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[Page 210]

The Zionist Workers' Party “Histadrut”

by Haim Krajndler

At the beginning of the twenties, at the historic Prager Conference, the Zionist Workers' Party Histadrut was established with A. D. Gordin and Haim Arlozorov at its head. This organization also was established in our city. Its founders were several members of Tseiri-Zion: Dovid Khaszczewcki, Shmuel Lakhman and Haim Krajndler.

A group of members of “Histadrut”

Standing: (From the Right): Y. Gruszka, Dovid Najman, Eli Gruszka, Dovid Fajerman, Shmuel Lakhman, Elimelekh Klajner
Sitting: Y. Zandberg, Meir Birnbaum, M. Wolkowicz, Dr. Tarla, Dovid Khaszczewcki, Eli Kaplan, D. Erlikhman
At the bottom: Zev Wolkowicz, Moishe Szitenberg, A. Lagzhitski

A group of members of the Youth Organization “Gordonia”

The party had the smallest numbers of members. This was only because it was the last to be established in a small city in which a lot of parties had been active for many years. Nevertheless, Histadrut was popular enough. It took an active part in the local funds (Keren Ha-Yesod, the Permanent Fund for Benevolent Purposes; Keren Keyamet, the Jewish National Fund) and also had a great influence on national political life. It placed its principals on the ethical side of the Zionist idea.

The most serious young people, who had established a beautiful library named the A.D. Gordin Library, grouped around Histadrut. The library was located in a good meeting hall to which lecturers, entertainers and academics heading the Keren Ha-Yesod and Keren Keyamet came from time to time. The representative of our party in Keren Ha-Yesod was Mr. Yitzhak Lakhman, who organized many activities in this area.

When the party for various reasons had to liquidate the A. D. Gordin Library, it was sent over to Rembertow.

At the head of Histadrut was a governing council to which the following members belonged: Elimelekh Klajner, Dovid Khaszczewcki, Yehieil Meir Wolkowicz, Dovid Erlikhman*, Esther Szternfeld, Meir Birnbaum, Yehuda Zandberg, Haim Krajndler, Eliezer Kaplan, Shmuel Lakhman. Members of this branch [of the organization were]: Dov Braner, Dovid Nojman, Eiliyahu Lagzhitski, Jakov Grushka, Eli Gruszka, Moishe Yitzhak Szitenberg, Yakov Ofman, Zev Wolkowicz, Shmuel Rozencwajg, Dov Wajnsztok, Yakov Zajdman, Yakov Gridberg, Shlomoh Szac, Rafal Dombrower, Emanuel Dombrower, Dovid Fajerman, Fanye Goslowski, Aitche Majtlis, Gitl Gelbard and Ruchl Maneles.

Because of the significant role that they played in Radomsk's national Jewish life, two leaders of Histadrut have earned special mention: Dovid Khaszczewcki and Meir Wolkowicz.

Dovid Khaszczewcki was a Jew, a Ben Torah, and a devoted Zionist with a lot of common sense and a healthy political sense. He was an uncompromising foe of all kinds of insincere community benefactors, against whom he would speak publicly with complete sincerity; he fought them persistently. Because of his unwillingness to compromise, he was called “the stubborn Litvak.” Essentially he was good-hearted, and if something bad happened to a Jew, he became deeply involved in[the situation and was literally moved to tears.

The words that he spoke to his friends when the ghetto in Radomsk came into existence give testimony to his ability to grasp the realities and draw the appropriate conclusions. “The Germans decided to annihilate us,” he said. “Our duty is to organize a rebellion, to kill several score Germans, to die as heroes and not let ourselves be slaughtered as lambs.”

* Later he joined the Revisionists.

[Page 211]

His words, alas, were not heeded and he shared the bitter destiny of our Radomsk brothers.

Meir Wolkowicz was a zealous impractical Zionist. As a true man of the people he dedicated himself with love and with his life to the work of Keren Ha-Yesod. As a deputy he was incorruptible and drew himself to his work as to a holy work. With a special reverence he would distribute the figs and bukser (St. John's bread or carob pods) on the New Year's Day for trees [Tu B'Shvat, the fifteenth day of Shevat which coincides with late January or February] that were sent to the small children by the central Kehile Kadushe (holy community).

When it pertained to political work he was very inconsistent and we endured a lot of aggravation from him. So many times we had [disagreements] with him when as co-editor of the Piotrkow weekly newspaper Undzer Zeitung (Our Newspaper) he would not edit a report that needed a sharper assault on a political opponent. We always found no changes had been made in the spirit of the original text when we read the printed edition on Shabbos.

Meir died several years before the Second World War.

In 1929 a branch of Gordinia was created that was comprised of a small number of children of Zionist parents who wanted to give their children a Zionist education.

Preparatory training for prospective agricultural emigrants for kibbutzim (collective farms] in Palestine was the reason [for the activity] in Radomsk. Those being trained were members of Histadrut and Gordinia. Some members of the preparatory training devoted themselves to the educational work of the local branch of Gordinia. Several members of Gordinia survived to emigrate to Israel.

[Page 211]

The activity of the “Keren Kayemet Le-Yisroel” (Jewish National Fund)

by D. Akhi-Pinkhus

In 1901 the 5th Zionist Congress in Basle officially endorsed Professor Herman [Zwi] Szpira's idea for the Keren Kayemet Le-Yisroel (Jewish National Fund). The purpose of the Fund was to redeem the land of Eretz-Yisroel from foreign hands with the help of the far-flung Jewish masses. The Jewish masses quickly and with special feeling embraced the Jewish National Fund in its first years.

Our mothers let the blue and white pushke of the K.K.L. hang together with the pushke of Rebbe Meir. A lot of us still remember how our mothers sent us to the vinegar maker Mr. Bril with the K.K.L. pushke. He would empty it with such reverence. The people [were infused] with the feeling of having been entrusted with a special mission. Who doesn't remember the kerus * erev Yom-Kippur in the synagogue and the Bote-Midroshim (houses of study and prayer)? Or the K.K.L. collections at weddings and other simkhas? Or even later the K.K.L. stamps with pictures of Dr. Max Nordau and others?

* Translator's note: Plate put in synagogue on the eve of the Day of Atonement for the collection of contributions

After the First World War, in 1922, the community-minded Zionist activist Meir Wolkowicz, a friend of Histadrut, came to Radomsk. Through his initiative the activities of K.K.Le-Yisroel were reorganized on a more business-like basis. Despite all the prior activity a Zionist organization did not exist at that time. As a matter of fact, Meir Wolkowicz together with Haim Goldberg organized several groups, which took an active part in collecting for K.K.L.

At the end of 1925, Mr. M. Wolkowicz and Mr. H. Goldberg took part in a regional meeting in Piotrkow. According to their report in 1925 the sum of 5,200 zlotys was collected in Radomsk. Furthermore the report explains that the old Zionists did not participate in the work and only Histadrut, he-Halutz** and Poalei Zion (together with the Zionist Socialist Worker's Party.) fulfilled their appropriate duty.

** Translator's note: Movement begun in 1917 to prepare young Jews for settlement in cooperative communities in Palestine, through labor, with equality and mutual ownership of economic goods. Joseph Trumpeldor was a prime inspiration for the movement.

At that time, Zionist activity in Radomsk encountered great difficulties. The 'flower' day for K.K.L. brought in a very small income, so that the Radomsker Zeitung of September 9th, 1926 writes about “The Devil Celebrating His Victory”: 'Mr. Wolkowicz and his devoted co-workers do everything in order to revive the activities of K.K.L. A heart-ringing deliverance will be managed: Every donor leads to another, [urging] that he, too, should donate to the K.K.L. The name of the donor will be published in the newspaper.' This feat was crowned with great success and attracted an increasingly larger circle of the Jewish population.

The Council of the “Keren Kayemet Le-Yisroel”
(Jewish National Fund) in 1926

Top row (from the right): Z. Wolkowicz, B. Margalewski, Y. Fridman, Y. Rozencwajg, A. Ofman, Dovid Margalewski
Second row: A. B. Eizen, Y. Liberman, H. Goldberg, M. Szitenberg
Sitting: Z. Ofman, Y. Zandberg, ______, Trustee (Messenger of Eretz-Yisroel), M. Wolkowicz (Deputy), Meir Birnbaum

[Page 212]

During the conclusion of a 'flower campaign' for K.K.L.

Top row (from the right): A. Lagzhitski, Haiyyah-Pesye Goldberg, Z. Wolkowicz, Shmul Neyman, Haiyyah Zylberstajn,
Yitzhak Weintreter, Ite Zelkowicz, Sarah Fiszman
Second row: _____, Bugajski, _____ Blum, _____, Miriam Baum, Rokhma Rozencweig, Hana Goldberg, Gruszka
Third row: Esther Elbaum, A. B. Eisen, Zaydman, M. Wolkowicz, Haim Goldberg, Hela Fariz

According to a report signed by Delegates Wolkowicz and Lagzhitski, the receipts for the month of Tammuz in 1927 were 124.80 zl[otys]. The same report confirms that the income for 1927 was 1,007.80 zl. That was also confirmed by the Auditor's Commission consisting of the community workers B. Brauner and Sh. Lakhman. In October 1928 during a visit by the delegate of K.K.L. Central H. Azrakhi, the group Keren Kayemet Le-Yisroel was created on the motion of H. Wolkowicz and others – at once from the National Fund Committee – under the leadership of the following members: chief deputy of the organization, Wolkowicz, vice deputy, Wolf Szpira, treasurer, Yitzhak Lakhman, Haim Goldberg, and Grundman. The division's committee was made up of: B. Brauner, Y. Liberman, Szpria, Witenberg, and Eikhner. With the emergence of the youth group, the actions of K.K.L. exceeded all expectations. Ignoring those in the circle of the older Jewish population where an anti-Zionist mood plainly dominated, the great enthusiasm of the young triumphed over all else, and income rose. In the month of Tishrei 1928 73.00 zl. already had flowed in.

The Radomsker Zeitung of 23/12/1927 writes in connection with the Chanukah campaign:

'We believe that the threatening black clouds have already passed from the Radomsk sky… and the past neglect that people would show to the collector will now find them happily fulfilling their duty as Jews with pleasure in relation to the Jewish people in Eretz-Yisroel.'

In January 1928 M. Wolkowicz – for important personal reasons – resigned his office as Deputy and during the visit of A. Bialopolski of the Central organization, Eiliyahu Lagzhitski, was elected as Deputy, Sh. Neyman as Vice Deputy, Yitzhak Lakhman treasurer and Dr. M. Kornberg secretary. The intensity of the work increased still more [and] the group had numerous leaders.

Thanks to the work of the K.K.L. community activists, the anti-Zionist atmosphere that was created by the 'Israeli expatriate' from Eretz-Yisroel, who came to Radomsk was overcome. This shows in the income for K.K.L. in the month of Tammuz 1928 with the sum of 170.19 zl. and in the month of Tishrei 1928 the sum of 240.21 zl.

It must especially be underscored that above all in the list of the donors there appear a large number of youngsters. One even finds a list of small children with donations of…5 groshen. That shows how deeply the work of the devoted community activists penetrated into the consciousness of the young. 105.80 zl. had already flowed in from a flower day for K.K.L. in the month of October 1928.

In January 1929, it was decided, at a meeting under the chairmanship of K. Khaszczsewotski, to organize a committee of several members who would become active with the K.K.L. work: Khaszczewotski, Klejner, Sh. Lakhman and Wolkowicz. It was also decided to increase the number of K.K.L. pushkes and to organize the customary donations from the women for K.K. Le-Yisroel.

The presidium of the group, taking into consideration the devotion of the newly created youth group and of the existing group, undertook the daring decision to collect the sum of 1000 zlotys in the month of Tishrei 1929. In the 'Radomsker Zeitung' of 15.12.29 we read:

'The efforts of the group were crowned with success. On the first of Heshvan the receipts reached the sum of 1001.99 zl.'

Radomsk also took part in the organizing work for K.K.L. in the county. Haim Goldberg was delegated to attend the meeting in Sosnowiec that occurred in November 1929.

On a Chanukah night in 1929 Mr. Natan Ofman appeared on stage during an artistic-musical performance and the income from the profits was 200 zl.

The Central organization decided to arrange a regional meeting in Radomsk on the 23 rd of October 1930 in appreciation for the good showing of donors from Radomsk for Keren Kayemet, with the participation of the regional delegates and A. Bialopolski, Member Yekubson and Leah Widrowicz of the delegation from Eretz-Yisroel.

In respect for the city and residents and their community who participated in the regional meeting in Radomsk and later were killed in the dark Hitlerite gehenem (infernos), let us be permitted to record their names in the Yizkor Book of Radomsk:

Apelstejn and Szilis – Dzialoszyn; Flat[owicz?] and Grin – Brzeznica; Rozenblum, Tenenbaum, Grinblat and Daychman – Przedborz; Khada Rukhel and Reikhman – from Klobuck; Unger – from Tomaszow; Kuszinski, Dawidowicz and Platowicz – Sulmierzyce; Mlinarski – from Silew; Blusztejn and Rozental – from Piotrkow; Yablonski, B. Lifszic and Jochebed Lifszic – from Pajeczno; Gliksman – from Kleszczow; Szistak – from Krzepice; Samber and Plawner – from Belchatow; Kawalski, Grojsman, Tenenbaum and Khanawicz – from Kamiensk; Kamunic and Frenk – from Krzepice; Marowicz – from Gorszkowice; [whom] together with local delegates at the conference numbered 45.

[Page 213]

Some of them who miraculously survived the murderous extermination campaign are found in Israel and, of course, other countries. So let these words be a small recognition of their devoted work in behalf of our old-new land of Israel. And for the dear community workers who shared the bitter fate of their parents, sisters and brothers of Radomsk, let these words be a bouquet of forget-me-not flowers on their unknown graves…

The Radomsker Zeitung of 28.2.1930 writes in detail about the conference and what a passionate demonstration for Eretz-Yisroel was staged. Over 500 Jews from Radomsk attended the proceedings. While the speeches were interesting, more interesting was the greeting that demonstrated how the K.K.L. and its devoted community workers had at last [silenced] the anti-Zionist spirit in Radomsk.

Reb Nejkron was welcomed in the name of the business leaders, who promised material support for the K.K.L. M. Berger promised support from the small merchants and he] declared:

“Zionism lives again in Radomsk. Although until now it found itself in a lethargic sleep that was only because there was no one to wake it up.”

H. Kreindler (“Histadrut”) said:

“That the central [organization] of K.K.L. decided to arrange the conference in Radomsk is a recognition that Radomsk participated at the appropriately high level with its activity on behalf of our National Fund. It recalls the past, when in Radomsk virtually only Histadrut supported the work of K.K. Le-Yisroel. With great satisfaction, I affirm that Jews come on their own initiative requesting pushkes for K.K.L.

Haim Goldberg (from the Social Zionists) said in a report from Radomsk:

“After 1925, in the later years, when the receipts of K.K.L. amounted to 7,000 zl. – together with the 'decline' of immigration to Palestine – there was also a strong decline in income for K.K.L. Thanks to devoted Zionist youth, and the fundraising group, the activity of the K.K.L. again came back to life.”

For the year 1930, the Central organization designated the sum of 5,000 zl. for Radomsk. The whole sum was raised.

On the 20 of Tammuz the Herzl Academy held a meeting with the participation of Dr. Yitzhak Szifer from Warsaw, at which a protest-resolution passed against the cut in immigration to Eretz-Yisroel.

In July 1930 we received from the main office of Keren Kayemet in Israel the honor certificate that was inscribed in the Golden Book of Keren Kayemet on behalf of Efrayim Czizik who fell in battle protecting the Yishuv. The registration was made on behalf of the Radomsk unit. Efrayim Czizk was killed while protecting the Hulda settlement south of Rehovot during the uprising of 1929. It was the custom for Jewish communities to adopt the heroes and inscribe them in the K.K.L. Golden Book. The certificate was signed by Menahem Ussishkin, the head of the K.K.L.

Later, H. Khaszczewatski managed the group in place of H. Lagzhitski who left office. In September 1930 [at] the general meeting of the group under the chairmanship of H. Goldberg, the following managers were chosen: Wolkowicz, Hartman, Goldberg, Eizen, Eikhner, Mila Goldberg, Lakhman, Garfinkl, Y. Liberman, M. Birnbaum and member Gitler.

[In] January 1931, Dr. A. Sh. Yuris from the head office of K.K.L. in Jerusalem was delegated to Radomsk. The visit particularly had the effect of expanding the activities of K.K.L.

The Youth Organization of K.K.L. in 1930

Top row (from the right): Fajerman, R. Gitler, M. Fajerman, D. Hartman, B. Rubin, Sz. Zilberberg, Sz. Blumsztein, N. Markowicz, G. Blumsztein
Second row: Ejchner, Ts. Gitler, L. Grundman, Y. Rozenboim, Sz. Hartman, M. Szpira, Seczemska, M. Rubin, Sz. Fajerman, D. Ejchner, Ch. Grosman
Third row: Sz. Hampel, Ch. Hartman, M. Banker, M. Goldberg, M. Wolkowicz, Rotenberg, Y. Rosenbaum, D.M. Korenberg, Yitzhak Lakhman
Sitting: F. Sobol, R. Szpira, R. Bugajski, F. Gaslowski, A. Warszawski, G. Yakubowicz

[Page 214]

The community activists of the K.K.L., during the farewell for Member Yehudah Liberman,
for his aliyah [immigration] to Eretz-Yisroel (8th of May, 1933)

Top row (from the right): D. M. Korenberg, Yitzhak Kuferstak, Daniel Ejchner. Mila Goldberg, Manya Szpira, R. Bialystok, Yakov Ejchner, Leibel Szmulowicz
Second row: Yehezkeil Skurnitski, Yadzia Szmulowicz, Abner Garfinkl, Yehudah Liberman, Haim Hartman, _____, Rafal Rapport
[Sitting]: B. Kriwis, ______, A. Gliksman, Warszawski, Grosman

For the 70th birthday of the great national leader Nahum Sokolow, the K.K.L. group in Radomsk decided to collect telegrams with the signatures of the Radomsk Jewish population and bind them. This Jubilee account would be sent – through the auspices of the K.K.L. central organization – as a gift of the Radomsk Jews.

In July 1931, the Radomsker Zeitung reported that the police interrupted a Herzl Academy arranged by the group in the middle of the Academy's activities.

In August 1931 a memorial service in the city synagogue was arranged by K.K.L. with the participation of H. Fogelman of the Central organization for the fallen heroes in Eretz-Yisroel during the past two years. The group also decided that the Tishrei action for K.K. Le-Yisroel in 1931 should be carried out under the slogan '30 years of Keren Kayemet Le-Yisroel' (1901-1931).

An interesting summary of the income for the years 1925-1930 shows very clearly the Zionist spirit in Radomsk – in 1925 – 5,926 zl. income; 1926 – 2707 zl.; 1927 – 966 zl.; 1928 – 2701 zl.; 1929 – 960 zl.; 1930 – 5462 zl.; totaling – 15,992 zlotys.

In the first four months of 1931 there was a net income of 1,175.59 zl.

In July 1931, the Zionist activist M. Wolkowicz [the most successful money raiser] gave up the management of the K.K.L. and in his place a presidium of three members was elected as mentioned above in the summary report about K.K.L: Yitzhak Lakhman, Haim Hartman and Shmul Neyman.

In 1932-33 the presidium of K.K.L. consisted of the members: Yehudah Liberman (in Israel), Abner Garkfinkel and Haim Hartman. The last two community activists were killed by the German murderers.

In the last years [before the German invasion of Poland], the economic situation for Polish Jewry in general grew worse, particularly in Radomsk. Hitler's coming to power very strongly influenced the Polish anti-Semites with 'Azan' in the lead to intensify the anti-Jewish policies, such as boycotts against Jewish businesses. Naturally the receipts of K.K.L. decreased from what they had been.

With publication of this article about the work of the K.K.L. in Radomsk and their community activists in the Yizkor Book, we want to show what a beautiful page the youth of Radomsk wrote in the history of Zionist ideals.

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