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[Columns 117-118]

Zloczow until World War II

by Mordekhai Deutsch

Translated by Moshe Kutten

 

The Road Leading from Zloczow to Lviv

Upon leaving Zloczow, one encounters two cemeteries. On the left – the old cemetery and on the right – the new one. The old cemetery was deserted. Only a few gravestones remain standing. However, there are many fallen, buried, and broken gravestones.

The following words are etched on one of the gravestones that were left standing: “Here buried a groom and a bride, killed on the day of their marriage, by Khmelnytsky's murderers, damn them”.

That happened during the so–called “Khmelnytskyi Uprising” when the famous Jews' foe assaulted Galitsia's cities, robbed and looted Jewish property, and murdered men, women, and children. On his way to Lviv, he passed through Zloczow, and here too, wreaked havoc on the Jews. That gravestone stands as a memorial and testimony to that big calamity. As customary, the Jews used to visit the cemetery on the 9th of Av. People visited the graves of their relatives. Then they visited the grave of the “Tzadik” – Rabbi Avraham Khaim son of Gedalyahu and his disciple the “ Maggid from Mezritch” (a “grave–tent” [a mausoleum] – built by the community activists, surrounded the grave of the Tzadik). After leaving, on their way back home, they would also stop by the graves of the bride and groom martyrs in the old cemetery.

A stone fence was erected around the new cemetery. A house was also built for the tombstones' carver who lived there with his family and guarded the place. However, there was no fence nor a guard at the old cemetery. During World War I, when the Russian armies invaded the town, every empty lot served as an encampment. Since the old cemetery was adjacent to the barrack, the remaining standing gravestones were destroyed. Only after the war, when life returned to normal, our landsmen in the United States sent emissaries for reconstructing the public institutions in the city. A fence around the old cemetery was erected at that time.

The elders used to tell folklore stories about these two cemeteries and the road that separated them. They said that, in the beginning, there was only one cemetery. However, the Polish governor aspired to accelerate the development of the city. Around the city, there were villages with fields yielding plenty of crops. The villages also raised cattle.

 

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A Group of Intellectuals in Zloczow

[Columns 119-120]

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The Soup Kitchen Building, Named after Barukh

 

The governor found it necessary to construct a straight road to transport the crops and the cattle to Lviv. The governor claimed that the development was dependent on traders coming from afar to the city to purchase the crops and cattle and transfer them to Lviv. His advisors could not find any area to construct the road through other than the Jewish cemetery. The governors invited all the Jewish community leaders to him. He requested that they move their dead from the area planned for the new road. The leaders found themselves in a dilemma. They asked the governor to give them an extension of three days to consult with their rabbis and people. They claimed that they could not decide by themselves, since moving the dead was considered a sin of tarnishing the honor of the dead

When the request of the city's governor became known, the people turned to Tzadik Rabbi Mikheli. They pleaded with him to prevent the punishment they would receive by executing the evil decree. The holy Tzadik told them to turn to the water–carrier. They went to the water–carrier and told him that they were referred to him by the Tzadik Rabbi Mikheli. He answered humbly: “Why did the holy Tzadik send you to me? I am a simple Jew who does not even understand the meaning of your plea. Go and tell him that I cannot do anything for you regarding this difficult matter”. However, they pleaded with him and emphasized again that the holy Tzadik sent them to him. He relented and told them: “Gentlemen, this is a cruel decree brought upon you from heaven. You Must get together, pray, and ask for forgiveness”.

The leaders ordered to hold a day of fasting. They also sanctioned the public to gather at the great synagogue and pray and plead to the dead and encourage them to petition for their honor with G–d.

Three days later, as was agreed with the governor, workers came to uproot the tombstones marked by the road planners. However, they found out that there were no tombstones located on the planned route. When the news about the miracle was made known, the governor invited the leaders and asked them: “Who is holy man who performed this miracle?” They told him the story about the water carrier who ordered them to pray and fast. They said that he was the one that should be credited for the miracle. The governor asked to meet with the water carrier. However, when the leaders went to look for him at his home, they did not find him. The water–carriers left town at night so that people would not recognize him as one of the 36 hidden righteous people. When the leaders told rabbi Mikheli about the water–carrier he told them: “One needs to know whom to call on to bring salvation”

 

The Fire

The event happened when I was a little child studying with the Melamed R' Yudal Mendel. One day, his wife came into the study room. With tears in her eyes, she yelled with a choked voice: “Fire. Fire!” A fire broke at the workshop of the cotton–balls artisan. He was the one that resided by Itah Weisman. R' Mendel's house was located a hundred and fifty meters from the fire. Therefore, they decided to send the children home. They brought me over to the bridge on Brodska Street and I walked home from there by myself. That fire left a strong impression on me. The event was etched in my memory despite my young age. I haven't slept throughout the night and watched the billows of smoke and columns of the blaze rising to heaven. The fire sent its tongue and ate one house after the other.

[Columns 121-122]

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A Youth Group – “Bernstein Grupoeh”
[“The Bernstein Group”]

 

A strong wind blew toward a western direction, and indeed all the houses in that direction burnt to the ground. Panic gripped the people. They left their home and turned north and east. Some children got lost and searches were conducted to find them. The cries and wailing ascended to heaven. When daylight came, the children were found.

However, there were sick and handicapped people, at the hospital and handicap–home, who could not save themselves. They were burnt alive. The death of these poor people put the people in a depressed mood.

 

Stories about the Fire

That was not an ordinary fire. It looked like the work of evil angels, who came to take revenge following an event in the past. The story spread by a word of mouth. A young man committed suicide. When the relatives came to “Khevere Kadishe” [the burial society] to ask for a plot, Rabbi Eliezer Shwartz, who headed the burial society, sent them to the community Rabbi. The Rabbi instructed that a person who committed the suicide must be buried near the fence and not among the other graves. The parents and friends of the young man objected. They began digging the grave by themselves, despite protests by the people of “Khevre Kaadishe” and the city residents. The police probably helped the family and friends. The following day, men and women said that their deceased relatives came to them in their dreams and complained about the fact that a person who committed suicide was buried near them. They stated that this would bring calamity upon the city. A short while later, the fire broke. It blew from the same direction where the relatives of that man carried his bed. Years later, when anybody committed suicide, everybody agreed to bury that person in a grave near the cemetery fence.

 

Help form the Surrounding Area

When the Jews in the surrounding area heard about the disaster that had befallen upon our town, they brought carts loaded with bread and other foods. Thanks to them, the city did not go hungry. Almost all of the bakeries burnt down, and the fire broke down Friday night. Frydrykh's bakery, which was not burnt down, operated day and night to provide bread for the Sabbath. People lived outdoors, near their burnt houses, for weeks after the fire. However, when the first signs of winter appeared, everybody began to look for a place to live until they could rebuild their houses. The people whose home was not destroyed in the fire hosted the homeless. About forty people were living in our house, which was designed to accommodate only twelve. Nobody was looking to profit from the disaster that had befallen upon the city.

 

The Recovery

Zloczow's residents did not wait for outside help. Everybody began to take care of their house. The municipal institutions awarded tax discounts to people who rebuilt their houses, and the Mortgage Bank provided long–term loans to the owners of the newly rebuilt houses. People who owned a plot managed to build newer and more spacious houses. There was no shortage of contractors. The most famous ones were Avraham Mozlush, Ze'ev Yosefsberg, Berl Tzeiler, Moshe Waggen, and Leibush Fishman. The latter also owned a carpentry shop. There were also Jewish masons, like Herman “the builder” and Ekel “the builder”. Some Jewish builders came for Russia. They defected from the Red Army. The builders Yosl Remenyuk and his friend Lev arrived in Zloczow through the border in Brody. They heard that there was plenty of work in the town that could earn good money. The Jews in Zloczow invested an abundance of effort and work until they rebuilt their city anew. The carpentry shops operated diligently,

[Columns 123-124]

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Participants in a Zionist seminar

 

to build the houses. The tinsmiths, painters, and locksmiths did not rest either. Soon enough, the whole city began to take a new look. Two and three–level brick buildings replaced the old clay houses.

 

King Franz Joseph's Birthday

During those days, Jews were not interested in politics. There were a few exceptional people who read newspapers and understood what was happing in the world. However, the masses considered them “Enlightened”. The simple people believed in the grace of his majesty Franz Joseph the First. They gathered in the great synagogue every year for a festive assembly. The district officer, police, and other dignitaries were also invited. Gaon Rabbi Feivel Rohatyn gave a speech in German sermonizing about the welfare of the king and kingdom. Later on, the cantor and the chorus sang in honor of the king. The festive assembly left a good impression, so the Jews went home trusting that there is somebody in Vianna who cared for them.

 

“The Revised Kheder”

The person who initiated a fundamental revision in the Jewish education system was Shmuel Wildeniger, better known as Shmuel “Americaner”. He was born in Kalwarya Zebrzydowska[?]. He was an energetic person who traveled to the USA as a young man. That was how he acquired his nickname. During his travel, he showed interest in education. He concluded that the [Jewish] education system must be revised. A committee of parents, who helped him in his work, was established. The committee consisted of the following people: Nathan Negelberg, Moshe Aurbakh, Rekl Semel, and Israel Wolfshoit. The committee rented an entire floor from Lemel Mestul for use by the “Revised Kheder”. Israel Meshir was nominated as the principal. He was an intelligent man, with a vast knowledge of the Bible, grammar, Israeli history, and Hebrew literature. Rabbi Meshir advocated a modern approach to teaching. The teaching material was written with chalk on a blackboard, a method that was similar to the one practiced in the state school at the time. Based on Rabbi Maeshir's recommendation, teachers of Gemara and Mishna were hired. The children studied the Bible and grammar in the “Revised Kherder”. They also learned how to write in a neat style. Examiners from among the Jewish scholars and the city's intellectuals were invited to test the children every Shabbat. Rabbi Shlomo Belter tested the children about the Bible and RabbiFievel Rohatyn tested them about the Mishna. The latter was impressed greatly with the newly revised teaching system and supported the “Revised Kheder”. We loved the principal, Rabbi Israel Meshir. When he taught about the prophet Isaiah, we felt that the prophet was talking out of his mouth. Hundreds of students studied in the “Revised Kheder”. Among them, Professor Avraham Shalit, today at the University of Jerusalem, the author Moshe Leib Potashnik, the teacher Yaakov Zeltz who taught at the high school in Lviv, and physician Dr. Khaim Zelkai. B. Tz. Tzverdling, lawyer Avraham Shalit, Yitzkhak Negelberg, and Shmuel Korshen are some of Meshir's students who currently reside in Israel. Meshir taught his students to read Gertz's history books and the novels “Ahavat Zion” [“Love of Zion”], and “Ashmat Shomron” [“Guilt of Samaria”] by Avraham Mapu. These books aroused a longing for Eretz Israel. Meshir himself corresponded with the authors – the Teller brothers in Eretz Israel.

 

Zionism in our City

A Zionist association was established in our city, like in all other cities in Galitsia. The quiet life of the Jews in the city began to simmer. Echoes of Dreyfuss's trial in France reached us.

[Columns 125-126]

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The JNF [Keren Kayement] Committee in Zloczow – 1921

 

Distinguished people belonged to the Zionist association such as Rabbi Yitskhak Schwadron, the father of the author Dr. Avraham Sharon, Dr. Itamar Eidelbeg, one of the famous lawyers in the city and the owner of many properties, Rabbi Avraham Yaakov Ogel, an enlightened person and scholar, contractor, and owner of some businesses, Mr. Israel Weis, an enlightened person and owner of properties, Mr. Yitskhak Buchacher, a building contractor, and Mr. Shmaryahu Imber, a teacher in Baron Hirsch's school, and the father of poet Shmuel Yaakov Imber (brother of the poet N. H. Imber author of “HaTikvah”) who was killed by Hitler's murderous troops. These distinguished activists attracted younger people such as Dr. Groskopf, a young lawyer, Mr. Tzvi Rosenboim, an owner of a store and merchant of wines, Dr. Fishel Veshitz, Dr. Gustav Katz, Dr. Moshe Shwagger, Wolf Rosen, and Moshe Rosen. Even the very young participate in bearing the burden of the Zionist workload. Among them were Yaakov Shmuel Vilig, Moshe Shwartz, and Yaakov Mizlis. Young Zionist lawyers from other cities came to our city. Among them, Dr. Tzvi Hirschhorn, Dr. David Verpel, and Dr. Simkha Bunim Feldman. The latter became a representative in the Polish Sejm after the establishment of independent Poland. Simkha Bunim Feldman represented the “HaMizrkhai” party. He also served as the secretary of the Jewish caucus in the Polish Sejm.

 

Election for the Community's Committee

The time for the election for the community's committee arrived. Before the establishment of the Zionist movement, the election was conducted peacefully. The extreme religious and the assimilators did not shy away from working together. The assimilators did not get involved in the Kosher affairs, and the religious extremists did not get involved in political affairs. However, when Zionism was established, its motto was “Conquering the Communities”. A fight broke between the Zionists and the assimilators. Two Zionists, Dr. Itamar Eidelberg and Dr, Groskopf were elected to the community's committee for the first time in the history of Zloczow. That was just the first step, as the two were in the minority.

A very sad story occurred in the city. There was a Jewish school, which was built from the fund established by Baron Hirsch. It was an elementary school in which the Polish language was taught. However, the teachers were all Jewish. The children came from impoverished homes where they spoke only Yiddish. The children did not suffer from any antisemitism, which allowed them to excel in their studies since the teachers could explain in Yiddish whatever was unclear in Polish. However, the district governor found it necessary to transform the school into a pure Polish state school. The municipality's council probably supported the idea. The community's committee discussed that proposal. Since the Zionists had only two representatives on the committee, it became apparent that their objection would not be fruitful. it was decided that the residents would express publicly their bitterness about the confiscating of Jewish property,

[Columns 127-128]

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The Elected Officials of the Community Committee

 

particularly a school that was built from money contributed by the benevolent Barone Hirsch. However, two distinguished people supported the proposal. One of them was mayor Yosef Guld, the chairman of the community committee. The other was the person who was the trustee that managed the property of Baron Hirsch in Zloczow (the son–in–law of the mayor Yosef Guld).

In the end, the Jewish community committee decided to hand over the building to the municipality and transform it into a public municipal school. They received that resolution despite the objections of the Zionist members of the committee. When the committee members, with elder Yosef Guld among them, came out from that faithful meeting, they encountered an unexpected reception. Many residents and organized youths greeted them with shouts of contempt and with the ringing of bells, which were prepared in advance. The crowd's anger was so immense that the committee members had to look for a shelter to protect themselves.

Election to the Austrian House of Representatives was held in 1908. Dr. Adolf Shtand, the chairmen of the Eastern Galitsia Zionist movement, was selected as the Zionist candidate. Another [Jewish] candidate was Dr. Yosef Guld, the head of the council of Zloczow municipality. He ran as a candidate for the Polish party. The Poles knew that the chances of a Polish representative being elected were slim. The reason for that was that the Jews held the majority in the population of Zloczow and its surroundings. The Poles decided that it would be advantageous to nominate Dr. Guld as their candidate. There were additional reasons for the selection of Dr. Guld. The first reason was that he was a Jewish physician who would likely draw some Jewish voters. Secondly, the Jewish residents had to obey him being the chairman of the Jewish community committee. He was also supported by the district governor. The Zionists received no outside help. They had to fight, for the election of Adolf Shtand, by themselves. They invited guest speakers such as Dr. Gershon Tzofar from Lviv, Rabbi Gedalyahu Shmelkis from Przemysl [Pshemishel], and Israel Waldman from Ternopil.

The youth helped to carry the burden during the campaign. Many public gatherings took place. Members of the Ukrainian intelligentsia participated in one such outdoor gathering. During that election, the Zionists united with the Ukrainians against the Poles. The appearance of the speaker, Dr. Hirschhorn, left an immense impression. Being a tall man, sporting a beautiful forelock, and speaking flawless Ukrainian poised to become advantageous during the election itself. Unfortunately for the city residents, Dr. Yosef Guld was elected to the Austrian parliament. He was elected due to fraudulent schemes by the assimilators and the Poles. Also, some greedy wealthy Jews helped in the election of Dr. Guld.

[Columns 129-130]

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Members of the Self–Defense group During the Ukrainian Rule 1918 – 1919

 

Mr. Reitsis was elected in Zloczow to replace Dr. Guld during the following election to the Austrian parliament, which was held in 1911. He was elected not as a Zionist but as nonaffiliated. He was very devoted to the city residents. He assisted the residents during World War I when he served as a representative in the Austrian parliament.

 

The Declaration of World War I

On the nine of Av 5674 (1914), The Austrian government declared war against Serbia. The reason for that declaration was that the Crown Prince of the House of Hesburgh, Franz Ferdinand, was killed during a tour in Bosnia–Herzegovina. As known, that declarant caused World War I. General mobilization was announced, and hordes of soldiers flooded the city because Zloczow served as the camping ground of two infantry battalions and one cavalry battalion.

The Jews who were Austrian patriots, joined the military to fight for the Habsburg dynasty because Franz Joseph was considered the patron of the Jews. Not long after, a flow of refugees passed through Zloczow from the neighboring border cities: Brody, Pidkamin, Zaliztsi, and other settlements near the border, in which Jews resided. The Jews ran away as they feared the Russian army and the Kozaks, who were known to rob and murderers. In Zloczow Jews were sure, or just had an illusion, that the enemy would not reach the city's gates. Firstly, because three well–armed battalions were camping in the city. Secondly because of the flood of the recruited people., and thirdly because Zloczow was surrounded by mountains with an old fort built during the Ottoman rule. The Jews decided that the Austrian army would place cannons on the top of the mountains and thus would be able to defend the city from the enemy. The Jews simply wished, naively, to live in peace. However, the bitter reality slapped them in their faces. It happened at noon on Friday. Almost everything was ready for Shabbat. Austrian soldiers, who ran away from the nearby front, entered the city hurriedly and yelled at people to run away in the face of the approaching enemy. The government offices in the city cleared. All of the government officials left town with the last train. Rumors spread that the enemy is approaching from all directions. None of the Austrian soldiers remained in the city. The fear that descended was horrible. Men packed a small package, loaded it on their shoulder, and went out with their family toward the neighboring city of Holohory. Whoever had a “vehicle” (a wagon and a horse), used it. However, most of the city's Jews walked on foot. A solar eclipse occurred on the way. People were depressed about the two events: leaving their houses and properties behind and the solar eclipse. Upon approaching Holohory they observed the [Austrian] Tirolian battalions and artillerymen with their cannons preparing for battle. The people of Holohory welcomed the refugees and hosted them in their homes. However, the congestion was horrible, and there was also a shortage of food. Such much so that some people returned home to Zloczow. However, most of the people remained in Holohory and waited for the victory. Two days passed without any shooting. However, an artillery battle began on the third day, causing the houses to rattle. Artillery shells landed, but miraculously no one got hurt. On the fifth day (Friday), the Russian army entered the city. Zloczow residents were allowed to return to their city. On their way home, they encountered fear and terror. Dead Austrian soldiers covered the side of the roads. Russian horsemen could be seen riding in the direction of Lviv.

[Columns 131-132]

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The Drama Club named after Ansky

 

The Russians had probably buried their dead before to hide them from their soldiers. However, they left the Austrian dead to demonstrate their big win, as if they have not lost any casualties. The Russian military considered the Jews as enemies. Therefore, when they came back home after venturing between the two enemy militaries, they were happy to return safe and sound.

 

The Destruction of Galitsia

The [Russian] military brought carnage, destruction, and devastation to Galitsia cities, populated mostly by Jews. Our city was probably the only one in which a miracle happened. It happened thanks to one of the distinguished residents, a famous Jewish lawyer, Dr. Hirschhorn. Hirschhorn, who hosted a high–ranked Russian officer in his apartment, managed to refute the plot, for which people tried to blame the Jews. According to that plot, a few shots were directed at the Russian military from Rabbi David Lvov's house. Bad news, about Jews being murdered and houses being burnt, reached the city from the rest of the cities in the area.

The town Bilyi Kamin burnt to the ground. All of its Jewish residents escaped to Zloczow until the storm blew over. Even the Jews who lived in Zloczow's surroundings, including Jewish farmers, had to abandon their houses and properties and move to the city. The means for making a living evaporated. However, Jews with wagons loaded with merchandizes began to arrive from Russian cities close to the [old] border. In the meantime, the Russian Tzar, Nikolai, passed through Zloczow to witness his military victories. The city residents stood in line to cheer. He looked to them as being tired and weak. People wondered how he managed to instill fear in the numerous nations of Russia.

 

Refugees Arrive in the City

Jewish refugees from Tlumach and Tysmenytsia arrived one morning in the city. They presented a big problem for Zloczow's Jewish residents. The state of most of the residents was already atrocious. Many other refugees from the neighboring towns and villages had already arrived in the city, therefore a new wave presented an additional burden. However, the Jews found a solution to the problem quickly. Each family hosted new refugees. A committee was organized with members from among the city's distinguished residents. The committee consisted of Mr. Yeshayahu Tenenbaum, Rabi Yaakov Negler, and some prominent women. A short time later, a soup kitchen was established, and refugees received a free lunch.

 

Zloczow is Ruled Again by the Austrians

A few months later, the Austrian army advanced, conquered Zloczow, and reached the River Seret. The Jewish residents were joyful. However, the joy did not last long. The news about the first recruits who died on the front reached the city. General mobilization of people between the ages of eighteen and fifty commenced. Among the casualties were: Munio Negler, Noiget, Schwadron, Aharon Weintraub, and others. Aharon Weintraub, the son of Mendel Weintraub (who was survived by his wife and a daughter), and others. Every day brought more bad news from the front about additional casualties, which depressed the city residents. In 1917, the revolution broke out in Russia. The war which followed, between Krensky and the Bolsheviks, weakened the Russian army. The attack by the Austro–German forces on Russia broke open the front on the River Seret and advance into Ukraine's interior. However, Austria, which was consisted of many nations, fell apart, and each nation got its part of Eastern Galitsia. A war [a sustained warlike conflict, lasted from 1917 to 1921] erupted between the Poles and Ukrainians [which resulted in the establishment and development of a Ukrainian republic].

[Columns 133-134]

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The Committee of the Organization “Tzeirei Tzion” (Youth of Zion)

 

In the meantime, the Poles conducted a pogrom against the Jews in Lviv.

 

The Ukrainian Regime (1917– 1918)

The Jews began to organize themselves under the Ukrainian regime. Judge Belterovich was elected as the city's mayor. His attitude toward the Jews was not too bad. The authorities opened the high school, in which the teaching language was Ukrainian. The school employed Jewish teachers. The youths who studied during the war in the capital Vienna came back to the city. They prepared the youths for immigration to Eretz Israel. Balfour Declaration was treated seriously. Every circle prepared their youths for abandoning the diaspora and building a national home in Eretz Israel. Mordekhai Imber was the organizing and guiding force behind that effort. Hundreds of boys and girls learned how to work the land and cultivate a garden. They studied Hebrew, Israeli history, and useful crafts. Dov Ofer recruited youths to the “HaShomer” [“The Guard”] Zionist movement. Numerous youths, from all levels, joined the movement. Torah students organized in the club, “Aviv” [“Spring”]. They also prepared themselves for Aliya to Eretz Israel. They studied Hebrew and useful crafts. The driving force in that club was Mr. Yekhiel Imber. Barukh Stertiner and Shtultzberg brothers were also members of that club. Dr. Schwadron organized and managed seminar courses. He was helped by Dr. David Verfel, Mordekhai Imber, Dr. Shalit, Mrs. Hirschhorn, Dr. Kalman Schweig, Moshe Schorr, and others. Moshe Kleinman taught Hebrew. Many students mastered the Hebrew language and acquired knowledge of the Bible, literature, and History in those courses. A Hebrew speaking club, “Tarbut” [“Culture”] was established. The members of the club were: Dr. Simkha Bunim Feldman, lawyer Dr. Verpel, Dr. Avraham Schwadron, Mrs. Hischhorn (a descendant of the famous Galitsian Zionist family, Tartakover), a native of Brody, and the wife of Dr. Tzvi Hirschhorn, Mr. Mordekhai Imber, and Dr. Feivel Gruber. Then club members gathered every Shabbat for a discussion, lecture, or reading. Dr. Khaim Leider (Zalkai), who was a member of that club, gave lectures on various topics in fluent Hebrew. Another cultural club was organized under the initiative of Dr. Avraham Schwadron (Sharon). The members studied the books of the author, Akhad Ha'Am. Dr. Sharon had a substantial influence on the educated youths.

The war between the Poles and the Ukrainians separated us from the rest of the world. One could get to Europe only through Romania. However, the train's schedule was irregular, and passengers experienced many difficulties on the way there.

A Yiddish weekly magazine began to appear in the city under the initiative of the Zionist executive committee. Dr. Yekutiel Shuster, Moshe Schorr, and others served as editors. The magazine was published every Friday and included the news, political articles, feuilletons, and even information about life in Eretz Israel. The “Bund” people also published a Yiddish newspaper. However, after the publication of the weekly magazine, they ceased its publication.

 

Dreadful Days

The city experienced a few dreadful days when an internal conflict among companies of the Ukrainian military. One company shot on the other within the city limits, and the battle continued outside of the city. The residents stayed at home, not daring to venture out. There were dead and wounded among the soldiers.

[Columns 135-136]

A few days later, when it was possible to go out of the house, people discovered the extent of the destruction in the city. The storefront windows were broken and the contents of the stores were robbed.

 

The Polish Regime

In the spring of 1918, the Poles received some equipment from France and they overpowered the Ukrainians. A few days later, the latter came back but retreated again. The Ukrainian front disintegrated without the ability to reestablish it. Fear descended upon the Jews. Firstly, because the Ukrainians retreated. Secondly – the fear of the Poles, who were known to abuse the Jews. There were stories about them cutting the beards with the skin of the faces. When the first Polish company came and discovered a city crowded with Jewish residents, their officer's first question was: “Did we conquer a Jewish City”? The Polish soldiers entered the Jewish homes and robbed anything they could put their hands on. Later on, when the civil regime was established, order returned. However, antisemitism raised its ugly head: All the Jewish officials were fired. A heavy tax load was imposed. The Jews realized that they did not have any defense with the Polish regime in power. The first “Ha'Shomer” group made Aliya to Eretz Israel. Although horrible news about the murder of Dov Ofer at the hands of Arab perpetrators arrived from Eretz Israel, the youths banded together and continued to make Aliya. Among the people who made Aliya were: Mordekhai Bukhbinder, Lola Yosefsberg, Sara Negler, Dr. Yehoshua Yosefsberg, Yitzkhak Negelberg with his wife Dvorah Negelberg, Mordekhai Imber, and Dov Glazer and his family. The elderly such as Shmaryahu Imber, the family of Yehoshua Stertiner, and others also made Aliya.


[Column 137]

The Kempa and Zlotsov'ka

by Dr. E. Boneh (Bauman)

Translated by Moshe Kutten

 

Two natural sites were important centers for the city's vibrant youths. One of the sites was the Kempa – that hill at the center of town, adorned with trees, lawns, and playgrounds. The second site was the small twisting river, named after the city's name – Zlotsov'ka [Zlotsov – the Yiddish pronunciation of Zloczow. Today it is called Zolochiv].

These two sites were teeming with hundreds of youths, during all days of the year. During the summer months, the youths spent their time on the hill playing various games or immersed themselves in the river. During the winter months, the hill and the river served as sites for ice skating. Boys and girls of every religion spent their energy there. They played, romped, and dreamt about their future, dreams that were shattered by the mundane reality of their adolescence.

Today, after twenty-five years, when I evoke my memories about these sites, I feel the pain of those best of the youth who fell victims to the Nazi beast. Thousands of youths fell victims to the Nazis' wild rampage, precisely at these sites, the Kempa and the Zlotsov'ka. They suffered tortures and lost their lives near these sites that served as sources for joy and youthful happiness.

The years that passed may have dimmed memories of the mind and the heart. Therefore, the description might not be complete. However, it is advantageous to bring up some of the things that made the Kempa and Zlotsov'ka such memorable places.

The Kempa

The Kempa was a small towering hill above the center of the city. That was not a steep and high hill. The height difference between the city plane and the top of the hill did not exceed 30 meters. Trails led to the hill from every direction in the city. However, climbing to the top did not require a lot of effort, even though the trails were not paved. The top of the Kempa was flat. The flattening earthworks on that hill transformed it into an ideal area for the young to spend their leisure time there.

[Column 138]

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A Group of Bathers in the Zlotsov'ka

 

A double row of trees, separated by gaps of about 3 meters, was planted around the Kempa's summit, creating a promenade. The fresh odor and the shade given by the trees created a pleasant atmosphere. Most of the visitors to the promenade, which surrounded the Kempa like a ring, were students. They used to walk around and study their school material for the following day or prepare for a test. Tens of youths could be seen walking around the Kempa, holding their study books, memorizing the material while watching the treetops or the playgrounds. When the walkers would meet each other, they would stop and exchanged jokes and teases. Many would spend hours walking around.

Two parts of the Kemap area served as playgrounds. One served as a soccer field and the other as a place for riding bicycles. The third part was a lawn, where young children set. Smaller children tended to stay away from older children who sometimes played too recklessly. Benches were scattered around the last part, which was overflowing with greenery and flowers. Romantic and elderly couples could be spotted there.

Many boys brought their bicycles to perform acrobatic tricks or carry their girlfriends on the back seat. Most of the time, the boys carried thin girls to avoid blowing up the tires.

[Columns 139-140]

Zol139.jpg
The Zlotsov'ka River

 

Another experience was climbing on trees and the games of hiding in the treetops. We once hid in a chestnut treetop and disappeared in the middle of a gym class. When the teacher realized that we were missing (most of the time, 3 or 4 students hid together) he would send other students to look for us. When they approached us, we welcomed them with a shower of chestnuts. The attacked had to search for cover behind the trunks of the adjacent trees. Any time any of them dared to reveal himself, he would be besieged by another shower of chestnuts, accompanied by roars of laughter.

The Kempa served as a center, not only during the days of the summer. When the winter came, the hill would be covered by blankets of snow, and its frozen trails became sledding tracks. The main trail, located near the co-ed state high school, was the eastern one. We used to gather there with our sport sleds, after school hours to sled down the slope. Since the trail was quite narrow, going around another sled presented a problem. The issue of overtaking another sled became a matter of honor and arrogance. A boy of the front sled considered it an insult when somebody tried to pass him from behind. Conflicts, fights, and brawls erupted often. At times, these fights became an expression of racial hatred when they erupted between the Jewish and the Polish or Ukrainian youths. At other times, the girls were the reason for the fights, as the girls tended to mock the losing boy or the one who could not overtake other sleds.

As described, the Kempa was a source of delight all year-round. Many of Zloczow's natives, who survived the Holocaust, carry that site in their hearts.

 

The Zlotsov'ka River

The other site that attracted the youth was the river. Perhaps that stream of water was not worthy of the title – river. It was not even noted on maps. However, the city youths valued it tremendously. We called it Zlotsov'ka-an endearment name derived from the name of our city. The depth of Zlotsov'ka did not reach two meters except for a few isolated places. Its width was only 4 to 6 meters. The only exception was the small dam, which was erected to allow for storing fish. At the dam, the width reached 10 – 12 meters.

The river flew from behind the Kempa. That formed a connection between the two sites. [During the summer], the youths, sweating from their sports games, rushed straight to the Zlotsov'ka from the Kempa. During the wintertime, when the river froze, the youths ice skated on it.

The Zlotsov'ka was the only place to learn how to swim since there were no natural lakes or swimming pools in Zloczow. Many of Zloczow's natives,

[Columns 141-142]

scattered today around the world, still, likely remember their first swimming sessions in that small river of Zloczow. The Zlotsov'ka flew along its natural twisting and turning ravine, which the river carved for hundreds of years. Vast fields spread on both banks of the rivers. Trees and bushes, which served as a hiding place for changing clothes, chequered the area. There were no dressing rooms along the river, which presented a problem, particularly for the girls who had to go far to change into their bathing suits. Leaving the unguarded clothes at the riverbank was another problem. Often, a bather who came out of the river would not find his or her clothes where they left them. It was not a theft, but a practical joke, which caused a temporary embarrassment. Girls often cried and begged for help find their clothes, since they could not return home in their bathing suits.

There were sections of the river where the water was deep. These sections were safe only for skilled swimmers. Since there weren't that many, bathing in these places was more pleasant. One such place was located near the village of Yeniov, about a kilometer and a half from the Kempa. Near that village, the river carved out a small square-like pond. That location served as a place for water-ball games, diving and underwater swimming, and diving from the back of one's friends. We named the pond “Biyeniov'ka” after the village mentioned above.

Although the Zlotsov'ka was a meager and small river, it filled up during periods of heavy rains. The creek would fill up, overflow, and flood many adjacent fields. Once it happened that a wide area, a few kilometers wide, was flooded. Hundreds of Zloczow residents flocked to the scene to look at the “ocean”. The depth of that “ocean” was only about 30 to 40 centimeters. However, it left an impression of an infinite sea. The “ocean” disappeared two days later, and the city was left with its small river.

 

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