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[Page 195]

From the Partition of Poland
Until the Austrian Constitution

III. From the People's Spring* to the Constitution (1848-1867)

by Rafal Mahler

Translated by William Leibner

Edited by Renee Miller

The Fight for the Abolition of the Terrible Ghetto Edict

The uprising of 1848, like a mighty storm, cleansed the suffocating air of the Metternich era. [Prince Klemens Metternich 1773 –1859, Austrian politician and statesman and perhaps the most important diplomat of his era - translator's note]. According to the constitution that was adopted by the Austrian parliament in 1848 during the revolutionary surge, all citizens, without distinction of religion and origins, received equal rights. Mameyle [as a matter of course] all restrictions from the various taxes directed at Jews were also repealed. By 1849, however, reaction overcame the special attitude toward Jews that had made it all possible. Although in the new constitution [known as the “Octroyierte Verfassung”], the rule about equal rights for all citizens was repeated, in practice, the government reinstituted certain exceptions for Jews.

Not only in the capitals, Lemberg and Cracow, but also in the smaller cities, the city councils were encouraged by the government to renew the gzeyre [evil decree] from the time before 1848 about forbidding Jews to reside and to open stores except in the Jewish quarter. The demands of the city councils had the complete support of the Galician provincial governments. Regarding Sandz, the government voted, that because of the “political rikzikhtn”, that is, the crowded Jewish quarter, Jews could settle in the suburbs, but not in the center of the city, with the exception of on Rose Street.

However, since the revolution the Jews in Sandz just as in Galicia in general, were filled with the knowledge of citizens' rights, in 1850, they served the government in Vienna with a memorandum, demanding the confirmation of their unlimited right to reside and to carry out trade in the entire city. In answer to this, the city council had the hoze [impertinence] to turn to the government, saying it should confirm the city privileges of former times in Poland, and asern [prohibit] Jews from living on Christian streets, and buying houses and lots there.

The minister of internal affairs had, in his ruling of September 21, 1850 answered, that the right of Jews to live in Christian houses and to be properly received by Christians is guaranteed in the constitution of 1849: and, as for the right “to open new branches of business and trade and conduct those that are already in place in other spots”, he must rule in favor of the current trade laws “until the publication of new regulations”.

On the basis of that government decree, the Jews of Sandz began to settle in the Christian part of the city.

*[Translator's Note] The European Uprisings of 1848, known in some countries as the Spring of Nations or the Year of Uprising, were a series of uprisings triggered by the Uprising of 1848 in France, which erupted in Paris on February 17 and soon spread to the rest of Europe. These European Uprisings were the violent consequences of a variety of changes that had been taking place in Europe in the first half of the 19th century –Wikipedia

[Page 196]

Beshum-oyfn [by no means] did the ruling citizens intend to make peace. In their request to the Kaiser, signed with ten names, the city management cited the privileges of the Polish kingdom of the years 1640 and 1685 that had forbidden Jews, on penalty of death, from buying houses in the city and carrying out trade there, except on market days.

In the meanwhile, in strengthening the reactionary trend, a new step was taken by the Austrian monarchy. According to the Kaiser's license from the end of 1851, the draft of the constitution of 1849 was cut up and tossed about until it iz botl gevorn [came to nothing]. However, the license simultaneously announced that legal equality for all walks of life was not abolished. The Galitzianer provincial presidium gave the question regarding Jews, their own response. In an April 13, 1852 report to the government, the provincial presidium complained that with the constitution of 1849 having come to nothing, there no longer was any legal basis for allowing Jews in Sandz to live in the entire city without any restrictions. Therefore, the provincial presidium proposed the determination that only those Jews who came bedieved [after the act] may remain living in the Christian part of the city, versus lehabe [in the future], Jews shall be prohibited from living outside of the Jewish quarter. Only in extraordinary cases, according to the grant of this regime and the kreysamt, [local powers], can an exception to this prohibition be made.

The bakoshe [plea, request] from the ten citizens that was endorsed, along with the report of the provincial presidium, was put aside in the ministry for internal affairs in Vienna. The decision was rendered only in 1861. By then, the internal politics of the Austrian Monarchy had taken on a clearer and more liberal tendency, particularly on account of the failure of its policies in the Crimean War and the army's defeats of 1859 in the war with Italy [Italy's fight for unification – trans.]. On January 13, 1860, Kaiser Franz Jozef published an order that revoked the separation of Jews concerning making a living and the right of residence. The provincial government in Krakow, nisht gekukt deroyf [disregarded] this. In its report to the Kaiser of July 1860, it still tried to be a melitse-yoyshe [defender] of the plea of the ten Sandzer citizens; his justification was based on a hair-splitting argument that the rights of Jews which the Kaiser had confirmed, were not the law in such cities as Sandz, where Jews were in conflict with the old privileges of the city.

Concerning the request of the ten Sandzer citizens the government minister, Anton Szmerling answered the Galician provincial after the Kaiser had confirmed his order on December 27, 1860. Basically, the minister cited the above-mentioned order of the Kaiser about the absolute right for Jews about residence and to make living.

[Page 197]

He also pointed out the senselessness of limiting the Jews of Sandz to the Jewish quarter considering the fact that the number Jews of the city had reached 3,315 souls by 1857, while there were no more than 70 houses in total in the Jewish quarter. It is, therefore, no surprise that many Jews in Sandz were already living in the center of the city, and owned their own houses there. In connection with this, the minister felt it was necessary to point out an important detail: es vayzn zikh oys [it turns out] that the majority of the citizens who, in 1850, signed the request to the Kaiser, were themselves renting rooms in their own houses to the Jews. According to the September 16, 1849 order of Kaiser Franz Jozef, the old privileges of Sandz that these citizens had cited could not, bikhlal [in general], be considered, only those privileges that were issued from the chair of his predecessors the Kaisers, Franz and Ferdinand and also bitnay [provided that] the privileges were not in conflict with the noted rules and orders*.

That is the way the evil decree about a Jewish ghetto came to a lawful end in the city of Sandz. Several years later, in 1867, the constitution was proclaimed. Jews in the entire monarchy, Galicia included, were gifted with complete civil rights just like all other citizens.

Panorama of Sandz seen from the east approximately mid 19th century
(from the Schneider Collection in the government archive on the Walwel)

* The main source for this chapter: Government Archive in Vienna, Ministry for Internal Affairs, 2081, 860, 38255 I IV 81 Fasz (We have Dr. N. M. Gelber z”l {of blessed memory}] to thank for this copy.

[Page 198]

Support for the Polish Uprising of 1863

There is no direct information at all about the attitude of the Jews of Sandz in 1863. This fact is noted in relation to the Polish national movement in the years of the uprising 1848/9: the pleban [curate – Pol.] from the dorf [village] Zbyczyce, Jozef Guntkiewicz, was arrested in 1849 under the charge of Polish patriotism, and imprisoned in the jail for political arrestees in the Kaiser's castle in Sandz. He was immediately freed thanks to the Jewish innkeeper from his parish who had asserted in his information to the regime, that “the priest Guntkiewicz is more Austrian than any Polak”…[1]

The Polish Uprising of 1863 called forth hislayves [exaltation] among the Jewish intellectuals in Galicia. August Rozner from Tarnow, a former lieutenant in the Austrian army, [2] was among the Jewish volunteers from Galicia who served as officers in the army of the Uprising in Poland. Concerning the mood among orthodox Jews in Sandz, we find only remozim [hints] in traditions of Hasidim regarding Sandzer Rebbe R'Chaim Halbershtam:

It is told in the name of R' Mordechai Klapholz, that once Hasidim from Congress Poland who were traveling to Sandz to the Rebe, were attacked by soldiers who wanted to shave off their beards and peyes [side curl]. [3] The victims of the attack arrived in Sandz at the Rebe's house with their faces bound with kerchiefs. The Sandzer Rebe looked very sad; then he fell into a dveykes [religious ecstasy attained by banishing all profane thoughts and communing with God] that lasted half an hour. When he woke up he reacted: “we can't do anything to him (meaning Tsar Nicolai), but before Meshiekh [the Messaih] comes, a small man who no one has heard of before will rise, and er vet botl makhn [he will cancel out] the country Russia”. [4]

The palpable hatred toward Russia, because of its evil decrees against Jews did not in itself create such sympathy for the Polish people's aspirations to reestablish their freedom. Such sympathy was a contradiction of the loyalty of the orthodox in regard to the Austrian Kaiser and his monarchy. From the same source, it is said, comes such a political nevue [prophesy] from R' Chaim Sandzer: Once he asked merchants from Hungary who were sitting with him at the table: “Wêgrzcer Jews, you only read the gazette; give me some news” after he had asked three more times and they still remained silent, he said the following words to them; “If you don't tell me, I will tell you the news: before Meshiekh comes, Poland will be an independent country. What is the nafkemine [difference]? When we need charity!

Say in my name, that their country will not last a long time, it certainly won't last a long time.” [5] Clearly, the reestablishment of an independent Poland was not thought of as a favorable event for Jews, but in such a situation one needs to have charity…”

[Page 199]

We do not have any possible way of determining if the “Divrei Chaim's” attitude to the question of Poland's independence expressed the point of view of all the krayzn [circles] of Jews in Sandz. In any case, an historic document shows that the Jews in Sandz were involved, willingly or not, in local “help action” on behalf of the Polish rebellion in 1863. When the leaders of the rebel government in Sandz imposed a “national tax” on the well-to-do residents of the city for support for the uprising, they included in the list 21 rich Jewish businessmen, and also the old Sandzer rov R' Chaim, together with his son, R' Aron. Here is the list of names of the Jews and the patriotic taxation, and the amount of tax that was placed on each one: [6]

(in Austrian Gildn
by Estimation)
The Sum of
(in Austrian Gildn)

Bretschneider [7]600030
Landoy Haskel [8]200030
Landoy in the pharmacy 20
Ehrlich [9] 195
Biederman [10] 110
Nebentzal [11] 80
Shperling [12] 140
Dormann [13] 35
Laks, entrance house [14] 40
Shultzer [15] 345
Hollander Israel [16] 70
Reibsheid [17] 40
Ettinger [18] 135
Herbst Shloyme [19] 76
Hollander Ber [20] 12
Lustig, the old one [21] 
Hollander Moyshe [22] 16
Nakel [23] 41
Halbershtam, the old one [24] 120
Goldklang Yankl [25] 32
Halbershtam, the son [26] 6

[Page 200]

Only one on the list, Yezikiel Landoy, is recorded as already having paid the tax. We have to assume on the face of it, that a number of those listed above who were taxed, also paid regardless of their relation to the Polish uprising, not refusing to pay the debt that was required of them according to an estimate of their ability. The number of Polish people in the city, upon whom the “national tax” was imposed was without a limit greater than the number of taxed Jews; the number of the last Jew on the list, the 21st, was according to the sequence, the 135th. Jews had to consider not only the necessity of good neighborly relations with the Polish majority in the city; but the businesses of Jewish merchants had a lot to do with the Polish landowners in the area, not only as buyers of grain and other products, but also as deliverers of merchandise. [27]


  1. Y. Sigansky, D. TS. V., Periodical Przhevendik Nauk. A. Liter., Number 29, page 421 Return
  2. B. Mervin, Zydzi w powstaniu 1863 r., Lwow, 1913, p. 18: Zydzi a powstanie styczniowe, Materialy I Dokumenty, oprac. A. Eisenbach, D. Fajnhauz, A. Wein, Warszawa, 1963, Nr. 113 , p. 163 Return
  3. According to the Tsarist decree of 1844 for Russia and in 1845 for Poland, Jews were not allowed to wear any peyes [side curls], and only Jews dressed in the costume of Russian kuptses [?] were allowed to wear a beard. Return
  4. Everything Has Been Written for Life , Jerusalem, 1962 page 130 Return
  5. See the cited work, there Return
  6. Ossolineum, Nr. 593/II Akta podatku narodowego, 1863. We got a copy of this list from Dr. N. M. Gelber z”l [may his memory be blessed] Return
  7. In the list of Jewish taxpayers in Sandz in 1866 that we will bring out in a future chapter – then we will cite at random: 1866 – the name Bretschneider in general does not appear; possibly because he lived in Sandz temporarily in 1863. Return
  8. Compare the list of 1866 Return
  9. Mendl Ehrlich, 1866 Return
  10. Izik Biederman, 1866. Return
  11. Aron Nebenzal, 1866 Return
  12. Mendl Shperling, 1866 Return
  13. Naftali Dormant, 1866. Return
  14. Meir Josif Laks, 1866. Return
  15. Perhaps a corruption of Shnitzer; compare Berek Shnitzer, 1866; it is also not impossible that in both examples we should be reading 'Shitzer' Return
  16. Hollander Israel, homeowmer, 1866. Return
  17. Shimon Reibsheid, 1866. Return
  18. Izik Ettinger, 1866. Return
  19. [Page 201]

  20. Compare 1866. Return
  21. Compare 1866. Return
  22. Abraham Lustig, 1866. Return
  23. Among the 16 Hollanders in 1866, not one is named Moyshe! Return
  24. It can be that it was a mistake over Nadel; compare Nadel Abraham, 1866. Return
  25. The Sandzer Rov R' Chaim Halbershtam. Return
  26. It can be that the name here 'Israel' was mistakenly changed to Yankl; in the 1866 list the richer of the two Goldklangs is – Israel. Return
  27. R' Aron, the son of “Divrei Chaim Return
  28. Actually, in the beginning of 1864 the representative of the uprising released an appeal to the Jews of Krakow in which he chastised them strongly for their refusal, with few exceptions, to pay taxes for the uprising, and he even threatened them with calling for a boycott of their merchandise; see the cited document collection, number 79, page 94. It is an hypothesis, however, that in a smaller city like Sandz, it would be harder to evade the taxation than in Krakow Return

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