Translated by Dr. Hannah Berliner Fischthal
The town of Dąbrowa Górnicza can thank, in part, a very old community for its name. Old-Dąbrowa was founded hundreds of years ago, among desolate forests and swamps, on a hill that slopes down to the valley, Czarna Przemsza. This old Dąbrowa was the beginning of the contemporary town, which developed in quick tempo, thanks to the black diamonds underground. It is difficult to determine when the neighborhood was created since there was no aristocratic manor around which the community could tie its history. (The name probably derives from the Dąbrowa forests, where the community was found. By the way, another neighborhood in the town carries the name of dąbniki ). [Both names derive from oak in Polish HBF].
The coalmines from the 18th century in Czarna Przemsza did not
develop they way they should have. In the years 1795-1806 the Prussians
exploited the coalmines. Later, in the time of Warsaw's leadership, the
managers, obedient to Napoleon's war, allowed the mines to become disorganized
and neglected. After the Congress of Vienna in 1815, people once again became
interested in the soil, when the Kingdom of Poland was created. Czarist Russia
ruled the Czarna Przemsza. Afterwards, when Stanisław Staszic
of the Kingdom of Poland took over office as Director General of the Division
of Industry, Trade, and Culture, the Polish coalmines were revived. Thanks to
Staszic's work and efforts, a coalmining community was established in
Dąbrowa, and he laid the foundation for the future development of the
entire community, Przemsza. In the second half of the 19th century,
on Staszic's initiative, two coalmines were built (and later fell down):
(a) Reden in Dąbrowa Górnicza, and
(b) Hain in Strzemieszyce.
After 1985 [1895? translator's note], under Staszice's management, new layers of coal were discovered in Dąbrowa. The coalmine Kasaweri and others were established; also in Sielce, Pogoń, Strzemieszyce. In the years 1834/39 the foundry Bankowa was established with funds from the Polish Bank, which in 1831 had taken over the management of textiles in the Kingdom of Poland. Dąbrowa first received town rights in 1916 for industrial development . (Connected to the growth of the population in 1880, the number of residents approximated 6,000; in 1897 14,870, and in 1921 30,871.) The proletarian groups helped to fulfill Dąbrowa Górnicza as a center of revolutionary movement (it participated in the revolution of 1905-06).
In 1889 a school for colliers was opened, which operated until 1905. During the
revolution the courses stopped, but they later resumed and continued until WWI
broke out. In 1919 the school was changed to a trade school for colliers and
foundry workers, bearing
The Jewish population
In 1931 there were 5,150 Jews in Dąbrowa Górnicza; in 1940 the
number grew to 5,663. Most of them were businessmen, artisans and owners of
small stores and workshops. The first deportation of the Jews to Auschwitz took
place May 1942; the second in June.
The mass-deportation to Auschwitz occurred in August of the same year. From the first to the seventh of August 1943, the Hitlerists deported about 3,000 Jews from Sosnowiec, Będzin, and Dąbrowa Górnicza to Auschwitz. Approximately 400 Jews were shot while attempting to escape or resist
(from the Silesian Library in Katowice, translated from Polish).
by Cwi Simchoni
Translated by Dr. Hannah Berliner Fischthal
I first came to Dabrowa as a youth in 1900 when I paid to be a journeyman to Josel Wilkes. He lived then in Reden in the home of Lejbl Frochtcwajg. He had a nickname Tsigush [pipe] because of the long one which he always kept in his mouth, never taking it out, whether he smoked or not. He was an angry Jew with a bass voice, and strict. In the corridors of the courtyard stood large crates with papers which his son-in-law Jekele Rozen, who lived with him, had from his business they were full of tobacco and cigarettes. No child outside of the family was permitted in these corridors to play with the little papers, which used to flutter around.
Out of protest, children would take revenge against Tsigush for not allowing them into the courtyard. They used to enter it fearfully, grab a few papers, and run away. Nobody envied the child he would catch committing this sin.
In general, the colony of Reden did not make a homey impression. The main street, from the so-called barracks until Reden, had deep ditches on both sides. When it rained, the water reached to the barracks, where it disappeared. Small, wooden bridges were scattered every few meters so we could go from one sidewalk to another.
In the small streets there were no bridges, and the mud was terrible. In the lower places the mud was a half-meter high. When a wagon with goods got its wheels stuck in the deep mud, several people had to go and help pull it out. On the sides the mud was thin. We had to maneuver and search well where to step. A person could put his foot in the mud and pull it out, minus his boot. That's how it was in the low places where there was no drain for the water. The water remained in the same place, until it dried out.
You could find a prayer minyan at old Rechnic's home on Chochlewka-Zagórcze (street). Whoever wanted to pray in Reden, cut through the coalmine Reden, and pushed his way through to Chochlewka-Zagórcze.
The elderly Rechnic, slightly hunchbacked, was a rich Jew; he kept horses in the colliery Mortimer in Zagórcze. He sat like an innkeeper in his courtyard with his whole family, and all were employed on his ranch.
The large factories with the tall chimneys, the Huta Bankowa, the zinc works Huta Cynkowa, and the coalmine Reden, were not encompassed by walls in those days. From the large ovens, tongues of fire of all colors issued forth. In the dark nights you could see a beautiful photographic mirage.
The entire administration of Dabrowa consisted, in those days, of a village
ruler and a scribe. They were in Reden, located a story above the
pharmacist. On the ground floor of the community building was the prison
(Koze, as it was called). During the time of the Russian
occupation, the koze consisted of two rooms, one for the arrestees
and another for the guard.
The ruler of the village, Lis that was his name a short man with a hunchback, a big anti-Semite, endorsed all the anti-Jewish legislation of the Tsarist government, and looked to catch anybody breaking a rule. If a young man from another town had no passport, nobody would envy him. Lis quickly denounced him, and the stranger was imprisoned until he was sent away in a procession of convicts.
(from the history of the Jewish community in Dąbrowa-Górnicza)
by Cwi Simchoni
Translated by Dr. Hannah Berliner Fischthal
Our town Dąbrowa is one of the youngest towns in Poland. It grew out of the hidden, thick forest areas, where thieves loitered on the paths, waiting to rob their victims.
It was not built in the characteristically antiquated style of other old towns and villages in Poland; it did not have a market area around it, no old castles, no remains of the old Polish battles (which had invited Jews to come to develop trade), no old cemetery, and so on. This is why the town lore is woven with legends of great humanitarian personalities, of large deeds and accomplishments in all areas of society.
Sometime in the 17th and 18th centuries, when the first sprouts of industry became visible, engineers came from Germany and France (engaged through the big capitalistic concerns at the time). They met in the western corner of Poland, in the large forests surrounding the town of Będzin. The goal was to extract, from rich layers of earth of outstanding quality, great treasures of coal and iron. Intensive work was begun to dig out of the depths the precious material used to heat and to drive the machinery of industry.
The classless farmers of the surrounding villages began to stream to various points where new possibilities for work were forming. A new place to live began to be established. The neighboring Jews of Będzin were the first to step over the threshold. They actually named the new place with the name from the brama [gate] of the wall that used to surround Będzin, the remains of which were still visible as of late.
People did not know the names of the Jews who came to Dąbrowa. They were known by the city from which they came. For example: Proszowicer, Jędrzejówer, Szydłowiecer, etc.
The town of Dąbrowa was divided into various neighborhoods which were called colonies. Workers concentrated around every coalmine or factory. They built houses and, with time, constructed larger and smaller streets. In addition, social networks built apartments for their workers and employees, who received apartments in which to live at no cost. In every colony, two or three Jews, artisans or a small businessmen searching for a place to live and to earn a living, would push themselves in.
The largest concentration of Jews lived in the part of town called the Huta Bankowa. Esteemed artisans and employers, Chasidim and progressives, workers and toilers, lived there.
When Hitler, may his name be blotted out, and his hooligans befell Poland
our town suffered the same fate as all the other towns in Poland
it was ruined and everything was eradicated down to the foundation.
Translated by Lance Ackerfeld
The Dąbrowa city council decided that it is prohibited for any Jew to settle in
this city, except if he had received a license for this beforehand from the
city (Glos Radomski).
In Dąbrowa, like in many other cities in Poland, anti-Jewish riots took place. In Dąbrowa the soldiers carried out beatings and looting, the same soldiers fired at a procession of strikers and after they dispersed them, they looted Jewish shops, and with that they finished their handiwork. In Dąbrowa and the rest of the places an unseen hand was felt, that organized and supervised the riots. In Dąbrowa and Kielce there were threats of riots and the Jews were warned about them before they occurred. The rumors of riots in Dąbrowa made an impression on the Jewish laborers and they did not take any part in procession.
The Jewish weekly Hatzfira dedicated in its 12th
edition (18th of Adar II, 5679) an article about the forecast
of riots against the Jews in the city of Dąbrowa as well, that according to the
indications, these were riots that had been organized ahead of time, that they had
a political intention, and the intention was apparent and clear: to put down the laborers'
strike and the uprising that was seen beforehand, not only by forceful and
violent means, not only by shooting, but also by assisting the riots against
the Jews. The laborer's strike, which was meant to be a strong protest against
the political agenda prevailing in Poland, had been talked about for a long
time. However, the authorities made preparations in order to put down the
insurgence and especially in the Dąbrowa region, in which communist ideology
had been spread amongst the laborers, and it seemed that the owners of the
unseen hand had succeeded, and riots against Jews took place before, during and
after the strike.
The Zionist Histadrut
In spite of the difficult conditions that the Zionist Histradrut had
to work under in our city, the Zionist labor [party] had developed well over the
last period of time. The number of organized members has grown and up to 200
shekalim [Zionist membership fees] have been sold. 4,397
crowns have been collected for the national fund and its institutions, from
which 698 crowns are for the Jews living in the land of Israel. Likewise, the
Zionists in our city endeavor to distribute Jewish newspapers, not only in our
city, but also in nearby cities.
|Awremele Lejb Sztorchajn
one of the Mizrachi founders in Dąbrowa
The Zionist movement is very strong and significant amongst the 500 Jewish families settled here. On the 20th of Tamuz a meeting was held and 2,300 crowns were raised for the Jewish National fund.
On Thursday, the 24th of Tamuz, a wonderful Herzl dinner was held in the Odeon theatre. The hall was appropriately decorated. M. J. Fried from Warsaw appeared as speaker, and enlightened on the spiritual profile of our leader. On the screen there were slides shown from the congress and the settlements in the Land of Israel. The orchestra played some Mendelssohn Bartholdy pieces. The dinner ended with the singing of the Hatikva [Israeli national anthem] amongst an incredible spiritual uplifting. As a token of recognition, the Bet Ha'am [organization] decided to plant five trees in the Herzl forest in the name of the speaker, Mr. Fried. The Tzofim [scouts] planted another three trees in the name of the speaker.
Rabbi Jechiel Rapaport from Andrzejów and Mr. Juda Szczeranski from Warsaw visited our town for a month. This rabbi founded the Mizrachi organization, and many prominent people of the city were members of it. Mr. Szczeranski ran an extensive campaign for the Mizrachi fund and he managed, despite the small number of members, to collect a respectable sum.
On Wednesday, the 1st of Tevet, there was a founding meeting for the Tzirei Mizrachi [Young Mizrachi]. Mr. Chaim Lustiger spoke about the Mizrachi concept and also explained to the assembled gathering about the function of the Tzirei Mizrachi. After the lecture, a committee was elected in which the following people participated: Szlomo Brandys, Szlomo Nusbaum, Chaim Lustiger, Chaim Grajcer and Natan Nusbaum. At the same event a sum of five hundred crowns were collected for the erection of a building in the land of Israel, and the planting of trees in the Herzl forest in the name of our founding member Mr. Chaim Lustiger. Likewise, classes were begun in the themes of bible, Talmud, the Hebrew language and the history of the Jewish people.
The Tzirei Mizrachi in our city held a dinner on the 15th of Shevat. Member, Chaim Lustiger, opened the dinner and members, Chaim Welner (Bedzin), Wajner (Sosnowiec) and Wajnszel lectured in eloquent Hebrew. At the same event a respectable sum of money was collected for the Herzl forest.
It is worth noting, that we thought about holding the dinner in the synagogue, however, the Shlomi Emunei Israel organization [The welfare of Jewish beliefs] influenced the community authorities and didn't allow us to carry out what we'd planned.
On the 1st of Iyar a Mizrachi type cheder [Jewish school] was opened with two departments. There were about 50 pupils. The curriculum was: Torah, the prophets, Mishnah, the Hebrew language, explanation of prayers and secular studies. There was a supervisory committee in charge of the cheder in which the following participated: S. Rabinowicz, J. Frydman, S. Finkelsztajn, J. Welner, A. Waltfrynt and L. Kuchen.
By request of the regional committee in Sosnowiec, on Tuesday we had a general meeting of our organization members on the 16th of Av, in which participated the Rabbi Gaon Menachem-Mendel Landau, may he live long and merry, from Zabrze, and members of the central committee, Mr. Levi Icchak Jungster and Mr. Icchaak Cwi Wajner from Sosnowiec. The hall was completely filled. Mr. Chanoch Gerszon Szpilberg proposed electing the Rabbi Gaon as the chairman, and members of the presidency, Messrs Levi Icchak Jungster, Icchak Cwi Wajner, Jakob Szalom Fiszel, Jakob Frydman, and secretaries J. J. Bach and S. Nusbaum. His proposition was accepted with a prolonged applause. The honorable visiting rabbi opened the meeting with a short speech which had a deep and impression on the gathering. Mr. Levi Ichhak Jungster presented a report on the central committee's activities and encouraged the audience to help the organization in any way they could. His speech was halted several times because of enthusiastic applause. Mr. J. Wajner spoke about the Rabbi Akiva fund. His speech made a great impression on the audience. The chairman suggested a 15 minute break and during this time, another 25 members enrolled. In addition, a respectable sum of money was collected for the Histadrut taxes. Mr. Szpilberg presented a report on the activities of the civic committee. J. Jungster closed the meeting with a short speech and approached the members with a vigorous request that they work with all their power for the Hamizrachi. The meeting ended with the singing of Hatikva. It was decided to plant a garden in the Herzl forest in the name of the Rabbi Gaon from Zabrize, may he live long and merry.
After a lengthy break in the activities of the KKL [Jewish National Fund] in our city, we returned to work. A five member combined committee was elected, in which two of our members participated. The new committee began working with enthusiasm. The rest of the members also devoted themselves to collecting money during Purim. A total of ten thousand marks were collected for the KKL this was the sum of money defined by the central committee of the KKL, and it was four times larger than the sum collected in previous years.
After a short break we went back to work. We called a general members meeting, and member, S. Wajnrajch spoke about the function of Tzirei Mizrachi during the present period. After this, a permanent new committee presented themselves for elections, and they were organized thus: S. Wajnrajch chairman, Ch. Grajcer deputy chairman, Z. Liberman secretary, C. Nusbaum treasurer, J. Sywek the cultural and KKL representative, Naftali Bitner Keren Hechalutz representative and members of the committee: A. C. Wolhendler, S. Brandys, N. Frajman. The new committee immediately began actual work. We are certain, that its function will be satisfactory.
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