A Trip to Kolki
by Jimmy Kolker


The following is the text of an interview with Jimmy Kolker conducted by Selma Neubauer via email in 2000.

A Trip to Kolki by Jimmy Kolker

I (Selma) recently found Jimmy KOLKER on JGFF-- below are my questions and his answers. He asked that I post his story about the trip to Kolki with his father, Leon.

JK: Thanks for writing. Answers to your questions below

SN: I just saw your name on JewishGen Family Finder researching KOLKER from Kolk. Are you from the Baltimore Kolkers? If not, which Kolker family are you from?
JK: I am originally from St. Louis.

SN: Do you know anything about Kolk?
JK: My father Leon Kolker (now 83) and I visited Kolki in 1994. His father Max Kolker was born there in the 1890's and always said he was from "Kolk". Our name in Europe was ZUKIN. The place we visited, Kolki, on the Styr River, between Lutsk and Kovel in what is now western Ukraine, is definitely the same "Kolk". We showed our pictures to the only then-surviving relative who was old enough to remember Kolk, my great uncle Ben Kolker, born in 1900. Uncle Ben immediately recognized some of the landmarks from the photos. Other than a memorial (which lists no names) near the mass grave of Jews killed by roving death squads in 1942, there is no Jewish cemetery in Kolki and no evidence, such as a synagogue or archive, of the lively Jewish life which was there prior to World War II. We did talk to some current residents who had memories of Jewish families between the wars (when it was part of Poland). The visit was both thrilling and sad. Kolki is in an attractive, wooded area, with some small town dignity and charm. People there had no idea that anyone was carrying the name of the town around the world as a last name! We were joyfully received and invited home by some total strangers for long discussions (through a translator). But no Jews survived the war there. Life is now quite poor, and clearly efforts were made by both the Nazis and the communists to erase signs of Jewish heritage. The lumber industry was very depressed when we visited, and the two state factories in town had closed. We left some money for the maintenance of the memorial, but found no ties to the town my ancestors left 1904-1912. We did not even know of any relatives still there at the time of the war, and any traces of them would have been obliterated.

Jimmy Kolker


Copyright 2004 Andrew Blumberg

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