Jewish Printing in Piotrkow

For a long time it was forbidden for the Jews to settle in Piotrkow Trybunalski based on the de non tolerandis Judaeis privilege. And although Jews were settling in the city since early 17th century (as evidenced by the existence of a “Jewish” street), it was only in 1679, that King Jan III Sobieski approved the establishment of the Kahal – which included building of the synagogue, mikveh, and cementary. By the year 1765, there were 1107 Jews living there. Over the 19th century, Piotrkow Trybunalski became one of the most important centers of Jewish publishing and printing in Poland.

The first Jewish printing press was launched in the year 1864 by Tovye Faivel Belchatow and Chaim Frenkel. A few years later, the former became its sole owner. The printing press was located 1 Maryjny Square (today Trybunalski Square). During WWI the “Di Pietrkover Shtime” was printed there, among other publications.

Another significant Jewish press in Piotrkow belonged to the Panski family. In the press founded by the brothers Elijah and Samuel Panski (and which was located at the junction of the Banking and the Moskiewska streets – today Dabrowski and Wojska Polskiego, respectively), they printed mostly Jewish religious texts. Among others, they printed one of the most expensive editions of the Jerusalem Talmud with commentaries. This fact alone shows not only a high proficiency of the employers in the art of printing, but also immense capital invested in the company. Head of the Jewish division of the Panski Printing House was Motel Cederbaum, and almost all of its workers were Jewish, which explains why there was a small praying room for the employees. There was a department for Polish publications in the company as well. Later, Samuel Panski withdrew from the family business and moved to Lodz, and after Elijah, the company was taken over by Adolf, Samuel’s son.

The Adolf Panski and Heirs Company in turn published mostly Polish-language publications – the kind of occasional forms, textbooks, guides, reports, texts of popular science, economic, legal and official, as well as periodicals, for example the “Głos Trybunalski”. They also printed stamps using lithography technique. Jewish books took the backburner, and most employees at the time were Christian. The company owned bookstores in Piotrkow and Czestochowa, in which, in addition to books, they were selling… fireproof safes.

There were also smaller printing houses in Piotrkow, like Jakub Cederbaum’s (located at 8 Zamurowa Str.), Benjamin Liebeskind’s, Abram Mordechai Horowicz’s (at 2 Maslany Square, today Czarniecki Square), Moses Rosenstein’s (at 4 Trybunalski Square), Johanan Iser Sternfeld’s (at 13 Garncarska Str.) and Salomon Blum’s (at 69 Pilsudski Str., today Wojska Polskiego Str.). It is quite possible that most of the owners of those small publishing houses used to work at the Panski Publishing House, similar to the workers employed by them.

On the eve of WWII, there were about 12 thousand Jews living in Piotrkow. As early as in October 1939, the Germans established a ghetto in the city, in which there were staying as many as 25 thousand people from Piotrkow and the surrounding towns. During the days of 14 – 21 of October, 1942, the Germans deported about 22 thousand people to the death camp in Treblinka. The story of the Panski family, though, does not end in the year 1942 in the gas chambers of Treblinka…

The Piotrkow ghetto residents were exploited by the Nazis in different works, also in the vicinity of Piotrkow. In the summer of 1940 the Jews of Piotrkow were forced to do drainage works on the marshes around the near rivers: Luciaza and Wolborka. John Panski, the son of Adolf, escaped probably from one of such transports to the works at draining marshes. He dug a hideout in the ground in the forest around Sulojow, in which he was hiding. He was given help by a few of local residents – Mrss. Balinska and Bandos (both now dead) of Podklasztorze (today a district in Sulejow) and Mrs. Marianna Boronczyk, living till now in Podklasztorze. Still alive today is Mr. Michal Balinski, a relative of Mrs. Balinska, the Podklasztorze’s headman after WWII, to whom the hiding John Panski would come out of the woods to get food. He was hiding until the end of the war, so if we consider the fact, that he was hiding there probably since the summer of 1940, it would mean that he was hiding for over four years. It could possibly be one of the longest cases of hiding and helping during the World War II. The rest of his life Mr. John Panski spent in Piotrkow. He probably died in 1999 and was buried in the local Jewish cemetery, but I was unable to confirm this.

I would like to express my gratitude to Mrs. Bogumila Strojna of Sulejow, for the help in preparing this article.

Translated from Polish by Rochel Joanna Czopnik

Further readins: 

No comments:

Post a Comment