Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lvov and Other Places

I recently read glowing reports about the city of Lvov in Ukraine, including one from New York Times foreign correspondent Clifford J. Levy, who listed it was the one place he’d like to revisit in 2011. The city, the largest in western Ukraine with approximately 730,000 residents, is a center of culture and architecture, some dating back to the city’s origin in the 13th century. From 1347 to 1569, Lvov was part of Poland, then the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1772. The city in Galicia was in the Austro-Hungarian Empire from 1772 to 1918, then in the new Polish republic until 1939 when it was annexed by the Soviet Union.  Germany occupied the area from July 1941 to July 1944. The Soviet Union recaptured Lvov in its push westward. Martin Buber, Emanuel Ax and Simon Wiesenthal were born here.

Levy briefly noted the once-large Jewish population was now quite small. Before World War II, it stood at about 100,000, then swelled to almost 200,000 as Polish refugees flooded the city. After a pogrom in 1941 by Germans and Ukrainian nationals, the Nazis established a ghetto in the city, shipping Jews in from towns across Galicia like Bukachevtsy. Most of them were sent to the Belzec death camp for immediate extermination, while those found fit to work were sent to the nearby Janowstra labor camp to toil as slave laborers in German arms plants. At the end of the German occupation, only 200-300 Jews remained.

Entrance to the former Lvov ghetto

Tonia and Hinda Mandel took their last breaths in Lvov, and certainly other of my family members passed through before their deaths. Here are the names and their stories to go with the brutal statistics.

As noted in my “Nazism in America” post (November 1, 2010), my great-grandfather, Abraham Bloomfeld, had three sisters, who for unknown reasons had the surname Winz. All were born in Burszytn in Galicia in the 1860s. One was Rose Winz, who married Meshulum Zalman Mandel from Bukachevtsy, a town in Galicia established in 1438, in 1884. Together, they had 10 children (all born in Bukachevtsy); the first three did not reach age 3. Numbers 5 through 8 immigrated to the United States. The fourth, Benjamin, and ninth and tenth, Charcha and Gitel, were not so fortunate, as Nazi deportations began in September 1942.

Rose Winz Mandel

Benjamin Mandel, born September 28, 1888, married Perel Glogower, also of Bukachevtsy, probably in 1917. One son, Mendel, died at 5 months, and a daughter, Eva died at 1 year. The sixth of the six children, Solomon was born April 5, 1925, and survived the war, passing away in Poland in 1970. Their three daughters, their husbands and children became part of the 6 million, as did aunts Charcha and Gitel and their families.

 Bukachevtsy sign

Sala Mandel, born five years before my mother in 1918, was married to Morris Schwartz. Their one daughter, Rusha, was born in 1939.  Sala and Rusha were murdered in Belzec in 1942. Morris died in an unknown place in Poland one year later. As noted earlier, Tonia (b. November 17, 1920) and Hinda (b. 1923) perished in Lvov in 1942.   

Rohatyn, another small town in the area, became the final destination for Charcha Mandel, her husband and two of her sister Gitel’s children. The Germans established a ghetto in the town in the fall of 1941 and murdered 2,000 Jews on March 20, 1942. Like Bukachevtsy, deportations to Belzec began in September 1942, and the ghetto was liquidated in June 1943. Charcha, born in 1900, married David Lempel, three years her senior, on April 3, 1924. Both perished in Rohatyn in 1943. The youngest Mandel daughter, Gitel (b. 1901), and her husband Leon Dawer (b. 1899) had four children. Solomon (b. 1926) and Elcha (b. 1932) were murdered in Rohatyn, and Tonia (b. 1930) was killed in Belzec, all in 1943. Abraham was spared this torture; he died short of a year old in 1929.

Jewish cemetery, Rohatyn

In checking the profile of a very skilled Flickr Contact, I found she is a native of Lvov, now living in Chicago. I wrote her and explained my interest in her hometown. She provided some information on the city and herself. After graduating from college in Ukraine, her family moved to the United States in 1995. She noted that all of the information and history taught was through the Soviet prism. Regarding Lvov’s past, she wrote, “I knew about the ghetto because my mother’s friend was there but he didn’t like to share information. Now he is living in Israel.”

I am therefore sharing this information. For those like Levy who may be visiting Lvov and admiring the beauty and culture, please remember that you will return home. Tonia and Hinda Mandel never did.

Former Bukachevtsy synagogue

1 comment:

  1. Please contact me at as I'm related to your family as well.
    Linda Cantor