Re: U.S. Appeals Court Rules Spanish Museum May Keep Nazi Looted Art #announcements #holocaust

Herbert Lazerow

     Stephen Katz and Adam Cherson raise excellent points about the Cassirer case.
     In this case, the parties probably stipulated that the painting was stolen. In 1939, Lilly Cassirer  transferred the painting to a Nazi art appraiser for 900 Reichsmarks, well below its actual value, which the appraiser paid to a blocked account that Lilly could never access. The painting then disappeared. 
     A transfer under duress applied by the transferee or someone related to him would not be a voluntary sale and would not transfer the title to the painting. On the other hand, whether a transfer due to financial hardship not imposed by the transferee, such as loss of income source due to the Nazi laws followed by a public auction, would be a theft, has yet to be decided.
     In this case in 1951, the painting surfaces in a reputable U.S. art gallery. It was sold to a U.S. collector by a reputable gallery. In 1952, the collector sold it though a reputable New York gallery to another U.S. collector. In 1976, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza bought the painting through a reputable New York gallery. The painting was kept mostly in Switzerland until 1992, when the painting (along with the rest of the Baron’s collection) was loaned to the Spanish government and put on display by a foundation established by the Spanish government in a Madrid Palace.  The foundation bought the collection, including the Pissarro at issue,  in 1993 with funds provided by the Spanish government.
     The precise question in this case is whether the foundation had acquired title by acquisitive prescription. To acquire title in that way under Spanish law, a person must possess the property as though he were the owner for a set length of time. In U.S. law, we have a comparable doctrine called adverse possession. Under Spanish law, the length of possession for a good faith purchaser is shorter than the time required for others to acquire title.
     The trial judge found that the Baron, when he purchased the work in 1976, did not know that it had been stolen, and was not “wilfully blind” to the likelihood that it had been stolen. The court found that in 1976, when you bought a painting from a reputable gallery that displayed a bill of sale from another reputable gallery, there was no reason for a buyer to inquire further. Whether the court would have given the same answer had the Baron purchased at a later date, I cannot say. Thouogh the art world is famous for the secrecy of its transactions, it has become more common to pay attention to provenance since then. If the Baron had known that the work had been owned by the Nazi party, the wartime German government, or a prominent Nazi art dealer, there might have been a different answer.
    What the 9th Circuit decided (on the litigation’s third visit to the Court of Appeals) was that there was ample evidence to support the trial judge’s verdict.
    Adam is correct that if the question in the case was the legal effect of the sale in New York, New York law should apply (though some scholars might dispute that) and the Cassirers would win. But the question in this case was whether the Spanish doctrine of acquisitive prescription would apply.  If the Baron purchased in good faith, enough time had passed for him to become the owner under Spanish law. If the Baron did not purchase in good faith, the longer period for acquisitive prescription would apply, and that period had not been met.
     This is the classic case of the eternal triangle of the law. An owner is robbed of his property. The wrongdoer sells it to a good faith purchaser, and absconds with the money, leaving the owner and the purchaser to sort it out. In common law jurisdictions, the owner wins because England had a stronger attachment to the sanctity of property.  In continental European countries that follow Roman legal traditions, the good faith purchaser wins because their law favored the security of commerce over the security of ownership.  In neither jurisdiction do they follow what seems to me to be a sensible solution, which is to split the property. Each party is innocent.  Each has been wronged. Why should one win everything and the other lose everything when they actually stand on equal innocence?
    This case is a good example of waste. The claim is being made by the original owner’s grandchildren. If they win, they will need to sell the painting. Their lawyer, one of the best law firms in the country, is probably charging a contingent fee of between one-third and 40% of the fair market value of what is recovered. The Pissarro will probably fetch multi millions of dollars on the auction market.  It is doubtful that the Cassirers have a spare 3 or 4 million to pay their lawyers, much less the financial resources required to insure, secure and maintain such a valuable painting. So it will go to auction, where it is likely to be bought by a very wealthy person.  In the best of all worlds, it would disappear into a private collection for a generation, then be given to a museum. Alternatively, it might be placed in a storage locker in a freeport such as the Geneva airport and unseen for an indeterminate period of time. On the other side, the foundation is also represented by one of the best law firms in the U.S. It is difficult for an outsider to estimate what the legal fee has been, but it is not unusual to have a $1 million lawyer’s bill to litigate to the court of appeals once.  This case has been there three times, though presumably the cost of each trip is less than the preceeding trip. How much more efficient it would have been for everyone (except the lawyers) for the foundation to have offered the Cassirers a reasonable amount plus a promise that the full sad story of their ancestor would be displayed on the identifying tag, and the Cassirers to have accepted it in lieu of trying to get the full value of the painting less their legal fees.
Herbert Lazerow
Professor of Law, University of San Diego
5998 Alcala Park, San Diego CA 92110
Author: Mastering Art Law (Carolina Academic Press, 2d ed. 2020)

Re: Genealogy research leads to discovery of cousins thought to have died in the Holocaust #holocaust

Susan J. Gordon

When I began digging into my family history about 20 years ago, all I was seeking was what happened to my maternal grandfather, who died (I believed) in New York City some time in the 1960's. By that time, (I also believed) everyone in the family had stopped talking to him. Not expecting much, and not even sure if he had died in New York City, I sent $15 to the NYC Board of Health and requested his death certificate. It arrived with pertinent information, including the location (New York!), the date of his death, and the name of a woman named Eva, listed as the "informant." Who was she? No one in my family knew. After months of searching, I tracked down Eva, a Hungarian-born second cousin who had visited New York in the '60's and cared for her uncle (my grandfather) until his death. Subsequently, I found out that afterwards, she had made aliyah to Israel. So on a Sunday morning in August, 1999, I picked up the phone to call her and thanked her for caring for my grandfather until his death. Of course she was stunned, but very happy to hear from me. "There is justice in heaven, because you remember him," she said. But most startling was when she said - "Do you know you are calling me on his Yarhtzeit? It is the anniversary of his death?" (on the Hebrew calendar.) 
Four months later, I was on a plane to Tel Aviv, where I visited Eva again and again, and listened to her stories....

Re: ASOVSKY / OSOVSKY from Slutsk #belarus


I'm researching my Schiff family from Slutsk and have come across the name Sashe Kazofsky, Sophie Rosafsky and Hade Asofsky. Zalman Schiff born circa 1852 has a death record listing Hade Asofsky as his mother. Two of Zalman's children show marriage records with either Sashe Kazofsky or Sophie Rosafsky as their mother. I only have transcriptions of these records and when the family history centers reopen I hope to be able to view at least two of the images which hopefully might shed some light. Do you have any knowlege of any of these people?  I'm really at a roadblock with my Schiff family trying to trace back further than Zalman.

Viewmate Translation Russian #translation

J. Grossman

Please help with the translation of the following records:  Thank you for helping me with my family research.


Reply only via ViewMate.

J. Grossman


Viewmate Photo Identification #photographs

Fran Stark-Hundiak

Hello Friends!

I've posted a photo for which I would like someone to identify the uniform and give me any information about the tapestry in the background. 
 It is on ViewMate at the following address ...
Please respond via the form provided on the ViewMate image page.
Thank you very much.

Fran Stark-Hundiak
Michigan USA

ViewMate Translation request - Polish #translation #poland

Sandra Krisch

Subj: ViewMate translation request - Polish

I've posted a vital record in Polish for which I need a translation. It is on ViewMate at the following address

Please respond via the form provided on the ViewMate image page.
Thank you very much.
Sandra Krisch

ViewMate translation request - Yiddish in Cyrillic Script #translation #yiddish

Fran Stark-Hundiak

Hello Friends!

I've posted the back of a photograph for which I need a translation.  I've been told that it is Yiddish, but written in Cyrillic alphabet.
It is on ViewMate at the following address ...
Please respond via the form provided on the ViewMate image page.
Thank you very much.

Fran Stark-Huniak
Michigan USA

Viewmate Translation Request - Russian #translation #poland

Greg Tuckman

Hello everyone,
I've posted 4 vital records in Russian for which I need a translation. They are on ViewMate at the following addresses ...
1.  Birth Record of Sender WAJSBLECH:

2.  Birth Record of Abram WAJSBLECH:

3.  Birth Record of Szyia Heszel WAJSBLECH:

4.  Death Record of Szyia Heszel WAJSBLECH:
Please respond via the form provided on the ViewMate image page.
Thank you very much.
Greg Tuckman
Phoenix, Arizona USA

Multiple (male) given names and Russian patronymics #general #names

Michael Kaulkin

Dear Friends,
I wonder if anyone has any expertise that would shed light on what seems like a very odd situation.
I had never known the given name(s) of my great grandfather until a few months ago, when I found pictures of headstones of my grandmother and her sister.  According to my grandmother's headstone, he was Mordechi Avram LEVIN, and according to my great aunt's headstone, he was Yisroel Mordechi LEVIN.
To make things murkier, thanks to research done by a newly discovered cousin, there is strong DNA evidence that he was also the father of a man who stayed in Russia and whose Russian patronymic was "Nakhimovich"  (Aron Nakhimovich LEVIN).
So, my questions:
  1. Are there possible easy explanations for the discrepancies among given names?
  2. Does it seem likely that Nakhim was yet another given name of his?
  3. Are there other possible explanations for someone having a Russian patronymic that does not match is father's actual name?
I am leaving out a lot of detail in favor of succinctness, but if you think you can help and need more info, by all means, let me know!
Many, many thanks,
Michael Kaulkin (KOLKIN – Vitebsk)
Oakland, California

Re: Citizenship #general #usa


My mother and her parents were listed as naturalized in the 1930 and 1940 Census. I was told that based on the Cable Act of 1922, all women naturalized after the law became effective needed to be naturalized in their own right, not through their husband's naturalization.  That explains the 1941 petition.

Thanks to everyone who has responded here or in private.

Bob Malakoff
Pittsburgh, PA

Re: Sharing family tree information #general

Lee Jaffe

If you don't mind hearing a perspective from the other side of the fence, I'm having problems getting information from relatives that would help fill in branches of our family tree.  I've recently made connections with cousins scattered around the country and have asked for their help with gaps in the record since some family connections have lapsed once earlier generations have passed away.  As a sign of my goodwill and valid connection I've shared an outline of my branch, with an offer to answer their questions, and hoped they would reciprocate. 

So far I've received very little help.  Initially they are excited at making the connection and seem eager to share family information.  In some cases, we've talked on the phone and exchanged some photos and documents, but those exchanges dry up quickly.  And I've yet to get any information that would actually help me fill in the tree.  In one case it took 3 tries to get a cousin to identify which of my great-grandfather's siblings he's descended from.  And I still don't know his parents' names or his siblings, partner, or children.  Ironically, I get the most help when people on one branch name names in another branch – e.g., "I'm not in touch with Hal but we talk to his sister Susan once in a while."  Bingo!  I now know Hal has a sister named Susan.  This is how I found out that a HS classmate was a second cousin, when another second cousin reported on the other branch, but nothing about her own family.

Maybe I need to be more explicit about protecting their privacy.  I hadn't considered that this might be an issue until reading this thread.  I've been so excited and encouraged by making these connections it never occurred to me that long-lost family – who seemed equally excited by the connection – would be so reticent to share.  No one has said that they don't want to be included in the tree or that they had privacy concerns.  But perhaps if I take that issue off the table right up front, that would be one less hurdle to sharing.  

Lee Jaffe
JAFFE > Suchowola, Poland
STEIN > Grodno, Bialystok, Poland
LUDWINOWSKA and BRAUN > Wizajny, Poland
JOROFF and KOSHKIN > Snovsk, Ukraine
SCHWARTZ > Perth Amboy, NJ

Belarus SIG Request for Volunteers #belarus #translation

Steven Rosenberg <stvnrsnbrg@...>

Dear JewishGeners,
Belarus SIG is continuing with the translations of the Grodnenskie Gubernskie  1912 Duma Lists and we are looking for volunteers. 
If you have some experience transliterating names from Russian Cyrillic or a background in using OCR Software please feel free to contact me for this important project.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
With Best Regards.
Steven Rosenberg.
Slonim Uyezd Project Leader.

Re: MARANTZ - Odessa, Ukraine, Russia 1872 #ukraine #russia #austria-czech #unitedkingdom

Alan Klein

Thanks.  Not sure what to do with this info, but I'll work on it.  Do you have any history of Nathaniel?
Alan Klein

Re: Genealogy research leads to discovery of cousins thought to have died in the Holocaust #holocaust


Michael, very interesting!  I am wondering about the Moritz side of yout family.  My 2nd great grandmother Margaretha Schiff (born Metzger) had a sister, Regine, who married Hermann Moritz in or around the Mainz area.  I have a DNA match in Ancestry with a predicted relationship of 4th cousin 1X removed with the same name as yours.  Is it the same family?

Diane Jacobs

Re: surname Morpurgo #names

Karol Swanson

I understand that Morpurgo was the surname of Michael Morpurgo's stepfather.
If anyone is searching that name they should check out the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam. That name appears on some of the wall plaques there.
Kind regards,
Karol Schlosser

Re: Help: Hebrew use of Gis brother law in the 18th century Germany #translation #germany

Dr.Josef ASH

In the dictionary there are four meanings of "gis"
the same as for "b-i-l"
May be in Germany they had some other ???

Josef Ash

Re: Genealogy research leads to discovery of cousins thought to have died in the Holocaust #holocaust

JoAnne Goldberg

My mother's maternal grandfather apparently didn't have much to do with
his birth family -- he moved to the Rhineland from the Hesse region--
but via DNA, I found that his sister had married and had children, so my
mother had two unknown second cousins in Israel. I was way more excited
about this than she was!

It's worth noting that the match (granddaughter of a second cousin) was
way down on my FTDNA list -- she's my third cousin 1r -- and I wouldn't
have spotted her if her mother hadn't written me. When I saw segments of
50cM and 25cM, I knew there must be a close relationship.
JoAnne Goldberg - Menlo Park, California; GEDmatch M131535


Re: Kagan family in Zvenigorodka, Kiev Gubernia and Philadelphia #ukraine

David Mason

The link is much appreciated!  I studied Russian rather than Ukrainian, but I'm finding the website pretty understandable.

Kahan is yet another variant I'm trying.  Pronunciation of Cyrillic Г varies between hard "G" (or sometimes "V") in Russian, and "H" in Ukrainian (hence Zvenigorodka/Zvenihorodka).  I'm hoping the surname's American spelling hasn't departed too far from these, but who knows? 

Even before translation, it would be hugely useful if handwritten records in Russian and Ukrainian could just be transcribed into computer text.  Cursive from a century ago differs considerably from what I was taught. Somewhat like trying to read German in gothic font!  I suspect difficulties with archaic cursive are a tighter bottleneck than translation, or simply reading the Russian and Ukrainian.

David Mason

Searching missing LEVIN/E family #unitedkingdom


Hi Apologies for a long post - I'm trying to search for my great aunt daughters descendants and have hit a brick wall so hoping this group can help. Here's what I know... my great aunt was Sarah Levine and to the best of my knowledge that was both her single and married name. The story started in a book my ggf Rabbi Lewis Levin/e wrote published in 1910 (Hikre lev: ... heker ve-daat. (Examination of the Heart) Published: London: Naroditski, 1910) In this he pays tribute to his nephew saying My soul mourns and my eyes shed tears for the death of my nephew, the great scholar Avram Leib. He left the Beth-Midrash and emigrated to the landof England, and after some years in Liverpool married a woman from a good home from the city of Llanelli, near Swansea, he was married just for a year and became a father after his death. He died on Sarurday night the 8thof Tammuz 5669 (=June 26th 1909) aged 24 and was buried in Swansea. I have solved this actual branch but from Abraham's marriage authorisation found that his father was named Vigdor (Victor) a teacher. In a later book Ha-Teva veha-nes, kolel shene derushim, (Nature and Miracles)Published :London: Tshernitski, 1920. Alongside other family members he says he wishes to congratulate his modest 'Ayshet Chayil' sister Sarah Levine and blessings for her daughter, son in law and grand children. I have now found a 1911 English census record for Liverpool for Sarah and a Flora Levine. This makes complete sense as my other family are in Liverpool and more importantly on the census they have actually written that they came from Zabbelin (Izabelin, Belarus) which we know was their place of origin. I have my ggf family in Liverpool in 1901 and also in 1901 I have found a possible census record for Sarah and Abraham but no mention of Flora. The ages are about right as are the occupations. What I can't find is any mention of Victor but on both census Sarah says she is married not widowed. I'm also struggling to find a marriage for Flora. I have found one in Bradford which I have ordered a certificate for. If anyone can help with this that would be great. Book titles given as if anyone reads Hebrew some of the books are available on and I'm working from very kind translations I have received over the years
Rachel Poole

Searching: LEVIN/E- Belarus, UK, SILVER - UK, Russia/Poland, COHEN- - Latvia, UK, LYPSYZC/LIFSHITS/LYONS - Belarus, UK, USA

Re: Kagan family in Zvenigorodka, Kiev Gubernia and Philadelphia #ukraine

Chuck Weinstein

Kagan is a common surname.  It is the Russian version of Cohen.  As far as Zvenigorodka is concerned, Alex Krakovski has posted a number of records scans on his wiki site at   The site is in Ukrainian, but Google Chrome will give you a passable translation.  Scroll down to Kyiv Province and you will find all records he has scanned so far for Zvenigorodka.   Ukraine Research Division has downloaded all of these records, and eventually, we will have them translated and indexed on line.  It may take some time to do that, as we have several hundred record sets from Ukraine that all need to go through the same process.  All of the records, of course, are in handwritten Russian.  

Chuck Weinstein
Bellport, NY

26221 - 26240 of 675212