Birth records from PRUZANA in Poland? #belarus #poland


Pruzana (Pruzhany, and other variations) is a town in the Brest region of Belarus, near the Poland/Russia border. In 1924, when my FIL was born, it was in Poland. I am looking for his birth records. I have his displaced person paper from after the war, but would like a birth record that the Polish government would accept, as my son has a girlfriend in Sweden and would like to get a job there, which would be much easier with EU citizenship, which, as a grandchild of a person who left Poland because of the Holocaust, he is entitled to receive. Does anyone know if this community would have recorded civil records or if the birth records would only be in the local synagogue, which I do not know if is even standing, much less if any records from the 1920s are still extant! I appreciate any help. We are contemplating traveling there next summer, so would be able to access records in person if that is how it works, but it would be helpful to have some idea how to start, since my Polish is nonexistent!

Marijke Bekken


James Hannum

DP Dear Marijke:
The DP camps were run by the Allies.  I believe the Allies would have feared giving photo IDs [see attached sample] containing false info to possible escaping Nazis, Communists, criminals, or spies, who could then use the IDs to enter Europe and US.  To avoid giving out false ID's, wouldn’t they have required proof of identity [passports, BCs (Birth Certificates), or German camp IDs/ papers?] before issuing new IDs to the DPs?

20th century Europe was different than America, Europeans had to have "papers" with them at all times, even when just walking on the street.  My wife is Ukrainian, b. 1975, and she and her parents and grandparents were required to have internal passports giving them permission to live in a town.  She had to show it for everything, even after Soviet times.  To exit the country she also needed an international passport.  

In 20th century Europe, spies and enemies were everywhere, and there was great need for accurate identification.  
If the DP had no "papers" to prove his identity, I personally doubt that the DP camps would issue him a nice new photo ID card, just because he tells them his name is Abe Levy b. 22.6.1913 in Paris.  

I personally believe that the DP camps would have required those who had no "papers" to write to get them, or the DP camp would write to get them, or the camp would send a representative around picking up the documents.  E.g., the rep. would go to Sobibor,  Prague, Berlin, etc., collecting thousands of docs at each place [there were millions of DPs (Displaced Persons), so there were probably many who had no "papers," because they’d lost them in the battles or in Nazi camps.]

I also believe (but have no proof) that the Allies have probably kept the "papers" [passports, BCs, Ger. camp IDs, etc.] for each DP.  These would be needed as backups for the foto ID cards the DP camps issued.  These backup "papers" could be sitting in some archives, or in
 some army base quansit hut.

If you find out more about this Marijke, please let me know.  Thank you.


--Josef Hannum

Lew Kampel

For information about "credentialing" of persons in DP camps after the war please refer to "The Long Road Home" by Ben Shephard.  In short, many were issued papers including former Nazis whose histories were purposely overlooked under pressure from the Catholic church and US conservatives. From what I recall from reading that book, it was unlikely that the authorities running the camps carefully vetted the information about origin claimed by individuals.  Many internees lied to avoid being returned to countries of origin for a variety of reasons.

Lewis J. Kampel

Lew Kampel

Marijke:  I also have roots in Pruzhany.  My father's mother's family came from there.  The family name was Pisarewicz.  Some migrated to Palestine in the 1920s and their family names were Safai and Blacharski.

Lewis J. Kampel

Michele Lock

My suggestion would be for you to contact someone associated with the Belurus SIG division of Jewishgen. I would think they would know where birth records for the interwar years are to be found. 

I believe in much of Europe, if a person's birth is less than 100 years ago, then those birth records are not allowed to be online, but need to be obtained by request of a close family member.
Michele Lock

Lak/Lok/Liak/Lock and Kalon/Kolon in Zagare/Joniskis/Gruzdziai, Lithuania
Lak/Lok/Liak/Lock in Plunge/Telsiai in Lithuania
Rabinowitz in Papile, Lithuania and Riga, Latvia
Trisinsky/Trushinsky/Sturisky and Leybman in Dotnuva, Lithuania
Olitsky in Alytus, Suwalki, Poland/Lithuania
Gutman/Goodman in Czestochowa, Poland
Lavine/Lev/Lew in Trenton, New Jersey and Lida/Vilna gub., Belarus