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[Page 439]

Rabbi Gedalia Schmelkes

by Chanan Trau, Dov Nitzani

Translated by Jerrold Landau

 

prz439.jpg
Rabbi Gedalia Schmelkes

 

Rabbi Gedalia Schmelkes was born in 1857. He stems from a well–known rabbinical family. His father Mordechai, who belonged to the first circle of Zionist followers in Przemyśl, was the son of Rabbi Chaim–Shmuel Schmelkes, who served in the rabbinate for 24 years in Przemyśl and 13 years in Lemberg [Lwow –ed.]. The latter was a well–known rabbinical personality of world renown, whose students later became famous for their scholarship. The younger Gedaltshe[1], who excelled with his brilliant memory and quick uptake of his learning, quickly acquired general Talmudic knowledge and was considered a genius from a young age. Even though his uncle gave him rabbinic ordination, Reb Gedaliahu considered dedicating himself to business, like his father. However, that plan was not realized. He married the daughter of Berisch Silber of Tarnów. He was supported in that house for several years, perfecting his study of Talmud.

He involved himself with business for a while when he returned to Przemyśl. However, after a failure, he decided to accept a rabbinical position. The law demanded at that time that anyone wishing to become a rabbi in a large Galician city must hold a baccalaureate. He prepared for it in a relatively short time. It just so happened that the rabbinical seat of Przemyśl was vacant at that time. The Hassidim were against his candidacy on account of his worldly education. He was accepted as the rabbinical leader, but not as head of the rabbinical court. Deeply upset by this, he happily accepted the proper rabbinic office of Kołomyja in 1898. There too, he was thrust into various intrigues and pitfalls that embittered his life.

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The longing for Przemyśl, where he had his start, and where his parents lived for many years, helped him overcome the difficulties. He was selected as rabbi as well as head of the rabbinical court by the community in 1904.

He was completely opposed to the custom of giving the rabbi monetary gifts for family celebrations, and he would refuse to take such. At the founding conference of Agudas Yisroel in Katowice in 1912, he signed on to the view of abolishing the payment for rabbi, cantor, and shamash by the host of the celebration. Rabbi Schmelkes held that such payments should be given directly from the communal coffers.

Unlike other rabbis, Rabbi Gedalia did not wish to be a tool in the hands of the communal council to influence the Jewish population how to vote for parliament or the local council. He remained true to his beliefs in general as well as national questions. When the Zionist organization was set up in Galicia, he joined. He contributed significantly to the founding of Mizrachi. Thanks to him, the severance of Mizrachi from the general Zionist movement was avoided. This especially became possible during the final years before the outbreak of the First World War. Rabbi Schmelkes was elected as a delegate to the Zionist Congress in Hamburg in 1909, and in Basle [Basel –ed.] in 1911. During the debate regarding the Basle Congress, he especially stood for the precedence of religion over Zionist theory in practice.

Thanks to his refined character and good traits, he was beloved by the Jewish people, even by the progressives. Therefore, the householders changed the plans of the temple at his request, so that the bima would not be next to the Holy Ark.

At the auxiliary elections for the Austrian parliament in 1906, the Zionists presented the renowned – Adolf Stand as their candidate in the Brody–Złoczów district. As the rabbi, Rabbi Schmelkes did not react to the threats against him, and was active for the benefit of the Zionist candidate, thereby thwarting the candidate of the assimilationists who was supported by the regime. For the parliamentary elections of 1907, Rabbi Schmelkes forewent his candidacy in the Buczacz–Tłumacz district in favor of the candidacy of Nathan Birnbaum. He therefore agreed to be the candidate of the Mielec–Tarnobrzeg district, where his chances were unrealistic against the candidate Dr. Bobrzynski. With his attitude, Rabbi Schmelkes did a great deal for the Jewish national idea.

When Przemyśl was evacuated after the outbreak of the First World War, Rabbi Gedaliahu considered it his duty to not leave the city and its Jews. He remained in his place and in his position. He partook of the suffering of the beleaguered fortress. The Russian authorities later made him responsible for the deeds of the Jews of Przemyśl, and he went many times to intervene with the Russian commandant. Unfortunately, his efforts to avert the decree of expulsion came to naught. He left the city with the last Jews.

When the Austrians reoccupied Przemyśl, Rabbi Schmelkes returned to the city with other Jews. Due to his weak state of health, he traveled

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to Vienna to recover. In Vienna, there were large numbers of Jewish refugees who lived in a state of great need.

Rabbi Schmelkes returned to Przemyśl in 1917. On November 1, 1918, he was nominated by the Jewish officers' committee as a member from the “Jewish People's Council,” which took the place of the community during those times. Aside from the previous communal tasks, the People's Council also had to deal with the conflict between the Poles and the Ukrainians.

During those times, Jewish merchants were accused of selling unused articles for speculative prices. Considering the political situation, the rabbi saw the need to pronounce a ban on the merchants who do not put a hold on their prices, as designated by the ban committee. That dramatic act, accompanied with the blowing of the shofar, left a deep impression upon all those present in the Great Synagogue.

The poor economic situation did not permit Rabbi Schmelkes to fulfil his dream of making Aliya to the Land of Israel, even though he strove for such with his full heart. He remained on the rabbinical seat of Przemyśl, and felt the sharpening of anti–Semitism in Poland with his own skin. He died on December 21, 1928, and was buried in the Przemyśl cemetery. He was eulogized by the chairman of the Jewish community, Dr. Leib Landau.

Reb Gedalia Schmelkes educated important students. He was the author of several books dealing with religious and Talmudic issues. He also found time to dedicate himself to benevolent activities and to examine the youth who were members of the Agudat Herzl student organization on the topic of Jewish history.

He was known for his crystal–clear character and for his readiness to help everyone who was in need of anything, even those who were known as his opponents.

His widow published a portion of his writings under the name of “Imrei Regesh” in Piotrków in 1931.

Translator's Footnote

  1. A diminutive of Gedalia. Back


[Page 442]

The Jewish Labor Movement in Przemyśl

by Yehoshua Laubstein[a] of Buenos Aires[1]

Translated by Jerrold Landau

 

(Memoirs of a Bundist)

From an industrial perspective, Przemyśl was a backward city during the Austrian period, and probably did not have a significant manufacturing proletariat, especially not a Jewish one. The primary sources of employment of the Jewish workers were fur production, sheet metal, painting, tailoring, baking, and similar trades.

During the beginning of the 1890s, the city exhibited the first indication of an organized workers movement of a mixed national character: Poles, Ukrainians and Jews – under the rubric of the Galician Socialist Party. It was not long before the party became part of the General Austrian Social Democratic Party. Since the Austrian party was not organized by provinces, but rather by nationality, the Galician party consisted of a Polish and Ukrainian division, and the Jews were taken in by the Polish party, just as was the “Brotherhood” [Bund –ed.] society, which consisted solely of Jewish workers and employees. Thus, the “Brotherhood” society of Przemyśl came under the wing of the new Polish Social Democratic Party (P.P.S.D).

At various times, protests against the treatment of the Jews took place, but they did not help. A Jewish Social Democratic party was first created in 1905[2]. It struggled against the Polish party. We will discuss this later.

On the eve of the founding of the Ż.P.S., a youth organization called “Fareinikung”[b] was established at a very high level. The members were for the most part Jewish studying youth, even though the original character was not completely Jewish, for some Polish and Ukrainian youth belonged as well. We mention here the following important names: Yeshayahu Lewis (later a theater critic), and Ludwik Grosfeld (later the general secretary of the P.P.S. or Przemyśl and minister in the Polish cabinet in London.)

That student organization received a benefit when it fell under the influence of the Z.P.S.

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The Founding of the Z.P.S. and the Battle Against It

The founding of the party had its historical justification and came into being due to three factors: the 1905 revolution, the influence of the Bund in Lithuania, Russia, and Poland, and the example of the Austrian Socialist Party that wished to give an answer to the great national problems that broke out among the day to day arrangements of the various nationalities in Austria. One must also not forget the attempt by the Austrian Socialist Rudolf Springer ([pen name of – ed.] Karl Renner) to create a national program for Austria.

As the political party of the Jewish workers, the Z.P.S. succeeded in organizing almost all the Jewish professional unions of tailors, furriers, tinsmiths, bakers, etc. They also had influence on the intelligentsia. However, already at that time, the national separation stood in the foreground of the party problems.

The most active members were Leib Landau[c], Abraham Gottdank, the lawyer Frim, the Sohn doctor brothers, Maurycy Axer.

The P.P.S.D. conducted a strong campaign of incitement against the Ż.P.S. They organized their groups, which we used to call “Lieberman's followers.” None other than Ignacy Daszyński[3] referred to us as troublemakers of the Socialist unity and “separatists.”

This is the way things were until the eve of the First World War. Dr. Lieberman played a primary role in our city. He strongly influenced large portions of the Jewish population – workers, employees and a large portion of the middle class. He received a large number of Jewish votes at the first general elections for the Austrian parliament in 1907. There were many Jewish merchants who worked actively on his behalf at the elections. He also had many followers and supporters among the intelligentsia.

 

Youth Organizations

After the disbanding of the international “unity,” a purely Jewish youth organization, “Freie Jugend”, was founded, which was not connected with any political party. Its objectives were to build up the spiritual and physical “new person” and to introduce him to Socialism. At the time when there was already a “Workers Home” in Przemyśl (after 1912), they had their own headquarters with a large library, and they conducted lectures on various topics.

Dr. Ch. Sohn was an especially beloved speaker. He used to give the youth a great deal of time and attracted many listeners. Dr. Gottdank used to come to the youth. Josef Strudler and Israel Sobel – a fur worker who was very knowledgeable about the Jewish workers movement and Yiddish literature – would also come. He encouraged us to become readers of Yiddish books.

A Socialist scouting organization with an anti–militaristic leaning was formed in Austria in 1913. We gave over the initiative to Josef Strudler. Within a brief period, we had a Jewish Socialist “scouting” in Przemyśl. Of course, not all the youth were able to

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afford the large expenses of scouting uniforms, but we had our own tailors. The main objectives of the scouting organization were fresh nature, gymnastics exercises, lectures about natural sciences, anti–religious enlightenment, and lectures about social science.

We also used to engage in open discussions. At that time, small groups of Zionist organizers began to appear. However, we would not discuss with the proletariat parties. On the other hand, we accepted the ideology of Poale Zion. I cannot not relate the details of the discussion at length. I only remember that former Z.P.S. members believed that the Poale Zion speaker, who gave the opening statement, offended our speaker, the young Sohn. A fight broke out and the lecture was disrupted. We deeply regretted the situation.

Strzelec[4] and “Legionnaires”

Under the influence of Józef Piłsudski, the P.P.S.D. of Przemyśl organized a group of ““Strzelec”. The organizer was Stanisław Broda (not a native of Przemyśl), manager of the Workers Home. He also conducted propaganda among the Jewish workers that they should join Strzelec to fight against Czarism – the greatest enemy of Socialism. A few members of the Ż.P.S. joined Strzelec, and later the Legionnaires (Strudler, Heftling, Aharon Rosenbaum, and others).

The P.P.S.D. excelled with its patriotism. Its leading members were inducted into the Polish legion. During that time, we still had our headquarters in the Workers Home. However, we were forced to give up that headquarters. Before the war broke out in 1914, we obtained a headquarters from the Sick Fund on Słowackiego Street. This was a Socialist house in our city. This house was later used by the Bund Party and various professional unions, such as the tailors, tinsmiths, etc. The Ż.P.S. had a legal cultural organization called “Vorwarts”. This was beneficial later on, during the times of difficulty.

 

At the End of the First World War

The year 1918 saw the end of the war on the various fronts, albeit not at the same time. The events in Russia and Germany created the illusion for the workers party that they were standing on the threshold of the Socialist revolution. The Polish regime did not permit the “Eve of the springtime” to last long, and issued a series of anti–democratic laws that restricted the democratic freedom in word and deed. Shortly thereafter, the anti–Semitism arrived.

In the meantime, the soldiers began to return from captivity, including Bundists. We expanded our work and utilized Nussbaum's house on Czarnieckiego Street opposite the bridge, near the main railway station that had been taken over by the military for many years.

This house offered a wide range of possibilities for work. The influx of people was

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so large that we faced the problem of how to bring everybody in to the organizational structure.

We felt the need to ideologically fortify the Bundist group. We designated several members of the intelligentsia to create a cultural institute. We founded an open library named for Y. L. Peretz – and a Jewish library in Przemyśl was a novelty. The founders of the library were Josef Strudler, Sz. Jäger, and Yehoshua Laubstein (librarian). Most of the readers were non–partisan, from all circles, but with a serious connection to Jewish culture.

In those days, literary and political lectures were a frequent occurrence. We “twisted” around the famous 21 points of commentary.

Anti–Semitic voices pervaded the P.P.S. Jewish members of the P.P.S. would come to us to “warm up” – and many remained. The poetess Rachel Korn participated at our time. She was a faithful reader in our library since its inception.

 

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Z.P.S. 1917, in Przemyśl

 

The elections for the first Polish parliament in 1919 found us in a situation where we were not yet organizationally affiliated with the Bund. However, we ideologically identified with it and boycotted the elections together. On the other hand, we helped our home candidate, Dr. Lieberman, in Przemyśl.

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The ascent of Yiddish worldly culture at that time began in Przemyśl as well, even though the city did not have a strong uptake of Yiddish books. However, the times worked in favor of Yiddish, and no agitation had to be conducted. Through its own powers, Yiddish overtook the assimilations. The first drama groups were created by members of the Bund, especially Izak Salzberg, Litter, Mr. Weinhaus, and Moshe Schwarz. Almost all plays of Goldfaden were performed.

Who can forget all the social events? The Hagibor football club competed with other sports groups in the city. The club was composed of the members Rindler, Moshe Hand, Wallach, and Weitz.

 

The Rule over the Community

The first Przemyśl community council after the war was nominated and consisted of the representatives of the party, in accordance with an agreement. The old community was driven out, and new communal life was organized. Dr. Max Rosenfeld was elected as the first communal head. He was a member of Poale Zion from Drohobycz. His leadership of the community did not last long. He died at the age of 36, and the city mourned his death deeply.

In accordance with the agreement, the Z.P.S. was represented in the communal council by Dr. Leib Landau, Meir Ritterman, and Pinchas Drucker[5]. The Jewish section of the P.P.S.D. was also represented by two people: Oestreicher and Sigman. The Yad Charutzim organization had its two representatives. The communal council was then called the People's Council as a concession to the assimilaitionist, who were represented by three mandates of the 19. After Rosenfeld's death, Dr. Leib Landau was unanimously chosen as president of the community. At that time, the community was primarily involved in operating a rescue committee, for need and poverty pervaded in the city and help was needed. The JOINT indeed did good work. The volunteer members did a great deal of philanthropic work.

 

Uniting with the Bund

The unification congress of the Bund in Poland took place in Kraków in 1920. Dr. Leib Landau was a member of the regional committee in Kraków. As the head of the community, he took along the leader of the Bund Henryk Ehrlich, who came from Przemyśl with a lecture entitled “The Jewish Problems in New Poland and their Solutions.” He had a large audience from the intelligentsia, and left a strong impact.

The slogans in those times were: The ways leading to constructive Socialism, that is to found a general production cooperative and a consumer's cooperative. With non–large subsidies from the JOINT, we founded a consumer's cooperative under the leadership of

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Dr. Walentyn. Aside from Dr. Walentyn, the committee consisted of Dr. Gottdank, Josef Strudler, and the brothers Teichel and Shmuel Kryger. The business leader was Abosh Schenk. A women's tailoring cooperative was led by the comrades Jakubowicz, Salzberg, Schenker, and Fruchter (the latter, a Poale Zion member).

The cooperative of the painters was headquartered in the garage of Dr. Błażowski, where the storehouse of materials was located. We also founded unions of the tinsmiths, locksmiths, and painters affiliated with the general Polish professional unions, with rights of autonomy for our Yiddish speaking members.

The crown of our movement was the Zukunft youth organization, located in the headquarters at the end of Wodna Street. Its first activists were the members Rene Heisten, Riwka Cifer, Glanzman, and others.

The writer of these lines was a delegate at the founding conference in Warsaw. The Bund was illegal at that time, and we had to be wary of a downfall. It was the time of Passover.

Yaakov Fett of Vilna gave his first lecture in Przemyśl on the topic “The Jewish School and the Jewish Child.” This was a problem that we had not pursued until this time.

We heard further interesting presentation from Engineer [Israel] Okun from Vilna, who came to us on account of his wife, who was interned for political reasons in Pikulice near Przemyśl. His lectures stimulated passionate discussions primarily on the theme of “Intersection of Bolshevism and Democracy.”

 

First City Council Elections

The old Curia Electoral Law was utilized for the elections. Since we were now living in a democratic regime, a fourth class of voters was patched together (in contrast with the first three curias) who did not pay any taxes. That fourth class had more voters than the other three together. We registered three candidates: Dr. Frim, Strudler, and David Weissman. Many Jewish members of P.P.S. voted for us. On the other hand, we voted for the Jewish candidates of the P.P.S.: Nassenfeld and Sigman. They were also elected.

 

The Polish Soviet War

The Bolshevist–Polish War, which began in November, was a period of the Black reaction. Every Jews was looked upon as an enemy of Poland. At that time, the P.P.S. called together the general workers council of Przemyśl to discuss the newly created situation. The P.P.S. people had already decided a long time ago to sign up for the general defense line against the Bolshevik invasion.

It was very difficult to oppose them. The hall in which the meeting of the workers council took place was full of defensive agitation. On the other hand

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Mr. Shaya Hirsch, with his excellent Polish, issued a declaration in the name of the Bund that was not in accordance with the attitude of the P.P.S.

The following members participated in the meeting at that time: Sz. Jäger, Sh. Hirsch, Rene Heister, Rosenbaum, and Yehoshua Laubstein. Hirsch was fortunate in that the Polish house guards led him out a side door.

 

The Tailors Strike

Members came to us from the tailors' union in Lublin – Chomik and Zigbaum. The former led a strike of the Jewish and Polish workers in Przemyśl. Everyone was surprised by the fiery atmosphere.

 

Elections for the Community and Sejm

The first elections for the community took place. Up to this time, it had been composed of nominated members. We received three mandates. Dr. Leib Landau was unanimously elected as the head of the community at the constitutional meeting. The Bund party committee determined, however, that we did not receive the mandate of head of communal head in a proportional fashion. It therefore decided that Landau must leave his office. Landau was locked out of the party for not carrying out that decision.

The Sejm elections took place in 1922. The comrade Wiktor Alter came to Przemyśl as a representative of the central committee of the Bund in Poland. The comrades Dr. Gottdank. Strudler, and Rene Heister were the local party representatives. It was decided that Dr. Leib Landau should be the candidate of the Bund list, but he held, on the other hand, that, as a student of Dr. Lieberman, he could not place himself as his opposing candidate. He ran as the candidate for the Bund list in Lemberg. Wiktor Alter agreed, but Landau had a reservation that he would not be able to vote in a united fashion on all questions should a Bundist faction be formed. (He was a rightist at that time.) At the last chance, Alter spoke calmly and stated decisively, “Comrade Leib Landau is indeed a great personality, but the Bund movement is even greater.” In this way, they both stood their ground.

It was 5:00 in the morning.

The Bund then had its own country list at that time. On the Jewish street, Przemyśl also had the national list candidate Moshe Frostig, the editor of the Lemberger Tagblatt. He was also running in the Przemyśl region. Of course, Dr. Lieberman's candidacy came to an unfavorable outcome – and they appealed to us to support his voters. However, this was impossible, since the Bundist list was central, and not local. On the other hand, many of our members voted for Liberman. In the entire region, the Bund received 1,500 votes[6]. Liberman was only elected thanks to the fact that the Ukrainians

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boycotted the elections, and therefore much fewer votes were needed in order to be elected. For the first time, the Communist Party approached us regarding a united action. This did not work out, because this would have implied a Communist Bund – and we did not recognize such a delegation.

We had some success in the Przemyśl region. We succeeded in holding an election meeting with great success in the town of Dobromil.

 

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Members of the J.V.A. division in Przemyśl at the First of May parade in 1938

 

Lecturers at our Location

The veteran Ż.P.S. activist, Pesach Dembitzer came to us as a guest speaker, with a literary lecture about Peretz's creations. Then, Melech Rawicz came twice. His first presentation was about Sholem Asch, and the second time, he came as a representative of the CYSHO[d] in Poland. At the first presentation he strongly opposed Leibush Schwebel. For his second visit, he conducted the meeting and was the opening speaker.

For the First of May conferences or mass gatherings, Gerson Silbert, Henryk Ehrlich, Dr. Ignacy Aleksandrowicz , Dembitzer, Blum, Dr. Fensterblum (of Krakow), Dr. Penzig (from Sanok), D. Eineigler (of Lemberg), Dr. Feiner

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(later the leader of the resistance movement during the Nazi years), and Treuer (both from Lemberg), all came to us.

Comrade Shaya Hirsch was elected at the regional conference in Krakow for the Danzig [Gdansk – ed.] covert Bundist convention, at which the Danzig Social Democratic party was legalized in the free city. A regional conference took place at the same time in Lemberg [Lwow – ed.], to which I was sent by the party as a delegate.

A conference of the general lumber union took place in 1926. The Jewish delegation consisted of 10 people. Our city was represented by thee delegates: Aharon Rosenbaum, Tüchel, and Mordechai Kalb.

Peretz Markish came to Przemyśl twice. The guest writers, including Markish were hosted at the family of Rachel Korn.

 

Youth Organizations in Later Times

We later also had a fine youth organization with professional unions (tailors, furriers, etc.). They youth had their own headquarters, including a library, on Wodna Street. For us, the youth were the nerve center of the movement.

The youth also had a dramatic circle, led by a comrade from Lublin, Zygman. They would put on single act plays in the manner of a cabaret. The youth organization also ran excursions, of which photos remain.

*

After the year 1928, the writer of these lines left Przemyśl. His memoirs of the Bund movement in the city end with that year.

Coordinator's Footnotes

  1. published also under other first name – Israel Laubstein Back
  2. Vereinigung – Union, Association, in German Back
  3. See http://www.yivoencyclopedia.org/article.aspx/Landau_Leib Back
  4. CYSHO – (Central Jewish School Organization) – This large network of Yiddish–language schools were founded in 1921 in Poland and run by the socialist Jewish Labor Party, the Bund. By late 1923, CYSHO had 120 elementary schools with 12,400 students, 26 kindergartens, 3 high schools, and 2 teachers' seminaries throughout the country; by 1934–35 there were 15,486 students. These schools taught Yiddish language and literature, Jewish history and social studies, as well as science, mathematics, music, art and sports. They competed against Hebrew schools, known as the Tarbut network. Back

Translator's Footnotes

  1. There is a footnote in the text here, as follows: Regarding the Bund and the Zionist Workers Movement (Poale Zion and Zionist Workers Movement) – see also pages 106–11, 252–257, 288–289 in the Hebrew section. Back
  2. There is a footnote in the text here, as follows: Remarks from the editor: we changed the version of the author from 1906 to 1905. To be exact: the First of May, 1905 – according to the opinion of the historian Yisrael Moshe Horn of blessed memory (a student of Yitzchak Ber, author of “The Z.P.S. Jewish Socialist Party in Galicia, “Mechkarim”, M. Neuman publishers, 5711 – 1951, edited by Dov Sadan, page 150); the claims of Shusheim in “Pinkas Galicia”; and of Dr. Gelber in “History of the Zionist Movement in Galicia” that it was an error to claim that this took place in 1906. Back
  3. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignacy_Daszy%C5%84ski Back
  4. Rifler. Back
  5. There is a footnote in the text here as follows: Editor's remarks: our chairman Dr. Dov Nitzani (formerly Berish Knopf), who was an active member of the People's Council from November 1, 1918 until May 1919, claimed that the Z.P.S. received only two representatives in accordance with the agreement. One of them, Dr. Leib Landau, was constant, and the other was often rotated. Back
  6. There is a footnote in the text here as follows: Editor's remarks: the author made an error here. The Bund list received only 403 votes in the Sejm elections of 1922. Back


[Page 451]

Dr. Leib Landau

Translated by Jerrold Landau

The following articles were written and transmitted to the editorial committee from a book thanks to the initiative and efforts of Dr. Jerzy Sawicki.

Dr. Sawicki, a professor of criminology at the University of Warsaw, was in his time the representative of the People's Democratic Poland at the international military court in Nuremburg, which judged the prominent war criminals and also acted as chief prosecutor in a series of trials in Poland against the German executioners in the death camps of Majdanek and Auschwitz, against the Hitlerist rulers in Kraków, against those who decreed the establishment of the Warsaw Ghetto, against the governor of the Warsaw district – and many other war criminals.

His book “Genocide – From Establishment of the Concept Until its Realization (1933–1945)”[a], published in Kraków in 1949, Professor Sawicki dedicates a memorial to Leib Landau. He writes the following in the dedication:

“To the bright memory of Dr. Leib Landau, the incomparable fighter for equal rights of people, the great participant in criminal trials, the victim of genocide – I dedicate this work.”

To this day, nobody knows where Landau's grave is. That dedication should serve as a monument for the unknown grave of the unforgettable man.

Coordinator's Footnote

  1. or: “Genocide – From Conception to Actualization (1933–1944)”, published in Krakow in 1949 („Ludobójstwo. Od pojęcia do Konwencji. 1933–1948”, Kraków, 1949) Back


Lawyer Leib Landau – a Great Man
of Israel by Abraham Morewski
[a]

by A. Marovsky

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Leib Landau represented the finest qualities of the Jewish intelligentsia of our generation. He was a great person of the generation, not because of his high erudition and also not because of his talent as a defense attorney in hundreds of trials. His electoral success in the region was rooted in the fact that he was a fine person with a refined spirit and a free sense of thought.

Even though Leib Landau was a practical activist, he was a poet with his entire essence. In our sober, cynical century, he was the knight with heart and soul.

Around the year 1925 I was engaged in Przemyśl to direct an amateur group in the performance of the two act “Dukus”[b]. I got to know Leib Landau in that city. Our friendship continued until 1939–1940 when the war disrupted our lives and our contacts.

I recall his radiant personality through a series of episodes that are etched in my memory, when they do not play tricks with all the colors of the rainbow of the heart and intelligence of Leib Landau. Over and above everything was his refinement and his willingness to sacrifice for other people. To describe him, I must place in the foreground Leib Landau – the lawyer.

Three episodes from his legal practice are especially etched in my memory.

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From left: Abraham Morewski, Dr. Leib Landau, Boaz Karlinski[c], Benjamin Ressler[d] in Zakopane

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The first episode: the famous, unfortunate Steiger trial in Lemberg in 1923. Stanisław Steiger, a Jewish student, sat on the accused dock. The regime accused him of an attempted assassination of President Wojciechowski[1]. The unfolding of the trials between Paris and Lemberg [Lwow] were very significant. The differences in societal and general political atmosphere between Czarist Kiev in 1913 and the Republic of Poland in 1923 gave rise to three trials – Dreyfus, Beilis, and Steiger – three motives in one uncanny symphony… There were three stages of a centuries long struggle between the forces of darkness and light, of the forces of justice, freedom, and redemption.

The hearts and moods in Jewish homes were trembling and shocked from the unfortunate battle. A small matter: from one side, the powerful apparatus of the regime, and on the other side – a few lawyers. A Jew named Stanisław sat on the accused bench, but the accused was – the Jewish people. Just like the Dreyfus opera, the reaction was not against an individual. Similarly, the Beilis trial in Kiev did not deal primarily with Mendel Beilis, but about the “Jewish danger” that threatened the throne of the Romanovs. It was the same with the Lemberger trial, the blade of the accusation was directed against the Jewish society.

The first line of defenders were the three lawyers: [Natan] Löwenstein, a Pole named [Michał] Grek, and Landau. At the trial, Landau won over everyone's hearts and appreciation, not because of his authority and position, but rather thanks to the way he conducted himself during the trial itself.

Here we must turn our attention away from the Lemberg trial and deal with the Palais de Justice in Paris and the Kiev courthouse. The name of Leib Landau in the Lemberg trial was equal to the name of Dreyfus' lawyer [Fernand] Labori, and the room full of lawyers of Mendel Beilis – [Nikolay] Karabchevsky, [Vasily] Maklakov, and [Oscar] Gruzenberg, who shook up the world with their art and finesse during the defense.

However, sitting in the pantheon of the immortal jurists as an equal among equals thanks to his erudition and talent, Leib Landau is also noted with his personable character and dignified poise.

He felt the yoke of the danger that threatened millions of his brethren with every fiber of his heart.

He was an exemplary human being and Jew.

*

About ten years later, in 1934, Landau appeared at a second trial in Lemberg, at which the writer of these lines attended and stood in wonder of our superb gentleman during all sessions. The trial presented no opportunity for demonstrating legal arts, and there was no opportunity for “flashes of lightning” in the courtroom. The societal impact was also minimal. However, Leib Landau once again demonstrated his greatness by defending his personal enemy and furthermore – an odious person. This person was called “Thumim”. The impurity, as it is called[2], made itself known, or the culprit made his appearance. Looking at him, however, one could not even evoke a minimal feeling for his miserable fate. Previously, he was

[Page 454]

the editor of a murky street journal and used his pen all year to denigrate everything connected to light and progress. He especially attacked Leib landau in his pogrom–style articles…

During the Steiger trial, he vexed him daily, and demanded that he leave the city, Poland, and the world. However, now, that “knight of the printed word” fell into the hands of the prosecutor, and was threatened with many years in prison. The district court had already tried him. When it came time for a review of his case, his sister turned to Leib Landau and begged for mercy: that he should save him from a severe punishment, and fight for a reduced sentence if he could not be freed completely. Landau accepted the defense of Tumim, the person who persecuted him, mocked him, and summoned all the forces of ill fortune and death upon him all year long…

And how bright, now sunnily radiant was the giant of law and humanism in his defense of his personal enemy, when the latter found himself in a situation of need?…

*

The third episode played itself out in private life, in a crowded room, where an arbitration case was taking place.

I traveled to Kraków during the winter of 1927–28. After collaborating with the “Komitet” for three months, I ran away from theater. I literally fled… even though I left on my own accord, they declared that I was guilty for breaking the agreement. They demanded that I repay all the expenses for the entire time, from the beginning of the season, and that I also pay or the renovation of the building and, it seems, for the salaries of the troupe until the end of the season…

If all these demands were excessive, the accusation was judicially sound. I lost my position unwillingly, even though the grounds for that may have been morally questionable. I wrote a letter to Leib Landau, explaining my “precarious situation” and asking for advice. I received a terse reply on the second day: “Everything will be in the best order,” implying that he would be coming in person.

When the deadline for the arbitration was designated, it turned out that Landau had a trial that day, and could be unable to come. In the meantime, the presidium of the committee composed a list of travesties and transgressions that I had apparently committed. I arrived at the sitting and waited, intending to state after the opening of the sitting that I felt helpless against the improper intentions of the accusations – and I do not want to go through the entire comedy. Of course, this would mean that I lose 100%.

However, Landau did indeed come. They suggested that the guest conduct the meeting. He declined the honor.

“I am merely an arbitrator on Morewski's side.”

The matter was deliberated upon for 2 hours. Then I saw the wonders of the inquiry – how Landau overturned thread by thread the

[Page 455]

dozens of “travesties – or better crimes” against me, aside from the moral travesties. These were episodes of intelligence, legal dexterity and exceptional sharpness of a person who deeply understood people.

During the negotiations, the baselessness of the false accusations against me were clarified beyond doubt. The picture of my experiences that led psychologically to my breaking of the agreement were clarified. Even though I was legally incorrect with respect to the other party, it was clear that I could not have done otherwise. My decision was made due to numerous resentments over the previous month, for which the presidium was guilty. They even set aside a sum of money for me.

When the secretary inscribed the minutes and gave me a copy, Leib Landau extended his hand with a smile and stated:

“I have a special, collegial request for you. Our guest is from Vilna. The minutes of today's proceedings must be translated into Yiddish…”

On the spot, Landau spent 15 minutes translating the minutes into Yiddish, and said to me:

“You now have a souvenir of your experiences, which should be a comfort to you…”

Large tears welled up in my eyes.

*

The fortunate outcome of the arbitration trial permitted me to travel to Zakopane for several months, where there was a gorgeous winter. It was “high season” in the theaters at the beginning of January.

Landau's family lived in Zakopane at that time: his wife, son and daughter. He would come on occasion for a few hours, and for three days on the weekend. We would meet every day, and sometimes two or three times.

In the weeks of the mutual discussions with Leib Landau, the poet and knight, about worlds and words, two contrasting figures arose: an intelligent, practical person with worldly intelligence on one side, and in opposition, a fantasizer, a person who sees no shadows, who lives only in light from his constantly glimmering plays of fantasy. The impression that Landau left on the second side of our picture conclusively demonstrates this: “we became friends – and strangers.” However, despite the differences of our mentalities, I want to doubly mention his unfading deeds and character traits. The great sun of the Jewish people was borne in our hearts, and he was the exemplar of human words, progress and humanistic knowledge.

He was murdered in the inferno of Hitler's crimes. He could have easily hidden on the Aryan side. Hundreds of his friends would have protected him. He declared, however, that he must remain here, where the masses were going on their path of suffering and annihilation. He must remain with everyone. He willingly entered the ghetto and his eternity – through the mass graves and pyres…[e]

Could it have been otherwise with the great personality of the generation, with the knight of justice and uprightness, with the sincere and illustrious Leib Landau?

Coordinator's Footnotes

  1. born Abram Menaker (the family name came from their traditional profession as ritual meat cleaners) – http://yiddishkayt.org/view/abraham–morewski/ Back
  2. most probably Alter Kacyzne's play The Duke Back
  3. Boaz (Ber) Karlinski, a journalist for the Moment, the leading Yiddish newspaper in Warsaw – http://www.yivoencyclopedia.org/article.aspx/Karlinski_Ber Back
  4. Benjamin Ressler, Yiddish novelist, poet, playwright; contributed to Lemberger morgn, Der Tog – http://www.yivoarchives.org/index.php?p=collections/controlcard&id=33535 Back
  5. “ … Upon realizing the genocidal aims of the Nazis, [Leib Landau] escaped to the Aryan side with his family. Denunciation led to the murder of Landau and his family by the Nazis in 1943.” – http://www.yivoencyclopedia.org/article.aspx/Landau_Leib Back

Translator's Footnotes

  1. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanis%C5%82aw_Wojciechowski Back
  2. A play on the word “Tumah” – impurity. Back

Warsaw, October 1962.


[Page 456]

Memories of Leib Landau

by Ida Kaminska

Translated by Jerrold Landau

It was the summer of 1924. The Warsaw Jewish amateur theater (VYKT)[a] was making a guest appearance in Przemyśl. This was a few weeks before the famous “Steiger frame up” (incidentally – this was my first visit to Lesser Poland).

The Przemyśl circle of amateurs became larger under the direction of its leader, the lawyer Leib Landau. After our first performance in Przemyśl, at which Leib Landau was present, we met in the City Restaurant.

Leib Landau was a superb person, beloved in theater and also in his “trade.” After the first few performances, we got to know each other. When I was already at home after my first meeting with Leib Landau, and I was reminiscing about him, I asserted that very few people made a name for themselves as he did. His image, his dignified appearance… the person could not be anyone other than Leib – Leib Landau.

The Steiger trial generated enthusiasm for him throughout Poland, as well as in the world at large. We, who already were considered to be his friends, were happy for him, as if he were a relative or close acquaintance.

His popularity did not stem from his simplicity or unassuming nature. It was not only what we would see in Przemyśl and Lemberg, to where he later moved, for he would also come to Warsaw for every important performance. The final performance in Warsaw to which he came was “Shepsn Kval” (Sheep Well) by Lope de Vega, which we performed in the Warsaw Nowości Theater at the end of 1938. After the performance, we went to the Piccadilly Restaurant, near the theater on Bielanska Street. I cannot mention this without a shudder – the onetime Jewish Warsaw that has now disappeared…

Every critique interested the creators of a performance… In this case, while sitting in Piccadilly, the intelligent words, critique, and praise from such an expert as Dr. Leib Landau made me and the members of the ensemble who were present very happy. To us, this was a joy, and an encouragement of our work.

The war broke out not long after this.

After surviving the siege of Warsaw and the tribulations along the way, I arrived in Lemberg with my family. After enduring terrible experiences, it was important to have the warmth of a familiar environment. I could find this in the home of Leib Landau. He was somewhat off his usual balance – first due to his wife's illness, and second, he suddenly felt like a beginner despite his great erudition, due to the new environment, and the new language (he had to deliver his defense speeches in Ukrainian). Nevertheless, he had not lost his warmth and sincerity.

When I went to him on June 21, 1941 (for a visit that was to last several days),

[Page 457]

for a guest performance in Rovno [Równo, Rivne], I did not know that I must part from Leib Landau for a long time… forever…

Various versions are told of his death. One of them that as told to me constantly stands before my eyes:

They removed him from his house, dressed him in a cap with bells on his head, and ordered him to dance through the streets. From the middle of the cap on his head, he looked the murderers straight in the eye, and he, Leib Landau, proudly declared to the murderers, “I will not do this!”

He was shot in the head in front of everyone.

I do not know if this version is accurate, but, constantly before my eyes, I see that cap as a crown on his proud head.

Honor to your memory, my beloved friend.

Coordinator's Footnote

  1. VYKT – (Varshever Yidisher Kunst–teater), Yiddish dramatic company active in interwar Poland in 1924–1925, 1926–1928, and 1938–1939. Back


[Page 458]

Dr. Herman Liebermann

by Dr. Eliahu Bloch

Translated by Jerrold Landau

 

prz458.jpg
Dr. Herman Lieberman

 

He was born in 1869 in Drohobycz, eastern Galicia, and died in 1941 in London.

Dr. Herman Lieberman was a Socialist – a Polish Socialist. In his youth, the natural protective wall against assimilationist tendencies amongst the Jewish youth in Galicia was the home of the parents, especially the religious home where people spoke Yiddish and ensured a Jewish education for the children.

What type of a picture can one paint of Dr. Lieberman's parents' home – whether they mainly spoke Polish, or another language; whether his father observed the commandments, or not; whether he possessed a greater or lesser worldly education. One thing is sure, that in that Jewish house in Drohobycz in the years 1870–1880, there was no intention (and also no action) to educate the children in the Polish national spirit.

The Polish school, and especially the middle school, made strong efforts to ground the students with a knowledge of Polish history and literature. However, in no way was it able to nullify the influence of the Jewish home and the Jewish surroundings. The Polish society did not allow for a closeness with the Jews, who were “strangers” in their eyes as adherents to a different religion and culture. Therefore, Herman Liebermann's Polish nationalist sentiments can only be understood when connected with Polish socialism.

In that time, the Jews comprised the largest proportion of the proletariat in Drohobycz. Later, with the investment of large amounts of capital and the development of industry, the Jewish workers were eliminated from their positions. At the First Zionist Congress, they searched for the possibility of immigrating to the Land of Israel because the danger of unemployment.

Lieberman, a man with sensitivity, was grounded with social sentiment and a striving for justice. With his readiness for self–sacrifice (a character trait throughout his entire life), saw the poverty and became embittered toward the regime. However, he did not reach

[Page 459]

the conclusion that it was because it was the fact that he was a Jew that fate took interest in people like him. He concluded that the regime is unfortunate and shameful, and must be liquidated and changed via a kulturkampf under the leadership of a Socialist revolutionary party. When he saw the suffering and poverty in their general Jewish manifestation, Socialism revealed itself to him in its Polish incarnation.

A Jewish Socialist movement did not yet exist at that time. Only one Socialist party existed in Galicia at that time, Polish in character, imprinting its spiritual and cultural stamp upon the entire movement. It was thanks to that movement that Dr. Lieberman became a Polish Socialist – and remained such throughout his entire life. He was already an exceptional propagandist by the age of 20. He stood out among the founders of the Briderlichkeit union of Jewish workers in Drohobycz. At that time, he was considered to be a good activist in the workers movement.

The two years in Paris after graduating from gymnasium had a great effect on Lieberman. He came in contact with French Socialism and was influenced by its revolutionary tradition. He was connected with the Polish Socialist emigration (including among others, Stanislaw Mendelsohn, brother–in–law of Nachum Sokolow), and with Russian revolutionaries. Later, he was arrested. Since he was a foreign citizen, he was returned to Galicia. He eventually studied law at the University of Kraków, became a lawyer, and had an episode of prison in Kraków as well.

The international character of the P.P.S.D., thanks to its common goals with the Socialist parties in all the crown lands of Austria, as well as the common representation in the Austrian parliament, provided Lieberman the possibility of finding his political home in the party. From the party, he conducted a battle to better the living conditions and the rights of the common folk. Therefore, he had no time to involve himself with national problems.

Employment in the area was through a monopoly of the “national” circles, who utilized this for the reactionary aims. Polish patriotism pursued the nobility and the bourgeois. When the Socialists marched through the city streets, the red banner fluttered over their heads, and one song was repeated, “Czerwony Sztandar” (The Red Flag). The bourgeois camp utilized the Polish national flag and the hymn “Jeszcze Polska Nie Zginęła[1]. This is how two inimical camps existed.

In backward Galicia, without developed industry, the Polish workers movement was forced to seek a partner for its struggle. In the bitter struggle, the Jewish workers and petite bourgeois came into consideration. This was the actual reason, aside from general social factors, that caused the P.P.S.D. to organize Jewish workers in its ranks. Incidentally, this was the only political party in which Jews were included as members en masse.

[Page 460]

When Lieberman settled in Przemyśl during the 1890s, he created the basis for the Briderlichkeit union of Jewish workers. For the first time, the Jewish workers were lifted out of their political indifference and apathy and included in the ranks of the strugglers for the international workers class. There, they were educated to become proud people with class consciousness. They had a social objective and belonged to a movement that showed them the “chosen land” in every place where they lived and struggled.

Dr. Lieberman wanted to bring the “Garden of Eden” of civic freedom and equality to the Jewish citizens. At his election meetings, he turned to the householders and small–scale merchants, tradesman, street merchants, shopkeepers, and businessmen. They came en masse to hear him: young and old, men and women, literally devouring his fiery speeches, which became etched in their hearts. He spoke to them in the German Language, and spiced his words with verses from the Prophets (not in Hebrew). The enthusiastic audience gave him their votes during the election, and it is only thanks to the Jewish voters that he was elected twice to the parliament in Vienna. For the Jews in Przemyśl, especially for the poorer classes, this was the realization of their social aspirations. He could not bring material improvement for their dedication, concessions or special permissions. On the other hand, more than once, his followers found themselves in a conflict with the authorities in the city council or the community, and he could do a favor for a friend and penalize the opponents…

This identification of Lieberman with the Jews of Przemyśl found its expression in November 1918, when he was a member of the Polish national council, the provisional authority in the city, after the fall of the monarchy. The military commandant of the city imposed a collective penalty of 3 million Crown on the Jews of Przemyśl and threatened to collect the money by force. The delegation from the people's council placed themselves as guarantors for the proper conduct of the Jewish population. When the proposal was not accepted by the council, Dr. Lieberman offered himself as a guarantor. The non–Jewish member of council, the leader of the anti–Semitic Endecja Party of the city, Dr. Tarnawski, stood with him. Then, the order of the commandant was repealed.

Dr. Lieberman accused the Jewish national movement of Przemyśl for its… weakness. Then situation first changed when Lieberman moved his high political activity to Warsaw after he was elected as a deputy to the Polish legislative Sejm (this time as well – with the help of the Jewish votes). This opened a way for self–supporting political activity of the Jewish national movement.

The relationship of Dr. Lieberman to the Jewish workers who left the P.P.S. and created their own party, the Ż.P.S. (Jewish Socialist Party), was no better than his relationship to the Zionists. He had no regard for a “separatist” movement, considering them as opponents and traitors toward the workers class and Socialism.

Dr. Lieberman held that the important problem was the struggle against

[Page 461]

the two great enemies of the people: militarism and clericalism. Whereas international Socialism preached the brotherhood of all peoples, the militaristic fist was occupied with preparing for a war for the “Kaiser and the kingdom.” The militaristic fist greatly oppressed the people, as clericalism oppressed the souls of the masses in the name of the church.

Full of boldness, they made demands in order to conduct a battle with militarism in Imperial Austria, which was an overtly militaristic state.

From time to time, Dr. Lieberman attacked the militaristic cell in “Głos Przemyski” claiming that it tortured recruits and beat soldiers, thereby undermining the officers. More than once, the newspaper was confiscated on account of Lieberman's articles, but this did not impede its distribution to a number of readers. The openness stemmed from the fact that its source was the military, and therefore it was happy when someone “started up” with the authorities. The commandant forbade the officers and soldiers to visit the places where one could go to read Głos Przemyski.

 

prz461.jpg
Title of Nowy Głos Przemyski

 

The civilian authorities stood on the side of the general and did not thing to defend the openness of the word and the press, which was ensured by the law of the state, just as they did not react to the reprisals against the sources of livelihood of the citizens, primarily the Jews, whose situation continuously declined on account of the general's commands.

The battle against the general cost Lieberman persecution and arrests, but when he left from prison, he was carried by the shoulders through the streets by the demonstrating masses.

Lieberman also attacked the Catholic bishop of the city, Dr. Josef Sebastian Pelczar. The “Worker Pope”, Leon the 13th, who understood the meaning of the social problem of that time when capitalism reached its pinnacle of development, sat on the throne in Rome. From his high position he held that one must estrange the Socialist workers, the nonbelievers… Therefore, he preached the solving of the social problem in the spirit of Christianity. He issued the papal encyclical “Rerum Novarum” (On Capital and Labor)[2]. The Bishop of Przemyśl also waged battle against “his” Socialists, headed by Dr. Lieberman. In that spirit, he issued a pastoral letter that was read in all the churches in the city. That letter identified the Jews with Socialists.

Lieberman answered the bishop in his own language with a series of articles,

[Page 462]

under the title “Quo Vadis Domine?” (Lord, where are you going?) Those articles were not lacking in quotes from the Christian gospel, just like the bishop's pastoral letter. The newspaper with the title “Echo Przemyskie” used to announce that one should not purchase from Jews. The slogans were later changed into a softer tone, “Purchase only from Christians. Later, it castigated Dr. Lieberman as the “Red Jew” (because his hair was red and his political leanings were “red”). Lieberman did not let this besmirchment pass by, “The dogs are barking, and the caravans move on further,” was his motto.

To the same degree that Lieberman was hated by his opponents, who were afraid of him, he was loved by the workers, both Jews and gentiles, as well as by all the Jews in the city. His followers knew about his warm heart, his willingness to sacrifice, and his interest in people. Everyone honored him for pro bono participation in trials that involved the poor classes. People loved his modest lifestyle. When the workers marched through the streets of the city, their call was, “Long live Socialism, long live Dr. Lieberman.” Therefore, the ruling authorities let the incitement against him continue on, and defamed him.

When Dr. Lieberman's election victory of 1907 was celebrated, the police received an order to seize with bared swords the thousands of demonstrators who gathered in the place of the city council. Many people were wounded. This was their punishment for electing a Jewish deputy in the “Christian” city.

It is difficult to say whether Liebermann's Jewish origins caused any negative reaction among his party comrades of gentile origins. It is true that later, his “Jewishness” was mentioned during the second Pilsudski regime for being part of the struggle against Pilsudski. A sharp article against him was written by one of his former party comrades. It began with the words “Not so impulsive, Mr. Moshe Itzik”[3]. The entire article was written in that tone.

Thanks to his familiarity with military matters, stemming from his battle with General Golgoczy, the Social Democratic faction in the Vienna parliament tasked Dr. Lieberman with the duty of serving as its spokesman for budgetary matters of military concern. He excelled as a superb speaker in parliament as well as a proficient, knowledgeable jurist.

The awakening of the Przemyśl workers began during the 1890s, prior to the time Lieberman settled in the city. However, the seedlings that he found were still young.

Aside from the workers, the permanent residents of Przemyśl, there were also thousands of people who came to seek employment in the building of the fortress, according to the directions of the military upper command in Vienna.

In 1894, Lieberman, along with others, founded the first party cell in the city, and he began his party work with success. At that time, those workers set up two fortresses – one was a military one, pointed toward Russia, and the second a Socialist one, against the ruling society and regime. Already in the year

[Page 463]

1897 the important social institution, the sick fund, was set up. From that time, the representatives of the workers movement ruled.

Clouds stemming from the Balkans began to appear in the skies of Europe. The peoples of Austria strove for national freedom. The “Polish question” was also placed on the agenda. The demands of the time were: to find the correct point between the aspirations of the nationalities of the kingdom who were in revolt; to prepare for war, and to amass weapons. Pilsudski began to set up his “Strzelec” (Rifleman) unit, which later turned into the Polish Legion to fight against the Czarist regime on the side of the Austrian and German armies, with the objective of a free Poland. Lieberman also signed up voluntarily for that legion. He appeared in Przemyśl in military garb, with a Polish officer's sword. He reached the rank of colonel in the Polish Army.

He withdrew from the military on due to his anti–Austrian sentiment. Later, he became known for his defense legion at a military trial that took place in 1918 in Maramures–Sziget, under the accusation of treason against the Austrian fatherland.

A new chapter in the history of Europe and in Dr. Lieberman's life began in 1918. From that time, he belonged completely to Poland.

As a Sejm deputy, Lieberman was active in many committees, thanks to his knowledge that he acquired early in the parliament in Vienna. His boldness in uncovering the thieves in the ruling “Colonel's clique” earned him many enemies. In the name of the Sejm, he served as the prosecutor in the trial against the finance minister who misused his office in the name of the ruling clique. Therefore, they removed Lieberman's personal freedom. According to an illegal order from Pilsudski, he was sent to prison in Brest Litovsk. After suffering for two years, he appeared before a court and was sentenced to harsh imprisonment. When he visited Przemyśl after his release, he was greeted with great honor. That is how the masses expressed their protest the travesty that was perpetrated against Liebermann at the desire of the dictator.

According to the directive of the party, Lieberman traveled outside the country, to Czechoslovakia and France, after his release. He was very active there. After the outbreak of the Second World War, he was one of the founders of the Polish government in exile, headed by General Sikorski, and was active as vice president of the Polish national council. When Russia entered the war in 1941, Lieberman supported the agreement with the Soviets. He was designated as justice minister in the Sikorski regime. However, he was only able to fulfil his role for a brief period. He died suddenly on October 21, 1941.

Lieberman died abroad, in London, and was buried in the Highgate Cemetery, near the grave of Karl Marx, a fine place for a fighter

[Page 464]

for Socialism and democracy. He was buried in a foreign land and not in Poland, and he had sacrificed everything for Poland and its people.[a]

Dr. Lieberman was an anti–Zionist. He fought against the Zionist “utopia,” and with the whip of his mockery, he whipped the “dreamer from the ghetto,” who was foreign to his spirit[4].

Driven by responsibility toward the Polish state, he never refrained from placing the interest of the Polish state about the interests of his Jewish people. One must not forget that it was he who first brought the Socialist ideal to the Jewish workers of Przemyśl and taught other Jews not to bow down, but rather to proudly hold their heads up, as is appropriate for a human being and a free citizen.

As a token of recognition, the surviving Jews of Przemyśl devote these lines to the memory of Dr. Lieberman.

Coordinator's Footnote

  1. H. Lieberman has a symbolic grave at Przemyśl Jewish cemetery Back

Translator's Footnotes

  1. The Polish national anthem. Back
  2. See http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13rerum.htm Back
  3. In Yiddish it rhymes, “Nisht tzu hitzik, Herr Moshe Itzik.” Back
  4. Possibly a reference to Israel Zangwill's book “Dreamers of the Ghetto”, and probably a mocking term for Herzl. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_Zangwill Back

 

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