Rozalia Saulson – Author of the First Guidebook to the Sudetes in Polish

Did you know that the first guidebook to the Sudetes in Polish was written in 1850? Even more remarkable, it was authored by a woman—a Polish Jew and an ardent patriot.
Dom Marysieńka w Cieplicach

“Marysieńka” at Plac Piastowski 33  in Cieplice Śląskie-Zdrój, where Rozalia Saulson wrote the guidebook / Photo by Marta Maćkowiak

Rozalia Saulson née Feliks

Rozalia Saulson, the subject of today’s exploration, was born in 1807 in Łask as the daughter of the physician Abraham Juda Feliks and Fajga Filipina née Enoch, the daughter of a physician from Wieruszów. Rozalia had a sister named Hanna, and the family lived on the market square in Łask at house number 60.

Rozalia married twice. On November 1, 1826, in Łask, she married Jakub Juliusz Pauli, a doctor from Kępno, with whom she divorced after two years. Her second husband was Mikołaj Saulson, a merchant from Warsaw. There, Rozalia resided, charitably educated Jewish children, and flourished in the field of writing, especially in Polish, which she considered her native language.

Sojourn in Cieplice (Warmbrunn)

In 1849, likely for health reasons, Rozalia came to Warmbrunn, today’s Cieplice Śląskie-Zdrój, where she spent three months at the Verein guesthouse – today’s “Marysieńka” at Piastowski Square 33. During this stay, she wrote the aforementioned guidebook „Warmbrunn i okolice jego w 38 obrazach zebranych w 12 wycieczkach przez Pielgrzymkę w Sudetach” (Warmbrunn and its surroundings in 38 pictures gathered in 12 excursions during a Pilgrimage in the Sudetes).

The first page of Rozalia Saulson’s guidebook “Warmbrunn and its surroundings in 38 pictures gathered in 12 excursions during a Pilgrimage in the Sudetes” / Source: Polona.pl

Rozalia’s husband, Mikołaj (Mordechaj) Saulson, son of Jehuda Lejba, died in Warsaw on June 10, 1858, and was buried in the Jewish cemetery on Okopowa Street in Warsaw.

A year later, there is a mention in Kurjer Warszawski about Mikołaj’s death, with information that the family lived on Leszno Street. However, according to the 1839 tariff, Mikołaj Saulsohn lived at ul. Franciszkańska 12 (mortgage number 1811).

Nagrobek Mikołaja Saulsona w Warszawie

Tombstone of Mikołaj Saulson at the Jewish cemetery in Warsaw / source: Fundacja Dokumentacji Cmentarzy Żydowskich w Polsce (Foundation for Documentation of Jewish Cemeteries in Poland)

Kurjer Warszawski 11.06.1859 

Supposedly due to her pro-Polish activities, Rozalia had to leave Warsaw and moved to Krakow, where she lived with her sister Anna Kirszbaum at Plac Szczepański 2.
 
Saulson passed away on December 4, 1896, at the age of 89, and was likely buried in the Jewish cemetery on Miodowa Street. Unfortunately, her tombstone did not survive.
 
On the building of “Marysieńka,” there is now a plaque commemorating the creation of the guidebook, but there is not a single word about the author of the work. Perhaps it could be changed? I believe Rozalia deserves recognition.
Tablica upamiętniająca powstanie przewodnika

Plaque commemorating the creation of the guidebook on the “Marysieńka” building in Cieplice Śląskie-Zdrój / Photo by Marta Maćkowiak

Sources:

  • Rybińska Agata, Rozalia Saulsonowa – pomiędzy kulturą żydowską, niemiecką i polską (Rozalia Saulson – Between Jewish, German, and Polish Culture)
  • Słownik Biograficzny Ziemi Jeleniogórskiej (Biographical Dictionary of the Jelenia Góra Region)

The Story of Mathilde Buttermilch from Jelenia Góra

Today’s protagonist is Mathilde Buttermilch – another of the seven individuals whose tombstones have been preserved in the Jewish cemetery in Jelenia Góra (Hirschberg), and whose life stories I want to bring closer. And this tale will be not only about Mathilde but also about her grandson, who gained fame at the age of 100. So, if you ever think you’re too old for something, remind yourself of Hans’s story. But first, let’s return to his grandmother.

Nagrobek Mathilde Buttermilch w Jeleniej Górze

Tombstone of Mathilde Buttermilch in the Jewish cemetery in Jelenia Góra / Photo by Marta Maćkowiak

Mathilde Buttermilch née Salisch

Mathilde died on February 1, 1920, in Jelenia Góra (then Hirschberg) in her apartment on Langstrasse, which is now Długa Street, at the age of 74. She was born in Kamienna Góra (Landeshut) as the daughter of the merchant Simon Salisch and Minna née Buttermilsch.
 
Akt zgonu Mathilde Buttermilch

Death certificate of Mathilde Buttermilch / Source: Landesarchiv Berlin

On September 12, 1876, she married Alexander Buttermilch, a trader from Lissa (Leszno), the son of the late Jakob Buttermilch from Landeshut (Kamienne Góry) and Colina née Gottstein, who lived in Leszno before her death. Considering that Mathilde’s mother’s maiden name was Buttermilch and she came from Lissa, there is a high probability that the spouses were related within a certain generation.

Alexander and Mathilde settled in an apartment in the tenement house at Plac Ratuszowy 34 (Markt 34), which would remain their home until their deaths. Alexander passed away first, on March 3, 1907.

Plac Ratuszowy 34 in Jelenia Góra / Source: Polska-org.pl

In the meantime though, let’s go back 29 years, to May 5, 1878, when Elsa, the daughter of Mathilde and Alexander, was born. She would live with her parents until the age of 26, when she decided to marry Max Keilson, the son of Nathan Keilson and Emilie née Mosessohn, a merchant residing in Bad Freienwalde.
 
They’ll make their home there, managing a lingerie shop, and soon enough, they’ll welcome two children – a daughter and a son, whom we’ll discuss shortly.
Akt ślubu Maxa Keilsona i Elsy Buttermilch

Marriage certificate of Max Keilson and Elsa Buttermilch / Source: Landesarchiv Berlin

Hans Keilson – An Extraordinary Centenarian

Hans Keilson, the son of Elsa and Max, was born in 1909. He was a doctor with a passion for writing, and in 1933, he published his first book. Unfortunately, just a few months later, it ended up on the list of books banned by the Third Reich.
 
Shortly thereafter, due to his background, he was deprived of the ability to practice as a doctor and sustained himself as a sports and music teacher. In 1936, Hans, along with his wife Gertrude, fled to the Netherlands, where he went into hiding while she, a Catholic, gave birth to their daughter, claiming that a “German soldier” was the father.
 
All three survived. Hans’ sister, who emigrated to Palestine, survived as well. Unfortunately, their parents, Elsa and Max, did not make it. The fact that Max considered himself a German patriot and was awarded the Iron Cross for his service in World War I did not save him and his wife from death in Auschwitz.
 
Hans never reconciled with this painful loss and dedicated his entire life to working with orphaned Jewish children suffering from post-war traumas. Meanwhile, he continued to write poetry and novels, and his efforts did not go in vain. Hans was rediscovered at the age of 100 when Francine Prose from The New York Times called him a genius, reviewing his two novels written 50 years earlier.
 
Hans passed away a year later in 2011 at the age of 101. He was buried in Hilversum, the Netherlands. I recommend reading interviews with Hans, the links to which can be found at the end of the article – a wonderful and sensitive individual.
 
And so, the tombstone of Mathilde Buttermilch, one of the handful preserved in the Jelenia Góra cemetery, allowed us to discover the extraordinary story of an extraordinary person.
Zdjęcie Hansa Keilsona

Photo of Hans Keilson / Photo by Herman Wouters for The New York Times

Hans Keilson w młodości

young Hans Keilson

Sources:

  • Landesarchiv Berlin
  • Polska-org.pl
  • https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/04/books/04keilson.html
  • https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/weekly-standard/hans-keilson-love-in-hiding
  • https://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/nov/21/hans-keilson-novelist-holocaust

The Story of Rosel Aptekmann from Jelenia Góra

Today is the anniversary of Rosel Aptekmann’s death, so her story will be the first in a series dedicated to people buried in the Jewish cemetery in Jelenia Góra (Hirschberg). Only a few tombstones with readable inscriptions have survived, just seven in total. Let’s learn about Rosel Aptekmann.

Nagrobek Rosel Aptekmann

The gravestone of Rosel Aptekmann at the Jewish cemetery in Jelenia Góra / Photo: Marta Maćkowiak

Rosel Aptekmann née Hirschstein

On November 23, 1938, Leo Aptekmann came to the Civil Registry Office to report the death of his wife. Rosalie passed away on the same day at the age of 46 in the Martin Luther Evangelical Hospital in Jelenia Góra (formerly Hirschberg-Cunnersdorf). Presently, the building houses a Caritas care and medical facility (located at ul. Żeromskiego 2).

Two weeks after Kristallnacht. Perhaps this event had an impact on her health.

Rosalie Aptekmann’s death certificate / Source: Landesarchiv Berlin

Dawny szpital Martina Luthera w Jeleniej Górze

Former Martin Luther Evangelical Hospital in Jelenia Góra, now Caritas care and medical facility at ul. Żeromskiego 2 / Source: Polska-org.pl

Leo and Rosalie lived at Hermann Göringstrasse 43 (formerly, before 1933, Warmbrunnerstrasse, now ul. Wolności), 600 meters from the hospital. According to available sources, it seems that the numbering of buildings has not changed.

The building on ul. Wolności (formerly Warmbrunnerstrasse/Hermann Göringstrasse) in Jelenia Góra / Source: Polska-org.pl

Kamienica przy Wolności 43 dzisiaj

The building at ul. 43 Wolności 43 in Jelenia Góra today / Photo by Marta Maćkowiak.

The Aptekmanns were married for just under two decades, having tied the knot in Jelenia Góra on August 12, 1919.

Leo Aptekmann arrived in Jelenia Góra from Ukraine, specifically from the city of Smila, where he was born on February 25, 1892, as the son of Israel Aptekmann, a merchant, and Sophie née Brodski, residents of Kiev.

Rosalie, née Hirschstein, came into the world in Jelenia Góra on December 19, 1891, as the daughter of Julius Adolph Hirschstein, a merchant, and Rosalie née Moritz, who lived in Jelenia Góra in a house at plac Ratuszowy 4.

Leo and Rosalie initially resided at today’s ul. Wolności 32, in a house adorned with David’s stars on the veranda. Today, in addition to apartments, there is a shop and a Pentecostal church at that location.

Akt ślubu Leo Aptekmann i Rosalie Hirschstein
Dom przy Wolności 32 w Jeleniej Górze
Gwiazda Dawida na budynku przy Wolności 32 w Jeleniej Górze
Wejście do budynku przy Wolności 32 w Jeleniej Górze

Building at ul. Wolności 32 in Jelenia Góra / Photo: Marta Maćkowiak

Kamienica przy placu Ratuszowym 4 w Jeleniej Górze

Tenement at plac Ratuszowy 4 in Jelenia Góra, fragment from the exhibition at the Karkonosze Museum / Source: polska-org.pl

From Mainz to Hirschberg

Rosalie’s father, Julius Hirschstein, was a native of Jelenia Góra, while her mother, Rosalie Moritz, came from Mainz, nearly 700 km away. Their wedding took place on July 8, 1878, in Mainz. Rosalie was the daughter of Hermann Moritz, originally from Kórnik in Greater Poland, and Regine Metzger, while Julius Hirschstein was the son of leather merchant Kaspar Hirschstein and Johanna née Brann. After their marriage, they settled in Jelenia Góra, where they raised seven children.

Marriage certificate of Julius Hirschstein and Rosalie Moritz in Mainz / Source: Mainz City Archive

It is unknown whether Leo and Rosalie Aptekmann had any descendants. So far, I haven’t come across any trace of them, and it is also unclear whether Leo remarried.

However, it is certain that after Rosalie’s death, her husband lived for some time at Jägerstrasse 6 (today ul. Wyczółkowskiego) until he was deported and killed at Majdanek concentration camp.

Building at ul.Wyczółkowskiego 6 in Jelenia Góra / Photo: Marta Maćkowiak

Sources:

  • Archiwum Państwowe we Wrocławiu oddział w Jeleniej Górze (State Archive in Wrocław, Jelenia Góra Branch)
  • Landesarchiv Berlin (Berlin City Archive)
  • Polska-org.pl
  • Mainz City Archive

Jewish Cemetery in Jelenia Góra (Hirschberg)

The Jewish community in Jelenia Góra (formerly Hirschberg) was quite modest, with a peak population of only 450 people. Nevertheless, the city had two Jewish cemeteries.

Cmentarz żydowski w Jeleniej Górze

New Jewish Cemetery in Jelenia Góra on Sudecka Street / Photo by Marta Maćkowiak

Old Jewish Cemetery 

The first, so-called “old” cemetery, was established between 1818 and 1820 in the vicinity of Nowowiejska, Na Skałkach, and Studencka streets. Today, there is no trace of this cemetery. No tombstones or cemetery architecture have been preserved, and a public square now stands in its place. After the resolution to close the cemetery was adopted by the City Council Presidium in Jelenia Góra in 1957, the liquidation process began in 1961.

Map of Jelenia Góra featuring the marked location of the old Jewish cemetery / Source: Fotopolska.eu

Fotografia prawdopodobnie starego cmentarza żydowskiego w Jeleniej Górze

Photograph, likely depicting remnants of the old Jewish cemetery according to Fotopolska users, year 1928 / Source: Fotopolska.eu

New Jewish Cemetery

In 1879, a kilometer away, the second Jewish cemetery was established on today’s Sudecka Street. It is said to have survived the war in fairly good condition – both the tombstones and the mortuary building did not suffer significant damage.

The mortuary building

Facing the street stood a beautiful mortuary building, which was set on fire during Kristallnacht in 1938. Surprisingly, the structure survived the war, and until 1972, it was inhabited by Leon and Maria Grzybek, the caretakers of the area. The Grzybek couple, quite fittingly named (Grzyb means ‘mushroom’ in Polish), tragically died due to mushroom poisoning. The cemetery was ultimately closed almost 100 years after its establishment, in 1974. The last burial in this building took place in 1959, and at that time, the Jewish community in Jelenia Góra consisted of 20 families.

Dom przedpogrzebowy w Jeleniej Górze

Mortuary building at the Jewish cemetery in Jelenia Góra / Source: Okruchy z historii Żydów na Śląsku (Fragments from the history of Jews in Silesia), Warsaw 2014 via cmentarze-zydowskie.pl

Mortuary building at the Jewish cemetery on Sudecka Street in Jelenia Góra / Source: Polska-org.pl

Mortuary building at the Jewish cemetery in Jelenia Góra – building in the bottom right corner / Source: Polska-org.pl

Chevra Kadisha

In Jelenia Góra (Hirschberg), there was also Chevra Kadisha, a charitable burial association that dealt with organizing funerals and supporting mourners. In the early 1930s, Chevra Kadisha of the Jewish community in Jelenia Góra had its headquarters at Warmbrunnerstrasse 17 – today’s ul. Wolności.

The People

Today, one part of the cemetery serves as a parking lot. Along the sidewalk, likely on the site of the mortuary, there is a boulder with a commemorative plaque, and further back, you can find several well-preserved tombstones.

Seven of them have been deciphered, and each will be the subject of a dedicated article: Rosel Aptekmann, Mathilde Buttermilch, Wilhelmine Danziger, Betty Ucko, Herman Cohn, Fritz Singer, and Leon Goldgraber, a representative of the post-war Polish community.

Cmentarz żydowski w Jeleniej Górze
Cmentarz żydowski w Jeleniej Górze
Cmentarz żydowski w Jeleniej Górze

“The bitter death will not separate love” – inscription on one of the tombstones at the Jewish cemetery on Sudecka Street in Jelenia Góra.

Sources:

  • www.cmentarze-zydowskie.pl
  • Landesarchiv Berlin
  • Polska-org.pl
  • Fotopolska.eu
  • https://jeleniagora.naszemiasto.pl/w-jeleniej-gorze-po-niektorych-nekropoliach-nie-ma-sladu-co/ar/c1-9047541

The Wachtel family from Kraków

Today, another story, the starting point of which was a trace of a mezuzah found by Janka from Krakuska City Guide and secured by Aleksander from Mi Polin in a tenement house at ul. Sebastiana 19 in Krakow. Let’s see who lived there once.

Kamienia przy ulicy Sebastiana 19 w Krakowie
Kamienica przy ulicy Sebastiana 19 w Krakowie
Ślad po mezuzie w kamienicy przy ulicy Sebastiana 19

Photos by Aleksander Prugar

The Wachtels from Jarosław

One of the families living in a Kraków tenement house at ul. Sebastiana 19 was the
Wachtel family – Henryk, Helena and their daughter Maria.

Henryk and Helena, in fact, Chaim Wachtel and Chaja Baustein, got married on June 30th, 1908, in Jarosław, where the groom held the position of a private clerk. It is not known how
they both ended up in a city several hundred kilometres away from their homeland, but they spent several years there.

Henryk was born in Słotwina on August 11th, 1881 as the son of Izak Wachtel and Rywka née Gleitsman, while Helena came from Podgórze, where she was born on April 1st, 1885 as the daughter of the merchant Joshua Baustein and Malka Schudmak.

Fragment aktu ślubu Chaima Wachtela i Chaji Baustein

A piece of Chaim Henryk Wachtel and Chaja Helena Baustein’s marriage record / Source: State Archive in Przemyśl 

One and a half year after their wedding day, their first child, the daughter Maria, was born
in house number 161 on September 12th, 1909. After the next 4 years and moving into the new house at number 52, their son Osias was born on August 19th, 1913. Osias changed his
name two times – first to Oskar, and finally to Aleksander.

Sebastiana 19

In the meantime, Henryk worked as a clerk in Jarosław and Krosno. After 1914, the family settled permanently in Kraków, and Henryk started a timber business – he began running a construction and carpentry timber yard based at ul. Kamienna 22 (I found a bill from
1935 at the Internet auction!)

Rachunek Henryka Wachtela z Krakowa

Henryk Wachtel’s construction and carpentry timber yard’s bill / Source: Aleksander Prugar

Księga adresowa z 1936 roku

The address book from 1936

After the war

Henryk and Helena survived the war – the notes in the marriage certificate evidence this, according to them, in the 1950s, they officially changed their names and surnames: from
Chaim to Henryk, from Chaja to Helena, from Wachtel to Wachniewicz. After the war, they lived in Warsaw, where their son Aleksander started a new life. He buried his mother in 1964 in the Jewish cemetery on Okopowa Street. The fate of Maria, the daughter of Henryk and Helena, Alexander’s sister, remains unknown.

Zdjęcie Marii Wachtel z Krakowa

A photography of Maria Wachtel / Source: Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw

A protocol concerning Jewish inhabitants of Kraków – in the picture: Henryk Wachtel, 1940 / Source: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Nagrobek Heleny Wachtel

A grave of Helena Wachtel buried at Jewish cemetery in Warsaw on Okopowa Street / Source: Foundation for Documentation of Jewish Cemetries in Poland

Sources:

  • State Archive in Przemyśl
  • Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw
  • United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C.
  • Foundation for Documentation of Jewish Cemetries in Poland

The forgotten story of Ida Scholz from Kunzendorf Gräflich

Between Kwieciszowice (German: Blumendorf) and Proszowa (German: Kunzendorf Gräflich), two villages in the Izera Mountains, there is a small, forgotten cemetery. It is easy to overlook it when you do not know about it, but the enthusiasts of cemetery trips will certainly notice a suspicious little grove in the middle of the field.

Cmentarzyk w Proszowej
Cmentarzyk w Proszowej

Photos by Marta Maćkowiak

Paulina Ida from Blumendorf (Polish: Kwieciszowice)

Tall, evenly planted trees still indicate the main avenue leading to several collapsed crypts and a ruined shrine.

On the right and left, you can see a lot of nameless tombstones, broken pieces of plates and a few ones on which it is possible to read something. One of them is Ida Fischer’s plate, whose story I decided to explore.

Nagrobek Idy Fischer Scholz w Proszowej

Gravestone of Ida Fischer née Scholz / Photo by Marta Maćkowiak

Proszowa 25

According to the tombstone inscription, Ida Fischer née Scholz, was born on September 1st, 1875, and died on February 7th, 1927, at 51. According to the death certificate I managed to find, Paulina Ida died in her house at Proszowa 25.

Her husband, Robert Fischer, reported the death, who, as it turns out later, will outlive the whole family.

Akt zgonu Idy Scholz Fischer

The death certificate of Paulina Ida Fischer nee Scholz / Source: The State Archive in Wrocław, Jelenia Góra branch

Illegitimate daughter

Robert and Ida were married for 27 years. They got married on December 10th, 1900, in Kwieciszowice.

Robert was born in Rębiszów (German: Rabishau) on January 20th, 1867. He was the son of the merchant Ferdinand Wilhelm Fischer and Christina Ernestine née Glaubitz.
Paulina Ida was born on September 1st, 1875 at 2 a.m. in a house at number 64 in Kwieciszowice (German: Blumendorf) as the illegitimate daughter of Christina Gottwald, who lived with her mother, Leonora Gottwald née Gebauer.

4 years later, on July 22nd, 1879, Ida’s mother, Christina Augusta Gottwald, the daughter of a master blacksmith Karl Gottwald and Johanna née Gebauer, married Ernst Gustav Scholz the son of Ernst Gustav and Gusta née Menzel, in the Evangelical church in Proszowa. During the wedding, the groom admitted to be Paulina Ida’s father.

In 1903, Ida’s mother died, while her father died in 1917 – we can learn from their death certificates that they lived in Proszowa at number 53.

The history written in stone could at least become the history of people who once lived in this beautiful place – Ida, her ancestors and her husband, Robert, who lived and worked for a while because his name appears in the address book from 1935/1936.

The marriage record of Robert Fischer and Paulina Ida Scholz / Source: The State Archive in Wrocław, Jelenia Góra branch

Old Protestant church in Proszowa (Kunzendorf Gräflich) / Source: www.polska-org.pl

Akt urodzenia Pauliny Idy Gottwald Scholz

The birth certificate of Paulina Ida Scholz / Source: The State Archive in Wrocław, Jelenia Góra branch

Robert Fischer w księdze adresowej z 1935/1936 roku

Sources:

  • Archiwum Państwowe we Wrocławiu oddział w Jeleniej Górze
  • Polska-org.pl

The names Sara and Israel in Nazi Germany

Do you know that in Nazi Germany, the names Sara and Israel were added to documents for quicker and easier identification of Jews? This was the case, among others, with Laura, on whose marriage certificate I found such an annotation.

Zdjęcie Laury Ring Cohen

Laura Ring née Cohn / Source: Yad Vashem

From Ostrów Wielkopolski and Halemba to Wrocław

Laura Ring née Cohn was born on July 6, 1865, into an assimilated Jewish family in Ostrów Wielkopolski. She was the daughter of the merchant Robert Cohn and Taubschen Mamelok.

In 1890, Laura must have been already living in Wrocław, as on January 13 of the same year, she married Josef Ring in the capital of Lower Silesia. Josef, a 24-year-old merchant, was born in Halemba as the son of Julius Ring and Rachel Kosterlitz. He permanently resided in Antonienhütte, now known as Wirek, a district of Ruda Śląska.

After tying the knot, the couple quickly returned to Antonienhütte, where their first child was born. Shortly thereafter, the family made a permanent move to Wrocław, and in 1894, they welcomed a daughter.

Akt ślubu z adnotacją o przyjęciu imienia Sara

Fragment of Laura Cohn and Josef Ring’s marriage certificate with a note about adopting a second name – Sara / Source: State Archive in Wrocław

Lwowska 33

On August 27th, 1929, Josef Ring passed away at 6:00 PM at the Allerheiligen Hospital (later Wojewódzki Szpital im. Józefa Babińskiego) at the age of 63. He was buried in the Jewish cemetery on Lotnicza Street (Friedhof Cosel). According to the death certificate, the Ring family resided at Viktoriastrasse 33, today’s Lwowska Street.

Zdjęcie ze Allerheiligen Hospital w Breslau
Akt zgonu Josef Ringa

Death certificate of Josef Ring / Source: State Archive in Wrocław

Death in Theresienstadt

On August 17th, 1938, laws were enacted that mandated the addition of the name Sara for Jewish women and Israel for Jewish men in official documents for German Jews. This was aimed at facilitating the identification of Jewish citizens in the Third Reich.

Such information was also added to the marriage certificate of Laura and Josef on January 30th, 1939.

After Josef’s death, Laura continued to reside at ul. Lwowska 33 until August 31st, 1942, when she was deported to the Theresienstadt camp, where she lost her life.

Księga adresowa gminy żydowskiej we Wrocławiu

Address book of the Jewish community in Wrocław from the year 1930 / Source: Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw

Oświadczenie o śmierci Laury RIng Cohn

Declaration of the death of Laura Ring née Cohn / Source: Yad Vashem Institute

Sources:

  • Archiwum Państwowe we Wrocławiu (State Archive in Wrocław)
  • Instytut Yad VaShem w Jerozolimie (Yad Vashem Institute)
  • Żydowski Instytut Historyczny w Warszawie (Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw)
  • Bryan Mark Rigg: Żydowscy żołnierze Hitlera. Przekład Jerzy Adamko. Warszawa-Kraków: Dom Wydawniczy Bellona, Wydawnictwo Arkadiusz Wingert, 2005. (Bryan Mark Rigg: Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers. University Press of Kansas, 2002)

The story of Adam Aronson from Tomaszow Mazowiecki

I would like to tell you a story. One of those that holds a special place in my heart. A few years ago, Helena and Aleksander from Mi Polin, gave me a couple of addresses of buildings where they found traces of mezuzahs. My task was to discover the history of their pre-war inhabitants.

Kamienica w Tomaszowie Mazowieckim

Photo by Aleksander Prugar / Source: MI POLIN

Trace of mezuzah in Tomaszów Mazowiecki

Usually, I start my genealogical research by collecting information about one’s last known ancestors. In this case, I started my work with the address I got from Helena and Aleks: Jerozolimska 3, Tomaszów Mazowiecki. Based on the address books, documents from DP camps, the records kept in the Jewish Historical Institute’s archive and various internet sources, I managed to discover a beautiful story and put the pieces together.

Textile Factory Samuel Steinman and Artur Aronson

Thanks to the address book from 1939, I learned that the inhabitant of 3 Jerozolimska Street was Alfred Aronson. It turned out that he was an industrialist and the son of the co-owner of the Textile Factory Samuel Steinman and Artur Aronson, which was established as a result of the merger of the two companies in 1908. Kazimierz Rędziński mentioned the charity work of Samuel and Artur’s business in his work Szkolnictwo żydowskie w Tomaszowie Mazowieckim (Jewish Education in Tomaszów Mazowiecki):

Samuel Steinmann and Artur Aronson donated two sewing machines and a cutting table to the girls’ school to teach them tailoring, as well as 12/4 fabrics for winter coats for 5 poor schoolgirls. The coats were made for: Złota Skrobisz from class III, Selma Pakul from class II and Sara Kon, Ita Rosental and L. Szuster from class I34.

In the publication of the Pasaże Pamięci Foundation we can read:

In 1914, the Samuel Steinman and Artur Aronson textile factory produced woolen fabrics worth 700,000 rubles. At that time, the factory employed as many as 200 workers on 82 looms and 3,840 spindles. […] In 1927, the company “Fabryka Sukna Samuel Steinman i Artur Aronson” had a worsted spinning mill with 3640 spindles and a weaving mill with 70 looms. It employed 180 workers. In 1930, as a result of the crisis, there were numerous layoffs, and in 1931 the factory was completely closed due to losses. After the crisis subsided, production was resumed at a relatively low level. “

To find out more about Alfred’s fate, I went through the documents kept in the Jewish Historical Institute’s archive. And there I found two important things: the post-war registration card from the Central Committee of Jews in Poland of Artur Adam Aronson, son of Alfred, and a personal file describing his fate between 1947-1948.

The registration card fom the Central Committee of Jews in Poland / Source: Jewish Historical Institute 

The survivor

The registration cards were filled out by Jewish survivors and submitted to the Central Committee of Jews in Poland. Purpose of this committee was to represent them before the state authorities and to organize care and assistance for those who survived the Holocaust.

Thanks to such a card, I learned that Artur Adam Aronson was born on October 8, 1934 in Tomaszów Mazowiecki to Alfred Joachim Aronson and Wanda nee Borensztajn. When the war broke out, the Aronson family was moved to the ghetto in Tomaszów, where Alfred became a member of the Jewish Police Service and Judenrat. After the liquidation of the ghetto, the family was separated. Artur and his mother were taken to Auschwitz, where she died shortly thereafter.

Alfred was probably in Warsaw for a while, and later was taken to Germany. According to the Pasaże Pamięci Foundation, Karol Weyman (also spelt Wejman) helped Jews in the Tomaszów ghetto – including his high school friend (and later wife), Maria Aronson, and her brother, Alfred. He helped them to get out of the ghetto and move to Warsaw.

The documentation of JOINT (American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee) and DP camps shows that Alfred was a prisoner of the Bergen-Belsen camp, and after the liberation he was in Stuttgart. On July 8, 1947 he left Germany and emigrated to the United States to join his relatives.

Source: International Tracing Service, Bad Arolsen

The special bond with former governess

His son, then 11-year-old Artur, was in Auschwitz during the liberation. After the war, he was found by his former governess, Maria Sroka, with whom he stayed in Łódź. Alfred located his son quite quickly and tried to to bring him to the United States. Because of the legal issues and immigration formalities, the whole process took more than a year. Moreover, it turned out that it was very hard for Maria and Artur to say goodbye. The following letter leaves no doubt:

“Supposedly, the boy had confided to her (Maria) several times that he was afraid of a sea voyage. […] Besides, we got the impression that Mrs. S. would not like to part with the boy overnight and we believe that it is not advisable to press on her to allow him to travel through France.”

Source: Jewish Historical Institute

Initially, Artur was to leave Gdynia on October 26, 1948 on board the Batory ship. Ultimately, due to complications and problems with booking, he got on the train on November 28 and under the care of Zygfryd Baltuch, he went to Paris. Artur boarded the Queen Elizabeth ship and departed from Cherbourg, France, on December 16, 1948. He arrived in New York on December 21, 1948.

My unforgettable roommate Art Aronson”

This is how the story was supposed to end. However, while writing this article and summing up the story after a few years, I decided to check a few more things. I googled Arthur with no particular expectations and it was a good move.

This way I found out that Artur wrote an essay on the history of the Burza destroyer (“The Burza Was A Destroyer“), for which he won the Westcott Prize in 1958, and I came across a real gem – The Personal Navigator blog with the article called “My unforgettable roommate Art Aronson”.

Thanks to the blog’s author, Samuel Coulbourn, I was able to learn about Arthur’s further story. Reading the article, I felt like I was reading about the life of an old friend. Samuel and Artur studied together at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. According to Samuel, Aronson was fluent in Polish, English, German and Russian, and no academic subject was difficult for him. He was brilliant, friendly and cheerful despite the cruel events he experienced as a child. He was also an excellent artist and he used to illustrate Naval Academy magazines.

Sadly Artur died in Syracuse, New York on October 8, 2008. I was lucky to to get in touch with Samuel who allowed me to use their photo and provided me with some additional information. Artur was married to Eleonore and they had no children.  

Samuel Coulbourn and Artur Adam Aronson (on the right), 2002

I am amazed by the fact that the story, which now has the beginning, the middle and the end, has began with one small trace on somebody’s doorframe.

Sources:

  • Jewish Historical Institute Archive 
  • Pasaże Pamięci Foundation
  • Mi Polin
  • Pasaże pamięci. Śladami kultury tomaszowskich Żydów 
  • The Personal Navigator
  • Kazimierz Rędziński, Szkolnictwo żydowskie w Tomaszowie Mazowieckim
  • International Tracing Service, Bad Arolsen

Końcowy raport składa się z kopi odnalezionych dokumentów, tłumaczeń, zdjęć oraz podsumowania. Wyjaśniam pokrewieństwo odnalezionych osób, opisuję sprawdzone źródła i kontekst historyczny. Najczęściej poszukiwania dzielone są na parę etapów i opisuję możliwości kontynuacji.

Czasem konkretny dokument może zostać nie odnaleziony z różnych przyczyn – migracji do innych wiosek/miast w dalszych pokoleniach, ochrzczenia w innej parafii, lukach w księgach, zniszczeń dokumentów w pożarach lub w czasie wojen.  Cena końcowa w takiej sytuacji nie ulega zmienia, ponieważ wysiłek włożony w poszukiwania jest taki sam bez względu na rezultat.

Raporty mogą się od siebie mniej lub bardziej różnić w zależności od miejsca, z którego rodzina pochodziła (np. dokumenty z zaboru pruskiego, austriackiego i rosyjskiego różnią się od siebie formą i treścią).

 

Na podstawie zebranych informacji (Twoich i moich) przygotuję plan i wycenę – jeśli ją zaakceptujesz, po otrzymaniu zaliczki rozpoczynam pracę i informuję o przewidywanym czasie ukończenia usługi. Standardowe poszukiwania trwają około 1 miesiąca, a o wszelkich zmianach będę informować Cię na bieżąco.

Na Twoje zapytanie odpiszę w ciągu 3 dni roboczych i jest to etap bezpłatny. Być może zadam parę dodatkowych pytań, dopytam o cele albo od razu przedstawię propozycję kolejnych kroków.

Warto pamiętać, że im więcej szczegółów podasz, tym więcej rzeczy mogę odkryć.

Podziel się ze mną:

  • Imionami i nazwiskami przodków (wszystkich, o których wiesz)
  • Miejscami urodzenia i zamieszkania (jeśli jest inne np. wojnie)
  • Datami urodzenia, ślubów i zgonu (mogą być orientacyjne)
  • Informacjami o rodzeństwie, kuzynach, emigracjach.
  • Legendami i historiami rodzinnymi

I najważniejsze – jeśli masz niewiele informacji, zupełnie się tym nie martw, w takich sytuacjach także znajdę rozwiązanie.