The Community [Council]
by Moshe Rotenberg
Translated by Jerrold Landau
Until the First World War, Radom, like other Polish cities that belonged to the former area of Russia, was a community centered city, led by so-called dozors.
In general, the community heads were elected by the community taxpayers. However, their number was not large, so the community heads were therefore almost always elected by wealthy people or by those who could speak with the governor.
Since a community ledger did not survive, it is difficult to understand the activity of the community during those times, and it is not possible to recall the names of the heads of the community. In official documents from the year 1815 (with respect to the expulsion of several Jews from the city), we encounter the signatures of Chaim Simbowicz, Aharon Landau, Leizer Margolis, Avraham Leizerowicz, and Zelig Mendelowicz as the community representatives. In 1831 (connected with the building of the synagogue), we encounter the names of Yitzchak and Mendel Kirszenbaum, Yaakov Yechiel Margolis, Netanel Bekerman, and Yaakov Dytman (the soap maker). In the year 1876, related to the Liberman-Frenkel issue, we encounter the names Yoel Bialski and Chaim Kirszenblat.
From among the later dozors, we recall the names: Yitzchak Bialski, Mendel Rozenfeld (the grandfather of the brothers Yitzchak Vardi, Arnold, and David, who live today in Israel), Hirsh Mendel Tenenbaum, Mendel Tencer, Daniel Klajf, Minski, and others.
The Glinice and Dzierzków suburbs always had their own dozors.
It is self-understood that the tasks of the community [council] included the supervision and conducting of religious matters for the Jewish community, such as: synagogues, Beis Midrashes, mikvas [ritual baths], and cemeteries; the maintenance of rabbis, rabbinical judges, cantors, beadles, and other clergy; and providing kosher food for the Jewish soldiers and prisoners. The Jewish hospital also had to be maintained by the community.
For those purposes, the community had the right to impose taxes, overseen by the city council. The Radom community did not have a large administration. There was only one officer: Ben-Zion Flomenbaum, who was known as Ben-Zion the Communal Scribe. When the heads of the community made the rounds on the eve of Passover to collect Maos Chittin [Passover charity], Ben-Zion would accompany them.
Even though the Radom community did not support any other institutions aside from those dealing with the aforementioned religious matters, and did not own any of the real estate, it is known that community was the initiator and helped greatly with the establishment of the hospital, old age home, and Talmud Torahs (through private donors).
The communal heads were also the official representatives at royal parades and other royal celebrations.
According to Russian law, rabbis also had to be chosen by communal elections. Until the First World War, all the rabbis in Radom were elected in that manner. The elections were conducted by the community, and the elected rabbis would occupy the rabbinical seat. Rabbi Tsirelson (from Kishinev) and Rabbi Landau (from Zawiercie), who were elected with the greatest number of votes, resigned from the rabbinical seat of Radom due to well-known reasons that are described in the articles about the community and its rabbis.
The community also hired rabbinical judges, who had to live in various areas of the city for the convenience of the population.
During the time of the First World War, the community representatives often changed. The war yeas brought new problems (homelessness, loss of livelihood, etc.). These
required help and intervention, which was provided with more or less success. Even after the rise of the independent Polish regime, the community leaders changed. Then, Rabbi Kestenberg appeared as the official representative rabbi in Radom, despite great opposition. During the time of the dispute, the authorities always contradicted the consensus of the community.
We know the names of the communal heads: Eliahu Tenenbaum, Hirsh Eliahu Goldblum, Mottel Ajzman, Binyamin Hochman, Richter, Jozef Bekerman, and others.
When the law regarding self-management of the Jewish communities came into force, the rights and activities of the community were regulated to a large degree. According to the law, a council had to first be elected via a general, secret ballot. Then the council had to choose a managing committee.
Radom waited a long time to hold such elections, which took place for the first time in 1924. A large number of the adult population, excluding women, participated.
Sine the election campaign took place under the authority of the rabbinical elections conducted by the communal council, the campaign was difficult. There was a side that held that Radom must not take a new rabbi, for Rabbi Kestenberg was the rabbi in Radom. That side only submitted three candidates for city council, whereas the opposing side was victorious, after fielding 19 candidates. As such, the workers parties did not participate in the election campaign.
The 22 elected councilors were:
Zionists: Yechiel Frenkel, Yisrael Lecz, Yehuda Kaufman, Mordechai Leib Fiszman, Mordechai Langer, Shmuel Cuker, Moshe Rotenberg, Avraham Rotman.The intervention of the organs of the authorities to certify (or to not certify) the elections lasted a long time, since there were objections. The elections were finally certified, and the first solemn sitting of the communal council took place on September 10, 1924. Of course, this aroused great interest. Yechiel Frenkel was elected as chairman of the council, and Yaakov David Tajtelbaum as vice chairman.
Mizrachi: David Blastman, Shmuel Gutman, David Luksenburg.
Religious: Yaakov David Tajtelbaum, Yaakov Leib Szejnfeld, Mendel Horowicz, Shmuel Korman, Avraham Plocker.
Handworkers: Shmuel Ejdelbaum, Shimshon Gutman, Moshe Rozenbaum.
Orthodox: Hirsh Eliahu Goldblum, Mottel Ajzman, Chaim Najman.
Then a committee was elected consisting of: Yosef Kenigsberg chairman, lawyer Shimon Molier vice chairman, Yisrael Diamant, Pinchas Fogelman, Yissachar Adler, Hershel Gutman, Nota Wajsman, Yidel Gostinski, Henech Wajntraub, Chaim Korman, Hirsh Helfand, and Shlomo Cytryn.
To the extent that the majority of the community council members were united regarding the question of elections to the rabbinate there were differences of opinion regarding all the other tasks of the community council. While the religious side held that the community must be involved solely in religious affairs, the Zionist representatives and handworkers wanted the activity to be broadened to include worldly affairs. Interpreting the existing laws, they wanted to introduce at least a minimum of Jewish-national autonomy within the community. This all came to expression in the solemn declarations that were read by the caucus representatives at one of the council meetings.
The representative of the Zionists stressed that his faction (the nationalist), was trying to broaden the competence of the community to encompass all aspects of Jewish life, and to have authority in society. The faction stated that issues of education, health, and social concern must be handled in at an appropriate level. Every activity for the benefit of the upbuilding of a Jewish Land of Israel should be supported. They also fought to change the voting regulations to enable a larger number of individuals, including women, to participate in the elections.
The nationalist faction also protested against the demands of the authorities to conduct the meetings in the Polish Language at a time when Jews had their own language.
The declaration of the representatives of the religious faction (Orthodox and Mizrachi) stated, among other things, that the community must be religious-worldly in the spirit of the Jewish religion.
The handworkers representatives stressed the democratic basis, the concern for school supervision in general, and for the schools of the handworkers in particular.
Appropriate committees were indeed elected to carry out the plans and proposals for all the activities:
A religious committee with sections for the rabbinate, the cemetery, the synagogue, and the Beis Midrash.
A culture and education committee, with Pinchas Fogelman as secretary.
A social supervision committee, with the lawyer Moliar as the secretary.
A finance and economic committee, with Yisrael Diamant as the secretary.
The committees began intensive work in all their areas. The community office was run in an orderly fashion. A competition was held for a general secretary and a bookkeeper.
The management of the city school was given over to a specially elected committee consisting of Binyamin Landau, Yechezkel Milman, Velvel Bauman, Mendel Kirszencwag, Lozer Zajdenweber, and David Hamersztejn. It was headed by Yissachar Adler.
It was decided that the shochtim would be maintained and supported by the community. A uniform price was set for shechita.
Significant subsidies were designated for the Jewish gymnasja, the Talmud Torah, the orphanage, the seniors residence, Ezra, and other charitable institutions.
It was decided to create a fund for a Gemilut Chasadim [charitable] treasury under the auspices of the community.
A general curriculum was set for the private and communal Jewish institutions of learning, especially for the cheders. The teachers had to follow the program of compulsory education.
A plan was crafted to coordinate all the charitable institutions and place them under controls.
The question of burial fees was regulated, thereby removing the need to negotiate with the Chevra Kadisha regarding the funeral.
An entire series of important, fine projects were crafted, which without doubt, would have been of great benefit to the Jewish society. These included, for example, an outpatient infirmary under the auspices of the Ezra organization, a summer colony in Garbatka, professional courses, and the like. However, a committee was also selected to oversee the election of a rabbi, and this was the primary reason that all the fine plans and good intentions were not carried out.
The election of a rabbi was set for the November 1, 1924. Important rabbis submitted their candidacy. The Kestenberg side fought to prevent the election. A few days before the election date, the highest administrative tribunal stopped the election.
The community made efforts to repeal the ban. Various delegations became involved in the matter, as did several important personalities such as Senator Rabbi Rubinsztejn, Sejm deputy Hershel Farbsztejn, Dr. Rotensztreich, Dr. Rozmarin, and may he live, Yitzchak Grynbaum. The ban was repealed and the elections for a rabbi took place. Rabbi Yitzchak Sztejnberg of Jarosław was elected as rabbi of Radom, with the largest number of votes. An appropriate rabbinical contract was signed. The date of the rabbi's arrival in the city was set, and a delegation prepared to travel and bring him from Jarosław.
The opposing side made every effort to ensure that the authorities would nullify the decision of the community. Everyone intended that the abnormal situation in Radom would end, and a rabbi would finally be elected. However, the Satan prosecuted, and
At the last moment, the Jarosławer rabbi informed [the community] that he cannot come to Radom, on account of a telegram from the Gerrer court.
The city once again became involved in the unfortunate rabbinical battle, which paralyzed all productive activity in the community and all of its institutions. In truth, various necessary things did get done. However, with this situation, not all of the communal administrators were able to dedicate themselves to important, constructive deeds. The authorities often became involved.
In the interim, Rabbi Tajtelbaum was designated as the substitute rabbi, and the civil record books were given over to the community.
That unstable situation lasted until March 1930, when the authorities dissolved the communal council and nominated a presidium consisting of Eliyahu Tenenbaum, Binyamin Hochman, and Yehoshua Stejnman.
The latter was requisitioned by the Zionist organization, whose member did not accept the nomination and indeed resigned.
In the month of July, the authorities returned the community to its former status. However, not every organization was now willing to return to its communal [positions]. The Gemilut Chasadim fund, led by Yisrael Diamant, was transferred to the local chapter of Ezra as an independent institution. The abnormal situation returned, and the authorities again nominated representatives, sometimes from one side and other times from the other side.
In July 1932, a provisorium [provisional council] took advantage of an opportune moment (when Polkovnik [Colonel] Moczkowski was the Starosta of Radom) and conducted elections for a communal council
Those elections reverberated in the city. There were those voters who, when the opposing side did not even have any trustees on the election committees struck the names of various activists off the voting lists: Yechiel Frenkel, the long-standing chairman of the communal council and a city councilor; lawyer Shimon Moliar, the former vice chairman of the communal council, city councilor, and member of the management committee of the orphanage and seniors residence; and several other personalities.
This was done relying on paragraph 20, that permitted the elimination of those who were apparently not sufficiently Jewish from the communal council
A communal council and a communal management committee were also elected. These were headed by Binyamin Hochman, Yerachmiel Gutman, Mottel Ajzman, Mottel Zelcer, Mottel Cemach, Hirsh Eli Goldblum, Itche Ryba, Chaim Tenenbaum, Leibush Mendel Zylbersztejn, and others.
Protests were lodged against those elections, which were not dealt with for a long time. In the interim, the communal council performed its duties, and elected Rabbi Kestenberg as the official rabbi of Radom on March 12, 1935.
And immediately following that act of electing the rabbi, the high authorities dissolved the communal council, on the pretext that it did not have the trust of the Jewish population.
Thus began the series of provisoriums [provisional rabbis].
An accusation was lodged against the elections for a rabbi, stating that the elections were not conducted in accordance with the law, for the issue of the
1924 elections had not yet been settled. At that time, there were 34 candidates for rabbi. (Rabbi Kestenberg was not yet a candidate at that time), and Rabbi Sztejnberg was elected.
At the end of 1935, the judge Jozef Bekerman was installed as head of the community. He was well prepared to take care of the economic and financial situation. He was not successful, and a new committee was appointed in 1936, headed by Itamar Adler. When he resigned, Mordechai Den came in, who set out to the work with special energy.
It was difficult to drag the community through its difficult situation. The debts were so large that the community had not choice other than to pay them head tax charges, which not everyone paid, or the payer would have to borrow to pay in full.
The authorities dragged out the confirmation of the budget, and there was no way of knowing which subsidies were confirmed, which were not.
It must be mentioned, however, that despite all the difficult conditions, the community was quite active at that time. This is thanks to the efforts and tireless work of Mordechai Den.
Specifically during those times, it turned out that the community had to take control of the Jewish hospital, which was liable to have to close. The hospital was in need of a fundamental renovation that would cost tens of thousands of zloty. The community treasury was empty and burdened with debts.
The legal situation of the of the seniors residence and the orphanage had to be regulated, as they were about to be transferred to gentile hands.
Despite the stubborn opposition of the Christian neighbors, the private path to the cemetery was purchased, and a field was purchased to expand the cemetery, which was already completely full.
The provisionary council also continued the professional and supplementary courses, and participated in a series of other societal and social activities, including providing the poor people with coal, Passover products, etc. The community also organized matters, and its representatives participated in the social orders of the hospital, orphanage, seniors residence, hachshara kibbutzim, and in providing for the Jewish soldiers.
The community also gave a literary prize to the writer Gabriel Wajsman for his book.
During those days, Jewish shechita was also regulated, and the community concerned itself with providing the Jewish population with kosher meat. The income from kosher shechita shrank, but the shochtim, who were now communal employees with stable incomes, issued a decision that their posts were life-long, similar to the rabbinic positions. They cannot be reduced [in number], and their salary cannot be lowered.
The general Jewish situation became difficult on account of the new political action of the regime against the Jewish population, and as a result of the economic boycott. The pogrom in Przytyk too place at that time. Later, when the trial took place, the Radom community became involved, and this affected its regular activity.
New communal elections took place in November 1936. That time, the workers parties also entered the election. The Bund, Poalei Zion and the professional unions united. They elected six of the 18 council members. The other 12 were divided as follows: nine for the opponents of Rabbi Kestenberg, and three for his supporters.
The 18 council members were as follows:
Religious and Mizrachi: Shlomo Mincberg, Yona Zylberberg, Moshe Klepfisz, Ben-Zion Mincberg, David Medalion.The following were on the committee:
Zionists: Moshe Rotenberg, Moshe Luksenberg.
National Handworkers: Itshele Zymbersztrom.
General Handworkers: Moshe Rubinsztejn.
Non-partisan religious: Yona Goldberg, Avraham Sapirsztejn.
Economic block: Lawyer Henryk Sztyler.
Workers Parties: Avraham Itshe Sztejnwicz, Shmuel Cymerant, Shmuel Sznajderman, Yisrael Glat, Yitzchak Hofman, Moshe Kirszenblat.
Yona Zylberberg, Yosel Grodowczyk, Moshe Klepfisz, Mordechai Leib Fiszman, Shlomo Fiszman, Menachem Kondenczyk. Mottel Ajzman, Yona Goldberg, Avraham Sztejnwicz, Wolf Fejgenbaum, Moshe Kirszenbaum, and Zalman Zymbalist.Unfortunately, the community was unable to get involved in the work, even though all the official constitutional work [constitorium] had taken place. A chairman and vice-chairman were elected for both the council and the committee. It is worthwhile to note that during the constitutional work, the workers representatives voted together with the non-partisan religious.
Since the number of votes in the council was equal, the candidate for chairman was decided by a lottery.
During the elections for a chairman of the council, the vote for Rabbi Tajtelbaum was decisive, as he was designated by law as the thirteenth member with voting rights.
At one of the meetings, the following resolutions were accepted:
The council of the Jewish community holds firmly with the entire categorization, that the Jewish population, which bears all the burdens of the regime, must also be entitles to all the rights that are guaranteed by the constitution, equal with all other citizens.[Page 75]
Considering an urgent need to support the emigration (which was indeed restricted) and to organize aliya to the Land of Israel the community categorically attributes this to the anti-Semitic slogans, and believes that only emigration can regulate the Jewish question in Poland.
The council holds firmly that the dissemination of such slogans contributes to the growth of anti-Semitic incitement.Even though the newly elected communal representatives were not confirmed by the authorities, they still would send delegations to the organs of the authorities for various interventions. They had to go to draw attention to the unbearable situation of the Jewish population on account of the pickets of Jewish shops, the pogrom agitation, and attacks by hooligans that were increasing in those days.
The communal council holds firmly that the Jewish masses in Poland have decided to fight for actual equal rights, for personal freedom, for cultural and religious independence, and for the ability to hold all economic positions.
In November 1937, the supervisory authorities demanded that, since one of the ballot boxes was found to be erroneous (with over 27 vote slips), the elections were nullified.
Thus, the provisional communal [council] returned.
The 1937 and 1938 budgets were finally confirmed. The supervisory authorities removed a large number of the subsidies, including for the Jewish gymnasja, education of children, the Bais Yaakov school, and a series of important institutions. It is difficult to understand how the authorities confirmed or removed the subsidies, but the financial situation of the community again remained difficult. The income from shechita was smaller due to the shrinkage of the contingency for kosher meat. Financing the head tax payment was also more difficult due to the bad economic situation of the Jewish population.
Communal elections took place on May 29, 1938 in Radom for the fourth and final time.
This time, the election committee consisted of people who were neutral and even from the opposition. Seven lists of candidates were registered, including three from the handworkers themselves: the handworkers joined with country headquarters, national handworkers together with the Hechalutz tradespeople, and a list of butchers. The workers parties had two lists: one for the Bund and the second for the left-leaning and right-leaning Poalei Zion together with the League for the Working Land of Israel. There was one list for the Zionist organization, and one for Mizrachi and the Orthodox.
According to the official provisorium, no list was entered. Why? It was then said that this was related to the fact that the administrative tribunal had to deal with the question of the rabbi at just that time. It made no sense to them that the heated election campaign would express the will of the community any more than did the first elections in 1924.
Indeed, on May 17, 1938, the administrative tribunal considered the complaint, undersigned by a portion of the members of the first communal council, headed by Yidel Kaufman, against the rabbinical elections conducted by the second communal council in March 1935. Dr. Emil Zomersztejn and the lawyer Salbe represented one side, and the Endeke lawyer Chmorski and the Jewish lawyer from Radom, Fenigsztejn, represented the other side.
The administrative tribunal dismissed the complaint and confirmed that the rabbinical election of the second communal council were legal, despite the fact that the edict regarding dissolving the council was still with the Starosta. Now, the election of Rabbi Kestenberg only had to be confirmed by the education ministry, which, regarding to the methodology of the elections, was against the protests of an rabbi with special interests from among the 34 candidates who participated in the contest of 1924.
We read the following in the Radom Trybuna weekly of those times:
We can infer from the mood in the city, that they do not want to take the step again to conduct the unfortunate battle, even from the side of the fervent opponents. The Jewish population is already tired of the rabbinic dispute that has lasted for man years, which has interrupted the normal work of the community and has led to the entire battle taking on the character of a quarrel between two rabbis regarding who will take care of the civil registry books. The interruption of the normal activity and conducting of intensive work for the benefit of the impoverished masses is dependent on Rabbi Kestenbaum's goodwill.As a result of the final elections, in which only 53% of those with a right to vote participated, the following were elected:
From the national handworkers and Chalutz tradespeople: Shlomo Fiszman and Moshe Bameister.The new council chose a committee, with the following: Shlomo Hochglaber, Beinish Kamer, and Gabriel Potasznik (from the workers lists), Yona Zylberberg, Yosel Grodowczyk, Shmuel Cuker, Moshe Rubinsztejn, and Itshele Zylbersztram (from the bourgeoisie together with the Hechalutz tradespeople) Chaim Korma and Avraham Wajsbard (general handworkers).
From the general handworkers: Yisrael Feldman and Chaim Yosef Rotblat.
From the butchers: Shimshon Gutman.
From the Zionists: Yisrael Yaakov Diamant and Aharon Merin.
From Mizrachi and the Orthodox: Shlomo David Medalion, Yona Zylberberg, and Yonatan Rubinsztejn.
From Poalei-Zion left and right: Yisrael Glat, lawyer Taub, Meir Kaplan, Avraham Frajdman, Yitzchak Mendel Hofman, and Yechiel Altman.
From Bund: Wolf Fejgenbaum and Shmuel Ber Sznajderman.
On July 13, 1938, the constitorium of the council took place.
The representative of the bourgeoisie, Yonatan Rubinsztejn was chosen as chairman, and the representative of the handworkers, Moshe Barmeister was chosen as vice chairman. This time, the handworkers voted together with the bourgeoisie.
The constitorium of the council did not select the committee. A meeting should have been called by the nominating committee. However, in the meantime, they conducted communal affairs.
At the end of 1938, the education ministry confirmed Rabbi Kestenberg as a rabbi. On December 27, he took over the books from the substitute representative of the Radom community and rabbinate.
It is interesting to note that one of the activities in those times was also introducing the porging [treibering] the internal parts of large animals and selling the meat (which was previously only sold to the Christian population). This was especially required because Jewish shechita was more and more restricted.
The dark clouds of Hitlerist Germany began to float over Poland. One dark night, the Nazi regime deported all Jews who were former Polish citizens from their living places in Germany. They were driven over the Polish border to the town of Zbąszyń. The Radom community immediately began a large-scale assistance program. They organized a fundraising campaign among the population, and collected clothing and food. They also organized a program to take in the refugee children and set them up with private families. Zbąszyń refugees started coming to Radom, and they had to be accommodated and provided with dwellings and work.
Elections for a chairman of the communal council took place in January 1939. This was the last act that the elected community council was able to carry out. The bourgeoisie and the workers candidates received an equal number of votes. In such a case, a lottery was to have taken place. The chairman, however, ordered a second vote. The handworkers gave their votes to the workers candidate, and, with a majority of one vote, B. Kamer was elected chairman, and Gabriel Potasznik as vice chairman.
Rabbi Kestenberg, who participated in the meeting already as a council member with rights, certified the vote.
The authorities did not certify the vote. Aside from the procedural errors, they discovered that B. Kamer did not have passive voting rights, and was not able to be elected to the council. In his place, the installed the rightist Poalei Zion member Szajnbaum.
Elections took place once again, and the following were elected: the Bundist activist Avraham Sztajnowicz as community chairman, and the rightist Poalei Zion member Shlomo Hochglober as vice chairman.
The authorities also did not certify these elections. However, they accepted the resignation of the previous provisorium headed by Mordechai Den, and they confirmed a new provisorium, consisting of some of the elected bourgeoisie members with Yona Zylbersztajn as chairman, the unelected Yankel Goldberg, and Leizer Gotlib.
The times became even more difficult. Patriotic actions began to strengthen the defense of the country. The community council and other Jewish institutions undertook large campaigns to raise money and goods for the benefit of the air defense and armament. The community and Rabbi Kestenberg called upon the Jewish population to make exceptional sacrifices. Those disturbing calls continued until September 8, 1939, when the army of the enemies of humankind and murderers of the Jewish people captured Radom. The community and all its institutions schools, Beis Midrashes, cemeteries were desecrated and destroyed. Almost the entire Jewish population was murdered, mostly in the gas chambers of Treblinka. There is no Jew left in Radom.
Poland inherited all the real estate of the Jewish community, for there was no longer such an institution in Radom.
by Moshe Rotenberg
Translated by Jerrold Landau
The constitution of Poland from March 1921, and even the later changes in April 1935, assured full rights and duties for all citizens, without discrimination based on faith or nationality. Indeed, the Jews were obligated to fulfill all their duties. However, with respects to rights in reality they were significantly restricted.
The administration, under the influence of the campaign of hatred conducted in Poland, did everything to exclude Jews from the economic, cultural, and political realms. This was also done in the jurisdiction of the independent city leadership, its organs, and institutions, even though the leadership was elected by the citizens of the city.
As is known, Jews comprised from 30 to 50 percent of the population in most cities and were even the majority in some cities. Therefore, primarily because they were mainly merchants, homeowners, handworkers, etc., they bore the greatest burden of the budget, and paid the greatest portion of taxes and other fees. However, when it came to the civic activities, the portion of the Jews was minimal.
The city council, or as it was called, the magistrate, had a broad field of activity in the areas of school supervision, public health, social protection, and public administration. First, the city structure, such as: sewers, waterworks, lighting, slaughterhouses, and other enterprises. Completely separately, they conducted public efforts to fundraise for special communal and national funds, and large loans (which were granted by the city council to large, local employers). This all gave the city council great possibilities to conduct such politics so that sections of the populations or quarters where certain strata lived were treated better or worse than others. Naturally, the poor strata of the Jewish population, such as laborers, tradesman, small-scale merchants and general needy people suffered the most.
Jews were never represented in the elected organs proportionally to their numbers in the city. This was all done with the help of the well-known, smartly partitioned voting precincts: purely rural regions were annexed to the cities to lower the percentage of Jews. In regional elections, sections of Jewish regions were annexed to larger Christian regions. Therefore, a smaller number of mandates were allocated to purely Jewish regions.
In truth, the divisions within the Jewish [community] also helped to lower the number of Jewish representatives. Not only did the Jewish workers organizations, for Jewish reasons or principles, not want to join a general Jewish list, but also the handworkers, the homeowners, and at times the tenants entered separate lists, which could only elect one mandate in the best-case scenario, and in most cases could not even get enough votes for a single mandate. Many Jewish votes, which could have increased the number of Jewish city councilors had they got to a joint list, unfortunately went to waste.
The disparate outlooks of this or that Jewish representative had no great significance, for a constant battle was being conducted against travesties affecting the Jewish in general (the Jewish middle class, as well as the working class), and against the anti-Semitic tendencies of the Christian majority. They did not deal at all with differences in class, standing, and outlook. All of the Christian councilors were generally anti-Jewish, some due to simple anti-Semitism, and others out of fear of being designated as Jewish supporters, or Jewish defenders as the anti-Semitic press would call them.
Indeed, one could find some among the Socialists who talked openly about equal rights for all citizens, and who spared no words about the brotherhood of the working class. However, when it came to concrete matters, their deeds were very far from their words.
Even in Radom, which was a manufacturing center with a large population of workers and belonged to the so called red cities in which the majority of the city council was in the hands of the Polish Socialist Party the number of Jewish workers in civic enterprises or public work was very small. There were barely a few Jews among the hundreds of officers in the city offices. This too was only after difficult battles.
In general, it was always necessary for the Jewish population to fight and struggle for a portion of the rights that all others possessed in a natural fashion, such as elementary education for example. The folk schools were completely funded by the city council, with the exception of the teacher's salaries. Of course, not all the Jews were able to or wanted to send their children to the general folk schools, where the teaching personnel was completely non-Jewish, classes were held on the Sabbath, and the curriculum had no trace of Jewish education.
Two thirds of the Jewish children studied in the Talmud Torahs, cheders, and private Jewish schools, where the tuition was higher. The city council then designated special folk schools for Jewish children, where they did not hold classes on the Sabbath. However, the curriculum
was the same, with no trace of Jewish studies aside from a small amount of formal religion. Mr. Yeshayahu Goldsztejn was among the few Jewish teachers allowed. He was a staff member of two schools. The school buildings were small and poor, and one wanted to be free of them. One school was quickly liquidated, and the other two (named for Berek Joselewicz and Aliza Ozeszkowa) were later united into a single school, apparently due to the lack of an appropriate venue. This was at the same time when new buildings were being built for the general folk schools.
A second, no less important area was health supervision.
The city council had to maintain the hospitals and provide medical help to the poor population. There were two such hospitals, in which the atmosphere was such that a sick Jew would not want to go especially a religious sick person. There were important reasons that forced the Jews to found their own hospitals. The city council had to (and was able to) pay for the Jewish sick people in the Jewish hospital to the same extent that it would cost in their hospitals. Furthermore: at the request of an ill person, they had to send the person to a Jewish hospital. The city council always twisted things and claimed that as long as there was space in one hospital, they could not send a sick person to another one. That means that such sick people had to be housed in the Jewish hospital at their own expense.
Therefore, the Jewish population had to seek the means (via fees and donations) to maintain the Jewish hospital at a time when the general population was free from such a burden. The history of our Jewish hospital is special and will be dealt with separately. It is worthwhile to note that whereas the Polish workers received medical assistance as members of the sick fund, the majority of Jewish poor people did not belong to the sick fund and had to receive assistance from the city council. Incidentally, the sick fund also made great difficulties before they would agree to send one of their Jewish members to the Jewish hospital.
We can bring many examples of travesties that Jews suffered in all areas of civic activity. The Jewish representatives literally had to make great efforts to ensure that the Jewish population would officially receive at least a portion of what was due to them. However, let us tell about the Radom city council in an orderly fashion through various periods.
During the Czarist times, the city council was chosen through a nominated president with a secondary council. At times, one or more prominent Jewish citizens were chosen. Most were wealthy, such as the Bekermans or the Adlers. In 1915, during the Austrian occupation, the well-known Endeke lawyer Przylenski (the son) held office. The engineer Leon Bekerman and the bank director Adolf Temerman were members of the secondary council.
Elections for the magistrate took place for the first time in 1916. Aside from the two aforementioned people, nine Jews were elected: including three Orthodox individuals: Nathan Wago, Chaim Najman, and Mendel Horowicz; the handworker activist Ludwig Briliant, and the non-partisans Yisrael Yaakov Diament, Dr. Jozef Adler, David Klwow, Yaakov Winower and Moshe Frenkel. In the council, as aldermen Jozef Temerson, founder of the gymnasja. The majority of the city council consisted of Endekes or not so outspoken anti-Semites. It is possible that during the time of the occupation, the anti-Semites did not have the ability to openly act on their Jewish program.
For the first time, elected Jewish representatives began to express their opinions on civic matters. Specifically at that time, the first Jewish officer appeared in the magistrate, the well-known Zionist activist Yechiel Frenkel.
* * *
The elections for the second city council took place in 1919, immediately after the liberation of Poland. This was already a general, proportional, direct election. A large number of P.P.S. [Polish Socialist Party] councilors were elected; three from Poalei Zion: Chaim Mordechai Fligelman, David Wajntraub, and Shmuel Tajchman; two from Bund: Moshe Yosef Fuks and Markus Landau; the handworkers: Ludwig Briliant; The Zionists: Yechiel Frenkel and Adolf Goldman. There were eight Jews in total.
Dr. Parisz, a former priest who became a Socialist, was elected as city president. The Endeke Domanski, a former Czarist officer, was elected as vice president. The four city councilors included Yidel Goldsztejn of Poalei Zion, who was replaced by the Bundist councilor Fuks after he made aliya.
Shalom Strowczinski (today in Haifa) replaced David Wajntraub, who was dismissed from the magistrate after several meetings. Eizik Zimler replaced Mr. Fuks. The P.P.S. activist Maria Kelles-Kraus was elected chairperson of the city magistrate.
The magistrate, that is the civic self-governing body in the newly independent Poland, gradually began to become involved in all areas of city life and economy. The P.P.S. took good advantage of this and introduced its own people (local and specially brought in) to strengthen its influence. The Jews also took advantage of this to some degree. There were two or three Jewish officers in all the offices. A small number of Jews were also involved in the public works. It is clear that the relatively small number of Jewish representatives (and they were not united) were not able to have their demands listened to.
The elections for the third city council took place in 1923. That time, a general citizens Jewish list was entered, with six councilors: Yechiel
Frenkel, lawyer Shimon Moliar, Moshe Rotenberg, Mendel Horowicz, Natan Zygman, and Shmuel Korman. They formed the first Jewish circle of councilors together with the handworkers representatives Ludwig Briliant and Mordechai Kotler. The Bund entered Marcus Landau and the Poalei Zion entered David Studnia.
The P.P.S. received the greatest number of mandates, but to have a majority, they had to join with one of the Polish groups or the Jewish voices. The largest Polish group after the P.P.S. was the Democratic Civic Liberals, headed by Rejent Ragoski and the lawyer Waszilewski.
Even though the slogans of the National Democrats (Endekes) were anti-Semitic, moderate members of the intelligentsia were chosen for the city council, such as the lawyers Przylenski and Bielski. There was also a group of Chodekes . The P.P.S. strengthened itself in the city council and occupied the positions of president and two aldermen. The two rightist parties took the position of vice president and one alderman.
Dr. Ksawera Moliar was elected as an alderman through the Jews. Efforts were made to ensure that all committees would have Jewish representatives. Yechiel Frenkel took the position of chairman of the finance control committee. This raised the Jewish esteem and influence to a significant degree, and also gave that circle [i.e. the Jewish community] the possibility of gaining information and giving directives to their representatives.
The group of Jewish city councilors began intensive activity.
The actual achievements included: a significant number of Jewish officers were included in the city council; the fines for taxes in arrears (4% per month) which added up to colossal sums, were reduced to 2 and later to 1%, and in many cases were even canceled completely. It was possible to submit improperly charged fees for reconsideration, even when the term was already in force, and thus have them canceled.
Subsidies for Jewish institutions were increased, or newly designated. This was even for the Talmud Torah, which was opposed by the Socialists as it was a religions school.
Jewish poor people began to be registered for social support. Regular or one-time support payments, or products were designated for them. Jewish unemployed people were slowly accepted for public jobs. At the beginning of the large-scale sewer work, with help from an American loan, the city council even made sure to employ 10% Jewish workers.
This was all possibly an improvement in contrast to what was the case earlier. However, all of this together was far from the rights to which the Jewish population was entitled to. A difficult battle had to be fought for every small benefit. It sometimes came to walking out of meetings and threatening to turn in the mandates. However, they could not always act categorically, especially with respect to designating loans to provide work for the unemployed, or other special needs.
In fact, the so-called circle of councilors were the representatives of the entire Jewish population. This was expressed in the many interests for individuals and groups, as well as in their public statements. When the two workers representatives spoke out, their salutation comrade president resonated. However, their statements did not have any value when the circle of councilors stood below them.
In general, the Jews supported the left and voted for their proposals. This was for the simple reason that the Jewish demands resonated quicker with them. However, the Jewish points were always emphasized through the Jewish councilors, as they demanded the rights for Jewish participation.
Unfortunately, the left were already neglecting a great deal, as they were certain that they had the Jewish votes in their pockets. Slowly, they began to ignore the Jewish demands. In some areas, the travesties were unbearable. The Jewish councilors intervened, demanded, and left meetings in protest. When none of this helped (at the end of the third year of collaboration), the Jewish circle of councilors were forced to refuse to support the P.P.S.
On October 26, 1926, when the question of supporting the budget report of 1925 came to the daily agenda of the city council, and the Polish groups proposed to not support the report and expressed their lack of confidence of the presidium the circle of Jewish councilors, after making an appropriate declaration that was registered in the minutes voted for the non confidence motion. Thus, the circle demonstrated that it is not oriented toward the left or the right, but rather conducts its own, Jewish politics.
In the declaration, special Jewish topics were included along with the complaints of a general character, as follows:
Despite the slogans about social justice, the number of folk schools for Jewish children shrank from three to two instead of growing. The number of Jewish teachers was reduced. They did not respect that children of religious parents have the right to rest on the Sabbath. This is despite the pedagogic, didactic demand to provide Jewish teachers for Jewish children.
To this day, the city council has not fulfilled the demand to open nutritional depots for Jewish children in the folks schools, even though the community has rented a special place for that purpose, and that
such depots have exited for Christian children for several years already.
They did not respect the formal resolutions to employ a certain percentage of Jewish workers in the public works. The number of such workers was small and is constantly being reduced. This is despite the fact that a large number of unemployed people, struggling with need and hunger, and demanding work, were registered via the circle of councilors.
From the colossal sums that the city council gave in support and subsidies, Jewish interests received paltry subsidies. The requests of needy Jews for personal support were not fulfilled.
The number of Jews among the great number of officers in the city institutions was negligible. They all bore the burden that the leadership of the magistrate. The chairwoman of the city council, who personally dealt with the schools and with social matters, ignored and made light of our just demands. The Jewish councilors were placed in a situation where they had to vote for a proposal to not support the financial report, and to express their lack of confidence in the president of the city council.
That declaration was supported by eight councilors from the circle, along with the alderman Dr. Moliar.
Landau, the Bundist councilor, voted together with the P.P.S. Poalei Zion, and Studnia abstained. The P.P.S. had not considered such a situation. It reacted with anger and resorted to considerable anti-Semitic statements. Its press raised a commotion, cursed, threatened, and primarily blackened the face of the Polish right wing and bourgeoisie parties, stressing that they decided to sign an agreement with the Jews.
Shortly thereafter, the P.P.S. representatives in the magistrate and the council committee turned in their mandates and were certain that the city council would be dissolved. However, this did not happen.
At a special meeting of the Polish groups with the Jewish circle that took place after this at the residence of Regent Ragoski, a communique was issued, and there was a mutual assurance of loyal cooperation. After the P.P.S. turned in its mandates, all differences were eliminated to the extent possible. The Endekes were obligated to refrain from mentioning any points from their program that related to Jews, and to come to terms with the Jewish representation. The main thing was to refrain from changing the status quo. In general, the city council was to be involved solely with clearly practical and economic matters.
In place of the president from the P.P.S., the former Kaluszer president Michalski was elected. It is interesting that before his election, he presented the circle of Jewish councilors with a recommendation from the Kaluszer Jewish community. The Jews then began large-scale activity and earned the esteem of the general population.
This situation lasted for a total of six months. The P.P.S. conducted activities against the reduction of the city council, and finally ensured that the authorities would have to call new elections.
The election for the fourth city council took place on May 8, 1927. The bourgeoisie block (Zionists, Mizrachi, Aguda, the merchants) once again joined together. The handworkers entered separately, even though it was certain from the outset that their representatives would belong to the circle.
A Jewish-Christian list of homeowners was entered, even though it was clear from the outset that they would dismiss the Jewish votes.
Regarding the Jewish workers, as usual, the Poalei Zion and the Bund entered separately.
On the Christian side, the Endekes moderated their tone, and no longer rode the anti-Semitic horse. In general, they displayed a weak interest. Their place was taken by the Christian Democratic Party (Ch. D. Party, the heir of the National Workers Union Narodowy Związek Robotniczi). On the other side, the P.P.S. took visible action making it clear that they were still angry with the circle. Their election agitation was not lacking in anti-Semitic innuendos.
As a result, the block elected six councilors: Frenkel, Moliar, Finkelsztejn, Rotenberg, Zyserman, and Korman. The handworkers elected two: Briliant and Kotler. The Poalei Zion elected two: Studnia and Marek Finkelsztejn. The Bund also elected two: Landau and Avrahamele Finkelsztejn (a feldsher medic). That means that the additional two councilors went to the workers parties, whose influence was significant in the Jewish street at that time due to the wide-branched activity of the professional unions.
Once again, the circle of councilors from the bloc joined with the handworkers eight councilors together. After that, when the Zionist Rotenberg was elected to the civic committee, the chairperson of the merchants union, Natan Zygman, took his place on the council.
The handworker Mr. Briliant was elected for the first time as vice president on the presidium of the city council. The Poalei Zion representative Finkelsztejn was elected as one of the secretaries.
Briliant only had a single opportunity to conduct a meeting of the Radom city council. In short order, he became ill and died. The handworker Chaim Korman (who died in America) took his place in the city council.
The P.P.S., together with the Jewish Socialists, did not have a qualifying majority. Therefore, they began to cooperate closely with the circle of Jewish councilors. This held until the end of the term. The circle increased its activity in all committees, not foregoing a single opportunity where it could achieve something for the Jewish population.
Subsidies or support for almost all the existing Jewish institutions were designated in various forms in the city budget.
Events or pavilions, the income of which was dedicated to a public institution, including the Jewish National Fund, were exempted from city fees.
The number of poor Jews registered for support increased. The number of Jewish workers at jobs that were run through the city hall also increased.
The problem of Jewish officers was understandably more difficult because the several hundred officers were stable. An agreement was reached, however, that when new ones would be hired, one out of four would be a Jew. As a result, more than 20 Jewish officers were hired, which was a rare occurrence in the cities of Poland.
A city bus system existed for a certain time. There were four Jews among the sixteen conductors. However, there were no Jewish candidates for drivers.
The city council allocated dwellings in that time. However, the terms under which one had the rights to receive a dwelling were such that it was difficult for Jews. Jewish families barely succeeded in obtaining several dwellings.
There were objective difficulties in school supervision. Jewish teachers were not hired, for the appointed teachers were affiliated with the regime. They also did not succeed in obtaining any appropriate venues for the special Jewish folk schools and therefore the number of students did not increase. On the other hand, Jews were not forced to write on the Sabbath in the general folk schools. There was no great crowding in the special Jewish schools.
In the area of nutrition, every effort was made to ensure that the Jewish children would not be excluded. The weaker ones were also sent to half and full summer colonies.
The aforementioned Mrs. Kelles-Kraus gave an interesting answer when the Jewish councilors demanded kosher food for the Jewish children in the colonies. Her husband, a medical doctor, told her that sick Jews may even eat pork However, they found an alternative that even made the religious parents happy.
It is worthwhile to stress an area that has not been discussed that much: providing products and merchandise via Jews for civic use and enterprises. The Jewish representatives in the appropriate places warned that the offers of Jewish merchants, manufacturers, and entrepreneurs must be considered along with the others. Indeed, many deliveries and jobs were conducted by Jews.
In general, the Jewish importance in the city council and committee made an impression. The only one to go against the Jews in the city council was the well-known anti-Semitic lawyer Gajewicz. He always received the appropriate response from the Jewish representative, so he rarely spoke out.
In that atmosphere, most of the offices were not permitted to restrict Jewish interests.
Jews were elected to delegations for conventions, and were sent as representatives to general institutions, such as the tax office, for example. There, they had the possibility of working for the benefit of the Jewish population.
Jewish personalities who visited Radom for societal matters were greeted by the city presidents.
The gala banquet for the Keren HaYesod chairman Leib Jaffa of blessed memory took place with representation from the city council. The blue and white banner flew over his hotel room.
A curiosity: when designating names for new streets, it was decided to name the street between Wahl and Narutowicza in the name of Y. L. Peretz. Later, an Endeke councilor raised an objection that Peretz was a Lithuanian and a hater of Poland. Of course, he immediately received the appropriate response.
This is the way things went until the year 1931. This was after the situation in Brisk when Pilsudski arrested many of the Sejm deputies and the city council issued a protest resolution. The supervisory authorities disbanded the city council and committee and appointed a regime commissar with a nominated secondary council. From among the former Jewish councilors, the Mizrachi representative Eliezer Finkelsztejn was appointed to the secondary council.
The regime commissar, a Radomer bank officer named Pietroszewicz, did not make any great changes. This was still during the time that the Polish regime presented itself as democratic and liberal. Official anti-Semitism was not overly blatant. There even was a Jewish Sanacja party (The Jewish Government Party).
Thus, the Jewish population felt that it was not the elected city council and magistrate that decided to liquidate the Jewish hospital at that time.
The elections for the final city council took place on September 8, 1935. That time, the changed voting ordinance specified different electoral zones, especially divided so that the number of Jewish councilors would be significantly reduced while the general number of councilors would be greater (48). As a result, only nine Jews were elected instead of the 11-12 in the previous city councils. The Woel area with its surrounding streets (a purely Jewish zone) produced four Jewish mandates and one Christian. All the other zones resulted in only five Jewish mandates. Not even a single Jew was elected in some zones, and the Jewish vote in such places went to waste. Some zones went over to the P.P.S.
From among those elected, the bourgeoisie bloc, which this time also included the national handworkers, elected seven councilors: Dr. Ludwik Festman, Yona
Zylberberg, Yechiel Leszec, Michael Richtman, Leibish Mendel Zyserman, Barmajster, and Yitzchak Sznajder.
The Bund, which included a portion of the handworkers, elected two individuals: Markus Landau, and Avrahamel Finkelsztejn. The Poalei Zion had one representative this time: David Studnia. When he made aliya to the Land of Israel, Gabriel Wajsman replaced him.
Thus, the Jewish fragmentation on the one hand, and the electoral geography on the other hand, resulted in the loss of thousands of Jewish votes.
The previous chairman of the circle of Jewish councilors, Yechiel Frenkel, did not submit his candidacy, as he was already preparing to make aliya to the Land of Israel. The lawyer Moliar, an active councilor in all the city councils, moved to Ostrowiec.
The P.P.S. once again elected a large number of councilors. The Christian Democratic Party headed by Dr. Szczelecki elected the second largest number. The Endekes only received two mandates. Several councilors were elected from the government party, which was called B.B. (Non-Partisan Bloc).
At the time of the election for the magistrate representatives, a president and a vice president were elected from the P.P.S. with a large majority. In the elections for the rest of the magistrate members (and the election was proportional), the Jewish bourgeoisie bloc failed to obtain a unified voice to be able to register a list. The two Bundists refused to give their consent and demanded the mandate for themselves.
The P.P.S. had more than enough votes and was able to give some over to the Bund, thereby helping promote a Jewish leftist bloc. However, it seemed that they had a different calculation: if the Jews will not even have one representative, the mandate would be forfeited.
However, completely unexpectedly, the matter to a different direction. The Christian Democrats, who had enough votes to elect one mandate, proposed to enter a joint list with the Jews, for a total of two mandates. In this way, they would prevent the P.P.S. from inheriting the Jewish mandate
As a result, the former alderman Rotenberg was elected to the new magistrate for the second time.
The P.P.S. quickly lashed out, complained, made declarations, and attacked the Christian Democrats, asking why they united with the Jews, thereby having a priest voting for a Jew. The priest immediately answered that this was proper and just.
After this, peace was made within the bloc, and cooperative work was undertaken once again, as it had been during the previous term.
Jews once again obtained places in all the committees that represented the magistrate externally. They also played an important role in all civic matters.
For a certain period, the Jewish alderman was the leader of the administrative division of the magistrate, and even earned a salary. He often represented the president with legal signatures on official documents.
The alderman Rotenberg received special power to oversee the civil record books of the Jewish population.
As is known, the rabbinate and the Jewish community did not have the rights that the Christian diocese and the priest had to record weddings, births, and deaths. In parallel with the registration of communal religious deeds, every deed had to be confirmed in the magistrate and signed by the city president. A wedding, birth, or death could only be legally recognized based on the deed in the magistrate.
Many Jews sufficed themselves with the religious deed of the rabbi or the community and were not concerned about whether it was certified by the magistrate. Therefore, there were cases that years later, the marriage of a couple would not have been legally registered even when there were already children of school age. Instead of correcting the error, the birth certificate of the child would be registered in the mother's family name, with a note regarding the father: n.n. i.e. unknown.
It also happened that people who had already died were not registered in the books; or vice versa, a considerable number of children were not registered at all.
The fact that registering after the deadline was connected with a monetary fine over and above the payment ensured even more that the Jewish population did not want to register official deeds.
The matter was often so thorny that one had to engage in a legal procedure, with witnesses and lawyers, which took time and cost money.
Wishing to introduce a bit of order into the domain, the magistrate decided, based on a proposal of the Jewish councilors, to designate a three-month period to collect deeds and correct errors, relying on the community deeds or oral witnesses, without a penalty or additional costs. The poor people were thereby freed from payments.
The Jewish population indeed took advantage of this. Many weddings were registered, and corrections were made to family names of children who had been registered with the dishonorable initials n.n.
Interesting situations took place with obtaining passports for women and children who had received an affidavit from America or a certificate from the Land of Israel. The father of the family had sent the document for his wife and children, being certain that they were known by his name. However, when the passport was being processed, it was found that no marriage deed had been registered, and therefore, they could not issue the passport with the family name of the father. They also could not register a new deed, because
the husband and father were not present in the country. They had to obtain advice and correct all errors, so that the passport could be issued legally and the family could travel.
Here in Israel, and probably also in America, there certainly are women and children who recall the difficulties they had in obtaining their passports.
Even though the circle of councilors in the final term was smaller in number and did not have any great influence in the council or committee, they nevertheless were dedicated to convincing the leadership to accede to some of the Jewish demands. The main thing was to at least ensure the status quo with employment of Jewish workers, to obtain subsidies for Jewish institutions, and for the Jewish population to be treated equally in the offices.
The employment of Jewish workers became progressively more difficult. No Jewish officers were hired, with the exceptions of two engineers who were members of the P.P.S. Artur Chaskler from east Galicia and Mrs. Mehl from Kraków. (Incidentally, they led various work efforts for the Jewish social institutions gratis.)
The numbers of situations in which the Jewish representatives had to personally intervene in the civic divisions increased. The central authorities issued a series of ordinances in connection with improving the appearance of the city. These included plastering the houses, painting the fences, paving the courtyards, changing [i.e. renovating] the shops, and renovating or completely demolishing buildings. Whether or not this was indeed necessary, this gave the administration the opportunity to create difficulties (through chicanery) for the Jewish population. People had to go to clarify and beg. This sometimes helped and avoided unnecessary expense and inconvenience.
Whereas when there were difficulties during the first half of the term, and one had to fight so that the Jewish population could at least utilize a portion of the privileges that the city council granted to the citizens; during the second half, there was a change for the worse, and the Jewish situation became even more difficult, to the point of being unbearable.
Official government anti-Semitism began. It was suddenly determined that the Polish city was overpopulated, and a large part of the city was dedicated to city works, especially those through which the Jews earned their livelihoods.
The agitation was conducted as if it was personally directed separately at each Jew who had some source of livelihood, such as a shop or a stall. They had to expel the Jews through all means, even with violence, with the intention to accomplish two goals: livelihood for the rural population and defending the city.
Through a great deal of Jew hatred, it was announced that one must not allow customers to enter Jewish businesses, making it completely impossible to run businesses. There was robbery and even pogroms.
The Polish minister Sklodkowski declared openly at the high Sejm tribunal that he was indeed against beating and perpetrating pogroms against Jews, but the fight to push Jews out of their economic positions this on the other hand, certainly
The Sejm and the regime issued explicitly anti-Jewish laws and did not concern themselves with the constitution.
The atmosphere of Przytyk pervaded, and there were echoes of the bloody pogroms in Brisk, Częstochowa, Mińsk Mazowiecki, and other cities.
This did not pass over Radom. Anti-Jewish hate grew, and a number of Poles came from the Poznań region and opened competing businesses in various branches. A boycott headquarters with hired hoodlums who would stand near the Jewish businesses, especially on market days, to prevent any Christian customers to enter. They also used cameras for that purpose. They photographed people who entered Jewish [shops] to purchase, and later published the pictures in their newspapers, accompanied with appropriate captions. They brought in criminal elements from the nearby regions to terrorize the Jews doing business in the market, and to not allow the farmers to purchase from them.
The government circles worked quietly to take over the entire anti-Semitic program of the Endeke camp in order to have influence on the masses. Their camp, previously called Sanacja or non-partisan Bloc, changed to Ozon. Perhaps there was a certain division between the two camps, but each camp tried to outdo the other regarding Jew-hatred and sought means to push Jews out from all economic and social positions.
This all had a great influence on the independent civic government, even though in the interim it was led by the P.P.S.
Articles were published in the press demanding that the magistrate fire all Jewish workers and officers, refrain from purchasing from Jewish merchants, refuse to certify any Jewish tradesperson, and not give any subsidies to Jewish institutions.
In such an atmosphere, the group of Jewish representatives had to deflect the actions of all the official and non-official Jew baiters who wished to remove the few rights that the Jewish population enjoyed from the independent communal leadership.
The record from a city council meeting at the time when it was dealing with a section of the budget can give a picture of the situation. In the expenditure portion of the budget, small subsidies of 1,000 zloty were listed for the TAZ and Ezra Jewish institutions. The Jew-baiting councilor, lawyer Gajewicz, spoke out against the subsidies, under the pretext that Christians
did not have similar institutions. Furthermore, if they would give to the Jews, it would mean that the Jews are favored. He accused the magistrate of supporting Jews in the magistrate offices.
The Jewish representatives claimed that the Jewish needy are not receiving the social support that other citizens receive. The Jewish society must therefore maintain institutions to help the people who should be helped by the magistrate. The subsidies, which only account for a small portion of the debt, is far from favoritism. Lately, the situation has become even more severe, for the needy have stopped individually approaching the magistrate, where they had been badly treated by some of the officers.
The magistrate representative, vice president engineer Radomski, was first to respond to the latest complaint of the Jews. He had not heard of any special cases where the social support officers treated Jews badly. It is possible that the Jewish citizens, who are currently going through difficult experiences and events, are more sensitive and see poor treatment even here, where it does not exist. Regarding subsidies, one must agree objectively that the structure of the Jewish population is such that, whereas the number of Christians who have the rights to social assistance is large, the number of Jews is minimal. This alone places bounds on the need. They are able to receive assistance from the Jewish institutions, and furthermore they have the right to receive support from the city budget.
Moving over to the question of employing Jews, he stated that this is decided by impartial motives, and one must not be against employing poor Jewish unemployed individuals. The magistrate makes efforts to ensure that the percentage is upheld. On account of the violent hate from the anti-Semitic press, even the supervisory committee has intervened in the matter of Jewish officers and workers to apparently increase the number of hired Jews.
At the vote, the proposal to cancel that subsidy was rejected.
It is interesting that the following councilors voted in favor of the proposal: Rejent Rakowski, lawyer Swiantkowski, and Dr. Czszepaniak, who had seemingly never been anti-Semites. Currently, however, they belonged to the so-called economic bloc.
In any case, nothing came of the vote, for the wojewoda [district governor] removed the subsidy from the budget, just as he had forbidden payment of the previously approved subsidy for the charitable fund with the motive that the fund was supported by the American JOINT. The supervisory committee ordered that the money designated for Jews be paid to a Christian charitable fund, and if such does not exist they should help create one.
The question of kosher slaughter was dealt with at the same meeting. As is known, kosher slaughter in Poland was restricted, and the quota for each city was too small. Therefore business was developed to bring in meat from the region, where there was greater opportunity to conduct illegal slaughter. The magistrate was asked why it does not take stronger means against the importing of meat, which diminishes the income from the city slaughterhouse.
It is interesting that specifically at that meeting, the city council decided to lease the Jewish hospital to the Jewish community for twelve years, rather than the previously designated six years.
Jewish life in the city became even more difficult. The Jewish representatives had to alert the magistrate and demand that they tear down boycott placards from the civic publicity poles, that they institute proper guarding in the city garden to ensure that the Jews are not attacked by hooligans, that they remove from the civic marketplaces the picketers and other hooliganistic elements who interfere with business and endanger public security.
The magistrate representatives did everything possible during those hot days when there was a fear of excesses from the incited hooligans. The [public] order militia of the P.P.S. was brought to the marketplace to expel the hooligans.
In such an atmosphere, when one had to protect against physical attacks and mortal danger, issues of an economic nature were discussed less. Therefore, whereas previously there were 130 Jews among the 1,600 workers, it later became known that there were only three Jews among the 300 hired workers. This meant that it was not only the president of the fund who had to receive 14 weeks support from the unemployment fund.
In order to maintain the subsidies for the orphanage, old age home, and several other institutions, they had to find a way, with the agreement of the magistrate, to prevent the wojewoda from striking them from the budget.
In Radom, the anti-Semites formed a union for the Christian carriage drivers, and they instituted that every Christian carriage driver must wear a card on his cap with the words Christian carriage. This ensured that Christian passengers would be afraid of travelling in Jewish carriages. After a certain time, the magistrate forbade wearing those cards.
The most difficult time for the Jewish representatives in the independent city council began during the second half of 1938.
Drastic solutions for the Jewish question were already being discussed. Even liberal Poles who were always far from physical anti-Semitism now claimed that to solve the Jewish problem, a third must emigrate, a third assimilate, and the rest must be annihilated. Jews were designated as sub-tenants and unwelcome guests
from whom one must be freed. They were eliminated from all societal institutions and community professional organizations. Every organization felt a duty to adopt such anti-Jewish resolutions, even if there was not a single Jew within its ranks.
The Polish homeowners union decided to not rent any dwellings or businesses to Jews, even though most of the houses in Radom belonged to Jews, and Christians lived in them and ran their businesses there.
They demanded to move the market day from a weekday to the Sabbath. In a nearby town, the anti-Semites once forced the farmers to come with their products on the Sabbath. However, the market did not take place, and the farmers returned with their products.
Jewish slaughter, which in any case was restricted, was supposed to be completely prohibited. The official circles and the majority of the population used all means to push the Jews out of all their positions, even from those in which they had been involved for generations.
In such a time, it was difficult to approach even the Socialists and demand from them something for the benefit of the Jews. Even when they decided something in favor, the wojewoda, that is the supervisory authorities, would annul it.
The Jewish councilors, who not only dealt with specifically Jewish questions, but also with questions of a general character, were always active, and displayed great intensity for the benefit of the entire population of the city. They assisted in maintaining the health of the financial and economic situation of the city and led all societal functions. However, they finally lost the energy and will for everything.
During one of the final meetings, at which the budget was being handled, the Jewish representatives already refrained from discussing general matters in their statements, and only stated in brief words that the budget does not at all satisfy even the smallest amount of the needs of the Jewish population, the income of which figures in all the divisions but does not figure at all in any of the expenditures. We believe that this is not a result of the P.P.S. majority in the city council.
New elections for the city council were called for April 1939.
The Polish society completely dominated the reaction, and the election placards expressed the Hitlerist anti-Jewish slogans. Only the P.P.S did not utilize such slogans. They lost their majority, obtaining 19 rather than 25 mandates. The government party took over with 18 mandates. The Endekes only received one mandate, as it seemed that the anti-Semitic ideology was already more than adopted by the government party itself. The Jews received ten mandates: seven for the united list of Bund and the professional unions of which three were Bundists, three were Communists, and one was the handworkers. The citizens block only received three mandates this time, and the Poalei Zion did not even receive one.
The supervisory authority was not able to confirm the elections. The previous magistrate remained active until the city was taken by the Nazi army.
A large majority of the Jewish representatives were murdered by the German murderers, together with all the martyrs in Radom.
As I discuss the memories of the important areas in the life of the former Jewish Radom, I want to give honor to the memory of the colleagues who spent their time faithfully and with dedication in work for the benefit of the Jewish public.
* * *
A Bundle of Flowers for Wieczór Warszawski
(After the city council elections of 1939)
The elections to the independent council in Radom brought a decisive downfall for the Socialists, who to this day had a monopoly in city life. However, now the Catholic organizations are prominent.
The first meeting of the new city council was planned for last month. However, there were difficulties along the way. There were the protests regarding the election, which the high commission sent to the Województwo after their own investigation. There was the general belief that the office of the Wojewoda would reject the protests and would confirm the new city council, which would take place in the first half of June (1939).
From the Christian society and the Ozon, it was announced that the councilors of the united Catholic bloc would demand:
A change in the office of the president,The Socialists, together with the Jews, are feeling insecure, and rumors are spreading. President Grzecznarowski stated at one of the P.P.S. meetings that since there will be no understanding reached between the P.P.S. councilors and the councilors from the catholic bloc, he would resign from the presidency.
Dismissing all Jews from work,
Canceling the subsidies for Jewish purposes,
Not trusting any Jews in work for the undertakings of the magistrate,
Dismissing Jewish doctors from the school clinics.
Vice president engineer Radomski also did so at the same gathering.
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