Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A river runs through it

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, also known as the Nazi-Soviet pact, divided up Poland between the Germans and the Russians. In the southeast, the line ran down the San River, splitting Przemysl in half - the Nazis on the Zasanie shore and the Reds on the Przemysl side.

Signed in August, 1939, the division of Przemysl would last until June 22, 1941 when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa.

The photo above shows Russian Przemysl from the German Zasanie side. The three posters, from left to right are: Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov, Western Army head Kliment Voroshilov, and, of course, "Uncle" Joseph Stalin. Below Stalin are the words "Workers of the World Unite!" written in Ukrainian. (photo from the collection of L. Beidka. All rights reserved)

Many Jews joined the Red army on that day in June, including my great uncles Elia Silberman and Isaac Metzger. Isaac, also known as Edward, made it back to Przemysl after the war to find his wife and three children murdered. Elia, his wife and two children were never heard from again.

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