Leshchinsky, Yankev;

Published On


Page Range

pp. 103–112


  • English

Print Length

10 pages

8. Three-quarters of the Jewish population lack enough to live on

  • Yankev Leshchinsky (author)
  • Robert Brym (translator)
  • Eli Jany (translator)
An analysis of income stratification of Polish Jews since World War I reveals that the wealthiest Jews in the post-war period are mainly nouveaux riches. They tend to be much less wealthy than top Jewish income earners before the war, and the percentage of rich Jews is likely smaller than the percentage of rich non-Jews. Even the merely well to do are fewer in number. In contrast, the stratum of impoverished Jews is much larger than it was before the war, having drawn heavily on Jews from the top and middle strata. Jewish tax lists from Vilna, Lemberg, and Lodz include only those who own at least a little shop or artisanal workshop, excluding those who live from precarious and incidental labour. Based on these lists, Leshchinsky estimates that 55% of Polish Jews are the “poorest of the poor,” 20% are “middling poor,” 15% are “poor owners” of shops or workshops, 5% are “middling owners,” 4% are “well-to-do,” and 1% are rich. In the top stratum of taxpayers, net earnings per year are roughly 17 times higher than in the bottom stratum. Some 75% of Polish Jews earn barely enough to allow their families to subsist or they must go hungry.


Yankev Leshchinsky


Eli Jany