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[Page 28]

Chapter II

Between the Wars

 

Social life

Jews were by and large excluded from the social life of the city. They met the general population during the intercourse of the day for purposes of business or professional consultations. Monday was market day in Krosno where almost everybody appeared. Merchandise was sold and bought. The farmers brought their produce to the market for sale. The Jewish stalls and stores provided all goods and services. There was no socialization after work hours between the Jewish and the Christian population. The Jews organized their own societies to provide for their social, religious and cultural needs.

Krosno had a burial society or “Hevrah Kadisha” that tended to the needs of the deceased and their families. Chaim Fruhman and Jacob Palant headed the society. The family usually had to pay for the burial plot and funeral expenses unless they could not afford it, then the community assumed the financial burden. The “Bikur Kholim” society tended to the sick of the city while the “Tomchei Aniim “society headed by Kalmen Bogen supported the needy Jewish population. The “Linas Kholim” society provided beds for the sick people while the “Khanassat Orchim” society provided lodging for people that were stuck in the city and had no place to sleep. He also headed the society for helping poor indigenous Jews that were not residents of the city. This hospice provided sleeping accommodation for one or two nights without charge and was located near Teitelbaum's inn. There was also a society to help unwed Jewish girls to marry. There was also the Ludowy bank headed by Minc. Yossef Platner was a member of the board of directors. The bank granted loans to merchants at low interest. Krosno also head several private banks that granted small short term loans. There was the “Gmilas Khessed” society that helped people in need. The group launched appeals and collected money for various projects in the community. Below is a letter of appeal that was sent to the Krosner landsman in the USA. The Yiddish letter is dated January 16, 1939. The lengthy letter explains the difficult situation of the Krosno Jews. Especially the small merchants or peddlers. The letter urges the American brethren to help the Krosno “Gmilass Chessed” provide loans for the needy.

The Jews of Krosno did not forget needy Jews in Palestine and made small contributions to the “Meir Baal Haness” charity organization that helped Jews in Palestine. Here is a partial list of the Krosno contributors:

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AFTENGUT Shlomo
AKSLER Yossi
ALTER Yaakow
AMSTERDAM Chaim
BAUMEN Kalman W
BIALYWLOSS Mendel
BLUMBERG Shmuel
BOBKER Yehezkel
BOIGEN Nahum
BRANDER Yossef
BREITOWICZ Israel
BREITOWICZ Moshe
BRONFELD Yaakow
BRUDESHEWKI Noach
BUCH Lewi
DAWID Mechel
DERSHEWITZ Hawa
DIAMAND Klaman
DIM Lea
DIM Chana
DOMINITZ Klaman
DUNKEL Meir
DYM Riwka
EDELHEIT Tzwi
EISENBERG Itzhak
FAST Israel
FESSEL Hide
FEUERLICHT Yakow
FEURLICH Elimelech
FISHBEIN Dawid
FISHLER Tzwi
FISHLICH Yaakow
FITTER Awrahm
FLAM Fima
FRENKEL Itzhak
FREUND Shmuel
FRUMAN Chaim
FRUSHTAG Yossel
FUSS Sender
GERLICH Menachem
GRINSHPAN Moshe
GRINSHPAN Aaron
HABER Yossef
HADNER Sara
HALBERSHTAM Dawid
HASHNIK Kalman
HERMAN Israel Ber
HERTZFELD Hersh
HERTZFELD Tzwi
HERTZIG Itshe
HERTZIGER Yossef
HERTZLICH Kalman W
HERTZOG Yehuda
HOFFERLING Israel
HOLOSHITZ Shmuel
HOLTZER Yossef
HOROWITZ Menachem
IMMERLING Akiva
JUST Tzwi
KALB Asher
KALB Betzalel
KALMENSOHN Lipa
KANNER Moshe Ye
KATZ Zishe
KERNKRAUT Yehoshua
KITZELSTEIN wolf
KLATCH Chaim
KLEINBERGER Yakow
KLOTZ Itzhak
KLOTZ Sara
KOENIG Chaim
KRIELER Baruch
KRILL Hersh
KRILL Reisel
LAM Yehiel
LANDAU Shmuel
LANG Chaim
LANGBLUM Moshe
LEHRER Tali
LIEBER Anshel
LIEBER Berish
LIEBER Tzwi
LITTMAN Israel Mos
LONDON Zindel
LONDON Feibish
LUDENBERG Mendel

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MAHLER Wolf
MAHLER Eliezer
MARGOLIS Moshe
MARIN Aaron
MEBEL Moshe
MECHLECH Menachem
MEHLICH Yehoshua
MELAMED Awraham
MELLER  
MELLER Shprintze
MINTZ Awraham
MORGENSTERN Benyamin
MOSES Awraham
NORD Hersh
NUSSBAUM Wolf
OLING Amshel
OLINK Awraham
PASTERNAK Moshe
PERETZ Reuven
PINKUS Lemel
PLATNER Awraham
PORUSH Ozer
POSTACH Shimon
POSTER Shimon
PRESSER Baruch
REICHMAN Leibish
RIEDER Seril
RINGEL Shaul
RINGLER Awraham
ROZNER Eliyahu
RUBIN Hersh
SAMIT Yenta
SHAMROT Zelde
SHAMROT Moshe
SHEINBERG Yaakow
SHEINER Naphtali
SHENKER Moshe
SHILDKRAUT Zelig
SHLANGER Miriam Ze
SHOENBERG Yaakow
SHOSS Sender
SHPINDLER Chana
SHTIMMER Miriam Ze
SHUB Yaakow
SHWATSCH Nute
SHWEIBEL  
SOBOL Shia
STROWBURGER Awraham
TAUBENFELD Moshe
TEITELBAUM Haya
TEITELBAUM Mechel
THALER Mordechai
TRANCHER Manas
TRAUBER Getzel
TRAUBER Mania
TRENCHER Manes
TZELLER Eliayhu
TZWIBEL Yaakow
TZWIK Awraham
WALKER Itzhak
WALTER Tzwi
WARFEL Zelig
WEINFELD Shmuel
WEINMAN Moshe
  Itzhak
WEISNER Daw
WESTREICH Feivel
WIENER Itahak
WILNER Leibish
WILNER Itzhak
WILNER Leibish
WILNER Nuta
WINTER Israel Ber
WOLFF Leibish
ZELTZER Zeew
ZIMET Leibish
ZWASS Yakow

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Religion

The great preponderance of the Jewish population of Krosno was religious. The religious range extended from the Hassidic or very pious to the moderate or traditional religious Jews. Of course, there were some non-believers, agnostics and assimilated Jews but their numbers were limited. Jewish life revolved around the synagogue and synagogue related activities. The community built a beautiful synagogue that had three floors. The upper floor was the main synagogue of the community where Rabbi Fuhrer conducted services. The cantor of the main synagogue was Reuben Peretz Kaufman, a brother in law of the famous world-renowned cantor Yossele Rosenblat. The lower floor served as a synagogue where the Hassidic Rabbi Arale (Aaron) Twerski, and later Moshe Twerski, conducted services. The lower synagogue attracted the more religious and Hassidic elements in the city. The small yeshiva of Krosno also used the synagogue for studies.

The second floor also had another synagogue called the “Yad Harutzim” headed by Awraham (Adolph) Muenz where merchants and artisans prayed. The third floor contained the “mikvah” or ritual bath, there was a cold and a heated ritual bath connected to an underground spring that provided constantly fresh water. There was also a steam room with a row of benches anchored to the floor. The highest bench was extremely hot and humid.People used to take with them a bucket of cold water to splash their faces in order to cool down. The sauna was open Saturday morning and still steaming. The sexton of the synagogue and his family lived on this floor. The city also had a few small “shtibelech” or one room service halls notably the Gerer shtibel next to Wilner's residence where followers of the Rabbi of Gur prayed. The community also maintained a religious judge or “dayan” Akiva Hammerling, son in law of Rabbi Fuhrer. He was in charge of the rabbinical court. The community maintained “heders” or religious schools where youngsters were thought the prayers. The community assumed the costs for those that could not could not afford to pay. Of course, there were private heders and advanced cheders for students that continued their studies with the Talmud. There were also a few religious slaughterers that charged the customers for their services. The community also baked matzot for Passover at the bakery of Krill and provided the needy with the staple for the holiday. The budget of the community was based on taxes raised by the kehilla of all Jewish residents in the city.

 

Political life

The major Polish political parties did not encourage Jews to join their ranks. Very few Jews held positions in the major political parties. The Jews flocked to their own parties or representatives to protect their interests. Since the Jews were a minority in Poland, their representation in Parliament was small.

[Page 32]

This representation was further reduced through various gerrymandering tactics regularly employed in Polish elections of the period. The Jewish parliamentary representation was usually isolated and had few allies in the governing bodies of Polish politics. While the Jewish representation in the Sejm- or parliament was small by contrast, Jewish representation at the local level was more representative.

Jews participated heavily in municipal elections and supported usually moderate city councilmen or they voted for Jewish lists that combined several political parties. There was always Jewish city councilmen in Krosno to defend the Jewish interests in the city. Some of these councilors were frequently re-elected, namely, Eber Englander, Leopold Dym and the Stiefel brothers. The mayor of Krosno was always Christian. Jewish voters supported their candidates particularly following the great depression of 1928 and 1930 hat seriously affected the Jewish community. The campaign of the Polish cooperatives to boycott Jewish firms further deteriorated the Jewish economic situation. To strengthen their economic base, the Jewish workshop owners formed a close supportive economic association (in the mid-twenties) called ”Yad Harutzim” and the Jewish merchants association headed by Jozef Stiefel also formed an association of self-assistance. The associations established a financial institution, namely, the “Gmiles Chessed,” cooperative bank suported by the AJDC. The bank provided financial loans to merchants in need at very low interest. The capital of the bank was subscribed by the members of the association and the Joint. The members selected a board of officers. Below is a list of the officers of the bank and the subscribing members.

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The Management

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1. Goldstein, Samuel , president
2. Platner, Jozef, vice president
3. Fink, Israel, Mgr. secretary
4. Ader, Jakub, member of the board
5. Apfel, Maneshe, member of the board
6. Breitowicz, Israel, member of the board
7. Freund, Samuel, member of the board
8. Feurlicht, Meilech, member of the board
9.   Elowicz, Saul, member of the board
10. Trenczer, Leiser, member of the board
11. Weinstein, Szyzion, member of the board
12. Weisman, Markus, member of the board
13. Willner, Herman, member of the board
14. Moses, Abraham, member of the board
15. Shmutz, Natan, member of the board

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Granted loans

Halpern, Feurlicht Eiselstein Moses Goldberg, Israel
Podner, Chaskel Platner, Markus Zwas, Jakub
Grunspan, Moses Halpern, Jakub Beer, Mendel
Beim, Benzion Wenig, Naftali Schachner, L.D.
Ramras, Eidel Stern, Dawid Margules, Machcia
Winter, Izrael Ber Weisman, Mendel Epstein, Berisch
Fruhman, Sara Grunspan Jakub Zwik, Flima
Ehrenreich, Jakub Breitowicz, Lina Beer, Nehemia
Menner, Aron Winter, Jakub Sling, Aron
Knobel, Kalmen Amsterdam, Chaim Rossler, Peretz
Trenczer, Czarna Trenczer, Samuel Klagsbald, Eber
Platner, Awraham Goldberg,Izrael Weisman, Cyla
Waks, Debora Gross, Henoch Winter, Sala
Rubenfeld, Chajka Herbstman, Lea Zimet, Leib
Platner, Dora Puretz, Shmuel Manlar, Abraham
Schenker, Moses Hersh Schreier, Aron Flik, Moses
Margolies, Mechel Neuman, Mayer Caras, Sabina
Breitowicz, Cilia    

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[Page 37]

Fendar, Feivel Blum, Leopold Kanner, Moses L
Dawid , Pinkas Kleinman, Salomon Weinstein, Mania
Zimet, Hersh Trenczer, Fajga Trenczer, Fishel
Freund, Salomon Sprecher, Naftali Stainman, Mirjam
Rubenfeld, Osias Nord, Salomon Gelander, Mendel
Hershfeld, Hersh Montag, Szyja Wrobel, Berl
Weinfeld, Markus Spitz, Gizela Beim, Izrael
Haferling, Izrael Stiefel, Joachim Lambik, Hersh
Trattner, Roza Bauman, Markus Botker, Moses
Stern, Szymon Kleinman, Hela Katz, Rafael
Neiser, Wolf Breitowicz, Isak Maroka, Chana
Lem, Chaim Roth, Salomon Schiff, Leib
Schenker, Dawid Fink, Klara Ellowicz, Mayer
Beer, Israel Margolies, Moses Taubenfeld, Zisha
Grank, Jozef Fruhman, Sara Jamal, Mendel
Stern, Moses Peiles, Nina Schildkraut, Selig
Haber, Jozef Knopf, Izak Taplicki, Saul

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[Page 39]

Kimel, Izak Wol. Sroka, Mindel Ehrlich, Alter
Geller, Feivel Den, Wolf Horowitz, Sara
Gottlieb, Benyamin Ramras, Lazar Oling, Genia
Kanner, Leib Schainer, Abraham Mandel, Jakub
Fried, Eliezer Leitberg, Juda Turk, Izrael
Schiff, Moses Teitelbaum, Moses Alter, Jakub
Grun, Chzwa Breitowicz, Leib Engelhardt, Mendel
Meisels, Lazar Weiner, Aron Beer, Mendel
Friedman, Mendel Riemer, Jakub Edelheit, Rubin
Rieder, Jozef Beer, Jozef Stern, Mayer
Kaufman, Rubin Lam, Perl Schleien, Alter
Dawid, Mechel Tanz, Saloman Margulies, Kalmen
Scheinbach,Mechel Weisman, Lazar Strasfeld, Nuchim
Dorf, Mendel Steiner, Zudik Ratz, Chaim
Gerlich, Osias Spigelman, Dawid Kranz, Jozef
Pinsel, Chaja Munz, Reuben Beim, Sussman
Pogon, Kalmen Kieselstein, Ch. Guzik, Moses
Kernreich, Alter Engelhardt, Ojzer Landau, Leia
Berger, Benjamin    

[Page 40]

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[Page 41]

Melamed Rachela Akselrod, Izak Montag, Moses
Schenker, Wolf Pittman, Mozes Schuldenfeld, Leib
Flapan, Lazar Hernik, Kalmen Weinstein, Szymon
Bobker, Markus Moses, Wold Gelb, Chaim
Bogen, Nuchem Salomon, Lea Weinberger, Saul
Pinkas, Lemel Berger, Jakub Freund, Moses
Salz, Mendel Kanner, Chaskel Trenczer, Helena
Engelhardt, Izak Furst, Izrael Jak. Possner, Rosa
Weber, Jozef Ratz, Jozef Leib Akselrad, Lipa
Friedman, Manes Fishler, Wolf Gottlieb, Benjamin
Beim, Salmen Zimet, Samuel Rossler, Aron
Futter, Abraham Silbeberg, Osias Weinfeld, Asher
Bodner, Chaim Goldfinger, Drezel Ettinger, Moses
Wilner, Leib Weiser, Wolf Fenig, Chawa
Dunkel, Mayer Schreier, Aron Diamand, K.W
Engelhard, Schulem    

[Page 42]

Some of the names seem to repeat themselves since the list extends over a long period of time. The fund was very helpful to the small business people. There was also the “Ludowy Bank” or People's bank that was a Jewish banking institution in Krosno.

The Yiddish letter below was sent to the USA to appeal for contributions.

[Page 43]

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[Page 44]

kro044.jpg
The Yiddish letter dated Januaey 16, 1939 is addressed to the Krosner landsman in the USA

The Yiddish letter dated January 16, 1939 is addressed to the Krosner landsman in the USA.

The letter states that the management of the “Gmiless Chessed” in Krosno desperately appeals for help during this difficult period for the Jews in Poland. I do not need to explain the situation nor am I capable of describing it. The needs are urgent therefore we decided to inform you of the activities we undertook on behalf of the Jewish population in Krosno with the cooperation of the “Joint”.

We established two cooperative banks that provide annual loans amounting to a half a million zlotys. The benefactors of these interest bearing loans are of course the stronger situated merchants. The bank operations leave out between 30-35% of the smaller merchants or artisans that can not afford to pay interests. We therefore created a special fund that would provide non-interest loans to these people. The fund has managed to obtain from various sources the sum of 3500 zlotys. The Joint provided another 8000 zloty. The fund started to operate with 12000 zlotys at its disposal. Of course, the sum could not feed all the small merchants but the fund could assist many merchants with needed financial assistance. Below are the names of the management committee and the list of loan receivers.

The list of names is published with the intent to show you the extent of the needs and hopefully you will respond generously to this appeal. You will help your former neighbors in their daily needs. You will also enable us to provide needed assistance to the Jews of Krosno who struggle daily with their lot.

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Please let us help them. Do not close our doors. We repeat again, please help us help your brothers and sisters in Krosno with loans for their needs.

We send you warm greetings.

On behalf of the management. Name illegible.

The letter was loosely translated by William Leibner.

Below is a Yiddish letter that was attached to the lists abve. Both items were sent to the former Krosner inhabitants to help the Jews of Krosno.

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Another leetter of appeal was sent by the Gmilass Chessed society of Krosno to the USA begging for help

[Page 47]

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Joint report from Krosno to the Joint headquaters in Paris regarding the small revolving fund in Krosno that provides small interest free loans to small Jewish merchants and artisans. The figures represent 1938

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Community Politics

Jewish political life revolved around the community. Who will control the community? Factions and sub factions based on personalities, wealth, political views, religious feelings and social issues fought for control of the The elected candidates selected the officers of the community. Usually the community or kehilla. The elections were proportional and very democratic. The council consisted of 8 members. Only male residents could vote in the elections that were hef every four years. Officers represented coalition forces within the community. The more prominent community leaders were; Bendet Akselrod, Mojszes Wieisenfeld, Meshulem Weinberg, Wolf Hirshfeld, Samuel Stiefel, Leopold Dym and Ozjasz Heller. Bendet Akselrod d was born in Korczyna to the well known l industrial family of Meshulam Akselrod Father and son were distinguished community. leaders. Bendet Akselrod was born on April 14th 1886 and killed on July 15th 1943 at the Szebnie concentration camp in Poland. He was the head of the Jewish community in Krosno for many years until the Germans occupied the city. He was active on behalf of Jewish interests during in the early stages of the German occupation of the Krosno and then went into hiding in Krosno.( See Akselrad chapter).

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Bendet Akselrad

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The Krosno Jewish community had many political parties partie; some local and others Zionist parties. Hirshprung and Fessel headed the Aguda or very religious party. Dr. Leopold Dym headed the Mizrahi or moderate Zionist religious party. Josef Horowitz, Samuel Rosshandler, Samuel Stiefel, and Aron Wallach led the General Zionist party. Hersh Altman and Itzik Salomon led the Revisionist or right wing Zionist party. There was also a Hitachdut group that represented several left wing groups that supported the working movement in Palestine. The Bund was also represented in Krosno. Of course, there were also independent or unaffiliated Jews. All these political parties had youth branches that were very active in Krosno, for the youth saw no outlet for their hopes since most avenues of general life were closed to them in Poland.

The Betar youth movement on the right was headed by Moshe Montag, the Noar Dati was the youth wing of the moderate religious party, Noar Iwri represented the center group. Gordonia and Shomer Hatzair represented the left groups. There was also the Hehalutz movement that organized and trained youngsters to settle in Palestine. As a matter of fact, most of the Zionist youth groups stressed the study of the Hebrew language and stressed the importance of Palestine as a home of the Jews. Many young did in fact leave for Palestine, legally or illegally. One of these immigrants was Shimshon Lang. Following his discharge from the Polish army, he saw no future in Poland and decided to leave for Palestine. His illegal ship was intercepted by the British navy and he was offered a choice: join the British army or face prison. He joined the army and fought World War Two with the British 8 th army.

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Shimshon Lang
in the Polish army
  Some years later, Shimshon Lang
in the British army

The Jewish youth societies had their own clubs that provided a social meeting ground for the Jewish youngsters. Krosno had two Jewish sport clubs; Maccabi and Gideon that provided athletic outlets for Jewish youngsters.

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The Krosner Beis Yaacov or girls school

Education

Most Jewish children, especially boys, started “cheder” or school at the age of three. The cheder usually consisted of one room with 10-15 students. The parents selected the cheder and paid the teacher. The community alsoprovided some help with tuition for orphans. Krosno had several cheders,notably the one of Moshe Feivel by the river, Chaim Just, Chaim Lam and Kuflick. Students studied for some years with the teacher where they learned how to read the prayers and the weekly portions of the bible. Most of them then went on to a higher cheder where the religious instruction was more intensive. Here they studied various commentaries on the bible and started to study the Talmud or religious judicial law. Some students continued their studies with private tutors but this was expensive.

Rabbi Twerski organized a small Yeshiva named “Keter Hatorah” for those students that wanted to continue to study in an organized framework. The head of the Yeshiva was Mr. Seligman. A “Beis Yaacov” or school for girls was also established in Krosno under the leadership of Mr. Hirschfeld. A school where Hebrew was the official language of instruction was also established in Krosno. The school was small but grew in numbers with the years; it was affiliated with the “Tarbut” movement or cultural movement that had a network of schools in Poland. Most Jewish children went to the Polish public elementary schools where their experiences were far from happy.

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Very few students continued their studies, since secondary school was very expensive. Some Jewish students opted for trade or commercial classes, but the number of students was very limited due to the expense and the built in system of limitations for Jewish students. Very few students continued higher education that required extensive financial backing. Furthermore, Polish universities limited the number of Jewish students. Some of the students went abroad to study. Still the number of Jewish professionals was impressive. Krosno boasted several Jewish medical doctors, lawyers and engineers.

Jewish doctors in Krosno. Siegel, Buchholz, Yacov Baumring, Awraham Rosenberg, and Leopold Dym. Esther Moskowitz was a dentist.

Lawyers: Leib Rosenbaum, Weinberger.

Engineers; Oscar Gross Otto Lieberman

Youth

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Postcard from an outing of the Betar youth movement. Notice the stamp with the inscription of Brit Trumpeldor (official name of the youth division), Krosno. Polish greetings from some participants, dated 29 November 1933

Most Jewish youngsters finished their education with the elementary school. They than assisted their fathers in the business or the mothers at home. The very religious youngsters continued their heder study. Some became apprentices. Most of the youth, however, saw few opportunities. The civil service, the government industries, the municipal services were closed to them. They could only hope to work in Jewish places and these were few in numbers.

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Thus, the attraction to the Zionist youth movements in Poland, especially in smaller cities like Krosno. These movements offered hope and provided an outlet for intellectual, social and physical activities. The youth clubs staged plays, musicals, literary evenings and various outings that involved both sexes. The stress of the political youth clubs was Hebrew,Jewish History, Zionism, Palestine geography, songs and group dances. and They also provided the great support for the two sport clubs in Krosno, namely the Gideon club with goalkeeper Gobel and the Maccabi club headed by Mendel Fish. The more prominent players of Maccabi were Jossel and Mendel Friss. Soccer was the most popular game amongst the spectators. Some Jewish youth also supported the “Bund” or Jewish socialist group, the Polish socialist movement and even the Polish communist party that was officially outlawed in Poland. The party was very active and one of its leaders was Wladyslaw Gomulka, a native of Krosno. Following WWII he became leader of the Polish Communist party and then Prime-Minister of Poland.

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From left; Wolf Mozes, Zalek Weinfeld, Yossek Weissman, Srulek Spitz, Malka Fruhman, Mundek Bieder, Mayer Goldstein, David Fruhman, and Tulek Katz

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Krosno youth players

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Play staged by Krosno's Jewish youth

 

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Krosno Jews Youth
From left; Yossef Margolis, Moniek Fruhman, Chune Altman, Yossef Lang, Olek Steigbigel and BarUch Minc

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The motor age arrives to Krosno. Moniek Fruhman with small Salek Beim on his motorcycle

 

Jewish residences

Krosno did not have a specific Jewish neighborhood or quarter. Jews lived throughout the city but certain areas or streets had a large Jewish concentration notably around the market. The Jews of Krosno were predominantly religious. According to White, you did not need a calendar to know that Shabbat or a Holiday was approaching. “The aroma of the gefillte fish and parsely in the soup penetrated even in the street air. At home after the Friday evening service , we sat down at the table , sang the prayer greeting the Sabbath and sanctified the wine, home made grape juice. Everybody received a sip of wine. The challah was blessed and distributed to every person. Then the gefillte fish was followed by chicken soup with farfel or noodles. Chicken and compote followed. Between courses, religious songs were sang at the table…” . “Saturday morning, the streets were empty, the stores in the city mostly Jewish owned were closed. Jews went to the synagogues to pray that would last until noon…” The men returned home and a big elaborate meal would be served interspersed with religious songs praising God and Sabbath.

 

Jewish refugees

The Jews of Krosno as well as those of Poland were accustomed to seeing Jews leave Poland. Mainly they headed to Germany, Austria and the USA. This trend continued for many years until the USA established a quota system following WWI that in effect barred Polish Jews from entering the USA.

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This act was soon followed by other nations that faced massive unemployment caused by the severe financial world depression. Each country tried to stop the flow of immigrants. Hitler assumed power in Gemany and not only stopped Jewish from entering Germany but proceeded to expel them by any and all means, especially non-German citizens. Jews who lived in Germany for many years suddenly faced expulsion. Most of them were deprived or stripped of everything and sent to Poland. The expulsions were rigidly enforced and sometimes split families that consisted of German and foreign citizenships. The Jewish expulsions were vividly described in the German press that launched vitriolic attacks against Jews. Of course, the Germans saw to it that the anti-Jewish campaign also appeared in the neighboring countries under various disguises. The Polish press or rather a good part of it fell prey to this anti-Jewish campaign and further incited the Polish public against the Jewish population.

The Polish government was not crazy about accepting the German Jewish residents of Polish descent but it had no choice. The refugees returned usually to their native places. Krosno received a number of them; Yehuda Engel and Moshe Kleiner who will play tragic roles later in Krosno. These Jews left Krosno in the hope of finding a better life in Germany which they did. But wwith Hitler's rise to power, they were persecuted and finally chased out of Germany under one or another pretext. Close to 200 Jews from Germany arrived in Krosno, most of them penniless. One exception was the Leiner family that brought a mechanical ice-cream machine and began to sell the product. Up to this time, ice cream was made by hand and rather expensive. The community launched an appeal to help these refugees. The refugees described in great detail the situation in Germany, particularly the Jewish situation. Many Jews found it hard to believe that the Germans who behaved decently to the Polish Jews during WWI sunk to such bestial behaviour. Slowly the facts were digested but the Jews could do very little about the situation. The world was closed to the Jews and they had no place to go. Even Palestine slowly closed the doors to Jewish immigrants. The Krosno Jew like all Jews in Poland and Eastern Europe became trapped with no exit.

The Polish government encouraged Jews to leave the country for it wanted to reduce the Jewish population in Poland.  Following the official and honest  census of 1921, the government never published demographic information regarding the number of Jews in Poland.  The estimates are that the Jewish population reached about 10% of the population of the country or about 3.5 million people. Various Polish governments tried to reduce this estimated number by various intentional misrepresentations that the public and the Polish Jewish community did not accept. The fact remained that the estimated figure of 3.5 milion Polish Jews was the accepted figure.

My father Jakob Leibner a native of Zmigrod left the place to marry my mother Seril Lang of Krosno. He had to register the move with both localities.

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Top registration note states that Jakob Leibner left his Zmigrod residence and moved to Krosno to the Lang residence in the market place.
Bottom note states that he left Zmigrod and moved to Krosno

 

The Polish government maintained a close watch over the movement of people depression spread and the entrance gates to most countries closed. The Zionist movement in Poland began to ship illegally young Jews to Palestine. The demand for passage steadily increased. A number of Krosno Jews left Poland for Palestine. While Poland encouraged Jews to leave Poland, it kept a close watch over the Jews in Poland. As a matter of fact, the Polish authorities encouraged Jews to leave Poland. Internally, however, the government kept close watch over Jewish movements as can be seen by the document above.

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Jakob Leibner as he appeared on his Polish identity card

 

kro059b.jpg
Seril Lang-Leibner, daughter of Chaim and Feige Lang, married to Jakob Leibner

 

 In 1935, Pilsudski died. General Smigly-Ridz took over the reins of Poland. A wave of anti-Semitic propaganda descended on Poland. Anti-Semitic Polish parties and groups began openly to agitate against Jews, notably the National Democratic party known by the letters ND. The members were familiarly called the “Endekes”. They refused to recognize the Polish Jews as Polish citizens. They staged a violent campaign against the Jewish manner of slaughtering animals claiming that it was cruel to animals. Apparently hunting animals was humanitarian.

[Page 60]

The “anti-Schitah” laws or ritual slaughter laws were passed in a modified manner that immediately increased the price of “Kosher meat”. Illegal slaughtering appeared on the Polish scene. The entire meat business industry received a serious shock and affected the Krosno Jewish butchers and customers. Other laws aimed at Jewish economic and financial interests were passed. The Polish street was incited against Jews. In Krosno, graffiti slogans such as “Jews to Palestine” ,“Out with Jews” , “Kill Jews” appeared on the city walls. Polish students returning from schools for their summer holidays organized boycotts of Jewish stores and prevented buyers from entering the stores. The students also attacked the Maccabi sport club and caused a great deal of damage. Part of the Polish press encouraged these activities and created the illusion that the Polish Jew was the enemy of Poland. While the real enemy of Poland, Germany incited the Polish masses. Of course, the German press and radio did their best to incite the Poles against the Jews. Hitler wanted to detract attention from his military activities in Germany.

Germany was very pleased with this anti-Jewish campaign in Poland. It also supported and egged on Poland to insist on territorial changes along the Polish-Czechoslovak border in favor of Poland. The Czechs refused to negotiate. The Poles were furious and waged an aggressive publicity campaign against Czechoslovakia in the Polish press. Germany was of course interested in keeping these two Slavic nations apart for Czechoslovakia was an industrialized country with a large military industry at its disposal that could provide military hardware to its allies in time of need. And the Polish army needed modern weapons. The Germans were determined to keep the feud between the two Slavic countries going to prevent any Polish –Czech logical alliance. Hitler succeeded beyond his wildest dream. Poland joined militarily Germany in dismembering Czechoslovakia. Czech prisoners of war soon appeared in the city of Krosno for the city was close to the border between the countries. Now Poland faced Germany alone in the east.

 

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