TATRA AREA RESEARCH GROUP
(c) TARG (Formerly ZARP & PARG) All rights reserved.
Newsletter for February 2001
Vi'tanje & Powitanie! (Welcome!)
Greetings to all of you TARG members, and a special welcome to the large
number who have joined us within the last month.
I would like to answer all of your personal e-mails, but I will have my
system down for the next week or so. The computer gurus at the city (where I
now work) have solved my system's bottleneck mysteries. Under a 2001 program
the city has for its employees, I'm getting a new machine with
state-of-the-art video capabilities. But while some files are transferred
from my old machine to the new I will be using my son's computer. (If you
have a burning question in the next week or two, it would be best to contact
me at the TARG_NET@hotmail.com address. I can access that e-mail from my
machine at work on my lunch hour.)
Our brand-new TARG website has another new map showing the TARG sphere
of influence. Check it out at: http://targ.1avenue.com. When you visit, sign
the guestbook at the bottom of the page and list your villages and surnames.
It only takes a minute! You can also see the others who have posted theirs
and contact them directly for more information if you like.
TARG's larger sphere will soon be split up into regions, as the ZARP and
PARG portions within TARG operate now. On our website we will be having
separate pages for each region and perhaps a photo and description for each
village. Soon there will be another map showing all of the Slovak and Polish
Góral villages plotted, too. So keep checking back.
We'd also like to welcome a new TARG Team Leader on board. His name is
Ray Slack and he'll be covering Tvarozna, Spis county, Slovakia (east of
Kezmarok) and Bobrov, Orava county, Slovakia (east of Namestovo). He says
he's new and just gathering information at this point. Knowing Ray, he will
be a great asset. You can contact him at: Tarzantu2@aol.com. (One of the
mysteries we would love to unravel is why so many surnames from Rzepiska,
Poland are also found in Tvarozna, Slovakia!)
-- Paul K. Bingham
EXCITING TARG TRIP THIS AUGUST 8 - 20!____________
If you have the desire to see the homeland of your ancestors in and
around the beautiful Tatra mountains, the upcoming Góral Homecoming 2001
Trip led by Helene B. Cincebeaux is an incredible opportunity! It is
affordable and packed with just the kinds of arrangements you can usually
only enjoy on a custom tour costing much, much more. It includes virtually
everything: from the all trans-Atlantic airline flights, transportation,
hotels, meals, border crossings and attraction entrance fees. Translators,
researchers, and private vans allowing you to "break away" from the group to
make your own discoveries will also be available.
Many of the people signed up to go went with us in 1999. Why? They know
what joy they are in for! They are also looking forward to seeing some of
the extras included in this new tour like the visit to the ancient Spisska
Kapitula archives, more time in Poland, the Orava Skansen museum and a stop
in Bratislava. There is still space available. A deposit of just $300 will
hold your seat. For more information contact her, Helene Cincebeaux at:151
Colebrook Dr, Rochester, NY 14617-2215 or call toll free: 1 (888) 529-7150
or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Total trip price is just $2299 which can be
split in payments.
(Note: If you'd feel more comfortable, you can e-mail me and I will be happy
to mail you a flier, as I have a few Helene gave me in my office. -Paul)
LDS MICROFILMS FROM POLISH TARG TOWNS__________
With the help of new TARG member Patti Marsicano, we've found the following
Polish microfilms available:
1. Film #'s 1896704 & 1896705
Grywald: 1788 - 1900
Haluszowa: 1807 - 1921
Ochotnica Dolna: 1786 - 1900
Tylmanowa: 1756 - 1900
2. Film #'s 1896391, 1895997 & 939978
Kroscienko 1644 - 1900
(some Grywald and Haluszowa may also be on these rolls)
3. Film #'s 1895266, 1895267 & 996416
Szczawnica Wyzna: 1788 - 1900
4. Film# 998662
Zakopane (and other nearby parishes) 1868 - ?
(Note: Films currently listed for Odrowaz, Witow and Jablonka are NOT
villages within TARG. They are villages with the same names from elsewhere
LEARNING ABOUT THE JEWS OF ORAWA_______________
(Part one of a conversation between Gary Luke, a Jewish TARG member from
Australia and Paul Bingham. Compiled by Paul Bingham, Rearranged into topics
by Gary Luke)
GARY: Thanks for your quick and welcoming reply. Hope you don't mind a
slightly long email to introduce myself and my interests.
PAUL: I'm fascinated by the information contained in your e-mails and feel
it is very important to the group. I'm wondering if you would give me
permission to put our discussion together into an upcoming article to better
understand the Orawa Jewish history. How important, too, that it never be
forgotten. Would that be okay?
GARY: Yes. Could I check a copy before you broadcast it?
PAUL: Thank you. I was to going ask you if you'd care to proof read it. Feel
free to edit and add more wonderful detail if something suggests itself. I'm
sure the group will love it. We have a few Jewish researchers in our Tatra
Area Research Group, none as yet from these villages you mention. (I would
however like to see many more!)
GARY: Where are your Orava ancestors from?
PAUL: My family were all Roman Catholics and from the town (now buried
under the lake) called Slanica.
GARY: My family names from Slanica were Wichs in the 1850s and Tandlich in
the early 1900s. Our family names appear in towns all over the district,
some from villages now flooded by Orava Lake with yours. The names are
Simpler, Stiller, Wichs, Graszgrun, Kurcz, Tandlich, Polacsek, Schiffer and
Stieglitz. My grandfather Simpler changed his name to Szekely.
My immediate family took part in quite a range of general community and
business affairs, so I'm hoping to find out more about civic type records
from the past, not just to discover ancestral names and dates. My
grandfather died from a canon wound near Rovno on the eastern front during
WW1, fighting as an officer in the Hungarian forces against Russia. I'm
hoping there might be local council records still in a local town hall or
church somewhere. Do you know of anyone living there who is interested in
the local history? Do you personally know the district? I visited there 8
years ago with my father. He's still living at 85 and still mentally fit. He
might remember your family. What was their family name? Would they have
known our family inns - Szekely's in Jablonka, Wichs in Piekielnik, or
Stieglitz in Podwilk?
PAUL: Unfortunately all are dead who might have known your family.
GARY: My father was six when Orawa was split between Poland & Slovakia, so
lost contact with the Slovakian side, except for a few Jewish families. He
left finally in the late 1930s. The local Synagogue was in a room on the
second floor of their house in Jablonka. Downstairs was their inn. I should
ask him how good the sound insulation was on a Saturday morning. Father
added that a Catholic priest, surname Machay, was one of the main people
promoting that Orawa should be in Poland after WW1.
I've read somewhere that Jewish vital events were recorded in local Catholic
registers - that they were used like semi-official registers. Have you ever
come across any names that seem Jewish, or any entries with distinguishing marks?
PAUL: No, not off hand. But just because I don't remember seeing any doesn't
mean there weren't some. May not have known what to look for. Sometimes the
Catholic priest would keep track of the non-Catholics in a village, to make
sure no one intermarried. I know I found a Catholic relative who married a
Greek Orthodox girl from the next village. Both priests made notations in
their books! There were also times when the church records were also
considered the civil records. But I am not sure on the dates that was in effect.
GARY: In 1826 or 1828 Jews were officially permitted to keep their own
records. It's before that date that I've read of them being in Catholic
registers. Another researcher has found Jewish events in Catholic registers
in the Prussian part of Poland. She noticed that Jews who couldn't sign
their name used a circle instead of a cross.
PAUL: I don't know about the availability of microfilmed records in
Poland.The Mormons are still microfilming in the archives in Poland.
GARY: There's a rumor that the Poles are restricting filming of Jewish
records as they've become a good foreign currency earner for the archives. I
have no idea whether that's true or not, but there has been nothing of Orawa
on their lists. The records were shifted from Nowy Targ Poland to Zilina
Slovakia during WW2 when the Germans shifted the border for a few years, and
maybe they were destroyed in battles around the area. The LDS films are of
records in the Slovakian archives.
PAUL: I have several letters from 1949 Slanica that we found in my late
grandmother's things. I have since had them translated. One mentions the
Jewish villagers being dragged from their homes by the German soldiers and
their houses being burned. My grandmother told me they were never seen
again. I had always assumed that these poor folks were taken to the
notorious Auschwitz which is just 1 1/2 hours to the north. Was I right?
GARY: Yes. Thank you for knowing of this and remembering it happened. A lot
of my family from Orawa and Budapest perished. I was born in 1945 in Sydney,
but it still feels like a dark evil wind blowing across the back of my neck.
The transport to Auschwitz was first a forced march across to the Trstena
rail head, then a few days in cattle boxes for the short rail trip. Most
were taken in March & April 1942. No children under mid-teenage or anyone
over 50 reached Zilina. Auschwitz gassing started in May. Fit young men
were transported to the Majdanek workcamp in June. I have letters from my
father's family who were still there until taken to Auschwitz. He managed to
get to Australia by May 1938, and brought out his brother just before Sept
'39. Another brother had been arrested for trading Polish army provisions
across the border. When the Germans invaded, the warders opened the cells,
and he escaped to the Ukraine and joined a Russian assisted resistance band.
The small monument just in Slovakia near Chyzne is for eight saboteurs he
was leading. They were caught a month or so before the war ended when a
local recognized him. One of the Tandlichs from the area lived through the
concentration camp at Majdanek, returned to the district and was told to
disappear. He went to New York via a German displaced persons camp and drove
taxis. Some of the others who survived are Kempler from Jablonka (now in
Sydney), Birnbaum from Lipnica Wielka (now in Sydney & Israel), Einhorn from
Podwilk (now in Poland & Budapest) and Stieglitz (now in Poprad). A couple
of others returned and converted, but the priest wouldn't say who.
PAUL: The old Catholic church in Slanica was built on a hill which is now an
island in the middle of the lake. The church has now been turned into a
museum of area folk art. There is also a memorial to the five villages lost
with a 3-D map and lots of old village photos. I took a boat out to the
island last Fall and walked around. This was the church my grandmother was
brought to as a baby. Behind the church in the weeds is what remains of the
old cemetery. I found my great-great-grandmother's headstone there -- a very
moving experience. Walking where your ancestors once walked is a very
humbling, unique and often indescribable experience.
GARY: It's an odd experience walking around in an ancestor's footprints,
isn't it. In Zubrzyca Gorna there's an outdoor folk museum. The two story
house was owned by Cilka Stieglitz in Podwilk. It was moved and rebuilt in
the museum as an example of a 19th century inn. She was always losing her keys
to the front door. Another family inn owner was Jonas Wichs of Piekielnik.
In 1908 he threw a drunk out on his head and broke his neck and he died.
Jonas, as a Jew, expected the worst, so collected money from family and left
in a rush to America. The local court, when it heard the witnesses, thought
he had acted quite reasonably, so he didn't have to leave after all. I don't
know who the drunk was, but it seems the town knew him as a constant
troublemaker. We're still in contact with some of the American descendents.
PAUL: A group of us are planning a trip to Orawa next August and will be
going to the outdoor museum. It is so interesting to know a personal history
of one of these houses!
GARY: When you're in Orawa would it be possible to check the condition of
the Jewish cemetery in Podwilk? We paid a local Pole named Krzewniak who is
dedicated to Jewish cemetery heritage, to improve the fence and do a bit of
a cleanup. He sent photos and it looked very good. That was about four years ago.
PAUL: I'd be happy to drop by the Jewish Cemetery for you when I'm there.
***NOTE: Our thanks to Gary Luke and his father for this wonderful insight.
Gary would love to hear from anyone who would like to discuss further
information about the region, and especially its Jewish heritage. Contact
him at: email@example.com (We'll have part two in an upcoming issue.)
1. Slovak Podrobny Atlas: A few of these "must-have" atlases are available
at a discount from Dr. Joe Quashnock. You can contact him privately at:
2. "The Polish and Slovak Tatras" book: TARG member Alli Boda writes, "Hi
Paul. I finally received the Polish Tatras book yesterday. It looks very
good. I recommend this way of purchasing the
book if anyone wants to. Let me know if you have questions and thanks for
the tip on where to get it!"
(Alli bought the book through a dealer in Zvolen. His website is at:
PICTURES OF PODHALE_____________
You must check out the beautiful Podhale photography by Ron Kelley. His
website is at: www.geocities.com/the99the/index.htm Thank you Ron!
To contact TARG the e-mail address is: TARG_NET@hotmail.com
Our new website is at: http://targ.1avenue.com (Also www.1avenue.com/targ will get you there.) TARG's mailing address is: P.O. Box 3533, Escondido, CA 92033.
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