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[Page 387]

K. Organizations of former Będzin
residents throughout the world

Organization of the Będzin Immigrants – Zagłębie

Tel Aviv, 5719 – 1959, in the 16th year after the death of Będziner Jewry and in the 11th year since the rise of the State of Israel.

1. Bedziner in Israel

Mordekhai Hampel

Translated from the Yiddish by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

It is a known fact that in Israel, according to a careful count, there are 2,000 Będziner Jews, may there be more like them, among whom are included those who settled in the country tens of years ago, who are spread over the entire country, from Dan to Beersheba, and even further, to Eilat. Until 1939, the outbreak of the Second World War, we were not organized into a union because all of the new immigrants who were in need of help and advice were supported by the general society, Association of Polish Immigrant in Eretz Yisroel in which we joined, equally with all of of our annihilated Jewish communities in Poland.

Although the Będziners in Eretz Yisroel were not organized, they maintained the old “local patriotic” connection through friendly meetings, especially on Chanukah and Purim, in the private houses of those living in Tel Aviv for a long time: with the now deceased Nusan Szternfeld, of blessed memory, with my godly father, Avraham Hampel, Moshe Shoykhet [ritual slaughterer] (Szajnfeld from the Second Aliyah [wave of immigration]), Leibush Kacengold, may he rest in peace, and others. During the 1920s and 1930s, our fellow townsmen maintained a very close connection and were like one family, but in time, when life and earning a living became more difficult, the bond became looser and was first renewed in 1939.

One day, Avraham Hampel, Yitzhak Rudaler, Yosef Szapira, of blessed memory, Chaim Welner, Shraga Rozenblum, Shlomo Balimowski, Kalman Honigman, Yitzhak Invald, Yosef Zvi Rajs, Elimelekh Diament, Leibl Kakatek and others came together in Friend Zvi Zilbersztajn's house in Tel Aviv and lay the foundation of the Organization of the Będzin Immigrants in Eretz-Yisroel, the first of its kind in the country. Rudaler, of blessed memory, was designated as chairman, as secretaries, Szapira, of blessed memory, and Balimowski, as treasurer – Rozenblum.

The union – whose purpose was to bring help to the Będziner refugees who had succeeded in escaping from Russia and the arriving Będziner immigrants, who, during the World War, had made their way to the shores of Eretz Yisroel – was legalized by the then existing English regime, so that we could have an effect without interference.

Several of our landsleit [people from the same town] in America, and particularly, we [in Israel] should remember our good friend, Avraham Liwer, who survived with his entire family, arriving in America, and who completely privately, on his own initiative, sent us packages with food and clothing, which we immediately sent to Russia to the Będziners whose addresses we possessed. The joy of our landsleit in Russia was indescribable when they received such help, which permitted them to endure the difficult years. “The packages are keeping us alive; without them we would not survive. Send more and do not forget us!” – Such heart-rending lines were contained in every letter from them.

This did not let us rest and we undertook our own large money campaign, among the Będziners in Tel Aviv. We turned to them with a specially printed circular and asked for generous donations on behalf of our common goal. We expanded our campaign which brought in several hundred Palestinian pounds (at that time, 20 years ago, that was a very considerable sum); we collected monthly payments, arranged various evenings and balls from which we received a good income and immediately divided it among the new immigrants and sent packages to Russia.

In 1944, a new council was elected: Motl Tenebaum, of blessed memory, Asher Fiszel, Shraga Rozenblum, Dovid Liwer, Alter Brukner, Shlomo Balimowski, Menakhem Gelband, Khenokh Malach and Y. Ts. Rajs, who led well-planned activities, particularly in the area of housing for refugees. Several huts were rented for this purpose, in which several families and unmarried young Będziner men were housed.

At the same time, we received letters from the new Jewish Committee in Będzin urging us to quickly send help to the Będziner survivors who were returning from the labor and death camps. The appeal was not in vain; the union carried out a successful campaign that had good results. Our help now went in two directions: for our remaining brothers in Będzin and for our people who were coming in greater numbers to Eretz Yisroel, poor and in need. The work was not easy because it required much money that we had to gather at any cost.

The situation was like this for several years. In the meantime,

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the idea grew of uniting all Zagłębie landsmanschaftn [organizations of people from the same town] in Eretz Yisroel into one union. In 1949, hundreds of those from Zagłębie came together at a general meeting in the premises of the House of Pioneers in Tel Aviv, at which the merger was approved and the Union of Immigrants from Zagłębie emerged, which included Będzin, Sosnowiec, Z¹bkowice and the surrounding smaller religious communities ( CzeladŸ, Modrzejów, Grodziec, Niwka and more. Dombrowa [D¹browa Górnicza] did not join the united general union for various reasons, although we absolutely wanted their membership and carried out long negotiations, but with no results.

The late Sosnowiec rabbi, Reb Menakhem Hager, of blessed memory, who was nominated as chairman of the newly created union, remained at the head of the union for five years and accomplished a great deal for it. Active as aid chairmen were Nekhemia Zinger, the lawyer Dr. Rechtman and Dr. Safir and Dovid Liwer; as secretaries – Chaim Triger and Mordekhai Hampel, treasurer – Meir Landsman and as council members: Mrs. Guta Czitkewicz (Ben-Yitzhak), the lawyer Dr. Yosef Ursztajn, Moshe Benyamin Klajnman, Chaim Warszawski, Dovid Marianka, of blessed memory, Yisroel Zonewent, Yisroel Szwajcer, Menakhem Goldband, the brothers Shlomo and Yohanan Laudon and the lawyer Dr. Paul Majtlis, who died a tragic death, breathing out his soul during his eulogy full of feeling and sorrow at a memorial ceremony (1957) in memory of the Zagłębie martyrs at the memorial at the cemetery in Nahalat Yitzhak.

When the union was headed by Rabbi Hager, may he rest in peace, we numbered over 500 organized members who came together very often at friendly meeting, concerts, entertaining evening, not to mention the large and fully attended traditional memorial services in the great halls of Tel Aviv (Ohel Shem) for every yahrzeit [anniversary of a death] (Tisha B'Av [the ninth of Av – date commemorating the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem]) of our annihilated community.

The writer of these lines, as secretary, maintained continuous contact with our landsmanschaftn outside the country and with the survivors in Poland. When an activist and philanthropist visited Israel from abroad, ceremonial gatherings were organized in their honor and a “glass of tea,” where we comfortably spent time remembering the former good times when Jewish Będzin still existed. Such welcomes took place in honor of the guests from France, America, Switzerland and England: Yehiel Kaminski, Motl Gold, H. Heler, M. Szwimer, Avraham Liwer, Shlomo Feldman and Yosel Rozenzaft, who always supported our union with large donations as well as for needy individuals.

To this day, our union maintains contact with several banks in Tel Aviv that distribute loans to us that we lend without interest to everyone who is needy; thanks to them, we have helped many by buying work tools or with housing.

[40 KB] Activists of the Zaglembia Émigrés in Israel (Pinkas Bendin, page 388)
Activists of the Zaglembia Émigrés in Tel Aviv

Standing from right to left
Israel Zoneband, Moniek Czerszacz, Mrs. Najfeld, Avraham Gold,
Kalman Honigman, Tzvi Zilbersztajn, Elimelech Diamant, Jochanan Laudan,
Chaim Warszawski, Israel Szwajcer, Menachem Gelband.
Mosze Benjamin Kleinman, Guta Jotkowicz (Ben-Yitzhak),
lawyer Dr. Reuwen Rechtman, Rechil Gutman, David Liwer, Mordechai Hampel.

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However, as much as we gave and brought was not enough because new Zagłębie immigrants came all the time and the immigration continues today – and, let us hope, even continues. Because the need for large sums of money increased, we tried to connect with the Będziner-Sosnowiec Society in America, but all of our requests and letters of recommendation to them remained unanswered, so that we did not receive any material support for the union the way all of the other landsmanschaftn in Eretz Yisroel did. We must establish the truth of this sad fact and, perhaps, from now on our American brothers will change their relationship and extend help to those Będziner immigrants recently streaming to Eretz Yisroel from Russia and Poland.

The most beautiful moral achievement of the Zagłębie Union of Immigrants was the erection of a pious monument at the cemetery in Nahalat Yitzhak (Tel Aviv), 1954, at the grave of the box of ashes of the Zagłębie martyrs that was brought [to Israel], and since then, thousands of people have come there to the yearly memorial service. The large headstone that reached over 3,000 pounds will now be beautified with a fence of broken chains as at the monument for the unknown fallen soldiers.

With the death of Comrade Hager, of blessed memory, (1954) a split occurred in the united union with no basis and every city founded a union for itself, which caused great harm to our joint work.

Entering the newly created council of the Union of Będzin Immigrants were: the lawyer Dr. Rechtman, Elimelekh Diament, Mrs. Rekhil Gutman (the daughter of Rabbi Graubart, of blessed memory), Menakhem Goldband, Avraham Gold, Moshe Benyamin Klajnman and Moniek Sercacz.

The Będziner Union over the course of the last years of its separate existence was seen only to do a small amount of work because the committee showed passivity and was almost inactive. Besides several loans that were distributed to new immigrants and the memorial services that were arranged like the other Zagłębie unions – no significant success can be shown.

On Rosh Khodesh [start of the new month] of Kislev 5718 (1957), the president of the State of Israel, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, in the context of his traditional monthly welcome aimed at bringing the witnesses and tribes of Israel closer, welcomed a delegation from the Organization of Immigrants from Poland, which consisted of

[34 KB] Activists of the Zaglembia Émigrés in Israel (Pinkas Bendin, page 389)
Activists of the Zaglembia Émigrés and “Pinkas Bendin”
in Tel Aviv with the book’s editors,
David Liwer and Mordechai Hampel

Seated from right
Avraham Gold, David Liwer, Miriam Liwer, Mordechai Hampel, Zeev Landvai.
Standing from right:
Asher Fiszel, Lajbel Kokotek, Szraga Rozenblum, Chanoch Malach,
Szlomo Bolimowski.

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the larger Polish unions, rabbis, former partisan and ghetto fighters, the educated, writers and communal workers from former Poland. Our union was represented by D. Liwer and M. Hampel, who in their conversation with the President of Israel, reminded him of his visit to our city 20 or 30 years before as an emissary from Eretz-Yisroel. At that opportunity, the president told us how he had smuggled himself across the Russian-German border (1907) from Będzin to Katowice on the way to Eretz-Yisroel.

After a four-year split, we again thought about a unification of the Zagłębie Union into one irgun [organization]. The negotiations that took place led to an agreement about a unification from which it was hoped there would be a revival of widespread work on behalf of the union.

As the first act of the future joint activity, Chanukah and Purim evenings took place in the years 1957/58, where we spent the time comfortably with music, dance and various attractions until late at night.

2. Former Będzin residents in Israel

by M. H.

Translated by Nitsa Bar Sela z”l

Edited by Yocheved Klausner

According to a careful estimate (on the basis of the lists we possess and the vast participation in memorial ceremonies for the martyrs of our community), in Israel there are about two thousand former residents of Będzin and their numbers grow with the immigration of survivors arriving from Poland. Będziners live in Israel all over the country: in towns, villages, kvutzot [groups] and moshavim [cooperative agricultural settlements]. They have professions in industry, commerce, agriculture, clerkship, education and more. Generally speaking, they have adapted themselves to the life in the country, have become devoted citizens and have connected their future with the land whole-heartedly.

In the years of the great tide of immigration from Poland, 1924-1925, when hundreds of people came from our town to Israel (most of whom belonged to the middle class, but failed, unfortunately, in their business here and returned to Będzin to be annihilated in the Holocaust), there was no need to found a special “landsmanshaft” [society of immigrants from the same town or region], because whenever the immigrants confronted hardships, they were helped and supported by “The General Association of the Immigrants of Poland”, which helped all of them, no matter what town or community they came from.

But when World War II broke out in 1939, and the first horrendous news started to reach Israel about the Holocaust and the Będzin refugees escaped to Russia, Będziners in Tel Aviv began to get together with the purpose to send help to the suffering refugees in the plains of Siberia. Similar attempts were made in other cities, Haifa and Jerusalem, where there was a large concentration of Będziners. However, most attempts to organize the people failed, because very few were ready to devote themselves to this mission.

One day, by the end of 1939, several people met in the home of Mr. Zilbersztajn in Tel-Aviv. They were Abram Hampel, Icchak Rudoler, Josef Szapiro (all three have passed away since), Chaim Welner, Szraga Rozenblum, Szlomo Bolimowski, Kalman Honigman, Icchak Inwald, Josef Cwi Rajs, Elimemech Diamant, Leibl Kokotek and others. They laid the foundation to the organization of the former residents of Będzin. For a long while, they assembled in the flat of Mr. Zilbersztajn, who was very devoted to the organization in its first years. Icchak Rudoler was the head of the organization (until his death), Bolimowski and the late Szapiro were the secretaries and Rozenblum was the treasurer.

The organization was duly registered in the governing offices as an official association, which had the right to proceed publicly in fundraising and manage fiscal projects. Its objectives were defined as helping the Będzin refugees who suffered in Russia and supporting the few immigrants who succeeded in reaching Israel, after a long journey through neutral countries.

Former residents of Będzin in the USA, especially our good friend Abram Liwer, who was himself one of the refugees in Russia and succeeded, after painful wanderings, to bring his entire family to the United States, met and organized constructive help by sending us by mail packages containing shoes, clothes and food, to be sent by us to Russia to addresses that we had obtained. Since this organization was registered by law, the parcels that we received from America were cleared of customs and other taxes and we could send them to the USSR without delay. We received letters and telegrams (which we still keep in the memory of those bitter days) which confirmed that the parcels reached their destination and helped them survive, and that they needed much more of them.

We did not count on former residents of Będzin in America alone, and started fundraising among Będziners in Israel as well. We sent a special circular to our people, in which we asked them to donate generously. We also distributed shares, which yielded several hundreds of Israeli pounds (liras), a considerable sum in those days, established membership dues, gave parties – and all the money collected was used to distribute packages and offer financial assistance to new immigrants.

In 1944 a new committee was elected: Mordechai Tenenbaum, of blessed memory, Asher Fishel, Szraga Rozenblum, Dawid Liwer, Alter Brukner, Szlomo Bolimowski, Menachem Gelband, Hanoch Malach, J. C. Rajs. This committee succeeded greatly in placing new immigrants in jobs and finding housing for them. As an example, three families were put up in a rented three-room shed on Dizengoff Street and eleven single men were put up in another shed on Levinski Street.

That year we received letters from the Jewish committee in Będzin, who appealed desperately for immediate financial help for the survivors who were arriving to Będzin from death and labor camps. Indeed, our committee immediately mobilized assistance. They raised funds among Będziners in Tel-Aviv, who donated nice sums of money. The money was intended to help in two directions: for our brethren in the deserted Będzin and for our people who were making their way to Eretz Yisrael. The mission of delivering the donations to their destination was not easy because large sums were spent on the way.

This situation lasted a few years. Meanwhile, the idea arose to join our organization with the other organizations of Zagłębie into one body so as to render our activities more efficient by saving money spent on administration. In the beginning of 1949 the people of Zagłębie met in a general assembly, in which they decided to unite he two organizations.

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A union was set up, which included the former residents of Będzin, Sosnowiec and Ząbkowice, under the name of “The Zagłębie World Organization”. For five years the united organization was headed by the late Rabbi Menachem Hager who helped to achieve several of the objectives of the organization. The deputies were Nechemia Singer, the lawyers Dr. Sapir and Dr. Rechtman, and Dawid Liwer. The secretaries were Chaim Triger and Mordechai Hampel. Majer Landsman served as treasurer and other posts were held by Mrs. Guta Jutkowicz (Ben-Itzhak), the lawyer Dr. Josef Orsztajn, Chaim Warszawski, the late Dawid Marinka, Israel Sonabend, Israel Szwajcer, the brothers Szlomo and Jochanan Laudon and others.

As mentioned before, the remnants of all the communities of Zagłębie formed the united organization, except for the people of Dąbrowa Górnicza who, for some reason, declined to join us and established an organization of their own.

When the late Rabbi Hager served as Head, the organization flourished. It consisted of more than five hundred certified members who often met for social events, and there were many of them: concerts, balls and performances, the purpose of which was to collect donations for the needy and loans for new immigrants. For five years I was active in the Organization of the Zagłębie People, together with the late Rabbi Hager. I was in charge of secretarial work and promoted close relationship with landsmanshaftn abroad, especially in Paris.

Anybody who calls on us is assisted and we try to facilitate his absorption and acclimatization in the country. Thousands of Israeli pounds were distributed to the new immigrants thanks to our connections with some banks in Tel-Aviv, who helped with loans, which we vouched for. We also tried to find jobs, housing, appliances (sewing machines and others), medical help and more. Many of the new immigrants, who in time settled down economically, appreciate our modest moral and material support, thanks to which they have managed to overcome their first absorption problems.

And although our means were small, since we did not receive any help from America despite all our appeals, we did all we could in order to help the needy and we never send them away empty-handed.

The peak activity of the Organization of the Zagłębie Former Residents is the erection of a memorial to the martyrs of Zagłębie. It stands in a central place in the cemetery in Nahlat Itzhak, near Tel-Aviv.

With the death of Rabbi Hager the organization split up again and weakened as a consequence. A new “Organization of Będziners” was set up and its committee consisted of the lawyer Dr. Rechtman, head, Elimelech Diamant, secretary, Menachem Gelband, treasurer, Mrs. Rechil Gutman (of the family of Rabbi Graubart, of blessed memory), Abram Gold, Mosze Benjamin Klajnman and Moniek Sercarz.

The activities of the new organization are not particularly noticeable, unfortunately. Except for a few loans to new immigrants and the traditional yearly memorial ceremonies, which are held together with the Organization of Sosnowiec former residents, there are no special achievements. The main success of this organization is “Pinkas Bendin”.

Now, after four years of separation, a re-unification of all the organizations of the Zagłębie people is being considered.

[29 KB] The committee of the Będzin Émigrés in 1959 (Pinkas Bendin, page 391)
The Będzin Émigrés committee in Tel Aviv in 1959

Standing from right to left:
Menachem Gelband, Jochanan Laudon, Mosze Benjamin Klajnman
Moniek Sercarz, Rechil Gutman, Abram Gold

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3. The Będzin Committee in Paris
after the Second World War

Mosze Rotenberg[1].

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

Before the Second World War, the committee of the Będzin landsleit [people from the same town] excelled in the area of distributing all forms of aid for the people from our city. However, the main work began after the end of the Second World War.

Immediately after returning to Paris from various hiding places, we, a group of committee members, began to organize anew the aid work that was then really a question of life for the hundreds of families and the saved deportees and hidden Parisian landsleit who mainly returned in great poverty.

Shortly after began the great flow of Zaglembie landsleit who came from western and eastern European countries, from the labor camps in which our brothers and sisters gave away their strength to the Nazi war machine; exhausted, like skeletons, they turned up in what was then the large Jewish center, Paris.

Our committee began the sacred aid work with super-human strength.

We also took an interest in all of the communal and philanthropic world-wide institutions such as the Joint [Distribution Committee], ORT [ Organization for Rehabilitation through Training] and so on. However, the aid work was the responsibility of the committee members who because of their modest means of help, often had to allocate their little bit of bread.

Our committee was renowned in the Jewish neighborhood. And there were cases when people not from Zaglembie turned to us for help, passing themselves off as former residents of our old home.

A comic incident was when a pious young man said that he had once stayed overnight in Będzin three nights in a row and according to law he was a Będziner. Understandably, we did not question our needy brothers and helped everyone.

A particular problem was the young refugees

[39 KB] A committee meeting of the Zagłębie Émigrés in Paris (Pinkas Bendin, page 392)
A committee meeting of the Zagłębie Émigrés in Paris
with the participation of Abram Liwer from America

Seated from right to left:
Edmund Perez  ל ״ ז , Herszke Heller, A. M. Laudan, Mosze Rotenberg  ל ״ ז,
Mordechai Gold, Abram Liwer (speaking),
Jakob Rotenberg  ל ״ ז , Mrs. Liwer, Beredin, Holcer, Tuvia Hasenberg, Brat.

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who came to Paris without parents or other relatives. We had to care for the children, particularly the girls, so that, God forbid, they did not fall into the net of unclean and easy income. We took care that they would learn a trade, gave them the necessary medical help.

Then we immediately made contact with all of the then-existing offices searching for relatives; we also were in contact with the Jewish Agency. In a word: all refugees found a home with us and, thanks to our help, many families were placed on their feet. There are now present in Paris many who were transformed by being on the end of receiving charity and take part in every aid action that we arrange from time to time.

A particular chapter was the care of the immigrants who departed for Israel with Aliyah Bet [illegal immigration from 1920-1948]; as well as the help for the organization and sending our young people, who mobilized for the liberation struggle of the Land of Israel, where they still live and take part in the building of our land.

Original footnote
  1. During the printing of these lines, to our great sorrow we received the sad news about the death of Friend Moshe Rotenberg, of blessed memory, honorary president of the Będziner Society in France. – the Editors. Return

4. Będziner and Zaglembie Union in France

Mordechai Gold

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

The Będziner and Zaglembie Society (Union) in Paris arose in 1925 and existed until the outbreak of the Second World War. The Union had the task of distributing help to those Zaglembie landsleit [people from the same town] who were in need of it. As is the custom in France that every society creates for itself a fraternal grave, we also took care of buying a cemetery lot at the Paris cemetery while we were still alive, where we built a large mass grave for our landsleit, [may they live for] 120 years. Three people from our city had already gone to their eternal rest in the fraternal grave at which we erected a large and beautiful matzeyvah [headstone].

In order to have the monetary means, we collected monthly payments from our comrades and every year we arranged entertainment evenings that brought a nice income.

We would also come together for annual general meetings at which new committee members were elected. The elections did not take place so easily because the society consisted of all of our people from the same city who belonged

[37 KB] The anniversary and memorial to the martyrs of Zaglembia in a Paris cemetery (Pinkas Bendin, page 393)
The anniversary and memorial to the martyrs of Zaglembia
in a Paris cemetery

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to various political groups and [with different] political opinions and every group wanted to have the honor [of having] more representatives on the committee.

And thus it was until the Germans entered France and made everything a ruin and many of us were deported.

In 1946 our Holocaust survivors revived the Society, which had serious tasks at that time. At the residence of Moshe Rotenberg, of blessed memory, a group of Będziner Jews came together to deliberate how to welcome our remaining landsleit, who having survived the crematoria and labor camps by a miracle, would come to Paris, which would be for them a way station on their further road, and this actually came to pass.

At this consultation, with the participation of Szpigelman, Hercko Heler, Jacques Laudon, Mordekhai Gold, Yankl Rotenberg, of blessed memory, and Edmond Perec, of blessed memory, it was decided to call a larger meeting of the Będziners in Paris. A large sum of money was collected at that meeting, which was distributed overnight to our arriving refugees.

Thus began our great work. Whoever could give did this willingly, generously; whoever was in need received, and we gave a great deal.

We also established contact with the Będziner landsleit in America who sent us packages of food and clothing as well as money, but all of this was not enough because the need was very great. For this, we arranged balls that were well attended, as well as a financial success. Such a ball provided income of at least 500,000 francs. We had such sources of money at our disposal thanks to resourcefulness and dedicated work; we helped those who wanted to continue their travels as well as those who remained here.

The situation normalized and the work was now systematic. In addition to its activity in the social and cultural area, our union organized a memorial evening dedicated to the Będziner writer, Dovid Micenmacher, who had died; a solemn evening for the Będziner artist, Avraham Goldkorn, at the publication of his artistic book, which includes many pictures about old Spain; an evening in honor of the great writer Sholem Aleichem. We organized informal evenings for our members and their families on Chanukah and Purim.

In 1947, our union memorialized the Będziner martyrs with the erection of a matzevah [headstone] over our mass grave and every year we arrange the traditional memorial to their sacred memory.

We also were active in a national area: Keren Kayemet LeYisroel [Jewish National Fund], Lerem Hayesod [The Foundation Fund – now the United Israel Appeal], Keren haMagen [Defense Fund], Fund for Youth Aliyah [immigration] and we take part in all fundraising for the State of Israel. Recently, a large number of our members have bought Israel Bonds. Our union has always been neutral, not asking anyone their political views, but this did not

[36 KB] Members of the committe of Bedzin in Paris (Pinkas Bendin, page 394)
Members of the committee of Bedzin Émigrés in Paris
in the dedication ceremony to the organization's flag

Mordechai Gold, Mosze Rotenberg  ל ״ ז , Laudan, Szwimer, Hasenberg.
Brat, Dancyger, Lustiger, Melcer, Igra, Aderberg, Heller, Beredin.

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hinder that Israel would take a respected place for us.

Several years ago, our society lost the former presidents of the Będziners in Paris, who gave so much for our aims: Yankel Rotenberg and Edmond Perec, may they rest in peace.

Of the active members we remember: M. Rotenberg, of blessed memory, and Jacques Laudan (honorary president), Mordekhai Gold (president), H. Heler and T. Hasenberg (vice president), Y. Bredin and G. Aigra (secretariat), M. Szwimer and U. Brat, Kh. Melcer, A. Lustiger, who also occupied offices.

With great joy we received the news about the publication of the so long awaited Pinkes Będzin [The History of Będzin], a living metzeyvah for our destroyed city of our birth, which every one of us will obtain and whose home it will beautify. We send our hearty blessing for their tireless work to the publisher and the editors.

5. Będziner in Australia

Yona (Yonka) Lustig-Avrahami

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

The Jewish community in Australia is young. A few dozen years ago, very few people imagined that in such a distant part of the world a Jewish center would be built. However, Australia and its immensely great possibilities little by little drew immigrants to it who hoped to settle here.

The population grew even more and since the Second World War, 1938 to the end of 1957, it grew by more than a million souls.

Today, approximately 16,000 Jews are in Australia; among them, the majority are Polish Jews, who suffered and were tortured by the last Jewish tragedy, who immigrated here with the hope of starting anew. Thirty thousand Jews live in Melbourne and the rest in other larger and smaller cities in Australia.

In Melbourne, there are 100 Będziner families, in Sidney, 10 former Będziner families who we meet also in other places. The Będziner Jews came here

[35 KB] The Bedzin Émigrés organization in Melbourne (Pinkas Bendin, page 395)
The Bedzin Émigrés organization in Melbourne

Seated from right to left:
M. Rafaelowicz, Mrs. S. Yaffe, M. Parasol, president, J. W. Szikman, vice president.
J. Szajer, Mrs. Avrahami, Mrs. Sztajnbok, J. Orbach, D. Apelbaum

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in the 1930s before the outbreak of the war and the others in the years 1945-1950. The Bedzinerd organized trade, industry, artisan work and professional work.

The Bedziners in Melbourne founded a joint landsmanschaft farband [union of people from the same town] with the Sosnowiecer, Dombrower and other former residents of Zaglembie, which numbers 300 members. In Sidney, the former Bedziners belong to the General Union of Polish Jews to which all of the Polish landsmanschaftn belong.

The work of the Zaglembie Landsmanschaft is based on distributing material and moral help in cases of need, arranging annual memorial services for our annihilated old home; we come together very often for entertainments and cultural-literary evenings.

We carry on various appeals for money for the Land of Israel, where our relatives, friends and comrades live. When a Będziner landsman [man from the same town] from Israel comes to visit us, we celebrate vigorously and we thirst to hear from him good news from the Jewish state.

We heartily greet our Będziner brothers and sisters in Israel in the columns of Pinkes Będzin [The History of Będzin], which we will spread among all of the Będziners in Australia.
The writer of these lines, an active member of the local Zaglembie Landsmanschaft Farband, has expressed the wish to stay in constant contact with the Organization of Natives from Będzin and Zaglembie in Israel and with our landsmanschaftn in other countries to maintain the connection between all Będziners (and how many are we all told?) throughout the world.

[42 KB] The Bedzin-Zaglembia Émigrés organization in Canada (Pinkas Bendin, page 396)
The Bedzin-Zaglembia Émigrés organization in Canada

[Page 397]

6. The Będziner-Zaglembie Union in Canada

The Committee

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

[59 KB] The committee of the Zaglembia Émigrés in Toronto (Pinkas Bendin, page 397)
The committee of the Zaglembia Émigrés in Toronto

The Union was founded in 1951. It numbers over 70 members and maintains contact with the landsleit [people from the same town] in America, Israel and other countries. We take an active part in all Jewish collection campaigns as well as in many charitable societies. We have particularly aided the newly arriving immigrants, those from our home city, establish themselves in Canada.

The Union supports the sick, has its own insurance. We also make sure that all of the people from our home city, may they live to 120, rest in their own cemetery.

The present committee consists of the following members:

President Dovid Foks, Vice President B. Zborowski, Secretary M. Diblin, Finance Secretary M. Zilberg; members – A. Epsztajn, Y. Gutman, A. Goldblum, S. Bialystok, R. Szliwowic, L. Zaks.

The Union of Immigrants from Zaglembie in Toronto wishes the Israel Union fruitful work for the Zaglembie immigrants in Israel and particular success in publishing the Pinkes Będzin [History of Będzin]. Congratulations to the editors on their great and sacred work.

[Page 398]

7. The Będziner-Sosnowiecer Union in America

Ab. Feldman

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

The Union was founded in 1908 when the first immigrants arrived in America from Będzin. Fifty years ago, several Będziner-Sosnowiecer landsleit [people from the same town] met in the house of our landsman [man from the same town], Resele Frimorgen, of blessed memory, and at the gathering, the foundation stone of the Society was laid and the late Frimorgen was elected as (chairman). Noakh Kohn, of blessed memory, vice chairman and finance secretary Morris Fridman and Ayzyk Szajn, recording secretary.

In time, the Union developed and enlarged and we had to elect permanent officers with the permission of the government and Yosl Fridman, of blessed memory, was elected as president of the Union and Max Gersztenfeld as treasurer.

Shortly we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Society with a large banquet at which the sum of our 50 years of activity on behalf of the interests of the Zaglembie landsleit during a difficult time for us will be summarized.

We were particularly creative during the years of the Second World War. Under the leadership of Avraham Krakowski, Morris Rus, Norman Cwajg, Fenkin, Hamburger and others, we did a great deal. During this time, we collected 26,000 dollars and helped Będziner-Sosnowiecer landsleit in every country in which they were found; [they] turned to us for help [and] we always supported them with money and packages and we do this to this day. The promise of our union watchword is: Love thy neighbor as thyself, and we carried this out and we had a good reputation in Jewish society.[1].

We joined all of the Jewish institutions and with our years of contributions we have supported the United Jewish Appeal, the Trade Union Campaign, Keren Kayament LeYisroel [Jewish National Fund], the ORT [Organization for Rehabilitation through Training] Society and still other charitable organizations.

Our membership consists of 150 enrolled members, but recently the number of members rose with the newly arriving Będziner and Sosnowiecer Jews.

The current president of the Union, Friend Morris Rus, is its only surviving founder and initiator, may he live to 120. Working with him: Harry Bachman – vice president; Eddie Hamburger – treasurer; Ab. Feldman – financial secretary, Ayzyk Danz – recording secretary. Ayzyk Apert, Dovid Blumenfeld – first trustee, F. Rozen – second trustee, Arthur Winer – third trustee, former presidents: Avraham Krakowski, Nathan Bush, Karl Goldberg, Harry Bachman, Norman Goldcwaig and Isidor Blajfer.

Recently, we have been busy with the building of a monument in honor of our martyrs, may their blood be avenged. The erection of the monument has faced great difficulties, but we will achieve it.

We rejoice with the soon-to-be appearance of the book of remembrance (Pinkes Będzin [History of Będzin]) for our exterminated city that will awaken our memories of our old home.

In the name of all of the members of the American landsmanschaft [organization of people from the same town], we [send] our very friendly greetings to all of our landsleit around the world.

Original footnote
  1. From Israel, we learn that such help was not distributed to the Zaglembie Jews in Eretz Yisroel, although the local union had turned to the Society in America many times. – the Editors. Return

[Page 400]

Lamenting the Souls
of the Many Thousands Beloved Bedzin Martyrs

Mordechai Hampel

Translated by Meir Bulman

Edited by Dr. Rafael Manory

The nation of Israel will remember with a shaken soul, fearful heart, and awe and reverence the pure souls of its sons and daughters who suffered all of hell's tortures at the hands of human beasts. They were exterminated by strange methods of murder; who by slave labor, who by suffocation, who by gas chamber and the crematoria of Auschwitz, Treblinka, Majdanek, Belzec and all the other places of death and destruction. They were sanctified in rivers of blood and mountains of suffering.

We will remember our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, wives and husbands, our children and all of our loved ones who were slaughtered, burned and uprooted by the sons of Satan with vast and cruel force for sins they did not commit, only because they were Jews, the descendants of the prophets of Israel, the immortal nation, pursuers of freedom and justice and lovers of peace and harmony.

We, the people of Bedzin who arrived in the homeland many years ago, before the bloodbath, because of our loving and longing for the land and the enchanting redemption, we, the survivors of the Holocaust, remnants of the horror and extermination, the last lone survivors from whole towns and families, who witnessed the nightmares and the troubles, we, who walked through the valley of the shadow of death and the seven wards of hell, who journeyed and wandered on the coarse paths to Zion, will remember the thousands of slaughtered Jews of Bedzin. We will grieve for our glorious community, which was renowned throughout the diaspora, and then destroyed and uprooted by shameless villains. It was a community made up of generations of rabbis and eminent scholars, wisemen, very active community leaders, and God-fearing men who loved their nation, their land and their culture and language. It bustled with social and cultural liveliness and pioneering Zionism. It was a community of lively, youthful energy and happiness with many youth movements of various shades and strains.

We will remember our heroes in the underground who rebelled, those who did not surrender to shameful lives under the malicious rule, the brave warriors of the ghettos who followed the voice that rose from the depths of their souls, and proudly raised the flag against tyranny, repression and enslavement to defend the honor of the nation. They and strengthened the nation's spirits and encouraged it to stay strong. When the time came, they bravely walked towards death with their heads held high.

We will remember the rebels who suffered pain and humiliation and the disgracing patch on their backs. They knew very well that their war was helpless. They knew they had no chance to prevail in their bitter struggle against tyrannical rule and cruel troops that trampled over lands with their hobnailed boots as they took pleasure in tormenting their victims. They knew that there was no

[Page 401]

speck of hope to win in their war against the devouring beast, but despite everything they did not relent; they lit the torches and raised the flag of rebellion and vengeance, which they held faithfully until the last beats of their hearts. They wrote another glorious page in the saga of bravery and sacrifice, decorated with the glory of those before them.

They were few and stood with their scarce weapons against an armored and armed enemy, but they did not surrender and did not lay out their necks for every rusty butcher's knife. Their hearts longed for redemption and revival, and their souls longed for Eretz Israel, but they never reached it. Their lives commanded us to live, as they knew that our hope does not die until the last Jew dies. They believed strongly that the great and desired day was near, the day when the kingdom of Israel would be declared.

Bedzin, our plundered birth town, robbed and desolate without a Jew remaining in it! You, who were rooted in the soil of Poland whose waters you drank from, ate plentifully of its fruits and sat in its shade, how did you become a trampling and treading ground soaked with your blood and erased from the Earth in the blink of an eye? How did you fall into the hands of the enemy with nobody to help or rescue? How could old folks, children and young men and women be mutilated and crushed, suffocated and turned into ashes as the hard-hearted showed no mercy?

How can we properly mourn you, the destroyed Jewish Bedzin? What expression can reflect your past greatness and glory? No words exist to express the splendor of your unique attributes!

Our pure love for you and our great longing for you, the great Jewish town, will always remain in our hearts! We will remember the feeling of your past days for as long as we live!

We will not stop mourning until the day will come for a great redemption of all of Israel, and children will return to their land and the last exiled Jew will ascend to our homeland.

I wish my head were made of water and my eyes were a fountain of tears,
so that I could cry day and night over the slaughter of the daughter of my people!
(Jeremiah 8:23)

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