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[Page 105]

Communal Institutions

Dobroczynność

by Dr. Kon-Kolin, F. Szmulewicz

The Dobroczynność [charity] in Czenstochow, along with its diversified divisions, celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1926.

The activity of Dobroczynność spread into the following areas:

 


A group of women from the old age home

 

1) Urgent care, 2) hospital, 3) old age and orphans homes, 4) children's home, 5) supervision of poor pregnant women.

 


A group of Jewish men from the old age home

 

The founder of the society was Henrik Markusfeld, who also was the chairman of the society throughout his life. After his death in 1920 the office of chairman was taken over by Dr. Edward Kohn. After the death of Dr. Kohn in 1934, the chairmanship went to Dr. Ludwig Batawja.

 


Jewish men in the old age home studying

 


The children in the orphans house with Mrs. P. Sztarke

 

Under the leadership of Henrik Markusfeld, the mission of providing urgent aid took the form of giving interest-free loans to the needy. During the First World War the activity of the institution was weakened because of inflation and other difficulties and then ceased completely. After the war the

[Page 106]

division was reorganized under the chairmanship of Advocate Mieczysław Koniarski and, with the assistance of the Joint [Distribution Committee], it carried on widespread aid activity.

The Jewish hospital was built over many years. The celebratory opening of the hospital took place Tuesday the 9th of November 1913. The trustees were: from 1913 to 1914 Dr. Jozef Markusfeld, from 1914 to 1918 – Gustav Kohn, from 1918 – Shmuel Goldsztajn.

 


Children from the orphans' home eating

 

The Jewish hospital possessed the most modern facilities and divisions for all areas of medicine. Henrik Szpalte directed the construction of the mechanized laundry to which he dedicated a great deal of energy. The first director of the hospital was Dr. Ludwig Batavia who died in 1939. From then on the hospital was directed by Dr. Stefan Kohn-Kolin.

 


Children in the orphan house at practical work

 

To have an understanding of the activity of the hospital, it is worth mentioning that treatment was given to approximately 2,500 [people] a year just in surgery and gynecology. The yearly volume of business in the last years reached around 250,000 zlotes.

Alas, the hospital did not support itself although a large mass of the Czenstochow population, which always generously supported necessary institutions, showed its support with donations. The Czenstochower landsleit [people from the same town] in New York supported the hospital through their Czenstochow Aid Union and later through Czenstochow Relief.

 


A group of children from the day care center

 


Children playing at the day care center

 

The old age home and the orphans home arose through the efforts of the Werde family in memory of their now deceased only daughter Mina Werde. The Werde family dedicated itself completely to these institutions to which they gave

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their entire wealth. The institutions had room for 30 old men and old women and 80-90 orphans. Workshops were created there where the children over 16 learned practical work. The leader of the institution was Mrs. Josefa Sztarke.

Mrs. Izidorowa Wiezszbicka managed the Dobroczynność day care center that taught and nourished a large number of the poorest children in the city.

The supervision of the poor pregnant women was in the hands of Mrs. Sarna.


Comments of the editor:

Because of the importance of the institution, we provide a longer report on the history of the Jewish hospital in Czenstochow and on the people who were active in its creation and giving it support.

The Jewish Hospital

On the 27th of March 1899, when the local society, Dobroczynność [charity], was founded, the question of building a Jewish hospital immediately came up at the first general meeting. Elected to the committee were: Henrik Markusfeld, Herman Ginzberg, Dr. Edvard Kohn, Dr. Batawia, as well as the now deceased, Leopold Kohn, Dr. H. Szpigel and Leopold Werda. Henrik Markusfeld was elected as chairman of the committee.

On the 5th of December 1900 the above-mentioned committee bought Grabowski's lot, which was located on the road to the Jewish cemetery, for 7,600 rubles. However, after much examination, it was shown that this lot was unsuitable for the Jewish hospital for various reasons and the lot had to be sold back and they began to look for another one.

This was a difficult task because the committee wanted the location to be close to the city.

In 1907, when the old slaughterhouse was moved outside the city, the hospital committee began to negotiate with the local city hall about ceding the lot near the slaughterhouse for a Jewish hospital. This lot was particularly suitable for a hospital because the majority of the poor population for which the hospital was designed lived in the area.

Thanks to the intervention of the local city hall, permission to give the plot to the Jewish hospital at absolutely no cost was granted by the high authorities on the 28th of September 1908.

Receiving the lot, Dobroczynność [charity] elected a building committee joined by Dr. Josef Markusfeld, Dr. Batawia, Dr. Aleksander Wohlberg, Herman Ginzberg, Markus Gradsztajn, Engineer Karp, Izidor Frajnd, Ludwig Tempel, Stanislav Herc and Leopold Werda.

The committee energetically took to the work and entrusted to the engineer, Mankowski the working out of the plan for the building. In creating the plan he took into account that in time it would be possible to enlarge the pavilion.

The society possessed in total 34,000 rubles on the first of January 1908. However, counting on the full donations that various benefactors had announced, the committee immediately negotiated with various firms and finally gave the work to the following enterprises: 1) The construction work was given to the firm Allert and Bule for 84,000 rubles. 2) Central heating, sewer system, plumbing, bathtubs and the like, was given to the firm Lubinus, Sztajn and Company. 3) The drain work was given to Engineer Delof for 600 rubles. 4) Electrical lighting, the firm Szila and Szwiatla for 1,600 rubles. 5) Building a well, the firm Filus for 950 rubles. 6) To erect a fence around the hospital, W. Rozencwajg for 1,200 rubles. This work was to cost 111,130 rubles in total, not considering unforeseen expenses of around 2,000 rubles.

On the 18th of Sivan 5669 [7 June 1909], after closing the contract, the cornerstone was laid and the construction began immediately.

Large donations immediately began to flow in, as for example:

Josef W. Landau – 10,000 rubles; the Ginzberg brothers – 10,000 rubles, Henrik Markusfeld, for the completion of the hospital – 10,000

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rubles, Pawel Szpigel, for the deceased Garfinkel – 3,225 rubles, Yeshaye Landau – 3,000 rubles, Izidor Gajsler – 3,000 rubles, the inheritance of Leon Aderfeld – 2,500 rubles, the Society for Poor Pregnant Women – 2,100 rubles, Ludwig Tempel – 3,000 rubles, Jan Grosman – 1,000 rubles, the Czenstochower Credit Society 1,390 rubles, the Strodom factory – 1,400 rubles, Warta – 1,000 rubles, Pelcers – 500 rubles, Rajchman Brothers and Zigman – 500 rubles, the inheritance from Ludwid Mamlak – 500 rubles, the Second Loan and Thrift Fund – 326 rubles, Samuel Maszkowski – 300 rubles, declared donations – 16,399 rubles, smaller donations – 3,128 rubles, from the sale of [the first] location – 8,000 rubles, income from flower [selling] days – 1,500 rubles, from Dobroczynność [charity] – 1,800 rubles, interest from capital and coupons from the registers – 12,349 rubles, in total (with still other donations) – 108,749.

In addition donations from a women's committee were collected for the interior facilities: linen, furniture and the like [worth] 4,741 rubles, Balabonow donated 7,000 rubles for arranging an apothecary in the hospital. Dr. Josef Markusfeld, seeing that the area around the hospital was full of holes and small hills, had the area evened out at his own expense and organized a beautiful park there named for his deceased wife, Emma Markusfeld. This cost 5,000 rubles.

After all of the donations and income had been paid out, there remained in total 20,303 rubles in debts.

The support for the hospital with 50 beds was to cost up to 30,000 rubles a year. For this, there were such legacies: in the name of Yeshaya Landau – 10,000 rubles, Josef and Helena Landau – 1,000 rubles, Wolf and Hinda Landau – 1,000 rubles, Shimeon and Sharlote Bergman – 2,000 rubles, Ludwig Tempel – 2,000 rubles, Lazarus and Rozalie Grosman – 5,000 rubles, Ludwig and Klara Kohn – 3,000 rubles, Adam Bergman – 900 rubles, Moritz Prusicki – 200 rubles, donations, interest and coupons 1,633 rubles. In total, there was present the sum of 26,813 rubles, from which the interest reached 1,411 rubles. The Jewish gmina [administrative division] would give 67,000 rubles and the remaining money, which was counted on, came from various donations.

A resolution was adopted at the last meeting of Dobroczynność that the main pavilion of the hospital would carry the name of the chairman, Mr. Henrik Markusfeld.

This pavilion consisted of individual rooms, four large general rooms, admission rooms and two large operating halls; 50 beds for the sick were located in the pavilion.

The clinics, several admission rooms, as well as the administrative offices and hospital apothecary were located in the second pavilion.

The third pavilion, which was named after the deceased Leopold Werde, was for infectious diseases.

The laundry and mangle [laundry wringer] of the hospital were located in the fourth pavilion as well as several rooms for the emotionally ill.

The last pavilion served as residences for the hospital officials and for the hospital kitchen.

The following were chosen as doctors for the hospital:

Dr. Batawia would manage the entire hospital; as surgeon – Dr. Broniatowski, as well as the doctors, Edvard Kohn, Stefan Kohn (obstetrician), Waclaw Kohn and Mrs. Dr. Etinger.

As feldshers [barber-surgeons]: the Messrs Tarbeczka and S. Zelten.

The newly built Jewish hospital introduced a practical building according to the latest style and the best technical facilities based on the example of foreign hospitals, and the city of Czenstochow could be proud of it.

We received the complete description of the Jewish hospital thanks to the secretaries of the Jewish gmina [Jewish community], the Messrs Foist and Markowicz.

(Czenstochower Vokhnblat [Czenstochow Weekly Newspaper], Friday, 31st of October 1913)

Sunday, the 16th of November 1913, the new Jewish hospital was opened. Avraham Ber Birnbaum, the cantor, accompanied by his choir sang Mizmor Shir Khanukat [Psalm (30), a Song for the Inauguration…]. Rabbi Nukhem Asz, Henrik Markusfeld, the city president, H. Glazek, Dr. Batawia and Dr. Zaks spoke.

A banquet was arranged at Jackowski's pastry shop for the invited guests.

[Page 109]

The Popular Bakery

by F. Szmulewicz

Czenstochow was an industrial city. And when the war broke out in 1914 almost all of the wheels in the factories stopped. The entire export market was to Russia. And the war exploded and cut connection to the export market. Need grew in the workers' ranks and among the bourgeois population. In addition the German occupation took over all of the economic production under the pretext of rationalizing distribution. In truth, food became more expensive from day to day as well more scarce because the occupying regime took the best [products] and sent them to Germany. The worker population did not have the opportunity to buy the needed foods even at high prices. A bite of bread began to be a rarity. The number of bakers also decreased because not all bakers received flour with which to bake. [They received it] only at the discretion of the “authority.” So it came about that people would stand at the bakeries in the middle of the night to receive a small loaf of bread. The idea arose to create a bakery to ease the situation for the population and simultaneously actually to create a new workplace for bakery workers.

The dramatic circle under the direction of Hershl Gotajner performed Di Mishpokhe [The Family] by H. Nomberg to collect the first monetary funds for building a popular bakery. Taking part were: Shmuel Frank, F. Szmulewicz, R. Federman, Czarnowiecki, Dorka Szacher, Fela Rajcher, Miss C. Federman, Miss Leytsha Gliklich and Gotajner.

The evenings brought in the sum of 200 rubles. With this sum, the creation of the “popular bakery” that served the entire city was undertaken.

In order to accumulate the minimal sum that was needed for the founding of the bakery, we asked for the help of the leading citizens of the city. Among those sympathetic to us was Mendl Kaniarski, who was in Russia before the war and studied for the legal profession and had an entry to the better society. We decided to consult with him. The consultation took place at the residence of Rafal Federman and we gave Kaniarski the mission of calling together a larger circle of the elite.

After a short time, a meeting took place in the Kupiecki Hall with Rabbi Asz. As far as I can remember among the assembled were Rabbi Asz, Moshe Asz, Dr. Rus, Dr. Braniatowski and his brother, the dentist, Koniarski, Werde, Dr. Kahn, Markusfeld, Dr. Gajsler, Szpira, Najfeld, Weksler, Goldsztajn and F. Szmulewicz and Czarnowiecki, as representatives of the workers. The chairmanship of the meeting of about 40 people was Rabbi Asz.

The diversity of opinions about the communal character of the bakery was expressed immediately during the discussion of the name of the institution. A number of those taking part proposed the name Beis Lekhem [house of bread] as in the example of the Warsaw Beis Lekhem, with its similar philanthropic purpose. The worker representative, the writer of these lines, declared that the question of the name was not a trifle because “the garment creates the persona.” The name Beis Lekhem was not in agreement with the purpose of the initiators who gathered the first sums of money. We did not want to make an error with the name; the bakery had to be a people's bakery both in name and in its character. So the name “Popular Bakery” was adopted.

The next morning the news about the creation of the bakery appeared in the newspaper and there was great satisfaction among the population.

The distribution of the tasks to accomplish the plan were thus:

Bakery workers and local premises: Dentist Braniatowski, Koniarksi and Szmulewicz. The provision of flour: Markusfeld, Dr. Kahn and Werde.

Control of the health and sanitary conditions: Dr. Rus and Werde.

The bakery workers had a professional union under the jurisdiction of the Zionist Socialists. Rafal Federman was chosen as representative of the party to organize the work plan with the bakers.

Meanwhile, there was success in obtaining a bakery.

[Page 110]

This was the Oyerbach bakery on Warszawer Street, which had four ovens, the most suitable and standard for the purpose.

There also was an immediate and great difficulty in obtaining flour. Everything was in operation during the span of one week. The supervision of the bakery was taken on by Szmulewicz and Zarnowiecki. We also turned to Poalei-Zion to help us in the work and they sent Avraham Gotlib.

The bakery earned a good reputation in the city. It was decided to open branch locations in various neighborhoods in order to avoid [people] having to stand in line to buy bread. More comrades such as Efroim Meir Fajnrajch, Bem and others were drawn to the work in connection with this.

The character of the bakery changed, but with time in an undesirable direction. This was because the founders had not made sure that the direction [of the bakery] would remain in their hands. Given that they were not represented in the leadership of the business, the direction fell onto individual people who had pure business goals and the system of patronage was steadily [introduced]. People from various strata, who were chasing after a job, began to appear at the bakery. It appeared that Koniarski had betrayed the workers. Instead of protecting the communal purity he was opposed to being philanthropic and he yielded to temptation and the lust for money. The two above-mentioned worker representatives who had custody refused any salary, declaring that the bakery was created as a workers' organization and not for the purpose of business.

After we rejected being paid, the business leader received a free hand and took the supervision away from the workers.


TOZ

by F. Szmulewicz

TOZ [Society for the Protection of Health], the society that had its central office in Warsaw, founded a division in Czenstochow in 1923. Its chief leader from its founding on was Stefan Kon-Kolin. The society's divisions were led by the following:

  1. Hygiene section was under the leadership of Dr. Leon Gutman.
  2. Tuberculosis section with its own infirmary, X-ray office and a bacteriology laboratory was under the leadership of De. Julius Lipinski.
  3. Protection for mothers and children, “vitamin-enriched milk” was under the leadership of Mrs. Dr. Orlinski.
  4. Dental office was under the leadership of Dr. Perec.
  5. Office for physical therapy was under the direction of Dr. Julius Lipinski.
  6. The summer colony that was created in 1930 had its own building in Ostrow and was worth 10,000 zlotes and was founded by the family of Dr. Stefan Kon-Kolin and named for Boleslaw Temple. The colony was led by the female Dr. Lipinski with the strong assistance of secretary Yakov Roziner.
  7. Section for feeding of school and kheder [religious school] children. Under the direction of female Dr. Lipinski.
  8. Injection campaign against infectious diseases.
Five doctors were employed by TOZ and the budget for 1939 reach 120,000 zlotes. Approximately 15,000 cases of illness were handled.

In conclusion it is worth mentioning that the society and its workers and managing committee were of even greater use to the Czenstochow population thanks to Yakov Roziner, the secretary, who had great organization talent.

 


The TOZ summer colony in Amstow

[Page 111]

Czenstochow, the 3rd of February 1939

To Czenstochower landsleit [people from the same town] in New York.

Dear Friends

We acknowledge the receipt of 50 dollars (fifty) for which we have received 263 gildn and 50 groshn from the Polish State Bank.

At this opportunity it is our purpose to provide you with a short overview of our recent work.

As you know we are carrying out a wide-ranging, widespread activity in the area of health with special adjustments for the prophylactic protection of the health of the Jewish population.

The need of the Jewish masses, which grows from day to day because of the anti-Semitic agitation on one side and driving the Jewish artisans and merchants from the income they had earned until now on the other side, significantly increased the number of families that turned to TOZ for assistance.

The also well-known events in the towns around Czenstochow have forced us to expand our activities in the unfortunate and dark shtetlekh, such as Klobuck, Krzepice, Truskolaska, Koniecpol, Kamyk, Miedzno, Amstow (Mstów), Przyrów, Janów, Olsztyn and others.

The last months brought [us the need to] care for those deported from Germany. We also needed to provide these unfortunate ones who remained in our city with medical help, children's colonies and so on.

The difficult conditions for the parents had an effect on the health of the children. A colony had to be arranged in Blachownia close to Czenstochow also during the winter months. There we took care of 42 children deported from Germany and 87 children from Czenstochow and the surrounding area.

Today we are carrying out the feeding of 151 children in the schools, khederim [religious primary schools] and children's homes.

In Czenstochow itself we are feeding 605 children from the following learning institutions: Peretz Children's Home, Dobroczyńca [benefactor's] Children's Home, Beis-Yakov School [school for girls], Mizrakhi [religious Zionists] kheder and Talmud-Torah [primary religious school for poor boys]. In the shtetlekh in the Czenstochow region:

Town Children
Feeding
Koniecpol 155
Klobuck 96
Krzepice 90
Przyrów 70
Amstow (Mstów) 64
Truskolask 55
Kamyk 36
Miedzno 30
Kuznicki 25
Olsztyn 25
Janów 24
Przystajń 22
Kotczyn 22
Panki 16
Outside Czenstochow 712

 

However, TOZ could not be satisfied with this activity because the need was so great and it also needed to carry out a campaign for clothing and shoes.

All of our activities swallow a large sum of money, strength and energy.

With the minimal help from the official state organs we must work with great deficits. However, we must not consider this and we cannot even decrease the scope of the very urgent and important work for the Jewish population in general and particularly for the Jewish children.

You can learn more about our TOZ activities from our annual report that we will send to you that will be completed in the month of April.

With full certainty and belief in you future positive help, we remain

With a fraternal greeting from home,

Chairman Dr. S. Kolin

Secretary Y. Roziner


The last report from TOZ for Czenstochower Relief in New York


Czenstochower Cooperatives

by A. Khrobolowski

With the rise of independent Poland, the number of cooperatives strongly increased. The Popular Bakery, which baked the so-called popularke (with many potato peels and less flour) during the First World War, was the first cooperative in Czenstochow. A nutrition committee then existed here, as in other cities, that had branches all over the city where food products were distributed for coupons according to a designated standard. The nutrition committee ceased to exist after the war and the distribution of food was transferred to the cooperative. Therefore, almost every party and organization founded a cooperative for its members.

The following cooperatives functioned in 1921-22:

Zjednocz (Unite], Wyzwolenia [Liberation], Napszud [Polish Socialist Party], Fareinikte [United], Self-Help (Artisans), Workers' Home (Poalei-Zion [Labor Zionists]), Zukunft [Future] (Bund), Renters, Officials, Traders, Akhdes [Unity], Partners (small retailers), Przyjazn [Friendship], Postęp [Progess], Robotnik [Worker].

The cooperatives Fareinikte and Zukunft later merged. The branches of the two cooperatives were located at the streets – the bakery at Garncarska 32; the first branch at Ogrodowa 27; the second at Senotarska 1; the third at Nadrzeczna 78; the fourth at Starzynska 16 (previously Zukunft); the fifth at Pilsudski 19. The cooperative bookkeeping was also there and later the Workers' Emigration Union branch. The central office was located at Spadek [Street] in Szlezinger's house.

In 1927, when the zlote had already been established and the crazy jumps in the prices no longer existed, most of the cooperatives mentioned no longer existed, except for Fareinikte, which had already liquidated a few branches and led a difficult life. Then a new workers' cooperative headed by the Bund arose with the help of the Joint [Distribution Committee]. During the period of inflation, the cooperatives kept the prices for most of the needed food at a certain level and mainly served the poor population.


[Page 112]

Photographs for the article “Worker Nurseries and Folks-Shul [Jewish public school] named after Y.L. Peretz

 

 
 
Day colony in Ostrow   Workers Nursery named after Y.L. Peretz in Czenstochow in 1922
 
 
 
Children and co-workers from the afternoon school in Czenstochow during the school year of 1938-39   Rhythmic gymnastics by the children at the Y.L. Peretz Workers Nursery in Czenstochow, 1928-29
 
 
 
Czenstochow Committee of the TSYSHO [Tsentrale Yidishe Shul-Organizatsye - Central Yiddish School Organization], in Poland with the delegates from Czenstochower Relief in New York

Sitting from right to left: A. Chrabalowski, L. Szwarc, L. Szimkowicz, R. Federman, Y. Sh. Nirenberg
Standing from right to left: W. Fajga, N. Wajs. R. Berkensztat, Sh. Wierczbicki, M. Alter
  Honorary member letter of L. Szimkowicz


[Page 113]

Rescue Committee for Refugees from Germany

by Tz. Szpalten, F. Szmulewicz

Refugee committees to accept and help the refugees were founded in all of the larger cities as soon as the persecutions of Jews in Germany began and, particularly, when they began to deport Jews from there.

Czenstochow, which was almost the first large city near the German border, was the first city to create such a committee.

At the first only individual families were deported from Germany. The pretext was: administrative penalties, as for example, not paying taxes on time or trading without a peddler's license and so on. In such cases a term of 14 days was given to liquidate one's business and leave the country. Those expelled were forced to sell their possessions for the lowest prices and leave the country. The committee tried to make arrangements for the refugees or to send them on to more distant cities or to help them across the ocean.

However, the situation became more tragic when the mass deportations began, when hundreds of Jews were brought together overnight from all corners of Germany and were sent to the border. Since, Czenstochow was located near the German border, we were not forgotten by Nazi Germany and they sent us transports of refugees.

It was Shabbos [Sabbath], and in autumn. Jewish Czenstochow, as always, took part in the repose of Shabbos. Jews in the synagogues and the houses of prayer had finished praying and were strolling on the Aleje. Jews wrapped in talisim [prayer shawls] were still standing in the shtiblekh [small one-room houses of prayer] and minyonim [10 men required for prayer]. Suddenly, [there was a] message, like a storm carried across the city, that the rabbi in Katowice, Handel, had telephoned the director of the Pryzicki Bank that a train with Jews from Germany had arrived. The train, consisting of horse-cars, was sealed and was located on neutral territory between Germany and Poland, that is, in “no-man's land.”

The city was in the grip of great excitement. Everyone asked each other many questions: who are they; where are they; were there present acquaintances or relatives; were they sick there? A committee was chosen immediately of the following people: Dr. Hirszberg, Zwi Szpaltman, Szapiro and Neifeld.

The kehile [organized Jewish community] immediately designated several people who would leave for Katowice immediately and simultaneously it intervened with the Polish government to allow the refugees into Poland.

When the group headed by Rabbi Hirszberg (now himself a refugee in Eretz-Yisroel] arrived in Katowice, they met two representatives from Bytom, Upper Silesia at the [home of the] local [non-Orthodox] rabbi, with the same concern that a train of Jews in the same conditions was at their part of the border. As was learned, such transports of Jews were sent along the length of the German border.

Meanwhile, the “transports” stood in no-man's land and no one was able to contact them. The local authorities argued that they could not let them in without an order from Warsaw. The telephoned appeal to the Polish government in Warsaw lasted an entire day. Night came and the situation remained the same.

The representatives from Czenstochow and Katowice gathered at the border waiting for an answer from the Polish government. Every minute was a year of suffering and worry. Finally the news arrived that the Polish government would permit the entry of the refugees and that they should be taken to the nearest border city.

The train cars' sealed doors were opened and people began to fall out, one on another. The tears and screams of the unfortunate ones tore the heart. We remained uncomprehending, not knowing where to start. Women in nightclothes, men in pajamas and slippers and men in black suit jackets, just coming from an orchestral concert, and naked and barefoot children appeared before our eyes. One person did not know the other one; all of the people had been taken, some from their homes, bedrooms and beds; some from the streets and others from theaters, restaurants and other premises. This happened at the same time in various cities in Germany. The arrested Jews were packed in groups in the trains' horse cars and sent to various borders. Women were torn from their husbands, children from their parents, brothers from sisters. One

[Page 114]

did not know where the other had gone.

After the people were a little calmer, we entered Katowice with a transport of 600 Jews, where the refugees were registered. Communal premises had been prepared earlier with places to sleep and everyone received something to eat. The most difficult task was to calm the agitated mood. However, this was not easy for us. Everyone groaned and cried over their hardship: “Where is my husband, where is my wife, where are my children?”

Tired and broken, one by one they fell asleep.

There were also comic moments in the tragedy.

In one of the corridors a young man in his twenties dressed in an overcoat walked among the sleeping refugees and grumbled to himself. When we asked him why he was not sleeping, he answered that he did not have a toothbrush and did not know what to do. We provided him with a toothbrush and he went to sleep.

In the morning there was the question for us of what now? What would happen when another such transport came today or tomorrow? Therefore, we decided to take all of the refugees to Czenstochow so that Katowice would eventually be free for another transport. The decision was given to the Czenstochow kehile [organized Jewish community] and vehicles arrived immediately that took us to Czenstochow.

Czenstochow already had prepared food and beds. The entire Jewish population had taken part in the aid work. The young gathered straw sacks for sleeping, the older ones, food and clothing. Women sewed linens; a kitchen was organized. Women cooked; men served.

The kehile registered the refugees and communicated with other cities and over time they were successful in bringing together many dispersed families.

Later the aid work was organized in a more constructive manner. A number of the refugees were provided with work. A number received weekly support. Tradesmen were given the opportunity to be employed in their trade. Spots for singers and musicians were created in orchestras; tailors and shoemakers and other artisans were provided with machines and tools. Emigrants were provided with certificates. We did everything in our power to create a homey atmosphere for the refugees so they would feel like brothers among brothers. They, themselves, arranged a Chanukah gathering. Presents were distributed that evening and there were appropriate words of consolation. We assured the refugees that what we did not think that what we were doing for them was a favor, but our fraternal duty. In general, the aid work for the Jewish refugees from Germany did not have a philanthropic character. It was more the consciousness that what happened to them [the refugees] could happen to us tomorrow. It is a fact that many of those who took part then in caring for the refugees are today spread across the four corners of the world, some in Eretz-Yisroel, some in Teheran, or more widely dispersed. However, the majority of the members of the rescue committee for refugees shared the cruel fate of the Czenstochow kehile and of all of Polish Jewry.

* * *

Several people from the Yiddish press in Czenstochow (for the article “Yiddish Press”)

 
 
 
A. Chrabolowski   W. Lewenhof   R. Federman   M. Ceszenski

 

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