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Chapter Five – Economic Life

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Sources of Livelihood and Employment

by M. H-R

a. Up to the First World War

The Jews were the foundation of economic and commercial life in Radomsk, just as in other cities in Poland.

More than one hundred years ago, Noworadomsk was the name of a small place, without economic or residential significance. Even when the small number of Jews in the area were living in the suburb, Bugaj, or in nearby Plawno, Jewish families were already active in Radomsk where they occupied a distinguished place in the economic life not only of Radomsk and Poland, but also of the then Russian Empire.

The Jewish Radomsker resident Reb Berisz Ferszter was an entrepreneur who built the railroad throughout almost all of Russia. He built the electric tramway line in Warsaw and hundreds of government buildings over a wide area of Russia, Poland and other nations of the then Czarist Empire. In Radomsk proper, he built his own large house, in which was located the big hotel, the inn, the post office, the pharmacy and the like. Together with his private house, he built his private shul that was well known by the name “Ferszter's shul” – later Beis-Yakov.

The rich man Reb Leizer Rikhterman, who was a large importer and exporter of various wool and cotton articles, lived at that time in nearby Plawno and later in Radomsk proper.

The Banker family built the well-known Hotel Banker with a large park that later was turned into almost a Jewish entertainment center.

Years later, we see Dovid Rikhter's large grain export and import firm, which was a member of the grain exchange in Breslau. The firm had storehouses near the railroad station and made large deals, not only in greater Russia but also in many different nations in Europe.

By the end of the 19th century, Jewish initiative and its creative spirit in industry gave employment to a thousand workers in Radomsk and vicinity – naturally non-Jews. However, this had an indirect effect on the economic life of the larger part of the Jewish population.

A large enterprise from Austria that produced Viennese furniture built a large factory in Radomsk during the second half of the 19th century under the name, “Yakov Yosef Kohn” and it employed almost two thousand non-Jewish workers and a few score clerks, all Jews. As a Jew the general-director, H. Blumenfeld, an Austrian citizen, had not received a residency permit from the Russian government; he lived here by means of a “certificate of baptism.” At the beginning, some Jewish artisans (carpenters, tinsmiths, and others) were employed in the factory, of whom several worked on Sunday instead of Shabbos. Jews were the suppliers of various raw materials for the factory.

At the same time, the Jewish Radomsker family Ruszewicz built a large oilcloth factory in the city that was supposed to be the first in the realm of Poland. Jewish professionals were employed in the factory, along with at the beginning, even Jewish workers. The factory later was moved to Warsaw.

The large glassworks owned by the Fiszman family, in the nearby village of Jasien, together with large agricultural holdings of the family, enriched the economic life of Radomsk and vicinity. In general, the Fiszman family in Jasien lived a complete Jewish life. During the yomin-tovim, such as Rosh Hashonah, Sukkos and Passover, all the poor Jews from almost all of Poland came together there. They davened there, received food and a place to sleep and clothing, and upon departure each received 1 ruble.

Reb Meir Rozenbaum, who first lived in Plawno and later in Radomsk, also played a significant role in Jewish economic life. He was the founder of the family wood firm Rozenbaum and his children married into the most respected Jewish families in Radomsk.

The large sawmill of Izrael Rekhterman, son of Leizer Rekhterman, must also be remembered. The sawmill, which employed a few score non-Jewish workers, was managed by Jews. The chief director was Reb Ithamar Rabinowicz, a grandson from the rabbinical court. The sawmill carried out large business deals with Germany, England and other European nations.

At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, there were several large wholesale businesses in various lines of business in Radomsk. They were the forerunners of commerce not only in Radomsk but also in the whole area. Mrs. Minchele Rabinowicz's large wholesale textile business was in the first rank. She was a daughter-in-law of Hasid L'Abraham. A score of people were employed in her business, all Hasidic Jews and Torah scholars (Mindicz, Gitler and others) who at the same time were efficient merchants. Mrs. Minchele Rabinowicz was the mother-in-law of the last Radomsker Rebbe, Reb Shlomoh Henekh Rabinowicz (shot in Warsaw together with his family, summer 1942).

Yosef Najkron's large wholesale business of tobacco and other articles was among the business enterprises that in large measure influenced the economic life of the Jews. The same can be said about the large wholesale haberdashery business of Yosef Besser, who employed two score employees. Every day of the week a different shtetl in the province would come to buy goods from this business (Przedborz, Brzeznica, Pajeczno, Plawno, Gidle and others).

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The family of David and Moishe Bugajski and others were not only prominent businessmen in Radomsk, but also highway builders in the entire Piotrkow gubernia (province).

A special impression was made at the time by the respectable business of Yehieil-Dovid Najmark selling seforim, musical instruments and other similar articles. The fine facilities and conduct testify to the high cultural level of the Najmark family.

Jewish initiative by the Fajerman family also created a large steam mill. The Winer and Fajerman families were also pioneers in the steam industry for wood. This was a thoroughly new branch of production not only in Radomsk but in Poland, in general.

Here must be recorded the Szpira, Grundman, Zilberszac and other families in the iron business, Mendel Epsztajn in the chemical business and many other names in other lines of business.

Jews in ancient Radomsk were not permitted to build or own houses. Permission was first given in the second half of the 19th century, during the reign of Aleksander II. Without any exaggeration, it can be said that more than 80 percent of all the houses in Radomsk were built through Jewish initiative and money. The building contractor of that time, Reb Mandel Fajerman and later his son Shmuel-Meir, built scores of Jewish houses. The Fajerman family had its own brickyard and the like.

The Russian military, which was stationed in Radomsk, at that time, took possession of the kazarmes (barracks) that belonged to the Jews Szwarc, Zandberg and others. The same thing occurred with the Russian post office, bank and the like.

The Jewish commercial lessees, who created and developed economic life in Radomsk, did not enjoy any help.

The furniture factory of the Thonet brothers

It was their own diligence, initiative and intelligence that built and developed the commercial and economic life of the city. True, at that time large enterprises were built in Radomsk with foreign capital, such as the large furniture factory of the Gebrider-Thonet, the Metalurgia metal factory and others. However, this was the expansion of foreign capital supported by states and governments. The Jews then had to fight to gain their positions step by step.

In the ten years before the outbreak of the First World War, Jewish economic life experienced a more intense crisis, which led to greater Jewish emigration. Jews from Radomsk left for various western nations, mainly for the United States in North America. Yet the crisis years did not destroy the well-organized Jewish commercial concerns and they achieved success until the outbreak of the First World War (1914).

During the course of the First World War both our “own” Russian army and later the “foreign” Austrian army destroyed everything that had been created in the lifetime of generations. Jews had to create new incomes from smuggling. Even neighboring Czentochow became “foreign,” occupied by the German army. Poverty spread more rapidly and with it epidemic illnesses that created very many victims.

b. Between both World Wars (1918-1939)

The First World War ended; everyone felt that commercial life must be reshaped and the question was asked, how will this impact on the Jewish population? Immediately in the first years (1918-1920) Poland became involved in a new war with Soviet Russia. With the appearance of new economic hardship, the young again sought to emigrate to various nations, a large number to Eretz-Yisroel. Yet the local Jewish population actually increased. Eventually the Polish-Russian War ended, the borders were stabilized, the economy, which had almost been completely ruined, began to move on new rails. However, it was clear now that in the new economic life in Poland the Jewish factor would be eliminated.

The Polish Economic Minister in post-war Poland, Stanislaw Grabski, immediately proved it with his economic plan for 1923; instead of assisting the economic recovery, it neglected various steps so as to oppress the Jewish economy. However, the Jewish entrepreneurial spirit was again evident in the building of new creditable commercial and economic positions. Jews again built small and large factories that employed a very significant number of workers, produced needed articles, both for local use and for other cities in Poland and even for exporting abroad.

After the First World War, Jewish workers began increasingly to penetrate industries.

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he following tables shows the basic industrial businesses and enterprises that existed in Radomsk during the last twenty years; the majority of the new enterprises were built exclusively by Jews (at that time the Jews were visibly represented in the general number of workers).

  Lines of
Owner Firm General
of workers
1 Furniture construction Yakov-Yosef Kohn Mazowya 700
2   Stajnlauf Warta 100
3   Khaskelewicz and Wajnapl Labor 70
4   Khaskelewicz and Yakov Rozenboim Ksoweraw 100
5   Minc Brothers Minc 100
6 Sawmill Zigmund Horowicz Zaksziwek 70
7   Shlomoh Krakowski and Haim Gilter Radomsko 50
8   Yosef Rajz and Berish Meizel 25
9   Leon Znemirowski and Herman Radal 60
10 Crate factory Leizer Rajz 20
11 Button factory Fajerman Fortune 250
12   Kupersztak 30
13 Metal production Abraham Moishe Szpira 70
14 Printing Markus and Yosef Fajnski 40
15 Glass factory Mordekhai Goldberg Huta 50
16   Fiszman Jasien 20
17 Brick yard Fajerman 30
18 Brewery Patzyekha 20
19 Candle factory Hampel 15
20 Mill Meitlis 15
21   Leizer Ruszanski 10
Total 1845

The additional distribution consists of around 1,500 employed Jews, who were represented in basic pursuits, branches of commerce and professions: artisans – 790; merchants and retailers – 590; clergy – 52; independent professions – 39; clerks (civil officials) – 29.

Tailors 214 Wood carvers 10
Carpenters 146 Food producers 9
Butchers and   Glaziers 7
Wurstmakers 70 Locksmiths 6
Shoemakers 65 Cigarette paper makers 6
Bakers and confectioners 43 Bookbinders 6
Hat makers 30 Soap manufacturers 6
Chair weavers 20 Furriers 5
Painters 15 Knitters 5
Watchmakers 13 Brush makers 4
Barbers 11 Wine and Kvas* makers 4
Tinsmiths 10 Electricians 3
Tanners 10 Miscellaneous 72
    Total 790

*(Translator's note: Kvas is a sour fermented drink made with malt, rye or wheat flour and water)

Stall-keepers in market   Kheder teachers 24
(Stalls) 120 Shamasim and others (Sextons) 7
Food Stores 100 Shoykhetim (Ritual slaughterers) 5
Flour and wheat 42 Rabbis and assistants 4
Clothing 30 Scribes 3
Leather articles 20 Bath officials 2
Haberdashery 20 Miscellaneous 7
Footwear 15 Total 52
Building materials 15
Greens (vegetables) 11 INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONS
Fish merchants 11  
Wood veneer 10 Doctors and Feldshers* 14
Paint materials 10 Teachers 14
Books and writing Engineers 3
materials 10 Pharmacists 2
Hotels and Inns 8 Journalists 2
Restaurants 8 Lawyers 1
Brewers 8 Total 39
Egg sellers 7  
Musical instruments 6 CLERKS (CIVIL OFFICIALS)
Kitchen tools 6  
Hardware merchants 5 Bookkeepers 15
Kerosene products 4 Forest workers 6
Fruit sellers 4 Lottery agents 2
Finished furniture 3 Kehile employees 2
Toys 3 City Hall employees 2
Tobacco and cigarettes 2 Insurance agent 1
Miscellaneous 102 Shipper 1
Total 590 Total 29

*(Translator's note: A feldsher is translated as an “old-time barber-surgeon” in Uriel Weinreich's “Modern English-Yiddish, Yiddish-English Dictionary.”)

The scores of Jewish furniture workshops occupied a special place in the furniture business. They produced the most beautiful furniture, which was sent almost all over Poland. Radomsk occupied second place for beautiful and good quality furniture (bedroom, kitchen, office furniture and so on) after the city of Kalvaria, which was famous as the furniture center of Poland. Production reached hundreds of thousands of zlotes a month and created employment opportunities for many Jewish families: providers of raw materials, packers, wagon drivers and the like.

After the First World War, the merchants, both large and small retailers, again expanded their sources of income. However, all of the problems of the anti-Semitic Polish government circles poured out particularly on them. Wanting to establish a Polish merchant class, a bitter struggle was carried out against the Jewish merchants and retailers on one side through taxes and other vexations and on the other side, the Polish merchants were supported by tax relief and credits. The anti-Semitic agitation of Swoj Do Swego (One to His Own) and boycotts were very strongly felt in Radomsk.

The constant struggle of Jewish commercial circles for their existence had a very bad effect on the commercial community and it was very necessary to create joint institutions.

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Several attempts were made to create Jewish credit institutions that would help merchants, artisans and retailers. Alas the cooperative and other credit institutions were not on a professional level. Despite the difficult economic situation, various commercial and personal quarrels gave rise to the liquidation of almost all of the credit institutions that had been created with great effort. The following figures that appeared in the Radomsker Zeitung of 18.3.1927 (March 18, 1927) in a report about the Jewish Cooperative Bank for 1926 can corroborate how necessary the credit institutions were: loans were given for the sum of 1,849,000 zlotes; at the same time the bank obtained foreign loans in the sum of only 16,000 zlotes.

In the above mentioned newspaper of 31.7.1931 (July 31, 1931) one reads the following: “It was proposed (by the auditing association) in Warsaw that the members should cover all of the damages and that goodwill deposits should be drawn on the spot for the sum of 25 thousand zlotes, the debts from collection should be immediately regulated; an analysis of the balance leads to the conclusion moreover that the shares are a misrepresentation of 15-20 thousand zlotes.”

Attempts were made to create a retailers' bank, which developed very nicely at the start. However, because of the pauperization of the Jewish population, it suffered from almost constant extensions of the loans and other delays in the financial obligations that did not permit the institution to develop appropriately. In the yearly report for 1931, we read in the Radomsker Zeitung the following: “It is the sad epilogue to the Cooperative Bank, the end of share capital.

At the distribution of shoes and clothing for poor children,
with the financial help of the New York landsmanschaft organization.

The committee members (Standing from the right):
Abraham Kamelgarn, Yudel Dawidowicz, Yakov Witenberg, Haim Kreindler;
(Sitting) – Leizer Ruszanski, Zukin Szreiber.

The fact that many owners of deposits were recruited from the poor and were crushed by the extraction of a part of their bloody groshns, had to have a negative effect on the Retailers' Bank. It started to develop well a year ago, but in the last year remained standing in a stagnant condition and, although this bank functions correctly, it has the character more of a collection office than of a bank because it has no circulating capital. The sum total is – the confused retailer and artisan stand helpless today and do not have a place to borrow one hundred to two hundred zlotes.

During this time an interest free loan office was also created that began weakly, but later developed nicely.

The poverty among the Jewish population became greater and stronger. People who a year earlier earned a good living from their work or their trade were ruined by the taxes and anti-Jewish economic policies and so the number of those receiving charity and support grew. Here must be remembered, in the first row, the help of the Radomsker landsleit in America, which arrived in a significant amount, but was basically absorbed like a drop in an ocean.

In 1926 the sum of 10,000 zlotes arrived. In a report in the Radomsker Zeitung of 26.3.1926 (March 26, 1926), we read about the distribution of this sum: “82 grants were given out of 5 zlotes, 200 of 10 zlotes, 155 of 40 zlotes, together 506 with a total of 8,270 zlotes”.

In the Radomsker Zeitung of 16.4.1926 (April 4, 1926) we read a message from M.Z. Rozenblat to the Radomsker landsleit in America: “During the last year your aid for our city amounted to almost one thousand dollars. There are literally no words to express our gratitude to you our dear brothers and sisters…Alas, your aid work is not in line with the spirit creating productivity, because this work is purely philanthropic and, therefore, we can, G-d forbid, be tempted to become receivers of money, takers of tzadekah (charity)… We are only victims of the high tax burdens, of boycotts and extermination policies against the entire Jewish population in Poland. What we wish for is a credit institution for cheap and long-term credit, established on a fixed basis, without any taste of tzadekah and philanthropy. Only such an institution will support our life, if not totally, then at least partly stand us on our feet… Save us as it is not too late!”

This help for productive credit, which was requested in 1926, was probably not received. So the situation literally grew worse day by day. The taxes grew, the boycotts strengthened and the expropriation of Jewish properties involved all levels of society. In the Radomsker Zeitung of 16.10.1931 (October 16, 1931) we read about an existing Jewish aid committee.

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There is no longer talk about productive aid activities but simply about an aid committee. However, here a staroste (village chief) came and ordered the Jewish merchants and retailers to pay 50 percent of the cost of licenses for the poor Polish population. While the Polish merchants decided to contribute for this purpose a one-time payment of 5 to 25 zlotes. The Radomsker Zeitung of 13.11.1931 (November 13, 1931) writes in connection with this: “A great exacerbation has provoked a message from Dr. Lubelski about the disturbances that the government organs cause the Jewish aid committee, requiring a charter of approval from the wojewodztwo (province) and the like.”

From the above description it can be seen that the Radomsker Jews were those who built the commercial and economic life as well as the city. Yet they were oppressed and discriminated against by the Polish Sanacia agents, on the eve of their complete annihilation by the dark Hitlerist beasts.

On the eve of the outbreak of the Second World War, workers in the city comprised approximately 1,500 Jewish artisans, merchants and clerks, which means a population of 6,000 souls.

The Activities of the Artisans Union

by Dovid Bugajski

It is said: …Love the craft and hate the rabbinate. Although we boast about the scholar Yochanan the shoemaker, scores of years ago, Jewish parents wished that their children would become rabbis and not artisans.

In Radomsk on the doorstep of the 20th century, we meet firmly established Jewish artisans: carpenters, Reb Josef Szpalter and Dovid Bursztajn (Henje's Dovid), tinsmiths, Reb Zelig Goldberg and his son Mordekhai, and many others who own their houses and were good artisans in the city.

Almost all of the work for large estate owners around Radomsk, for the Catholic churches and for the Pravoslavne (Orthodox) churches was carried out by Jewish artisans. It was difficult to understand how Reb Moishe or Reb Yitzhak the tinsmith, for example, roofed the complicated roofs on the spires of the churches. They were marvelous tradesmen and their work was carried out conscientiously and well.

Reb Shmuel the baker (the lame Shmuel) was the Torah reader in the city shul for many years and sometimes substituted for the Hazan.

The Jewish artisans must have led a life of difficulty and toil. They also had to put up with many underhand tricks from the small number of Polish artisans who were organized in their guild whose symbol was the holy apostles. This served to further encumber the life of the Jewish artisans.

Close to the start of the First World War the young community worker from Lodz, Engineer Jan Kurszraut, took the initiative to organize the Jewish artisans. In the years of the First World War, Jewish Artisans' Unions were founded in various cities in Poland. In 1916 a “Jewish Artisans' Club” was also established in Radomsk and later, a “Jewish Artisans' Union,” as a section of the Warsaw Central. The first founders were: Ludwig Wajnberg, for many years chairman, Yitzhak Slabiak, Shmuel Band, Feiwel and Abraham Wilhelm, Zukin Szreiber, Yakov Bugajski, Shlomoh Goldberg, Ruven Liberman, Emanuel Ruwin, Shimon and Shlomoh Kugel, Hershel Kroskop, Shimon Haze and others.

During the first years the “Jewish Artisans' Club” only conducted aid work among its members, created a “tea hall” and reading room where in the evening the members received a glass of tea, read a newspaper and talked about problems they had in common. When Poland became independent, the activities of the Jewish Artisans' Union expanded: help in obtaining licenses; defense against tax levies; an office to dispense loans. There was also created a stall for the purchase of raw materials and it founded a cooperative for the leather trade.

In time the Jewish Artisans' Union carried out expanded cultural activities. In 1924 a library was created named after Y. L. Peretz and a dramatic section under the leadership of Sh. Band. Papers, lectures, meetings and the like were arranged. The founders of the library were Ludwig Wajnberg, Yitzhak Slabiak, Yakov Bugajski, Emanuel, Ruwin, Aba Truskolaski, Gliksman and Rozencwajg. The librarians were Hirshel Witenberg, Gliksman, Rozencwajg, Dovid Bugajski, Fishel Koziwoda, Dovid Wielunski, Blacha Truskolaski and Rusze Waksman. The library developed as one of the outstanding cultural institutions in the city (with 3,500 books and 350 readers).

The Radomsker youth had a wonderful yom-tov with the celebration of the ten-years' of existence of the Jewish Artisans' Union (January 1927). We read in the 14/1/1927 (January 14, 1927) Radomsker Zeitung:

“The celebration was opened by the chairman Eng. Faliwoda and took place in the auditorium of City Hall, which was gloriously decorated and bore an impressive character. Representatives of the administrative and municipal regimes came to the celebration, headed by the Staroste and city president…

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The members of the artisans' managing committee march into the room to music. After them strides the 90-year old Yitzhak Flakowicz, the oldest Jewish artisan in Radomsk and he is carrying the enfolded flag. After him the representatives of the various trade sections march in with the special markings of their sections. Mr. Kon from Central cuts through the ribbon of enfolded flags, which wave over the room.”

After the welcome by the Polish and Jewish representatives, Mr. Ruwin Najkron made a very successful welcoming speech in which he said among other things: “The Jewish artisans literally were ignored in the course of generations. And if the attitude of society has become positive it is a result of the liberation struggle of the Jewish people, of which the Jewish artisans are an important part. If we have lived to see the regime come to welcome us, it shows only that they cannot love us, but they have respect for us when we have power in ourselves. But a people that struggles for its liberation and marches toward its goal can have flags. In exile in Egypt the slaves were freed; we created flags. The flags were created in order to go forward to our one goal and to aspire to the communal Jewish flag, to the flag of Judea.”

The celebration made a very great impression on the whole population of the city.

In 1927 after a difficult struggle there was success in obtaining a more liberal industrial law and then the Jewish artisans received equality with the non-Jews: through the creation of trade guilds, receiving diplomas, taking part in the artisan-cells and the like. The Jewish Artisans' Union likewise received the right to certify how long the actual artisan had operated his workshop. On this basis, the artisan received the necessary “artisan's card” that permitted him to operate a workshop legally.

In time the Jewish Artisans' Union became a mass organization that numbered almost 600 members. The artisans had their own representative on the City Council and in the appraisal commission for various taxes. The representative on the City Council was Engineer Paliwoda.

After the Pilsudski upheaval (1926) the Polish right wing elements among the Polish artisans did not want to cooperate with the government organs. Then it appeared that in this situation the Jewish artisans would be able more or less to develop. However, in a very short time, when the political and economic life in Poland went onto anti-Semitic rails, the pauperization of the Jewish population grew worse. The aim of the terrible taxes was to annihilate the Jewish productive elements – the Jewish artisans and all other parts of the Jewish population. Alas, this brought about internal quarrels until the creation of 2 Jewish Artisans' Unions that later again united. Despite the joint efforts and difficult struggle, there was no success in controlling the difficult economic situation.

The Jewish artisans in Radomsk had a wonderful communal and professional tradition. They always pursued both internal and external struggles to achieve an appropriate position in the Jewish communal, political, economic and cultural life. During the ruthless extermination of the Jewish people, the Hitler beasts brought to an end the aspirations and struggles of the Jewish artisans for an honorable position in life.

The Association of the Retailers

by Abraham Waldfojgel

The social life of the retailers began simultaneously with the rise of the Polish state (1918). Organized strength was needed to solve the common problems of the retailers. An organizing meeting was called with the participation of the eminent social worker Adolf Lewkowicz and he marked the way for action.

During that time those active in the Retailers' Union managing committee and other committees were Shmuel-Leib Witenberg, Yakov Herbet, Yakov Bugajski, M. Yakubowicz, Shimon Waldfojgel, Yakov Chenchinski, Moishe-Dovid Frajman, Mikhal Grajcer, Haim Lustiger, Zalman Zilberszac, Yehoshua Rozencwajg, Zisman Blum, Yehuda Davidowicz, Haim Dudzik, Abraham Hercberg, Hershel Pelman, Dovid Rodol, Ramek Rozenbaum, Moishe Berger and others.

The principle task of the union authorities was to defend the retailers in the state offices, particularly against higher taxes. A representative of the retailers was employed in calculating the taxes of the small merchants. The union would also intervene for its members with the police and other institutions. Every month the union would publish the current prices as was required by the regime.

At first the meeting hall of the union was located at Przedborska 6 and later at Reymonta 14.

While there was an Artisans' and Merchants' Bank in the city, it was necessary to create an interest free loan fund for the retailers. In 1926, a vote was taken to create such a fund and a provisional managing committee was created with 6 members: Shmuel-Leib Witenberg, Shimon Waldfojgel, Haim Lustiger, Yakov Bugajski, Moishe-Dovid Frajman and Yakov Chenchinski.

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They received a loan of 500 zlotes from the Artisans' and Merchants' Bank and with this money a retailers' fund was opened.

The first loans were each 30 zlotes, to be repaid in 10 installments. Later, a general campaign was carried out in which not just retailers, but sympathizers also contributed larger amounts and were obligated to pay monthly dues for the fund. A lottery was also held along with other organized efforts that strengthened the fund and increased its capital. Later support was received from the American landsleit and the loans were increased up to 100 zlotes. After joining with the “Joint” (Joint Distribution Committee), the fund began to distribute long-term large loans, too, both for retailers and for artisans. At that time a loan of 250 zlotes was a large sum for a retailer or artisan.

In 1933 the noted merchant Mendel Lakham donated 5,000 zlotes to the fund.

The secretaries of the fund were Moishe Gaslowski and, later, Zishe Gonszerowicz.

In 1927 a cooperative was created to provide products for the retailers, so that they would not have to depend on the large merchants. From the start, the cooperative developed successfully. However, for certain reasons, it was liquidated after two years.

In 1929 a Retailers' Bank was created. The active members of the bank were: Moishe Berger, Yitzhak Herbet, Zukin Goldberg. Leibish Szwatowski, Zisman Blum, Eli Grundman, Henek Krakowski, Pinkhas Krakowski, Yehosha-Leizer Rabinowicz. The task was to distribute loans for larger sums of money. However, the bank only existed for two years and was dissolved. The principal bookkeeper of the bank was Menakhem Gatesman.

The Professional Workers' Union

by D. – R

Jewish labor in Radomsk recorded a beautiful chapter in the history of the professional workers' movement. Jewish labor was concentrated exclusively among the artisans and in small industries, because the Jewish workers had no access to the large factories. Yet they stood in the first ranks of the class struggle for better social and cultural conditions.

At the time of the first Russian Revolution in 1905, Radomsk played a significant role in the struggle of the professional workers. Many strikes in various trades took place and the Radomsk workers' leaders spread this fight to the surrounding towns and shtetlekh. In the process of the oppression of the revolutionary movement in the greater Russian Empire, workers' leaders in Radomsk also were arrested.

In the First World War, Radomsk was liberated from Czarist authority and control on the “political street” became a little freer, the struggle to better the situation for the Jewish workers was renewed. Even the unenlightened workers – like bakers – began to organize, at the same time as other artisans. The workers from small factories, too – such as glassmakers – achieved significant social improvements through strikes.

After the First World War the professional movement among the workers in Radomsk widened. The workers' parties were very active among the professional workers. Some professional unions were connected to some parties and called themselves “algemeine” (general), such as Left and Right P.Z. (Poalei-Zion), the Bund, and communists.

In the thirties, the Right Poalei-Zion (united with Z.S.) was very active in the professional field and they founded at Reymonta 40 a professional center of the professional unions: transport workers, bakers, painters, leather workers and store employees.

The members of the Professional Union of Garment Workers (1933)

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Radomsk was one of the major cities where carpentry workshops were concentrated. Their production was very significant and they employed a large number of workers. A whole series of individual or general strikes took place in the following Jewish carpentry workshops: Hirshel Yudkewicz, Abraham Wilhelm, Nakhum Fiszlewicz, Shmerl Przyrowski, Benimin Rozensztajn, Yitzhak Goldberg, Moishe Milyoner, Ahron Moskowicz, Shlomoh Goldberg, Abraham Szklarczyk and Moishe Chojnacki. The strikes were evidence of intensive work by the union. Particularly active in the Carpenters' Union (Jewish section) were: Yitzhak Goldberg, Enzel, Itze Milyoner, Leibl Wloszczowski, Aizik Szapzak, Luzer Kalka, Shlomoh Najman, Mikhal Kalka, Yehezkeil Bibelski, Shlomoh Brener and others.

The managing committee of the Leather Workers' Union

(Sitting from the right): H. Liberman, E. Przyrowski, Kh. Birncwajg, B. Zilbersztajn.
(Standing): Y. Obarzanek, Y. Wajsberg, Y. B. Goldberg.

The Transport-Workers' Union of the Right P. Z. (united with Z.S.) is a separate chapter. Here were generations of transport workers (treger – carriers), where the son inherited the horse and wagon and also the firms that the father had served. The work consisted of obtaining the goods from the factory, business or workshop and bringing back the completed cargo documents, sometimes with the “cash on delivery,” too. The transport workers had very little work. They, themselves, the owners together with their helpers were in need of having their work organized– and this, the union gave them.

The Jewish Transport Union took part in the recruitment campaign of Jewish transport workers for the port of Haifa. In the newspaper Befreiung-Arbeiter-Shtime (Liberation Workers Voice) from the end of 1934 we read: “The Central Council of the Professional Unions of the Right Poalei-Zion has made an effort for a long time to attract Jewish treger from Poland as port workers for Haifa. At last the efforts were crowned with success. Among the 140 transport workers who need to travel to Eretz-Yisroel in the next weeks will be 40 treger from Poland. Aba Khushi, the general secretary of the Labor Council in Haifa, came to Poland for this purpose. He had to choose the 40 Jewish treger.” Comrade Yosef-Hersh Goldsztajn, who made aliyah to Eretz-Yisroel in 1935 together with his family, was recruited from Radomsk.

The Leather Union, also led by the leader of the Left P.Z., Comrade Hanan Birncwajg, did not remain aloof from the remaining unions with its professional and cultural activities. The same can be said about the Business Employees and other unions; they all developed extensive social and professional activity.

Various factors sometimes hindered or interrupted the activity of the professional unions. The frequent arrests carried out among the professional and worker leaders by the reactionary Polish government organs on one side, and the aliyah of activists to Eretz-Yisroel – would have an effect on the activities of the professional unions.


The Professional Workers' Union, every one for himself and everyone together, was a very important agent in the general political-social life of the Jewish community in Radomsk. Although activity had an effect and was reflected mainly in the area of professional problems, their activities and readiness to fight had a significant influence on the pace and on the development of life in general. In this connection the Professional Workers' Unions played the roll of connecting commercial-economic life on one side with political-social life on the other side.

All of the struggles for a better tomorrow for the Jewish working people shared the fate of the Jewish working masses. Many of them struggled against murderous German Nazism. Several of them, such as Comrade Tuvia Borzykowski, of blessed memory, who was an active leader in the Needle Union, raised themselves to the level of leadership in the ghetto struggle and actively participated in acts of revenge on the Fascist enemy of the Jewish people.

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