Sunday, October 31, 2010

New Zambrow, Poland Yizkor Book Translations Now Available for Viewing

The United Zembrover Society, the lone remaining landsmanshaft society for the town of Zambrow, Poland, has now put online within the Museum of Family History the next installment of its ongoing Yizkor Book Yiddish/Hebrew to English translation project.

Twenty new original pages have now been translated into English and are available for viewing. You can find the Museum's Zambrow Yizkor Book translation project here. The link to the new material can be found at the Project's Table of Contents page here.

Then to read the very latest translation, please click on the link "pp. 90-111."

The Synagogue of Gwozdziec: A New Short Film by Tomek Wisniewski

The seventy-second film created by Bialystok native Tomek Wisniewski and made available at the cyber Museum of Family History is now available for viewing.

The name of the film is "The Synagogue of Gwozdziec" and is fifteen minutes long.

Gwozdziec was part of Poland between the two World Wars.

It was part of Galicia around the turn of the twentieth century.

After World War II, the name of the town was changed to Gvozdets and became part of the Soviet Union.

Today, the town is still called Gvozdets and is part of the Ukraine.

To see this film, please click here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

NY's Montefiore Cemeteries: Two New Searchable Cemetery Databases

It seems that the organization that runs Montefiore Cemetery (St. Albans/Springfield Gardens, Queens County, NY) has redone their website which now includes a searchable database. It has done the same for its sister cemetery, New Montefiore, in Pinelawn, Suffolk County, NY. Just use the links below and click on the "Locator" link at the top of the page to begin searching. You should know that the databases have only been online for about two months. They still have plenty of burials to enter and there is still some tweaking to do, so be patient. Search now for people of interest, and if you can't find them on the database, try again at periodic intervals when the databases might be updated.

The searchable fields include first name and last name, month and year of death. The search results include first name, last name, age and date of death, grave location and society name.

Here are the links:

Montefiore Cemetery:
New Montefiore Cemetery:

You might be better off using the link, and simply click on the photo of either cemetery office which will take you to the particular cemetery's website.

It should be noted that the folks who run these two cemeteries are not affiliated with the group who created the other six or seven Queens, NY cemetery databases, so the form of the cemetery databases are different. These two new databases are imperfect and are no doubt missing some burials, etc., but having access to them should make for some 'happy hunting.'

So have a go at it and good luck!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Postal Evidence of the Holocaust: The Lodz Ghetto

I'd like to encourage you to pay a thorough visit to my three new online exhibitions about World War II and the Holocaust, online at least until the end of this year.

Here are some partial descriptions of some of the postal evidence of the Holocaust that pertain to Lodz. The images that go with these descriptions will be found within each webpage of the exhibition. Just click on the Lodz link that is found within the Tours page of my "Jewish Ghetto" exhibition:

--Judenpost 20-pfennig stamp on an envelope of Rumkowski, the Litzmannstadt ghetto Jewish Elder, canceled March 11, 1944, with the Elder's date stamp, addressed to Nazi administrator Biebow. Being a local stamp, it was valid as postage only inside the ghetto. The address at Baluter Ring was the location of the office where ghetto postal workers exchanged mail with representatives of the German post office.

--An October 18, 1941, envelope from Rumkowski's office to the Association of Jews in Germany, the organization chaired by Rabbi Leo Baeck at Berlin. A May 1, 1941, money order receipt and an October 6, 1942, card acknowledging receipt of money from Prague for a ghetto resident.

--The special cancel on the envelope below reads, "By command of the Führer this city is named Ghetto Litzmannstadt." On a June 30, 1941, postal card from Chmielnik to the Jewish Elders Council of Litzmannstadt, Rose Speiser asked for information about the fate of her daughter, Gana Milter. She had written with this request several times previously, but had received no reply.

--A Łódź ghetto censor passed the January 7, 1941, registered postal card addressed to Epshiki, Russia, was censored by Germany at Berlin, and transited Moscow en route to its destination.

These can all be found within the "Jewish Ghetto" exhibition. Once there, click on the link "Ghetto Entrance" at the bottom of the page and then the Lodz link. One can find links to all three new exhibitions here.

Postal Evidence of the Holocaust: Postcards from Auschwitz

From the Museum's "Never Forget: Visions of the Nazi Camps" online exhibition and the Spungen Family Foundation's Postal Collection:

Compared to later conditions, treatment of prisoners during the first year was relatively humane. A printed announcement from the camp commandant on the back of this December 16, 1940, formular post card stated, "Each prisoner may have a packet weighing one kilogram sent to him by relatives for Christmas, but not as a packet with money order. Permitted: bread, Christmas pastries, winter sausage, tobacco products, toilet articles. Forbidden: enclosures of money, canned jelly, stamps, photographs, letters, and flammable materials such as lighters, matches, etc. For delivery the packet should have the most correct address, including the birthdate and prisoner number. The packet must be sent in the period from December 10, 1940, to January 5, 1941. All incoming packages that do not conform to camp regulations will be confiscated for the benefit of prisoners who receive no packet from home."

Below are partial descriptions of more postal artifacts from Auschwitz on display at the virtual Museum of Family History. All can be found by visiting the exhibition and clicking on the Auschwitz-Birkenau link.

--A February 28, 1942, formular envelope mailed by prisoner number 205 (first transport) to Tarnów. Boxed red censor mark on the back.

--An unmailed post card published by the Auschwitz Museum after World War II shows the camp crematorium in 1943, location of an unsuccessful prisoners' revolt in 1943.

--Enclosed inside this March 11, 1944, prisoner's formular lettersheet was a printed notice to the recipient...

--Despite the ban on Easter parcels for prisoners in 1944, one inmate received this colorful hand-painted Easter card from a relative after it had passed the camp sensor.

--November 23, 1944, insured railway express receipt for a 10-kilogram parcel of food and clothing shipped from Beatrix Wiesner at Prague to prisoner Richard Wiesner at Auschwitz.

--This October 13, 1942, telegram from the Auschwitz camp commandant to Lublin states: "Your husband died today in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Details from the commander of the security police and the SD in the Lublin district."

--On this August 2, 1943, message-and-reply postal card from Zichenau, Franz Zawacki queried the Auschwitz administration about the fate of prisoner Egon Konstanty Zawacki.

--Very few letters or cards addressed to Auschwitz prisoners have survived, for obvious reasons, so the March 27, 1943, postal card from a mother in Warsaw to her daughter at Birkenau is exceptional. The postage fee official mail parcel waybill from the printing facility of the Auschwitz central administration to the Flossenbürg concentration camp administration probably accompanied a shipment of formular stationery for prisoners.

--A March 27, 1943, air mail letter and an April 24, 1943, special delivery letter from a French forced laborer at the Auschwitz West Buchenholz labor camp operated by I.G. Farben to his parents in Meaux, France. Both were censored at Frankfurt.

--The message on this May 31, 1944, prisoner's post card from the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp to Kolozsvar, Hungary (today Cluj, Romania)….

--This page and the two that follow document the tragedy of Arnold Singer, a German Jew of Luckau whose brother, Walter Singer, had escaped to Sweden and was trying to help Arnold leave Germany and join him.

More such postal artifacts can be found not only within this exhibition for dozens of camps, but also within the two other new exhibitions, "Persecution and Flight: the Nazi Campaign Against the Jews" and "The Jewish Ghetto." Please make a thorough visit to these three Museum exhibitions at your convenience.

An Introduction to "Never Forget: Visions of the Nazi Camps"

The Museum would like to encourage you to visit its three new online exhibitions about World War II and the Holocaust.

One of the exhibitions, "Never Forget: Visions of the Nazi Camps" is filled with photographs taken in and of the camps, Survivor stories, postal artifacts and archival film taken by the U.S. Army during Liberation.

Such film clips include the liberation of Arnstadt, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Bergen-Belsen, Breendonck, Buchenwald (and two of its subcamps Ohrdruf and Penig), Dachau, Flossenburg, Hadamar, Hannover, Mathausen (and Gunskirchen, a subcamp), and Nordhausen.

You can also see what instructions were given to camp 'inmates' and others for what was allowed to be said and sent when corresponding.

More will be posted soon on this blog, discussing the many postal artifacts that are now part of this exhibition.

Within this exhibition you should use the list of links provided to access the material on display about any of the camps mentioned, or just follow the "next" links at the bottom of each page. You can find the aforementioned exhibition here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Tomek Wisniewski Visits Brzezany

The Museum of Family History now presents to you Tomek Wisniewski's seventieth film on display at the Museum. This ten-minute film -- or perhaps it is more accurate to call it a "photo montage with music"-- is composed of slow scans of two 1917 town photos (bird's eye view) of Brzezany/Brezehany. The film is accompanied by a classical female vocal which makes for a pleasant ten minutes.

According to Tomek, Brzezany is now in the Ukraine, but during the following year it was possessed by other countries:
From 1375 to 1772 and from 1919 to 1939, the town was part of Poland.
From 1772 to 1918, the town was part of the Austrian Empire.
From 1939 to 1941 and from 1944 to 1991 the town was part of the U.S.S.R.

You can find the link to the webpage containing this film by clicking here. Then just scroll down the alphabetical listing to Brezehany (town name spelling today) and click on the link.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ben Welden on "Stage and Screen" at the Museum of Family History

The Museum of Family History is pleased to present to you the story of yet another Jewish actor, now as part of the Museum's exhibition "Stage and Screen: Jews in the Entertainment Industry." You may not know his name, but if you were a fan of the old "Superman" television series with George Reeves as I was, you will recognize him (though the photo of him included here is of a young Ben.)

Ben Welden (aka Ben Weinblatt) was born June 12, 1901 in a small house on 14th Street in Toledo Ohio. He attended Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon) to become an engineer. He also played violin. Halfway through his degree in engineering, he was talked into taking a part in a school play. He instantly fell in love with acting. After college, he acted on stage in England (their version of Broadway) and became rather famous. When he became famous, he was told to change his name. At that time, one could not use a traditional Jewish name. He changed it from Weinblatt to Welden. Ben even married royalty (an actual duchess), while living in England. After the duchess took one long look at Ben’s family in a poor section of Toledo (OH), she divorced him.

Shortly after his divorce, Ben was asked to come to Hollywood, where some of his friends were creating the American film industry. Ben instantly became a character actor – a gangster. About 235 films, 75 TV shows and 65 years later, Ben retired. He died in 1997, at age 96. Ben has his own Wiki page and a long list of movie credits that would make any actor salivate. He worked with Humphrey Bogart, Betty Davis, Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, James Stewart and many, many famous actors. He appeared on almost every episode of Superman and he was a staple on I Love Lucy, Batman, The Three Stooges, Ma & Pa Kettle and too many more to mention here.

To see photos of Ben and to read a tribute to him by his nephew Charles S. Weinblatt, please click here.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"Jacob's Courage," a novel by Charles S. Weinblatt

The Museum of Family History presents to you the first in a series of books that might be of interest to you. After presentation of the book cover and a synopsis, a link will be provided to the full-length version of the book, usually courtesy of the author unless the book is out of copyright.

The first book in the Museum's "Read-a-Book" Collection is Charles S. Weinblatt's fictional novel entitled "Jacob's Courage: A Holocaust Love Story." Also included within this presentation is a short video book trailer that you might like to see.

You may read below the first part of the synopsis, or click here to read the book.

How would you feel if, at age seventeen, the government removed you from school, evicted you from your home, looted your bank account and took all of your family's possessions? How would you feel if ruthless police prevented your parents from working and then deported you and your loved ones to a prison camp run by brutal taskmasters? How would you feel if you suddenly lost contact with everyone that you know and love? How would you feel if you were sent to the most frightening place in history, and then forced to perform unspeakable acts of horror in order to remain alive?

Jacob's Courage is a tender coming of age love story of two young adults living in Salzburg at the time when the Nazi war machine enters Austria. This historical novel explores the dazzling beauty of passionate love and enduring bravery in a lurid world where the innocent are brutally murdered. From desperate despair, to unforgettable moments of chaste beauty, Jacob’s Courage examines a constellation of emotions during a time of incomprehensible brutality.