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[Pages 299-306]

A Bundle of Memories
About the Left “Poalei Zion” in Częstochowa

(Little Pages of Memories)

Abram Brum


A group of the first “Poalei Zion” members


I came to Częstochowa after the “Poalei Zion” Central Committee had already taken over the inheritance left by the Zionist–Socialist “Vereinigte” [Ger. United] party (Dr Józef Kruk's party), which consisted of a series of cooperative shops and its own cooperative bakery.

Leon Zajdman was appointed as director of the cooperatives. The party's premises were then located at Aleja 12. The situation inside the party was unbearable. The premises owned a broken–down, disheveled shack. The party's intelligentsia had distanced themselves. A few loyal party–members alone carried the heavy yoke of the internal partywork.

On “active service” in the party were Rafail Zajdman, Rozencwajg, Prędki, Baromhercyk, Kaufman and Tenenbaum. Tenaciously and obsequiously, they proceeded with the party's work on the premises of the “workers' home” association, which was always under observation and visited by police secret agents of the contemporary Endecja [National Democracy movement] government in Poland.

At that time, the locales that operated fictitiously under the name “workers' home” were completely liquidated everywhere.

In all of Poland, of our party's locales, under the name “workers' home”, only remained in two – in Łódź and Częstochowa. Due to all this, even in Częstochowa, Party Committee meetings were held, not at the locale, but in the private homes of members. Often, all documents were moved to the cooperative's premises, in order to avoid control from government agencies.

In 1930, the government liquidated the “workers' home”. Without having a locale from where to conduct our party–work for a long time, our political and social work certainly suffered in an entire series of professional and cultural organisations. Our members were active in the professional tailors' union, and, there, led with the cells and had a great influence on the working class. Our influence spread amid the professional unions of the leather and bakery workers in particular.

From time to time, we also dedicated ourselves to receiving influence in school–grounds on the youth movement and particularly in the sports union “Gwiazda” [Stars]. We succeeded in this and new, young forces came into our ranks, who worked enthusiastically for our party's benefit.

In 1932, we rented at premises at ulica Warszawska 5. We registered the locale with the authorities as an “association, evening courses for workers”. At the new locale, the party's work activated and appointed representatives to all professional unions and cultural institutions.

The members Szymonowicz [and] Jakubowicz led our “needle–workers'” units; with the leatherworkers, our units were led by Baromhercyk, Dajczman, Szwarc and Józefowicz. In the professional union of the bakery–workers, which was always under the influence of the “Bund”, our member Abram Brum was admitted to the management as well as the presidency.

With the Endecja–Sanacja [“Sanation” (healing) party] regime, the International Workers' Day holiday had to be celebrated under harsh conditions, especially in Częstochowa. For a long time, we contented ourselves with arranging internal May celebrations and May akademie, but with the growth of the great party–work amongst youth and sport unions, in the final years before the outbreak of the Second World War, we organised, almost every year, great May Day demonstrations and marched with our party–flag throughout the city. Our flag fluttered among the carriers with general–political tendencies, as well as of our [own] party tendencies. Due to the incredible Maydemonstrations, the government, obviously, could not put up with it and shrank the area for our marches to just from the 1st Aleja to the bridge and back.

Visited by mounted police and secret agents, our members always stolidly proclaimed our resolutions in Yiddish and in Polish. Our demonstrations left an impression. The marching of the sports club “Gwiazda” (Stars) in their uniforms, as well as the brazen youth among the older members of our children's'–movement, “Jung Borochov”.

(An honourable page in the history of “Poalei Zion” in Częstochowa was written by the youth who were led by a youth–committee – among them Szymonowicz, who was heroically killed during Nazi rule, following his release from the camp, on the way from the city courtyard.)

Other belonging to the youth committee included Izrail Diamant and Cypora Gotlib (now in Israel), Dajczman, Baromhercyk, Halberg, Goldberg, Szwarc and Geldbart. All led the legal and illegal political work, organising May demonstrations, Borochov akademie and ceremonies in commemoration of international workers' struggles. They were the creators of the “Jung Borochov” organisation and provided their dashing uniforms. They also organised meetings and outings for the “Poalei Zion” youth of the entire region. The brilliant outing that took place in 1932 in Olkusz, with the participation of 1,500 youngsters from 10 cities, was also included in their active work.

The youth obviously actively participated in all the party's public undertakings, especially in the very large operation of the party before the pro–Palestine workers congress. They also took part in the collective discussions and “box evenings”[1], which were organised by other political schools of thought, such as the “Bund”, “Zukunft” [Ger. Future] and the communists. They also partook in frequent meetings with “Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair”.

The children organisation, “Jung–Bar” (Young Borochovists), was mostly made up of children who studied at the Y.L Peretz school, children of the city's poorer Jewish population.

The teacher Ch. Gerszon Chojnowicz, who lives in Israel in kibbutz “Heftziba”, helped to create the children's organisation. The “Jung–Bar” management committee was made up of Szulim Halberg, Goldberg, Cesia (Cypora) Gotlib, Szwarc and Mordka Baromhercyk. Its young members participated in “rings”, outings, children's games and also helped to spread the youth–press. They also participated in sports competitions.

The cultural work of the Left “Poalei Zion” was divided into internal and public areas. Those involved in the internal work partook were Leon Zajdman, Gerszon Prędki, the deceased member Wajs, Abram Brum and others. Besides party assemblies, which were very difficult to arrange with the regime, the party was divided into narrow circles. The same happened with the youth, where the members Brum, Kaufman Tenenbaum and Abram Baromhercyk led the work.


A group of the Left “Poalei Zion” branch management of the “Poalei Zion” party (Left)


Our members were also representatives in general, social and cultural institutions, such as schools [and] general libraries. In the management of the schools–organisation, our party was represented by Kaufman and Leibish Tenenbaum.

All our public and cultural–literary undertakings had a following amongst the masses, in particular the visits of Zerubavel, Buksbaum [and] Lew. During our local election–campaigns, members from Łódź, Miodek, Stoljarski, Genia Lewi and Cytrynowski, greatly helped us.

In our cultural–literary gatherings, participants included Dr Rafael Mähler, Dr Emanuel Ringelblum, Dr Ajzensztadt, Mina Abelman and Leibel from Kraków.

When persecution against the Labour Movement commenced before the War, when members of our party and of other revolutionary parties were arrested and tried, our members participated in relief–action for the political detainees and arranged house–parties and fundraisers, organised patronages over those languishing in the prisons and aided them with money and food packages.

In 1937, our party participated with a great following in the elections to the Zionist Congress. [It] sold many shekels and worked energetically in the election campaign.

In the final years before the War, the Polish fascists, the Endecja and the Sanacja people, became increasingly more violent, the hatred against Jews yet stronger, the laws regarding shechitah [ritual kosher slaughter] – forbidden, the famous “Owszem” declaration[2], assaults on Jewish students following the pogrom in Przytyk. Częstochowa was not spared [any of this].

On Saturday, 19th June 1937, at 10:00 o'clock in the morning, the meat–worker Józef Pendrak, a member of the Nutritional Association, was assaulted by a Polish hooligan, Stefan Baran. Seeing as how Józef Pendrak had a permit to carry weapons, in order to protect himself from the attack, he fired a few times and wounded the assailant, who died on the way to the hospital. The tragic event immediately caused a great commotion in the city. The antisemites at once took advantage of [the situation] and began attacking Jews walking in the streets. Our Party Committee decided to organise a self–defence [unit]. House–committees were quickly organised in all the Jewish houses. The youth was mobilised in the same manner as in wartime. For self–defense, a telephone centre was fixed, for speedy connection with all parts of the city. Provision of the necessary equipment to crush the attack was also seen to.

On Saturday afternoon, an open pogrom began and Sunday afternoon, during the prayers at the cloisters, from the Rynek Warszawski [Warsaw Market Square] side, a mass of furious peasants, with students at the front, appeared. Their cry of “Hit Jews!” deafened the streets.

But, at a signal, from all the houses on Nadrzeczna, Garncarska, Senatorska and Kozia streets, our members came forth, together with other Jews who were called by us to take part in the selfdefence, and put up a fierce resistance. The heated pogromchiks, poor fellows, retreated in shame, and thus was averted the cruel attack, planned by our enemies, on the densely populated Jewish area in the city.

The party suffered greatly from the outflow of members who left Częstochowa.

Our party always took part in the election–campaigns to the City Council, conducted propaganda, every time receiving a few hundred votes. But, unfortunately, it was never able to achieve a seat. That was how it was in the years 1925–1927. The same also [happened] at the elections to the first Polish Sejm.

Only before the last World War was it possible, through an alliance with another workers' party, to introduce the writer of these lines as a representative of “Poalei Zion” in the City Council. Sadly, his activity was a short one. (The bloody war ended it all).

Translator's footnotes:

  1. At these evenings, questions which were written on notes and placed in a box were read and answered publicly. Return
  2. The reference here is to a declaration made by PM Felicjan Sławoj Składkowski, stating that whilst violence to Jews was deplorable, boycotting and shunning them – Owszem! (Of course!) Return

[Pages 309-310]

Częstochowa Takes in Party Leaders

Mojsze Oderberg

Exactly like other political parties, “Poalei Zion” had special commission to provide “foreign” passes for leading members from Poland and Russia, who were forced to leave. They enabled them to be able to travel through the western border or other foreign borders. There were also cases where we were unable to provide passes. We had to see to it that they could to be smuggled across the border by experienced “schwarzers” [Yid.; people–smugglers].

It was also the commission's task to wait for the guests at the railway station of the Warsaw–Vienna train and to put them up at a member's house or at a side hotel, where the police were not frequent guests.

During the time, I was in such a commission. It befell upon me to await, among others, such important members as Isaac Zaar, Leon Chazanowicz and A. Revusky.

Never mind Leon Chazanowicz, who was then travelling to Argentina – [he] was more–or–less civilly dressed and it was possible to receive the impression that he was some affluent relative. A. Revusky, by comparison, carried himself simply, as a small–shtetl yeshivah student, and from his eyes could be read his alarm that imminently something would happen to him, and that it would be difficult for him to conceal himself from the police's bloodhounds, the imaginary constables and secret agents who would certainly “sniff out” that he was travelling to Lwów to a “Poalei Zion” conference.

But the worst “passenger” for me was Isaac Zaar. True, in his later years, when he already lived in America and was an editorial collaborator in “[Der] Tog” [The Day; Yiddish newspaper], he dressed and conducted himself as a true European. But, when I waited for him early one summer morning at the railway station of the Warsaw–Vienna train in Częstochowa, I became simply alarmed and dumbfounded at seeing, before me, a young man with very long hair and a long “pelerine”[1], holding in his hands a package with brochures and various written notebooks. Only one small thing was needed. If anyone should accidentally give him a push, the train platform would become flooded with all sorts of party–literature, obviously all illegal.

Poalei Zion” seldom had the opportunity to make use of someone from the great personages of our world–movement, passing through, to hold their lectures. Only once did this occur, when Leon Chazanowicz stayed overnight in Częstochowa and, because bringing him to a hotel was a great hazard, both to him and to the local members, I took advantage of the opportunity that a sister of mine had gone with her husband to their dacha [Ru.; country house] and, lightening quick we organised a “schadzka” [Pol.; tryst, clandestine meeting]. We also positioned “guards” up to the “German School” and, late in the evening, we asked the guest to speak on the burning theme, “Zionism and Territorialism”.

We – the thirty youth, boys and girls – lay ourselves down on the floor, left a small lamp lit and, over two hours, we feasted on the teachings of our great theoretician.

At around 11:00 o'clock at night, we silently left the dwelling one–by–one, in order to not arouse any suspicion with the night–watchmen of the Russian police.

It is interesting to recount that we were so clandestine, that neither my parents nor the young couple ever found out about the great crime that we committed in their flat, without their knowledge and without their permission!

Translator's footnote:

  1. A pelerine is a woman's cape of lace or silk with pointed ends at the centre front, popular in the 19th century. (oxforddictionaries.com) Return

[Pages 309-312]

Party–Discipline and My Experiences
in My Young Years

Mojsze Oderberg

As in other cities in Poland, in Częstochowa too, the influence over diverse professional workers' unions was divided amongst the different political workers' parties. Thus, “Poalei Zion”, which was the smallest of the three Jewish workers' parties, received control over the Tailors' Guild.

It is true that, among the tailor–craftsmen in our city, only a rather small number employed apprentices in their workshops. But, nevertheless, their professional union of “Workers of the Tailors' Guild” was created.


Sitting: Wajs, Prędki, Danziger, Jurysta and Zajdman
Standing: Rozencwajg, Rapaport and Zajdman


On a certain morning, the “Tailors Committee” declared a strike, after the tailor “gvirim” [Yid. from Heb.; moguls] ceased to agree to the demand that the working–day be shortened by a whole hour, thereby increasing wages by a whole rouble per week.

The tailors claimed that, at that time, their livelihoods were already limited and that they could not accept the demands. Among the tailors were those who used to sew “ready–to–wear garments”, hired a peasant's wagon and travelled, with their men's tailored work, to fairs in cities and shtetls around Częstochowa. They stood there all day, waiting for peasant customers and, when it had already turned quite dark, they returned home with their unsold goods.

Once, I received a command from my “Party Committee”, that on a certain Tuesday before dawn, I should be on ulica Warszawska, next to the “three icons”, and await further orders.

When I arrived, before dawn, to the appointed place, there were already another three members of the “Poalei Zion” youth. One was armed with a rusty, tin bucket full with some kind of liquid. The other two had sticks with them. They gave me a stick as well and an instruction that, when the tailor came by with his peasant, I was to deal the peasant such a strong blow with my stick, that he would drop the reins from his hands.

Half an hour later, the obstinate tailor arrived with his peasant's wagon. Our comrade quickly drenched all the merchandise with the potent liquid and, as a result, the startled peasant let go of the reins anyway, so that my knock with the stick was already completely unnecessary. Both of them – the tailor and the peasant – began shouting. There was actually a constable travelling in the wagon who was sleeping peacefully, who then woke up due to the screams and began blowing his whistle. At once, two other guards arrived and they started to chase us. See as how we were young men and the policemen were already not quite so young, they were unable to catch us. Following the instructions that I had received, I did not go home, but I hid away in a small alley by ulica Garncarska, where the striking workers lived and there I remained overnight.

As it later turned out, the tailor had recognised one of the four “assailants” and reported this to the police. There was a danger that they would arrest us all. I did not think long and, a couple of days later, after I had come up with a good excuse for my parents, I crossed the border and began wandering from city to city – first to Katowice, then to Breslau and finally to Köln–am–Rhein. From there, I proceeded further into the wide world.

The police in Częstochowa looked for me and arrested my older brother, Natan Oderberg, as a “hostage”, thereby warning my parents to present me no later than within a fortnight.

Obviously, I never returned to Częstochowa and, after a great effort with a good bit of bribing, my brother Natan was finally also released.

(My “Party–Discipline” of my young years saved my life from Hitler's murderers.)

[Pages 311-316]

The Renaissance of the Jewish Worker
in Częstochowa

Majer Fajnrajch

The year 1903 can be considered the year of the awakening of the Jewish workers in Częstochowa. Young workers began appearing and new slogans were heard on the Jewish street. There was a new doctrine, as it were – the worker must be organised, needs to cultivate himself and, above all, be united, in order to attain acceptable, living conditions.


Notices appeared in the papers regarding the labour force in Łódź, which had already utilised means that were still completely foreign to us in Częstochowa. They threatened to strike – this system was to our liking.

Seeing as how there was, a yet, no workers' movement in the city, a certain number of Jewish workers joined the “S.D” [Social Democracy] and “P.P.S” [Polish Socialist Party], although, for the Jewish worker, they smelt of assimilation.

Only in 1904–1905 was the first Jewish party organised in Częstochowa. This was the “Poalei Zion” party. A bit later, the “Bund” was founded; and even later, the “Zionist Socialist Labour Party”, which referred to itself by the acronym “S.S.” [Russian initials]. The “S.S.” became, over the course of time, the largest party in Częstochowa and played a large role in all areas of the Jewish worker's life in the city.

The first pioneers of the “S.S.” party were Dawid Malarski, who was an expert on the theory of socialism and, at the same time, an energetic fighter and was capable, with weapons in his hands, to protect the workers' interests, if it was required.

The second was Mendel Szuster, a talented agitator for the broad masses. He came from a very poor family, had a fiery head and, with his own means and under the most difficult conditions, studied and developed himself.

But both of them, at the beginning of the revolutionary years, the end of 1905, left Częstochowa and emigrated to America. Young men then appeared on the Jewish street, sons of the bourgeoisie, almost from the “richer” circles, brought themselves to the workers [and] visited the workers' locales. As an intellectual element, they had great influence on the workers and, in time, became their organisers and representatives. They enthusiastically spread revolutionary and socialist theories. The first place among them was occupied by the member Józef, the now–famous Dr Józef Kruk from Jerusalem, who was the son of a wealthy Jew from assimilationist circles, and Izaak Gurski (lives in America), Grinbaum, Herschel Gotajner, Mendel Asz – the Rabbi's son, Dudek Szlezinger, Michasz Alter and many others whose names I cannot recall.

The Zionist–Socialist party grew progressively and exerted great influence on almost all areas of the Jewish peoples' lives in our city. This, understandably, did not go down well with the Russian police.

But,the so–called “Good Boys Gang”[1] also, of which Częstochowa too was unfortunately not free of, saw the party as a danger to their “autocracy” and they began helping the police to catch and arrest whomever they could.

Thanks to their help and devotion, the “Bakers' Union” committee was arrested and all its members were sentenced to six months in prison.

At first, the party tried to fight these “Good Boys” with information propaganda, and even managed to influence two of this gang to, afterwards. actually “repent” and become good members of the party.

But this incised the thieves very much against the party and, together with the police, they attacked the places where the workers used to meet and also showed the police whom to arrest.

The party was forced to take energetic and drastic measures.

On a certain day of the month of May 1905, it organised a counterattack against the “Good Boys” gang, which operated in the Old Market Square amongst the fruit–merchants. They attacked them from all sides and, after a “war” which lasted around an hour–and a half, they fled, leaving behind a badly injured “comrade”.

From that time, not only did the workers' circles revive, but the poor fruit–merchants were also able to breathe freely.

From time to time, the party's Central Committee, which was located in Wilna, sent professional agitators, who helped to organise and lead the party–work in the city. Among the guests who visited Częstochowa, should be mentioned Leibisch Lehrer, David–Levin from Homyel', one of founders of Jewish self–defence in Russia, Yaakov Rubinstein (is [now] in Soviet Russia), Dr Aaron Singalowsky, a first–class agitator who, in later years, became leader of the celebrated “ORT” (society for the propagation of work and crafts throughout the entire Jewish world).

The theorists of the “Zionist Socialist Party”, at that time, were Dr Latsky–Bartoldi, S. Niger, Yaakov Lestschinsky, as well as Moishe and Yosef Lestschinsky.

The revolution years began following the tsarist manifest of October 1905. Many of our members were forced to leave the country. Some went to America and Canada and a small part crossed over to Germany and Austria. Among them were Izaak Gurski, Herszel Gotajner, Max Dankewicz (Koniarski's son–in–law) and many others, whose names I no longer remember.

At that time, the remaining members dedicated themselves [to] cultural work. The “Jewish Literary Society” was founded in [St.] Petersburg. At the initiative of our members, a branch was also opened in Częstochowa. Members Rafail Federman, Elkune Chrobołowski, Szmul Frank, Faitel Szmulewicz, [and] Mojsze Weksler (the latter two died in Tel–Aviv), worked actively for the Society. Lectures were organised on the Jewish classics [by] Mendele Moycher Sforim, Y.L Peretz, Sholem Aleichem and others.

The “drama–section” put on plays such as “The Weavers” by Gerhart Hauptmann, “Jean and Madeleine”[2] by Octave Mirbeau, “The Jews” by Chirikov, and many one–act [plays] by Y.L Peretz, “The Eternal Song” by Mark Arnstein and “The Boys” by Yitzchok Katznelson.

At the World Territorial Conference in Vienna, members Rafail Federman and Simche Kulka (the printing–press worker whose life ended in N.Y, his last place of residence) from Częstochowa, participated as delegates.

(The outbreak of the World War further marginalised and dispersed us. The S.S. Party was incorporated into “United”, until it was completely liquidated.)

Translator's footnotes:

  1. This was one of various Jewish organised crime syndicates in Poland, who dealt in extortion, theft etc. Return
  2. The reference is to “Les Mauvais Bergers” (The Bad Shepherds). Return

[Pages 315-324]

The “S.S.” (Zionist Socialist Party) in Częstochowa
(From My Memories)

Elkune Chrobołowski z”l

The “S.S.” (Zionist–Socialists) in Częstochowa, just like in other cities and shtetls, went through four metamorphoses. They were called: 1) “S.S.”, 2) “United” 3) “Independent” and, finally, the “Free Country League”, about which I do not write in my memoirs.

The beginning of “S.S.” in Częstochowa was in the year 1902 when, in Minsk, the first group of Workers–Zionists arose. They did not believe in a future for the Jewish People in tsarist Russia and were political.

Dr Nachman Sirkin organised the first Zionist–Socialist group, then under the Hebrew name “Cherut” [Freedom].

At that time in Częstochowa, the “S.S.” was led by: Józef Kruk, Aaron Singalowsky and Izaak Gurski, who possessed a distinct aptitude for organising the Jewish workers in the workshops and small factories.

They were helped by Alex Tempel, Hela Buchman–Gurski, Bronia and Mendel Koniarski, Max Dankewicz, Matvey Dawidowicz (an engineer on the Herby–Kielce train line), Szaja Lewenhof, Jakob Goldsztajn, Dawid Szajkewicz and D. Akerman.

A little later, they were joined by Nuchem Singalowsky, a student at the business–school.

All the aforementioned came from intellectual circles and were children of the bourgeoisie. They led the party–work.

As the second row of activists, the following may be considered – Herszel Gotajner, Michail Alter, Kuba Goldberg, Natek and Anya Bornsztajn (both from Zawiercie), Joszek Finkelsztajn and Ch. Kac. The majority of them were students at the business school, which was also open to Jews.

There was also a sort of third category, made up entirely of male and female workers. The most active among them were Mendel Szychter, Kopl Gerichter, Mojsze Weksler, Faitel Szmulewicz (died in Israel in 1963), Jakub Icek Zarnowiecki, Szaja Jakub (later – S. Minkow in America), Max and Jossel Berliner, Dawid Lewenhof, Frajdla Bratt, Zacharia Lewensztajn, Mordka Altman– “Kostek”, Icek the locksmith, Szmul Ajzner and Owieczka.

Dawid Guterman (Jezierce) and Nuta Szwarcbaum also took an important place in the party.

All these listed were agitators in the workplaces (workshops and small factories) and were leaders of the most active circles in the organisation. However, the real main forces of the party were the broad, nameless masses, which followed their leaders in a disciplined manner.

In 1906, Warsaw delegated the following to lead the party – “Aleksander” (Leibisch Lehrer) and “Benjamin” (Yankel Levin) from Mogilev. The latter was killed by the Bolsheviks in Birobidzhan.

Such was the situation following the split in the Zionist movement into “Tzeirei Zion” and “Ugandists” – the representatives of the Territorial movement.

Following the conferences in Świder (near Warsaw) and in Odessa, the Territorial workers'–group took the name “S.S.” and introduced, into their program, the revolutionary struggle against tsarist autocracy, something which stood in contradiction to the decisions of the “Poalei Zion” in Minsk.

At that same time, the “S.S.” organisation in Częstochowa began a broad propaganda operation for the founding of a Jewish self–defence [structure]. This was following the Kishinev Pogrom and the publication of Bialik's poem, “In the City of Slaughter”.

The “Poalei Zion” and the “Bund” then also organised their members towards the same purpose.

At the time, Rumours were often spread about preparations for pogroms against Jews. The selfdefence [unit] stood on alert and, often, also sent its groups to the surrounding shtetls, where a fear of pogroms reigned.

Sadly, the Jewish self–defence [unit] was sometimes forced to use its power even against…Jews.

In Częstochowa, the “Good Boys” gang rampaged. They terrorised poor merchants and demanded from them various payments. After an energetic battle with these outcasts, they were liquidated.

The Reaction also intensified at that time and began to persecute the workers'–parties and their leaders.

Our party was also not spared. Aaron Singalowsky, Józef Kruk and Izaak Gurski were forced to leave Częstochowa. The party–work was limited to “schadzki” [Pol.; private meetings], without public processions.

In 1912, a Territorial conference was held in Vienna with the participation of Częstochowa delegates Rafail Federman and Simche Kulka.

In the difficult Reaction–years of 1912–1914, the “S.S.” organisation's political activity was very limited, but it very actively participated in different cultural works of the literary society “Lira”, in which, at the time, worked members of all the workers'–parties, as well as those of the Zionist youth. All the differences between them were cleared.

During the First World War, all workers' organisations, despite being under the German occupation, were revived and organised under diverse names. The “S.S.”, again, became the largest massesparty, being organised around the “Educational Association”.

In that period, many professional unions were organised through the “S.S.” – united under a central management. [They] established a workers'–kitchen, a cafeteria, a bakery and, nicest of all, a “children's–home” named after Y.L Peretz!

The “S.S.” clubhouse was opened on the 2nd Aleja 43 (in Liberman's building).

At the end of the First World War, Częstochowa contained almost a whole “S.S.” kingdom, ruled over by Rafail Federman, as chairman.

The board of management was comprised of Herszel Gotajner, Szyia and Henoch Nirenberg, Michail Alter, A. Wagner and Jakub Icek Zarnowiecki.


On Saturday, 4th January 1919, a festive assembly was held, at which the “S.S.” proclaimed that, in accordance with the decisions of the Warsaw conference, its name would be changed to “United”, due to its unification with the so–called “Seymists[1] and it announced that, besides continuing with its program on territorialism, it would, on the ground, give more support to the foundation of the power of the local Jewish masses.

In connection to the war that the Polish legions were then waging against the Ukrainians and Lithuanians and the pogroms in Lwów and Wilna, on 20th May 1919, a pogrom also took place in Częstochowa, during which five Jews were murdered.

That same year, three types of elections were held in Częstochowa – to the Workers' Council, to the City Council and to the Polish Sejm. To the Workers' Council, from the total of 1,786 Jewish votes cast, “United” received 941 and 19 seats, the Communists 312 votes and 6 seats, the “Bund” 277 votes and 5 seats and “Poalei Zion” 256 votes and 6 seats.

To the City Council, from the 6,417 Jewish votes, “United” received 2,259 votes and put through four Council members – Rafail Federman, Szyia Nirenberg, Herszel Gotajner and Michail Alter.

The “Poalei Zion” put through another two Council members – Aleksander Bem and Szymon Waldfogel, after whose death in 1920, his place was taken by Judl Danziger.

The “Bund” only gained one Council member –Józef Aronowicz.

To the Sejm, our candidate, Józef Kruk, did not receive the necessary amount of votes. His countercandidate, around whom all the Zionist parties and bourgeois elements concentrated, also fell through. The electoral regulations to the Sejm were thus “tailored” so that Jewish voters should have a very weak chance to put candidates of their own through.

Rafail Federman led the “United” faction of the City Council and always fiercely went out and fought the antisemitic politics of the Endecja majority against the Jewish burghers.

Our faction, together with the “P.P.S” Council members, protested energetically against the arrest of the “Bund” Council member Józef Aronowicz, during the Polish–Bolshevik war, and brought about his release.

The energetic stance of our Council members caused a series of persecutions against our party.

In 1920, the police impounded our party's locale and, afterwards, also liquidated it. Later, it also impounded the locales of the professional unions. The Polish government shamelessly adopted the disgraceful ways of the tsarist enslaver. [It] interfered greatly with the arrangement of assemblies and concerts, not allowing to Yiddish to be spoken or sung.

The Częstochowa organisation strove with all its might to combat these interferences. However, in 1922, the downfall of “United” in Częstochowa sadly began for various reasons.

A strong emigration began, which took with it the most active forces. The economic crisis hit the working masses first. This also caused splits – especially at the Centre in Warsaw. Some of the leaders went over to other parties – to the “Bund” and to the Communists. Many of the latter left for Russia and were killed there, as Polish spies.

At the end of the summer of 1922, a unification–conference with Bolesław Drobner's group (the former “P.P.S.”, under the name “Independent Socialist Party”) was held in Częstochowa, at the “New World” hall (formerly a workers'–kitchen). The Jewish workers in that party constituted themselves into a separate faction. The party, as a whole, recognised the need for concentrated emigration, industrialisation and agriculturisation of Jewish workers.

Sometime earlier, a few of the leading members had wanted the party to unite with the “Bund”, on condition that the “Bund” should accept “United's” emigration program. Obviously, the leaders of the “Bund” did not agree to this.

In 1923, when I travelled to America for the first time, I saw to it that the “Częstochower Relief” should ensure the existence of our schools.

Dudek Szlezinger took over the leadership of the organisation. He was very popular, both with the Polish and with the Jewish workers. Members Szyia Nirenberg, Wolf Fajga, Abram Bratt, Leibish Berkowicz and Motek Plywacz actively aided him.

At the end of summer of 1925, I returned to Częstochowa and remained there for two years.

The Częstochowa organisation “United” continued conducting a lively, intense activity amongst Polish and Jewish workers for a number of years. At the “New World” hall, mass–assemblies and lectures were held in Yiddish and Polish.

Under the party's “legal” protection, many communists infiltrated it. The secret police, of course, “smelt” this at once and began repressions. Searches and confiscations were carried out often, not only at the locales, but also in private dwellings. Even private letters were seized and inspected.

Dr Józef Kruk, who came often to Częstochowa and lectured there, was arrested and incarcerated for some time at the Piotrków and Częstochowa gaols.

I, also, experienced the bitter taste of gaol in Liberated Poland.

Upon my return from America, I printed an article headed “The Silent Murder”, which I wrote regarding the closing of the schools of the Bundist association, “Unsere Kinder” [Our Children], by the Polish government.

The Reaction in Poland intensified from day to day.

Prior to the start of the Second World War, the Polish government liquidated the party and Dr Józef Kruk was sent to the infamous Kartuz–Bereza concentration camp, from where he was extricated – after great efforts, mainly from his friends abroad – barely alive.

When Dr Kruk joined the “Committee for Working Palestine”, former “S.S.” leader Jakob Icek Zarnowiecki, also joined. He had experienced all our party's transmutations. He was one of the first martyrs to be murdered by the German killers.

([For] his death, as [for] the death of hundreds like him and the thousands of men, women and children, who were killed by the blood–thirsty murderers and their helpers in Częstochowa itself and in the crematoriums of the death–camps, the extermination and destruction of Jewish Częstochowa, which generations of Jews had built and created, may the murderers never be pardoned and never be forgotten!)

Translator's footnote:

  1. Seymists is a nickname for the Jewish Socialist Workers Party, or “SERP”. Return


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