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[Page 115]

The Jewish Workers Movement


S.S. (Zionist-Socialist Workers Party),
Fareinikte” (United), “Independent”

by Yitzhak Gurski, S. Feinreikh, Feitl Shmulewicz, and A. Khrobolowski

The beginning of the Zionist-Socialists in Czenstochow can be dated to the year 1902. The first group of Labor-Zionists already had arisen in Minsk and Dr. Nakhman] Syrkin had founded the first Zionist-Socialist group, Heyrut [Freedom] abroad.

Standing from right to left: D. Oberman, Y. Goldsztajn, Dovid Szelkowicz
Sitting from right to left: Gurski, Leibush Lehrer (Aleksander), Y. Lewenhof


The first Zionist workers group in Czenstochow was organized under the leadership of Josef Kruk (Josef “Number One”). Dovid Molarski and Meir Fajnrajch were the first in the group and Mendl Szuchter joined them. Yitzhak Gurski, Alek Templ, Hela Birman, Bronka Koniarski, Mendl Koniarski, Maks Dankowicz, Matvey Dawidowicz (engineer on the Herby train) were intellectuals in the first group. Later, Nukhem Singalowski, came to Czenstochow to teach in the trade school. Mikhal Alter, Hershl Gotajner, Kuba Goldberg, Kac from Warszawer Street studied in the same school. They all joined the Zionist-Socialist movement.

The first area of agitation by the group was at the elections. One of the first meeting places was in the house of the teacher, Zigmund Majerczik at Strazacka [Street]. They would also meet at the Talmud-Torah [school for poor boys] at Garncarska [Street] and at the Artisans' School. The meeting place for the intellectual group was in Josef Kruk's house.

In the summer of 1903, after the split in Zionism into Tzioni Tzion [Zionists of Zion] and “Ugandists” – the group broke away from the Zionists. The first group of middle school young also was founded as a division of the Labor Zionist Union.

After the conference in Świder, near Warsaw, and then in Odessa, the group took the name Zionist-Socialists.

In 1904 the Zionist-Socialist organization in Czenstochow led a widespread campaign for the founding of a self-defense [organization]. This was after the Kishinev pogrom. Mass gatherings were organized. Speakers appeared in the synagogues and money collections were carried out for this purpose in Czenstochow and its surroundings.

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The Czenstochow organization also took part in buying weapons abroad in southern Russia for the self-defense organization. These weapons were smuggled through the Herby border with the aid of Engineer Matvey Dawidowicz.

In 1904 a eulogy took place in the Czenstochow synagogue for [Theodor] Herzl. Among the organizers of the gathering were: Makrojer, general Zionists, Natan Gerichter and Khemia Fiszman – Mizrakhists [religious Zionists]. The Zionist-Socialists demanded that their speaker should have permission to appear at the gathering. Yitzhak Gurski, the representative of the Zionist-Socialists, went up to the bimah [platform from which the Torah is read] against the will of the leading Zionists and stated his position toward Herzl and to the Zionist movement. After the eulogy a large Zionist-Socialist demonstration was organized in the street.

The first illegal appeal from the Zionist-Socialists was published at that time. The appeal was mimeographed in Alek Templ's residence.

Ahron Singalowski, Nukhem's brother, came to Czenstochow at the beginning of 1905. With his oratorical abilities, he helped a great deal to create the Zionist-Socialist mass movement in Czenstochow that was sustained by the objective conditions of Jewish working life in the city. Many small and a few larger Jewish factories existed in Czenstochow and the Zionist-Socialists organized the local Jewish workers to fight for better economic conditions.

The fact that Czenstochow was an emigration point [helped with] the development of the Zionist-Socialist movement. Masses of Jewish emigrants, helpless, exposed to the mercy of smugglers and swindlers, streamed through Czenstochow seeking new homes. This was a stimulus for the local Jewish intelligentsia and working class to think about an organized systematic solution to the Jewish emigration problem.

The Odessa Declaration of the Zionist-Socialists in 1905 was celebrated in Czenstochow at a large gathering in the Olsztyn forest. The brochures with the Declaration, printed abroad, were smuggled across the Czenstochow border and sent throughout Russia.

The Zionist-Socialist organization became the strongest factor in Jewish life in Czenstochow.

Owners and their employees and workers turned to the organization to reconcile conflicts.

The work in the professional area encompassed the celluloid branch, with Wajnberg's celluloid factory at the head, the metal branch with Rozensztajn and Szaja's small factories, the bakery workers, tailors, shoemakers, hat makers, clerks, female hat makers and so on.

The organization had a large number of bourgeois sympathizers in addition to the group of intellectuals who took part in the leadership. One of them was Moritz Najfeld.

Large mass gatherings in the Olsztyn forest, behind Shimshon Diabal's mill or at the cemetery grew from the small gathering that began at Shmuel Szuster's [home] at Jatka Street. Discussions with other parties, principally with the Bund, often were arranged. They would take place under the open sky, in locked premises and in the factories. A number of these discussions would last the entire day. One discussion with a member of the Polish Socialist Party took place in Wajnberg's factory. The Jewish speaker from the Polish Socialist Party was, I think, Feliks Perl from Krakow. He was later one of the leaders of the Polish Socialist Party in independent Poland.

One who also was very admired by the Zionist-Socialist workers in Czenstochow was Sh. Niger, who appeared at a giant mass gathering arranged at the cemetery.

With the help of the cantor from the “German Synagogue” (synagogue on Dojazdowa Street), a Zionist-Socialist gathering was organized in the synagogue at which L. Pines appeared, who later received the title, doctor, for his Geshikte fun der Yidisher Literature [History of Jewish Literature].

The most beloved speaker at the mass gatherings was “Comrade Ahron,” (Dr. A. Singalowski). His effect on the masses was simply hypnotic. He also had great importance among the intelligentsia and when he would appear at the synagogue during prayers, the crowd would listen to him breathlessly.

Josef Number Two (Josef Rabinowicz from Warsaw) was also among the leaders of the Czenstochow organization. One of the most active intellectuals was Moritz Grinbaum, at that time still a student.

Standing out with their activism then among the so-called half-intellectuals were:

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Mikhal Alter, Yusik Finkelsztajn, Gutek and Anya Bornsztajn (both from Zawiercie), Kuba Goldberg and Yakov Goldsztajn.


J.J. Kruk and N. Bornsztajn


Among the women, Hela Birman was the most active. In addition to her clandestine tasks, she also directed the information work among the women and ran a secret school åwhere girls were taught to read and write.

An entire group of heroes and active workers also emerged from the awakened Jewish masses. In addition to those in the first group already mentioned earlier, a significant role was played in the Czenstochow organization of the Zionist-Socialists by Kopl Gerichter, Moshe Welkser, Dovid Akerman, Yitzhak Zarnowecki, Shaya Yakov (Sh. Minkof), Mendl and Yosl Berliner, Owieczki, Fradl Brat, Skharye Lewensztajn, Faytl Szmulewicz, Mordekhai Altman, “Kostek,” Aizik Szloser. Shmuel Eizner was active among the trade employees (the merchants' clerks).

An important place in the organization was occupied by Dovid Guterman (Jaicarcz) and Mendl Szwarcbaum.

In 1905 the location [for the trading of ideas] of the Zionist-Socialists was at the New Market, to the rear of Strazacka Street. The meeting place was at Golda's tea hall, in the very center of the Jewish neighborhood. It always swarmed with people there like in a beehive. Workers from other parties who came to discussions with the Zionist-Socialists also visited Golda's tea hall. One of them, at that time, was Mendl Molarcz (Mendl Wolf), the fervid Bundist.

The two great events in the history of the organization in the summer of 1905 were: the fight with the brawlers who were driven from the Jewish neighborhood by the Zionist-Socialists and the tragedy at Lerner's celluloid factory, where five or six Jewish girls were burned during a fire. The Zionist-Socialist organization stopped work in all of the factories and workshops with Jewish workers and arranged a funeral for the victims at the cemetery. Ahron Singalowski gave one of his passionate speeches there.

* * *

The winter of 1905-1906 was a difficult one. Golda's tea hall was attacked often by the dragoons who hacked at it with rifle butts as if it was cabbage. The “white headbands” rampaged in the streets. The intelligentsia escaped. Ahron Singalowski also left Czenstochow. His last appearance in Czenstochow was at a mass gathering at Wajnberg's factory, which was arranged on the most difficult days of the state of war with great danger. The work that winter was carried out in the economic area by people who the masses themselves had generated. There were also those activists who arrived from outside [Czenstochow]. One of them, who was beloved by the masses, was Comrade “Jan,” who came from Paris. He always was poorly dressed. He did not agree with the means used against the owners and entrepreneurs because he was inclined toward anarchism.

In the spring of 1906 the freedom movement, newly revived, but with fewer mass gatherings and more groups and illegal gatherings during the summer was joined in their work by two members of the intelligentsia: “Yakov” and “Avraham,” who both were from the Pinsk area.

The [female] Comrade “Basha,” with her very folksy speech, was particularly beloved by the workers. She came from the Bobruisk area and worked throughout the Zagłębie region.

“Ruwin,” who worked as a pharmacist in Najfeld's apothecary warehouse, and “Dan,” a pensive and quiet person who was like dozens of others, traveled through Czenstochow on their way to America and have earned the right to be remembered.

The tragedy of that summer was the fall of three comrades: Dovid Lewenhof, Dovid Fajnrajch and Yosl Berliner who were sent to the provinces to collect money and used revolvers for that purpose. Yosl Berliner got away with a short term in jail. Dovid Lewenhof and Dovid Fajnrajch were

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sentenced to six years in jail. The first one died in prison and the second was freed in 1912, spiritually dejected.

Comrade “Aleksander” (Leibush Lerer[1]) arrived in Czenstochow in the middle of the summer of 1906. As someone from Warsaw, he was close to those from Czenstochow in his speech and his spirit. In addition to his spiritual influence on the workers, Comrade Aleksander devoted himself to organizing the trades.

Mikhal Alter, Yusik Finkelsztajn, Gutek and Anya Bornsztajn (both from Zawiercie), Kuba Goldberg and Yakov Goldsztajn.


Standing from right to left: N. Bornsztajn, Binyamin, M. Altman
Sitting from right to left: M. Fajnrajch and Y.Y. Zarnowecki
Middle: Sh. Minkof


The leadership of the Zionist-Socialist's Czenstochow organization was then taken over by Dovid Lewin from Homel, known as Comrade “Binyamin.” He was a person with a great deal of knowledge and organizational capabilities. He was the founder of the self-defense [organization] in Homel. Because of his head of dark hair and dark beard, he was called Święty Ojciec [the Holy Father] in bourgeois circles. He had a great deal of authority in the organization and a great influence on the comrades.

The library opened by the Zionist-Socialists the same summer had great significance for the movement.

Self-defense against the pogroms that were expected in Czenstochow several times occupied an important place in the activity of the organization. Self- defense groups also were sent out to the shtetlekh [towns] around Czenstochow where rumors of pogroms had spread. However, no pogroms or attacks against the Jews occurred at that time.

That summer an assassination attempt that the Zionist-Socialists carried out on Warszawer Street against one of the worst regional police superintendents shocked Czenstochow. The Zionist-Socialists meeting point was then in Kahn's garden on the Second Aleje.

At the end of the summer a dramatic society that performed a series of plays began to function under the leadership of Comrade “Binyamin.” The rehearsals took place in Kopl Gerichter's house on Krotka Street.

In 1908, Comrade Mendl Szuchter was exiled to Siberia for his activity in the Zionist-Socialist organization.

In 1910, “Marx” and R. Federman, who came to the Zionist-Socialists from the S.D.K.P.L. [Social Democrary of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania] stood at the head of the Zionist-Socialist group. Faytl Szmulewicz, Simkha Kalka, Moshe Weklser and Yakov Yitzhak Zarnowecki also were active in the Zionist-Socialist organization in Czenstochow.

Until the First World War no regular organization existed in Czenstochow. However, there was a large group, in which [the following] took part: A. Chrabalowski, Simkha Kalka, Meir Fajnrajch, Faytl Szmulewicz, Gradon, Kon, [female] Comrade Aronowicz, [female] Comrade Fefer. The group would come together from time to time and arrange activities, mainly with the purpose of gathering monetary means. “Berl” Gutman, the only member of the central committee, often would come to Czenstochow. Moshe Litvakov once also traveled through Czenstochow. The gathering at which he then appeared was arranged in the lower room of the kawiarnia [café) at the Third Aleje.

Appeals came on every 1st of May, addressed

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to the office of the Malarnia [paint factory], where A. Ch[rabalowski] was employed . The attendants in the office would receive them from the post office and bring them with all of the packages. Moshe Weksler, the cashier, was the distributor of the appeals and would lay out his own money when it was necessary.

The Zionist-Socialists played an important role in the Literary Society, in Lira [literary and music society] and in the founding of the Artisans Club, in the creation of the Yiddish press and the fight for Yiddish among the traders and in other societies, such as in the founding of the legal professional unions. They all were workers, such as Faytl Szmulewicz, Simkha Kalka, Gradon, Kon and others, or trade employees, such as A. Chrabalowski, Federman and the Zionist-Socialist sympathizer Sziperblat.

Co-workers from the Fareinikte cooperative


Picture from the election campaign to the city council


The Zionist-Socialist organization again grew as a mass movement during the First World War. The most important leaders then were R. Federman, Hershl Gotajner, Mikhal Alter, Shaya Nirenberg, Yakov Yitzhak Zarnowecki and Abe Wegner. The very capable Dudek Szlezinger particularly distinguished himself. Directly or indirectly, the Popular Bakery, the educational union for Jewish workers, the workers kitchen, the Y.L. Peretz children's home and a series of professional unions were created then by the organization.

Despite the system of electoral selections, during the election to the city council under the German occupation, the organization elected four councilmen: Shaya Nirenberg, Tarbetszka, Shlomo Horowicz and A. Lipszic.

In the declaration read by the councilmen at the city council there were such statements for which the German occupation regime would exile [someone] to the Modlin [Fortress]. One of the sentences was: “The light comes from the east.” It was after the revolution in Russia.

At the end of the [First] World War, A. Chrabalowski returned from imprisonment in Austria and Juczek Finkelsztajn from the Soviet Union and placed themselves at the disposal of the organization.

During the first days of independent Poland the Zionist-Socialist militia helped to disarm the Germans and brought weapons (rifles) to the premises of the club, Aleje 43.

The Zionist-Socialists were represented in the provisional workers council by 11 delegates, (Bund - 4, Poalei-Zion – 6 [of the total delegates]), in the executive by three (Bund - 1, Poalei-Zion – 1 [of the total delegates]).

The Czenstochow Zionist-Socialist organization issued a protest appeal against the then People's Government headed by Ignatz Daszynski in connection with the bloody pogrom in Lemberg that was organized by the Polish legionnaires.

On Shabbos, the 4th of August 1919 a solemn meeting took place at which the Zionist-Socialists changed its name to Fareinikte in accordance with a decision of the conference in Warsaw.


no caption: [Czenstochow Worker Delegates Council]


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A total number of 1,786 votes were returned in the elections to the workers council from the [different] lines [of work]; Fareinikte received 941 with 19 delegates (Poalei-Zion – 256 votes and 6 delgeates, the Bund – 277 votes and 5 delegates).

The most active members of the executive of the workers council were Juczek Finkelsztajn and Dudek Szlezinger. R. Federman was the vice-chariman of the workers council.

The first elections to the city council in independent Poland took place on Sunday, the 6th of March 1919. Fareinikte received 2,259 votes out of the 6,417 votes that were submitted for the Jewish lists and four councilmen were elected: Rafael Federman, Shaya Nirenberg, Juczek Finkelsztajn, Hershl Gotajner (Poalei-Zion – two councilmen and Bund – one councilman).


no caption [Our candidates for the city council are…]


The Czenstochow organization presented Dr. Josef Kruk as one of the candidates from the Czenstochow district to the Polish Constituent Assembly. The election was [fair], but the large number of votes was not enough to elect the candidate.

The Czenstochow organization, Fareinikte, branched out and grew every day. It headed most of the professional unions that were organized in a central office where Abe Wenger and Yakov Yitzhak Zarnowecki were employed. And Shaya Nirenberg was busy with the economic work such as the workers' kitchen, workers' restaurant. Hershl Gotajner managed the bakery and the cooperative. Rafael Federman was the head of the schools. A. Chrabalowski, the chairman, who held the reins of the entire organization in his hands, was the secretary and mainly was concerned with cultural work that was organized in Shtral [light beam], stood at the head of the evening courses for the working young and edited the weekly newspapers: Undzer Vort [Our Word] and Dos Neye Vort [The New Word].

The center of the activity of the organization was the hall at the workers' kitchen at Straczecke 11, in Garbinski's house, which was changed to the name: Zal Neye Velt [New World Room]. All of the mass meetings, party gatherings, banquets, dance evenings, literary evening and so on took place there. The Bund also organized the memorial service after the death of Vladimir Medem there.

The Fareinikte faction at the city council, led by R. Federman, who also was the secretary of the city council for a time, actually was the only one that spoke sharply against the anti-Semitic politics of the Endekes [anti-Semitic Polish National Party] majority and against all injustices that were committed against the Jewish population. The faction and the Polish Socialist Party protested against the arrest of Bundist city councilman Yosef Aronowicz and demanded that the city council intercede and bravely denounced the pogrom of 1919, of which many of its [the pogrom's] spiritual leaders sat in the city council. It also protested against quartering the headquarters of bloody [Ukrainian politician Symon Vasylyovych] Petliura in Czenstochow.

Persecutions and repressions, which came both from the government in Warsaw and from the local rulers, including the city hall, poured on the organization.

In 1920 the premises of the club, Fareinikte, at Aleje 43 was confiscated and the club was

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liquidated by the police. Later the premises of all of the professional unions were requisitioned. Great efforts were made to arrange readings and concerts at which the police often did not permit speaking or singing in Yiddish (everything as in the Tsarist day and much worse).

The organization endured everything and tried to rebuild.

In 1921-1922 a division of the “Workers Emigration Union” finally was opened at Fareinikte in Warsaw. Rayzele Fajertag [Berkensztat] was employed at the office of the division at Dojazdowa 19. Emigration to America was already limited then. However, brothers, sisters, children and wives still could go to their family members with affidavits. Help from the office was particularly important in receiving foreign permits for the emigrants because this demanded so many formalities, papers and other notes from the dozens of consulates in the manner of the Polish bureaucracy.

At that time, Berl Gutman, Yitzhak Gordin, Pinya Bukshorn, Sh. Gilinski, Yakov Pat, L. Pines, M. Mandelsberg, Dr. Eiger of Lodz and Friszman gave readings or made appearances at mass meetings of Fareinikte.

Pinya Bukshorn also was a poet. His song Farloste Fabrikn [Deserted Factories] based on a motif of Maria Konopnicka's Rota [Oath] at first was sung at all mass gatherings. He became ill with influenza in Czenstochow and lay in the Czenstochow hospital for a time.

Shlomo Zisman participated in a series of lectures for a chosen circle to raise the Jewish socialist consciousness of the politically active workers.

In 1922, Fareinikte began to go downhill in Czenstochow. This happened for several reasons: the emigration that emptied the ranks of the most active ones; the split and the movement of a large number of workers, the activists and the young to the communists as well as the economic crisis from which the economic institutions suffered. However, the greatest trouble came from the leaders in Warsaw who mostly were dispersed, some to the Bund and some to the communists.

At the end of the summer 1922 a unification conference took place in Czenstochow in the Neye Vort [New Word] hall with Bolesław Drobner's socialist group under the name “Independent Socialist Party.” The Jewish workers in the party were concentrated in a special section. The party as a whole recognized the necessity of intense emigration, industrialization and organization of Jewish workers.

Elections to the Polish Sejm [parliament] took place in October 1922. The Czenstochow organization, now [named] “Independent,” again presented the candidacy of Dr. Josef Kruk for the Czenstochow district and then also carried out an election campaign among Polish workers.


A group of Czenstochower Zionist-Socialists before their emigration
– M. Alter, H. Gotajner, R. Federman and D. Gebirter


However, connections were created then with the Zionist-Socialists. Several worker activists and leaders of the Polish Socialist Party joined “Independent.” One of the most well-known among them was Antony Domanski, a worker at Warta who was very admired by the Polish workers in Czenstochow.

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In 1925 he was elected as a councilman from “Independent” and returned to the Zionist=Socialists with Drobner.

The Czenstochow organization “Independent” still carried out vigorous activities for a number of years among both the Jewish and the Polish workers. Dos Neye Vort [The New Word] published during the entire winter of 1923 at the Kultura printing press that the organization had founded with three partners. Mass meetings and readings in Polish and Yiddish took place in the hall of the Neye Vort. In general, the “Independent” organization in Czenstochow participated a great deal in bringing the Jewish and Polish workers closer together.

The Independent Socialist Party was from the start involved with the Vienna “Two and a Half” International [The International Working Union of Socialist Parties]. In 1923 when the Vienna International was liquidated and joined the Second Socialist International, the party as a whole also joined the same International. The majority in the Czenstochow organization, under the leadership of A. Chrabalowski, voted against the decision of the party.

Many communists worked under the legal protection of “Independent.” This brought severe repression against the leader of the organization by the “defense” (secret police) and police. Frequent searches and confiscations of all of the papers took place in the hall and private residences of the leaders.

In 1925 the Czenstochow starostwa [administrator] forbid “Independent' from demonstrating with the other parties on the 1st of May.

Dr. Josef Kruk, who often appeared in Czenstochow, was accused in court and sat in Piotrkow and Czenstochow jails for a time.

Before the beginning of the Second World War, the Polish government liquidated the party completely and sent Dr. Kruk to the sadly well-known Kartuz-Bereza [concentration camp], from which after great efforts, particularly from abroad, he was released. He emerged from the concentration camp with a serious illness.

When the last group of “Independent” with Dr. Kruk at the head joined Poalei-Zion [Workers of Zion – Marxist-Zionist party] in Warsaw, those in Czenstochow, as was explained, went with them, as well as the old members of the Zionist-Socialists who had gone through all of the transformations of the party. One of the first martyrs who was murdered by the Nazi murderers was Yakov Yitzhak Zarnowecki.

After R. Federman moved to the Bund and A. Chrabalowski left for America, Dudek Szlezinger took over the leadership of the

The committee of “Independent”
Sitting from right to left: D. Szlezinger, M. Weksler, Dr. J. Kruk, Y.Y. Zarnowecki, A. Chrabalowski and Sh. Nirenberg
Standing from right to left: M. Alter, Win, A. Brat, Sh. Frank and L. Berkowicz


organization. He was admired by the Polish as well as the Jewish workers. He had the help of active comrades such as Shaya Nirenberg, Wolf Fajga, Avraham Brat, Leibush Berkowicz and for a time, Matek Pliwacz.

Translator's Footnote

  1. The name Leibush Lerer was previously spelled as Leibush Lehrer. Return

The Zionist Socialists in Conflict with the Scoundrels

by M. Feinreikh

Before the revolution of 1905 a band of scoundrels reigned in Czenstochow that terrorized the Jewish population. The leaders of the band were: Aizik Szlize, his brother, Yekl, Moshe Pace, Meir Hudies and others. With the rise of the revolutionary movement, several members of the band moved to our side and became devoted fighters in the ranks of the Zionist Socialists. The remaining saw in us a danger to their rule; they

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joined the Russian police, served as spies and helped persecute the workers movement.

Among the victims were Comrade Shimeon Beker and large group of bakery workers who were denounced to the police and were sentenced to six months in jail. With their help, Comrade Kopl Gerichter also was arrested and beaten on a Shabbos [Sabbath].

Right after this, on a Sunday in May 1905, the Zionist Socialists mobilized several groups of workers, mainly from Wajnberg's and Itsikl Szaja's factories, armed them with revolvers, sticks, stones and even dippers of petrol and surrounded the old market, the main spot where the band operated. They were employed by the fruit-sellers at that time. These were the Jews and peasants from the surrounding shtetlekh [towns] and villages who brought their fruit to the city. The band had a “monopoly” on many small merchants and took a payment from each of them [for protection]. Then the group began to disperse. The group waited on every street corner for them. Moshe Pace went home in the direction of Tendler's house. Two workers with revolvers let him pass by and at the same time let him have it with two bullets. One hit his hand, the second – his chest. He tried to escape to Lichter's leather shop and fell down. A worker with a ladle of petrol gave him a little “water” to drink and he died.

The remaining group concentrated itself around the milk wagons, where Aizik Szlize, the leader of the band, hid under a wagon. Police arrived and took Szlize under their protection. He walked around the shtetl with a police guard for a time. Later, he ran away to Upper Silesia. A few weeks later he returned to Czenstochow and immediately fell dead from a bullet shot by a Zionist Socialist. However, the rule of the scoundrels ended on the day in May 1905 when the band was annihilated. The old and the new market, the Jewish market-sellers and small merchants breathed freely.


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