Diary of Tour in Poland, 1999
by Sol Goldberg and David Shenhav/Shanoff
The purpose of our trip was to learn as much as possible about our
ancestors' homes and background, which were deeply rooted in Poland, prior
to World War II and the Shoah. The maternal (Bornstein) and paternal (Goldberg) families of Sol
Goldberg as well as maternal (Goldberg) and paternal (Chrzanowicz, hereafter
called Shanoff) families of David Shenhav/Shanoff have, as cursory
historical research evidenced, been linked to Poland for countless
generations. Sol's research of our families' history was very much embellished by
oral nostalgic reminiscences by older members of the Goldberg, Bornstein and
Shanoff families residing in North America.
The research determined the route of our travels in Poland:--Warsaw,
Lodz, Radomsko, Kamiensk, Pajeczno and Krakow.
5.Sol's father Leibish and David's mother Tobale were two of nine
Goldberg siblings, born to Yitzhak Goldberg and Esther-Breindel Rosenzweig.
All immigrated to Canada prior to 1930 except for the eldest daughter
Blima-Devora who was married to Noah Zoberman. The Zobermans together with
their children and grandchildren were either killed in the Radomsko
Ghetto or were sent to their deaths in Treblinka. David's father Chaim-Shmuel Shanoff was the only child of Yosef, who
left Poland for Canada. All of his siblings perished in the Holocaust. Two
cousins, Fela Friedman and Henry Waks survived and now live in Toronto. In
addition David's uncle Shimon-Moishe's widow Luba also survived Auschwitz
and lived in Montreal until her death. Sol's mother Frymcia (nee Bornstein) immigrated to Canada in June 1930
together with her husband Leibish and children Ruth, age 6, Sol, age 4, and Rita,
Sol's mother's siblings immigrated to the U.S. in the early Twenties and
settled in New York. Only Frymcia's father Chaim Bornstein and his daughter
Hendel, and her daughter Sonya, remained in Radomsko. Chaim died a natural
death in 1941 while Hendel and her daughter Sonya are presumed to have died
either in the Ghetto or in Treblinka. Frymcia's mother Ruda nee Koziwoda
died of a heart attack en route home to Radomsko from the United States in 1923.
Arrival in Warsaw
We met in Warsaw on Thursday, May 20. Sol's plane from Madrid, where he
attended his new Grandson Sergio Simcha's Brith-Milah, was delayed which
curtailed our first day's plans. After checking in to The Forum
the city's center we made our way towards Warsaw's only remaining
synagogue, the Nozyk, on Ulica Twarda. We met and were very
the new Rabbi (Rabinowicz), a Dane, who had been ordained in Jerusalem and
had taken on the position of Chief Rabbi of Poland. He is 27 years old and was expecting his wife and three children to join him imminently. He had
learned to speak Polish and we spoke to him in English and Hebrew. He
invited us to a meal (seudah) the following evening to celebrate Shavuoth.
As we left the shul and were passing the adjoining Yiddish Theatre a woman
invited us in to see the musical Chagall. The performance was in
mostly by a non-Jewish cast. The sets were reproduction of paintings by
Chagall, hence the title, and the songs were sad and sentimental of other
Friday, May 21
We visited the many sites connected with the Jewish Community prior to September
1, 1939, when Jews comprised a third of Warsaw's population.
The Ghetto Area,
The Nathan Rappaport Monument commemorating the Ghetto Fighters,
Mila 18. We photographed the other monuments and bunkers memorializing heroes such as
Emmanuel Ringelblum and Mordechai Anielewicz.
Umschlag Platz: This is where the station platform was where all Warsaw Jews were herded on
to freight boxcars for deportation to Treblinka. Here we shed a few tears
and silently prayed. We were horrified by the anti-Semitic graffiti.
We taxied over to Stary Miasto, the old town, where we had a light supper at a Bistro type
restaurant. Castle Square has a lot of Pubs,
and Boutiques and pushcarts selling all manner of souvenirs. The Square was
packed with hundreds of young Poles enjoying the pleasant weather.
The previous evening we were told at the Shul to come for Shabbat
services at 10.30 because dusk falls late in Warsaw. When we got there
sadly there was no minyan. Actually there were 15 of us, but the rabbi
wouldn't accept the pedigrees of six of the men and so could not count them
for the minyan. We did, however, participate in the Shavuoth Seudah which
was accompanied by enthusiastic singing in Hebrew. Present was a nice young
man, Yona, from Brooklyn with his wife and baby girl. Yona is the
representative in Poland of The Ronald S, Lauder Foundation. He is also a
Habadnik. The evening meal lasted past midnight. We met several interesting
people in the course of the evening, a mother and son from Costa Rica en
route to Israel and a young Jewish girl from Lithuania. Tired and full of Yiddishkeit we returned to our hotel.
Saturday, May 22
From Warsaw to Lodz
After breakfast, we picked up our car, a Renault Megane Automatic, as
neither one of us had driven a gearshift for years. We then set out for
Lodz about 2 1/2 hours from Warsaw. The countryside was unattractive and
rural with many villages alongside the two lane highway. On arrival in
we checked in to The Grand Hotel, built in 1888 which must have been truly
Grand in it's day and which our Father's surely knew. It is still a very
nice and comfortable hotel and we were quite pleased with our room which
only cost US$67 per day including breakfast. The hotel is located on the
main street, Piotrkowska corner Sierpnia and we recommend it to anyone
visiting Lodz. It is only a few meters away from the apt. building where
Rubenstein was born and lived and faced a small green park named in his
We were most anxious to visit the sites connected to our family's
history. In this aim we were tremendously assisted by the remarkable
memories of our cousins Adele Yablon in Montreal and Fela Frieman in
Toronto. Adele had lived in Lodz as a teenager and Fela lived there until the
outbreak of war in 1939.
43 Wolczanska Street: David's parents, Toba and Chaim-Shmuel Shanoff lived in
an apartment in this building until they left for Canada. The building is in not too bad a
state of repair and still has a very attractive facade. We went in to the courtyard
and admired and photographed the
building fro many angles. Both David and his brother Harry were born in the building. David distinctly remembers his
being on the first floor on the right side facing the building.
24 Piotrkowska Street: Our Aunt and Uncle, Sabina and Simcha Grossman
lived in this building and two of their three children ( Diane and Gabriel) were
born here and the third Stanley was born in Canada. It is worth noting
that our uncle Simcha was the first to immigrate to Canada and our entire Goldberg family will be eternally grateful to him for having brought all of
them to Canada in the 1920's.only two of the Goldberg siblings did not come
to Canada. The eldest Blima-Devora whom was married and remained in
Radomsko and Reuven wo went to Israel in 1925 and lived there all of his
Our attempts to find the home of our Goldberg grandparents and Sol's
father were futile. The people we asked could not even direct us to the area
we sought, Grunya Mark.
21 Podrzeczna Street: This building consists of residential apartments and commercial
premises (formerly #9) and was owned by David's grandfather Yosef who died
prior to the war. We photographed the building. and spent some time examining
19 Podrzeczna Street: This building has been recuperated by a relative who
lived there before the war and is already collecting a meager rent.
The last two buildings. are located opposite a park and not too far from the
plants of the Famous Jewish Poznanski Family textile empire, Poltex.
In Lodz we met a nice young man, Pawel Nowak, a native of Radomsko, whom
Sol had met on the Internet. Pawel is 24 years old and a student at the University in
Lodz in the Law Faculty. We had dinner a lovely restaurant, The Esplanada,
on the main street and turned in exhausted after what was an emotional
Sunday, May 23
From Lodz to Radomsko
After checking out of our hotel early we made one more tour of the family
homes and before heading for Radomsko we visited the Jewish Cemetery, which
we found in a remarkable state of preservation. David attempted to find his
grandfather Yose's grave near the famous Radoschitzer Rebbe, but to no
avail. The Lodz cemetery was untouched by the Nazis. It is
surrounded by a
high stonewall and contains more than 300,000 graves, many of which are of
imposing stature, decorated and sculpted. The most outstanding ones are
dedicated to the Poznanski and Karse families. They are truly works of art.
After a pleasant drive through the back roads around Piotrkow, we arrived
in Radomsko and checked into The Europa Hotel on Reymonta, a very modest
hotel, to say the least, which Sol's Aunt Gina had stayed in when she
returned to visit her father in the early 1920s. After checking in and
with our young friend Pawel in tow, we proceeded to see the town sights
including where Sol's family lived and where he and his sisters were born at 12
Krakowska Street. The building was totally demolished in the first days of
the war by German Bombers as Radomsko was not too far from the German
Border. The Municipal Fire Station now sits on the property. We also saw
where Sol's grandfather's bakery store was on the Reymonta, which is now
occupied by two stores. It was impossible to locate with any certainty,
despite determined efforts, the homes of our grandparents Yitzhak and
Esther-Breindel Goldberg and of our aunt and uncle Blima-Devorah Zoberman,
as street names have been changed. The fault for not finding our
grandparents' home was that we were looking for 3 Dobrszycka Street on the
wrong side of the railway station.
We then proceeded to the Jewish Cemetery on the Przedborz Road where we indeed felt the ghosts of our mishpakhah. We lit memorial candles at the
Ohel (mausoleum) of the Radomsko Rebbe. Sol's Grandmother Ruda is buried
close to the Rebbe's Ohel, but a cursory look around was unsuccessful in
finding it. A Hassid of the Rebbe cleaned the area around the Rebbe's
grave, but the rest of the cemetery is in deplorable condition, overgrown
with high grasses and hard to plough through. Sol is determined to do something about having the cemetery cleaned up and towards that end has been
in touch with Rabbi Besser who is with the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation which
supports the maintenance of Jewish Cemeteries in Eastern Europe. Sol has
also suggested to Gloria Berkenstat Freund, Chairperson of the Radomsko
Shtetl Committee on the Internet, that we try to raise private funds
ourselves. Gloria thought it was a good idea and that we plan a trip to
Radomsko to rededicate the cemetery after it is cleaned up. At the Hotel
Zamachek where Sol and Davis stayed, they were told by the owner Andrejz
that he could hire men to clean up the cemetery at a cost of 800 Zlotys (US$200) per man for a month. We feel that $2,000 would be a good
starting point. Incidentally, there are about 2,000 graves in the cemetery
which is surrounded by a high stonewall, which Rabbi Besser told me was
repaired with funds provided by The Lauder Foundation.
It was now rather late in the afternoon and we still hadn't eaten since an
early breakfast. The two or three restaurants in town were packed with families
celebrating communions of their children which is the custom here in May,
and we aware unable to get food anywhere this being Sunday and the stores
were closed. We then made a decision to check out of the Europa and head for our next destination, Krakow, a distance of 200 kilometers, and hoping
to revisit Radomsko on the way back. So, driven by hunger, we reclaimed our suitcases and hit the road. We
at a roadside McDonalds outside of Czestochowa for a burger, fries, and a
Monday, May 24
Arrival in Krakow
We arrived in Krakow and checked into the "Cracovia Hotel" After
settled, we headed for the Stary Miasto, or market square, in the old
town, a ten minute walk from our hotel. We had a good meal at the Hawalka, a
year old restaurant which was nicely decorated. We did a short tour of the
square which was jammed with young people and tourists and returned to the
After breakfast we walked to the old town again and went through the market
where we made several souvenir purchases at some of the dozens of stalls
there. They were mostly selling amber jeweler, decorated boxes and polish
artifacts. We then took a taxi to the old Jewish Quarter of Kazimierz,
named for a King who allowed Jews to participate in commerce and live in
Krakow proper. Jews had lived here from the latter part of the 15th
century until their annihilation in the Holocaust. We toured the entire quarter for a couple of hours and had lunch at a psuedo Jewish
restaurant, Ariel, which featured Carp a la Juif, which actually was
We visited the remnants of five synagogues and spent a great deal of time in
the Isaaca Synagogue which has been turned in to a museum and exhibition
hall. A documentary was being shown of the Krakow Jewish community before
the war. It was truly bustling with active commercial, cultural and
religious life. There was also a photographic exhibition of life in the
ghetto during the war.
In the evening we returned to the old market square in Krakow and again ate
at the Hawalka. We enjoyed a long walk back to our hotel having lost
way for over 1/2 an hour. Krakow is a very attractive city, especially the
Baroque parts built during the reign of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. We were unable to establish how many Jews there are in
Krakow today, but they
can't number more than a few hundred.
Tuesday, May 25, 1999
From Krakow to Auschwitz-Birkenau and Radomsko
We left Krakow early after breakfast and drove to the concentration camp
through lovely countryside and arrived in Auschwitz mid-morning. We spent
several hours there and lit candles in the crematoria and said Kaddish.
There is nothing we can add to what is already known. It would be
superfluous. This was Sol's third visit to Auschwitz.
We then drove back to Radomsko where we were fortunate to find
accommodations at the only decent Hotel in town, a charming rural type of
Inn set amidst a small forest. It could easily be mistaken for a New England bed and
breakfast. The hotel is called Zamachek which we mentioned earlier. There is an excellent and reasonable restaurant on the premises and enjoyed
borscht, potato latkes (placzki, which we could not find anywhere else in
Poland), excellent schmaltz herring with diced onions in oil, vodka and beer
and finished with dessert crepes and good coffee. We deserved a good meal
and it was nice to have found it in Radomsko. The owner, Andrejz was so glad
to know that Sol was born in the town that he presented us with two bottles of
Vodka that were crated and handsomely hand painted and surely cost more than
what we paid for the meal or even the room.
Wednesday, May 26
From Radomsko to Kamiensk, Pajeczno, and Lodz
After breakfast we toured the town looking for family homes and returning to
12 Krakowska Street where Sol was born. We drove up and down streets that Sol
remembered his mother talking about: Reymonta, Aleja, Stodolna Gasse,
etc. We then spent the rest of the morning at the Radomsko Regional
Museum. The exhibits dated from prehistoric to the present. We were
escorted around the Museum as if we were dignitaries when they found out I
was a native. In a small room devoted to photos and artifacts of the pre war
Jewish Community we saw a poster sized picture of the Jewish Community
Council of seven men and to our surprise it included our uncle Noah
Zoberman who was married to our aunt Blima-Devorah, the eldest of the
Goldberg siblings. Sol had previously seen the picture in the Radomsko
Herewith is a little family history.
Our grandfather, Yitzhak Goldberg, was born in Kamiensk, 16 kilometers from
Radomsko. Our grandmother, Esther-Breindel nee Rosenzweig, was born in Radoszyce close to Kamiensk. They lived in Kamiensk where their first five
children were born: Blima-Devorah in 1886,
Shaya in 1888,
Toba in 1891,
Sabina in 1893, and
Leibish in 1895.
When Sol's father Leibish was 3 weeks old, the family moved to Lodz where
the next 4 children were born: Reuven, Adele, Shimon, and Chayele.
Sol's maternal grandfather, Chaim Bornstein, was born in Przedborz and his
grandmother, Ruda Koziwoda, was born in Pajeczno. They lived in Radomsko, where Chaim
owned a very successful bakery, and where all their children were born, here
in chronological order and their subsequent place of residence:
California, Sol in
Brooklyn, Frymcia in
Florida, and Gina in
Hendel never left Radomsko and perished in the Holocaust.
Sol obtained birth certificates at the Radomsko City Hall for himself and
his two sisters Ruth and Rita, a nice souvenir.
We bid adieu to Radomsko and drove north about 16 kilometers to Kamiensk,
where we spent hours exploring the lovely shtetl which was but a hamlet in
our grandparents time. As already noted above, our roots on the Goldberg
side are here. We visited the City Hall where we were graciously received
by the town's engineer, who presented each of us with a descriptive brochure
of the town. We enquired where the Jewish cemetery was and to our
consternation we were told that a playground and soccer field now cover the
ground of the former Jewish cemetery which was completely destroyed by the
Nazis. We visited a Shenk (Bar) and drank a toast to our family with
Vodka. From Kamiensk we drove through exceedingly beautiful country,
pastoral fields with spring flowers, for about 30 kilometers to Pajeczno
where Sol's maternal grandmother, Ruda Koziwoda, was born and where for
generation the Koziwodas lived, worked, and prayed. We found the site of the
town's synagogue which alas is now the cinema. We met an elderly couple who
lived across from the shul and they described to us the boundaries of the
Ghetto as established by the German Army. They told us the cemetery was
behind the church. We drove over there only to find a playing field. Just
as in Kamiensk, not a grave or a marker remains.
From Pajeczno we headed back north to Lodz. To our dismay, we could not
obtain accommodations at the Grand Hotel, where we had previously stayed
because it was booked solid for a ballet festival. On a stroll near the hotel, we chanced upon a photographic exhibition under the patronage of the
British Ambassador, whom we met together with the British Consul in Warsaw.
The Ambassador told us that a fortnight earlier he had escorted the wife of
London's Lord Mayor back to her shtetl. To our great discomfort we could
only get a room in an old hotel, which spoiled our stay in Lodz, and we
decided to leave the next morning. However, in the evening we took a tour
a bicycle powered "rickshaw" and then had dinner again at the nice
Thursday, May 27
From Lodz to Warsaw
Early in the morning we took a spin around Lodz again visiting the family's
former residences before leaving for Warsaw where we arrived after a three-hour
drive. We again checked into the Forum Hotel, which we found to our liking,
especially because it is so centrally located. In the evening we went back
and wandered around the old town and had a nice dinner at a restaurant
facing the square. After dinner we went back again to the Yiddish
where we saw a melodrama Yoshka Musicant, by the late great Ida
We did not enjoy it as much as Chagall. We met a tour group of
Florida and enjoyed talking to them. Also sitting next to us was another
couple from Florida not connected to the tour group. During intermission,
the man told us that he was a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto and began
crying, as did the others, when he recounted how he suffered at the hands of the
Germans. After the theatre we turned in early for the long drive the next
morning to Treblinka.
Friday, May 28
The drive from Warsaw to Treblinka took close to three hours, over some rather
sub-standard roads, but through
beautiful scenery. We imagined our relatives traveling the same way en
route to the ovens. Treblinka is miles away from populated centers. At the camp there is no realistic trace of the atrocities that took place there.
There are literally hundreds of commemorative gravestones, each bearing the
name of Jewish populated cities, towns, and shtetls whose Jews were
annihilated by the Nazis. We, of course, searched for those connected to
families and found and photographed gravestones with the names of Lodz,
Radomsko, Kamiensk, Pajeczno, Radoszyce, and others. We presume most of
family perished in Treblinka. Interestingly, the only other people there
were five Polish gentiles who lit candles at the main monument. The return
trip to Warsaw was a sad and silent ride. When we got back we turned in the
car to Hertz and retired early as we had to leave the Hotel for the Airport
at 6 a.m.
Friday, May 29
Departure from Warsaw and Conclusion
We arrived at the Airport at 6.30 a.m. Sol went back to Madrid to
see his son, daughter in law and his two grandsons, Daniel and Sergio.
David left for the return trip to Tel-Aviv.
Some additional notes: We were blessed with perfect weather throughout our stay. The days with
temperatures of 22-25c ((75-80f) and pleasant evenings. Not a drop of rain
during our stay. We enjoyed the car which was comfortable and safe. We had one unpleasant
incident. We stopped for a drink at a service station between Kattowitz and
Radomsko. when we tried to start the car it was stalled. The station
phoned a company called S.O.S., aptly named, who had to tow us 20 miles to
the Renault dealer in Kattowitz where the problem was solved in 2 minutes.
Cost for towing 200 zlotys, about $50.
(SF NOTE: Revise this part)
1. Poland is a huge Jewish Graveyard
2.Anti-Semitism is pervasive, even without Jews. As yitzhak Shamir said
"They suck it in with their Mother's Milk".
3.Poland is covered with anti-semitic grafitti and on a wall in the jewish
quarter in Krakow, Kazimierz, we saw a wall plastered with writing "Zydz
Kurwa", Jewish Whores! No Comment needed
4.Our visit was interesting, educational, stimulating and permeated with a
non-dismissive deep sense of sadness at times a dreadful feeling of
Comments and Queries are welcome and appreciated.