Thursday, April 19, 2012

My Grandmother's Holocaust

Photographs of Yitzchok Aaron Goldblum
(clockwise from top left; click above to enlarge):
1) ca. 1928; 2) With my grandfather in 1928;
3) With his bride and her brother (r.) in 1934; 4) 1930s.
On Yom Hashoah Vehagevura/Holocaust Memorial Day I remember my grandmother’s brother, Yitzchok Aaron ben Wolf Zev Goldblum, who was named for their grandfather, Yitzchok Aaron Bogdansky. In 1920 my grandmother, then nine years old, was granted a visa to settle in the United States. Yitzchok Aaron, who was younger than her, also received a visa, but owing to family politics he was forced to remain in Europe. Three years later he once again had an opportunity to come to America, but this time as well he had to remain in Europe because of family politics. My grandfather, David Solomon, visited Poland in 1928 and tried to secure another visa for him, but by then it was too late as immigration quotas had become prohibitively restrictive. Yitzchok Aaron Goldblum was murdered in the Lodz Ghetto.
Holocaust survivors are often described by their children as one of two types: the type that talks of his or her experiences and the type that remains silent.My grandmother falls into neither category, as she is not a survivor. She was lucky enough to have come to these shores in 1920. Nonetheless, when I think of her in the context of the Holocaust I still categorize her with the silent ones.
My grandmother’s closest loss was her younger brother. She doesn’t talk about him, and hence I consider her a silent one. But the truth is her silence is not a consequence of repression or avoidance of painful memories. I simply doubt she has more than a few memories of him, if any at all. She never saw him after she left for America in 1920 as a ten-year-old. I’m also not sure how well she knew him before that, as they lived in separate households in neighboring towns for at least three years previous (when they were orphaned). So her main memories of him are probably more than ninety-five years old.
Yitzchok Aaron ben Wolf Zev would have been about 99 this year had he lived. My grandmother could have had an additional nine decades of memories of him.

(Click on image to enlarge.)
Left picture: in the center is my grandmother's brother Yitzchok Aaron; to his right is their paternal grandfather, Kalman Goldblum (d. 1931); on the far left is Kalman's second wife, Rivkah Cheved (Weiss?); in the back is Ziprah, daughter of Kalman and Rivkah Cheved; in the front are Ziprah's children. Rivkah Cheved and Ziprah (with her children?) died in a concentration camp.
Right picture: Rivkah Cheved and Ziprah are center; the girl and younger boy are Ziprah's children. The boy on the left is unknown (another child of Ziprah?).

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