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[Page 176]

Zionism in Kolomea

During the Period Between Both World Wars[1*]

by Dr. Zvi Heller, Tel Aviv

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

When I speak about Kolomea, I mean the environs that were called the political electoral district of Kolomea that was geographically known under the name Pokutia. Everything that took place in Kolomea had an effect on the shtetlekh [towns] and villages with large Jewish settlements in the mountainous vicinity.

Kolomea had its own Jewish representative in the state parliament, then the Austrian Reich's Council in Vienna, for many years before the First World War. The election district in Austria consisted of three cities in one: Kolomea (Kolomyya), Snityn (Sniatyn) and Beczucz (Buczacz [Buchach]).

The Kolomea Jewish deputies before the First World War were members of the “Polish Club” (Kolo Polskja).

After the First World War, the Kolomea election district in the newly revived Poland was represented in

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the Sejm by a deputy from the United Zionist list number 17, on which the general Zionist, Dr. Henrik Rozmaryn, Dr. Zvi Heller, the representative of Histadrut, the representative of Mizrakhi [religious Zionists], Dr. Shimeon Federbush were candidates. The other Jewish lists, from the Bund, Agudas Yisroel [anti-Zionist religious party], and Paolei Zion [Marxist Zionists] were incapable of carrying through their candidates.

The democratic elections to the Jewish National Council that were dominated by the assimilated [Jews] to the Jewish National Council that in the time of transition immediately after the war took the place of the earlier small kehile [organized Jewish community] houses of prayer provided a strong push to national-political organizing by the Kolomea Jews.

Contributing to the [Jewish] national turmoil was Hashomer Hatzair [the Youth Guard – Social Zionists], the Zionist youth movement that arose during the First World War in Vienna and then was transplanted to Galicia by the returning refugees, young men and girls. A group of Hashomer Hatzair was also founded in Kolomea that had its hakhshara [agricultural training for potential emigrants to Eretz-Yisroel] location in the area of the village Slobudka Lesna.

Immediately after the war, Kopl Gugik and his wife [reopened] the Hebrew school, Safa Brura [clear language – a movement to encourage the use of the Hebrew language] and organized classes for the young and courses for the adults.

In the large meeting hall of the Zionist party, Beit Yisroel [House of Israel], which had existed since 1903, would gather veterans of the local Zionist movement of the past such as the old Dr. Shlomo Rozenhek, the commendable Efroim Klarman, Dr. Marek Laks, Shlomo Scher and Yona Ashkenazi; also there were the younger leaders and the halutz [pioneer] youth, among whom, in a place of honor, were representatives of Hitachdut: Chaim Ringelblum, Kopl Gugik, Moshe Schneberger, Mikhal Hazelkorn, Lev Grebler, Yitzhak Teitelbaum, Meir Laks, Yakov Bender, Nakhman Palik, Shlomo Rares, Dov Sternberg, Etl Ramler, Yakov Schikler, Dr. Meir Etinger, Nety Eiferman and others.

The mentioned Hitachdut comrades headed by Mikhal Hazelkorn led the Keren Kayemeth [National Fund] commission in the city and in the area.

Hitachdut created a professional artisan's school that was led by Mrs. Gusya Horovitz.

The Herzl Library, at the head of which stood the famous Zionist activist Yakov Byter and his wife, Gitl Perminger Byter,

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was very beloved in the city. It possessed thousands of books in Yiddish, Hebrew, Polish and German.

A drama section [of the Zionists] was started with Dr. Marek Knap, Pinkhas Scheierman, Zindl Neiman, Hersh Neiman, Leibele Wolfberg and Neti Eiferman at the head. The drama group carried the name Halevi.

The lectures were begun again as before the war in the Jewish Toynbee Hall. Of the local people, Dr. Shlomo Rozenhak, Chaim Ringelblum, Kopl Gugik and Dr. Kramer often would appear with lectures. Dr. Meir Geyer, Senator Dr. Mikhal Ringel, Professor Binshtok, Dr. Zilberstein, Dr. Naftali Schwartz, Dr. Kopl Schwartz, Fishl Werber, Dr. Fishl Rotenstreich, Zalman Hering and Dr. Zvi Heller would come from Lemberg to lecture. Hundreds of Jews from various circles listened to these lectures.

There was a chess club with a considerable number of members in the Baron Hirsch Hall. Pinkhas Scheierman and Dovid Schreiber led the club.

Lively work went on and with it good success for the Keren Hayesod [the Foundation Fund] in Kolomea and in the surrounding area. The success mainly was thanks to the emissaries from Eretz-Yisroel, Natan Bistricki and Sura Berger. The Hitachdut worker, Lev Grebler traveled to the surrounding cities and villages with the delegation from Eretz-Yisroel.

There were often clashes with Agudas Yisroel in the small Vizhnitz, Ziditshov, Boyan, and Otynia synagogues. Agudas had its fortresses of anti-Zionist struggle in every Hasidic synagogue.

The first halutzim [pioneers] left Kolomea for Eretz-Yisroel in 1920. Among them – Yehuda Grunverg-Hurin, the current leader of Jachin [Prepare] and of Merkaz Hahaklai [Agricultural Center] at Hahistadrut in Eretz-Yisroel, Yosef Kuperman, Dov Sternberg, Sholom Laks and others.

There was a large hakhshara [training site to prepare emigrants for life in Eretz-Yisroel] settlement with the name Klasov that consisted of comrades from the Kresy [Borderlands – formerly territory in the eastern part of Poland], from Volyn, from Polesia, Podlasie and from the Vilna area.

Among the first comrades that Hitachdut sent to hakhshara to the landowner, Engineer Ayzyk Berlet in Gody-Turka, were Chaim Laks, Yakov Grin, Etl Ramler, Levi Grebler, Yakov Hamer and others. Most of this group emigrated to Eretz-Yisroel during the month of July 1925.

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The Hitachdut Central [office] in Lemberg strongly supported the Kolomea hahalutz movement through special cultural envoys. Among the Lemberg delegates were Engineer Reizer (today a high official in the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem), Dov Stok (today Dov Soren, professor of Yiddish at Jerusalem University), Menakhem Gelerter, Fishl Werber, Dr. Nusan Melcer, and the former Sejm [lower house of Polish parliament] deputies, Dr. Kopl Schwartz and Dr. Zvi Heller. The General Secretary, Minister Zigmund Herring, and the regular delegate from the Halutz Central [office], Lionek Braunstein (today in Kibbutz [communal settlement] Hulda), also helped with the cultural work.

The general Zionists, Mizrakhi and Revisionists [non-religious Zionist group founded by Ze'ev Jabotinsky], had their youth and halutz groups in the city.

Yehuda Kreps, Henekh Schecter, Yona Ashkenazi, the Rabbi, Reb Chaim Zvi Taumim, Hersh Rozenbaum, Efroim Klarman and others stood at the head of the Mizrakhi Party. At the initiative of the Hebrew writer, Reuven Fahn, delegates from Kolomea Mizrakhi (Hocher and Zinreich) traveled to Eretz-Yisroel to buy land.

Dr. Hesl, the lawyer, Yakov Heger and others, led the Revisionist group. They created a Betar [Revisionist Zionist youth group] group, as well as a group of Kayil Lemui [National Force] in the city.

The main workers from the leftist Poalei-Zion were: Shlomo Schmoys, Mendl Marksheid, Dutsia Landman, Krauthamer and others.

The Agudas Yisroel was a small group in Kolomea, as it was in all of eastern Galicia. However, it had several capable leaders and the most capable among them were Reb Yosef Lau and the lawyer, Dr. Ben-Tzion Fesler. However, Agudas was completely weakened and lost its influence after Dr. Yosef Lau was chosen as the local rabbi, at the initiative of the Mizrakhi social worker, Reb Yona Ashkenazi (Gedelia Biter's son-in-law and Yekl Biter's brother-in-law). But it still had a group of respected businessmen in its leadership, such as Dovid Zeidman, Lipe and Shlomo Heller, Lipe Ungar, Leibtsie Libman, Shmuel Ber Hener, Leibush Krys and Mendl Hirsh.

Kolomea had its own two Zionist newspapers, Nas Glos [Our Voice] in Polish from the general Zionists and Undzer Shtime [Our Voice] [in Yiddish] from Hitachdut.

The visit of Yosef Sprinzak, the present speaker of the Knesset [Israeli parliament], was an important event in the history of Kolomea Zionists.

Yosef Sprinzak came to Kolomea in 1935 to carry out the

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unification of Hitachdut and Poalei-Zion. Some from Hitachdut with Chaim Ringelblum, Moshe Schneberger, Lewi Grebler and Dr. Marek Knop were stubborn and would not embrace the unification with Poalei-Zion that had been carried out on a worldwide scale.

After greater efforts and more intensive theoretical doctrinal work on the part of the special messengers from Ikhud [Union], Dr. Naftali Schwartz and Yitzhak Fagenbaum and finally, Yosef Sprincak, the Ringelblum group as well as Kopl Gunik's group united with Poalei-Zion. The previously mentioned leaders of Hitachdut, Chaim Ringelblum, Kopl Gunik and Moshe Schneberger and the Poalei-Zion workers, Dr. Wagman, Shlomo Badler, Dr. Schnebalg and Shlomo Eizner, were at the head of the united party.

In 1934, Lewi Grebler created a hakhshara settlement of the Hitachdut comrades under the name Vitkinia.[1] The group became a part of Hitachdut halutz in eastern Galicia. The economy of Vitkinia consisted of four gardens near the Prut [River] and a house on Dzieduszycki Street. During the summer the group worked in the field. However, during the winter, the group was hired to do laundry in private houses. The group members were woodcutters during the winter.

It was very typical that the halutzim had to carry on a struggle for the right to work. The woodcutters organized by P.P.S. [Polish Socialist Party] often attacked the halutzim and did not allow them to work. The municipality helped to secure for the halutzim their right to work thanks to the councilmen Chaim Ringelblum and Moshe Schneberger.

Hitachdut and the women's organization, WIZO [Women's International Zionist Organization], created a people's kitchen in the city. Members of Hitachdut founded a credit bank for artisans and retailers, again with the help of Sejm-deputy, Dr. Avraham Zilberstein, who was the leader of the Jewish cooperative movement in Poland and with the help of the “Joint” [Joint Distribution Committee] representative, Yitzhak Niterman. The old communal worker Dugye Vizelberg stood at the head of the bank.

Yad haRutzim, the artisans' union that was under the influence of the P.P.S., split after the death of the well-known P.P.S. leader, Dr. Samuel Lazarcz Schor. A Zionist group emerged from the union and the comrade from the

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Hitachdut, Yitzak Teitelbaum, succeeded in organizing 15 young locksmiths for emigration to Eretz-Yisroel.

Most of the artisans reorganized under the leadership of the jewelry traders and the government-friendly city politician, Yehuda Borukh Feuerstein, in a union, under the name Rzemieslnik (the Artisan).

The Hitachdut under the chairmanship of councilman Moshe Schneberger created a separate union for artisans and retail traders. A Union of Private Employees that joined Lemberg Central was founded under the chairmanship of Chaim Ringelblum. The Hitachdut also created Jewish produce cooperatives in large villages surrounding Kolomea under the name Hema (butter) with the help of Dr. Avraham Zilberstein. These cooperatives were in contact with the cooperatives Tnuva [fruit] and Mashbir [to sell food] in Eretz-Yisroel.

 

kol181.jpg
Members of the Local Committee of Hitachdut Tseiri-Zion [Young Men of Zion] in Kolomea
Sitting from right to left: Munya Schumer, Wolf Weisbrat, Dr. Marek Knopf, Chaim Ringelblum, Levi Grebler, Moshe Schneberger, Dovid Hilzenrat;
Standing under them: Zini Thau, Moshe Schikler, Dr. Zev Haber, Yitzhak Kern, Shama Tindel (Teicher), Itsye Danker, Naftali Thau;
In the last row: Yosef Reich, Yosef Ramler, Munya Bank, …..?, Bank

 

Footnote

  1. Dr. Zvi Heller was one of the leaders of the Zionist-Socialist party, Hitachdut in Poland and a deputy in the Sejm [Polish parliament] from Kolomea during the years between both World Wars. As a deputy, Dr. Heller often came to Kolomea and was in constant contact with Zionist society as a whole in the city and, principally with Hitachdut, which had the finest representatives among the Yiddish and Hebrew speaking intelligentsia, such as Chaim Ringelblum, Kopl Gugik, Moshe Schneberger and others.
    Dr. Heller's remembrances of Kolomea bring out several interesting facts and an abundance of names of well-known older and younger activists in the city. Return

Translator's footnote

  1. Vitkinia is named after Joseph Vitkin, Zionist author of the pamphlet, A Call to Jewish Youth who Love their People and Zion, in which he encouraged immigration to Eretz-Yisroel based on the ideal of agricultural work. Return


[Page 182]

Socialist Demonstration in Kolomea
on the Eve of Voting, 1907

by Levi Grebler

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

Three days before the voting, on a Shabbos [Sabbath], the Z.P.S. [Zydowska Partia Socjalno Demokratyczna – Jewish Social Democratic Party] under the leadership of Dr. Schorr, together with the P.P.S. called a mass meeting in Lyeblyk Room on the Sobiejski Street to question why the city council was not carrying out the [recent] Austrian law requiring that three weeks before the election, the city council was to distribute a stamped voting card to each citizen so that he could take part in the election.

This was to be the first, general, secret, direct and proportional election that was battled out with great effort in the Reichsrat [Austrian Parliament in Vienna]. However, the municipal authorities in Kolomea deliberately and consciously neglected their duties and three days before the election, the citizens still had not received their voting cards. The crowd was very agitated by this action on the part of the city managing committee and everyone came as one to the protest meeting. Kolomea had not seen such a gathering until then! Artisans, merchants and workers came from all strata to demand that the municipal authorities treat them as the law demanded – as free Austrian citizens.

Dr. Schorr gave an inspired speech. He proposed his program to the large assembled crowd, which he intended to carry out in the Reichsrat [Austrian Parliament] as the representative of the working masses. At the close of his speech, he enjoined those assembled to march in closed ranks to the city hall. The crowd responded to his speech with strong applause. The several thousand assembled immediately formed rows and, singing the Czerwony Sztandar [Red Banner], they marched with the red flag, carried by Anshel Weitz.

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Yosl Glazer, Fishl Thau, Haber, Dr. and Mrs. Schorr with a Ruthenian female teacher and Dr. Oster walked in the first row. Fuks, Ciper, Ehreman, Mikeitin, Bialas, Korski, Simcha Weitz and his wife, Leib Biger, Mordekhai Leibowitz, Borten, the younger Thau, the shoemaker's son, Shaul Freier, Gabrial Ziegenlaub, Naftaler Kesten, Haker the shoemaker, Hilzenrat the weaver. The enthusiastic masses called out various slogans: “Niekh zywo, Dr. Schorr, hoorah! Precz z kliki magistrackiej! Hanba! Wstyd! Tchórzak! The Ruthenians sang: and “Hei tam na hori Sich ide” [“There upon the mountain Sich marches,” a Cossack song] and so on.[1*]

New people constantly joined this marching mass, Jews in their Shabbos [Sabbath] clothing, in long, coarse coats and shtreimlekh [fur hats worn by members of some Hasidic sects]. These were the Jewish weavers, mostly pious Hasidic Jews. All were ready to fight.

When the demonstrators reached the city hall with the cry, “We demand our voting cards!” the Jewish vice mayor, Funkenstein, gave an order to the firemen to close the gate and he telephoned the military. Meanwhile, still more people joined in. The crowd became larger and larger. The clique in the city hall also quickly called a meeting of its people to decide what to do in such a tense mood. Meanwhile, several demonstrators noticed that the officials from the city hall on the second floor were standing near the window and laughing. There was shouting: “Look up, they are laughing at us!” The masses started for the city hall and began to storm the gate. Some threw stones and broke the windowpanes of the windows of the city hall. Dr. Radecki arrived during this. When he had to pass the Hotel Grand, the masses threw rotten, stinking eggs and began to beat him. However, Herer came to his aid and pushed him into the gate of the hotel. After everything, the masses stormed the gate of the city hall until they broke in and several hundred people entered inside. The military came immediately, a company from the 24th infantry regiment with the Lieutenant Colonel Count Czukowski at the head. They

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called out the 24th regiment, not the landwehr [militia], because there were many Jews and city bourgeoisie in the landwehr and they knew that the landwehr would not dare to shoot at the masses.

The company commandant demanded that the demonstrators disperse, if not he would be forced to order shooting. Dr. Schorr and his wife left immediately, but the demonstrators did not move from the spot. Even the doctor's bodyguard remained in place with a firm decision to present the demands of the masses. At the commandant's second demand to disperse, the masses slowly withdrew from the city hall and stopped near the gymnasium [secondary school]. The lieutenant colonel demanded for the last time that the masses disperse and threatened that he would give the order to shoot. As the masses still did not leave, he did give an order to the military: “Attention, load the weapons! Secure the bayonets!” And the trumpeter began to blow with such power that a fear fell on everyone. The crowd began to draw back in the direction of the Ring Platz. They ran in all directions in the greatest confusion. Hundreds of brave people remained standing in the Platz. Here, some kind of miracle took place: at the moment when the company commander made a gesture to the soldiers to open “fire,” we heard a strong whistle and we saw our dear Field Commandant of the city of Kolomea, Colonel Sir von Pfeifer, come running with all his power. (It could be that the Colonel von Pfeifer was a Jew and, perhaps, not. We cannot know. But it is certain that he was a very liberal person.)

Meanwhile some cried: “Shoot!” And tore open their shirts and stood unbuttoned at the chest ready to perish for their rights. There was a great tumult. People pushed and were pressed so closely together that it was impossible to move from the Platz. Even I, an onlooker, could not free myself from the vice. The people did not consider what kind of danger to life hovered over them, standing against the armed soldiers who were ready to shoot at any second.

The Colonel von Pfeifer was seen running out of the restaurant that was in Moshe Breyer's house. He was a good looking,

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tall man, so he could be seen among the entire mass of people. When the top lieutenant Czukowski, who was ready to give the order to shoot, saw the Colonel von Pfeifer running with his sword in his right hand, he was puzzled. The colonel came and called out to the company: “Attention! Weapons to the feet! Back three steps! Halt!” And he called to the company commander: “Who gave the order to shoot at unarmed people?” The company commander could not answer. He was pale as a wall. The colonel gave the soldiers an order to turn around and withdraw. He told the company commander to take over the command to call the soldiers back to their barracks in full order. And this all lasted only several seconds. The soldiers withdrew and marched away.
When the people noticed this, some began to gather again. However, the colonel remained standing on the stairs of the gymnasium with his sword in his outstretched hands. The crowd began to come out of its hiding places and again began to shout slogans: “Niekh zywo, Dr. Schorr!” “Precz z kliki.” “Hanba! Wstyd! Tchórzakomi!”[2*]

The colonel gave a sign to the crowd to calm down. He wanted to say something. As soon as it became quiet, he began: “My men! I ask you, tell me, what pains you and why have you gathered here?” Everyone shouted out an answer to his question at once: “Voting ballots!” And a great tumult began again. The colonel shouted at this: “My men, I do not understand any words. Let two or three of you approach, lay out your complaint; I will see what I can do for you. However, be calm!” Three respected middleclass citizens appeared. They were: Yosl Glazer, Naftali Kesten and Hersh Eisenthal, an iron merchant who had his business at Bitman, near the canal. He came from Bukovina, an intelligent man who spoke German well. He was the spokesperson.

Eizental called out as follows: “Respected Sir Colonel! Our majesty, the Kaiser, for the first time in history, had permitted us, as Austrian citizens, according to the decision of the

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Reichsrat – universal, secret and direct voting rights. The elections will take place on Tuesday. According to the order of the Reichsrat, the city hall has to distribute a stamped voting card to each citizen three weeks before the voting and now it already is three days before the voting and we have not received our voting cards! Therefore, we gathered to demand that the clique in the city hall carry out its duty. When the leaders in the city hall saw us coming, they locked themselves in and would not even listen to us. And because of that [there] is great agitation!” To the colonel's question of who was responsible for not carrying out the order, came a shout from the masses: “The clique, the propinatarski-clique![1] The straw mats! Down! Disgrace!” And so on.

The colonel shouted: “My men! Calm yourselves. I do not understand a word you are saying. I will have to leave if you do not calm yourselves.” It immediately became quiet. And Eisenthal called: “Sir Colonel, you want to know who is responsible? The vice mayor, Josef Funkenstein!” The colonel answered this: “Let several of you go with me to the mayor and you will present your complaints in my presence. I assure you that I will strongly demand of the mayor that he carry out his duties.”

They immediately elected a delegation of five people: Dr. Oster, Yosef Glazer, Herer, Hersh Eisenthal and Haber (an official at the Export Bank). The colonel walked in front and the delegation after him. The firemen, seeing the colonel, moved aside and opened the gate of the city hall. The delegation and the colonel immediately went up to the mayor on the first floor.

While the delegation lingered in the city hall, the crowd outside again began to sing fight songs and called out slogans. When the delegation and the colonel came back out, they went up to the balcony of the Hotel Grand. They asked that it be quiet because they had something to report. It became quiet. And Dr. Oster and Herer reported that the Colonel Sir Pfeifer had demanded strongly of Vice Mayor Funkenstein that he carry out his duty unconditionally and provide every citizen with a voter card. If not, a military managing committee would take over the city hall and itself carry out everything. The rights of citizens cannot be violated! The colonel also warned the mayor

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that he would hold him responsible for calm and order in the city.

The crowd accepted the report with a shout of hurrah and great ovations for the colonel. The colonel saluted and left.

The Jews of Kolomea have the Colonel Sir Pfeifer, to thank for the prevention of a blood bath before the Reichsrat voting in the summer of 1907. He appeared as an angel of the people and a miracle for the Jews of Kolomea happened through him. Who does not remember what happened in Drohobych on the same Shabbos when in a similar case, under mayor Feuerstein, 21 Jews fell dead and many were wounded![2] However, thanks to the Colonel, Sir Pfeifer, area commandant of the city of Kolomea and commandant of the 36th landwehr [militia] infantry regiment, the Polish top lieutenant, Count Czukowsk, could not carry out his murderous intentions and destroy hundreds of families.

Later, when the colonel parted with the assembled, Dr. Oster, in the name of the mayor, reported that every citizen should go up to meeting room of the city hall where he would receive his voting card. He, Dr. Oster, asked the crowd to stay calm, not to disturb the work of the city council.

Those authorized to vote left for the city hall in closed ranks and everyone received their voter card, stamped for the voting. When a thousand Jewish citizens had received their voter cards, the secretary said that from now on only the Christian voters would receive their voter cards at the city hall. The Jewish voters would have to go to the Jewish community council for their voter cards. The Jewish voters left for the [offices of the] kehile [organized Jewish community] en masse. It was closed because of Shabbos. They saw this was a new trick by the community leaders and they again went to the city hall en masse.

It appears that in the further course of events, the following occurred:

When the clique saw that it had lost, they turned for help to the district chief, Dr. Poblikowski He again made contact with Count Potocki, the governor. When Count Potocki heard the report from the district chief about the situation in the city and what had occurred

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with the Colonel Sir Pfeifer, he communicated with the corps commandant of the 11th Corps in Lemberg, General Sir Kolossváry von Kolosvár (of Hungary) and he pulled strings in such a manner that the kehile would accomplish its goal. The following occurred:

When the Jewish demonstrators again returned to the city hall, they were told that the voter cards were being given out at the kehile and they should go there. When they arrived for the second time, they met the well-known kehile shamas [sexton] [and] informer, Shlomo Dovid, standing in a shtreiml [fur hat worn by some Hasidim], before the Jewish community building gate. He shouted in Deitsch-merish [Germanized Yiddish] to the demonstrators: “Komen zi morgen. Heite ist Shabbos!” [Come tomorrow. Observe the Sabbath now.] When they heard this, they understood and the humble Jews again raised their heads; they had been turned away again. They again left for city hall singing songs and calling out their slogans. Some shouted: “Long live Dr. Schorr!” Others shouted: “Long live Dr. Thon!”

Meanwhile, evening fell. At around eight o'clock, when they approached the gate of the city hall, the gate was closed and no one was permitted to approach. The police did not get involved and remained neutral because this was the municipal police. However, the firemen and the gendarmes did take part, protecting the city hall from the outside and the inside because they were working in the villages and employed by the Kolomea district. The well-known lawyer, Dr. Havrilo Trilovsky, leader of the Ukrainian Social Democrats and also the leader of the Rutenian Radical Party, Ivan Lobruk, campaigned there. The gendarmes had enough work in the villages.

Two squadrons of dragoons with drawn sabers suddenly came running when the demonstrators before the city hall demanded their rights and they stormed the demonstrators from the right and the left and demanded that they disperse.

There was a great tumult and a wild stampede. Shtreimlekh and caps were mixed up on the ground along with pieces of kaftans and sticks. However, thank God, no victims fell. This also was thanks to Colonel Feifer because although he had to carry out the order of the corps commander, he probably ordered the dragoons to be careful that no human victims fell. In addition, the 14th Dragoon regiment consisted for the most part of Czechs and a small number of Germans. To our good luck, not

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Hungarians, as had happened in Czernowitz [Chernivtsi] at the election of Lucien Bruner.

After the crowd dispersed, the Ring Platz looked as if there had been a battle. However, we had pulled through well.

The clique won a great victory. They sent entire wagons, loaded with beer, whiskey and sausages to the Christian streets. Meanwhile, the German anti-Semites banged on Jewish skulls on the Menechevka.

Thus ended the first public election demonstration of Jewish workers, artisans and citizens, after the first large election meeting that was called by the Socialist candidate, Dr. Schorr. He was beloved by all workers and toilers. However, because of the machinations of the clique in Kolomea, he was never elected to the Reichstag.


Footnotes

  1. Long live Dr. Schorr! Down with the municipal clique! A disgrace! A shame! Away, cowards! (They called the candidate of the clique “Tchórzak.” [Tchórz is the Polish word for coward.]) Return
  2. [Long live Dr. Schorr.] Down with the clique! A shame and a disgrace with the cowards! Return

Translator's & Coordinator's footnotes

  1. “propinatarski” is derived from the Polish word “propinator” – a person licensed to produce and sell liquor [Tran.]Return
  2. Drohobych sources report that the shooting took place on election day in 1911 also, of the 21 killed, 11 were Jews [Coor.] Return


[Page 190]

Vienna Rothschilds and Kolomeyer Taleysim Workers[1]

by David Yesha'yahu Silberbusch

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

A young Jewish man got married in 1876 in Kolomea, the well–known city of approximately 13,000 souls with a majority of Jews, unpretentious Jews from the old generation. He was supported by his own parents and by his father–in–law and mother–in–law for several years. He became a man with the burden of children and a long, yellow beard already grew on him. He searched for his own income for himself and the members of his household. He had an ingenious idea in 1883. He imported looms from Germany. He brought trained weavers from there for the period of several months, until he could teach the [working] Jews the business of the weaving trade and until the Germans would no longer be needed.

Taleysim [prayer shawls] were woven. The Taleysim weaving factory grew from year to year. It already was called a Taleysim factory. And soon the owners were called “the manufacturers.”

The manufacturer with the yellow beard was a respected naïve

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Jew. He was a Boyaner Hasid with a little bit of learning and a great fear of God, and his workers were mostly Hasidic Jews. A number of them were elderly, former teachers, learned men.

The bosses behaved well with their workers outside of the work time in the traditional Jewish customs and they with him.

All through those years life went on according to traditional Jewish practice in the Taleysim factory. On a wintry eve before Purim, they paused their work for the daily late afternoon prayers known as Minkhah and Maariv. The manufacturer often led the prayers from the podium in front of the worshipers and his workers were proud of their boss's God–fearing manner. One of the workers sometimes spoke up to present a dvar Torah [a comment on the religious text] or to tell a Hasidic story. The manufacturer was not disturbed by a little criticism from the worker. In fact, as he stood alone on the podium, he listened with great pious interest. And what is more, on a special holiday, when it was the old rabbi's yahrzeit [the annual memorial on the date of that rabbi's death], the manufacturer provided whiskey and cake after the afternoon prayers and drank along with all the workers in a brotherly way and told a marvelous story about the old rabbi, of blessed memory.

The workers disguised themselves at the Purim feast. They bent their peyes [side curls] behind their ears. They rolled up the coattails of their kaftans, tied them behind with their gartlen [belt worn by pious men] to the knee. And thus they disguised themselves as Germans. The entire group went to the home of the manufacturer. They distorted their mouths to speak hoch–Deutsch–merish [high German–infused Yiddish] with swollen lips. The manufacturer laughed. The manufacturer's wife laughed and the manufacturer's small children actually rolled with laughter. The Purim spirit brought happiness to the house. They ate; they drank. They sang The Rose of Yakob and they merrily began a little dance with the boss.

Things went very well at night on Shemini Atzeret [the eighth day of Sukkos – the Feast of Tabernacles]. The Taleysim–weavers gathered with the manufacturer. They devoured hot stuffed cabbage, blowing it with their lips and burning their tongues. They drank alcoholic beverages, “on which the world stands and on which the world does not stand.” And thus they carried on drunk. The workers, the owners, manufacturers, went singing and frolicking through the streets with flaming torches in their hands to their small synagogue for hakofus [circular precession with the Torah scrolls on Simkhas Torah].

*
* *

The talis–worker stood for years and years, day in and day out, naively, innocently at the loom. With his hands, he wove

[Page 192]

Taleysim, Taleysim–kotnim [small pray shawls usually worn under a man's clothing] and large taleyisim. And his brain weaved its own thoughts, small thoughts and great thoughts: the wages are stingy. But praised is the Lord God for it. He has a noble occupation. He is not a shoemaker and not a tailor, not a carpenter and not a blacksmith…

However, times change. New birds flew in from afar, far away and with them new songs.

It was not too long before social democracy in Austria would “raise its head,” show what it was capable of, gather around itself its wandering comrades, until then in various party camps, and prepare for them the program of organization that had long ago been achieved in other nations.

This party worked with all its strength.

Socialism also entered the Kolomea Taleysim factories.

A young man, half–intellectual, fiery, pretentious, was the successor of an elderly deceased comrade. The young man immediately became a big shot among his comrades. They even grinned sarcastically at the start. They called him the “Taleysim philosopher.” However, they listened to his words. He explained that in Vienna there is a group of worker–contractors and when one joins it [the group], they get all benefits as members.

They accomplished: 1) a raise in wages; 2) no more than eight hours a day of work; 3) to be paid their entire wages even at the time when, God forbid, the worker “collapsed” and he could not come to work; 4) the bosses became intransigent in accepting the demands of their workers, so all of the workers stopped working at their trade at the same time – and received their wages from the society in Vienna for as long as it takes for the bosses to give in.

In the Taleysim weaving factory could be found a tall, slender Jew with a grim expression and with a thick, black beard, a Jew who stood sullenly almost the entire day at his loom, his heavy black eyes downcast and his lips always clenched. This Jew heard these words; he became inflamed, flashed

[Page 193]

his two large, dark eyes. His lips opened. He explained the matter to his comrades in his own Kosower–Hasidic style. He called them together for a meeting on the same evening at the small Sharagroder synagogue. A thick, dark cloud settled on his face. He opened the Aron Kodesh [Torah ark] with his lips clenched. He was the first to swear on a Torah scroll to stick together. “All for one and one for all,” and then his comrades did [the same].

And on a hot summer day in 1892, suddenly, all Taleysim workers wiped the sweat from their brows with their right sleeves. They donned their caftans and caps. And –––with the canes in their hands, all together, they left the weaving factory.

*
* *

“The talis–weavers donned their caftans and caps in Kolomea – Vienna was gripped with excitement: A strike had broken out in the Kolomea talis factory! The socialist ideas had infiltrated the Jewish neighborhood from the distant east!”

The socialists laid out this matter and explained it in detail. They made every effort. They photographed the workers with their beards and peyes [side curls], with their talis–katan hanging out over their pants, as if they, the “wretched ones,” were standing wearily at the looms. They distorted the face of the Taleysim manufacturer, with the yellow beard, into a caricature of a leech. They put up these images in the Vienna streets and sent them to their comrades in all their groups in other countries.

In Vienna, two young parties, the Hovevei Zion [Lovers of Zion] party and Austria's newly prosperous Socialist Party quarreled and were at each other's throats. Each party wanted to become the only power in the Jewish neighborhood. They stood opposite each other like angry roosters. The socialist rooster found the best opportunity to give a peck with his hardened beak to the Hovevei Zion rooster in the very middle of his forehead. On the contorted face of the Kolomea talis manufacturer he painted a large Mogen Dovid [Star of David, literally Shield of David] – this was to signify: Here, this is a Zionist!

And their organization carried out another nasty trick:

[Page 194]

*
* *

A hit! “Blood runs from the nose of the Hovevei Zion rooster…”

In Vienna Dr. Natan Birnbaum was the editor of a German news weekly entitled Selbst–Emanzipation, and I was the editor in Kolomea of the Hebrew biweekly entitled Ha'am. Birnbaum published an open letter to me in his newspaper (number 17 of 1892)… He stroked me “under my double chin.” He praised me highly. And finally he let out a frightening “howl” –

“How come?! Why did I permit the Taleysim workers to fall into socialist hands and did not grab them earlier for Zionism?!!!”

Understand that as a matter of course, when the editor in Vienna questioned me in his newspaper, I, the editor in Kolomea, had to give him an answer in my newspaper. To tell the truth, I was in not too small a dilemma. If I had a thousand heads I could not explain to a Viennese what a Kolomea manufacturer denotes and what “Hasidic socialists” signifies. In short I answered:

– Our socialists did not cease reciting three times a day the Shmoneh Esreh [central prayer], “May our eyes behold Your return to Zion in mercy” and at the prayer after the meal “rebuild Jerusalem.” There even were present among them those who rose at midnight for khatsus [midnight study and prayer in memory of the destruction of the Temple]. Socialism did not injure in the least their sense of being Jewish. However, they wanted not only a dry piece of bread for themselves, for their wives and children, but a little bit of butter, too, for their work… Meanwhile can they not earn a pair of shoes for their child despite their love of Zion and Jerusalem… If we want to do something tangible for them, there is another piece of advice: we collect for them a sum of money to create a talis factory where they can work in partnership and divide “equal portions for all” with the gains from their work.

When writing the last several lines I did not think about Ferdinand Lassalle and not about Karl Marx. I only remembered a Hebrew poem by Samuel David Luzzatto entitled, Portions for Portion Shall They Eat. In addition I must tell the truth that the writings in the last few lines were just like this. A clever Jew always needs

[Page 195]

to be prepared with clever advice. I do not think that I could believe for a second that the Viennese Hovevei Zion would consider my advice. Furthermore, this had no connection to their program [of Hovevei Zion]; they themselves, begging your pardon, were poor people and their influence was a lot less than nothing.

However, there was a surprise! A Hebrew written bomb was thrown as far as Vienna and [it] exploded; this means only that it was fired in Kolomea.

There was no doubt in Kolomea that the Viennese Jews were great “experts” in such things… There were still Rothschilds in Vienna. We only needed to find a smart solution and – they immediately would obey.

The first was the manufacturer with the long, yellow beard who came to me with a complaint; why did I want to decrease his income?

– In short, the Viennese “gentiles” do not know. But you, a local Jew, know that I have not made a great fortune from my weaving factory. I can tell you a secret: I made a match for my oldest daughter a year ago. I did not promise a large dowry. The agreed date for the wedding on the Shabbos [Sabbath] after Shavous [spring holiday commemorating the giving of the Torah] was written into the engagement contract. However, I had to seek pretexts for delaying the wedding for later. I tell you however, that the real reason is simple: because it is difficult for me to pay the dowry. And I know that my in–law is a “merciless” Jew. He will not relent [for even] a penny.

Hearing these words, I controlled myself with all of my strength and did not even smile. On the contrary, I was very happy with what he meant, that now the Viennese Jews would create a talis–factory for the Kolomea workers. I only made a stern face and I said:

– I believe you that it is too difficult for you to make a wedding for your daughter. However, I think that the mitzvah [commandment] of communal help for young women without the resources to marry is not the obligation of your workers. They have the first mitzvah of responsibility for their wives and children… Yet, I will point out that you and your household eat a good lunch and good supper from the [profits of] the Taleysim weaving shop. And your workers also want the same for themselves and their households… You should not forget for a second that your Taleysim weaving shop cannot run without your workers. Not one talis can be made for you without them. However, without you, if they were given the necessary sum of money they could and would…

[Page 196]

At my words the manufacturer became soft as dough: “he gave me a proxy to reach an agreement with his workers.”

But – frankly, with them, with the workers, it was not so easy for me. They, the workers received my “written advice” with very little interest. They believed the same as their manufacturer.

With great effort I persuaded them that meanwhile they should go to work, until… yes… until the Viennese Rothschilds would make their own Taleysim factory for them.


Footnote

  1. The famous Hebrew–Yiddish storyteller, publicist and memoir–writer, Dovid Yeshaya Silberbush (born 1854 in the eastern Galicia shtetl of Zaleszczyki, died in 1936 in Tel Aviv), was a Kolomea son–in–law. At the end of the 1880s and in the first years of the 1890s he lived in Kolomea and published Ha–Am [The People], a Hebrew bi–weekly.
    The chapter about the Kolomea Taleysim workers that we take from Silberbusch's memoir–book, Mentshn un Gesheynishn [People and Events] (from the Literary Friend publishers, Vienna 1922) had a connection with Silberbusch, the editor of Ha–Am, and with the first strike of the Taleysim workers.
    The Editors Return

Coordinator's footnote

    For more information about this historic strike in Kolomea in 1892, see Diaspora Nationalism and Jewish Identity in Hapsburg Galicia by Joshua Shanes, Cambridge University Press, 2012, pp. 104–108. This was the most important of the Austrian socialist strikes in the 1890's and the most successful of that time with 1000 gulden raised for the strike fund.
    Hundreds of tallis weavers had been working 15–16 hours a day for the meager pay of 1–3 gulden per week. The instigator of the strike, Max Zetterbaum, originally from Kolomea, and an assimilationist socialist, was a law student in Lemberg (Lvov/L'viv), who returned to Kolomea and got a job in the factory to organize the workers. As to how the strike ended, Joshua Shanes has found no other sources that confirm Silberbusch's account of being the negotiator who ended the strike. One socialist correspondent reported that ten workers with large families crossed the picket line to break the strike. A Yiddish memoir by Abraham Locks, who was in Kolomea then, recalled that the striking workers prevented Russian weavers from taking their jobs but the owners eventually outsourced to factories in Bohemia and replaced other workers with non–Jews – CHS


[Page 197]

The Hechalutz[1] in Kolomea

by I. Teitelbaum (Haifa)

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

The start of Hechalutz in Kolomea is connected with memories about general events in our city during the first years after the First World War. A short time after the disintegration of the Austro–Hungarian Empire, Kolomea seemed to experience the excitement of a Ukrainian regime, of the Romanian occupation army until the establishment of free Poland. The economic situation was very difficult; factories, tanneries, weaving factories, mills barely managed to operate; artisans kept looking for a few tools, a little material for their workshops; there was almost no possibility of earning something; the new rulers began to show their true face; they began to throw Jews from trains going at full speed, cutting off Jewish beards in the street; Jews were removed from all government posts. The Polish apprentice institutions seemed to be closed to Jews.

The young Jews fell into despair. What next? There was no chance at any kind of life. Some young people left for the borders; they left for Germany, Austria, across the ocean, to South America, Argentina and other lands. Many of those who remained threw themselves into the retail trade, took up the so–called intelligent professions: dental technician, weaving, printing and others. A number succeeded in entering the Polish gymnazie [secondary school]. The Ukrainian gymnazie was open to Jews because the Ukrainians felt discouraged because of the failure of their independence. However, the majority of Jewish young people walked around idle and sat at home supported by their parents.

[Page 198]

kol198a.jpg
Halutzim group in Kolomea 1924–1925

 

kol198b.jpg
The group in Kolomea 1933

 

kol198c.jpg
Histadrut Gordonia[2] in Kolomea 1933

[Page 199]

It was in this environment that the news of the Balfour Declaration reached Kolomea. Things seemed brighter for Jews, in general, the young particularly. The young saw the Balfour Declaration as the redemption of the Jewish nationalist question and the opportunity for an existence in the future. The enthusiasm was great at all levels of the Jewish population.

The Jewish young people in Kolomea began to dream of ways of emigrating to Eretz–Yisroel, particularly the former students in the Hebrew school, led by Kopl Nunig and his wife.

The start of the halutz emigration from Kolomea was made by a female pioneer, Milke Zaydman, the daughter of Yehuda Ber Zaydman. She left in 1921. I remember that at her departure a comrade called after her: “Go and we will follow en masse.” Milke's emigration made a great impression in Kolomea. Many were envious of her courage and boldness. Today, Milke Zaydman is one of those who lives in Kibbutz Ein Harod.

There was a small group of comrades in Kolomea at that time who were called “the professional halutzim.” They completed the Hachshara in Słobódka Leśna and Sigiovke, near Lemberg. Returning to Kolomea they began to search for an opportunity to emigrate. At that time such possibilities were bound up in a measure of difficulties. At the beginning of 1922, Dov Shternberg, Yehuda Rat and several others traveled “oyf shvarts” [illegally]. The first stop on their itinerary was Presburg [Bratislava]; from there they left for Vienna where they worked baking matzohs in order to put together the needed sum for the further trip. They reached their goal after almost 12 months. Yehuda Grunwerg, the later Yehuda Chorin, the director of the citrus company, Yakhin, joined the group in Vienna.

Yosef Kuperman was a halutz, in a double sense, the one from Kolomea [who went to the land – Eretz Yisroel] and the one who “pioneered” a road across Romania. His itinerary was from Kolomea to Chernovitz [Chernivtsi]; from there to Constanta. He arrived in the land [Eretz Yisroel] in 1924.

In 1922 a group of halutzim from Brod appeared on the streets of Kolomea. These were Dov Sadan's students. They came to Kolomea for agricultural training. They were housed with Nusan Bishel in his egg warehouse on Klebanya Street. The cooperative life of the group, their lack of care for comfort created

[Page 200]

a sensation in Kolomea. There was constant talk in Jewish homes about the group from Brod. The young people listened to the talk and, infected by the example, they decided to leave their homes and also go for agricultural training. At that time the Histradrut Hehalutz [Pioneer Organization] was found in Kolomea. The halutzim from Brod, 163 in number, were taken to Godi Turka, to Yankl Bretler's farm where with fervor the group took to worship and education at the same time.

Hehalutz became the strongest Zionist organization in Kolomea in the interim. Young people from all classes flooded into Hehalutz: those employed in trade, locksmiths, tinsmiths, weavers, village children to whom work was not strange. All of them wanted to go through agricultural training to be ready for all the heavy work that was in store for them in [Eretz Yisroel]: drying the swamps, working in the orchards, at the construction of houses, at furnaces and others. Feverish cultural work was carried out at the premises of Beis Yisroel. Yitzhak Ramler, Meri Etigner, Chaim Ringelblum and others carried out widespread political work. The young Halutzim became acquainted with all of the Zionist and Jewish problems. The members of Hechalutz became among the most active coworkers in all Zionist institutions: Keren Kayemet [Jewish National Fund], Keren HaYesod [the Foundation Fund], Ezra; they were extremely active in Zionist election campaigns, at elections to the Jewish kehilus [organized Jewish community] and to the Polish Sejm [lower house of Polish parliament]; the Hechalutz took over the maintenance of calm and order at all Zionist meetings and presentations.

A group of Kolomea Chalutz joined the Akhdes [unity] collective in Stanislav and studied in the Barzel [iron] workshop. On a rainy day during the summer of 1924 they crossed the Cheremosh to Kitev and went from there to Chernovitz and then further on. Among others, those in the group were: Yitzhak Feder, Shimeon Likvornik, Sholem and Meir Laks, Tspora Shiber, Dovid Krauthamer, Nusen Fridler and others. Yitzhak Feder was an exceptionally interesting type. His enrollment at the time in Hechalutz brought a great deal of feeling and recognition from all who knew him. He was a merchant. He denounced foreign currency on the stock exchange in Kolomea and Lemberg in the years after the [First World] War and caused a great stir. On a beautiful morning, in Chalutz work clothes, he joined [Akhdes] and became one of the most active, leading strengths in Akhdes in

[Page 201]

Stanislav. He learned to be a locksmith with the group that “split” the Cheremosh, and left.[3]

The group worked as porters in a grain warehouse in Chernovitz. They lived in constant danger of falling into the hands of the Romanian Siguranţă [Kingdom of Romania secret police] and if one of them was arrested it would lead to a “bribe” so as to be arrested again in the morning. The group remained in Chernovitz under such conditions for a few months until they collected the money for their expenses and acquired the documents necessary to be able to continue on their trip, with a payment of money it should be understood. The also arrived in the country [Palestine] in 1924.

The Jewish and non–Jewish farms, which surrounded Kolomea on all sides like a belt, very quickly became a center for the agricultural organization of halutz, not only for Kolomea, but also for a number of other cities and shtetlekh [towns] in Galicia. The agrarian school in Słobódka Leśna founded by IKA [Jewish Colonization Committee] in 1901 was a very important place for Chalutz training. The economy was partly ruined during the First World War. The remaining and newly annexed buildings were adapted for Hachshara. Hechalutzim flooded here, not only from Kolomea, but also from all of Galicia and Poland. Kolomea was the main center for the school. There was limited contact between Kolomea and the school. Słobódka Leśna was an excursion spot for the young people in Kolomea; they would go on excursions there on foot. The honorary administrator of the school and the authority for all Hechalutzim in general was Dr. Shlomo Rozenhek. Słobódka Leśna, along with its well–known agrarian school, also experienced the tragic events of 1919, when the Polish military of [General Lucjan] Zeligowski's army killed the martyrs Yosef Bal, Rotenberg and Preser, of blessed memory.

Kolomea became an important center for Hechalutz, not only in regard to Hachshara, but also as a leg of the journey for Chalutz emigration from all of Galicia and Poland. The emigrants stopped here on the way to Kitev across the Cheremosh, or to Sniatyn across dry land. The emigrants received their final instructions in Kolomea. It sometimes occurred that sneaking across the border was unsuccessful and the emigrants would be brought back to Kolomea in a procession of convicts. In such a case, they were first of all provided with food, then

[Page 202]

kol202a.jpg
Bnos Agudas Yisroel, the Hachshara collective for girls in Kolomea in 1935

 

kol202b.jpg
A group of Hanoer Hatzioni [Zionist Youth] at a summer colony in the area of Kolomea in 1934

 

kol202c.jpg
A departure banquet before the departure for [Eretz Yisroel] by the Betarists[4] Kutner and Rozenbaum in 1933)

[Page 203]

with legal help. The regular Hechalutz lawyers were: Dr. Marek Laks, Dr. Meir Gelbart. And Dr. Marek Knopf.

During an election campaign in Kolomea I often had the occasion to meet with a group of young artisans who were close to the Bund [Jewish socialist party]. I established contact with them and after several meetings I succeeded in convincing them that their place should be in Hechalutz. And their purpose – emigration to Eretz Yisroel. At the end of 1923, Zaynwl Eizner, Mendl Bochner, Wolf Grinberg, Maks Gelert, Gershon Rot, Yosef Habicht, Wolf Laks, Sura Bretler and others from the group joined Hechalutz. These comrades later created the famous agrarian collective Kherut (freedom). They could be found every evening at Beis Yisroel where they truly swallowed the talk of our best mentors; Comrade Levitas taught them Hebrew.

The [members of the] Kherut agrarian collective went through hachshara in Kolomea with a group of halutzim from Stryy. Due to a lack of certificates, several members of Kherut tried to cross the border near Stryy–Lavodshnye. However, they were stopped in Mezherichi–Ostroh and they again were placed on the Polish side. A number of them had to serve in the Polish military. In 1930 the group finally arrived in Eretz Yisroel. Three of them did not succeed in emigration: Habicht died after an illness; Wolf Laks and Gershon Rot perished during the Hitler years. May their souls be bound in life.

 

The Trumpeldor Agrarian Collective

The Trumpeldor[5] agrarian collective was founded at that time by the following comrades: Shimeon Krinits, Shimkha Shmid, Kalman Gredinger, Yona Hashpil, Yitzhak Wilner, Naftali Wilner, Zehava Rozenkrants, Yona Teicher and others. The comrades from the agrarian collective did their agricultural training at the Zabolotiv farm. They arrived in Eretz Yisroel in 1926 and worked in Zikhron Ya'akov at various jobs. The agrarian collective failed because of the economic crisis that broke out then in the settlement in Eretz Yisroel. Some members of the group made a fatal error – in 1927 they returned to Poland.

Meanwhile there was no end to the creation of more and more agrarian collectives in Kolomea: Hitachdut [Zionist–Socialists], Bulia, Vitkinia,[6] Klosov, Gordonia[7] and others. In 1925

[Page 204]

Lev Yitzhak Shancher, Yakov Grin, Yeshaya Feder, Etl Ramler, Yosf Domb and Chaim Laks of Hitachdut came to [Eretz Yisroel].

I left Kolomea on the 6th of May 1925 and emigrated to Eretz Yisroel. I visited Kolomea several times in 1931–1937. The Hechalutz and Hechalutz Hatzair [Zionist youth movement] were still strong and had strong young people in their ranks. However, the limited possibilities created a condition of despair and helplessness among all the comrades. At that time the English already had guards on the shores of the settlement [Eretz Yisroel] aided by radar. Ships with immigrants would wander aimlessly at sea for weeks until they succeeded in reaching the shores of Eretz Yisroel.

The boat “Welos” with which we tried to reach the shores of Eretz Yisroel along with other Hechalutzim from Kolomea – Lev Grebler, Mendl Bachner, Shmay Tindel – had to return to its point of departure after wandering aimlessly for many months. The emigrants were forced to return to Poland. Some of them later did receive certificates and arrived legally in the country. Today a thousand souls are counted in the Kolomea family in the Land of Israel. We find our Kolomea landsmen [people from the same town] at agrarian settlements, kibbutzim [communal settlements] and moshevim [farmers cooperatives]; we find Kolomeaer in workshops, factories and also in responsible state posts across the entire country. While all were placed in important Jewish communities, the Kolomea family in the Land of Israel is, to our great sorrow, a small one that could have been immeasurably larger…


Translator's notes:

  1. Hechalutz – The Pioneer – was a movement with preparatory training for young Jews hoping to settle in Eretz–Yisroel. Hachshara were Zionist agricultural training farms that prepared potential emigrants for work in Eretz–Yisroel. Return
  2. Zionist youth movement – Histadrut ha–No'ar ha–Amamit ha–?alutzit Gordonia – the People's Pioneering Association of Youth – Gordonia. Return
  3. “Spliting” the Cheremosh River and leaving is an illusion to the parting of the Red Sea and the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. Return
  4. Betar is a Revisionist Zionist youth organization founded by Ze'ev Jabotinksy. Return
  5. Joseph Trumpeldor was an active Zionist and hero of the defense of the Tel Hai settlement in Eretz Yisroel in1920. Return
  6. Vitkinia is named after Joseph Vitkin, Zionist author of the pamphlet, A Call to Jewish Youth who Love their People and Zion, in which he encouraged immigration to Eretz–Yisroel based on the ideal of agricultural work. Return
  7. Gordonia is a Zionist youth movement named after Aron Dovid Gordon who encouraged the use of manual labor and called for a revival of the Hebrew language. Return

 

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