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.

11 Responses to “What Happened to Grandpa’s Twin Sisters?”

  1. Amy April 16, 2021 at 4:11 pm #

    I’m so sorry. It’s heartbreaking not to get closure on something like this.

    • zicharon April 16, 2021 at 4:25 pm #

      I wish I would have asked more questions. Really if my grandmother because she was in Poland in 1932 and met them.

      • Amy April 17, 2021 at 6:49 am #


  2. leslie rubinson April 17, 2021 at 4:58 am #

    you  can submit a page of testimony to yad vashem for each person without knowing what happened to them. i have several relatives who i can’t find any record of other than the 1939 german census and i submitted pages of testimony with what i do know about them. the testimony shows that they lived and presumably died . you never know, who, if anyone may be also looking for them and can contact you, possibly with more information. leslie rose naimann rubinson


    • zicharon April 17, 2021 at 7:55 am #

      Thank you. I will do that!

  3. Sharon April 17, 2021 at 10:37 am #

    Heartbreaking ~ I am so sorry and while you may feel its time to end the search perhaps a lead will surface – and you’ll try again. We just never know what surprises waits for us on this genealogy journey.

    • zicharon April 17, 2021 at 12:21 pm #

      That is one reason I wrote this. Maybe someone has another idea.

  4. Cathy Siegel April 17, 2021 at 2:05 pm #

    You mentioned that you looked at Yad Vashem testimonies and found several for other family members. Is the person who submitted those testimonies still living? If so, or if you can find one of their descendants, you might find someone who knows the answer to your question. Even if the testimonies were submitted decades ago, don’t dismiss this is a possible route. I recently found testimonies submitted by two distant cousins (whom I previously knew nothing about). The testimonies were submitted in 1990 and 1999. It turns out one cousin, an Auschwitz survivor, is living in Israel. I tracked down his granddaughter and we’re trying to arrange a call (she’ll have to translate). In another case, a helpful TTT member found the phone number for the daughter of the woman who submitted testimony–also in Israel (I’m in the US). She and I spoke about a week ago! My family is also from Poland, from the town that was the site of the first mass murder in 1939. But my cousin had a story about how her grandfather and his brother and their families escaped to Russia (!) and survived the war before emigrating to Israel in 1949. This cousin also has answers to questions about her grandmother’s family in the US. Don’t give up!

    • zicharon April 17, 2021 at 2:30 pm #

      Thank you. I actually met the man who submitted the yad vshem testimonies a ling time ago. He is deceased. His first family all died in the Shoah. I have contact with his great niece here in the states. But she knew nothing about other family. My daughter lives in Israel. Perhaps I will have her search for his descendants.

  5. Dave Joyal April 18, 2023 at 6:15 pm #

    Were you relatives related to Moshe Gimpel and Ruchel Markovitz? My grandfather was Louis Berger from Radziejow.

    • zicharon April 18, 2023 at 8:20 pm #

      I do not think so. I do not have Markovitz amount our last names. My family was from Mielic County.

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