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[Page 81]

The TOZ[1] Organization in Volkovysk

TOZ Activities Under the Leadership of Dr. Menashe Niemchik


The TOZ Summer Colony in the Year 1932

In the back row, standing are: Slova the Bialystoker Baker's daughter), Engineer Yaakov Shipiatsky, Dr. Menashe Niemchik and his wife Clara


Activists of the Children's Society of TOZ, 1932

Among the activists are found: Sioma Gallin, Mrs. A. Shlackman, Nieta Khvonyik, Nieta Kaplan, Khien'keh Galansky, Henya Lisky, Miss Yunovich


Activists on Behalf of the Kinderschutz Organization

Right to Left, First Row from the Bottom: Miss Avramitsky, Dina Einhorn, Miss Schwartz, An'dzheh
[2] Lev
Second Row: Two teachers from the Tarbut School, Avreml Novick, Dr. Yaakov Sedletsky, Milia Khirurg, A Teacher
Third Row: Zelig Kagan, Mrs. Pitkovsky, Mrs. Yunovich (Friedman), Unknown, Liza Yudzhik, Masha Yunovich, Feygl Galiatsky Unknown, Mrs. Rubinstein


Physician and Nurse Personnel of the Jewish Hospital
(Before the Outbreak of the last [Second] World War)

Right to left: Dr. Feinberg, Dr. Menashe Niemchik, Dr. Adele Markus, Dr. Joseph Ravitz, a Nurse, Dr. Yitzhak Weinberg, Dr. David Kaufman, Gruna Halpern ( midwife), Dr. Markus, Dr. M. Melzack, a Nurse, Kham'eh Lipiak (a Nurse)

[Page 82]

The Clinic for Pediatric Consultation
(In the picture at the entrance, are standing Milia Khirurg and Dr. Yaakov Sedletsky)


Children at the Kinderschutz Summer Colony

Right to Left: Rebbetzin Tzippora
[3] Kossowsky, Milia Khirurg, Hadassah Gershovsky


With the arrival of Dr. M. Niemchik in Volkovysk, an especially fruitful epoch in the area social medicine activity was initiated in Volkovysk. Dr. M. Niemchik, who held his post until August 1939, when he was mobilized into the Polish Army as a doctor – comes from Warsaw, where he was born and studied medicine, and worked as a doctor in the Warsaw Jewish hospital until 1918. He was then retained as the head of the municipal hospital in Skidel, and in 1932 he was retained by Volkovysk. Dr. Niemchik obtained his position in Volkovysk through a competitive process. The Jewish public organizations in Volkovysk gave Dr. Niemchik a joyous reception, at which time their hope was articulated that under his leadership, the Volkovysk “TOZ - Organization” – which had assumed all of the social medical activities of the Linat Kholim organization – would be built up to benefit the entire Volkovysk Jewish population. The hope of the Volkovysk activists were realized, and Dr. Niemchik developed a multi-branched social-medical infrastructure, and the TOZ Organization grew vigorously during his tenure.

The Hospital received subsidies from the Volkovysk community and from the central TOZ organization in Warsaw. In the internal diseases division, there were two rooms for children. Patients would arrive daily at the Jewish hospital from the surrounding towns such as Lisokovo, Amstibova, Porozovo, Zelva, Rosh, and others. About 15-20% of the patients were Christian, who paid for their hospital care, and these funds were allocated for the Jewish poor. Apart from Dr. Niemchik, Dr. Yitzhak Weinberg and the young doctors, Dr. Joseph Ravitz, Dr. David Kaufman, Dr. Velvel Velvelevsky, and both Markuses, worked in the Division of Internal Medicine Dr. Feinberg worked in the Maternity ward; Dr. Yaakov Sedletsky worked in the Pediatric Ward.

With the help of the central office of TOZ-OZA in Warsaw, it became possible for the activists in Volkovysk to place the Volkovysk hospital on a higher level. An X-Ray laboratory was installed, and a microbiology laboratory also functioned effectively. The well-known surgeon, Dr. Melzack from Warsaw, practiced in the Surgery Division – and all this drew patients not only from Volkovysk and its surroundings, but also young doctors who had studied medicine abroad, who would come to Volkovysk to round out their professional training. Everyone from Volkovysk remembers the beautiful building on the Hospital Street, surrounded by a well-endowed garden, where the sick would be taken out on special beds, so they could get fresh air – and thanks to this, they would heal much faster.

M. Niemchik would make an annual trip abroad for several weeks to acquaint himself with the latest techniques in hospital management. Dr. Niemchik gave special emphasis to the kitchen and made a personal effort to assure that the food should be tasty and dietetic.

In the hospital there were courses for nurses, and we must, at this opportunity, recall the committed work of the nurses under the direction of Mrs. Lipiak, who was herself a student in these courses. Goshchinsky also did much work for the hospital in addition to the previously mentioned Sioma Gallin.

It is therefore no wonder that the Volkovysk hospital developed a name throughout all of Poland.

[Page 83]

At the same time, the Volkovysk activists – spearheaded by their top leadership, consisting of Ephraim Barash, the Lawyer Bliakher, the Engineer Shipiatsky and Sioma Gallin – carried out a broad set of activities in the Volkovysk chapter of TOZ-OZA. The activity branched into handling children of school and kindergarten age, hygiene, food distribution to the underweight, fish oil, vitamins, dental services (the lady, Dr. Rosa Einhorn-Pshenitsky was a great supporter of this area), and “Drops of Milk.”Every year, rest camps were organized for poorer children during the summer months in the Burkeh Forest – under the supervision of a specially trained staff. Clara Niemchik (wife of Dr. Niemchik) provided considerable help with this undertaking. During the last six years prior to the last [e.g. Second] World War, 82 children were sent to summer bungalows. There were also sick children who were sent to the sanatoriums in Druzgenik and Chekhotchinek.

A kitchen was run on a systematic basis for over 100 poor children, where every child received a lunch of meat and bread. TOZ carried on a campaign against uncleanliness and lice infestation among the children by means of bathing and haircuts prior to the holidays, and towards the end, it was decided that the schoolchildren would be washed and bathed every two weeks.

Translator's footnotes:

  1. Abbreviation for Towarzystwo Ochorny Zdrowia, or Society for Preventative Health. Formed with the establishment of the Polish Republic, with a national mission to promote improvement in sanitation and hygiene as a deterrent to disease. Return
  2. Affectionate diminutive for Anna, and hence also Chana. Return
  3. Referred to in other locations by her Yiddish name, Feyge or Feygl. Return

A Report from Sioma Gallin Concerning TOZ
Activities in Volkovysk For the Year 1939

In an article by Sioma Gallin, which appeared in the Volkovysker Leben of June 16, 1939 – only a couple of months before the outbreak of the Second World War – several interesting details of the TOZ activities of the year 1939 are reported:

  1. The TOZ group has rented a very practical location , to which the existing functions of group were transferred from the hospital, and a row of new sections were opened up.
  2. In the last couple of months, 342 patients were taken care of in the newly opened dispensary.
  3. An examination facility was opened for pregnant women.
  4. The children's consultation office took care of 76 patients under its aegis. In the course of three months, 422 cases were tended to. Almost ten thousand portions of milk supplements were provided for nursing children.
  5. After considerable difficulties, and colossal stress, the TOZ was able to buy a house in the Burkehs, with 1,700 square meters of space, in which it is intended to organize the TOZ-colony for the poor, weakened children. Because of a series of unforseen difficulties, it has not yet been possible in that year (1939) to utilize the premises as a convalescent facility for children, but the TOZ activists were certain, that with time, these difficulties would be overcome.
  6. In the course of the past budget [cycle] (the year before the War), 898 patients were treated in the hospital for a total of 7444 patient-days; there were 518 instances of distributing medical equipment and ice; there were 420 cases of practical hygiene distributed, 60 cases of social medicine, and 125 calendars. There were 570 attendees at three lectures about hygiene, arranged that year by TOZ. Three Jewish schools were visited, and 690 school age children were examined, and as a result, 210 children were sent to the summer colony in the Burkehs, and 5 children to the TOZ winter colony in Bialystok.
[Page 84]

Three children with lung ailments were transferred to the “Marpeh” sanatorium in Otvotsk, and two children with lung ailments to the TOZ sanatorium in Vilna. In the radiology facility, 40 images were made with quartz lamps, 200 images with electrical baths and 68 roentgen grams [e.g. X-rays]. A cleanup campaign was conducted, soap, soda ash and lime was distributed to 80 families. A nutritious meal program was carried out for over 100 school children.

* * *

In this fashion, the social-medical activity in Volkovysk on behalf of the Jewish populace continued to grow – under the leadership of Dr. M. Niemchik – until God's wrath spilled out onto the Jewish people, and together with all of Polish Jewry, Volkovysk too, went under, along with all its organizations and institutions.

Dr. Niemchik, as previously noted, who was mobilized as a doctor in the Polish Army, went over to Latvia and Russia after the conquest of Poland, and there after many wanderings, and tribulations, finally in the year 1945, came to the Land of Israel, where he is actively practicing as a doctor in Ramat-Gan and takes an active role in the community life of the settlement.


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