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Czentochower in Paris

A large number of people from Czenstochow and its environs now live in Paris. It is difficult to provide an exact number. We counted around 300 people. The number before the Second World War was a great deal higher. More than half were deported and perished in the German death camps.

A larger emigration from Czenstochow to Paris began in 1919, right after the First World War. Those who were in Argentina at Buenos Aires, Junin 122, were forced through coercion to emigrate to Germany. From there, they came to Paris[1]

All emigrants from Poland and from other lands, generally faced loneliness, unfamiliarity with the language and the strangeness of the way of life of the country, longing for a familiar environment and helplessness in cases of need and at times of sickness. All of this drove Jewish emigrants in Paris to create the Landsmanschaft Farband [union of people from the same town] and led in 1928 to the creation of the society, Friends of Czenstochow.

It is hard to describe the activity of the Society during the 20 years in a short article. We will only underline that our work was almost the same as all of the emigrant societies in France. At first the work was carried out in a limited amount. Several young

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people took part in it. The main emphasis was placed on creating a memorial for the dead in a small cemetery plot. There also was some monetary support for times of need and medical help for members and their families. Visits also were made to sick members and they were helped with whatever they needed. The Society was apolitical and carried on its activities within the limits of its circle.

The situation changed with the coming to power of Hitlerism in 1933. The first deportations of the Jews from Germany to Zbaszyn (Poland) in 1934 shook the Jewish consciousness in the world. Also, we Czenstochower in Paris levied upon ourselves our portion, collecting money and clothing for the first Jewish victims. When a large number of refugees began to stream to Paris, we worked together in the creation of a people's kitchen, which at that time fed thousands of the hungry. When the fascist revolt in Spain broke out in 1936 and thousands of Jews fought in the ranks of the Spanish Loyalists, Czenstochowers, who fought and fell in the war against fascism, also were represented among them.

A great change to our Czenstochower Society took place in 1938 before the outbreak of the Second World War.

Our Society developed a new face with the arrival of younger emigrants from Poland who already had gone through the fire of struggle with home-grown fascism and anti-Semitism there. The “Jewish cemetery” ceased to occupy the main concern of the work of the society. The gathering became lively. Cultural conversations took place. Our society supported TOZ [Society for the Protection of Jewish Health in Poland], which took care of the sick and weak children from our home city and worked with the existing Czenstochow Patronat [committee to aid political prisoner in Poland] in Paris, which supported the arrestees in the Polish jails. Our society also helped create the Jewish People's Clinic in Paris, which gave medical help to thousands of Jews in Paris. Understandably, the eternal struggle between old and young also existed, but the course of events led to the reconciliation of all difficulties. The society endeavored to assemble all of the landsleit [people from the same town] from the shtetlekh [towns] surrounding Czenstochow, such as Klobuck, Krzepice and others.

 

The Second World War

With the outbreak of the Second World War in 1930, the majority of landsleit were mobilized or volunteered to join the French Army. The contours of Auschwitz, Majdanek and Treblinka already were seen on the horizon. There was paralysis in the activity of the society. However, the small number of members who were not mobilized were busy with sending financial support to the members in the army and in several cases to support their wives and children. The work of our society ceased completely with the arrival of the sad day of the 14th of June 1940 when the Hitlerist army marched into Paris. However, our members, as individuals, worked with the general aid organization that supported the victims of barbaric fascism and the first Jews imprisoned in the death camp, Drancy, near Paris. The work grew more difficult from day to day. The dark clouds in the Jewish sky became darker every hour. Grief and pain filled every Jewish soul and blood dripped from every Jewish heart. Men were torn away from their wives and children, women with tiny children in their arms were deported, Jewish possessions were looted and stolen by German bandits and French collaborators. Every few days [train] wagons were packed with Jewish men, women and children and sent away to the death camps in Poland and Germany. A large number of Czenstochowers were among them. It was impossible under such circumstances to do any organized work, but a large number of landsleit took part in the resistance movement and stood out with their heroic courage. It is impossible to spend more time on this within the framework of this article.

 

After the Storm

We first saw the destruction after the Nazi flood, when the sky began to clear. Our best and most active members were missing. [There was] sadness and grief in the hearts of the survivors but mixed with joy that we had lived for the defeat of the largest and most horrible murder of Jews in our history. And we were as if we had risen from the dead! The individual survivors began to look for and search through

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the ruins to find every surviving soul from our Czenstochow family in Paris. Our president, Wroclawski and the remaining members of the committee who did everything within their power to reestablish our society should be praised and thanked here. When the first deported Czenstochow Jews began to return, everyone, members and non-members, began to receive a thousand francs as their first assistance. The fund was almost empty, but the committee worked beyond its strength to give the survivors even a little material and moral help.

Our communal work now is with the Union of Jewish Societies in France for the general aid committee to support the children of those who perished in the German death camps, with the People's Clinic and with the loan fund. Our ranks have slowly begun to increase, but we are still not able to help everyone who is in need. There remain a number of people whom we must help. These are women with children who although they are working are not able to support their children. Our society is strengthening. On the 12th of January 1946 we arranged an evening ball and a large concert. We came together in joy mixed with sorrow. But life is still stronger than death and being sad and we rise to a new life.

*
* *

We Czenstochower in Paris received with joy the happy news that you have decided to publish the book, Czenstochow.

We send you the short history of Czenstochower in Paris with our sincere greetings to the landsleit in America from Czenstochow and its surroundings.

*
* *

Shortly after the end of the war, United Czenstochower Relief in New York began

 


Czenstochower Committee in Paris

Sitting from right to left: Tenenbaum (general secretary), Levy (vice-president), Wroclawski (president), Dawidowicz (vice president)
Standing from right to left: Wajnman (treasurer), Firstenfeld, Krzepicki, Ruman, Landau, Pankulowski)

 

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intensive aid activity for the Czenstochower in Paris. A large number of food packages, money and other help were sent. United Czenstochower Relief in New York has not ended its help for the Czenstochower in Paris, as well as for the Czenstochower in other nations.

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We want to record the names of the founders of our society along with our report. They are:

Blum, Artman, A. Perleger, the Wrublewski brothers, A. Slobiak, the Gutman brothers, B. Kopinski, Wajsbard, Cimberknop, Kamelgarn, Pankowski, A. Kapinski, Y. Lewkowicz.

 


A manuscript by Avraham Wiewiorka. Lived in Czenstochow. Died in Moscow, the brother of Wowtshe Wiewiorka of Paris (the latter perished in Auschwitz

 

 

For the “Kamyk” article

 

Translator's note:
  1. The address of the Czenstochower Landsleit Union in Argentina was Buenos Aires, Junin 122. Return
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