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[Page 483]

The Hebrew School System in Siedlce

by P. Dromyk–Popowsky (Tel–Aviv)

Translated by Theodore Steinberg

Usually people maintain that the Hebrew school system in Siedlce began in 1927, when the first Tarbus school opened. But that date is mistaken, because actually a Hebrew school already existed in Siedlce in 1904 when through the Zionist minyan the teachers Gurewitch and Kaplansky were brought to Siedlce. They, together with Akiva Goldfarb and David Morgenshtern, founded the first Hebrew school in Siedlce.

The school was located at 10 Pienkne, on the whole second floor, and about 180 children were students there.

The children were almost all from Zionist families, who supported the school all by themselves, without outside support. The school was considered a great success among Siedlce's Jews.

People began to hear Hebrew in the Jewish streets. The school ran evening courses for adults, led by Gurewitsch and Kaplansky. Understand that the lessons were in Hebrew. Later, when Gurewitsch left Siedlce to become director of the Hebrew gymnasium in Vilna, Akiva Goldfarb and David Morgenshtern continued the school. The first Hebrew school lasted a good while and hundred of children learned Hebrew.

In 1917, M.M. Landau opened a Hebrew–Yiddish school called “Da'as.” But it did not last long.

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Aside from Goldfarb and Morgenshtern's school, there existed “Chederim M'tukanim” of David Adler and Shmuel Moyshe Jabkowitsch. The “Cheder M'tukan” of Prizent and Berkowitsch later became a Mizrachi school called “Yavneh.”

There was also a school called “Torah v'Da'at.” The teachers were Bernzweig, Greenberg, Javerbaum, and Sonnschein.

In 1920, the Zionist committee opened a kindergarten. Among those who were active in it was the teacher Chanah Keyser, who lives now in Haifa.

When the law was passed in Poland for compulsory education, the school of Morgenshtern and Goldfarb was divided up and each part became a “Cheder M'tukan.” Children seven years of age came to the school before they were subject to compulsory education or in the afternoon when they had finished their studies in the government schools. Many parents, even wealthy ones, sent their children to the “Talmud Torah”, which was not recognized by the government, so that their children would study Jewish subjects.

For a long time there was a question about opening a Tarbus school in the Siedlce Zionist committee, but the truth is that, unfortunately, it had to wait for another time, because when it came to the practical matter, they did not have the first hundred zlotys that were necessary at the start.

Once at a meeting of the Zionist committee, in the summer of 1926, when the question again arose of opening a Tarbus school in Siedlce and there was again a question of where they would get the first couple hundred zlotys to secure a place and get school desks, a writer, who at the time worked for the central office of Keren Kayames as an instructor and who had just arrived from Warsaw–took out of his pocket 500 zlotys, laid them on the table, and said: “I'll lend you my month's salary so that you cannot blame a lack of funds for not opening a school.”

The comrades accepted it and decided to form a special committee with the responsibility of opening the school. The committee consisted of the following comrades: Levi Gutgeld, Moshe Yom Tov, Yehoshua Ackerman, the writer, Avrahamtshe Altenberg, and Meir Tenenbaum as secretary. For a long time after he served as secretary to the school

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Early the next morning, they went to Warsaw to engage teachers for the school.

 

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The schoolteachers and the executives with the leader Mr. Okun

 

As director the engaged comrade Yosef Okun who would hire the teachers. He remained in Warsaw to engage them. A few days later he arrived with the teachers Shalita, Wein, and Fried, and we called together a comprehensive meeting, which obligated older comrades to become active so that the school could be opened. There was not much time before the beginning of the school year. It was decided to form several committees: 1) for finance 2) to secure a facility for the school 3) to consider furnishings 4) for persuading people to send their children to the school.

The finance committee consisted of: Asher Urszel, N. Weintraub, Dr. Schleicher, Shalom Zaltzman, Henoch Riback, Fishl Popowski (now Dromy). The committee truly succeeded, thanks to Asher Urszel. In a short time they came up with more than 2,000 zlotys. This was then a sizable sum. In addition, the committee to secure a facility, under the leadership of Y.T. Ackerman, succeeded quickly in finding a location in a house at 17 Florianski, from Itsche Schwartz. The committee for furnishings

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also quickly did its task. On the information committee, Levi Gutgeld was particularly notable. He wrote for the newspaper, spoke at meetings of young people and old. Working energetically along with him were Fishl Popowski, Yehoshua Ackerman, Altenberg, and Yosef Ukon. There were also visits to houses, notably by Yosef Gutgeld, Yehoshua Ackerman, and Moshe Yom Tov. They were helped in this project by “Ha–Shomer Ha–Tza'ir” and “He–Chalutz Ha–Tza'ir.”

In this fashion, the Hebrew school became a factor in the Jewish life of Siedlce. In the first school year there were three classes in the school with over 100 children. In its first year of existence, the school won the full trust and sympathy of the Jewish population of Siedlce. Fully involved in this success were the director Yosef Ukon, the education professionals in the school, and the lay leaders, who worked with outstanding enthusiasm.

 

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The Tarbus school committee, with Asher Urzhel, chair, in the middle

 

In subsequent activities, a smaller school committee was selected to replace the earlier one. On the committee were: Asher Urzhel (chair), Henoch Riback, Yehoshua Ackerman, Moshe Yom Tov, Fishl Popowski–Dromy, Shalom Saltzman, Yosef

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Gutgeld., Meir Tenenbaum (secretary), Levi Gutgeld, and Avrahamtshe Altenberg.

In the second school year, 1927–28, two new teachers arrived, Kushlian and Horowicz. The number of children went up to 200.

In the third school year, 1928–29, more new teachers arrived–Heller and Mlashn. The number of children increased, approaching 250. The building on Florianski was too small and so they rented a place on Pienkne in the house of Sukenik. The school's success exceeded all expectations. It was considered to be among the best schools in Poland. It grew from day to day and earned the affection of all facets of the populace: Chasidim, comrades in the “Bund,” and even parents who were communists sent their children to the Tarbus school.

 

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The faculty and some students

 

The Lag B'Omer celebrations of the school became a popular holiday. The celebration would begin in the evening, the night before Lag B'Omer, with a parade through the streets. In the morning there was an excursion for the schoolchildren in the woods that belonged to Yitzchak Nachum, Weintraub. The trip to the woods included children from other schools and also grown–ups, who celebrated the Jewish children's holiday.

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Schoolchildren at a Lag B'Omer celebration in the woods

 

Levi Gutgeld wrote an article about the significance of the Hebrew school for the “Siedlcer Vochenblat.”

The following lines from the article show what a large role the Tarbus school played in the Jewish life of Siedlce. Levi Gutgeld wrote:

“Tarbus” began four years ago with a hundred children. There were problems about a location and with finances. There was no lack of pessimists. The generosity of the directors and the parents, however, triumphed. Last year the school enrolled more than three times as many children. It seldom happens that a committee of parents works so hard, which is a sure sign of their happiness with the school and is the best advertising.

It should be known that despite the school's difficult financial situation, there are fifty children who learn there at no cost, while most of the children pay a minimal fee–while the school has outstanding personnel that any school in Poland would desire. They adopt a parental attitude toward the children, while an exemplary harmony exists between the teachers and the parents. These are the secrets to the present reputation of the “Tarbus.”

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Along with the growth of the school's reputation, there was also growth in its deficit. It was like “the waters come to my soul” (Ps. 69:2, that is, as if drowning). There was a time when the teachers were not paid for several months. We were compelled to appeal to the banks, and the school personnel received money as loans–until things improved. The landlords of the facility demanded their rent or they would throw us out. We thought thought that the school would soon have to close.

The matter was considered at a meeting, which was attended also by a representative of the teachers. Several proposals were considered, but no concrete action was decided on. A moment arrived when everyone just sat quietly.

Suddenly Yossele Gutgelt called out, “We will not close the school. We'll go to Yitzhak Greenbaum in Warsaw. He will give us a loan.” And thus it happened: With Greenbaum's help we got a loan of 4,000 zlotys and the school was rescued. It was not closed. Just the opposite–it became even bigger and from year to year new classes were opened. The Tarbus school could actually support itself. Many poor working–class children learned in the school, as well as children from the orphanage “Ezras Y'somim” who could pay no tuition. We had to conduct long, difficult combat with the community directorate until they were willing to provide subsidies.

Then we had to fight with the custodians of the “Agudah,” who were ten of the twenty directors, and the director of “Mizrachi,” who was part of “Agudah” and stood with them against the subsidies. That added up to eleven of the twenty directors.

After a long, exhausting fight by our comrades in the community–Urszel, Schleicher Popowski, Velvl Barg, Weintraub, and others–we overcame the opposition and we received a subsidy, though not as much as the Talmud–Torah received.

If we had to battle in the community organization with the “Agudah,” in the city council we had to fight not with the non–Jews but with the Jewish representatives of the “Bund” and

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and the leftist “Po'alei Tzion,” who held that the Hebrew school was designed for “Palestine” and catered to wealthy children. Naturally, because the Jewish labor representatives spoke this way, the representatives from the “P.P.S.,” who, together with the labor representatives constituted a majority, said: “We cannot speak out against the wills of our Jewish comrades.”

 

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The school head Bokser with a group of students

 

It thus fell to our energetic comrades–Dr. Schleicher, Asher Urszel, Rubinstein, to make a breakthrough. They were helped by the representative of the “Agudah,” R. Yisroel Gutgelt. Our representatives on the city council demonstrated that the greatest majority of the students in the “Tarbus” school were the children of workers, as were the children from the orphanage, and they paid almost nothing in tuition. Our arguments worked. It was finally decided that they would provide a subsidy.

Understandably, thanks to the subsidies from the community and the city, our financial burden was relieved. At that time, Mr. Okun left Siedlce and went to Bialystok, and his place as principal was taken by Tzvi Bokser, one of the best teachers of the time. Also the secretary, Meir Tenenbaum, left his position and was replace by Zev Lev, who lives today in America.

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The school committee was joined by M. Yudenglauben, Wladowski, M. Ratbein, Yakov Yom Tov, Mendziszeczki and, for many years, Mrs. Genia Vyman and A. Feinzilber. In 1930–31, we had our first graduation.

In 1931, we celebrated the introduction of a banner for the school. The “Siedlcer Vochenblat” put out a special issue dedicated to this event. We will present excerpts from articles from this special issue of the “Siedlcer Vochenblat” written by teachers and activists in the “Tarbus” school

Principal Bokser wrote in an article: “The ‘Tarbus' school is the creation of the people, for the people, and grounded on firm roots. It is a bridge from the past to the future.” And he concludes his article: “Even though this emblem belongs to a school for children, everyone–everyone who raises his eyes to the banner–sees that it is a blessing for everyone.” The former principal, Mr. Okun, wrote: “A banner for a ‘workshop’ in Siedlce–the symbol will speak of its accomplishment and of its will. One does not inscribe on the emblem the story of the school's difficulties–on the banner, everything is bright and shiny. From a distance, with tears in our eyes, like a mother standing by her child's crib, we remember the first steps of our school. My wish for you in this ‘workshop,’ in the school, is that everything for you will be full of light and joy.”

Hartglass: “I will not write a whole article, only about what should be written on the banner. Whoever has been in Eretz Yisroel and seen how children conduct their lives in the Hebrew language must come to the realization that the Jewish people lives and will live and will ultimately succeed; therefore I propose that the banner of the ‘Tarbus’ school should be inscribed with the words ‘Am Yisroel Chai’–‘The People of Israel Live.’”

Levi Gurgelt: “The foundation of the Tarbus experience lies in the fervor of education. We are now, therefore, in the depths, in the deepest parts of the earth, but under our feet we do not feel the ground, only lessons, not like new heavens under the earth. This should also mark a return to the question, why are we celebrating the unveiling of a banner. Hard times! Bitter times!–But yes, yes, certainly de profundis we must create the illusion, and right away, to raise our eyes and celebrate at least a banner.”

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On Shabbos evening, there was a celebratory symposium at the city club to honor the unveiling of the banner of the “Tarbus” school. The hall was packed. Many people were turned away because the hall was too small to hold such a crowd.

The symposium opened with the Polish and Jewish anthems, led by a specially chosen choir under the direction of Mr. Garbarcz, accompanied by an orchestra under the direction of Mr. A. Shpielpidel.

Mr. A Urszel, chair of the “Tarbus” school curators, spoke in Hebrew to open the celebration and greeted the guests from Eretz Yisroel and from “Tarbus” headquarters. Dr. Tzvi

Zohar, the president of the friends from outside of Siedlce–Mr. P. Eisenstadt , the former leader of the school–Mr. Okun, who returned especially for the celebration, and also the president of the city council–the councilmen Mr. Szeliegewski and Mr. Zaplatowsky and the representatives of the community, of the merchants, of the craftsmen, of the “Urdszalowi Bank,” of the “Toz,” of the “Ezras Y'somim,” of the teachers unions, et al. Mr. Zelikowicz greeted the assembly in Hebrew on behalf of the community and on behalf of the parents' committee–Mr. Henoch Riback, and on behalf of the teachers' council–the principal Mr. Tzvi Bokser, with a long greeting in beautiful Hebrew, on behalf of the students there was D.Y. Meneszeczki, a student from the seventh grade, and on behalf of the graduates of the school there was Moshe Vyman, who lives today in Israel. The last speakers were Mr. P. Eisenstadt from Warsaw (today in Israel) and Mr. Yisroel Ridel on behalf of the merchants.

Levi Gutgelt also reported on written greetings (almost all in Hebrew) from Tz. K. from the Zionist organization in Poland, the directors of the Keren Ha–y'sod, directors of the Keren Kayames, from the Zionist organization in Siedlce, from Mizrachi, from Hatahadot, from Ha–Shomer Ha–Tza'ir, from He'Chalutz, from He–Chalutz Ha–Tza'ir, from Beit”R, from the Hebrew evening courses, from “Toz,” from “Ezras–Y'somim,” from the women's club for Eretz Yiasroel, from the teachers union from the community schools, from the sports club “Kadimah,”, and others. Also from a group of friends of the school, among them the lawyer Hartglass, Moshe Gordon, and from E. Yosselewitcz (all today in Israel).

Dr. Tzvi Zohar offered a longer greeting in Hebrew on behalf of the “Tarbus” movement in Poland. He spoke also

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in Polish to the appointed representatives of the City Council, describing for them the achievements of the new Jewish culture in Eretz Yisroel and the significance of the Hebrew school.

Dr. Tzvi Zohar was honored by the presider Mr. A. Urzhel with the celebratory act of unveiling the banner. The banner was raised high and Dr. Zohar cut the cord to shouts of “May it endure.” The gorgeous blue and white appearance of the emblem drew great delight in the hall. To the cries of “Go up to Zion,” the students of the school paraded before the emblem.

After a brief pause came the ceremony of hammering silver nails into the supports of the banner. More than a hundred people took part in this ceremony. Nails were also put in on behalf of an array of friends of the school on lived in America, South Africa, London, Argentina, Germany, Denmark, and elsewhere. As they inserted the nails, most of the guests promised specific sums for the welfare of the school.

After a short talk about the work and accomplishments of the school, the former principal, Mr. Y Okun, came forth (He lives now in Israel.) and spoke with great enthusiasm, prompting a long ovation.

Then Dr. Tz. Zohar delivered a longer talk in Yiddish on “The Jewish People for the Hebrew School.” He spoke broadly about the current idea of “Tarbus” and the foundation of the modern Hebrew school in connection with the structure of the Jewish people and the efforts for a Jewish renaissance in Eretz Yisroel. The audience thanked Dr. Tz. Zohar for his interesting talk with great applause. At the end of the celebration, the choir sang, accompanied by the orchestra, “Rise Up, Zion” and “Sing.” Mr. Fishl Popowski spoke about the material situation of the school, calling on the gathered associates to bear the yoke of the budget. The crowd left the hall singing “Ha–Tikvah.” After the formal celebration, in the school itself there was a gathering for tea, attended by the guests and the members of the parents' committee, the board of directors, and the teachers.

* *
*

In the last years before the Second World War, the school continued to grow and found a great location at 60 Pilsudski. It had tern classes and a

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kindergarten, and ten teachers. The school had a wonderful library, a dramatics section, and a chorus. The dramatics section put on productions with biblical and other themes.

 

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The students in the school courtyard

 

In those last years a new principal came to Siedlce–Barnsteen, because Bokser became an inspector for the “Tarbus” schools in Poland. People planned on opening a Hebrew gymnasium, but that plan was never carried out. The Hitler massacre arrived and destroyed all plans.

* *
*

The “Tarbus” school in Siedlce, during its thirteen years of existence produced brave heroes and national battles. The names of several of them have been inscribed in the history of Israel's fight for independence. Let us recall their names. A number of students who graduated from the “Tarbus” school went to Eretz Yisroel. They quickly became involved with the “Hagganah.” They were still quite young. These were the sons of: Vyman, Popowski (from the cantor Popowski), Steinberg, Levinstein, Lieberman, and others. At the time of the Second World War, they were in the ranks of the Jewish Brigade and in other units, in Egypt

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Tripoli, Italy, Belgium, Germany. Together with the armies of the democracies, they fought against the Germans.

With special reverence we remember the names of 6 students who demonstrated outstanding heroism and sacrificed their young lives. They were: 1) Ephraim Vyman, 2) Ziskind Rozenbaum, 3) Yisroel Zucker, 4) A. Bagagan, 5) Yehuda Konski, 6) Henoch Szelaznagora. We should know of their lives and their heroic deaths.

 

Ephraim Vyman

 

sie495.jpg

 

Ephraim Vyman was born in Siedlce on April 27, 1920, the ninth of Iyar, to Gittl and Dov Vyman. When he was 4 years old, in 1924, he, his parents, and his brother went to Eretz Yisroel. In 1927, the Vyman family was compelled to return to Poland, to their hometown of Siedlce. The 7–year–old Ephraim was enrolled in Siedlce's Tarbus school. There he received his earliest education. He studied in the national Hebrew school for a total of 5 years, and it played an important role in shaping his character and aspirations. The foundations of Judaism and Zionism that he obtained in the Tarbus school, made him a proud Jewish young man who never bowed to outside influences. And the longing for Jewish independence in a Jewish land formed the goal of his life.

When Ephraim Vyman in the seventh grade and it was time for the celebration of the pennant of the Tarbus school, he wrote in the special edition of the “Siedlcer Vochenblat”: “From the time that I entered the school, I have sat within the four walls, that seem silent and abandoned, but these walls carry a secret, which is

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known only to us, but now I will reveal the secret: it is linked with my knowledge of Eretz Yisroel.”

“When I came to this schoolroom, my mind was full of thoughts about Eretz Yisroel, and my heart was full of longing for the Jewish land. Such a secret cannot penetrate the hearts of young people who do not attend a Tarbus school. We, the students of the Tarbus school, think that there is no other school like it in which students learn about the heroes of our people. We learned to endure and suffer like our great brothers and to resist all temptations. Anyone who has not attended a Tarbus school does not know what Eretz Yisroel means to us. And now, after six years of struggling for the existence of our school, we have merited to arrive at this joyous moment of celebrating the pennant of our school. This pennant will remind us of the four walls within which we have learned to persevere.”

“When we graduate from the Tarbus school, which is dearer to us than anything, we will each go our own way. But our hearts will be bound up with the school. Our highest aspiration to get to that spot that the school showed us, and all of the temptations that will get in our way we will overcome and make Aliyah, even if we have to fight for it.”

And Ephraim kept his promise:

In 1932, he and his family once again went to Eretz Yisroel. Ephraim quickly became acclimated in his new environment, and when he was fifteen he joined the Hagganah. Ephraim attended a middle school in Tel Aviv. When the events of 1936 occurred, the young man was in the seventh class. He left school and went to border of Jaffa in order to defend the settlement of “Tirat Shalom.”

In the summer of 1937, after finishing school, Vyman was sent by the Hagganah to care for the petroleum storage in the Jericho desert and from that moment on he was involved in a standing guard unit that carried out its duties around the country.

In 1938, the eighteen–year–old Vyman was mobilized in a division of railroad guards and achieved the rank of sergeant and

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Instructor on the Hadera–Jaffa line and in the Signal Corps.

In this period, Vyman was particularly concerned with organizing military signal corps and creating, in different parts of the country, courses for this military specialty.

In February of 1941, Ephraim left the military guard and prepared to enlist in the British army, but there was a clause that prevented the young hero–the Palmach was preparing for its first major war undertaking, namely, seizing the oil refineries in Tripoli and Syria, which then were controlled by Vichy France. Ephraim Vyman enlisted in the group, which was preparing this act of sabotage.

On May 8, 1941, after appropriate training, 23 young men, including Ephraim Vyman, left in a ship from the Haifa coast and headed in the direction of Tripoli. Vyman never returned from this mission. He fell in battle at the age of 21.

 

Ziskind Rosenbaum

 

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Ziskind Rosenbaum was born in Siedlce in 1918. His parents were Sarah and Yosef. He was the grandson of Itzl Czibucki. He received his education in the Tarbus school. At the time of the German occupation, Rosenbaum, together with his friends Yisroelik Zucker and Berl Begagan, who were the same age as him, established a partisan group that stayed in the woods. The group conducted a variety of raids agains the Germans, killed Hitler sympathizers, and took their weapons. They also performed acts of vengeance against Poles who betrayed Jews to the Germans or who had themselves murdered Jews. Their attack on the rich Polish merchant Paciarkowski and on the German police made a huge impression on the Christian

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population.

This happened after the liquidation of the small ghetto, when no Jews were left in Siedlce. Ziskind, with his comrade B. Begagan, came to Siedlce by various back roads, went to Paciarkowski in order to get the money that Ziskind's uncles–Shlomo and Berl Czibucki–gave him when they felt that they were facing their last days. The Czibuckis asked him that if someone came from their family, he would turn over the funds. Since no one from the Czibucki family remained in Siedlce, aside from Ziskind, he asked for the money. (In Israel there are two grandsons from the Czibucki family–Yonah and Fishl Popowski.)

Paciarkowski told them to wait and went into another room that had a back door, went out to the street and brought a policeman. Ziskind and his friend did not wait for the policeman to arrest them. They took out their revolvers and shot the policeman and LPaciarkowski. The policeman fell dead on the spot. Paciarkowski was taken to a hospital in Warsaw, but he died on the way.

Ziskind and his friend decided to return to the forest. Together with their comrades they conducted other partisan activities. Once, on a hot day, the group went to a little river to bathe. A Christian noticed the group and alerted the Germans. The German police came immediately and shot at the group while they were in the river. Soon the river was red with the blood of the four young heroes. One of the group remained alive. He merited taking revenge and seeing the downfall of the Nazis.

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Yehuda Kanski

 

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Born in Siedlce, the only child of his father, a tailor, who was religious and Jew who longed for Eretz Yisroel. Yehuda was a handsome young man with black eyes and curly hair. From childhood on he had absorbed from his father's stories the heroic atmosphere of the Galilee and the heroes of Tel Chai. He learned in a “Tarbus” school and showed special talent in art and singing; he excelled at organizing social evenings. He was one of the most active comrades in the Siedlce chapter of “Gordonia”; he organized and led a dramatics club; in school productions and later in the movement, he always played the leading roles; he organized artistic undertakings and evenings and recruited new comrades. He did not sever his relationship with life in Siedlce even when his parents, in 1939, just before the outbreak of the war, moved to Warsaw. Then in wear he soon became a leading figure in all the celebrations and artistic undertakings. He really wanted to travel to Eretz Yisroel together with his teacher in the movement–Henia Goldberg (now in Kiryat Anavim), and when she departed, he asked her to write letters to him until the arrival of his anticipated Aliyah.

When the time came for fighting in the Nazi period, he devoted himself entirely to the struggle. He was an agile, efficient young man with many ideas and much initiative; a member of the fighting division of “Gordonia” and for a short while its commander. A month before the revolution of April 19, 1943, he was captured–together with his friend Shimon Leventhal while negotiating to buy arms. It appears that the Gestapo had spread a net

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and the arms dealer was their man. The arrest took place in the Schultz factory on Nowolipie Street, in the neighborhood of the ghetto. That was the meeting place with the intermediary. During the Gestapo's interrogation, Yehuda was tortured barbarically by the well–known German sadist Brand. But they could not break him and he revealed nothing. He died from his tortures–he was twenty years old, and when his body was returned, he was black all over and his fingers were a mashed up mass of bloody flesh. His name and be found in the list of the fallen in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. (The list of Allen also contains the name of his lifelong friend Leah Korn; his parents and sister were killed in Warsaw).

(From the book: Destruction and Revolt in the Warsaw Ghetto” by M. Neustat)

 

Henoch Szeloznogora

 

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He was born in Siedlce, in 1913, to a poor family. He studied in the “Tarbus” folk school, but after the death of his father–Henoch was then twelve years old–he had to leave his studies and go to Warsaw. There he began to work in a glass factory and support his mother and his younger sister. He undertook self–education in the “He–Chalutz Ha–Tza'ir” organization, among whose first members he was in 1931, when he was thirteen. [Trans. note: This math does not work out.]. Every free evening that he had, after his hard working day, he would come to the branch office, but he would not take part in conversations. He showed dedication and in 1933 he was elected to the local committee and was also named as mentor of an educational group. With his simplicity and generosity, he was loved by everyone. In 1938 he participated in a He–Chalutz seminar in the Warsaw suburb of Volya;

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he spent some time in the He–Chalutz Forde in Grochow and from there he went to Vilna for the preparatory agricultural course and he worked for the movement. (His older sister Sarah was active in “He–Chalutz,” and his younger sister, Ettl,–in “He–Chalutz Ha–Tza'ir”; she was killed in Bialystok.)

When the war broke out, he was in Vilna and quickly went to the Soviet Union because he wanted to live in a socialist environment. But he did not stay there long. He returned to his comrades in Vilna and had a position of authority in the movement. He was active in the Chalutz underground. At the end of 1941, with the first expulsions from Vilna, he left for Slonim and then, in 1942, for Bialystok, where he became secretary of the collective. He often left the confines of the ghetto, disguised as a non–Jew (he was tall, with a pale face, and did not look Jewish), in order to bring food and other goods to his friends and also to smuggle weapons into the ghetto. The collective also served as a school for fighters, and Henoch was one of the leaders. Even before the war he had taken courses in self–defense and learned to shoot with a rifle and throw grenades. He was active in the Jewish fighters' organization and a commander of a group of fighters. He had no illusions that all of the Jews in Bialystok would not be killed nor about the results of his fighting. At the communal gathering of the collective in Bialystok on February 27, 1943, he said that no one should have any illusions, not about the uprising and not about escaping to the woods. There were two ways to die, and one should die with honor. This faithful comrade of the movement remained at his post until the very end. He died in the revolt in the Bialystok ghetto.

(From the book: “Destruction and Revolt in the Warsaw Ghetto” by M. Neustat)

 

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