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My Shtetl

by Meir Auslender

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Broszniow was a small town, with only 200 Jewish families. However the communal life of the families was close and heartfelt.

As in all other towns, people earned their livelihoods in different manners: small business, and crafts. However, there were also two lumber factories – one Y. F. H. Glezinger was Jewish owned, and the second was government owned as well as a refinery. Most of the Jewish families were employed in the Jewish factory. The factory was the entire future of the Broszniow youth. Thanks to this enterprise, the town developed economically and culturally.

A fine Zionist organization called Herzliya was established. It had a large library in three languages: Yiddish, Hebrew and Polish. The youth would gather there. Bendet Szpiegel was the president. He did a great deal to develop the organization.

A fine Tarbut Hebrew school existed, with the energetic president Presser. He was a postmaster, but he had a great deal of free time to give to the development of the school. Young children as well as older ones studied there.

Both institutions worked together. They would organize various cultural events, lectures, readings, etc.

They also organized a dramatic ensemble that used to conduct various plays, of which all of Broszniow was proud.

The kibbutzim were a very important contributor to the cultural development.

Hechalutz in Broszniow, 1934


It is appropriate to mention that the Jewish factory employed several hundred chalutzim on their hachsharah. Many of them played a large role in our cultural development. The ensemble was at a fine level. A dramatic director came from the kibbutzim in order to direct and often to take part in the performances. The entire income would go to purchase new books and to develop the school.

Others were involved with charitable works, the distribution of charity through the charitable and sick visiting organization. Chaim Logstejn was the creator of this organization. There, they concerned themselves with visiting the sick, sitting with them through the entire night and providing financial stipends to those in need.

They also did not forget the families who were in need of Sabbath food or who had to marry off an orphan. Chana Liberman occupied herself with that. She had a special room in her house for poor wayfarers who would come to request donations. There, one could eat, spend the night, and continue on. Yudel Berlfajn maintained a similar home in the other end of town.

Broszniower Jews also concerned themselves with setting up a fine synagogue. A new synagogue was built in 1936. The plan was sent from the Land of Israel. Julius Szapiro, the director of the factory, took care of the finances. Thanks to his prestige, the needed capital was raised – although he himself was a non-observant man.

Broszniow was not derelict in sending pioneers to the Land of Israel. The first family, Kimmel, already set out in 1920. They settled at the baths of Kfar Saba. We also had business connections with the Land of Israel. The Jewish factory was the chief provider of citrus crates for the orchards.

We, the few survivors here in the Land of Israel, take accounting of our soul and recall our native town, where the bestial Nazi hand with the assistance of the Ukrainian neighbors destroyed all the Jews in such a cold blooded fashion, along with everything that had been created throughout so many years.

Today, our town is no longer for us. The factory is no longer there, the creative work is no longer there, and our dear mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and children are no longer there. They are no more!

All the fine people who toiled hard throughout all the years are no more. Even more than their material wealth, they aspired to spiritual matters. Their greatest desire was to live as Jews, and to educate their children in the Jewish spirit, in love for the Jewish people.

Each of us carries that love in our hearts together with the memory of the martyrs, the beloved, dear Jews.

They all live in our memories.

We will never forget them. We will never neglect to recite Kaddish in memory of their souls every year. We will perpetuate all of their names, both in Yizkor books as well as in other undertakings which might possibly be created, so that the future generations will know about the high morality and culture of our forbears, and that they also played a great role in the building of the Land of Israel.


The First Jews in the Town

by Berl Nirenberg

Translated by Jerrold Landau

I wish to perpetuate the small Jewish settlement of Broszniow with my memories. These are memories from my childhood and youth that I experienced, and from what I have heard from my parents and other veteran Jewish families. The memories are from the end of the 18th century until the end of the First World War in 1918.

Speaking about the history of the Jewish settlement, the question arises: What inspired the first young couples to settle in Broszniow? They arrived with young children and came with the intention of building their futures there. It is clear that the source of their livelihood was in the large wood factory. It was known that the Jews were fine professionals in the wood factory. The owners of the wood factory were Jews. The firm was Schreier from Vienna. They were also interested in Jewish professionals. The refinery was also located in Broszniow, and one could also obtain work from it.

The following are the names of the first families that settled in Broszniow:

Yosef Segal, Leibish Zimmerman, Wolf Tiger, Izak Mendel Hausman, Yisrael Gelobter, Wolf Kimmel, Hersh Leib Weinreb, Herzl Nirenberg, Michael Kleinfeld, Peretz Liberman, Avraham Ost, Aharon Neiman, Berl Sprauch, Wolf Lichtman, Avraham Finkelsztejn, David Szmerzler, Fishel Scharfer, Yisrael Langnauer, Zigmund Lerfeld, Yisrael Fishbein. There were also others whose names I am not able to recall.

Jews lived in peace there, not taking part in any politics. Apparently, they did not even read any newspapers, and the radio had not yet been invented. They were busy with their work, earned their livelihoods, and conducted a Jewish life. In the latter years, I would often hear stories about that early period of their settlement in Broszniow. Their first concern was a synagogue. They indeed collected money and built a synagogue.

The years passed and the children grew up. The issue of hiring a teacher came to the fore and my father Herzl Nirenberg then brought Mitlfink from his hometown of Nizniow. He set up the cheder and served as the melamed of the town.

Some of the families settled in Krechowice, two kilometers from Broszniow.

Nathan Lastner, Itzik Rothbaum, Hersh Gelobter, Shlomo Zim, Weingarten and Stern all lived in Krechowice.

Itzik Szpiegel, David Eksztejn, Eliahu Horowitz and Heisler came to Broszniow.

Eliahu Horowitz later left the town and settled in Rozniatow.

From both towns, Jews came to the synagogue in Broszniow and sent their children to cheder.

It must be noted that all of the aforementioned families did not come together at once, but rather gradually.

Of course, Polish families as well as ethnic Germans (Volksdeutschen) also came to live there during that time. Just like the Jews, they also looked for work and livelihood.

At that time, no Ukrainians lived with us. However, with time, Ukrainian families also arrived.

The settlements developed. There was already a post office, a police station, and a public school. There was a train station in Krechowice.

Thus did life in both towns slowly develop, until the First World War broke out in 1914.

Several Jews were already drafted into the army at the first mobilization. There was unrest in the town, and the Jewish residents began to think about what to do and where to flee. There were several suggestions. Some felt that they should travel to Vienna. Others rejected every suggestion to flee, and believed that one should remain in the place. Others felt that they should go to Rozniatow. They believed that Rozniatow lay a distance from the main highway, which was called the Kaiser Strasse. They believed that the Russians would not come there.

Several families, including my parents, indeed set out for Rozniatow. We went to the family of Mendel Gans. My aunt Irka Finkelsztein and her children also went to Rozniatow. Her husband was in the army.

When Rozniatow was attacked, we went to the Rozenberg family, where we remained in the cellar for several days until the shooting stopped, and the Russians arrived.

A new life began. We worked and conducted business. The children were sent to cheder with the melamed Listinger. The girls helped their fathers with their livelihoods.

My father went to Broszniow from time to time to find out what was happening there and to visit with acquaintances. The Jews who remained there did not live badly.

After remaining in Rozniatow for approximately 10 months, we returned to the town. My aunt and her children also returned.

Michael Kleinfeld died in our town during the winter of 1915. There was no cemetery in the town, and the dead had to be brought to Rozniatow. The route was difficult. After great trouble, they obtained a horse and wagon from a farmer, but it was dangerous to go along the way due to the frequent attacks. My father also became involved in the problem, and traveled with the widow and her 14-year-old son Menashe to accompany the dead to his final resting place.

As they were en route to Rozniatow, Cossacks arrived, stopped the wagon and searched the bier to ensure that they were not smuggling contraband or conducting espionage.

The son, Menashe, who was then 14 years old, lives in America today. He came to Israel in 1971 to visit his daughter who lives in Haifa. We visited together and reminisced about the experiences of that time, and recalled the day when the Austrian army repelled the Russians. Then, it was still somewhat lively in the town and the surrounding villages. In our town they built a railway station, a military hospital and large military storehouses.

During the wartime, the large lumber factory was completely destroyed, and a second one was erected, which was always managed by a military committee.

This continued until the Austrian Empire fell. Then, we lived in the town for a short time together with the Ukrainians, who were later driven out by the Poles when they obtained their independence and took over parts of Ukraine.

When the war ended in 1918, all those who were in the army as well as all those who fled returned to the town. Life returned to normal. Some worked in the factory, and others opened shops.

At that time, the melamed Michael Fesberg lived in our town. He was called a teacher (Lehrer) as he also taught German.

The first chalutz (Zionist pioneering) organization was established in 1922. The organizer was Shmuel Kimmel. The following people belonged to the organization: Moshe Kleinfeld, Yosef Lichtman, Moshe Szpiegel, Mordechai Hausman, Getzel Szprauch, Reuven Freulich, and others. Of them, only one, Shmuel Kimmel, made aliya to Israel. Two others left for America.

The organization disbanded, but a short time later the Herzliya organization was set up. The members consisted of the youth of the town. The first chairman was Mordechai Hausman, and his deputy was Moshe Szpiegel.

Organized cultural activity began. A dramatic club and a library were established. The library had many books in Yiddish, Hebrew, Polish and German.

At the same time, work was conducted for the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet), led by Bendet Szpiegel.

We had a good Tarbut School in which children aged 7 and older studied. There were also courses for adults. Every child of ours was able to read Hebrew.

The organizers of the Tarbut School were: Shlomo Liberman, Yehoshua Litwak and Dov Nirenberg.

The organizers of Hechalutz were: Wolf Finkelsztejn, Yehoshua Litwak, and others.

A chapter of Hashomer Hatzair was also created, as well as a Gordonia chapter, organized by Pinchas Yungerman.

The synagogue burnt down in 1931, and with time, a barracks was built for worshipping. Obviously, this did not satisfy people, and thoughts were given to build a new, larger and finer synagogue. The initiative was taken by the administration of the Glezinger firm.

Quickly, a plan was created. An architect in Tel Aviv was contacted, who drew up a plan for us for a new synagogue in Israeli style.

The chief participants in the planning of the building of the synagogue were: the Glezinger firm, the director Karl Far, Yehuda Szapiro, Chaim Loksztejn, Engineer Lichtenfeld, Yaakov Izak Artman, and others. The synagogue was indeed a superb building, which would not have been put to shame by today's fine synagogues.

The gabbaim (synagogue trustees) were: Wolf Kimmel, Aharon Neiman, Herzl Nirenberg, and Fishel Szarper. They rotated every year.

The Torah reader was Avraham Ast.

We had a Gemilut Chasadim (charitable) fund, an organization for visiting the sick, and a WIZO (Woman's International Zionist Organization) organization.

The children of the Tarbut School put on their final performance in 1939. They had a specially organized Chanuka evening.

On Purim, the Herzliya organization together with the representatives of WIZO organized a Purim ball, which was unfortunately the final one in our community.

On the first day of the war in 19411, I left home, was drafted into the army, and never again saw my hometown.

Translator's Footnotes

  1. The Russian – German War.

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