Mlynov and Mervits in Interwar Poland, 1918–1939



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A "nest" (chapter) of the popular Zionist youth group, Hashomer Hatzair ("Young Guards"), in Mlynov and Mervits, 1929,
gathering to bid farewell to Yehuda Mohel and others making aliyah.
Courtesy of Dani Tracz (Issachar Mohel) and Mlynov-Muravica Memorial Book, p. 73
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A Tarbut school and pre-school in Mlynov, part of a large successful network of schools in Poland that cultivated Hebrew and which was supported by Zionist groups. Mlynov-Muravica Memorial Book, p. 58
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Shmuel Mandelkern was one of the leaders of HaShomer Hatzair in Mlynov. He eventually married Malcah Lamdan from Mlynov, sister of the poet, Yitzhak Lamdan, and they emigrated up (made aliyah) to the land of Israel (still Palestine at the time)
Mlynov-Muravica Memorial Book, p. 482
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Ben Fishman from Mervits (center) hanging out here with three Shulman sisters near the Ikva river, before Ben left for Baltimore in 1920 and the Shulmans left in 1921.The Shulmans had a Russian library in town where young adults were allowed to hang out, and were "far away from Zionism." Photo Courtesy of Ted Fishman and Karen Passero.
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Interest in Zionism blossomed in Mlynov and Mervits during this period. HaShomer Hatzair had Socialist Zionist roots as well as scouting influences. Note the "scouting style" uniforms of the leaders in the back row in this photo from 1926.
Mlynov-Muravica Memorial Book, p.69.
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A group of "intellectuals" (maskilim), teachers and cultural activitists (Tarbut) in 1931.
(Back row, right to left): The teacher Rachman, Miriam Mazlish, Malcah Lamdan, Devorah Berger,
(front row, right to left): Schachat and his wife, Klara, the dentist, Samuel Mendelkern.
Mlynov-Muravica Memorial Book, p.66.
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This photo, circa 1933, shows a group of Mlynov and Mervits youngsters in a Hebrew class. Genya Kozak (later Jean Litz in America) is in the front row seated far right, 5 years old at the time. She was 13 when the Nazis came into Mlynov and was the only survivor from this photo." Photo Courtesy of Miriam Litz. Also Mlynov-Muravica Memorial Book (p.45)

The Beginnings of Zionist Youth Groups in Mlynov

There are many references, throughout the Mlynov-Muravica Memorial book, to the growing interest in this period in Zionism and the Zionist youth groups and immigration to "the land of Israel" (still Palestine at the time). Indeed, the growing commitment to Zionism constitutes at least one of the major themes that threads its way through the Memorial book.

We learn from the stories and photos that many young people of Mlynov and Mervits were drawn to and involved in various Zionist youth groups during this time. There was in fact significant peer pressure in Poland generally during this Interwar period for young people to belong to and declare an allegiance to a youth group, even outside Zionist circles.[1] Some youth of the period acknowledged joining youth clubs out of peer pressure without at first even understanding the values endorsed by those groups. It was, as we might say today, “the hip or cool thing to do.” Many of the later reflections from descendants of Mlynov and Mervits families who left during this period recall the importance of these formative Zionist youth experiences in their lives.

“Zionist activities began in Mlynov before World War I, while the Czar was still in power” recallls Joseph (Yosef) Litvak, one of the editors of the Mlynov Memorial book, later writing from Jerusalem.

“At that time, a group of young intellectuals, well versed in Hebrew literature, began to form a club for Zionists. One of these people, Itzhak Lamdan, became the first person from Mlinov to immigrate to Palestine. The year was 1919, and Itzhak was 19 years old.” Lamdan’s immigration to Palestine, as discussed elsewhere, grew out of his disillusionment after the death of his brother during the fighting in WWI and his own experiences with the Red Army. [2]

The author of these memories was Joseph Litvak, who was born in 1917 in Kiev. His son, Meir Litvak, explained to me that Joseph's mother, Dvora Lamdan, was in fact a Mlynov girl, the sister of the poet, who had moved to Kiev in 1911. A year later she had married Mendl Litvak, Joseph's father. The Litvak family subsequently fled Kiev, however, because of pogroms and because Joseph's father had worked for a wealthy land contractor and was considered bourgeoise by the Bolsheviks.They settled in Mlynov in about 1920. At that point, the family tried to get a visa to the US, but failed following the 1924 laws restricting immigration to the US.[3]

In Mlynov, Joseph's son Meir explains, that

My father had been very active in Hashomer Hatzair, a Zionist left-wing movement, which was the larger youth movement there. In the 1930, the right-wing Beytar opened a branch in Mlynov, which was smaller. My father served as a group-leader and later as the branch sercretary in Mlynov. He tried fervently to get a certificate to Eretz Yisrael from 1936 to 1939, but failed because of British restrictions. Litvak was later been studying in Rovno (Rivne) when the Nazis invaded and managed to escape by fleeing east.[4]

Writing in 1970, Joseph Litvak recalls that the “atmosphere of Zionism was prevalent throughout the town. Most of the Zionist activity was centered in the youth movements. Older people were not very active in Zionist affairs, but they respected and supported anything related to Palestine, particularly immigration.”

Muravitz was behind the times in this respect, recalls A. Gelman from Netanya, Israel.

The Jewish people of Muravitz generally lived and died in Muravitz. Only a few manged to immigrate to the United State or Israel between the wars. In other towns in the Vohlin area, times changed. Youth movement, secular schools and Zionsm became popular throughout the region. But none of this reached Muarvitz. Muravitz remained a traditional Jewish shetl, clinging to the ways of the past.”[5]

Eventually, however, the youth of Muravitz got involved in the Zionist youth groups as well. Yaffa Dayagi, from Kibbutz Ramat David, also recalls that

Mlynov, however, was different than Muravitz because the youth in Mlynov were more enlightened. Eventually, the influence of Mlynov’s youth drifted into Muravitz, and an increase in Zionism, studying and learning occurred. The children in Muravitz began attending schools and Zionist functions in Mlynov. This is how contact between the youths in both towns started.”[6]

There were other impulses too, besides Zionism, that initially brought the youth of Mlynov and Mervits together as well, such as the library of the Shulman house and hanging out along the Ikva river. But these appear to be superceded by Zionist youth clubs that came to dominate in the period.

The Shulman Library and the Haskalah Option

One of the most detailed accounts of the changes occurring in the towns is provided by Aaron Harari, later from Moshav Merhavia in Israel. He too recalls that the Zionist movement began to grow in Mlynov slowly after WWI and that a profound cultural and linguistic shift started to take place with this change.[7]

Reading Harari’s account, I’m personally moved as he draws a contrast between the Shulman home, belonging to one set of my Mlynov great-grandparents, and the emerging Zionist impulse that was starting to take hold in the towns. As I read Harari’s account, I ponder the fact that the person I became was determined in many ways by the decisions and commitments of my great-grandparents back in 1921.

Tsodik Shulman, my great-grandfather who oversaw the Count’s forest before the War, was the nephew of the famous Haskalah writer, Kalman Schulman, and had brought with him Jewish Enlightenment ideas to Mlynov where he married Pearl Demb. The Shulman library apparently had been known for its embrace of Russian literature and was a congregating place for young people from Mervits and Mlynov, at least before the War.

Harari writes:

After the war, [the residents of Mlynov] returned and tried to establish themselves again. The Jewish community overall had to recover from the war. The house of the family named Shulman became the cultural center in town. They established a library and conducted rehearsals for plays. Because of the heavy Russian influence in town (even though it became Polish after the war) the Russian language was widely spoken in the Shulman house. Most of the books in the library were in Russian, with a few in Yiddish. At that time, there were no books written in Hebrew in the library. The people who frequented the Shulman house were far removed from the Zionist movement.
Harari was not the only one to recall the Shulman library. It was also remembered as a teenage hangout in the oral traditions passed on by Ben Fishman from Mervits. Ben told his son Ted that the only reason he was allowed to hang out with the Shulman daughters was because Tsodik Shulman allowed the young people to socialize in the library under the guise of learning.

The presence of the Shulman Russian library testifies to the presence of Haskalah (“enlightentment”) ideas in Mlynov at this time. There are photos of young people in the Memorial book labelled "maskilim" ("enlightened ones"), but it is difficult to know if this reflected an embrace of "haskalah", (the word for Jewish enlightenment) in the town or was just a term used for "studious" young people. We don’t hear much about such ideas afterward, and it is difficult to know whether they were no longer present or those who embraced them were among those who didn’t survive. We may never know.

The contrasting choices facing the Mlynov and Mervits communities after the war were stark. Ben Fishman left for Baltimore in 1920 with the three families that joined Itzhik Lerner, the Mlynov immigrant to Baltimore, who had come back to Mlynov in 1920 to assist his family get to the States. In 1921, the bulk of the Shulman family left for Baltimore and there Ben subsequently married Sarah Shulman whom he must have been courting in the Shulman library.

That same year, Ben’s parents and siblings went the other way. Moshe Fishman left for Palestine and is remembered in the Mlynov Memorial book as the first family to make emigration up to the land of Israel ("aliyah"). What a stark indication of the dramatic choices facing the refugees who had returned after the War in the newly born Poland. Those choices would become more limited soon as the US imposed its immigration quotas. This was one of the factors that led to the increase of emigration to Palestine, among others, as discussed more below.


The Growth of Zionism in Mlynov

Harari recounts the growth of Zionism in Mlynov and the cultural shift that took place.
Slowly, however, the Zionist movement began to grow in Mlynov, and those involved with Zionism were more interested in Hebrew culture rather than Russian. One of the leaders of the Zionist movement was Samuel Mendelkern, who helped establish a school called “Tarbut” [which means “culture”]. Many children who had previously studied in the Hebrew school transferred to the Tarbut school. Additionally, Tarbut established a nursery school in town. This became a very glamorous period for the youth of Mlynov. [8]
Joseph Litvak writes:
During this time, the youth movements “Hachalutz” (The Pioneer) and “Hashomir Hatsair” (The Young Guardians) were established. They quickly became very popular, and during 1924–1925, nearly everyone from 18-30 years of age belonged to one of the clubs. They seriously believed they would all immigrate one day to Palestine. “Hashomir Hatsair” was the most active of the youth and had the most members. It was the most prestigious and popular among the young people. For the ten years from 1926–1936 the club was very active. It symbolized the hope for the Jewish youth who believed in building the State of Israel.[9]
Yaakov Holtzeker (also Goldseker), writing from Tel Aviv, has a similar recollection of multiple Zionist Youth Groups and their social function: "There were several Zionist organizations in Mlynov, including Hashomir Hatsair, Betar and others. The young people came together very often for discussions and to hear speakers. We organized outings in the forest on Lag B’Omer. During the winters, we would go sledding down the hills while the moon was shining."[10]

Samuel Mendelkern, who is mentioned here as a leader in the Zionist youth groups, was among one of the first to migrate up (aliya) to the land of Israel in 1925, then Mandate Palestine.[11] Mandelkern married Miriam Lamdan, the sister of the famous poet, Yitzhak Lamdan, and Samuel's sweetheart from Mlynov. The young Samuel and Miriam appear in a number of photos in the Mlynov-Muravica Memorial book.


When Samuel and Malcah Mandelkern made the decision to make aliya they made a deep impression on the younger Mlynov youth, including Yehuda Mohel who had only recently moved to Mlynov from Boremel, a nearby town. Mohel, whose own compelling story will be recounted below, recalls their leave taking vividly.

In those first months in that town (Mlynov), I remember an incident involving one of the inhabitants whose name was Shmuel Mendelkorn and who left the town with his wife Malka. That was in 1925. His wife was the sister of the poet Yitzchak Lamdan who also lived there. That same Shmuel and his wife went to the land of Israel. It was a very important event in my life. Even in Boremel occasionally someone would leave to go and live in Israel. Shmuel Mendelkorn was not really an acquaintance and he was also much older than me; he was the brother of a girlfriend of mine... There was a very large party before he left. Of course, I was not invited, but nonetheless, together with Yona-Reuven, we wrote a farewell poem, and the first letters of each line formed Shmuel’s first name and surname. We sent this poem to him, with a messenger, to the party, but of course, we never received a response.[12]

Mandelkern made a lengthy contribution to the Mlynov Memorial book himself, not all of which is yet translated from the Hebrew. Writing in Tel Aviv in 1970, he recalled the earlier period during 1916 during WWI when a defense league was formed to protect the towns from pogroms, and which provided the young people "a form of entertainment and socializing." This appears to be the seeds of the Zionist Youth groups that blossomed after the War.[13]

Mandelkern was also central in staring another institution in Mlynov. Litvak writes:

Another club that was popular at the time was called “Tarboot,” (The Culture), which was created by Mr. Samuel Mendelkorn. He was one of the first Zionist pioneers in Mlynov, and one of the first to immigrate to Palestine, which he accomplished in 1925. Even today he is still active in public relations within the State of Israel. Even though this small group did not build a Hebrew school, they assisted in the teaching of Hebrew with the help of other youth groups. Thus, most of the young people in Mlynov spoke Hebrew, and many of their activities were conducted in Hebrew.[14]


Cultural and Zionist Organizations: Tarbut, Hashomer Hatzair, HeHalutz

The establishment of Tarbut school in Mlynov is one of several indications of the growing shift from Yiddish and Russian to Hebrew, and the growing impact of secularizing and nationalistic ideologies. We know that beyond Mlynov, the ideological debates over language were fierce and had started in the Russian Period. The Jewish Socialist Bund, which was strong in Interwar Poland, favored Yiddish, the language of the people, whereas the Zionists of all flavors favored Hebrew as the language of their national identity. The debate over Hebrew versus Yiddish was thus the expression of deep underlying ideological commitments and visions. The Bund did not embrace the idea of a Jewish national state and emphasized that class conflict would lead to an amelioration of the Jewish Question. The blend of Socialist Zionism brought a class oriented perspective into Zionism itself and reconciled what at first seemed to be diametrically opposed ideological positions. As we shall see, one of the more important youth groups in Mlynov and Mervits during this time had its origins in a Socialist Zionist perspective.

The Tarbut school system proved to be one of Zionism’s biggest successes in interwar Poland.

Tarbut was a network of secular, Hebrew-language schools in parts of the former Jewish Pale of Settlement, specifically in Poland, Romania and Lithuania. It operated primarily between the world wars. The first Polish national Tarbut conference was held in Warsaw, in December 1921. Eventually the Tarbut network, which was supported by Zionist groups, encompassed kindergartens, elementary schools, secondary schools, teachers' seminaries, adult education courses, lending libraries and a publishing house that produced pedagogical materials, textbooks and children's periodicals.[15]

Joseph Litvak writes about the activity of Tarbut in Mlynov at the time:

Tarbut also established a Hebrew Nursery School containing a fairly extensive library of works in Hebrew, Yiddish and Polish. Both the library and nursery school were closed down by the Nazis. The library was the only source of information for the youth in Mlynov because there was only one small Polish public school in town. The importance of what Tarbut provided is even more dramatic when one considers the fact that no Jewish family sent any of their children to high school; the nearest high school being located in Dubno. In addition to supplementing what was lacking in the public school system, Tarbut also sponsored discussions in drama and literature. Three years prior to the outbreak of World War II, interest in Zionist activities in Mlynov began to decline. A major contributing factor was that, by this time, many young Zionists had fulfilled their dreams and immigrated to Palestine.[16]
Harari notes that, “some of the teachers in the Tarbut Hebrew School and nursery were members of the Hashomer Hatzair (“the Young Guard”), one of the more popular youth groups in Mlynov and Mervits, as we shall now see.

Hashomer Hatzair

HaShomer Hatzair, the most popular group in Mlynov and Mervits, was a secular Socialist-Zionist youth movement founded in 1913 in Galicia, Austria-Hungary. Initially Marxist-Zionist, the movement was influenced by a range of ideas and figures such Ber Borochov, a Marxist Zionist and one of the founders of the Labor Zionist movement and, Baden-Powell, the British Army officer, writer, and first Chief Scout of the world-wide Boy Scout Movement, which was getting going in 1907. Hashomer Hatzair held that the liberation of Jewish youth could be accomplished by aliyah (“ascent”) to the land of Israel (Ottoman Empire at the time) and living in kibbutzim, working the land and in the setting of shared ownership. After the First World War, the movement spread to Jewish communities throughout the world as a scouting movement.[17]

Aaron Harari's Reflections

Aaron Harari gives the most detailed history of HaShomer Hatzair in Mlynov. He recalls that
“Hashomir Hatsair” was founded in Mlynov in 1920 by a man from Rovno named Lemel Rosenfeld. Originally, two groups were established, one for children aged 15–16 years old, and the other for those 12–13 years old. Only boys were allowed to join at that time. Most of the activities consisted of military exercises such as marching drills. All the orders were given in Hebrew, and all conversations and discussions were held in Hebrew.

During the winter months the weather forbade the groups from performing outdoor activities. Instead, they would meet in a member’s house, and one of the group leaders, known as guides, would read from a Hebrew newspaper. Hashomir Hatsair functioned in this manner for a few years, until most of the guides immigrated to Argentina. Because no one else was capable of running the group, this sort of cultural activity ceased in Mlynov for several years.[18]

Who were the guides who immigrated to Argentina? We know that between 1923–25, a number of Mlynov and Mervits boys left for Buenos Aires on their way to the United States, which had imposed immigration quotas. Perhaps some of these young men were the guides that had been involved in Hashomer Hatzair.

In any case, Harari helped revive the group in 1925. He wrote a letter to 'Hashomir Hatsair' headquarters in Warsaw asking for assistance in re-establishing the youth movement in Mlynov. Headquarters responded favorably sending him a great deal of information and many brochures. But Aaron did not know how to go about organizing the group on his own. So he publicized the idea in the synagogues, requesting all interested boys and girls in town to participate in the movement.

This approach turned out to be quite successful, and within one week, tens of boys and girls applied for membership into the movement. Once again, two groups were established based on age. They met on Saturdays in one of the forests outside of town. This time, however, the activities were more diversified than in the past, and the groups would sing songs, play games and sports, and read brochures and books about events in Palestine at that time. A tremendous feeling of unity developed among the members.

Harari recalls that in the spring of 1926, he went to Rovno [Rivne] to attend a Hashomer Hatzair convention. Leaders of the various chapters of Hashomir Hatsair in the area were in attendance. The convention presented many lectures on educational difficulties and organizational problems among the chapters. From this, Aaron learned how to become a more effective leader. When he returned to Mlynov, he appointed several members to be guides, and they resumed having meeting in homes. Harari recalls that the members of 'Hashomir Hatsair' wore special clothing which bore the emblem of the organization. During the summer, they held their meetings outside, usually in the forests; and in the winter, they met indoors. Occasionally, members from the Warsaw headquarters and even the land of Israel visited the group to discuss the essence of the youth movement, the goals of the group, and how to make their ideas come to fruition.

It is clear that Zionist youth activites in Mlynov and Mervits were tied tightly into the youth culture and socialization of young people of the town. It was a social club as much as a political movement. Harari recalls that:

Samuel Mendelkern, mentioned above, also established the amateur Jewish theater, which existed for several years. He served as the theater director, producing shows of very high quality. With regard to sports, the Jewish youth were involved in swimming, row boating, volleyball, bicycle riding and ice skating. They participated in these activities individually or with friends because there were no organized teams in the area. [19]
There are many photos of informal and organized youth groups that have come down to us from the interwar period in Poland. We see the youth were not in traditional religious garb; they socialized in mixed gender groups, the young males all had clean shaven faces, and some even shaved heads, a significant contrast with the older generation from the same period. Some of the youth in the photos can be see in scouting style uniforms with the kerchiefs. The youth had embraced various aspects of Polish culture and the youth movement.


The Story of Yehuda Mohel and Hashomer Hatzair

A young man at the time, Yehuda ("Yudke") Mohel, who had only recently moved to Mlynov, has similar memories of Hashomer Hasair in this period. It is worth spending a bit of time on Yehuda's story as he has provided one of the most detailed accounts of Zionist youth experiences in Mlynov in English. He also had a quite amazing life: starting from his early rebellious vegetarianism, his involvement in Hashomer Hatzair and aliyah to Mandate Palestine, his subsequent involvement in the Communist Party in Palestine, leading to his imprisonment and deportation by the British, and his subsequent imprisonment in Poland after arriving there. When eventually freed, he returned to Mlynov with his new wife only to escape from the Nazis, treking through Siberia, and eventually fighting in the Polish army. In 2019, I tracked down his son, Dani Tracz (formerly Issachar Mohel), who provided the background for Yehuda's story, which is published in English.[20]

Yehuda was about 17 years old when the Mohel family moved to Mlynov in about 1924–25. He had been born in 1908 in Boromel, a town not far from Mlynov, where his father, Eliezer Mohel was a shochet (kosher slaughterer) and sometimes known as "Rabbi Leizer Shochet." In Boromel, there were three approved shochets but after the War there wasn't enough business to go around. The Mohel family couldn't afford to own a modest house there because Yehuda's father, Eliezer, was the newest of the town's shochets and therefore had the least stable business. As his son Yehuda recalls, "it was my father's fate to leave."

Yehuda's father had heard about a position for a shochet that had opened up in Mlynov, where there was only one shochet at the time ("Rabbi Pesach") and Yehuda's father was to become the second shochet of Mlynov. The reason for this new opening in Mlynov will become apparent below, as we tell the story of Bunia Steinberg, another member of the Zionist youth groups at that time, whose father became butcher and shochet in Mlynov after the War against the advice of the local rabbi. After accidentally cutting himself and seeking medical treatment in Dubno, her father died from the lack of antibiotics. I recently made the connection between these two separate family stories that I had learned about and that had been passed down in their families unbeknowst to each other. It made me wonder if the young Bunia Steinberg and Yehuda Mohel felt awkward around each other over this trajedy that had brought them into each other's orbit.

Back in Boromel, Yehuda's father, Eliezer, made an agreement to be bought out by the other two shochets in Boromel. With the money he made, the family was now able to purchase a nice house in Mlynov, which was a smaller town and where the cost of living was lower.

Yehuda had no friends or other family when he arrived in Mlynov in 1924–1925. But he had earlier been involved in Hashomer Hatzair back in Boromel and would now get involved in the organization in Mlynov as it revived. He recalls:

In the spring, I think it was in 1926, when the snow began to melt and the marshes dried up a bit and it was possible to go out and make contact with those around, I too began to go out and meet other young people. I learned that the Hashomer Hatzair organisation met in Mlinov. Although it didn’t really "exist", it had not completely disappeared, and there were youths looking for things to do. One of the leaders of this movement then was Aharon Berber (Harari), today [1970] living on Kibbutz Merhavia, as well as a few other people. Together with this group, we started to work for the revival of the movement’s activities (the "nest"). Over time, I was elected as secretary of the nest, and Aharon was its head, and that’s how we worked together during this period that I lived in Mlinov.

Yehuda also remembers Hashomer Hatzair serving an important social function for the youth and captures some of the military metaphors used to describe the group's organization:
We started to plan the activities and set up groups and brigades. Our activities were successful and we established a large and broad movement. About 90% of the youth in Mlinov belonged to Hashomer Hatzair, from the age of seven or nine to the age of 18–19 years old. There were groups of different ages, and all the activities were conducted in Hebrew – lectures, discussions. Everyone knew the language. We also established a small Hebrew library and we were associated with a nearby nest in the city of Dubno which was larger. There the nest was older and more developed and we learned a lot from them. They would come to visit us and help us with our work. The head of the nest in Dubno was Moshe Margalit who now lives at Kibbutz Shaar HaGolan.
Intergenerational tensions in Mlynov are also evident in Yehuda's reflections on the group's activities. These differences are framed in religious terms, but there were other generational differences as well. Yehuda is an interesting case in point.

Earlier in life, Yehuda recalls how he became a vegetarian when he was living in Boromel. As one can imagine, this commitment was perceived as a significant slap in the face of his father, who was a shochet. How could the son of a kosher slaughterer become a vegetarian? Yehuda recalls the impetus for his vegetarian impulse: the moment that the family killed the chickens which Yehuda had become very attached to, having raised them at the home from chicks. One can imagine the psychological overtones in these small religious towns of rejecting one's father's profession of shochet by refusing to eat meat. With these intergenerational tensions in place already, it was natural enough for Yehuda to take part in a youth movement that was itself defining itself over against the parental generation. Yehuda recalls:

The activities of the nest, which developed well as I said, caused some resentment among the religious community; not only in general, but also among individuals whose parents objected to it. Sometimes, in the synagogue for example, voices of protest would be raised against the anarchy of the nest members, their desecration of the Sabbath by going on trips, or teaching the children not to honour their parents. I remember it was a movement of rebellion, a movement which considered itself to be revolutionary...

There were other clashes between the older generation and the younger generation. I remember one teacher in the school, a private tutor, who was a blatant atheist. He cooperated with us to a certain extent. He was very pronounced in his scepticism. Once he told us he would like to give a talk about atheism in the synagogue. This was, of course, chutzpah, and now I believe that it was not the proper thing to do...But then we were young, and we supported him and organised the lecture. All of the young people stood like a wall behind him surrounding him, because we knew that the religious people would start to attack him, perhaps even beat him...All of this reflected the desire of the young people to free themselves from the shackles of the past and to begin a new life.

Yehuda's reflections are consistent with the following characterization of Hashomer Hatzair youth in the earlier period of its formation and help explain what inspired them by this movement. Writing about the growth of this youth group in response to the dislocation of WWI and after, Elkana Margalit explains that:

It is not surprising that they were a grave, thoughtful, and introspective group, yet equally enthusiastic and full of faith, radical, thirsting for life, gay, and poetic. They longed for roots and community identification because they were tense, perplexed, rootless, isolated, lacking in security and without the least confidence in the maintenance of the contemporary social patterns and their own future social and professional status. As inner compensation they developed a sense of purpose, a belief in a communal mission requiring their personal dedication, fulfilment of their ideals in their own lives; fervent in their zeal and their desire to reassess all values, they were also anxious, tense, and restless, to a degree almost neurotic. They thirstily accepted all kinds of influences and contradictory ideas, no matter how superficial, and equally swiftly rejected them. They displayed considerable intiative and vitality, which found expression in the establishement of institutions, funds, journals and organizations, and in the emergence of a leadership. This was achieved with their own meagre resources, with virtually no assistance from adult society.[21]
As a young adult, with the family struggling economically, Yehuda had the yearning to be independent of his father. For a time he went to teach Hebrew in the nearby villages:
But it did not give me satisfaction and I wanted to return to activities in the movement and, especially, I thought that I must make Aliyah to Israel. This was in 1927 and I was 19, almost 20, and at this age in order to move to Israel through Hashomer Hatzair, one had to first undergo hachshara (training). I stopped teaching in the village. I returned home and decided I was going for hachshara. At the end of 1927 I left for kibbutz training which was located in a small settlement, Horyn, near Stolin. I was the first one from my town to do so.
Yehuda was in training for two years and that is where he met his future wife, Riva. The experience of "hachshara" was intense for these young aspiring Zionists:
There [in Horyn], we worked in a sawmill. Twenty or so people were gathered there. We rented a place where we all lived. We all slept together in one room on the floor, on mattresses. In the morning, we all went out to work except for one person who would stay at home to cook the meals, tidy the house. The rest of us would work, sometimes not just one shift but two or three. None of us was used to physical labour and until we became accustomed to it, we suffered. But we got used to it. I worked there like that for almost a year. Then we were moved to another training garin (core) in the city of Siemiatycze which is today in eastern Poland, near the border with Belarus.

In Siemiatycze, we worked in a plywood factory. It was the winter of 1928–1929, one of the coldest winters. The temperature reached minus 30–40 degrees that winter, which is remembered in Poland as being particularly harsh. My job was primarily outdoors, even at night, and I suffered terribly from the cold. In addition, our diet was not balanced, especially mine, since I was a vegetarian and my body was quite feeble. But it did not affect my mood, which was ecstatic – here I was, realising kibbutz life, and working and preparing to travel to the land of Israel.

In the summer of 1929, Yehuda learned that the British government had approved a certificate for him to emigrate to the land of Israel. So he returned home for a short while, to his parents, to prepare for my Aliyah to Israel. It was during this time that there was a celebration in town of his imminent plans to make aliyah. You can see Yehuda in these two Hashomer Hatzair photos, the first from 1926, and the second in 1928 as the group got ready for their emigration to the Land of Israel. In the 1926 photo, you can see Yehuda standing in the back row second from the right. In the 1928-29 photo, you can see Yehuda sitting in the centre, wearing a white shirt. His sister Bayta is sitting to his right. His other sister Dvorah is sitting in the row in front of him, second from the right. His brother Yaakov is standing on the right with a white tie.

The experience of heading to Mandate Palestine at the time was indeed challenging and is the only such account I know to date in English by a Mlinov youth.

We sailed from Trieste by ship in late October 1929, a group of members of Hashomer Hatzair. It was really a big part of the garin [seed, core] which was needed to build a kibbutz in the land of Israel. They were people with whom I had undergone the training period, but other members of Hashomer Hatzair went to other kibbutzim. We left the shores of Trieste in rough seas and in the dead of night heading for Israel. During one of the coldest mornings in November 1929 we approached the coast of Jaffa, but because Jaffa was not yet a suitable port, larger ships had to remain outside the area of the port in deep seas, because the water in the port was shallow. We were also delayed so we spent the morning off the Jaffa coast until rowboats came out to bring us to the shore. We arrived a few days after the dust had settled on the events of 1929 – although they were not settled entirely since the strike by the Arab dockworkers on the Jaffa coast still continued.

Looking back later in life on himself as an idealistic young man from a provincial town, Yehuda's reflections are insightful and moving. He writes:
The first chapter ended with my aliyah to Israel in 1929. In general, I must say that at the time I made aliyah I was full of dreams which were based primarily around three main ideals. The first was Zionism, the second was socialism, and the third - perhaps unique to me - was vegetarianism. These were the three causes to which I gave my soul. I have to say that in those days I was very enthusiastic, but very naïve. Only later, after I had left my town to go out into the world, when I met with members in the kibbutz and with other people, was I able to make assessments and reach my conclusions. After all, I had been educated, brought up and had developed within the confines of a small town with narrow horizons, and so my own horizons were also extremely limited. My faith and ideals were emotionally profound, but I was still very innocent. The world I lived in formed a very narrow circle, and I settled into this circle. I must say that later on, when I compared myself with youths from other more developed cities, to say nothing of Warsaw - youths who had encountered different ideas and different directions in school, and later different shades of Zionism both to the left and to the right - their horizons were much broader than mine.[22]


The non-Partisan HeHalutz (also "HaChalutz")

While Hashomer Hatzair was the most popular youth group, there are also a few references to other youth groups in Mlynov and Mervits such as the group HeHalutz ("pioneer"). Harari recalls that initially:
"Hashomir Hatsair" was the only youth organization in Mlynov. Consequently, they were responsible for all the Zionist and cultural activities in town. Later, 'Hachalutz' (The Pioneer) was created, and many members of 'Hashomir Hatsair” graduated to “Hachalutz” automatically. In addition, others who never belonged to “Hashomir Hatsair” joined “Hachalutz” because it was a new movement.
Unlike Hashomer Hatzair, which was socialist in orientation, HeHalutz (meaning "pioneer") was founded as a nonpartisan youth group. The movement had its roots in the early 20th century as early youth groups envisioned pioneers settling in the land of Israel, rendering service for the Jewish people, not with sword and the rifle, but with "spade and the plow." Such movements arose initially under a variety of names in various countries including Poland. The first conference of HeHalutz as a movement was in 1919 in Russia. With the suppression of all Zionist activities in the Soviet Union, the center of the movement shifted to Poland.

The program of HeHalutz consisted of three basic aspects: organization, training ("hakhsharah"), and aliyah (emigration to the Land of Israel). In 1924, HeHalutz in Poland had a membership of 1,700; in 1925 – 4,600; 1930 – 11,600; 1933 – 41,000. In 1925, 712 members had enrolled in the training program. By 1935, that number had reached 7,915. In the late 1930s, HeHalutz helped organize the halutzim ("pioneers") as illegal immigrants, in their transportation to Palestine, and in the struggle for opening the gates of Palestine.[23]

Before we turn to the story of Betar, a latecomer on the scene of Jewish youth groups in Mlynov and Mervits, it is helpful to understand some of the factors contributing to the growing importance of Zionism and Zionist youth groups during this period. Understanding these factors provides a context for understanding the growth of this right-wing, semi-authoritarian youth group during this period.

Factors In Growth of Zionism in the Interwar Period

There were a number of reasons that Zionism grew in importance in Poland at this time. The 1917 Balfour declaration offering British support for a Jewish homeland gave the cause great prestige and optimism. In addition, the growing restrictions and eventual quotas on Eastern European immigration to the US in the 1920s significantly reduced the opportunity of immigration to the US, making Palestine one of the few options for those who wanted to leave. As we have seen, there was in fact a strong third wave of migration from Mlynov to the US right after the War between 1920–1923. After that, it became tougher to get into the United States. Between 1923–1925, those who left Mlynov and Mervits had to try to get into the US in roundabout fashion, via Argentina or Mexico, and a number of young men and a few young women succeeded in this way. After 1929, almost all migration from Mlynov to the US stopped, except for a few individuals who were successfully brought by family members who exerted pressure on local authorities from the US.

Both Polish antisemitism, and ironically Polish nationalism, each contributed in different ways to the growing importance of Zionism in Poland. It is easy to grasp how the growing Polish antisemitism helped nurture the Zionist movement and ideals, though perhaps not as obvious how Zionism was also the youths' emulation of Polish and European nationalism.

Polish Antisemitism

Antisemitism in Poland grew worse in the 1930s after Pilsudski passed away. Pilsudski, and the Sanacja party which had come to power with his coup in 1926, had been more tolerant of minority rights than the right wing Endek party, led by Demowski, which was deeply nationalistic and antisemitic. In the 1930s, antisemitic laws and violence increasingly got worse in the wake of the Depression and as fascism and right-wing authoritarianism swept across Europe. During this decade, Poland also began to build a relationship with the Nazi regime which it increasingly admired.

Antisemitic laws and practices increased during the period and were expressed in religious, economic and social forms.[24] In support of its desire for Polish self-sufficiency, the government lent its support to unbridled economic antisemitism, including an official policy of promoting the cause of Jewish emigration. With obvious sarcasm and irony, Mendelsohn notes that "The Polish government did its best to soften British opposition to emigration to Palestine, and, if Zionism meant Jewish emigration to that country, no one was more Zionist than Poland's leaders in the late 1930s."[25] And of course Zionism embraced migration in part specifically because the ideology held that assimilation and acculturation would never succeed. Polish antisemitism helped confirm that sentiment.

Antisemitism between 1935–1939 expressed itself in many different ways. Jewish kosher slaughtering was outlawed, "ghetto benches" were created in Polish universities and physical attacks against Jewish students became more common. Economic antisemitism was increasingly serious and included the boycott of Jewish merchants and businesses. Christian businesses posted signs attesting to their Aryan nature. From 1936 on, pogroms were also revived. The growing antisemitism was abetted by the Catholic church and is spokespersons, which gave voice in its publications to the desire to remove Jews from Polish society.

Polish antisemitism thus called into question the liberals' strategy of integration and Polonization and gave credence to the Zionist message that Jews could never be equal partners in Polish society. But the causes of Zionism also flowed from Polish nationalism in another way.

The Zionist youth movement had grown strong already in the 1920s before antisemitism had dramatically increased when there was still more tolerance in Poland of minority rights and some hope that minorities could be integrated and accepted in Polish society. Zionist commitments, therefore, were not just reactions to antisemitism. They were also ironically emulations of Polish nationalism.

Polish Nationalism

Polish nationalism had blossomed with the rebirth of Poland and emphasized the importance of language, culture and nationality as part of a person’s identity. There were, however, two competing views of the Polish nation. Dmowski, the ideological leader of the Endek camp, had a nationalistic vision of a united, monocultural, and monoreligious Polish state which constrasted with Pilsudski's more liberal vision of a multiethnic, multireligious Poland, based on social justice.

Jewish youth in the period were simultaneously drawn to Polish identity and pursued Polanization but were also aware that they were not and might never be fully accepted as Poles. These competing impulse appear in the autobiographies of Jewish youth during the period that were preserved by the YIVO institute and have been studied by researchers.[26] The celebration of Polish nationalism underscored the need for these youth to have their own version of national identity. Thus Zionism was in part an expression of the very same impulses that were producing Polish nationalism and antisemitism itself.

Somewhat paradoxically, nationalist impulses of this same kind made their way into some of the Zionist movements, such as Betar, which was accused by its critics of being fascist and whose members and leader, Jabotinsky, were drawn to some of the fascist impulses of Mussolini and of Polish nationalist leaders. As we shall see, at least some Mlynov and Mervits youth knew about and were involved in Betar, which positioned itself against the Socialist-Zionist youth group, Hashomer Hatzair, which was popular in Mlynov and Mervits. The complicated and paradoxical relationship that Betar had with the strident Polish Nationalism became evident in the way that the movement embraced and participated in Polish nationalist celebrations. The monocultural and racist Polish nationalism shared with Zionism the conviction that Jews should leave Poland and go to Palestine.[27] Some of these themes are visible in the reflections of Yehuda Mohel looking back on the development of his Zionist commitments:

There was a prevailing anti-Semitic sentiment, even though the Ukrainian peasants who came to the town generally lived in peace with the Jews. But even here, beneath the surface there was anti-Semitism, and the Polish authorities and institutions of the time tried to arouse it, to give it momentum and a practical expression like not buying from Jews, boycotting Jewish shops and so on. That was one side of it – the feeling of oppression throughout the country.

On the other side was the poor economic situation, especially in the Jewish towns. If there was no work in the city for the Poles, it was felt all the more so in the small towns among the Jews. None of the young Jews who reached adulthood, from the age of 15 on, could see a future ahead of them and they had no possibility of learning a profession in the educational institutions or of getting any job at all. The only option was, of course, emigration, and if emigration was the answer, then it would be to the land of Israel because of the oppression in Poland. And emigration came, first and foremost, from among the ranks of the Zionist movement.[28]


Familial and Intergenerational Tensions

While the Zionist activities were concentrated among the youth, not everyone in the older generation held Zionism at arm's length. We know that some adults, such as Moshe Fishman, got behind the idea of migration to Palestine. The Fishman family, as discussed earlier, was the first family to leave for Palestine in 1921 and their decision was big news in Mlynov at the time, a story told by Baruch Meren. Meren, who later immigrated to Palestine himself in 1938, recalled the event and the broad impact that it had at the time on the Mlynov residents, many of whom had doubts that the Fishmans would really do it. The Fishmans were part of the Third Aliyah, in which 40,000 Jews emigrated up to the Land of Israel between 1921 and 1923.[29]

According to Moshe's own account, he came under the Zionist influence of his boss, who ran a construction business and who eventually came to Palestine in the 1930s.[30] As noted earlier, Moshe’s younger son, Ben Fishman, made the decision to immigrate to US a year earlier. The split in the Fishman family between immigration to the US and aliyah to the land of Israel was symptomatic of differing choices and views at the time in the community and the changing circumstances that over time would make Zionism surpass US immigration as the primary option for those who wanted to leave. The split in the Fishman family was not the only instance of familial tensions over Zionism that is remembered.

Intergenerational tension over Zionist youth groups is also recalled by descendants of the Steinberg family from Mervits.

Bunia Steinberg

Shoshana (Upstein) Baruch recounts that her mother Bunia (Steinberg) Upstein, who grew up in Mervits, was very interested in Zionist activities as a teenage woman and was in love with another young man named Shmuel (not the Shmuel Mandelkern) from one of the Zionist youth groups. But Bunia’s grandfather, Eliezer Steinberg, frowned upon her interest in Zionist youth activities and wanted to marry her off through an arranged marriage to a suitable young man. Shoshana recounts the story:
My maternal grandfather, Eliezer [Steinberg], guardian of the family, had little sympathy for the Zionist activities of my mother and wanted her to be arranged to be married to one of the boys of the town. He was strongly against the idea of making aliyah to the land [of Israel] and regarded all of my mother’s Zionist activities as a waste of time and stupidity. Even though my mother passed the necessary exams required to receive a certificate (documents to be admitted to the Yishuv land of Israel), she was not able to bring it to fruition because of grandfather’s opposition and the necessity of [her sister] Faiga needing her help. Faiga got married before the War, had two children and dwelled in Varkovitch with her husband, her mother-in-law, and her children. My mother traveled to Varkovitch often to help out her sister. [Varkovitch likely refers to Varkovychi, Ukraine, near Dubno][31]

We can see here the faultlines emerging between the generations, with the older generation wanting to "arrange an appropriate marriage" and the younger generation wanting to marry for love those peers who shared their Zionist activities and aspirations. The reason that Bunia’s grandfather, Eliezer, was so involved in her life at this point in time, and not her father Anshel, illustrates another challenging dimension of life in the small towns of Mlynov and Mervits. There was a lack of adequate medical care and her father, who had become the butcher and shocket, had recently died. Shoshana writes:

After they settled down anew [after WWI], my grandfather Anshel [Steinberg] took council with the rabbi about whether to open a butcher shop and the rabbi counseled against it. Despite the advice, my grandfather opened the butcher shop. Things went well and and it appeared they would be able to support themselves. The family was relieved but a disaster struck the family after a time that turned the situation upside down. My grandfather cut his hand and was taken to the hospital in the nearby city. In those days there was no antibiotics, my grandfather’s wound got infected and he passed away when he was in his forties. The children were not told of the passing of their father, but when they came to take his tallit (prayer shawl) my mother grasped what had happened, cried and sobbed and wouldn’t let them take the tallit.
As noted earlier, when I learned the story of Anshel Steinberg's death, it dawned on me that Anshel's death might have been the reason that Yehuda Mohel's father Elizer heard about an opening in Mlynov for a shochet. It may have been Anshel's death that opened up that position.

In any case, Anshel's death left Bunia to deal with her grandfather's feelings about Zionist activities. Despite her grandfather’s dislike of her Zionist activities, Bunia took a leadership role in Zionist activities in Mervits, which illustrates how the younger generation did not feel bound by the views of the older. Shoshana writes:

My mother was also influenced by Zionist impulses in the air; when she reached her teenage years, she joined the Betar movement and became active in Zionist activities. My mother’s home became a center for social and Zionist activities. The members of the movement came to her house to listen to the radio, and engage in discussions and the house became very active and full of life. In addition to taking care of her household responsibilities, my mother went to speeches of Jabotinsky in Dubno and Rovno, she participated in discussions and debates over the importance of making aliyah to the Land of Israel, and in outings with the youth movement and she hoped she too would be able to fulfill the Zionist idea.[32]
Betar, as we shall now see, differentiated itself in important ways from the Socialist-Zionist leaning organization Hashomer Hatzair.


Betar and Revisionism Reach Mlynov and Mervits

It is significant to learn that the youth group, Betar, had made its way to Mlynov and Mervits and that young women, such as Bunia Steingberg, were able to go all the way to Dubno and Rovno to hear Jabotinsky, a sign of increased mobility and interaction among the youth of this period, a relaxation of strictures on young women, and an indication that the Mlynov and Mervits youth were aware of this right-wing movement within Zionism. Perhaps Bunia saw or heard about Jabotinsky on his 1927 trip to Poland in which he drew hundreds to his lectures, and which began a turning point in the growth of Revisionism in Poland. It was during this first trip that Jabotinsky realized the potential of the Polish youth for his brand of right-wing Zionism.

Litvak recalls that Betar got going in Mlynov in the 1930s. "Due to the overwhelming popularity of the youth movements, another club was formed in addition to 'Hashomir Hatsair'. It was named 'Betar' in honor of an Israeli war hero. During 1931-1932, Betar began to sponsor Hachsharah, which was a work farm that prepared people to work on a kibbutz."[33] Meir Teitelman recalls tension over Betar in particular. "We had in our town the right Zionist party, 'Beytar', there were always disputes quarrels and even fights between the members of different Zionist organizations." [34]

It is not surprising that Betar generated controversy in the community when one knows more about its history. Jabotinsky, who had been born in Odessa, in an assimilated family, left the mainstream Zionist movement in 1923 due to differences of opinion between him and its chairman, Chaim Weizmann. He established a new revisionist party called Alliance of Revisionists-Zionists and its youth movement, Betar. Revisionists had a number of differences with mainstream Zionists in ideology and tone. They were against socialism which focused on class and they promoted military values of discipline, submerging the self into the nation, and arming oneself, that were reminiscent of fascist ideas and those of Polish nationalism. The Revisionists wanted the mainstream Zionist movement to recognize as its stated objective the establishment of a Jewish state on both banks of the Jordan River.

Betar was a youth group founded by Jabotinsky at a meeting of Jewish youth in Riga, Latvia in 1923. Jabotinsky proposed creating Betar to foster a new type of Jew thoroughly indoctrinated in his nationalist ideals and trained for military action against all enemies of Judaism. In a number of its ideas and emphases, Revisionism struck some of its critics as extreme, and some of the its members openly acknolwedged respect for fascist ideology. [35]

The name Betar was symbolic of military resistance in two ways. Betar was named for the last Jewish fort to fall in the Bar Kochba war against the Romans in the first century. It is also an acronym for the name Joseph Trumpedor, an early Zionist activist who helped to organize the Zion Mule Corps and bring Jewish immigrants to Palestine. Trumpeldor had himself lost an arm in the Russo-Japan war and had died defending the settlement of Tel Hai in 1920 with the words, "Never mind, it is good to die for our country". He subsequently became a Zionist national hero and a role model for Betar, even though he himself was a Socialist Zionist and promoted collaboration among the different youth organizations.[36]


[1] On the general feeling of peer pressure to join youth groups in this period, see Alina Cala, "The Social Consciousness of Young Jews,"42–65. in Jews in Independent Poland 1918–1939 . Ed. Antony Polonsky, Ezra Mendelsohn, and Jerzy Tomaszewski. Part of the Series: Studies in Polish Jewish Polin. London: Litman Library of Jewish Civilization. Vol. 8. See also, Litvak's comments are from Joseph Litvak, "The Town of Mlynov," Mlynov-Muravitz Memorial Book, 53–59; Sokolsky, Mlynov-Muravitz Memorial Book [English Translation], p. 16.

[2] See Litvak, "The Town," p. 53; Sokolsky,Translation, p. 16.

[3] I learned about Joseph Litvak's background via an electronic message from his son Meir Litvak on 4/9/2020. I am grateful to Meir for providing the information and to Pavel Bernshtam, a Lamdan descendant, for connecting me to Meir.

[4] Personal communication from Meir Litvak on 4/9/2020.

[5] A Gelman, "Our Town Is No More," Mlynov-Muravitz Memorial Book, 44–45; Sokolsky, Translation, 14.

[6] Yaffa Dayagi, "Home and Youth Movement in Mlynov," Mlynov-Muravitz Memorial Book ,247–250; Sokolsky,Translation, 66–68.

[6] Aaron Harari from Merhavia, "Culture, Education and Society in Town." Mlynov-Muravitz Memorial Book 66–68; Sokolsky, Translation, 24.

[7] Harari, "Culture," Memorial Book, 66-68; Sokolsky, Translation, 24.

[8] Litvak, "The Town," 53–59; Sokolsky, Translation, 24. Harari quote

[9] Litvak, "The Town," 53–59; Sokolsky, Translation, 17.

[10] Yaakov Holtzeker, "My Hometown Mlynov," Memorial Book, 226-228; Sokolsky, Translation,50-51.)

[11] The date of Samuel Mandelkern's immigration is mentioned in Litvak, "The Town," 53–59; Sokolsky, Translation, 24 and also recalled by Yehuda Mohel in his account below.

[12] The story of Yehuda Mohel is written about in Riva and Yehuda: Life Story of Trancman, Mohel, Tracz and Ben-Eliezer Families, 2015. Trans. from Hebrew by Lynda Schwartz. D.C.P. Haifa, Tel Aviv, Israel, 2017. The section on Mlynov starts on page 35. The book is available for download.

[13] Samuel Mendelkern from Tel Aviv, "Self Defense in Mlynov."Mlynov-Muravitz Memorial Book, 116-146. A partial translation is available in Sokolsky, Translation, 33.

[14] Litvak, "The Town," p. 53, Sokolsky, Translation, p. 16.

[15] Quoting from "Tarbut" in Wikipedia. See, also ,"Tarbut" in Yivo.

[16] See "Hashomer Hatzair," in Wikipedia and "Hashomer Hatzair," in Jewish Virtual Library.

[16] Dani Tracz (Issachar Mohel), Riva and Yehuda: Life Story of Trancman, Mohel, Tracz and Ben-Eliezer Families, 2015. Translated from the Hebrew by Lynda Schwartz. D.C.P. Haifa, Tel Aviv, Israel 2017.

[17] On the background of this movement, see Margalit, Elkana. "Social and Intellectual Origins of the Hashomer Hatzair Youth Movement, 1913-20"Journal of Contemporary History 4:2 (1969):25-46. Accessed April 4, 2020.

[18] Aaron, Harari, "The Youth Movement "Hahomir Hatsair," Mlynov-Muravitz Memorial Book, 69-74; A partial translation is available in Sokolsky, Translation, 24.

[19] See previous note.

[20] See Dani Tracz (Issachar Mohel) Riva and Yehuda , 2015. Trans. from Hebrew by Lynda Schwartz. D.C.P. Haifa, Tel Aviv, Israel, 2017. The section on Mlynov starts on page 35. The book is available for download.

[21] For a more detailed account of the early context of the movement, see Margalit, Elkana. "Social and Intellectual Origins of the Hashomer Hatzair Youth Movement, 1913-20." Journal of Contemporary History 4:2 (1969):25-46. Accessed April 4, 2020.

[22] Dani Tracz (Issachar Mohel) Riva and Yehuda , 122.

[23] See I. Oppenheimer, "'Hehalutz' in Eastern Europe between the Two World Wars," Zionist Youth Movements during the Shoa (1996), 33–116; and "The Ideological Background of the 'Hehalutz' Movement in Russia and Poland in the 1920s," in: Polin 5 (1999), 131–55. See also "HeHalutz" in Jewish Virtual Library .

[24] The story of antisemitism in Poland is complex and spanned different sectors of the nation. My account draws on the useful and balanced summary of Ezra Mendlesohn, Jews of East Central Europe, 32–43, and especially 68–81. More detailed specific analyses are available. The following are helpful to grasp the complexity and diversity of Polish antisemitism causes and expressions. Jerzy Tomaszewski, "The Civil Rights of the Jews in Poland, 1918–1939," 115–127; Franciszek Adamski, "The Jewish Question in Polish Religious Periodical in the Second Republic: The Case of the Przeglad Katolicki," 129–145; Anna Landau-Czajka, "The Image of the Jew in the Catholic Press," 146–175.

It should be noted that is a debate in the scholarly literature over how much Jew hatred was worse than the treatment of other minorities. For a view that Polish Jew hatred was worse than discrimination of other minorities, see for example, Yisrael Gutman, "Polish Antisemitism Between the Wars: An Overview," 97–108 In The Jews of Poland Between Two World Wars . Ed. Yisrael Gutman, Ezra Mendelsohn, et. al. For an alternative less polemical account, see Mendelsohn,Jews of East Central Europe, 32–43, and 68–81.

[25] Mendelsohn, The Jews of Central Europe, p. 71.

[26] Alina Cala, "Social Consciousness of Young Jews In Interwar Poland," 42-66; Mendelsohn, The Jews of Central Europe, 48.

[27] See Mendelsohn,The Jews of Central Europe, p. 71. On the relationship of Zionism and Polish Nationalism and Fascism, see especially Jabotinsky's children. A really powerful and interesting book on this topic is Daniel Kupfert Heller, Jabotinsky's Children: Polish Jews and the Rise of Right-Wing Zionism. Princeton: Princeton Universitstunningy, 2017.

[28] See Dani Tracz (Issachar Mohel), Riva and Yehuda, 60.

[29] On the " Third Aliyah" see Wikipedia.

[30] Moshe Fishman, "Mlynov in the Past," Mlynov-Muravitz Memorial Book 60–62; Sokolsky, Translation, 20.

[31] Shoshana (Upstein) Baruch, A Struggle to Survive:Stories of Bunia and Yitzhak Upstein, 14. Original published in Hebrew. Trans. by Charles Epstein with Howard I. Schwartz. Shoshana and Charles are the children of Bunia (Steingberg) Upstein, who was born in Mervits and whose story is told here. Howard I. Schwartz is a descendent of the Gruber, Demb, Schwartz and Shulman families from Mlnov. On Varkovychi, Ukraine, see JewishGen.

[32] Shoshana Baruch, A Struggle to Survive, 17.

[33] See Litvak, "The Town," Mlynov-Muravitz Memorial Book, 53-59; Sokolsky,Translation, p. 17.

[34] S.M.T (Sonia and Meudel Taytelman [Mendl Teitelman]), "Joy and Sorrow in Mervits". In Mlynov: A Tribute to All Those Who Lost Their Lives in the Shoah: You are Remembered. A partial translation of the Mlynov-Muravica Memorial Book. Prepared by Irene Fishman Siegel. September, 1998. Unpublished manuscript.

[35] See Daniel Kupfert Heller, Jabotinsky's Children.

[36] See "Betar" in Wikipedia. A Gelman, 247–250 HOME AND YOUTH MOVEMENT IN MLYNOV (H)


Additional Reading

For additional reading, see the list of bibliographical resources for Interwar Poland.


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