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[Page 98]

The Artisans' Union

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

The Artisans' Union in Będzin, which today is a division of the Central Union in Warsaw, was founded in September 1916 with its own statute as an artisans' club. The union was founded by the following people: Ch. D. Rudzyn, H. L. Goldsztajn, Sz. Klajner, D. Lustiker, Z. Wajnsztok, H. Jakubowicz, M. Bornsztajn, Sz. Elbaum, A. Bryner, Sz. Inowroclowski, A. Rodzynski, M. Aronowicz, L. Blumenfrucht, Dr. Rotsztajn, M. Hampel, Ch. D. Grosman, H. Retman, G. Aronow, L. Fuks, and others.

Not all of the artisans at that time understood the task of the union and that an artisans' union could be led by artisans themselves. Therefore, a large number actually looked for a chairman among the intelligentsia.

At the first meeting on the 16th of September 1916, Dr. Rotsztajn, the dentist, was elected as chairman; he was active in his office until the 17th of February 1917. After him, the chairmanship was taken over by L. Blumenfrucht.

H. L. Goldsztajn, Sz. Klajner, Dentist M. Sztrausman, L. Szpigelman, M. Hampel, D. Lustiker, A. Bryner, Ch. D. Rudzyn, and others worked together in the managing committee at that time.

The union then arranged various readings with the participation of M. Aronowicz.

At the request of the members, the managing committee opened a tea hall where one received a glass of tea with sugar for two kopekes [kopeck, Russian coin].

A food cooperative was also founded that was of great use for its members. In order to benefit from the various privileges, many non-artisans also registered in the union.

The fact that the then Rabbi, Reb Jekutiel Zalman Graubart, registered as a member of the union can serve as an illustration of how great the sympathy was for the union on all levels of the local Jewish population. This fact is confirmed by the minutes of the 24th of September 1918. Rabbi Graubart strongly supported the Artisans' Union. For example, of the money he received to distribute, he sent the union 300 marks on the 27th of June. He also gave the union a portion of a wagon of sugar that was designated for the Jewish population in Będzin for Passover. In addition to income, this also produced great prestige for the union.

The decision of the managing committee meeting of the 10th of September 1918 serves as a second illustration, which says that “If a non-artisan joins as a member, he must pay 500 marks registration money.”

Bed-098.jpg [24 KB] - The managing committee of the guild
representantives of the Artisans' Union in 1937
The managing committee of the guild representatives
of the Artisans' Union in 1937
       1) D. Zilbergold 16) D. Lustiker
       2) L. Fuks   17) Brandwajnhendler
       3) Sz. Gutman (Israel)   18) H. B. Goldblum
       4) Councilman A. D. Bolimowski   19) Sz. H. Rozencwajg
       5) Councilman H. L. Goldsztajn (chairman of the union)   20) M. Sznal
       6) A. J. Fersztenfeld, (vice president)   21) N. Welner
       7) A. A. Blecharz   22) F. Bursztyn
       8) J. Wajnryb ([female] secretary)   23) Ch. H. Zauberman
       9) N. Meryn   24) L. A. Wiecentowski
     10) D. Kilsztok   25) M. Aronowicz
     11) J. Tuchsznajder   26) J. Buchbinder
     12) J. D. Goldsztajn   27) G. Zaks
     13) B. Aronow   28) J. Z. Czerner
     14) L. H. Brama   29) M. Königstein
     15) W. Welner    

[Page 99]

The Artisans presented the following people as their candidates for the first city council: M. Lewin and Szeftel.

They were represented in the second city council by Jicchak Rudoler, H. L. Goldsztajn and M. Sztrausman.

H. L. Goldsztajn and H. Jakubowicz represented the local union at the Artisans' conference that took place in Łódź on the 24th of February 1918.

The Artisans' Union was one of the most respected institutions in our city. It was always respectably represented in the kehila [organized Jewish community], as well as the city council. H. L. Goldsztajn, the chairman, was an alderman at city hall for a long time and, as such, he also led the city summer colony for the Jewish children in Będzin.

On the 2nd of February 1927 the Będziner artisans celebrated the 10th anniversary since the founding of the Artisans' Union. This was a magnificent celebration in which thousands of people and delegations of Jewish communal institutions in Zagłębie and from farther cities, as well as representatives of the regime, city council and the kehila [organized Jewish community] took part.

At the celebration that took place in the hall of the “Nowoszczi” cinema, H. L. Goldsztajn was unanimously honored with the title, “honorary chairman of the Artisans' Union,” for his great service on behalf of the union.

But the directorate also did not live peacefully among themselves and this caused the undermining of the authority of the union in the eyes of the members.

It was first in 1932 when the leaders again took over: L. Brama, A. J. Fersztenfeld, M. J. Frochcwajg, A. Blecharz, and Rudoler, with H. L. Goldsztajn at the head, that the institution again was revived. Then the union came under the statute of the Central in Warsaw and the listed guilds were also revived, which are still part of the Artisans' Union to this day.

The Guilds of the Artisans' Union

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

1) The Tailors' Guild:

The guild numbers 300 members and carries out widespread work. The greatest number of members consists of tailors of men's clothing, who work for stores; the smaller number consist of the tailors of women's clothing who work for stores, as well as men and women employed as tailors, hat makers, capmakers and corset makers and sewers of linens.

Foreman – N. Meryn, Under Forman – R. Winter, Secretary – G. Sobkowski.

2) The Metal Guild:

Tinsmiths, locksmiths, blacksmiths, watchmakers, jewelers and engravers belong to this guild. The guilds together number circa 100 members.

Foreman – L. H. Brama, Under Foreman – A. D. Bolimowski.

3) The Carpenters' Guild:

Furniture makers, construction workers, lathe operators and carvers belong to this guild. It numbers circa 80 members.

Foreman – Mosze Aronowicz – Under Foreman – Sz. Gutman.

4) The Butchers' Guild:

Butchers and sausage makers belong to the guild, which numbers approximately 50 members.

Foreman – H. B. Goldblum, Under Foreman – Ujazd, Active Member – G. Zaks.

5) The Bakers' Guild:

Bakers, confectioners, chocolate and waffle makers, as well as candy makers, belong to the guild. The guild numbers circa 45 members.

Foreman – Wolf Welner, Under Foreman – Jicchak Buchbinder.

6) The Painters' Guild:

The guild numbers 25 members.

Foreman – M. Kenigsztajn, Under Foreman – Ch. Ch. Zauberman.

7) The Shoemaker' Guild:

Shoemakers, gaiter makers, hairbrush makers, harness makers, upholsterers and satchel makers belong to the guild.

Foreman – J. Tuchsznajder, Under Foreman – D. Kilsztok, Secretary – S. Halpern.

8) The Hairdressers' Guild:

The Hairdressers' Guild was founded in Sosnowiec in 1918 as a private guild of Jews and Christians. From then until 1936, the following people: Barenblat, Fersztenfeld, Krawiec, Rudoler, Sztern and Worcman represented the Jewish master hairdressers in the mixed guild, The Jewish members carried out intensive activity that particularly came to expression with the founding of a bank for all artisans without distinction as to nationality and belief. And no distinction was made in giving loans to Jews and non-Jews. However, the "Aryan paragraph," which was introduced in the mixed guild, brought an end to the productive work and the Jewish hairdressers were forced to found their own guild because of this.

The provisional managing committee of the guild consists of A. J. Fersztenfeld, P. Barenblat, J. Rudoler, Sz. H. Worcman, Fajman, A. Golenzer (Będzin), Herszkowicz, A. Krawiec, Sztern (Sosnowiec), Londner, Tajchner (Dąbrowa).

Foreman – A. J. Fersztenfeld, Under Foreman – Jakob Rudoler.

[Page 100]

Bed-100.jpg [19 KB] - The managing committee of the Artisans' Union in 1934
The managing committee of the Artisans' Union
in 1934 at the departure of chairman Rudoler for Eretz Yisrael

(Picture) The managing committee of the Artisans' Union in 1934 at the departure of chairman Rudoler for Eretz Yisrael.)

Today the Artisans' Union is represented in the city council by H. L. Goldsztajn, A. D. Bolimowski and H. Jakubowicz. H. L. Goldsztajn is the representative in the executive committee of the Central Artisans' Association as well as the managing committee of the artisans' office and Daniel Kilsztok in the council of the artisans' office.

The union also is represented in the worker's court, in the Izba Skarbowa [tax office], in the ORT society and so on. It carries on widespread work in the area of legalizing Jewish tradesmen, apprentices and master artisans, and supports courses where Jewish artisans are educated and prepared for master craftsman exams.

Two support funds exist at the Artisans' Union, which provide loans to their members.

In 1937 a managing committee of the following people stood at the head of the of the Artisans' Union: H. Goldsztajn (chairman), A. J. Fersztenfeld (vice chairman), Frochcwajg (treasurer), L. H. Brama, A. Buchbinder, Sz. Blecharz, J. Meryn and J. Rudoler.

The Pioneers' Kibbutz Named for Ber Borochov

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

In 1932, five members of the Kielcer kibbutz [settlement] came to Będzin in order "to conquer" Zagłębie. At first the local Jewish population reacted to the initial group of chalutzim [pioneers] with mistrust and reserve. But in time, thanks to their perseverance, the pioneers succeeded in winning the sympathy of a large part of the Zagłębie Jewish community. Later the kibbutz here was strengthened and it sent out pioneers to the entire area where pioneer hachshara points [agricultural training areas for future émigrés to Eretz Yisrael] were created.

Thus arose the Zagłębie-Silesian-Western Galicianer region with 13 divisions and more than 600 members, of which a large number were employed in Jewish undertakings in Zagłębie and Upper Silesia.

The most difficult problem for the kibbutz in Będzin was the bad living conditions. The small house outside the city was not suited to the needs of 70-80 pioneers. Besides this, the constant danger that hovered over the isolated kibbutz in Gzichów did not lead to any rest for its members. But the well-known ambushes of the kibbutz that took place in 1936 woke the conscience of Będzin Jewish society, which had to ponder seriously the fate of the pioneers. Thanks to the initiative of the active communal workers, Chairman Sz. Firstenberg was successful in creating a Patronat [worker's organization] of the most prominent Zionist and communal workers, which helped the pioneers to create their own comfortable meeting premises in the center of the city. Firstenberg's achievements in this were immense.

[Page 101]

Today the kibbutz numbers around 180 members (in the course of six years around 150 pioneers emigrated to Eretz Yisrael). Of the 180 people, 65 percent are employed outside of the kibbutz. They mainly work in the following enterprises: in Firstenberg's factory, Polskie Zakłady, in Potok's factory, Potokol, and in Jakob Gutman's ironworks and many of those remaining in the [home-based] workshops, such as: carpentry, shoemaking, tailoring, mechanical laundries, secretarial services and so on.

The principle of the eight-hour day applies everywhere and everyone is judged according to the instructions and decisions of the general population, which takes upon itself the highest authority in all matters that have a connection to life in the kibbutz. Many members are organized in professional unions (construction, transport and others).

The cultural work is led by a special commission. Much effort and time is given on behalf of learning the Hebrew language and following the new literature from Eretz Yisrael. The kibbutz possesses its own library of more than 1,000 Yiddish, Hebrew and Polish books as well as a reading room that is provided with daily newspapers, weekly publications and literary publications in various languages.

Gymnastic and sports exercises take place after a difficult workday according to a given sequence.

The kibbutz is a constant donor to Keren Hayesod [Foundation Fund &150; financed development and settlement in Eretz Yisrael] and its part is very visible in all Zionist organizations and all communal actions.

This situation gave rise to strengthening the economic, cultural and sanitary life of the kibbutz. During the summer of 1937 a rest sanitarium was erected in Olkusz and recently a dental office. The doctor representing the Palestine Office, Dr. Toraszejski, provides much help with this.

Będzin Writers and Artists

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

[Translator's note: many entries include statements such as a person is “presently active” or that “today”
she or he is appearing somewhere. This article was written before the Second World War.]

Mosze Apelbaum *) was born in Amszinow [Mszczonów] (near Warsaw), to poor Hasidic parents. While still very young, he began to show great artistic abilities; at 15, he left his town of birth and began to wander across the world. He succeeded in entering the Royal Academy of Art in London in 1905 thanks to his great yearning to work and create.

Without any source of income, he was forced to do all kinds of unskilled labor so that he could study during the day.

The young painter drew immediate attention from his professors and art critics and he received an academic stipend to travel to France and Holland in order to perfect his sculptural art.

His first exhibition took pace in London in 1918 under the auspices of Dr. Max Nordau and he immediately was known as a talented Jewish painter.

He returned to Poland in 1921. He was active in Warsaw not only as a painter, but as a drawing teacher at the art school, as a cultural critic and particularly excelled in the area of modern Jewish theater scenery.

He came to Będzin in 1925 where with the artists, S[zmul] Cygler and C[haim] Hanft, he took over the great work of painting the Będzin synagogue that represents one of the most beautiful synagogues in Poland.

Apelbaum later lived in Katowice where he created a large artistic [body of] work. He had a series of exhibitions and was warmly received by the Upper Silesian Polish and German press, which recognized him as a great Jewish painter.

Because of a cold that led to pneumonia, the gifted artist died in Katowice on the 3rd of January 1931 and was buried there.


Litman Barenblat exhibited his abilities and an inclination to music early. He received his first education from his grandfather, the local musician Lustyk. When he became 13, Barenblat went to Warsaw where he was accepted as a student of Prof. Bukowski in the local music school named for Karłowicz. Two years later, he was admitted to the final examination, which he passed with distinction. After graduating from the above-mentioned music school, Barenblat traveled to Brussels where he sat for his further studies in the local Royal Conservatory as a student of Prof. Issay. He graduated from the Conservatory in 1931 with a gold medal, funded by the Belgian King. An international Kreisler violin competition took place at the same time, in which 27 violin virtuosos from all parts of the world took part.

*) Although Apelbaum was not from Będzin, we write about him because during the last years of his life he was active in our city as well as in Upper Silesia. Return

[Page 102]

Despite the strong competition, our townsman received the first prize in the amount of 10,000 francs.

The success of the young virtuoso was not without reverberations. He was engaged for a series of performances in America, where he concentrated overall on Polish music, popularizing it with great success. During his stay in New York, Barenblat appeared at the Ziegfeld Follies Theater on Broadway as a soloist. After a short time the conductor of the theater orchestra got sick and Barenblat was brought in to substitute for him. It immediately was apparent that he possessed a rare talent as a conductor and when the contract with the Ziegfeld Follies Theater ended, Barenblat was engaged by the New York Winter Garden Theater, where he was active until the beginning of 1938.

During the winter of the same year, the brilliant conductor Toscanini was chosen in New York, where a great symphonic orchestra had been created for which were engaged the best contemporary musicians, among them L. Barenblat as violin soloist.

Recently, he was invited by the American Treasury Secretary for a series of concerts.


Szmul Gold showed an inclination for music during his childhood years. In 1917-1919, he learned to play at the Petrograd Conservatory.

Later he traveled first to Vienna and then to Berlin, where he studied at the local State Conservatory from 1921-1924 and from which he graduated.

In Berlin, he immediately appeared in violin concerts on the local radio.

In recent years he has been located in Paris where he further perfects [his playing] with the violinist [Jacques] Thibaud and thanks to this Gold received the title, Violin Virtuoso from the Paris Conservatory.

Today he takes part in an admirable artistic quartet, which has acquired a good reputation among the Parisian art-musicians.


Abram Goldberg studied painting in America and later in the Parisian Art Academy. However, having an outspoken individual artistic nature, Goldberg could not remain for long with the hackneyed academic “art recipes.” Therefore, he left the Academy and began to go his own way seeking personal art conceptions.

In 1925 an exhibition was organized for Goldberg in Paris, which immediately drew the attention to him of the local art experts. In the same year his first book, “Ten Drawings from Jewish Life, ” was published by Triangle Publishing House, in which was found a strong trace of originality. However, the large book with 56 drawing of Jewish life that was published by the same publisher provided evidence that we had before us an unusual and mature artist at his height.

Goldberg's painting and drawings were characterized by his very subtle light and play of shadows that remind us of the transition from light to shadow and, in contrast to the Dutch great master, Rembrandt, is not brutal and abrupt with Goldberg, but a traditional one and gradual. The contrasts become moderated through his understanding of the dispersed black-white dots and his splendid Pointillist technique. Thanks to this, his work carries the stamp of harmonious totality.

In his preface to Goldberg's large book of drawing, the French art critic, Paul Fierens, writes that Goldberg excels with new work, with human elevation and a mystical zest. The deep kernel of a refined Jewish being. He greatly praises the plastic virtues of the drawings that bring us in through the play of light and shadows in the essence of the descriptive phenomena and he comes to the decision that such works show the proper spirit of future Jewish art.


Herman Goldcwajg: He began to learn to play the violin early with the Będzin musician Josef Lustyk. Several years later he appeared in public in a concert that was a great success. Hendl Nunberg, the local citizen and well-known philanthropist, recognizing his ability, sent Goldcwaig to the Berlin Conservatory where he studied until 1914 with Nunberg's full support.

[4 KB] - Goldcwajg
[4 KB] - Goldberg
[4 KB] - Gold
[4 KB] - Barenblat
[4 KB] - Apelbaum
H. Goldcwajg   A. Goldberg   M. Gold   L. Barenblat   M. Apelbaum

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