Saturday, June 20, 2015

Escaping Persecution

This is the family history of another one of my students. During his family history project, he explored the stories that he had heard. However, like many of us when we are children, we only half-listen and don't process the full significance of the word or appreciate the historical significance of our family's past. This was a chance to really listen and document the stories. 

J. is the grandson of a noted psychiatrist, author, and professor at Columbia University. However, both his grandfather and his grandmother came from families who fled Eastern Europe to escape persecution. J's 2X great-grandfather fled Ukraine. The family settled in New York City. J.'s great-grandparents were Benjamin William & (Anita Rosenbloom) Glick. Their parents were Abraham & Rae (___) Glick and Joseph & Ida (___) Rosenbloom. 

From the interview with his grandfather:
In 1905, the Russo-Japanese war was going on, and Ukrainian Jews were being conscripted and dragged to fight in Japan, so there was a good chance my great-great grandparents (Abraham and Rae), residents of highly segregated Odessa, would die in combat. So, Abraham (a tobacco merchant), Rae, and their two daughters fled to New York. To sound less “Jewish,” they bought passports and became the Glicks, to sound more German. Allegedly, they were the “Tarnopolskys,” but there is no confirmation. Allegedly, a son stayed in Ukraine. Abraham opened up a candy store in New York, Rae was a seamstress for a living, and my great-grandfather, Benjamin William Glick, was born in 1907. They lived on the Lower East Side in Manhattan, in a very Jewish neighborhood. My great-grandfather was the first in the family to attend college, going to New York University and Columbia Medical School and becoming a doctor. There was fear among Jews on the Lower East Side. They feared of being rounded up or beaten up. One of my grandfather’s aunts married a Jew who carried a gun out of paranoia. When the family lived in Hell’s Kitchen, he wanted to defend them, in case any cops gave them a hard time. There were many limits that Jews had in society, before the First World War. There were limits on joining clubs, attending colleges, and even what buildings they could live in. There was a question about whether or not Benjamin William would be accepted into med school.

J.'s grandmother is the daughter of Kurt & Ursula (Dzialowsky) Bachrach. Their parents were Jacob & Jenny (Wolff) Bachrach and Jacob & Anna (___) Dzialowsky. 
"Auschwitz I Entrance". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

From the interview with his grandmother: 
Her father's father [Jacob Bachrach] was a cantor in a synagogue. He died in a hospital from diabetes-related complications, being taken care of by Catholic nuns. His wife [Jenny (Wolff) Bachrach] was rounded up and killed in Auschwitz. Her father, Kurt Jakob Bachrach, was notified many years later that her name was on the list of Auschwitz victims. Before the Holocaust, they lived a very integrated life in their community in Germany. Before leaving the country, according to my grandmother, Kurt was arrested and questioned many times. He was always able to find his way out with his charm. He was the editor of a Jewish newspaper.  He was a witness to Kristallnacht when Nazis were smashing Jewish storefronts and other belongings owned by Berlinese Jews. He took this as a warning sign to flee. Kurt had gotten married in Germany to Ursula before moving to New York. Her parents were still in Germany when Kurt moved in 1938. Kurt came over because he knew someone who could give him a voucher. Eventually, he was able to send for his wife and her parents. Her parents were able to successfully escape an increasingly anti-semitic 1939 Berlin and flee the country on a ship leaving from Hamburg. Once settled in New York, Kurt sold newspapers at Times Square Station and sold Fuller Brush products in Harlem. Kurt eventually began to work for the Anti-Defamation League. They had him change his name because his name was German, and there was an anti-German sentiment in the United States. He was known in the professional world as “Jack Baker.”

J. asked where he might find a record of his 2X great-grandmother's death in Auschwitz. I suggested that he start with Yad Vashem and this is what he found.
Link to document

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