Odessa 1905 pogrom: handwritten list of murdered Jews

The next two entries are about things (documents, people, ghosts) I have not managed to find, but they suggest there is still more to find. In June 2011, a 12 page booklet The pogrom in Odessa on 18-22 October 1905 (Der blutiger pogrom in Odessa fun 18-22 oktober 1905 yor) by David Horowitz, Odessa 1906, was auctioned in Jerusalem (Kedem Auction House, Auction 15, Lot 521, 1 June 2011). The booklet came from the collection of Dr Israel Mehlman and included an additional 4 pages with the handwritten names and ages of Jews murdered during the pogrom. (https://www.kedem-auctions.com/search-page/Pogrom%20Odessa%201906%20leaves%20are%20unknown%20bibliographically)

Is this list copied from the original pogrom death records which are now in the Odessa archive? Was it done at the time or at some unknown time between 1905 and the present? Is it written in the original Russian Cyrillic or translated into Hebrew? Is it exactly the same list as in the records or have other names been added? Or is it a different list altogether? Were there other official lists, such as a police or government list? Or did someone in the Jewish community at the time make another list? The possibilities are endless. It would be fascinating to compile a larger list of those killed in the Odessa 1905 pogrom, if there are additional lists or if people know of others who were killed then. Possibly the owner of this booklet will find this blog and check whether his list is the same as the names in the records. Possibly other people have handwritten lists or know of official lists in records somewhere.

odessa-pogrom-horowitz

The pogrom in Odessa 1905, David Horowitz

1 Comment

Filed under archives, history, pogrom death list

Maps of Eastern Europe

In the course of my search for the people listed in the Odessa pogrom death records, I have looked up many of the towns which were the birthplaces of those in the records, many of which were very difficult to find either because the spelling or name has changed. Often there were many variations over the years depending on whether the Russian, Ukrainian, Yiddish or Polish name was used. JewishGen has a town-finder database which lists many different names and spellings for towns throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. But still not every village or every spelling is covered. Another way to find the old names in the records are on old maps. Old maps of Odessa are useful for finding original street names and small villages around Odessa, but most of the people in the death records came from all over Ukraine, Bessarabia, Moldova and some as far north as what is now Belarus or Lithuania. Most of the oldest maps are lacking in detail, but from the late 19th century there are some incredibly detailed maps which seemed to get down to the level of individual trees. I would not have been surprised by individual blades of grass.

berdichev-outskirts-1909

Berdichev outskirts 1909

http://easteurotopo.org/indices/view/view.php?map=s84index&section=Berdichev

berdichev-street

gorodishche-very-close-up-1930

Gorodishche near Baranovichi (west of Minsk) 1930

http://www.mapywig.org/m/WIG_maps/series/025K/P35-S42-H_HORODYSZCZE_WSCHOD_1930.jpg

Old maps, either written in Russian or Polish, can be very helpful in finding small towns whose names, size or importance have changed dramatically over time. Towns that were once important Jewish centres of learning and commerce may have declined if they were not near railways as rivers were no longer so crucial for trade. My great grandparents were rabbis in the small town of Gorodishche (above) near Novogrudok in Belarus, which had been a thriving town, but almost ceased to exist when the main railway from Moscow to Warsaw came a few miles to the south and the town of Baranovichi was built. It is only by looking at earlier maps that one can discover that what are now tiny towns were once important centres. The same great grandparents originally came from what is now a village near Pinsk, Lubeshov, in a marshy area of northern Ukraine, well supplied with rivers and now a national park. On old maps it is quite a prominent town. The 1837  map below shows both Gorodishche south of Novogrudok and much further south, Lubeshov south of Pinsk.

minsk-pinsk-1837

Minsk to Pinsk 1837

lubeshov-close-up-1929

Lyubeshov and surrounding marshes 1929

The 1837 map below shows many of the small towns and villages that the people in the Odessa pogrom death records originated from. Although many Jews had a hometown where their family had lived for generations, probably an equal number travelled from place to place whenever they heard of new jobs and opportunities.

odessa-area-1873

Odessa and its surroundings 1837

Listed below are the websites mentioned above of maps of Eastern Europe (although the David Rumsey collection is worldwide, including some brilliant very detailed maps of New York City from the late 1800s into the 1900s by G W Bromley.

bromley-map-1899-plate-25-clinton-street

Bromley New York City map 1899 E. Houston Street and Clinton Street

There are also two websites with historical maps of Odessa.

1837 map of Eastern Europe (close-up maps of Minsk area and Odessa area)

http://easteurotopo.org/images/regional%20maps%20of%20eastern%20europe/European%20Russia/Kriegsstrassen%20Karte%20eines%20Theiles%20von%20Russland_1837.jpg

Topographic maps of Eastern Europe – many from US Library of Congress and David Rumsey maps

http://easteurotopo.org/maps/  and links to other map sites

http://easteurotopo.org/indices/s84/alphabetical/ index of towns

Karte des westlichen Russlands (KdwR) Prussian military map 1917

includes Pinsk, Lubeshov etc in German

http://easteurotopo.org/indices/kdwr/

David Rumsey map collection

http://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/view/search?QuickSearchA=QuickSearchA&q=+Russia&sort=pub_list_no_initialsort%2Cpub_list_no_initialsort%2Cpub_list_no_initialsort%2Cpub_date&search=Search search page for Russian maps

Maps of Poland

http://igrek.amzp.pl/mapindex.php?cat=WIG25

close-up 1920s to 1930 maps of certain areas of western Russia which comes from this Polish website http://polski.mapywig.org/viewpage.php?page_id=29

Polish Jewish shtetls

http://www.sztetl.org.pl/en/selectcity/  includes those in western Russia

Historical maps of Odessa

http://www.citymap.odessa.ua/?30

http://www.retromap.ru/show_pid.php?pid=g4032

 

Leave a comment

Filed under maps

Bialystok 1906 pogrom

I had never looked up the town of Bialystok until I came upon David Wissotzky’s wife Anna Sackheim, who came from Bialystok and was my great great aunt Asna’s sister-in-law, through her husband Leon Sackheim.

plan_miasta_bialegostoku-005_plan

ulica-lipowa-bialystok

Bialystok Lipowa St

bialystok-1930

Bialystok 1930

 jewish-market-bialystok

http://www.jhi.pl/en/blog/2013-08-08-bialystok-jews-historical-overview

Reading online, one quickly becomes aware that there was a horrific pogrom in Bialystok in June 1906, eight months after the Odessa pogrom. Bialystok was a mostly Jewish town – there were 48,000 Jews out of a population of 64,000. And 200 Jews were killed in the three-day pogrom, one of the highest death rates after the Odessa pogrom.

bialystok-1906-italian-newspaper

1906-bialystok-niva

Bialystok pogrom 1906

The pogrom quickly appeared in my searches for the Sackheim family in Bialystok as a Sackheim child was listed as one of the victims of the pogrom (Zakgeym, Sender Davidov—10 yr., shot & killed on Argentinova St, June 2, morning). A very detailed report of the pogrom and list of 77 of the victims was published in the Jewish Chronicle on 13 July 1906. This report and list (http://museumoffamilyhistory.com/ajc-yb-v08-pogroms.htm ) are probably a good indication of what happened in Odessa and the many other Russian cities involved in the pogroms in late 1905. The following is taken from the report:

 (1) On Friday Lejba Ginzburg was in his lodging in the house of Bronekera in the Zaniejska Street. He was afraid to go out. Somebody knocked at the door. Ginzberg did not open it. The door was then broken open and the police-sergeant of the fourth district, named Bajbok, accompanied by soldiers, entered and ordered the soldiers to fire. One of the soldiers fired and killed Ginzburg’s wife, Chana Binema, and wounded her sister, Rochla Annalni. The latter, still suffering from the wounds, gave evidence to the Commission. Bajbok, not satisfied with the work he had already done, dragged out of Ginzburg’s lodging a Jewess, named Kustinowa Hinda Leja, who was carrying a baby, and ordered a soldier to fire. The soldier fired, but instead of the mother, the baby was killed. The same sergeant searched the house, but did not discover anything. Nevertheless, he ordered two Jews, Joselowi Wot and Nachim, to follow him. When they came to the wall of a newly built house he commanded the sol­diers to fire on them. Wot was severely wounded. Nachim fell on his knees and begged for mercy. He was bayonetted.

Background to the pogrom from Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bia%C5%82ystok_pogrom

At the beginning of the 20th century, Białystok was a city with a predominantly Jewish population. In 1895, the Jewish population numbered 47,783 (out of 62,993, or about 76%). Białystok was primarily a city known for its textile manufacturing, commerce and industry.

 During the 1905 Russian Revolution the city was a center of the radical labour movement, with strong organisations of the Bund and the Polish Socialist Party as well as the more radical anarchists of the Black Banner association.

In the summer of 1904, an eighteen-year-old anarchist, Nisan Farber, stabbed and seriously wounded Avraam Kogan, the owner of a spinning mill, as he walked to the synagogue on Yom Kippur. On October 6, Farber threw a bomb into a police station, injuring several policemen inside. Farber himself was killed by the explosion.

On February 21, 1905, the district’s Chief of Police, Yelchin, was killed, and on June 8 the city’s new Police Chief, Pelenkin, was wounded by another bomb blast. In July 1905, two police officers were wounded by a bomb thrown by Jewish anarchist Aron Elin (Gelinker).

As a consequence of the violence, martial law was declared in Białystok in September 1905, which lasted until March 1906. After martial law was lifted, the series of assassinations and acts of terror began anew.

 Between the years 1905 and 1906 there were seven police chiefs. The police did not enter Surazh Street, which was considered a stronghold of anarchists.…On 11 June 1906 the Police Chief of Białystok, Derkacz, was murdered, most likely on the orders of the Russian commissar and fervent anti-semite Szeremietiev.  Derkacz, who was Polish, was known for his liberal sympathies and opposition to anti-semitism; for this he was respected by both the Jewish Bund and the  Polish Socialist Party. His murder was a foreboding of the violence to come, as people in the city noted that after Derkacz’s death Russian soldiers began preparing for a pogrom.…On 14 June, two Christian processions took place; a Catholic one through the market square celebrating Corpus Christi and an Orthodox one through Białystok’s New Town celebrating the founding of a cathedral. The Orthodox procession was followed by a unit of soldiers. A bomb was thrown at the Catholic procession and shots were fired at the Orthodox procession. These incidents constituted signals for the beginning of the pogrom. Witnesses reported that simultaneously with the shots someone shouted “Beat the Jews!” After the pogrom, a peasant who was arrested for unrelated charges in the nearby town of  Zabludow confessed that he had been paid a substantial amount of money to fire on the Orthodox procession in order to provoke the pogrom. Russian authorities announced that Jews had fired on the Orthodox procession.

jewish-quarter

The following is the first 30 from the list of 77 victims of the Bialystok pogrom. This is the most detailed list, including some photographs, of pogrom victims I have seen – with information on the person’s occupation, their injuries and where they were attacked.

  1. Tsukerman Zimel Gershovich—23 yr., clerk, shot in chest on Alexander St. Jumped out of the window trying to save himself (June 1)
  2. Pine (surname unknown)—17 yrs., tanner, shot & killed in the attic of the Poleshchuk plant
  3. Bachrach Isaac Abramov—22 yr., shot 8 times and murdered in the attic of the Poleshchuk plant
  4. Furman Shlema Meyerovich—20 yr., tanner, shot through the heart & killed in the attic of Poleshchuk plant
  5. Gvirtsman Itskhok—35 yr., tanner, rifle bullet through the heart
  6. Zemnick Yitzchak—25 yr., tanner, killed in the Pleschuka plant attic by a bullet through the chest & abdomen
  7. Kustin Movsha—21 yr., tanner, killed in the Poleshchuk factory attic by a bullet in the chest, bayonet stabs in his side, & a butt to his head
  8. Lapidus Aaron—18 yr., student commercial school, killed on Alexander St. from blows to head & face
  9. Lapidus Max—22yr. killed on Alexander St. blows to head & face
  10. Lapidus Blyum—19 yr. killed on Alexander St. from deep hammer wounds to head  (June 1)
  11. Aynshteyn Leizer—45 yr. calligraphy teacher, shot & killed (bullet to the chest—June 2)
  12. Aynshteyn Sheyna—40 yr. (Leizer’’s wife) Killed by the boyars
  13. Aynshteyn Rahmiel—21 yr. (son of Leizer & Sheyna), killed by rifle wound of stomach
  14. Aynshteyn Shmuel 18 yr.,  (son of Leizer & Sheyna)– killed by boyars
  15. Aynshteyn Sonya—18 yr., (daughter of Leizer & Sheyna), killed by boyars
  16. Lervashovsky Itskhok—18 yr. , carpenter from Volkovyska [Belarus], skull crushed, teeth knocked out, jaw broken
  17. Gutkin Berelevna—10 yr. gunshot wound, leg severed with an ax
  18. Moiseyevich Yitzkhok—30 yr., mason, killed at train station (June 2)
  19. Pruzhansky Shlema—42 yr., shoemaker, shot by boyarsshlema-pruzhansky-19
  20. Grodzinskaya Sora Izraelena—19 yr. killed in a bread shop on Institutska St. by blows to head (June 1)
  21. Berenshteyn Abram Gershovich—47 yr., shopkeeper
  22. Basen Markel—a tailor, killed on Argentina (June 3)
  23. Khmelnitsky Falk Volfovich—28 yr., son of the head of Bialystok Jewish Hospital, beaten on Alexander St. on head & face (June 1)
  24. Novik Yankel—34 yr., gunshot wound; throat slit
  25. Levin Yankel—52 yr., shot & killed by boyars
  26. Krendlyansky Mordkhe—60 yr., shot & killed at St. Nicholas Street (June 2)
  27. Kvalovsky David Khonovich—15 yr., hatter/capper, shot & killed on Bazaar St. (June 3, morning)
  28. Segal Leyb—48 yr., worker, killed in the Aronson house on Alexander St. (June 1, morning)
  29. Segal Chaya-Pesha (Leyb’s wife)—40 yr. also murdered there.Zakgeym Sender Davidov—10 yr., shot & killed on Argentina St (June 2, morning)
  30. Zakgeym Sender Davidov—10 yr., shot & killed on Argentina St (June 2, morning.

Even though martial law had been declared in Bialystok from September 1905, 22 Jews were still killed in a pogrom that began on 18 October. There had also been pogroms on 12 July, when 10 Jews were killed, and 14 August, when 60 were killed (http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/Bialystok/bia2_114.html). Although the government tried to suppress information about the Bialystok pogrom, details were quickly reported in newspapers around the world. The report was produced because by the summer of 1906 Russia had its first Duma and representatives were asked to investigate the pogrom. The San Francisco Call covered the pogrom extensively including stories of individual victims and families described on the pogrom victims list. (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/s over 10 earch/pages/results/?state=California&date1=1906&date2=1906&proxtext=Bialystok&x=8&y=6&dateFilterType=yearRange&rows=20&searchType=basic)

sf-call-bialystok-pogrom-19-june

The horrific violence of this pogrom shows the hatred that can develop between different groups in a community, especially if stoked by lies, as many of the pogroms were. If we find it difficult to understand why there are so many tribal and civil wars, and terrorism around the world now, we only need to study an example like this.

zakheim-sender-grave-bialystok-2

Here lies the martyr young man Sender Leib son of Rabbi David Chaim Zakheim was murdered on the holy Sabbath 23 Sivan 5666 (http://www.bagnowka.com/index.php?m=cm&g=zoom&img=63015&gal=38)

Leave a comment

Filed under photographs, places, pogrom death list

Wissotzky family – part two, from Odessa to the Titanic

Returning to Odessa, there are unfortunately no listings of teachers in the 1904-5 directory as there are in later directories, some of which are divided into professions rather than streets, so there is no record of Leon Vysotsky. In the 1914 directory Kataev’s father is listed as a teacher, as is another teacher, his neighbour at 10 Otradnaya, E I Bachei, the name Kataev chose for his fictional family.

kataev bachei odessa dir 1914

1914 Odessa directory, Kataev (Катаев) p177 left, Bachei (Бачей ) p177 right

There are three addresses for the tea company, Vysotsky & Co, which are basically two buildings taking up one entire block of Kanatnaya and much of the two cross streets of that block, Uspenskaya and Troitskaya. This was a new development for the company as, in the 1902-3 directory, they owned one of the properties and two smaller properties on the same streets, unless the numbers had changed on those streets.

40 kanatnaya wissotzky 2

40 Kanatnaya

40 kanatnaya wissotzky 20 uspenskaya

The same building around the corner on Uspenskaya

The tea packing factory was on the Troitskaya corner. There are two other Vysotskys in the 1904-5 directory, an Edmund Vysotsky at 1 Dalnitskaya in Moldavanka and a banker, Vasily Victor Vysotsky, possibly a brother of Leon Victor, at 17 Polskaya, a couple of streets from Kanatnaya. There is no evidence one way or another whether the brothers were related to the tea company family, although the name Vasily was the Russian name used for the Hebrew name Wolf, and in the 1908 directory there is another Vysotsky called Vasily Yakov, the same name as the founder of the tea company, Kalman Wolf Yakov Vysotsky.

There was another Vysotsky, probably Leon and Vasily’s brother, Vladimir Victor Vysotsky (Polish spelling W Wysocki), who is listed as a photographer in Kiev in 1895. This family may have been from Kiev, from Odessa, or from somewhere else entirely. They are obviously an educated family but one where the children are making their own way, all in very different professions.

photo by v vysotsky 1903 kiev

Photograph by W Wysocki Kiev 1903

An interesting story that comes up on the internet when searching the name Wissotzky is one from the Titanic, not something I imagined I would run into when looking into the Odessa 1905 pogrom. Many survivors of the Titanic were picked up by the SS Carpathia, and on the blurred ship’s manifest for 18 April 1912 is a young woman of 28, Anna Abelson, born in Odessa, who is travelling from Paris to New York.  Her Paris address is Broker Wissotzky with an illegible street name and number, and her New York destination is the home of a brother-in-law, Abelson. Her husband, Joseph Abelson, drowned on the Titanic. On some websites that mention Titanic survivors it is assumed that Anna’s maiden name is Wissotzky. However, on the Titanic encyclopaedia website (http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/abelson.html), they question her background. They also produce a telegram that she tried to send after her rescue to the address of her Wissotzky ‘brother’ (could it be some other relation?) in Paris. No one mentions that her name might be Jacobson. And I wondered whether what I read as the word ‘broker’ implying that there was a Wissotzky financial company in Paris, was read as ‘brother’. The website says:

They boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg. Mrs Abelson was rescued in lifeboat 10. Mr Abelson died in the sinking.

After her rescue, as the Carpathia steamed to New York, Mrs Abelson attempted to send a Marconigram to the address of her brother in Paris. The message, however was never transmitted, because the operators could not cope with the number of telegrams:

Jacobson rue Marcadet 68 Paris
Sauvé – Carpathia (Saved – Carpathia)
Abelson

Mrs Abelson was helped by the Hebrew Shelter and Emmigrant Aid Society, 229 East Broadway, in New York as the Red Cross noted:

Husband drowned, wife rescued. There are no children. He was a bookkeeper, 30 years of age. His wife, 28 years of age, is an expert dressmaker. She is living with her husband’s brother in New York City. The wife suffered temporary disability due to exposure, but is now able to support herself by her trade. The property loss was more than 4,000 dollars. She received from relief sources other than the Red Cross, 1,928.69 dollars (250 dollars)

Anna returned to France sometime after the Titanic disaster, and then returned to America in 1914. On this manifest, equally blurry, Anna says that she is of French nationality, she gives a French address that could be an A Jacobson, she says that she was born in Odessa, and that she is going to an illegible name in New York City at the address: 720 W. 181 Street. There were no Wissotzkys living on the Upper West side at that time, but there were both Abelsons and Jacobsons living there at various times from about 1920, and in 1940 there were Abelsons and Jacobsons living on the same block of  W180 Street. In 1920, Anna was living alone around the corner from West 181 Street on Pinehurst Ave. She has lowered her age to only 30, says she is French with French parents, and calls herself a designer at a dress shop. This was probably a necessary change of identity in order to be independent and work in an upmarket dress shop and live on the Upper West side. If she had been a Wissotzky none of this subterfuge would probably have been necessary. This is a very sad but also an interesting story in itself. Anna does not appear again in the records after 1920. No one seems to really know who Anna Abelson was, but her family does appear to have come from Odessa to work in Paris at a Wissotzky bank or financial business and one wonders about the close links between the Wissotzky family and Odessa. Two Odessan women from the Jacobson and Abelson families were deported to Auschwitz from Paris in 1944. And finally one wonders whether Abraham Lubarsky and the younger Wissotzky, who, during the pogrom, rushed to the hospital for proof of the slaughter going on to take to the governor, knew about the death of the prominent member of the Self Defence League, Leon Vysotsky, and knew the man himself.

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under emigration, families, places

The Wissotzky/Высоцкий family

One pogrom victim in the death records, written about in the newspapers, who was brutally murdered by the police, was Leon Victor Vysotsky, 26, a teacher and member of the Self Defence League. An excerpt from the article in the Jewish Chronicle is in the blog entry Who was or wasn’t on the pogrom death list? Where did they live? Stories from the reports and newspapers.

 Jewish Chronicle 15 December 1905

A Jewish female teacher was hastening to the house of her parents in Peressip when she was stopped by a ruffian who, assuring her he was not going to do any harm, asked her to show him her teeth. To humour him she opened her mouth into which he immediately fired, killing her on the spot. Another incident is now corroborated by a Sister of Charity. A man named Leon Vyssotosky was wounded while fighting front rank of the defenders. He was placed on an ambulance to be removed, when he was violently dragged to the ground by soldiers and then handed over to a disguised policeman, who put an end to his sufferings. Vyssotosky was one of the most energetic members of the Self Defence League, and was a remarkable orator. It is presumed that he was known to the police as such, and this was the reason of his being murdered.

Yet another horrible story. In Prochovskaya Street, while the pillage went on, a Sister of Mercy drove along with a wounded old man in her carriage. Four little children ran crying in the middle of the street, begging her to take them to their parents, whom they could not find. Before they could reach the carriage, two were shot and the other two run through by bayonets. In the same street five children were thrown out of third story windows. Two of them, one two months and the other 12 months old, died immediately.

 Yet again, there is evidence of many children being killed while so few were registered in the Jewish records. It seems that possibly someone wanted to hide the extreme horror of this massacre, or the great loss, not just of men, but women and children.

When I first wrote about Leon Vysotsky, I looked up his name in Odessa directories and found that there was a large Moscow tea company with a warehouse and tea packing factory in Odessa called В Высоцкий & Ко, (V. Vysotsky & Co or Wissotzky & Co). There was a possibility that Leon Victor was related to this family but I didn’t look into it further. Then, a few weeks ago, information about my own family brought me back to the first pages of my great aunt’s memoir where she describes her grandfather and his eight children. She makes the comment that he was not so lucky in his sons but that two of his daughters married well – one to a very well off textile merchant from Bialystok, Leon Sackheim, and the other to the son of one of the richest merchants in Moscow, Wisozki, the Moscow Tea King. Many years ago I had tried looking up this Moscow tea company using the wrong spelling and had not got anywhere but now I found quite a few histories of the Wissotzky tea company online and several family trees. It is the only Russian tea company from that time that is still operating. It moved to Israel in the 1930s having left Russia for other European countries after the revolution. From the early 1900s it had had offices in Warsaw, London, Paris, New York and Philadelphia.

visotsky house 2Vysotsky house Moscow

Vysocky_3Vysotsky tea advertisement

From the online family trees, I discovered that the founder, Kalman Wolf Yakov Wissotzky, who was from Zagare in Lithuania, had only one son, David, in 1861. On the family trees, his wife was Anna Borisovna. His wife’s maiden name was unknown except on one family tree where it was Sackheim. David Wissotzky supported many artists in Moscow and his wife was painted twice by Leonid Pasternak, a close family friend. His son, Boris Pasternak, tutored the Wissotzky children one summer after he had left school, and was inspired by his love for one of the daughters, Ida, to become a poet. The name on Anna’s 1911 portrait is AB Vysotskaya-Gotz, so I assumed that Anna was a member of the Gotz family, a family one of her daughters also married into, producing two famous revolutionary sons, Mikhail and Abram Gots. One way or another she did not seem to be my great great aunt, as her surname was Piker.

A.B.Visotskaya-Gotz_by_L.Pasternak_(1911)AB Vysotskaya-Gotz, Leonid Pasternak

I was interested that Anna was thought to belong to the Sackheim family, and began to investigate who Leon (Leib) Sackheim was. I found his birth record: he was born in Bialystok in 1848 to Khaim Ber Shmul and Kreina, and he died in 1905. I could not find his marriage but I found the birth of one of his children, Feiga, in 1879, born to Lev and Asna Zakheim. I originally found my great great aunt, Asna Piker, as an eight-year-old, on the 1858 revision list (tax census) from  Gorodische, near Novogrudok, Belarus, with her parents Meer Hirsh Piker (my great great grandfather), and Rivka, and her four siblings. So Asna was born in 1850 and would have been 29 when Feiga was born. Another four children were registered to a Leib Khaim Ber Zakheim between 1872 and 1884, Abram, Moisei, Dvora and Hersh. I then found the marriage certificate for David Vulf Visotzky (St Petersburg) and Khaia Khaim-Berko Zakheim (Bialystok) who married in Vilnius in 1876. In Russian, Khaia Khaim-Ber, became Anna  Borisova. So, it was not my great great aunt who married into the wealthy Wissotzky family, but Leon Zakheim’s sister and Asna Zakheim’s sister-in-law.

The Wissotzkys and Odessa

In the online Wissotzky  family trees, there is a puzzling 15 year gap in children between David’s 2 elder sisters born in the 1840s, and the 2 later children, David and another sister born in the early 1860s. The father and founder of the great tea company must have been desperate for sons to carry on his business and name, and I assume there must have been children in between who died, especially as none of the family names, such as Jacob and Rafael, Wolf’s father and grandfather, appear to have been used. Two sons-in-law and one sister went into the business with David. They also needed reliable people to run offices in other Russian cities and around the world. An especially important city was Odessa where the tea was shipped in, and from the 1890s, blended, and packed. The symbol of the Wissotzky  tea company was a ship as they were one of the first companies to take advantage of new shipping routes and being able to transport tea by sea rather than overland from China. So I began to wonder whether, if Wolf Wissotzky did not have a son to organise their business affairs in Odessa, other family members, nephews or cousins, had worked for him there.

wissotsky tea packing odessaWissotzky tea packing factory, Kanatnaya and Troitskaya

Wolf Wissotzky was also a Hebrew scholar and Zionist who belonged to a Zionist group in Odessa and funded a Zionist journal in the 1890s. The men he trusted with running his offices around the world were Zionists from Odessa merchant families. When the company became incorporated in the 1890s and he was able to set up a tea packing factory in Odessa, he hired a Zionist friend, Karl Tauer, to run the company, and other Zionist friends, Abraham Lubarsky and Asher Ginsberg, ran his offices in New York and London. However, previous to the 1890s, he would have needed someone in Odessa to keep charge of the affairs. Puzzling over why so many Odessans were hired to manage the foreign offices, I realised that only very successful established Jewish merchants were allowed to live in Moscow, so it would have been difficult to find people to train in the business there. Wissotzky managed to come to Moscow in the 1840s, before he had a business, and worked for a successful Jewish tea merchant, Botkin, and only set up his own company in 1853, when Botkin died. But in 1871 there were only about 8000 Jews in Moscow, and even in 1880 there were only 16,000 (8000 officially registered).

http://www.yivoencyclopedia.org/article.aspx/moscow

At the time of the 1905 pogrom, Abraham Lubarsky, the wealthy Odessa merchant who ran the Wissotzky company in New York, returned to Odessa and wrote of his experiences during the pogrom in a series of letters which were published in New York newspapers while he was also fundraising in America for the people affected by the pogrom. Lubarsky was involved with setting up the Jewish self defence league after the 1903 Kishinev pogrom, alongside other Zionists like Jabotinsky. Below is an excerpt from one of the newspaper articles:

The Sun New York 17 November 1905

2 November: At dawn the massacre of Jews was renewed. They are now pillaging the Deribasovsky (the Broadway of Odessa) under the protection of the Cossacks, who are driving back the “Self-Defence” in order that the hooligans may pursue their bloody work without hindrance. A delegation of Jews visited Baron Kaulbars, the military commander, who is known as a rabid Jew baiter. After being told that the police are engaged in pillage and murder he said it was untrue and declared that he would take action only when he will be convinced by facts. The younger Wissetzky (a son of the largest tea merchant in Russia) took his life in his hands and ventured to the Jewish hospital where lay a “Self-Defence.” Wisetzky demanded of the authorities a certificate about their presence there. At first the Jewish doctors were fearful to sign a certificate of that kind, but they complied at last. Presently a military patrol with an officer came to remove the injured policemen. The younger Wissetzky demanded that the officer in charge of the patrol should also certify to the effect that he took away the injured. He did so. Armed with this evidence Wissetzky returned to Baron Kaulbars, and it was thought that the commander would keep his word and put down the massacre. But nothing-of the kind. The pillage and massacre is kept up to-day.

The ‘younger Wissotzky’ must refer to Wolf’s son David, although at first I thought it might refer to another son who was working in Odessa. David might have come to Odessa to meet with Lubarsky, or he had arrived because of the unrest in the city and fears for their factory. It is unknown whether he had any relations working for the business. His cousin, the revolutionary Mikhail Gots, who had belonged to the People’s Will from 1885 and had spent many years in Siberia, had been allowed to move to Odessa from Siberia in 1899 because of ill-health, and he had worked for the tea company until 1901 when he went abroad and continued his revolutionary activities. He died in 1906 from a spinal tumour which was thought to be caused by blows to his spine while he was in Siberia. But one wonders if David went to the hospital to see a member of the self-defence league because he knew Leon Vysotzky and heard that he had been attacked.

When Lubarsky returned to New York he was interviewed by the New York Times:

New York Times 5 March 1906

‘During the riot I got out of my carriage in front of my office. A policeman lifted his pistol as if to shoot me, and I brandished my cane as though I would strike him. Seeing me do this, he thought I must not be a Jew, for surely no Jew would threaten a policeman! But just then my employees began to shout my name ‘Lubarsky!’ from the windows. At that the officer knew I was really a Jew. As I went in the door he shot, but the bullet went past.

It was 1000 times worse in Moscow. A month and a half after the Odessa riots I left for Moscow. Three days later general Dubassov came to put down the revolution that he knew was going to take place. It did take place in three more days. The people were slaughtered by the hundred.’

It was interesting that Lubarsky commented on the revolution in Moscow, as one Wissotzky grandson, Alexander Wissotzky was involved in the 1905 Moscow uprising, and there were three other well-known revolutionaries in the family, grandchildren of Wolf Wissotzky, Mikhail Gots and his younger brother Abram Gots, plus the husband of Amalia Gavronsky, Ilya Fondaminsky, who went to France after the revolution and edited an emigre journal publishing the early work of Vladimir Nabokov.

Anna Wissotzky died in 1921 in Paris and her husband died in 1930. Several members of the Wissotzky family were deported from Paris to Auschwitz where they died. There was also an Isaac Sackheim, born in 1884 in Bialystok, the much younger brother of Anna Wissotzky, who was also deported to Auschwitz from Paris. On the Wissotzky online family tree one of Anna’s nieces, Vera Gots, married an unknown Sackheim who could have been Anna’s brother, Isaac. There was quite poignant detailed information online about his deportation. He left the Paris holding camp Drancy on 2 September 1943 and died on 7 September. He probably spent those five days travelling in the cattle cars and was immediately put to death in Auschwitz, as he was already in late middle age. Nothing is known about his wife or whether they had any children.

Quite a large number of emigrants from Odessa to Paris, mostly born in the 1890s and early 1900s, with names in the pogrom death records, were deported to Auschwitz – Groisman, Goichmann, Goldenberg, Guralnik, Meniock, Scher, Schneider, Segal, Tartakowsky.
To be continued…

Leave a comment

Filed under art, emigration, families, history, pogrom death list

Life, art and design 1905 – part two

There was tremendous hope for a new modern society after the Russian revolution and civil war, and a new geometric, dynamic and sometimes playful style in art and design, constructivism, grew in the early 1920s from the avant-garde ideas which developed earlier in the century.

el lissitsky 2 squares 1922

El Lissitsky 1922

Alexandra exter set design 1926

Alexandra Exter set design 1927

russian textile

soviet textiles 1920s

Soviet textiles 1920s

Although constructivism was revolutionary and full of force and vigour, it was eventually suppressed in favour of social realism, which the working people could understand, and which was not based on a desire for freedom and innovation, anathema to the Bolsheviks. It was probably this force and the geometric patterns and diagonal lines in futurism and constructivism that led to the popular art deco style, which, like Art Nouveau, influenced graphic design, posters, furniture, jewellery, textiles and ceramics.

art deco teapot

Clarice Cliff art deco teapot

Vintage-Travel-Poster-Odessa-Ukraine

Art deco Odessa travel poster

1929 Soviet poster by Valentina Kulagina

Valentina Kulagina 1929 poster commemorating the 1905 revolution

Outside of Russia, purely abstract art was developed mostly through the Bauhaus in the 1920s, and then suppressed by the Nazis in the 1930s. Again Kandinsky was a huge influence.

Vassily_Kandinsky,_1923_-_On_White_II

Kandinsky 1923

paul-klee-1925-

Paul Klee 1925

Paul Klee puppets 2

Paul Klee puppets

Many European artists emigrated to America between the wars or just before World War II. A group of them and several Americans such as Jackson Pollock began developing abstract styles after the war. Mark Rothko, born in Russia in 1903, may have something of Malevich and the suprematists in his work, but his paintings of rectangles are also thought to have been inspired by the 1905 pogroms and stories of mass graves that his family told but he almost never spoke of. And so we come full circle back to the pogrom in 1905.

mark-rothko 1956

Mark Rothko 1956

Leave a comment

Filed under art, history

Life, art and design 1905

The one style that probably did influence everyday life in the early 1900s was Art Nouveau, which permeated design on every level, from architecture to furniture, wallpaper, illustration, jewellery, advertisements, posters, postcards, shop signs and textiles. There is no one who would not have seen posters on the street, shop signs, book illustration and postcards with the typical swirling patterns of art nouveau, and many household items would have been influenced to some extent.

odessa postcard 1902                                                              Odessa postcard 1902

Russian poster art nouveau soap

Russian Art Nouveau soap ad

 Vasalisa by bilibin 1899

Illustration Vasalisa by Bilibin, 1899

Popular artistic styles like the swirling figures and lettering of art nouveau would only have touched people’s lives minimally in their own homes, through the covers of books or magazines, a vase, or decorated tin.

Vysotsky tin flowers

Vysotsky tea tin

At the same time, an explosion into abstraction in art was beginning in the early 1900s, slowly in Germany and France, following the lead in Art Nouveau with artists like Klimt and Kandinsky, who went back and forth from Germany to Russia. At first, abstraction was brought into design, such as in fabrics, furniture and architecture, but painting soon followed with an incredible liveliness.

frances macdonald 1896

Frances Macdonald 1896

riemerschmid 1905

Fabric Riemerschmid 1905

klimt 1905 stoclet frieze

Klimt 1905

cezanne Mont Sainte-Victoire, 1905

Cézanne 1905

matisse 1905

Matisse 1905

kandinsky 1909

Kandinsky 1909

kandinsky 1910

Kandinsky 1910

jonasch 1910

Fabric Jonasch 1910

In early 1900s Russia, there was the realist style of painting of Repin, the satirical art of political posters and newspapers, and an Impressionism which moved close to abstraction at times. Artists of different styles responded to the events of 1905, especially the political graphic artists, but others as well.

Russia 1905

1905

Ivanov the execution 1905

Ivanov The execution 1905

MAC_020515 001

Isaac Brodsky Mother and sister 1905

Isaac Brodsky was from Odessa. My first impression of this painting of his mother and sister was that the girl seemed frightened and the two were clutching each other. This might be an over interpretation.

The earliest purely abstract art began with Malevich in Russia in 1912, inspired by a movement called suprematism in avant-garde poetry and modernist literature.

Kazimir_Malevich,_1915,_Black_Suprematic_Square,

Malevich 1912

suprematist poetry

Suprematist poetry

This movement rejected that art needed to come from the natural or real world but could be centred solely on itself. Kandinsky was originally part of this movement but was later rejected because of his mysticism, seeing other meanings behind his purely abstract forms. The later Russian movement, constructivism, which grew up after the revolution, was inspired by Italian futurism and other movements that developed as artists watched the destruction and mechanisation of life during World War I. It developed through painting, sculpture, graphic design, textiles, theatre design and architecture.

To be continued…

Leave a comment

Filed under art, history, photographs