Maybe someone somewhere will recognize me

 Names unknown. Print from a glass plate found in 1987 in an attic in Zduniska Wola.

   This book has been woven from scattered snatches of memory which clung to old photographs. We have pieced it together from barely legible inscriptions on the reverse side of the photographs and from bits of salvaged correspondence; most often, however, the motionless figures in the frame are described by people who knew them personally, or at least had seen them.

"I took the liberty of sending a photograph of my friend. Her Semitic appearance did not give her any chance of survival outside the Ghetto. We talked furtively several times when she was already there. On August 22,1942, in the morning, an unknown boy brought a photograph of her to my home. She had chosen the one in which she was smiling - for me to remember her so. The inscription on the reverse side reads: Wandzia, remember Lola as long as you can!! A few hours before the departure for the unknown - from Lolao."

The majority of the photographs of Jews that are shown here, have been interwoven into other people's lives, having been desperately stuck into their neighbors' family albums, into cupboard drawers of distant acquaintances, into the archives of local photography studios. These people retrieved from oblivion look at us knowingly; they send us time-immobilized gestures, the sign of existence. We do not attempt to tell the history of Polish Jews. We only want to pass on the traces that have been left by them, their cast shadows. To show those who, by force of memory, can be revived. Many stories included in this book come from people who were born at the beginning of this century, conducting an inventory of recollections at the threshold of the next.
"We lived at the station through which the trains to the death camp passed. My parents helped Jews in their escapes, they hid themselves at our home. One of them left a photograph. It had been hanging for 50 years in my room and recently has fallen off, the glass has broken. I decided to part with it. I am an old woman and I realize that when I cross the barrier of life, this picture will end up in the trash."

This is a book about memory, but this is also a book about oblivion. "My mother became friendly with Mrs. Pejsakowa. When they had to take the family out of Opatw, she gave Mother these pictures so that she should keep it in case someone survivesThe photos survived, but I don't remember the names."

"In the autumn of 1943 I met a woman on the road. She gave me her photgraph and said: Maybe sometime someone will recognize me and he will know what happened to me." The name of this woman is unknown. "One photograph shows the family of the baker to whom my father delivered flour with his horse cart from the mill to the bakery. The second one - our closest neighbors, the owners of the sawmill. Unfortunately, I do not remember which is which."

"The photographs were kept in a photographic paper package, on which father wrote Jews. My brother and I were brought up on those photographs," said the daughter of Michal Dabrowski, a photographer from Baranw Sandomierski, about hundreds of beautiful portraits cabinet that have remained in her home archives. "Father liked talking about them, he mentioned many names. We were too young then. We remembered noone." "I asked everyone who survived. Nobody recognized anyone," said Menachem Plewinski, the chairman of the Zdunska Wola Association in Israel, about the dozens of families shown on glass plates found less than ten years ago under a beam in the attic of one of the houses in Zdunska Wola. As recently as 60 years ago they lived among Poles, they were their neighbors, friends, business partners. And now, again and again, we mark the photographs: surname unknown, first name unknown ...

  Yeshiva students.
"I send you a photograph which belonged to my mother, Salomea Tarczynska. During the occupation it was covered by another picture. As far as I can figure out, they were my mama's very good friends before the War. Unfortunately, I don't know anything more about this."

Andrzej Tarczynski, Ldz
"When we looked through my wife's family album, we found a picture of a Jewish family pasted there. After we removed it, on the reverse we found a note with the year 1914. We can't explain who had taken the photograph or why it was in the album. Seeing the tragedy of this nation and living through the Nazi occupation, we kept this picture. Before the War, many Jews lived in Brzesc, where my wife's family comes from."
Ewa and Romuald Jaskiewicz, Koscian

Names unknown. The picture was probably taken by a German soldier.

Garwolin, Senatorska Street, 1937 or 1938.
"On the site of this tumble-down shack, a new house was built just before the War. Later, it was a Jewish store. "The photograph was taken by my father, Henryk Andrzejkowicz, a photographer in the 1st Mounted Rifle Regiment in Garwolin, who died in Auschwitz in 1944."
Halina Kaim, Lublin
This album has been created by people who kept these photographs during the time of the war and then for half a century longer, waiting for someone to collect them. They adopted them, accepted them in their families. "I am sending you two photographs of Jews, father's friends. Mother was hiding them during the occupation, and after the war she pasted them into the album. I am sure you will take good care of them. Sorry for the delay, but I had to talk to them a little so that I could part with them warmly and without sorrow."

The photographs, kept during the war in a sewage pipe in a stone cubbyhole under the stairs of a house burnt during the Warsaw Uprising and cunningly pasted with other photographs - are often scorched, torn, crumpled rust-stained. "In 1939 grandparents' flat was taken over by the Germans. One of them probably cut out grandmother's portrait from the golden frame and threw it into the trash. It was handed to my mother when she came back with me in May 1945. Who kept this photograph of an old Jewish woman in a wig - this I don't know; and how could he have hoped that someone would survive? - this I don't understand."

The market square in Kazimierz nad Wisla. "This photo was taken in 1936 by Otto Kajper from Krakow, when we were taking part in an outing of technicians from Pionki. The people in the photograph did not know that we were photographing them." Zygmunt Krawczyk, Sandomierz
"They had three children - Zosia, Monika and Liba. My parents were invited to the confirmation ceremony of one of them, although they practiced a different religion. And this photograph might have been given to my parents at the hard moment of farewell - for them to remember their friendship. I am sending it to you, thus certifying that a Mr. and Mrs. Rajch once existed and lived happily in Kalisz." Those people and those times are described by Poles with nostalgia for a long-lost youth, therefore there are so many idyllic descriptions - so many youthful bonds that only death could have sundered. "We lived peaceably and happily" - they reiterate in letter after letter. They recall a Jewish tailor who sewed their first communion dress, a girlfriend from the class whom they brought the copybook on Saturday, since she could not attend classes on the Sabbath, a Jewish circus actor with whom the prospective mother-in-law fell in love.

This album has also been written by those who entrusted their family treasures to us - the only remaining portrait of a mother, sister, parents' wedding photograph. Not all of them wanted their names to be revealed publicly. "I am the last male descendant of our noble family which was given its name in 1863. I was brought up in a truly progressive home, but in the Jewish culture and tradition. I feel deeply attached to our community and I try to express that through my conduct. However, I think that, for understandable reasons, I should not make it public, since it would be at the very least improper.

"And, finally, I'm sorry for my meanness. If you find it necessary to confirm the receipt of this letter in writting. I kindly ask you not to include in your return address the name of the Shalom Foundation or any other Jewish institution or organization." While describing the photographs they would often use the terms "this man", "this woman" and then at the next meeting, with a surge of confidence, they would admit: "They are not really my friends, they are my family" or "This man is my father. He volunteered for the transport, he couldn't bear hiding himself. My mother and I survived, but it was a miracle, since the neighbors turned us in. Since that time we haven't told anybody that we are Jewish."

This album has also been written by Jews of Polish origin scattered all over the world. All of them filled with hopeless yearning for their home, for a world which has been annihillated. Eta Tuchman of Montevideo wrote on a photograph from 1936 showing a stall in the marketplace in Miedzyrzecz: "There no Jews there now, no stalls, no me."

"My uncle and aunt are reading Nayes, which in Yiddish means News. I don't know where this newspaper was from. It was certainly not from nearby Grodno, because my father worked as a typesetter for the Jewish paper in that town and its title was different. For many years, my uncle and aunt lived in Berlin, but they were expelled as Jews. My uncle used to joke that he was trading in live merchandise as he exported geese and ducks from Germany to Yugoslavia. Throughout his whole life, he traded in every possible commodity; in Augustw for example, in timber. He was sick, so he went to Minsk to have an operation. It turned out that he had leukemia. He died there in 1940. My aunt perished in Treblinka. They had no children."
As told by Rafat Malec of Warsaw

Anna and Mojzesz Tenenbaum, Augustw, 1937 or 1938.
007 On the reverse, the surname Bltzer in pencil. Baranw Sandomierski, the interwar period. Photograph by Michat Dabrowski.

Szymele, Szmulek and Szymszo Lewkowicz of Ldz.
The boys lived in Ldz with their mother and grandmother. Their mother, Jachet Lewkowicz, worked as a spinner at 66 Zachodnia Street. Soon after her wedding, her husband left her and went to Paris. Then, he returned every once in a while and they had another child. The youngest was Icek, who is not in the photograph.
Szymele and Icek died along with their mother and grandmother in the Ldz Ghetto. At the beginning of the war, Szmulek went to Bialystok, but he returned to the ghetto to his fiancee and probably died there too. Szymszo, who was a dance teacher by profession, fled to the East and no-one heard of him again.
This singed photograph fell into the hands of Sonia Tencer, Jachet's cousin, when she came back from exile in the USSR.
009 Names unknown. Print from a glass plate found in Zdunska Wola.

Second from right, Abraham Lejb Fuks from Wloclawek, a doctor of medicine and Zionist activist.
"My father, Abraham Lejb Fuks, was the son of a rabbi. He took part in the War of 1920. In 1939, he became the director of a military hospital, that during the September campaign was evacuated to Romania. Father went further on to Hungary. From there, he went to Palestine, supplied with a certificate that allowed for legal entry, issued by the Zionist Congress leader, Dr. Icchak Grnbaum. He sent the same documents to occupied Poland. But my mother had her purse stolen in the street. So we received copies from our father. On the basis of these, we received Italian visas and managed to get out of Poland. We left Italy for Palestine on board of one of the last ships before Mussolini joined in the war."
Told by Lila Ahituv of Jerusalem
"Her name was Taube, or Tauber, or maybe Tauberg. I remembered the name from stories told by my mother. Regina was her very good friend from a home-tailoring course or a lace-making course. She had seven children."
Henryk Mazurek, Lublin

Regina Taube (?). Probably in Naleczw, between 1934 and 1937.

"I allow myself to send you a photograph of my lost Family. "In the picture, sitting in the center, is Ozjasz Grossbart, my grandfather, with his wife, children, grandchildren and the soldiers who visited us. It was taken during World War I.

"Because at that time there was no possibility of taking an amateur photograph without natural light, the tables were hurriedly taken out to the garden - hence the tablecloths are askew. On the wall of the porch, an unclear picture can be seen - it is a portrait of the ruling Emperor Franz Josef and Emperor Wilhelm.

Ozjasz Grossbart surrounded by his family and visiting soldiers. Podgrze, Pesach, probably 1916.
"In the middle, surrounded by soldiers, sits my grandfather, Ozjasz Grossbart. On the left, with a spoon in her hand, my grandmother can be seen. She used to spend whole days in the kitchen, dressed in a dress that had buttons from top to bottom, with a cushion under her feet. I used to do up the buttons at the bottom for her, as she could not bend down. For 25 years she had a bad heart, but she outlived my grandfather. My mother is dressed in a white apron, next to her is my father in a yarmulka, and my brother Jehuda, who was two years older than me, in a sailor's hat. Behind, stands our cook Pepcia - a very important person in the household. The girls on the right are the daughters of my father's sister: the older was called Paulina, or Pepa, the other one's name was Mirele, just like mine. She was nicknamed Mila, and I was Misia. The little girl in the apron is me. I was three or four years old at that time. In the 1930s, Mila took this photograph to Palestine with her, and after the War, she made enlargements for the family survivors." Emilia Leibel, Krakw

"Grandfather's house, a garden and a small farm were located in Podgrze, at that time a village near Krakw, today a district of Krakw. Nearby, there was a cloister, which was turned into a field hospital during the War. Because Grandfather, as any religious Jew, could not endure the fact that sick Jewish soldiers had to eat hametz, or leavened bread, during Pesach, he invited them over. They came for the whole day, helping in the kitchen (Pepcia, the cook, could not cope with it alone), and went back to the hospital after the evening prayer. The week of festivities resulted in a deep friendship. "I remember that the officer who is holding me on his lap was in love with Aunt Ela (first from left). But soon afterwards, he was killed in the War. The wealth of my grandfather's house was proven by a sukkah made of bricks, with a moving roof. The other thing he was proud of was a Sabbath candelabrum in the style of the Duchy of Warsaw. But for me, the most grand was the peach tree growing by the southern wall of the house. Soon afterwards, in 1918, we moved from there. The Solvay factory had built a rail line across grandfather's fields, to carry rocks from the quarry, and grandfather said that the grains grown were bad after that. He sold the whole farm. It was during such inflation that after six weeks, he couldn't buy a house with this money, just a flat. Well at least it was in central Krakw, near Planty.

"My grandfather, grandmother and brother Jehuda died before the War. Jehuda was 16; he was a student of the Hebrew Gymnasium in Krakw, and was very talented artistically. All were buried in Podgrski Cemetery, which was later changed by the Nazis into the Plaszw concentration camp. My parents died in Belzec. Cousin Pepa and her daughter survived the War, but they had lived through the concentration camp. Just after the War, they went to Palestine, where Mila had been living since the mid-1930s. I lived in the USSR, and came back to Poland with my 11-year-old daughter in 1946.

"When I remember my family, I always have the funeral of my great grandfather Zachariasz before my eyes. He died during Shavuot, when no vehicles can be used, so the procession had to walk 12 kilometers from Lagiewniki to the Jewish cemetery in Plaszw. The coffin was carried by four Jews, dressed typically for the hasidim - in fur shtraimels and silk coats - and the weather was extremely hot that day. It was said that the fact that my great grandfather had died on a holy day, was a sign that he had been an honest and just Jew, to whom God would give a kind welcome."
Emilia Leibel, Krakw

"From April 30,1939, I served as a warrant officer with an artillery regiment in Gra Kalwaria. I saw these kinds of faces for the first time, so I took the photos." Tadeusz Ordyfiski, Ldz
I would like to share some information about a Jewish couple. Although they had ties with Poland for only a short time, their remains are buried somewhere here.

"Towards the end of 1941, Sara and Ludwig Laszky came to Urzedw (Lublin Province), having moved there from Vienna. Doctor Laszky was involved with treating mainly Jewish patients. "My father had a pharmacy in Urzedw, and it was there that they became acquainted. Dr. and Mrs. Laszky lived under difficult conditions; however, they had freedom of movement. Thus, they visited us for dinner, and became friends with my parents. One day, Doctor Laszky came running with the news that they were to be taken away, and asked my father to hide documents and photographs - those that they had been permitted to bring with them from Vienna. He said that his children lived in the United States. On the way to the train station in Kragnik, both of them were shot as they did not want to be separated.

"The doctor was 71 years old at the time. After our liberators crossed the Polish border, our home was overturned by many searches, my father was arrested, and during this constant turmoil, the address of Doctor Laszky's family was lost. Several years ago, I gave the documents (the original of Doctor Laszky's M.D. diploma from Vienna University, the Ausweiskarte and Meldungskarte belonging to his wife - Karolina Sara nee Schiller, as well as a review of a cabaret performance directed by Bella Laszky) to be looked over and eventually translated. I, unfortunately, never did receive them in the end."
Grazyna Sawa-Adamska, Starachowice

Names unknown. Skryhiczyn on the Bug River, 1920s. "The cousins' husbands came to Skryhiczyn on vacation." Ita Kowalska, Warsaw

Ludwig Israel Laszky. 1920s.

Photograph discovered in 1992, during the renovation of the prison in Pinczw, and turned over to the prison deposit. On the headstone, there is the inscription: "Beloved mother, modest, of good heart, Rajzel Bialowons, daughter of Abraham, of blessed memory, died at 70 years of age in 1934."

align= 017 Print from a glass plate found in Zdunska Wola. Dozens of photographic plates depicting the Jews of Zdunska Wola were found in 1987 by Jerzy Chrzanowski, a historian who, in seeking artifacts for display in the local museum, entered several old homes. These glass plates were dicovered hidden beneath a beam in the attic of a building slated for demolition. Before the War, the building had housed the photo studio of a Jew, Szmuklarowicz. Survivors from Zdunska Wola attended an exhibit of prints made from the plates, but they were unable to identify any of the subjects of the portraits.

"My father kept this photo. He was fascinated by the faces." Leszek Wjcik, Katowice "This Home for the Elderly, funded by the Jewish community, was furnished with modern equipment." Abram Bekier, Bat Yam
"This Home for the Elderly, funded by the Jewish community, was furnished with modern equipment." Abram Bekier, Bat Yam

Home for the Elderly in Chelm, 1918.
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020, 021 "The praying Jew was our neighbor in Baranw Sandomierski. The Jew with the goat lived by the road that led to the castle. They were poor or very poor. In 1941, when these photographs were taken, Jews had to wear armbands but still lived in their own houses. Soon, they were taken, however, to the ghetto in D~bica. The author of the photograph is Stanislaw Birecki, who, like myself, had been expelled in 1939 from the Poznan region, where there were no Jews like these." Helena Krasnodebska, Wroclaw

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