Renee Losice's Story
Written by Viktor Lewin and Renee Glassner ne'e Losice, February 2003
Renee (Rywka) Glassner ne'e Losice
Coming to Losice, I was immediately struck by the reality that I was walking on the very same pavement along which were conveyed thousands of Jewish souls from Losice, as well as Jews from neighboring towns and villages, to the town of Siedlce, and then to their final destination: the death camp of Treblinka. It was during August 22nd and November 28th, 1942 that the long history of Jews in this region of Poland came to an end.
Two threads still continue to connect the small town of Losice with it's Jewish past. The first is the disturbingly large number of Matzevot (tombstones) which remain on the property of the late Dr. Wroblewski. Many form a sizable fence along one side of the property, while others lie one on another horizontally below the surface of the backyard. There is a strong effort being made to reclaim these Matzevot and to replace them in a memorial park, possibly at the site of the old Jewish Cemetery of Losice. The second thread is visible from the Rynek (town square) where it intersects with the Miedzyrzecka Street. Here stands the three story house which was passed down to the family members by Mendel Perelmuter, Rywka Losice's maternal grandfather. The Losice family occupied a four - room apartment with a balcony on the second floor, facing the town square. It was a sanctuary for father Yankel; mother, Henia; and children Berel (aged 13 years), Rywka (aged 10 years), Icek (aged 9 years) during the devastating Akcja (liquidation) of the town's Jews on August 22, 1942. Rywka witnessed this barbarity and madness, first from her living room window, and then from the tiny opening in the wall of the attic where she and others were hiding. She saw friends, neighbors, schoolmates, and relatives being herded into the town square. Later that day they were no more. Usher Pinkus, Rywka's cousin, had constructed a hiding place in the attic away from the piercing and barking voices of the Nazi murderers. Here, twenty - seven Jews sought refuge. What went through their minds?
After the "large" ghetto was made Judenrein, a "small" ghetto of about 150 of Losice's remaining Jews took its place. It consisted of only one street. Rywka's father quickly and desperately searched for Christian Poles who would look after his children. His greatest concern was that even though they were being paid they would denounce the children.
After many trials and tribulations, the Pinkus and Losice families joined efforts and found hiding places just before the liquidation of the small ghetto on November 28th. Rywka, her parents and her brother Berel, as well as four members of Usher's family, survived in a pit dug under an animal shed. It had as it's ceiling some boards covered with straw and manure.
Their rescuer, a farmer, was well paid. Little Icek was hidden by another farmer for almost no remuneration - a real righteous Gentile! In this manner two families survived for the next two years. Unfortunately, the older Pinkus daughter, Manya, who was taken away from a different ghetto, was murdered in Auschwitz.
On July 30, 1944 the families were liberated by the Russian Red Army. Out of the original 6,000 Jews in Losice only sixteen survived, five of whom were the Losice family!
After the war, for various reasons, the Losice family changed their last name to Gewirtzman, the maiden name of the wife of Yankel's brother Noah in the United States. They also changed their first names : Yankel to Jacob, Henia to Anna, Berel to David, Rywka to Renee, and Icek to Irving. After losing most of their extended family in Poland, they emigrated to the United States to join Noah Losice in Albany, New York, where he had been living since 1938. The Gewirtzman family arrived in the United States on July 30, 1948.
Jacob Gewirtzman/Losice lived to be 102 years old ; Anna lived to the age of 93. They died in New Haven, Connecticut. David and Irving, both retired pharmacists, reside in the state of New York and have families of their own. Renee married Professor Martin Glassner and became a teacher of foreign languages. They raised three daughters and now enjoy ten grandchildren. She and her husband, both retired, reside in Hamden, Connecticut U.S.A.
Renee (Rywka), her mother Anna (Henia), and her father Jacob (Yankel) at the lighting of Channukah light in the year 1987