The Family of Shimon Wiesenthal and Chanzie Silberroth

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1. Graves of Shimon and Chanzie's sons Israel, David, and Gershon Wiesenthal.
Skala Benevolent Society plot, Mt. Hebron Cemetery (Flushing, NY)

Shimon Wiesenthal of Skala was married to a woman named Chanzie, whose birth-surname variously was entered in the town's archival books as Silberrad or Silberroth. Records exist for the births of their children Assriel (born 1872), Itte (born 1876), Henzel (born 1878), and David (born 1881).

The archives for Skala reveal that Shimon and Chanzie had another daughter named Pessie. Her marriage to Hersch Reitman was recorded in 1901. Pessie was 26 years old when she married Hersch, which would mean that she was born around 1875. The fate of Pessie and Hersch Reitman is not known and no descendants of theirs have been located. Nor is anything known about the life of Pessie's sister Itte. More is known about Shimon and Chanzie's sons.

After his arrival in America, Assriel changed his name to Israel. He and his family lived in the Bronx, where he was a real-estate broker. Israel died in 1933. His gravestone gives his year of birth as 1872, which is confirmed by the old Skala records. Israel, his wife Annie, and four of their children are buried in the Skala Benevolent Society's plot in Mt. Hebron Cemetery (Flushing, NY).

Israel's brother David left Skala in 1903. He was active in the Skala Benevolent Society until his death in 1957. David also is buried in Mt. Hebron Cemetery. His descendants have been found and are known to have been in contact with the European branch of their family both before and after World War II.

Family elders recalled the names of other children born to Chanzie and Shimon as Gershon (born 1864), Asher (born 1878), and Zaide (born 1872).

Gershon's son Nachman (born in 1889, known as Nathan) came to New York in 1909, sponsored by his uncle Israel. Gershon, his wife Hudia and their family joined Nathan in 1922. According to Gershon's death certificate and gravestone, he was 75 years old at the time of his death in 1939, which would make his birth date approximately 1864. Gershon and Hudie also are buried in Mt. Hebron.

Zaide means "grandfather" and is unlikely to have been the real name of Chanzie and Shimon's son. The name Zaide probably was given to him during a life-threatening illness, to fool the Angel of Death who, looking for a child, would not tarry over someone named Zaide, who was likely to be an old man. Zaide perished in the Holocaust.

Upon reflection, Shimon's descendants recalled that Asher's full name was Asher Henzel. This matches the 1878 birthdate for a son born to Chanzie and Shimon named Henzel. Asher married Rosa Rapp and moved to her hometown of Buczacz.. Their first son, Simon, was born in 1908 and was named in memory of his grandfather Shimon, who had died in Skala in 1906. Asher and Rosa's second son, Hillel, died at a young age. A reserve officer in the Austrian army, Asher was killed in action in 1915. His wife Rosa perished in Belzec. Their son Simon survived the war and devoted the remainder of his life to bringing Nazi criminals to justice.

At a family party in New York in 1967, brothers Samuel (left) and Jacob (right) Wiesenthal met Simon (center), the grandson of Shimon and Chanzie Wiesenthal. Family elders always said that "All Wiesenthals from Skala are related" and referred to each other as cousins even when they did not know their exact kinship. Although their descendants have yet to figure out exactly how all of the branches of the family fit together, given the extraordinary resemblance between Samuel and Simon, they are quite certain the relationship exists.
2. Samuel and Jacob with Simon Wiesenthal

Shimon and Chanzie are the great-great-grandparents of Skala researcher Racheli Kreisberg.


Text and photos 1 and 2 4 copyrighted by Helene Kenvin
Photo 3 courtesy Racheli Zakarin
This page created by Max Heffler
Updated Jul 3, 2010. Copyright 2005 Skala Research Group. All Rights Reserved.