Sadow Parish 2010

Sadow Parish 2010

Monday, March 25, 2013

Meet Tomek Kassian

It is always exciting to make new friends and contacts through blogging.  I have recently received several emails from Tomek Kassian.  He is the son of the late Wojciech Kassian, who in the 1980's helped the Gralla Family research their information in Rozan, Poland.  He shares a website link http://www.sztetl.org.pl/pl/article/rozan/16,relacje-wspomnienia/14134,gita-rachel-starostinecki-about-her-family-before-and-during-world-war-ii/ which is an article in English on war and pre-war history of the family of Rachel Gita, who is associated with the city of Rozan. 

He has also written me about a book from author Tomasz Wisniewski, a Polish historian of Jewish life in Poland.  He has written three books about this topic and is considered an expert in this field.  He has written over 100 articles about the Jews living in the Bialystok region.  He has expanded his research to include research in Israel.  His desire is to preserve the richness and the memory of the Jewish culture and to bring an understanding to the Polish people.
One of his books is titles Jewish life in Eastern Europe before 1939.  Published 1992 in Bialystok.

He has translated some of his father's works for me and has allowed me to share this with you.

Since a past civilization is lacking visible tracks of monuments, I decided to search for other tracks. Unfortunately - nobody of the current residents has photographs from before 1939. In memory of old people live only the names of the Jews, which at that time ruled in the city. On many documents a signature of last Rabin Ruzhan I.

Platkiewitz. Just before an outbreak of war A. Enach was a deputy of the mayor of the city, while lay judge and the host of E. Buchner.

Fates of them are unknown. They most probably died. Searching for the missing past I found my way to register books, from which she is oldest from 1898. Looking them through, I encountered a lot of curiosity. Well, the most curious seem to be registers of birth children. In 1901 parents reported children's birthday from 10 last years and wholesale they wrote - Gral Joset, Gral Yankel, Gral Hana and Gral Lejba.

But the surprise was greater when in the register book from 1919 I found the record stating the Chaim Gral birthday. Mother - Ester Gral from the house Pinwald gave the child of the male sex birth to in 1895. But father Israel Aaron Gral, a shoemaker by profession reported the birthday only when respectable young - Chaim - prepared himself for the marriage and had been 24 years (?)

It is hard in this mess to establish family connections, because that kind of record isn't an isolated case. Mess in the official books complementing the fact, that until gaining independence by Poland, registers were kept in Russian language by the Pole. He used in his spelling, depending on the fantasy letters of the alphabet Latin or Russian.
 
(...) Act of the birthday number two is making a note: "This happened in the city Ruzhan twenty-fourth day of January, one thousand nine hundred and twenty seven, at nine o'clock in the morning. Icek Leib Gral appeared - blacksmith, having thirty years, lived in Ruzhan. He arrived in the attendance of witnesses Orthodox Jews Shmuel Yankel Mastek “schoolman”* (explanation of the term under the article) years thirty eight and Abram Yankel Frydman shochet, counting years fifty eight, in the city Ruzhan residing and showed us a male child, declaring, that such, birth in the city Ruzhan, of day of the seventeenth January of the current year at one o'clock in the afternoon with his wife Cywia from the house of Berembaum, having thirty years, which it the child at the circumcision was given the name Zelek. This act to the trying witness read by them and us was signed. Mayor of the city Ruzhan".
Entering of Germans caused taking Jews away from Ruzhan, of Ciechanow, Mlawa, Dzialdowo to the ghetto in Makow. Assembled performed public works in the day at the clearing of snow or repair of roads, being supposed in the future to run Wehrmacht armies to the East. The ones which didn't want to take inappropriate works beyond to their powers, were forced for her to perform by Jewish police. Germans didn't go the area of the ghetto. All your commands passed the chairman of Judenrat.
One day, hanged for an example were 20 incapable of working. Everyone behaved very quietly, because torturers threatened otherwise to hang next twenty - continues his speech my interlocutor - Mr. Zygmunt Szalkowski. They behaved very civic (sic). During the execution was complete silence.
One of doctors removed the bullet for the shot Jew. Tracks of blood led Germans to the ghetto, they found wounded and it seemed. The doctor was hanged. There was also the other doctor, but left him because didn't know about this matter, but the one second doctor with the wife and two children committed it suicide, when a liquidation of the ghetto was ordered. Then the carts ran it over through the centre of street and everyone had to jump in to them – he finished.
After the war, arrived a few who have managed to keep somewhere. But they took only at the office certificates of lost wealths and left.
Ruzhan has lost all the monuments of the past, the Jewish age. Nobody knows, where the synagogue could stand, nobody knows about fates of former residents, and the total black surrounds the history and tragedy of the Jewish people who so recently inhabited Ruzhan, Makow and district.
The Tourist handbook (National Publishing Agency) from 1984 reported:
"Ruzhan - the city and seat of the municipality, delightfully situated on the right, high edge of the Narew river. (…) they suppose, that already in 12th - of the 13th century here a commercial settlement existed, thriving, thanks to the navigable river. (…) in the period of the occupation Nazis in one of forts created the ghetto in which a few hundred Jews were imprisoned”. Same assumptions, uncertainties, and at the end of the ghetto, and the previously no mention of the Jews.
Therefore, I appeal to Readers from behind border so that send all existing and published materials treating about Ruzhan and his Jewish residents, and we in the room of the Town and Commune Office will organize the several weeks' exhibition, and then we will return publications.
 * “Schoolman” derives from the name of the synagogue in Yiddish
language: shul = school, dawnszul = school prayer. In the literal sense “belong to a synagogue”. Acting is guarding the order and cleanliness in the synagogue. Function honorable and close to the in Catholic Church sacristan, but with a much higher social rank. From this term comes a number of Jewish names created in the Russian zone:
Szkolnik, Schoolman, Szkolkin and other similar.
Sincerely,
Tom Kassian


 

 

 
Rozan 1992.
Gralla home in Kadzidlo, which is in the nearby vicinity.

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