The Behr Tree by Arnold Levy. 1949.
The communal records, which up to 1939, existed in Krottingen, Lithuania, showed
that Behr Drucker came to that town from Danzig in the
There is not at the time of writing (1949) a single Jew or Jewess alive in
Krottingen or in the neighbouring towns of Dorbyan, Salant, Skud, Pollangen,
Plungyan or Gorzd. (The Nazis with the help of the Lithuanians massacred them
In 1723 there were important Jewish communities in Krottingen and its
neighbouring towns. Krottingen was important as a centre of trade and commerce
since it was situated within three miles of the German border and was until
1914 the centre of the import-export trade for the whole region. This trade was
carried on by the Jews and Germans, using the German language. Not until 1793
when the Lithuanians became subjects of Russia, did the Russian language
In early documents that existed in Krottingen until 1939, Behr is referred to as
"Behr Drucker": later documents mentioned him as "der Mann Behr". In all
documents, however, relating to Behr's son Shmere, the surname of Behrman
Behr's first appearance in Krottingen was as "Moucher Sforim" ie bookseller.
Upon his brother, Moushe's arrival, Behr transferred this business of books and
silver articles required for religious purposes to him and concentrated on the
more profitable business of exchange brokerage. Behr, it appears was the
printer, publisher, man of business, whereas Moushe was a craftsman in
The early Krottingen records mention Moushe Drucker as "Der Danziger"
(from Danzig). The two families, Behrmans and Danzigers, lived next door to
each other for something like 216 years. Moushe continued to trade in jewellery
About the year 1820, Yude Danziger, probably a great, great grandson of Moushe
married Reiche, daughter of Moushe Behrman, once again reuniting the Behrman
and Danziger families.
The original house which Behr built, was, like the Danziger house next door, a
single story structure of loam and brick whitewashed on the outside.
The house which we knew and in which generations of the family were born,
including the author, was built in the early part of the nineteenth century by
Gershon Behrman. It was built entirely of stone, fortress-like and was enclosed
on the four sides and the rear by an eight foot stone wall with huge wooden
gates such as one finds in ancient castles. In the centre of the cobbled yard,
there was a deep water well and on the sides were outbuildings of stone. These
were for stabling, a carriage house, an ice house (ice was cut from the lake in
winter, stored between sawdust and lasted until the next winter), a store house
for log fires and peat and a grain store.
The house itself was a two and a half storey building, having a large entrance
hall and spacious rooms with high ceilings. The door on the right of the
entrance hall led to the business offices, the rest of the house was devoted to
living quarters. Only inside the house where one saw the window sills did one
realise the thickness of the walls. Being close to the border the house was
obviously intended to withstand siege.
During the 1914-18 war Krottingen was occupied at different times by both the
Russians and the Germans aaand both used the house as their headquarters, it
being the principal building in the district.
Behr's first business was that of currency and foreign exchange brokerage. The
Germans paid for their purchases in the coin of their realm, whereas the
Lithuanians wished to be paid in their own currency The "Exchange", therfore
was doubtless a profitable business. Later Behr began acting as Agent for the
export and import of the merchants from both sides of the border. Later still,
he assumed the title of "Expeditor" (Forwarding Agent and Custom House Broker)
advancing money also to clients for the payment of freight and custom duty.
This profession was carried on from Behr's house by his descendants right up to
, the son of Behr, succeeded to the house and the business. In communal
records he was spoken of as a man of learning, piety, a leader of communal
affairs and a respected and successful man of business. He was followed by his
succeeded his father. Apparently in Moushe's day the banking side of the
business had become important. Money was advanced to the landowners and
nobility of the district and an option on the succeeding year's flax and
flaxseed crops was taken. He was well known as a man possessing great wealth
and since cheques and bankers drafts were as yet unknown, he usually carried on
his person what was then a vast amount of gold currency. He was often warned by
friends not to ride without an escort but he was a powerfully built man aand
made light of the warnings. On one of those rides he was murdered and robbed.
In the communal records he was known as "Hakodesh", the holy one. We only
possess a record of two of his sons, namely Gershon and Shmere.
Gershon succeeded his father to the business. Moushe's daughter Reiche married
4. Gershon Behrman
Gershon was an outstanding personality. He was a communal leader, learned and
pious as well as a successful man of business and employed the most eminent men
as teachers for the religious and secular education of his children. During his
lifetime, Lithuania was annexed to Russia and the Krottingen Custom House
became one of the very important ones in the Kovno Province. Gerson became a
fully licenced "Expeditor"; only an expeditor's certificate enabled one to
import and export.
Gershon built up a great clientele from far and wide. At the same time he
established on his own account business relations with the North of England
from where he imported millstones and agricultural implements, which were in
great demand. Though very pious, Gershon' s household had become very
cosmopolitan. Though Behr is the actual founder of the House of Behrman at
Krottingen, it was Gershon who laid the real foundation. From him sprang
branches of the family eminent in learning, piety and culture. Gershon was
known as a man of wealth and eminent in charity and goodness. A grandfather
clock made by Thomas of Kendal, Wesmorland, which Gershon imported, was still
keeping good time in 1923. The library of his house was panelled in mahogany by
Gershon. This likewise looked perfect in 1923. Gershon probably died in the
middle of the 1840s. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Wolf Charles.
Gershon's family consisted of eight children, three sons and five daughters.
4.1 Wolf Charles (first wife Minnie, second wife Zipe)
4.3 Schmere (wife Reise)
4.4 Sore, married Rabbi Mordechai Ariya Samunov
4.5 Hinne, married Tevye Rabinowitz
4.6 Channa, married Reb Avremel Mark
4.7 Zipe married Berel Sussman
married Mr Mandelstamm of Zager
4.1 Wolf Charles Behrman
Gershon left eight children of whom Wolf Charles, the oldest succeeded to his
father's house and business. He was known locally, firstly as "Welfe Gershons"
and after the death of his father as "Reb Welfe Gershons". Like his father
before him, he educated his children privately. Upon the death of his father he
assumed the local communal leadership. Soon after he was appointed by the
Russian Government as the official representative of the Jewish community of
the region, embracing Krottingen. Wolf Charles was married twice. Firstly to
Minnie Naftalin, who bore him six children. His second wife was his sister's
daughter, Zipe. She bore him three children. The older five of his children
from his first marriage were all married when he died.
Wolf Charles devoted his fine abilities, strength, his energy and a good deal of
his fortune to the cause of bettering the condition of his fellow Jews. In his
time, the Jews of the Telz region in which Krottingen was situated, probably
received better treatment from the authorities than the Jews of other regions
in the Kovno government. This was no doubt due to the efforts of two men from
Krottingen, Wolf Charles Behrman and his contemporary and great friend, the
eminent Elijah Levenson (Reb Elye Krottinger), banker, statesman,
scholar and man of great learning and piety.
Wolf Charles wore himself out in the service of the community and died in 1865
at the age of 57. He left nine children
5.1.1 Moushe Avrohom, married Hannah
5.1.2 Golde, married Moushe Aaron Aronson
5.1.3 Shmuel Gershon, married his cousin Rivke Samunov
5.1.4 Aaron Hirsh, married Simche Esther Caplan
5.1.5 Yankel , married Seine Masse Lapin
5.1.6 Dvore Hinde, married Isaac Jacobson
5.1.7 Minnie (who died in girlhood)
5.1.8 Lazar, married Rivke
>5.1.9 Esther Reiche, married Gershon Levy
Zipe, the second wife of Wolf Charles, was the daughter of Reb Avremel Mark and
his wfe Channa. Her father was of Gaonic stock. At the early age of 18 she
married a Rabbinic student of a well known Kovno family. At the age of 20 she
was already a widow with a child. The child died in infancy. Shortly before
that period, her uncle, Wolf Charles of Krottingen, the brother of her mother,
lost his wife and was left with six children; the oldest Moushe, was in fact ,
two years older than his cousin Zipe. Her uncle journeyed to Kovno and proposed
marriage and after persuasion, she acquiesced. At the time of her second
marriage she was 21; her husband was at least 23 years her senior.
She was his loving wife for 12 years, when she was left a widow with three
children. She died in the middle 1890s at Krottingen, a gentle soul beloved by
5.1.1 Moushe Avrohom Behrman
The first son of Wolf Charles. He married Hannah, a stately lady of Rabbinic
family. Hannah bore him six children, three sons and three daughters. Moushe
Avrohom was born about 1833. At his father's death which was about 1865, he
succeeded to the communal leadership. He was a man of learning, piety and of
good business sense. He probably died in the late 1880s. His wife Hannah, lived
to a ripe old age.
22.214.171.124 Ore Hesse.
He married and removed to Odessa, where he was engaged in the wheat and
grain business. He died in the 1920s. Nothing has been heard from his two
daughters, 126.96.36.199.1 Minnie and 188.8.131.52.2 Esther, since 1939
184.108.40.206 Dvore Hinde
, like her aunt and namesake, was a noted beauty and woman of culture. She
married Leibsig Gordon, a practising lawyer, who was very successful. They
lived on a beautiful and comparatively large estate, "Katlovshizne". Their
study was filled with books, among them the complete works of Bullwer Lytton
and tapestries and Persian rugs. Their one daughter 220.127.116.11.1 Minnie was
equally beautiful and brilliant. She was 17 when in 1890 at a high school at
Kovno, she took ill and died.
18.104.22.168 Mendel Yitchak
married a lady from Eshesock, who emanted form a Rabbinc family. Prior to
his marriage he studied in the famous Talmudic Academies of Meer and Volzhin.
He received his Rabbinic degree at the age of 21 from two famous Rabbis, the
Nazeb and Raphael Shapiro. On his mother's side he was the grandson of Rabbi
Zvi Hirsh of Yeidy near Kelem, Lithuania. In 1904 Rabbi Mendel came to England
as Rabbi to Grimsby, shortly after which he received a call to Gateshead and in
1917 he was appointed Rabbi of Middlesborough. Some years before his death in
Manchester, Rabbi Behrman joined the faculty of the Talmudic Academy of that
city. He was a saintly soul, very learned and pious. He died in Manchester in
1929. He left five children, two sons and three daughters
succeeded his father Moushe Avrohom, in the management of the business in
Krottingen but after the death of his sister, Dvore Hinde, he gave up the
business and took over his sister's estate, Katlovshizne, which was quite
considerable. He died in the 1920s. Nothing has been heard of his wife and five
children since the outbreak of war in 1939.
married a Mr Posnack of Minsk in the 1890s. She died within a few years of
marriage and left a son and daughter of whom nothing has been heard since
Chianne married Rabbi Moushe Leib Rabinowitz and emigrated to
Baltimore, USA. They had one daughter.
5.1.3 Shmuel Gershon Behrman
Shmuel was the second or third son of Wolf Charles and Minnie. He married his
cousin Rivke, daughter of Aunt Sore and Chief Rabbi Mordecai Ariya
Samunov, Rav of Windau, Latvia. Shmel Gershon died young and Rivke married for
the second time a prominent amber manufacturer of Pollangen, Kurland. Shmuel
Gershon and Rivke had four children, three daughters and one son:-
(Mrs Bernard) Edelstein who emigrated to New York State
(Mrs Max) Weinberg, resided in Windau
(Mrs Abraham) Lebenhaft, resided in Antwerp
(wife Gitte Levitan) lived Johannesburg, South Africa and had eight
children, 5.1.2 Golde Aronson
Golde was a daughter of Wolf Charles Behrman and Minnie. She married the well
known Chassidic Rabbi, Moushe Aaron Aronson and they lived in Poland. The Rabbi
was known to possess the lingest beard in the family. Golde was tall, slightly
round shouldered and had the best part of her forehead covered by a sheitel
or heibele, also she took snuff. In 1907 one of her sons, Cecil, was
engaged in the cigar business in New York; he had an accident and died in that
year. In 1920, Golde's oldest son was a Chassidic Rabbi in Warsaw. His economic
circumstances were very bad. He appealed for help to his Aunt Dvore Hinde in
New York. She forwarded the appeal to the author, who arranged with the
American Jewish Relief Association to give him immediate help.
5.1.4 Aaron Hirsh Behrman
Aaron Hirsh, known in the family as "Ore Hirshe" was the third son of Wolf
Charles and Minnie. He was a handsome looking man of fine personality and
strong features and possessed a good intellect. After the death of his father
he took over the management of the business. The leadership of the community
did not fall upon him until the death of his oldest brother, Moushe. Aaron
Hirshe married Simche Esther from a nearby town. Aaron died in Memell while on
a business trip. His son, Gershon, had died a few years
previously unmarried, at the early age of 24. His daughter , Sophy
(Zipe), married Hessel Levy, who succeeded to the house and
business. They had two children, Aaron and Minnie. Nothing has been heard of
them since the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.
5.1.5 Yankel Behrman
Yankel was th fourth son of Wolf Charles and Minnie. In his early manhood he
became intimately associated with the famed Reb Elijah Levenson (Reb Elye
Krottinger) of Krottingen. He acted as Reb Elijah's secretary for many years.
He married Seine Masse Lapin. She died in the home of her daughter Mrs Charles
Behrman in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1946. Yankel was a tall, handsome man
with a fine figure, black hair, blue eyes and a blonde beard. Yankel and Seine
Masse had two children - Mendel, who died unmarried
and Kreine, Mrs Charles Behrman of Johannesburg, South
Africa. Kreine married her second cousin, Charles Behrman and had three
children Jack, Horace and Dorothy.
5.1.6 Dvora Hinde
There were in the family at Krottingen, at the same period in the 1850s, two
Dvore Hindes, the aunt and the niece. The aunt was the daughter of Wolf Charles
and Minnie and the subject of this chapter, whereas the niece was the daughter
of Moushe Behrman, himself the son of Wolf Charles. Both Dvore Hindes were
about the same age and great friends. They were tall, stately and of great
beauty, intellect and intelligence. They were considered women of good
education. Aunt Dvore Hinde was born in 1846. Her mother Minnie died when she
was very young. She attended religious and secular lessons with the boys, went
skating on the lake and was always ready for all sorts of tricks. She had grown
into a vivacious, beautiful and worldly young woman before her father's sudden
death in 1863.
At the age of 19 in 1865 she married Isaac Jacobson (Eisik Yankes) from Dorbyan.
He was the heir apparent to the most successful trading firm in Dorbyan ,
exporting flax and flaxseed in a rather big way, as well as to a fine estate
known as "Bachuska", situated within a mile of Dorbyan, where the Jacobsons
resided. Within a matter of days of her arrival in Dorbyan, Dvore Hinde was
dubbed "Die Krottinger Grafin", the Countess of Krottingen. All the "sheiteled"
housewives were simply horrified, they had seen nothing like it! True Dvore
Hinde also wore a "sheitel" but hers could hardly be distinguished from
her own hair, it was made by a Memeler artist instead of by the local "Sheitelmacherke".
Before very long she assumed the "leadership" and became, in fact, the "First
Lady" in Dorbyan. She had eight children, six daughters and two sons.
Economic conditions in Lithuania in the latter part of the nineteenth century
became very bad, the merchants and traders suffered great losses and Isaac
Jacobson was no exception. He moved to Libau, Latvia, a fortified city on the
Baltic and at that time the most important port in the province. Unfortunately
before he had a chance to do very much Isaac Jacobson in 1885 took ill and
died. Thus at the age of 39 and with eight children, Dvore Hinde was left a
widow. She moved from Libau to Memel to make the best use of her business
talents and engaged in the trade of silks, perfumes, jewellery and other
luxuries with Lithuania. After a great struggle of seven years, she emigrated
to Paterson, New Jersey in 1892. Eventually she moved to New York to be near
her married daughters. Her sons abbreviated Jacobson to Jacobs; she
however insisted on the original name and she died in 1927 at the age of 81
The following are the descendants of Dvore Hinde and Isaac Jacobson:-
married Yudel Jaffe while residing in Libau in 1886. In the early part of
the century the family emigrated to New York. They had three children.
married Dr Abraham Sacks, from Zager, Lithuania in New Jersey in 1896. They
had three children.
married Ephraim Jacobson from Lithuania in New Jersey in 1898
had been sent from Libau to his uncle Lazar Behrman in Sunderland England.
He later joined the family in New Jersey and married Miss Kassel. They had six
was sent from Libau to Cheder in Dorbyan. He came to New Jersey and married
Rose. They had two children, (22.214.171.124&2) Irving and Sarah
married Arnold Cohen from Dorbyan in New Jersey in 1900. They had three
married Edward Margolis, a native of Telz in New Jersey in 1903. They had
married Isidor Kumesh, a native of Kurland and nephew of Ephraim Jacobson
(Pauline's husband) in 1908. They had three children,
5.1.7 Lazar Behrman
Lazar was the fifth son or Wolf Charles and the only son of his second wife
Zipe. As a result of an accident in infancy his left shoulder was permanently
dislocated and caused a slight hump. He possessed a fine brain. Originally he
was intended for law and was sent to Dorpat University; later, however, he
decided not to pursue his studies and joined his nephew, Aaron Behrman
(Gershon`s son) in Switzerland. Eventually both he and Aaron came to
Sunderland, where they entered business. During his residence in Sunderland he
married a Krottingen lady, Rivke. He went to South Africa and upon the outbreak
of the Boer War returned to Switzerland. There he lived until the war's end
when he returned to South Africa with his family. There were five children, two
sons and three daughters, (126.96.36.199-5) Wolf Charles, Zodack,
Sophy (Zipe), Ray and Dora.
The sons passed away in early life. The daughters ( Sophy (Mrs Hotz),
Ray (Mrs Green) and Dora Behrman reside in Johannesburg, South Africa.
5.1.8. Esther Reiche Levy
Esther Reiche was the youngest child of Wolf Charles and Zipe Behrman. She was
five years old when her father died in 1865. During the lifetime of her father
the entire house was occupied by his immediate family. After his death,
however, the house was divided between families. The son that succeeded to the
business, Aaron Hirsh, retained the ground floors, whereas the widow and her
three children, Minnie, Lazar and Esther Reiche, occupied the upper floors. At
the same time the widow had now to depend on her stepson for her allowance as
her share from the business..with the result that the widow had to tighten the
During the lifetime of Wolf Charles, the education of the children, was by full
time tutors in the home; this luxury could not now be indulged in. When Esther
was old enough, therefore, she was sent to the home of friends in Deutsch
Krottingen immediately across the German border, whose children were of Esther
Reiche's age. These friends employed excellent tutors. Meanwhile her mother had
established a soft goods business and when Esther Reiche left school she joined
her in that, eventually taking complete charge.
The languages spoken in Krottingen were Lithuanian, German, Russian and Polish.
Esther Reich spoke all of them with fluency; this helped to make the business a
Esther Reiche married Gershon Levy of Dorbyan. When Gershon married Esther
Reiche it was intended that he should continue his studies; he did, in fact,
enrol in a post-graduate Academy in Kovno after he was married but a
destructive fire in Krottingen, where most of the Behrman fortune was lost,
changed the whole situation.
The fire which took place in 1889, completely gutted the town which was built
chiefly of wood. Though outwardly the Behrman house was not affected, as it was
the only dwelling house built of stone, most of the contents, which had been
collected for generations, were lost. When Gershon came to the Behrman house as
the husband of Esther Reiche, there was still sufficient of a fortune to enable
him to continue his post-graduate studies but these sudden reverses, due to
insufficient insurance, almost brought ruin to the mother of Esther Reiche and
to Gershon and his wife also, since the whole dowry was lost. Gershon
therefore, had to abandon his studies and take to commerce.
Economic conditions were very bad in Lithuania. On the other hand, news came
from South Africa of great prosperity there. Gershon, therefore, emigrated to
South Africa, leaving his wife and three children in Krottingen. First in Cape
Town, after that in Johannesburg, altogether Gershon Levy spent five years in
South Africa. Shortly before the Boer War he left South Africa, returned to
Krottingen, and after a short stay, wound up his affairs and brought his wife
and children to Sunderland in the North of England. There he established
himself in business. He was accepted as one of the leaders of the Jewish
Community and was affectionately known as Reb Gershon. Gershon Levy died in
Sunderland in 1935 at the age of 76. His wife Esther Reiche died in Sunderland
in 1932 at the age of 72. They had three sons,
188.8.131.52 Arnold Levy
married Lena Esther Jacobs
184.108.40.206 Leib Levy
married Clara Cohen and had two sons.
220.127.116.11 Moss Hyman Levy
married Leah Serevsky and had nine children.
4.4 Sore Samunov
Sore, daughter of Gershon Behrman, married Rabbi Mordecai Aria Samunov, Rav of
Windau, Latvia. They had five children, three sons and two daughters.
5..4.1 Moushe Samunov
resided in Orel, Russia, where he and his wife died. They had a son
Mordecai or Max, who emigrated to England about 1893
and changed his name to Samuel. After 1914-18 war, Max resided at West
5.4.2 Gershon Mendel Samunov
married Channa Kahn and was engaged in business in Pilten, Latvia. He was a
man of learning and culture. They had five sons and two daughters,
18.104.22.168.Rabbi Ephraem (wife Teme Berlin from Moscow and
three sons and one daughter, Leib and three sons, who were victims of
the Nazis, Yitzchak (wife Ida Vollshnock, residing in Jerusalem); Yakov (wife
Dr Sarah Alishevsky, residing in Tel Aviv); Rivke (married to Eliezer
Halevy, residing in Israel with one son, Ephraim);
22.214.171.124 Mordecai Aria,
victim of the Nazis:
residing in the USA;
died in Riga before 1939 (two sons survived the Nazis);
(married his cousin Frieda, daughter of Mere Leah. Both died in Russia.
One son survived, residing in Sao Paulo, Brazil);
(married Mr Mesiwitzky of Libau, Latvia.. Victims of the Nazis);
(married Rabbiner. Her sons were victims of the Nazis. One daughter resides
in Russia, another in Tel Aviv)
5.4.3 Rivke Samunov
married her cousin Shmuel Gershon Behrman
5.4.4 Rabbi Elijah Aaron Mileikowsky-Samunov.
He was firstly Rav of Grayeve and later of Kharkov, Russia. In the 1920s he
moved to Israel and became Dayan of Tel Aviv.
5.4.5 Mere Leah
married David Hirsh Klazov of Tukom, Latvia and had one son and six
(married Zvi Traub of Kadan, Latvia in 1892, moved to Tel Aviv in 1925.
Two sons and two daughters, Israel Traub, Zalmen Traub, Chana Yaver, Hinde
(married her cousin Leib Samunov);
(married Mr Jacobson and resides in Riga, Latvia with two sons);
(married Mr Rashall and died in Riga childless);
(married Mr Drubkin and lived in Letland, where together with her father,
one daughter and grand-daughter, she was killed by the Nazis, Another daughter
married Dr Shenkman and have two children in the USA. Sarah`s son Yoel resides
in Riga, Latvia);
(married Mr Courting and has a son and daughter in San Francisco, USA);
126.96.36.199 Mordecai Klazov
(married Emmy Hurshman of Libau, Latvia).
4.6 Channa Mark
Channa, daughter of Gershon Behrman, married the noted Talmudist, Reb Avremel
Mark. They lived and died in Krottingen. Reb Avremel was a descendant of
Elijah, Gaon of Wilna, famed Talmudist, Cabbalist, grammarian and
mathematician, 1720-1797. There were five children of the marriage:-
5.6.1 Beresh Mark
studied at the Wilna Talmudic Academy. He married the daughter of a Chassid
from Dvinsk and embraced Chassidism. He became a well known Chassidic Rabbi,
affectionately known as 'Rebbe Behrzig'. He emigrated to Rochester in the state
of New York in about 1900. His seven children reside in the USA,
(who had Harry, Sarah Meltzer, Molly Epstein, Martin, Aaron, Ida, and Adele
188.8.131.52 Chia Glickman
(who had Isidore, Max, Anne Erder, Jeanette Greyer, Evelyn Glickman and
184.108.40.206 Rose Kurtin
( who had Morris, Harold, Ruth Whire, Sylvia Lewis and Adele);
220.127.116.11 Miriam Safren
( who had Mike, Louis, George, Sylvia Krine and Anne Klein);
18.104.22.168 Celia Rogoff
(who had Edith Kurtin, Sylvia Slonim, Lilian Sara, Isidore and Aaron);
22.214.171.124 Bella Pearlman
(who had Anne Glickman, Shirley Weiss, Mike, Abe and Sidney);
5.6.2 Hirsh Markhad four children,
(Mrs Nathan Taylor and daughter Sarah Yudkin);
126.96.36.199 Abraham Mark
(who had Beatrice Bloom);
(Mrs Gershon Sussman) and
(Mrs Mayer Zaitz).
married Wolf Charles Behrman (see Wolf Charles Behrman)
5.6.4 Leibe Eise
- No details available
5.6.5 Chaie Sore
married Yossel Drucker and had two sons and one daughter.
4.7 Zipe Sussman
Zipe, daughter of Gershon Behrman, married Berrel Sussman of Krottingen. Berel's
brother Moushe changed his name to Berelson. Moushe's son Yanke married Mary,
daughter of Shmere Behrman. Zipe and Berrel had a number of children, the one
that is still remembered by a few and whose children settled in England is
, commonly known in Krottingen as 'Feive Berrels'. Feivel was partially
blind most of his life and almost totally blind towards his latter years. He
carried on nevertheless. a most successful business, practically single handed.
He was the largest cartage contractor in the neighbourhood and was the foremost
government contractor. Though he had two sons, it was his daughters who acted
as his guides and secretaries, each of the seven in turn until they married.
Feivel was held in the highest esteem by all who knew him, especially so by the
government officials, who, from time to time, entrusted him with the transfer
of vast sums of money from one military post to another. His children were:-
188.8.131.52 Behr Sussman
, died in Johannesburg, South Africa, unmarried;
184.108.40.206 Gershon Sussman, died in London;
220.127.116.11 Zipe Olswang, who had three children,
18.104.22.168 Channe (Mrs Samuel Behrman
, Sunderland, who had two children.
22.214.171.124 Pesse (Mrs Philip Epstein, Birmingham, England, who
had one son .
126.96.36.199 Minnie Schumacher, (who had three children, residing
in New York, USA).
188.8.131.52 Tamar (Mrs David Simon, Cardiff, who had 6 children).
184.108.40.206 Fanny (Feige) Mrs Paul Palsitz, residing Sao Paulo,
5.7.3 ? Sussman, one of the daughters of Zipe and Berel
married Yoel Krottinger, a well-to-do farmer and contractor. A son of Yoel,
220.127.116.11 Welfe Krottinger
resided in Krottingen. A daughter of Yoel,
(married Shmuel Urdang, from Dorbyan and emigrated to Paterson, New Jersey
in the latter part of the nineteenth century. They had three daughters and one
5.7.1 Sarah Sussman
, one of the daughters of Zipe and Berel, married Lozer (Stalger) Span.
They had three sons,
and a daughter,
18.104.22.168 Zipe Epstein.
All lived and died in Glasgow, Scotland, where they have many
4.3 Shmere (Gershon's) Behrman
Shmere was the youngest son of Gershon. He married Reise Braude, who bore him
four children, two sons and two daughters. The last years of his life, Shmere
spent at the home of his son, Samuel Behrman, who lived in Norfolk Street,
Sunderland. He died in 1901 at the age of 84. His wife, 'the Mumme' Reise had
died in Krottingen some twelve years previously. Their children were
5.3.1 Mary Behrman
married Yankel Berlson of Libau and died there in the middle 1890s. She
bore her husband two sons and several daughters.
5.3.2 Gershon (Shmere's) Behrman
married Dobe Beile Rosaitzky of Neustadt, the daughter of a prominent
merchant and man of learning. She bore her husband seven sons and one daughter.
When Gershon died suddenly in his forties, his widow and children were left
, the eldest son, went to South Africa. He married Frede Heller and had two
Samuel, the second son, who showed considerable brilliance as a
student in Yeshivah, went to England to join his uncle, Samuel Behrman. He was
later joined by his brothers, Ben and Charles. Eventually all three went
to South Africa. Samuel married Minnie and had four children.
married Lilly Lazarus and had one daughter,
married Kreine Behrman and had three children,
the only daughter, married Solomon Krieger of Lygam and had three children,
, the son of Gershon and Beile, came from Krottingen to Sunderland,
England. Abe later went to join his brothers in South Africa but returned in
1919 and went with his wife and family to Glasgow. Married Ettie Naftalin.
married Rose Bloom and came from Kretinga to Sunderland England.
22.214.171.124 Julius Behrman
Son of Gershon and Beile, came from Kretinga to Sunderland England. Married
126.96.36.199 Julius married Rosie Richardson.
Beile lived to a ripe old age as the wife of Yankel Berlson and died in Libau.
the younger daughter of Shmere Behrman, was married in Pickeln, Lithuania
to Mr Hurwitz. She eventually died there. Her four children, two sons and two
daughters, emigrated to Massachusetts, USA, where the father and oldest son, George,
died. The oldest daughter married Barnett Cohen of Peterson, New Jersey.
5.3.4 Samuel (Shmere's) Behrman
was the youngest son of Shmere and Reise. He married his second cousin,
Channa, who bore him a son and daughter. Samuel and Channa were among the first
of the family to emigrate to England where their children were born. Samuel
died in Sunderland in 1918 and Channa died there in 1939. Their daughter
married David Cohen of London and they have one daughter, Pauline.
married Dora and lives in Manchester
4.2 Hirsh Behrman
Hirsh the second son of Gershon Behrman, was a dairy farmer near Libau, Latvia.
In order to escape military service, Hirsh changed his name to Bagendorf. His
grandchildren who reside in South Africa, however, have resumed the name of
Behrman. Hirsch had the following children:-
His children were George Behrman, Dr Samuel
Behrman, Aubrey Behrman, Rosie Hirschon
5.2.2 Rahle Ziegler.
Her children were Herman Ziegler, residing in New
York, Eli Ziegler, residing in New York, and Joseph
(wife Vera) Ziegler, residing in South Africa and had two
5.2.3 Minnie Orkoff
lived Riga and had two sons and a daughter, believed to
reside in Israel.
3.2 Shmere (Moushes) Behrman
Shmere was the younger brother of Gershon Behrman. He left Krottingen and lived
first in the Baltic provinces, where he married and raised a family. Eventually
he settled in St Petersburg where he became a prosperous merchant banker. Among
other children he had two sons, David and Chaim. They were sent to
Krottingen to the house of Wolf Charles to be tutored in religious and secular
education in company with their second cousins. After graduating at Krottingen
both boys returned home.
4.2.1 David entered his father's business and married. He and his
family eventually moved to America, where he became known as David Byron.
Several of David's sons were engaged in banking.
4.2.2 Chaim entered a higher school in preparation for University. He
left home in about 1865 because he did not yet want to marry. He went to Basel,
Switzerland, where he entered University and became known as Henry Byron. When
he graduated, he married and with his wife sailed for New York. He became a
teacher and then a headmaster. He had no children. On retirement he and his
wife retired to Switzerland, where they both died some years after the war.
4.2.3 Gershon had a large family of sons and daughters. One daughter,
188.8.131.52 Hinde married Schloumo Wolpe and they had several daughters and
a son. The son married a lady from Libau. One daughter married Mr Jaffe in
Kovno and another was Ruba Bachrach. The Bachrachs were prominent bankers in St
If not for the accident of a former 'water boy' employed by the household of
Wolf Charles Behrman in Krottingen, members of the Behrman family might not
have come to Britian when they did in the nineteenth century. The water boy was Barnett
Bernstein, a successful furniture manufacturer, who lived and died in
Sunderland. Bernstein was born in Krottingen about 1835. He was the son of the
local carpenter and glazier whose name was Meier and who was known as "Meier
the Disler". At the age of 10 he was engaged as water boy, that is watering the
horses and keeping the household supplied with water from the deep wells in the
courtyard at the household of Wolf Charles Behrman. At the age of 14 he was
'shanghai'd to the army of Czar Nicholas of Russia, that meant slavery for at
least 40 years. After 14 years of service, he was given six months leave to
visit his parents. It was during this visit, about 1863, that friends from the
household of Wolf Charles helped him to get across the border to Germany. In
Memel, passage was secured for him on a timber-laden sailing ship, which was
leaving for England.
The ship finally landed in the Hartlepools, where a kindly customs officer
escorted him to the home of Mr and Mrs Abraham Cassell of West Hartlepool.
Bernstein had a good understanding of glazing, consequently Mr Cassell provided
him with a glazing crate, some tools and a little glass. Bernstein walked to
Sunderland looking for work and remained there. With his glazing he also did
furntiure repairs. He prospered finally blossoming into a fully fledged
furniture manufacturer. When he died in 1910 he left a considerable fortune.
From the very first, when he began to earn money, Bernstein sent a monthly sum
to his parents in Krottingen. This good news spread quickly with the result
that soon relatives began to arrive, notably the Jacobs, the Olswangs
and many others, all of whom Bernstein befriended. The first of the Behrman
family whom Bernstein welcomed to Sunderland was Samuel Behrman, who, shortly
after, was joined by his wife Channa. In 1889 the town of Krottingen was
practically destroyed by fire. By this time there were already in Sunderland a
considerable number of people who emanated from Krottingen and they established
among themselves a fund for the relief of those who suffered from the fire.
Mr Charles Cohen reached Sunderland from Krottingen in 1888. Charles
Cohen, who was the author of "Yalkut Yechezkel" was reverently and
affectionately known as "Reb Chatze". He was a man of learning and piety
and was very hospitable. One does not remember seeing him other than in silk
hat, frock coat and umbrella; he looked stately and aristocratic.
Rabbi Shmere Yitzchak Bloch was appointed as Rabbi of the newly formed
Sunderland Beth Hamedrash. Rabbi Bloch was himself a scion of a Krottingen
house of learning, being the grandson of "Reb Aharon the Shochet" of
The office of President of the Sunderland Hebrew Congregation was frequently
held by native sons of Krottingen, notably Israel Jacobs and Simon
It is a generally accepted fact that among provincial cities the Sunderland
Jewish Community is above average in learning and orthodoxy. This undoubtedly
is due to a large extent to the influence of the pioneers from Krottingen and
the leadership of "Reb Chatze" Cohen and Reb Gershon Levy.
The Jewish Community of Krottingen had a population of less than 2000. The
Houses of Prayer situated in "shull gass" were also the meeting places;
these consisted of Beth Hamedrash, the Beth Haknesseth, known as
"Shull", the Old Klauz and the small Klauz. The Beth
Hamedrash was seldom closed, there the members of the "Chevra Gemora"
had their headquarters. The "Shull" was open on Sabbath and Yomim Tovim.
"Chevra Mishna" was housed in th Old Klauz and those whose
limits were "Sogen Tillim" frequented the small Klauz, the
members of which consisted chiefly of artisans. It was to the artisans that "The
Rebelle" was host at his house on Saturday afternoons when he would
provide them with tea.
At that period, Krottingen had neither gas or electricity, coal was scarce and
very expensive and was imported only by Count Tishkewitz, the ground landlordof
the town who had a small electricity generating station for use at his private
park situated about two miles from town. Wood on the other hand was cheap.
This, therefore, constituted the fuel for all purposes. The "Dutch" oven. brick
built, then in use was so designed that after cooking and baking on Fridays and
removing the burning embers, the oven retained its heat for almost 36 hours.
It was in the "Rher" or upper section of the oven where the Sabbath food,
including large earthenware bottles, known as "Bomples" filled with hot
water, was kept hot. The tea itself was likewise prepared on Friday. It was
made in a very large pot with a plentiful supply of tea and after pouring
boiling water over it, it was allowed to get cold. By the next day the tea had
brewed itself into a strong essence or extract. a few drops of this essence
with hot water from the "Bomples" made an excellent glass of tea,
especially if served with a slice of lemon.
It is difficult , if not impossible, to convey an accurate picture of the
Sabbath atmosphere prevalent in Krottingen at that period. Mention has been
made of the transformation on Fridays, of the business premises of Gershon
Mendel Samunov into a Sabbath atmosphere. That sort of transformation took
place in practically the whole town of Krottingen. It was especially amazing to
watch this transformation when the "Yerid" coincided with a Friday. The Yerid
was the quarterly market-fair which was of tremendous economic importance
to the whole community.
A word must be said about the mid-day Sabbath meal, which except for Yomim Tovim,
was the most impressive of the week. The time for concluding the Sabbath
morning services varied; the artisans who held services at the Klauzen began
earlier and usually concluded about 11am. The Beth Hamedrash and Shull
had more ceremonial by way of "Chazones" and concluded about 12 noon,
except when there were Bar Mitzvahs or wedding parties, on which
occaions the portion of the week was usually stretched foor the calling-up of
the Machetonim and the service would be concluded about 1pm. Also on
these occasions one was usually invited to the house of the Baal Simcha to
partake in 'Brocha' in which case the mid-day meal did not begin until
2pm. The time taken over this meal was about two hours, half of this time being
taken up with the chanting of Zemiroth and Bentshen.
The main dish of that meal was the 'Tscholent', consisting of meat,
vegetables, fruits and spices. The tscholent required slow cooking at a
fairly high temperature and in order to insure that there was no escape of
heat, the door of the Rher of the oven was sealed with loam. The 'Shabbos
Goy' knew that the seal was to be broken when the head of the family
returned from Shull. The mos sought after dish by children, as well as
by many grown-ups, was the 'Kugel'. This dish was a steamed pudding with
a very good supply of raisins and syrup and was made in an earthenware vessel
the shape of a flower pot. This like the tscholent was kept hot in the Rher
and was served as the sweet at the Sabbath mid-day meal.
Rabbi Leibzig Lipkin, Rav of Krottingen was the nephew of Reb Yisroel Salanter
Lipkin. Leibzig Lipkin showed signs of genius as a young boy, as a young man he
was already recognised as a tzadik and ish kodoush and was
thoroughly versed in the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmud as well as in Kabbalistic
writings. Shortly after his marriage to his cousin he accepted a call from
Popelan where he was Rabbi for about a year, when he was called to Krottingen
where he was Rav for 25 years. Reb Leibzig was the author of a number of books
which dealt with Talmud, Kabbala, Higher Mathematics and Astronomy.
Because of men of his type the very atmosphere and life of Krottingen was
geared to a high moral and spiritual level. He passed away in 1902 at the age
In Krottingen 50 years ago, ( c 1900) Reb Aharon Yach was the Senior Shochet
and so to speak, was third in succession. That is to say in the absence of the Rav
or Dayan, Reb Aharon would be called upon to take charge. Being a Talmud
Chochom he was naturally a pillar of the Chevra Gemore. He was
treated with the greatest respect and veneration by the Balei Habatim and
the community at large., as was his son Sholem, the Junior Shochet, who
eventually succeeded him.