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Collection RC0612 - From the Jewish ghetto in Otwock, Poland collection

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From the Jewish ghetto in Otwock, Poland collection

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RC0612

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area

Date(s)

  • 1939-[1948] (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

5 post cards and 1 letter in Yiddish
6 post cards and 1 letter in Polish
2 post cards in Polish-influenced German

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Archival description area

Name of creator

Jewish Ghetto in Otwock, Poland collection (1940-1942)

Administrative history

Located south of Warsaw, Otwock had a large Jewish community. The Nazis imposed a ghetto in Otwock in the fall of 1940. More than 12,000 Jews resided in the ghetto. Two thousand Jews died of hunger, and another 2,000 were shot during the ghetto’s liquidation in August 1942. Most of the remaining residents of the ghetto were sent to the Treblinka concentration camp. The fate of the people who wrote to H.D. Schwartz is not known.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The collection consists of correspondence received by H.D. Schwartz (also David and Eva Schwartz) in Brooklyn, New York from family members and acquaintances (Syma Grzebieniarz, D. Segal, R. Szware) in Otwock, Poland. Many of the post cards are self-addressed by H.D. Schwartz. Schwartz was apparently arranging for the immigration of family members from Poland to the United States, and Syma informed him of her activities in this respect. Several cards are stamped Judenrat der Stadt Otwock (and the Polish equivalent).

The correspondence relates to the health of the family members and the writers’ connection to children and family, urging loved ones to keep in touch through letters. Reference is made to Josek and Sara, Syma’s children, who live far away in Luck (under Russian control) and with whom Syma cannot communicate directly. One of the pieces of correspondence seems to be by Sara. It is to “brother” and “sister in law”, probably of Brooklyn. Sara informs them about having a baby. The baby is also a topic in Syma’s correspondence.

Written in Yiddish, the last piece of correspondence is a long letter (dated 20 March [1948]) about the unknown writer’s experiences as he and his family tried to flee and save their lives. It, too, touches on health-related matters, conditions in the ghetto, people and neighbours who were killed by the Germans, the constant threat of being shot, locating people who are lost, and attempts to escape the ghetto to a safer place.

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The collection (24-2008) was purchased from Benjamin Katz in June 2008. He acquired the correspondence from Sam Simchovitch, who fled Otwock in September 1939. He spent the war years in the Soviet Union and then immigrated to Canada in 1949.

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RC0612

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