Under the contract concluded on June 1, 1824 with the Municipal Office of the Town of Płock, the merchant Jakub Lewin Szenwic (born in 1789) received a perpetual lease of the square located at Nowa Street at that time (property 258 E) for an annual […]
Our branch of the Szeraszew family comes from Radziłów and thanks to the documents stored in the Łomża department of the State Archives in Białystok it is known, that there were many members of the Szeraszew family in Radziłów and the local area.
Joszka Szeraszew is the first known to us from the civil registry records, and therefore he can be considered the progenitor of the family, although it is also known that his father was Lejzor (probably born ca. 1750), and the father of Lejzor was Herszek (probably born ca. 1730).
Joszka Szeraszew (or Szeraśew) was born in Radziłów in 1777 and was a tavern keeper. He had two wives, Girenda (1778–1827), mother of his four sons: Mordechaj, Lejzor, Szemel and Jankiel, and Maryaszka Klimaszewska, mother of three more children: Abram, Moszek and Leia. When he married Maryaszka, Joszka was a widower 30 years older than her, and she was a maid from Radziłów. Joszka personally signed the documents in Polish, which was not so common among his contemporaries.
His son Szemel (Chemel) was a salter, probably a salt trader (born in 1795). He was married to Ryfka Leybowiczówna, with whom had four children: Mendel and Gerszon (who both died in their childhood) as well as Lejb (born in 1833; my great-grandfather) and Girenda (born in 1837).
Lejb Szemelowicz Szeraszew (1833–1908), born in Radziłów, married Liba Gerszonsztejn (1832–1908), who according to the books of permanent residents of the town of Płock came from Augustów. They had three sons: Abram Chaim (born in 1860; my great grandfather), Jakub Gerszon (Hersz) (born in 1856) and Szlama Joszka (born in 1864) – all were born in Radziłów. In the 1860s or at the beginning of the 1870s, Lejb Szeraszew and his family moved from Radziłów to Płock. There (or in Łódź) in 1868 their daughter Sara Chaja (Helena) was born, and in 1875 in Płock – Ruchla Łaja (she died in 1902 as a childless maiden).
Lejb Szeraszew and his family probably went to Płock in search of a better life. Has it really turned out better? They lived at 5 Mostowa Street, and Lejb found employment as a “bridge warehouse keeper”. At that time, a pontoon bridge operated on the Vistula River, which used to be dismantled for the winter, and perhaps Lejb Szeraszew was taking care of this bridge. Watchmaking became a family occupation in the next generation. The first watchmakers were Jakub Gerszon, who had a workshop in a tenement house at 12 Kolegialna St., as well as is brother Abram, who moved to Łódź in the 1890s, and at 11 Andrzeja Street he established a so-called agency – he sold parts for Swiss watches and watchmaking tools. Their sister Sara Chaja (Helena) ca. 1890 married the watchmaker from Płock, Abraham Hassyd (born in 1868). Five of their children were born here: Dawid (born in 1891), Abraham Mojżesz (born in 1892), Jakub (born in 1895), Chawa (born in 1896) and Ernestyna (born in 1899). Around 1900, the family emigrated to Switzerland, where they adopted the surname Gassyt and europeanized their first names accordingly. Their last daughter, Luisa (1903–1990) was born in Zurich. Luisa was not married, she was a doctor by profession. Abraham Hassyd (Gassyt) had a watchmaker’s shop in his house at Winterthurerstrasse in Zurich. It was he who helped my great-grandfather Abram set up the agency in Łódź and he probably delivered him the goods. Abram Szeraszew after moving to Łódź (or earlier) changed his surname to Szereszewski and his first name to Adolf. He died in 1925. His wife, Helena née Frommer, came from Kraków (born in 1867; daughter of Joachim and Fanny). She died in the Łódź ghetto in 1941 and is buried in the Jewish cemetery in Łódź. They had two daughters: Stanisława (1896–1977) and Roma (1897–1970) and son, Jankiel (Jan) (born in 1899), who died several months after birth. Roma (my grandmother) was a sculptor, one of the first year students admitted to studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, a student of Konstanty Laszczka.
Szlama Joszko, who was a merchant, lived in Płock. He had a wife Chasza née Gombińska and a daughter Ruchla (born in 1891). Jakub Gerszon, the oldest of the siblings, also stayed in Płock. In 1881, he married Gołda Dwojra Kalmus and had 12 children with her: Ryfka Chaja (born in 1883), Szyja Pinkus (born in 1884), Icek (born in 1887), Nechemia (1888–1903), Ruchla (1889–1903), Dawid (born in 1891), Mariem (born in 1892), Józef (born in 1893), Estera (born in 1895), Masza (born in 1896), Aron (1897–1) 1900) and Lea (born 1901).
In the 1930s, Józef Szeraszew ran his father’s watchmaker’s shop at 12 Kolegialna St. He married Bronisława Grabman and they had a son – Abram (born 1931).
Dawid married Hena Lindner from Warsaw.
Mariem married Mojżesz Holcman and they had a daughter, Gabrysia (born in 1930) and a son, Evez (born in 1936) [more about the Holcman family – link]. All four died in the Holocaust. Probably their fate was shared by other children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Liba and Lejb Szeraszew, but nothing else about them is currently known.
Both daughters of Abram (Adolf) Szeraszew (Szereszewski) survived the war. Both were hiding thanks to so-called “Aryan papers”, my grandmother Roma – together with her husband and son. Helena (Sara Chaja) Szereszewska’s children in Switzerland also survived. She died in 1940. Some of her descendants still live in Switzerland, others in Canada.
Written by Urszula Grabowska
Photos from the family archives of Urszula Grabowska.
Film from 1937 and over 6200 people identified as part of the “Remembrance. Płock 1939” research project
An extraordinary 1937 film by Józef Herman Keller and his son Norton has been just published on JewishPlock.eu. The Nobiscum Foundation received the film courtesy of Susan Keller Mouckley, Sandra Brygart Rodriguez and Arieh Bomzon. The film was digitized by the Yad Vashem Institute at the turn of January and February this year and presents not only scenes from Płock, but also members of the Brygart, Bomzon, Keller, Rotman, Cynamon and Ejzenman families. It is also worth paying attention to the music of the Sztetl group, which, although performed and recorded today, originates from traditional Jewish music of the interwar period.
The film was presented for the first time at the Art Gallery of Płock during the premiere of the book “Tema. Memories of the time of Holocaust” on March 1, and is now available on our website, accompanied by an extensive commentary by Arieh Bomzon: https://jewishplock.eu/en/movie1937/
At the same time, we publish the results of research conducted since September 2019 by Gabriela Nowak-Dąbrowska as part of the project “Remembrance. Płock 1939”. Over 6200 names, surnames and other information about members of the Płock Jewish community come from archival documents from the autumn of 1939. This monumental work is the first, but not the last stage of the project “Remembrance. Płock 1939 ”implemented by the Nobiscum Foundation.
More information about the project and a table with the results of the research can be found here: https://jewishplock.eu/en/remembrance-plock1939/
On the night of February 20-21, 1941, the Germans began to deport Jews from Płock. On the morning of February 21, the Jewish population was concentrated on Kwiatka Street and between the synagogue and Bielska Street: “… since 4 in the morning, there was light […]
Premiere of the book “Tema. Memories of the time of Holocaust”. Presentation of the project “Remembrance. Płock 1939”. Concert by 3kropki: “Zachor”
Sunday, March 1, 2020, marks the 79th anniversary of the last deportation of Jews from the Płock ghetto. On this day, the Nobiscum Foundation invites you to the Art Gallery of Płock for the premiere of its third publication – the book entitled “Tema. Memories of the time of Holocaust”, which is a record of conversations between Tema Lichtenstein and her grandson, Joshua Newman, as well as an audiovisual presentation of the project “Remembrance. Płock 1939”, being the result of six-month research aimed at commemorating all Jewish citizens of Płock living in town at the beginning of World War II. Special photographs for the presentation were made by Among Scratches. The premiere will be accompanied by a concert entitled “Zachor” performed by Płock-based artist 3kropki.
The book “Tema. Memories of the time of Holocaust “:
In 2020, we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. On this occasion, the Nobiscum Foundation publishes the book “Tema. Memories of the time of Holocaust”, which is a special record of the testimony of Tema Lichtenstein – a witness to German crimes who survived the Holocaust.
Tema Lichtenstein (1918–2008) was born in Warsaw, since the early 1930s her family lived in Płock. Tema’s father, Jakub Zylbersztajn, ran a carpentry workshop here in the house at 27 Kolegialna Street, where his family lived until the beginning of September 1940. Zylbersztajn presented his furniture, highly valued by the Płock clientele, at the “Art of Płock” exhibition in 1932. After graduating from school (she was a graduate of the Jewish Middle School of Humanities), until the outbreak of war, Tema worked as a clerk. The outbreak of World War II irrevocably changed the life of the Zylbersztajn family. At the end of 1940, Tema, together with her parents and sister Fela, found herself in the Płock ghetto. In February 1941, the Zylbersztajns were deported to the ghetto in Jadów, and from there to Starachowice and Bodzentyn. The parents of Tema, Jakub and Frajda were then deported to the labor camp in Radom, and later to Auschwitz. Jakub then went to Dachau, Frajda to Bergen-Belsen. Tema and Fela worked in an ammunition factory in Starachowice. There they met Jan Ciok from the nearby village of Wąchock, who helped young women escape and find shelter in the home of Teofil Nowak from the village of Bronkowice. Teofil Nowak and his family helped Fela recover from typhus and arranged documents that enabled her to work in Germany. Tema stayed with Teofil Nowak until the end of the war, taking care of his house and his son. Teofil’s sister Helena Senderska was also involved in helping Tema and Fela. On November 21, 1993, Yad Vashem recognized Jan Ciok, Teofil Nowak and Helena Senderska as Righteous Among the Nations. After returning to Płock, shortly after liberation, Tema became involved in a relationship with Dawid Lichtenstein – a friend from the time before the war, a watchmaker. They left for Germany, then to Sweden, where they got married, and in 1951 emigrated to the United States.
The publication of Tema’s testimony, in the form of an interview she gave her grandson Joshua Newman in 1994, is an attempt to preserve the war experience of one of the Jewish families associated with Płock, at the same time the experience of a Jewish citizen of Płock, who throughout her whole life carried tragic memories that she could not share with anyone outside the family. As Joshua Newman points out in the introduction to the interview, after the premiere of Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List”, his film crew recorded a part of Tema’s testimony for the archive that the director created, but many of the episodes that were discussed during her conversation with her grandson have never been preserved on archival tapes, due to the understandable difficulty she had discussing such difficult experience with strangers.
The Nobiscum Foundation has published the book as part of its paid public benefit activity. The book will be available for sale starting from the day of its premiere.
Project “Remembrance. Płock 1939”:
From around 9,000 of Jewish people living in Płock before the outbreak of World War II, only a few survived. When talking about these dark times, we use numbers, often forgetting that specific people are behind them. Men, women and children. Every now and then important, necessary and smart projects arise in the public space that motivate us to take on new challenges. Inspired by the initiative of Dariusz Popiela “People, not numbers” and the project of the Grodzka Gate – NN Theater Center – “Lublin. 43,000”, the Nobiscum Foundation implemented the project “Remembrance. Płock 1939”, the goal of which is to commemorate all Jewish residents of the town of Płock, who perished in the Holocaust and information about whom can be found in archival documents from the World War II period. The results of this huge research , conducted by Gabriela Nowak-Dąbrowska, vice president of the Nobiscum Foundation, will be published at the beginning of March 2020 on the JewishPlock.eu website run by the foundation. Before this happens, we will present those results on 1 March in a multimedia form, which, apart from the names of the Płock Jews, will be based on photographs specially created for this purpose by Among Scratches.
A solo project of Krzysztof Piotrowski from Płock, guitarist of the band Schrottersburg. During the premiere, the artist will play music specially prepared for the occasion entitled “Zachor”, inspired by the history of the local Jewish community and dedicated to Jews from Płock who perished in the Holocaust.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the square with a brick house on the property marked with mortgage number 283 belonged to a carpenter Jan Franciszek Frahm (around 1768-1813) from Hamburg. As he had no children, after his death the property was inherited in […]