by the late Zvi Goldberg, Tel-Aviv
Translated from Hebrew by Kutzi Weill
WWI [First World War], which lasted four years, havocked, as every war, economy in general and especially played havoc with the vulnerable Jews. War's inevitable side effects, like transportation disruption and other mishaps, naturally impacted severely the unproductive middle classes, including small craftsmen and merchant's class to which majority of Jews belonged.
With back to normality and revival of economy following the end of WWI, the Jews of Staszów, being main war victims and suffering financial hardship, had an urgent necessity to establish an independent Jewish credit institute which will mitigate financial stress and will open opportunities for commercial initiatives and normal commerce and craftsmanship's life. For this worthy task, at 1922, the Cooperative Bank, being one of the first of its kind in all Poland, was founded. The author of this document [= the undersigned] was among the initiators and founders of the Cooperative Bank.
Despite the poor funding capital of the new institution, 2,500 zlotys, based on 10 zloty's member share, the Bank slowly but surely developed to be a financial factor of the first grade, not only for Staszów Jews, but in a sense also for surrounding commercial life.
The annual turnover of the bank along years got up to one million zloty, at those days a significant size.
It is to be noted that the founders and directors of the Cooperative Bank were motivated by their belief that they work for the Jewish public welfare rather than their own interests.
As an example, frequently, according to owner's plea and despite the risk involved, payable bills, was not sent to protest. Such an extension, even for few days, is much more precious than a loan, since it helps to keep the owners' good reputation and help to prevent weakening of his status in the community. More than that, the Cooperative Bank, apart from regular banking activities, served Jewish community, on totally private plane, as charity source, an activity which usually thought to have nothing with banking.
Thus, by realizing, at least the third part of the known Mishnah saying The world is based on the Torah, on Labor and on Charity, the Bank's owners and founders expressed their public mission's vision.
Annually, the banks' statement, including all deals, and elections for board of directors and management had been held. Those definitely democratic elections had been a most important event in the local Jewish community. Despite livelihoods' difficulties, many Jews left their shops or workshops at the Election Day and went to the annual meeting, personally taking part in the debates, decisions and elections thus influencing bank affairs conductance for the coming year.
This is a clear indication for the level of significance related by the Jewish community to the Bank, an institution seen not as private property of some people holding high positions, but owned by the public, all shareholders left their sign on the way it is run.
The Bank, a most important financial institution, affiliated to the Jewish Cooperation Alliance in Poland had a very good reputation in trade world; its stamp is good money around all Poland.
The Bank was headed by a board composed of three members [David Tauman, Szmul Helmer and the undersigned], assisted by six member's council, including Dr. Ratinóv, Benjamin Tochterman, Avraham Nisenbaum, Chaim Albaum, Josef Segal and Chaim Neta Erlichman.
Accountancy was conducted by Hershele Tauman, who was, when moved to Warsaw, replaced by Szmul Szaniecki, his former deputy.
Concluding, it is allowed to say, that at it's time, The Bank, faithfully fulfilled the task it was founded for, to serve the Jewish community as a convenient credit source and helped allot to develop normal commercial life, enhancing personal initiatives and support for the man in the street.
by Tzvi Goldberg, Tel Aviv
Translated from Yiddish by Leonard Levin
A hailstorm of harsh decreesnew ones dailyrained on the heads of the Jews in the areas of Nazi conquest, including the Jews of Staszów.
First of all, it was forbidden for Jews to leave their zones of residence, and later they were forced to stay within a suffocating and stinking Procrustean bedin the form of crowded ghettosand were forbidden, by force of the new reality, to come into any contact with the Polish population.
One of the words that was most common in those hard daysa word whose meaning was decisive regarding the Jewish situation and fatewas Verboten [forbidden]. Jews encountered this cruel word every step of the way, as it limited and constricted the possibilities of existence to below the minimum.
But this word, with all its destructive consequences, not least because it smacked of physical threat and danger to Jewish lives, involved insult and humiliation to the divine image within the Jewish person. These special circumstances necessarily had the effect that a large portion of the Jewish community in Staszównot counting the bloody sacrifices that this community was forced to suffer at regular intervals and not counting the various contributions in the form of cash, jewelry, furs that they were forced to produce every other daylost most of their sources of livelihood and were down to their last slice of bread.
This situation was made even worse by virtue of the fact that our town had to absorb several hundred refugees, many of whom came with nothing, who had escaped from Łódź, Kraków, Warsaw, and other cities in the hope of finding refuge with us.
Trying to remain one step ahead of the calamity, the Judenrat sprang into action at the initiative of its head, Efraim Zinger, and with the active assistance of a number of men possessed of a sense of responsibility for the fate of the community that was now placed in such distresssuch as Mendel Frydman, Icek Tuchman, Menachem Lipszyc, Majer Bidlowski, the Rotman brothers (refugees from Łódź), and the Lejezrowicz brothers (also refugees)to set up a kitchen for the poor in order to ease somewhat the situation of hundreds of people hungry for bread, especially among the refugees. The kitchen was set up in the Hasidic beit midrash on Lower Rytwiańska Street.
At the same time, the branch of TOZ, which had existed in town before the war, was reactivated. The late Dr. Kirszenbaum was appointed to be the head of the branch. This mana man of great personal charm, loved by alltook things seriously by acting to the best of his abilityand even more soto establish the health services of the Jewish population at a proper level, despite the emergency conditions. While fulfilling his obligation to medical ethics and the sense of responsibility and devotion to the other that motivated him, he fell in the line of duty. During the typhus epidemic that broke out in town, Dr. Kirszenbaum disregarded his own safety, working night and day to provide assistance to all in need of it. This action of his, working under those conditions, made the difference. In the end, he himself succumbed to infection and died a short time later.
Despite the conditions of the war, his funeral was attended by a large audience of people who paid him the last respects; this included the majority of the local Jewish population, as well as a portion of the Polish population.
May his memory be for a blessing!
After Dr. Kirszenbaum's death (incidentally, no remnant of his family survived, for his wife and only daughter also perished at the hands of the Nazis), the leadership of the institute passed to the writer of these lines. TOZ worked hard to organize health services for the Jewish population. Indeed, it was not easy, at the height of the war, to obtain experienced and reliable workers, not to mention medical and hospital supplies. Still, the institution excelled in its work and was often helped by nonJewish health institutes.
In that period, a Jewish committee for mutual aid, called ZSS (Żydowska Samopomoc Społeczna), with headquarters in Kraków, was founded in Poland. An executive stood at the head of the branch of this committee in Staszów, headed by this author, and his colleagues included Mordecai Pomerancblum; Magister Sztern (a refugee from Łódź); Reuben Berech Hercig, secretary; and Mordecai Sonszajn, treasurer.
The branch of the committee took under its care the orphaned health institute TOZ and even supported the kitchen. The branch of the committee encompassed all the social services and all the health services, organizing widespread assistance activities for the many needy of Staszów's impoverished and humiliated Jews, including refugees.
A wellequipped infirmary, according to the concepts of the time and those conditions, supplied medical aid to about 2,000 people.
The physicians of TOZthe committeeincluded Dr. Bergson (a refugee from Warsaw) and Dr. Elias Frydman, while those serving as dentists included Szajndel and Szlama Frydman.
It is proper to mention that much assistance to the medical services was rendered by a medical assistant named Pincki, a refugee from Kraków.
The council also organized a women's group of social workers under the management of Magister Riwka Troper.
Perl Tuchman, Perl Rozengarten, Dina Rozenblum, and others belonged to this group. These also contributed their part to easing the poverty and suffering of the Jews of Staszów and the refugees out of the guarded hope for the coming of the day that would release us from the horrors of the period of the new orderan expectation that was mostly disappointed.
by Menachem Lifshitz, Giv'atayim, Israel
Translated from Yiddish by Kasriel Brum
Jewish business activity in the small Polish towns makes for an especially interesting, and instructive chapter in socioeconomics; not only to establish the economic foundations on which the Jewish settlements existed in the midst of an environment which was controlled by others, but also in order to derive conclusions regarding their social and political positions.
My purpose in the following work is entirely modest: I will try to give as far as possible an objective overview concerning the story and development of the shoe division, the most important business branch involving the 5000 Jews in the town, which made up about 50% of the general population.
That vibrant Jewish Kehilla, pulsating with life, also drew livelihoods from a lot of other economic branches including a) grain merchants of smaller and larger operations, b) wood merchants, c) groceries and general goods (galanteria) stores, d) market place salesmen-the so called Tandatnikers, and others.
Decidedly, the (premier) economic activity of the shtetl was the multi-branched shoe production, from which a major portion of the Staszówer Jews derived an honorable occupation-until the time that the Nazi's (may their memory be blotted out) destroyed all Jewish business along with the Jews.
In Staszów, which until the First World War, belonged to the Russian Occupation Authority and thru which, due to its geographic location, ran the main highway from Russia to the Austrian, Hungarian and German borders-the Russians put up large artillery storage facilities and horse stalls, a large church and most importantly military barracks (Karzames in Russian) in which were stationed the military garrisons.
As an important consumer, the Garrison resulted in the establishment of specialized businesses in the shtetl, geared to the needs of the military forces, and there arose not only purveyors (Padreitshikes in Russian), who provided all necessary products for the military, but also a total array of artisans (in Yiddish, Bal-Maloches) such as saddlers, tailors, shoemakers, and hat makers and so forth: jobs which afforded them support while maintaining respectable positions in providing for the military effort. The great majority of the above mentioned positions fell into Jewish hands, with the one exception of the shoe craft which mainly was occupied by Christians.
When the garrison moved, probably for military reasons, in about 1906 to Kalisz which was closer to the German border, a serious crisis broke out in the town. Especially critical was the situation of the Jewish craftsmen and purveyors, whose entire income derived from their military connections. Indeed, some of these Jews followed the garrison in order to continue their already established businesses. In contrast, the majority of Polish shoemakers (non-Jewish) who already possessed, in addition to their skills, a bit of land and their own cottage, stayed in the town; Similarly, the majority of Jews who had lost their bread and did not have the means to move with the military, remained in the town and soon began to develop new sources of business-especially shoe production.
Three factors allowed for the rise of the massive shoe-production in our town.
During the War years, (1914-1918), all trade in general diminished, the leather business was entirely forbidden and so the still young shoe industry almost entirely fell apart. However, as soon as the War ended, the Jewish shoe enterprisers with fresh, redoubled energy began to renew their work with endless dedication and drew their attention to the aesthetics and improvement of the shoe industry (in general) as well as the orderly growth of the new heel market.
As an administrator-member of the Staszów Shoe Merchants Guild and as a person who knew the industry well from the inside, I would like to give over here a variety of more-or-less exact details, both in the numerical holdings of all those parties involved in the industry in various divisions, as well as the established work methods that were used.
Of the 40 official Jewish shoe entrepreneurs all drew their direct financial existence fully or partially from the following business branches:
Every shoe enterpriser had established working relationships with designated upper-part leather workers and also with designated shoe makers. The merchants ordered the upper leathers-by us they were in general called chalevkes - and presented them to the shoe makers. In order to finish the product, the latter received the necessary additional materials from the leather and tzudatin (shoe accessory) stores, on the basis of certified, accredited notes (nicknamed Matbea). These notes were signed and stamped by the shoe merchants, to be paid out at an exact set time.
This system was created to two reasons: 1) to discourage abuse by the Christian shoemakers who were, in general, known not to be adverse to the bitter drops (alcoholic spirits) and therefore it was prudent not to put cash in their hands and 2) the system served as an indirect financing of the business which required large amounts of money, which occasionally far exceeded the financial capabilities of the entrepreneurs.
As mentioned, the upper leathers (chalevkes) were procured by the shoe merchants. But the accessories required to finish the upper leathers was provided by the upper-leather craftsmen as their own responsibility. There were also those upper-leather craftsmen of means who produced the chalevkes on their own (financial) count, then sold them to independent enterprising shoemakers and occasionally to the shoe merchants.
The shoe orders which arrived not only from the immediate environment but also from distant Polish provinces were in the majority of cases packed in boxes or plywood containers and sent off on the small train or by mail. There were, however, not a few merchants from near and sometimes from distant areas who often came alone to the town particularly in the proper seasons in order to purchase on the spot their requirements and carried them off by themselves.
In order to obtain an idea of the scope of the Staszów shoe industry, which was by the way organized in its own Merchants Union, it will be enough to remember the official statistics from the tax rolls of the year 1938-1939. According to those statistics and considering only the merchandise which was sent by train or mail without counting the packages which were carried out manually or sent out by other means: amounted to greater than one million zlotys.
To conclude, I would like to mention and this is without the slightest suspicion of exaggeration, that just about the entire town, in one way or the other, in a greater or lesser degree was impacted by this town wide industry.
Also the two Jewish well established banks: the Bank Spoldgiltsze and the Bank Kopicky had the greater part of their banking operations to thank for the existence and development of the shoe industry.
I can't end the article without mentioning in at least a few lines the fact that in the shtetl also existed also another branch of economic enterprise-the production of whips and walking sticks. Also, these business divisions just like the shoe production were developed through Jewish endurance and energy, producing income for many tens of Jewish and non-Jewish families. Thanks to the good quality and aesthetic appearances of these items, as well as the enterprising spirit of the owners of these small industries those productions received a good name and became well known and spread out over all of Poland.
|Alter Band||Mosze Lieberman|
|Avrum Baum||Jehoszua Lincfeld|
|Herszel Brendzel||Menachem Lipszyc (lives in Israel)|
|The widow and brother Goldhar||Pintsze Nisengarten|
|Jakob Goldlust||Herszel Nisencwajg (lives in Brazil)|
|Szmelke Glatsztajn||Majer Krakauer|
|Mendel Dyzenhaus||Widow of Abraham Rizenberg|
|Josef Wajngarten||Jehoszua Wolf Rosencwajg|
|Judel Wajngarten||Josef Rajch|
|Herszel Wagner||Jakob Rosenberg|
|Leizer Watman||Abrahamtsze Rosensztok|
|Ayzek Wolman||Zalman Szajner|
|Chaim Wincygster||Elchanan Szterenlicht (lives in Canada)|
|Mosze Zylbersztajn||Mendel Sznifer|
|Yisrael Eliezer Tenenbaum||Leibel Szwarc|
|Betsalel Tenenwurcel||Aron Sztalryt|
|Awner Jaskolka||Szimon Aszer Sztajnfeld|
At the end of the article (above) is recognized approx. complete list of the Jewish Shoe Merchants who were active in the Shtetl.
by Meyer Weber, Sao Paolo
Translated by Miriam Leberstein
The Jewish Craftsmen's Union in Staszów was an institution that had tremendous significance for a large part of the town's Jewish population. The socioeconomic structure of the Jewish community the thousands of Jewish craftsmen in all the economic branches and professions, such as tailors, shoe stitchers, cobblers, whipmakers, carpenters, locksmiths, hatmakers, clockmakers and others not only favored the establishment of such an institution, but made it absolutely necessary.
Most of the craftsmen of the town were not very learned in the technicalities of Polish law. Confronted in the newly reconstituted Poland by a deluge of laws and decrees designed chiefly to impede their development, and often even their right to economic existence, they relied on the Craftsmen's Union as a truly lifesaving source of support in their daily struggle to survive.
The Union did more than defend the interests of the craftsmen as a whole and these interest were as varied as the entire class against the Polish administration, which mobilized all the powers of the state to carry out the discriminatory laws to their fullest extent. It also marshaled all the resources at its disposal to assist the individual craftsman in any way it could, to provide not only formal legal assistance, but also other aid, such as a loan, or simply providing advice to all members.
In their sincere concern for the Jewish craftsman community, the Union leadership did not get involved in extraneous matters, and didn't think in political terms. They just distributed help, in whatever form necessary, to every Jewish craftsman, regardless of his political beliefs.
The Union not only enjoyed the full support of its membership; it was respected by all segments of the Jewish population in Staszów, and even by the Polish administration.
We want to honor the Union activists, headed by its devoted chairman, Yosef Zalcberg. These included: Yeheskl Wargier, Simche Goldhar, Meyer Goldhar, Simche Rzezak, Mendl Goldfarb, Sholem Goldfarb, Chaim Zalmen Cukier, Yisroel Wajsbraut, Yehiel Binyomen Wajsbraut, Zalmen Wajsbraut, Yeheskl Aichen, Zalmen Lipman, Aron Rubin, et.al.
All of these did their best to raise up the economic, social and intellectual condition of the masses of Jewish craftsmen, a group whose struggle for existence was a link in the chain of the general struggle of Jewish craftsmen throughout Poland.
With the horrifying destruction of the entire Jewish community in Poland, came also the extinction of our fellow Staszówers. May these words serve as a memorial for these honest, hard working people, killed by the Nazis and their foul partners.
[Document, page 79]
[Caption] A Document from the Craftsmen's Union, 1924.
[Note in the original:] The translation of the document is printed here:
Staszów, December 1, 1924, Certification 12/24:
It is hereby certified that Pan Max Weber of Staszów works in our Union as administrative secretary, conducts himself well, and enjoys our trust in all areas. This certification is issued to Max Weber as a letter of introduction of the Central Jewish Craftsmen's Union in Warsaw. (stamped) Chairman, Y. Zalcberg.
by Moshe Rotenberg
Translated by Miriam Leberstein
Among the colorful array of Jewish trades in Staszów, the purchasing agents, the socalled shpilitern [sing. shpiliter] occupied a special place. This was a branch of the economy that provided a very difficult and hardearned livelihood for only a few families. But inasmuch as the economic activity and development of almost all the town's merchants and artisans depended to a large degree on this group, it merits a few lines about its participants.
But before we turn to the specific characteristics of each of the purchasing agents individually, we will portray some of the essential physical and mental qualities common to all of them, without which they could not have continued to practice their difficult and responsible profession:
His status as the foremost purchasing agent was well earned. He was so active and dynamic, so adaptable, that he didn't need to be given much instruction; he understood everything immediately, filling hundreds of orders fully and accurately, as if the person who commissioned him were right there. Whether it was a needle, some thread, or a cobbler's last, he took on the errand willingly and completed it in full. If anyone wanted to send a bit of chicken fat or cookies to a son studying [in the big city], to deliver a straw hat, or to send a machine for repair, the safest bet was to entrust it to Berl Shpiliter.
He was on such good terms with the train conductors that he often smuggled in one of the students travelling to Warsaw to study, but who didn't have money to pay the fare.
But as quick and lively he was during the week, he was serene and quiet on the Sabbath. He would drive all thoughts of business from his mind, leaving behind the tensions of the whole week. He would walk, uncharacteristically slowly and solemnly, to the synagogue to pray. Having satisfied his spiritual needs, he would later enjoy a pleasant time with his family and friends, so as to be ready, on Saturday night, to put his shoulder to the wheel of earning a living.
He died, along with his wife and child in 1943, in the Sandomierz Judenstaat, leaving behind two daughters and a son in Canada.
Avrom Nisenbaum, a calm, shrewd merchant, worked his way up from being among the first longtime purchasing agents to become the proprietor of a wellrun haberdashery shop in the very middle of the market place.
A prominent, active participant in community affairs, and one of the most important and devoted Mizrachi activists, Avrom Nisenbaum dedicated his efforts to the Talmud Torah and the cheder metukn, and also participated in all fundraising and institutions of a nationalist [Zionist] character. Avrom Nisenbaum was also among the first representatives of Mizrachi on the town council, the kehile, etc.
He was killed by the Nazis.
Although he carried out his duties completely and acted honorably toward his clients, like the other purchasing agents, Chaim Goldfarb was a person with a difficult character. Because he was demanding and inflexible, some people avoided him. But because of his scrupulousness and honesty, many merchants stuck with him for decades.
He died in the Skarżysko Camp.
Efraim Zyngier (Singer)
He began his business career as a purchasing agent. But with his extraordinary dynamism and his sharp mind, despite his limited learning, he soon became a merchant, running a large, fine business. But because of his ebullient, energetic nature, this wasn't enough to satisfy him. He became a dynamic community activist.
He was so talented, and his mind was so sharp, that his marked ignorance and the fact that he was incapable of putting together a decent sentence not only in Polish but in Yiddish as well in no way impeded him from occupying first place as a community and political activist.
His fine manners and elegant appearance gave him an air of respectability and polish. As one of the most respected and able leaders of Agudas Israel, he was for many years president of the Jewish kehile and member of the town council and a proud defender of Jewish interests as he understood them. As head of the Judenrat, he often displayed great courage in his dealings with the German authorities. He died as the first victim on the day of the deportation, the 28th day of Cheshvan, November 8, 1942.
A young man, a socalled gifted scholar, a bit of a maskil and good bal tfile, he wasn't born to be a purchasing agent. But people will do anything they can to earn a living even play the bear in a circus!
So what if the main route, Staszów to Warsaw, was already taken? It didn't take him long to claim his own route-Staszów to Łódź.
There came a day it was the first day he practiced his new trade that Reb Shmelke arrived late at the train station in Łódź, just before the train was about to depart. As was usual for purchasing agents, he was heavily loaded up with packages and, fearful that the train would leave without him, he asked a refined looking young man who just happened to appear, to help him toss his packages onto the train.
Reb Shmelke stood below on the platform, while the young man the angel from heaven stood in the train, catching the packages he tossed up, and took care of them by throwing them out the train window on the other side! As the final whistle blew, Reb Shmelke boarded the train with his final packages. When he realized he had been swindled, it was too late. That was how he paid the tuition for his first lesson.
But he didn't become discouraged. Despite this initial failure, he later became a talented purchasing agent, who great levelheadedness performed his job as well as any of his fellow tradesmen.
In the area of communal life, he was one of the most active of the leaders of Mizrachi, working tirelessly for the Mizrachi educational program, as well as every Zionist effort in general. He was also a personable, friendly man, whose wit and cheerfulness made him beloved by all social segments of the town.
He was killed by the Nazis.
Anshel Hajman also had his own route. A reliable, clever, proficient person, he was for years the sole purchasing agent on the StaszówTarnówKraków route, carrying out his duties intelligently and responsibly.
As a scholar of traditional Jewish learning and with an understanding of modern ideas that had penetrated into the Jewish world, he gave his children complete freedom in choosing their life paths. He himself was a dedicated Mizrachi activist, working with a devotee's enthusiasm and with great optimism, in all areas of Mizrachi programs.
With a good ear for music, and a pleasant voice, he was for many years bal tfile and bal koyre in the Mizrachi minyan, and before that, also in the shtibl of Reb Velvele Frydman.
He was killed along with his community during the deportation.
by Moshe Rotenberg
Translated by Miriam Leberstein
For ages, watchmaking and goldsmithery were considered by Jews to be clean, refined and respectable occupations. When a respectable Jew whose profession was not so lucrative started to think about providing for the future livelihoods of his grown children, his first thought was of watchmaking or goldsmithery. And when a Jew who was well versed in religious learning considered the well know Talmudic advice, A man should always teach his sons a clean and easy profession, he immediately associated it with these two trades.
Today, with all the tremendous technological developments, there exist tens, even hundreds of professional specializations that are immeasurably more precise than the watchmaker's craft. The discovery of electricity, radio, telephone and the development of electronics, have given rise to such a varied and numerous array of professions, for which the description clean and easy is much more appropriate than it is for watchmaking and goldsmithery. But decades ago, there were very few trades that could measure up in this respect.
There are people who had an inclination for mechanics, and also who had a bit of intelligence and manual dexterity, who were sent by their parents to learn these trades. And, in fact, almost all of them were well versed in Jewish learning and intelligent, and many also quite enlightened and well read.
Reb Yisroelke Zeygermakher (Watchmaker)
I remember him as the leading watchmaker in Staszów. A learned man, to whom people often came for advice, or to engage in a scholarly discussion, or simply to hear his views on current communal issues. With his patriarchal appearance, his wide, handsome beard and shining face, he made quite a nice impression on everyone with whom he came in contact.
He was considered a gifted craftsman, not only as a watchmaker, but also as a goldsmith, an expert on precious stones, and he ran a successful business. He was a prominent man in the town and later moved to Łódź, where he ran a successful jewelry business.
Reb Pinye Goldshmid Wajnberg
The father of Chaiml and Moshke Wajnberg, Reb Pinye was a well known goldsmith, who produced artistic jewelry-embossed carved and engraved.
He was also an intelligent man, a bit of a Torah scholar and an active member of the town's Mizrachi [religious Zionists] organization. His sons were also goldsmiths, and helped their father in his profession. Notably, they specialized in creating gold and silver tokens for Hashomer Hatzair [Zionist youth].
Moyshe Dovid Weksler
He was called Deaf MoysheDovid, and as a craftsman, in fact, he didn't rank high, but despite his deafness, he was quite intelligent, even called gifted by the locals and with a quick, sharp comprehension. He was also fanatically religious and also quite poor. In the town, people would wonder, How is it that a goldsmith goes about with his rings uncovered by gloves?
Yosele Goldshmid Gliklich
Having taken over the trade from his father, Reb Sane Goldshmid, Yosele was a quiet, calm soul - a jewel of a person, who sat constantly at his worktable, engaged in his golden craft. He wasn't very rich, but he earned a respectable living, supporting a wellrun household.
He was betrayed by a Christian neighbor, and killed in a bunker, together with several others, among them Yisroelke the cantor, and Mendel Lifshitz's family.
Reb Yehiel Klap
Among the best, noblest watchmakers in the town, an honorable and respectable man, incapable of dishonesty. Because of personal problems, he held himself apart from the community, avoiding contact with other people as much as possible.
Mordkhe Zeygermakher Goldwaser
In my article on Staszów Maskilim [p.355 of this book], I have already portrayed this fine person. But since we are discussing the watchmakers trade as a branch of the economy, we cannot overlook or fail to mention, in only in a few lines, one of its most important representatives, Mordkhe Zeygermakher.
Although he was called Mordkhe Watchmaker, that wasn't his most important specialty. What distinguished him from his fellow tradesmen was his skill with all kinds of machines. Wherever there was a problem with a sewing machine, gramophone, Pathé phone, or any other complicated mechanism, they brought it to Mordkhe. Like a skilled doctor, he was able to make a diagnosis, and most of the time to effect a cure.
But he didn't just do the job, accept his fee, and be done with it. Mordkhe Zeygermakher had to explain in detail how the mechanism worked, and not just in a straightforward way, but often interwoven with a proverb, a Talmudic saying, or even a quote from Sholem Aleichem, Mendele [Moykher Sforim] or AhadHa'am.
He was killed in Paniatów.
Reb Alter Zeygermakher Erlich
Last but not least, the wellknown Reb Alter Zeygermakher, the father of our friend and editor of this book, [Elchanan Erlich]. Genial and lively, he was full of humor and wit. In his presence, sadness always had to give way to cheerfulness . And, if he happened to meet up with Reb Itshe Mancznik, a friend from his youth, the air was filled with laughter and joking that was contagious. They were always ready to tell one of their inexhaustible supply of stories about their home town, Wiślica, and these stories bubbled forth as from a spring, light and refreshing. Reb Itshe Mancznik was particularly good at this. A welllearned man, a Ger Hasid and all in all, very intelligent, his stories poured out as from a torn sack. And when Reb Itshe told a story, it was as if everything was happening before your eyes, so real, that you never tired of listening to him.
Both of them died in the Holocaust, along with their families.
by Moshe Rotenberg
Translated by Miriam Leberstein
The Jews of Staszów would jokingly ask, What does a goy need a hat for, if he hasn't got any brains to protect? The answer to that was, So that the Jewish hatmakers can make enough money to prepare for the Sabbath. But the fact that quite a few families relied for their support on hatmaking was no joking matter. It required a lot of savvy to develop a manufacturing sector that was sufficiently diverse in type and quality to meet the headware requirements of various seasons and of various segments of the population. And the Jews did in fact manage to accomplish this, just as they had in other economic sectors, selling the goods they produced partly in their own stores, and mostly in the annual fairs in town and in other towns in the surrounding area.
And here is a list of the kinds of hats they produced: Tshikapes; caps with matte or shiny visors; warm winter hats made of sheepskin, karakul [baby lamb], cat skin; and the square, peasant hat called a konfederatke. And then there were the hats worn by Jews: the common round, cloth weekday hats; the satin Sabbath hats; children's silk caps; and the shtreimls [large fur hats] made of skunk, sable, etc., which required special skill to make.
Reb Moyshe Hitlmakher [Hatmaker] Frydman
From among the older generation, I remember Reb Moyshe Hitlmakher (Volvele Frydman's father). He was renowned throughout the town as a fine craftsman. A young Jewish boy who donned a hat made by Reb Moyshe on a holiday, was as proud as if he had found the most beautiful treasure.
Reb Zalmen Hitlmakher Dajtlbaum
The second greatest expert in this field was Reb Zalmen Dajtlbaum (the father of Dr. Leon Tamri (New York) and Moyshe Daytlboym, who was once our theater director.
The peasants had such confidence in Reb Zalmen's hats the quality of the goods as great as his integrity in doing business - that they were willing to pay double the going rate. And that was true of all his hats.
Reb Zalmen ran a first class workshop, employing sewing specialists who did their jobs perfectly, and so his wares were greatly esteemed among his clients.
Reb Zalmen was a prominent man in Staszów. He maintained a fine household, gave charity to many institutions, and saw to the education of his gifted sons.
Reb Akive Hitlmakher Dunajec
Reb Akive Hitlmakher (the father of the musician and later conductor of the orchestra of Hakoach [sports club]) was an entirely different kind of person. He was unable to stick to his work in his workshop. He always found time to stroll around the market place and the streets. And whenever he observed, with his sharp eye, a humorous scene or a comical human characteristic, he would seize on it, and work it into a story that he would later tell, imitating and making fun of the characters. But his comical bent was only part of his nature. He was at heart a calm and quiet man, and had great appreciation for education. He did everything he could to help his only son Yosele fulfill his musical training.
There were also other hatmaker families in town, especially from among the extended Flajszhakier family, who led a life of honest, peaceful hard work; the majority of whom eked out a meager living to support their many children. But I don't remember them sufficiently to memorialize them separately. Let these words serve to memorialize all the Jews those mentioned and unmentioned good, honest Jews, who were ripped up by their roots, and who exist no more.
Honor to their memory.
by Elchanan Erlich
Translated by Miriam Leberstein
Charts formatted by Leonard Levin
Here is a chart of Jewish industrial enterprises in Staszów, as presented in the book, Jewish Industrial Enterprises in Poland, produced under the direction of Engineer Eliezer Heller, pursuant to the survey of 1921, Volume Four, pp.114-125, Table A and Table A-1, Provinces of Kielce and Lublin. [Published in] Warsaw, 1923.
The attached list is far from exhaustive; in particular, it underreports the shoe and leather industry. But that is certainly not the fault of the author. An article in this book [p.74] by Menachem Lifshitz, The Shoe Industry, does a great deal to complete this chart and at the same time points out the great economic development of the town in the years following the First World War, especially in the leather and shoe industry.
|Stone, Clay & Glass||2.4%||3.8%||6.8%|
|- With hired workers||72|
|- Without hired workers||55|
|Total active & inactive||127|
|- Jewish men||128|
|- Jewish women||12|
|-- Total Jews||140||140||49.0%|
|According to the provisional results of the general census of 1921, which are contained in the Statistical Monthly (Book V, Monthly #5, 1922), the town's general population amounted to 8, 368 persons. Details as to the size of the Jewish population have not yet been published.|
|Production Sectors||Active &
Pct in Sector
Pct in Sector
|Stone, Earth & Related Industries||3||2||1||11||2, 18.2%||4, 36.4%||4+0||5, 45.4%|
|Metal Industry||3||1||2||4||3, 75%||1, 25%||1+0|
|Machines & Related Industries||6||2||4||8||6, 75%||2, 25%||2+0|
|Wood & Related Industries - Fabrication||4||4||0||11||4, 36.4%||7, 63.6%||7+0|
|Leather, Fur & Related Industries||3||2||1||14||3, 21.4%||5, 35.7%||4+1||6, 42.8.7%|
|Textile Industry||2||1||1||3||2, 66.7%||1, 33.3%||0+1|
|Clothing & Accessories Industry||82||56||26||199||82, 41.2%||1, 0.5%||116, 58.3%||105+11|
|Food & Delicacies||16||3||13||27||16, 59.3%||8, 29.6%||3, 11.1%||3+0|
|Chemical Industry||6||1||5||7||6, 85.7%||1, 14.3%||1+0|
|Construction Industry||2||0||2||2||2, 100%|
Yiddish text (translation from Polish) by Elchanan Erlich
English Translation from Yiddish by Miriam Leberstein
[NOTE: The source of this document is unknown. The text is presumably taken from a poster or pamphlet emanating from the right-wing National Democratic Party as a part of its campaign in Kielce Province to propagandize in favor of an anti-Jewish economic boycott in 1935-37. See footnote for direct English translation from Polish original by Dobrochna Fire.]
Poles and Citizens of Polish Villages! Farmers!
You, farmers and farm owners, constitute a huge majority of the Polish people. Moreover, you are the basis and foundation of the Polish state. We appeal to you to save Poland, to liberate it from a dangerous internal enemy, who eats away and oppresses the healthy organism of the Polish people and state, living off our arduous agricultural labor, feeding off your sweat. You farmers support masses of Jews, who destroy Polish business and trades. You give your hard-earned bit of money to the Jews at fairs and markets, buying various goods from them. You forget that 300,000 unemployed workers, millions of ruined agricultural workers and merchants, hundreds of thousands of your educated sons, are dying of hunger.
Remember! The well-being of Polish society depends on you. The thousands of Poles dying of hunger depend on you to make things better. You, and only you, can improve the fate of your brothers.
Poles! Farmers! Can your enrich the Jews and labor for them, to enable them to live in wealth?
Proprietors, men and women, and your Polish children! Remember: Don't buy from Jews. Buy from Poles, from Christians. Remember that the Jews are the major cause of the current impoverishment of Polish society. They enrich themselves through commerce, swindling Polish farmers, taking their last penny for tawdry goods. Let no citizen of a Polish village buy in a Jewish shop.
In Poland, bread and work are for the Poles, who for generations have possessed their land.
Every honorable Pole shall buy only from Christians, and in that way will help to improve the fate and economic condition of Polish society and the power of the Polish state.
Poles and Citizens of Polish Villages! Farmers!
You, farmers and farm owners, constitute a huge majority of the Polish people. Therefore, you are the basis and foundation of the Polish state. We appeal to you to save Poland, to liberate it from the most dangerous internal enemy that is eating away at and oppressing the healthy organism of the Polish people and state. Four million Jews are preying on the healthy body of the State, living off your, farmers, arduous labor, growing fat on your sweat. Thanks to you, farmers, masses of Jews, who destroy Polish business and trades, are able to subsist. You give your hard-earned bit of money to the Jews at fairs and markets, buying various goods from them. You forget that 300,000 unemployed workers, millions of ruined agricultural workers and merchants, hundreds of thousands of your educated sons, Poles, are dying of hunger.
Remember! The well-being of Polish society depends on you. The thousands of Poles dying of hunger depend on you to make things better. You, and only you, can improve the fate of your fellow countrymen.
Poles! Farmers! Do you want to enrich the Jews and labor for them, so that they may live in wealth? Farmers, men and women, and you, Polish children! Remember not to buy from Jews.
Buy from Poles, from Christians. Remember that the major cause of the current impoverishment of the masses of Polish society is Jewry, which enriches itself through commerce, swindling Polish farmers, taking their last penny for tawdry goods. Let no citizen of a Polish village buy in a Jewish shop. In Poland, bread and work are for the Poles, who for generations have farmed their own land. Every honorable Pole shall buy only from a Christian, and in that way will help to improve the fate and enrichment of Polish society and the might of the Polish state. Return
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