Translated by Jerrold Landau
He was a typical head of community from the previous century, and as such, he headed Radom communal life for close to fifty years.
Thanks to his wide-ranging forest trade and contract for building highways, he was close to the government, where they had respect for his patriarchal appearance, logic, and worthy attitude. This gave him the ability to be an all-powerful intercessor as well as a strongman within Jewish communal life.
His father, Yoel Bialski, was a man of means, and one of the first residents of Radom. Yitzchak was born in 1854, and of course, he receive a strong religious education. However, he entered his fathers business at a young age. He had a respectable marriage match with the daughter of the prominent Miller family. He became an activist at a very young age. At the age of 30, he was already a communal representative, and shortly thereafter the head of the community. To become the head of a growing community at such a young age, one had to have a personality with a strong character. His firm character was especially displayed during the critical times of the rabbinical elections. He was engaged in the first electoral battle when Rabbi Mohilewer left Radom. Passing over the Hassidic moods of the various shtibels and the head of the community, Yitzchak Bialski had the initiative to regulate matters. This is how it was when they welcomed the rabbis from Białystok. When they were taking on a new rabbi, they invited Rabbi Perlmuter, Rabbi Treistman, and Rabbi Tsirelson.
Testimony is given to his strong character by an incident that is related to the Polish uprising of 1863. Yitzchak Bialski was not yet ten years old at the time. His father was sympathetic to the revolutionaries. During his business trips, he was the intermediary between various revolutionary groups. Once, he took young Yitzchak on such a journey. During that journey, the elder Yoel Bialski was discovered. Being unable to obtain anything from the older man, the Russian men asked the young Yitzchakl to tell what he knew. They spoke to him nicely and wickedly, and the nine-year-old child was as silent as a fish. They started beating him and gave him such cruel blows that left him with a mark on his body for his entire life. However, the young Yitzchak bore the torture and was silent
We must ascribe the founding of the Linat Tzedek and Bikkur Cholim to Yizchak Bialskis communal service. He was the chairman of the Chevra Kadisha and Chesed Shel Emet, as well as of Ezra for many years. He greatly helped the young rabbis who had come to Radom to take an exam for a government rabbi and ensured that they did not demand too much worldly knowledge from them
Before the evacuation at the beginning of the First World War, Yitzchak Bialski was one of the hostages who was sent to Russia. He returned from there around three years later, in 1918.
New winds began to blow in Jewish societal life in that time and began to reach the broad Jewish masses. One now had to have the support of a movement or a political stream in order to be elected to the community, or one had to be a powerful individual. Yitzchak Bialski did not have the support of any movement, and there was mistrust of his personal power due to his participation in the tragic Kestenberg entanglement. Thus, the long-standing communal head remained on the outside, and was no longer involved in communal life.
Bialski was already an elderly man in his upper eighties when the Nazi sword fluttered over Polish Jewry. At that ripe old age, he endured all the suffering and torture of his community, together with whom he died in sanctification of the Divine Name.
The name Temerman comes from Tamar, the famous wife of Shmuel Zwitkower, from whose family he stemmed. Adolf was born in Płock n 1888. He graduated from gymnasja and settled in Radom. There, he found a broad arena for societal activity. He became the director of the Łódź Business Bank. In 1905, he was arrested as a member of the P.P.S., and remained in prison for a half a year. Even though he had a leaning toward assimilation, he did a great deal for the Jewish masses in all areas of culture and social support. He was among the founders of the Shabbat School, and of the Society of Disseminators of Haskala. He dd a great deal for the Jewish hospital.
Temerman stood on guard for Jewish interests. During the persecutions of the Czarist times, he intervened with high level activists and Duma representatives such as Dr. Bromson and others. He was also in contact with Yitzchak Grynbaum and Professor Balaban.
He was elected to the first city council of Radom after the First World War.
He died of typhus in 1922, at the age of 42.
When the founder and head of Yeshivat Chachmei Lublin, Rabbi Meir Shapira, may the memory of the holy be blessed, died, an empty place was left, and they sought an appropriate person to lead the administration and financial matters of the Yeshiva. Then, Reb Yosef Kenigsberg appeared, who had previously been popular as an activist and chemical merchant for the leather factory in Radom. He was soon elected as the vice chairman of the Yeshiva committee (most of whose members lived outside of Lublin, and only met in person from time to time to handle Yeshiva matters). He fulfilled his mission with success, concerning himself with the existence of the Yeshiva and all its needs.
Yosef Kenigsberg was born in 1881. His father, Reb Kopel, was a scholar, merchant, and Hassid. Yosef was also a scholar and was among the activists who concerned themselves with religious education. He supported the Talmud Torah and Yeshivot with a generous hand. He was the communal chairman, and led the action against Rabbi Kestenberg. He was friendly with the Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Meir Shapira, may the memory of the holy be blessed, who would come to him for advice and assistance for Yeshivat Chachmei Lublin. He participated in laying the cornerstone of the Yeshiva, and in its opening in the year 1930.
Yosef was tall, with a firm build, a long, serious countenance, a greyish blond beard, and wise eyes. He had a fine, restrained gait, and his movements were deliberate and measured. He spoke pleasantly, with the calmness of a merchant, as well as with Hassidic fervor.
Aside from his concern for the material side of the Yeshiva, he loved to spend time there, discussing Torah matters with the Torah greats of Poland who were connected with Yeshivat Chachmei Lublin, such as Rabbi Menachem Ziemba of Warsaw, Rabbi Wiederfeld (today in Jerusalem), and the spiritual leader Rabbi Moshenu Friedman, the Admor of Boyan-Krakow.
Yosef Kenigsberg was in Radom at the outbreak of the Second World War. Later, he moved to Warsaw, and he urged the Jews to self-defense and revolt in that ghetto. On the eve of Tisha BAv 5702 , when the deportations began, he called a meeting of societal activists of the Warsaw Ghetto and warned them of the danger. He made pointed suggestions, such as alarming world Jewry in the free world. In the meantime, he demanded that an uprising movement be founded. He took it upon himself to carry out his plans, but in that same month of Av, he was arrested. The Judenrat made efforts, and he was freed in the month of Tishrei 5703 .
Yosef Kenigsberg then returned to the ghetto and began to organize help for the Yeshiva lads who were studying Torah clandestinely.
In the winter of 1943, he was deported, together with his wife, daughter, son-in-law, and grandchild, to a concentration camp, where he was murdered at the age of 62.
M. Sh. G.
According to the Eileh Ezkera anthology, New York, 5716 .
He was called The Blind Henech. He was one of the deep communal activists who were not officially at the helm, but nevertheless set the tone.
Henech Wajntraub was connected with the entire city. He knew everyone, poor and rich, from the porter on the Alley of the Mikva to the tycoon on the fine streets. He had pride and tact for everyone. He was a Gerrer Hassid, without the Gerrer sharpness
As he was childless, and also free from concerns, as his worthy wife took on such responsibilities. Therefore, he had time to devote to societal work, which he loved especially philanthropy. He was a founder of the Aguda and one of its active workers.
Henech knew how to learn, and he would often sit over a book. As stringently religious he was, he had sufficient understanding for the worldly aspect of societal work. Even his sharpest opponents esteemed his honesty when he conducted economic missions. He had enough power to avoid playing favorites.
He never issued public statements and never gave any speeches. His energy and service were in practical, day-to-day work in the Aguda and in Ezra, where he was one of the active members of the council, or in the community, in which he served as the parnas [administrator] (for the united bloc and for all the bourgeoisie parties, and the anti-Kestenberg bloc). He led the [effort] of the cemetery allocation, which was one of the most difficult jobs, and one had to have exceptional boldness in order to designate an appropriate plot in accordance with the importance and worth of the deceased, and not in accordance with the merit of his family and relatives. One especially had to have boldness to demand payment for a grave in a proper manner, especially in cases where the Chevra Kadisha required money which was liable to prevent an upper-class style funeral. One must attribute the order and upkeep of the cemetery for the final two decades to his efforts.
That honorable and energetic societal activist, Henech Wajntraub, was murdered in the gas chambers of Treblinka.
Lawyer Shimon Molier
A Jew from Grodno, Yitzchak Molier, arrived in Radom in 1881. He was well-educated, a maskil, a Zionist, and religious Jew. He opened a private office as a lawyer, and his wife opened the first furniture store in the city. They had eleven children, but only three daughters and one son survived. Yitzchak Molier died in 1875, when his son Shimon was eleven years old. All three of his daughters graduated medicine. His son Shimon graduated jurisprudence in Kazan, but as a Jew, he was not permitted to practice law. He first opened a law office in Radom in 1917, and thanks to Yechiel Frenkel, he began to work with the JOINT, which was then beginning the assistance activity in the city. He was elected as chairman of the regional committee that enabled him to assist all the educational and charitable institutions in the region.
Molier was the initiator, one of the founders, and active committee members of the orphanage. He also brought his sister, Dr. Xawera, into that work.
When Poland became independent, he took interest in societal work, and also in other areas. During the time of the community election campaign, he fought for a democratic regime, and he was elected as vice chairman. Then, he devoted the majority of his time to communal activity. He was non-partisan, but he was sympathetic to the Zionist idea and an opponent of assimilation. From the year 1923, he was elected to the city council for three consecutive terms. He was elected to various committees in the name of the Jewish circle. He was fully dedicated to societal work, neglecting his own business affairs. He was one of the most dedicated, trustworthy, and knowledgeable activists. With a warm Jewish heart, he made efforts to help those in need. He was tolerant of his opponents in public statement. He left Radom in 1934 and settled in Ostrowiec.
The lawyer Shimon Molier was deported to Treblinka in 1942. His two daughters survived, one in Poland and one in Israel the wife of the lawyer Avraham Sapir.
Hirsh Eliyahu Goldblum
He was a pioneer in the metal industry in Radom. Already in 1899, he founded the first iron foundry in the Radom area. Years later, he was emulated by others who had formerly been his collaborators or employees of his factory.
Hirsh Eliyahu Goldblum was also a societal activist. He was the chairman of the community on several occasions. He was a supporter of Rabbi Kestenberg. He was active in almost all of the social institutions. He was a member of the local Zionist committee during the time of the First World War. In 1927, he gave over a few buildings of his factory as living places for the pioneers who were undergoing hachshara and studying the trade in his factory.
H. E. Goldblum was born in Piotrków, and he was known as a genius already from his youth. When he married Rachel, the daughter of David Spiritus, and settled in Radom, he made sure that there would be a permanent shtibel for his factory workers. He served as a Torah reader and would recite Akdamut on Shavuot. He had seven sons and one daughter who sang and played various instruments. He died in Radom and had a proper funeral. His widow, five sons and daughter fled to Russia during the Second World War and came to Israel from there. His son, Dr. Yaakov Goldblum, died in Israel.
He was born in Biała in 1873. He was the son of Berish and Itele. He married Rachche, the daughter of Sarale Sawa. He became a partner in Yehoshua Rotenbergs leather factory, and later an owner of a large tannery. He was an Aleksanderer Hassid, and was close to the Rebbe. He was a prayer leader and Torah reader in the shtibel. After the death of the Rebbe, he was the founder of the Biała- Strykówer Shtibel. Aside from factory affairs, he found sufficient time for societal activity. He was among the founders of Linat Hatzedek and Achiezer and was the head of the Talmud Torah.
M. Ajzman was a man of tact and a good conversationalist. He was elected to the community several times, and was a supporter of Rabbi Kestenberg. He was a member of the presidium of the community.
He was murdered during the Holocaust along with his wife and two daughters, Chaya and Luba. His three sons, Gavriel, Avraham, and Moshe were saved and are in America today.
He was a leader of Agudas Yisroel and a spokesman for the Orthodox; a communal chairman and member of the city council; the founder of an iron foundry; close to the Gerrer Rebbe; an enthusiastic supporter of the Land of Israel, who gave sums of money on an annual basis to the settlement fund of the Orthodox [Keren Hayishuv], and for Keren Hayesod.
It is said that he moved over to Mizrachi in his latter years.
Horowicz had a good nature, and he did many favors. Everything that he did was with refinement and finesse.
When the Germans entered Radom, he was robbed and suffered greatly. This hell shortened his life, and he died before his time.
Leibish Mendel Zyserman
He was called Leibush Mendel Chana-Brachas. He was the power of the Aguda, and an elected city councilor.
Even though the pillar of fire from the Orthodox movement in Poland, the Sejm deputy Leibel Mincberg, was almost a Radomer, for he grew up and was educated there the Aguda of Radom did not have any appropriate activists for many years, and its influence was small, almost negligible. The movement first came to life when Leibish Mendel Zyserman came on board.
Leibish Mendel was born and educated in Radom where he studied in the Yeshiva and later in the shtibel. He was very diligent, and he had the fine modesty of a refined young man. His father, Aharon Chaya-Brachas was an employee at the brewery of the Christian Kepler. Leibish Mendel would often go there, and he became friendly with Keplers family. There, he was influenced to study the Polish language and worldly subjects. He had a fine, European appearance externally but he remained the same honorable, traditional Jew internally. His good Polish and presentable appearance evoked respect also in the city council. His matter-of-fact speeches with logical arguments in correct Polish always evoked an appropriate applause from the gentile audience, from both the right and the left.
Leibish Mendel Zyserman remained unassuming. He never pushed with his elbows to make a personal career. He was only there because his party had a need for him, and he served faithfully. Therefore, he was greatly respected, even by his Polish opponents. He became the representative and spokesman of bourgeoisie Jewry during the final term of the city council.
Zyserman remained far from the entire Judenrat hullaballoo during the Hitler times. He suffered along with all the oppressed and tormented people, together with the misfortune of the downtrodden Radom Jewry. He went to the gas chambers of Treblinka together with his holy community.
The name Leibish Mendel Zyserman evokes respect among the Radomer natives to this day. His fine image remains before our eyes.
One son, Ben-Zion, was the only member of his entire family to survive. He is a rabbi in the United States.
Yona Zylberberg was one of the prominent personalities in our societal life during the final years before the destruction.
He was educated under the supervision of his grandfather, Reb Yisrael Avraham Zylberberg, a sharp Kocker Hassid. However, in time, he set out on his own path, with a conservative past and a progressive present. He dressed in modern style, with a Frankfurter koppele and trimmed his beard in a rounded fashion, appropriate for his solid, almost athletically built figure. He was comfortable with the small letters and was not strange to worldly studies. If someone needed, he was able to write a fine polemical article in the local newspaper. If one needed to edit a sharp, pointed memorial, he could do so without embarrassing himself
Thanks to his firm character and the aforementioned traits, he stepped into the demanding positions of societal life, and in time, took the place of honor.
Yona Zylberberg was among the first Mizrachi members when the party was founded in Radom. He participated in central conferences and congresses of his movement. He was the chairman of Mizrachi in Radom. He was a candidate on the list of the United Jewish National Bloc and became a councilor on the city council and a founded of the Jewish Kolo. He was vice chairman of the community council. Later, when a strong hand was required to carry the community through the Kestenberg swamp, he became chairman of the community council.
As soon as the Nazis took Radom, Yona Zylberberg, as one of the most popular Jewish personalities in the city and the head of the community, was arrested and cruelly tortured. He then succeeded in tearing himself away from the Nazi talons and escaping to Lemberg, which belonged to Communist Ukraine at that time. Luck evaded him, however, and he was arrested there as well. He remained in jail for a long time, and became seriously ill. As such, he was freed temporarily. He left jail as a broken man, not having anywhere to go as he searched for help and support. Then, the German-Soviet war began. The German marched forward, and Zylberberg returned to Radom. There, he did not allow himself to become involved in the service of the Judenrat or similar councils. His heart knew how to remain clean, and we remember his name with awe and respect.
Yona Zylberberg went through the long, nightmarish route of martyrdom along with 30,000 Radomer martyrs, until he reached the Buchenwald camp, where he gave up his soul in January 1945.
by Moshe Rotenberg
Translated by Jerrold Landau
In 1914, at the beginning of the First World War, the German-Austrian army occupied large areas of the Polish Kingdom [i.e. Congress Poland] including Radom. Later, the Russians regrouped, drove out the enemy, and retook the city.
It was the month of Elul. A group of soldiers were passing by the Zamlina (the Czarny Dwor [black manor]). Peering from the window of a low house, they saw three Jews with long peyos, and yarmulkes on their heads. They were sitting over open books and studying. The three were Reb Feivele Dancyger, the son of the Aleksander Rebbe; Reb Hirsh Mordechai Senkejowicz, the brother of the later Yeshiva head of the Sfas Emes Yeshiva of Jerusalem (both were sons-in-law of Reb Meir-Yechiel Rotenberg); and their cousin Reb Yaakov Ajzman.
Stating that they were searching for hidden Germans, the soldiers entered the house and began to conduct a search. Not finding anything, they took the three Jews with them, leaving only children and an old woman in the house.
There was a rumor that the Polish custodian of the house made some sort of libel.
The news quickly spread through the city and cast a pall over everyone. Therefore, people quickly ran to intercede with the mayor and other high officials who had access to the Russian authorities. All were made to understand that a terrible error had happened here: those arrested were honest, innocent people. The city commandant promised to investigate the matter, but he did not keep his word.
The next morning, we found out that the three were accused of espionage. A field court was set up, and a death sentence was issued and immediately carried out. They were hanged in the Kaptur grove behind the city.
The tragic event had a terrifying effect on the entire Jewish population. This was during the time that the Jew-hater Nikolai Nikolaevich was the head of the Russian brigades. He disseminated the slogan that all Jews were German spies. Nobody could be sure of their lives or freedom. In such an atmosphere, one had to run and make use of special intercession to obtain a permit to bring the martyrs to a Jewish burial. Then, the Chevra Kadisha people took the hanged people down from the gallows.
The entire city was in mourning and took part in the funeral. Everyone knew that they were martyrs of the government, holy [scapegoat] victims for the entire community.
They were buried next to each other, and a canopy was placed over their graves. People in difficult moods would come to that canopy, as they would to the canopy of a Tzaddik, to supplicate and leave a supplicatory note (kvitel).
That canopy was destroyed, and the graves were damaged together with the entire cemetery by the Nazi vandals and their Polish assistants. The tombstones were used to pave the courtyards and lay sidewalks in the city.
Translated by Jerrold Landau
Under that heading, we read the following from the Radomer Zeitung of December 1922.
The student Kestenbaum was thrown out of the seventh grade of the Real Gymnaszja for belonging to the 'conspiratorial' organization Hashomer Hatzair The Philological Women's Gymnasja under the leadership of the Sejm deputy Sołtyk has conducted wild anti-Semitic propaganda already for many weeks. Instead of teaching history to the students, they tell stories there about the covert connection between Jews and Germans. The history teacher Urbanski agitates in his lectures for numerus-clausus [quotas] against Jews. A Jewish student fainted in the middle of the lecture from great agitation. When one of the students stood up and said that this was a lecture of history and not of racial incitement, she was immediately thrown out of the class.[Page 91]
And in a later issue of the same newspaper, it is told:
The Rozwoj anti-Semitic organization began a wild boycott against Jews. Groups of criminals, students of the Real Gymnasja, wandered around for an entire week, attacking the customers of Jewish stores and breaking windows. The police did not react at all. When Dr. Keles-Krauz purchased fruit at a Jewish store, the criminals attacked him, and he barely escaped from them unharmed.Jewish city councilors are conducting a desperate battle in the city council against the discrimination in the labor division, and in providing help for city institutions. In the Radomer Kielcer Zeitung newspaper from September 1925, we read such a report about a city council meeting:
All the walls were spread with calls to refrain from purchasing from Jews, for they are traitors. On Thursday, during the fair, the hooligans attacked the Jewish shops and chased the farmer customers away from them.
In the Polish gymnasjas, plans were made to gradually expel the Jewish students. Thus, they were expelled for belonging to Jewish youth organizations, or they were insulted to the point where they fled on their own accord.
As a result of the wild, anti-Semitic terror, the Zionist activist in Przytyk, Berish Dov Lenga of blessed memory was murdered. He was attacked while on serving his national mission.
Mr. Frenkel stated that he cannot have any trust in the city council, for the do not deal with resolutions regarding the allocation of rights between the Polish and Jewish workers in the sewer construction efforts.
After that, as the lawyer Moliar referred to the general politics of the city council regarding Jews, the chairman of the city council made a statement, which threw out the entire accusation against the Olen company for not employing any Jewish workers. Mr. Briliant and lawyer Moliar expressed their protest against that firm for its business conduct and stressed that there were other cases of anti-Jewish discrimination.
by Bunem Zuker
Translated by Jerrold Landau
After the famous trial, a wave of anti-Semitic excesses flowed over Poland. This started with the Lemberger University, where they beat the Jewish students, and even killed one.
The Polish authorities did nothing to calm the unrest, and this further encouraged the Endeke hooligans.
Having no protection from the authorities, the Jewish workers circles decided to organize their own self-defense.
The situation became very tense in Radom as well. It was a situation of an eve of a pogrom.
First, the Polish scoundrels began to beat Jewish couples who were strolling in the new Mariacka garden. Later, seeing that the police did not react, they became bolder and began to beat people on Lubliner Street.
However, coming to the Wahl, they encountered a group of Jewish porters and carriage drivers who greeted them with such beatings that they retreated with broken bones. It quickly became calm in the city.
The calm did not last long. The hooligans could not forgive their defeat, and they brought in reinforcements from the surrounding villages, and even from Warsaw.
On one Sabbath eve, when the Jewish population were already finished their meal, and the youth were freely walking in the garden, they encountered hooligans with electric flashlights, who brazenly shone them in their eyes, to recognize Jews and blind them. They began to beat them with deathly blows, and blood flowed like water.
This time, it was literally an organized pogrom. The police stood back, and the hooligans functioned freely on all the streets, in the favorite places of the city, in the back alleys and in the periphery.
A large portion of the Jewish youth were in the
movie theaters, and they did not know what was going on in the city. Those who realized what was happening quickly organized self-defense groups, especially the porters, butchers, carriage drivers, and a few of those connected with the underworld.
A bloodbath was averted thanks to their quick action. The hooligans, not having previously encountered any serious resistance, rampaged freely through the Jewish quarter, the Wahl. Rwańska, and Warsawer. However, now they encountered everywhere a Jewish self-defense group that fought back. To their shame, they had to turn backwards and flee.
They now took out all their wrath against the Jewish windows, which they pelted with stones and bricks.
That same evening, I was in the Czary movie theater with a group of friends. When we exited, we first found out what was going on in the city. We realized that our parents would be concerned, and we all hurried home.
I went home together with my friend Pinia Litwak. He lived much farther out than I did, but we walked in the same direction. I suggested to him that he not risk going further on alone but should rather spend the night with me. I lived with my grandfather, Fishel Shochet, on Lubliner 86, and Litwak lived in Glinice.
At first, he agreed to go home with me, but later, seeing that it was calm and we were not followed by any hooligans, he changed his mind. We came to Skariszewer Street, and parted there, as he wanted to go home.
Do not be a coward! he said, Nothing will happen to me My arguments and requests were to no avail.
He responded, My parents will not know what happened. I must go home.
We parted and he set out.
When I came along to Wyszokia, I already encountered a group of hooligans. They suddenly attacked me from all sides. I remained helpless, and they hurt me so badly that I barely dragged myself home.
My grandfather and grandmother found me pale and trembling with terror. The windows were broken, and large stones had fallen on the beds. It was literally a miracle that no stone hit them, and their heads had not been cracked.
I did not want them to see how badly beaten I had been. I calmed myself and arranged a safe place for them to spend the night: between the closet and the cooking oven. I also cleared the table and placed all the pillows on it to protect it from the stones that were being flung into the house.
In the morning, I found over 40 such stones that had been thrown inside.
Sometime later, my cousin, Yisrael Yitzchak Cuker arrived, and brought me the dark news:
Pinia Litwak was murdered tonight.Gangs of hooligans were waiting across the railway line for Jews who were returning from spending time in the city, and murderously attacked themy. Litwak defended himself, ripped himself away from their hands, and fled to Żaba Street. However, he encountered a second group of hooligans there who stabbed him with knives.
The terrible news quickly spread through the city. The news broke me so badly that I developed a high fever. Avrahamele Feldscher attempted to revie me, and summoned Dr. Cungen.
I could not forgive myself for not forcibly holding back Pinia, and for letting him continue on alone. I felt so much then that I should have been stabbed, why him?
I was sick for eight days, and I could not even attend the funeral of my dear friend, the martyr Pinia Litwak.
Let his memory be perpetuated forever in our Book of Radom.
by Yehoshua R.
Translated by Jerrold Landau
We include The Przytyk Events in our book as a chapter that belongs organically to the Jews in Radom. We do this for several reasons:
First, it would not be right to limit ourselves only to that which took place within the walls of the city. The nearby towns were indeed tightly connected with Radom, as if they were our periphery, part of our suburban area.
Second, small Przytyk was older than the large community of Radom. The first residents of Radom came from and through Przytyk. When they had no living rights in Radom, they were able to live in Przytyk. There, they ate kosher and worshipped with a minyan [prayer quorum]. Before Radom had a community and its own cemetery, we would bring our dead to be buried in Przytyk.
Third, the Radomer Jews suffered, sympathized, and trembled before and during the terrible events, just as the Przytyker Jews themselves. Przytyker Jews ran to Radom for help. Those fleeing the pogrom sought Radom as a city of refuge. The wounded people from Przytyk were taken to the hospital in Radom. A victim from Przytyk, Chaya Minkowska, died in Radom, and her funeral took place there as a protest demonstration of Polish Jewry.
Fourth, the epilogue of the events, the historic Przytyk Trial played itself out in the Radom district court. Jews from the entire world, shaken up by the events, turned their eyes and ears toward Radom hoping for a just trial.
How it Took Place
At the beginning of 1936, the political-economic fight against Jews sharpened, with the aim of pushing them out of all positions and removing the [food] from their mouths. The Sanacja regime, with its owszem politik [politics of certainty], encouraged the extreme Endeke elements, and turned toward terror, literally physical terror, against the Jews and also against the Poles who did not follow their orders and maintained business relations with Jews. The regime made a pretense of neutrality but in fact helped lead the discriminatory politics. They allowed the Endeke picketers to do everything that their hearts desired during the clashes. When the picketers attacked Jews, the regime always held the Jews guilty. They had no ear for the Jewish interests, and only waited for the Endeke work to yield fruit.
In that atmosphere of concentrated assault against the livelihoods of Polish Jewry, the Przytyk events shone light on the entire situation in which the Jews of Poland found themselves at that time. There was no longer any doubt about the hypocrisy of the regime, which apparently protected calm and order, but in fact encouraged the hooliganistic attacks against the Jewish minority.
Already for a few months (from the end of 1935), the Jewish population of Przytyk, Odrzywół, and other towns in the entire region suffered from the terror perpetrated by bands of Endeke hooligans headed by Korczak. They did not allow Jews to do business in the market, and did not allow farmers to buy or sell from Jews, for they would be beaten with murderous blows.
The police were passive toward that which was transpiring in the market and the fairs. They saw the businesses destroyed by the picketers, heard the anti-Semitic slogans and calls of the hooligans, and looked the other way when the [hooligans] attacked a Jewish stall as they dismantled and trampled over the merchandise of the Jews. They even saw people beating a Jew, and how a peasant who did not heed the orders of the hooligans also received blows. But they did not intervene to any great degree, for blood was not pouring from both sides. First, they knew how to arrest a few Jews and take along a few Endekes as witnesses. Serious incidents broke out from time to time. Here in Odrzywół, and there in a different town. There were people wounded lightly and seriously. There was even a victim an elderly Jewish man who was murdered! But the police were completely passive
The situation became more serious and tense in Przytyk. There was an Endeke Gate three kilometers from there, which openly and freely demanded a payment from every peasant wagon to cover the expenses of the Endeke Bajewka (beaters). Their work was also not easy, for their agitation did not have as strong a resonance in the villages as they desired. The peasants, who had earned their livelihoods for decades and decades by doing business with the Jews, would not give in so easily. The peasant would not come with his wagon of merchandise to avoid a market day and transport it back.
Who then would purchase from him? And from who would he cheaply obtain his needs? Therefore, it was difficult to keep him from stealthily selling to or purchasing from a Jew.
All the agitation was to no avail, and the Endekes decided to provoke events that would once and for all create a barrier between the Jews and their village neighbors. They spoke about it very often, and the entire Przytyk already knew that something was brewing. They even knew when: eight days later, on March 9, during the weekly fair.
The Jews of Przytyk saw the impending danger, and tried various interventions and asked for help throughout the entire week. Their delegation (Lenga, Przytycki, and Pacanowski) went to Tromerkurt, the Starosta of Radom, explained to him the dangerous situation, and requested that they urgently send a large police division to Przytyk. The Starosta listened calmly and responded matter-of-factly that, according to his reliable information, Przytyk was completely calm, and no serious danger was threatening there. He believes that the Jews are indeed a historic people. They are overly nervous and overdriven. And especially, the awl was already out of the bag. He cynically concluded:
There is nothing I can do as long as they do not kill, and there have been no deaths Such a statement from an official representatives of the authorities astounded the delegation and left them speechless. However Przytyk was alerted that the danger was great. The delegation then traveled to Kielce, where they went together with the local rabbi, Rabbi Rappaport, and several other Jewish activists to the chief of the security office of the Kielce Wojewoda to alert them and ask for protection.
The representative of the security office sang the same song as the Starosta of Radom.
This is Jewish sensitivity in overdrive Instead of ordering that appropriate security measures be put in place in a timely fashion, he asked that the Jews write a record of the acts of terror that had taken place to this point.
In the meantime, the preparations of the Endekes in Przytyk and the region for the upcoming Monday were obvious. The hooligans already knew about the failed Jewish intervention, and they continued with their preparations even more strongly. They armed themselves openly with thick sticks, covered with iron tips and wrapped with wire.
The Monday market day arrived. The atmosphere was electric. Nerves were tense. Jews made efforts, to the extent possible, to avoid incidents, and to not give the hooligans the chance to bother them. Things remained relatively calm until noon. It is proper to note that the hooligans were becoming impatient. It was getting late and they had to begin. They became completely insolent, provocative, and ready to attack.
A group of Jewish youths gathered for a consultation. It was clear that the police would not provide help in the event of need, and they must do something themselves to defend themselves. Even though they were much smaller in number and were unarmed, they decided to not bow their heads beneath the blows of the sticks of the hooligans, but rather to resist with all their might. With that decision, they spread out.
It began. The hooligans started chasing with the shout:
Now is the time. Beat Jews!Some Jews started to flee to their homes in a commotion, and locked the doors and windows. Others, more bold, remained in place and stood up to the attackers. A fight started. Other Jews came to help those who were attacked, and defended themselves in unison. The Jews mounted a powerful and heroic resistance, which the hooligans had not expected. This was an act of furious desperation, energetic, bold, and effective. The hooligans were afraid and started to flee. The energized Jews started to chase them and drive them out of the town. They chased them all the way to the bridge to Podgaja.
At this point, the police could no longer remain neutral. They intervened for the benefit of the hooligans, and helped drive the Jews back into town. In the meantime, the attackers organized assistance from the surrounding villages, and an infuriated, bloodthirsty mob returned, and things began.
The Endekes, along with the incited mob from the villages, knew that the police were on their side. They quickly attacked houses, broke down doors and windows, and chopped and beat murderously to the left and right. Together with the sound of shattering glass, one could hear the horrible wailing of the wounded, with slashed heads. In the midst of the breaking of doors and windows, and the panicked screams and cries for help, one could hear a few shots. Along with the Jewish wounded, one of the murderous attackers, Stanislaw Wieśniak, fell.
Quickly, rumors were heard that it was Jews who had fired the shot. The police now intervened urgently, searching and rampaging in the Jewish houses. The local hooligans went outside and showed the
police which homes and shops were Jewish, where they must perpetrate a pogrom, beat, break things, and make ruins.
With axes, rods, and spades, they broke everything that came to their hands, and beat murderously anyone whom they encountered. The slaughter was so inflamed that they did not spare women and children, whom they robbed and then murdered. They slashed pillows and feather beds, and the feathers flew all over, as during the pogrom of the slaughter-city of Kishinev. Jews ran from house to house, fleeing from cellars and attics, seeking a hiding place. Their sighs and screams rose above the murderous shouts.
Some Jews tried above all to defend themselves, but it was no longer as organized as at the outset at the beginning of the assault, and without chances of success. Everyone defended themselves separately now, for as long as was possible, and as long as their energies held out, in the house, in the yard, in the shop, and on the street.
The Minkowski Martyrs
The half-collapsed hut of the poor shoemaker Yosef Minkowski stood at the very edge of town. He lived there with his wife Chaya and four children. An incited mob entered that house, and started to slash and beat the heads of the defenseless family with axes. Yosef Minkowski quickly fell dead before the eyes of his wife and children. When he was already lying in a pool of blood, the murderers chopped of both his ears with an axe. Then they turned to the wife and children, who raced about seeking a hiding place. Two children succeeded in evading them, but the wife Chaya was mortally wounded. Sixteen-year-old Gavriel and his eight-year-old little brother were also badly wounded.
Chaya Minkowska was taken to the hospital in Radom, where she soon died. The Jews of Radom were horrified when they saw a long caravan of Jewish victims from Przytyk along Mleczna Street, as they were being taken to the hospital in Radom. Aside from Mrs. Minkowska, her two seriously wounded orphans were also brought in. The two badly wounded Tauber brothers were also brought in. They were so badly injured and massacred that they were barely recognizable. Aside from them, sixteen other Jewish wounded people were brought in.
Two badly wounded hooligans were also brought in. Aside from them, there were many lightly wounded people who hid their injuries, as this might have revealed that they participated in the pogrom.
Approximately two hours after the events in Przytyk ended Radom sent in a large battalion of police to institute order
A reporter from the Warsaw Jewish newspaper who arrived specially wrote about the picture in Przytyk that he saw after the pogrom:
The Jewish ruins make a horrifying impression. The windows with holes in the blinds are ruined. There are broken shutters and shattered ovens. There are flecks of clotted blood on the walls. The Christian homes are intact, without exception, as if pointing out where Jews live.
When the Radom police arrived in Przytyk, the hooligans, above all, did not leave the town. The openly threatened that when the police would live, they would begin anew, and would slaughter all the Jews. The Jewish population was now in a panic. They begin to flee hysterically to wherever their eyes would take them.
Radom Jews again saw how surviving Jews with sacks over their shoulders, with small children in their hands, with terrified faces and horror in their eyes, were running along Mleczna Street that led to the Przytyk highway. They were arriving in the larger city to seek shelter within the large Jewish community of Radom.
At 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, the Przytyk Jews accompanied the martyred Yosef Minkowski to his eternal rest. The coffin was carried on the weak shoulders of the Przytyker Rabbi Szapira, and the communal head Lenga. The funerals of his murdered next of kin were also taking place. Thousands of Jews followed the coffin and wept over their martyr. The 600-year-old Przytyk cemetery had never had such a funeral.
At the same time that Yosef Minkowski was brought to burial in Przytyk, his wife, Chaya took her final breath in the Radom hospital. Her funeral turned into such a demonstration of sorrow and rage the likes of which had never taken place in the entire history of Radom.
There were announcements placed on the brick houses, in black frames, calling on people to participate in the funeral of the Jewish martyr who was tragically murdered by the murderous hands. A crowd of 10,000 Jews spontaneously gathered, and the streets were full of people clad in black.
The representatives of Polish Jewry followed behind the wagon: deputy Rabbi Rubinsztejn, deputy Dr. Zomersztejn, the JOINT representative Taraszczanski, prominent journalists from the Warsaw Jewish press, and representatives of the Radom community and social institutions. The funeral procession stopped in front of the synagogue, where the deputy, Rabbi Rubinsztejn delivered a eulogy, accompanied by the muted weeping and breast-beating of the crowd. Among other things, he said:
Today, the entire world hears the voice of the Jewish tragedy and helplessness, the bloody atrocity that was perpetrated, filling the world with the screams of the Jewish people. The entire community of Jewry weeps today over the martyrs, over the Minkowski families our communal sacrifice. We accompany today great and holy hidden [people] whose names we inscribe in the eternal book of an eternal people. When we mention all the martyrs who gave up their lives in sanctification of the Divine name, we will not forget to ask G-d to recall the souls of the martyrs of Przytyk, Yosef and Chaya Minkowski.The funeral procession arrived at the cemetery at around 6:00 p.m. Rabbi Tajtelbaum of Radom and Przytyk activist Berkowicz delivered eulogies at the open grave. The sixteen-year-old Minkowski orphan recited kaddish.
* * *
The events shook up the entire Jewish people, who understood that this was merely the first expression of fascism from the right against the lives and property of the Jewish people. This led to unity among all Jewish parties in the entire Polish Jewry. A significant protest strike was called. Everywhere, in all Jewish cities and towns throughout the country of Poland, Jews left work and locked their businesses for two hours as an expression of sorrow and protest.
The Radom Starosta, the procurator Dutkiewicz, the police commander Munk and others arrived in Przytyk Immediately after the events to conduct an investigation, Twenty-something people were arrested and accused of disturbing the peace. Among them were 17 Poles and five Jews. The arrested Jews were Moshe Lesko and his son Yechiel, Moshe Chaim Cuker, Avraham Frydman, and Kirszenzwajg.
The Christians were accused of mob formation, resisting the police, inciting against Jews, and attacking them.
The Jews were accused of attacking peasants, resisting the police, and shooting with revolvers, thereby killing the peasant Wieśniak.
None of the accused admitted guilt.
The trial did not take place as usual in the Radom district court, but rather in the larger Sejmik building.
Aside from the aforementioned arrestees, the following ten accused also sat in the accused dock: Avraham Yaakov Horerberg, Eliezer Feldberg, Yaakov Leibish Zajda, Refael Honig, Moshe Furszt, Shaul Krengel, Moshe Cuker, Leibel Lenga, Yaakov Banda, and Yitzchak Frydman. They were also accused of participating in the mob march, attacking with a unified force peasants who were walking or traveling on the way, beating and throwing stones at them, wounding several people.
Aside from this, the accused Eliezer Kirszenzwajg, Yaakov Kirszenzwajg, and Yitzchak Frydman were accused of shooting at the peasants with revolvers and wounding three people. Yaakov Bernsztejn was accused of shooting at people with a revolver. Shalom Yechiel Lesko was accused of shooting with a revolver and killing Stanislaw Wieśniak.
The accused Lesko only admitted to shooting in the air to frighten the pogromczyks, but not to shooting at people or killing Wieśniak.
To defend the pogromczyks, the Endekes brought in their lawyers from Radom, headed by the famous Endeke leader Kowalski. He was assisted by the well-known oppressor of Jews in Radom, lawyer Gajewicz.
The Jewish side regarded the trial as an accusation against the entire Jewish people, from whom even the right of self-defense against pogromczyks was removed, leaving them at the mercy of the wanton murderers. The best Jewish lawyers were summoned as defenders, famous throughout all Poland with their powerful steps into political trials. These included Bernson, Ettinger, Margolis, Kriger, Lewin, as well as the Radom lawyer Fenigsztejn. Great, liberal Polish lawyers Szumanski, Professor Petroszewicz, and Pascholski also fulfilled their duty to represent the side of justice and propriety, against the injustice of the reactionaries.
The trial was considered to be a competition between two societal forces: the humanist and reactionary. The entire populace was so inflamed, as during the times of the Beilis or Dreyfus trials.
A Jewish newspaper correspondent portrayed the mood before the verdict as follows:
Today at 5:00 p.m. in the large hall of the district court (Sejmnik) in the city of Radom, the hearts of the entire Jewish people throughout the wide world are beating now in a single, united rhythm, because the judgment will not fall only on the heads of the 14 Jews of Przytyk, but rather on the entire, vast Jewish people.The chairman of the court conducted the formalities of the judgment objectively. He even made sharp statements against violence and brutality, and against un-Christian like conduct. His attitude gave the Jews cause to hope for a just verdict.
Is it permitted to beat Jews?
Is it permitted to shame Jews?
Is it permitted to tear the bit of bread from poor Jewish businessmen with brutal force?
The verdict will answer these questions.
The verdict was a cause for amazement and horror. It answered the question regarding whether one may beat and shame Jewish with a clear yes! The verdict made it clear that Jews have no right to mount a resistance and to defend themselves.
The Poles accused of murdering the Minkowskis were freed due to a lack of evidence.
Regarding the others accused of inciting and participating in the pogrom, three were sentenced to one year in prison, one to ten months, five to eight months, and sixteen to six months, with a deferment to the imposition of the penalty.
However, the verdict for the Jewish side was as follows:
Yechiel Shalom Lesko eight years in prison.
Eliezer Kirszenzwajg six years in prison.
Yisrael Kirszenzwajg five years in prison.
Yitzchak Frydman five years in prison.
All the rest of the accused from six to ten months in prison.
The Motivation of the Judgment
It was that the Jews started it. There was no compelling reason that forced the Jews to organize a self-defense. Everyone was on edge because of Jewish over-sensitivity. In short: a justification for the attackers and a verdict against the victims.
Immediately after the court proceedings, the chairman (who incidentally was also the president of the Radom district court) set out for Warsaw with the documents. As soon as he returned (from the station immediately to the court), he issued the verdict.
The verdict, no less than the events, left a frightening impression on the entire Jewish world. It demonstrated the situation of lack or rights in which the Jews of Poland found themselves under the rule of the Sanacja regime.
The sole point of light in the entire Przytyk tragedy was the power of the youth. Even the youth from such a small town, who had never even set one foot in a Beis Midrash or Yeshiva, demonstrated that they were prepared to sacrifice themselves for Jewish honor, and that Jewish blood and possessions are not in a state of free-for-all.
by Alter Wolf Wertheim
Translated by Jerrold Landau
O Radom, from my dreams, you were my cradle.
And from you I suckled my first life-juice from the breast.
With you, the golden brick developed.
No more raisins, no more nuts my cradle, you sway empty.
Only in my thoughts do I see you full of life
Readings and singing took place in your orchards
The voices of the children echo in cheders
In the evening hours, the clock resonates in a circular pattern
Small-scale businessmen, merchants, and toiling masses,
And on Rwańska Street, a youth with a forelock
But I know bloody, I know dark information.
There are no longer any Jewish children. The heavens peer terrified
O Radom, from my dreams, you were my cradle.
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