Nowadays when I read about the safety of property and life in New York and Chicago, and when I hear talk about Al Capone, the king of the Chicago underground, I can remember, when I was still a boy, hearing the old folk talk about the Al Capone of Tarnów, who was, to put it mildly, the leader of Tarnów’s thieves seventy years ago. He was generally known by the nickname Idele Ganef [thief] or Idele Muc.

As a youth, Idele Muc had already been a pickpocket and thanks to his acuity became the leader of an organized gang of thieves. As he got old, he no longer actively practised this profession but taught it to young people. Thanks to his connections in the police force, when a member of his group was caught, Idele Muc could, in the majority of cases, just like the present day Al Capone, arrange for the release of the arrested man within a very short time.

1. jewish porters waiting for work, 1905.

2. town hall elections, 1907

3. jewish shops on lwowska street, 1905

4. jews in front of the town hall, 1915

photos taken from marek tomaszewski’s marvelous photo album tarnów: jewish landscapes and the above excerpt is from a collection of memoirs and recollections of tarnów by its jewish residents, tarnów: life and destruction of a jewish town. read the rest of the anecdote of the al capone of tarnów here.

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