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From the Albin-Bialik-Krajmalnik Family

Courtesy of the Albin Family

            Moisiei Borisevich Albin (Yaacov Moshe ben Avrom Dov, later known as Moisés) was born in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, in 1895 and given the name of his maternal great-grandfather, Yaakov Moshe (Yankel Moshe) Bialik. Yaakov Moshe, who died two years before Moisés was born, was the man who raised the orphaned Chaim Nachman Bialik, the National Poet of Israel. The poet reportedly signed the ketubah for Moisés and his wife, Evgenia (Xenia) Subkis (b. 1899 in Odessa), the daughter of Osip Shmuel Zubkis, a jeweler, and his wife, Fanny Goldenthal.

            Moisés and Xenia owned a prosperous shoe business in Odessa and lived with their son, Boris, in an upscale apartment on Deribasovskaya Street. Because of the upheavals and persecutions in Soviet Russia, their business partner, Ivan Ivanov, fled to the West through Bulgaria around 1927. The Ivanov family was never heard from again, so Moisés together with his older sister, Sonia, and Sonia´s husband, Isaac Krajmalnik -- some 20 years Moisés’ senior -- deemed the eastern escape route the less perilous one.

Isaac Krajmalnik’s second son, Mordko (Mitya), was the first one sent to cross the dangerous Sino-Russian border to Harbin in 1927 or 1928 while still a teenager to set a foothold for the family in Manchuria. His older brother Pesaj (Pedro) Krajmalnik was sent around the same time to Mexico to see if there were possibilities for resettlement there as well. Isaac and Sonia’s youngest son, Lejb (León) remained with his parents. The older Krajmalnik boys, in their late teens and early twenties, were the pioneers who were sent from Odessa to far distant corners of the world, China and Mexico, in the hopes of finding safe haven for the family.

In 1928, having been arrested once in Odessa and with Mitya already in Harbin, Moisés had valuables placed inside the soles of shoes made at his factory and traveled to Vladivostok with forged papers. It’s believed that he (and Mitya before him) received help from the Far Eastern Jewish Central Information Bureau, which had offices in Harbin and Yokohama, and ran a Jewish underground railroad to help victims of pogroms and other calamities. From Vladivostok, Moisés was smuggled across the border to Harbin. His wife Xenia and young son Boris followed later that year, crossing illegally into Manchuria with the help of the same Chinese guides who had helped Mitya a few months earlier. They traveled at night to reduce the chances of being apprehended.

            By 1932, Isaac and Sonia Krajmalnik, with young León, had already deemed Mexico to be a safer place for the family to settle and passed through Harbin en route to Yokohama where they boarded the ship to Mexico. In Harbin, soon after his arrival in 1928, Moisés partnered with Fyodor (Fedya, Theodor) Volkov (Volkoff) in a wholesale dairy business. But by 1933, prosperous Jews like the Albins were being kidnapped and murdered in increasing numbers in Harbin, so the family procured papers from the Manchukuo authorities to allow them to leave, once again with the help of the Far Eastern Jewish Central Information Bureau. Together with Mitya, they departed for Yokohama, Japan, in 1934 and from there sailed to Manzanillo, Mexico, arriving in 1935. Isaac Krajmalnik’s enormous sacrifice of sending his two young sons to find safety paid off. Mexico was to become the country that welcomed them, first Pedro Krajmalnik around 1928; then Isaac, Sonia and León in 1932; and finally Mitya, Moisés, Xenia, and Boris in 1935.      

Fyodor Volkoff, his wife Mina and their son David went to Australia and then to San Francisco. He and Moisés remained in touch all their lives. Upon arriving in Mexico, all members of the Albin-Bialik-Krajmalnik families used their official Mexican names, formed by the given name followed by the paternal last name and then the maternal one.  Thus, Moisiei Borisevich Albin became Moisés Albin Bialik, Xenia became Eugenia Subkis Goldenthal, and Mordko (Mitya to the family) became Marcos Krajmalnik Albin.

In Mexico City, Pedro Krajmalnik married Serafina (Cima) Joffé Dronzik and died in 1974. Mitya married Susana Fortes Rudoy and died in 1969.  Isaac died in 1957 a day after his wife, Sonia, passed away. Their youngest son, León, married María Yanovsky and died in 2011.  Moisés died while visiting Kharkhov, Ukraine, in 1967. Xenia died in 1971. All rest at the Panteón Israelita in Mexico City. Moisés and Xenia´s son, Boris, married Graciela (Chela) Zychlinsky Lewental in Mexico City and died in Houston, Texas, in 2017. He and Chela, who died in 2010, rest at the Beth Israel Cemetery in Houston. 

Click on any image below to see a larger version.

Moisés, Xenia and son Boris Albin pose in Harbin with Mordko (Mitya) Krajmalnik, nephew of Moisés, in the background.
The Albins sport heavy fur coats, as required in Harbin’s severe winters. Mordko (Mitya) Krajmalnik, Xenia Albin and her son Boris at Harbin's Sungari (now Songhua) River.
Young Boris poses with his parents, Moisés and Xenia Albin in Harbin.
Moisés, Xenia and son Boris in a formal portrait in Harbin. Moisés, son Boris and wife Xenia travel in two rickshaws. Elegantly dressed Mordko (Mitya) Krajmalnik in a Harbin portrait.
Card for the Volkov/Volkoff wholesale “cow’s butter and cheese” wholesale business owned by Moisés Albin and his partner Feodor (Theodor) Semyonovich Volkoff at 29 Konnaya (now Dongbeng) Street in Harbin.
Envelope addressed partly in Cyrillic script, sent to Moisés Albin from a friend in Paris “via Siberia.” An affidavit written by the Jewish Community of Harbin attests to the good moral standing of “Moses B. Albin” in a letter to Mexican immigration authorities. An affidavit written by the Far Eastern Jewish Central Information Bureau attests to the good moral standing of “Moses B. Albin” in a letter to Mexican immigration authorities.
Moisés and son Boris shared a Manchukuo passport during the Japanese occupation of Harbin as they prepared to leave the country in 1934. Moisés’ wife Xenia had a separate passport. The documents allowed the Albins safe passage “without any impediment or hindrance” all the way to Antung on the Korean border.  After that, they used international passports issued by the Manchukuo authorities that allowed them to go through Korea and Japan.

This passport gave Evgenia (Avgenia, Xenia) Osipovna Albin safe passage out of the Japanese-occupied territory of Manchu-kuo.
Boris Albin’s Talmud Torah (Jewish day school) report card from 1934-35 shows his high grades.

Permission to print these images was granted by Veronica Albin in July 2019.

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