Message to JewishGen Email Exchange Group

Date: 19 March 1998
From Michael Rothenberg mikeroth@svpal.org
Subject: GERSZT Family Victims: How to Learn their Holocaust Fate

 

I am seeking information for a cousin about the fate of her grandparents, aunts, uncles & others who apparently perished in the Holocaust. All these years until now, her father has had great difficulty, and deep emotions, talking about his parents, siblings and other family members.

But the time has come to try to learn the specifics of what happened to them and where they were taken to.

Her father and his family lived in Nowy Dwor, Poland, not too far from Warsaw. Her father had sisters and brothers, ten in all. He was the eldest, born in 1911, and he left home for South Africa in 1931. A sister, who was one and one-half years younger than him, left Poland before the war broke out. She had married an American and moved to California, and she recently died.

In addition to this sister of my cousin's father, her father, and possibly other siblings of her father might have survived the war.

Here is some additional family background that might be helpful in the quest:

* It is thought that my cousin's grandfather was to be conscripted into the Russian army during the 1st World War and he was taken prisoner He was already married, and my cousin's father and his sister (noted above) were already born. There is no information on when the other siblings were born, but they were born after he returned home (which might have been at the war's end in 1918, or possibly earlier).

*My cousin has some letters that were written by her grandmother and one of her father's sisters to her aunt in California. These have all been translated. They were written from Nowy Dwor with the last date being August 11, 1939. My cousin also has one letter written October 3, 1940, with a heading that says "During the Nazi occupation. Warsaw. Letter from Tobtshe (another sister of my cousin's father) using Latin alphabet with Yiddish content. To encourage the censor to pass the letter as acceptable. (interpretation)". It is believed the interpreter added this heading.

*My cousin has yet another letter dated March 14, 1947, from a a person believed to be her cousin, Sheindl Maliarska. Sheindel gave her address as: M. Michlewicz, Heidenheim/Brenz, Fredrich-Voith Street 10, U.S. Zone, Germany. There is the possibility that "M. Michlewicz" was the name of either Sheidel Maliarska's husband, or the person that She was staying with.

*It is believed that family members were in the Warsaw Ghetto. Recently, three post cards were discovered, written by my cousin's grandfather to his daughter (my cousin's aunt). They were signed "David GERSZT". One was written in 1939, one was dated April 15, 1941 (from Warsaw) and the other was dated August 1941 (also from Warsaw). They will be translated as they are written in Yiddish and Polish.

My cousin contacted the International Tracing service and provided a brief history of her father's family, noting where they lived and listing the names of family members. The ITS replied to her saying that it had received my cousin's letter but due to the high volume of inquiries, she must please be patient. This response was dated June 23,

1997 and there hadn't been another word from them until a recent, indirect and incredibly frustrating response, (described below the next paragraphs).

My cousin also wrote to the Yad Vashem about the matter and received no response. She also met with the Red Cross in Dallas about 2 years ago and, after months of waiting, received a response that they were unable to trace any members of the family. My cousin felt devastated by this and wondered if this was possible: "How can a whole family disappear off the face of the earth without a trace?"

Last year she again met with the Red Cross, this time trying to trace her cousin Sheindel, but received no reply until recently. About 4 weeks ago, my cousin got a phone call from the Dallas Red Cross and was shocked by what the caller told her:

The Red Cross had received a reply from the German Red Cross. My cousin asked the caller to fax the information to her. This is what it said: "We have now received a response from the German Red Cross. They have declined the case since they say that there is no close relationship between the inquirer (my cousin) and Sheindel Maliarska. Please note and advise the inquirer that we (letterhead said American Red Cross, The Holocaust and War Victims and Information Center, Baltimore) are still awaiting a response from the International Tracing Service and from the Polish Red Cross for all the sought persons." Yet note that my cousin presented her family relationship (cousin) with Sheindel!

Another relative visiting Auschwitz checked to see if the family name (GERSZT) appeared in at its archives. Though GERSZT was a fairly common name in Poland, to the archivist's surprise there weren't any GERSZT names to be found in the Auschwitz records except one that was close but with a slightly different spelling. Auschwitz staff said my cousin's GERSZT family members were either sent to another camp or, horrifically, that if they arrived at Auschwitz, they may have been sent to the gas chambers immediately, in which case there would be no records of the family.

My cousin's father's name is Avraham GERSZT. His late sister from California - was Ratza (Rita) Forthal, maiden name GERSZT.

Members of the family who perished are:
Father - Dovid Hersh GERSZT
Mother - Reitzer GERSZT, maiden name AIDELSBERG
Sister - Tobshe GERSZT
Sister - Sorah Scheindl GERSZT
Sister - Rivka Leah GERSZT
Sister - Feiga GERSZT
Sister - Esther GERSZT
Sister - Kila GERSZT
Brother - Tovia GERSZT
Brother - Leib (Leible) GERSZT

Birth dates aren't known but they were believed to have been born between 1918 and 1931, approximately. My cousin knows from the correspondence that they were still in Nowy Dwor in 1939 and that in 1941 they were in Warsaw. That all she knows. Where they went and what happened to them afterwards is unknown.

Please e-mail me privately if you have any information or referrals to further this quest on behalf of my cousin.

Thank you.
Mike Rothenberg
mikeroth@svpal.org


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