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Naftali Ziv

Compiled by Esther (Herschman) Rechtschafner

A few years ago, at the national meeting of the Israeli Genealogical Society in Givatyim, the keynote speaker was Dr. Ruth Leiserowitz. During a recess, I approached her to introduce myself and to ask her about the list of user names that appeared on her website. She confirmed that Hanna Sieff of Sydney Australia was the wife of Naftali Ziv, one of the seven survivors of Sveksna (Meir Ladon, Chazkel Segal, Abe Segal, Samuel Sheron, Gutman Shajevitz, Velvel Ment and Naftali Ziv). She was kind enough to send me Hanna’s email address (Hanna Sieff).

A wonderful connection has developed between us, via email. I sent them copies of my articles about Sveksna. Naftali is always willing to answer any questions that I may have. I once asked him if during the WAR, he thought that the WAR would ever end. His answer was that he knew it would end; but didn’t think that he would make it. He was able to decipher the Yiddish letters that I had gotten from the Sveksna file in the Lithuanian Archives in Tel Aviv. [Note: Website for that organization is not available as of 22 Apr 2018.]

Most of the letters were written by Naftali’s sister Liebe (who later came on Aliyah, and is buried in Herzliya). She had spent the period of the WAR in Russia. She sent them to her cousin Gittel who lived in Israel. She wrote of how elated she was to find out that Naftali was still alive, and asked Gittel to please tell her brother Max, who lived in South Africa, that he should not worry about her; but devote all of his attention to Naftali’s welfare.

This is the story of how Naftali and Liebe found each other:

Liebe was still in Russia. She wrote a cousin who lived in New York, asking her to please inform all the Jews who formerly lived in Sveksna that no one from Sveksna had survived. The cousin had this letter printed in a Jewish newspaper there and added her name and address at the end of it.  A copy of this Jewish newspaper found its way to a displaced persons camp in Germany, where a friend of Naftalis was lying sick in the hospital. When Naftali went to visit him, he was shown the article and asked if this was written by his sister. Naftali wrote to his cousin and through her, was then able to get in touch with his sister in Russia.

A short while ago Naftali and Hanna sent me a copy of his DVD interview about the Holocaust. They also sent something else of great importance. Naftali had in his possession quite a few old photographs of Sveksna. He decided that I should have them and then decide if to keep them or what to do with them. About three years ago I donated them to The Central Jewish Archives in Jerusalem. Naftali and Hanna were very happy to receive a nice “Thank-You note” from Hadassah Assuline, the director of this Archive. By the way, Hadassah is an old friend of mine. (We were in Bnei Akiva together.)

As understood, Naftali lost many family members in the Holocaust.

Naftal and Hanna.
  Naftal (his name in Australia) now lives in Ashfield, Sydney, Austalia.

  His wife Hanna was born in Halle A.S. Germany, where her parents owned a shoe shop.

  Her father, David Smoliansky, was born in Heidekrug (located near Sveksna) on 26 December1898.

  He was the 8th of 9 children. Hanna and Naftal have two children and two grandchildren.

  They are now married 60 years.

Diagram of Naftali's Family Home.
  Naftali drew this diagram of his Sveksna family home in March 2012.

  Click on the image to see a larger view.

Here is a short movie made  in honor of Naftali and his family: (Added 21 November 2021)

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Web Page: Copyright © 2012 Esther (Herschman) Rechtschafner