Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Catholic Woman Remembers Przemysl

I've had a fascinating back-and-forth with Renata - a Catholic woman born in Przemysl. She found me while doing research on her tree; it seems we have an intersection. The Jerzy she mentions, below, was the step son of my great uncle, Izaac (Edward) Metzger. His story, and how he came to adopt Jerzy, is outlined here.
My mother was from Przemysl, so I enjoyed reading a bit of its' history, and Anna Wojtowicz, Jerzy's wife, is a distant cousin of mine. We've both been working on our mutual family tree and her husband, Jerzy, hoped that we would find out what became of his father. While that question has not been answered, at least your article sheds some light on the subject. Thank you! I appreciate the time, effort and work that went into returning to Poland for answers and writing this.
Isaac + Family
After I responded, we talked about our connection - In 1939, Izaac Metzger went off to join the Red Army fighting the Nazis, just like his Catholic neighbor. Both men left wives and children behind in Przemysl. Isaac survived to return to Przemysl; his neighbor did not. His wife and children were gone, murdered. He ended up marrying this neighbor's widow - Aneila, adopted her young son Jerzy, and started calling himself Edward.

More from Renata:

Edward/Isaac
I think people's lives are so interesting, that in many cases it IS almost like reading an intense piece of fiction. Your uncle, Isaac/Edward is a prime example. It was emotionally moving to see a picture of him with his wife and four little children, looking happy and fulfilled, and to imagine how he must've felt when he returned home from war to learn that his whole family had been eradicated. I'm amazed that he had the resiliency to start life over again with someone else, that he didn't just curl up into a bitter ball of hate and despair, as many did. Aniela was still relatively young when they married and I'm surprised they didn't have any children of their own, but nevertheless, both of them seemed to make the most of their own, horrible situations and obviously must've found comfort in sharing their mutual burdens. It sounds as though he liked his stepson, Jerzy who obviously needed a father figure. Still, a Polish/Jewish connection must've been a difficult way for both him and Aniela to live. My understanding from my mother's stories, from the era in which she lived in Poland (1919-1949) was that Jews were not generally liked in Przemysl. There was a lot of prejudice against them and probably envy as well. Some were persecuted, especially the orthodox ones that really stood out. My mother was born in Brooklyn and moved back to Poland with her parents when she was 8. She used to tell me about how tough it was to get accepted by her classmates when her parents uprooted her and took her back to the old country. Her new classmates didn't like her because she was a well-to-do American girl (in their eyes) and it was the Jewish girls, who understood ostracism, who welcomed her into their circle and helped her get up to speed in her new school and maintained warm friendships with her until everyone scattered to go to college, so she developed good relationships with Jewish people in Przemysl, but I think that was the exception.

Maybe after the war, anything went. People were just trying to survive and move forward, but prior to the war, Aniela would've had a hard time living in Przemysl, being openly married to a Jewish man, although he tried to become integrated; had a "street name," had a last name that could've just passed for German, and didn't look strikingly Jewish.
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Monday, August 16, 2010

Bernice's Cemetery Photos

I posted recently about Bernice's Trip to Poland. Here are some photos from her visit to the Przemysl cemetery:

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Saturday, August 07, 2010

Postcards from Przemysl

Posted below are post cards sent from Przemysl to relations in Basel. One of the things that makes these so interesting are the dates - 1943 - right in the midst of the holocaust. The Nazi cancellations and Hitler stamps are disturbing reminders of the awful backdrop of that year.

Original email from Charles:
My grandmother Lifsia Intrator was born In Przemysl and a great part of her family lived there. She had 9 brothers and sisters and several of them died in the Shoa. I had the opportunity to see a number of old postcards written to my late grand-aunt Cescha who lived in Basel by one of their sisters Hadassa Eisenberg Intrator and some friends.

I found several, to me unknown names: Frieda Blech ( maybe also Frieda Rubenfeld) Pola Ungar,. There is also a postcard in Polish that I do not understand but where

Charles Mahler Antwerp Belgium.

Chick to see Charles' family history: "Israel Intrator in Przemysl."


Anyone care to take a stab at a translation?

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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Bernice goes to Poland

Internet friend Bernice just returned from a trip to Poland, including Przemysl and Dynow. Turns out I too have relations from Dynow - mostly Kern, Laufer, and even some named Arm... just like new-found cousin Bernice!

Here is the excellent Shtetlinks site for Dynow
Dear David:

Just a quick note to let you know that while we were in Przemysl, we visited the cemetery. At least there are still gravestones left.

On June 24th, 2010 in Dubiecko, a plaque was unveiled indicating that a vibrant Jewish community once lived there for hundreds of years.

We than went to the cemetery, where there are no headstones, Germans used them for roads. The chief Rabbi, M. Shudrich said kaddish and the local bishop repeated it in Polish. The names of the 160 men, women and children , who were killed by the Germans and buried in a mass grave, were read by 3 high school girls. We, two of my cousins and I, and some of the townspeople laid stones in memory of those killed.
The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish cemeteries in Poland has now taken over control.

It was a highly emotional day for me. I still cry when i talk about it as a number of my family members including my father's brother were read. One of the attendees was the daughter of a woman who had saved a Jewish woman. Her name was submitted to Yad Vashem and she was given a medal honoring her. The woman is no longer living but her daughter was running around showing the medal to everyone and how proud she was of her mother. Too bad there were not many more people like her.

I also went to Poland to do research on my family Arm/Frand. The Arms came from
Dynow, the Frands from Dubiecko. I was told that I would not find any documents on my family from Dynow as they were destroyed. I did find some information about the Frands from Dubiecko but now to figure out who they are.

An interesting note; A young orthodox Rabbi, who is a follower of the well known
Rabbi from Dynow is building a Polish Jewish Heritage Center there. the building is large, will have 2 mikvahs, dormitory rooms, synagogue, etc. It will be a teaching and learning center. He told us that had 150 people for Shabbat services the week before. I do not know where they all came from but I am assuming Israel. He is trying to also touch base with what's left of the Jewish population in Poland to come and learn at his institution. In August he having a festival at which time he is inviting the whole town of Dynow to bridge a gap between the Jewish people and the townspeople. We were invited but of course will not be in attendance. I hope we can get more information about it on the internet after the festival.

Well, a quick note turned out to be a long note.

Have a good day!
Bernice Bernstein