Tukums Community Pre-1941
The Association of Latvian and Estonian Jews keeps a set of records at Kibbutz Shefayim describing many aspects of Jewish life in Latvia and Estonia. An
inventory of the holdings of the archive shows many documents that are not so much official records but personal reminiscences recorded by individuals who emigrated and thus survived the Holocaust. These records thus play the role of Yizkor books, few of which are available for Latvia in the Jewishgen on-line Yizkor books. The item presented here is a translation by Martha Lev-Zion of such a memoir of Tukums; the original was handwritten in Hebrew.
From the beginning of the 20th century there was in town activity [word is cut off] the Revisionist-Betar. This movement contributed a great deal to Zionist education, and educated the youth to be concerned about the love of Israel. Many of the members of this movement went up to Israel during the years of the 20s and 30s. The first pioneer was Dora Zandel. She went up in the year 1929. She was from the Gordonia movement and for many years was a member of Kibbutz Giladi. She died a few years ago. The pioneers who went up following in her footsteps were all from the Betar movement. Here is a list of the people who in the 30s went up to Israel.
1. David Veinreich 2. Abram Veinreich [brothers]
3. Leo Veinreich 4. Lea Veinreich [brother & sister]
5. Zelma Lenhoff 6. Ida Lenhoff [sisters]
7. Josef Katz
8. Moshe Brand
10. Fanny Zussman
11. Schaya Slaveciski 12. Lieb Slaveciski [brothers]
13. Boris Vainer
14. Moshe Les
15. Tema Vipman
With their arrival in Israel, all of them were in divisions of Betar. D. Veinreich was in the Menora group. In 1936 with the beginning of the disturbances in Israel, almost all these fellows joined the police. M. Brand/J. Katz continued to be active in the police from then on until their retirement. M.Brand was a high officer in the Tel Aviv Police. Two couples of this group married here in Israel: D. Veinreich & T. Datel /L. Veinreich & T. Vipman. Of the 16 pioneers who went up to Israel, only L./T. Veinreich went down during the hard years of the 30s. It is interesting to know their fate. At the end of the 30s, they returned to Tukum. There, the war caught them. They succeeded in getting away to Russia. He joined the 43rd Latvian Division. He was badly wounded in the fighting around Moscow. They didnt succeed in returning to Israel. He died in the 60s. Tema succeeded in returning to Israel only with the aliyah of the 70s.
The pinnacle of activities of Betar was at the end of the 20s and the beginning of the 30s, when the number of members reached more than 100 people. The first leader of the movement in town was Yecheskel Veinreich. This was a big family. They were seven brothers: Izak, Tzemach, Moshe, Benno, Abram, David, Yecheskel. Yecheskel was killed really the last day of the war in Berlin with the rank of officer of communications. Regarding the activities of Tzemach in the Riga Ghetto, I am sending you a photocopy of a newspaper. Regarding David/Abram, I already wrote. Moshe/Benno went up to Israel in the 50s, via Poland. Izak went up a year afterwards. After that, the leaders of Betar were [in chronological order] Motl Lenhof. He was killed in the Shoah. Leo Veinreich - I already wrote. Josel Veinreich participated in the war in the 43rd division. Severely injured, he lives now in Tukum. Hirsch Fleisher [Flusher?] died of sickness and starvation in Tashkent. Shaul Gerson - survived the shoah in the Riga Ghetto. Now in Riga. In the middle and the end of the 30s, there began a lessening of the activities of the movement and the number of members was reduced to 40-50. One can point this out in that the numbers prepared for aliyah were many but certificates they succeeded in receiving were few. Hachshera [preparation for aliyah - translator] they did in Baltezers, near Riga. Please note that one of the leaders of the hachshera in the 30s was a member of the Knesset Keshet. In the year 1935, there went out from town a young woman named Batya Blumenshtok (now Ben-David) to South Africa. In the years 40s/50s she was one of the founders of the Betar movement in Johannesburg. She went up to Israel in the 60s and lives in Tel Aviv.
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