We Remember the Lewin Family of Losice, Poland

Jakob LEWIN

The following is a collection of photos along with memories of my father and his family in Losice. These will include my Zaida's birth certificate, which states that Lewin, Nuska was born to Szmula - Abrama and Chai - Perly from Zyngierow, born on the 7th of February in 1888 in Losice, resided in Losice on # 14 Konstytucji ( Constitution ) Street.

A photo of my father's family taken in Losice in 1933 ( killed by the Nazis were my Baba and Zaida, Nuska and Alte, nee Borowska, along with my father's five sisters.. The survivors are standing, from left to right: Don ( the eldest ), my father, Jakob ( born in Sept. 11, 1918 ), Pinya ( the youngest of the survivors ), and Luba ( born in 1917 ). There are my father's little sisters who were murdered by the Nazis. From left to right : Chana, Rachel, Rajca, Chaia, and the youngest who wasn't in the picture, Shifra.

A photo of "the shoemaker workplace of Nuske Lewin which was at the front of his house ", taken from the Losicher Landsleit Bulletin of 1993. My Zaida is second from the left - white shirt with suspenders. The others in the picture of the shoemaking factory on Mezritcher Street taken in 1925 were, from left to right, Hersch Leb Shpakier, Nuske, my zaida (Shmuel - Avraham's ), Yitzhak Oxenhorn, Zelig Nussbaum, Zalman Shmeon's, Dvtshe Bnimin ( Greber's ), Chaim Zinger, Hersch Leb (the Siedlcher ), Shepsel Voda ( Dovidztve ), and Don.

Often times my father would have to help out at the shop schlepping shoe forms and when he would complain about missing school, my Zaida would say that he could go to the back of the school and sneak in through one of the open windows. Such was the poverty.

Prior to the Nazi occupation of Losice, the four survivors of my father's family all had crossed the border into Russia. My father ended up in Minsk with the Komitet of Losice and worked in a shoemaking factory. My Zaida had also crossed over into Russian territory, but returned because it was his responsibility to be with his family. My uncle Pinya and Aunt Luba were staying with relatives in Ratno, where they were later joined by my father. Here they were arrested by Russian police/military and imprisoned as " enemies of the state " in Kovel. My Zaida's family tried to buy their freedom, but this proved fruitless. After ten days they were taken, along with other Polish Jews, by wagon, then train, sometimes for great distances by foot, by barge as far as the Dvina River, whereupon they became separated. My father and my aunt Luba continued on to the forced labour camp in Ukhta, where their daily work consisted of felling trees. Here they suffered through the bone-chilling winters and the sweltering summers until 1942 when the Sikorsky accord released approx. 230,000 deported Poles. The accord stipulated the creation of a Polish Army ( Anders Army ). Stalin pressed the Anders Army to leave Russian soil.The exodus would involve trekking the entire breadth of Russia, through Iran, to Palestine. Because of the antisemitic attitude within Anders Army, my father was more or less " given " to the British 8th Army.

From 1942 to 1944 my father fought with the British 8th Army ( 1st Camouflage Co. ) in North Africa at Tobruk and Benghazi. After the Jewish Brigade was formed in 1944, my father asked for a transfer and served with the Brigade in Italy ( attached to the British 8th Army - 643 Field Co. ), Holland, and Belgium. In 1946 he returned to Richovot, Palestine to be discharged. My father was awarded the Italy Star, the Africa Star, War Medal 1939-45, and the 1939-45 Star Medal for his years of courageous service.

What follows are a number of photos of Jakob Lewin in the Jewish Brigade.

Jakob Lewin in the Jewish Brigade attached to British 8th army. Brussels, Belgium 1944

1945 Ghent, Belgium. Eli Shulruf in driever's seat. Lives in Israel. Jakob Lewin standing to Shulruf's left.

Also is a copy of his war record and some information about the medals awarded him:

The 1939-45 Star
The Africa Star
The Italy Star
The War Medal 193 9-1945
Military Conduct
Fair

ARMY RECORD

46150 Driver Jakob LEWIN
Royal Engineers.

Enlisted as a Sapper into the Royal Engineers on a Regular engagement
and posted to (R.E.) Training Depot 17 February 1943

Posted as a Driver to 1st Camouflage Company (R.E.) 03 June 1943

Posted to 643 Field Company (R.E.,) Palestine Regiment 06 February 1945

Posted to the Palestine Training Depot 11 June 1946

Posted to Military Dispersal Unit 09 July 1946

Discharged 04 September 1946

Service with the colours 17 February 1943 - 4 September 1946

Overseas Service Palestine 17 February 1943 - 13 March 1943

Mediterranean Expeditionary Force 14 March 1943 - 02 Apnl 1944

British North Africa Force 03 April 1944 - 29 July 1945

British Army of the Rhine 30 July 1945 - 19 December 1945

Palestine 9 July 1946 - 4 September 1946

 

My father remained in Palestine for a short time, but always pre-occupied with questions about the fate of his family. He searched in vain, eventually finding some comfort, along with food, housing, and work in a displaced persons camp in southern Germany. Here, he discovers that his sister, Luba, and two brothers, Pinya and Don had also survived the war and the Holocaust. I don't have a picture with my uncle Don.

This picture shows my aunt Luba ( standing ) holding her daughter Alta, my uncle Pinya ( standing immediately behind the woman, seated holding a child ), and my aunt Luba's husband, Fischel ( second from the right ), holding son Leonard. The names of the others, I do not know. This picture of them was taken at a displaced persons camp in Eschwegen, Germany in the American Sector, probably in 1946.

My father met my mother, Freda in Esslingen, Germany where my father was employed as a driver for an orphanage. They were married in 1948. I came along in October of 1949. They emigrated to America, through the efforts of the American Joint Distribution Committee, in August of 1951.


This photo was taken in 1947 at the Rochel Displaced Persons Camp in the Kassel region of Germany. The four men in the background from left to right:

my father ( Jakob Lewin ), his cousin ( Velvel Ribkowski ) and my father's two brothers ( Don and Pinya Levine ).

In the foreground from left to right:

Velvel Ribkowski's wife Frieda, my father's sister Luba and her husband Fischel Rutman holding their son Leonard.

Becoming aware that his surviving siblings were now living in Winnipeg, Manitoba, our family moved there in 1962, and have been here ever since. My uncle Pinya and aunt Luba also still live here, and my uncle Don now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Viktor Lewin, Canada, November 2002


My father's older brother Don and his wife Rachel.


Foreground, left to right.: my father's brother, Pinie, his wife Rosa, my father's sister, Luba, her husband Fischel.
Background, left to right: my mother, Elfriede, & my father Jakob.

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Web page first erected in November 2002

Last updated March 28th, 2007