Members of the religious agricultural training camp, Telz, Lithuania
Pictured in the photograph are members of the religious agricultural training camp in Telz, Lithuania, on November 1, 1935. Telz was famous for its yeshiva, a premier center for Talmudic education and one of the largest yeshivot in the world. Though Agudath Yisrael had hegemony over the Jews of Telz, and the ultra-Orthodox controlled Jewish education in the city, many of the city’s Jews also belonged to the Zionist camp and many Zionist movements were active in the city, including “Tze’irei Tzion”, “Ha-Shomer Ha-Tzair Netzach”, Beitar and Gordonya. Telz also had agricultural training camps of HeChalutz, of the general Zionists, as well as a religious agricultural training camp, whose members appear in the photograph. Pioneers from Telz who managed to receive certificates of immigration to Palestine immigrated to Eretz Israel and joined the kibbutzim Dafna, Givat Brenner, Yagur and others. In addition, Telz was famous for a visit by Theodore Herzl, where he delivered a highly charged speech.
Almost all of the Zionist parties were represented in Telz. In 1933 a group of “HeChalutz Ha-Dati” began to operate in the city, which established a few agricultural training camps throughout Lithuania. Until 1920 Telz also had a strong branch of the Bund. The Zionist youth movements that were active in Telz supported the spread of the Hebrew language, flying the Zionist blue and white flag during their ceremonies.
During this period approximately 2,500 Jews lived in Telz, making up one-third of the city’s population. After the annexation of Memmel, Lithuania, to Nazi Germany in March 1939, some of the city’s refugees reached Telz, at which time the Jewish community increased to approximately 4,800, almost half of the city’s population. The Germans conquered Telz in June 1941, and by the end of the year, almost all of the city’s Jews had been murdered.
Yad Vashem Photo Archives 7110/7