was unfamiliar with the history (forty years) of the Łosicer
"Bund". To write about it I would need documents, data, facts and
figures (so to speak), and names, all of which I don't have. I
will only point out remembrances from the prospective of a
co‑builder of the working environment in our shtetl, until I had
to wander from there.
group of Łosicer "Bundists". From right to left, standing –
Mordechai Rozal and Herszel Zinger; Sitting: Mosze Woda and
Yosef Tenenboim (Yosel Czop).
is in the Siedlcer region, and I was familiar with the
cultural status of the shtetl. It belonged to a group of
towns, where the majority of the inhabitants were poor, and
suffered through hardships. One would have married, raised
children, and lived to have grandchildren, always with the
hope , that tomorrow will be Bethter; however from where, from
which direction, would the Messiah come ‑ no one knew... The
angel of death would come to the shtetl every year, during the
winter, especially among the poor children: death would bring
the undertaker, who would put the child in the grave, quickly
leave, accompanied by the mother's silent crying.
beginning of the 1900s brought about changes to the shtetl.
The truth is, the poor did not become richer, they however
understood their lot; looking for an escape from their bitter
existence, they saw, that they weren't alone in their hunger
and together they looked for a way to change things. In the
beginning of the 1900s, in Łosice, there was a formation of a
movement, led by Mele Koke, who we called at that time, the
Kaiser. Then the group was formed, which called itself, Unity.
In it's infancy it had agreed upon a clear goal / direction,
but it tried to protect and assist the poor people of the
shtetl. Even in the battle with the Zapashnea (reservists
from the Russian Army) against the rich people from the
shtetl, the Unity group played a significant role. The Unity
group prepared the grounds for the "Bund", which later had the
support not only of the poor people, but also in the
middle‑class houses, which previously stood aloof, now turned
to the "Bund" to find solutions to their problems. From such
homes, in later years, came the leaders of the "Bund" in Łosice:
Yehoszua Rozal, Bajla Yona, Dawid Bekerman, and Iczl Rak.
one encompassing trade in Łosice was shoemaking. But, at the same
time, the maker of children's' shoes did not "lick any honey". The
entire shoemaking production was run by a minimal number of
people, who dictated the wages to the sub‑contractors, and those
who worked by them. The workers' wages were terribly low;
truthfully they were "hunger" wages. But that was the singular
income "well" for the poor in Łosice. It attracted many youths,
even children from more affluent homes, who wanted to learn the
year 1914, the outbreak of the W.W.I, worsened the lot of the
already poor Jews in shtetl. The shoemaking industry came to a
halt. Even the smallest "wells" from which one could draw any
livelihood had dried up. Between the wars there came a terrible
hunger. Death lurked at the workers' homes.
the depths of hunger came the "fortress" of the "Bund".
Łosice, then, came, after his release from prison, Avramel
Shtriker (Abraham Roznboim), who was nicknamed in the
shtetl, "Gotele". He energetically organized work projects,
which were aimed at staving off hunger and death. It is
impossible, today, to imagine how much power the "Bund" had at
this time to combat the poverty in Łosice. From the years 1919
until the last agonies inflicted by the abuses of the Nazi
"beast", the breath of the "Bund" was felt in Łosice; the spirit
of Avramel Shtriker.
the woods, which lie Between the villages of Zakre and Jiatich,
which belonged to the Zakre land owner Kaminski, agreement was
reached with the "Bund" to construct, during the summer months, a
"Peoples' Kitchen" for the poor of Łosice. The organization had
difficulties receiving financial support from the central
leadership because the front was already very near Warsaw. It was
agreed upon to look at certain means to force the rich to support
the "Peoples' Kitchen". There were those rich people who refused
to support the "kitchen". They forced the "Bund" to finance it
from their cottage industry, the unemployed, and wages from other
sources. But, all of this was not adequate. The "Bund" also
canvassed the rich landowners to support the "kitchen" with the
produce from their fields. They also refused.
spite of this, the "Bund" was busy in the Jaticher woods. Every
morning the workers, singing, would march out of the shtetl into
the woods, spending the whole day, having meetings, lectures. The
bourgeoisie in and around Łosice; the owner of the woods, did not
approve. They, then, brought down from Janow a detachment of
Russian police, who, together with a group of peasants led by the
Zakrer land lord, armed with scythes and rakes, were notified by
an informant when the "Bund" would be meeting in the woods. The
result was a long, one‑sided fight. On one side, unarmed Jewish
workers, and on the other, police and peasants armed to the teeth.
The struggle lasted for some time. Many badly beaten Bundists,
under a watchful eye, returned to the shtetl . When the police and
their helpers came to the shtetl, Bundists came from the cemetery
armed with sticks and stones, and the battle began anew. There,
the "criminals" got paid back and fled in terror.
important Jews in shtetl, however, quickly saw that they had
"cooked a kasha" which could end fatally because the arrested
would be tried before a military court. The important Jews then
came forward when it was needed in order to erase the affair.
Frightened of the numbers which the "Bund" could attract to the
fracas, they had to release those arrested. After the release of
the arrested, the rich were forced to construct a "kitchen" not in
the woods, but in the heart of the shtetl .
The Germans who occupied Łosice immediately began to show their
"wolfish" character. They began to enforce forced labour from
which came horrible stories of hardships and many deaths. For
forced labour, they took, only the poor, because the rich had
already found out in what manner they could buy their way out of
being pressed into forced labour. The occupation of such a small
shtetl made it difficult to do something in order to oppose the
"wolves". Łosice, for a long time, was part of the front, and the
Germans would punish any opposition before a military court.
only increased in shtetl... the help from the magistrate, through
the German Jew (M. Kohn) and the support of the U. S. ended
up on the point of a bayonet. The saving news was the
establishment of the new "Peoples' Kitchen" by the "Bund" and
Michael Hodis. Everyone, for a few groschen, could be fed, and
those who could not pay would still be fed. Could one, then,
imagine what it would cost to feed hungry relatives in the "Bund"
Kitchen? The youth looked upon it as a second home; a place to
thaw out, eat until full, and pass the time among comrades and
"Bund" quickly matured. It began to organize a choir. The shtetl
began to breathe with life. Theater groups which would travel
throughout the Polish province, sensed a thankful audience in
Łosice and would delight to put on shows there. The "Bund"'s work
expanded with the establishment of a cultural club and a library.
The cultural club fostered strong feelings with references,
lectures, "kestel" evenings (evening of questions and
answers) meetings, theatrical performances, recitals, and
declaration evenings. Members of the club were locally taught, and
came from all segments of the Jewish population.
A friendly delegation came to Łosice from Biala Podlaska. The
"Bund" called the youth to participate in the big meeting. Up to
now, meetings of the youth occurred, sometimes, at the cemetery,
Shaindlen in Sod, in an open field, and at Jaszka Chaia Lifcze.
Involving the youth of the "Bund" in this meeting was something
new. The delegation put forward a plan, which not only involved
the Jewish youth, but also the youth of other races. Tears were
brought to those assembled with the discussion of the cruelty of
the terrible war, which had already lasted two years, without
purpose, without reason.
hearts became enthusiastic, eyes filled with tears, burning with
pride. Children were seen marching under red banners, among the
millions of camps over the entire world, in order to stop the
genocide, in order to bring in a new, free Socialistic life... I
was only fifteen years old then. Surely, then, I didn't absorb all
the thoughts of the friendly delegation. It, however, was enough,
the thoughts that I did absorb, that I should my entire life be
bound up with those ideals, with those Socialistic thoughts, which
were then awakened.
was established for the youth, which in turn became a strong
driving force influencing political discussions among different
age groups. The youth group wanted to take the ideals to a wider
audience; something the older group leaders forbade. The location
of the "Bund" soon became too small, and another location had to
be rented for the youth group. There was much to do, which would
distract the feelings of hunger... There was , however, no time to
think about eating.
friend Mania, then came from Warsaw, who took over the
leadership of the choir and the drama club, from which came able
and talented members. At the beginning, there were only one act
plays, but later entire performances.
party had a broad political base. Then, in a short time, to
Łosice, came L. Lewin, B. Ajserowicz, Artur, Himelfarb,
Emanuel Nowogrodzki, and Herszel Metalowicz, from
Warsaw and Dawid Najmark from Siedlce. Łosice lived through
the First World War, which was played out on the various fronts.
war began. The anti‑war voices made themselves heard in greater
numbers, and little by little their ideology crept into
revolutionary thought. Knowledge about the revolutionary battles
came from Russia. Łosicers hung on every word, and the people were
bound together with the revolutionary storm. Two Łosicers came
from Russia, and brought greetings from the Russian Revolution.
Both of them brought a broad enthusiasm and ability; two essential
qualities for political and organization strength. Berl Gutman
("Berl the Murder Glezer") came from Russia full of intelligence,
culture, and knowledge. He spoke quietly. He, however, captivated
his audiences with his sharp thoughts; for lectures, his knowledge
was broad. His speeches packed the halls, not only with Bundists,
but also with "middle" officials, and Zionists. Łosice, however,
was too small for him, the Łosicer atmosphere too restricted. His
energetic nature needed a broader audience. He didn't stay in
Łosice for long, and left to help the cause of the Revolution. The
second person to come from Russia was Yosel Czop, a honest
character, worker intellectual with great organizational
experiences. The "Bund" appointed him as the leader of the
Professional Leather Union. He was sickly, but that did not affect
revolutionary storm bore down upon Europe; Russia, then Germany,
Austria, and Hungary. Poland would become an independent country.
Even though it was far from the revolutionary killing fields, the
Łosicer Bundists would feel what the fighters feel. Avramel
Shtriker was then called to Warsaw regarding leadership work
at the center. The work of the "Gotele" became intertwined in
Łosice along with a demonstration supporting the "Bund"; for
Socialism. A few days later, Łosice was gripped in deep sadness.
Avramel Shtriker, on his way to Warsaw, died suddenly in
Siedlce. The stormy happenings in Europe did not allow for a long
grieving period. Avramel's place was taken by Bajla Yonas,
who later went to the Soviet Union, Yehoszua Rozal (in
Argentina today), Dawid Bekerman (died while working in
the Soviet Union), Iczel Rak (today in Israel),
Yosel Czop, and others.
The Bolshevik Army nears Łosice. The "Bund" prepares a delegation
to greet the Red Army which would soon be marching in town. Even
then, there were signs of dissent. Mosze Chochm declared himself
as a Communist, and the Red Army showed him more attention than
the entire Rev‑Com (revolutionary committee). The happiness with
the Bolsheviks did not last long. The Red Army beat a hasty
retreat. The Bundist Rev‑Com retreated with the Bolshevik Army. It
was cut‑off at Bialystok, and had to return to Łosice. They were
detained and taken to the Siedlcer prison. A military court
sentenced Chaim‑Nachum Fridman to death and the remainder
received long sentences in prison. Chaim‑Nachum saved
himself from death thanks to the aid which he received in prison.
He threw himself from the second floor, breaking his hands and
were causing hard times in Łosice and difficult days were going to
come to the party. Discussions about the "twenty‑one points" were
spirited, in Łosice, to say the least. Joining the discussions
were Herszel Himelfarb and Artur Ziglboim from
Warsaw and Sloszne from Siedlce. The Łosicer organization
was eaten up by the ComBundists; the Bundists in town said that
the "Com‑Bund" did not mean Communism... the split manifested
itself in the leather union where both groups were present.
Friends, who lived through hunger and years of combat, who
together gave the content and the life to the movement in Łosice ‑
stood opposite each other, like bloodied enemies, and wanting to
bite each others throats. The professional union of shoemakers
fell apart, and the employers used this discord to willingly
oppress the masses.
"Bund" which had the majority of the rank and file workers began
to reorganize slowly, and wanted to assist the workers against
strikebreakers. The unjust incursion by Lubliner and Siedlcer
organizations against our shtetl, saw members arrested and
sentenced for long sentences, who had nothing to do with
Communism, destroyed the town and the "Bund". The "Bund" had to
recover and regain its strength.
The"Bund", in shtetl, reorganized itself. The leather union
struggled for it's existence. Part of the leadership sat in
prison, a part was locked out, and yet others began to reject the
shtetl. I, also had to leave. The party sent me to Zaglembie.
to remember all of those, who with deep commitments and sacrifices
tried to reawaken the consciousness of the Łosicer workers. I,
alone, admired the ideals of Avramel Shtriker, Berl Gutman, and
Yoshke Minc! I want to remember one other name, among those, who
led the Socialistic enlightenment in the shtetl, until their
deaths reduced their numbers to only two or three, who now live in
Israel and Argentina.
a girl from a middle‑class home, who in her most mature years
committed to "Bundism" and work with Avramel Shtriker in
all areas of community life. Herself a teacher from Barof, she has
an insightful view of work of the youth in Łosice. She went to the
Soviet Union with the Bolsheviks in 1921.
Bekerman, a son from a rich home in
Łosice; breaks from the richness and becomes a devoted Bundist
working with zeal in the area of culture. Also went away with the
Russian Army in 192 1. His fate ‑ unknown.
(Szyia Falik), now in Argentina. Iczel Rak, now in
Israel. Both children from middle‑class homes, barely youths,
committed to Bundism, giving everything to widen and deepen the
movement in Łosice.
Tracz, became the future leader in
Łosice. The Bolsheviks pulled him to places with or without
purpose, and was killed, accused of being a Trotskyite.
and Yosel Man, both leaders of the "Bund" in Łosice,
remained at their posts until the last moments, and suffered the
same bitter fate of all the Jews in shtetl ‑ they were killed by
the Nazis during the Holocaust.
Niewieski (now in Argentina), Yosel
Chaja ‑ Malie (killed in Auschwitz) Menasze Wisnia
(killed by the Nazis), and scores of others who had helped to
promote Jewish life in Łosice.
who later escaped, were also leaders of the movement in Łosice, I
did not know because I had already left Łosice. One thing I do
know and felt every time that I was scheduled to speak before the
Łosicer workers, Bundists or not, the banner of the "Bund" and the
banner of the leather union never were allowed to leave loyal
hands. Often the banners were carried during terrible storms,
terrible thunder, but always with the deep thoughts that not too
far in the distant future the sun and happiness would envelop our
A night of rain escorted me back to Łosice. My "baggage" was made
up of eight Communists and one Bundist from Zaglembie, who I
wanted to rescue from the Nazis' nails and take them over the Bug,
next to Łosice, to the Soviets. I was still able to have meeting
with a few Bundists in Łosice. All thought that they should remain
to continue in the tradition of the "Bund" and the Łosicer