by MAJER BALABAN
Originally published in Yivo Hijtorijbe Shrifin, ii (1937)
One of the saddest chapters in the history of Cracow is the period of the Confederacy of Bar (1768-72). For decades afterwards old people used to recall those terrible days when the city frequently changed hands and the soldiers, both Russian and Bar, plundered shops, set fire to the suburbs and even to the houses in the city, took as prisoners either real or supposed followers of the "enemy" and, through oppressive extortions and forced deliveries, squeezed the last pennies out of merchants, artisans and even clergy.
For Jews this period was even more terrible than for the other citizens. Both the Russians and the Confederates considered the Jews as enemies from the start. Without mercy they hung Jews on branches of trees. Both sides demanded heavy deliveries of bread and meat, quartering of soldiers and also armed help and espionage service.
Even before this confederacy, i.e., during the time of the Radom Confederacy and before the time that the Warsaw Sejm, upon the order of Repnin, had decided to give equal rights to the dissenters, the followers of the old order attempted to prevent this through various means. Priests denounced equal rights from their pulpits as the act of the devil and attempted through defamatory pamphlets to undermine Repnin's aims. One such satire is the "Manifesto of the Confederated Israelite Nobility, of the Foreign Nations, of the Former Inhabitants of Jerusalem." It was distributed by special messengers among various cities and was also copied from hand to hand. In this manifesto, the Jews supposedly complain that while the rights of nobility and equal rights are being given to Lutherans and Orthodox, they, the ancient Jerusalem nobility, older than any other, are omitted. In order to provide a semblance of veracity to this complaint, the author depicts the Jews as complaining of their unhappy condition and the way in which they are despised by various circles among the people. "No one has respect for us," they say. "On the contrary, only too frequently does each one of us have a stone from a Christian lad fly by our head." The pamphlet is set in the chancery style of the Polish documents of the Jewish councils, even though the Councils of the Lands had ceased to exist since 1764
This pamphlet was only a political anecdote. Following it came the tragic reality — the Confederacy of Bar. Immediately after it was started in Bar the news reached Cracow. Specially manufactured newspapers, dated Warsaw, were distributed throughout the city. Residents read with gusto "of the victories of the Confederates over the Russians, of the triumphs of Pulawski over Padgorichanin, Kretchnikov and Apraksin" and readily believed them. They inwardly suppressed their enmity to their age–old enemies and their allies on the Polish throne. In time the nobility of the Cracow region was divided into supporters and opponents of the Confederation and they battled with each other in the Proszow Sejmik. The townspeople and the Jews stood in between and awaited whatever time and the future would bring.
Soon the report came to the Cracow Town Hall that the Confederates were routed and that Bar and Berdichev were captured. To the Jewish town hall in Kazimierz came the report of the slaughter at Urnan, in which almost all the Jews of the town were killed. There was not too much time to meditate on these happenings. On June 20, 1768 the wojewodztwo of the Confederation of Cracow was organized and it selected as marshall the well known playboy and profilgate, Michal Czarnocki, the owner of Secymin. The very next day the Confederates took over the Cracow garrison. The town administration thereupon swore allegiance, without hesitation, to Czarnocki. Only the town mayor, Piotr Szaster, laid down his post.
These formalities were hardly completed when Russian troops appeared outside the city and shooting began at the Slawkowska gate. In order to protect the city from sudden attack Czarnocki ordered the city gates to be closed during the day and he introduced special passes for those who had business outside the city gates. This immediately affected the Jews, who lived in Kazimierz but had their stores and warehouses in Cracow. Only a few succeeded in securing passes. The great majority could not get into Cracow and the Jewish shops, therefore, remained closed for a long period.
Meanwhile the Russians, under Apraksin and Prozorovski, encircled the city with an increasingly tight cordon. They cut off the supply of food and captured the small groups of Confederates who had rushed to the aid of their comrades. Nevertheless the siege lasted for eight weeks. The orders of Repnin, intended to hasten the end of the war, were of no avail. He advised the use of spies and Jews. In order to force the Jews into submission he suggested that they be threatened with exile deep into Russia or hanging upon the first suitable branch.
Soon hunger began to be felt in Cracow. The burghers demanded that the city surrender. The Confederates, losing more and more every day, attributed all their defeats to treason and searched for spies everywhere. Several "spies" were hung in the market place, among them also Jews. Among those hung was Ciszek, the officer of the town garrison, who was accused of being in contact with the Russians. The go–between was alleged to be Isaac of Kazimierz, a Jew from Sacz, "who used to meet with a Cossack officer in the Kazimierz synagogue." This allegation was reported by a memoir writer of the time and has been repeated uncritically by all subsequent historians who did not stop to reflect that in July 1768, Kazimierz was still in the hands of the Confederates.
When Czarnocki saw that he would not be able to hold Cracow, he ordered the Jews to supply 600 men. Weeping, they told him that there were altogether only 1,500 souls in the empty Jewish city and he ordered them to pay 80,000 zlotys within a week. The Jews began to bargain with him and he became impatient. He ordered the parnes (president of the Jewish Community) of the community (Fayvush Giesser) to be seized, and his head, beard, and earlocks to be shaved. He threatened to do the same to others if one penny were missing from the sum he set. The Jews temporarily paid several thousand zlotys; they were relieved of paying the rest by the Russians, who captured Kazimierz and the Jewish quarter on August 1, 1768.
The Russians used Kazimierz as operations base to storm Cracow during the following two weeks. During this period they used Jews to build trenches and bury their dead. They also quartered their soldiers in Jewish homes. On August 17, the Russians entered Cracow. After they had driven the Confederates deep into Russia, they made themselves comfortable in the city. They imposed heavy tribute upon the population and threatened hanging for the slightest provocation. Drevich carried on more wildly than any other. He would continue to dispatch contingents of troops to capture the fortresses in the neighborhood, Tyniec, Lanckorona and Czestochowa. The permanent Cracow commandant, Lobry, was more humane. The townspeople became intimate with him and Jews also had access to him. They served as purveyors for him and sought his help in their struggle with their own co-religionists for control of the community. The rich Cracow Jew, Israel Aronovich, purveyor of the mint, became a factor for Lobry. He "loaned" huge sums to Lobry as well as to the later commandants, and these "loans" were at the expense of the Cracow Jewish community.
The Russians remained in Cracow a whole year. On September 3, they liquidated their command and left the city in order to storm Częstochowa, the strongest fortress of the Confederates. Before they retired they ordered the Jews to pay 7,000 zlotys for the supplies they were leaving behind in the Wawel warehouse. These supplies had been delivered by Jewish purveyors who had not been paid for them. Now the Jewish community had to pay the required sum and the supplies thereupon were taken over by the Confederates who occupied Cracow on September 13.
A new series of requisitions and forced deliveries of goods, grain and wood now began. Marshal Dzierzanowski had captured the Wieliczka mines without a shot and he imposed upon the merchants, craft guilds, clergy and Jews the obligation to buy 1,000 barrels of salt at a very high price. On the very first day he extracted 18,000 zlotys from various individuals. Others paid for the salt later. In return, however, they only received paper money, which lost its value when the Confederates again abandoned Cracow.
On November 9, 1769, the Confederates abandoned the city. The Russians returned and remained there until June, 1772, when the first partition of Poland took place.
For two full years the impoverished and sacked city had to support the Muscovite troops, who continued to carry out attacks in various directions. At the same time the inhabitants also suffered from diversionary attacks made from time to time by the Confederates. Thus on November 26, 1769, the hussars of Trzebinski and Paszkowski attacked the Jewish quarter. The Russian soldiers were then in the Jewish bathhouse. Many were hacked to death and others taken away as prisoners. The Jews, because they had "taken care of" the Russians, paid for it with the plundering of their shops and warehouses. Such attacks were repeated many times during the course of the winter of 1769-70, as on January 17, 1770, March 1, and March 4. On each occasion the Confederates plundered the Jews or took them as prisoners.
The summer of 1770 was relatively calm. But the diversions and attacks were renewed in the winter of 1770-71. On January 13, the Confederates attacked Kazimierz, managed to reach the house of the commandant, Major Orszakow, killed some of his men and took others prisoner. Then they attacked Cracow. They were not successful and therefore also abandoned Kazimierz. They thereupon plundered the Jewish homes and dealt with the Jews in "so godless a manner" that it seemed incredible to the correspondent of the Hildesheimer Relationskurrier. The same correspondent estimated the Jewish damage of that day at 300,000 zlotys. Even though this sum is obviously exaggerated it does testify to the great damage suffered by the Jews.
A few days later Paszkowski's and Schutz's divisions repeated the attack on Kazimierz. They caught many Jews and dragged them off. Many of them were hung on the way. Twelve others, among them the parnes, Gutman Rakowski, were incarcerated in Lanckorona and Wieliczka and 12,000 zlotys were demanded as ransom money.
Rakowski could not endure the beating he was subjected to upon his arrest on the way. When he felt he was dying he called Israel Davidovich and Levi Jakhimovich and dictated his will in their presence. From this we learn of the sufferings he endured in prison, how his home in the Jewish quarter was destroyed, papers worth more than 2,000 zlotys torn up, and how, "by whips" they extracted from him the bit of cash he had taken with him on the road. Rakowski died in Lanckorona on June 18, 1771. When his wife learned of the death of her husband she gathered together her last pennies and, at great risk, came to Lanckorona in order to redeem his body. The Confederates, however, refused to lower the price they had previously set. They released only several of the Jews and kept the others in prison.
It is also very interesting that during this time there was a Jew who, instead of helping his brothers, sought to make a fortune out of the Jewish tragedy. This was Nakhman of Kalwarja, the factor of Korytowski and purveyor to Prince Czartoryski. The families of the captured Jews addressed a request to him that he intervene with the Confederates in their behalf. Through him, too, they sent food and money for their unfortunate relatives. Nakhman mercilessly took the money for himself and in addition he persuaded Korytowski to increase the rental fee for his "grey house" in Cracow, notwithstanding the explicit prohibition by the Prince.
The last heroic act of the Confederates was the capture of the Wawel Castle. Here they remained several months. During this period one of their divisions again plundered the Jewish quarter and dragged off a number of Jews as prisoners. These were kept for several months in the Wieliczka prison in hunger and cold. A Jew, Aron Wielitchker, who allied himself with the Confederates, helped make their lot worse. On May 5, 1772, at the end of the Confederate period, the Cracow Jewish community excommunicated Nakhman. But the unfortunate prisoners continued to be held.
At this time the partition treaty of the three great powers had already been signed. The foreign troops pecked, at the living body of the Polish state like birds of prey. Because of the vague formulation of the treaty, the Austrians took over Kazimierz and with it the Jewish quarter, while the Poles retained Cracow. The Jews of Cracow suddenly became subjects of Her Royal Majesty, Maria Theresa. They submitted to their new rulers a list of the damages they had suffered at the hands of the Russians and the Confederates. Jewish individuals suffered damages to the amount of 288,131 zlotys. The community, according to the oath of the parnosim, also had incurred expenses. These they estimated at 130,000 zlotys. Together the sum amounted to 418,131 zlotys.
This was the flag under which the history of Cracow Jews proceeded in those days of plagues, when every month, if not every day, brought with it new restrictive orders and troubles, and when the Jewish quarter was a battlefield commanded now by the Russians, now by the Confederates. Not one house in the city emerged intact. Most of the stores were plundered and the community itself, including its parnosim (elders), was oppressed and disgraced. These parnosim and their syndics lived as on a volcano. Every minute they were called or dragged to another officer. To each one they had to bow their heads, appease him and stuff him with gold unless they wanted to be hung on the first good branch of a tree or be hacked to death in the gateway of their own house. It is, therefore, no wonder that the parnosim took money from whatever source they could. They would extort some from members of the community; some they would borrow at exorbitant rates of interest, often up to 40 percent.
During the early period of the Confederacy of Bar, the following parnosim stood at the head of the community without interruption and without elections: Fayvush Giesser, Gutman Rakowski, Dr. Mendl Kalahora, all allied with the well-known Jekeles family. This family was represented in the council of the community by the old Moyshe Jekeles, who was looked upon as the head of the community.
The Jekeles family and their allies ruled over the Cracow community for over 150 years. Jewish families declined and new ones rose to power, Jews became rich and Jews became poor, but the Jekeles family continued to hold communal power. They had to endure more than one battle to maintain their control which they looked upon as a hereditary power. The fortune of the family came to be divided up. There were rich members of the family and poor ones. Our Moyshe was of the poor ones. Notwithstanding his modest fortune and his old age, which made him bent and hunch-backed, he possessed a firm spirit and the pride of an aristocrat and he stood up courageously against the machinations of his opponents.
Gutman Rakowski occupied the leading place in the Jekeles faction. Rakowski's grandfather had occupied a communal post. In 1745 his father, Berl Rakowski, was among the tuvim and he himself became that year one of the community councilors (mezy or dziewiecmezy). During the years 1756-61, in the struggle between the Jewish and non-Jewish merchants, Berl was also one of the tuvim and all his goods were confiscated at that time. This affected him so deeply that he became ill and soon died. His son Gutman took over his business as well as his debts. It was this Gutman who died in Lanckorona as a prisoner of the Confederates.
Dr. Mendl Kalahora came from a well-known Sephardic family. His father, Dr. Aron Kalahora, was the first Jew to receive a diploma from the Cracow Academy.
Fayvush Giesser was a new figure in Cracow. He came from Zolkiew. He married in Cracow and thanks to his family connections soon became parnes. In 1767 we find him in this post together with Hershl Stobnitzki, one of the most powerful of the Cracow Jews. These two had attempted to smooth over the trouble between the arrendator of liquor taxes, Leizer Melekhiovich, and the trustee of the hekdesh, i.e. the head of the charity committee, Jonah Rabinovich.
The incident was trivial but it created a great stir. Melekhovich was arrendator of liquor taxes and he prevented the Jews from selling liquor in their taverns. That is why he was hated in the towns. Because he feared revenge, Leizer induced the provincial government to take him out of the jurisdiction of the Jewish community court and to provide him with a letter of protection. The community wanted to play a prank on him in return and it permitted one of its members, Jonah Rabinovich, to rent Leizer's pew in the old synagogue. Leizer became infuriated at the community and went to the officer of the Kazimierz garrison, Antoni Eismond, who brought back to Jonah the money he paid for Leizer's pew. Jonah, in turn, turned the money over to the trustees of the hekdesh (the pew belonged to them) and then Eismond, with military escort, came to the meeting of the trustees, read them the letter of the wojewoda and demanded to know if they were ready to obey the commands of the wojewoda and respect the protective documents he issued. The trustees were not overawed by the officer's threats and immediately turned the case over to the Jewish court. The latter excommunicated Leizer and ordered him jailed. The sextons took Leizer to the jail next to the synagogue while Eismond's soldiers took Jonah Rabinovich into custody and put him into the wojewoda jail, i.e. in the local prison. Fayvush Giesser, parnes of the community, saw the danger in the situation and intervened. He invited Eismond to the home of the rabbi, where Hershl Stobnitzki and Dr. Kalahara were already waiting. Unexpectedly Jonah arrived too. He had gotten out of jail. He punched Eismond in the nose several times. The latter fainted and was revived by the rabbi's wife.
The whole affair was so strange that it came to the wojewoda court. After listening to testimony, the court decreed that Jonah Rabinovich was to be imprisoned for six months and was not to occupy any public post for six years. Hershl Stobnitzki was sentenced to two weeks in prison and was barred from public office for three years.
Jonah was so broken up by this sentence that he never again served as a parnes. Stobnitzki emerged again a few years later. Both, however, could not be selected at the next communal election and they were replaced by (in addition to Kalahora and Giesser) Rakowski, Israel Aronovich and, as usual, by one of the Jekeles family — Moyshe Jekeles.
Even before the arrival of the Confederates these parnosim had had great difficulties in collecting taxes and in covering the communal debts that had reached astronomical proportions. When the Confederates arrived, pillaging and hanging again set in. Soon the Russians came and Capt. Lobry assumed command of the Cracow garrison. Aronovich, also known as Menashe's, became an intimate of his. He was made a purveyor for the Russian army and came to have a powerful influence in the Jewish community and even in the city of Cracow. Israel, it is true, used his influence for the benefit of the Jewish population but he did not mind spending communal money in order to satisfy the military. He made loans at high interest rates and imposed increasingly high consumers taxes which poisoned the life of the already impoverished Cracow Jewry. By these methods Israel managed to win over Lobry to his side and also his successors, Oebelschwitz and Stahremberg, and, together with his four friends, automatically occupied the posts of parnosim for four continuous years, without rendering account to anyone over this long period.
Against "Jekeles' five" and his plunder-economy, protests came from the Stobnitzkis (officially the father, Moyshe, and behind the scenes, his son Hersh), Shimen Bass, Moyshe Braciejowski and later the purveyor of the Warsaw mint, Fayvush Abrahamovich, who, thanks to his position, was relieved of payments and had the right to buy up silver coins throughout the country.
Fayvush Abrahamovich came from Przedborz and was apparently a relative or in-law of the famous Landau family. Around 1750 he came to Cracow and there married the daughter of a rich Jew, Avigdor ben Moyshe Gumprecht. Avigdor had been a parnes for several years but he had a bad reputation. His father had also been a parnes in the second decade of the 18th century, but he was unable to give proper accounting of -the public funds and he landed in the wojewoda prison in 1728. In order to secure his release, he extorted from the community secretary, Joshua Horowitz, a written declaration that he had returned to him all accounts and receipts as well as the 400 zlotys cash which he had been accused of appropriating. Horowitz gave Moyshe such a declaration but on March 21, 1728, he withdrew it in the presence of the syndic and vice-syndic and had his withdrawal recorded in the wojewoda books.
Avigdor was no better than his father. But a more interesting type was his son-in-law, Fayvush Abrahamovich. He won the sympathy of the opposition elements in the community. The enemies of the Jekeles faction authorized him to induce the Russian authorities to set the drawing of lots for the intermediate days of Passover.
Faysush began with a clever trick. He took advantage of the fact that Moyshe Jekeles was old, that Israel Aronovich was away on business to Warsaw and that others were absent from the city or were imprisoned by the Confederates so that only Dr. Mendl Kalahora could come to the community house, and called together a meeting of some fifty Jews of the town on February 2, 1772. They passed the following resolution:
In view of the fact of the oppression and the sad state of the community of Kazimierz near Cracow ... because of the times of plagues, because of all kinds of armies everywhere and just because of this we endure suffering every minute and every hour that cannot be recorded on paper, and especially because our city has become empty, and we can no longer bear the burdens, and there is no help or support to come from anywhere — we therefore have, with God's help, decided not to allow that the Jews be scattered from the city and we have decided to select several people to complete the number of roshim [heads] missing on the kahal board: inspectors of accounts (roei heshbonot), hekdesh trustees, and nine kahal men. These newly selected men must be ready at any moment to help the tuvim [optimates], control the schedule of duties and take measures to collect them.
It seems likely that the opposition was more interested in control than in aid. But the incumbent parnosim did not want to agree to this and luck was with them; the very same day the Confederates captured the Wawel Castle, shooting began and there was no opportunity for discussion.
Fayrush Abrahamovich did not give up. Thirsting for revenge against the Jekeles faction, he paid no attention to personal dangers nor to material damages and he determined to crush all obstacles in order to carry through new elections and secure the kahal mandates for himself and for his supporters. Since Rzewuski, the Cracow wojewoda, was a prisoner of the Russians, it was necessary to appeal to the highest authorities in Warsaw to get permission to carry through the elections.
Fayvush, therefore, went to Warsaw. He succeeded in winning over the chancellor, Father Mlodziejowski, and the latter invited the Russian General Waynmarn and several staff-officers to dinner several times in order to get them to permit the elections for the Cracow kahal. Waynmarn issued the appropriate order to the Cracow commandant Oebelschwitz, and the latter immediately gave his consent to issue such a permit. He only expressed his "unofficial opinion that the new kahal council would be adapted to the demands of the Russian army both in respect to loyalty and in respect to supplies, transport, spies and the like"
In order to assure the commandant of his loyalty, Fayvush gave him, as he later testified, 500 zlotys. Before he received the rescript for the elections, however, Oebelschwitz left his post and was succeeded by Capt. Stahremberg. Stahremberg also adhered to the view of his predecessor regarding "the benefits which the Russian command had derived from the old kahal" and had planned to make such a report to his superiors. But Fayvush anticipated this and sent him a present (certainly not out of his own pocket.) of 200 ducats. In his notes on this, Fayvush added the interesting comment that "Stahremberg had yielded only after much pleading and importuning But [when he took the 200 ducats] he had done him a great favor, because he could have, had he wanted, taken three times as much from the old parnosim."
Armed with Stahremberg's permit, Fayvush now played the role of a formalist and decided to carry out the drawing of lots, in accordance with law, with the assistance of the Jewish judge. The Jewish judge, Kurdwanowski, a well-known adherent of the Confederates, lived in hiding outside Cracow. Fayvush turned to Sebastjan Badeni, the judge of the Cracow castle and inspector of the mint, to get him into the Jewish quarter in Kazimierz and to intervene with the commandant of the city. Badeni undertook the mission for the price of 100 ducats. He invited Stahremberg to lunch and secured from him a safe-conduct for a short term. Protected by such a safe-conduct, the Jewish judge arrived in Kazimierz. He collected 100 ducats, however, for his expenses and labors.
New elections were now held for the kahal. The old council was deposed and Fayvush Abrahamovich, Hershl Stobnitzki and their supporters were elected as the new parnosim. As soon as it was constituted, the new kahal carried out an examination of the accounts of the preceding four years. At the same time it issued an announcement calling upon all who had any information to declare on oath in what ways they had been wronged by Israel Aronovich and his friends.
In order to annoy him further, Fayvush had Israel put into the pillory in the old synagogue and then he issued a very severe sentence upon him which was pronounced in the same synagogue with black candles and with the call of the shofar. While listening to the verdict, Israel stood bound in heavy chains and his pew in the synagogue was draped in black as for one who had died. After the ceremony Israel was paraded through the city to the jail. When his mother, an old lady of 70, tried to approach him, Fayvush pushed her away with such force that she fell to the earth and fainted.
Israel remained in prison for several weeks. Only when his wife brought Fayvush cash and securities valued at 300 ducats was he released and he had to swear that he would not seek satisfaction in the state courts. At the same time he signed a declaration that he had given Fayrush the 300 ducats of his own good will and without pressure.
No sooner had Israel left the walls of the jail than he proceeded immediately to Cracow, dispatched a thundering protest to the regional court and hired horses to go to Warsaw to seek the aid of his protectors. Fayvush heard of all this immediately and he ordered Israel's wife to summon her husband to the Jewish quarter. When she refused he ordered Israel to be excommunicated the following Sabbath and had the ban proclaimed in six synagogues. To wreak his venegeance still further he had Israel's wife roused out of bed and, with an escort of 15 night watchmen carrying lanterns, taken to the old synagogue to hear the excommunication proclaimed against her husband. Fayvush also vented his rage on Israel's daughter; he took away from her fiance the securities which her father had deposited for her dowry.
Israel knew of all that was going on. His good friends informed him how Fayvush was maltreating his wife and daughter and insulting him and his near ones. He therefore spared no money or energy to gain access to the occupying powers. With the aid of friends among the nobility he secured an order to Stahremberg from the Russian General Bibikov that the investigation of the quarrel between the former and present parnosim of the kahal be reopened. Bibikov also ordered that two ranking Russian officers participate in the investigation.
Fayvush Abrahamovich was afraid of the reopening of the investigation, especially since he did not know how the Russian officers would behave. Through the intervention of Badeni, he secured permission to have two Polish officers at the hearing of testimony. The commission thus included Major Artzybashev and a captain (name unknown) from the Russian side; the Jewish judge, Kurdwanowski, and the sub-delegate from Cracow, Krowicki, for the Polish side. Fayvush bribed them all. He even sent gifts to the investigators and the secretaries. He derived little benefit from it, however. Major Artzybashev sent the record of the proceedings to Stahremberg and the latter sent it immediately to General von Roenne at Lublin.
No one in Cracow knew who was in charge of civil affairs in the Russian command in Lublin. Fayvush, therefore, sent a special messenger to secure this information. It turned out that the civil commissioner was Major Hoshan, Lobry's former aide, and a good friend of Fayvush. Fayvush despatched 200 ducats to win him over to his side. Without even reading the records, Hoshan returned them to Cracow with an order to Stahremberg that he deal with the matter himself. Stahrenberg turned the dossier over to the reporter, Piotr Szaster, the former mayor of Cracow and now an official in the commandatura. Szaster examined the whole case, recognized Fayvush's guilt and ordered him to pay 200 ducats to Israel and 100 to the Jewish community.
Fayvush was not successful this time in making an appeal. He was immediately taken into custody and forced to pay the above-mentioned sums. He was detained even after payment until further word came from higher channels, first from Moscow, then from Prussia, and finally from Austria.
Just at this time the Russians left Cracow and Kazimierz and turned the cities over to the Prussians. The latter also left soon and on June 11, 1772, both cities were occupied by Austrian troops. Later the Austrians left Cracow but retained Kazimierz, which is on the right bank of the Vistula. General D'Alton set up his command headquarters first in Wieliczka, later in Tarnow. Only the district office was left in Wieliczka and the commanding officer there was Joseph von Baum.
The members of the former kahal quickly oriented themselves to the situation. Taking advantage of the fact that Fayvush was still in jail, they sent Israel to Wieliczka to sound out the new rulers. Israel was able to reach D'Alton and he gave him his version of the whole matter. D'Alton, not having the slightest notion of what had been going on in the city for years, immediately dispatched his lieutenant-auditor, Mansack, to Cracow and gave him Dobrowolski as aide. The latter soon became the Jewish judge for the Austrians.
Mansack treated Fayvush as a criminal. He was kept in jail, and sent to court and to the investigating magistrate under guard. The gifts which Fayvusli sent to both officials were of no avail. Mansack assembled all the Jews in the synagogue, ordered the old kahal deposed and a new one elected. The new one consisted for the most part of the Jekeles faction.
Finally, Fayvush got out of jail. He immediately charged Mansack with taking bribes and bringing harm to the Austrian authority. D'Alton had Mansack arrested but he took no action on the matter itself but transferred it to Lemberg. To Lemberg, therefore, went Avigdor, the father-in-law of Fayvush and he succeeded in having the matter directed "temporarily" to Wieliczka for further investigation.
In the meantime Shloyme Rabinovich, son-in-law of Moyshe Jekeles, delivered to Emperor Joseph ein alluntertanigstes Immediatgesuch, in which he described in detail the "robberies and bribes" of the incumbent kahal elders. Joseph II turned over the request to the Lemberg authorities and the governor appointed a commission to investigate the charges.
This was the beginning of Austrian rule in Kazimierz.
During this terrible period, a time of civil war and of conflicts between Jewish factions, the fight also continued between the Jews and the Kazimierz magistrates concerning the right to trade in the Jewish town and also with the Cracow magistrates concerning trade and work in Cracow.
The constitution of 1768 had declared that in those cities where there were no agreements with the Jews, commercial agreements be made with them. It did not indicate, however, who was to take the initiative, what sort of agreements they were to be and what was to be done if the authorities did not want to make such an agreement. The matter was given some attention in Cracow and in Kazimierz but no progress was made because just at that time, in 1768, Cracow was occupied first by the Confederates and then by the Russians. When the Russian occupation continued on, however, and the Jews in Cracow once again opened their shops and warehouses and some of them did quite well with military supplies, the municipal authorities remembered their old headache and once again entered charges against the Jews in the Assessor's Court in Warsaw.
On June 30, 1769, the trial opened. The municipal authorities were represented by Jan Nepomucen Slominski, the Jewish community by Antoni Opelewski. The court postponed the case because both sides had failed to present their documents in time. The case was resumed over a year later, on November 7, 1770. This time the municipality was represented by Pawel Bialobrzeski and the Jews again by Opelewski. Opelewski proposed the agreement of 1609, which Wladyslaw IV had confirmed in 1630 and which stipulated that in case of conflict the Jews were to come not under the jurisdiction of the Assessors Court but under that of the wojewoda. Bialobrzeski appealed to the constitution of 1764 and claimed that the Assessors Court was competent to try the case. The court agreed with the conclusions of the lawyer for the Jews and sent the case to the Cracow wojewoda with the comment that he should see to it that the litigants arrange a commercial agreement between them, with the right of appeal to the Assessor's Court.
Unfortunately for the Jews, the Cracow wojewoda, Rzewuski, was a prisoner of the Russians and the Jewish judge Kurdwanowski, a supporter of the Confederates, was in hiding in the suburbs of the city. There was no authority, therefore, that could take the case in hand and the officials took advantage of this and began, on their own, to shut down Jewish shops and to confiscate the goods. The Jews thereupon hastened to Commandant Oebelschwitz and he, in turn, sent a letter to his superior, General Waynmarn in Warsaw, inquiring what he should do in the matter.
Waynmarn forbade the Cracow commandant to interfere in a matter which was not his concern. Meanwhile the municipal officials were able to secure from King Stanislaw August (December 8, 1770) a confirmation of the decree of 1750 of August III, which forbade the Jews from carrying on trade in Cracow. The city officials immediately called the Jewish elders to the Town Hall, read the decree to them and ordered them immediately to close up their shops and cease their trade. On December 17, 1770, the Jews entered a protest and on December 29, they submitted a memorandum that the city officials had again begun to confiscate Jewish property as in the years 1742-1761. The city officials paid scant attention to the protests and on January 3, 1771, they publicly proclaimed the royal decree and continued to confiscate Jewish goods, although a bit more cautiously. They were cautious because they did not know how the occupying power would view the matter and Waynmarn's instructions to Oebelschwitz were not known in the city. There was a series of protests and counter protests until the matter came back to the Assessor's Court. The Christian party sought to hasten the trial, the Jews to delay it. The Russian army in Kazimierz was forcing the Jews to repair the city and at the same time the Jews could not gain access to their archives and get the needed documents. The Jewish parnosim could not leave the city to go to intervene in Warsaw. They had to stand guard over their person and property.
The Jewish community appealed on February 26, 1771 to the chancellor, Father Mlodziejowski, and he intervened by asking the Cracow magistrate to conclude "any sort of peace" with the Jews. The Jews also addressed themselves to the town president "that, out of respect for the letter of protection of the chancellor he should be inclined toward peace." The president was persuaded and he called upon the Jews to present their trade proposals. He set the condition, however, that the basis for the negotiations should be the sacramental agreement of 1485.
Finally, on July 31 and August 1, 1771, the kahal parnosim submitted an extensive memorial. In it they described their critical financial situation, the debts of the kahal and of individual merchants and also the various imperial and kahal taxes, all of which weighed most heavily upon them. From this memorial it appears that the Jews owed the shlakhta and the Polish townsmen about 850,000 zlotys. The debt to the foreign merchants amounted to over 10,000 thaler. In order to meet the kahal obligations, they indicated that they needed 130,800 zlotys annually, which they derived from the members of the community by direct taxes and consumer taxes. In order to carry this burden they had to have a source of income and only trade could serve as such. The Jews of Cracow had engaged in trade since the most ancient times, notwithstanding the interference of the gentile merchants. They asked, therefore, not for new rights or liberties but only that sanction be given to the actual condition. At the same time they wished to restrict their trade only to the most necessary goods and they yielded the trade in luxury goods to the Christian merchants.
The Jews demanded the right to trade in the following wares: (1) white goods: linen, canvass etc.; (2) woolen goods: cloth, Dutch flannel, baize, mourning cloth, camlet; (3) silks; taffeta, damask; (4) notions: pins, needles, buttons, scissors, tobacco cases etc.; (5) furs: fur skins, rabbit, squirrel, etc.; (6) Turkish goods; rugs, divans, night-caps, gloves, etc.; (7) spices: sugar, coffee, pepper, ginger, etc.; (8) ornaments, lace; (9) skins, chamois, morocco, etc.; (10) handwork, used and new cloths; (11) brandy; (12) crafts: tailoring, capmaking, furrier, lace-making, embroidery, gold and silver works. The Jews offered to give up trade in (1) expensive cloth; (2) French cloth; (3) jewelry, diamonds, watches, credenzas, knives, candle-sticks, clostly mirrors; (4) Bavarian and English notions, better shoes, silver prongs, table ware; (5) iron: sickles, plough tips; (6) Armenian wares; (7) wax, costly wines, drugs, crystal glass, etc.
The Jewish proposals elicited a storm in the Cracow Town Hall, although it was apparent to all that no changes were involved in the trade relations in the city. The deliberations dragged on and they diligently studied the agreements of 1609 and 1615 and analogous agreements in Lemberg and Posen. Finally they sent an agreement to the lawyer in Warsaw. It was signed by Feistmantel, Florkowski, Bajer and others. The agreement set forth that Jews were permitted to trade with the following wares in Cracow shops and warehouses, being forbidden, however, to distribute them to courts of nobles, churches and to the suburbs. The list included (1) foreign linens of various kinds (white, striped, cotton, tick, coarse linen, Silesian, Fustian) to be sold only by the piece and not by the yard, since there were many stores that bought by the piece and sold at a profit by the yard; (2) muslins, table cloths, napkins, towels, (single ones and in sets), linen for painted tapestries (by the piece and by the yard), linen kerchiefs by the dozen, cotton fleece tapestries (by the piece and by the yard), linen kerchiefs by the dozen, cotton fleece nightcaps; (3) cotton goods, chintz, batiste, lace, gauze; (4) gingham, baize (by the piece and by the yard); (5) ordinary cloth, both smooth or striped and dotted, regular Fustian cloth (by the piece but not by the yard); (6) Scottish woolens, regular wool and halfwool (except French and Dutch cloth, which were not to be brought in for sale), by the piece and not by the yard, various kinds of crepe, by piece, roll or yard; (7) genuine Brabant lace, lace work which the Jewish women make, by the piece and by the yard; (8) pins, needles, pipes, long pipes, thimbles, camels' hair; (9) thread, gut, whips; (10) rugs, divans, glazed linen, by the piece and by the yard; (11) heavy blankets, light blankets, army blankets, regular belts, mattresses, quilts (except embroidered), Turkish gowns, saddles, saddle accessories, wicks, tallow, Astrakhan short coats and cheaper ones, hats for finishing; (12) ladies' and men's second-hand clothing, remnants; (13) goods left in pawn; (14) artistic handwork like hand-made buttons. There were also two final points: (1) the cap makers' gild stood on its rights; (2) the wares must be first inspected in the municipal warehouses and only thereafter be taken to their own shops and warehouses.
This time the magistracy seemed more liberal than before. This was due to influence from Warsaw and also of the occupying power. But this time too the magistracy sought to retain in its jurisdiction whatever they could. They retained almost entirely petty trading in articles of daily use, excluding thereby a whole series of products from Jewish trade. Some gilds, like those of the tailors and capmakers, did not want to relinquish their historic privileges, even though the Jewish tailors and capmakers were twice or thrice as numerous as the gentile artisans.
The various proposals were returned to the Assessors Court for final decision. At the same time the court also took up the controversy between the Kazimierz magistracy and the Jews concerning previous Jewish misdeeds, such as ruining the city brick buildings, trading with beer of foreign breweries, etc.
The Kazimierz matter was turned over by the Assessors Court on November 7, 1770 to the Cracow wojewoda. But since Rzewuski was still a prisoner in Moscow nothing was done about it until August 10, 1772, when Kazimierz was in the hands of the Austrians. Since this time too the Jews were not able to produce the necessary documents and since the Polish rule was temporarily in abeyance, the Assessors Court postponed action until the return of the native government. In the meantime, however, the occupying power began to consider the matter in its own way and in the light of its own interests.
(AMK, fasc. Zydzi V.)
Copy of the last will and testament of Gutman Rakowski, head and parnes of the Jewish community of Kazimierz.
We, the undersigned, do hereby testify that we hear the words of Gutman Rakowski, of blessed memory, parnes of the community of Kazimierz, who was imprisoned in Lanckorona during the Confederation by General Schiuz. Imprisoned with him was Yisroel Dawidowicz and they were visited by Lewek Jachimowicz, the arendator of Czernichow and a goldsmith. Through the latter, Gutman's wife sent three shirts to the prison. Gutman, of sound mind, made a will in the presence of Lcwek Jachimowicz and Yisroel Dawidowicz and pronounced it in great sorrow. The contents of the will was as follows:
Listen my dear good friends! I am now looking forward to death. I cannot endure any more suffering. I must seal with my death the severe tortures, the imprisonment and hunger. I shall never again see my wife and children alive. Lying all bruised and sick I wept bitterly that I must suffer unjust death for all the members of the Kazimierz community. Please tell my wife that nothing will be left to her after my death! What will she do now and how will she support herself? I am now a pauper. Whatever I had in cash or in gold, which I tried to hide from the Confederate troops, was taken from me. I was attacked suddenly, robbed of everything and everything in my home was destroyed or seized. I was tortured mercilessly and in my bare shirt I was led to prison through the very city in which I was parnes. They perpetrated the worst deeds upon me. They tore up valuable papers, important bills and notes of various nobles and churches and some from the leaders of the Confederates too. These had been given to me for various goods. They were taken by force from my shop and they amounted to 2,000 zlotys or more. I also had five notes from the deceased Prince Jordan, the elder of Siedmiochow, for various goods that he had received from me. These amounted to about 2,000 zlotys. That they tore these up has brought me great grief. What will my wife and children do without these notes?
My own brick building I bequeath to no one except to my son Isaac, who loaned me the sum of 2,000 zlotys for repairs. The building belongs to no one but him, as it should be. Counting profit from that amount for this period would total about 3,000 zlotys or more. This son of mine is the nearest relative and the first to receive the debt owed to him just like the other creditors, for he spent money for me for various needs and repairs. In addition to the above-mentioned sum I also owe a still larger sum, of which I positively and truthfully here admit. If anyone finds a signature of the name of my son with any creditor let it be known that the signature is not genuine and does not have validity since he did not sign it. A noble lord prescribed that I bring some one to vouch for me or else that my son should sign with me. Since my son was not in Poland at the time but abroad and I did not want to reveal this to any one, I brought my servant and he signed for my son. My son did not know of this. It grieves me that now too he is not in Poland and I shall never see him again.
All the above was pronounced before us, the undersigned, by Gutman Rakowski, of blessed memory, head and parnes of the community, while imprisoned by the Confederates in Lanckorona. He made this will and read it to us before be died and while of sound mind.
To this we testify in best of faith and attach our signature, this 18th day of June 1771.
(Signed) LEWEK JACHIMOWICZ
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