The speakers at the first meeting emphasized that the Jewish Kehila (community) was run by assimilationists who constituted a minority in town, and that the time was ripe for giving orthodox Jews their rightful place in the Kehila.
In the following years the Aguda established several Jewish religious schools in town. The movement secured a prominent place in the Kehila for itself, and its representative was elected its Chairman. It took part in the municipal elections and its representative who became councilor, obtained the agreement of the municipal authorities to employ religious Jews in their service without their having to desecrate the Shabbat.
The economic activity of the Aguda included the establishment of a prosperous bank, which extended loans on easy terms to small merchants and artisans.
When the Nazis invaded Plotzk they confiscated the property of the bank, arrested the author of this article who was tortured and wounded, but survived thanks to the medical treatment of the unforgettable Dr. Feinberg.
Members mentioned: R' Iczel Burstyn, R' Jakob Jaszjewicz, R' Jeszayahu
Spierstein, R' Kalman Lajbisz Kilbert, R' Fiszel Benet, R' Icchak Meir Zilberberg,
R' Dawid Warszawiak, R' Mosze Mordechai Geliebter, R' Jakob Nagel' R' Arie
Kosowocki, R' Sinai Wolf Rozen.
The "Bund" movement was very popular in Plotzk and most Jewish workers voted for its list at election time. In 1920 it had two seats on the municipal council.
The local Bund branch organized the Jewish working youth in a special group, called "Skif". A Bund representative, Israel Gershon Burshtyn, was Lavnik (senior municipal councilor) of Plotzk and was very popular with all Jewish and non-Jewish citizens. He particularly distinguished himself in frequently preventing the eviction of poor tenants from their homes for non-payment of rents.
In the last years preceding the war the Bund tried to combat anti-Semitism in joint action with the Polish Socialist Party (P. P. S.).
I. G. Burshtyn survived the holocaust and spent the last years of his life in America where
he felt lonely, without contact with the Jewish working masses to whom he had
devoted his whole life. He wrote his memories on the destruction of Jewish
Plotzk, and bequeathed his legacy to the Plotzker Association in Israel, who
established a Loan Fund for new Olim (immigrants to Israel) from these funds.
|Drawing by Yaacov Guterman|
a) From 1921 to 1927, when this youth organization was linked to the local ''Jewish Gymnasium''In its first period its pattern was that of a purely scouting organization, on the lines of the "Blau Weiss" Zionist youth movement in Germany and the "Wandervogel" groups there. Two local teachers, Baruch (Bernard) Silber and David Eisenberg had then a great deal of influence on the local branch of that organization. Especially the latter made great efforts to acquaint the young boys and girls with Judaism, teaching them Hebrew, Jewish history, etc.
b) From 1927 to 1939, as an independent unit.
During the second period (1927-1939) the local branch became more dependent on other factors in the community and distinguished itself by its activities. It exerted great influence on the younger generation and many of its members played an important part in re-settling Israel, among whom there were some of the founders of the famous Kibbutz Negba in the Negev. Although "Hashomer Hatzair" later turned to the left and became very radical, it still exerted great influence.
Two young girls of the Plotzk branch of "Hashomer Hatzair" (Tova Beatus
and Rozka Korezak) belonged to the anti-German Partisan units, who fought in the
ghetto of Wilna against the Nazis. The first one perished on one of her missions
and the other lives now in a Kibbutz in Israel.
The Beitar youth movement had a number of adherents in Plotzk and like other youth-groups organized summer-camps and pre-military training. It called upon its members to immigrate to Eretz Israel and take part in its struggle for independence.
Due to the lack of documents the editor is unable to quote figures and mention names connected with Beitar. None of its members survived after the war, and no photos are left.
The editor concludes by paying tribute to this extreme Zionist group which
played its part in the sphere of Zionist education in Plotzk.
Three members (Meir Pagorek, Benyamin Galewski and Eliyahu Eisenberg)
were elected members of the Central Committee of the movement. The activities
of "Akiba", continued until the outbreak of war in September 1939.
When the frontier between Nazi-occupied Poland and Russia was opened for
refugees, many young Jews took advantage of the opportunity and escaped to
Russia, thereby saving their lives. Being later on confronted with the
realities of the Soviet regime, they left the U. S. S. R. and emigrated to
Western countries and to Israel after the war.
First steps to organize Jewish youth in a sports-organization were taken during the First World War (in 1915). A group of Jewish boys used to gather on a free plot near the "New Market" and do exercises under most primitive conditions. They were assisted by ex-students of the Russian Secondary School. When the town was under German rule, a special Jewish committee of sports-minded citizens was constituted and attempted to obtain the necessary license from the German authorities in order to organize the until then sporadic sports activities.
That year a special sports-gathering took place in the local theatre which marked the beginning of Jewish sports activities in town.
"Maccabi" organized a great festival in 1916, in which hundreds of its members from Plotzk and neighboring localities took part. When the town came under Polish rule, the authorities did not view Jewish sports activities with favor and tried on many occasions to limit them, but in spite of it, "Maccabi" grew in members and opened various branches of sports activities. Its members also took part in many general Jewish and Zionist campaigns. The outbreak of the Polish-Soviet war 1920 restricted the "Maccabi" activities, but later on, when Poland was re-established and battles ceased, many instructors and leaders of "Maccabi" left for Warsaw to study. A newly-elected committee redecorated the sports-hall, bought equipment and organized new groups. The years 1923-1934 marked a steady development of "Maccabi", which became a part of Jewish life in Plotzk and played an important role in the physical training of Jewish youth. New sections were organized: for light athletics, boxing, bicycle-riding, ski, etc. Members of "Maccabi" were in that period engaged in general cultural and Zionist affairs, besides their sports activities.
The author recalls one of the most significant events in the community's life: The arrival of Jewish sportsmen from Eretz Israel. It was a motorcycle group which toured many countries of Europe in 1930 and while in Poland, visited Plotzk. That event - says the author - was unforgettable and all those who witnessed it, will forever remember it.
The dedication of the "Maccabi" flag became a Jewish national festival. An article published in the Warsaw Yiddish daily "Haynt" (The Day) gave a detailed report of that important event and its influence on Plotzk's nationally minded Jewish youth.
At the end of 1934 the author left for Eretz Israel. He was confident that his
followers and the younger generation in Plotzk would continue his work for
"Maccabi" which was inspired by the slogan "mens sana in corpore
The author describes various sports activities which were the pride of the Jewish public and mentions the last football-match which took place in the summer of 1939 between the local "Maccabi" team and the Wloclawek "Maccabi" team. He also recollects one of the cases which proved that the "Maccabi" members did not confine themselves to sports activities only, and were always prepared to protect Jews and Jewish honor: a group of Jewish boys and girls was sitting on benches in a local public garden, when they were attacked by hooligans who wanted to expel them from the park. "Maccabi" members rushed to the help of the attacked youngsters and beat the attackers up.
The author mentions with appreciation the activities of the following: Felix Margulis, and Henryk Shenvits, the last two chairmen of "Maccabi"; Vice-chairman Artek Galevski and General Secretary Abraham Altman. They contributed a lot to the prosperity and success of local "Maccabi".
Sportsmen mentioned (partial list):
Artek Galewski, Leon Szczyg, Israel Lisser, Israel Goldman and his brother
Romek, Leon Strach, Szlomo Szczyg, Szymon Prusak, Menczyk, Lubranicki, Dawid
Krajcer, Dr. Matias Marknstras, Henryk Szenwic, Malgot, Gad Tynski, Eliyahu
Baran, Pawel Gombinski, Rudek Lubranicki, Jarzyk Goldberg, Gutek Flajszer, Hela
Goldman, Sala Plocer, Sala Kot, Mitek Wasserman, Salek Zilberstein, Alek Rusak,
Altrowicz, Gold, Salek Lichtenstein, Adam Najman, Zosia Goldberg, Fela Koza,
Teresa Strach, Sabinka Eisenberg, Heniek Najman, Adam Goldberg.
|Drawing by Yaacov Guterman|
Eager to take up formal art studies, Nathan left his home and went to Warsaw. Professor Tadeusz Pruszkowsky of the Art Academy there recognized right away his outstanding talents and enabled him to enroll at the Academy. While still a student, Korzen already exhibited his work at a Jewish Gallery in Warsaw. Having finished his studies successfully, he soon became known as one of the finest painters of portraits in Poland. Leading personalities commissioned him to do their portraits and he was never short of work.
He also painted from nature, and whenever he visited Plotzk, which is set in beautiful surroundings, he went out of town to paint the countryside. He spent many days at the picturesque village of Kazimierz, which attracted many painters because of its lovely setting.
As the art critic Yehiel Aronson states in his appreciation of Korzen, he was not affected by the surrealistic school of Post-Impressionism, since he was gifted with the ability to express his longings realistically on canvas.
Korzen lived in Wilna at the outbreak of the war, as he thought that from there it would be easier to escape to the West. His hopes did not materialize, and he stayed on in the Ghetto, where he took part in the cultural life of the oppressed Jews.
Murderous hands put an end to his creative life. His brother Harry, who resides in Toronto, published there a book in his memory in 1948.
Regrettably only very few of his pictures were saved from destruction and some
of them are to be found in the collection of Dr. Simchowicz of Tel Aviv.
A series of articles in memory of the above named outstanding Plotzk-born painter.
The first article is written by Harry Koren (Korzen) who was a friend of the artist. After describing the surroundings and countryside of Plotzk which inspired talented young Jewish boys, he portrays the artistic personality of F. Zylberberg. "He was endowed with the gift of a real master and thoroughly analyzed his ideas. He handled the strokes of his brush with great self-assurance and vigor", says the author.
He also recalls their meetings before the war, the exhibition of Zylberberg's graphic works at the "Hotel Poznanski" and describes him as an enthusiastic hard-working painter who had nothing in common with the frustrated "cafe-type artists".
Zylberberg exhibited his works at the "Warsaw Salon of Fine Arts" and was praised by art critics of that time.
He lived during the first war-years in Paris, but was deported to Auschwitz
where he was murdered by the Nazis.
Born in 1909, he was seen painting since early boyhood. Thanks to his teacher, Ms. Gutkind, a painter herself, he continues his studies in Warsaw and very soon distinguishes himself at several exhibitions as a talented artist.
In spite of being a Jew he is being chosen, due to his talent, to represent Polish graphic art in Paris and his works are being exhibited in 1937 at the Polish Pavilion of the International Exhibition in Paris. He studies in that city, takes an active part in its artistic life and is known there by the name "Zber".
In 1941 the Nazis arrested him and sent him to a concentration camp. On 26th October, 1942, he perished in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, only 33 years old.
Another article concerning the above is written by Itzchak Furmansky, Chairman of the Jewish Deportees in France. He describes mainly his behavior in the Bon-La-Roland camp, his modesty and devotion to art in spite of the inhuman conditions of life there. Zber was recognized by a Pole, who intervened in his favor, and thanks to whom he enjoyed better conditions for a short time.
In his last days in spite of his illness, the optimistic Zber was sure that he would not be sent to death.
A few lines are dedicated to Zber's wife, Stenia, who took part in anti-Nazi
activities in Paris and murdered in a Nazi-camp in 1944. She was deported
under the name "Guta Rozenstein". She managed to hide
some of her husband's works.
During the years before the war, Eljowicz worked as an internal decorator and in 1937 was awarded the First Prize for the nicest show-window by the Warsaw municipality. That year he was sent by the Polish Government to arrange the Polish Pavilion at the Levant Fair in Tel-Aviv.
After the Nazi invasion, Eljowicz stayed in the Warsaw ghetto where he, and others artists, were engaged in decorating the Kehila meeting-hall. One day he was sent by the Jewish committee to decorate the walls of a deportees' transit-station. He and his Colleagues painted a most impressive picture of a Jewish smith at work. This picture later irritated an S/S officer so greatly that he ordered to destroy it.
Maks Eljowicz, who contributed a lot to the artistic education of the Jewish public,
perished at the extermination camp of Treblinka.
When only one year old, his parents moved from Brzezany (near Lodz) to Plotzk, where he lived for 20 years, until the outbreak of war. The romantic scenes of the town inspired him just as they influenced other Plotzk artists, such as Korzen, Zylberberg and Eljowicz.
He studied in Lodz, was recruited into the Polish army and soon after the defeat of 1939 moved eastwards. Eventually he got to Israel, but here he felt that his special brand of art would not be appreciated. For several years he worked for a living, unable to further his art-work.
Then he moved to Paris, where, due to his natural ability to make friends and his desire to make his work known, he has succeeded in his career.
Two exhibitions of his work took place in Paris in 1948 and he was awarded an international art prize.
He maintains his relations with Israel and comes here from time to time, both to exhibit his. work (Haifa, Eilat, Petah Tiqva and other places) and to find new subjects for his art.
His drawings are greatly influenced by three factors: The Holocaust, Jewish
national rebirth and Europe's culture. One of his critics said that Tushinsky's
art is "a mirror of his epoch".
Only later in life, once he was already settled in Kiryat-Haim, Israel, he
returned to his first love - art. After his daily chores at the local glass
factory, he devoted all his free time to the creation of copper etchings. After
a period of study in Paris, he showed his work at two exhibitions, (1961 and
1963) in Haifa. His work was very favorably reviewed by Israeli art-critics,
and he continues to create scenes taken from the landscape and the day-to-day
life of the workers and ordinary folk of Israel.
|Drawing by Yaacov Guterman|
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