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[Page 79 - Yiddish] [Page 197 - Hebrew]

Tysmienica in the Years
of the First World War (1914-1918)

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

Donated by Sharon Taylor

As soon as the war broke out, Tysmienica was transformed into a military camp for the Austrian soldiers marching through to the Russian-Austrian front at Husiatyn.

On the 3rd of September 1914, the Russians marched into the city. The Russian troops were welcomed by a city delegation with Wasilenko, the mayor, at the head. As a “thank you” for the solemn welcome, the Cossacks removed the golden watch and chain from the mayor… This act was a kind of signal to loot. The next day, they allowed hundreds of peasants from the surrounding villages into the city, who were immediately joined by local gentiles; together they began to loot Jewish possessions from the businesses, as well as the houses. The Cossacks helped the looting with zeal. On the same day, the looters set fire to the yeast factory and the alcohol distillery. From the large cistern at the distillery, the whiskey flowed into the river.

Many Jews, above all the wealthier ones, left the city, escaping to Stanislav [Ivano-Frankivsk]. A certain number even escaped to Prague and Vienna. Great need reigned in the city and therefore a great shortage of the necessities of life arose. On the 20th of February 1915, the Russians were ejected from the city and Austrian troops marched into the city. In the ranks of the Austrian military were Jewish soldiers. One of the Jewish soldiers came from Tysmienica. This was Berele Konigberg, who as a result of his service, attained the rank of non-commissioned officer. This non-commissioned officer immediately and intensively began to alleviate the needs of his Tysmienica Jews. He, himself, would bring food from the military field kitchen to the houses of the poor Jewish families.

The Russian military, whose position still was close

[Page 80 - Yiddish]

to Tysmienica (in the Olszanicer forest), fired upon the city with cannons and created great destruction in the city. Many Jewish houses were destroyed. This again led to many Jews escaping from the city [and going to] Kolomea, where they had an open road.

On the 2nd of March 1915, the Russians again ousted the Austrians and Tysmienica fell into their hands. The Jews again felt the “genteel” hand of the Cossacks. During the month mentioned, it happened that a Russian officer shot a Cossack, whom he found robbing a Jewish business. This was a fruit shop that belonged the merchant, Berl Eples. This case evoked turmoil and a mood for pogroms among the Cossacks. The city commandant ordered the Jews to leave the city and go toward the front, which was located near the village of Volosov [Volosiv], near Nadwórna [Nadvirna]. The Austrian military did not permit them to get close. Thus, the Jews wandered through the area along the front for three days and finally had to return to Tysmienica. Then, they found their houses plundered. In addition, the Russian military regime in the city arrested four esteemed Jewish residents and sent them to Russia as hostages. They were: Shlomo Auerbach, Mekhl Greif, Shlomo Lunenfeld and Pinya Berger. They were taken away to Penza and there given to the Jewish community; they survived the war and then returned home.

On the 27th of April 1915, the military commandant ordered all Jews (men) from eight to 60 to report to the city hall and to be sent from the city. Three hundred Jews appeared and they actually were sent to Z³oczew, Sasow [Sasiv] and Zborow [Zboriv]. Only old men, women and small children remained in the city. At this opportunity, I see it as my duty to mention that the Jewish soldiers, who served in the Russian Army, who were stationed in Tysmienica, gave a great deal of energy to protect the remaining Jewish population from harassment and shameful treatment against them on the part of the Russian soldiers. To praiseit also needs to be remembered

[Page 81 - Yiddish]

that they took care that the survivors did not die of hunger.

On the 12th of June 1915, the Austrian military strength again ejected the Russians from the city and again settled in Tysmienica. However, this only lasted until the 6th of August 1916, when the Russian military began a new offensive and again took the city. Besides looting the rest of the Jewish possessions, they dragged them to various hard labor, such as: paving roads, digging trenches around the city and other hard labor. Surprisingly, the Christian population also suffered this time because the Russian military confiscated their horses and wagons and sent them to Russia. In August 1917, the Austrians again occupied Tysmienica after stubborn fighting.

The repeated and long-lasting battles around the city and the transfer of the city from hand to hand led to the complete destruction of Tysmienica. Only the walls remained of the Great Synagogue. The large house of prayer, the kloyz [small Hasidic synagogue] and the Broder Rebbe's house of prayer also were found in the same condition. After the war, the remnants of those Jews who had escaped and been driven away began to return. However, this was only a certain number of them because the rest remained residents of Stanislav and other Austrian cities to which they had wandered during the frightful war years.

[Page 81 - Yiddish] [Page 195 - Hebrew]

Tysmienica Under the Rule
of The Ukrainians (1918-1919)

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

Donated by Sharon Taylor

On the 11th of November 1918, the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed. The monarchy collapsed and the regime in eastern Galicia was taken over by the Ukrainians. A war between the Poles and the Ukrainians immediately broke out over the authority over the area. The city was then (after the Russian-Austrian slaughters) half a ruin; the businesses were closed because of the lack of goods, many of the former Jewish residents

[Page 82 - Yiddish]

were missing and the majority of those, who remained did not have anything with which to provide an income. Because of the general situation in the city, there arose a Jewish National Council, at the head of which stood Chaim Auerbach. The above-mentioned council was connected to the Ukrainian committee that arose in Tysmienica and worked with it in the area of securing order in the city. With the agreement of the local Ukrainian regime, a Jewish militia was created to assure the calm, the lives and the possessions of the Jewish population in the city. The militia consisted of 20 young people who had military training. The commandant of the militia was Mendl Szprechman – a veteran non-commissioned officer in the Austrian Army. The Ukrainian people in power limited the activity of the militia only to the area in which the Jews lived and gave them 10 rifles with 100 bullets. The Ukrainian people in power placed the responsibility for the activity of the militia upon a former Jewish officer – Meir Szpigel. The Jewish policemen patrolled the Jewish residential quarter day and night. A Jewish Central Council, which represented the Jews of eastern Galicia on behalf of the Ukrainian regime, had its meeting place in Stanislav [Ivano-Frankivsk], as did the Ukrainian regime. The well-known Zionist activist, Dr. Yisroel Waldman of Tarnopol, was the representative of the Jews at the Ukrainian government.

In December 1918, a congress of all Jewish National Councils in eastern Galicia took place in Stanislav, at which a Central National Council was elected with Dr. Karl Halpern as chairman. The Jews achieved cultural autonomy and Yiddish was recognized as the Jewish national language. The Polish population considered our proportional position in the local [government] as a negative action. They turned cooperation with the Ukrainians against us. I personally was among those who tried to clarify to our Polish fellow citizens that we had no political purpose in our position; we only wanted to protect the life and possessions of the Jews in the city. In time, the Ukrainian military regime demanded that the militia return the weapons and disband, because (thus it

[Page 83 - Yiddish]

declared) they took upon themselves the responsibility for the calm and order in the city. In truth, the Ukrainian central regime governing body issued appropriate decrees in regard to protecting order throughout the city. However, they were not capable of dissuading their various subordinates from abuse of the Jews, because they [the subordinates] believed that they were the competent dispenser of arrangements and not the central [council]. Each of them dedicatedly declared: “Here, I am the minister.”

Attacks on the Jews in the street actually did begin along with the looting of the residents. Various bands arose, which carried out their looting trade in military uniforms. The three Dubniak brothers, who lived at Pshenykivskyy Street were known as such looters, and there were others whom we did not know personally. The situation grew worse from day to day and Jews began to escape from the city.

On the 28th of May 1919, the Polish military occupied Lemberg. The Ukrainians were defeated and also withdrew from Tysmienica.


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