Monday, April 24, 2017

In Remembrance

In Remembrance: My Grandmother was born in a tiny town in Poland named Frompel. Her maiden name was Huff. She married my Grandfather and, as family legend has it, they lived together long enough for her to get pregnant, whereupon Grandfather took off for America to work, save and send back enough for her boat ticket. A year later, carrying my infant mother (and probably not much else), she joined him in New York. That was around 1910. The rest of her family was not as fortunate.

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to find a copy of a book published in Israel in 1966 by the survivors of Frompol.  The book was in the library of the Yivo Institute; it's purpose was simply to document stories and bits of history of the Jewish community there, along with the names of those murdered by the Nazis.

With the help of a kind staff member I found the page with the list 28 people named Huff. They are all relatives of mine from that village.  None of them survived. Although I had heard stories of family members 'left behind,' this is the first time I actually read their names. My Yiddish is not very good, but I was able to make out the name of my Great Grandfather, Avram (Abraham) among them.

In Remembrance on this day, Yom HaShoah:

A Footnote: When I was a kid – really young, like around 5 – I remember noticing really old people – and when you are 5, damn near everybody over 20 is old – old people with numbers tattooed on their arms.  I guess at the time didn't know they were tattoos, and just thought they were another strange thing old people did, like smoking cigars.  I also remember that occasionally some of these folks acted odd, like yelling or crying for no reason.  When that happened, I would sometimes hear someone say “He was in the camps.”  Everyone would nod and not say anything more.  After all, what could anyone say?

It was only much later that I got some understanding of the real horror of what these people had been through.  Seems like the older I get, the greater my sense of the magnitude of the Holocaust becomes.  I had forgotten about the book of my grandmother's village that I cited on my last post.  Yesterday I remembered the folder and found it stuck away in a file draw.  I looked at it for the first time in years and read off the names of my relatives.  and this time I had to fight back tears.  

1 comment:

Barbara Katzenberg said...

This is quite a story, and how fortunate that these records were kept and that you found them. My family missed this heartache because they came a generation earlier--in our case from Germany.