Jakób [Yaakov] Lewit
When we come to review the share which industry had in the development and growth of our city until the days of the Holocaust, and to determine Częstochowa's place in Poland's financial life, we must mention the dispute which took place amongst the country's finance people regarding the city or the region, which merited being considered in second place after Łódź in its level of industrial development in Congress Poland.
There were some, among the dispute participants, who argued that this highly regarded status should be designated to the Dąbrowa Górnicza region and its vicinity but, on the other hand, others said that this region's wealth was mainly due to the coal mines and natural resources with which its soil had been blessed, unlike Częstochowa, whose growth, development and all its financial power came only thanks to the active people in it. They were those who had succeeded, literally, in creating something from nothing and had also conquered the large Russian market in order to propagate their products within its borders and to even take the produce of Częstochowa into other distant countries!
If, additionally, we also point out that the majority of the industry in our city and its vicinity was created, developed and expanded mainly at initiative of Jews unlike the Dąbrowa Górnicza region, whose mines were almost all in the hands of foreign capital. We may then make the claim, without any hesitation, that our city Częstochowa merited and, indeed, held the position of being in second place within Congress Poland with its industrial development.
Unfortunately, not many publications have survived by which it would be possible to provide accurate details on all branches of industry, on their size and the monetary value of their products, as well as on the number of people who were employed in them as workersand producers. Therefore, it is also impossible to conduct a comprehensive review of all that we had in industrial Częstochowa.
We shall therefore begin our review by presenting the summary of an article by one of Częstochowa's great figures, Professor Wacław Tokarz, a native of our city who, in his day, held a very important position in Polish life as an historian. He left his chair at the Jagiellońian University in Kraków, in order to take part in the First World War as a frontline combatant, in Pilsudski's legions, fighting for the liberation and independence of Poland.
Already back in 1896, Professor Tokarz published a very interesting article in the Polish newspaper Głos [The Voice], regarding the proportions of the contemporary industry in Częstochowa.
This article was also printed in a compilation of the professor's writings, which was published in 1959 by the government publishing house in Warsaw. In that article, he discusses industry's first steps of in our city.
At the beginning of his article, the author notes the comfortable conditions which promoted the development of industry in our city, in the last twenty years of the 19th century, and they were:
This also may be examined in the following list that Prof. Tokarz published in that article:
|Ser. #||Type of Business and Name of Owner||No. of Male Workers||No. of Female workers||Annual Revenue (roubles)||Details on further development|
|1||Flourmill, water & steampowered.
Owners: Ginsburg & Kohn
|1863||36||80||240,000||At first, the mill was only waterpowered.|
|2||Printing press, lithography and colouredpaper factory.
Owners: Kohn & Oderfeld
|1867||70||80||78,000||At first, only the lithographyworkshop was established, and later, the press as well.
In 1881, the factory also began producing coloured paper. All this was smallscale, until the factory grew, and, in 1896,
it already had ten fast lithography machines, eight regular printing machines and five machines for the production of various coloured papers.
Owners: Ginsburg and Kohn
|122||103||300,000||At first, the factory planned to also manufacture paper made from straw. After 1870,
the factory gradually expanded, until reaching its current state.
Owners: Brass (not Jewish)
|5||Manufacture of iron goods.
Owners: Wajnberg & Tempel
|Bef. 1880||77||13||Began as a small workshop without a steampowered machine.|
|6||Sawmill. Owner: Goldsztajn||Bef. 1880||51||45,000|
Owner: Schwede (not Jewish)
Owners: Hellich & Hoch (not Jewish)
|1882||187||147||270,000||At first, this was a small and unimportant factory. Grew and developed from 1891 onwards.|
|10||Needle and umbrellarib factory.
Owners: Henig & Werde
|11||Colouredpaper, lithography, cardboard, wallpaper and paints factory.
Owners: Markusfeld Bros.
|1880||129||142||365,000||At first, this was a colouredpaper factory with three rooms and which employed only about 20 workers.
In 1890, the lithographyworkshop was established, and in 1891 the cardboard and wallpaper factory.
|12||Rope and jute sack factory.
Owners: Ginsberg & Assoc.
|1884||500||900||420,000||At first, only a string factory was established, with just 25 workers. Their number grew in a short time and reached 150200.
Its notable expansion was in 1890, when 20 looms for the production of jute cloth and sacks were brought in, and a further 100 workers were added.
In 1892, the factory was rebuilt, another 60 looms were brought in, and the number of employees reached 521.
In 1894, the factory already had the number of workers mentioned in this table and this, after 60 other looms, another 450hp. steam powered machine and new buildings were added.
It is planned to expand the factory in the coming year and bring it to employing 2100 workers.
|13||Combed wool spinningmill.
Owner: Peltzer (not Jewish)
|1885||900||456||190,000||In 1892, 1000 male and female workers worked in it.|
|14||Combed wool spinningmill.
Owners: Matte & Assoc. (not Jewish)
|1890||405||275||1,265,000||It was only set in motion in 1891, due to lack of buyers for its produce.
Now it employs more workers than are listed on the table (about 1000 male and female workers).
|1894||47||45,000||In the course of time, the factory's name was changed to Metalurgia,
and its owners were: Goldsztajn, Kisin, Rozenberg and Szwarc.
|16||Factory for celluloid products.
Owner: Stanisław Wajnberg
|Aft. 1890||30||14||300,000||This factory developed a large exportmarket all throughout Russia and employed almost exclusively Jewish workers.|
Owner: Kielich (not Jewish)
|19||The Wulkan foundry.
Owners: Landau & Freger. GM: Eng. Ratner
Owner: Dr Henryk Zaks
Owner: Görke (not Jewish)
Owners: Kanczewscy Bros. (not Jewish)
|23||Brick factory and the steam plant.
Owner: Bogusławski (not Jewish)
Further along in his article, the professor noted the preparations that were being made (already then!) to establish large factories for the processing of leather, glue etc. and he also stressed that his table did not include factories and workshops which were not under the supervision of the government's industrial inspector, such as factories for albums, ribbons, toys, bricks, furniture, brushes etc., whose number became larger from year to year and which were mostly established by Jews. Amongst those, some did not have large financial means and were able to open and expand only thanks to their initiative and business acumen.
The author marked 1890 as an auspicious year in the development of industry in Częstochowa and its vicinity, through which it truly merited being called an industrial city.
The industrial development especially began to expand after a bridge for trains had been built between Herby and the righthand bank of the Odra River. Various brickfactories, foundries and other mechanical plants were then built.
The number of the city's residents also grew from 20,000 in 1880 to 29,603 permanent residents (and 6,788 temporary ones) in 1892, and 45,000 in 1894. Two years later, in 1896, Częstochowa already had 50,000 permanent residents!
This rapid development also brought about the foundation of various importexport commercial agencies. Two central banks were also opened, as well as numerous private technical offices.
All this caused the prices of land near the factories to increase by more than 200%. Prices of houses also rose similarly, of course.
Young men and women from all the neighbouring villages swarmed to Częstochowa to set themselves up on the financial prosperity that it enjoyed in those years.
An important contribution to our review is from the deceased Sz. Śpiewak (whose article The Jews in Częstochowa also appears in our book, in Yiddish).
According to Śpiewak's research, industry in Częstochowa first began with Jews who worked in it, back at the start of the 19th century, making souvenirs in the form of medallions, on which the image of The Holy Mother was engraved etc. These were quickly snatched up by the pilgrims to the sacred Catholic sites, who frequently visited Częstochowa. However, by demand of the priests, the authorities forbade Jews to produce and deal in religious, souvenir articles. So the Jews began to manufacture and distribute different toys, which had no ornamentation of a religious character.
The pioneer of this industry (in metal) was Yeshayohu (Szaja), who was trained in Germany and who, in 1843, requested and was granted permission to settle in Częstochowa. He was the first to establish the toy factory and his products reached the vast expanses of Russia, competing there with the famous Nurnberg products.
Year by year, the toy industry expanded and thus the path to manufacturing various accessories for industry and construction was opened. The demand for experts in engraving wood and metal also then increased. Such experts were not yet to be found in Częstochowa and the manufacturers were forced to search for them and invite them in from Germany.
Messrs. Ickowicz and Horowicz, owners of the chainfactory, were the first to bring in experts from Germany and employ them in their factories. This step brought great benefit to industry in Częstochowa, in general, because the craftsmen whom they employed soon learned the trade and they began producing diverse engravings in wood and metal. However, none of these craftsmen were Jews, because the small number of Jews who worked in the factories was denied all access to mechanical departments.
The first to blaze the trail to progress in this field and build engraving workshops were the brothers Abram and Mojsze Weksler trainees at the crafts school in Częstochowa (the latter also emigrated to Israel and died there in March 1965).
The two brothers provided toy factories with molds. After a few years, another such operation was opened by the Ofner brothers, which expanded year by year.
After the First World War, such a workshop was also established by Abram Gotlib and his associate, Jonatan Rozenzon. This factory provided wooden and metal molds to different factories.
These three factories also had many disciples experts in their trade, who were incorporated into the local factories and earned their livelihoods honourably there.
Some of them were able to emigrate to Israel, to put down roots there and also to help build and operate important industrial complexes there.
Before these factories were established, such work was done by metalworkers, who made the molds by simple manual work.
Among these, the large metalworking workshop which was established and managed by Mr Balsam is worthy of mention.
The Jews of Częstochowa showed their great prowess in the establishment and development of industry in all its branches and, in addition to the factories mentioned in the list from Prof W. Tokarz's article presented above, a textilefactory was founded in 1883 by Mr Kronenberg and, in 1884, a factory for the production of jute and linen, named Stradom, was set up by owners Oderfeld, Openhajm and Goldsztajn. At first, it employed only 150 male and female workers. In 1902, the factory became a share company and Dr Józef Berlinerblau headed its management. Prior to the First World War, it employed about 2,000 workers. Before the Second World War, in 1939, that number reached around 3,600. However, that number contained not a single Jewish worker, even though its owners were Jewish.
In its field of production, the Stradom factory was considered as one of the largest in Poland.
As early as 1885, Mr Horowicz and his associates established a factory for construction appliances and furniture and, in 1888, Dr Seweryn Landau established a large factory for celluloid products. One of Szaja Moszkowicz's sons established a cufflinks factory, which was also the first in the whole of Russia.
In 1896, the Warta textiles factory was established by its owners Grosman, Markusfeld and Kohn. It was one of the largest factories in Poland for jute products. Up until the First World War, it employed 1,500 workers. However, following the loss of the sales market in Russia, its activity was diminished and the number of its workers decreased to 1,200.
In 1897, Izydor Gajsler established a large glass factory in Wyczerpy (next to Częstochowa) and employed 750 workers.
In 1912, Izydor Zygman and Mordche and Roman Markowicz established a large textiles and wallpaper factory in Gnaszyn (7 kms from Częstochowa). It employed 1,150 workers, among them, 45 Jews. This factory supplied the Polish army with all its necessities and its products were also sent abroad, including to the Far East.
In 1919, Jakób Lewit established the Lewelen factory and employed 300 workers, among them 55 Jews. (Mr Lewit is in Israel and is the owner of the woolspinning plant Yaakov Lewit & Sons in PetahTikva).
In 1922, Messrs. Kongrecki and Kohn established a pram factory called Kankan, which grew to become one of the largest factories in Poland. It employed 200 workers, among them 80 Jews.
Over the course of time, six more pram factories were established in Częstochowa, three of which were established by Jews. Their products excelled in quality and were exported abroad.
In 1929, Szachna Borensztajn (now in Israel) established the Koyulen [?] factory, which mainly produced cloth for tailoring. At first, 60 workers, among them 34 Jews, were employed in this factory, but the fierce competition that prevailed at the time slowly, affected its activity.
The industrialist Altman was the first to compete with German and Swedish products in the field of skates and succeeded in conquering the Polish market for his goods.
In 1930, there were already seven skatesfactories in Częstochowa, five of which belonged to Jews.
Roofing felt factories were also established in Częstochowa, owned by Bem, Berliner, Tenenbaum & Rozencwajg, and Rajcher.
Among the largest and most important factories, the liquid carbonic acid and dryice factory Henryków is noteworthy. It was established by Zvi Szpaltyn (who lives in Israel). Another is the mangle factory which Jechiel Landau and his brothers established. Sometime later, an additional factory was built and both of them, together with a third factory in Warsaw, organised joint sales, which greatly aided the development of the all three.
In Częstochowa there were also sleevebutton and cufflinks (spinki) factories. The first was established as early as 1890 by the son of the industrial pioneer, Szaja.
Bicycleparts factories were also established and the largest of them was Metras, owned by M. Rozensztajn and associates. It employed 76 workers all Jewish.
Among the toothbrush factories, Kosmos is noteworthy. It was owned by B. Ajzner, Markowicz, Kaufman and the Szajkiewicz brothers. Its products excelled in quality and were favourably known throughout the country and even abroad.
There were also leatherprocessing factories (tanneries) in the city and the largest of these was owned by Józef Kaufman. It began in one of the city's alleyways. It later expanded and moved to a large building in Kule, a suburb of Częstochowa.
Besides the large celluloid factories mentioned, Częstochowa round 200 workshops for the production of celluloid haberdashery all were established by Jews.
In his research on industry in Częstochowa, Mr Śpiewak relied on the official 1923 report, according to which he set the number of Jews in industry, during those years, as follows:
Of the city's industrial plants (large and small), Jews owned 20 metal goods, 4 textile, 7 celluloid , 4 cloth fasteners, 5 toys, 3 woodprocessing, 3 mirrors, 2 roofing felt, 1, paper, 1 wallpaper, 1 bricks, 1 sawmill and 2 glue factories.
We must note here that, during the course of years and until 1939, many additional and diverse manufacturing factories and even ten or twenty times as many as are mentioned in the above report.
At the end of our review, we publish (in [Heb.] alphabetical order by profession) a list of our city's factories and workshops and the names of their owners. This has been composed from that which was preserved in the memories of the city's elders and activists Messrs Abram Gotlib, Dawid Koniecpoler and Zvi Szpaltyn and the Book Committee extends its thanks to them for their instrumental work.
A List of Factories and Workshops, and Their Owners up to the Holocaust
The Book Committee
During the first years following the [First] World War, Polish Jews felt that they needed to ensure their economic existence, which had been hit due to two reasons:
Częstochowa was among the first cities in Poland which, at once, comprehended the importance of the matter and, very soon, a branch of that union was opened there. It encompassed almost all the merchants and, later, the manufacturers of Jewish Częstochowa also.
(Sadly, together with the destruction of the Częstochowa Jews, this union's building was destroyed, together with its entire archive.)
We are, therefore, only able to present, in Sefer Częstochowa, details of one of the union's last annual general meetings and the names of its last board of management.
The annual general meeting was held at the Union's own premises, with many members participating.
In his annual report, Dawid Borzykowski told of the hard battle which had been conducted to defend their economic interests, to not allow the trade and industry to be torn out of Jewish hands by antisemitic elements, which were also publicly supported by the government factors.
The management was always required to stand guard and intervene in the Izba Skarbowa [government Treasury], tradeschamber and City Council, through Jewish representatives, in order to, as far as possible, save its members from the approaching danger.
Next, M. Galster delivered a financial report and mentioned, in passing, that the lawyer Hasenfeld had given his legal assistance completely free of charge, for which the meeting expressed its gratitude.
The meeting also approved the projected budget and printed it out for the meeting.
The following were elected to the administration and council: Prezes Z. Sztyller, VicePrezes M. Neufeld and, as board of management members, Altman, Dawid Borzykowski, Grandapel, Dawidowicz, A. Warszawski, Wajnsztajn, I. M. Zilberberg, Jakób Lewit, Faust, F. Proport, Pruszycki, Krauskopf, L. Rodal, Z. Rotbart, G. Szwarcbaum, Sztajnic, Józef Szlezinger, Selcer and as alderman, F. Szapiro.
The audit committee comprised S. Ajzner, Manela, J. Kohn, L. Kopinski, J. Kornwaser, Sztokman and Szajkewicz. Lawyers Hasenfeld and Kromołowski were employed as permanent secretaries.
The Manufacturers and Merchants Union also opened its own cooperative bank, which expanded from year to year and conducted its business by the standards of the largest, most modern banks in Poland.
The bank was famous for its solid work and precision and earned the trust of the Polish National Bank and the largest financial institutions in the country and even abroad.
The bank had its own fine premises at the Second Aleja 22. Until its final day, its Director was Mr Pruszycki.
Those most active in the administration and council were Dr B. Tempel, Jakób Lewit (now in Israel), M. Neufeld, M. Koniarski, L. Rodal, Z. Sztyller and Dr Szlajcher.
Fela Rotbart, Renia Wachtel, Lola Staszewska, Lila Fajgin, Halina Szylit, Mala Kohn, Jadzia Sobol, Wargman, Ester Abramowicz, Guta Zborowska, Marysia Najman,
Reginka Przyrowska, Irka, Szaja and others whose names are unknown.
The Book Committee
In what difficult conditions the Jewish population, in general and the merchants, manufacturers and craftsmen in particular, found themselves in their struggle for life and their economic existence, may be seen from the three proclamations that we publish [here] in Sefer Częstochowa.
Two are in the Polish language (which we also translate into Yiddish) and one Yiddish announcement from the Jewish Councilmen Koło [circle] in the Częstochowa City Council, which we present verbatim.
The Jewishoppression proclamation [is] from the Narodowe Elementy [National Elements] in Częstochowa.
The Jews are enraged by our boycott action,
They hand out leaflets praising their junk.
We laugh at cheap, Jewish junk!
Who has seen cheap goods at a profiteer?
Who has seen a proper measure and proper weight from a swindler?
Who has seen a dealer in stolen goods without a thief?
Jewishness is a disease
OUT WITH THIS DISEASE!
LET NOT GIVE JEWS A SINGLE GROSZ!
EVERY GROSZ NOT GIVEN TO JEWS
is a saving for the Polish Nation
is the basis for Polish trade, craft and industry
is the makings of a rich Greater Poland!
OUR BOYCOTT UPSETS THE JEWS, OUR PICKETS IRRITATE THEM.
IT IS THE BEST EVIDENCE OF THE EFFECTIVENESS OF OUR PICKETS AND BOYCOTT
AND GIVES US THE OPPORTUNITY TO SPEND.
without Jews without Jewish junk.
||A proclamation distributed by the Częstochowa Manufacturers and Merchants Union and the Częstochowa division of the Central Committee of Retailers and Small Merchants in Poland.
BUY where it is cheapest, where they give good merchandise on favourable terms
Do not believe alarmist boycott slogans
Częstochowa Division of the Central Committee of Retailers & Small
Already, the picketing of Jewish shops has lasted for five days. Insolent, and with the help of the malicious proclamations against Jews, these persons disrupt Jewish trade.
We feel the anguish and understand the agitation of Jewish merchants, both as Jews and also as merchants. We take into account the supernatural, inner struggle of the Jewish merchant, to control himself and not react to the disgraceful wrongs which are being perpetrated against him, even though he fulfils all obligations and contributes to the State, if not more, at least not less than the Polish merchant.
We Jews, in these difficult minutes, must commend the part of the Polish population which does not allow itself to be influenced by these people's hatred of Jews, and does not allow itself to be terrorised by the picketers.
This part of the Polish population has finally understood that one must buy where it is cheap, that one must buy where the treatment is good and that one must buy wherever one wishes, and not where hired picketers instruct him and, through terror, not allow him to carry out personal obligations.
We Jews must remember that the battle against the Jewish merchants, against Jewish trade, is just one link in the great chain of the battle, which is being conducted against the entire Jewish population in Poland. We must therefore not abandon the Jewish merchant alone in his wrangles. He must feel the force of the entire Jewish population behind him, that the whole Jewish group is with him in his struggle, protesting with him against the shameful treatment and sharing in his bitterness and tears.
Jews, as long as the pickets at shops last, this is how long should the tears of the Jewish population last.
Not a single Jew, during this time, should visit confectionaries, restaurants, cinemas, theatres and other places of entertainment and the monies saved should be spent for those who have suffered from the antisemitic incitement.
These donations are to be paid at the Jewish offices.
Jewish Councilmen Koło
In 1939, the Jewdevouring Goniec [The Messenger, a local newspaper] got a fright. It felt that Częstochowa Jews were deciding to seize the Jewfree Zawodzie [a neighbourhood] and sounded an alarm: Goniec wrote:
This means [that] Zawodzie has been, until now, a Godblessed location upon which no Jewish foot has trodden and, now suddenly, after the market was relocated there, various Jews now wish to buy places and rent shops, in order to settle there.
This antisemitic periodical, therefore, appeals to true, pious Christians not to yield to the seductions of the Żydzi and not to sell or even to rent holy Zawodzie ground to Jews.
With its toxic words, Goniec incites against Jews, who are foreign and enemies here, who have already seized the Old and New Markets, the First and Second Aleja and now scramble to also conquer Zawodzie.
This must not be allowed and every loyal Pole must work together and not permit the Jews to infiltrate there too.
Furthermore, this antisemitic newspaper does not prevent itself from arousing the lowest instincts of the broad masses, indicating that the Jews are the greatest enemies of the Polish people and that they are also to blame for the prevailing financial crisis.
Although it is known that a large part of the Jewish population stallholders and shopkeepers in the Old and New Markets lost their livelihoods due to the Zawodzie market, this did not suffice for the Jewdevouring Goniec and it warned against the Jewish danger.
Thus, Goniec also prepared the ground in advance for the annihilation of Polish Jewry.
We also publish this article which shows in what conditions Częstochowa Jews already lived in those dark days. Return
The Book Committee
The Częstochowa Cooperative Bank
This bank was already established by 1937 and, over the course of time, it expanded and became one of the most important Jewish financial institutions in Częstochowa. The Częstochowa Cooperative Bank gained the trust of the majority of the Jewish population, who saw in it a true People's Bank.
Unfortunately, we are unable to provide a detailed account about this important financial institution and we must suffice with a report which was delivered at the 1937 Annual General Meeting, which was published in the Częstochower Zeitung No.20, dated 20th May 1937.
Councillor Feliks Szapiro opened the meeting in name of the supervisory board. He greeted the delegate of the Central Auditing Association in Warsaw, Mr Szmojsz [?], and invited to the podium as assessors Messrs. Sz. Granek and Ch. Frajmauer, and Mr J. Kruk as secretary.
The bank's elderly director, Mr Zand, delivered a detailed report, from which was learnt that 1,313 loans had been given to diverse strata of the Jewish population, beginning from industrialists [and] merchants, to traders who stand in the city markets with their stalls. He stated that the bank counted 880 members (In 1939, on the eve of the destruction, it had nearly 1,000 members).
Messrs. Sz. Goldsztajn (in name of the administration) and B. Helman (of the supervisory board), supplemented the report with various details regarding the activity in the past year and the workplans for 1938.
The inspector from the Central Auditing Association in Warsaw, Mr Szmojsz [?], in a lengthy report, delivered interesting details on the development of Jewish cooperative banks in Poland, which already had a capital of above two million złotych, a sum with great significance in the war which the Jewish merchants and craftsmen had to wage to ensure their existence.
In conclusion, the speaker stressed that, at the same time, some Jewish cooperative banks in Poland had been forced into liquidation due to bad management. The Częstochowa Cooperative Bank had maintained a steady growth, and this was thanks to the commitment of the administration and the local public figures, who had earned the warmest acknowledgement from the Central Auditing Association in Warsaw.
Afterwards, on a motion moved by Mr Najman, it was decided to transfer 20,000 złotych of the profits to the reserve capital and also to assign 664.12 złotych to the Jewish Hospital.
Prezes J. Imich reported on the projected budget for 1938. The budget of 52,000 złotych, with the right to increase it, if necessary by an additional ten percent, was approved.
It was also decided that the largest loan given may not be in excess of 10,000 złotych and this on condition that it should not reach above thirty percent of the sum the member had deposited in the bank.
The meeting also decided that the bank should limit its obligations to other financial institutions to one million złotych.
The following were reelected: as director Mr Zand; to the Board Sz. Granek, Ch. Topor and Councillor F. Szapiro and, as its representative Mr W. Icek.
The Cooperative Craftsmen's Bank
The Craftsmen's Union in Częstochowa also understood that one of its main tasks was to create a financial institution where its members, Jewish craftsmen, would be able to receive loans with good repayment conditions and inexpensive credit.
To this purpose, as far back as 1927, the Union founded its own cooperative bank.
Although this bank was not among the wealthiest in the city, it was nevertheless able to wholly aid its members and make it possible for them to run their workshops and provide themselves with raw materials before the summer and winter seasons, as well as to bring in the necessary equipment for their work.
The first director was Mr Proskurowski, who helped very much to develop the Craftsmen's Bank.
The bank's first Board of Management was comprised of (alphabetically [in Heb.]) Messrs.: Ajzelman, H. Ofner, B. Bocian, Benet, Gostynski, Dr Grin, A.L. Grinberg, Hofnung, Zelinski, Jakobson, Kac, Z. Markowicz, Sz. Niemirowski, S. Kohn and A.A. Szajnfeld.
During the bank's last years, the position of bank Director was occupied by Mr Bochenek, who also developed the bank's broad range of activities.
Aguda's Bank Kupiecki [Merchant Bank]
Agudas Yisroel also founded its own bank, named the ;Bank Kupiecki, which principally conducted business amongst religious Jews, in general and its Aguda members in particular.
The bank was headed by active Aguda public figures A.N. Horowicz, M. Fogel and I.M. Krel.
Riger Business Bank
In conclusion, we must also mention the Riger Business Bank, which opened a branch in Częstochowa. This bank financed, with a broad hand, the large Jewish factories and tradehouses in their business connections with Greater Russia. The bank also operated throughout [the] Zagłębie [region]. Its Director was Maurycy Ruff.
However, after the onset of the First World War, the bank liquidated itself and the Polish state inherited its large assets within Częstochowa.
In the book Tshenstokhover Yidn, which appeared in N.Y. in 1947, I published a detailed article about this union. Here, I shall present the essence of the article for our Sefer Częstochowa, which is now being published in Israel.
The movement to organise Jewish craftsmen, with the aim of improving their economic situation and, simultaneously, raising their spiritual development, began some years before the outbreak of the First World War.
This was at the initiative of the prematurely deceased Jewish engineer, Jan Kirszrot, one of the small group of graduates from the Warsaw University of Technology, who were taken with the Zionist idea and who led the tone later with leaders of Polish Jewry, such as Izaak Grinbaum (lives in GanShmuel), Dr Noach Dawidson, Apolinary Hartglas and Eng. M. Kerner (died recently in TelAviv).
Jan Kirszrot also had a part in the foundation of the Craftsmen's Union in Częstochowa.
At the beginning, the Jewish craftsmen used to assemble their own minyonim and prayerhouses. There, they also dealt with their specific questions and there they also held their celebratory events.
The head organisers of the Craftsmen's Union in our city were Eng. AssorDobraj [?], the director of the already existing Crafts School, and Kuna Chrobołowski.
Besides those mentioned above, the following were elected to the organising committee (alphabetically [in Heb.]): Ber Balsam, Leib Goldszajder, Wolf Gostynski, Szlojme Librowicz, Misza Tenenbaum and Szlojme Krauskopf.
Also, among its founders, were Mojsze Weksler, Simche Kulka, Jonatan Rozenzon, Aron Rotszyld, Józef Rubinsztajn, and the writer of these lines. The foundationmeeting took place at the Lira hall.
A group of workers, graduates of the local Crafts School, also enlisted as members.
The first Board of Management was elected and comprised Artur Broniatowski, Ludwig Goldberg, Leibisz Goldszajder, Wolf Gostynski, Stanisław Herc, Mojsze Win, P. Zalcman, Mojsze Tenenbaum, Szlojme Librowicz, Eng. Assorodobraj, L. Cymerman, Szlojme Krauskopf, Eng. P. Ratner and Jakób Sztajer.
Henryk Markusfeld was elected as Prezes.
The Union opened a club and also saw to the spiritual development of its members, arranging lectures, theatrical performances and gatherings of members, where various issues were discussed.
The board of management endeavoured to create sections for the different professions but, in the beginning, this did not succeed. This was also caused by [the fact] that the club was forced to move from its large, spacious premises at Aleja 11 to a smaller one at Aleja 27. Later, due to its further financial difficulties, it moved to Ogrodowa 22.
2nd row: A. Grinberg, S. Mitler, Sz. Granek, Sz. Katz, J. Goldberg, A. Wajs, A. Frydman, M. Katz and J. Ciaciura.
3rd row: J. Lewkowicz, Sz. Gonszerowicz, M. Fajgenblat, Z. Dzialowicz, W. Gostynski, A. Grajcer, A. Gelber, M. Ortman and A. Gotlib.
4th row: J. Wajnholc, J. Wajs, J. Szenwald, Sz. Luria, M. Dzialowski and L. Zajdman.
5th row: J. Bulba, M. Frajermauer, M. Blumenfeld, H. Ofner, M. Goldberg, M. Jarkowizna and A. Winer.
Until the First World War, the Union was headed by Eng. AssorDobraj [?]. with VicePrezes being Dr Hipolit Gajsler. Over long years, the secretariat was led by Aba Winer.
The War also brought about a great decrease in the Union's activity but, thanks to members W. Gostynski, Eng. Milsztajn and Szlojme Krauskopf, the work was renewed.
Due to the hard economic situation in wartime, the material standing of the craftsmen greatly worsened and the union, as a result, soon opened the first Jewish cheap kitchen for craftsmen and their families. In this work, young members M. Asz, M. Szajewicz, A. Bornsztajn, D. Krauskopf and M. Mokraujer particularly distinguished themselves. They also pulled other people to them and, through this, also widened the relief operation for other needy people, not necessarily craftsmen.
In 1917, still during the time of the German occupation, the work and professional activity of the Union was renewed by activists (alphabetically [in Heb.]): Kopel Urbach, Szaje Granek, Dawid Wolfowicz, Herszel Win, Abram Frydman, Mojsze Katz, Szmul Katz and Z. Krug.
At the time, great unemployment prevailed in Częstochowa, especially among tailors and bakers. It was precisely they who were the first to receive any possible material aid.
In 1918, after the rise of the independent Polish state, the Union, thanks to the large material aid from the American Joint, broadened its activity and also opened a loan fund for widows and orphans.
That same year, it also opened a children's home, where the poor children found a home for themselves. Teachers aided them with their lessons and different games. They were also provided with sufficient food and drink.
In 1919, the activity of the loan and savings fund was revived, which helped create and broaden the net of cooperatives, such as the food cooperative Selbsthilfe [SelfHelp] and the rawmaterials cooperatives for tailors, capmakers and gaitermakers.
At the time, the Union already had 530 members and it also spread its activity to include the poor shtetls of Kłobuck, Kamyk, Koniecpol and Krzepice, where it established branches of the union.
A year later, cooperatives of shoe manufacture and furniture production were created.
A patronage [scheme] was also created, which saw to the professional education of apprentice boys and organised eleven separate sections, for them, in various professions.
It was not until 1921 that the Polish government approved the Union's statutes, under the name Jewish Craftsmen Resource, whose task was to defend the craftsmen's interests.
(According to the new status, only independent craftsmen could belong to the union, as well as patrons.)
The professionsections, within the Union, conduct independent activity in the professional field, although they are under the supervision of the General Craftsmen's Union. The sections delegate their representatives to the management of the General Craftsmen's Union.
Among the Union's active figures during 19171923, we should also mention the dentist M. Grejniec, who was Prezes of the Union for a certain period, and his three [?] vicePrezesi Abram Działowski, Daniel Działowicz, Herszel Wnuk and Jakób Sztajer, as well other active figures Michał Ajdelman, Mojsze Berman, Naftali Deresz, Szmul Hofnung and Jakób Fisz.
In 1924, the Union contested various elections with its own lists and introduced their candidates
The Guilds Law
In Poland, there existed a law of old, according to which every craftsman was required to belong to a guild and receive a certificate from his guild, which gave him the title of master.
Guilds were only designated for Christian craftsmen. No Jews were admitted as members and, as a consequence, they were not given any certificates. They therefore were not permitted to run any workshops or to openly work within their professions.
There were only a few guilds in the smaller towns in Poland which, for good money, gave certificates to some Jews, while at the same time did not admit them as guild members. Jews were thus forced to conduct their work without being certified and inscribed within the Polish guilds.
The Grabski government, which strove to empty the coffer of Jewish merchants and craftsmen with its high and unjust income taxes, which were known by the pretentious names Obrotowa [Revenue] and Dochodowa [Profit], at the same time wished to take away Jewish livelihoods. To this end, it brought before the Sejm a bill regarding guilds, according to which any work done by people not belonging to the guilds, which were, as already mentioned, locked to Jewish craftsmen with ten keys, was to be strictly forbidden.
In 1927, Jewish members of the Sejm, with the deputy A. Hartglas at the head, began a fierce struggle against this bill, which threatened to take bread away from tens of thousands of Jewish craftsmen in Poland.
The Grabski government convinced itself that it had overdone it and the bill was thus amended such that existing professiondivisions of the Central Craftsmen's Association were also transformed into legal guilds, with the right to issue the guild certificates to their members.
But the Polish authorities continued to attempt to limit rights, by demanding that these certificates only be issued by those craftsmen who, during all the years since the establishment of the Polish state, had bought craftsmen patents. This was a harsh decree for the craftsmen in the general public.
Finally, it was decided that five years was sufficient in order to receive a craftsman card, without any exceptions.
In Częstochowa, the execution of this procedure, as well as the elections for representatives to the Regional Craftsmen's Chamber, was given over to members A. Gotlib, J. Goldberg, A. Dzialowski and S. Katz. The latter was also later elected as the Jewish representative to the Craftsmen's Chamber in Kielce, in which representatives from the province, local government and two certified masters from each profession also participated.
All the Częstochowa Jewish craftsmen soon clambered to the exams (those who had no material fiveyear proof concerning their work in the profession, of course) to receive their master's certificates.
All guilds became centralised and encompassed the following professions: [in] tailoring: chalupnikes [cottagers working from the home], trouser and waistcoat tailors. Metal guilds included locksmiths, engravers, clockmakers and goldsmiths.
Together, all the guilds of differing tendencies, organised impressive celebrations at which the various guilds marched under their own fine banners.
In 1928, when the Częstochowa Craftsmen's Union celebrated its 15th anniversary, the Union numbered 1,200 members and all participated, with their banners, in the celebratory demonstration of Częstochowa united and wellorganised Jewish craftsmen. Additionally, the very active participation of Szmul Niemirowski and his services to the craftsmen must be laudably mentioned.
The Union's management also published a fine anniversary edition, in which was told the history of the Union and its divisions.
The idea for the anniversary edition and the main work on it must be attributed to Szmul Niemirowski.
The story of the Craftsmen's Ha'Chalutz, which was founded in 1934, is told in a different part of Sefer Częstochowa.
The Jewish Craftsmen's Union in Częstochowa, which displayed such a great measure of social education and which, thanks to its activity in almost all Jewish social institutions where it was represented, raised the image and prestige of Jewish craftsmen.
(Sadly, all this was burnt in the great fire that the Nazi bloodenemies so cruelly set to the Jewish people in Eastern Europe!)
The Book Committee
As everywhere else, soon after the first World War and the rise of the independent Polish state, our city also saw the creation of a Retailers' Union with the purpose of protecting the interests of the weaker elements of Jewish commerce the socalled soicherim'lech [Yid.; little merchants], who scraped together their livelihoods from their little shops or stalls, which they had set up in the city markets or which they took with them on their journeys to fairs in neighbouring shtetls.
It is interesting to note that these Jews, the majority of whom were such that their daily livelihood worries did not abate literally for one minute, still found for themselves an entire row of activists, who committed themselves with heart and soul to the interests of the Retailers' Union and who conducted a wideranging activity in all areas. They procured cheap credit for their members, defended their interests at the customshouse and at City Council and even provided the Union with a sports club, a library and a chess club, where members could meet in their free time.
Unfortunately, there were also periods during which backwardthinkers, who in certain measure hindered its development, also formed part of this Union's management. However, thanks to the trulycommitted members, these obstacles were eliminated and the work was conducted normally anew.
The founders of the Union were (alphabetically [in Heb.]): Chaim Wajnsztok, Sz. Nemirowski, M. Epsztajn, Dawid Filipowicz and Szlojme Krauze (until he left Częstochowa and settled in Metz, France).
From a 1924 report, which we have been able to find, we know that, already by then, the Union numbered 740 members and that, at its Annual General Meeting, the following were elected to its Board of Management: Sz. Opoczynski, A. Orzycki, R. Berkowicz, J. Dzialecki, Chaim Wajnsztok, Ch. Wajsberg, H. Jakubowicz, Adolf and A.M. Epsztajn, L. Fajerman, P. Rotensztajn, J. Sztrozberg and A. Szylit.
The Book Committee
Under the Polish name, which in simple Mameloshen [mothertongue; i.e., Yiddish], means Credit Society, the Towarzystwo Kredytowe existed for many years in Częstochowa as the Municipal Mortgage Bank.
This bank was founded with joint funds from Jewish and Christian homeowners and it, indeed, served the interests of [both] Jews and Poles together.
One of the bank's principal founders, who for decades held the honorary office of Bank Director, was the renowned oculist and longstanding mayor, Dr Martuszewski.
In passing, it should also be noted that, during his term as mayor, this successful and Jewfriendly, community public figure installed the drainage system and organised stable omnibuses in the city, something which greatly assisted the development of Częstochowa.
Dr Martuszewski's liberal disposition enabled cooperative work between Polish and Jewish homeowners, such that the Board of Directors of the Mortgage Bank also included Jewish representatives: Anczel Warszawski and Chaim Weksler (both wellknown Mizrachi social activists), Reb Icze Majer Krel (renowned Aguda leader), Goldwasser, B. Moszkowski, Sz. Rodal and Wolf Rozencwajg (all three, social activists).
Sitting (from left to right): Wolf Rozencwajg, Szenczik (not Jewish), Picznas (not Jewish), Dr Martuszewski (not Jewish), unknown (not Jewish), unknown (not Jewish), B. Moszkowski.
It also be noted that the Credit Society was the only joint JewishPolish institution not to be dominated by the local antisemites and their hatred of Jews!
Sadly, this ideal situation also met a bitter end.
As we read in Częstochower Zeitung No.19, dated 13th May 1938, the Polish Jewdevourers celebrated their demonic victory and, at the Credit Society's annual general meeting, held on Sunday 29th April 1938, thanks to a new electoral system, only Christians were elected. It is characteristic that the always Jewfriendly Dr Martuszewski was swept away with the current of antisemitism and agreed to be elected among the six Poles in the supervisory council. The three new directors were also ChristianEndecja [members] their leader, the lawyer Zawadzki and his two followers in hatred of Jews, Councillor Piątkowski and Roman Trawiński.
Reb Icze Majer Krel, who had until then been one of the directors, and Reb Chaim Weksler, one of the DeputyDirectors, were forced to relinquish their posts. Thus ended the love between Poles and Jews in Częstochowa.
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