Lunna Visits

Visits Before the Second World War


As is noted elsewhere in the historical overview of Lunna, prior to the Second World War, several former Jewish residents of Lunna had emigrated to the United States, Eretz Israel (British Mandatory Palestine), and other places around the world. We currently know of only two such persons who returned to Lunna to visit their family members who had not accompanied them abroad.

In 1931, Herman Silver and his wife Netty (her maiden name is unknown), who were residing in the United States, traveled to Poland. Netty Silver was the daughter of Peshe Mirke from Lunna. The Silver couple took snapshots of buildings and people in Lunna. For more information please refer to the page Memoirs/Leon Arkin.

In 1937, Yitzchak Eliashberg, a former Lunna resident who emigrated in 1932 to Eretz Israel, went to visit his family who remained in Lunna. He sent letters to his girl-friend (who would later become his wife) Ahuva in Palestine. In those letters he described the uncertain economic, political, and social atmosphere, and expressed his concerns as to the future of the residents of the Lunna Shtetl. The letters (which were written in Hebrew, but were translated into English) are posted below.

Lunna August 25, 1937

Ahuva'le, my darling!

I have been at home in Lunna among my family for three days now. The welcoming reception which I have been given cannot be described in words. It's been five years in which I have not seen anyone from my family. After six days, which I spent in noisy Paris, I have arrived at a tranquil, familiar place. Everywhere that I go brings back childhood memories of days that are now gone. I really don't know where to begin…

…It's been already 3 weeks since I left the country [Eretz Israel]. Today is Wednesday -- exactly three weeks ago, on the same day of the week as it is today -- I boarded the ship and began sailing into the wide world. I haven't had yet the opportunity for a rest, so I will not be able to summarize all that I have gone through. Anyways, my horizons have expanded and have been enriched. Our country is very precious to me. It is already a part of my blood and under all circumstances I would consider it to be my homeland. And yet, it is desirable, very desirable, to grasp for the greatness of the world.

Here at home, I am not getting any time off. A lot of people come to visit me. I have become quite a hero and a celebrity here. I must tell each and every one of our visitors about our country, about its life and customs, about its boys and its girls…I am practically tired from speaking so much. As for today, I have decided not to see anybody and to rest instead.

My sister, Malka, is present here at the resort [in Zaleski forest] together with her husband [Avigdor Bialoblocki] and their two children [Aviva and Shmuel-Arie]. These children are like flowers. I totally love them. I play with them and they have become very attached to me. They are not letting me go, not even for one moment.

Everything seems to be fine. Life here has not changed compare to how it was five years ago. There is only this feeling of insecurity and fear of what might be happening next, which has taken a hold of everybody. Many people already have passed away (from this world.) But there is this new generation of whose childhood I can remember, which now has grown up without any purpose or aim in life. It is degenerating. A retarded and primitive provincialism mixed with frankness and straightforward naiveté - the main characteristics of the typical Jewish town, have prevailed until the present time. One generation goes, another comes, and life remains the same. Since I have come from our country and then from the big world, I have looked at all that is going on and I am aware of the events and all of the potential changes taking place in the world. When I contrast this with the standing-still, frozen town whose sons who have grown without any perspective whatsoever and also with its worsening economic and physical situation, I feel how severe the tragedy of the Jewish exile-town is. I really like listening to conversations. I do a lot of conversing myself and the more I do, the clearer becomes the picture of the life of the Polish Jews. When I tell about the life in our country, what envy! Their eyes glow and also tears well up, but nevertheless, mixed with feelings of doubt. Will salvation arrive? Would our country be capable rapidly of solving all their pain during our lifetime?

This is how my last three days were. I feel terrific to be around my family. They are spoiling me like a little boy. They make me delicacies which we do not have in our country. They don't exactly know what to do with me. Acquaintances and relatives have brought chocolate boxes and wines for the "guest". Mom has already begun to cry that within three weeks she would have to say goodbye to me one more time. The weather is fantastic. You have written that "at your place" the heat was almost unbearable and here "at our place" it is now the famous Polish fall – cool days and dying summer…

After "Shabbat" I am going to Grodno, the city where I attended "Tarbut" high school. My teachers and principal are already awaiting my visit. I have many relatives there and I received even more invitations than I have relatives. I will stay there for a few days. This city is very dear to me. That is where I had my youthful spring, alive and fermenting, as I have not had yet the chance to tell you about it all…at that time on the beach…
Anyways, I see that the three weeks, which are still left to my stay here, will not be eventless.

Ahuva'le! I'll be coming back with a ship from Konstanza, which will depart on the 23rd of September [1937]. I am hoping that that by the 28th or the 29th of September, I will already be in Tel Aviv…
I would be writing to you more extensively (and maybe I fatigue you with all this, who knows?), but I have yet to revitalize myself from the lengthy, tiresome road and also from my first days here at home. I'll have a rest and then I'll be able to concentrate better and write to you more.
Greetings to the "Chvreh" [our friends at home].

Lunna August 30, 1937

Hello to you, my Ahuva!

I have been here at home for seven days now. I managed to have a little bit of a rest and the time to recuperate from all of the excitement and the emotion of seeing my family. So at this moment, I am able to concentrate and continue to relate to you impressions from my travels. I wrote to you one letter from home, while I was in a hurry. I did not want that you would be waiting for a letter for a long period of time, so while I was going through the reception and the noise, I wrote you about some of my first impressions. Today it already feels as if I live here. Although guests come and visit me every day and I also owe some visits to different friends (they are not allowing to get away, insisting that I keep my promise). I am happy that I brought in with me some of the feelings and the atmosphere of Eretz Israel into this decaying shtetl. I am obliged to tell all kind of details and respond to all kinds of naive and provincial questions, which in some cases, I would much rather retire and sit in a quiet corner and laugh out loud because of their absurd questions.

That's how it goes. This is a simple and naive shtetl, yet it is as lovely as ever. I, personally, cannot imagine any circumstance in which I would be able to consider it as my place or as a place to build in a future. Nevertheless, I am deriving great pleasure from this temporary stay. Every step that I take refreshes memories of past childhood days and all of the history that they contain.

Perhaps you are quite emotionally distant from these kinds of things - I am not sure if you can resonate with this or not - however I am learning a lot from each and every character that I see, these days, in the town's streets. I look at them and I try to get inside their soul, which is something that I could not have done during my childhood.

I had two significant turning points in my life before I immigrated to Eretz Israel -- one was my shtetl, my home and my place of birth -- and the other was the city, the place where I received my schooling and education. The shtetl provided me with the simplicity and the innocence of life. The city taught me about the contradictions in life, the hypocrisy and the deceit. The high school in the city gave me wisdom and the mind to comprehend things. The youth movement, which I attended, provided me with a sensitive heart, capable of both love and hate.
Only from the perspective of today, many years forward into the future, have I these kinds of feelings. I hope that once I get back home, I will be able to explain and pass on to you everything that I have felt during the days of my stay here.

I would now like to continue (I don't know whether I will be successful or not) with impressions from my travels.


Two photos taken by Mr. Eliashberg during his 1937 visit in Lunna are shown below. More pictures are posted on the Family Albums/Yitzchak Eliashberg page.

  Yitzchak Eliashberg & Family
(Lunna, 1937)
    Eliashberg & Kosowski Family Relatives
(Lunna, 1937)

Visits to Lunna During the Cold War

After the Second World War, Lunna was incorporated into the Soviet Union and, as part of an “off limits” border/security area, was effectively separated from the western world. We know, however, of at least one visit to Lunna during the post-war Soviet period. In 1958, Yaakov Margulis, a former Lunna resident who had moved to Russia after World War I, visited Lunna. During this visit, Mr. Margulis took several photos and sent them to his brother, Aba Margulis, who resided in Israel. Three of these photos are posted below. More photos are posted on various pages of this site.


  Mr. Yaakov Margulis posing
by his old residence
    The residence of Pesia Margulis
(Yaakov Margulis' mother)
    The Market Square
(behind the trees, left: Orthodox Church).
Jewish small shops: groceries, shoemaker's workshop, tailor's workshop, etc. were placed here

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Compiled by Ruth Marcus & Aliza Yonovsky Created May 2007
Updated by rLb, March 2020
Copyright © 2007 Ruth Marcus

All the photos are presented by courtesy of the families and are not allowed to be reproduced without their permission.

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