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In memory of Solly Patrontasch

We were greatly saddened when we heard of the untimely death of Solly who fought for his life like a tiger for so many years. Read more

The Salvaged Torah Scroll

By: Yosef Tzvi Buber, told by Michael Melman. Read more

ZOLKIEW & Mosty Wieli’s International conference

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HOLOCAUST ERA ASSET RESTITUTION TASKFORCE

The Mendel Family

Before the Holocaust, the Mendel family lived in a beautiful big house in Zolkiew: the father, Zalman, his wife Henya and their two daughters, Ada and Giza (Tova). The family owned forests, sawmills and a lumber business.

Zalman Mendel was an expert in timber who employed many people. Henya Mendel had studied nursing before her marriage.

When the Germans came, the family was thrown out of its house, like all the other Jews. The Jews, among them the Mendel family, were herded into the Zolkiew ghetto. At first, it was possible to leave and enter the ghetto. Zalman Mendel, who would go out on business as an expert, saw at once that he had to get his family out of the ghetto immediately, because nothing good would happen there and there was no sense in waiting for a miracle. Fortunately, he was smart enough to believe in gold and dollars. He paid in gold (because at that point paper money had lost all of its value) for false papers for himself, his wife Henya and the two girls, which identified them all as Catholics. Thus, they left the ghetto disguised as Poles who had lost their home. Zalman was clever and understood that his Yiddish accent was liable to give him away so he always had a cigarette hanging from his mouth to distort his speech – and in this way he came to smoke cigarettes. After the war ended he stopped smoking, but he always had a cigarette in his lips and he always offered me candy. The father continued to work as a forestry expert and Henya and the girls moved from place to place, whenever people began to suspect that they might be Jews. It was their good fortune to have fair hair and facial coloring like that of the Gentile girls. In one particular incident Germans came one day and suspected Zalman, calling to him “Come here, Jew.” He didn’t panic, but replied angrily that he wasn’t a Jew and that to say so was insulting, and he began to take down his pants to prove it. One of the Germans said, leave him alone. Zalman sent messages to Henya by means of contacts, so that they might meet from time to time. One day, Ada recounts, she was left alone in a train station, with Germans all around, in order to wait for a Polish woman who was supposed to take her to a hiding place. There were times that were fraught with horrible danger for Henya and the girls who were left on their own, without a man, most of the time.

After the end of the war, Zalman returned to Zolkiew to discover who had remained alive. A Polish woman, whom he knew, because she had worked as a servant for his family, said that everybody there had been killed except for a girl named Danka (Dina), who was his niece. The woman had grabbed Dina and taken her to live with her family outside of the city, so that Dina had lived throughout the war as a Gentile. Zalman Mandel adoped the girl as his own daughter. The Zalman family, including Dina, moved to a displaced persons camp where they were offered emigration papers for Canada, because they were looking for forestry workers. The family decided to immigrate to Israel. The girls, who belonged to a youth movement something like a kibbutz, boarded the immigrant transport ship Exodus and underwent further hardships. In 1949, they all came to Israel and moved to Kfar Hasidim, where they established their home. Zalman and Henya made a living on their farm raising dairy cows and poultry. The girls – Ada (Amy), Tova and Dina married and lived in Haifa. Following the Yom Kippur war, Dina, her husband Eli and their two children moved to Luxembourg. Zalman died in 1983 and was buried in Kfar Hasidim.
Henya died in 1985 and was also buried in Kfar Hasidim.

Ada lives in the Moses Old Age Home for Central European Jews, in the Baka neighborhood of Jerusalem. Dina lives in Luxembourg.
I, Giora, Ada’s son, live in Tel Aviv and my sister, Meira, lives in Mevaseret Tzion.

 
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