Archive | April, 2021

The Murder of Chava Feuer 1942

22 Apr

It is not every day that you find out exactly how your great grandmother was murdered in the Shoah.  But it just happened to me and I am in shock.

I was taking a webinar called “The Case of. The Missing Ancestors: Genealogy Tips from Nancy Drew, that I signed up for from the Erie Community Library.  The speaker was Ellen Shindelman Kowitt. I am still searching for my grandfather’s three siblings.  After hitting dead end after dead end, I thought maybe this workshop would help. 

The speaker mentioned looking up the name of the town instead of the name of the person.  So while I was listening on one device, I entered the name of my grandfather’s birthplace, Trzciana, Poland, on another device.

At first I just found a short Wikipedia entry telling me that Trzciana was a small village in Buchnia County, the seat of the administration office, and so was called Gmina Trzciana.  It was just outside Mielec, which I knew.  It currently has a population of 1462.  No mention of the Shoah.

Then I entered “Trzciana and the Holocaust.”  A book popped up:
The Holocaust and European Socieities: Social Processes and Social Dynamics edited by Frank Bajohr and Andrea Low.  There was also some sample pages that I could read, including a section on an event that happened in Trzciana.

I knew my great grandmother, Chava, was murdered in her town.  I knew she had been hidden. And that saved her when the rest of her family was taken. I thought she was murdered at the end, after the war was over. But that is not the case.  She was murdered in 1942. There is an entire paragraph about the murder of my great grandmother Chava, the wife of Gimple.  MY Great Grandmother.

I can imagine the fear she had when she knew the Nazis were searching for all the Jewish people in the area. When she knew that the Polish people were afraid and turning the Jews in.  How in fear she must have been when she went to a family that had hid her before. But I am sure she knew there was no hope.  No hope, no help. Just death. And did it really matter when everyone else was already gone? Her husband, her four children. Her extended family.

Yes, I am crying.  Yes, I think I am in shock.  This I never expected.  I did not find my great aunts and great uncle.  But I found this. 

I have ordered the book.  I need to see it and touch it.  To really believe it.

But read for yourself the murder of Chava Feuer, my great grandmother, for whom I carry her name.  May her name and memory always be a blessing. (Yes, I know it says Chana, but believe me it is Chava.)

(She says’ “Do with me as you please.” This touches my heart. I was an obstinate child. I would often say to my parents and grandparents, “Do what you want, I am not moving.” My grandfather would shake his head and laugh, while my grandmother would say, “You are just like her”. The her being Chava, whose name I carry. )

What Happened to Grandpa’s Twin Sisters?

16 Apr
My great aunt Tova, my great Grandparents Gimple and Chava. The man driving is an Uncle. And the horses and cart they bought with the money my grandparents sent. They all perished.

Would it be horrible to say that I am disappointed to find that my grandfather’s two sisters were not the victims of Josef Mengele?  It sounds horrible even to me.  But I have been searching to find out what happened to them for over a decade.  And I thought I finally found a glimmer of hope.  I remembered that they were twins.  Perhaps they made it to the right concentration camp and were separated out. I could at least have some closure.

But no.  Another dead end, I write without a pun.  I had already searched through Yad V Shem, where I found my grandfather’s parents and one brother.  I have found my great grandparents, Gimple/Mordechai who died in Auschwitz and Chava who died in the town.  My great uncle, Shimon died in Belzec.   All three testimonies were put in Yad VShem by a cousin, Shalom Hollander.  Although he entered many other testimonies, there are none for the other three siblings.

I have searched through the Jewish Gen files.  I have found many, many, well hundreds of family members who perished in the Shoah.  But I cannot find my grandfather’s two sisters and their families and his other brother.  It is what I have been searching for since I started my genealogy searches. 

I tried the place that usually helps, Tracing the Tribe Facebook Group.  From one member, I found out about the the Arolsen Archives, International Center on Nazi Persecution, in Bad Arolsen in Germany.  And I had great hope.  I filled out three forms with all the information I had on my great aunts, Tova and Tzelia, and great uncle Nachum.  I admit it was not much.  Just their names and town of birth, parents and approximate date of birth. 

I was sure to add that Tova and Tzelia were twins.  I have a photo of Tova.  I knew she was married.  She probably had children. But by the time I spoke to my grandfather about her and his other siblings in the 1970s, he had forgotten the names of her husband and children.  So my search was based on somewhat limited information.

Unfortunately, the Arolsen Archives could not help.  For each of my requests, I received the same message. “We can inform you today that we – based on the data you provided – have made an extensive check of the documentation available to us.
To our regret, it has not proved possible for us to ascertain any information.”

Another dead end.  But I was not totally surprised.  I know that Mielec and Grandpa’s home town of Trzciana, were among the first cities that the Nazis chose to kill all the Jews.  Only 100 Jewish residents from the area survived the war.  Some were killed at the Denbica/Dembitz Murder site.  Others went to the Lodz Ghetto and then Belzec  Some died in Auschwitz.  But some died in their community, like my great grandmother.  Some were burned in the synagogue.  Some were burned in the mikve.  Some were shot. 

I have discovered many people with similar names, but not these three.

I assume they died nameless, not a number in the Nazi machine.

So perhaps not finding them is a good thing.  Perhaps they died quickly.  They did not have to suffer the indignity of being a victim of Mengele.  They did not make it to the Concentration Camps.  But what is so sad is that no family member was able to write their testimonies.  No one could enter their names in to Yad VShem data base.  And I cannot either, because I do not know what happened.

Perhaps my quest to find out the names of their children will never be achieved.  I will never find out what happened.   Each time I have found out what happened to a family member. I have had another little stab in my heart.  Perhaps it is time to let this search end.