Anti-Semitic Excesses of Mielec by Israel Cohen

November 1, 1918 (source: YIVO Archives)

Page 1 of Israel Cohen's testimony of the 1918 pogrom in Mielec
Page 1 of Israel Cohen’s testimony of the 1918 pogrom in Mielec

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It is a very interesting fact, that observing the unity of the time, place and action, the pogroms or antisemitic riots broke out more or less at the same time and had everywhere a similar course.

In Mielec the riots began properly speaking on Friday, 1 IX 1918 [1 Sep 1918]. Several soldiers – Poles – entered into the lodging of Mr. Aron Leipzig with the intention of robbing. As his son resisted, wanting to hinder them, one of the aggressors blew him with a bayonet and wounded him gravely. But it is not the end.

The 4 XI 1918 [4 Nov 1918] early in the morning a band of peasants assembled with a plain antisemitic intention. They robbed one shop – the property of Mr. Samuel Tanzer – but as the militia of the town defended the goods and the life of the innocent Jews and wanted still to keep the order in the town, she succeeded to remove the danger at its beginning. The mentioned militia was established from the intelligence of our town and contained only Christian citizens. In spite of many efforts of ours Jews were not admitted. The 4 XI 1918 in the synagogue assembled a very numberous [sic] Jewish meeting in which took part also several representatives of the Catholic intelligence and citizens. The judge of the county, Dr. Stognszewski, addressed to the assembly a speech full of invectives against the Jewish religion and nation. Among other things he said that the Polish society has a great trouble with the Jews, for it does not know, what to do with them, word for word: “one cannot threw [sic] them all into the Vistula and to live with them longer it is impossible for the Jews caused the ruin of Poland” (sic!) therefore he says – “With the intention of getting some informations I went to Cracow, where I heard, that we proclaimed the parole of the absolute removing ourselves from the Jews.” But all this was only a prelude.

November the 7th 1918 already in the morning one could see bands of peasants and women rushing to the market-place. Several Jewish citizens went to the head of the county (Bezirks = haüptmann) and to the commander of the militia, but in the Board of the county they did not get any answer and Mr. Gostwicki declared, that to his greatest regret the militia was dissolved and the motive of it he stated, that they did not want to get in danger for the Jews. By the way it is to be mentioned, that Mr. Gostwicki worked much for keeping the order, but before this delegation returned with that answer, the enraged people, crying “huria [sic] against the Jews! Jews to Palestine!” stormed the shops, which were closed from the morning; they were already drunk, for firstly they rushed into the ale-house of Mr. A. Fortgang, although it was closed with Venetian-blinds and locks, of iron and drunked [sic] or spilled there different wines in the value of several thousand crowns. Afterwards they threw themselves with an astonishing quickness on the shops of Israel Löw, Abraham Bittersfeld, Aba Perlmutter, Abraham Geltnieger, Elias Schiff, Schaja Kurz, Naftali Blasbalg, Chaim Rotwald, Simon Brandmann, Wadie Silber, Debora Rubin, Matel Jochnowitz, Jacob Moster, Chajah Rottenberg, Leiser Steuer, Osias Sternglanz, Alexander Stempler, Rasele Nussen, Markus Blattberg, Samuel Tanzer (the second time) and several lesser and robbed them or destroyed. The whole action lasted two hours and a half at least. The members of the militia stood quietly and looked at the amusement. Several citizens, among them Mr. Buttersfeld went to the commander of the place Mr. Nierczyński with the demand of help for the Jews, but he did not gave [sic] any clear answer. After 3 hours of robberies a patrol appeared and its aspect was enough to expel the robbing peasants. There is to be mentioned, that the patrol appeared not with the intention of saving the Jews, but only for it was heard a shot; it is not proved who shot, but eyewitnesses declare, that one of the enraged mob gave the shot. The suspicion of the shooting fell upon the Jews; therefore the military command sent the patrol with the order of arresting the rioting Jews and really Samuel Tanzer was arrested with his son. During that time several respectable citizens of our town as Isak Särtner, Mendel Wertheimer, Samuel Tänzer, Leiser Steuer and many others were beaten and wounded. The next day that is to say 8 XI 1918 [8 Nov 1918] the Jews of Mielec sent a delegation to the National Counsel [sic] in Cracow, which sent therefore hither the lieutenant Goldklang with 12 soldiers from the Jewish military organization of Cracow. Lieutenant Goldklang endeavoured to organise a Jewish self-defense and for that affaire who treated with the commander and commissioner of the Polish Liquidation Commission, Mr. Różycki. In spite of those heroic efforts he did not succeed, for the Jews the arms were taken away. From that time the Jews of our town and the surrounding countries live in a continnal [sic] fear. Successively they are expropriated from all the economical postures in the country and the little towns. The peasants of Wojsław ad Mielec expelled Mr. Meier Schlojme Bergstein, who was collector of some royalties and Mr. Jacob Schnall, a farmer who lived there already several years. The trade of naphta was taken away to the Jews in Mielec and Radomyśl Wielki. The same thing is with the suggar [sic]. Lesser robberies take place every day and every night. The Jews are powerless and if they complain, they get the answer, that the robbery of some rags is not such a great catastrophe. The Jew cannot move from his place, for dangers wait for him everywhere. In the railways fearful things happen. Between the railway stations Mielec and Baranów soldiers with guns threw themselves upon the Jews, robbing and blowing them without pity.

Here we gave a short description of the sad Jewish history of our town during the last weaks [sic].

We inclose [sic] four records from the great number of depositions, which illustrate more or less the course of the excesses and the ruling tune [sic].

Mielec January the 1st 1919.

Jehuda Kohn m.p.            
Ascher Meilech Strom m.p.                        
Schyja Sternglanz m.p.                                    
Alexander Stempler m.p.

Three illegible signatures.

Record.

drawn up in the buro [sic] of the Jewish Counsel in Mielec the 11 December 1918!

In the presence of the delegates of the Jewish national Committee ad Mielec Jehuda Kohn and Ascher Meilech Strom.

As recorder Ascher Meilech Strom.

Name and surname of the offended

  1. Simon Brandmann
    Occupation: shop
    Adress: Mielec
    Number of the members of his family: 6
    1. Day of the robbery (short description of the fact) November the 8th 1918. A band of robbers opened by force the door and the window, threw themselves into the shop and robbed whole its contents.
    2. Do you know the robbers, their names and from where they are? No.
    3. Quality and value of the loss. Loss in merchandise as lamps, porcelain, glass et.c. in the value of more than 50.000 crowns.
    4. How did behave the local authorities of surety? Indifferently.
    5. Other citizens (not Jews) were also robbed and beaten? No.

      I am ready to take an oath on the above depositions.
      Signature of the interested party: Simon Brandmann
      Signature of the delegate: Jehuda Kohn
      Signature of the recorder: Ascher Meilech Strom.
  2. Leser Steuer
    1. ad b) from our county
    2. ad c) merchandise in the value of 15.000 Cr.
    3. ad d) Indifferently.
  3. Feige Blattberg
    1. ad c) 25.000 Cr.
    2. ad d) Indifferently.
  4. Chana Drillich
    1. ad c) 20.000 Cr.
    2. ad d) Indifferently.
  5. Etel Keh
    1. ad c) 1000 Cr.
    2. ad d) Indifferently.
  6. Scheindla Silber
    1. ad c) 1650 Cr.
    2. ad d) Indifferently.
  7. Jacob Schiff
    1. ad c) 8250 Cr.
    2. ad d) Indifferently.
  8. Chaim Rothwaks
    1. ad c) 10.000 Cr.
    2. ad d) Indifferently.
  9. Jonas Geschwind
    1. ad c) 2000 Cr.
  10. Schaja Kurz
    1. ad b) Among the robbers witnesses knew Jan Seyek from Trzciana and Mateusz Krępa from Borki Wisińskie
    2. ad c) 15.000 Cr.
    3. ad d) Indifferently.
  11. Salomon Moses Bank
    1. ad c) More than 3000 Cr.
    2. ad d) Indifferently.
  12. Leser Spieler
    1. ad c) 750 Cr.
    2. ad d) Indifferently.
  13. Simon Salz
    1. ad c) 7000 Cr.
    2. ad d) Indifferently.
  14. Jacob Mostar
    1. ad c) 47.000 Cr.
    2. ad d) Indifferently.
  15. Osias Rubin
    1. ad c) 840 Cr.
  16. Abraham Meilech Bittersfeld
    1. ad c) 30.000 Cr.
    2. ad d) Indifferently.
  17. Samuel Tenzer
    1. ad c) 70.000 Cr.
    2. ad d) Indifferently.
  18. Simche Salicer
    1. ad c) 14.000 Cr.
    2. ad d) Indifferently.
  19. Naftali Blasbalg
    1. ad c) 12.000 Cr.
    2. ad d) Indifferently.
  20. Basche Nussen
    1. ad c) 13104 Cr.
    2. ad d) Indifferently.
  21. Alter Fortgang
    1. ad b) Among the robbing band, which contained 200 men, witnesses discerned Roman Stawiński from Borki Nizińskie.
    2. ad c) 50.000 Cr.
    3. ad d) Indifferently.
  22. Jochanan Jochnowits
    1. ad c) 9400 Cr.
    2. ad d) Indifferently.
  23. Israel Liebmann
    1. ad b) peasants from the surrounding countries
    2. ad c) 12 000 Cr.
    3. ad d) Indifferently.
  24. Seide Bloch
    1. ad b) peasants
    2. ad c) 3600 Cr.
    3. ad d) Indifferently.
  25. Alexander Stempler for the firm Klara Bloch
    1. ad b) peasants
    2. ad c) 82.460 Cr.
    3. ad d) Indifferently.
  26. Rosa Neumann, Dawid Felsen
    1. ad b) peasants
    2. ad c) 70.000 Cr.
    3. ad d) Indifferently.
  27. Debora Rubin
    1. ad c) 198.700 Cr.
    2. ad d) Indifferently.

Deposition of Mr. Abr. Meilech Bittersfeld, merchant in Mielec.

November the 7th 1918 the pogrom began with the robbery of the ale-house of my father-in-law Mr. Alter Fortgang. The front door was closed with Venetian-blinds, but the peasants entered by force through the hedge, which is behind and immediately they began to drink and to appropriate to themselves bigger and smaller vessels with drinks. Seeing that a financial ruin threatens to my father-in-law I run to the command of the place, but I met the commander in the market-place. I stepped up to him and begged him to send a patrol, which, even in a small number, could remove the danger. The commander of the place lieutenant Wierczyński sent me with that demand to the school of baron Hirsch, where the legionaries had their barracks. The commander of the town-militia Mr. Charles Gostwicki tried to help me in that affaire, but all my efforts were in vain. At the posture I get firstly evasive answers and at last they declared plainly, that they will not go, for they have no “order”.

Whole my property and that of my father’s-in-lasw was robbed or destroyed in a barbarous manner. They teared [sic] to pieces our feather-beds an [sic] threw away the feathers. They spilled all the wines, which they could not drink, break [sic] to pieces an apparatus of nickel for beer and teared [sic] hebrew books.

I had the clear conscience, that the performance of the pogrom was beforehand organized with a clear plan.

I am ready to take an oath on the above depositions.

Mielec 25 XII 1918 [25 December 1918]
A. M. Bittersfeld m.p.

Deposition of Mr. Leiser Steuer, merchant in Mielec.

November the 7th 1918 in my shop the door and the windows were shut from the morning because of the alarming news; peasants in the number of about 100 men entered although by force and robbed the shop. As I and my family implored them to leave at least a little rest of the merchandises, they beat us until we bled. The militia behaved indifferently and in several places even inimieally [sic]. Very characteristic is the following fact which I saw myself: near of my shop the mob robbed the shop of Debora Rubin, and Samuel Keller seeing a woman with a basket full of stolen things begged the members of the militia to take it off to her; but as an answer one of them, whose name I know, beat him on the head.

I am ready to take an oath on the above statements.

Mielec, the 23 XII 1918. [23 Dec 1918]

Leiser Steuer m.p.

Deposition of Mr. Chaim Dienstag from Mielec.

November the 7th 1918 during the robberies and antisemitic riots I met a woman bearing many things robbed in the Jewish shops. As I succeeded to take her these objects, a legionary on duty took me off and returned all those things to the woman and beat me with the butt-end so vehemently that I caught blue stains on my body.

I am ready to take an oath on the above statements.

Mielec, the 25th XII 1918 [25 Dec 1918]

            Chaim Dienstag m.p.

Deposition of Mr. Samuel Tänzer, merchant in Mielec.

The robberies in my shop began already the 4th November 1918. I was not present, as a band of peasants appeared with the pretended intention of buying dresses; they bargained some time and afterwards said to my son, they will soon have the whole merchandise gratis. They went away and returned with a greater band and took by force what they could get, slowing [sic] meantimes my son with sticks. That day the militia defended us still and by the aid of legionaries my daughter took off two great coats to the arrested peasants.

November the 7th 1918 the robberies were at a greater scale. The plundering peasants opened the doors of the Jewish shops, which were shut that day from fear of pogroms, by the aid of axes and iron-bars, which they robbed in Schaja Kurz’s shop with hardware. After having robbed my shop the band entered even in my private lodging and destroyed there all they could get. We were obliged to run away from our house for the aggressors persecuted us with iron-bars. Nevertheless a cut of some iron-bar caused a deep wound on my head, which Dr. Frank has cured afterwards. When the robberies ended a patrol of soldiers appeared and at their view the whole band flied [sic]. During the riots somebody, it is not known who, shot at the direction of an older peasant, who tried to appease the enraged mob. Although neither I nor my son were at home at that time, the suspicion fell, that we have shot and we were arrested.

Going to the prison I complained to Mr. Kajsiewicz, the director of the “Ear of corn” (an economical and agrarian society); as an answer who said smiling to my escort: “Give them some blews! [sic]” Afterwards it became conspicuous, that we were not culpable and we were set at liberty.

I am ready to take an oath on the above depositions.

Mielec, the 23rd XII 1918 [23 Dec 1918]

            Samuel Tänzer m.p.

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