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[Page 185]

The Communist Organization

by Ben–Avraham, Tel Aviv

Translated by Miriam Leberstein

The Communist organization in Nowy Dwor consisted mostly of Jewish youths, with only a few non–Jews. As an illegal organization its membership remained unknown, but it stood out for its members' strong ideological dedication, sincere belief and boundless willingness to sacrifice themselves.

Among the first known Communists in town were Khaim Tishler and Azriel Alman, who emerged as Communists at the beginning of the 1920's. Khaim Tishler was then serving in the naval fleet of the Polish army and was already well known in Nowy Dwor. Azriel Alman left Nowy Dwor while still very young and held a responsible position with the K.P.P. [Polish Communist Party]. He was later arrested at the Polish–Russian border while acting as a go–between between the K.P.P. and its representatives in Soviet Russia. He was imprisoned for 12 years, was freed before World War II, and was later killed.

In the rank of the clothing workers' union, whose membership was Bundist, the name of Efrem Shafranker emerged. A tailor and a member of the union, he began to appear in the name of the “Red Faction” which didn't actually exist at that time. He, his friend Sh. G., his brother Motl and the author, were the first seeds of the Communist organization around whom gathered those who left other organizations.

The Communist party carried out its work in the premises of the trade unions, where the Bund and Tsukunft also had their offices. That was where the opposition, the “Red Faction” was founded. They also conducted their agitational work outside – on the “second front”, on the deptak [promenade or boardwalk], where they worked on their sympathizers, potential candidates for the Communist Party. The organizational work and agitation on the deptak was carried out continuously, without a break, summer and winter, in rain and freezing cold. They were always enlightening the backward masses about the new ways, oblivious to the mud and snow penetrating their torn shoes.

At the beginning of the 1930's the Communist organization had increased its influence. Its activists came from those who had left other organizations. This reflected an ongoing struggle between the parties in the communal life of our town, which caused pain and resentment in personal relationships. The worsening in inter–party relationships was caused by policies of the central Communist organization. By 1929 the conference of the Profintern[1] in Berlin proclaimed the formation of separate [Communist] trade unions. The results of this proclamation were felt in Nowy Dwor. It was no longer enough for the Communists to act in the role of opposition [within trade unions organized by other groups].

At the beginning of the 1930's the Communist organization had its own small office in the bakery of Tall Yosl. This was a semi–legal club. There, the tailors who until then had formed the opposition in the clothing workers' union created their own union and that of course immediately led to a struggle over influence and leadership in the various factories

[Page 186]

Azriel Alman


and workplaces. This led to bloody fights, in which disreputable elements who had nothing to do with the workers movement got involved. The finale of the struggle played out in the tailor shop of Yidl Zaydenberg.

During this period, the Communist Party expanded its influence. They succeeded in attracting young people from Tsukunft [The Future, a Bundist group], Frayhayt [Freedom, a Zionist group] and other organizations. The inter–party conflicts abated and in 1935–36 more decent relationships were established, mostly with the Bund and sometimes with the P.P.S. [Polish Socialist Party].

Among the joint actions of the parties were the campaign in the supplementary elections to the city council in 1923, when the Communist Lukashevski was elected as part of the Socialist bloc; the joint May First demonstration of 1926, with its bloody conclusion; and the 1927 elections to the city council when the “left” won two seats and together with the other workers' parties formed a Socialist majority in the council and the magistrat [municipal government]. In later years, too, the Communists appeared in joint events.

The Communist organization suffered greatly from its illegal status, which resulted in years of imprisonment for its activists. We should remember the murdered Azriel Alman, Leye Papier and Sime Zamyatin, who breathed her last breath on the gallows in the Nowy Dwor ghetto.


A group of Jewish “Pioneers” with the Polish Communist activist Gustav
(in the center of the first row)


Translator's Footnote

  1. The Profintern was the name commonly used for the Red International of Labor Unions, which was established by the Communist International to coordinate Communist activities within trade unions. Return


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