Saturday, May 10, 2014

Letter R for Rozental and the hope that the first name of “Gabriel” would appear alongside it

When my mother and aunt would go abroad from Poland, they were always looking in phone directories, attempting to track down their long-lost father. They would look up pages starting with the letter R for Rozental, in the hopes that the first name of “Gabriel” would appear alongside it.

Sometimes, when they found the proper combination of names, they would write down the corresponding address and telephone number.  On occasion, when time was limited, (e.g., in a hurry while at the airport), they would tear out the page. They later told us that they felt ashamed about this.

They found a few people with the name Gabriel Rozental, but actually they only called one. They called a stranger who shared their father’s name, even though, deep down, they knew it was not possible that their father would be on the receiving end of the call.
Later, they were told that they were not alone in doing this. To look for the names of relatives lost in the Nazi death camps during World War II was a common behavior among the Holocaust survivors. Nowadays it is up to the second generation to continue this search, though of course, we have all the advantages afforded to us by the Internet.

The last time my mother and aunt saw their father was a summer day in 1942 in the Warsaw ghetto. Gabriel Rozental was about to pick up soup from a soup kitchen on Ogrodowa Street.
Later that day, in the evening, when he did not return home, they understood that he was deported to the East, to the death camp, Treblinka, where he was to be gassed to death in the gas chambers. After that day, the Rozental sisters never heard from (nor, about) their father. Yet the pages of the telephone directories would continue to flip for years to come.

In a torn out page from a telephone directory, they called a Mr. Gabriel Rozental in Canada. He was an old wealthy man and wanted to help them financially. My mother and aunt refused. They were hoping for a miracle. Gabriel Rozental in Canada passed away during the 1970s.

The Umschlagplatz, literally transshipment square was the former railway siding by Dzika and Stawki Street in Warszawa. Here the Nazis loaded Jews from Warszawa Ghetto onto cattle trucks to be resettled in the east, which in practice meant being sent on crowded freight cars to the extermination camp at Treblinka, 90 kilometres (55 miles) east of Warsaw.

The poster from Warszawa Ghetto dated July, 29, 1942 announcing that each person who will volunteer for resettlement will get 3 kg bread and 1 kg marmalade.  Because of starvation many Jews followed that announcement. The Germans provided 180,000 kg bread and 36,000 kg marmalade. 

Sara that rewrote above asked me today:


I edited the piece you sent me. Hard to read, actually.  Let me know if it sounds okay to you. 

One suggestion - the part where you say "Later that day, in the evening, when he did not return home, they understood that he was deported to the death camp, Treblinka." 

Do you happen to know how they "came to understand" that their father had been deported? For instance, did they hear this news from neighbors, from their mother, etc? How did they come by this information? Also, what about their mother? Did they lose their mother on the same day, or later? Why is she not mentioned? 




Hi Sarenko and thanks.

How they "came to understand" that their father had been deported?

At that time one knew! It was like, if someone now is late from his work and You know that it is traffic on the highway, You know and understand the cause. No further explanations are needed. In ghetto if someone do not come back, like Your grandgrandfather it was "accepted" that he was "taken, deported", that means murdered. 
No further explanations were needed.

After WWII Polish families used to sit up and listened to the radio communications of the Polish Red Cross,  "Whom are you looking for". This search box  by the Red Cross in the Polish Radio was emmited every morning for 30 minutes and provided names of searched people. Until today day it sounds in my ears dignified voice that was with a monotone tone reading the names, dates of birth, the cities where they come from, etc., etc. 

Jewish families did not listen to these communications because I knew ....

Uncle Romek

Friday, May 9, 2014

May in Helsinki

Suomenlinna (Viapori/Sveaborg) fortress is one of the biggest sea fortresses in the world. Founded in 1748 and built by Augustin Ehrensvärd on islands off the coast of Helsinki. Suomenlinna one of the most popular attractions in Finland and a place where people live. It was included in Unesco’s World Heritage List in 1991 as a unique monument to European military architecture. An important part of any visit to Suomenlinna is a good meal or a welcome break at one of the cafés. The fortress has a selection of restaurants and charming cafés. The Visitor Centre, situated in the middle of the fortress at Tykistölahti bay, is a base and information point for visitors and is the starting point for the walking tours. It also contains the Suomenlinna Museum exhibition. Suomenlinna is explored on foot. During the summer months there are daily guided tours in English, Swedish and Finnish around Suomenlinna. In the winter there are tours in English during the weekends.

The Senate Square and its surroundings form a unique and cohesive example of Neoclassical architecture. The square is dominated by four buildings designed by Carl Ludvig Engel between 1822 and 1852: Helsinki Cathedral, the Government Palace, the main building of the University of Helsinki and the National Library of Finland. Helsinki Cathedral is arguably Finland's most famous and photographed building; it celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2002. The oldest stone building in Helsinki is the Sederholm House located on the southeast corner of the square.The main building of the City Museum can be found on the Sofiankatu museum street.The beautiful and historically significant Helsinki Cathedral is an Evangelic Lutheran church, and for many it is the symbol of Helsinki. The church was designed by architect Carl Ludwig Engel in the 19th century as part of the Empire-style-downtown Helsinki area. The cathedral was completed in 1852.

A new attration in Helsinki,  a Ferris wheel (also known as an observation wheel or big wheel), named after George Washington Gale Ferris that build the first one in Chicago in 1893.

Finnish DC-3

Completed in 1868 in the Katajanokka district of Helsinki, the Uspenski Cathedral is the largest orthodox church in Western Europe. With its golden cupolas and redbrick facade, the church is one of the clearest symbols of the Russian impact on Finnish history.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Monday, May 5, 2014

Nowe życie - Bałtyk na drugim planie

Pień starego dębu, 
tu ze środka wyrasta młody dąbek,
nowe życie...

Młoda brzózka
miedzy skałami 
nad Bałtykiem