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[Page 27]
The Community's Official Newspaper

by Joseph Chrust

Translated by Dr. Leon Chameides

The second issue of “the Official Newspaper of the Jewish Community of Katowice” appeared in February, 1932 (Adar I, 5,692) and it can be assumed that an inaugural number must have been published in January. All attempts to find a copy of that first issue have so far been in vain. This is a pity inasmuch as it is assumed that that first issue must have included a lead article by the editor, in which he must have outlined the newspaper's philosophy and approach. On the other hand, it is not difficult to deduce this from the 117 issues of newspaper (until December, 1936 or Kislev, 5,696) which we do have. Unfortunately, we have been unable to locate any additional issues but there is no doubt that the Official Newspaper of the Jewish Community of Katowice continued to appear until the outbreak of the second world war when the community was destroyed. According to calculation, it appears that the newspaper was issued every two weeks.

The 118 issues (in reality only 117) came to Israel almost by accident. The survivors of the community of Katowice living in Israel decided, after an interval of 45 years, to publish a memorial book for this community. In addition, they decided to erect a monument on the site of their magnificent synagogue, by all accounts one of the most magnificent in all of Europe, which was destroyed by the Germans immediately after their capture of the city. The moving force of this endeavor was Ms. Cila Katriel of Tel Aviv who travelled to her native city in order to search the city's archives for copies of this newspaper which she remembered well. Much to her happy surprise, she found it in the Silesian Library (Biblioteka Slanska). The library agreed to her request to have the issues microfilmed and thus we succeeded in obtaining this priceless historical item.

This is not simply a figure of speech. If, G-D forbid, all other historical sources about Jewish life in this city were lost, these 117 issues would suffice to recreate the vibrant activities and contributions of this community to Jewish life in Poland during its relatively brief existence.

The Jewish community of Katowice was unique. This town, which became famous in the annals of Zionism and Judaism, owed its fame to three important events: The Chovevei Zion Conference of 1884, the founding conference of Agudath Israel in 1912, and the World Council of Zionist Revisionists in 1933 during which the movement split. The city never exceeded a Jewish population of 9,000 and as late as 1840 it had only two Jewish families comprising 12 people. Small wonder, since at that time, Katowice was little more than a village. Its rapid development resulted from its coal mines and foundries developed in the latter half of the last century in no small measure due to the essential contributions of Jews from Germany who came to settle. Later, Jews from Poland, which had been occupied by Russia, as well as from Austrian Galicia started to arrive in Katowice. Many of them had intended to continue westward across the ocean but a lack of funds forced them to stay and search for means of earning a livelihood. Others came here directly upon hearing that food was available. Almost all the city veterans spoke German; later, Yiddish speaking Jews arrived from Galicia and Russian occupied Poland. Polish was compulsory in the school system. The newspaper therefore reflected the needs of all the Jews living in Katowice, those whose native language was German and those who spoke Polish. The bi-weekly community newspaper was also bilingual, Polish and German; almost everything printed in it appeared in both languages.

In the years between the two world newspapers published in the large communities in Poland were not especially outstanding. Such newspapers were published in Bialystok and Luck, in Grodno and Woloclawek, in Kielce and Lublin, etc. But these newspapers were promoted by private publishers, who who were motivated either by an opportunity to earn a livelihood, or as an easy way to publish their writings, or both. In contrast, the newspaper published in Katowice was promoted by a man who did not exploit it for personal gain, but instead used it as organ that would meet the needs of the Jewish inhabitants and the organized community. His name was Eliasz Abrahamer who is recorded as the editor-in-chief from the first to the last issue in our possession. In truth, he was not only the editor-in-chief but the editor for everything. We regret that little is known about him. The little we do know, is gleaned from the newspaper itself. In issue # 91 (November 1935 or Marcheshvan, 5695) an article was dedicated in honor of Eliasz Abrahamer's fiftieth birthday. Two congratulatory announcements appear in the paper on that occasion. One is from the officials of the local Jewish Community to Abrahamer, the vice-chairman and the other from the Zionist Organization in Katowice, to Abrahamer, a member of the local Zionist Council. It is worthwhile to point out a typical detail. To celebrate the occasion, the officers of the Jewish Community in Katowice did not prepare a greedy party only for themselves; instead they announced that they are organizing a party for the poor to celebrate the event.

kat028.gif No caption (section from Jewish newspaper) [26 KB]
No caption (section from Jewish newspaper)
[The heading in the paper reads: Official Gazette Israelite community in Katowice]

kat029.gif No caption (section from Jewish newspaper) [34 KB]
No caption (section from Jewish newspaper)
[An appeal for donations made by a Jewish women organization]

kat030.gif No caption (section from Jewish newspaper) [45 KB]
No caption (section from Jewish newspaper)
[An appeal to the Jewish youth]

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