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Through the Changing of Times and Years

by B. Z. Horowitz

Translated by Jerrold Landau from a draft by Isak Shteyn

It was a small shtetl, with lowly Jewish houses. People wandered about on the narrow and crowded lanes, each of them representing a world unto himself. The Jewish manner of life was so diverse, that it is not easy to describe it in a proper fashion.

Imbued with deep nostalgia, I see the river in the city whose waters drove the mill that was leased by Efraim Rechtschaffen. Near the river is the hill with the old branching linden trees, the benches to sit on, and the path that led to the nearby woods.

On the Sabbaths and festivals of the summer, almost all city inhabitants, young and old, spent time on the hill or in the forest. The songs of the youth could be heard in the whole shtetl.

Rozniatow belonged to the powiat (district) of Dolina, Stanislawow Wojewostwo (region). The railroad station was in Krechowice, 7 kilometers from Rozniatow. Six Jewish families lived eve there. The connection between Rozniatow and the railroad station in Krechowice was with horse drawn wagons and busses to every train. In latter times, the station was called Rozniatow-Krechowice.

Rozniatow was divided into following parts: Podmonastyr, where the most inhabitants were gentiles; beneath the city, where gentiles and Jews both lived; the Rynek, inhabited by Jews and two gentile butchers; Targowice, inhabited by Jews and gentiles; the Moczor, where only gentiles lived, and where the city cattle grazed; and the old town, inhabited by Jews and gentiles.

Fires broke out very often in Rozniatow because all of the houses were made of wood. After every fire, single brick houses appeared. Huge floods took place in Rozniatow. After every torrential rain the two mountain rivers, Duba and Czeczwa, used to inundate houses and gardens, and cause great damages to fields. They tore away the two important bridges: one, located in Podmonastyr, that connected Rozniatow with the railroad station at Krechowice; and the second, in the old town, that connected Rozniatow with Perehinsko and environs.

The Ukrainian Church stood in the center of town.

The Polish Church stood on the hill. The “Sokol” Polish hall and the sports field are nearby. Across the church are the post office, the two-story school building, the court, and an historical building with a tower, dating from the “Panczyzna” (peasant-slavery) times, the apartment of the court president, the prison and the police station.

There was no industry in Rozniatow, and no shortage of poor people. There were cobblers, tailors, carpenters, tinsmiths, house painters, dyers, coachmen, horse wagon drivers, barbers, cupping-glass specialists, teeth-pullers, butchers, skinners, chickens and egg merchants, peddlers, bagel bakers, bakeries – open and hidden, small stores, big and modern shoe factories, manufacturers, confectioneries, haberdasheries, and food and grains businesses.

There were large-scale cattle merchants who exported to Vienna and Prague, and egg exporters – all Jewish. There was no shortage of thieves, card-players and idlers, of all kinds of types from all strata of society. There were brokers, matchmakers and other professionals.

The first hotel in Rozniatow was “Hotel Weissmann”, belonging to Chanina Weissmann, a respected Jew.

The restaurant with a hotel belonged to Srultzi Rosenmann.

The third hotel with a restaurant belonged to Mordecai Gross.

During the era of Franz Josef (Austro-Hungarian Emperor) a "Profanatzia”, that is a monopoly for the sale of brandy, existed in Rozniatow and environs. Leizer Itzik Lew was the owner. His son, Yankel Lew was the exclusive representative of Kalisher beer. The representation of Ukazhamer beer was Srultzi Rosenmann.

There were more than enough taverns and bars. The oldest tavern belonged to Melech Gross.

Wolf and Leahche Landsmann had an import house, where various merchants who came to weekly Wednesday fairs, used to stop. Many families earned their living from this enterprise.


Outbreak of World War I

Until 1914 our shtetl belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire under the rule of Kaiser Franz Josef, who was a benevolent ruler. In his times, the Jewish population enjoyed peaceful and good years. The Poles had autonomy, but they were not autocrats, and the Jews occupied high positions. In our shtetl there was a Jewish judge, Hoffnung, a Jewish mayor, Vove Hoffmann and a Jewish criminal supervisor, Prinz. The Jews felt that they had a protector looking out for them. this was one of the golden eras of the Diaspora. Generally, those years were without any wars or revolutions.

The First World War brought plenty of misfortune and pain to our shtetl. The Russians entered during the same week that the war broke out. They invaded like wild hordes, robbing and pillaging Jewish belongings, and beating and raping Jewish women and girls. True, in comparison to the Nazis, they were saints, but it is a fact that the Jews suffered greatly from these saints. The Cossacks murderously beat Hersh Rechtschaffen. He remained alive only through a miracle. My father, sitting at the third Sabbath meal, was threatened to be killed by a Cossack with his sword. My father lost many years from that. They opened all stores and cellars, throwing the merchandises into the street. Our dear neighbors stole everything that they wished. There was no limit to the Jewish anguish caused by these evil beasts.

Thus, life continued on quietly and modestly, with the rhythm established generations ago. There was no big city wealth, but rather a well-to-do middle-class. Some merchants carried large-scale business, including with other cities. There were also storekeepers, who hardly could make a living. There were craftsmen, everybody with his own ideas, philosophy of life, worries and occupation. 1


A Foreign Culture by Avraham Zauerberg

Only a wicked hand
Could dare
On the water's edge
To make you suffer.
Duck eggs were smuggled to you
You must sit on them for three weeks
You are inclined
. To do this for your own children.
When they hatched
You made no distinction,
With pure wings you protected them and delighted in them
And they sang your own song.
And when they grew up
They did not understand your language,
And they left you swimming in the river.
You fled to shore full of terror,
Lest they drown.
They thought you were a fool
And they did not wish to hear your fearful call.
You oh man! With your corrupt ideas,
With your sin did you exhibit wonders?
You stood there willingly with your hands
And forgot that you also have children.
(Rozniatow, August 5, 1939)

no caption group photo of a Zionist group


Translator's Footnotes

  1. This final paragraph seems to be a summary of the entire article rather than the current section. Back

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