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[Page 231]

Chapter 7[1]

The Jewish Health Institutions
in Przemysl


The Jewish Hospital


No documents about Jewish hospitals in the past were preserved in the Jewish community. The ledgers and registers of the new hospital were also burnt by the Germans, during their short stay in the building in the Second World War.

Remnants testifying to the community's activity in the area of health were discovered in inscriptions on ancient headstones in the old cemetery from the 16th and 17th centuries. One of them told of a man (whose name has not been deciphered), known as “leader of the land.” It seems that this was a member of “The Council of the Four Lands[3]” and a community member, who established a poor-house, a bathing house and a mikveh. According to the inscription, the activist left an inheritance of one-hundred zloty per year for Eretz Yisrael until the coming of the Messiah.

A headstone from a later period was preserved, that of the community leader, Abraham Moshe Bar Elyakom, who managed the hospital “located in the town.” In the same corner there are graves of a number of physicians. In the monograph written by Leopold Hauser about the town of Przemysl[4], we read: “the Jewish hospital was founded by the Jewish community from donations in 1842. The property consists of a house and a fund in the amount of 4,364 gulden and 14 cents in stocks. The hospital's capital is based on interest from the principal and on income from the Jewish bathing house. The supervision is conducted by the Jewish community. The management: a director, a comptroller and a physician.”

Coincidentally, an old hospital seal from the first half of the nineteenth century has been preserved in the new hospital. In this seal, the engraver included the characteristic marks of the period. The physician's garb, as he checks the pulse of the patient in bed, is from the Biedermeier period. The inscription is in German, the official language at that time.

We read of the atmosphere in the hospital in the memoirs of Moshe Glanzman, who was known as Moshe Krankfuter, the old orderly at the Jewish hospital from 1875 to 1937.


An old Seal of the Jewish Hospital

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Sixty Years in Health Services[ii]

“When I walked past the Jewish hospital in the summer of 1875, the hospital director at that time, Mr. Margolis, called to me and offered me the position of nurse “krankfuter” in the institution. I agreed, and one week later I arrived at the hospital office to determine my work conditions. In the office, I met the hospital directors, Margolis, Schwartztal[5], Haim Blumenfeld and Haim Wolf. They confirmed that I had been approved by the community for the position of sanitary worker at a salary of 12 gulden a month and board. When I began my job, I was 15 years old. Since then, with the exception of the three years during which I served in the army, I have worked at the Jewish hospital.


The Old Hospital until 1904

The old hospital had 2 floors and was located on the lot where the Jewish community now stands. A large yard was adjacent to the building. The first floor housed the hospital office, the kitchen and two large patient rooms. The second floor had four patient rooms and a small room intended for mental patients, when necessary. The hospital was maintained by the community and served only poor patients.

The hospital budget came from contributions from the population in the town and the surrounding areas, “weekly pay” (“wachen gilt”). Households were given special boxes in which they placed pennies for the hospital. Treatment fees were only collected from strangers or from those who could afford them. The fees reached 15 gulden a month.

The hospital was managed by a board of directors who were chosen from the among the community members. The chief director was Margolis and, practically, the two of us were the chief directors. Patients were admitted upon a physician's referral, but the final decision was always made by Margolis. Appeals on the rejection of a patient were transferred to the senior authorities. All patients, with no exception, were served the same food, and only rarely were there any deviations. The hospital kitchen also served other purposes – it provided hot water to women giving birth in the town, and people often came to ask for hot water to bathe their babies. The kitchen also provided hot tea for the town and distant areas, especially on Shabbat. Sometimes people praying and studying at the nearby klois [6] came to drink hot tea in the kitchen. On Shabbat the housewives would bring their pots with food to heat up, and there were often quarrels among the women when the pots were exchanged. Increased traffic could be noticed in the kitchen when a famous rabbi was coming to town. Then, the housewives would provide the rabbi's entourage with their cholent and kugel, for the festive feasts. During the winter months, hot soup with beans was cooked in the hospital kitchen in huge pots, and was distributed daily to approximately two-hundred poor people, with a piece of bread. Margolis allocated the food products according to weight. He also ordered special diets for the patients and sometimes prescribed medications, without consulting others, based on prescriptions from professors in Vienna, which he collected and classified according to the type of illness.

When I began my service, the managing physician was Dr. Dauer[7], an elderly man of 60, who was kind and attentive to the patients. After he went to Vienna, he was replaced by Dr. Szyszkowski, who was also kind and always willing to help the patients. He often rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night, in severe weather conditions, to treat a patient. Like his predecessor, Dr. Szyszkowski also did not receive any pay. When I once gave him three-hundred gulden , which had been donated for him by the community as a grant, he refused to accept it and donated the sum to the hospital. While he was absent, he was replaced by Selver[8], a surgeon. Dr. Szyszkowski sometimes summoned Dr. Orlowski – the director of the general hospital in town – for consultations or operations, and he later did so with his successors – Dr. Medejski, Dr. Biber, and Dr. Kiburzynski[9].

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Every day the doctors made their calls in the following way: at eight in the morning the doctor arrived in the patient room and, without taking off his coat, went straight to examine the patient and prescribed medication and a diet. Laboratory tests, as are customary nowadays, were not performed.

The morgue in the yard also handled the deceased from the surrounding villages, and they were then taken to the local cemeteries. Every day, all around the hospital, one could hear crying and wailing of the relatives of the deceased. This was accompanied by the noise coming from the headstone workshop in the adjacent yard, and the sounds of young children from the cheder in the nearby house. It was a symphony of hammering and children laughing and playing around the hospital. Complex surgery was not performed in this hospital. Often, the doctor himself performed small operations and I assisted him. We did not have the advanced surgical instruments which are used today. Even so, thank God, no disasters occurred. There were usually cases of burns of various degrees, caused by careless handling of oil wicks and alcohol. Patients from the town and the vicinity were admitted to the mental patient room. If the illness lasted for a long time, the patients were released, and most of them wandered the town's streets. Patients with various contagious diseases were hospitalized together, however it should be noted that the situation in the general municipal hospital was no better. The number of examinations sometimes reached 40 per day. The examinations were held in the hospital office and the director, Margolis, was always present, as he was considered an expert. After Dr. Szyszkowski resigned, due to his age and failing health, a new director came, Dr. Ehrlich from Rzeszow. Dr. Ehrlich did not introduce any changes or new routines in the hospital. The old method continued, and we did not even purchase any new instruments. The new doctor was dedicated to the patients, however, in my opinion, he was not as advanced as his predecessor.


The Beginning of the New Hospital

During the final years of the previous century, the idea of building a new hospital emerged, due to the authorities' frequent statements that they would no longer tolerate the hospital being located in the center of town, and in poor hygienic conditions. Over the course of time, the public realized that there was an urgent need for a new hospital building. Rumors spread through town that Eliyahu Hirt was planning to acquire a lot or building suitable for this purpose, for the community. Moshe Scheinbach devoted his time especially to this matter. Upon his initiative, Leah Schwartz – the widow of Jakob Schwartz – donated ten-thousand korona. At first the community intended to purchase Licht's farm, however the plan did not materialize, due to the objection of the military authorities (because of the farm's proximity to explosives). The community wanted to purchase the lot which housed the Greek church's religious seminary, on Basztowa Street, however the owner refused to sell this lot to the community. In 1900, Eliyahu Hirt purchased the houses where the hospital is now located, and registered them under the name of the Jewish community in Przemysl. The preparations for the operation of the hospital continued until 1904. At first, only the serviceable equipment was transferred to the new building. All the rest, such as beds, mattresses, linen and medical devices, were acquired during the first year after the hospital was moved. The opening ceremony of the hospital was held with the presence of the “Starosta,” the mayor and other dignitaries. The new building, with 30 beds and sophisticated equipment, had patient rooms and an operating theatre on the second floor. On the ground floor were a clinic and storage areas. The surgery booth served as a department for contagious diseases at that time. In the director's hut were the kitchen, the laundry room and the warehouses. On the second floor were the chemical and bacteriological laboratories. The head physicians (there was no hospital director at that time) were Dr. Kutna and Dr. Ehrlich. For complex surgery, the surgeons Dr. Madejski, Dr. Tokarski and later Dr. Slenk[10] – director of the general hospital – were invited. At first I was the only sanitary worker in the hospital. Later, a nurse from Germany was hired –

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Ida Silberstein. A short while before the First World War broke out, Dr. Ehrlich was appointed head physician at the general hospital, and he was replaced by Dr. Blech. The situation in the new hospital did not change much with regards to treatment and nutrition methods, but there was some improvement. Food was cooked for “exporting” to the adjacent old age home in the new hospital too. My wife Serla, of blessed memory, served as the cook for 40 years.


The Jewish Hospital


The Hospital During the First World War

When the war broke out, the hospital, including its equipment – which was registered according to the orders of the district Surgeon General, Dr. Patters[11] and Mr. Moshe Scheinbach, assistant chairman of the community – was delivered to the hands of the Austrian Red Cross. It was not long before they began to bring casualties from the front to the hospital. Dr. Slenk served as commander of the military hospital. The activity of the community was irregular, only Mr. Scheinbach retained his position. Before the surrender of the fortress and its surrender to the Russians, the patients were moved to the gimnazjum building on Slowackiego Street, and the equipment was stored in the temporary hospital, which was established by the Austrian army in the Freudenheim house. During the Russian occupation the hospital remained empty. Before the town was re-occupied by the Austrians, it housed German soldiers for a number of days, and they destroyed all the documents. They took all the ledgers and registers out of the building, some one-hundred documents, and burned them in the yard. When the Germans left, the hospital was transferred to the authority of the Austrian army again, which converted it into a school for war invalids. At the end of the First World War, the Red Cross opened a hospital for contagious diseases in the building, for the civilian population, directed by the Surgeon General. This state of affairs lasted while the town was under Polish rule, until the community was given back the destroyed institution. Gradually, they began to completely rehabilitate the hospital. The events of the institution from 1923 are well known to the public, and I have nothing more to add.

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The Restoration of the Hospital after World War I [iii]

In May 1921, Dr. Rudolf Cohen, representative of the American Joint, convened with a number of dignified citizens to consult with regards to the means of handling the worrying health situation of the Jewish population.

The lack of essential institutions, such as a hospital and public bathing houses, which were completely destroyed during the war, had caused a deterioration in the health situation in the town. Infectious diseases such as typhoid, trachoma, and skin diseases, were severely harming the Jewish population, which was suffering from poverty and lack of means following the war, as a result of the raging inflation and high cost of living.

Following the recommendation of the Jewish National Council, the “Folksrat” (as the Jewish community was known after the revolution), Dr. Alexander Steinhardt was appointed as the Joint representative, to supervise the rehabilitation of healthcare in the Przemysl district.

Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Landau, the community leader, the hospital building was restored to the ownership of the community. The building was not fit for use, and was completely renovated by the community. With the assistance of the Joint, new equipment and modern medical devices were purchased, and on January 13, 1924, the Jewish hospital was opened. The “poor-house” conditions which had prevailed in it for decades, were liquidated once and for all. Dr. Alexander Steinhardt was appointed hospital director and he continued in this position until the Shoah.

The hospital – located in a large park on a hill on Szaszkiewicza Street – included three houses:


The medical staff

First row from left: Dr. Tuerkel, Dr. Schmorak, Dr. Steinhardt, Dr. Hass, Dr. Halpern-Weissberg, Dr. Schattner
Second row from left: Dr. Bauer, Dr. Segal, Dr. Loebel, Dr. Diamant
At back: nurses and Moshe Krankenfuter

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1) The main building, 2) the surgical building, 3) the administration building. It also had six clinics and a chemical-bacteriological laboratory. There were 100 beds.

  1. The Internal Medicine Department – directed by Dr. Alexander Steinhardt, with 10 rooms.
  2. The Labor and Delivery Department – the first of its kind in Galicia (labor and delivery departments were opened in Lvov and Krakow during a later period), which had a great affect on the decrease in the mortality rate during labor. It had 8 rooms and was directed by Dr. Zygfryd Diamant.
  3. The Surgery Department – included 6 rooms, 2 of which were septic. The department was directed by Dr. Mark Tuerkel[12] (now a surgeon in Ecuador).

    The following clinics existed in the hospital:

    1. Clinic for internal diseases and pediatrics – directed by Dr. Steinhardt, Dr. Wilczer and Dr. Knoller (died in Haifa).
    2. Gynecological clinic – directed by Dr. Diamant, Dr. M. Aberdam and Dr. A. Reif (now a doctor in Tel Aviv).
    3. Ophthalmology clinic – directed by Dr. M. Mieses-Reif (now a doctor in Tel Aviv) and Dr. E. Eisner.
    4. Ear, Nose and Throat clinic – directed by Dr. M. Gans (now a doctor in the kupat cholim [sick-fund] in Tel Aviv).
    5. Dermatological clinic – directed by Dr. S. Turnheim and Dr. Brand.


The foundation-stone ceremony for the hospital extension, 1938

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    1. Department for nervous conditions – directed by Dr. Schattner, who also directed the bacteriological laboratory (now a kupat-cholim doctor in Tel Aviv).

All the X-rays were performed by Dr. A. Rinde according to a special contract with the hospital. The hospital nurses included Netka Mayersdorf[13], who worked until her death in 1960, as head nurse in the kupat-cholim center in Tel Aviv.

The hospital also served as a residency location for young Jewish doctors who were not accepted to do their residencies in governmental hospitals, due to anti-Semitic discrimination.

The assistant physicians and specialists included: Dr. Henryk Loebel (his courage during the Shoah is recounted in the chapter on the Shoah); Dr. Edmund Mayer; Dr. Gershon Walter; Dr. Israel Segal; Dr. Shlomo Hass; Dr. Zygmunt Meister; Dr. David Mayer; Dr. Czeslaw Furdes; Dr. Abraham Walker; Dr. Arnold Meister; Dr. Israel Poppers; Dr. Wilhelm Diur[14]; Dr. Edmund Lercher; Dr. Klemens Cohen; Dr. Zygmunt Ferster; Dr. Emanuel Kupfer; Dr. Bruno Hassel.

During the period between 1924 and September 14, 1938, the hospital admitted 12,529 patients, during 166,349 sick days, 79,203 of whom did not pay any fees. A record of sick days was recorded in 1932. In that period, 131,698 people visited the hospital and received treatment, including 53% women and 47% men.[iv]

The hospital budget was funded by the following sources:

  1. Perpetual funding by the community, which dedicated the income from chuppa registration and burial and headstone fees to this cause.
  2. Patient sick fees.
  3. Donations.
  4. Assistance from the Przemysl Municipality.

In 1924, the hospital income reached a total of 28,737 zloty, to which the community had contributed 11,383 zloty, the Dobromil kehila contributed 1,700 zloty, and the sick fees were 15,654. The total expenses were 66,464 zloty.

In 1938 the hospital expansion was begun. Plans were drawn up by engineer Schaffer and the cornerstone was laid for the clinic house, but the building was not completed. Today, the Jewish hospital building serves as a school for Polish nurses. After the Shoah the glorious institution of Przemysl Jewry was transferred, then, to foreign hands.


The “Bikur Cholim” Society [v]

The “Bikur Cholim” [visiting the sick] society was founded approximately 100 years ago. At the end of the 19th century it was one of the best known philanthropic institutions in the town.

The society's first codex was composed in 1870, but there was an earlier one, which was lost at some point.

The most respectable citizens of the town were among the society's activists, such as: Yehoshua Mieses, who signed the first codex, Moshe Hirt, Shalom Baumwald, Leon Mezuzah, Mendel Halpern, Efraim Laufer, Maurycy Briefer, Dr. Shmuel Kutna.

The society's purpose was to provide medical assistance to poor patients by means of supplying medication and other means of treatment for free.

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The society's committee managed to acquire the trust and admiration of the public at large. One clear sign of its popularity is that a single women from the lower classes, Roza Blech, who worked hard her whole life, bequeathed the society a house on Serbanska Street. After receiving the inheritance the old house was destroyed, according to the committee's decision, and a new building was erected in its place, thanks to the generous assistance of Efraim Laufer, who paid off the mortgage on the new building.

Before and after the First World War, until the hospital was activated in 1924, the society's activities were a great help for the members of the population who lacked their own means. Apart from medication or money for medication, the patients also received a physician's treatment for no charge. It is worth emphasizing that many Jewish physicians volunteered for this humanitarian action.

The rehabilitation of the hospital released the society from the need to provide medical care, because the hospital clinic took on all the society's duties.

The recent chairmen of the society were Maks Ochsenberg and Abraham Kahane.


Society for the Preservation of the Health of Przemysl Jews, “TOZ[15][vi]

The proclaimed purpose of the society was to maintain health, and disseminate concepts of hygiene and cleanliness among the broad strata of the Jewish population.

The Przemysl branch, which was founded in 1927, was particularly involved in caring for the two-hundred students of the religious schools: “Bais Yakov”, “Talmud Torah”, and the “Yesodei Hachuka” yeshiva. The children were given medical examinations and dental treatment for no charge, and free tickets for the bathing house. During the winter months, they were provided with hot breakfasts. Before Passover, the needy families were given cleaning materials, whitewash for the walls, paint and soap.

In 1934 the branch acquired a large lot in a rural area, where they established a building for a summer camp for 200 children every year.

In 1938 the branch was directed by Dr. Julius Susswein[16], Dr. Stapp, Dr. Brand, Dr. Sohn, Dr. Diamant, Dr. Kutna, the pharmacist Grin, Dr. Schwartz, Dr. Glanz, Dr. Mester[17]. They were supported by a society of active members: Rena Reisner, Zilla Goldstein-Haber, Lusia Margulies, Wiska Rabinowitz-Reichman.

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Chapter 8[18]

Jewish Welfare Institutions in Przemysl

Y. A.

1. Orphanage (Ochronka) [vii]

The orphanage was founded in 1917, when the three years of war had left many children in the town and the vicinity abandoned and unsupervised. Some of them had lost both parents, some had lost their fathers to the war. They all lacked supervision. Under the initiative of Maria Buber-Mester[19], a committee was organized, including mainly active women, such as: Mina Mintz, Adella Margulies, Wangzein[20], Citron, Hirschfeld and others. The committee rented a house from Tichel, the carpenter, on Grottgera Street and opened the house for orphans. At first there were 20 children there, and over time the number grew to 70. According to an article in the newspaper “Der Przemysler Jud [sic][21]” from February 21, 1919, there were 177 orphans in the institution, from ages 5 to 12. There were 85 children living there, and 92 children for whom the institution was a daycare facility. Ms. Schneier[22] was the manager, assisted by the teacher Ms. Reben. The children who were at the age for compulsory education went to schools. In the afternoons, they were given Hebrew lessons.

After the founder Ms. Mester died, Dr. Joachim Goldfarb was chosen as chairman.

The orphans enjoyed material and moral support from the Jewish public in town. The institution received the first inheritance from Katriel Hartmeier[23], who dedicated half of the income from the “Victoria” hotel on Mickiewicza Street to the orphanage. After a short while, the institution was bequeathed a two-story house on Tarnawskiego Street, from Fischel Goldman. The orphanage was moved to this house and it remained there until the Shoah. The building had no neighbors, and it was adapted to its new function under the directorship of the assistant chairman of the management, Dr. Izaak Sohn, who supervised the children's health. The children went to school until the age of 17 and were then directed to vocational studies for three years. Each student's profession was determined on the basis of psycho-technical tests. The tuition which needed to be paid to the artisans and masters was a great burden, but thanks to the assistance offered by the “Yad Charutzim” society, they overcame this obstacle too.

During the institution's existence some 400 orphans passed through it, all educated to become productive citizens. Most of them perished along with the director during the Shoah. A few survivors remained – two dentists, one in Poland and one in America. After the death of the chairman, Dr. Joachim Goldfarb (1930) it was directed by Dr. Daniel Hass[24].


The Orphanage

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The twentieth anniversary of the institution and its educational value were noted in 1937 in a special celebration. Special appreciation was expressed towards the founding activists, who dedicated themselves to handling the orphanage: Maurycy Briefer, Dr. Bernard Gans, Dr. Jakob Glanz, Dr. Joachim Goldfarb, Dr. Leo and Leonora Probstein, Moshe Scheinbach, Mina Mintz, Maria Mester, Jakob Hirschfeld, Rabbi Schmelkes, Roza and Henryk Blatt, Deborah Citron, Rosa Diamant, Bertha Gans, Dr. Leib Landau, Lola Mantel, and Adella Margulies.

That year, the institution's budget reached 30,000 zloty.


2. Old Age Home

The old age home, in a two-story building at 13 Szaszkiewicza Street, was established in 1907, with a contribution from Moshe and Chaya Hirt, well known philanthropists in town, in the memory of their only son. The institution was next to the Jewish hospital, which provided food for the elderly and supervised the health of its 20 residents. “The Society of Friends of the Jewish Old Age Home in Przemysl”, directed by Adella Margulies in 1938, saw to the maintenance of the house. The Jewish community also participated in the maintenance budget.


The Old Age Home


A prominent activist in the “Society of Friends of the Old Age Home” was the righteous woman Leah Knoller, who dedicated herself wholeheartedly to improving the conditions of the elderly. She organized a volunteer club from among the wealthy women in town, who took upon themselves to prepare special meals at regular dates, at their own expense, especially on Shabbat and holidays.

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3. The Soup Kitchen

The cheap soup kitchen was one of the oldest humanitarian institutions in town. It was founded in 1870 under the initiative of engineer Reiniger, temporarily closed at the beginning of World War I, and reopened in 1915, directed by Ms. Lola Mantel, a welfare activist. The institution provided 250 warm meals per day for the needy for a symbolic fee, and half of them were given free of charge. They also provided 80 meals a day for the Talmud Torah students. The institution was housed in two rented rooms, its budget was partially covered by the community and partially by contributions from town citizens. During the last years before the Shoah, when the Jewish population became impoverished, many citizens who had once contributed to the institutions now benefited from it. In 1938 the institution was directed by Dr. Shmuel Kutna and Benjamin Almer.


4. Professional Consultation and Mental Hygiene Station at the Orphanage

The professional consultation and psycho-hygienic station in Przemysl was founded upon the initiative of the society for orphans, “Centos” in Lvov, by an activist in the area of assistance to orphans, Dr. Daniel Hass. Other participants were Dr. Julius Susswein, Dr. Isac Sohn and the psychotechnical expert Mgr. M. Geppart, who directed the station.

The station was housed in two rooms in the orphanage and was equipped with the appliances required by the science, as well as a specialist library on pedagogy and psychology. The students went through psychotechnical tests and were directed, according to the survey results, to appropriate professions.


5. “Gmilat Chesed” [charity] Society

The purpose of the society, which was founded in 1926, was to assist the needy populations among the small merchants and artisans, who could not receive credit from the financial institutions in town, because they were unable to provide suitable guarantors and could not pay the interest from the meager profits of their profession. The “Gmilat Chesed” society enabled these people to receive interest-free loans with convenient payments, which often saved their businesses from complete destruction.

Until 1930, the society drew from the funds they had accumulated and from loans from the Joint and reached a turnover of approximately 5000 zloty. From 1931, the society was regularly assisted by the relief society of Jewish Przemyslers in the United States, and the annual turnover in 1938 reached a total of 12,394 zloty.

From 1926 until the end of 1938 loans were given to 5278 families, in a total of 367,873 zloty.

During the last years, the institute's management was composed of Dr. Michal Buksbaum, chairman, pharmacist Jakob Katz, B. Stermer, Haim Elias, a labor movement activist, S. Frankfurt, Leon Streier, Feibel Herzlich, Yosef Tepper, Markus Felsen, A. Wirth, H. Antel[25], Yosef Ettinger, Y. Bloch.


6. The “Two Aguroth” [two pennies] Society (zvei kreizer farein, dwucentowka)

One of the most popular charity organizations in the town, which was founded in 1881, was the “zvei-kreizer-farein”. The origin of the odd name is in the rate of membership fees, which was two pennies [aguroth] a week, which enabled even those with little means to join the society. The purpose of the society was two assist poor students to acquire elementary and secondary education, by loaning them text books and study aids which their parents could not afford. The society also helped to clothe the gimnazjum students, as they were required to wear a special uniform, which was not cheap. Sometimes the society also paid the gimnazjum tuition for students with poor grades. (Students with high grades were exempt from tuition). This payment saved Jewish children who would otherwise have had to leave their studies due to temporary failure.

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Many members of the Jewish population in the town obtained academic degrees and reached the status of liberal professionals, thanks to the assistance of this noble society. Among the society founders was the respected religion teacher in town, Jakob Baumgarten. The most respected citizens in the town served as chairmen and the position was considered a sign of respect and appreciation. During the last years, the chairmen were Henryk Blatt, Dr. Michal Schwartz, Dr. Lichtbach and others. According to the report from 1931, assistance was given to 850 Jewish students in the town, which represents approximately 5% of all the Jewish population in the town.


7. Society for Mutual Assistance for Academics - “Samopomoc akademicka

The society was established in 1923 upon the initiative of some students who wished to assist their peers whose parents could not afford the expenses for their children in the university towns. The managements of the universities and the technological institute, discriminated against the Jewish students and would not exempt them from tuition, and even refused to defer their payments until they had completed their studies, as they did for Polish students.

This discrimination prevented many Jewish students from continuing their studies. The society took upon itself the burden of providing tuition. It established contacts with similar societies in Lvov and Krakow, which owned student dormitories, and provided cheap residence for needy students.

In 1928 the society achieved a peak in its development, when its annual budget reached 50,000 zloty ($10,000). Some 50 members benefited from the society's assistance, and approximately 15,000 zloty were devoted to monthly payments to needy members, and 35,000 for their tuition.

The society enjoyed the financial and moral support of all strata of the Jewish society in town. The community, the “Bnei Brith” brotherhood, the social club and the merchants' union allocated special portions of their budgets to support the society. The society activists were members of “Agudath Herzl” and the academic “Gordonia.”

The chairmen were: attorney Dr. Adolph Pfeffer and Dr. Zvi Rubinfeld. The last chairman until the Shoah was Dr. Marcin Aberdam, and the assistants were Y. Stremer from “Agudath Herzl” and K. Goldfarb from “Gordonia” (both now in Israel).

As the aliya to Israel increased, the society's activity was reduced.

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Chapter 9[26]

Jewish Sports in Przemysl [viii]

Y. A.

The Hebrew Gimnazjum

The Jewish athletes began their activity in Przemysl a number of years before the First World War broke out. A group of Jewish gimnazjum students with Zionist awareness, lead by Zvi Luft and M. Gottfried, decided to realize the ideas of Dr. Nordau about the “Jews of Muscle” and organized the sports club “Hashachar” – Jutrzenka [27]– whose symbol was blue and white.

The only sport they engaged in at that time was soccer. There were not yet able to purchase a sports facility without support from the public, which was still not supportive of the Jewish youth's physical renaissance, and belittled what was then known as sport. The youngsters made use of the little they had and used the city grazing field, “Blonie,” without permission, and were often chased away during their training by the shepherds. When the war began in 1914, the club's activity ceased, and in 1919 “Hagibor” [“the Hero”] was founded, which continued the Jutrzenka's tradition.

“Hagibor” was founded upon the initiative of a group of energetic and ambitious youths. The most active were the Poller brothers and Yitzhak Kneppel. They organized a group of Jewish sports fans and thanks to the help, the contributions and the enthusiasm of the young athletes, “Hagibor” progressed from one year to the next. The soccer team rapidly rose from the Third League to the Second League in the national soccer association of Eastern Galicia.


“Hagibor” Tenth Anniversary, 1930
Sitting from left: Bernfeld, Dr. Pieper, Swiatnicki, Dr. Weintraub, Klausner

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Among the activists we should mention Mr. Goldfarb (a clerk in Frenkel's flour mill), the Weissman brothers, Berek Bernfeld (a soccer referee), Maschler[28] (a pharmacy owner), the Goliger brothers, the Rinde brothers, attorney Dr. Axer, S. Rebhan, Hotrer[29] and Engel.

At first “Hagibor” practiced in the open field, “Blonie,” but in 1920 the municipality gave the Polish sports club “Polonia” most of the area which was used by other sports organizations or just amateurs. “Polonia” fenced off the area and developed it, and allocated only a small amount of time for “Hagibor” training.

The chairman of “Hagibor” at that time, Dr. Benjamin Weintraub (now in Haifa) managed to convince the mayor of Przemysl, Mr. Koszczewski, and at the beginning of 1926 the municipal council decided to give “Hagibor” a 5000 square meter area of municipal land on the right bank of the San river, near the Goliger brothers' sawmill. With great enthusiasm, the “Hagibor” activists quickly erected a sophisticated sports ground, which included a soccer field, a running track, a tennis court, a seating gallery, and changing rooms for the bathers and swimmers in the near by San river.

Since the establishment of the sports field, hundreds of young Jewish men and women would throng to the field for training in all branches of sports: soccer, basketball, tennis, athletics, gymnastics, swimming and so forth.

The new conditions bore fruit: “Hagibor” rose to the top of the Second League in soccer. In some cases, friendly games were played between “Hagibor” and the local team “Polonia”, which was a member of the First League, and “Hagibor” won the games, to the great joy of the Jewish population in town.

During its heyday in 1926-1927, the soccer team included the following:

Migal……N. Poller……Wolftahl……S. Poller……Holzman

“Hagibor” players the Holzman brothers, participated in the Przemysl town team in the international games against Turkey, “Hakoach” from Vienna, “Maccabi” from Brno.


“Hagibor” team (in the striped shirts) at a match in Boryslaw, 1928

[Page 245]

The surprising development of “Hagibor” attracted even the assimilators, including the well-known attorney Dr. Leon Peiper, who was chosen to run the club. During that period, Dr. Yosef Axer was the chairman of the society (he died in Tel Aviv in 1956). He was succeeded by Dr. M. Turkel[31] and Dr. Marcin Aberdam. During Succoth of 1937, under the auspices of the “Maccabi” organization in Poland, of which “Hagibor” was a member, a day of Jewish sports events was held in Przemysl. Hundreds of “Hagibor” members competed in all branches of sports on this day. The event became a sporting event celebrated by all the Jewish population in the town.

Apart from “Hagibor”, there was also another Jewish sports club, “Jutrzenka”, which was mostly comprised of the Noar Ha'Oved. Its influence within the sports public was small.

The Zionist youth, members of “Hashomer” also had a sports club called “Hashachar”, which operated for a few years. “Hashachar” members later moved to “Hagibor”, and the club was closed.


Members of a course in light athletics – “Hagibor”

Original Footnotes:

  1. From the jubilee book of the Jewish hospital in Przemysl, 1924-34. Back
  2. From the memoirs of Moshe Glanzman – recorded by Dr. Steinhardt (translated from the Polish by Y. Altbauer). Back
  3. Based on the records of Dr. Alexander Steinhardt, director of the hospital, in the hospital jubilee book. Back
  4. From the Jewish Hospital report of 1938. Back
  5. According to the writings of Maks Ochsenberg in the Przemysl Jewish Hospital Jubilee book, 1934. Back
  6. From the company report, 1938. Back
  7. From the institution's report, 1938. Back
  8. The material was mostly provided by Dr. B. Weintraub. Back

Translatorís and Editorís Footnotes:

  1. Translated from the Hebrew by Jessica Cohen (ed.) Back
  2. Footnotes marked with an asterisk * come from the original. (ed.) Back
  3. Established around 1580, The Council of the Four Lands (Sejm Czterech Ziem[stw]) was the highest body of Jewish self-government in Poland (see Rafal Zebrowski, Dzieje Zydow w Polsce, Kalendarium, Zydowski Instytut Historyczny, 1993) (ed.) Back
  4. Hauser, Leopold. Monografia Miasta Przemysla (The Monography of the City of Przemysl). Przemysl, 1883 (Nalkadem ksieg. Braci Jeleniow), Reprinted 1991 (Poludniowo-Wschodni Instytut Naukowy) (ed.) Back
  5. Schwartztal. Spelled: “Sin/Shin, vav, resh, tsadi, tet, lamed”. Possible spelling alternatives: Schwartztel, Schwartztil (ed.) Back
  6. Also spelled in other sources as “Klaus” (ed.) Back
  7. Dauer. Spelled “dalet, alef, vav, alef, resh” (ed.) Back
  8. Selver. Spelled: “samekh, lamed, bet/vet, resh”. Possible spelling alternative: Selber, Slover, Silber (?). (ed) Back
  9. Kiburzynski. Spelled “qof, yod, bet/vet, vav, zayin, apostrophe, yod, nun, samekh, qof, yod. (ed). Back
  10. Slenk. Spelled “samekh, lamed, nun, qof” (ed.) Back
  11. Patters. Spelled: “pe/phe, tet, resh, samekh:. Possible alternative: Fetters (ed). Back
  12. Tuerkel. Transliterated this way in the Yizkor Book, to denote an “umlaut” spelling, which is confirmed by a listing in the 1929 Polish Business Directory (Turkel, (spelled with a “u umlaut”) (ed.) Back
  13. Mayersdorf. Possible spelling alternative: Meiersdorf, Maiersdorf (ed.) Back
  14. Diur. Spelled “dalet, yod, vav, resh”.Possible alternative spelling: Dior, Dier (ed.) Back
  15. TOZ – Towarzystwo Ochrony Zdrowia (Society for Health Prevention) (ed.) Back
  16. Susswein. Spelled with an “u umlaut” (ed.) Back
  17. Mester. Spelled “mem, samekh, tet, resh”. (ed.) Back
  18. Translated from the Hebrew by Jessica Cohen (ed.) Back
  19. Buber-Mester (or Master) sp. “bet, vav, bet, resh – mem, samekh, tet, resh” (ed.) Back
  20. Wangzein, sp. “vav, nun, gimmel, zayin, apostrophe, yod, nun”. (ed.) Back
  21. In the original spelled “yod, vav, dalet” (ed). Back
  22. Schneier, sp. “shin/sin, nun, yod, yod, resh”. (ed.). Back
  23. Hartmeier. Alternative spelling: Hartmajer (ed.) Back
  24. Hass, spelled “he, samekh”. (ed.) Back
  25. Antel, spelled “aleph, nun, tet, lamed”. Possible alternative: Entel (ed.) Back
  26. Translated from the Hebrew by Jessica Cohen (ed.) Back
  27. Jutrzenka (Polish) and Hashachar (Hebrew) means “daybreak” (ed. & tr.) Back
  28. Maschler, sp. “mem, sin/shin, lamed, resh”. The 1923 Polish Business Directory has no entry for Maschler in the Pharmacies category. This may be a spelling error (no yod). Possible spelling: Meisler. Alternative: Majsler (ed.) Back
  29. Hotrer, sp. “he, vav, tet, resh, resh”. Possible alternative: Hutterer. This may also be a spelling error in the Hebrew. Possible spelling a: Hutter (i.e. one resh at the end of the word) (ed.) Back
  30. In the original, the names appear in this “graphic” representation. This was probably a way to show the position of each player. Because Hebrew is written from right to left ( not from left to right as English is), the positions of each player should be interpreted as a mirror image of this diagram (ed.) Back
  31. Turkel, spelled with an umlaut (ed.) Back


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