Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bubbe Helena

A recent thread; an important discovery.
Dear Lukasz,

I think I found my maternal great-grandmother in the Yad Vashem database:

First Name HELENA
Sex Female
Age 78
Place during the war LWOW,POLAND
Wartime Address Snopkowska Boczna 4
Place of Death LWOW,POLAND
Date of Death 12/01/1942
Place of Cremation/Burial LWOW,POLAND
Original Record No. 217
Victims' status end WWII Perished
Language Polish
Related item Lists of Jews buried in the Jewish cemetery in
Lwow, 1941-1942

In JRI-Poland she is listed as having married Juda Halpern in 1891 at the age of 21, a year before their first child, my grandmother Dorka, was born. That would make her birth date 1870. At first I thought the Yad Vashem entry was someone else because the age is 6 years older than the JRI-Poland entry. The address seemed familiar, and there it is in my mother's Reparation file, 4 Snopkowska, Lwow. She states that she was living there while studying in Lwow during the Russian occupation. So I think the age on the cemetery list is probably wrong.

What does the "Boczna" refer to? I wonder if these are mass graves with lists, or individual graves.

love, Roma
Could it be Roma's great-grandmother given the date discrepancy?
Dear Roma,

It seems to me that the data fits. The dates may be mistakenly transcripted but can be ignored because the address is so decisive. I deal with these kind of handwritten files all the time. It is hard to correctly decipher the old script. As a matter of fact I'm working on old, hand written Lwow Birth/Death/Marriage records from pre-1870 right now. Of course, the same applies to Yad Vashem records which have been digitized from handwritten Hebrew, Yiddish, or other script ...

Boczna means a "side street," a mews, court, or extension that later became a street of its own name or was integrated with Snopkowska St. It may be known as "Boczna Snopkowskiej" too.

The old Jewish cemetery in Lwow was destroyed. The existing one is an amazing place.

NYE fireworks will have a meaning to you this year, eh? . I wish you as exciting New Year as this one was.

Cheers, lukasz
A valuable lesson from Lukasz - Computer data reflects a person's best guess at what a hand written, often hard-to-read document said at the time of digitizing. In my experience, the people who do the dirty work of data input usually do a fantastic job reading handwriting that I couldn't even begin to decode. Nevertheless, with such volumes of information, errors do occur. Keep this in mind when you run into promising leads that have one piece of contradictory data. A wrong year might just be a transcription error - by the digitizer or on the original document.

Dear Lukasz,

Makes sense. Tell me a little about the new Lwow cemetery. Are there any gravestones or markers for the lists? Besides my great-grandmother, many other relatives perished in Lwow. Great-grandfather Juda Halpern also. My grandmother's brother Henrik Halpern who was a lawyer, his wife Khana and their 5-year-old son Roman/Romek. My grandmother's younger sister, Lola/Laura Halpern. Five or six members of my grandmother's uncle's family, named Weiss, including his daughter Malvina Weiss, who had a music school there. My grandmother's sister Yetka's family, Kinsbruner. Yetka filled out witness testimonials in 1956 for 13 family members. I met her son Arie in Tel Aviv. Lwow swallowed up a large part of the family.

"May you live in exciting times" is considered a curse by the Chinese. I hope to find some peace with all this year as well.

My best for the New Year,
love, r


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