Chapter 21


By M. Volansky



According to the reports of F. Scatshinsky[2], in January of 1863 a small division of rebels (TN: Poles) headed by Roman Raguinsky arrived in Pruzhany, attacked the Kaznatsheistwo, murdered the guard, stole the money and abandoned the city.


It seems that the first assault on a financial institution happened exactly during 1863 rebellion in Pruzhany, because, on February 6th of the same year, the Russian Ministry of Finance ordered security systems in appropriate forms to be organized and installed in financial institutions.  Rebels stole 10.809 rubles.


On this issue, the Vilna General Governor writes to the Ministry of Finance, that he had taken necessary actions so that such a shameless assault...[3] could not be repeated.


It happened really this way. Apart from guardians, the Russian power offices installed a wide espionage net. It gathered information and transmitted it to the Russian power, regarding any non-allowed rebel movements, and also of violations of the civil population especially Poles. On February 21 1863 the Vilna General Governor wrote to the Grodno District Head Officer that landowner Semita ordered his comrade Kiernoshitzky to drive by lateral roads near where Raguinsky's Division rested in Shereshev before assaulting Pruzhany. The Stanavoi Pristov of Shereshev did not notify the Grodno District Head Office previously of this fact.


The "Invalides" command[4] was in Pruzhany. On April 3 1863 the Grodno Governor wrote to the Vilna General Governor and said, "I previously received information on the rebels assault on Pruzhany". A meeting with landowners was carried out in the house of the Field Marshal with Mirovie Pasredniky to talk on different issues and also to influence Jews so they would contribute money and absorb expenses of the rebellion[5].


It is unknown if this meeting had positive results among Jews. At any rate it was known that propaganda was carried out in the whole country, and Jews could not avoid it. The Polish National Government's report, written in Polish and Hebrew was known in Pruzhany.


What was the relationship of Pruzhany Jews with the rebels, and their opinion on the rebellion? There is no official information in this respect. 


Nicolai Pruzanksy in his Memoirs tells that the local Jews stayed neutral. According to his words when the rebels occupied the city, Jews, although they supported Russia with their hearts, they did not suffer any inconvenience in being governed by Poles. It is necessary to keep in consideration the existent social environment at the moment when Pruzansky wrote his memoirs; we should abstain from arriving at conclusions. What was the relationship of the Pruzhany Jews with the rebels and what was their opinion on the rebellion? Our answer is that there is not official information in this respect.   


On the Pruzhany occupation by the rebels, Pruzansky tells the following, "In Pruzhany an Invalides command was formed by some 20 people. Their task was to guard the jail and the Finance Offfice. During one night, some 80 to 100 people assaulted the Invalides, murdered two or three, stole some dozens of rubles from the Finances Office, torn up the Russian eagle and stated that from that moment on Pruzhany belonged to Poland."


During the evening, rebels hurried to abandon the place, and the following day the Cossacks took them prisoners. 


Some attempts to form rebels' groups in Pruzhany district were carried out. One of these small groupings was formed in April 1863 under the direction of Smulsky, but it did not enter Pruzhany.  For some time Michal Zshukovsky was a resident of the city and was the owner of a property near Malch. He was designated by the National Government as Pruzhany District Head Officer  (nachalnik poviatu)[6].


In September of 1863, a rebellion in Pruzhany was completely liquidated. In the same month massive arrests began. The Jail was not large enough to hold all the prisoners and they had to use three private houses as jails. A commandant who settled in former Marshal Shwaikovky's Palace assumed power in the city. The interrogation of prisoners was carried out nearby in the house of Kudarovska.


Michael Birenboim and his wife were among the Jews of Pruzhany who were taken prisoner. They were transferred to the Grodno jail with another group of prisoners. 



1 Archives materials and information from F. Scatshinsky, were gathered in the "Monograph of the Pruzhany District"

[2] F. Scatshinsky, 1863 veteran, Kobrin, at the age of 84 during year 1938

[3] See Act 238

[4] See Act 264

[5] See Act 321

6 Report by F. Scatshinsky