inancy

The Holocaust: Martyrs and Survivors in the Wyman Family

MEYER WAJMAN and his wife, ROCHL SZTAJNMAN

Children:

ROSY WAJMAN aka ROSE WYMAN NIAMAN / RODIN /ROSENBAUM

TSINE WAJMAN aka TILLIE WYMAN LENTZNER

YACOV WAJMAN aka JACOB ‘JAKE’ WIMAN

AVRAM WAJMAN aka ABRAHAM ‘ABE’ WYMAN

SORE ‘SORELE’ WAJMAN aka SELMA WYMAN BRUSTIN

MENDEL WAJMAN died at the Treblinka Death Camp, August 1942.

IMG_0007

Photo taken in Poland of Meyer Wajman and his wife, Rokhl ‘Rebecca’ Sztajnman . Rokhl is wearing a Sheitel (שייטל),  a wig or half-wig worn by Orthodox Jewish married women in order to conform with the requirement of Jewish Law to cover their hair. This practice is part of the modesty-related dress standard called tzeniut.

Poylish Cards

Reverse side of the card above. It is printed on LEONAR paper. Leonar was the brand name for cameras and photographic material made by the Leonar-Werke Arndt & Löwengard in Wandsbek near Hamburg, Germany. There are two copies of this card in the family collection, each with the same message. The photographer was J. Tjkocki (Tikotski)

Translation and note by Hershl Hartman:

Rokhl [Rachel] with Rokhl’s husband [Note: Failure to name the husband may be related to hesitation about photos — “graven images” — of the very devout (possibly, khsidish— Hasidic) Jews.]

1938-39 COMMUNICATION FROM MENDEL WAJMAN IN ŁOSICE TO HIS SISTER, SELMA WYMAN BRUSTIN IN LOS ANGELES

Polish postage stamp of Ignacy Moscicki issued February 1, 1938

Printer’s date at bottom of card indicates June 1938

Winter of 1938-39 indicated in the body of the letter

In Poland at this time:

1) Interwar conditions very harsh: in 1923 the Polish Mark was worth 1/15,000,000 of a US dollar!

2) 1936-1937: 45% unemployment

3) Peasant revolts and strikes

40 March 12, 1938 Germany annexed Austria

4) On September 30, 1938, Teschen in Czech Silesa, rich in coal and with a Polish minority, was given to Poland.

5) On March 15, 1939 Germany absorbed Czechoslovakia

Polish Stamp 1938

New Discoveries_0128-Poland New Discoveries_0130-Poland

Translation by Hershl Hartman

FRONT OF POSTCARD

Poland

Mendel Wajman

Łosice, Rynek (Marketplace) 22 (This is the so-called Łosice House; The Janower Rebbe lived here, too)

Ziem Siedleka

____________

Miss Selma Brustin

2542 1/2 13th Ave

Los Angeles Calf

U.S. America

We greet you and your husband. You are (word unclear) to rescue our mother. We are naked, barefoot. Nothing else as long as our mother can be rescued. She is in such need as is our sick father.

[Printer’s date at bottom indicates June 1938, so postcard was probably sent subsequently, possibly just before or during Nazi occupation after 9/1/1939.]

BACK OF POSTCARD

Dear and beloved sister Sorele,

Oy, when may the good time arrives for us so that we may be helped, so that we might not have to write to you such bitter letters. May there soon be an end to our troubles.

Our mother has pitifully fallen and lies comatose. Things are very bitter with her. Her eyes are swollen along with her entire face. Her pains are indescribable. Her cries are heard all over the street. In addition she has much [word unclear].

One hears her crying:

“Oh, where is my Sorele. I would want at least to look at her one more time and she, at me.”

We no longer have the strength to stand this.

The doctor comes every day. So far, no improvement. Our father, in turn, seeks counsel, whatever idea one can get. We need money. There is not a groshn [cent] in the house. We are freezing in the house. There is no firewood. That is what our bitter life is. I can write no more. Tears fill my eyes.

The location of Rynek 22 in Łosice: Losice House (No. 6 on map below)

pre-w.w_map

Courtesy of Viktor Lewin

Rynek 22

Łosice Dom (Losice House), at 22 Rynek, where Meyer Wajman’s family lived during 1938-40. It was also the home of the Janower Rebbe R. Lifszyc.

MENDEL ‘SAM’ SZTAJNMAN and his wife, NECHAMA ‘ADA’ WAJMAN

Children:

TOVIA ‘TAUBE’ SZTAJNMAN married to CHIAM LEW. Both died at the Treblinka Death Camp, August 1942.

Their children:

SARA LEW died at the Treblinka Death Camp, August 1942.

WOLF LEW died at the Treblinka Death Camp, August 1942.

MORDECAI died at the Treblinka Death Camp, August 1942.

HINDE LEW died at the Treblinka Death Camp, August 1942.

MASZA SZTAJNMAN aka MARGIE STEINMAN GRUENBERG / BONAR / KAITZ

MASZA’S TWIN, name unknown

Margie's Father.jpg

Mendel ‘Sam’ Sztajnman, the brother of Rokhl Sztajnman-Wajman. There are two copies of this photo in the family collection, each printed on LEONAR paper.

Margie's Mother.jpg

Nechama ‘Necha’ ‘Ada’ Wajman-Sztajnman, the mother of Margie Bonar, in her later years. Note that this photo and the one above it were taken in the same exact spot, reinforcing the concept that the gentleman is Mendel Sztajnman, Margie’s father. There are three copies of this photo in the Bonar family collection, each printed on LEONAR paper.

Elder_Woman_Losice_Back

Message in Yiddish on the back of the  card above.

Translation by Hershl Hartman:

This is for you Mashe, for your enjoyment [Signature] Nekhe  Shteynman  [Necha Steinman] The addressee, Mashe, is Margie Steinman, Necha’s daughter.

IMG_0041

The address of Nehama  Sztajnman in Łosice

Margie (middle), mother and sisters.jpg

Necha ‘Ada’ Sztajnman with three of her daughters. Taube stands at the rear, Masza (Margie) is 2nd from the left. Margie’s sororal twin sits below her. The photograph was taken in the city of Siedlce, not far from the village of Łosice where they lived. The back of the card contains the logo and address of the photographer as follows: Atelier Photographique / A. Gancwol / a Siedlce / Les Cliches sont conserves. On the front: A. Gancwol / Siedlcach

Siedlce

Yiddish: שעדליץ Shedlits

Original Polish: Siedlcach

English: Syedlets

800px-Siedlce_i_katedra2

Jews formed the majority of the population of Siedlce during the early 1900s when the photo of Necha Sztajnman and her three daughters was taken.

STEINMAN Additional01.jpg

Necha ‘Ada’ Sztajnman, several years after the previous photograph was taken. Margie (right) and her sister, Taube, join Ada in this photograph, as Margie’s twin sister had died. There are two copies of this image in the Bonar Family collection, one is at 8 1/2 x 11, the other, a postcard.

IMG_0009

Margie Steinman aka Masza Sztajnman (right) with her sister, Taube, in Łosice. Photo taken sometime before June of 1921 when Margie sailed from Antwerp, Belgium to Philadelphia, PA.

Because Taube had married and already had given birth to her first child (Sore) by 1921, Taube gave her precious train and steamship tickets for America to her sister Margie, who left Łosice in 1921. Unfortunately, Taube never got another opportunity to emigrate America.

UnknownWomanInLosiceA

Photograph of an unknown woman whose image had meaning for Margie and her sister, Taube. Could this be Margie’s sororal twin who died before reaching adulthood?

UnknownWomanInLosiceB

Message in Yiddish on the back of the photo above.

Translation by Hershl Hartman:

I send you this photo for remembrance of [in celebration of] the year 1921. For my niece [sic]

Masha Winterman,

from me, your niece [sic]

Tauba Fishman

[In address space, written in verse]

The sun has arisen

In every heart.

O, how fortunate I would be

If we were not apart.

The Tauba and Masha in this fascinating message are the Sztajnman sisters themselves (referred to as nieces). In 1921, Masha (Margie) left Taube in Łosice, Poland and moved in with her cousin, Tsine Wajman (Tillie Wyman), and Tillie’s husband, Chaim (Herman) Lentzner in St. Louis MO. Margie’s cousin Rosy Wajman (Rose Wyman Niaman) also lived in St. Louis. Margie’s departure occurred in mid-June of 1921, just three months after the signing of the treaty known as the Peace of Riga (March 18, 1921) which finalized the end of the Polish-Bolshevik War. Margie arrived in Philadelphia, PA from Antwerp, Belgium on the Red Star Line’s steamship Samland on July 2, 1921.

Margie_Hsbd_1stChild_A

Taube, the sister who gave Margie her tickets to America, married and had four children by  Chaim Lew.  The first was Sore (born in 1920) who is seen in this image.  The photograph was taken in Łosice and is stamped on the back as follows: Zaklad Fotograficzny / SZ. SZPIALTER / Łosice

Margie_Hsbd_1stChild_B

Message in Yiddish on the back of the card above.

Translation by Hershl Hartman:

[Lined address section, left] For you, Mashe

[Message section, right] I and my wife and child, standing in the forest, lost in thought. We would be happy to run, all together, to you, [written large] DAY AND NIGHT.

Khayim Lev, the father

And Tabe [Taube] Lev, the mother

Sore [Sarah] Lev

[Signature] Lev Khayim

Margie’s sister, Taube, was married to Chiam Lew. Their child in this photo is their eldest daughter: Sore, that is to say, Sarah. Here one reads the  first subtle plea from Chaim Lew (this one to Margie) for help in emigrating to America.

New Discoveries_0214

Sore (Sarah) Lew b. 1920. This photograph was discovered in Merrill Bonar’s home in November of 2012. It would have come from one of four collections, i.e.  those owned originally by: Selma Wyman Brustin, Rose Wyman Rosenbaum, Tillie Wyman Lentzner, or Margie Steinman Bonar.

YIDDISH b

Photo of Velvele (Wolf) Lev, taken in Poland. The message in Yiddish on its back follows:

Poylish Cards_0001

Message on the back of the photo of Velvele Lev.

Translation by Hershl Hartman:

My dear aunt and dear uncle. I send you my piktshe [i.e., picture; Yiddishized English term learned from correspondence with U.S.]. May I grow up with my daddy and with my mommie and [added at right] Rokhele [dim. of Rokhl, Rachel] in good health and may I hear good things from you, as you desire.

[In address space] From me, your dear brother-in-law Khayim [Chaim] Lev. This is the [i.e., our] son, Velvele [dim. of Velvl, lit., little Wolf]

[Signature] Lev — reply requested.

This message from Chaim Lew on behalf of his son, Velvele,  is apparently addressed to Margie Steinman,  Chaim’s sister-in-law. One wonders why Rokhele is mentioned along with my ‘daddy and with my mommie’: Velvele’s sister, Sore, would have the the appropriate person to reference. In addition, as Velvele was born not long after Sore (b. 1920), one further wonders who the ‘dear uncle’ might be since, as far as is known,  Margie did not marry until 1926.

M Moustache wife and 2 kids.jpg

Another photo of Margie’s sister, Taube, and her husband Chaim Lew, this time with two children, Sore (b. 1920) and Velvele. The photograph was taken in Łosice. The card is stamped as follows: Zaklad Fotograficzny / SZ. SZPIALTER / Łosice

Postcard1

Message in Yiddish on the back of the card above.

Translation by Hershl Hartman:

[Lined address section, left] I can tell you that my daughter looks angry because she wanted [to wear] her hat and I did not want to give it [to her]. And my son is staring right at you. [Message section, right] I, your dear brother-in-law and your devoted sister and our dear little children wish you, my dear sister-in-law and my dear brother-in-law, a Good Year.

Once again, Chaim thinks that Margie has married.

zyb-010-wojclechowski-56

The Barracks in Zambrów .

M Moustache with Interwar Polish Regiment.jpg

Chaim Lew with his unit in the Polish Army at Zambrów: third row, fifth soldier from the right. During the inter-war years Zambrów was linked to the military: the 71st Infantry Regiment was stationed there and the town was home to a military school. The card is stamped as follows: C. Hawin / Zambrów

POLISH_ARMY

Message in Yiddish on the back of the photo above.

Translation by Hershl Hartman:

Now dear Rokhele and dear brother-in-law,

Perhaps you never would have believed that I served, so I am sending you a military piktshe [picture] and Mashe will recognize me in the first row, the 5th man, that is in the 2nd row.

But what am I to write to you now from one [in larger letters] HAVING SUFFERED ENOUGH IN THE SERVICE [normal letters resumed], I and certainly the children.

You think, Mashe, that because I have not written to you, I knew that you would not help me in any way. I served thus for 2 months in Zemderowa [Zambrow], that is the town in which I served.

Address section:

[Written vertically, at left] This is the stamp of the town.

[Written at bottom] I will ask you not to laugh at the soldier

[Continued vertically, at right] because I am dressed in the American format; the [word unclear: others?] are from Poznan.

[“American format” may refer to the writer’s headgear, known as the “overseas cap” in the U.S. Army, while almost all the others in the photo wear the visored caps of the Polish army.]

[Note: While Khayim (Chaim) Lev is obviously fifth from right in the third row, his description of his location was clearly written and has been accurately translated.]

This message was apparently written to Rose Wyman (Rokhele), her husband, Ben Niaman, and Margie Steinman (Mashe). The problem here is that neither Rose nor Ben were his in-laws. This is the second plea for help in getting out of Poland.

Zambrow

Location of Zambrów to the north-east of Warsaw and north of Łosice and Siedlce. In the 1880s, the construction of barracks (the largest in this part of Russia-controlled lands) was started in the southern part of the town. From this time until the early part of the 1950s, the town’s development was under army influence. During the Interwar Period in Zambrów, the 71st regiment of infantry was stationed here, and in addition, there were Officer Cadets of the Infantry Reserve School in residence. Zambrów was also the location of the Mazovian School of Officer Cadets.

Chiam, Taube and their 4 children leave Łosice and move to the town of Aleksandrów Kujawski in the late 1920s

Margie's_Sister's4KidsA

The four children of Margie’s sister, Taube and her husband Chaim Lew. Hindele is the baby on the left, followed by Mordecai, Velvele, and Sore. There are two copies of this photo in the family collection, with  lengthy messages covering the backs of each. The photo itself was taken in the town of Aleksandrów Kujawski as  both copies are stamped as follows: Fot, “STUDIO” Aleksandrów Kuj,

Margie's_Sister's4KidsB

Messages in Yiddish are written on the back of two copies of the photo above.

Translations by Hershl Hartman:

[The following two messages were obviously written by an adult (Taube), but in the name of the eldest daughter, Sorele.]

First of two messages on backs of identical children’s group photo [to Tillie (aunt Tsine) and Herman Lentzner (uncle Lenshner) who visited their relatives in Poland during the year 1924]:

This is to my dear aunt Tsine and uncle Lenshner

I, as the first sister, Sorele [dim. of Sora, Sarah], want to present to you my youngest sister Hindele [dim. of Hinde or Hinda] and my 2 brothers. You know me because you and Uncle were in Lyushets [Łosice]. An indication [of that] for you is that I still remember the little wagon that you sent me when you were enroute after leaving Lyushets. And would that I and my dear aunt and dear uncle could speak one to another. My heart yearns for you but you have gone off so far from us. The ship travels so quickly, but thoughts run still faster. Who knows how far we may yet run, but may it all be good. I end my writing. I send greetings from my brothers and sister, I Sorele Lev + mother.

Second of two messages on backs of identical children’s group photo [to Masza ‘Margie’ Sztajnman]:

This is for Aunt Maze. To my dear aunt Maze: you carried me in your arms and after that time has come this time when I cannot thank you verbally, so I must thank you in writing. I, Sorele, speak now to you, and my dear little brothers stare at this because you did not know them and my youngest sister still plays with a ball. But my dear aunt Maze, just ask Aunt Tsine whether or not she recognizes us in the piktshe [see previous note]. She will certainly remember black [haired] Velvele because he is the blackest [haired] of all of us. I beg you, my dear aunt, to write a correct opinion about us sisters and brothers and beg a reply. From me, Sorele, and Velvele, and Mordkhe [Mordecai] and Hindele Lev.

I beg you to write about [to] us so that we may be together. A good night.

These two messages contain the third subtle plea for help in emigrating to America, this time from Taube, Margie’s sister. The first letter is addressed specifically to Taube’s cousin Tillie (Tsine Wajman) and husband Herman Lentzner. In fact, although Herman had no success in aiding the Lew Family, he was able to successfully get his niece Zysla ‘Sylvia’ Frymorgen out of Poland during 1938 via the following letter to his congressman.

Letter fror Herman Lentzner01.jpg

Dockweiler

Rep. John Dockweiler was running for governor of California in 1938, when Herman Lentzner’s letter of June 15th reached him.

Had Herman Lentzner tried to help Margie’s sister and her family get out of Aleksandrów Kujawski when he visited them in 1924, he would have been faced with a newly enacted US  law.

The Immigration Act of 1924

The Johnson–Reed Act was a United States federal law that limited the annual number of immigrants who could be admitted from any country to 2% of the number of people from that country who were already living in the United States in 1890, down from the 3% cap set by the Immigration Restriction Act of 1921, according to the Census of 1890. It superseded the 1921 Emergency Quota Act. The law was aimed at further restricting the Southern and Eastern Europeans, mainly Jews fleeing persecution in Poland and Russia, who were immigrating in large numbers starting in the 1890s, as well as prohibiting the immigration of Middle Easterners, East Asians and Asian Indians.

Though the law’s quota system targeted immigrants based on their nation of origin rather than ethnicity or religion, Jewish immigration was a central concern. Hearings about the legislation cited the radical Jewish population of New York’s Lower East Side as the prototype of immigrants who could never be assimilated. The law sharply curtailed immigration from those countries that were the homelands of the vast majority of the Jews in America, almost 75% of whom came from Russia alone. Because Eastern European immigration only became substantial in the final decades of the 19th century, the law’s use of the population of the U.S. in 1890 as the basis for calculating quotas effectively made mass migration from Eastern Europe, the home of the vast majority of the world’s Jews, impossible.

Address of Chaim Lew in Poland, found among a series photographs in the Bonar Family collection

Chiam Lev's address

The town of Aleksandrów Kujawski, is located in the north of Poland near Toruń, the birthplace of the astronomer, Nicholas Copernicus.

Location of the town of Aleksandrów Kujawski in Poland near Toruń

Lev Family Address

Location of the town of Aleksandrów Kujawski in relation to Warsaw and Siedlce

Sarah Lew’s Photo for Margie Steinman Bonar (Masha Licht)

This is the first mention of Margie’s middle name, Likht (Light).

New Discoveries_0131-Sarah Lev

Sarah Lew in Toruń, Poland with her sister Hinde.

New Discoveries_0135-Sarah Lev's Message

The reverse side of the above photo.

Translation by Hershl Hartman

February 12th (written vertically)

For my beloved Aunt Masha Likht

Sorele

501px-Generalne_gubernatorstwo_1945

When Poland was partitioned during World War II, Toruń and Aleksandrów Kujawski were included in West Prussia and Wartheland respectively where Jews could no longer reside; Warszawa and Łosice were in the General-Government.

When Poland was partitioned during World War II, Toruń and Aleksandrów Kujawski were included West Prussia and Wartheland respectively where Jews could no longer reside; Warszawa and Łosice were in the area known as the General-Government. During World War II 630,000 Poles and Jews were expelled from Wartheland into the occupied General Government in actions called the Kleine Planung. By the end of 1940, the SS had expelled 325,000 Poles and Jews from the Wartheland and the Polish Corridor and transported them to the General Government, confiscating their belongings. Many elderly people and children died en route or in makeshift transit camps such as those in the towns of Potulice, Smukal, and Toruń.

 The Deaths of Margie’s  brother-in-law, Chaim Lew, and his daughter Sarah.

The Holocaust in Aleksandrów Kujawski

RetrieveAsset.aspx

September 7, 1939: A German soldier guards a group of Poles and Jews who have been rounded-up in Aleksandrów Kujawski and forced to stand in a line with their arms raised.

September 1, 1939: World War II begins as the Germans invade Poland with a three-front Blitzkrieg. They attack the Polish army with an overwhelming force of 1.5 million troops backed by tactical aircraft in the sky and mobile armor on the ground.

September 7, 1939: 60 Jews in Aleksandrów Kujawski executed in public.

September 8, 1939: Wehrmacht soldiers, together with local Germans burn down the synagogue in Aleksandrów Kujawski .

September 14, 1939: 45 Jews executed in Aleksandrów Kujawski

1939: The Lew Family leaves Aleksandrów Kujawski  for Łosice

Excerpted from: Lucy S. Dawidowicz. The War Against the Jews  1933-1945. p. 199.

Refugees

R 49 Bild-0131

The Jews of Wartheland, where Aleksandrów Kujawski was located, were expelled under guard.

The Holocaust Reaches Łosice

On December 27, 1939 Chaim Lew, his wife Toybe and their 3 children in Aleksandrów Kujawski, joined by Sarah (now 19) who had been living in nearby Toruń, headed to their hometown in Łosice, because all of the Jews in the north of Poland were expelled. The mid-winter exodus from Aleksandrów Kujawski (near Toruń) to the train station at Głowno located in the area of Poland designated  General-Government was a trek of 76.33 miles. Then from the train station at Siedlce to Łosice, there was an additional trek to be undertaken of 19.5 miles.

Exodus from Torun to Glowno

The Exodus of the Jews of  Aleksandrów Kujawski (near Toruń) to the train station at Głowno was a trek of 76.33 miles.

TWO MAPS SHOWING THE DIVISION OF POLAND AS OF OCTOBER 21, 1939:

1) The red line indicates the location of German (left) and Russian (right) territories

2) The General-Gouvernement is the German Sector where Jews were permitted to reside.

441px-Polska_1939-1941

605px-General_Government_for_the_occupied_Polish_territories

MAY 13, 1940 COMMUNICATION FROM MENDEL WAJMAN IN ŁOSICE TO HIS SISTER, SELMA WYMAN BRUSTIN IN LOS ANGELES

What had been taking place in Łosice by the time of Mendel Wajman’s  ‘Polish’ letter of May 13, 1940

1) September 1, 1939: Poland attacked jointly by Germany from the west and the Soviet Union from the east. The Great Synagogue on Miedzyrzec Street in Łosice destroyed by Nazi aerial bombardment in early September 1939.

2) October 9, 1939-Jews expelled from the ‘Polish Corridor’. The Lev Family lived here.

3) October 26, 1939 – Forced labor decree  issued for Polish Jews aged 14 to 60.

4) November 23, 1939 – Star of David on a white armband to be worn by Polish Jews over the age of 10 in the General-Gouvernment.

5) Massacres in several Polish towns-September through November 1939

6) “Hardly a week passed without a new German directive concerning the Jews. Jews were forbidden to circulate freely. Jews had to remove all metal implements, jewelry, furs, and woolen items from their homes. We were repeatedly fined for alleged infractions of these rules.”-Testimony of Eddie Weinstein.

7) In 1940 many refugees entered Łosice from other regions of Poland. In March, 960 Jews arrived from Kalisz, Aleksandrów Kujawski, Lodz, Poznan and Pomerania. The Lev Family was among them.

New Discoveries_0129-Poland

Mendel

Translation by Boris Dralyuk

Sender:

Mendel Wajman

Łosice, Rynek (Market Place) 22 (This is the Łosice House/ The Janower Rebbe lived here, too)

Ziem Siedleka

Addressed to:

Miss Selma Brustin

2542 1/2 13th Ave

Los Angeles Calf

U.S. America

Message:

Łosice on May 13, 1940

Dear Tsorka (Sorele/Selma)

We are, thank God, all healthy, all in place. We just want to know how you are, whether you are healthy, because you do not give us any word about yourself at all. Gather up money, as when there is peace in the world I will need it, do not send it now. Warm greetings to you and your husband. Greetings to Cyny (Tsine/Tillie Wyman Lentzner), Rosy (Rose Wyman Rosenbaum) and Massy (Masha/Margie Steinman Bonar) and the family…

[back of card, left side, beneath sender’s name and address]

and tell them that Toube (Taube Sztajnman Lew) with her children (Sora, Velvel, Mordecai, and Hinde) and husband (Chaim Lew) are also in Łosice and send their greetings.

M (Mendel) Wajman

On December 1, 1941 a ghetto was established in Łosice and surrounded by barbed wire. Most of the ghetto’s Jews were deported to Treblinka eight months later on August 22, 1942. As documented in the Yad Vashem database, Chaim Lew and his oldest daughter, Sarah, died during the Holocaust, but as of yet, there is no mention of Chaim’s wife, Taube, or of their other three children.

At liberation, only sixteen Jews from Łosice survived. However, members of the Polish Home Army murdered one survivor shortly thereafter in a postwar pogrom in the neighboring town of Mordy. The remaining Jews felt it was no longer safe to remain in Losice and fled to Lodz where large numbers of Polish Jews were gathering.

Losice Holocaust

August 1942: German soldiers rounding up the Jewish inhabitants of Łosice for their march to the train station at Siedlce and deportation to the death camp at Treblinka.

Sept. 1944 Aerial View

Sept. 1944 Aerial View of the of the Treblinka death camp. By this time the area had been bulldozed by the Nazis and disguised as a farm. The remains of the members of the Wajman, Sztajnman, and Lew families, who once lived in Łosice, lie here.

Treblinka was designed as a Nazi extermination camp in occupied Poland during World War II. The camp, constructed as part of Operation Reinhard, operated between 23 July 1942 and 17 November 1943 during which time approximately 850,000 men, women and children were murdered, including more than 800,000 Jews.

The first scientific investigation of the site of Treblinka was begun by forensic archeologist, Caroline Sturdy Colls, in 2010.

Chiam Lew

Chaim Lev

Yad Vashem

Sarah Lev in Torun

Sarah Lev. The photo was taken in Toruń where she lived before the Jews were expelled from West Prussia. During that great exodus, Sarah came back to the town of her birth, Łosice.  Sarah died in the Shoah sometime after August of 1942 when the Jews of Łosice were taken to the Treblinka death camp. Two copies of this photo were found in the Bonar Family collection and both are lightly stamped on the back with the name of the studio where the film was developed.

Sarah Lev-back

The back of the photo above with the stamp of the photographer’s studio in Toruń .

The Death of Sara Lev

Sara Lev- testimony

Testimony of Tova Bek regarding the death of Sarah Lew in the Holocaust

August 22, 1942: Łosice Deportation

Testimony of Eddie Weinstein

After the Jews of Łosice arrived on foot at the train station in Siedlce, two days passed before the cattle train arrived for Treblinka. The cattle cars were so overcrowded that the people were passing out because of lack of air. Some time passed and there still remained hundreds of people waiting on the station platform in Siedlce. The SS now realized that no more bodies could be squeezed into the existing cattle cars, so more were added. When the train arrived on the Treblinka station there was a water pump. Overcome by thirst people began breaking open the little car windows and jumping, running to the water pump. Immediately they were shot.

August 22, 1942: Łosice Deportation: March to the train station in Siedlce; The Treblinka Death Camp was the destination. Photo courtesy of Viktor Lewin We Remember Jewish Łosice website.

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Siedlice: Jews being loaded onto boxcars headed for Treblinka death camp.

Treblinka

Location of Łosice, Siedlce and Treblinka

A Survivor from Łódź:

Ajzce ‘Al’ Szerc,

cousin of Abraham, Selma, and Mendel Wajman

Al Szerc-3

The ultimate fate of the Łódź Ghetto was debated among the highest-ranking Nazis as early as 1943. Heinrich Himmler called for the final liquidation of the ghetto, with a handful of workers relocated to a concentration camp outside Lublin, while Armaments Minister Albert Speer advocated the ghetto’s continued existence as a source of cheap labour, especially necessary now that the tide of the war had turned against Germany.

In the summer of 1944, it was finally decided to commence with the gradual liquidation of the remaining population. From June 23 to July 15, about 7,000 Jews were deported to the Chełmno extermination camp, where they were murdered. On July 15, 1944 the transports paused for two weeks while the Chełmno facility was dismantled due to proximity of the Soviet troops. As the front approached, it was decided to transport the remaining Jews to Auschwitz, and the liquidation of the ghetto commenced quickly.  Some people were left in the Ghetto to clean up. Only 877 Jews remained when the Soviet army liberated Łódź on January 19, 1945. Altogether, just 10,000 of the 204,000 Jews who passed through the Łódź Ghetto survived the war.

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The Zionists of Łosice during 1932. Ajzce ‘Al’ Szerc , middle Row, 1st on right. Al was a member of the drama group.

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Ajzce  ‘Al’ Szerc in Łosice at the end of WW II (3rd from right). Al was one of the handful of Holocaust survivors with relatives in his hometown of Łosice. Al was living in, or had escaped to Łódź when the Nazis liquidated Łosice, which is why he is not listed among the survivors of the town. 

Karen Abrahams commented on January 5, 2015:

“My mother’s family is from Łosice and they’re part of the 16 survivors. I have the same photo, of ‘Al’ Szerc in Łosice at the end of WW II, standing on a wagon. My uncle David/Berko is just to the right of Ajzce and my mother’s (Renee/Riwke) cousin Belcia is to the left, in the middle of the photo.”

Photos from Łódź during WW II when Ajzce  ‘Al’ Szerc was living there.

 

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In early 1944, the ultimate fate of the Łódź Ghetto was debated among the highest-ranking Nazis. The initial wave of deportations to Chełmno ended in the autumn of 1942 with over 72,000 people defined as “dispensable” already sent to their deaths. Heinrich Himmler called for the final liquidation of the ghetto. Between 23 June and 14 July 1944, the first 10 transports of about 7,000 Jews were sent by Arthur Greiser from the Radegast train station to Chełmno. Although the killing centre was partly razed in April 1943, it had resumed gassing operations specifically for this purpose. Meanwhile, Armaments Minister Albert Speer proposed the ghetto be continued as a source of cheap labour for the front.

On 15 July 1944 the transports paused for two weeks. On 1 August 1944 the Warsaw Uprising erupted, and the fate of the remaining inhabitants of the Łódź Ghetto was sealed. During the last phase of its existence, some 25,000 inmates were murdered at Chełmno; their bodies burned immediately after death. As the front approached, German officials decided to deport the remaining Jews to Auschwitz-Birkenau aboard Holocaust trains.  A handful of people were left alive in the ghetto to clean it up. Others remained in hiding with the Polish rescuers. When the Soviet army entered Łódź on 19 January 1945, only 877 Jews were still alive, 12 of whom were children. Of the 223,000 Jews in Łódź before the invasion, only 10,000 survived the Holocaust in other places.

 

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Ajzce ‘Al’ Szerc (December 20, 1906-November 17, 1996) during 1947, posing in one of the private homes requisitioned by the Zeilsheim Camp for Displaced Persons: this one at Greifswalder Weg 25, where Al lived with the photographer Rosenblatt.

The Zeilsheim Displaced Person’s Camp

Zeilsheim was a DP camp 12 miles west of Frankfurt in the American-occupied zone. Zeilsheim’s German homes (small townhouses from two- to three-stories in height) were requisitioned to accommodate inhabitants of the DP camp. The streets and building complexes of Zeilsheim were named after towns and kibbutzim in Palestine.

Zeilsheim maintained a Jewish theatrical group, a synagogue, a jazz orchestra, a sports club named “Chasmonai,” and a number of schools, including an ORT school. The camp had a library with approximately 500 books, and circulated two Yiddish newspapers: Unterwegs (In Transit) and Undzer Mut (Our Courage). The Jewish population in the camp reached approximately 3,570 in October of 1946.

Backside of the above photo of Alchik Schertz

Backside of the above photo of Ajzce ‘Al’ Szerc dated September 28, 1947.

No. 25 Greifswalder Weg

No. 25 Greifswalder Weg in Zeilsheim, Germany where Al lived as a misplaced person after the end of WW II.

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Front gate of the Zeilsheim Displaced Persons Camp

ADDITIONAL COMMUNICATIONS FROM AL (AJCZE) SZERC

A few months earlier, on May 25, 1947 Al (Ajcze) sent these two photos with salutations to his cousin Selma (Sarah) Wyman Brustin:

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Translation by Hershl Hartman

May 25, 1947
For eternal memory, I send my picture.
For my dear cousin, Sarah
From me Ajcze

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New Discoveries_0131

Translation by Hershl Hartman

Zeilsheim, May 25, 1947
I give my picture to my dear cousin Sarah.
From me Ajcze Szerc

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Ajzce ‘Al’ Szerc, a Holocaust survivor, with his cousin, Abe Wyman. This photo was taken at the July 9, 1950 wedding of Merrill and Sandra Bonar. Al had arrived in the US from Bremerhaven, Germany  on May 4th. Ajzce ‘s wife was Rose Wyman Rosenbaum’s bookkeeper at the time when Merrill Bonar took over those duties.

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Margie with her cousin, Ajzce ‘Al’ Szerc

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Szerc Family of Losice in Holocaust

Ajzce ‘Al’ Szerc lost these members of his Łosice family in the Holocaust

Poland 2nd Republic

The Wajman, Sztajnman, Lew, and Szerc families lived in Łosice when it was part of the Second Polish Republic. Łosice is located in the area on the map southwest of Warsaw in the district marked Syedlets, and is  just a few miles to the east of the town of  Syedlets.

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  1. My first visit to this page – awesome! This is like time-traveling into my past.

  2. How great to have gotten so many of the subject identified.

  3. I was searching for information on Ajzce Szerc. My mother’s family (Losice family) is from Losice and they’re part of the 16 survivors. I have the same photo, of ‘Al’ Szerc in Łosice at the end of WW II, standing on a wagon. My uncle David/Berko is just to the right of Ajzce and my mother’s (Renee/Riwke) cousin Belcia is to the left, in the middle of the photo. Very well organized Web site. It’s motivating me to organize my family’s documents and photos.

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