Last month I flew out to Lakeside, California to interview my grandfather’s cousin, Isidore Shapiro.
Isidore provided an inside look into life in the small town of Podkamien, Poland pre-WWII. Isidore explained that he didn’t have too many problems being Jewish before WWII broke out. While the Polish government was anti-semitic, it wasn’t nearly as anti-semitic as Hitler’s regime. Marshall Pilsudski (1926-1935), who was the Polish leader at the time, treated the Jews better than most other Polish governments.
Isidore continued to delve into the nuances of Jewish life in Podkamien. The 1,000 Jews that lived in Podkamien at the time were divided amongst three casts: the top layer consisted of intelligentsia, such as doctors and lawyers; the second layer consisted of merchants; and the bottom layer consisted of artisans. Isidore added that in Podkamien as well as other Polish towns, almost 100% of businesses were owned by Jews.
Check out a clip from Isidore’s interview for more on life in Podkamien pre-WWII. You can also read about Isidore’s story by visiting his profile page.