by A. Rotfeld and Dr. N. Kudish
Translated by Susan Rosin
In 1933, a branch of the Ha'Oved was established in Stryj. The purpose of this movement, as part of the Ihud party was to organize craftsmen and other workers, to provide vocational education and to prepare them for Aliyah.
A convention of the Ha'Oved branches took place in Stryj on August 26th 1933. The participating branches included: Drohobycz, Borysław, Turka, Schodnica, Skole, Chodorów, Bolechów and Dolina. The chairperson of the Stryj branch, Ben-Zion Scherer represented our town. A general convention took place in November 1933 and Dr. Zilberstein and Mr. Herring participated.
The leaders were Ben-Zion Scherer, Malka Tanne (Fruchter), Moshe Zipper, Nathan Walter, and Shalom Blau and they worked tirelessly to strengthen and increase the influence of the movement. The number of members grew to 300. A spacious apartment was acquired by the branch, to allow it to expand the professional and cultural activities. The branch was supported by the Ihud party. Member of Ha'Oved were active in all the Zionist and Jewish activities such as the various funds, Gemilut Chasadim, the Jewish hospital and Yad Harutzim. In 1932, Haoved established the Hapoel soccer team and its members were active in training the youths in sports. Many of the Ha'Oved members immigrated to Eretz Israel and lived to see the establishment of the state of Israel.
by A. Rotfeld and Dr. N. Kudish
Translated by Susan Rosin
The Hitahdut party had a great impact on the Jews in Eastern Europe. The party was the educational and organizational extension of the labor movement and the workers organization in Eretz Israel. The national-socialist ideal of the organized workers in Eretz Israel was captivating to the academic youths who were unable to join the existing corporations due to their political views.
Those who were looking for an organization matching their democratic outlook found a home in the Hitahdut movement.
Academic societies, whose members were affiliated ideologically and socially with the labor movement and the Histadrut (the workers' organization) in Eretz Israel were established in many towns in Galicia.
The Hitahdut party activists Dr. Azriel Eisenstein, Dr. Ada Bar Lev Klein (a physician) and Dr. Mordechai Bar-Lev-Reinhartz, distributed fliers calling the academic youths in Stryj to establish a Zionist-socialist society in town. The flier stated the lack of an organization where the socialist academic can find others of the same views, gain education, and prepare for life in Eretz Israel. By establishing a society in the framework of the party, the Jewish academic would be able to realize his/hers national and social views.
The response to the flier were very positive and many young men and women attended the meeting on January 15th, 1931 in the Hitahdut apartment at number 10 Kościuszko street and decided to establish the academic Jewish society Z.A.S.S. They rented an apartment, opened a library and started preparing for Aliyah. Many of the movement activists as well as emissaries from Eretz Israel were among the guest speakers. Among them were Fishel Warber, the secretary general of Hitahdut in Galicia, Dr. Kopel Schwartz, the president of Hitahdut in Galicia and Haim Schorer from Eretz Israel.
The activists of the movement were: Dr. Azriel Eisenstein, Dr. Ada Bar Lev Klein, Dr. Moshe Bar Lev, Klara Zeidman, Henek Mayer, Zvi Wohlmut, Loncia Wolf-Rotfeld, Moshe Hauptmann, Liora Meltzer-Hauptmann, Anda Buchman, Rossler, Mundek Pritzhand, Milek Weissbart, Salka Wohlmann, Ruzka Neimann, Belka Fogel, Goldman and Rosenzweig. Additional Z.A.S.S members were: Haim Zeif, David Schechter, Salek Feldman, Hana Oper, Maciaka Weinbach, Hava Teicher, Rivka Rotbard, Leon Rapp, Izio Korn, Shlomo Resenmann and Litaur.
by A. Rotfeld and Dr. N. Kudish
Translated by Susan Rosin
In 1918 Josef Trumpeldor started a pioneer movement in Russia that quickly spread to Lithuania, Poland and other central European countries. The world Hehalutz organization was established in 1921. Many young people made-up their minds to leave the diaspora, become pioneers in Eretz Israel to prepare it for future mass immigration.
Most of the first group of pioneers from Stryj came from Hashomer Hatzair. Even before the establishment of the world Hehalutz organization, a group from Stryj emigrated in 1920. The first one was Eliezer Feis who was followed by Issachar Katz, Shamai Rosenberg, Moshe Oper, Eliezer Altshuler and Mendel Zimmerman. Two groups of women pioneers, also from the Hashomer Hatzair emigrated the same year.
The members of these groups were among those who paved the roads and established the foundation for communal life in a kibbutz.
Before their departure, a ceremony was held in town. Among the participants were the leaders of the Zionist movement in tow: Dr. M. Kaufman, Rachel Katz and others. Malka Leibowitz, the head of Hashomer Hatzair in town passed the movement's flag to the pioneers Josef Roth and Rivka Zelinger to be placed in the homeland.
After the immigration of the first group a branch of HeHalutz was established in Stryj in 1922. The movement required that members realize their Zionist goals by immigrating and working in Eretz Israel.
HeHalutz members who came from all walks of life studied the Hebrew language, history of Zionism, history of the Jewish people, geography of Israel and the history of the labor movement.
All activities were directed by the center in Lvov.
Preparation/training (hachshra) camps were established in the villages of Uhersko and Dołhołuka in close proximity to Stryj. The Hahlutz center contacted landowners who employed pioneers on their farms. In addition, many pioneers got their training in the vocational school. Other training centers were held in
Second row: Pomernaz, Gertenberg, Shenfeld, Roth
Third row: Kerner, Kofman, Diamant, M. Wiesaltir, Berlin, Kogel
Seated: Spinard, Rothenberg
Seated from right to left: Tilda Hand, Mina Arbach, Dr. Norbert Schiff, Luba Schwalb, Genia Heiber
Synowódzko, Nadwórna, Broszniów, Zabłotów, and other locations.
Most of the Halutzim who were preparing themselves for Aliyah in the camps were 18 years of age or older.
However, younger working youths from poor families joined the Stryj branch of HeHalutz. After a day of work, they came to the branch to study Hebrew, history and geography. Parties, dances and singing evenings were organized, so that this group of HeHalutz Hatzair (the young pioneer) can familiarize themselves with national and cultural values. This was an enthusiastic group who dreamed of redeeming themselves from the desperate poverty and dreaming of life of labor in Eretz Israel.
The leadership of HeHalutz in Stryj included Isaac Gartner (secretary), Jacob Wald, M. Reinhartz, Avigdor Rotfeld (secretary), David Weiss, David Lustig, Esther Altbauer (secretary), Munish Hubel, Sara Tanne, Hana Eichen (secretary), Rachel Meller, Moshe Wagner, Haim Schefer, and Hana Engelman-Zimmerman.
Starting in 1922, many HeHalutz members immigrated to Eretz Israel. Among them: Isaac Glazer, Shapira, Tzippora Byk, Lea Brand, Haya Pikholz, Itta Rosenberg, David Frankel, Kerner, Jacob Wald, Jacob Rappaport, Mendel Genzel, Simcha Davidman, Arie Fruchter, Meir Kez, David Tadanir, Rivka Sokol-Lustig, Neta Lindner, Joshua Steiner, Eliezer Koch, Feiga Feldhorn and others.
In the 1930 whole families immigrated. Among them the families of: Shimshon Steiner, Haim Neuman, Moshe Weiss, Avigdor Rotfeld and others.
by Josef Gilat (Gottlieb), Kibbutz Gat
Translated by Susan Rosin
The first years of independent Poland were those of national sensitivity and social turbulence. The Polish youth started uniting in national organizations such as the sporting movement Sokol, Polish scouts movement Harcerz and paramilitary organization. The Ukrainian youth also united in a scouting movement similar to the Baden-Powel scouting movement. Later this organization became the O.O.B. a fighting organization.
Based on this national awakening among the Poles and Ukrainians and with the influence of other youth movements in the world such as Wandervogel and the international scouts organization established by Baden-Powel, I want to describe the establishment and growth of the Hashomer Hatzair in Stryj.
The national Zionist revival , the enthusiasm following the Balfour declaration, the first settlements in Eretz Israel and the socialist movements influenced the youth in Europe and the Jewish Youth as well after the First World War.
The wave of progress, openness, enlightenment and the social turbulence affected people from all walks of life the well-educated, the ultra-religious and the ordinary people alike.
The image of the Jewish youth wearing a gray shirt, blue shorts, wide-brimmed scouting hat, a colorful scouting tie and insignia and a long walking stick were the images of the Shomer (guard, watchman, or sentry). Many times we would watch a gathering of these youths, not far from the Stryj river around a large birch tree, that was eventually called the Shomrim Tree.
Here come the Rechter brothers, the Kudish brothers, the Hochs from Lvovska street; Here are the Findlings, the Fennigs, Kligers from the rynek, the Schlaks from Zamkowa,
the Bonoms from the outskirts of town, the Reinhartzs from Drohobyczka and many others; The best of the studying and working youths gathered on weeknights and on Saturdays.
The people I mentioned were the third generation, meaning they did not know the founders, the original shomrim.
Who were the forefathers of the Hashomer Hatzair in Stryj? It is possible that the beginning of the movement was in 1916 when a small and modest movement named scout was established and active on Gerberska street. Others say that the founders were Aryeh Krampner and his friends from the Vienna university who were vacationing in Stryj. Yet others think that the founders were a group of high school students from the neighboring town of Bolechów led by Michael Händell (later the high schools supervisor in Israel), Jacob Seeman (later a Hebrew poet and author in France) and Izio Silberschlag (later a Hebrew poet and author in the US). We remember the energetic and enthusiastic youths: Yuzek Roth, Poldek (Napoleon) Lautman, Hadassah Dickman, Haya Schlaks, Dzunka Fried, Milek Rechter, Tonka Rechter, Malka Leibowitz, Pnina Freilich, Pnina Reinharz, David Korn (later in the US), and Rivka Selinger. It seems that one of the reasons to establish Hashmer Hatzair in our town was the existence of the organized studying youths in secrets Zionist movements even before the First World War, the Youth of Zion. In time they found their way to the Shomer movement and then Hashomer Hatzair that at the beginning was a scouting movement. The teachers and lecturers in those days were: Zvi Diesendruck, Naphtali Ziegel, Tulo Nusenblatt, Yehoshua Tilleman, Dr. Salek (Bezalel) Lest, Dr. Aryeh Drefler and Dr. Jacob Laufer.
Thinking young Jews in our town as in other areas of Galicia had reached the conclusion by the years 1918-1920 that there were no prospects for a life of national and social freedom in the diaspora, and wished to fulfil their aspirations in Eretz Israel.
In 1919-1920, with the start of the third Aliyah, two groups of Haluzot (pioneer women) left Stryj for Eretz Israel. They became known as Bat Sheva, consisting of seven girls and Ve heheziku also consisting of seven girls and one young man - Meir Wieseltier (so named in reference to the verse in Isaiah 4, 1, And seven women shall take hold of one man). They demanded to pave roads and break gravel. You could still meet these legendary figures in the oldest kibbutzim such as Bet Alpha, Merhavia, Mizra, Mishmar Ha'emek, and others. The Jugend and Hashomer Haoved organizations joined Hashomer Hatza'ir in 1923.
The Stryj branch of Hashomer Hatzair expanded and its active members participated in all the conventions and the committees of the movement. Forty Shomrim and Shomrot from Stryj participated in the Shomrim convention held in July 1918 in Tarnowa-Wyzna near Turka. One of the leadership reports stated that the Stryj branch was expanding and 70% of its members were Hebrew speakers.
The leader for many years in Stryj was Malka Leibowitz. She believed that the popular Shomrim would bring more people closer to the ranks of the movement. The branch in Stryj was one of the first in Galicia to have groups of Shomrim from among the laborers and store clerks (Kraków, Tarnów, Jarosław, Stryj). Malka, who became a pediatrician later, did not live to fulfill the movement's ideology, but was completely dedicated to the young Shomrim in thick and thin. She was very active in Patronat or Opayka which were supporters of the Hashomer Hatzair organization in the difficult reality in Poland.
Even during the First World War, uniform wearing Jewish soldiers organized classes, lectured at the Ivriya and Poalei Zion, and the veterans among us remember those who were spreading the Hebrew language among them Naphtali Ziegel.
The organizations that had much influence on the Hashome Hatzair members were Ivriya, who spread the Hebrew language and Poalei Zion.
The members were eager to learn the Hebrew language. The most active members at the Ivriya were: Naphtali Ziegel, Joseph (Shuster) Shilo, Jonah Friedler, Naphtali Gartner, Aaron Weiss (Tzahor) (later a member of Mishmar Haemek), David Weiss (Tzahor) (later a member of Ein Shemer), the Garfunkel brothers and others. Many at the Ivriya were influenced by the idealism and enthusiasm of the pioneers Shomrim whereas the Shomrim were influenced by the studiousness of the Ivryia members and as a result of this interaction many of the pioneer movement members immigrated to Eretz Israel.
Poalei Zion and the Borochov library had a part in shaping the Stryj Shomer. This was a period of formulating ideas and concepts and the library aided greatly. The Poalei Zion had activists such as Shimon Rosenberg, Ida Becher, Josef Hess, Michael Oper and others.
One of the interesting phenomena was the involvement of the girls in the movement. Starting with the activism of Malka and continued through the immigration of many girls. Two explanations for this phenomenon: it was easier for girls to obtain the necessary papers and many boys left the movement after graduating from high-school.
Many abandoned the movement due to the demands for fulfillment that proved too difficult. Some left the movement quietly, others came-up with excuses, yet others bad-mouthed the movement. These incidents were weapons in the right-wing opposing parties' hands. Malka came to the rescue again to strengthen the movement together with Dr. Ada Klein and other activists from the left Leib Shwamer and Haim Neuman.
Several pioneer - Zionist movement existed in Stryj during 1927 1930. During the third Aliyah, there were always Shomrim from Stryj. Many joined the various Hashomer Hatzair kibbutzim Beit Alpha, Merhavia, Mizra, Sarid, Mishmar Ha'emek, Ein Shemer, Ein Hamifratz and Kibbutz Gat.
When I immigrated in 1930's, the Stryj branch of Hashomer Hatzair was still active and was headed by Zvi (Honig) Steif, Naphtali Lorberbaum and Libka Szapira; but they never achieved their aspiration and perished with the rest of the community.
by Zvi Livne (Liberman}
Translated by Susan Rosin
In the summer of 1920 the immigration to Eretz Israel strengthened from week to week and most of those were looking to work on the roads and in the quarries.
Seven girls from Stryj, all of them 17 18 years old, high school graduates, all of them members of the Hashomer Hatzair and Hebrew speakers boarded a ship and upon arrival registered at the Hapoel Hatzair immigration center. They requested to be assigned to a work group together.
The work that was available mostly at the time was in paving roads. That was a hard work even for the men. It was not common to send women to work on the roads. The few women who did work on the roads, were part of organized work groups and they mostly worked in the kitchen, doing laundry and cleaning. It was actually forbidden by the leadership to send women to work on the roads.
Every morning these seven women showed-up at my office, and their representative, Miriam,
would step forward and claim: When will you send us to work? Yesterday you sent 20 men, and today you are sending more. When will our turn come? We don't want to wait any longer.
I tried to send some of them to the other groups, but they refused. They wanted to work together. It was hopeless, and I did not know what to do. I was afraid to send them, as the supervisor had forbidden this.
They showed-up every day, and I kept promising and telling them to be patient.
One morning I gave-up and said: OK. You are leaving tomorrow. Hopefully we will hear good news. They were exuberant, and went to pack their belongings. When they were leaving, I said: I suggest you call your group Bat Sheva.
I was very uncomfortable about what I did what if their health will suffer? What if the road management will send them back? Also, the rest of the people in the office criticized me for my courageous act and in my heart I agreed with them
One day, a team leader showed up in the office, and I asked him if by any chance he heard about the group of seven girls from Stryj working on the roads.
Did you mean the Bat Sheva group? he asked? How could I not know about them? They are the best workers! All of them are working in the gravel shattering, and their work is outstanding. Their daily quota of gravel equals that of the most experienced men, and many times they even exceed them. Everybody at camp is proud of them and praises the excellence of their work.
I was so happy! After a while, another group of women arrived from Stryj on one of the ships, all of them Hashomer Hatzair members. This time, there was one man with them seven women and one man. When I registered them in the work assignments book, I had to laugh, and told them I'll register them as Ve heheziku group.
With the experience of the Bat Sheva group, I did not hesitate, and sent them immediately to work on the roads. This group, too, excelled in their work.
Up until today, you can meet in the Hashomer Hatzair kibbutzim members of these groups. They distinguish themselves in their work and in the part they take in public life.
In the history of the conquest of labor (by Jewish pioneers in Eretz Israel) these two groups from Stryj led the way and broke new grounds.
by Zvi Steiner
Translated by Susan Rosin
Towards the end of 1925 a group of young students including Shalom Goldberg, Karol Einhorn and Moshe Steiner started the Revisionist Movement in Stryj. At the beginning many who joined the movement were deserters from other parties. In time, the revisionist movement ideology was spread to those that were far from Zionism and even Judaism. The movement got a great boost with the joining of the wellknown and energetic Zionist leader David Zeidman. In the elections for the 14,th congress, the revisionist party received 116 votes, more than any other party, an event that generated a congratulatory telegram from Ze'ev Jabotinsky.
The appearance of the new party with its nationalistic political slogans such as Jewish state, Jewish troops, free immigration, colonizing regime etc. produced interest and enthusiasm among the youth on one side, and reservations and opposition from the oldestablished parties on the other. In spite of this, the relationships with the other, more traditional parties were good, mostly due to David Zeidman's personality. He worked tirelessly to dull the movement's revolutionary edge and its extremist character. Therefore the movement in Stryj had a special character. Zeidman tried to prevent any political decisions that will impede the relationships with the other Zionist parties and he knew how to handle the attacks by youth who criticized his politics.
The movement grew, establishing the Betar youth movement, the Revisionist Hehalutz which was founded under the leadership of Eliyahu Waldman and the joining of the academic corporation Hebronia.
The party increased its political activities and the members were active in all the national funds, the elections to the town council and the kehila. However, because of the Palestinecentric character of the movement, the members did not take active part in these institutions. Among the active members were Shalom Goldberg, Karol Einhorn, Mgr. Sternberg, Mgr. Rechter, Clara Bleiberg, Dr. Wandel, Mgr. Garfunkel, Mgr. Arnold, Naphtali Rotbaum, and others.
Following the Katowice conference in 1933, the party split. Leaving the Zionist organization and moving away from the ideals we grewup upon shocked many. It seemed that only in Stryj this decision was not implemented. Under the influence of Zeidman, the split was being postponed until finally, a large portion of the members went over to the Grossman camp which eventually became one of the strongest parties in Poland.
The remaining handful rallied and within a year established the New Zionist Organization (H.Z.CH.), known as Hatzach. The most active members in the new organization were Shalom Goldberg and dr. Shimshon Shertok. In addition to Betar and Hebronia three additional organizations were established: 1. Brit HaHayal (the Soldier Covenant) under the leadership of dr. Gross and dr. Lautman. This was an organization of common people who were joined by porters and coach drivers all strongly believing in the idea of the Jewish state; 2. Brit Avodah (Work covenant) was an organization of working students under the leadership of engineer Grieb; 3. Brit Yeshurun for the yeshiva students under the leadership of Naphtali Galantner and Josef Friedler. The Tel Hai Fund was also established but it did not achieve its growth goals. Jabotinsky's 1933 propaganda trip and the evacuation and state ideas brought new life to the movement.
The state of Israel was established, but the overwhelming majority of those young people, who believed in its establishment, in a Jewish army, Jewish police force and a Jewish rule did not live to see this historical event. They perished in the shoah and were not buried in a Jewish grave.
May their memory be blessed.
by Berko Igra
Translated by Susan Rosin
At the end of 1926 a young student named Uri Shenberg established a scouting movement that eventually became Betar or Brit Josef Trumpeldor. After he left, the leadership passed to Josef Erman. The branch really flourished when the leader became the talented Josef Hauptman assisted by Reuven Hoffman, Miriam Haftel, Zvi Steiner and Berko Igra. From 1928 until 1935, the branch leader was Zvi Steiner after Josef Hauptman left Stryj. Mr. Berko Igra provided the branch with two rooms in his house on Berko Yosilewicz street, rent free. The branch was instructed by the regional commanders in Lvov and Stanisławów and had more than one hundred members. The purpose of this organization was to straighten the backs of Jewish youth, instill statehood values, and prepare them for military service in the impending Jewish State. This scouting movement which had military characteristics and discipline
adopted the symbol of the Jewish Legion (Hagdud Ha'ivri), the menorah. The national symbols and slogans attracted boys and girls from all circles: clerks, apprentices and students in spite of the ban by the schools to belong to a Jewish youth movement.
The branch was structured into three age groups and the transition to the next level was dependent on passing certain tests and on personal behavior. The cultural and educational activities such as Hebrew and Jewish studies, history of Zionism and Israel geography were held in smaller units. The youths were trained in sporting activities, drills, excursions and trips in battalions comprised of three to four groups under the leadership of Zvi Steiner, Reuven Hoffman and Berko Igra.
The movement made efforts to include the Jewish youths into the Polish paramilitary movements to enable them to train with weapons. It was the first time that Jewish youth marched with rifles in their hands.
With the growth of the branch, additional leaders stood out: Zeev Stein, Isaac Weintraub, and Abba Oster. Among the most active members were Reuven Neubauer, Dov Wisaltier, Hana Open and Yocheved Schechter.
A regional headquarters was established in Stryj in 1930 with responsibility for the following branches: Borysław, Bukaczowce, Dolina, Drohobycz, Wygoda, Żurawno, Żydaczów, Żabie, Medenice, Sokołów, Rożniatów, and Kałusz. The regional headquarters organized meetings and conventions, vocational training and summer camps. The experiences in nature provided a picture of what life would be in the homeland in Eretz Israel.
The head of Betar, Zeev Jabotinsky visited Stryj in 1933, and his visit provided a deeply felt experience for the members in our town.
Who could imagine that these dedicated youths who swore to die or to conquer the mountain would not realize the fulfilment of their dreams.
May their memory be blessed.
by Meir Kez
Translated by Susan Rosin
As with other movements, soon after the establishment of the general revisionist movement a process of political differentiation and branching began to manifest itself. This was caused by the different attitudes of the members joining the central ideology of the movement. In 1928, two years after the establishment of Betar, a new society of revisionist youth was established in Stryj under the name Masada. Soon about one hundred members joined. The reason for this split was mainly the more moderate approach of the Masada members who had reservations about the extremist slogans of Betar; they did not like the military discipline and uniforms. In addition they were older than most of the Betar members.
The society was located in the house of Kerner at the rynek. Masada was headed by Josef Erman, Lautman and Honig who left Betar. In 1930, Masada became the first revisionist pioneering movement in Stryj, because its members committed themselves to the central ideal of the Zionist movement - fulfillment and immigration to Eretz Israel in addition to activities of education and propaganda. A training camp in Dilove near Stryj was established and members who were planning to immigrate were trained in carpet weaving. The Zionist leader Robert Striker visited the center in 1931. Until the split in the revisionist movement, Masada was part of Betar. After the split between Jabotinsky and Grossman, Massada members joined the Grossman camp mainly because of the possibility of immigration to Eretz Israel.
Eli Waldman and Meir Kez participated in the first convention of the Grossman Revisionists in Warsaw. The active members of the movement were Eli Waldman and David Zeidman who worked tirelessly for the immigration of the revisionist pioneers. Their memory will never be forgotten by those whom they helped to immigrate. A lot of work went into preparing documents, immigration papers and obtaining funds for those immigrating. The members devoted to these activities were mgr. Sternberg, Eli Waldman and Meir Kez obtaining help from the Ezra (help) fund who supported the immigration. HeHalutz was active in Stryj until the holocaust. Tens of members immigrated. A convention in 1934 was held in Eretz Israel and was attended by the leader of the Statehood Revisionists Meir Grossman.
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