« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

Memories and Photographs

 

[Page 359]

A Day In Czenstochow

by Avraham Reisen

(A fragment from Epizodn fun Mayn Lebn [Episodes From My Life])

It already was difficult for me to remain in Krakow where I published Dos Yidishe Vort [The Yiddish Word]… The leaders of the S.S. [Socialist Zionists] – Zalmen Meisner and Julius Golde, who were then visiting Krakow for party reasons, told me “what was happening” in Warsaw and took upon themselves to take me to the border through Czenstochow. I immediately decided to go to Warsaw… and a week later, after their arrival, all three of us traveled from Krakow to Warsaw.

Zalmen Meisner paid for my expenses. He, the financier for the S.S. publication, wanted a story from me for the periodical, which the S.S. then published. Sholem Asch was then a regular coworker of theirs. In one issue of the periodical Der Neyer Veg [The New Way], Sholem Asch already had an article about the 40 times 40 churches in Moscow. I do not know if he wrote it from his head or he had already visited the city of Moscow because of his drama, Meshiekh's Tsaytn [The Time of the Messiah] or Der Kholem fun Mayn Folk [The Dream of My People], which [Fyodor Fyodorovich] Komissarzhevsky was supposed to present, and later, did present at the Art Theater in Petersburg. However, I think the article was written with a naïve, revolutionary tone. Sholem Asch celebrated the revolution then and expressed in song, the new bells that were ringing in Moscow… Nevertheless, he also gave me several compliments… However it was only for the sake of appearances. Possibly because he already was under the influence of Shmuel Niger who was then a young man – however, already had as a member of the Socialist Zionists taken shape as a future critic…

Julius Golde, I think, read little Yiddish and if he even spoke Yiddish, it was the Yiddish of an intellectual who had “just” learned to speak. However, he related to me with great respect and even with friendship.

It happened that we spent the night near the border in a small hotel somewhere in a German shtetl [town]. They both, Zalmen Meisner and Julius Golde, were in the best mood. As party people they had the most important plans and the most far-reaching objectives… And Meisner and his then nickname, “Zalmen Bourgeois,” because of his father's wealth, was, in general, a dreamer … I, for whom the ideals of the Zionist Socialists were distant, looked at them philosophically and did not then even discuss [the ideals] with them … As they were socialists, what kind of complaints could I have about them … particularly when my fate lay in their hands and they were to lead me to the border or obtain the right agent for me, or such a Jew from Czenstochow with influence with the border guards…

I crossed the border peacefully with a “full belt” … The soldier only searched my bags “courteously” and let me go through first … They both, Zalmen Meisner and Julius Golde, already were visible, often crossing [the border] and they had regular passports. Without a doubt they had crossed. Although their trip to Krakow was with illegal literature. The publication of certain brochures was not permitted then in Russia.

And thus we arrived in Czenstochow

[Page 360]

and I felt on more secure ground. The greeting that I received there from important personalities, among them a brother of M. Litvakov, whose family or a part of the family then lived in Czenstochow, made me comfortable and helped me forget my “desolation…” I spent the night with a rich engineer whose name I have forgotten. However I remember exactly the room in which they had prepared a bed for me, as if for a great guest. I ate a magnificent breakfast in the morning and the young, handsome host, the engineer, actually a member of the Zionist Socialists, served me himself…

I also had a strong impression of the city of Czenstochow itself. I particularly liked the main street, a wide and long one that reminded me of Warsaw's Marszalkowska. Its noise was half business and half holiday-like. Something about this street seemed as if it was khalemoyed [intervening days of holidays], like the first day after a holiday and the holiday would again resume… Young men from all of the movements and parties, with all kinds of slogans in their inflamed eyes, met each other, greeted each other, stopped and had vigorous discussions… the district and the regional police superintendent, who glanced at them, appeared half-confident and half dispirited. They themselves did not know how great or how little their power was. In any case, I, without a passport and in addition a fighter for freedom, certainly was a little afraid of them, although I knew that they would not dare stop me in the street and ask me for a passport…

Spending two days in Czenstochow, I already, as if I had rehearsed, learned that one also can live without a passport. And surer, full of hopes and expectations, I left Czenstochow where I had spent a few days among dear people and traveled to Warsaw.

And my impression of Czenstochow is of this dear city with an animated Jewish population, from which come several significant Jewish cultural workers and socialist spokespeople who still remain dear and sacred to me. And when I think with pain of the fate of many Jewish destroyed cities, Czenstochow also comes to mind and it ignites in me the belief that it will be repaired and rebuilt as all of the cities that our enemy devastated with such cruelty. And the survivors who are spread all over the world will once more delight in its construction and revival.


Czenstochow, My Czenstochow

by Leibish Lehrer

I was in Czenstochow a very long time ago, in 1906-1907, and yet there are few other details from earlier and later in my life that reflect such lively memories. In total, I was in Czenstochow less than a year. And yet I feel as if I had been intoxicated there with the wine of warm friendship and the ecstasy of a new revelation. In that short time I was connected to only one group, to only one circle, to the Socialist-Zionist Party. And yet there has remained in me the Czenstochow echo of a large city's waving multitude that rocked and rose, permeated and enchanted and extended, extended as wide as the physical and spiritual eye could reach. My illegal functions in Czenstochow also forced a hidden name upon me – Aleksander, a name with which I identified my life for only a few months. And yet I feel as if someone quietly had pasted this name on me at my birth. I feel in this name such a deep sense, such fascinating afterimages that its light had forced its way through the edges of all further times of my life.

Czenstochow, my Czenstochow, in a café, or at the Socialist-Zionist bourse[1] where I learned to play kręgle [bowling], or at a meeting of party committees, while strolling alone or with friends through the Alejes [boulevards] that beautify and add charm to the center of the city – from everywhere echoed the secret of intensive life that with such internal pride celebrated in song even in moments of sadness

[Page 361]

or grief. For me the city for did not remain as a point on a map, but a symbol of a transformed life, one of those symbols that sings out from each of us during quiet moments of spiritual appraisal.

Czenstochow, my Czenstochow, in the dreadful tragedy that now streams over you, over my dear and precious ones who have remained in you, I cry with all of your mourners at your great catastrophe. I strive with my last strength to maintain the hope that happy news will yet come from you.

Translator's footnote

  1. The bourse is the French stock exchange – it is used here to mean a place for exchanging ideas. Return


In and Around the Workers Club
(A picture of workers clubs after the First World War)

by A. Chrobalowski

The memories that we present here encompass only one facet of the Czenstochower Workers Movement – the Fareinikte. In essence, however, in large part this is also representative of the other two worker clubs in Czenstochow – the Borochov Club, at the First Aleje 12 and the Medem Club at the Second Aleje 40.[1]

 

The Workers Club – Fareinikte

It now numbers up to 700 members. Its bright halls and rooms are filled daily with hundreds of workers who find here a friendly home, their fraternal environment.

Here there is a quiet, calm reading room with all newspapers and journals. A rich library in Yiddish and in other languages is connected to the reading room. Here there is a tea hall where one can get an inexpensive evening meal. Here also is the office that provides medical help.

Dozens of professional unions, united in one central office that encompass all Jewish trades in the city, are concentrated around the workers' club.

Whatever evening one enters the club, there is the hum of the work of the central committees, managing committees, general and trade unions.

 

In the Meat Workers

Exemplary comradely life reigns in the professional unions. The meat workers have a general fund into which go the general weekly earnings. Every Sunday the members come together and divide the wages according to three categories. The conflicts and incidents with the butcher shop owners do not need to be straightened out by the power of the state. There also is a union with a secretary and it is enough to end a quarrel with an announcement, a letter.

 

In the Needle Branch

The majority of the members of this union are women (sewers of undergarments, milliners, seamstresses and so on). Therefore, the managing committee consists mostly of women comrades; the only male comrade who is found here (the deceased Comrade Szliwinski) gives the impression of [being] “the last of the Mohicans.” However, he is not marginalized… On the contrary, they relate to him with great tolerance. The managing committee sits around a table with the chairwoman, Comrade Halberg, at the head. They deal with the question of an eight–hour working day and of higher wages in several workshops. Here they do not speak at all about equal rights for women.

 

Professional Union of Metal Workers

The union numbers more than 400 members. The managing committee does not have any great business to carry out because almost all of the members are unemployed. However, there are old accounts here with the factory owners. They closed the small factories, so they would not have to pay the 14–day compensation that was required by law. They do not want to meet their obligations to the workers because they feel that the musician [and Polish Prime Minister Ignacy Jan] Paderewski now plays their music [agrees with their position]. However, the workers already have their union, their central office, their delegates in the workers' councils and not matter what they would be consulted…

[Page 362]

Porter Workers

Older Jews with beards sit around the managing committee's table with hardened faces and hardened hands. They have left their porter's fur pelts and torn, short street jackets at home. They have to change [their clothes] at the union. Bent backs are straightened out and their faces show the facial features with human dignity. In Bontshe Shvayg[2] the person who had suffocated for so long under the heavy load of sacks and packs woke up. They [the porters] begin to understand that a better life is one of comradeship, not a competitive one, but of supporting one another.

 

Various Activities

Here in a room sits the economic committee, listening to reports from widespread institutions. In a second room sits the literary committee, which is concerned with the spread of literature. In a nearby room, identification is given out to the unemployed who are authorized to make use of the free food. In a side room a group is being led and in a large meeting room the general meeting of this or that professional union is taking place.

 

In the Workers Kitchen

A gigantically large room with many large pictures of Y.L. Peretz, Mendele [Sholem Yakov Abramowich, known as Mendele Mocher Sforim or Mendele the Book Peddler], [Ferdinand] Lassalle and Karl Marx. The latter is the largest picture.

The two tables that take up the entire length of the room are covered from end to end. The lunch consists of soup with a piece of bread. A majority of the “consumers” are children whose heads barely reach the plates and could comfortably walk under the table. There are also many small children who eat in the laps of their parents. After the children have eaten their portion, [the parents] sit them on the bench near them and they eat.

 

Kitchen Number Two

This kitchen shows an ideal picture of class equality and interparty cooperation. The Bundists and Fareinikte [United] make peace here. The “bourgeois” and the proletariat forget about class struggle here – all are equal and friendly at lunch. Whoever is not so well off is able to pay 10 marks for lunch – coming here. It should be understood that lunch here is not a sumptuous one.

 

cze362.jpg

The Neye Welt [new world] hall of Fareinikte, Strazacka 11

 

Y.L. Peretz Children's Home

The workers' Children's Home is ventilated, warm and gleams with children's pictures and with white, clean children's furniture. The intimate relationship for the teachers to the children, the expression of satisfaction and joy in the eyes of the small ones, the playing, dancing and singing brings to the visitor's mind his own childhood years in the kheder [religious primary school] with the teacher and his whip, when we played under the table, on the ground and the floor…

The children sing:

Little fish play in the river,
It is joyful, only a treat.

Or:

Eylu, liylu, eylu, liylu
Sleep, my dear one and rest.
Someone who has a mother is happy
And a cradle, too…

And I think like this:

– Sing, children, dance, jump! May your eyes shine, your faces laugh! Perhaps your childhood, your future will be more beautiful, better than ours.

Translator's footnotes

  1. Fareinikte (United) was the club of the Zionist Socialist Workers Party; the Borochov Club was named after Ber Borochov, a Marxist Zionist, and the Medem Club after Vladimir Medem, a Bundist. Return
  2. Bontshe Shvayg – Bontshe the Silent is a story by Y.L. Peretz, a story interpreted as depicting the suffering caused by poverty and meant to teach the need for political organization. Return


[Page 363]

Czenstochower Coalminers

by Shimeon Biro

The tsar's Cossacks escaped and the Germans entered Czenstochow on a hot August day in 1914. The factories ceased working. The workers wandered through the streets.

The first week of the First World War brought a half-carnival mood to Czenstochow.

Both the Jews and the Poles were delighted with the defeat of “Nikolai” [Tsar Nicholas II]. We waited to see if the cultured German people would reopen the factories, bringing bread and freedom. A trifle – Germany with its cultural treasures, inventions, Reichstag, social democracy…

It did not take long until a notice appeared in the streets as follows:

“Requesting 2,000 workers as well as tradesmen to work in Silesia. Good conditions, good and inexpensive food. Report at Dojazd Street, opposite the train station.”
There was excitement for working Czenstochow over the course of two hours. This was what they had waited for: work, money and bread.

The requested number was filled in one day and one group after the other left to work in Germany.

Another thousand, to whom the news arrived too late, did not have the good fortune of going to Germany and remained in Czenstochow to continue starving, walking around at loose ends. They were envious of the lucky ones who were taken to work and looked at the “dead” chimneys of the tar works, adhesive factories, hat factories and dozens of other smaller workshops and small factories. In about a week, the news began to arrive from the “lucky golden ones” in Germany: instead of human work – slavery, instead of an apartment to live in – barracks with Prussian discipline, instead of freedom – captivity.

Notices for workers again appeared in the streets, but everyone had decided that it was better to eat a piece of dry popularke [small, round breads] than to take up Prussian labor.

So the Germans took off their “cultured gloves” and started on their work. They closed off streets and grabbed people, 50-100 at a time, packed them into horse wagons and sent them to work.

There is a shtetl [town] in Upper Silesia – Chorzów. This shtetl was suddenly a part of Czenstochow.

Czenstochow workers, the young who came voluntarily and those grabbed from the streets, were drawn into the earth two and three hundred meters [about 656 to 984 feet] deep. There, under force and threats from the Prussian overseers, they dug coal in the old, dark coalmines by the light of small, carbide lamps [acetylene gas lamps].

Men who had been hat makers, gaiter quilters, celluloid workers, tailors the night before were transformed into coalminers by Prussian militarism through hunger, whips and blows.

Tired, broken, barely dragging their feet, they left the coalmine late at night to go home – to the “sleep house,” where the food consisted of one small piece of German sprouted bread and a watery soup for which they were enrolled [in a book] for a good [high] price.

“Pay day” was at the end of the month, for which everyone waited in order to be able to send home a few marks to their hungry wives, children and parents in Czenstochow.

What a great surprise when instead of money they received this kind of an account:

20 days of work at 4-50 marks 90 marks
30 days of food at 2 marks 60 marks
1 coalminer's lamp 5 marks
1 shovel 4 marks
Sick fund 4 marks
Insurance in case of death 3 marks
Penalty for not filling the quota 5 marks
Sleep house 15 marks
Taxes 2 marks
 
Total 98 marks
Remains owed to the Chorzów Bergwerk [mine] 8 Reich's marks

A piece of coal fell off a beam. Perhaps the beam was rotten. Perhaps gas seeped through

[Page 364]

– who could know. However, a victim fell; Yelen, a Czenstochow Jewish worker, was crushed to death somewhere in a mine in Upper Silesia.
Like lost sheep, the Czenstochow workers – coalminers – gathered around the body. Not knowing what to do, how to bury him. Late at night, the Chorzów Bergwerk sent some little German who presented himself as a rabbi. Ten men were permitted to go along to the cemetery. The rabbi changed into a black robe and a high, black yarmulke [cap worn by religious Jews] and a large white necktie and sang the Adonoi natan, vadonoi lakakh [God has given, God has taken] with a gentile accent. Ten grown men cried like children. The Chorzów mine sent a letter of condolence to Gancarska Street and 50 marks for “death insurance” for the murdered father.


Doctors

by Dr. L. Lazarowicz

I see before me in my memory my birth city – Czenstochow, with its small, long streets that then in my young eyes seemed as large as Broadway in New York. Appearing before my eyes as if alive, the old and the new markets that on market days – Tuesday – were noisy and rustling, no less than Times Square. So I saw in reality the three boulevards with trees planted on both sides that were dearer to my heart and were no less beautiful than all of the boulevards of the rest of the world, such as the famous Champs-Élysées in Paris.

And last but not least – the Czenstochow park – the old one that went to the right and the new one that rose a little to the left – how dear and close they were to me, in my memory with all of the memories of my time spent there in my childhood years.

Today, after years of separation from my city of birth, being transplanted first to Warsaw and then to New York, pictures often come to my mind of those distant, good times and among them images and silhouettes of the Jewish doctors in Czenstochow who I knew and who played such an esteemed role in Jewish life in Czenstochow.

How different the relationship to doctors was in those years! When the floor of a Jewish house was washed on a weekday and the threshold and entry was spread with yellow sand, it was clear indication that they were waiting for the arrival of a doctor.

Your father, walking in the street, gave you a jab in the side – he let you know that you needed to move to the side, because … the doctor was walking.

We stepped aside for the doctors everywhere, on the road, in the street or in a shop, in a wagon or in a cinema. No one dared to sit, to speak loudly or wear his hat on his head in the presence of a doctor. A doctor never put his coat on by himself. Usually he would just put his hand in a sleeve of his coat or fur coat, which someone handed to him.

Such doctors were the old Russians who would stroll on the boulevards alone in a top hat and with their dogs on a leather leash. Dr. Wasertal and his heavy cane in his hand; Dr. Edvard Kon with his golden chain on his fat stomach, the oldest of the Kon family of doctors – Waclaw and Stefan, the latter survived [by moving] from Poland to Eretz Yisroel.

Dr. Finkelsztajn was to the sort of doctor who would never refuse to come to a sick person both during the day and the night – and thinking about his patients and their illnesses, he would love to stroke his short beard and whiskers as if this would help him determine how to help the patient get better. Dr. Batawia, the throat specialist and director of the Jewish hospital at Zawodzia, also occupied a respected place in Czenstochow.

In those days, the doctor would be viewed as representing his good name. He would not ask for payment before. He wrote prescriptions, had designated fees [and] maintained an office with a secretary. He would go alone to visit the sick and took as payment however much he was given or simply however much

[Page 365]

was placed in his hand. It would be said, “Let Hashem [God] add to the remainder.”

Those times have passed. A new generation of young doctors arose that were less assimilated and closer to the Jewish masses. Dr. Koniecpolski, the leader of the Hospital for Infectious Diseases, who was very active during the years 1916-1921, when severe epidemics reigned in Czenstochow that took many victims, belonged to this group. Dr. Koniecpolski died of a heart attack not long after the [First] World War. Dr. Bram, an esteemed radiologist and leader of the Zionists, also belonged to this group. During the war, he ended up in Kowel, where he worked in a local hospital and what happened to him later I do not know.

 

 
 
Mrs. Kiak   Dr. Kon-Kolin [now in Eretz-Yisroel]

 

The above-mentioned doctors were different from their colleagues from the older generation. They were not so arrogant and self-important. They tried to be closer to the Jewish masses, work with them, help them to organize and spoke to them in their language – in Yiddish.

The newer generation of Czenstochow doctors from the years 1920-1930 went even a step further. These doctors were completely with the Jewish masses and struggled together with them – each in his area according to his ideals. True, there were still a few Jewish doctors who were known as assimilated, but their number and influence in the Jewish neighborhoods was very small.

Of the doctors of this era whom I knew in Czenstochow, I will mention Frankenberg, Goldman, Lewin, Mokrauker, Walberg, Nowak, Gutman, Rozen, Lewkowicz, Epsztajn, Helman, Szperling, Glater, Grunwald, Mrs. Wiesberg and Tarbaczko. Many of them were exceptional doctors with a good reputation among Jewish and Christian patients.

 


Kiak with several members of his family

 

Above all, Dr. Tarbaczko must be remembered. At first, he was only a good feldsher [old fashioned barber-surgeon] and worked at the Jewish hospital. I met him there in 1918 when I came to the hospital to practice as a medical student. This good feldsher later decided to give up his large practice and to study medicine to become a doctor. He left his wife and two children with his father-in-law – also a feldsher named Kiak from Krakowski Street – and left for Warsaw where he lived in a small room and worked hard – working during the day to earn his means of support and studying medicine at night. Years passed. His children grew up and they themselves began to study at the university – until he finally reached his goal and became a medical doctor. It is interesting that he received his diploma at the same time as his oldest son who caught up with his father in his medical studies.

In addition to his medical practice, Dr. Tarbaczko also was active communally and for a time was a councilman at the city council in Czenstochow.

Dr. Tarbaczko was not the only

[Page 366]

former feldsher who excelled in medical practice. Czenstochow had a series of old, experienced feldshers, each of whom had a reputation in a particular specialty. Who hot geshtelt bankes very well [was good at “cupping”], as did Tajchner; who had a light hand at shteln pijawkes [placing leeches], as did Kiak and who could so easily provide enemas as did Dovid Yosl Epsztajn; and who could precisely and quickly coat [a patient's] throat with medicine, as did Herc or Fiszman?

They were a distinctive cast of medical specialists of a characteristic stature! A generation, who little by little disappeared and who left no offspring.

In addition to medical doctors in Czenstochow, there also were many teeth-doctors or dentists of whom I remember: Artur Broniatowski, the son of the feldsher Broniatowski and brother of two doctors; Ahron Perc, the esteemed Bundist activist; Grin, Lewkowicz, Lajzerowicz, Eidelman, Krauskopf, Nowak and Miszinska – a female dentist. They all arrived in the later years and earned their place in the communal life in Czenstochow.

Thus, I see the former Czenstochow before my eyes as a kaleidoscope.

Jews of Czenstochow! You have not disappeared from our memories! We will remember you day in and day out and night after night – for as long as our memories are alert and alive and for as long as we breathe!


A Bouquet of Flowers

by F. Gerbowski

I traveled to Czenstochow for 10 years without stop as a messenger for Keren- Hayesod [central financial organization of the Zionist movement; it is now the Jewish Agency]. Every year I happened to meet and work with many people. I acquired great love for two of them and my esteem for them strengthened from year to year. They were:

Yehiel Jachimowicz – a well-to-do brick manufacturer. He was fluent in Hebrew, often read a religious book and wrote well in Hebrew. He was the chairman of Keren-Hayesod in Czenstochow and carried out the daily work as if he were a paid official. He gave attention to payments of promissory notes that donors took out and went around demanding the sums from those who did not pay on time. At the time of the Keren-Hayesod campaign he was as “swift as a deer” from morning until night to raise pledges for Keren-Hayosed.

However, he had a fierce competitor [who shared] his ideals and would always try to do better than he did. This was Avraham Gerszonowicz, the well-known Zionist worker in Czenstochow. When he would see that Jachimowicz had already collected a respectful number of declarations [of support], he would become “as strong as a lion” and turn his extraordinary energy to surpass the other one. Their “competition” was well known in Zionist circles. They were called the “competitors” in the manner of Czenstochow, the factory city. Such idealistic competition was truly rare.

Shmuel Horowicz – a son of a Czenstochow manufacturer, an engineer by trade, was the permanent secretary of the Keren-Hayesod campaign. When the Keren-Hayesod collection would begin, the managing committee of Horowicz and Partners knew that he ceased to be the boss of the young engineers and he had completely become the envoy for Keren-Hayesod. He would carry out his secretarial abilities with extraordinary accuracy.

Yehuda Engel, chairman of the Mizrakhi [religious Zionists] in Czenstochow, was an older man and it was not very easy for him to climb flights of stairs. However, he disregarded the weakness caused by his weak heart

Two Zionist workers were called “the pair” in Zionist circles. They were a rare, blessed pair, really a match made in heaven. They would travel and work successfully and fruitfully together at every Keren-Hayesod campaign.

[Page 367]

They existed two separate worlds with separate world outlooks. They would merge their work for Eretz Yisroel with one aspiration and desire – to collect even more for the construction of Eretz Yisroel.

The well known Mizrakhi worker Belchsztajn was a pious Jew with a beard, dressed like a Hasid. His second half was Doctor Rozen, a European-educated man and, in addition, a follower of the Enlightenment. They were “as if kneaded out of one dough” at their work for Eretz Yisroel and by day and late in the evening they were always seen walking together out of one house into another. Then it was known in Czenstochow that the “pair” was at work.

The frost burned and seared; a blizzard would cover the street – the “pair” did not see it and did not feel it, but went about their service with enthusiasm.

They and dozens of others dreamed about Eretz Yisroel for many years and did not live to save themselves in its lap and find rest on its earth. There in the hell of Hilterism they remained, sharing the gruesome fate of their brothers.

I do not know what happened to each of them, but they breathed out their souls in the multifarious inhuman suffering and shared in the fate of the millions of martyrs in Poland – may my modest words about them serve as a bouquet of flowers on their unknown graves.

Honor their memory!

Tel Aviv, May 1944


* One of the Zionist workers who saved himself in time in Eretz Yisroel was Yakov Yehoshua Kohn.


 

Anonymous Landsleit[1]

by Bela Goldwirt

I became acquainted in the Belgian capital of Brussels with three people from Czenstochow who made a deep impression on me. Such people remain in one's memory for a long time.

 


Faygele Berliner

 

They were: Faygele Berliner, Leon the shoemaker and his friend Sala. No one knew the family names of the last two. They were registered with the Belgian police with various names, but none were the correct ones.

I was told that Sala's father was a well-to-do person in Czenstochow. He had a dried fruit business there. Sala graduated from a gymnazie (high school) at home [in Czenstochow].

She was small and silent like a quiet chick, but she quietly spread illegal literature, recruited members for Patronat [assistance for political activists in Poland] and collected money for the Red Aid [International Red Aid – an organization that provided aid to political prisoners].

She and Leon were arrested and deported from the country many times, but they always stole across the border again, returning to Brussels and continuing their work.

Leon saved himself from police hands in Poland and left. Sala went with him. They still had money for expenses until [they reached] Czechoslovakia. They could not remain there, so they left on foot for Belgium.

They arrived in one German state with a few pfennigs in their pockets – it was before Hitler came to power – enough to buy a quarter of a pound of bread. It was more than a few days since they had eaten. They entered a bakery and showed the German woman the few pfennigs – all that they possessed. They told her that they were very hungry. The German woman was not ashamed, she

[Page 368]

cut a thin, small slice of bread, weighed it, not a hair more than for the few pfennigs. Leon and Sala looked despairingly at the thin, small slice of bread; who would take a bite of it first and how would it satisfy them?

They walked for several weeks. It was summertime; they fed themselves with greens from the fields. They gathered wood, made a fire and roasted potatoes.

They arrived in Brussels with swollen feet. There, too, they were threatened with arrest and being deported every day. However, this did not stop them from carrying out their work.

Leon was a little taller than average, broad boned, in his 30s. The look in his eyes was of calm goodness. On his earnest face with its pointed jaw, with his strong flattened nose and with his wrinkled brow lay his firm determined character. He was not a big talker but the words he did say were reasonably thought through and consistent.

 


Leon the shoemaker (Inzelsztajn) (the first one from the left in Brussels, Belgium) with a group of comrades

 

When the Civil War in Spain broke out in 1936 he was one of the very first to go to fight against Fascism. He distinguished himself greatly and fell in battle.

Faygele Berliner was no less interesting. The first time I entered her small room under a roof with the bent walls made an unforgettable impression on me. The only little window lay in the ceiling and looked straight into the sky. The cleanliness shone from every corner. The walls were decorated with small and large pictures. There was a cabinet in a corner on which stood amateurish knick-knacks. Faygele was just finishing her dinner. Her face appeared delicate and full of love of the world in the light from a small lamp.

Her pitch-dark hair was divided in the middle by a part; on the sides lay still, docile waves like in a calm river. Her cheeks – like red blossoms. There was a deep goodness in her charming eyes and there was a dear smile on her lips.

She did not expect anyone that evening, but how beautifully and exact she had set the table for herself! A plate with a piece of cheese, a glass butter dish with butter, a flowered serving dish of sardines and a salt-box stood on a clean, pressed colored tablecloth. A piece of bread lay in a pretty, wicker basket. On the side lay a napkin of the same color as the tablecloth. A small vase of flowers stood in the middle of the table. Her patience and care in beautifying and preparing the table for herself alone evoked [my] delight and admiration of her.

Faygele took the burden of communal work on herself so precisely and patiently. She was quietly and modestly devoted to the progressive workers movement with her whole heart. She went to the meetings and carried out her duties with deep devotion.

Translator's footnote

  1. Landsleit is the Yiddish word for people from the same town. Return


 

The Malarskis
The History of a Czenstochower Family

A. Chrobolowski

Avraham Malarski, the father, was born in the shtetl [town] Sejny, Suwalki gubernia [province]. His mother was the daughter of a religious judge, his father, Zelig, the son of a blacksmith who was known in the entire Suwalki area because he once had the opportunity to shoe the horses of Nikolai the First. For his good work he was freed from paying taxes.

[Page 369]

At age three, Avraham was left without a mother. He was raised in the home of his grandfather, the religious judge, until he took him with him to Nowy Dwór, Warsaw gubernia [province]. He became an apprentice to a rope maker, worked at a spinning wheel 14 hours a day and suffered from hunger and cold.

At age 21, he married Sheyndl Tac, a daughter of Eliezer and Bluma Tac in Nowy Dwór. Sheyndl's parents, her grandfather and grandmother of the Czenstochower Malarskis, traded with orchards and meadows around the Vistula [River] and ran a diary farm.

Avraham Malarski left the rope maker and became a harness maker. At the time his father Zelig, who had previously been an employee in the Nowy Dwór fortress, became the owner of several buses that took passengers and goods to Warsaw and back.

The first two children in the family, Yudl and Royza, were born in the house of their grandfather, Eliezer. Sheyndl, the mother of the Malarskis, being a mother of two children [Yudl and Royza] and still only 20 years old, had not yet made peace with her place in her parents' house. She was drawn to another life.

Leibush Berman, a son-in-law in her extensive family, was a model for her. The grandmother Yokheved, who took care of orphans and abandoned children in the city, had found him near the bathhouse driven from his house by his step-parents. She raised and educated him, married him off to her daughter and had great pleasure from him. At first he became a bookkeeper, then became a supplier of food to the military at the fortress. His children studied in Warsaw. One of his daughters took part in the First Zionist Congress in Basel. She [the daughter] would tell her cousin Sheyndl of her experiences in the wider world. This made a strong impression on Sheyndl who was more of a dorfs-maidel [a girl from a village].

In time, however, Sheyndl, in devotion to her husband, the modest rope-maker, Avraham Malarski, brought an entire generation of ten children into the world. Four sons and six daughters. They moved to Czenstochow, then to America. They acquired a good reputation among the Czenstochow Jews.

 

The Malarskis in Czenstochow

Of the 10 Malarskis, only one, Moshe (Morris), was born in Czenstochow. The remaining, Eidl, Royza, Dovid, Chaim Shlomo, Chaya Ruchl, Hodes, Yeta and Leah (Lina), were born in Nowy Dwór. With the help of their grandfather Eliezer and particularly from their grandmother Bluma who had an ingenuous way of helping to count the money that came in payment in the hundreds for the winter fruits… The family, which then already consisted of 11 souls, the parents and nine children, succeeded in moving to Czenstochow. Dovid became a locksmith. The remaining older children went to work in the factories and workshops where the poor children of Czenstochow were employed. In 1901 Eidl Malarski, a tinsmith by trade, married a Czenstochow girl and settled there. A little later he found a position for his father, Avraham, at the harness-making division of the artisans school.

Their first experience in Czenstochow was the pogrom of 1902. The family lived then in a house at the Talmud-Torah [religious school for needy boys] and they hid with all of their neighbors on the fourth floor of the brick house where the pogromists' stones did not reach. The father was in Radomsk then. When he returned home the pogrom has passed.

They moved to the old market in the courtyard of the Sheiketes' house in the same year, late in the autumn. The new apartment had two entrances; one from the courtyard through the old market; the other (the ceremonial…) through the window and alley to Warszawer Street, or through Horowicz's coal warehouse.

The residence was a dark one. The sun never reached it. The walls never dried from the dampness. The workshop with all kinds of leather goods on the walls filled the house with the smell of raw leather. However, with the beginning of the liberation movement in 1904-1905, a great light of hope and struggle for a better life arose from the house and spread through all of the corners of the Jewish neighborhood in Czenstochow. The Malarski's house was the center of the Socialist-Zionist movement, which enveloped Czenstochow like a forest fire.

The dark attic over the residence neighboring Bluma the “filthy one,” always noisy and full of rags, was the warehouse for weapons and the place to hide oneself. Various frames trimmed with colorful paper laces hung in the house and behind them

[Page 370]

hidden with bricks were hidden packs of literature. Red flags were hidden in an entirely different hiding place near the oven. There were two ovens in the house, one made of tin for cooking. The other one was brick. And the second one was never heated. It served for important purposes…

The [sound of the] crack of a revolver shot often carried from the house. The revolvers were being tested in the dark attic. The revolvers often fired when they were being greased with oil and when there were being cleaned. Once the bullet flew by a group of children in the house who were eager to watch what the adults were doing. The children fell in fear like dolls.

One of the couriers who would bring the weapons to where they were needed was the red-haired, quiet but fearless Hodes (Safa). She would place half a dozen revolvers in her apron, throw on a kerchief and leave for the designated place.

A wagon often would arrive at night at the “ceremonial” entrance, that is, through the alley to the window near the coal warehouse, and off-load sacks and packs just then smuggled through the heavily patrolled border. The father, Avraham Malarski, would hide them in holes under the floor and cover them with dirt.

In the morning, the mother, Shayndl, would drag two baskets of fresh rolls for the rich middle class in the city. This was of help because of the poor earnings of her husband. However, there were other things in the baskets under the rolls…

Eidl lived in Blachownia [a town 10 kilometers from Czenstochow] and worked in a factory there. It was only seven miles from there to the heavily patrolled border, through which went transports of arms and literature. He would come to the city [Czenstochow] on Sunday. Then the Malarski's house would be very crowded with people who would come together to discuss very important things…

The police attacked the house very often at night, searched and rummaged in every corner and usually found nothing. They would turn over the wardrobes and throw the children out of the beds. Shayndl already was accustomed to this and had her method of how to open the suitcases that had been left by comrades who passed through and show the boxes full of old pieces of leather from her husband's work.

We could write many, many pages demonstrating the unassuming heroism and martyrdom of one of the Jewish mothers of a revolutionary family of that time. Shayndl, the mother of the Marlaskis, was an example.

One of the louts, who demanded “payment” for a place at the old market, honored her with such a slap in the face that no one dared to intervene. She very often had to fight with the police chief and his assistants on behalf of her arrested children and she turned to another method: diplomacy. There were several Malarskis, kein ayin hore [no evil eye – said to ward off an evil eye]. For example, once when Eidl was arrested after the explosion of a bomb at Stancia Streeet, they reasoned with the police chief that Marlarski-the-revolutionary was abroad and the arrested Malarski was completely innocent. He was a married man and led a quiet life with his wife and child. (Eidl, the “quiet one,” as a tinsmith prepared things that exploded with such a boom that it shook the entire city.) When Eidl already was in America, she turned her “diplomacy” to another side and defended Dovid.

In addition to her children, she was the mother to dozens of other revolutionary activists who hid in the attic in her house. Many had to be sneaked across the border. Many needed to receive ful-paskes (certificates to cross the border). One of those, who often looked for protection from her, was Ahron the red-haired one (Ahron Singalowski). Once he arrived unexpectedly at the house on Friday, right at the time to light the candles, pursued by the police. Shayndl interrupted the candle lighting and hid Ahron somewhere.

The greatest misfortune occurred when she was running around, fell and broke a leg. She walked with crutches for a long time. Her leg healed badly and she suffered terrible pains. During the same winter, Dovid, who worked illegally in another city, was arrested and was brought to Czenstochow in a procession of prisoners under escort. With the help of the crutches, Shayndl went to the barracks in a horse-drawn carriage to see Dovid. Mass arrests had taken place after the bomb explosion on Warszawer [Street] in the summer of 1906. A large number of visitors came to [visit] the arrestees, among them Shayndl. During the great tumult, she and Dovid mixed in among the visitors and left in freedom. After this, she, with the help of

[Page 371]

Eidl, who was sending money from America, went to Breslau to have an operation on her foot. After the operation, she went to her father at the orchards near the Wisla [Vistula River].

They could not rest completely there. Dovid, who was supposed to be abroad, was caught at a Socialist Zionist printing shop on the first floor [in European usage, this was the second story] of a house on Krutka Street. He and the printer jumped out of the window. The police shot after them. Both successfully escaped. The news reached Shayndl. She already was suffering from diabetes as a result of a difficult and troubled life. Dovid left for America the same summer and settled in Chicago.

 

Dovid Malarski

ovid Malarski belongs among those whose names become legends.

He was a locksmith by trade. His entire learning both in kheder [religious primary school] and as a locksmith took place in Nowy Dwór. He came to Czenstochow in 1902 and immediately after his arrival he joined the first working group organized by the Socialist Zionists. The workers movement in general and the Socialist Zionists in particular then consisted of a few individuals. Dovid Malarski really was the one who led the masses with the stubbornness of a pioneer, the fearlessness of a revolutionary and the enthusiasm of a child for whom a new world and a new ideal of life are revealed.

His great virtues as a revolutionary did not consist of words but of deeds. The most difficult and most dangerous work was entrusted to him: taking illegal literature across the borders; sending the literature to other places; organizing self defense [groups]; protecting the group with espionage; support for the Jewish population against pogroms; the organization of printing shops and the terrible work in the printing shops. Dovid Malarski's hand was in all of them.

Watched and chased by Tsarist spies and police in Czenstochow, he would disappear over the horizon for a while and then immediately appear again when a printing press failed or another extraordinary event happened.

He was there with the typesetter from Piotrkow when the police uncovered the Socialist Zionist printing shop on the first floor of the house on Krutka Street. Dovid jumped down unhurt from the window onto Krutka Street. However, the “one chosen from all people” sprained an ankle jumping and could not run. Under the fire of the police, Dovid ran back to the spot where his comrade lay and carried him away to a safe place.

In America he tried to extinguish his fiery temperament with education. He studied, went to college. He also was active in the Socialist Zionists and in the school movement.

A serious illness that had attacked him years earlier tore him away from communal work where he is now greatly missed.

 

Leah (Lina) Malarski

She came to Czenstochow while still a child, but brought with her the strong impression of her birth city of Nowy Dwór which was as large as a walk from one grandfather to another; [memories] of a visit to her Grandmother Bluma who lived on the Piasek [street name] and always served sour milk and sweet challah [Sabbath bread]; [it was] quite separate from her grandfather's orchard where one could eat the most beautiful fruits that fell from the trees and where the entire family – large and small – which consisted of some seventy grandchildren would gather on Shabbos [the Sabbath].

Leah received her first education in Moshe Mordekhai's kheder [religious primary school]. The rebbitzen [rabbi or teacher's wife] taught Hebrew from a Siddur [prayer book] with a pointer and helped [the students] recite the Hebrew words. Tuition was five gildn a month. The rebbitzen rewarded [the students] with a small candy for bringing the few gildn.

Then she studied writing and reading and she carried a notebook and story book, Russkaja Rech [Russian] with her.

Later her father himself, because of the poverty in the home, taught her while he worked.

In 1904-1905 the intelligentsia in Czenstochow from the Freiheit [Freedom] movement organized small educational groups in private houses. Leah studied in a small group at the house of a dentist. The poor children would be treated with tea and ciates (small cakes) in the wealthy house. This was a kind of earthly heaven for the children…

Leah helped her mother earn a living while still a very young child, carrying the baked goods to the rich middle-class women. She would usually carry a small basket. When her mother broke a leg, she [Leah] and another sister dragged the large baskets that might have been bigger than she was.

[Page 372]

She was often sent with a basket of food to Eidl in Blachownia. She would carry back baskets of things that were a secret to her. [She took] the road to the train that was then a little outside the city, then [she took] the train itself to Ostrow and from Ostrow [she went] in the forest to Blachownia, which was a powerful experience of joy and fear for her.

Once her father waited for her at the train and with a horse drawn coach. This was a great mystery to her… A few days later a bomb was thrown on Warszawer Street.

The Constitution of October 1905 was for her as if a great holiday had fallen from heaven. Therefore, the winter with house-searches and arrests, which increased right after this [the issuance of the Constitution], was doubly difficult for her. The mother and her daughter [Leah] often would be stopped in the street by the military police and searched…

It must be added that these were the experiences of a child of eight to 10 years old.

 

The Malarskis in America

The family's emigration to America began in 1906. Eidl left first, then Dovid. The third to go was Avraham Malarski himself, then already an upholsterer. Chaim Shlomo, the third son, who had just returned from military service and brought along a wife, came next. Then three sisters came: Chaya Ruchl, Hodes and Chana. After them came the oldest sister, Royza, and her two small children, Meir and Zelda. The two youngest children in the family, Yenta and Moshe, came with her. The last to go were Shayndl, the mother, and Leah (Lina). This was in 1910.

Everyone settled in Chicago. This was the happiest meeting of the entire family, which had been for years scattered and spread; some in military service, some in prison and some in America.

Their house was always full. Two sisters got married during the year of their arrival. All of the other children had friends. The house was always open to everybody. The dining room looked like a familiar inn. Sadly, it did not last l ong. The diabetes that Shayndl, the mother, had beaten back at home (in Poland) came to America with her. She left this world on the 18th of May 1913, leaving a deep melancholy over a previously lively house and Moshe, an 11-year old child.

Avraham Malarski lost his job and moved to a small town in Indiana with his two youngest children.

Eidl died in 1925. And Chaim Shlomo died in 1931. However, the large Malarski family in America branched out further, increased [in size] and continued the work here with devotion to the ideals brought from the old home.

Eidl had organized the landsleit [people from the same town] here and was the first chairman of the Nowy Dwór Aid Union.

For many years, Dovid was the most active Socialist Zionist worker here – later he was active in IKOR [Organization for Jewish Colonization in Russia] and in the Sholem Aleichem Institute.

Royza, Chaya Ruchl and Hodes were active in the parents' union of the Sholem Aleichem School and in the Nowy Dwór Aid Union.

Leah (Lina) belonged to the left Poalei-Zion [Workers of Zion] in Chicago, was active in IKOR and was one of the first members of the Czenstochower Patronat [organization to aid political arrestees in Czenstochow] for the political arrestees and also was the provisional secretary of the organization when Graman left for New York. She belonged to the Fraternal People's Order and was active in the parents' committee of the Order's schools.

The third and fourth generations of the Malarski family here consists of 23 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. Almost all have studied in Yiddish secular schools. Royza's children, Max and Zelda, the oldest grandchildren, studied at the first National-Radical School of the Socialist Zionists in America, of which Dovid was one of the original founders. The younger ones studied at the Arbeter-Ring [Workman's Circle] Schools. Dovid's and Chaya Ruchl's children studied at the Sholem Aleichem Schools. Beverly, Lina's daughter, studied at a People's Order School.

All of the Malarskis without exception have taken part in the aid work for Czentochow. Malarski's grandchildren also have taken part in this work. One of them is Zelda, Eidl's daughter.

In 1923, a banquet was organized with the help of Lina, Dovid, Hodes (Safa) Royza and Zelda at the departure of Friend Chrabalowski for Czenstochow. And with Dovid the toastmaster they succeeded with his extraordinary energy to collect $200 for the Y.L. Peretz Folks-School in Czenstochow.

The family chronicle of the Malarskis would not be

[Page 373]

complete without the history of the youngest son, Moshe (Morris).

 

Morris Miller

The “unease” of the Malarskis would not let him rest. [He lived] in a small town in Indiana with his father. He joined the American Army at the age of 16 during the First World War under the name Morris Miller.

After the war he joined the Navy, became a sailor and sent letters to his father from distant places with the signatures of rabbis [testifying] that he had not forgotten to recite Kaddish [memorial prayer] for his mother. When he returned home after a long time of wandering, he was like a stranger among the family. He had almost forgotten the Yiddish language. The only Yiddish words he still remembered were: “Veyst Tata” [“Do you know, father?”]. He did not know any more. His father, Avraham, would answer him: “Ikh veys, ikh veys” [“I know, I know”]. He meant: “You are lost among the family.”

However, he returned… This was during the years of the Depression. The Malarskis were active in the ranks of the left. He [Morris] was drawn to the movement. He began to study in the workers' schools. He studied political economy, Marxism and so on. He appeared at the mass meetings and inspired his listeners.

He also was active in the workers' theater and had great success in the sketch, “Waiting for Lefty.” He won a scholarship (stipend) to study dramatic arts and became very popular with his character roles.

He took part in the March on Washington as a veteran of the First World War and was the leader of a column. The newspapers gave him a great deal of publicity then and Morris Miller rose to leadership.

He changed completely and married and became attached to the family. He worked as a fireman at the Inland Steel Company in Indiana during the Second World War and is now involved in theater and communal activity.

The Malarskis took part in the Second World War with a grandson, Joe (Zelig) Malarski-Goodman, Clara's son (he is in the photograph with his son, a great grandson of the Malarskis).

However, during the prelude to the Second World War, in the Spanish Civil War, Chaim Miller, Dovid Malarski's son, left his university where he was studying chemistry and left for Spain to join the Loyalists.

The Malarski family is described here, not as an exception, but as an example of the life of our people.

 

 
 
Shayndl Malarski   Avraham Malarski

 

 
 
 
 
Chaim Shlomo Malarski   Hodes Malarski   Morris Malarski   Eidl Malarski

 

« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »


This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.


JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  Czestochowa, Poland     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page


Yizkor Book Project Manager, Binny Lewis
This web page created by Max G. Heffler

Copyright © 1999-2019 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 27 Aug 2017 by LA