Radom An Industrial Centre
By Engineer Tzimerman
Translated by Janie Respitz
Back in Czarist times Radom was known as an industrial centre of leather, furniture, metal and ceramic manufacturing. Radom and its tanneries held a remarkable position in industry in Poland. According to the city archival documents, there was already a tannery in Radom in 1460. The first place in the branch was occupied by: Alexander Freylekh, Theodore Karsh, Viknhogen and Samuel Adler.
At the beginning of the 20th century there were 14 leather factories, mainly for shoe soles. There were enterprises that produced 3 thousand skins a week.
Before the First World War all this production was sent to Eastern Russia. The demand was so great they had to open a factory in Rostov on the Don.
The industry employed 1200 workers.
In Podolia and Ukraine they raised cattle especially for the Radom leather industry. Later, when the Polish Russian border was established, the cattle was brought from abroad and the production was for the internal market.
In the last years there were 36 leather factories in Radom which produced 5000 tons of hard leather soles. The other tanneries produced two and a half million square metres of soft leather. The industry employed eleven hundred workers.
The second important industry in Radom was the metal and pouring industry. Six pouring factories employed around one thousand workers. The factories belonged to: Avrom Shtelman, Hirsh Elye Goldblum, Mendl Horovitz, Korman and Friedland, Moishe Rubinshteyn and sons, the Gotlieb Brothers (Brago), Diamnet and Rozenberg (Glinitza). They produced water and sewer pipes, radiators, and articles for sanitation, agricultural machines, and replacement parts for machines. They also produced water turbines, tannery machines, fans etc…
Apart from this there was the development of the weapons industry which was closely connected to the foundry factories.
The ceramic industry was represented by the firms Marieville, A. Rotenbreg and Khmielarzh. The first produced pipes, and the others sanitation articles and porcelain finishing. These three factories employed around one thousand workers.
The following firms were well known in the lumber industry: Johan Kohan, Lesht and Taikhman which produced furniture; the plywood factory of Y. M. Leslau; the wooden nails and cobbler's lasts factory of Fabian Landau, sawmills and so on.
In the chemical industry: the firm Parsa belonging to the partners Adler, Klayf and Tentzer; the chicory factory Yava belonging to Yonas Kirshnboym, whose product was sold throughout Poland.
By Moishe Rotenberg
Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
Long before the First World War Radom was known for its tanneries and leather business. By the beginning of the 20th century there were already large factories which manufactured shoe and boot sole leather.
Four of the largest factories belonged to families of German origin: Karsh, Vikehhogen, and Freylikh. The rest belonged to Jewish firms: Shmuel Adler, Kleyf Martopel, Tentzer Adler, Yuta Kahve Rotenberg Motl Ayzman, Meir Yekhiel Rotenberg, Dovid Sava, Gutman Tzuker and Mordkhai Den.
The two factories owned by Freylikh were sold: one to Leybke Levin and Pinkhas Ayzman and the second to Shmerl Brams.
Brams rebuilt most of the factory into a factory of finished crockery (the first in Poland). Later this went over to Avrom and Blime Rotenberg.
Shoe sole production was dependent on, for the most part, the work system, and mainly, from being able to put together the chemical and raw materials which would increase the weight of the leather without damaging the quality.
The factories tried to hire specialists, master tanners from within the country and abroad. Every specialist naturally kept his work system secret. Yet, a few tannery owners, or talented workers, succeeded in learning the trade so well that later they were able to do the work on their own.
Some paid specialists to teach them the work system.
Avrom Lipe Den, Shloime Adler and Yidl Koyfman acquired enough knowledge to become tanning masters in the big factories, and later, owners.
Avrom Rotenberg became a master in his youth at his father's factory.
Almost all the workers in the tanneries were Poles. There were a few Jewish workers in the Jewish tanneries.
All the factories worked on the Sabbath, although some Jews worked on Sunday a instead of Saturday.
Some of the tannery workers were: Yome Goldberg, Yehoshua Perel, Yenkl Milgroym, Berl Vaynberg, Nekhemiye Tenenboym, and others.
A large portion of what was produced was sold in Warsaw, to the wholesale merchants on Frantshishko Street. Every week you could see caravans on the road from Radom to Warsaw, of magnificent wagons, each one pulled by three horses, loaded with leather. The same wagons travelled from Warsaw to Radom with raw hides, tanning materials and other goods. The owners of the wagons were called dancers. They earned a very good living and hired wagon drivers who the called Shmaysers (whippers). Among them I remember the Zilberbergs (from the old town), the Kurtzs, the Glatis and the Abramovitchs.
There were less Jews in the production of superior leather. Most of these factories belonged to Poles. (Kukhorsky, Piekorsky, Barkovsky, Samsonovsky, Buf, Rabinsky, and others). Only a few small factories belonged to Jews: Motl Urbakh, Piniye Hofman and Epshteyn.
The specialists who prepared superior leather (dying and shining) were Poles. Jews were not even permitted into this profession's unions. Only one Jew knew this type of work: Yehuda Vaygenshperg, who they called doctor. But Jews did the finishing work on items brought from the regions of Krinki and Bialystok. These workers were called Valkazhes and included: the Urbakh, Verber, Shrek and Zumer families.
The system of tanning leather was slow and only partially mechanized. Manufacturing leather took 3 to 6 months. The manufacturers required credit which they received from the wholesalers who had exclusive selling rights for the finished product.
These large leather merchants were: Sorele Sava Zisman, Khaim Ber Mandel, Khaim Yekhiel Fishman, Meylekh Fishman, Yekhezkiel Melkhior, Khaim Gershon Veysbord, Maorgolis, Shmuel Rotman and others.
Together with the large amount of tanneries, there was also business in raw hides, tanning materials, finishing leather leftover pieces, wholesale and detail business with all types of leather (which was totally in Jewish hands), as well as a large shoe industry for the local market and for Russia and the far east.
They came from near and far to Radom to buy leather and shoes. Voyageurs travelled to the farthest places to take orders and there was a lively business.
There are no exact statistics of how many Jews were employed in this field, but it would no be an exaggeration to say that at least 25% of Radom's Jews worked in this field as
(manufacturers, workers, craftsmen, merchants, middlemen).
According to the standards of those times, the leather industry in Radom was fittingly high. The material successes were great, especially in 190506 after the Russo Japanese War.
In 1911 12 there was a crisis in the field. Unpaid promissory notes began to return from deep in Russia. Some tanneries stopped payment. But the situation improved and things began to normalize again.
In 1914, with the outbreak of the First World War, there were changes to the general mobilization and a moratorium on debts which was declared which weakened business and manufacturing in Poland. Upon leaving Radom, the Russians took all the leather reserves, raw and finished as well as the tanning materials.
A few of the manufacturers went to Russia with their goods and continued to manufacture there.
The German Austrian occupying forces immediately requisitioned everything they found and distributed receipts which were never paid.
Later, when the Austrian occupying forces were in Radom, they began a strict investigation over all business and production of the most important consumer articles. The authorities took over the leather industry. They chose a few factories, not necessarily the biggest, which had to produce only for the military. Open business in leather was forbidden. They gave a small quantity of lesser quality leather to the civilian population. This is when the illegal business began where possibilities emerged for risk takers and strong men (through smuggling or bribing the authorities), to make money. They secretly produced leather good in cellars and attics which they called bucket tanning.
They also illegally, or with the help of official Austrian personnel, brought in leather from Vienna, Prague, Budapest and Krakow which was a source of income.
After the war it appeared it was no longer possible to continue manufacturing in Radom under the previous conditions due to the following reasons:
Slowly, people began to orient themselves to the new situation. Later, when there were no long restrictions which lasted in new Poland for a long time (due to the Soviet Polish war), new opportunities for the leather trade emerged in Radom.
Leather merchants, especially those who became rich during the war, and other people with capital, bought raw hides and gave them to be finished charging commission for the finished product.
Others organized partnerships, societies or cooperatives. There were pure Jewish spools and some mixed with Poles. They leased or bought factories and finished the leather.
A few factories were bought from the former Polish owners. Buf's factory, for example, was bought by Eliezer Finklshteyn, Zalmen Abramovitch and Nekhemie Milshteyn. Rabinsky's factory was bought by Motil Tzemakh. Samsonovsky's factory was bought by Shmerl Korman and his children. The Zgoda Factory was bought by Yidl Koyfman and the engineer Henrik Tzimerman.
Itche Margolis, Shimon Vertzayzer and Eliyahu Koner built a new factory, Markover.
Borukh Zilberberg and the Rikhtman brothers also ran tanneries. The Latamsky factory was bought and significantly enlarged by Avrom Lipa and Yosef Den.
Poles also organized partnerships and cooperatives, but there were also Jews involved who supplied raw hides to finish or, were buyers or representatives.
The leather industry and shoe production developed anew. The markets in eastern and western Galicia, Silesia and Pomerania replaced the lost Russian market.
A small portion of the prewar factories were run by the families of the owners.
The very large factories were leased to well known leather manufacturers who came to Radom from other parts of Poland. For example, Matias Hendler from Krakow leased the factory from Avrom Lipa and Yosef Den. Kramolovsky from Zaglembia leased from Semuel Adler. Bukhman from Warsaw leased the factory from Martopel Kleyn (Korona).
Vikenhogen's factory was bought by Ruven Glikshteyn and Lyova Levin. Karsh's factory was leased by Hershl Boyman and Goldfarb. The large Polish factory, Khrom known by the name Sobieniyetsky, was sold for bank debts at an auction and two factories were built: one by Yisroel Vertzayzer and the second by Fishl Levenzon from Warsaw.
Between the First and Second World Wars crises emerged in the industry. There were bankruptcies and ownerships changed. Some went up and some went down. But in general, the industry revived. After Warsaw, Radom stood at the head of the leather and shoe industry in Poland. They produced good merchandise, according to the new systems and they were able to compete with merchandise from abroad.
Once again a significant amount of Radom's Jews earned their living in the leather industry. Despite the official course of the government in the last period, to eject Jews from their economic positions through boycotts and not giving them cheap government credit, Jews remained visible in this industry.
Almost all the tanning masters were Jewish. Also, the amount of Jewish workers increased. (See the article by Sh. Vaks). It is characteristic that during this time in Poland there were not any Jewish night watchmen, however, in a substantial amount of factories there were Jewish night watchmen.
When in all industries (simultaneously with the boycotts) Polish businesses arose in order to take business away out of Jewish hands, not one Polish leather business opened in Radom…
It continued like this until the fateful day of September 1st 1939, when Poland was trampled by Hitler's hordes.
This tragic period will be discussed in another part of this book. However, it is worthwhile mentioning, it was fated for the leather industry in Radom to fulfill another task, exactly at the time when angry winds were blowing and tearing out people from their roots.
Right after they occupied the city, the Germans began to rob Jewish possessions. A few factories were immediately liquidated while others were run by overseers and commissars. At first they were local Poles or Folk Germans. The owners remained officially as workers, or employees. A few succeeded in coming to an agreement to the commissars who were not specialists, and the factories were in fact run by the Jews. At this time, leather was an important and valuable article. An illegal business developed locally and with other towns. In this business of smuggling (understandably for great profit) the Poles and the Germans, who arrived together with military helped. It was possible for them to use various means of transportation, which for Jews would be life threatening.
Not left with many choices, Jews got used to doing his sort of business. Once again, a large portion of the Jewish population (in the conditions of the ghetto, persecutions and murders) continued to do business in leather.
At the end of 1940, during the new phase of liquidating the Jews, the Germans began removing the Jewish specialists from work places and appointed trusted hands and their own specialists.
However, all the specialists did not know this work and the trusted hands wanted to make their work easier. They preferred to receive gifts and side earnings and again there remained a few bosses and those who were connected to the industry.
Such a factory was considered a work place and it was a solution to avoid being captured for work or selection. Every factory owner tried to bring in relatives, friends and acquaintances as workers into the factory, knowing that the trusted hands would receive a bribe, or would not know about it.
During an operation in the ghetto, Jews would spend the night in the factory. They would learn about such operations either coming or going from work, smuggling people. Sometimes it was a representative from the underground movement.
Kramolovsky's factory was the last work place. 300 Jews were registered there as workers, many through connections or money. In the early days they would return to the ghetto after work. Later they were barricaded and did not go out during the day or at night.
A few days before the deportation from the ghetto, a few Jews managed to get in in order to be saved. However, the head director suddenly appeared and after checking the list, forced all the rest back to the ghetto.
A very small number of Jewish workers managed to hide in the cellars and stalls successfully avoiding selection. Even after the terrifying August day, Jews continued to work at this place until January 13th, 1943.
Then they brought all the Jews back to the small work camp (ghetto), on Shvarlikovsky Street where they shared the same fate as all the others.
This was the last role the leather tanners played in the dramatic history of Jews in Radom.
It is our obligation to record, the factory owners,
who gave a lot to the needy in the ghetto, and also participated in the large sums of taxes the authorities placed upon the Jews. They also gave (merchandise and money) to the Joint representatives Guzhik and Borenshteyn, who ran the aid campaigns in the ghetto. For understandable reasons, these monies were not receipted. At the end of the war, Mr. Guzhik was killed in a plane crash. Inheritors of some of the factory owners later received significant sums from the Joint on the basis of witness confirmation.
A few inheritors of the factory owners, who returned to Radom after the war, managed to sell, for very little, these properties to the Poles. The majority of the factories were nationalized by Poland.
The factories and workshops in Radom which Jews built and created with their brains and blood, still operate today.
Jewish initiative and industriousness accomplished wonders. The leather industry, which the Jewish genius built and developed contributed a lot to the economic development of Poland. Generation of Jews were given the possibility to exist in Radom until the Holocaust.
The Jewish factories are still working, but there are no longer any Jews there
By Sh. Vaks
Translated by Janie Respitz
Until the end of the last century very few Jews were employed in tanneries. On one hand, the work was hard and conditions were bad, and the other hand, difficulty to keeping the Sabbath stopped a lot of Jewish workers from entering this trade in large numbers. We must remember this was not yet mechanized and everything was done by hand. They worked from 5 o'clock in the morning until 7 o'clock in the evening.
Nevertheless, there were tanneries where Jewish workers were the majority. At the Rotenberg's for example, many Jews worked, but only finishing hard leather. Poles and Germans worked with soft leather. It remained like this until 1914.
After the First World War many things changed in the industry. Many old factories liquidated and the amount of Jewish workers decreased, due to opportunities that opened for them in other professions. Instead of the old tannery workers, young apprentices arrived who quickly adapted to the new methods.
From 1927 on, with the growth of the economic crisis, Jewish workers began to return more and more to the tanneries. During the time of sharpening antiSemitism, particularly after the pogrom in Przytyk, Jewish [Inahaber Gerner] hired Jewish workers in the leather industry which grew to about 18 percent.
To a certain extent, the Jewish workers were influenced by those who attended Zionist training camps, and did difficult work.
Earlier, Jews worked in the tanneries when they did not have other opportunities, however in the last years there was a reversal and the Jewish tanner tried to remain and become a specialist at his profession.
By Aron Merin
Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
After the First World War, when all branches of business were developing, a few activists decided to found a Merchant's Association.
Among the initiators were: Nosn Zigmnan, Leyzer Frenkel, Yisakhar Adler and Piotr Frenkel.
At first the association was based on firm foundations which were supported by all. However, the moment when the great crisis began (which particularly affected the leather industry) many undertakings collapsed
under the pressure of heavy taxes. Merchants searched for a way, through loans at small interest rates to crawl out of this tight situation, but this did not always succeed. There was a great lack of money on the market. However, instead of uniting around the association, each individual looked for a way out. This weakened the Merchant's Association and its members were hit hard.
At this opportunity we must mention the tragic death of the chairman of the Merchant's Association Nosn Zigman of blessed memory, who died while fulfilling an important mission for merchants in general.
In the Radom newspaper (From the beginning of the 20th century) there was the following account which shed light on the situation of Jewish business and the Merchant's Association in those days:
For a long time a Merchant's Association has existed in Radom. But due to absentees at a locale it is not possible to develop any active activity. The chairman of the association, Mr. Bokhenek, the former director of the Riga Bank had to return to Warsaw. The other members of the board barely showed any interest in this work.
Now, after the elections to the Sejm and Senate, the board members Nosn Zigman, Eliezer Frenkel, and Yisroel Tzeygnberg, with the help of Shmuel Rozenberg and Feyner, are stepping up to organize a special campaign for a locale of the association. To achieve this goal, a meeting has been called in the hall of the Jewish community, for a large amount of merchants according to their industries. We hope, this time, the merchants will achieve their goal.
Tuesday, the 26th of December a general meeting was called of the Merchant's Association in the Ezra hall, chaired by Nosn Zigman. There were three points on the agenda:
Translated by Janie Respitz
The Polish banks refused to distribute loans to Jewish merchants. Therefore the idea arose to found a Jewish Merchant's Bank.
On January 5th 1922 the consultation stopped and a temporary commission was elected: Frenkel, Lesht, Diament, Den, Goldblum, Lenger and Landau. Ten days later there was another meeting where an account was given concerning the negotiations with various administrative bodies and it was finally decided to open a bank. A temporary committed was elected with two additional members: Horovitz and Fenigshteyn. The committee took upon itself the task to work out regulations, find a suitable location for the bank and to acquire shareholders.
It turns out the organizers faced many difficulties and the organization had to go through various transformations. Three years later (May 1925) we read the following announcement in the newspaper about he opening of the bank:
Thanks to the effort of the Merchant's Association, in the month of May a cooperative Merchant's Bank was founded, which took over the location of the Riga Merchant's Bank, with all of its facilities and began its activity of giving loans at a low interest rates. The supervising committee is comprised of the following gentlemen: Fabian Landau Chairman, Avrom Goldberg vice chairman, Yisroel Lesht, Khaim Birnboym, Yitzkhak Meir Rozenberg, and Yisakhar Adler. Deputies: Nosn Zigman and Leon Den. All these names are a guarantee that the bank will not pursue earnings, but will work solidly and usefully for the interests of Jewish merchants in Radom.
(An Excerpt from the Tribune Vol. 16-17, from the year 1937-1938)
Translated by Janie Respitz
The Zionist Cooperative Bank began its activity in May 1928 in the building of the Zionist Organization on 25 Zheromsky Street. Later the bank moved to a location especially rented at number 21 on the same street, and even later in its own nicely organized space on the corner of Zheromsky and Vitold Street.
The founders of the bank were: Mikhal Openhiem, Yehoshua Shteynman, Yekhiel Taykhman, Mordkhai Leyb Fishman, Meir Graner, Yishayahu Eiger (all of whom have passed away), and wishing many years to: Yoske Shteynman, and Moishe Rotenberg who live in Israel.
According to the reports of the last two general meetings in 1937 and 1938, we see they bank enjoyed full trust of the population and developed strongly.
The bank also won the trust of the Revisionist Society and the Central American Credit Fund in Warsaw.
The reports given by the chairman M.L. Fishman and the director Elimeylekh Fishman and the chairman of the board, Councilman Moishe Rotenberg show diverse credit activity. For example: just in 1938 450 loans were distributed in the amount of 242 thousand zlotys.
1,816 discount transactions in the amount of 498 thousand zlotys.
They had 55 thousand documents worth approximately six million zlotys.
The amount of members rose and the capital was close to one hundred thousand zlotys.
Loss of earnings from unpaid debts was minimal.
The report from the review committee given by Inspector Shpindler stressed the solid fruitful activities of the banks whose central committee decided to increase the credit by 20 thousand zlotys.
From the approximately ten thousand zlotys profit a year the following was decided: ten percent for the national funds (The Jewish National Fund and The Jewish Agency Fund), 300 zlotys for the Hebrew Library in the Jewish High School, various sums to charitable organizations. Whatever is left will go to enlarge the reserve fund.
The two general meetings honoured the memory of those who fell in battle in the Land of Israel.
Among the resolutions one was approved to encourage the fight for Jewish rights in Poland.
In the recognition resolution for the committee and administration, they outlined the earnings of the director Elimeylekh Fishman as well as the intensive work of the staff which included: Hillel Rutman, Kazlovsky, Rozensheyn, Finegold, Tcheransky Senator and others.
It was also decided the name of the deceased co-founder of the bank, Mikhal Openheim, should be inscribed in the Golden Book of The Jewish National Fund.
Almost all of the council and board members were re-elected.
Besides those previously mentioned the following were elected: Moishe Yenkl Fridman, Moishe Tzukerman, Leon Frishteyer, Yerakhmiel Kirshenboym, Alter Golembiavsky, Zaydman and Dovid Blotman.
They were all murdered.
Credit Cooperative for Business and Trade
The Cooperative celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1926. It was previously known as the Lend and Save Fund.
This was the only mixed Jewish Christian credit society.
The report from the board said the following:
A group of community workers, headed by Judge Yosef Bekerman (former director of the Society of Mutual Credit), the lawyer Daniel Shtiler and Yosef Binyomin Roznblum, decide in 1900 to found a[Page 140]
Society for Savings and Loans. The first general meeting took place on September 30th, 1901 with the participation of 588 members who brought in membership fees in the general sum of 8,320 gold ruble.From these numbers one can see the need in the community for middle income groups.
The size of a loan was decided at 90 ruble at twelve percent a year.A few weeks before they moved to the new location at 2 Lubelsko the membership grew to more than one thousand and the amount of membership dues, on 13,150 ruble invested: 9,551 ruble.
From then on there was a wonderful continuous development of the society which in 1911 moved into its own building at 2 May 3rd Square. At the outbreak of the First World War membership was at 3,815. The deposits reached 479,719 ruble and the borrowing turnover 7,100 ruble. The percent fell to 8 a year and the large loans, which were up to one thousand ruble, were decreased by the authorities to 600.
Appropriated amounts were payed from the earnings to social causes. The situation was such that the society no longer needed to receive external capital and they even rejected the suggestion from YKO which wanted to loan the society money at six percent a year.
However, with the outbreak of the war all fund operations were stopped. The proclaimed moratorium did not permit the return of loans and therefore it was difficult to meet new requests. Nevertheless the fund evaluated the situation of the families of reservists who were mobilized to the front and craftsmen who remained without a source of income.
Despite the difficult situation, the bank society decided to continue and (by the end of the war) utilized its credit in the Lublin and Lodz banks.
In 1921 the bank society took out a long term loan from the YKO Society for three million mark. A year later they took another ten million and 700 mark. The Central Fund for Cooperative Credit which was founded by the Joint gave the bank a loan for a longer period: 145 million mark. With these sums the society was able to breathe easier, if not for the drop of the Polish mark. But the society managed to bear this crisis as well and came out of it safely.
From 1924 they began the third stage of continuous development of the Cooperative Credit Society. In 1926 amount of members increased from 1,397 and the sum of loans, up to 257,000 zlotys.
In 1901 the board of the society consisted of: Daniel Shtiler, Yosef Bekerman, Y.B Roznblum, Herman Konkus, Adolf Tzuker, Yosef Groditsky, Ruven Bekerman, Nosn Adler, Yekhiel Kamer, Yekhiel Frenkel, Yerakhmiel Bialsky, Yosef Plonkevitch, Vladsilav Rogosky, Leon Bekerman, Vladislav Adler, Yakov Diament, Dr, Yuzef Pelchinsky, Ludvig Briliant, Maximilian Lutz and Palti Mushkatblit.
In 1926 the council was comprised of: Vladislav Rogosky, chairman of the supervisory committee, Yakov Diament, vice chairman. Members: Vladislav Adler, Yakov Bakman, Yerakhmiel Bialsky, Yoyne Goldberg, Yirmiyahu Goldshteyn, Yakov Klaynman, and Dovid Korman. On the board: Herman Konkus, chair, Dovid Frenkel and Gavriel Zigman, members.
Representatives: Sh. Gurfinkl and Avrom Mandelkorn.
(Radom Newspaper, January, 1926).
The Artisan's Bank
On the 14th of January a general meeting took place with the bank members of the Artisan's Union, chaired by L. Briliant. There was one item on the agenda: elections for a new bank board of directors. There were two lists submitted. One with: Tenenboym, M. Frenkel, headed by Kh. Korman. The second was with: Gliksman, Ruinshteyn and Kotlier. The first list won and took over the board. The supervisory committee consisted of: A. Goldblum, M. Ringermakher, M. Bluman, Kh, Helfant, A. Gliksman, Kh. Goldberg, M. Korman, Y. Feldman, M. Landau, M. Rozentzveig, B. Pomerantz and Mildman.In a newspaper edition from 1925, two years later, we read:
Sunday, March 14th, in the locale of the artisan's the annual meeting of the Artisan's Bank took place under the chairmanship of Mr. L. Briliant. The council member Bluman gave a report on the development of the bank. Mr. M. Frenkel (bank director) stated the financial situation was very good. The savings reached 16 thousand zlotys. The capital fund stands at nine thousand zlotys.
The 250 members expressed trust in the board and they were re-elected.
In the discussion relating to the elections it became clear that people were elected who have no connection to the artisans, and this was for two reasons: Firstly, among the artisans there were not enough people skilled in financial matters and secondly, there was friction within the board.
In general, we should stress, that the Artisan's Union, although they were lead by people who worked for the collective, suffered from a lack of leadership and people skilled in communal matters
by Sholem Stravchinsky
Translated by Janie Respitz
Based on some details from the past which are engraved in my memory, and based on what my soulful father Reb Yenkl Dovid Stravchinsky of blessed memory told me, the first union of artisans in Radom, called Akhiezer was founded in 1906. Its goal was to help stressed artisans with small loans as well as supplying social services. On the Sabbath and holidays its location was also used as a prayer house.
Until this time the artisans were neglected. Even in the small Hasidic prayer houses the wealthier men treated them as inferior. As a result, they would gather to pray in groups according to their trades.
Later on, when Hazamir collapsed, the Akhiezer attracted not only artisans, but small business men, teachers and employees who felt at home in this environment.
In 1911, Akhiezer decide to follow Lodz, which had organized the first the first artisan union in Poland. This stimulated artisans to open workshops and sell there own goods. When they wanted to join the Merchants' Locale (which was run by assimilationists) they came up against opposition from the wealthy merchants. The following were not welcomed into the Buyers Club: Motl Nayhoyz, Yakov Eiger, Moishe Kadishevitch, Yakov Holtz and Urish Gluzman.
Two representatives, Y.D Stravchinsky and Khaim Korman were delegated to Lodz where they were received by the engineer Yakov Kishrot, the initiator and lively spirit behind the Jewish Artisans in Poland. He clarified for them all the rules and organizational matters having to do with the founding of an artisan's locale in Radom.
In 1912, with the help of the teacher Markus, they received permission from the authorities in St. Petersburg to open the second locale of artisans in Poland in Radom at 8 Lubelska Street. The organizers and active members were: Y.D Stravchinsky, Khaim Korman, Ludvig Briliant, Moishe Rubinshteyn and Yakov Ayfer.
In 1913 the club moved to a larger premises at 5 Lubelska Street where a large library in three languages was also opened with a reading room and an entertainment hall. Ludvig Briliant who had studied in a drama school in Warsaw, organized a club for theatre lovers which put on a few performances.
With the outbreak of the First World War the club faced difficult problems: they now had to worry about the families of those mobilized and there was great unemployment. The board resisted temptation and accomplished a lot: They opened a free kitchen and handed out subsidies anonymously. They supported Jewish soldiers who were serving in Radom. They established a loan fund at a symbolic percent, from which later emerged the Artisan's Cooperative Bank, which had 1,200 members.
They opened a grocery cooperative and a workshop for tailors and cutters of shoe leather.
In independent Poland the artisans played an active role in elections. They had three representatives on the first city council: Ludvig Briliant, Izik Zimler and Mordkhai Kotler.
In 1927 when the solvable guild law was intended to restrict Jewish artisans the club organized professional unions, with committees which were responsible before the government.
Many non organized craftsmen received legal advice and professional help from the artisan's club.
The entire shoe leather cutting trade was in Jewish hands. In this field there were people with initiative who were not satisfied to only prepare the upper portion, and they began to produce for the population in Radom and the surrounding area. Thanks to good quality, fine work and cheap prices the demand for their work was great. Those who excelled in this field were: Avreymele Goldberg, Emanuel Oystrian, Yoyne Fogelman, Godl Feldman and Nosn Kestenberg. There products were sent to Russia, all the way to the Caucasus and Siberia. However, with the outbreak of the First World War they were ruined. Those who did well were: Meylekh Fishman, the Eichenboym brothers, Borukh Nayman, Yoyne Goldberg, Moshie Yakov Fridman and Avrom Mandelkorn.
Three hundred men worked as shoemakers, Jews and Poles, half half. The Poles however, lived outside of town and owned small pieces of land and their material situation was better. The whole profession was based on hand work and only the Czech firm Bata introduced mechanization into shoe production.
The first producer of summer sandals in Radom (machine work) was Mordkhai Ringermakher. Soon Nosn Kestenberg joined him and continued this work in Tel Aviv.
The cutting out and fastening the top part of the shoe for the population of this muddy region was a trade developed by Radom workers, especially by Mordkhai Orbach who employed many workers.
The second largest trade was tailoring: around 350 workers.
The Jewish tailors were specialists in all areas of the needle trade. Those who made ready to wear clothes were all Jews and they worked quickly and inexpensively. They took over Grodzke Street. They would set up stalls at fairs and sell their goods.
Quite a few tailors were successful and educated their children. The first children in Radom to receive an academic education were the children of artisans. The merchants and factory owners did not allow their children to attend government schools or universities in fear they would desecrate the Sabbath and it would lead them down the wrong path.
Among the most respected tailors were Urish Gluzman and Yakov Ayfer. Gluzman was the main supplier of military uniforms as well as railroad worker uniforms in Czarist Russia. His properties stretched from Lubliner Street all the way to Kozhenitzer Street. The following buildings were built on his lots: Polski Bank, sports facilities and others. Ayfer possessed an inborn intelligence. He was involved with improving the situation of the artisans. Yakov Holtz was also in a good economic situation as well as Abish Zigman, the father of Gavriel and Nosn.
The well known specialists in town were: Moishe Rubinshteyn, Volf Boyman, Tzemakh Boyman, Mendl Vaksberg, Moishe Roznboym, Zindl Ruzhitzky and Khaim Korman. We should also mention the tailors: Moishe Kadishevitch, (Dr. Kadishevitch's father), Avrom Kayler and Avrom Grinshpon whose children attended the Russian High School.
Except for the big candy stores, the baking profession was in Jewish hands. There were forty Jewish bakeries and six Polish. The Poles preferred to buy Jewish bread, Challahs and rolls due to their good taste. However, the few Polish bakery owners became rich and built houses while only a few Jewish bakers reached a good economic position. They were: the brothers Aron and Gedalyie Fridman and Aron Kalinsky.
The majority of Jewish bakers barely earned a living due to the high salaries paid to the Jewish bakery workers, compared to the Polish workers who were exploited. Itchele Zilbershtrom tried to copy the Christian candy stores which attracted customers with an entertainment hall for dominos and billiards. Itchele was not successful in attracting the Jewish youth, even during the anti Semitic boycott. One Jewish candy store which did do well was Yosef Fraydenreykh's, thanks to his cookies and candy manufacturing fro the peasants.
Until the ban on slaughtering, Jews comprised the majority in the meat trade, from which hundreds of Jewish families lived. The only ones who were well off were: Yishayahu Rotman, Avrom Kopf, Rafael Mandlman, Mendl Shteynbok, Boyman, Goldman and Yehoshua Veysbord.
The following professions were exclusively in Jewish hands:
Furriers, upholsterers, carpenters, saddle makers, lathe operators, goldsmiths, watchmakers, dyers; the production of quilted comforters, mirrors, cardboard boxes, soap, glue etc
The majority of people in these trades lived under difficult conditions and during the dead season they had to find a way to earn a living by smoking herring, making sour pickle and cabbage or leasing fruit orchards. Only three furriers gained respectable standing: Motl Opatovsky, Verber and Yirmiyahu Goldshteyn.
The best Goldsmith was Velvl Zilbershlag who did not have any competition in the entire region. The following learned the trade from him: Zaynvl Shpayzman, Zaydenveber and Yakov Vayngortn.
The watchmakers were: the Goldberg family (their children continued with this in Israel), Kayler, Fershtendig, Goldfeyn, Rubinshteyn and others.
An expert at engraving and carving was Moishele Huberman, who was also a talented painter.
The professions where only women worked were: seamstresses, sewers, hat decorators and hairdressers. Jewish women workers were known to be great specialists. The women Kotlior, Zilbershlag and Goldhamer had many workers in their dressmaking shops.
In general, the economic situation of the artisans in Radom, up until the First World War, was very difficult and many immigrated. When Poland became independent, the wave of immigration increased.
(An Announcement in the newspaper at that time)
Translated by Janie Respitz
Those active in the Artisan's Club have decided to open a school named for Yisroel Frenkel, because in his day Reb Yisroel Frenkel was very friendly to artisans and the students in his school were mainly from families of artisans. The initiators were L. Briliant and Dovid Frenkel. Besides the general curriculum they will teach Hebrew, bible and Jewish history.
At the beginning of the school year they will elect a parent committee. The school will be situated in the hall of the Artisan's Club.
At the same time it was announced that the library of the Artisan Society has renewed its activity and bought books for 1500 zlotys. A reading room has been opened which is open every day.
by Sholem Stravchinsky
Translated by Janie Respitz
The Society to Spread Trades and Agriculture Among Jews, ORT in Radom at 27 Lubliner Street had a board and a committee. The last elections: Chairman Engineer Goldblum, Vice chairman Avrom Finkelshteyn, secretary Sh. Goldfarb, treasurer F. Rotenberg and engineer D. Levy.
The ORT received a franchise permit from the Krakow central office to open a one year tailor school for girls ages 14 -18. There were courses for drivers, iron pourers, candy making, corsets, ladies' hairdressing, carpentry and lock smiths. The chairman of the committee was Dr. Shendorovitch.
by Sh. S.
Translated by Janie Respitz
The leather manufacturer Shmuel Adler was on of the most distinguished figures in town. He was an enlightened Jew and a patron of the Interest Free Loan Fund, directed by Yisroel Diament. He donated three thousand gold ruble. He wife Kayndl of blessed memory also gave a lot to charitable institutions. Their son-in-law was the well known writer and doctor, Gershon Levin. Shmuel Adler died at the age of 84 and is buried in the family plot in the Radom cemetery.
Dr. Yosef Adler
The chemist and PhD Yosef Adler was the son of the manufacturer Shmelke Adler. He was born in Radom in 1882. He was the chairman of the Engineer's Society in Warsaw. He was also involved with community work in Radom. He was a member of city council and chairman of the Jewish community council in 1916-17. In his later years he was a council member at the Jewish Agency in Poland. When the Nazis raged he got stuck in the Warsaw ghetto where every trace of him disappeared.
Yitzkhak Meir Lesloy
A central figure in our city and well known beyond its borders. He rendered great services to Jews in general and specifically to orthodox Jewry. He was born in the small Jewish town of Kshipitz near Tchenstokhov[Czestochowa] and settled in Radom where he was one of the most successful industrialists. He opened a saw mill and a factory where he employed 160 workers. He built a House of Study near his factory for his workers who were freed from work to go pray. They also studied Talmud. Yitzkhak Meir Lesloy continued to study his whole life and dressed in Hasidic clothes. He was a member of the entourage of the Ger Rebbe and gave a lot of charity. He supported the Rebbe's estates, communal institutions and honourable men who lost their livelihoods. Although he was always ready to help he refused honours and elected positions on city council and the Jewish community council. When he got sick he received a few phone calls a day from the Ger Rebbe's estate asking how he was doing.
Yitzkhak Meir Lesloy passed away on the Festival of Sukkot, 1936 at the age of 72. Jews and Christians attended his funeral. There were eulogies about him in the newspaper. There is a magnificent tombstone on his grave. M.Sh.G
Yisroel Yakov Diament
He was the son of Reb Sholem Diament and the grandson of Reb Heshl who led the opposition against Yisroel Frenkel and his school. Yisroel Yakov was born in Radom in 1880. He was a good and honest bookkeeper and in the tax department they took into account the balances he signed. He served the credit cooperative for 35 years and earned a great reputation. He was the representative of the industrialists in the Polish Government Bank. His accomplishments for the general development of business and industry were well known, especially among Jews.
Besides his foundry, Y.Y. Diament devoted a lot of time to communal interests: Zionism, pioneers, the high school Lovers of Knowledge, the Jewish community council (where he was a board member), and the savings and loans society form its first to its last days. He was privileged to receive great trust from the Jewish population and from the Joint and Tzentos. In 1937 he and his wife visited the Land of Israel where they decided to settle. They returned to Radom in order to liquidate their business in order to emigrate. However he did not live to accomplish this: he died in July 1939 at the age of 59.
Among others, he was eulogized by Dr. Emanuel Ringlblum, the representative for the Warsaw Central Cooperative.
Y.Y Diament's son Felix (Shraga Feyvl) and his daughter Paulina Shtiler, her husband and children, live in Israel.
His father Abush Zigman was a rich merchant who had already removed his Hasidic long black coat but had not assimilated, in order to have a connection to the Jewish Buyer's Club As a result, in independent Poland, when a merchant's union was founded, his son Nosn was chosen as chairman and the assimilated Buyer's Club gave up the ghost.
Nosn Zigman was the most capable of Abush's three sons and was also rich. He began his communal work in Akhiezer and the artisan's club. He successfully represented the merchant's union in various instances in Radom, like in the district council for business and industry and city council.
While travelling to Sosnovitz to a council meeting he was attacked by a thief on the train who robbed him and shot him. His funeral took place on Lag Ba'Omer 1935 and a large crowd bestowed on him his last honours.
Eliezer (Ludvig) Briliant
He was born in Warsaw but lived his whole life in Radom.
He came from a family of Jewish enlighteners, assimilationists, fighters in the Polish uprising in 1863 and revolutionaries from 1905. One brother was sent to Turkestan and another was sentenced to death and hanged and his third brother was the famous Bolshevik Sokolnikov Briliant.
Ludvig, in contrast to his brothers was detached from political party matters. He devoted his talents and energy to communal affairs, philanthropic, cultural and all other areas. His position was against party framework, key positions and slogans. He was for the good of the community at large!
In the last 30 years of his life he became closer nationally to his people and joined the artisan movement of Noyekh Prilutzky, becoming the chairman of the local union. The artisans elected him to city council where he served as vice chairman. Ludvig was a co founder of the artisan locale in 1912. He joined Akhiezer and was a member of the Society of Employees of the Loan Bank and Hazamir.
As a former student in the drama school in Warsaw, he organized the first drama club in the locale and he himself performed as a talented actor, singer and poetry reciter. He was also a good speaker. I remember the impression he made with his speech in the large synagogue (during the First World War) when he categorically denied Russian accusations of Jewish German collaboration.
His wife came from the well known Goldsobel family from Warsaw. Her brother opened a progressive school in Radom on Spotzerove Street, behind the jail.
The eldest son of Avrom Lipe and Rayzl Den, born in 1886.
In his youth he ran away from home, to Lomzhe to study at the local Yeshiva. He soon returned and began working as a bookkeeper in the tannery owned by the partners Rotenberg Ayzman.
The Warsaw industrialst Samuel Z. Krinsky (the father of well known radiologist and chairwoman of WIZO, Dr. Salomea Levita; Nokhem Sokolov's in law) was known for his capabilities and helped build an enterprise to clean leather waste. From this, a large leather factory was built.
When the Russians retreated from Radom, taking with them the merchandise, Mordkhai Den went with them to Russia and ran leather production in two factories.
After the war he returned with significant assets, kept his factory moving and bought back his factories from Firlay.
He ran all these undertakings in great volume. He produced new articles and was connected with foreign large firms.
The devaluation in Poland and the Christians stopped the gusto, but despite all, his ventures worked. His steam mill, brick factory and the tanneries were producing various sorts of leather, even lacquer leather which was then very rare in Poland.
Mordkhai Den, the son of contributors, had a great sense for communal activity and philanthropy. Already in his younger years he was active in the Akhiezer society. Later on he became involved in the Jewish community council which he headed in the last few years.
Thanks to his intense work the hospital renovation was completed and the area of the cemetery was enlarged. Mordkhai Den was also active in the orphanage, old people's home and many other charitable institutions.
During the Nazi period he succeeded in avoiding a variety of honours, however, he could not avoid the tragic fate. During the Purim operation he was sent to Shidlovtze with his son Alexander, who held a masters degree, where they were killed.
His daughter Khanke was saved and is a chemistry professor in America.
He was one of the most distinguished industrialists. He built a large nail factory in Radom, in fact he founded that industry. His product was shipped all over the country.
Elye Teneboym was also a community worker. He was a follower of Rabbi Kestenberg and stood at the head of the Jewish community council. After Ruven Bekerman he became curator of the Jewish hospital. Besides this he was involved in many communal institutions.
His two sons were saved and live in Australia.
He was one of the artisans with ambition and initiative who enlarged their small workshops and transformed them into factories.
He had been a tinsmith but already before the First World War his Primus machines were known throughout the Russian Empire. His goods were manufactured with precision in mass production. Besides this, the owners of foundries handed over certain parts of their production to him.
Binyomin Hokhman knew both national languages and maintained contact with large factories, businesses and other firms. He played an active role in the Artisan's Club where he belonged to the group of lecturers. On the Sabbath and holidays he would give readings at the club on historic, literary and other topics. He was also the representative of the artisans on the Jewish community council. Sholem Stravchinsky.
Avrom Gershon Levin
He came from Vilna, where he had studied in Yeshiva and received a secular education in a few languages. He was born in 1878 and came to Radom (with his parents) in 1900. He opened a factory to cultivate beef entrails for sausages. He was very preoccupied with his business but nevertheless devoted a lot of time to communal work, especially culture and education. He was one of the founders of the public high school and was concerned with its existence.
Avrom Gershon Levin was also active in the artisan's union and worked to improve the situation of Jewish craftsmen. For a time he was chairman of the Artisan Bank. He managed the cultural work of the craftsmen and organized readings and theatrical performances.
For a short time he was a member of the board of the Jewish community council. In the later years he took part in the work of the new Zionist organization (The Revisionists). His extraordinary work capabilities were evident in his activities in cultural and communal institutions where he never missed a meeting or a gathering.
He raised his children in the Zionist spirit. However, only his son Yosef lived to come to the Land of Israel. Two sons wandered to far off Russia and Avrom Gershon Levin was killed in the Radom ghetto.
He was one of the best tailors in town. He had a large clothing business and became rich. He bought a three story house on Skorishevsko Street and built a permanent Sukkah. He descended from an old Radom family. He was energetic, smart, witty, friendly and possessed a common language with everyone, from the authorities to the simple folk. He related to everyone.
Yakov Ayfer's children received a fine education. His son was an engineer and his son-in-law Felhendler was a lawyer.
Ayfer was a member of Akhiezer and active in the artisan's society. When he was approached for help, he was very generous.
His friends called him Lazer Dishke's. His mother Dishke was widowed after the death of Khaiml Ovadiya's and she was a woman of valour. She ran a large business, and raised five children all on her own.
Lazer studied in the House of Study and Yeshiva, but after his father died, the young man had to help his mother and became a merchant. His work as a merchant led him to communal activity.
He was one of the founders of the House of Bread Society which distributed Challahs and bread to the needy for the Sabbath. With time, the society modernized and had its own premises at 11 Voel Street, with stamps and receipts. He was also the organizer of the free kitchen during the First World War and for barracks for refugees. He was among those that ran around collecting food, money and bedding and most importantly, dairy products for children. He would also travel to other cities in the name of the aid committee and the Radom Jewish community to organize help for the refugees and the needy.
Lazer Margolit was also one of the founders of the Society to Spend the Night with the Sick and he helped reorganize the Radom Yeshiva (after the First World War).
From 1925 he devoted himself more to economic interests and was active in the Merchant's Union as a board member.
He was 60 years old when he was killed by the Nazis.
His sons Leybl and Yosef and his daughter Khane survived after experiencing hell.
His children Khanine, Khaim and Moishe all moved to the Land of Israel many years before the Holocaust. They actively participated in the Haganah and in the War of Independence. His son Khanine has been active for many years in the Radom Society. By L. Fishman
He was the son of a tailor and a tailor whose children did not go the Heder (religious School) but to Reb Yisroel Frenkel's school. He was a co-founder and an active member the artisan's locale and in Akhiezer. He also possessed artistic talents and when Briliant staged Khasie the Orphan he performed together with Moishe Rubinshteyn, Kreps and Kestenboym.
He was a man with fine qualities, neatly dressed and ran a traditional home. He was very active in the Stuttgart Centre for Radom survivors.
Khaim Korman died in New York in 1960.
He was the chairman of the tailor's union, co-founder of the artisan's locale and member of Akhiezer. He was very active in all the artisan's institutions and most recently headed the Pioneer Artisans and represented them on the Jewish community council.
He was tall, broad shouldered and ambitious. He was on his way toward a communal career in Radom but was swept with the wave of immigration to America where he hoped to become rich. He was there three times but did not accumulate capital.
However, Moishe Rubinshteyn was a master at his trade and had many customers. People would pay whatever he asked for his work. It was a great privilege for an apprentice to learn form him.
He was killed by the Germans together with his wife and two married daughters.
His father Khaim was a shoemaker with many children. As he could not support his large family on his own the young eleven year old Binyomin had to help. However the intelligent capable Binyomin wanted to study. During the day he worked to earn a living and in the evening, after a long difficult work day, he studied.
Form 1905- 08 he joined the Revolutionary camp, although he was religious and had a beard. He was an active organizer in the shoemaker's union which was a branch of the artisans' union. He was a good administrator and an impressive speaker, in a juicy folksy dialect.
Binyomin Berlinsky died in Paris, leaving his widow and two sons. They are both composers. One is a cantor in the Rothschild Synagogue and the other is the conductor of famous choirs.
He ran the Muler family's furniture business. Later he became the owner.
A capable person, both in business and in communal matters. He was smart and witty. He quickly befriended people from various trades clarifying their social situations. He was elected to the committee of the artisan's union where he devoted his talents in his free time. After the death of the first union chairman, Ludvig Briliant, Kolter was elected chairman and also served as a member on city council. Kotler was also the chairman of the Member's Tribunal and everyone trusted him fully.
Itchele and Berish Zilbershtram
Itchele was the owner of a large candy store in town and an active member in the artisan's union from its first days. He was very involved in Zionist, cultural and general communal life in town. The Germans killed him together with Zaynvl Shpayzman and others.
His brother Berish was one of the most distinguished Jewish enlighteners. He knew the bible practically by heart and was proficient in Hebrew literature. His bakery on Synagogue Street was the meeting point of the Hebrew speaking youth and the reading room for Hebrew newspapers and journals which he subscribed to.
Yakov Dovid Stravchinsky
He was born in Kielce in 1874, but from his youth he lived and was active in Radom. Together with Ovadiya Morgolit he supported political prisoners. In 1906 or 1907 he was among the
founders of Akhiezer in Fogelman's hall at 7 Rinek Street, and among the founders of the artisan's club (in 1911) at 7 Lubelska Street where he was a board member until the Nazi period. He also founded a library at the club.
During the Endek boycott he made it possible for the Jewish youth to enjoy themselves at the club where there was a reading room and a games room. He also helped Ludvig Briliant organize an amateur group where he performed.
During the First World War he organized the inexpensive kitchen and he organized groups which brought food and clothing to the homes of the needy so they would not have to publicly stand in line.
Y.D Stravchinsky also gave the push, in 1916 to found the Artisan's Bank at 8 Warshaver Street.
For many years he was the only subscriber to The Friend (Der Fraynd) newspaper in town. Dozens of people would come to him to read the paper.
He was killed in Treblinka in 1943.
JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of
the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.
Radom, Poland Yizkor Book Project JewishGen Home Page
Copyright © 1999-2023 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 27 Apr 2021 by MGH