Personalities and Individuals
Translated by Jerrold Landau
Rabbi Moshe Schorr was born in Przemysl in the year 5634 (1874) to an honorable family. His father, a native of Brody, had broad education and observed tradition. He educated his four sons and groomed them for academic subjects. He prepared his firstborn son Moshe for the rabbinate already in 1880, and gave him over to a private teacher who prepared him for the exams in the four years of the public school. He did not enroll him into the city primary school. Along with this, the lad studied religious subjects from traditional teachers so that he could serve in the future in one of the Jewish communities as a progressive rabbi as his father intended.
In his choice, the father certainly did not consider a secure livelihood, for in Galicia, the possibilities of receiving the position of a preacher were minimal due to the dearth of such positions. On the other hand, during the years 1880-1900, the prospects for livelihood for lawyers were very good, especially for Moshe Schorr in Przemysl, for his father was the director of the oldest Jewish credit cooperative in the city (The Old Bank). We can also surmise that the son himself, when he finished his studies in the gymnasium of Przemysl in 1892, saw greater possibilities for interesting intellectual work in the profession of a progressive rabbi in Galicia than in the free professions.
The question of the selection of an appropriate institution of study arose. At this time, there was no government recognized seminary for progressive rabbis in Austria, therefore candidates for a progressive rabbinate were forced to study in the seminaries in Berlin and Breslau. However it was already known in 1892 that the leaders of Austrian Jewry were entering into contact with the government regarding the founding of an institution of this sort in Vienna. The lessons that were given in the Beis Midrash in that city that was founded in the 1860s by the preacher Rabbi Jelinek, and in which rabbinical experts such as Rabbi A. H. Weiss (the author of Dor Dor VeDorshav (Each Generation and its Commentators) and Meir Friedman (Ish Shalom) served as a base for this institution. Moshe Schorr apparently entered this Beis Midrash in the year 1892 and transferred to the Beis Midrash for Rabbis, which was recognized and supported by the government, in 1893. At the same time, he registered as a student in the University of Vienna.
After completing his course of studies in the Beis Midrash and receiving his rabbinical ordination in 1899, Schorr had to concern himself with obtaining a position of a progressive rabbi with a salary that would be commensurate with his six year long term of study. Considering the situation in Galicia, the chances were slimmer than they were in 1889. Positions of this nature existed only in Lvov and Krakow, and these positions were occupied at the time that Schorr received his rabbinical ordination. Progressive synagogues existed in three medium size cities: Stanislawow, Przemysl and Tarnopol, but they did not have the means of maintaining a rabbi. Many Galician candidates awaited these positions, some of whom had completed their studies a few years before Schorr did. Among them were five who excelled as Hebrew writers or academics.
Schorr did not want to leave Galicia, and he also did not want to remain and wait for several years for a rabbinical position to become open while subsisting on a temporary salary. Therefore, he decided to forgo searching for a rabbinical position in Galicia, and to spend the next few years in the modest position of a government teacher of Jewish religion in high school (1899). In this position, Schorr had the opportunity of raising the respectability of religious study, and also of ensuring some degree the study of the Hebrew language as the language of prayer. Furthermore, Schorr worked toward creating an organization of high school and public school religious teachers in Galicia (1904).
Schorr had already decided to devote himself to researching the history of the Jews of Poland. He began this already in 1896, before he finished his course of study in Vienna, by searching through the historical material in the Galician archives. According to Schorr's own testimony, he saw the general historical literature of the Jews of Poland not only as being shallow, but also as being of the dilettante style, relying on restrictive sources that were not sufficiently worked through.
Based on his work in the archives, he already published in 1897 a research book in German on Don Josef Nasi, his commerce with Poland, and his political intercession before King Zygmunt August of Poland on behalf of his brethren who lived in that country. Later, Schorr wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on the topic, The Organization of Police of the Jews of Poland until Their Loss of Autonomy. This work is considered as fundamental in the eyes of the Jewish historians of Poland. Schorr lectured on the topic of the role and methodology of historiography of the Jews of Poland at the third convention of Polish historians in Krakow. First and foremost, Schorr demanded urgency in the publication of research based on documents found in the archives. His recommendation was accepted. In carrying out this decision, Schorr dedicated himself first to the publication of research on the documents that relate to his hometown of Przemysl during the 230 year era from 1542 until 1772. It was restricted to specific topics. In this work Schorr searched for unusual topics that were not dealt with decisively in rabbinic and traditional literature. According to this plan, he also selected sources that he found primarily in the documents of the Przemysl Grod, which were collected in Lvov in an organized fashion as well as in the document collection of the Przemysl city hall, were only some of them were catalogued. They were also found in the ledgers of the rabbinical courts and the Jewish tailor's guild that was located in the communal offices. He only had access to very few civic documents from before the year 1542. These were published later (in 1927) by the archivist Smolka, and they contained a great deal of previously unknown material from the year 1402 and on. Schorr went through hundreds of documents and published 145 of them that were written in Latin characters and 24 that were written in Hebrew characters on 224 octave pages. According to his introduction, this was a selection of the most important documents. This testifies to the massive effort that the author invested in this, especially considering the fact that the handwritten documents were at times blurred and written with abbreviations that were hard to interpret. To this anthology, Moshe Schorr added an introduction discussing methodologies that occupies approximately 70 pages, and includes the material that he felt to be most important. He gave the following name to his book: The Edited and Published Archival Material of the Jews of Przemysl. In 1903, the book received a prize from the Walberg fund, which was given over to be distributed to the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Lvov.
Despite its modest name, the book served as an example for new means of describing the annals of the Jewish communities of Galicia. Its prime innovations were its great meticulousness in establishing facts and searching for communal documentation (government, civic, ecclesiastical) even those written in Latin characters. It also abandoned the customary style of research in which rabbis were used as the example in describing Jewish life.
Already in 1905, Schorr write an English article on the annals of Przemysl for the American Jewish Encyclopedia. He also attempted therein to provide a list of the rabbis of Przemysl.
Schorr lived in Lvov from the time that he was appointed as a religion teacher in high school until the outbreak of the First World War. During that period, he lived in Berlin for one year, where he participated in a course on Semitic languages based on the scholarship of the Ministry of Education in Vienna. In Lvov, other Jewish scholars gathered around Schorr, including several Progressive Rabbis (according to their scholarly credentials, but most of them did not work in their profession). After he married the daughter of the famous Vilna bibliographer Ben-Yaakov, his house in Lvov became the spiritual center of a large number of Jewish scholars.
In the meantime, there was a change in the life plans of Schorr. Many years passed without an opportunity for obtaining an appropriate posting as a progressive rabbi in Galicia. His work in Polish Jewish history also did not assure him of constant scholarly activity, for the need for a chair of Jewish history had not yet materialized in the universities of Galicia. One the one hand, Schorr began to take interest in other historical material a research of the ancient Orient, including research into ancient Babylonian and Assyrian jurisprudence, especially the Hammurabi codex of Babylonia. The German scholar Friedrich Delitsch edited a series of speeches entitled Bibel und Babel (Bible and Babylonia) during the years 1902-1903, and raised Hammurabi and his social legislation above Moses and his Torah. A great debate about this matter ensued in which Jewish scholars and some German Bible critics (Koenig and Salin) disputed the accuracy of Professor Delitsch's ideas. In the background of this dispute, Moshe Schorr was also attracted to research into the annals of Babylonia and Assyria, including their laws, as was revealed in the cuneiform writing documents. Therefore Schorr almost completely abandoned his research into Polish Jewry after he completed the publication of his anthology of documents on Przemysl, and dedicated himself to his new research topic, utilizing his knowledge of Semitic languages that he had acquired.
After preparatory work that lasted for years, Schorr published, with the assistance of the Academy of Sciences in Vienna, research works on Babylonian and Assyrian jurisprudence that were rich in quality and quantity. In the first place, he published in 1909-1919 a three volume book on documents of Babylonian law from the era of the first royal dynasty. This book won special acclaim in Western Europe. In 1913, his book Documents on Jurisprudence and Civil Law in Ancient Babylonia was published. He also authored a number of less general publications that dealt with the Foundation of the Sabbatical Year in Babylonia in two additional sections that were revealed from the Hammurabi Codex. In the wake of the publication of his research, Polish academics and the Academy of Science in Krakow began to take interest in Schorr. From this, we can understand his appointment as a lecturer in Semitic languages and History of the ancient Orient in the University of Lvov. Informative lectures of his were published in Galician historical publications as well as in Hebrew publications both within and outside of Poland. Moshe Schorr became an academic expert in his subject, and his academic path was paved before him.
Anyone who thinks that Schorr completely abandoned his academic hobby of the history of Polish Jewry, including his own hometown of Przemysl, would be mistaken. In 1909, Schorr published the general privileges of the Jews (and not the local ones, similar to his work in his book The Jews of Przemysl).
After Austria succeeded in reconquering Przemysl from the Russians, Schorr published as a token of joy a small booklet in German containing extracts from several chapters of his large book The Jews of Przemysl (1903). Even the list of the rabbis of Przemysl that was included in the booklet was only a summary of the material on this topic that was published in his 1905 article in the American Jewish Encyclopedia. After publishing the booklet, Schorr ceased
to concern himself, according to the best of our knowledge, with the history of the Jews of Poland, even after Przemysl became famous starting from 1927 on account of the publication of the responsa of Rabbi Yehuda HaKohen of Mainz. This is to our dismay.
Schorr returned to Lvov after the city once again fell into Austrian hands. He remained there during the time of the disturbances of November 1918 and during the battles that broke out between the Poles and the Ukrainians. He also participated in the conference on The Jewish Problem that was convened by the provisional Polish government in Lvov. We should point out here that Schorr, despite being a government official from the year 1899 and a university lecturer from the year 1919, always defined the Jews as a nationality and never hid his Zionism, something that was very uncommon among the Jewish lecturers and teachers in the various Galician institutions. After the organization for the establishment of national Jewish elementary and high schools was founded in Lvov in 1919, Schorr was appointed as its head, which was a clear nationalistic step. After the massive wave of victims during the world war, the historian dedicated himself to running an assistance committee for Jewish orphans, the number of whom was sufficiently large in Galicia, especially in Eastern Galicia.
The Poles treated him with honor, as can be shown from his appointment as a member of the eastern branch of the Polish Academy of Science in 1918, and as a member of the academy in 1928 when he already occupied the rabbinical seat in Warsaw. Even the Academy of Science in Lvov invited him in 1920 as a member. He was also one of the founders of the Organization of Researchers of the Orient in that city. This was an era of great hatred of Jews by the majority of the Poles, and the ferment in the country was great.
In 1923, Schorr attained a major personal achievement, a position that he was not able to obtain in Galicia prior to the First World War that is the position of Progressive Rabbi, which fell to his lot that year in the capital of Poland. Schorr was appointed as the rabbi of the Tlomackie Street Synagogue, in which Dr. Poznanski had previously served with distinction.
Schorr's biographers are astonished with his great achievements during his rabbinical tenure of 16 years. Indeed even after his appointment as rabbi of Warsaw, the rabbi continued to occupy the chair of Semitic languages and history of the ancient Orient. Schorr turned his attention to the establishment of an institution for Jewish Sciences in the capital of Poland. The finest of Jewish activists and nationalistic academics, such as Dr. M. Braude who was the organizer of the nationalist education network and lived at the time in Lodz, Dr. Balaban who had been appointed as the professor of Polish Jewry in the University of Warsaw, the sociologist A. Tratkower, the historian and writer Dr. Schipper and others joined with him in his preparations. Due to his efforts the committee for the Great Synagogue of Warsaw set up a special house for an academic Hebrew library and an institute for Jewish knowledge. This institute opened in 1928, and Schorr served its rector and lecturer in Bible and Hebrew for many years, with some breaks. This rabbi who represented Polish Jewry on many public councils in Warsaw, and not only in matters of education and religion, stood at the helm of the leadership of the Keren HaYesod in his country, of the Organization of Friends of the Hebrew University, and of the anti-Hitlerist council.
In 1935, the president of Poland appointed Professor Schorr as a member of the Senate. During this anti-Semitic period in Poland, the rabbi delivered speeches expressing alarm over the desperate state of his nation. It is fitting to note that Schorr refrained from demagoguery and was exacting about the truth.
On September 6, 1939, at the outbreak of the Second World War and the approach of the Germans to Warsaw, Schorr left the city wish his family and went eastward. However when he reached Ostra in Wolyn, he was imprisoned by the Russians who had penetrated the borders of Poland in the interim. He was brought from prison to prison bound in chains, until he reached Uzbekistan in Asia, where he died in jail on July 8, 1941 (5701).
Schorr, who gave up his soul in prison without any guilt on his hands, loved his native town and was one of the faithful members of Polish Jewry, which he always served to the best of his abilities.
The following articles, except for that of Dr. Weintraub, were complied and brought to the attention of the editors of the book thanks to the efforts of Dr. Jerzy Sawicki and through is personal efforts.
He, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Warsaw, was in his time the representative of the People's Republic of Poland to the international military tribunal in Nuremberg during the trial of the main war criminals. He appeared before the national supreme court of his country as a prosecutor against the executioners in the concentration camps of Majdanek and Auschwitz, against the chief government of the Krakow region, against the founder of the Warsaw Ghetto against the governor of the region of Warsaw, and in many other trials against war criminals.
Professor Sawicki dedicated his book Genocide From Conception to Actualization (1933-1944), published in Krakow in 1949, to the memory of Leib Landau. The following are his words of dedication:
The memory of Dr. Leib Landau, the tireless fighter for the equality of people, the great defender in the judicial trials, to the victim of genocide, I hereby dedicate this work of mine.
To this day, nobody knows the burial place of Landau. Therefore, these words in our book should serve as a token of reverence and honor in lieu of a monument.
By Dr. B. Weintraub
In my eyes, Dr. Leib Landau appears as the greatest personality in the Jewish community of Przemysl, and one of the prominent communal leaders in all of Poland.
Landau was born in 1880 in Dynow, a town approximately 45 kilometers from Przemysl. His father Menachem Mendel moved to Przemysl at around 1891. He was nicknames as Der Dinower Weit, since he served for some time as head of the local communal council. He was an expert in the written and oral Torah. He wrote a fine Hebrew in the style of his times and published articles in Hamagid along with other places. M. M. Landau had a beard and wore a long outer frock, but was distant from Orthodox Judaism. The words that he prepared for himself as an inscription upon his gravestone are characteristic. They were given over to us by memory by Chanan Trau.
Indeed I sinned and transgressed
And erred in the ways of G-d
But I loved His nation
And I delved into His Torah
This I wrote myself, Menachem Mendel Landau.
He attempted to give his beloved son Leib a traditional education in the cheder and at home. Leib Landau concluded his course of studies in the public school in Dynow, and studied at the Polish gymnasium in Przemysl, where he took his matriculation examinations in 1899. He chose to study law and political sciences, and concluded his studies at the University of Lvov. As an academic, he participated in the spiritual life of the city, and belonged to the Jewish student organization, where they would debate and discuss the literature of the new Poland and the cultural problems of the era. In those days he published feuillitons in the Zionist weekly in the Polish language Wschod and in the Polish monthly Moria of the Zionist youth, which also published his long poem Mimaamakim (From the depths).
Leib Landau was always a nationalist Jew with a Jewish insignia, and Jewish tradition was very close to his heart. He was not observant, but he had feelings for Jewish religious ceremonies.
Landau did not belong to any party when he was a student at the university. He never joined the Zionists, even though he published articles in Zionist newspapers. He did not immediately join the Z.P.S. (Jewish Socialist Party) when it was founded.
He went through his legal apprenticeship in the office of the lawyer Dr. Liberman, an attorney known throughout Austria. In this office, he also had the chance to dabble in political advocacy. Already at that time, he earned for himself the reputation of an expert jurist. Leib Landau took his first steps in advocacy in the city of Sanok.
The First World War broke out still before he rose up the professional ladder. Landau arrived with his family in Vienna in August 1914 along with the stream of refugees. Landau returned to Przemysl already in 1915 and continued his apprenticeship. Landau enjoyed exceptional success in defending the village Jews in the area of Bukowsko. The trial took place at the regional courthouse of Przemysl. The Jews of those villages were accused by adjured witnesses at the courthouse of Sanok for participation in the illegal murder of a child, and had already spent several years in prison. Leib Landau used his energies to renew the case that had been transferred to the regional court in Przemysl, and the accused were freed. The impact of this verdict was deep, and the path toward fame and the successful career as a defense attorney was paved before Landau. Subsequently, Landau appeared as a defense attorney in a number of large-scale criminal trials, including some outside of Przemysl. Among other, he appeared at two famous trials in Lvov of the Communists in 1920 and of Steiger in 1923 who was accused of perpetrating an attack on the president of the State of Poland. From 1920, Landau was already a defense attorney famous throughout all Poland.
I met Leib Landau both in the arena of professional work as well as the arena of communal work.
He had a sharp mind and a broad level of knowledge in law and jurisprudence, as well as in the problems of the world. His warm heart was alert to any happening in Jewish life. I believe that his success in most of the large-scale trials in which he appeared was due to his unique talents and methodologies that he employed as a defense attorney. His defense was built upon the foundations of iron-clad logic and solid consistency; and conclusions that were consistent with the law, without falsehood. In his defense, he would display deep understanding of the human soul, and he knew how to express the truth with great talent and heartfelt feeling. In addition, he utilized his tact, which he displayed to the group of judges and which created an atmosphere of admiration and trust, something that was very important in light of the anti-Semitism that was increasing in Galicia after the establishment of the Polish government following the First World War.
Landau was connected to the city of Przemysl with a deep connection, for he worked there for many years in various capacities. At the beginning of 1919 (after Dr. Max Rosenfeld left Przemysl), Landau served as head of the public council for several years, and also played roles in the Jewish communal counsel. In this role, he did a great deal of work in the organizing of the communal leadership and raising it to an appropriate level. He was also a member of the city council during that era.
In political life, Landau joined the Z.P.S. already prior to the outbreak of the First World War. He was considered an important activist in it, and after the establishment of Poland in 1918, he was the leader of the local Bund, whose influence among the Jews of Przemysl was not large.
Some time after the First World War, when I stood at the helm of the Yuval [Juwal in Polish transliteration ed.] music and drama organization in Przemysl and we decided to perform the Dybbuk with local talent, I requested from Leib Landau that he accept upon himself the role of stage manager of this play. He agreed and also agreed to appear as the principal actor (The Tzadik). In that play, I played the role of one of the assistants of the Tzadik, and the great impression of the convincing acting of Landau remains etched in my mind to this day.
I still remember my conversation with Landau that took place in the spring of 1941. By chance I was caught up in the storm of the Second World War when I traveled from the Land of Israel to Poland two weeks before the outbreak of the war. I visited several cities there and lectured about the situation in the Land of Israel and the need for assistance for the prisoners of Akko (I had been one of them). At the outbreak of the war, I of course could not return to the Land. After I had remained for approximately a year and a half in Poland, I met Landau on a street in Lvov. Our conversation revolved around his work as an attorney for the new guard that was created at the time of the conquest of Eastern Galicia by Soviet Russia. Landau described the difficulties of his professional work, the path of which was not paved with roses. Among other things he told me that he had recently defended a poor Jew who had once been a wealthy manufacturing merchant. After all of his property had been removed, 3 or 4 meters of material for a suit was found in his house, and he was accused of counter-revolutionary activities. Landau said, I defended him by pointing out that this is a poor man, and the pieces of material were meant to be used to cover his own body at the time of need. However after making that statement, I was stopped by the head of the court who was wearing army fatigues. He told me, 'If you intend to defend counter-revolutionaries, you should ponder what your own fate will be.' Leib Landau added, I said 'I am sorry', and returned to my seat. Thus ended my defense.
The peace of Leib Landau's life was disturbed b the prolonged illness of his son Gabriel. After he overcame his illness to some degree and began his studies at the University of Lvov, Leib Landau moved with his family to Lvov (at the end of the 1920s) in order to be close to him. His son, who was active in the Cherut academic organization of Poale Zion, died an untimely death in 1937. Poale Zion of Lvov founded a communal library in his memory.
by M. Melman
When I come to recall the personalities of the world who perished in the depths during the dark era of Nazi rule, noble and wonderful personalities appear before my eyes. One of them is worthy of having a special article written about him. These personalities can be described with the words of Y. L. Peretz: Our great Sabbath and Festival Jews.
Among these wonderful Jewish personalities who arose during the first half of the 20th century, the personality of Leib Landau shines. He was a modest man, calm in his mannerisms, sublime in his nobility and he raised his profession of law to such a level as well.
Leib Landau attracted the simple man on the Jewish street. The greatest of the Jewish and Polish intellectuals also honored and revered him.
He was a talented jurist, and also loved literature and theater, especially the theater of his people. He was educated in the spirit of the times with Galician education, whose face was turned to the renewed Hebrew culture and language. He also studied the language of Goethe and Schiller, and classical Polish literature. Leib Landau also nurtured the Yiddish language, which he mastered thoroughly in contrast to the atmosphere that prevailed among his generation.
Landau was a humanist in his profession and in his private life. Such words seem as an expression of special love to the past, to the world that was destroyed, and they are perhaps liable to cloud an objective evaluation.
Despite this, I have come to evaluate him without any preconceived notions. Leib Landau was no different than I recall him in my memory;
It was at the beginning of the 1920s the era of the youth taking interest in the problems of society and Jewish culture. I was one of these youths. Already at that time I was fully dedicated to the theater. The groups of theater afficiados in various cities of Galicia interested me. I found out that the Yuval group in Przemysl performed Ansky's the Dybbuk, and a young lawyer, Leib Landau, succeeded in an extraordinary fashion in his role of the Tzadik of Miropol.
I was sitting the Warszawa Café in Lvov near the regular table of the stamgasts (regular patrons). There were different tables, different problems, and various warm debates. The Viennese Austrian atmosphere restrained the warm temperaments of the debators.
A group of young Jewish writers set at one table future artists and performers. The topic was: Leib Landau as the Tzadik of Miropol. The opinions of those who had been in Przemysl and had seen the play could be heard: How splendid!, And the Dialogue With Leah!, As if he were sitting on the judge's seat, how expressive were his unique questions!, What convincing power.., How he related the Hassidic legends with in such an expert popular fashion
The atmosphere in the coffeehouse encompassed a mixture of regular guests from among the nearby tables. The lawyer Leib Landau became famous as an actor even before his star as an attorney in famous cases began to shine.
The name of the lawyer of Przemysl became renowned at the famous trial of the Communist group in the Church of St. George in Lvov. The trial against Steiger for his attack on the President of Poland astonished everyone. He was exposed as a bright jurist with wonderful talents as a defender, as a lawyer with professional and general knowledge, and with iron-clad logic. His speeches were built upon solid logic.
I did not defend the man (Steiger) who did what he did for ideological purposes. I was perhaps defending a mighty man. However my clear thoughts were that I was defending a man who was clean of wrongdoing, who was incapable of being a mighty man, said Landau. Thus did he himself become the mighty man of trials against the non-mighty.
I knew Leib Landau at that time. He was still young at that time, with black locks of hair. His head looked like a beautiful statue, the work of a craftsman. He had a refined appearance, and a penetrating wise stare through his spectacles. The entire image was of a strong Jew of fine appearance. Thus was he, and thus do I remember him when his hair whitened somewhat, when we met for the last time in 1941, one week before the German invasion of Soviet Russia.
I met him many times in Lvov and Warsaw.
He was always interested in the Jewish theater. He expressed his convincing opinions on plays, performances and actors. He knew the weak sides of the Jewish theater and its actors. He did not
suffer the obsequiousness and lowliness of the Jewish actor on the stage, for just as in life, he loved fine representative personalities on stage. Once when I was staying in his home, he showed me the picture of his father. It was the picture of a handsome Jew, like the statue of Moses by Michelangelo. He would say, Why do we have to express the unseemliness of exile? We must show personalities as great and proud people.
Here is an event that took place:
The editor of the daily newspaper Gazeta Codzienna of the yellow press Teoman (A first or second generation apostate Jew) castigated Landau throughout the time that he defended Steiger as well as later during his defense of the Communists. He even placed hired staff of the newspaper in front of Landau's office to distribute propaganda to his clients so that they would not enter is office. The apostate was not even afraid to denigrate the memory of his father, the point that affected Landau's soul the most.
Then a sensation occurred! The editor Teoman murdered his wife out of jealousy. From his jail cell, he turned to Landau to take upon himself his defense before the adjured court.
To the great surprise of the community, Landau agreed. To his astonished friends he explained, A lawyer has certain moral obligations just as a phsyican has to his patients. Just as it is forbidden for a lawyer to offer medical assistance to a person even if he is his enemy, a lawyer is required to defend a person even if there are personal accounts between them.
Leib Landau's speeches were not verbose unless the topic demanded a solution to complex questions. In general, he tried to deliver a speech on a single topic that would last for 30 minutes. During his speeches, the content and the truth were decisive through the ringing of his voice.
Once Landau said to his son-in-law, the lawyer and later the professor who lectured on criminal law at the University of Warsaw Jerzy Sawicki, Remember that the voice of a defense lawyer must not have any taint of forgery. It must be truthful, just as must be the content of a defense speech.
Wartime arrived. During the years 1939-1941, Landau lived in the region of Galicia that was located under Soviet rule. The irony of fate was that he, the famous lawyer who defended Communists was not able to practice his profession under Communist rule. He did not know how to and did not want to be repressed.
Only at the beginning of 1941, when the great writer Alexei Tolstoy came to Lvov and was informed that Leib Landau, his acquaintance from Paris who worked together with on the League for Human Rights, had yet to be granted a legal license, was the situation rectified thanks to Tolstoy's intervention with the authorities.
I met Leib Landau during those years (1940-1941) and found that his pleasant appearance was now slightly bent. His hair was scattered with white, with streaks of white at the temples. His manly face expressed strength, but his eyes were somewhat darkened from sorrow, as if they testified to the pain that he bore for the suffering of his family, relatives, generation and people; as if he sensed the approach of the Holocaust.
I saw Leib Landau for the last time approximately a week before I left Lvov. We ate lunch in his home, together with his wife and Mrs. Kaminska. The usual optimism of that humanist was somewhat blurred, as if he sensed what was about to transpire.
During this final meeting, Landau talked as usual about many topics with wisdom and sharpness, as a well overflowing with knowledge. During a debate about political matters he proved that Hitler's Germany would attack Soviet Russia, and he uttered the suspicion (at that time it was forbidden to express publicly such heretical thoughts) that during the first phase, the Germans would conquer Lvov. He also talked about the government run Jewish theater of Lvov. He believed that it would flourish if only war would not break out. We did not foresee that danger. He arrived at such conclusions through his own logic.
I do not know the details of his life during the era of Nazi occupation. It would seem that his fate was not any different than the fate of the Jews in general. On the contrary, it was perhaps more bitter, for he was a popular man who was revered by Polish Jewry during the pre-war era as a progressive man and a defender of Communists. Landau had sufficient positive traits to have benefited from special treatment by the Hitlerites.
The noble behavior of the P.P.S. activists Adam Ostrowski, who hid the Landau family, is told of by people. To their ill fortune, they were victims of slander and were imprisoned.
The underground of P.P.S. activists somehow succeeded in ransoming him from prison. However, when he discovered that there was no possibility of freeing his wife, Landau returned to prison, for he did not want to escape the fate of his wife.
Leib Landau met his death among the 100,000 Jews of Lvov. He was one of the greats of the last generation of Polish Jewry.
by Yehoshua Avrahami
A chapter of memories
At the end of 1940, I wandered to Lvov with my wife and my twelve year old son. I did not know anyone in the city. With the conquest of the city by the Germans after the establishment of the Ghetto, I was left without a roof over my head. Dr. Leib Landau offered me a room in his three room dwelling, in which his near and distant family lived. Life in the common dwelling, the daily contact, and the extensive discussions with him during those frightening days in which the lack of security and the fear of what the day might bring were increasing, were to me an unforgettable experience.
This description will not look clearly on the situation that pervaded then. At first there was a clouded realization and later a clear and decisive realization that we were standing at the threshold of annihilation.
The home of Leib Landau was filled with people from the early morning until the curfew time. These were brokenhearted people who, with voices choked with tears, brought the tidings of Job of death and horrors that were taking place outside of the Ghetto. They came to seek advice and salvation from him, as if he had the power to help.
During the time of curfew, when the mass weeping and outpouring of the heart ceased, the dwellers of the dwelling would gather around him. Questions of despair would be heard: What will be? Leib Landau, with a stony face, listened and at times uttered a few words when he saw a sliver of hope. We who looked at him knew that the meaning of his restrained words meant that there was no salvation.
Not only did the tribulations of the people of his city weigh upon him, but also the tribulations of other cities which he was forced to visit by virtue of his position in order to consult with the communal administrators. We saw him when he returned from such visits, when he was overcome by the pressures of the tribulations, the hours that he spent on the train with his brethren in difficulty, with the only topic of conversation was the impeding annihilation of the nation that was unfolding before their eyes, and the frightening degradation at the time of contact with the enemy. These thoughts left their mark on Leib Landau. During the evening hours, when he entered our room as if to rest, he gave expression to his feelings about everything that he experienced during the course of the day. He described the tragic situation, the hopeless crisis and tragedy. Sometimes he had burst into his room from the burdens of the tension and degradation that he experienced during the course of the day, for he did not want those who sought support and hope from him to see him in his suffering.
Leib Landau was like a prophet, with a clear vision of the future. He was able to express what he felt in his heart. He knew that not everyone would be annihilated, and that a few would remain alive. He did not know how they would be saved, but in his visions he saw them alive, healthy and whole. He sensed that the Germans would lose this war, but of course he did not know when. Landau saw them fleeing in their myriads, withered from hunger, wearing stolen clothes. He foresaw the death of his daughter, but he knew that his son-in-law would be saved. He foresaw and described his own death and the death of his wife.
All of those visions of destruction that he prophesied on that dark night in the silence of the small room were expressed with the power of internal vision and the feelings of security of true prophesy. Everything that he saw in his mournful vision indeed took place.
Class consciousness and nationalism are two idols that during these times divide humanity into two inimical camps. The true Godly spirit, most sublime and holy beyond everything has been lost in this vortex, and humanity has lost its human image.
We must raise the disgraced banner of humanity above class consciousness and nationalism. There is no contradiction between class and nationality, and it is possible to reach a state of true love among mankind.
We learn from history that the class struggle for social liberty brought with it the liberation of entire groups of nations, placing them on the podium of historical life The French Revolution brought to life an entire row of nations, standing them on their own authority A nation also has various forms of life. On occasion arenas appear in its active ranks, and new powers come to the fore, renewing the concept of the nation by creating new forms of existence for it Struggles take place bringing in their wake crises for humanity A legal codex does not have the power to capture the struggles of the human spirit, and no prosecuting force can stem the progress from the mistiness of days of yore, as it struggles, faces crises, searches for new ways, stumbles, bleeds, and errs Before it there are increasingly sublime goals, but they become more distant. They will never be achieved! But like a spark that shoots out from a flame it always pines for and desires something higher, for the primal source. This is its mission, this is its plan, this is its life. Apathy is its death. Retreat its sin
Goethe's Faust was the actualization of the general concept of human beings, falling before evil and perishing in a moment. As he is drunk from happiness, he said, In a swift moment, tarry, aha, how fair are you!
A person is able to err in his desires, to descend into a tortuous path, to turn backward. However as long as his desires are clean and his intentions pure, as long as they are borne with the love of humanity they become holy
He was the son of Yehoshua [Jehoszua] Mieses, a wholesale grocery merchant with comprehensive Jewish and secular knowledge, and his wife Chaje Lea the daughter of Reb Leisor Gans. He was born in 1882 in Przemysl, and educated there until he finished his course of secondary studies as a private student in 1900. The atmosphere in the home, where there was an excellent large library consisting of both Jewish and secular books that was known to Jewish academics of Galicia, was saturated with culture. The father, a scholar, tried to impart knowledge and understanding to his children. Josef Mieses, who was designated from his childhood as a progressive rabbi similar to his brother, never attended secular schools, and excelled in great talents and sharpness of intellect.
After he took his matriculation examinations, he was sent to the rabbinical seminary and university (faculty of philosophy) in Vienna, and earned his rabbinical ordination and Ph.D. Since there were only a small number of positions for progressive rabbis in Galicia, and there were many candidates for this type of position, Josef Mieses earned his living as a teacher of religion at an academic level in a high school. From 1913, Mieses taught religion in the first Polish Gymnasium in Galicia. His methodology for teaching this subject was novel, for he demanded of his students broad knowledge of the Mosaic religion as well as knowledge of the Hebrew language fo the reading of Bible and Pirke Avot. He was diligent at fulfilling this curriculum to the extent that was possible with the restricted hours that were dedicated to the study of religion.
During those years as well as previously, Mieses began to publish academic publications on Jewish culture and linguistics, including a research article on the Hebrew translation of Rabbi Saadia Gaon on the books of Genesis and Exodus. The article was also published in the Polish language in the report of the directorship of the Polish government Gymnasum #1 in Przemysl for the 1913-1914 school year. In addition, Mieses published a number of academic articles in Hebrew in the Hamitzpeh weekly (Krakow) edited by Sh. Lazar. In 1919, addenda to Levy's Talmudic Dictionary issued from Mieses' pen.
Mieses arrived as a refugee from Vienna at the outbreak of the First World War. There, the scientific library for his research in issues of Jewish studies was saved. It is particularly appropriate to point out his work Die alteste gedrukte Deutsche Ubersetzung des Judischen Gebetbuches aus dem Jahre 1530 und ihr Verfasser, A. Margaritha, Wien, 1916 (published in Pressburg). This work demonstrates not only the breadth of knowledge and sharpness of the author, but also his care and responsibility in establishing facts and deriving conclusions.
In 1916, Mieses was appointed as a military rabbi with the rank of captain (Hauptman) in the Austria-Hungarian army, in the large region
of the former Tenth Regiment, which included the entire region from Rzeszow and Sanok in the west to Grodek and Stryj in the east. Mieses was subordinate to the military command in Przemysl, which was the center of his work.
Josef Mieses did not suffice himself with arranging ceremonies and sermons in the army barracks, but he also concerned himself with the religious needs of the soldiers and with the problems and difficulties of their families. Relying on the law that assured government support for such families, he brought any complaints of non-fulfillment of the law or delays in fulfilling requests to the offices of the regional director of the army command in Przemysl, who in turn demanded clarification or urgency in fulfillment for the relevant offices. In the frequent cases of refusal to give support due to the lack of legal means of marriage, Mieses himself would conduct the Jewish marriage ceremony between a woman and a soldier. In cases where it would be difficult for the soldier to be present, Mieses assisted in finding a replacement for his duties, so that the soldier could come to his own wedding.
An additional problem that Mieses dealt with energetically was the obtaining of permits for kosher kitchens for army divisions and institutions that had a significant number of Jewish soldiers, especially old ones. Mieses was not the first military rabbi to arrange for such kitchens, but he had no equal with respect to the extent of his achievements. It was not easy to convince the military command in Przemysl about the need and possibility in so many actual cases, but Mieses appeared before the command with his unique energy. Finally, the command got tired of these interventions and succeeded in having Vienna revoke his appointment as a military rabbi.
It is possible that his firing was also influenced by Mieses' participation in the public Chanukah ceremony of the Hashomrim group of Przemysl in the village of Pikulice (not far from the city) in the presence of hundreds of people on an open field in the year 1916. In any case, his participation in this ceremony of a Zionist youth movement aroused suspicion among circles who saw this participation as a violation of military protocol.
With the birth of the new Poland, Mieses was appointed s the chief rabbi of the Polish army with the high rank of polkownik (Colonel). He lived in Warsaw, and military rabbis throughout the country reported to him and worked under his supervision. During those years (1919-1932) Mieses would often visit the union of Jewish writers and journalists in Warsaw. This also demonstrated his strength of heart, for the Polish government was aware that its strongest opponents participated in this union. At times, Mieses heard in this hall strong observations about the government. It is said that after these visits, he would remark: I did not hear anything. In 1932, Mieses was sent home. Thus concluded his military career when he was 50 years old, still full of strength.
In those days, Mieses returned to his academic work and published a series of academic articles, including in Jewish periodicals in France, England and Germany. The bulk of his literary activity was centered on his new translation of the Bible into Polish. Apparently, he was working on this for several years before his dismissal from the army. The only part of this translation that was published was the five books of the Torah, published by S. Freund in Przemysl in 1931.
From his talents in researching issues of Hebrew linguistics, and his translation of Rabbi Saadia Gaon (see above), we can surmise that this translation was produced with a high level of accuracy and research. In My Lexicon of Writers, Etcetera by Melech Ravich (Montreal, 1947), we find praises for this enterprise, for according to those in the know, the Bible had never yet been translated into Polish with such splendid and exacting language. J. Mieses' sister, Dr Miriam Mieses-Reif, relates that her brother completed the translation of most of the books of the Bible, perhaps even all of them, but he did not succeed in publishing them, and the material was lost during the Holocaust. Mieses died in Przemysl in 1942 apparently not from the Nazi actions as we know, but rather from a tetanus infection.
by Dr. A. Menczer
In the annals of Jewish history of Europe during the last century, many wise people were active, different from each other in various means. However, there was a common thread among them they give evidence to the academic talent of the finest of our nation and their abilities to utilize the methodologies of world wisdom for the benefit of historical and literary research in new and modern Hebrew.
It is possible that such deeds are an attempt at apologetics before the anti-Semites, and they are fraught with the danger of distancing from the traditional Jewish doctrine. However without doubt, these Jewish scholars played a great role in the modern development of the culture of our people. Matityahu Mieses was among these wise men. He was one of the great people of the community of Przemysl.
Mieses was born on June 30, 1885 to an erudite father, Yaakov Yehoshua (1857-1920). He earned for himself an honorable place in business and acquired knowledge and wisdom through a thorough knowledge of ancient Roman and modern French literature. His father was a descendent of the great Jewish Gaonim Rabbi Yehoshua Heshel the son of Yosef the author of Pnei Yehoshua, and Rabbi Eliezer Amsterdam. He was related to the Admorim of Belz and the grandson of the brother of Yehoshua Leib Mieses one of the well-known leaders of the Haskalah movement in Galicia.
Matityahu Mieses, whose mother was a daughter of the honorable Gans family that was known in Przemysl, studied Torah during his childhood from Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Glazer, and was educated in a traditional-cultured Jewish home. The four sons and five daughters acquired higher education and knowledge of sources. Matyahu was the third son of the Mieses family.
Matityahu Mieses excelled in his mastery of many other fields of knowledge, especially in history and linguistics. His brilliant memory, great powers of logical deduction, fundamental academic personality, endless diligence and personal uprightness made him one of the choicest sons of Galician Jewry and the community of Przemysl. Mieses, who studied the Jewish Torah in the cheder from private teachers and took examinations for six grades at the Polish gymnasium, was not attracted to the business world as his parents wished. Rather, he dedicated his time and energy to human sciences. Despite this, he did not refrain from taking over the management of his parents' store after the death of his father. He ran that store without great success until the Holocaust. During the era between the two world wars, M. Mieses was active in the Jewish merchants' union. He served as head of that union for several years, and protected Jewish commerce from inimical decrees. In 1930, Mieses was the prime candidate for the elections to the Polish Sejm in the Przemysl region.
Many articles and compositions, primarily in German, Polish, Hebrew and Yiddish emerged from his hand.
When he was fifteen yeas old (1900), he published a Hebrew poem in Hamagid in Krakow. In 1905, his small, interesting work Poles and Jews was published, and four years later, in 1909, his Hebrew book Ancient Peoples and Israel was published. There, the author attempted, with great talent, to discuss the historical and spiritual connections between the nations of the ancient orient from Egypt to Muslim Arabia to ancient Israel. These ties were not always friendly. On the contrary, the roots of Jew hatred were revealed already during those ancient times. Mieses would state that we must not only retort with weak apologetics, but rather with strong and proud polemics the sharp and burnished sword of Alexander is required in order to sever the ties with these evil people. Die beste Abwehr ist der Hieb. Defense is not sufficient. It is necessary for us to go out to battle, and then our justice will be seen. After the Holocaust era, it perhaps seems that these words are vague and lacking in significance, but at the time that they were written, prior to the First World War, they were a source of strength to our persecuted nation even more so because the author demonstrated personal and academic resolve that aroused honor and reverence. Mieses states without recoil, It was not the crucifixion of Jesus that created the hatred of Christianity, but rather the opposite the hatred of gentile Christianity created the crusades against the Jews. Those idol worshippers who already hated Israel prior to this were nullified by the name of Christianity. They refined their ancient feelings of hatred with new deeds against the Jews 
Mieses resided in Vienna during the years 1917-1918. After the end of the war, he returned to the renewed Poland, where he participated in Polish-Jewish journalism by writing articles that encouraged his fellow Jews. During those days, Mieses debated with Professor Jalinski, whose stance toward the Jewish religion was significantly inimical, about the topic that was of interest to both of them, Hellenism and Judaism. He represented his nation with honor and great ability in his speeches and strong stances.
The problems of races and the new anti-Semitism arouse his special interested. In this area, we will mention three books.
This monumental book is dedicated completely to the clarifications of the sources of anti-Semitism from ancient times until his own day. It describes the sources in all their detail.
The reader of this book in our day cannot free himself from the feelings of apologetic intentions that were formulated in the soul of the author. However, this was the spirit of the times in the broad masses of the people, and we must understand this intention in that context.
Mieses had a unique attitude toward the Yiddish language that contained both a linguistic and nationalistic value. In The Struggle of Languages, Mieses fights for the recognition of the national language, and in 1907, he lectured on this topic at a conference in Czerniowce. Some people who took exception to the extreme opinions of Mieses, including Y. L. Peretz
Mieses dedicated the years 1907-1914 to research into language. The results of his research were published in the book Die judische Sprache, ein historisch-gramatischer Versuch (1924). This book was preceded (in 1915) by an attempt to dissect the languages of the Jews and their sources in his book Die Entstehungsgeschichte der judischen Dialekte. Four years later (in 1919) Mieses published the book Die Gesetze der Schriftgeschichte in which he highlighted the connection between language and religion.
Mieses' articles and compositions became so numerous that one cannot survey them all, and not even the main ones, in the scope of a brief survey. I will mention here another two or three of his most important academic works.
In the book Jewish Proselytism in Eastern Europe (Judaizanci w Europie wschodniej) Mieses describes the Jewish religious publicity in the first centuries of the middle ages among various nations and tribes in Eastern Europe, including aside from the Khazars the Tatars, early Bulgarians, and the eastern and western Russian tribes.
In the two volume book in Polish Christian Poles of Jewish Origin (Warsaw 1938), he describes the life story of 315 Polish families of Jewish origin who fulfilled official roles in the new kingdom. His intention was to prove that mixing with the Jews did not hurt the Poles. There were those who accused him of preaching assimilation with the Poles in that book, but Mieses defended himself from such claims as follows: I only demonstrated that the Israelite source in the Polish community did not destroy and corrupt, as is claimed by those who preach racial hatred In my introduction
to my book, I stress the pride of Jacob and the advantages of those who cleave to the Hebrews. I believe that one should not associate my works with any thoughts that are completely against the entire grain of my spirit and weltanschauung.
In the last months before the outbreak of the Second World War (June 1939) Mieses published a book on the role of the Jews in the wars of Poland before its third partition in 1795.
It seems to us that what would have been Mieses' most important book was specifically the book that was lost in the Holocaust. This was The Encyclopedia of the History of Religions, and Comparison of the Annals of their Development. He had planned to publish 16 volumes dealing with this weighty topic. According to the testimony of his sister Dr. Miriam Reif, 11 volumes were already ready for publication in 1939. The material was lost during the time of the tragedy that descended upon Polish Jewry, after Mieses hid his literary legacy in the walls of one of the houses. Dr. Kronenberg, who was the head of the Judenrat during the Nazi era, apparently removed all the material and transferred it to Germany. Today, we cannot identify with any certainty the location of this academic treasury.
Mieses' academic research on anti-Semitism and the issues of his times brought him 40 years ago, that is 16 years before the Second World War, to a nationalist viewpoint that opposed assimilation, even though he did not believe unreservedly in the power of a renewed Land of Israel. The Land of Israel of our day (1923) is under British rule and its High Commissioner is a Jew. There is room for hope that the land will develop quickly and absorb masses of Jews, and that a new Jewish settlement will arise, the third Jewish commonwealth. It does not make sense that in the best case, the Jewish question will come to this sort of answer. Only a small portion of the Jews will find their place in the Land of Israel The importance of a Jewish Land of Israel might be primary for the honor of Judaism, but it will be too small for the Jewish question itself. The great tragedy of our people who are in a situation of need will not pass from the world by means of Zionism even in the best case, in the most ideal form of development. Mieses believed with full faith that the nation was awaiting the victory of humanity would bring with it the end of its suffering the conclusion of all religious provocation, the great Sabbath of world history, the restful and joyous Messianic era for the eternal wanderer.
In his last years, Mieses spoke enthusiastically about the land of Israel, about the state that would arise, and about the wide borders literally from sea to sea .
His wife and three children perished during the Holocaust. His academic talents stood for him and were utilized by the Germans. However, in January 1945, approximately four months before the end of the war, the Germans transferred him along with many other Jews from the Plaszow Camp to Auschwitz, and from there to a camp in Germany. Mieses walked about ten kilometers, but he died before he reached the camp, sated with suffering and wandering.
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