Family recollections from Bialystok #poland
Before WW2, our family, SZEJNMAN, lived on Ulica Suiento-Janske, in
Der Nowe, apparently a 'new' suburb of Bialystok, not far >from the
Central Park, according to the map. It was a two story house.
I recall this distinctly because of my mother's telling about the
big Pogrom in 1922, where the Cossaks entered the house and threw her
brother out of a second-story window. He died soon after of multiple
fractures and internal hemorrhage.
I also recall that every Friday afternoon, I would walk with my
grandmother to the baker's. He had already shut down his ovens for
Shabbes but since the heat remained overnight, all the ladies in the
neighborhood would bring him their big, heavy pots of cholent, which
cooked overnight to perfection. Then on Saturday morning, my mother
and I walked to the Shul to pick up my grandmother. On the way home,
we stopped at the baker's to collect our cholent, which was always
our Shabbes noon meal. And was it ever delicious!
At the corner of our street was the Aptek or pharmacist, who always
had candies for me.
Another of my mother's recollections was of her grandmother, Bluma
JASKOLKA, who was very tiny and wiry and was always knitting something
as she walked. On just such a walk, paying no attention to her
whereabouts, she was knocked over and killed by a horse and wagon.
Mama remembered going to high school fairly close by, where she had
to cross a railroad trestle on the way. One day, she and a friend
played hookey >from school in order to watch the new train (a real
novelty then) pass underneath. When it did, it emitted so much
smoke and soot that their faces turned black -- so much for an alibi.
Among other subjects, she studied Latin, French and German, and quickly
picked up all the neighboring Slavik tongues. She used to sing me
lullabies in Latin and French, as well as Yiddish, Polish and
I have a number of issues of 'Bialystoker Vegn,' published in Buenos
Airies, and also 'Der Bialystoker Stimme,' published by the Bialystoker
Home in New York. I plan to upload some of the articles to the web site
soon. The ones >from Argentina are in Yiddish and Spanish, while the NY
ones are in Yiddish and English. Expect some photos as well in the near
B'shalom, Susan Pearlman
nee Szejna-Dwera SZEJNMAN-KOSLOVSKY, in Bialystok
[Also researching JASKOLKA, LEVITAN, KAM, KAMINSKY, MALETSKY, RUDY,
SASLOVSKY, WISHNIATSKY, YELLIN, YOSHPE, ZELIKOWICZ all >from the same
Tilford Bartman <bartmant@...>
Great stuff Susan. Thanks for sharing it. I look forward to seeing thetoggle quoted messageShow quoted text
issues of Bialystoker Vegn and the Stimme.
I'm not sure about the historiography of the 1922 pogrom? Poland gained
independence in 1918 and defeated the Bolsheviks in 1920. Technically I
don't think there would have been Cossacks in Bialystok in 1922. I know
they were in the area early in WW I before the German occupation. I'm
not aware of any pogrom in 1922, but of course that doesn't mean there
wasn't one. Perhaps someone else knows about it. There were well known
pogroms in Bialystok in 1905 and 1906 that I think were organized
primarily by Russian Czarist authorities.
Tilford Bartman <bartmant@...>
I had a private response to my posting re 1906 Bialystok pogrom >from Peter
Levene of the UK. I thought I would share my answer to him with the
list, since the information may be of general interest.
He had been told that his great aunt Pearl Lewin/Levine died in a pogrom,
but no date. He could not see her name on the list on my site. He had a
great uncle Movshe Lewin who would have been 35 at that date. Do I think,
Peter asked, he could have been the Mordechaj Lewin 38 listed?
I don't know about your uncle Mordechaj? Lewin is a name that you
frequently see in Bialystok, and I think it's likely that there was more
than one Lewin family. . . that they weren't all related.
My impression is that pogroms were not a common feature of Jewish life
in the Bialystok region. I've been told by people who were there that
in the Shetels Jews and Poles lived very closely together. Even though
they were socially and certainly religiously quite separate Jews had for
hundreds of years been very well integrated into a larger socio economic
system. Jews and Poles mostly got along and were able to cooperate for
the common good of their towns. I'm told that in Bialystok (the big
city) things were not as good. All over Eastern Poland the situation
worsened in the period between the two world wars, particularly in the
1930's. And it's with this particularly horrible period that we tend to
be most familiar. Also you have to put this in some context and realize
that even in America at that time anti semitism was very widespread. You
can't evaluate it by 21st century standards of human rights and
political correctness, or people who do need to know what they are doing.
While Polish anti semites participated in the 1906 pogrom, I think it
was organized and instigated by Czarist authorities and carried out with
a sizable number of Czarist troops. Don't get me wrong, there was
widespread "Christian" anti-Semitism among the Poles. There were pretty
frequent fights, often between Polish and Jewish tuffs. But Poles
running wild in the streets inflicting violence and mayhem on Jews was
not something that took place often at all. Also my experience is that
some Jews wrongly attribute some events to the Poles that actually had
at least as much if not more to do with Russian Czarist authorities or
troops. As I previously mentioned particularly in the early 1930's
things between Poles and Jews started getting worse and went down hill
quickly >from there. But that is another story.
If anyone has another take on this subject, or information on the
subject of Polish-Jewish relations in the Bialystok area I'd be
interested to hear it.
Tilford Bartman, www.zabludow.com