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 Societies: Social Processes and Social Dynamics edited by Frank Bajohr and Andrea Low.  There were 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.

12 Responses to “The Murder of Chava Feuer 1942”

  1. Amy April 23, 2021 at 7:37 am #

    Wow, Ellen. I am just speechless. There are no words.

    • zicharon April 23, 2021 at 7:38 am #

      That is how I felt. I tried to tell my husband when I first found it and I actually could not. I was stunned.

      • Amy April 23, 2021 at 7:53 am #

        It takes a lot to take my breath away and leave me with no words. But that did.

      • zicharon April 23, 2021 at 8:12 am #

        We find so many sad stories when researching those who died during the Shoah. I sometimes think I can no longer be shocked. And then I am and I have to take a break from it.

      • Amy April 23, 2021 at 8:19 am #

        Yes. And I feel the same way about books or movies based on the Holocaust. After I’ve seen or read one, I need to find something a bit lighter next.

      • zicharon April 23, 2021 at 8:20 am #

        Exactly! My next blog needs to be uplifting so I have the energy to keep searching.

  2. Sharon April 23, 2021 at 10:22 am #

    Unbelievable that you found this book with this horrific account on Chava. No words – May her memory be a blessing.

    • zicharon April 23, 2021 at 11:06 am #

      Absolutely unbelievable! I could but get to sleep last night. I am amazed how looking at something in a different way brings such results!!

  3. Ellen S Kowitt April 23, 2021 at 4:10 pm #

    Your blog post was forwarded to me, and I am so happy you were able to find this very personal story. Did you use GoogleBooks to find “Trzciana and the Holocaust?”

    • zicharon April 23, 2021 at 4:42 pm #

      It was Google books. Like you suggested, I entered the town. I was really looking for Chava’s children. And if I had put in her name, it would have been wrong as they have. her as Chana not Chava. Thank you for I great workshop. Was it recorded? Because I was so stunned at what I found, I really could not follow the last 20 minutes!

      • Ellen S Kowitt April 24, 2021 at 3:24 pm #

        That’s fantastic! When you get the book, I’d love to hear what source they cite for Chava’s story. I don’t think the Erie Library records their programs, but I do give this lecture on occasion so if you check my upcoming lectures list on my website at, you are welcome to join in again! Congratulations! I love a good success story.

      • zicharon April 24, 2021 at 3:42 pm #

        Thanks. I will check your website. I would love to hear the entire lecture!
        You know, I remember my Mom saying that the Red Cross told my Grandpa how his mother died. So I am interested to see that as well. It might give me more information.

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