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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Did you have relatives who wrote you a farewell letter before the Holocaust?

Did you have relatives in the Polish towns of Grajewa and Bialystok? If so, you may have a letter from them that's been waiting for you for the last 70 years. This is an amazing story.
Hannah Tikotzky was born in 1908 in Grajewa, in the Bialystok region in Poland. In 1933 she immigrated to Palestine with her husband. The couple had two daughters. In the summer of 1939 Tikotzky traveled with the girls to Poland for a vacation and for them to meet their grandparents. The war, which broke out on September 1 when Germany invaded Poland, turned the vacation into escape from death.
Before the war Tikotzky took photographs of herself with her daughters on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard. The three look happy and healthy. After the war they were photographed again, this time looking thin and aggrieved.
The excursion of 1939 was supposed to be a pleasure trip, says Tikotzky's daughter, who was five at the time. Before the war broke out she had good times in Poland. "I went to summer camp in Bialystok, we learned songs," she recalls. "I still remember the Russian soldiers who came into the city and the songs they sang."
Then the war started and the family embarked on "a journey of hardships on trains in Europe, toward the Russians, in an attempt to reach Odessa and from there to go back to Israel."
The three somehow arrived at Odessa and took a ship filled with Anders' Army troops - Polish armed forces in the East who operated in the Soviet Union and were loyal to the Polish government in exile. After docking in Turkey they boarded another ship and sailed to Haifa Port. There they reunited with Hannah's worried husband, who had paid someone to arrange their return home.
In their luggage they brought numerous letters from Jews in Bialystok, Grajewa and Pruzhany to their family members in Palestine. Tikotzky published the full list of the addressees' names in the newspaper, but her daughter does not remember how many of them had been delivered.
Read the whole thing.

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