Bearing Witness: Stories Behind the Artifacts in the Yad Vashem Museum Collection

"Maccabi" cap belonging to cyclist Moshe Cukierman, member of the Bar-Kochba sports club in Lodz, Poland

Bicyclist Moshe Cuikerman's hat with the words Maccabi written on it Bicyclist Moshe Cuikerman's hat with the words Maccabi written on it Moshe Cukierman, a member of the Bar Kochba sports club in Lodz, Poland beside his bicycle, early 1920s Moshe Cukierman, a member of the Bar Kochba sports club in Lodz, Poland beside his bicycle, early 1920s   More photos

A large collection of medals, newspaper clippings, travel diaries and photographs that were donated to the Yad Vashem Artifacts Collection, document the impressive sporting activities of Cukierman and his friends, Jewish cyclists from Poland, prior to World War II. Moshe and his friends trained with the Bar Kochba and Maccabi Lodz Jewish sports clubs, and participated in competitions throughout the 1920s and '30s.

Cukierman served as captain of the cycling team of the Bar Kochba organization in Lodz, and head of the Cyclists' Association in Lodz, as well as adjudicating at cycling competitions throughout Poland. He participated in long-distance riding competitions, won many medals and documented his cycling trips in diaries that he kept.

One of the competitions he participated in took place on a 500 km route through Poland's Kielce district that passed through various cities. As was customary in cycling championships at the beginning of the twentieth century, Cukierman was required to have his notebook stamped by a representative of the place he passed through as proof of his passage along the required route. His travel diaries include stamps and signatures of police and Jewish community representatives, alongside his anecdotes about encounters with members of other Jewish sports clubs and Zionist organization representatives.

In 1934 Moshe Cukierman married Tova Krakowski, a gymnast from Lodz. The couple came to Eretz Israel (Mandatory Palestine) in 1935 to take part in the Maccabiah games, and decided to stay rather than return to Poland.

Most members of their families who remained in Poland were murdered in the Holocaust.

From Moshe Cukierman's travel diary:

"It's raining harder, the road is full of mud, I've passed the town of Mnichow [?] and its already 7 PM and Kielce is another 20 plus km away. It's a real downpour, thunder, it's getting dark, the road is slick with mud, it's a very hard ride."


"On the inclines I'm forced to get off the bicycle and go on foot, and on the downhills the ride is so rapid that the wheels splatter me with water and mud. It's really hard to tolerate. I'm soaked to the bone and frozen. Arrived in Kielce 8:30 PM."

"100 km left till I reach Lodz and it's a pity! Really a pity. I'm very sorry about it but I'm pleased about this particular trip and about the journey in general, because one gains experience on coping with bad weather conditions and difficult roads, and on how to behave in unfamiliar cities and with strangers. I'm signing off on all my recollections and experiences with a cry of Hurray!
Long live tourism! 26 August 1928"

"Before the city of Ostrowiec, the road is uneven, built out of stones, like the old roads in Poland and in the dark I didn't realize that I was descending a steep mountain. I raced down at tremendous speed and it was too dangerous to jump off the bicycle. I used all my strength to try and stop but it was hopeless. Afterwards I learned that the descent is 4 km. I was exhausted from all the stops and bumps and finally I felt that I was riding on level ground and at 9:30 I reached Ostrowiec. From Kielce at 3:30 until 9:30 in the evening I covered 122 km. In Ostrowiec I went directly to the "Hakoach" sports club, where I knew the committee members. They hosted me generously and invited me for supper and to stay overnight."

Yad Vashem Artifacts Collection
Donated by the Tsur family, Israel