A project of The Public Committee for the Publication of a Memorial Book
in Commemoration of the Częstochowa Community
“Encyclopedia of The Exiled” publishing house
A project in commemoration of the Częstochowa community
by the public committee for the publication of the memorial book in Israel
Members of the committee:
Noach Edelist, Shmuel Ephraim, Chaim Birnholtz, Shalom Blum, Ezriel Ben‐Moshe, Dov Gewirtzman, Avraham Gottlieb, Yaakov Gottlieb, Yoel Goldfarb, P. Grinberg, Dr. G. Dobroszynski, Eisik Diamant, Yitzhak Demiel, Dr. Elyahu Horowitz, Ze'ev Horowitz, Dr. Ch. Z. Hirschberg, Zvi Wernik, Mordechai Zahavi, Feivel Zuzowski, David Chadashi zl, Moshe Chaim Tiberg, Aryeh Jurysta, Yitzhak Jakobi, Dr. Moshe Yishai, Moshe Yaskil, Zvi Yaskil, Yaakov Lewit, Yitzhak Lewit, Yaakov Leslau, Yehuda Nir, Yaakov E. Plai, Gad Freitag, Chaim Zvi, Dr. R. Tzemach, Shoshana Częstochowska, Shmuel Koblenz, David Koniecpoler, Z.D. Koplowicz, Zvi Yosef Kaufman, Noach Kurland, David Sh. Kaminski zl, Dr. Zvi Kantor zl, attorney A. Krauskopf, Dr. Yosef Kruk, Chaim Yosef Rosen, Lipman Rajcher, Faitel Szmulewicz zl, Simcha Szancer, Zvi Szpaltyn, Sh. Z. Shragai and Rabbi Issachar Tamar.
All rights reserved
to the “Encyclopedia of The Exiled” company ltd., Jerusalem
All rights reserved ‐ Printed in Israel [in English in the original]
Alfa printing house, Jerusalem
5727 ‐ 1967
With a trembling heart and mixed feelings, we welcome the appearance of the book “Częstochowa” and we hereby come to express the depth of the joy and pride of each and every one from our city, that we have been finally privileged, despite the difficulties that continued for many years, to commemorate ‐ and not just symbolically ‐ the memory of our city, its history, institutions, public figures and of the [most] precious period of our own lives, in which we were born, raised, dreamed and fought.
Despite our fierce desire to tell in this book all there is to tell of the city's events from the time a Jewish settlement was established and arose in it, its people and its way of life, there will surely be those who will claim that we have not noticed and have not mentioned them, that we have left out this institution or that party. But if they will contemplate for a moment and turn their gaze upon the past years in which the activities concerning the publication of the book began, and recall that during the entire period we approached them with pleas and requests ‐ to provide us with material regarding the episodes that are relevant and close to them, their baseless claims will be silenced because they will face, to our great sorrow, the saddening fact that only few shook off their apathy and reached out to us to cooperate with the work and give the required aid, in all respects.
From that response of just a few, who in their determination insisted in commemorating a great and important city, the Częstochowa dear to us all, there emerged and arose in this book of ours, the image of our city, its history, way of life and its mode of integration during its long periods of existence as a Jewish settlement, of particular prominence, among the most important cities in Poland.
The editorial board has established:
Unfortunately, we were not able to encompass all the great figures worthy of being mentioned in our book and we were forced to also use material that has already been published in the books: “Hurbn Tshenstokhov” [The Destruction of Częstochowa], “Tshenstokhover Yidn” [Jews of Częstochowa] and “Tshenstokhov”.
May this book of ours become a highly‐important possession in each and every home of those from our city and for their families. We are sure that its content is inlaid with everlasting commemoration for future generations who will always remember the Jewish settlement in Częstochowa, that sustained glorious Jewish life through many generations and stood courageously until its annihilation, together with the rest of the Jewish communities of the [Jewish] Diaspora in Poland.
The Editorial Board
This emblem incorporates three components and these are:
The “Book Committee” has chosen this emblem as a title for all its correspondences with all vestiges of Częstochowa around the world in all matters [concerning] the commemoration of our hallowed community.
Seated from right to left: Gad Freitag, Noach Edelist, Avraham Gottlieb,
Yaakov Leslau, Yaakov Lewit, Dr.
Elyahu Horowitz, Moshe Chaim Tiberg, Lipman Rajcher;
Standing (ditto): Zvi Wernik, Chaim Ze'ev Rosen, Zvi Yosef Kaufman, Ezriel Ben‐Moshe, Chaim Birnholtz, David Koniecpoler, Simcha Bunim Szancer, Elhanan Plai and Moshe Yaskil
From right to left: M. Ch. Tiberg, Sh. D. Yerushalmi (guest), Y. Leslau, A. Gottlieb, E. Ben‐Moshe
|This print includes only part of the numerous requests by the “Book Committee” to [former] residents of Częstochowa regarding the remittance of material, images and material help for the publication of the “Memorial Book”|
|The Book Committee|
It has been our privilege to complete printing the book in commemoration of the martyrs ‐ our city's beloved ones. The preparations for its printing have been accompanied for some years by doubts and speculations. We were concerned lest we be unable to bring it to completion, given the numerous difficulties we encountered both in the collection of funds and in finding the material necessary for its writing.
Many things happened since the thought [first] occurred to commemorate our Częstochowa with a Memorial Book until we arrived at the printing press. With great enthusiasm, a handful of our townsfolk approached this sacred work and toiled persistently day and night till reaching this point. Firstly, they approached the Częstochowa Immigrants Organization in Israel. Each of the sides ‐ the proposers and the organisation ‐ thought that the other had monetary treasures and literary material to suffice for the printing of the commemorative book. But, after having discovered that neither had money nor material, the discouragement grew. Nevertheless, the proposers did not despair and by their request, the organization chose some of its members to take part in a committee that was to act in matters concerning the book.
These men assembled at the house of Mr. Avraham Gottlieb for the first meeting, attended by the members: Leslau, Tiberg, Gottlieb, Plai, Birnholtz, Dr. Horowitz and Yaskil. At this meeting it was clarified that all things should be started from the beginning, that is to say: a) to gather the exact addresses of people from Częstochowa; b) to announce a collection of funds for the book; c) to find a group of intellectual persons to write about the city and to search for appropriate material in different institutions; d) to incorporate other active persons from the townspeople to help organise the work.
In the course of the discussions, it became clear that, in order to carry out the said decisions, money is needed and not a cent is to be found. It was decided, therefore, that each of those present would donate 50 Israeli pounds, as a first donation [an average wage at the time was around 570 pounds]. A few other Częstochowa‐born living in Tel‐Aviv were invited. It was also decided to find a person from Częstochowa who would dedicate his time, for wages, to visit the homes of people from Częstochowa, whose addresses were known and to receive from them other addresses and, once the committee had a substantial amount of addresses, they were to reach out to them concerning the book. A man was found who took the task upon himself ‐ partly for wages and partly voluntarily – and, in a few months, he gathered around 550 addresses. Then the announcement was issued to immigrants from Częstochowa ‐ to found a public committee for the publication of the book.
The first committee ‐ with 7 members ‐ worked intensively. In addition to daily engagements and meetings, it assembled during the first year of its activity for weekly sessions at the home of Mr. A. Gottlieb and worked very hard to promote the matter. After the committee realised that the project was too large for this handful of people, it widened its framework. Other active persons were added who were divided into sub‐committees and each of those operated in its own field. Also, those from our city living in Jerusalem and Haifa were included and a conjoint intercity assembly was held as well, headed by Sh. Z. Shragai, in the “Association of Polish Immigrants” building, at which the courses of action were defined. Also, a performance was organized before our public, on the Memorial Day for the martyrs of Częstochowa and through this, the matter of the book's publication was brought to the attention of the majority of the Częstochowa public in a concentrated personal contact as well.
After the workload increased, it was decided to invite, temporarily, an employed man to manage the secretariat and assemble the committee's activities and correspondences with overseas, in order to accelerate the activities and come nearer the much‐desired goal. There was another reason for bringing in an employee ‐ the problem of a location for the meetings. The committee was enlarged, its activities grew and it was impossible to assemble regularly at the private homes of its members. The lack of an appropriate space hindered, obviously, the activities and therefore, upon hiring the man, the possibility of holding the meetings in his apartment was spoken of with him. Unfortunately, we were not able to afford the expenses involved in maintaining an employee and therefore, we were forced, after a few months, to fire this worker. Mr. Avraham Gottlieb volunteered for the secretariat and dedicated himself to it with great vigor until the book came out. Since then, we have organised our meetings at the office of our landsmann Mr. Yaakov Lewit and, in the last two years, we have held them at the offices of the “Hapoel HaMizrachi Bank”, in which the chairman of the project to publish the book, Mr. Yaakov Leslau ‐ who is completely dedicated to this project ‐ gave us the possibility to so do. Once the problem of a proper place for the committee's meetings was solved, normal work was made possible, which helped the progress of our issue.
Over the course of time, several of the Tel‐Aviv committee's members participated in organising the work and in assemblies in Jerusalem and Haifa, ‐ where we also had very active members ‐ who participated in the meetings of the committee in Tel‐Aviv and worked with great vigor for the project and also achieved considerable results. Also, performances were organised by the “Committee for the Project” on Memorial Days and the “Atzarot” [convocations] of the immigrants from Częstochowa.
On the second Memorial Day, after the activities started, we printed a prospectus about the book which was sent to all our landsleit all over Israel and we also handed it out on the “Memorial Day”. In all cases, we endeavored that at all assemblies of the immigrants from Częstochowa, the “Project of the Book in Memory of the Martyrs” be mentioned. The activities carried out to check the material received for the book should be mentioned as well. A sub‐committee of twelve people, which gathered weekly during an entire year (and sometimes twice a week), went over all the articles and notes in order to evaluate whether the material received was suitable for the book and if it should be published.
Several small committees were established to read the material together and, from time to time, they gathered for a meeting at [the house of] one of the committee's members to decide definitely those matters on which there was a difference of opinions.
We see ourselves pleasantly obliged to take special note of the dedicated work done by three members and they are Ezriel Ben‐Moshe, Avraham Gottlieb and Moshe Chaim Tiberg, who took upon themselves in the last years ‐ and they were the most difficult ‐ the great task of concentrating and implementing the committee's activities and they devoted to this, relentlessly, immeasurably enormous effort. Thanks to their work, we were able to complete the mission.
There is no “price” that can “pay” all those who participated in the great work done by all members of the committee, with constant effort and despite all the mishaps and obstacles that they encountered, and therefore, there is no proper way to express gratitude, but, the publication of the book in itself is their best reward.
We must also thank our landsleit Mr. Lev Kusznir for the pictures and help on the artistic part, Mr. Mordechai Witenberg for designing the “book cover” and Mr. Yitzhak Granek, who devoted his time and helped us with his professional knowledge in matters concerning the printing of the book.
Also, we express faithful gratitude to the housewives in whose apartments we worked for years on this holy task. They, too, participated in our work and always welcomed us happily and with refreshments.
And above all ‐ to all sons of Częstochowa, in Israel, with whose strength (and partially ‐ also with the aid of the Częstochowa people in the Diaspora) and assistance we were able to publish the book.
All this has been done in honour and in memory of the martyrs ‐ our dear brothers, may God avenge their blood, who were burned at the stake and annihilated by the accursed German Nazis and their collaborators from different lands. May they remain in eternal shame!
(A “Foreword” of Sorts)
The Jewish settlement of Częstochowa began about 270 years ago. Until then, the Poles had opposed the infiltration of Jews into the city and saw in it as an insult and a “desecration”. Being Częstochowa, to a certain extent, a sacred location for the Catholic religion, this was the main reason for their opposition and to this purpose even specific laws were passed.
Over the course of time, their opposition weakened a little and despite the diverse obstacles yet in their path, Jews began, with their talent and great vigor, to infiltrate the city of Częstochowa. Obviously, the infiltration of Jews into the city also brought about many changes in its appearance and character.
With relentless vigour, the Jews erected houses and buildings, industrial projects and houses of commerce, factories and workshops, mainly in the branches of metalwork, toys, textiles, paper and all kinds of haberdashery.
The city became a bustling and vibrant city, hard‐working and full of life. Many workplaces were created both for Poles and for Jews.
Along with the growth in the Jewish population, troubles and necessities also grew and it became imperative to maintain an orderly and standardised Jewish communal life. To this purpose, social and cultural and financial institutions were established, which expanded and strengthened and became famous throughout Jewish Poland.
Naturally, there arose from within Jewish Częstochowa individuals who wished to research the history of their people in this city since their arrival in them [should say it].
At the initiative from “The Jewish Scientific Institute”, headed by historian Dr. E. Ringelblum, in 1939, a group of influential figures were organised by the community who were to publish a monograph about Częstochowa Jewry.
The active members of this group were: the engineer Wilczynski ‐ who actually wrote the first volume, ‐ Fishel Blumenkrantz, Dr. Hirschberg, Dr. Mering, Dr. Lipinski, attorney L. Asz and A. Ch. Sziffer. The contemporary community leader, Yaakov Rosenberg, assisted them.
To our great sorrow, this group was unable to complete the task in the time that it had set itself. When it had only begun its work, the Second World War erupted and the city's Jewish citizens were chased and dispersed to all corners by the Nazi criminals, the great majority of them met their deaths in the concentration and death camps and only very few survived.
In this book, in which we record the history of the city, its events in its days of prosperity and flourishing and The Book of Horrors it experienced up to the day of its destruction, it is fitting that these words should also be used as a “foreword” of sorts to the “monograph that was never written” and as a memorial‐monument to the conceivers of the idea that they were unable to put into effect!
The Book Committee
|At the table, from left to right: Z. Wernik, A. Gottlieb, Y. Lewit, Rabbi Y.Y. Frenkel (from the Jewish delegation that visited Treblinka), E. Ben‐Moshe, S. Grajek (speaker, one of the commanders of the partisan fighters), A. Brum, M. Ch. Tiberg and Sh. Blum. Bottom: a multitude of the [Częstochowa] landsleit attending the speakers' speeches.|
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