Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Exploring Jewish Radom

We began today with a visit to the USC, the governmental office which has vital records for the past 100 years.  Dora was interested in getting her birth record and that of her brother.  People who can prove their parent was born in Poland may be able to obtain a Polish passport enabling them easier access to European Union countries.  Dora’s experience was quite smooth because she speaks the language and within an hour we had secured the birth records for both.

Our next stop was the archive which holds records that are over 100 years old.  We secured a number of identity papers for family members.  When we had been at the Warsaw genealogy office of the Jewish Historical Institute, we had obtained lists of family members who had been in the ghetto and completed identity papers.  Many of the papers were accompanied by photographs.

Using JRI-Poland.org I had been able to locate indexes of many records on Dora’s family that included her great-grandmother’s birth record and her grandparents’ marriage record.  We found the Book of Residents which included her family.  The Book of Residents lists the residents by family along with parents’ names and various events in their lives that required official notation.   My ability to decipher Russian Cyrillic came in handy and we were able to leave with the records on my list.

Our tasks accomplished, our touring now began in earnest.  Dora’s niece had secured a van to take us to different locations and we began with a chronological history.  We started at Dora’s childhood home and concluded with a visit to her home in the ghetto.  We visited the area of the former forced labor camp and I asked Dora if she ever received any compensation as the Austrian company that ran the weapons factory still exists.  She replied that a few years ago she received a very small sum.

We then stopped at her former school which is now an apartment building.  She was pleased to see that a plaque on the history of the school adorned the door.  We entered the building and I was struck by the worn stone steps on which so many students had walked.

We stopped by the Resursa to see the artwork and photos being hung for our show.  At Dora’s request we planned another visit to the cemetery and Jakub once again secured the key to the cemetery for us.  Again we said the Kaddish, the prayer for the dead, now with this enlarged group of family and friends.  It felt especially important to Dora to have her family with her in this place.

We also did a brief stop at the site of the old synagogue.  Throughout the day we had several videographers in our group recording Dora’s stories in the related locations.  Hopefully some will turn out to be useable as filming in a vehicle or on the street has its challenges.  Dora told some stories that I had heard from her previously, but they took on an added resonance when told on the site in which they occurred.

One more day in Radom, but a jam packed one.  Tomorrow we give our talk at the Resursa to high school students, then an opening in the evening and we reconnect with our Polish friends from our prior visit.

1 comment:

  1. I can't believe that you were able to acquire documents that had pictures. How priceless! It sounds as if your trip could not have been better planned.