working blog for the Frank Dobia Archives



a shande

Frank emailed me the other day, which was so perfect because I had just been talking with my Lopatka cousin, Debbie Dworski, about him and the work Frank and I had been doing.

It has been over six months since we have talked, which I feel terrible about. Sometimes genealogy work ebbs and flows. I don’t like this length of time having gone by, so I am going to work harder to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Plus I miss talking with Frank.

uh oh

Frank old website is down. which is okay because i grabbed the contents. it means i need to transfer everything onto his new website. yikes.

Ringelblum Archives, Oyneg Shabbos

here is the text from Frank’s translation of the Golub-Dobryzn pages in the Ringelblum archives. links are not functional — just wanted text here for safekeeping.



It’s my opinion only, that all this that I document and write about now, will become believable when I get the documents that I have collected with great difficulty in Poland into some sort of routine. But by the time I do that I may not be about any longer. I must make it clear that this in not an aspiration that I have. I also know that the inevitable will happen so it is my goal now to record and get all the documents into order. I only try here to write down events that took place during the war. I am not sure whether my life, and part of my failures, anxieties, and successes is of any interest to anyone except my own family. In all the short testimonies that I’ve written, I was the victim or the witness to so many sufferings. Many other testimonies have been recorded. Many more books and stories were written. I was 13 years of age when the war broke out, and there will not be many more survivors left after me that would have lived through it that would remember much about it. As I get older I have reached an age now that I feel that I have a duty and an obligation to record the brutality that I’ve lived through. Some and only some of the experiences from Dobrzyn can be substantiated by documents.

The days of celebrations for me have long past so I rush to put down in the computer the memories and the life experiences that I’ve been through and remember. I am also sure that there is a spark of eternity in every human being. The building of a home, the planting of a shrub, a child, the drying of a tear will leave a mark on time. As our forefathers said every river flows to the sea. I start this data base document, with my own birth certificate.

My fathers signature on the handwritten Birth Certificate of mine brought tears to my eyes. I broke down completely when I’ve come across my parents wedding certificate. The only photograph I have of my father is from the Dobrzyn- Golub Yizkor book which I’ve copied from the book and is in this database under pictures of his birth certificate. I have not been able to find any other birth certificates of my brothers and sisters. The first born in our family were my twin sisters. The younger born sister, was killed by a lorry loaded with sugar, in front of the house we lived in, and was about to enter our yard with the load, that belonged to our uncle Boruch Kufeld (Idek’s Father). My older brother Kalman at 15 years of age, 2 years older then myself, was shot together with about 270 other Jews. It was only 2 weeks into the war on the 14th September 1939 that they were forcefully taken away. They were taken out from the synagogue and many prayer houses in Dobrzyn, and driven to Bydgoszcz (Bromberg) where they were all shot in groups of 30-40

Putting the few documents that I’ve been able to recover in Poland in order, will show how big our tragedy was. What has happened is incomprehensible. Whilst our roots in Dobrzyn go back for many many generations, the part that I am recording in this Dobrzyn hyperlink section is only the brief period from the outbreak of war 1 September 1939 until the 11 November 1939 when the remainder of the Jewish population was forcefully expelled from there. In those 10 weeks of the beginning of the war, the killings, the gruesome and brutal atrocities that took place, the cruelty that the Germans were capable of inflicting, in such a short period of time, is probably unbelievable for people that have not been through it. I lived there until the 11th of November 1939 when the last remnants of Jews from Golub and Dobrzyn were forcefully evacuated. The 6 million figure, a figure of men, women and children that have perished in the Holocaust is beyond understanding. But when one sees it in the few documents that I have about our little town Dobrzyn and Golub, that figure of 6 million becomes much much larger. The documents that I have  only just recently recovered, have stirred up something in me and urged me on to record my experiences. I must be the only survivor from Dobrzyn that was there during the terrible 10 weeks. There is a lot more that I must write. Amongst the documents, I have 2 copies of letters of testimony and 2  lists of victims from Dobrzyn that were given to the Ringelblum archives in theWarsaw Ghetto in May 1941 by 2 witnesses. I have translated them from Yiddish into English for the St Kilda Hebrew Congregation on the occasion when I donated a rescued from after the Holocaust, a Torah mantle, Finials, Breastplate, Crown and pointer. All of the Torah dress and ornaments was from some place in Poland and was being hawked around in various flea market’s by Polish Judaica peddlars. I bought it and brought it with me home and Erev Yom-Kippur 1998 I presented it all to our shule ” The St. Kilda Hebrew Congregation” where it belongs. Copies of the documents will remain in the sanctum of the Ark, whilst the “Keilim” ( the Torah dress and ornaments) will be used for the service whenever Yizkor is recited, to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust..

2 copies of letters recorded by the Ringelblum Archives in Warsaw Poland by 2 eye witnesses from Dobrzyn and Golub now called Golub-Dobrzyn. The second letter was signed of ” to be continued” and was never finished.

I don’t delude myself and I am sure that the writers of the 2 letters did not survive to finish their story.

The dates are one letter is 2 May 1941, the second letter is the 11 May 1941

Following are the translations from Yiddish:

FIRST LETTER (dated 2 May 1941)

Dobrzyn on the Drvenza-Golub Pomerania

On the 6th September 1939 our town was occupied and straight away robberies of grocery and drapery stores began. 2 days after the occupation all businesses and houses without difference, were compulsorily requisitioned.

On Rosh-Hashana an order was issued that all men from 15 to 60 years of age to report to the market square. The order came with a threat that any man not reporting to the market square would be shot. Separately the Germans went from house to house dragging the men out from the Synagogue and prayer houses in their prayer shawls and in their yom-tov dress. They were loaded on to lorries and transported to Bydgoszcz (Bromberg), together about 230 men, among them some sick, paralysed and some suffering from tuberculosis. They were forced into horse stables and kept on the stable manure, maltreated, beaten and taken afterwards in an unknown direction. (K.L. Jasniec direction?) From that time on, no trace at all was ever found of them. In Dobrzyn searches were carried out and the best of what appealed to the Germans was taken away. People were taken into custody and monies extracted for their release. During the searches young girls between 18 and 20 years of age were forced to undress completely and forcing all present to leave the home. Whoever refused the order was terribly beaten. The Jewish Council was ordered to bring every day 50 young people for heavy work on the bridge and to cart away all the requisitioned Jewish goods from the stores. This work was undertaken by the local V.D. (Volksdeutsche). The 25th October the most honoured citizen of our town, the chemist Riesenfeld was arrested by the Gestapo as the leader of the Polish Jewry and all trace of him has disappeared.

The 8th of November 1939, 35 of the wealthiest families received an order to report to the market square with 35 kilogram of luggage per person. The luggage was taken away on a truck and the families were separated. The children were taken away, leaving some of the parents behind. The children were taken in an unknown direction and until today their tracks are lost.

3 days before this all Golub Jews were arrested. On the 9th of November 1939 at 8 am in the morning about 1500 Germans, some in civilian clothes, ordered that all Jews must leave their homes within 10 minutes and report to the market square. Having all of the population in the market, the “Landrat” Germans ordered that a contribution of 50,000 Zloty’s must be paid. Holding 4 Jews responsible, and promising that after the contribution was settled, everyone will be free to leave wherever they wish to go. The poor town collected 23,000 Zloty’s and 2 baskets of silver candlesticks, gold wedding rings, and various other stuff. After photographing the loot the order was given that the Jews must leave the town immediately and all the old and sick were forced out of town, forbidding even the farmers to use their carts for travel.

The howling and cries on the road are impossible to describe. People left everything behind that they carried with them not having the strength to carry it further. The town had 600 families, altogether 3000 people, and all of them were forced out of the town, being beaten with whips in the process.

2 May 1941

If you want to see the original please click here Letter 1

SECOND LETTER (dated 11th May 1941 )

Dobrzyn on the Drvenza and Golub Pomerania

About 2 days before Rosh-Hashana our town was occupied. When it was earlier overrun nobody was affected in town. The biggest part of the population ran away to the neighbouring towns and villages so that there was only a small Jewish population left. But most of them returned to their homes by erev Rosh-Hashana.

The first day of Rosh –Hashana all the prayer houses were surrounded. All private homes were searched, and all men from 14 years up to 65 years of age that were in town were taken away. Approximately 270 men in all were taken, loaded on trucks, and taken to Bydgoszcz (Bromberg). They were kept in stables under the worst conditions for 2 weeks. From there they were sent away again to somewhere unknown and the unfortunate families until today don’t know what has happened to them, in spite of great efforts that were made to find out about their whereabouts. All efforts to find traces of them, or any sign of life, were without success.

Shortly after this episode an 18 year old young man was shot in the street while returning from the baker with a loaf of bread. The reason for the shooting is unknown. After that many searches took place and various materials and goods from stores were requisitioned and taken away. The shops had to close. Searches for money then started and women in particular were treated in a very dirty way. Forced labour was introduced for the young people which had to be regulated by the Jewish Elders.

People were being arrested in town. Among them was the local chemist, a communal Zionist Public figure who took part in every Zionist Congress and was in our town among others one of the most outstanding citizens. He was held in the highest regard and looked up to by all philanthropic institutions to which he was always the biggest contributor. Unfortunately, until this day no trace has been found of his whereabouts or of what ever happened to him.

On the 8th of November 1939, 35 families consisting of 107 people received a written order to report with their families on the 9th of November 1939 with luggage of no more then 150 kilograms per family, for the purpose of being evacuated to an unknown destination. All property mobile or immobile had to be written down and recorded of what is left behind, and a copy had to be lodged with the Mayor of the town. All the families duly reported on time before the City Hall, altogether 107 persons (amongst them women, small children, and the old and sick). For whatever reason only 70 persons were sent away and 37 people were left behind. Where the 70 persons and their luggage were taken to is unknown until today. Great and various efforts were made to find out where they were taken to. No sign was ever received from them. On the 10th of November the whole Jewish community was called before the City Hall and was told that in a few hours the remainder of the community must leave the town and can move only in the direction of Warsaw. The community was forced to pay a contribution like gold and silver and most of the people were kept in place and not allowed to return home again. Everybody, including the wealthiest people in our town left their homes with a small hand carried parcel. Being forcefully expelled all of them left on foot. On the way out, there were several deaths. Some very sick people were left behind in town. What has happened to them is unknown. But what we heard was nothing good.

It can be said that our town was different from all the others, in that, that we
left (naked in borvess) naked and barefooted, and without any money to
live. Most of the people from Dobrzyn, about 800 persons, live in Warsaw
now in very bad and terrible conditions. The people from Dobrzyn that were once
the most dignified and most respectable people from our town are now
starving from hunger. From our town approximately 400 people were taken
away that we don’t know until this day what has ever happened to them. The
last news we had from our town is that the smaller Jewish homes were
demolished and the fence around the cemetery and all the places of worship
were torn down. That is the last information we have had till today. We
plead, and it is in the interest of all the Jewish people to intervene
energetically, and find out what happened to all the first, and the second
group of the above mentioned 400 people and where they have disappeared to.
The cries of help from the left behind and distressed families are terrible
in Warsaw.
To be continued 11th May 1941

If you want to see the original please click here Letter 2


14/9/ September 1939 Dobrzyn on the Drvenza and Golub

1 Sztolcman Chiel (Aronek’s Father)2 Nowalski Szyja

3 Topol David

4 Kwiat Lajb

5 Flusberg Alje

6 Zaklikowski Luzer

7 Czarnolaski Nusen

8 Robak Chuna

9 Lewkowicz Chaim Josef

10 Gold Mordka

11 Kurczak Mordcha

12 Kozak Mojshe

13 Blauzajd Menashe

14 Wygdorasz Nusen

15 Szperling Wolf

16 Smuzyk Iser

17 Perkal Nuta

18 Knopf Szyja

19 Gurfinkiel Mojsze

20 Goldberg Majer

21 Lipka Zanwel

22 Lipka David

23 Zylberberg (ironmonger)

24 Frajlich (crockery shop)

25 Dzialdow Icek

26 Gurfinkel (fancy goods shop)

27 Kirszenbaum Chaskiel

28 Nowalski Abram Icek

29 Szajnbart Aron

30 Cudkiewicz Gershon (Briesen)

31 Cudkiewicz Moniek (Briesen)

32 Pzastkowski Mojsze (Briesen)

33 Pzastkowski David (Briesen)

34 Rodzynek Mojsze

35 Felczer from Ciechocinek

36 Kufeld Izrael

37 Lipski Ojzer

38 Kaczor Szewa

39 Kozak Abram

40 Sztetyn Ber

41 Sztetyn young boy42 Sztetyn his brother

43 Szajnbart David

44 Kohn Ojzer

45 Pulwer Hersz

46 Lipsztadt Lajb

47 Makowski Abram

48 Pinczewski Pinkus (Briesen)

49 Florman Menasze

50 Szlachter (deaf)

51 Szlachter (his son)

52 Szlachter Josef Mendel

53 Szlachter Alje Ber

54 Szlachter (son)

55 Szlachter (son)

56 Ryzowa Abram

57 Ryzowa (son)

58 Nusbaum Zalman

59 Rotman Josef

60 Freiman (briesen)

61 Goldman Abram

62 Berkman Izrael Hersz

63 Berkman (son)

64 Skornik Jochanan

65 Burtka (shoemaker)

66 Burtka (son)

67 Kufeld Alje Beryl

68 Gutman Bienek

69 Plotniarz Szaja

70 Kwinter Chaskiel

71 Berkman Mojsze

72 Abramowicz Shulem

73 Poljer (baker)

74 Rujna (boy)

75 Rozental Szyja

76 Altyna Gedalje

77 Sowa Pinkus

78 Lipszyc Szoel Lajb

79 Lipszyc (son)

80 Lipszyc (son)

81 Minski Baruch

82 Olsztajn Abram

(second page)

83 Kaczor Abram84 Kaufman Abram

85 Gasior Mojsze Icie

86 Alterowicz Icek Lajb

87 Cetel tailor

88 Zak shoemaker

89 Cudkiewicz Abram Hersz

90 Bramzon Luzer

91 Bramzon son

92 Arfa Kalman barber

93 Arfa Kalman butcher

94 Felczer at Russaks Ciechocinek

95 Rokman Yosef

96 Rokman brother

97 Klein Mojsze Iser

98 Meinke Aron

99 Altman Lajb

100 Moszkiewicz Jakub

101 Holc Chiel

102 Piechotka Lajb

103 Piechotka brother

104 Lichtensztein Maurycy

105 Lipka Rachmiel

106 Watchmaker Goldberg son in law

107 Makowski Ephraim’s son

108 Kohn Mordcha

109 Horowicz Gecel

110 Horowicz son

111 Horowicz son

112 Szwarckop Ajzyk

113 Kadecki Jakob

114 Kadecki Symcha

115 Kadecki Lajb

116 Groner tailor

117 Frajlich bootmaker

118 Chomont Aron

119 Krajanek Gerszon

120 Krajanek son

121 Berkowicz barber

122 Hendel deli shop

123 Hendel Lejzor

124 Piaskowski Szymon125 Hirszberg Burech

126 Podrygal David

127 Plockier Bynem

128 Arnow Benjamin

129 Arnow son

130 Dobraszklanka boy

(F.D. first from the right – my brother, 15 years old at the time) 

131 Brodziak shop owner

132 Serko Wolf

133 Salomon Mordka

134 Salomon son

135 Plotniarz Chiel Majer

136 Nowalski Benjamin Iser

137 Makowski Abram

138 Frenkiel Izrael

139 Radowolczyk Tabiak

140 Radowolczyk Hiler

141 Fajersztajn L

142 Zylberberg Kantor

143 Krajanek Izrael

144 Krajanek son

145 Krajanek brother

146 Gurfinkiel Abram

147 Lewin Fiszel

148 Smuzyk Mordka

149 Meinka Icek ordka

150 Miller David

151 Rozenwaks Abram Jakob

152 Rozenwaks son

153 Frajlich Mechel

154 Ryz Lipman

155 Pozmanter Mojsze

156 Pozmanter Cudek

157 Pozmanter brother

158 Gasior tailor

159 Kruczyk Michal

160 Kruczyk son

161 Skornik Lipman

162 unreadable

(third page)
163 Studkiewicz fish distributor
164 Grinberg Szmul David
165 Altyna Mojsze
166 Memel Abram
167 Memel Szyja
168 Nowalski szmul
169 Gasior Yosef Benjamin
170 son
171 son
172 son
173 son
174 Groner Jakob
175 Anczolowski tailor
176 Dobraszklanka
177 Grosman Abram
178 Grosman Chaskiel
179 Plockier Lajb
180 Sztencel
181 Mucha Lajb
182 Mucha brother
183 Golomb Mojsze
184 Dunn young
185 Cala Mechel
186 Szwarckopf Ajzyk
187 Szmiga Icek Jakob
188 Riesenfeld Adolf

If you want to see the original please click here List 1

My own comments
The last name Riesenfeld was not amongst this group. He was taken away a few days before and executed somewhere in the area. How soon the 2 lists of victims were written I am not sure. The first list is of all male victims (not complete) dated the 14/9/Wrzesnia (September) 1939. The second list is dated the 9th of November 1939 and is of 35 families, men, women and children. The original 2 lists of the victims are in the Ringelblum archives in Warsaw. The 2 original letters from the 2 unknown witnesses which I translated from Yiddish into English are also in the Ringelblum archives. The first letter is dated the second of May 1941, the second letter is dated the 11th May 1941. Not all the victims of the 2 groups are mentioned. It seems to me that the lists were done by memory only and some of the victims names were unknown to the writer or could not be remembered by him. At the bottom of the page of the last victim Riesenfeld no.188 is a handwritten footnote that says: that altogether were 260 persons. It was on the first day of Rosh-Hashana 1939, on the 8th day after the Germans occupied our town that this slaughter took place. I am the only survivor that was in town at the time when this happened. All of the victims in this group were male.


(35 families, men, women and children dated 9th November 1939)

1 Kadecki Bronia2 Kadecki Mania

3 Kadecki Roza

4 Kadecki Laja

5 Kadecki Icek

6 Kadecki Chana

7 Kadecki Sala

8 Kadecki (another sister)

9 Kadecki Lejzer

10 Rojna Hiler

11 Rojna Rywka

12 Dobraszklanka Szmul My Grandfather

13 Dobraszklanka Rywka My Grandmother

14 Dobraszklanka Szaja My uncle

15 Pieniek Szmul Icek

16 Pieniek Bina

17 Cudkiewicz Bina

18 Cudkiewicz (daughter)

19 Cudkiewicz (daughter)

20 Cudkiewicz (daughter)

21 Cudkiewicz (daughter)

22 Cudkiewicz (daughter)

23 Cudkiewicz (daughter)

24 Cudkiewicz (son)

25 Holc Szlojme26 Dzialdow Mayer

27 Dzialdow Eljasz (3 years old)

28 Ajzenberg (the daughter of Chaim)

29 Lipski Szlama

30 Lewin Lemel

31 Lewin (daughter)

32 Lewin (grandson 5 years old)

33 Muller Izrael

34 Muller Chana

35 Muller (son)

36 Muller (son)

37 Muller (daughter)

38 Fajersztajn Luzer

39 Smrodiny

40 Smrodiny (wife of above)

41 Smrodiny (child)

42 Smrodiny (child)

43 Zyskind Chana

44 Zyskind (daughter)

45 Zyskind Abram Joel

(second page)
46 Sapersztajn Chune Lemel
47 Lent Mendel
48 Lent Bala
49 Lent Judka
50 Lent Moniek
51 Kirszbaum Luzer from Golub
52 Kirszbaum (wife)
53 Kirszbaum (son)
54 Kirszbaum (son)
55 Gonshor
56 ” (2 sisters)
57 ”
58 ” (3 brothers)
59 ” (14/9 they have taken the father and 4 brothers)
together were 79 persons

If you want to see the original please click here List 2

Joint Distribution Committee (post WWII)

video for frank to watch.

Name: Report on The Living
Year: 1947
Duration: 00:24:49
Language: Yiddish

Abstract: The Joint Distribution Committee rehabilitates Holocaust survivors in Europe.

The Spielberg Jewish Film Archive –
The 500 films, selected for the virtual cinema, reflect the vast scope of documentary material collected in the Spielberg Archive. The films range from 1911 to the present and include home movies, short films and full length features.

שם: דו”ח על החיים
שנה: 1947
אורך: 00:24:49
שפה: אידיש

תקציר: ארגון הג’וינט עוסק בשיקומם של ניצולי שואה באירופה.

ארכיון הסרטים היהודיים על שם סטיבן שפילברג –
חמש מאות הסרטים שנבחרו עבור הקולנוע הווירטואלי משקפים את ההיקף הנרחב של החומר התיעודי בארכיון שפילברג. באתר ישנם סרטים משנת 1911 ועד ימינו אלה ביתיים, קצרים ובאורך מלא.

כל הזכויות שמורות לארכיון הסרטים היהודיים על שם סטיבן שפילברג ולאוניברסיטה העברית בירושלים 2010; דף הבית;

couldn’t sleep so called frank and had a nice chat.

finally scanned frank’s documents this morning. will try viewmate.

found this photo on the USHMM’s website. never saw it before. very chilling. probably some of Frank’s family is here.

Jews are assembled for deportation in Dobrzyn. [Photograph #18566]

Lopata, Lopatka

I met my friend Debbie DWORSKI at my first JewishGen conference in Salt Lake City (the 27th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in 2007).  Before the conference we had emailed a little bit back and forth as we shared a common surname (LOPTAKA) that seemed unusual.

It sort of seemed like I was stalking poor Debbie — I remember that I was so excited to finally track her down at one of the presentations I think she was a little freaked out at my enthusiasm to meet her.  To me she seemed like instant mishpucha. Plus if you have been to these conferences, sometimes there aren’t that many people our age or younger — or at least it seemed like it back then.

At the Salt Lake conference, I think Debbie showed me documents relating to our common ancestor (Ester Sura LOPATKA).  But the conference is crazy and although we kept in touch and saw each other at conferences, talked on the phone, corresponded via email, for some reason we never really focused on these documents.

Fast forward 4-5 years, during which time Frank and I have been working on trying to get his information organized.  Over this time, despite my side-trip to graduate school which delayed / pushed the momentum down to zero, Frank consistently showed that he has this amazing ability to read and understand the nuances of Polish documents of Jewish relations.

See, Frank is special.  He is one of the few people from our region who is able to understand the Polish, read the Hebrew, realize the nuances of our shared region, and get the underlying gist of the documents — especially the birth, marriage, and death vital records.  Plus as a Holocaust survivor from a town not far from where my family came from, Frank was there.  He knows the region better than most, and he knows the Jewish Poland of that region because he has had a passion for learning more about this region during all of these years after the war.

Frank is a pathway to the past.  He is a teacher.  He explains the inherent anti-semitism that may underpin the documents — as the documents were required by Polish law, but were not typically of concern to Jews, so details maybe were a bit slippery / imprecise.

In addition to a possibly unfriendly town clark, there were often significant language barriers, cultural barriers, etc.  There could be a delay of years in reporting births, marriages, deaths.  A regional rabbi may have not come to the local village recently, so the records may not have been made on the date they were recorded — probably they were often not.

I am taking the time to ruminate on all of this because Debbie asked me to see if Frank might be able to take a look at some of her LOPTAKA records because some of the town names seemed odd to her.

Now I guard Frank as a resource very carefully because I don’t want to overburden him.  Plus I want to make sure he is focusing on his document translations, not on mine or anyone elses.  So I hesitantly asked Frank to take a look at the documents for Debbie.

I was curious to see what Frank might find.  It turns out that Debbie is a LOPATA, not a LOPATKA.  From what Frank told me on prior occasions when we were going over documents with the LOPATA surname, these are two separate names, with different meanings in Polish.  Not the same family.

I am going to get Frank’s clarification on this, but long story short, Debbie and I may or may not be mishpucha.  It sort of doesn’t matter at this point — she feels like extended family and we have a lot in common beyond the genealogy and similar coloring.  But it will be interesting to see what this treasure trove of Frank’s translations brings.  A small thing maybe for him, but for us, it is huge.  I am grateful, stunned, amazed at his gift and generosity.

dworski 04_Grzebien-Lopata--1861 Drobin marriage record.jpg

Wednesday Call with Frank

A lot of odds and ends tonight, as I have been sort of scattered and busy — and found out tonight that my main website is down (aargh).  thankfully Frank’s is fine.

finally found this PDF online,  World War 2 European Theatre Sequence, which gives more details and dates and is the detailed background of this PowerPoint presentation Frank sent me a while ago.  I used this in my Map Institute final project.  there’s sound in the PowerPoint original — it’s very informative.

still haven’t coordinated Lodz Ghetto postcard images with Frank’s granddaughter — my fault because I haven’t followed up, so Frank is going to see her and talk to her this weekend.

tonight Frank and I were trying to figure out the dates for the Chmielnik yizkor book, the original of which is digitally available at the NYPL’s Dorot Division.  i think Frank said he saw this before but it’s a little hard to navigate so he’s going to go over one of the sections that was relevant to him.

i sent a query to JewishGen’s Yizkor project leader to see if Frank might be able to donate any translation he does.  they have done an amazing job of translating so many books.  of course this one is not translated, but might be in progress.

the Polish bookZarys krajobrazu : wieś polska wobec zagłady Żydów 1942-1945,  is published, but i need to write to the publishers in Warsaw at The Polish Center for Holocaust Research asking when / if it will be published in English.  it’s a very important book.


i want to go over submission guidelines for Yad Vashem Righteous to see if there’s documentation and/or help i can give Frank to maybe resubmit or strengthen his letter in regards to the guard who saved his life.  need to focus on that as a top priority.  Frank wants this done before he dies.

Wednesday talk with Frank


new website set up


got Polish book – 8 lines, but longer description / excerpt about man who saved Frank’s life, which Frank will photocopy and fax me

Keren will be sending photos. yay!!!

Melbourne Jewish Holocaust Center

Call with Frank

This post will be a lot of small items.  Apologies, hope to have something a bit more substantive going forward.

Long Time

It’s more than a little shameful I haven’t talked to Frank in a good long while.  Between finishing graduate school (yay!) and some other home-unfriendly issues, then the post-grad school blues, I haven’t been working on much of anything (genealogical or otherwise).

But it is time to resume.  The unintended break has re-energized me.  Going forward I hope to be more focused and efficient in the work Frank and I are doing.  I am trying to set up a plan with some achievable goals.  And of course will be recording this process on the blog here.


This blog seems to have fulfilled at least a partial purpose.  By documenting some of the work Frank is focused on here on the blog, it turns out the grandson of the man in Gmina Tuczępy who saved Frank’s life actually contacted Frank!  Frank has been in touch with the grandson, which I know has meant a great deal to him.

Yad Vashem “Righteous Among the Nations” Award

Frank is now attempting to procure a posthumous Yad VashemRighteous Among the Nations” award.  I hope that this will go through because although I have heard Frank tell the story numerous times, it never fails to touch me.  The recognition that except for the bravery of this one Polish man, Frank would not be alive today, this was a huge act of bravery and kindness.


There is also a Polish language book that is going to be published that will have Frank’s story in it.  I think it’s being released this week.  Frank is on pins and needles waiting to see what is written.  Assume he’ll do an English translation of the excerpt.   When Frank does that I will post it here.

Yiddish Translations for Deakin University

Frank has been working on Yiddish translations for faculty members at the local Deakin University in Melbourne:  Associate Professor Andrea Witcomb* and Honorary Fellow Pam Maclean.  The documents are minutes from the Melbourne Jewish Holocaust Center that were handwritten in Yiddish.  From Professor Witcomb’s bio, it looks like they are working on The History of the Jewish Holocaust Museum and Research Centre (JHMRC).

Andrea Witcomb Associate Professor (Research), Deakin University

*Andrea is “an Associate Professor(Research)in the field of cultural heritage. She is the Director of the Cultural Heritage Centre for Asia and the Pacific and is on the Executive Committee of the newly established Centre for Memory, Imagination and Invention (CMII).”

Melbourne and the Holocaust

The Melbourne area has a huge concentration of Holocaust survivors, so this is very important work.  The challenge, as Frank explains it, is that people alive today who know Yiddish mostly can read and write Yiddish, but only in its typed form.  Handwritten Yiddish is something that was much more common in Frank’s generation.  I can attest to this as I have come across a lot of family photographs of genealogical importance that have handwritten Yiddish on the back identifying the people in the photos.  If you don’t know handwritten Yiddish it’s a real problem.

Additionally, Frank’s input on these translations is also very valuable as these are documents written by fellow survivors and Frank can make sure references to Jewish life and life abroad are as correct as possible.

Łódź Ghetto Postcards and ID Cards

Frank has had Łódź Ghetto postcards and ID cards up on his old website for a long time.  We have been in touch with the awesome Nolan Altman to submit the data behind these cards to JewishGen but it will require preparing the metadata, which I have obviously dropped the ball on.

I was excited to hear that his daughter Keren Dobia, a very gifted photographer, photographed the items properly.  I hope that I can help out with adding the metadata and hopefully getting translations of the different languages attached to each item, either by Frank or with the help of the invaluable JewishGen ViewMate program, where volunteers will translate images for you.

Frank said that a descendant of Emil ALTSCHUL had contacted him after finding the image on his website recently.  More genealogy connections!

Buchenwald Saved from Death March

Frank Dobia Thu. Jun 18, 2009

The name above is my present name. My KLB number in Buchewald was 23730 which belonged to a Russian soldier previously. I unlike Mayer Schondorf was amongst a group selected from block 66 for the march out from Buchenwald. I was in the back of this column and for some reason close to the “appeal platz” dropped into the mud outside the French Block. When the column passed me I was dragged into one of the block in the “Big Camp” and the inmates saved me from the death march. I would not be here now if not for the inmates who saved my life.

Read more:

Chmielnik Synagogue

I found this online in this post.  There is also a Wiki page with more photos.

Seventeenth century synagogue in Chmielnik
Synagoga z XVII w. w Chmielniku

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