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Oral history interview with Iginio Chalcoff

Oral History | Accession Number: 2009.29.7 | RG Number: RG-50.590.0007

Iginio (Iehiel) Chalcoff, age 86 and born in Ukraine around 1900, describes his family; living in a Jewish colony in Krivol Glosh, near Kiev, Ukraine and the Dnieper River; arriving in Argentina with his father and seven siblings around 1911; the numerous pogroms in Russia at that time; the price of their tickets; his family’s cap making business in Ukraine; living in the colonies of Narcis Leven (near Rivera, province of Buenos Aires) and Bernasconi from 1912 to 1920; working in the harvest; going to Buenos Aires in 1920; joining the Liga Racionalista (Jewish Rationalist League), which was an anarchist party; how a huge Jewish library was situated in the Ombu Street (today’s Pasteur Street) and the remnants of the library were donated to the IWO; his activism in the carpenters’ labor union (Sindicato de Ebanistas), which was the first labor union with a section in Yiddish and a library of up to 2,000 volumes; his work as a carpenter with his uncle; the numerous unions for specific professions; distinguished union members, including Brusilowsky, Landa, Shnitzer, Shtraijer, Aisenstein, and Moshe Koifman; how the union members helped new immigrants join a profession that was already organized into a union, so that the newcomers wouldn’t be exploited; going with a group of people in 1926 to Delta, Entre Rios province (in Gualeguaychu, Ibicuy, Paranacito) to found a commune; life an economic conditions under the regime of president Uriburu; the others in the group, including Manuel Rabinovich and Jaime Glatchtein; growing cucumbers, which they then marinated and send to Buenos Aires; how his group did not ultimately succeed, but how they stayed there until 1948; the other colonists, including Spaniards (brought by Blasco Ibanez), Germans, French, and Italians; how some of the Jews went to the Chaco Province, to start new colonies, but they did not succeed; cultural activities in the colonies; his view that the Jews were the principal activists, more than any other nationality; having a theatre and presenting works by Argentinian and Spanish dramaturges; building a big stage for their presentations and the details of how the land was acquired and its price; arguing with a German Nazis at a meeting when he was giving his opinion as what to do and the Nazi being told by another German, a socialist, that the Jews were the only activists and that the Nazis should be embarrassed by their disruption and not even be there; the Spaniards arriving in Argentina in 1905; forming friendships with many Spaniards and some Italians; white slavery and the labor unions ousting the slave traders; how lectures on literary subjects sponsored by the League were well attended; the rights that the labor unions managed to achieve for the workers, including extra hours pay, half a day of work on Saturday, and retirement; the publications by the League, including the newspapers “Fraie Shtime”, “Broit un Fraihait”, and “Fraie Vort”; the cultural lectures given by Botoshansky and Rollansky; and the relations with other Jewish organizations, including the Burial Society (Chevre Kedishe) and Arbeter Farband (an organization that assisted the impoverished laborers so that they did not have to go to the larger institutions).

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Iginio Chalcoff
interview:  1986 November
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, acquired from the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina-Communidad de Buenos Aires
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:23:36
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