Pabianice so idiosyncratic?
The reason must be sought in the great influence that the Polish Socialist Party (P.P.S.) had on the workers of Pabianice. Jewish textile workers, who were in close contact with Polish weavers and spinners, were influenced from the beginning years of the Jewish Labour movement by the P.P.S.'s national ideology. The Jewish section of the P.P.S. was very strong here during the years 1905 1906. Later, when the Jewish weavers of Pabianice began their struggle for the right to work in the mechanised factories, they suddenly faced a brick wall created by their own Polish comrades from the P.P.S. The Jewish workers in Pabianice learned in a very practical way the theory of Ber Borochow [founder of Labour Zionism] about Jewish workers being pushed out of the factories. The Jewish Labour movement in Pabianice was therefore influenced by the Poeli Zion, which, for three decades leading up to the Holocaust, played an important role in local Jewish life.
Zionists of all kinds from Hashomer Hatzair to the Revisionists had strong movements in this small Jewish community. They even published their own Yiddish weeklies. Zionism succeeded in putting its stamp on Jewish life in Pabianice. Its main idea of saving Jews from death, created the possibility for them of a new Jewish, healthy life in the old new land of Israel.
However Jewish communal life developed in Pabianice, the tragic end was the same one faced by all Jews under German occupation: Pabianice ended its existence as a Jewish settlement in Poland. All that was Jewish in Pabianice, however, did not go under. It was saved by the Love of Zion movement, which brought many Jews from Pabianice to Israel. Jewish traditions from Pabianice live on in the hearts of those Jews who left this textile town in time, and now build their landsmanshaftn in various countries throughout the world.
All of these Pabianice Jews carry in their hearts the memory of the tortured, hatred of the torturers and the burning will and desire to continue Jewish national and communal life. The State of Israel has become the Jewish central point, towards which the entire world looks as do our Jews from Pabianice. The Pabianice landsmanshaft in Israel greets every landsman who comes to the Jewish State with joy.
Jewish Pabianice continues its existence.
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Updated 27 Jan 2017 by LA