WHOLE SETTLEMENT GLOWS WITH LIGHT
Hidden among dense forests, the settlement at first consisted of only eight houses inhabited by miners and craftsmen brought here from Miedziana Góra. The last treasurer of king Stanislas August, the owner of the lands of Ujazd at the time – Tomasz Ostrowski, discovered there an iron ore deposit and quickly built a furnace for smelting iron ore and two finery forges. Soon the settlement located by the Wolbórka river and near artificial pond was named Kuźnice Tomaszowskie. When in 1817 Ostrowski dies in his palace in Warsaw and the settlement gradually falls into decline, count Antoni Jan decides to rebuild Tomaszów and make it a centre of trade and industry. Craftsmen come from Silesia and not far off Saxony; new trapezoidal market of St. Tekla and rectangular market of St. Joseph with cutting Kaliska street are built. The largest street of the town is closed from the west by a square called Gaworek. Soon afterwards a “so-called” new settlement would be built with the square of St. Anthony in the centre. Names of parallel streets: Mojżesza and Bożnicza suggest the presence of Jewish citizens. Ethnically diverse settlement owes to Antoni Ostrowski “not only industrial and social structure but also its urban planning concept” (Ostrowski 2007: p. 20). This concept was created in 1822 and was recognized by contemporaries as “the most interesting, individualized and reasoned concept in the whole district” (Ostrowski 2007: p. 20). The count – as Krzysztof Dumała noticed – managed knowingly to connect rules of classic city planning (radial structure) with romantic elements (English palace park in the centre). Furthermore, according to the historian, Tomaszów was the only example of eclectic urban composition of industrial centre on Polish lands. Ostrowski himself took a great care of aesthetics while planning his settlement, that is why many German manufacturers decided to settle in Tomaszów, even despite lesser profits than those offered at home.
Count Ostrowski observed the beauty of his settlement from the three-storey tower of his palace located in the centre of Tomaszów. “The rumble of the hammers in the forges – wrote Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, lured to Tomaszów by its attractions – the din of turning mills bloating huge bellows, appearing here and there smoke of furnaces and iron cleaners adorn this delightful settlement” (Ostrowski 2007, p. 22). Painter Piotr Michałowski was a frequent guest of Tomaszów (he was related to count Ostrowski who was his borther and father-in-law). He ran away from the noise of the Warsaw streets and sheltered in the peacefulness of Tomaszów’s landscape. Ostrowski also expected visit from Adam Mickiewicz, whom he dedicated his book about Tomaszów and “the need of social reform” of the city. During his exile the count often recalled Tomaszów describing the town with vivid and a little bit exalted language.
“Therefore the hour of changing shifts in the factory strikes, before the last glimmer of the day, in the multi-storey colossal spinning mills, by the hold of the water, by the Warsaw route, as on the different – here and there – points of factories, namely raised above the bed of transparent Wolbórka which gives a view of as if different constructions bathed in the crystal depth, or else on the different inclinations, scattered among the trees, of many windows, handicraft, and on houses, even cottages, suddenly appear the light – bright because of the lamps, the arrogant glass of burn: the whole settlement glows with light, like a New Jerusalem on the Sabbath day […]. Yet even here the bellows and everything what is thick, what requires a great strength, is moved by the water, and the smiths, half-naked, burned, black, similar to Cyclops, command the hammer, wind and fire […]. All these gathered composed Tomaszów by night! Truly, it is not my fault, that our famous for motherland chants Adam Mickiewicz hasn’t been in Tomaszów yet. If he could visit Tomaszów one day and chant about it his way, it would be something to listen to!”
(Ostrowski 2007: pp. 16-17)
The night work of craftsmen was described by Ostrowski with the metaphor of Hephaestus’ forge where the dangerous Cyclops, creators of Zeus’s thunderbolt worked hard. Sparkling and belching smoke city became for the count an incarnation of vitality and life dynamics, while nearby landscapes made the factory face of Tomaszów more attractive.
Grubbed forest made space for other settlers brought by Ostrowski and his close associate Jakub Steinman from the whole area of Kingdom of Poland. In 1828 (Witczak 2012: p. 227) this Jew from Ujazd moves to Tomaszów and receives a post of a broker. Not much earlier the municipality office was moved from Ujazd to the annex in count’s palace in Tomaszów.
Jewish and German craftsmen come to Tomaszów and settle on both sides of Wolbórka gradually expanding the factory settlement (called this way in 1824). Over the years Tomaszów becomes an important textile centre with many new workshops catering not only Kingdom of Poland, but also oriental markets. Abram Judka Elbinger invited by Ostrowski from Warsaw builds new factories in Tomaszów and produces linen and cloth. Jakub Joachim Kempner, one of the most wealthy citizen of Tomaszów at that time, leases steel plants and significantly increases the production of iron ore (Witczak 2012: p. 133). Beside manufacturers and craftsmen (tailors, carriers, cobblers, carpenters, chandlers, barkeepers) many doctors, rabbis and artists arrive. More prosperous immigrants mix with poorer Jews coming from nearby villages forming heterogeneous, multicultural Tomaszów. The majority of permanent residents were Germans (38,4%) – owners of textile mills, followed by Jews (32,8%) – merchants and craftsmen, and Poles (28,8%) – owners of real estate (Leszczyński 2004: p. 10). Ostrowski took care of each citizen regardless of their religion, contributing to the development of religious communities (catholic, protestant and Jewish). He relocated a small catholic church from village Tobiasze to Tomaszów, he began building churches and synagogue, he also founded schools. First school taught children of various religions. The function of the principal was carried out by a young Piarist, father Wojciech Klonowski, local rector and recognized educator (Leszczyński 2004: p. 10). Tomaszów becomes cultural and religious melting pot where newcomers from distant locations coexist adding the town a heterogeneous appearance. Together with the development of trade and industry a new brewery is built – “Tanzbuda” hosting dance, music and theatre shows (Topas-Bernsteinowa 1898: p. 11).
In his memoirs Antoni Ostrowski describes his father as a person making every effort to give proper education to his children. Every day they had to report if they had fulfilled their responsibilities: “They had always walked away encouraged and full of moral knowledge, on which their father seemed to have monopoly” (Kotewicz 1995: p.17). To protect his children from demoralization he sent them to a public school. Additionally they had a chance to learn from such eminent figures as Feliks Bentkowski – literature historian and biographer, Jan Paweł Woronicz – bishop and preacher and Tadeusz Czacki – educator. The latter became very close to Antoni, making him more sensitive to economic problems he was occupied with. He presented projects aiming development of industry and international trade, he also requested for removal of limitations set for Jews. All that had to influence Ostrowski’s views. The count received the lands of Ujazd from his father only in 1805 (it included Ujazd and 15 villages). Two years before that he received a farm Starzyce with Cekanów with directions how to manage them. In 1812 a palace in a romantic style with a large tower was built in Tomaszów, designed by Polish architect Józef Grzegorz Lessel. He was an author of many projects of buildings in Warsaw, including former Prague Synagogue (one of six round synagogue buildings in Europe at that time). Ostrowski’s home was traditional which means it gathered around the table not only the family but also tutors, officials, domestic staff and some of farm workers. The latters most probably ate at so-called second table. In total 62 person lived at the expense of the house. Antoni successively expanded his property: in 1827 he bought Łazisko with Łagiewniki and Kępa, in 1829 he bought lands of Komorów and Zaborów from Piotr Cichoszewski and Wąwal with a part of Białobrzegi from Józef Wolski (Kotewicz 1995: p. 33). Ostrowski attached considerable importance to good relations with the newcomers. This is what he wrote in 1829:
“Everyone from the very beginning have maintained good personal relations with the founder who had spared neither efforts nor devotion to be agreeable, helpful, ready to advise and help with the government entirely unknown for the newcomers”
(Kotewicz 1995: p. 90).
The chairman of Commision of Mazowieckie Voievodeship at the time noticed Ostrowski’s efforts and continuously expanding Tomaszów. The owner of the lands found it important to preserve the beauty of the landscape: “While expanding the settlement we began with preserving its beauty. Aesthetics of location is not of minor importance when funding a settlement; many of German manufacturers preferred settling in Tomaszów than in other towns even despite more profitable advances”. (Kotewicz 1995: p. 99) Lands of Ujazd offered not only a beauty of the nature or a job in manufactures, but also different entertainments. Ostrowski built a theatre hall Apollo where many Polish and foreign theatre companies gave performances. It was also a place of dance evenings. There was also a great hall where the local elite met, located in an inn built and furnished by the owner in 1825. Ostrowski also completed building of confectionery with a billiard room. Also an isle of Saint Alexander became a place of entertainment for labourers. Tomaszów became a multicultural melting pot described by his owner with pride:
„I wanted to preserve the right of equality for everyone. Some more educated Germans called Tomaszów a little republic. It is obvious that the atmosphere of easiness and freedom accompanied this meeting of people of different descent, language, habits, vocations and religions; it was a tiny new world amidst old deteriorated world. A true oasis in a material and moral sense. O! For what purpose the fate didn’t allow me to finish such luckily conceived work?”
(Ostrowski 1834: p. 162)
THE REFORM IS NECESSARY
Count Antoni starts his book “Ideas on a need of social reform”, published already in exile, with a catalogue of tensions existing between Poles and Jews. He writes straightforward about persecutions of Jews by “false religious” and Polish-Catholic Clergy, reminding that Non sunt Judei trucidandi, non sunt persequendi („It is not allowed to kill Jews, it is not allowed to persecute them”). Ostrowski notices that ”not blissful, not good was the life in Poland for Jews, but better and more peaceful at ours than anywhere else.” (Ostrowski 1834: p.13) In his opinion Polish Jews were more willing to be subjected to”nationalization”, they seldom built statum in statu (“state within a state”). He sees the reasons of difficult relations between Polish and Jews in the history of Poland itself, which served as a “shield incessantly protecting Europe from barbarian raids” and which “never tasted fruits of long-lasting peace” (Ostrowski 1834: p. 14). The consequence for Jews was the lack of civilization progress, not resulting however from “predispositions to adversity of natives” – that is Poles. The count follows legal laws regulating Jews’ comportment throughout centuries with attention and care. He notices that Poland didn’t protect Jews from persecutions with any written law, while in Grand Duchy of Lithuania duke Vytautas granted the privilege to all Jewry in 1408. Recalling old regulations binding in Poland Ostrowski emphasizes their ridiculousness and pseudo-liberality, drawing at the same time European map of Jewish activity. He describes persecutions in Poland as politic and administrative, honouring his motherland for not knowing inquisition and fanaticism. Ostrowski reflects not only upon Jews, but also upon Christians and their common fate of the persecuted:
“Had the best of people, the best of Christians, the best of Catholics, the peasants – had they not suffered woes similar to Jews, from their masters of repression? After all identity of both groups should be connected – have a look at John Casimir times, didn’t the Polish masters treat the Peasants in Ruś and Cossacks worse than Jews? Violence, dominance of nobles, wealthier and eager to hold and execute oligarchic power in favour of their own caste in Polish Republic.” (Ostrowski 1834: p. 20)
Ostrowski seeks reasons of “the doom of Motherland” and its sickness. He also remarks that the only solution is a reform: “A reform is necessary – he writes – The reform should be radical, based on freedom, equality and respect for the right of property for everyone, it can not be absolute”. (Ostrowski 1834: p.38)
Describing situation of Polish Jews Ostrowski shows both their great advantages serving economic development of the country and disadvantages. He emphasized several times that “there are good and bad people” in every nation, similar in the nation of Israelites (as he called Jews) you can find demoralised figures. The aim of the reform is to heal them from wickedness and villainy. Referring to different attitudes of Jews the count recalls his own experience acquired during his management of Tomaszów. His description of town is very emotional, revealing a great passion of the host and the pride of the founder of such beautiful “settlement”:
„It’s a charming place this Tomaszów, before the sunset, when this fire ball diving in clear waters gives to all surrounding objects these lights – not easy to convey with a pen not even with a dexterous paintbrush, these shadows, these various colours (…). I received both English and Swiss and different sightseers, nature lovers; they admitted rarely seeing that kind of charm and uniqueness; nothing more pleasant than navigating the lake (Ostrowski 1834: p.123).
Ostrowski emphasizes that Tomaszów raised from poverty, „almost from nothing”, that many economists predicted failure of the settlement. On the other hand first foreign Christian settlers asked their host not to accept too many Jews. “Why not? – he would ask – why in the new settlement there is supposed to be no Jews?”. The answer of citizens revealed stereotypical image of Jews, who “brake everything, buy, bribe and cheat”. Although Ostrowski saw grains of truth in these prejudices, he was aware of the great potential of Jewish settlers, especially if it comes to merchandise. Therefore he ordered the right to free competition which induced an inflow of settlers of different nationalities. This is how he won many manufacturers, drapers, soon many new manufacturing plants were built. Ostrowski reacted very quickly to the economical problems of his citizens. To make their earnings easier he built “a little colony” called Precz-Bieda (“step-back poverty”) which in two years turned into a “built-up village” and a kind of suburbs. That is how both rich and poor Jews found their place in Tomaszów. “The first ones worked with their industries, capitals, the latter – with their hands: no one sat still”. The poorest were employed in manufacturing plants. New taverns and inns were opened, “bridges pulsated on swooshing Wolbórka”. Closing story of Tomaszów’s Jews Ostrowski confessed: “I will add, that several years of their stay under my supervision left a thorough impression, that in every trait those people can be civilised, moralized, especially youth, the most numerous in Tomaszów. More than a half of them have already dropped the old-fashioned clothes of Polish Jews, they have shorter payots, they cut beard shorter so that there is a slight difference between them and these Christian beaux of Tomaszów, who grow their beards to be fashionable; the caftans gave way to coats, frock-coats (…)” (Ostrowski 1834: p. 169).