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{page 364}

III. Between the Two World Wars

When the West Ukrainian Republic was established, Stanislawow was its capital from December 1918 until the end of the republic in May 1919. The government did not take measures against the Jewish community with the exception that it was drafted to help fortify the city; and the new Ukrainian currency, which lacked intrinsic value, was imposed on the merchants. This affected the Jews. The Jewish mayor continued on in his position, and the heads of the Jewish community retained heir positions as well. The Jewish community was faced with the grave problems of caring for the poor, in particular the orphans and refugees. Orphanages and soup kitchens were set up that would provide meals to the needy at reduced prices or even for free.

About two weeks after the entrance of the Polish army (May 25, 1919), elections for the national council of the Jews of Stanislawow took place. 50 representatives were elected, including 10 general Zionists, 9 from Mizrachi, 6 from the Zionist women, 6 from the national party, 12 Jewish Social Democrats (Z.P.S), and 12 from Poale Zion. Dr. Karol Halpern, Dr. Anselm Halpern and Regina Horowitz were among those elected.

When the army of General Jozef Haller entered Stanislawow, the Jews of the city were accused of collaborating with the Ukrainian government. Several hundred Jewish officials were fired, including the mayor Dr. Arthur Nemhein. The Jewish National Council was disbanded.

In 1920, the Red Army took over the city for a brief period. In the few days between the retreat of the Red Army and the entry of the Polish army, the private army of Petlura roamed around wildly for a few days. Two Jews were killed, there was a great deal of property damage, and several Jewish women were raped. With the entry of the Polish army, the violence subsided, but relations with the local government were tense, due to the accusation of collaboration with the Ukrainians. There was a famine in the city at the time, and a typhus epidemic broke out, which claimed may victims. For a period of time, the Polish government confiscated nearly all of the communal organizations for the use of the army. Several communal leaders who were suspected of having left leaning tendencies were arrested, including the leaders of the leftist Zionist parties, and the leader of the local Bund24(formerly the Z.P.S) Dr. Seinfeld. The communal institutions were disbanded, and an assimilationist Jew, Shmuel Nebenzahl, was appointed as commissioner. This man failed to gain the cooperation of the Jewish community, and after a short time he resigned. The Poles were therefore forced to return Dr. Karol Halpern to his position as head of the community (November 1919).

After the war, until 1924, the Polish community of Stanislawow was divided into two streams of thought. One stream was centered around the newspaper "Rozwoj", which the Jews referred to as "Rozboj" (which means robbery in Polish), and promoted the alienation of the Jews. The second stream was centered around the newspaper "Zanitz" (flame in Polish), and promoted equal rights for the Jews, or at least non-discrimination from a legal point of view.

At that time, the government appointed a town council. Among the 36 members, 12 Jews were appointed. Three of these were Zionist, and four were Jewish Nationalists.

In 1921 there were 730 Jewish owned factories and industrial plants in the city. 490 of them hired employees, and the remainder employed only family members of the owners. These plants employed 1,290 people, 1,083 of them being Jewish. The factories included 10 leather factories; the largest of these owned by the Margosches family employed 380 people. The remainder were small scale and employed small numbers of people. There were 10 factories of wood for export, 6 lumber mills which produced goods for local consumption, 11 grain mills (the largest employing 250 people, including 50 Jews), 7 brick factories, and 20 bakeries, which employed 120 workers. There were 17 other factories of various products in the city, the largest being a wool and bedding factory owned by the Mendelsohn brothers. This factory employed 220 people, mostly Jews, and 20 foremen, all of whom were Jewish.

In the smaller scale manufacturing and industry, the clothing business took first place (57% of the businesses and 43% of the workers). In second place was the building industry (12.5% of the businesses and 11% of the workers).

The retail industry remained unchanged from before the war. As has been previously noted, there were about 800 stores, of which 726 were Jewish owned.

There were 130 Jewish lawyers, and a recognizable number of Jewish physicians and teachers in Stanislawow.

The city expanded and developed in this period between the two world wars. Two suburbs of Knihinin were annexed to Stanislawow, with a population of about 10,000 people. The city became a regional center, and the residence of the army command. The Jews did not benefit directly from these developments. Not only were Jews not appointed to any leadership positions, but as has been previously mentioned, several Jews were fired from leadership positions that they had held from the time of Austrian rule. Nevertheless the growth of the city created new opportunities in business and industry -- areas which were for the most part controlled by Jews.

Manufacturing did not develop in the city. In 1937, local newspapers noted that in the previous 15 years, not one new factory had opened in the city. On the contrary, several had indeed closed. The depression of 1929-1930 affected the Jews greatly. In comparison with 1929, the numbers of bankruptcies increased by 150%, and the number of unemployed increased by 30%.

Evidence of the precarious economic situation can be seen from the number of recipients of "Maot Chittin"25, which grew to 1,700 families in 1935; 362 families received help from "Matan Beseter"26. 680 members of "Yad Charutzim", and 150 wagoners received aid that year. In 1936, 10 leather factories went bankrupt.

From among the economic organizations of the Jews, we should note "The Merchants' Union", which was founded before the war, and had 1,000 members in 1923, including 300 pedlars. That year, this union dedicated its own building. After that time it divided up, and the smaller merchants set up their own union called "Kleinhaendler", which was affiliated with the central organization of small scale merchants in Warsaw. The workers who had set up their "Yad Charutzim"27 organization already in the previous century, reestablished themselves after the war, and in 1924 this organization had of 600 members. In 1935 the Zionist members left, and set up their own organization "Poale Zedek"28. In 1937, the government shut down "Poale Zedek".

The two banks that were founded before the war, that of the assimilationists and that of the Zionists, renewed their activities, but not to a large scale. A charitable foundation was established in the mid 20s that gave out loans to the needy in modest sums. From among the public banks, we should point out that the P.K.U. City Savings Bank was Jewish owned, but it went bankrupt in 1936.

When the bankers Izak Chaim Grifel and his brother went bankrupt (in 1924), many Jews lost their savings. After much litigation that continued on until 1930, a number of the larger depositors recovered part of their money, but the smaller depositors lost everything. A similar situation occurred in 1935. The "National Cooperative Bank", which was owned by three Jews (Eister, Keler, Vizenfeld) went bankrupt, and the owners fled the country. Many Jews lost their modest savings with this occurrence as well.

The Cooperative Business Bank, which was headed (until 1924) by the Zionist leader and Sejm representative Dr. Reuven Jonas, closed down during the depression of 1930.

The first civic elections in the time period under discussion took place in 1927. Four Poles, three Jews, and one Ukrainian were elected to the city leadership. Dr. Alexander Biterman, a Zionist leader, was elected as vice mayor. He resigned in 1931. In the 1933 civic elections, 23 Poles, 17 Jews, and 3 Ukrainians were elected. The elected Jews included three "Nationalist Jews" one representative of the small scale merchant's union, one from "Agudat Yisrael" and one from "Yad Charutzim". In the last civic elections, which took place in 1939, only two Jewish parties ran: the General Zionists and the leftist Zionists. The General Zionists obtained five seats, and the leftist Zionist obtained only three.

In the three Sejm elections, which took place in 1922, 1928, and 1930, the Jews of Stanislawow only elected people from the Zionist parties. On account of the ban that the Ukrainians had placed on the Sejm elections, the electoral area of Stanislawow elected three Jews in the 1922 elections, including the local Zionist leader Dr. Reuven Jonas. In 1928 and 1930 this electoral region elected Dr. Henryk Rozmarin, the head of the Polish "Maccabi"29. On account of the new electoral system, there was no possibility of a Jewish representative being elected in the 1935 elections, and therefore no Jewish list ran.

After the first world war, the first communal elections took place in 1924. 3,258 people had the right to vote in these elections. 2,195 people voted, and of these 1,800 put their faith in the Zionist parties. Dr. Alexander Biterman was elected as the head of the community. He resigned his position in 1926, and the Mizrachi member Dr. Weiss took his place. That year,the community council was disbanded, and Leon Bibering was appointed as commissioner. At that time, he was a member of Agudat Yisrael, but later he joined Mizrachi. The activities of the community council included the re-establishment of the community bathhouse, the building of a proper slaughterhouse for fowl, and the purchase of an area for a new cemetery, which was dedicated in 1925.

In the 1928 communal elections, the number of those eligible to vote had risen, and the results were as follows: four general Zionists, two from Mizrachi, one from the united party, one from the rightist Poale Zion, three from Yad Charutzim, six from Agudat Yisrael, one from the small scale merchants, and two from the Bund. Dr. Anselm Halpern was elected as head of the community. Under his leadership a new wing of the Jewish hospital was built, the communal building was renovated, the new cemetery was enclosed, and the large synagogue, which was built in the 18th century in a fortress style, was renovated. In the early 30s, a change in the communal structure took place. All of the parties, with the exception of the general Zionists and the Mizrachi, united and elected Moshe Yisrael Seibald, a member of Yad Charutzim, as head of the community. He organized communal elections in 1924, and he invalidated all lists except one, which put forth a coalition of the Zionist and non-Zionist left, including Yad Charutzim and Agudat Yisrael. In 1936, members of Agudat Yisrael were fired from the community leadership, and Moshe Yisrael Seibald continued on as head of the community.

Rabbi David Horowitz passed away in 1934, and his son, Rabbi Moshe Horowitz, previously the Rabbi of Vienna, took his place.

A local native, Chaim Gad Bertisch was chosen as preacher of the "Neorim" Synagogue. Dr. M. Braude had previously held this position, but in 1912 he moved to Lodz.

In 1929, when the Jewish Agency of the land of Israel expanded, and non-Zionists entered its leadership ranks, two honorable citizens of Stanislawow, Rabbi David Horowitz,and Dr. Anselm Halpern, joined.

Rabbi Alter Nebenzahl30, one of the first Agudat Yisrael members of Galicia, became well known as a rabbinic judge. He served in his position from 1899-1939. He passed away at age 82, and he had published eight books in his lifetime. The most well known are "Pri Eitz" and "Minchat Yisrael" which are books of responsa on the Code of Jewish Law, section "Yoreh Deah". After the first world war Reb Alter dedicated himself to permitting Agunot31.

Many mutual benefit organizations were established in Stanislawow at this time. As had been mentioned previously, mutual benefit organizations had already been started before the first world war, but after the war there were many orphans in Stanislawow, and many refugees returned to the city, and they often could not find their property. Refugees from the surrounding area and from Russia also came to the city. The American Emissary Henry Morgenthau visited the city in August 1919, met with the heads of the Jewish organizations, and promised them the help of the Joint32. According to the statements of the Joint, the following organizations received aid: The Poale Zion soup kitchen; the Rachel woman's Zionist organization's orphanage; the Brotherhood organization's orphanage that was located next to Poale Zion (in this orphanage, 50 children received full board, and 123 received one meal a day); the "Opieka Dziecka" childcare organization, that took care of many orphans; the public soup kitchen next to the Talmud Torah, where the 400 students of the Talmud Torah received one meal a day, as well as soap and toothpaste; and the "Public Kitchen" which served 1,800 meals a day.

With the passage of time, all of these above mentioned institutions united in the task of caring for orphans. Approximately 500 orphans were under their care. In 1925, there were about 320 orphans. About 100 of them were taken care of by the orphanages, about 50 of them lived in the male and female dormitories of the artisan's apprentices, and the remainder lived in private houses. In 1925, the Joint ceased its aid in Stanislawow, and the entire burden of helping the orphans was borne by the community. As the number of orphans declined (some had reached adulthood and no longer required care), by 1931 the orphanages only took care of 63 children (34 girls and 29 boys). The orphanage which was endowed by Dr. Karol Halpern in the name of his wife Sabina was among the finest in all of Galicia.

In 1931, the community set up a free soup kitchen to assist needy children. 60 children received one meal each day.

The Jewish hospital, which had already been established in the previous century, did not expand much during this period. It had less than 20 beds at its founding, and by the 20s, it had 24 beds. In 1935, a decision was made to build a new hospital with 60 beds, but this plan never reached fruition.

Two dormitories were established anew for students, one with 25 boys, and the other with 24 girls. Dr. Maximilian Blumenfeld was the head of these institutions. He donated his own money for their upkeep.

"Linat Tzedek", which was established in 1887, renewed its activities. This organization only took care of its own comrades. "Hachnasat Orchim" was set up at the end of the 20s. This organization had room to put up 40 poor wayfarers who had arrived in Stanislawow. In 1929, "Bikur Cholim" was established, which took care not only of its own comrades, but also of needy sick people. At the same time, the women set up "The Aid Organization for Poor Mothers". This organization provided medical attention for women after childbirth, as well as money for diapers and baby needs. In 1925, "Tomchei Nistarim" renewed its operations, which provided assistance for those who had lost their livelihood. This organization was active from 1924-1936, and again from 1937 until the outbreak of the war. The "Ahavat Chesed" organization, which was located in the suburb of Knihinin, became affiliated with the assistance organization of Stanislawow. In 1935, the assistance organization of Stanislawow helped 3,000 heads of families with loans of between 50 and 500 Zloty. In 1936, about 60% of the Jewish families of the city required some form of assistance. In 1924, a branch of "Taaz" was set up in Stanislawow. As time went on, this organization expanded its activities, in particular by helping the needy students in the schools. This organization conducted a summer camp each year in which anywhere from 100 to 300 children participated (the number depended on the resources available). "Taaz" set up an assistance bureau for pregnant women, and later, an assistance bureau for mothers and children. The "Rachel" branch of the WIZO organization, which was very active in youth well-being, also set up youth clubs near the school, and also organized overnight and day camps. The "Kitchen for the Needy" was set up by the community in the winter months, and hundreds of Jews were fed at its tables. In 1934, this soup kitchen provided 10,648 two course lunches, and 33,524 one course lunches. Each Passover, the community set up a Kosher kitchen for Jewish soldiers who were stationed in the city.

After the first world war, the "Talmud Torah" cheder came under the auspices of Agudat Yisrael. In 1925, it began to include secular subjects in its curriculum, and was able to gain official status from the country. Approximately 400 students studied there. Its stability improved when "Taaz" began to function on its premises.

In 1924, Agudat Yisrael set up a supplementary school for girls called "Beit Yaakov", where more than 100 girls studies. The Yeshiva which was founded before the war renewed its activities in 1924, under the name "Ohr Torah". Shimon Kraut was the head from 1927-1937. The student body varied between 100 and 150. The "Safah Berurah" school, which was founded before the war, renewed its activities at the time of the Ukrainian republic. In 1920, when its building was confiscated by the Polish government, "Safah Berurah" was able to continue offering evening Hebrew classes for public school students. In 1922, the building was returned, and a Jewish day school was reestablished in addition to the evening classes. This school included Hebrew in its curriculum. A kindergarten was also set up alongside. An additional kindergarten functioned between 1920-1925 near "Poale Zion".

Jewish students were accepted with difficulty into the Polish secondary schools. One of the two gymnasia almost completely refused to accept any Jewish students. Some of the Jewish youth therefore learned in the Ukrainian Gymnasium, and others in the German Gymnasium, of which 90% of its students were Jewish. The Polish government forbade these Gymnasia from accepting students who were not of their own nationalities, so the Jews attempted to start their own Gymnasium. In 1924, a Gymnasium opened with a few grades. In 1927, the first matriculation examinations were administered, and in 1928, this Gymnasium received partial accreditation from the government. In 1926, 299 students studied there, and in 1932, 487 students. The number of students did not change much until the school ceased functioning in 1939. In 1934, this school joined network of bilingual schools that was founded by M. Braude. In 1937, this gymnasium received full government accreditation, one of 13 Jewish Gymnasia in Poland which had succeeded in obtaining this accreditation.

The Jews of Stanislawow were among the pioneers of trade education in Galicia. Already in 1920, an agricultural school for girls was set up. It was called "Sophiovka", for the name of Sophia Halpern, who was one of the founders. In 1922 a locksmiths' school was established, where people could learn this trade in preparation for making Aliya to Israel. In 1926, this school came under the auspices of Dr. Karol Halpern, and became a school for boys which taught metallurgy and electronics. A trade school for women was set up that year, which taught the sewing trade.

In 1935, a united administration for the trade schools of Stanislawow was set up, which joined up with the umbrella organization of trade schools of Galicia (Wuzet). These schools obtained donations for tuition from locals, and also from Stanislawow emigres in the United States. In 1934, a one time donation of 25,000 Zlotys came their way. Thanks to these donations, these institutions were able to support themselves, and set themselves up in comfortable premises. At the end of the 30s, a guidance bureau for young people interested in trades was set up, which employed a psychiatric doctor, and a technical worker. This bureau was equipped with all the necessary instruments to conduct its work. Since these trade schools served the entire area, rather than merely the city, dormitories were set up for boys and girls, each with 20 places. These trade schools obtained full government accreditation in the mid 30s. In the Jewish schools in 1934, there were 1,610 students, broken down as follows: The Jewish national schools -- 370; The Jewish Gymnasium -- 460; the boys trade schools -- 60; the girls trade schools -- 200; the Talmud Torah -- 400, the Yeshiva -- 120. A portion of the Jewish children of Stanislawow studied in the national-public school for Jews (Szabasowka).

Branches of all the Jewish parties that were active in Poland existed in Stanislawow. The oldest party was of the assimilationists, but this weakened during the time of Polish rule, until only one small organization "Zjednoczenie" remained. This also lost its influence by the end of the 1930s.

The most influential party in the Jewish community was the General Zionist party. In the communal elections, the Zionists were victorious only once, in 1924. Nevertheless, even though this party lost the elections the following year, it remained the strongest force in the community. Most of the activists in the mutual benefit, Haskala, and cultural organizations affiliated with this party. It was the decisive force among the merchants unions, the small businessmen, and the manufacturers. Only among the artisans was its influence small. The Poale Zion party, which was strong before the war, weakened after the war. Its members joined the "Hitachdut"33, and divided up into the left leaning and right leaning branches, with the right being stronger. In 1930, the right leaning Poale Zion and the Hitachdut united in Stanislawow. The Hitachdut was founded in 1921 by a merger of the Zionist youth movement "Tzeirei Yisrael"34 -- a movement which was founded in 1919 with 50-60 members of Poale Zion. This was one of the largest branches of this organization in Galicia. Associated with this organization, the "A.D. Gordon Zionist Youth Organization" was founded in 1923 -- the first Gordonist branch in all of Poland.

Mizrachi renewed its activities after the war. From 1934, the organization was headed by Reuven Fahen, an author and historian who was arrested by the Soviets in 1940 and died in Siberia. The following organizations were established in affiliation with Mizrachi: Mizrachi Youth, Mizrachi girls, and at the end of the 30s a small branch of "Bnei Akiva"35.

A branch of the Revisionist36 party was established in 1927. Affiliated with it were the following youth organizations: "Massada" for the students and "Umanot" for the working youth. These organizations merged in 1930 to form a branch of Betar. In 1933, a nationwide party was formed.

Hashomer Hazair37 expanded its activities in 1919-1920. Its membership reached 500 at that time. After many of its older members made Aliya to Israel, it ceased its activities for a brief period, and renewed them in 1922. From 1929, it functioned regularly, with its membership varying between 150 and 200, and it became the largest youth movement in the city. At the end of the 20s, a brotherly youth organization, affiliated with the General Zionists, established itself, and joined "Hanoar Hatzioni" in 1931. In the mid 30s, this movement split up, and the Akiva movement was established in Stanislawow. In 1939 the "Hashachar" youth movement was set up in affiliation with the radical Zionists.

The following chart illustrates the results of the elections for the Zionist congresses:


General Zionists


United Zionists

Poale Zion

Revisionist Nationalist

Radical Zionists











































*includes Mizrachi

**From 1931, United Zionists and Poale Zion have a common entry in this table, given under the United Zionists heading.

At the beginning of the period of Polish independence a Folkist party existed for a brief time in Stanislawow.

The Bund, which was founded by the Z.P.S and the Jewish members of the P.P.S, did not succeed in setting up firm roots in Stanislawow. Nevertheless, the communists did have a recognizable influence among the Jewish youth. Many were arrested and exiled to the Bereza-Kartuska concentration camp.

The "Agudat Yisrael" had a great influence on the Orthodox population between the two wars. In the 1928 communal elections, it gained the most votes. Women's and youth organizations were established in affiliation with it.

In the area of cultural life of Stanislawow, the "Goldfaden Organization for Culture and Art" is worthy of note. This organization had a regular theatrical group, and a semi-regular band and choir. The communists set up a drama organization in the name of Y.L. Peretz, but it did not function regularly.

About 20 Jewish publications appeared in Stanislawow between the wars, but they generally did not last very long. "Der Morgen" was a communist paper published by Adolf Barser in 1927. This paper became a national Yiddish newspaper. The most influential publication that appeared in Stanislawow was the Yiddish monthly for literature and art called "Shtagen", which was published from 1932-1939. It was published by Max Tabak, and its columnists included Horacy Safrin and Arye (Leon) Streit. "Di Woch" was a Zionist weekly published by David Shalter. It was published from November 1934 until August 1939. "Glos Stanislawowski" was a weekly for the merchants and manufacturers, and was published from October 1927 until August 1928. Karol and Anselm Halpern published its first articles. The publication of the Jewish Gymnasium "Shoit" appeared as a monthly from January 1933 until June 1939.

In 1927, a branch of "Yoza" was established in Stanislawow, which began to research Jewish folklore of the locality.

There were many public libraries in Stanislawow, including the library of the General Zionists, and the communal library which was established in 1926, which included the book collections of "Safa Berurah", "Eretz Yisrael", the Mizrachi, and the Academic union. It also had a collection of ancient manuscripts. Libraries were established alongside all the youth organizations and schools in the city.

The "Hakoach" sport organization continued its activities during this period. Periodically, other sport organizations, such as "Maccabi" and "Hapoel" were set up.

The well known personalities who were active in Stanislawow at this time included the authors Horacy Safrin, Aryeh Streit, Reuven Fahen, Shimon Shfond, the poet Friedrich Bertisch, and the publisher Abraham Robinson.

Well known Stanislawow natives include Daniel Oster, the mayor of Jerusalem during the period of the British Mandate, and the beginning of the 50s, the actor Kurt Katsh, and the Mizrachi researcher Professor A.L. Meir.

At the end of the 30s, anti-semitism took hold in the city, and set up roots, both among the Poles and among the Ukrainians. It began as an economic boycott of the Jews, in particular by setting up their own cooperatives. There were incidents of breaking of windows in Jewish shops by Ukrainian vandals. The anti-semitism of the Polish groups was manifested primarily by decrees against the Jews. As a result of the ban of ritual slaughter in 1937, 110 of the 140 Jewish butchers of Stanislawow lost their livelihood.

Photo captions38

Sokol -- a synagogue built in the likeness of a fortress from the end of the 1800s.

A report card of Feivel Meier from the "Hatechia" school of Sokol, 1923. This student received top marks.

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Translator's Footnotes

24 A secular, non-Zionist, left wing organization, that had branches all over the Jewish world. In its most extreme manifestation, it was known to organize dances on Yom Kippur night. Back

25 Charitable gifts to the needy for the Passover festival. Back

26 An organization for giving of charitable help anonymously. Back

27 Literally "The organization of the diligent ones". Back

28 Literally "Doers of Charitable Deeds". Back

29 I assume that Maccabi here refers to the sports organization. Back

30 There is a well known prominent Nebenzahl family in Israel, which I suspect may be of the same family as mentioned here. Yitzchak Nebenzahl was the comptroller general of the State of Israel for many years. He died recently. His son Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl is a prominent Rabbi in the Old City of Jerusalem. He is well known for his refusal to set foot outside of Israel. Back

31 An aguna in Jewish law is a married woman who does not know of the whereabouts of her husband, and he is suspected to have died. This situation is frequent after a war, when people die, and the family often does not know. An aguna is not allowed to marry until it is proven beyond reasonable doubt that the husband must be dead. The establishment of this fact is a very difficult area of Jewish law, and many great Rabbis spent much time and effort at this. The term 'aguna' in modern Jewish parlance often refers to a woman whose husband refused to give her a 'get', a Jewish divorce, and she is therefore stuck in a technical state of marriage, but that is not what is referred to here. Back

32 The Joint Distribution Committee, an international Jewish organization for aid of refugees. Back

33 Hebrew for United Party. Back

34 Young Israel. Back

35 The Youth movement of the Mizrachi organization, still in existence today. Back

36 A right leaning Zionist party, followers of Vladimir Jabotinsky. Betar is its youth wing. The Revisionist party forms a large bloc of the present day Likud in Israel. Back

37 A left wing socialist Zionist youth movement, still in existence today. Back

38 This is not their correct place, but it was easier to place them here so as not to interrupt the text, being that there were only two. These illustrations refer to the town of Sokol, which is not far from Stanislawow. That must have been the preceding entry in the book. Back

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