of people in the city were obliged to move due the mobilization of reservists that was
carried out at the start of August 1914. A part of the Jewish reservists were
taken for military service as transporters and the remainder were taken for
War operations were a distance away so they did not interfere with life
in general. When the Germans came
closer toWarsaw at the
end of September, many Pruziners who were living in Warsaw escaped toPruzhany. It was then far from the war front and those who
escaped believed that the war would not come toPruzhany.During the winter of 1914 - 1915, the Jewish population's economic
situation was not bad. Tailors and shoemakers of Pruzhany
were able to do well making and fixing military supplies.
train stations were under the jurisdiction of the military as were other stations
in Poland. Merchandise was brought to the Pruzhany
Station (in Lineve) and from there was transported to different places on boxcars. In
this way, trade was more dynamic and some of the Jewish population (merchants,
dealers and artisans) had good benefits.
other hand some lost the resources provided to relatives and family of reservists
by Americans because the normal monthly money flow from America stopped. For this reason a store was opened in the Shtibl in the Bet Medresh
(synagogue in the ReligiousStudiesSchool) where bread and vegetables were
sold cheaper than the market price, the loss was covered with voluntary help.
A committee to collect money for war purposes was founded by Natchalstvo and Jews contributed
important amounts. All this had no effect on the strong anti-Semitic tendency
that local rulers began to show towards the Jewish population. The outstanding person in this anti-Semitic
action was the Nobility Marshal (PredvoditelDvorianstva), apaleographer.
characteristic document, a letter of February 17 1915 in which the paleographer was
mentioned was saved and was sent to "KazioniRavin" Goldberg.It read:
The Honorable Mr. MoiseiBerkovitch.
attitude of most of Jews with respect to military duty is well known. The number of
Jews that avoid military duty in GrodnoGubernia gives a clear testimony that the behavior of Jews
in wartime is not the best. In the last military service, members of a rich
Jewish family made efforts to liberate a completely healthy son from
military service. By luck, in the Pruzhany military
commission, there were employees who would not allow this evasion from military
service. If at the same time some dozens of Jews fulfilled their duty, these
exceptions confirm the general rule.
The kind of behavior that Jews were observed
perpetrating, regarding regulations that protect the population from price
speculation, is not allowed in wartime. The following data about the most
needed products will clarify this for you.On February 9th some products that are important for Christians during
the Great Post (veliki post) time were sold in Pruzhany, and, it was demonstrated, Jews sold potatoes 100% more expensive than the fixed price, herring 25% more expensive,
carrots 199% more expensive, peas 150% more expensive, etc..
The ease with which Jews of Pruzhany
conduct business can be demonstrated by the fact that most of mentioned
products were bought in the store that is in
same building as is the Administration.*
military purchase orders, such as boots and military clothes, were given almost
exclusively to Jews. This gives them so much profit that they would not even dream of
helping Russian peasants, who have on their backs the high duty of homeland
defense. The Military needs supplies but without the strain of the Jewish
economic yoke. In this way, mainly Jews, without considering their protectors, are those that get rich due to the war but do not serve in the
military as faithful and subjected Russian citizens assume it.
letter addressed to my name, the Grodno Governor said,
"Military successes depend on the activity of welfare organizations".
You know that Pruzhany Jews, who do not fulfill their
military obligations, should contribute to the local fund 500 rubles for war
In Russiatoday life is very
difficult.You listen as an adult, to the noise of shots. You will surely
understand which kind of behavior Jews should have for their own interests.
Therefore, I request that you answer today in writing about the current situation concerning the issue of
collecting contribution aforementioned and also inform me about the reasons for
which they block this matter.
Accept my full respect.
paleographer later terrified the Jewish population and took from them approximately 8.000
rubles.The community collected that
money to build a Jewish Hospital. Bigger
taxes were imposed on merchants of fruits and vegetables (apple loaders) that
were located in a basement in the police administration building; they had to pay a 1000 ruble fine.
In March 1915, news was received that some dozens of Jewish families who
arrived in Pruzhany from Yedvabne,
a town in the area of Lomzshe
that was under Russian military power, were expelled. A committee was formedto receive those who were expelled. These homeless families from Yedvabne were housed in places rented for them. Each family
received a certain sum of money each week for groceries, and those that had an
occupation were offered work.
Then, at the beginning of summer, dozens more families that were
expelled from village of Novidvor, also of the Lomzshe area,
were received in Pruzhany. Homeless children were
located in groups and they were taught Yiddish, Hebrew and Russian.
During the summer of 1915, when the retreat of the Russian army from Galitzia and Kroin began, Poland began to move great
homeless groups, especially of Lublin area. This dampened the spirit of the population, but
nobody had any idea that the German-Austrian army would occupy our region so
thought that near Brisk, which was considered strongly protected, the
German-Austrian army would be stopped for a longer time. As a result of a forced
evacuation of the population of Brisk and surrounding towns, a great number of homeless were
Hundreds of Jewish families stayed in Pruzhany, as
they then believed that the military forces the central nations would soon
enter the town and they would be able to return as soon as possible to their homes.
arrived about violations by the Russian army that occurred during their
retreat, and it created a panic in the Jewish population. Fearful of the
Germans, most of the rural and urban Christian population got ready to evacuate together with the retreating Russian
army. This was because the peasants heard news about the terrible events that
happened to the civilian population.
Russian military power retreated to the border of Grodno and invited the people to evacuate with them. In many cases
other groups advised inhabitants to remain in their places. The Russian army was
not as systematic in setting fire to cities and villages or in the destruction of
properties as had happened in other regions.
The Jewish population, except for some rich families, did not think of
abandoning their houses. The number of Russian army details that left was
greater each and every time. Cossacks also appeared. A commission was formed
and, with the money collected from the Jewish residents, bought tobacco, matches, sugar, and rolls, which they distributed among the
soldiers that passed through the city. Under the orders of the Major, a
representative of the committee was informed about each group that went passed
and they gave each soldier his portion. The Cossacks received the most
attention from the committee.
During the retreat of the Russian army, the normal assaults and fires
did not happen in Pruzhany. Already then, there was
an order to the army not to start fires nor
pursue or harm the population. The offerings that soldiers and Cossacks
received had it influence on them and kept them from bothering the people. Pruzhany was one of the cities that suffered fewer
indignities during the Russian army retreat. Especially to be highlighted is the attitude of Cossacks (those from the Don and also
those from the Urals) who, in last days before the entrance of German-Austrian
army, expelled many of the soldiers who tried to steal.
general, in the armies that passed by Pruzhany, there
was a deep feeling of resignation after losing the strong city Brest, on which
they had so many hopes, to the enemy. Beginning in August, when the
evacuation of Russian government institutions had already begun, the Grodno Governor, Shebeko, arrived
in Pruzhany. He named a committee of four members,
two Jews and two non-Jews, to be the representatives to the military power, however this
committee did not have any value.
formation of Cossacks arrived in the city some days before the central
countries’ army came into the city. The Cossacks’ commandant gave the
impression to the people, throughthe ZemskiSoiuz representative that
was in the group, that he had orders to set fire the city, but through an important
“tip" he could avoid it. From the beginning it was understood his threat as a blackmail, to press the Jewish population in
order to get money. But when they saw that
he left with some Cossacks and surrounded some houses and spread gasoline
around them, a representative of the committee went to commandant and gave him the
"tip" of 500 rubles. Then, the commandant removed the order to set the city on fire and on the
same day he left Pruzhany with his regiment.
Three days before Pruzhany was to be occupied by the German-Austrian army, the city was totally evacuated of all governmental institutions, including the
administrative power and the police. Only a military commandant of army groups
was left. An urban militia of one hundred people was formed, that was
responsible for taking care of and bringing order to the city. They did not carry weapons; they only had a white band with
the initials, in Russian, PCM (Pruzhany Citizen
Militia) on their sleeve.
A Committee of four people, directed this Militia.
The committee’s office was located in the building of the Town government.
Russian personnel, when evacuating with GorodskaiStarosta, took all the files and the moneybox during a 24-hour period by working day
and night. Some soldiers went about the stables robbing cows and horses. Some
soldiers evicted the urban militiamen, but when the militiamen were more
numerous, they went to the officials passing by, and the officials evicted
nights were terrible. The horizon and all around was red from villages that
were set on fire. The uninterrupted thunder of canons was heard. The city was
surrounded everywhere by homeless who were resting in their cars. The
population confined themselves to their homes, alert enough to each noise to be startled and, unarmed militiamen
walked in the streets and had constant conflicts with armed soldiers. People
were on guard against dangers because a careless step could only bring a spill
of blood and then a collective pogrom.
Anyway, days passed without any humans being victimized and not a house
was set on fire. The highest tension happened during the last night. Russian
soldiers of Oriegord set Neguidish St. (Patzevich) and Seltzer St. (Dombrovske) bridges on
fire. The militiamen’s committee, informed of this, transferred location of the
Town government office to the Birnboim Hotel on the other side of the bridge. Firemen
were ready with their equipment to prevent nearby
houses from catching fire.
No combat took place between the two
armies. One day, before entering, the German airplanes dropped bombs on the
city, but the bombs did not cause any damage. One day after the entrance of
Germans, a Russian airplane dropped bombs on the city without causing important
damages. A bomb fell in the Gubernia yard and burned
Austrians and Hungarians arrive
on Tuesday, August 31 1915, the first Austrian-Hungarian spies
on bicycles entered the city and the German army marched in directly behind them.
After weeks of terror and tension, the Jewish population of the city felt a
slight relief with arrival of German army.
The Brest homeless, who had hopes of returning to their homes as soon as the Germans occupied the Pruzhany,
were especially happy. An Austrian-Hungarian military force first occupied the
city. On the third day after their occupation, a commandant was designated.
after the city was first occupied, a group of Hungarian gendarmes with their
special uniforms, black hats with feathers entered. By their attitude and their
incomprehensible language (all they spoke was Hungarian) they panicked the
population. The Urban Militia committee again worked in the Town government
captain of the Hungarian gendarmes summoned the Committee members to a meeting and, speaking in German,
declared that he is now the boss of the city and on the following day he would
order the Town government’s civil officials to be constituted. The same night he
called other citizens, informed them that he already had designated all of the
Town’s government officials and that they had already begun to work. If any of the members tried to renounce the appointment, they
would be subject to a military trial.
Municipal officials were assigned as follows: burgomaster, his
assistant, four commissioners, two councilmen whose function was to provide housings for the army, and a militia chief. This town civil government commission worked for 8 months until May 1916, when
the Germans created a civil commission with a member of the German military as
Mayor. That commission during all its existence had town government functions and also police and tribunal functions. The
commission consisted of 20 militiamen; 17 Jews, 2 Poles and 1 Russian. Members
of the commission and the militiamen received a salary paid from tax income.
The Austrian-Hungarian military command existed for approximately one month.
The Austrian command imposed big demands on the town government. They requested people and cars, and for the smallest
delay, the Jews were punished and were assessed large money fines.
(German demands, hunger, bad sanitary conditions, no education system)
Germans immediately created their own command that governed at same time
as the Austrians. One month later, the Germans expelled the Austrians and took over all city power.
was dominated by epidemic illnesses, such as dysentery and cholera. The town government tried to combat the epidemic. The suburban
city of Gorki was taken over, its inhabitants,
the Metchanes, left the city and their houses were
empty. A barrack was designated in these houses for persons sick with cholera.
Specialized personnel took charge of them. A dozen people died from the cholera epidemic. The
majority of the deaths were among the homeless people from Brest. After a short time the epidemic
was brought under control..
peasants and landowners were gone, there was a large quantity of non-harvested
crops, especially potatoes, in the fields.The urban
population had sown potatoes in the fields for their own consumption. At
the end of September, an expert of a company located in Gut Gubernia,
came to the town government and demanded that the
workers go to the Gut fields to harvest the potatoes and store them until winter to fill the needs of the urban
Germans took command of the city they
continuously demanded houses, furniture and other home products for use by the
officials passing through. The Germans in charge gave written receipt for
anything confiscated, committing themselves to return everything, but they did not
return anything. They took a great amount of furniture, cushions, etc out of the city. Hardship
in the city was terrible. The biggest and best houses were taken over by the
Germans and their inhabitants were evicted. They took over occupancy of the houses,
while in the city they were still thousands of Brest homeless.
For this reason and because of hunger, a terrible typhus epidemic began to spread in the city. As before, the German military power occupied the
same Gorki village and set up an isolated place for
typhus sick people there. A doctor and medical personnel
were assigned there. This isolation place existed during the whole period of
the German occupation. The Germans combated typhus with special bathrooms. They
forced the population to go there by force and with special apparatuses they
disinfected those that had nits. They took inhabitants to bathrooms, and, in the homes, all the bedclothes and dressing garments
were treated with very strong disinfectants. In spite of all measures taken,
the typhus epidemic spread a lot and many died. When a member of a family got
sick, they isolated the whole family. Soon the isolation place became overcrowded
and a part of the Chvatke suburb was turned into an isolation area. .
The population's economic situation
worsened more and more. The Germans took charge of everything,
merchandise and groceries disappeared. Communication with the external world
was very difficult. To leave the city it was necessary to receive a special pass
from the temporary command that was called the Delouse Action Certificate.
Specialized sanitary workers went through the houses to fumigate bedclothes,
dressing garments and heads. They only did this to houses that were under
The Austrians occupied Lineve, approximately
10 kilometers southwest of our city. There the German pass did not have any value.
Anyway, during the winter of 1915-1916, the emergency had not ended. We still
lived off the remains that were picked up during autumn in the abandoned
fields. One could get necessities and groceries little by little if you had the
money to pay for them. The poor received help from the Town
government and, at the end of the winter, a popular kitchen was founded that
gave bread and soup in exchange for coupons. A unit of women was also founded,
who were in charge of helping poor sick persons. They began to sell bread according to prices fixed by
the military power. The Military command distributed flour, 100 grams daily per
person. The population lived with the hope that war soon would end.
commandant, Major Von Offen, a typical German,
continually demanded that the town government surrender to the Command different objects,
mainly furniture. He rejected all negative answers on this or any other demand.
The second commandant, HoipmanTzitshman,
a reservist official and an intelligent man, took into consideration the town government’s complaints and demanded
less each time. Using his authority he tended to favor the civil population
objections to the different injustices made by German officials and soldiers, many
times with positive results. However, he was the commandant for a short period,
and in December temporary Mayor HoipmanVelman was designated as commandant.
appearance panicked the population. Tall, fat, with a faced marked by scars,
blind in one eye and a monocle on the other one, he continually carried a whip
in his hand. In his first days as commandant, he summoned all militiamen and
warned them that if any of them found a dog in the street, they should catch it
at once using their hook that always had nearby. Frequently the civilians who
went to the Command to complain were punished with blows.
before, a fight broke out between the Municipal commission and the rich people
of the city. In the first stage of uneasiness they hid in their houses, but
then they wanted to be able to influence the activity of Town government as it had a democratic base.
In the end a civic committee of 25 people was founded. It was a kind of a civic
advisory group that was composed of workers and other popular people.
major Tzitshman was commandant, the Town government
went to him with a request: to supply the needy population with a
quantity of potatoes. The potatoes were harvested and stored in Gubernie's
yard. The population was forced to do this work and to keep them for winter as ordered by
the German official.
When Velman was the Major, he answered requests as follows: the
German are willing to give a quantity of potatoes, with the condition that the Town government
pays with gold. After an agreement between the civic commission and the Town
government, they sent this answer to the commandant, “In view of the fact that the
Town government does not have any gold, it rejected the potatoes”. Some days later, in January
1916, Velman ordered the Town government to come (in Rosemblum'sMoier) in front of all members of civic committee,
and he delivered a speech.He screamed
at the top of his lungs; the speech was a
continuous scream; it began and ended with the words, “pigs and dogs”. The end
result was that he arrested all the members of the civic committee.They were told that, if in the course of several
days, they did not produce the gold, they would be sent toGermanyto a civil prisoner’s camp.
of civic committee and the Town government, approximately 30 people, were
surrounded by armed soldiers and taken to the red jail on Potsht
St. (May 3). Along the way, the German soldiers used their rifle breeches to hit those that walked upright. All
those who were arrested were put in the basement and were only given bread and
water. Jail guards were given a strict order: do not to bring them any food. Only one
member of civic committee, the Mayor and his assistant were not arrested.
During the day the Mayor brought the demanded gold (600 rubles), and by evening
all the prisoners were liberated. The potatoes that the commandant distributed
were almost all rotten and icy and most were discarded.
At beginning of the German occupation, schools hardly existed.There was only a private school for girls in
the Russian language and some private Jadorim
(schools for religious studies). Most of children did not attend any school.
They wandered and drifted around in the streets. In November 1915, a people's
planned a fundraiser for a popular school. It was immediately successful. A
building downtown at Prijodskoie St. and Oiezdnoie St was foundthathad in its attics some furniture and supplies usable for
primary and state schools; there were some study chairs and school supplies,
maps, terraqueous globes and study books.All of these items were brought to this place, student registration began and some hundreds of students of
Pruzhany and those homeless of Brest were registered. They were taught in Yiddish, Hebrew and Russian. The
central language of all courses was Yiddish. Teachers were recruited for the Pruzhany and from the homeless Brisk students. They also
recruited professionals and intelligent youth all of whom served without
salary. Textbooks for general courses were in Russian, the teachers knew the
Russian terminology. The teachers met at night to translate the terminology into Yiddish and they
prepared lessons for the following day.
very difficult to get gasoline and clothes. It so happened that a teacher had some oil of
Provance, A special lamp with a wick was made that
worked well enough to provide light for the students. The Town government subsidized the
school with 50 rubles and a similar sum was gathered in the city. With those
funds they bought books and school materials that were given free to the students.
The residence problem was very difficult. All the larger houses were
taken by the Military. In the city there were some thousands of Brisk homeless. The hardship was very
severe and the German military power frequently evicted the inhabitants of
houses in order to occupy them for themselves. On several occasions the
Germans tried to occupy school place, but every time they tried the
Jews were able to reject their attacks. Thanks to the intervention of the school collaborators who were members of Municipal Civil Committee, occupancy of the
school building was not permitted. But on the same day that the members of the
civic committee were jailed for not giving the gold required in exchange for
potatoes, the school building was occupied. School tables
and all school material were thrown out onto the street. In the school building there was a Brest homeless person who was evicted from another house and he was soon
evicted from the school building by the military power. The first social school
with prevalence of Yiddish language ended in this way after only two working
months of existence.
The following summer in the year 1916 there was an attempt to again establish a school. The commission established a program for
a popular school with Yiddish as its study language. This project was sent to the army inspectors for their
permission and to the GermanTown government for approval. After a short time, the
answer arrived that the program was approved, not only for Pruzhany
but also for the whole area. Finally, after several months a school with German
as study language and using local personnel was established for
Jewish children. With great effort the founders had to undo their project. If they did not obey
they were told that they would be taken to prisoners' camp. Later, in 1917, a private primary school was
established by A. ROZENSHAIN and M. SHAPIRO and Yiddish was the study language.
German commandant announced to the Town government that workers should be
nominated to place straw on the icy prairies around Tschachtshe,
approximately 8 km. from the city. The Town government warned the population
and told them that the Germans promised
meals and a wage of 3 marks per day. Approximately 100 youths, most were from
the Brest homeless, registered for work. The
Germans took all those that registered to work. Soon, the news arrived that
the workers were not satisfied with the conditions, and they wanted to quit, but the German powers did not
allow the workers to quit unless they were very sick.
those, who originally volunteered to work, were forced to stay in their work places. Food was
terribly bad. The labor conditions were very difficult because they worked in a
cold and humid area with improper clothing and some of their shoes were in dire
need of repair. Parents and workers' relatives came to the Town government in large groups
screaming for aid. Because they were registered in the Town government, they
expected help from them in obtaining permission for the volunteers to leave this work. The Town
government’s request to the commandant for assistance was unsuccessful so the Town government
sent clothes and groceries to the laborers. Workers remained there until end
German military power built a power station to supply electric energy to the city, but only for the use of
German institutions and houses occupied by the Germans. The civilian population
did not have electric power. The Germans demanded that the cost of construction
of the power station was to be paid by the Town government. Since the Town
government did not have money, they had to impose on the Jewish inhabitants
several special taxes in the name of a war action taxes.
end of the winter of 1916, the German military power ordered that a group of Brest homeless be evicted and sent to nearby villages that were vacated
by its inhabitants. The richer people among them protested to different powers, they were not
evicted and they remained in the city. Those evicted considered this as a
serious punishment, they protested vigorously in opposition to the eviction. Later during the
German occupation, the situation was less difficult for most of those evicted,
particularly those who were in charge of rural works in villages. All those
that settled in villages were forced by Germans to work on the land.
In the nearby towns of Malch and Shereshev, some inhabitants were forced to be in charge ofworkers on the
land. More than a few times, the Germans forced men and women to push a plow. In exchange, they gave them, for a payment, horses and
rural tools, and frequently a German soldier as guide and
assistant. They also gave seeds with the obligation of returning twice as many,
after the crop was harvested. Farm labor was applicable to the Jews of Pruzhany and, more so, to the population of the surrounding villages.
Every year the number of Jews that
were in charge of rural tasks on the land grew larger and larger. Landowners
and peasants had the biggest amount of land not being worked. The heart of the Gubernia containing some 8000 to 9000 hectares was worked
by Jews and partially by German that had colonized among special peasants. In Shemenetshi and Shubitsh, lands
were worked by Pruzhany Jews including the fields of
the Christian Poles surrounding the city and fields of peasants of nearby
the summer of 1916, and the following winter, the conditions were the most
severe. The lack of goods increased significantly to the maximal level that resulted in
an escalation of smuggling and libertinism. The demoralization increased. Many
young women were sustained by their Official acquaintances and German soldiers,
and through them received different privileges in form of permission to send and receive merchandise and
groceries.The German military power
opened a brothel downtown on Seltzer St inthe Mostovlaski hotel.The prostitutes were brought from places
unknown and they worked day and night. Patrols became more frequent and the
last remains of merchandise and several objects were confiscated.
At the beginning of year 1916, women opened a popular kitchen on Selzer St. in the BeisMedresh (school of religious studies) that was constructed
of masonry. To start 200 grams of bread per person was distributed and later
180 grams per person. In addition at the start, a bowl of soup, Dirgemitze, containing potatoes, vegetables, carrots, etc. was added. Every day they distributed 600 to 800 portions.Later in years
1917 and 1918, the quantity increased up to 2000 portions daily.A local committee of social activists managed the kitchen.
German commandant gave products to the kitchen and, a German soldier was sent to watch over the committee’s work
that was controlled by the town. The civil town government was disbanded in May
1916, and the German military power created a town government with a German from the
military as Mayor. Some Jewish officials worked in the town government. Some hundreds of Guilden sent by Berlinto help the committee arrived from
time to time. Another committee made
distributions to those who had the greatest need. Money sent by American relatives
through neutral countries very rarely arrived to the addressee. The German town government took most of the money.
Within the German army there was a lot of corruption, with a great deal
of robbery and smuggling. German soldiers openly sold merchandise that had been
confiscated by the German police. Products addressed to the popular kitchen under town government’s
responsibility were confiscated by the military and were sold to private people. The popular kitchen committee maintained constant
battles with the town government to get bread, potatoes and Gemitze.
The German gendarms
were very bad to the population and inflicted all
manners of punishment upon them. In Pruzhany there
were three field gendarms most with fat, brutal faces
and large bellies. They terrorized the whole population with their cruel
methods. The non-Jewish population called the Jews collectively Moishelech and they called each Jew Moishe.
For their work, the gendarmes used as confidantes, people from the local
population. In the winter of 1916 the Germans created an obligatory work battalion called TZ.A.B., anabbreviation for TzivilArbeterBatalion or CivilWorkers Battalion. They took workers by
force and sent them to different working places. Germans took people from their homes during the daytime and took people from their homes in the middle of the night. The TZ.AB were
militarily brutal as was the regimen of the forced workers battalions. Some BateiMidroshim (schools of
religious studies) buildings were used as
barracks. They put barbed wire around the buildings and maintained a constant
surveillance. The forced workers received little pay so they were unable to get enough to eat. Most of them were from Pruzhany
or from other villages. Those of Pruzhany were sent to the area around Baranovitsh. Many young Jews
went voluntarily to work in Bielovetz, where
the Germans maintained dozens of big sawmills for use in forest product
During the years 1915 & 1916 a
small train track was built, for a distance of approximately 12 kilometers from
by voluntary workers, most were Jewish youths from Pruzhany.
The volunteers received better pay and better food. Some Jewish youth also
worked in rail workshops at the Lineve station (today it is called ArantShitze). After some time
many of the workers became specialists and were employed in responsible
positions by the train line.
In the new synagogue yard the German
constructed big barracks that included a hospital for prisoners.Some of the BoteiMidrashim were taken for this purpose. Jewish girls from
the city worked as nurses in the hospital.
Still in that time cultural life continued. At the beginning of 1916, a comedy
for the benefit of the ladies commission was put on by the ladies. The play was
called, The Sheiguets of the City .It was a sour satire on the city’s society
and some of its people. In autumn of the same year there was a literary night. All the soldiers and
German officials that were in the city went to these shows. The literary presentation made a deep impression on the
Germans although they understood little of it's
content. They could not imagine that the population in the East had cultural interest
and possessed literary concepts. The Mayor, Hoipman
Abel, a merchant from Berlin, when he met Jewish authorities always said this stereotypical
sentence, "Your contribution was wonderful. Although I didn't understand
everything it did have literary expression".
The library existed for almost the whole period of the German
occupation. Books were obtained from the City Social Library and each book was
lent out several times a week.On
Saturdays there were discussions on literary issues.During the years 1917 & 1918, those who
loved the theater
acted in or put on shows.One night was
devoted to humorous literature.
At the beginning of 1917, through some people's initiative, a children home was
opened. Children went there until 3 or in the afternoon, and they received two meals a day. The German civil
commission provided groceries. More than 100 children from the ages of 4 to 8 attend. This home existed until 1921.
Pruzhany in Ukraine
to the Brest agreement signed by the Germans and
the UkranieComission, Ukranie, the jurisdiction of the Pruzhany
are passed to the Ukraine. The area would extend as far as Shereshev approximately 16 kilometers from Pruzhany.Shereshev already belonged toLithuania and the Germans tried to influence the population of Pruzhanyto become unified with Lithuania but without success
After the Russian revolution new winds began to blow. The military régime loosened a little, and Russian homeless began
to return. Social life began to work more dynamically. Workers were organized into a Professional General Union. At the beginning the Union met at private homes and later they met in the children's home that was
on Tzerkevne St.. There were meetings almost every evening. The Bund and Fareinikte(United) organizations were created. A dozen
people were members of the Bund. The Fareinikte, was
a group of ten members. The Bundist and the Fareinikte cooperated with the Professional Union. With
regard to the Library, an arduous struggle began.
After the failure of the German army in the autumn of 1918, a revolution
broke out and the situation changed radically. The German soldiers created a
commission and they got ready to evacuate
occupied areas. In October 1918 a civic committee was created and little by
little took over the administration of the city from the German
domain. In December, the German army totally evacuated
the city. They stayed for a short time in the Lineve
 Interest in war events was, of
course, extraordinary high. There was a person in charge of paying the
Telegraphic Agency of Petersburg (" P.T.A ".) for telegraphic news,
and the same day printed them in Russian anddistributed them.
 He was later vice governor of Argangelsk, and after the out-break of February's
revolution, was collaborating with Moscow Grodonatchalnik.
Until World War II he was in Kobrin, where he
received the qualification of "good"
 It is characteristic that except
for herrings, the other articles are sold by peasants
 Bigger fines were imposed on fruits
and vegetable merchants (apples loaders) that had a store in basement of the
police administration building. They paid a 1000 rubles fine.
 German then bombarded Osovetz, near Bialestok, and the thunder of
canyons was heard in Pruzhany
 In fact there were two committees,
one of older people that gathered economic means, and one of young people that
were in charge of relocating the homeless.
 This is characteristic. Cossacks
frequently said that Jews of this area are different to those of the other side
of the river Bug, those were Zshidei (T. N Jews) and
these Yevrei (T. N. Hebrews).
 A. ABRAMOVITCH, G. URINSKY, Y.
GLEZER and G. CHAIKIN
 Austrian command was formed by the
whole Austrian nationalist conglomerate. The commandant was Polish, his
assistant was Czech and his secretary was Rumanian. Later, when Hungarian
gendarmes wanted to give a warn to German soldiers, they took a Jewish militiaman as
 As Intendant
was named G. CHAIKIN, as vice A. D. SHAIBMAN, as member of the town government or as the
Germans called it GemeindeBeirat, G. URINSKY,
M YANOVITCH, A. POMERANIETZ and VITKEVICH (a Pole that was replaced by
OSHEPOVSKY). Councilmen were I. GLEZER and VAILEVSKY (a Russian) who was
militia Chief and then W. NITZBERG. Some of them changed later.
RefoelMilchiker was a medical student in PragueUniversity. He died of typhus in Pruzhany in 1919
 In Zaprud,
28 km. from Pruzhany in address toKobrin,
at one time YakobMestel,
the well-known actor and Jewish writer was major, as
the he remembers it in his book, An Austrian official's Memoirs
 G.URINSKY, OSHER POMERANIETZ,
BRIDER POLIAK, MIRIAM ROZENSHAIN, etc.
InMark Platz (Mark
Place) residence of Goldfain
 MICHEL YANIVITSH, M. BEREZOVSKY,
RIVKE KLENERMAN, ESTER ROZENSHAIN, MOSHE SHAPIRO (from Brisk), POMERANIETZ
(from Brisk), MOTL POLIAK, etc. SHAPIRO and POLAK taught in Yiddish
 G. URINSKY, M. BEREZOVSKI, OSHER
POMERANIETZ and RIVKE KLEINERMAN.
 Later, we will tell the methods the
beginners of this school used
 TN As teaching language
was not Yiddish but German
 The population consisted of
approximately 9000 people. Among them there were 8000 Jews (of these nearly
3000 were Brest homeless). None of the population
was Polish. Of Russian population there were some100 souls, and the rest was
The Committee had seven members: V. GRINBERG, G.
MINTS, SHAMSHANOVITSH, G. URINSKI, M ZELVIANSKI & V. NITZBERG. In the
beginning there were also ASHER POMERANIETZ and IOSEF POMERANIETZ. The kitchen
manager was BEN-TZION CHAIKIN.
Batei - Midrashim: Hachnosas-Orchim, Malbush-Arumim. In the Big Synagogue there was a prisoners
 Chauffeurs lived in EinYakov. The Neguidishertogether with surrounding
buildings was used as a hospital for German soldiers. In BeitYakov there also was a hospital. The Russian Orthodox
Church in Patzevtsh St. was used for theater
shows for soldiers.
The cast was composed of: N.
URINSKI, I. BABITSH, MOTL AND BERL POLAK and OSHER PO-MERANIETZ.I. BABITSH read his works, M. y B. POLAK read
plays by PERETZ, S. ALEICHEM and FRUG.