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[Page 183]

The Last Year

(The year 1939 in Czenstochow. A short chronicle from the Czenstochower Zeitung [Czenstochower Newspaper])

The shadows of Hilterism hung like a Sword of Damocles over the Jewish population. The vanguards of the incoming storm of death were the refugees who arrived naked and barefoot in Czenstochow from Zbaszyn.

In an article: S.O.S. from M. Ruczewicz in the Czenstochower Zeitung of Friday, the 17th of February 1939, the Jewish population was enjoined to support the refugees numbering 130 souls who stood at the edge of hunger and death if further, increased aid action was not urgently organized.

Measures were undertaken to save the existence of the Jewish hospital that found itself in a very critical situtation at a conference in the hall of the Merchants' Union where the communal activists, Boleslaw Helman, Lawyer M. Hasenfeld and M. Kapinski, appeared.

An afternoon school for the children from the public school was opened at the Y.L. Peretz School for them to study Yiddish, literature and history. The number enrolled reached over fifty children.

The “refugee” committee arranged a performance. It staged Leonid Andrejev's Der Groyser Gedank [The Great Idea].

Two performances from [Abraham] Goldfaden's repertoire, Bar Kokhba and Shulamith, were presented on Sunday the 19th and Monday the 20th of February in the firemen's hall. The leading artists were: Liza Szlosberg and Dovid Zajderman.

The “Knowledge and Improvement” Society arranged a reading by Dr. Oksar entitled, “Total war and the air defense of the civilian population.”

The death of Josef Szlezinger, administrative member of the Merchants' Union, of Achiezer [organization to help the poor], of the Jewish gymnazie [secondary school] and of the Zionist organization was reported in the newspaper of Monday, the 3rd of March.

R. Zaczecki, the chairman of the Endekes [Endecja – Narodowa Demokraczja – anti-Semitic, Polish Nationalist Democratic Party] club at the city council delivered an anti-Semitic declaration rejecting the Jewish state and people's farm and demanded that no Jewish help be accepted for the defense of the state. He was answered by City Councilman Dr. Arnold Bram.

Yakov Roziner, secretary of TOZ [Towarzystwo Ochrony Zdrowia Ludności Żydowskiej – Society for Safeguarding the Health of the Jewish Population], in an article, “Keyn eyn groshn far Yidishe Institutsies” [“Not one groshn for Jewish institutions”], records the sad fact that the city hall in its budget crossed out the sum for TOZ and the old age home and the orphans' home.

The 20th anniversary of the youth association, Poalei-Zion [Workers of Zion – Marxist- Zionists] was celebrated on Tuesday, the 4th of April.

Clothing, linens, sugar, eggs and milk were distributed to the needy by Ezra, the women's association at Katedralne 11, on the 30th and 31st of March. One hundred and sixty-six families made use of the Passover arrangements made by Ezra, mainly the poor and sick.

Picketing in the streets near the Jewish shops by the Polish anti-Semites was revived.

Two American actors, Jennie Lewitz and Haimy Stern, appeared in the operetta, Der Rebitzen's Nekht [The Rabbi's Wife's Night] during the week of Passover.

[Page 184]

The chorus of the Sports and Tour Union, Makkabi, under the leadership of the conductor, Professor Y. Rozenwajn, appeared in a concert on Shabbos [Sabbath] evening, the 15th of April. Wolf Szmid, the student of Cantor Birnbaum and well-known singer, wrote a professional and warm critique about the concert.

Shabbos, the 22nd of April, Leib Shniurson, an emissary from Eretz-Yisroel, appeared at the Makkabi hall and spoke about Irgun Tzva Leumi [National Military Organization].

A unified Jewish block was created for the election to the city council that took place at that time. The Bund and the retailers presented separate lists.

The sum contributed by Czenstochow Jews to the air defense loan came to one million, seven hundred thousand zlotes.

Tuesday, the 9th of May, a solemn memorial service took place on the third yahrzeit [anniversary of a death] at the grave of the Rabbi, Reb Nakhum Asz. Moshe Handler gave a eulogy. Chalewa, the city khazan [cantor], recited the memorial prayer and the choir under the direction of director Rosenberg sang a chapter of Psalms.


The laying of the foundation stone for the new house of prayer


The second anniversary of Morgnstern [Morning Star], the Czenstochower sports club, was celebrated on the 27th and 28th of May.

The general meeting of TOZ took place on Shabbos, the 27th of May. The meeting was opened by Dr. Stefan Kahn. They honored the memory of Zigmund Markowicz, one of the most active TOZ managing committee members. The budget adopted came to 122,000 zlotes.

Two performances by the Y.L. Peretz dramatic circle under the direction of Ahron Peretz took place on Shabbos and Sunday, the 3rd and 4th of June at the Makkabi hall. A series of scenes and tableaus were presented from [the works of] M[oishe] Broderzon, M[oishe] Nadir, Der Tunkler [Yosef Tunkel, known as Der Tunkler – the dark one], B. Szefner, Broyder and others. Among those taking part in the performance of the various pieces were: Genya Berkowicz, Herszlikowicz, Testiler, Bornsztajn, Dimant, Orbach, Bornsztajn, Yarasz, Dzialowski, Rubinsztajn, Gebirtik. The decorations were planned and painted by L. Kusznir with the help of D. Ripsztajn. The recitations for the performances were written to the point and with talent by M. Kaufman, a former apprentice, and later a printer at Baczan's print shop.

It was reported in the Czenstochower Zeitung, no. 23 of the 9th of June:

The yearly meeting of the Beis Lekhem [bread for the needy] took place in the new synagogue; according to the report, the women's section of the society and TOZ together feed 400 children every day at the Machzikei HaDas [Those who reinforce the Law][1] and municipal Talmud Torah [a free religious primary school for poor boys]. Y. Imich, M. Rozencwajg, D. Dobczinski, B. Rubin, D. Markowicz, G. Deres, Y. Sojka, Y. Manhejt, M. Epsztajn, M. Kazak, Y. Sztausberg, Y. Kahn, A. Winer, K. Rajcher, A. Szumaber, Weltman, M. Jakubowicz, Y.D. Potaszewicz, M. Goldsztajn, Y. Koplewicz, L. Jakubowicz, H. Czitnicki, A, Gitler, Weksztajn and Ufner were elected to the managing committee. Inspection committee: B. Grinlak, D. Win and Sh. Glewicki.

A gathering of the newly elected Jewish councilmen took place at the Artisans' Club. Communal questions were discussed. Councilmen Goldberg, Koniecpoler, Lawyer L. Asz, Lawyer Markowicz, W. Czeriker, Y. Rozenberg (chairman of the Jewish community), Dr. Bram, Sh. Frank (editor of Czenstochower Zeitung), Wajs, Fajgenblat, A. Ickowicz, Professor Janowski, Y. Gerichter, Dzialowski, Gerszonowicz, Grica, Kaufman, Epsztajn, Rotbard, Raziger and others. Dr. Gajsler, the chairman of the Artisans' Union, was chairman of the meeting.

The children at the day care center at Dobroczynno?? [charity] at Przemyslowa 6 arranged a performance in their own hall.

A reading on the theme of “Eretz-Yisroel in the year 1939” by Dr. Josef Kruk took place on Shabbos, the 10th of June, in the large hall of the Baltik cinema.

In the Czenstochower Zeitung of the 23rd of June:

The annual general meeting of the Machzikei Hadas took place. The chairman, Mr. Krel, opened the meeting. Chairman: Yeshokhar Moszkowicz. Members of the presidium: Dovid Pelc, Avrahamtshe Czenstochowski,

[Page 185]

secretary Yehoshia Zeligman. The new members of the managing committee: Yehiel Landau, Manasha Marglius, Dovid Kahn and Hirshl Wajnbaum.

In connection with the death of B[erl] Baczan, the Temokhi Aneim [Supporters of the Poor] Society (of which the deceased had been the chairman) arranged a memorial event at which his memory was honored.

The Jewish students at Dr. Oksar's gymnazie arranged a theater performance. The old historic, literary work, Antigone, was peformed.

The following Czenstochower students graduated from the Artisans' School: Yitzhak Czarni, Moshe Brokman, Pinkhas Edelist, Chaim Fajerman, Mendl Perlbril, Dovid Ginsberg, Wolf Garfinkel, Ziskind Gelber, Yosef Haftka, Yisroel Kifer, Mordekhai Krakauer, Sholem Lajzerowicz, Stefan Montag, Yitzhak Hirsh Majlich, Henya Girenberg, Mendl Rotholc, Dovid Brojner, Dovid Hauptman.


The managing committee of Temokhi Aneim


A conference with the participation of Dr. E. Ringelblum about the publication of a monograph about Jewish Czenstochow took place in the hall of the Jewish community.

Dr. Ludwig Batawia, who from 1913 on was the chief doctor at the Jewish hospital and chairman of a series of charitable and scientific societies in Czenstochow, died.

In the Czenstochower Zeitung of the 30th of June:

A solemn graduation from the Y.L. Peretz children's home and the afternoon Yiddish courses took place. Ahron Peretz opened the celebration. Avraham Brat and the [female] teacher, Jacheles, gave the reports. The greetings were given by A. Brum, Sh. Frank, Mlodinow, Miss Berkowicz, Kh. Kaufman and others. Seventy children graduated from the day and night school.

The children appeared with songs and recitations. At the end, a small banquet took place for the children. The three [female] teachers, Jacheles, Y. Guterman and S. Ginsberg were presented with flowers.

The Powszechne [public] school for Jewish children, number 13, led by Miss N. Szacher, received an award for their work for the Red Cross.

The Polish film, Der Shatn iber Europe [The Shadow over Europe], was shown at the Lura cinema.

In the Czenstochower Zeitung of the 14th of July:

The annual meeting of the interest-free loan fund took place in its own hall at Pilsudski 31. The chairman was Mr. Grin, attendees were Szumacher and A. Rubinski, secretary Haftka.

The memory of the two deceased managing committee members, B. Brener and B. Sojka, was honored.

Lawyer Goldberg, Szumacher, Grin, Warmund and Szajnweksler were elected to the managing committee.


The folk-shul [public school] of Jewish children headed by Ms. Szaber


A meeting of the interest free loan fund, Ahavas Akhim [Brotherly Love], took place. Chaim Wajnholc, Chaim Lancman, Chaim Yitzhak Pacanowski, Avraham Grinszpan, Yakov Rozenberg, Meir Szmulewicz and Josef Zajman were elected to the managing committee. Representatives: Ejzensztajn, Fajer, Frank and Przedborski. To the review committee: Zinger, Kolin and Szternberg.

The Yiddish film by Yakov Gordin, Un a Heym [Homeless], was exhibited at the Eden cinema. The artists Ida Kaminska, [Shimen] Dzigan and [Yisroel] Szumacher took part in the film.

In the Czenstochower Zeitung of the 21st of July:

Levyoshn [Leviathan] (Lewensztajn), in his weekly feature article, Vos gehert, vos gezen” [“What was heard, what happened”], greatly praises the TOZ colonies, where 180 children

[Page 186]

from the poorest houses and with the greatest need are found. Mordekhai Kaufman in an article “Kinderland” [Children's Land] also praises the wonderful effect of the colonies on the children. The TOZ children colonies that in 1939 were led jointly with Dobroczynno?? were located in Amstov, Przyrów, Chzszanstow, Krzepice, Janowa, Olsztyn, Klobuck, and Bliachownia.

The Yiddish film Der Dybuk [The Dybbuk] was shown in the Baltik cinema.

In the Czenstochower Zeitung of the 21st of July:

A memorial service took place for the deceased Artisans Union activist, Daniel Dzialowicz, at his grave, and his headstone was unveiled.

A flood occurred in Czenstochow after the greatest heat. The Warta and the Kucelinka [Rivers] spilled over their banks and the Zawadcza area, the Naturowicz market and the Stradom [railway station] were flooded. The cellars and ground floors of the houses were inundated with water.

The same thing happened in Krzepice, where TOZ ran a children's colony. The teaching personnel heroically saved the children from the flood.

The American actors, Pesakhke Burstein and Lillian Lux, staged two performances, Der Komediant [The Comedian] and Zeyn Sheyner Kholem [His Beautiful Dream], at the firemen's hall.

The Yiddish film, Dem Khazan's Zundl [The Cantor's Young Son], with Moshe Oysher, was shown at the Eden Cinema.

In the Czenstochower Zeitung of the 25th of August:

The Makhzikei Hadas Talmud Torah undertook a campaign to protect the institution, so that an auction would not take place because of its debts.

The completion of the summer season took place at the TOZ colony at Bliachownia and at the half [day] colony in Czenstochow with a children's performance. The director of the colony was L. Brener.

Translator's Footnote

  1. Machzikei HaDas was an organization of synagogues and religious secondary schools whose goal was to improve both education and religious observance. Return


Several coworkers from the Jewish press in Czenstochow
(for the article, “Jewish Press”)

Y. Rozenberg   Sh. Frank
M. Asz   Y. Pesakhzon


Translator's Footnotes
  1. (Shmuel) Artur Zygielbojm was a Bundist leader and a member of the National Council of the Polish Government in exile. He committed suicide to protest the indifference of the Allied nations to the plight of the Polish Jews. He left a very moving letter explaining his suicide. Return


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