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[Page 235]

The Jewish Economic
Life in Tarnow


Clothing Industry in Tarnow

by Dovid Zayden

Translated by Avi Berg

The author Dovid Zayden z”l wrote this text during the year 1951 – while already in the country. In the year 1952, after long and hard suffering, he unfortunately died, and thereby left his wife a widow and orphaned his two children. Along with his brother, Shimon, who lives in Haifa, Dovid Zayden, before the war, was affiliated with the legendary Confectionery (Clothing) Products in Tarnow. As an employer, he developed great sympathy for the workers whom he employed. He also found time to commit to worthwhile work and, thanks to his vast intelligence, devoted himself to the general Jewish population in Tarnow. After the war, he made Aliya to Israel with his entire family, and here too he exhibited extraordinary warmth and dedication for his brothers from Tarnow, and he took great interest and involvement in their work prior to releasing this Yizkor book. Unfortunately, he did not survive to experience the moment of release of his [Yizkor] book. May his memory be blessed and respected!

The single most standout star of the clothing industry in Tarnow was a woman named Raizel Rubin, a woman with a bright horizon in sales talent, whom originally worked with antiques to be able to support her large family. The antique clothes she used to bring down from Budapest, and in year circa 1860 in Tarnow, she began to arrange purchases of pants and blouses and sold them in Hurt. Her undertaking began to prosper, and in a very short time, she was able to employ her several sons–in–law and sons who greatly profited from this business and were able to support their rapidly growing families. The grandchildren of Raizel Rubin can now be found in Israel and some of them currently lead the clothing industry establishment.

Several years later, the Gebit (sic) initiative overtook several Tarnow firms: Zelig Faust, A. L.

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Steiner, Marcus–David Feld and others, whom have produced better conditions in many states of the Austrian–Hungarian monarchy.

Before the first World War, the leader of the clothing industry was Saul Brändsteatter, who led a factory of modern capability which was legendary for great working conditions and high quality. The Brändsteatter firm was the first firm which began exporting from Tarnow to the Balkan countries – Serbia, Bulgaria, and Turkey.

During the first World War, and also during the Russian occupation, when the enemy shipped all machinery to Russia, and the industry died off, and after the Polish kingdom made their stand, following discussion with several governments, a new era began in the clothing industry that not only supported the concurrence of foreign products, but also, something that was later proven, that they had lower prices and better quality of the goods.

During the establishment of the clothing branch, they began to separate the many branches i.e.: clothes, Triko (sic), shoes, hats, large hats, all kinds of men's and women's wear, processed leather, leather, futter (sic), and everything from simple processed items to luxury articles.

While we're on the subject of the Tarnow industries run by Jewish employers, a big positive in Jewish initiatives, we have to give the award to the clothing industry which didn't need any concurrence from the Polish side,

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even though among some of the Polish government members there were some desires to naturalize the industry branch which has from its inception until its demise – because of Hitlerism – been in Jewish hands.

The Hitler followers have, just like the previous Polish government, tried to naturalize the industry branch, which has, despite many backers, not panned out, and quickly led them to destruction. Even the current Polish government is not about to re–establish the clothing industry in Tarnow, and only the foreign clothing cooperation in Tarnow is being run by Jewish employment and rank. During this writing, Tarnow Jewish Dom counts up to two hundred persons, and more from other cities and states.

Why did the militarized Polish government, which has not hidden its pro–Hitler orientation and which regulated Nurberger laws, still try to regulate the Jewish industry branch? Those who were familiar with the Polish motives were not difficult to answer this question. By a monthly production of 250,000 to 500,000 pieces of material, this branch of industry has employed several thousand employees, by a worth of the production articles which surpassed 2–3 million zlotys per month. From this, the government taxed millions of zlotys annually.

Furthermore, when the clothing industry underwent inner–market saturation, some producers started looking around for exporting options. Upon the initiative of the firm “The Brother's Zayden” (David & Shimon), they established an exclusive partnership with the Border Customs firm “A.N. Dress–export” to arrange for the export of clothing. The following firms – which until then only worked for the inner–city industry – subscribed to the new company: The Brother's Zayden, The Brother's Keller, Zowder & Weinstock, Wurtzl & Daar. The status of the newly established firm was forecast as a positive force in the inner–city market. The partners began taking in so many loyal members into the firm that in a very short period of time, the company “Dress–export” won the European market, and with its many and varied dealings, it started gaining interest from import firms from outside Europe (Rottenfarbandt, Israel, Canada, and more). The financial figures of the firm were exceptional, and after the acquisition of the “Demping–Premies” (sic: Government contracts), the figures skyrocketed even higher to the sums of millions which also helped pad the pockets of the royal government with money from outside the country.

In her international ambition to “grasp” the handle, the Polish

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government also tried its hand at the export business. However; the producers put up a protest. This protest eventually led to the liquidation of this export industry, and this at the time of its greatest growth.

At the same time, other export companies began to sprout, although in a smaller dimension, which also took slices of ‘Dress–Export’.

Prior to the Tarnow clothing industry, there was in the Krakower handlers in Kamer Industry, Dovid Zayden, who was nominated by the government. This nomination allowed him to influence various markets and niches and also enabled him some influence on some product laws. In February, 1939, after entrenching themselves on the Polish–German border due to the Hitler–Ordered dividers, the military attendants of General Staub realized that ‘Monderings– Magazines’ (sic: clothing magazines) are empty, and on this initiative from the Krakower Handles–Kamer, the military ranks interested themselves in the Tarnow clothing industry. After much pressure and many conferences with the author of the law, three Jewish clothing entities were dedicated: The Brother's Zayden, Yosef Katz, and Ganz Hochberg. All three immediately pledged to work for the military by smoothly supplying the various products needed. Each firm individually had to contribute 100.00 military Mondern (sic: clothing) per month.

They took a majority of workers from the Jews of Tarnow, and the mighty military expressed their extreme joy with the contributed materials and work.

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To this particular work, just like the rest of the industries, did Hitler lay waste when he invaded Poland, and after entering Tarnow, they seized all of the completed material and products and machines and shipped them to Germany.

Thus, ended the clothing industry in Tarnow which was all started by a Jewish woman, and over the course of many decades, sustained and fed thousands of Jewish workers.


Shlomo Wurzel z”l


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