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Weinzieher, Salomon

(1869–1943), physician, community activist, and politician. Salomon Weinzieher was born in Białystok to an assimilationist Jewish family. After graduating from high school in Piotrków Trybunalski, he studied medicine at the University of Warsaw but was expelled after a year because of his affiliations with radical socialist organizations. Subsequently he was accepted, through personal connections, to the University of Kiev where he joined a Polish students’ group. After graduating from medical school, he remained active in the underground movement associated with the Polish Socialist Party. He was not a Zionist; indeed, as a Polish nationalist he regarded Zionism as a reactionary movement that alienated Jews from their civic duties in Poland.

In 1897, Weinzieher practiced medicine in the provincial town of Będzin in southwestern Poland; eventually he became the director of the district hospital and was a founding member of the Zaglębie Dąbrowskie (Zaglębie Region Physicians Society). Beyond his work as a physician, he established a Polish library and headed the open university in Zaglębie. He also ran, unsuccessfully, as a candidate for the Duma. Angered when Jews were not allowed full rights of citizenship, he concentrated his energies on supporting Jews as members of a national minority.

When Będzin fell under German occupation during World War I, Weinzieher was elected to the city council and was subsequently elected as mayor. With the establishment of the Polish Republic in 1918, he served on the mutual credit council and as chairman of the Towarzystwo Dobroczynności (Charity Association), a philanthropic society that assisted the Jewish community and established a Jewish orphanage in Zaglębie. As a member of the national Jewish slate, he was a representative in the elections to the Constituent Sejm in 1919. He subsequently joined the national Jewish faction, which was part of the Wolne Zjednoczenie Posłów Narodowości Żydowskiej (Free Association of Jewish [Sejm] Members); in this capacity he assisted Yitsḥak Grünbaum to secure the rights of Jews in the constitution endorsed in March 1921.

In 1922, Weinzieher was elected to the Sejm as a representative of the Minorities Bloc. He became the assistant speaker of the Sejm and head of the public health committee. Under pressure from anti-Jewish circles, he was expelled later that year from the Zaglębie Medical Society for his association with the bloc. In 1925, he served as the chairman of the Będzin city council.

Apart from his political duties, Weinzieher published articles in Nowy Dziennik, a Polish-language Jewish newspaper that was printed in Kraków. In the 1930s, he was the managing director of the Jewish hospital in Sosnowiec. During the Holocaust, Weinzieher continued to provide medical care to the Jews of Będzin. He refused to accept false Paraguayan papers sent by the representatives of the Jewish Agency from Switzerland, as he did not want to leave his sister behind. When the Jewish ghetto in Będzin was liquidated in 1943, he was deported with her to Auschwitz, where he died.

Suggested Reading

Isaac Grünbaum, Pene ha-dor, vol. 1 (Jerusalem, 1957/58); Jacek Majchrowski, ed., Kto był kim w Drugiej Rzeczypospolitej (Warsaw, 1994); Henryk Mościcki and Włodzimierz Dzwonkowski, eds., Parlament Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, 1919–1927 (Warsaw, 1928); Izaak Rapaport (Yitskhok Rapoport), ed., Pinkes Zaglembye (Tel Aviv, 1972).



Translated from Hebrew by Rami Hann