Leshchinsky, Yankev;

Published On


Page Range

pp. 113–124


  • English

Print Length

12 pages

9. The destruction of Jewish economic life in Lodz

  • Yankev Leshchinsky (author)
  • Robert Brym (translator)
  • Eli Jany (translator)
Polish Jews are being pushed out of their old professions and prevented from entering new modern ones. In Lodz, the rope around the neck of the Jewish worker is being tightened not just by the government but also by large-scale Jewish manufacturers, some of them devout. Consequently, the city’s Jewish working class quarter has a much higher population density and mortality rate than its non-Jewish working class quarter. Often, entire Jewish working class families live in a single room where they work on one or two handlooms during the day. Others work in handloom mills or small factories with power looms—the first to close in an economic downturn. And while non-Jewish working class women can find jobs in state employment, the state has closed this avenue of employment for Jewish women.
A few signs of change are evident in Lodz and Warsaw. Some Jewish manufacturers are beginning to hire Jewish workers for several reasons: unlike non-Jewish workers, Jewish workers are not antisemites; their revolutionary ardour has weakened given their high level of unemployment; they are willing to work especially hard and long since their wives are not employed; they are willing to work for lower wages; and they are flocking to ORT courses to upgrade their skills. Jewish unions have also played a role in convincing some non-Jewish unions to soften their position on the hiring of Jews. Still, Jews are much more likely than non-Jews to be employed in commerce, Jewish workers are much more likely than their non-Jewish counterparts to be employed in artisanal workshops and small-scale industry, and while the state employs a large number of workers and officials, hardly any of them are Jews.


Yankev Leshchinsky


Eli Jany