08.08.2020 | Redaktor

Abraham Brandsdorfer

It will be a unique story which became possible due to Mr. Marek Sukiennik who shared a photo that he had bought at an auction a few years ago. The photo shows an elderly Jew; it was taken in April 1915 and there is an inscription (in German): “Przyborów, 4.15. Old Jew Abraham”. Przyborów is a village located in Bresko area. Since only several Jewish families used to live there, I decided to try to learn something about this man. It turned out that there was only one Abraham in Przyborów, and within a few hours I could uncover many details of his life.

Abraham Brandsdorfer, Przyborów, April 1915. Photo from the collection of Marek Sukiennik
Original signature on the photo

Abraham Peretz Brandsdorfer was born in Brzesko in 1858; he was the son of Leib Brandsdorfer and Laje née Bruhand. He was a merchant, lived in Przyborów in house # 28 together with his wife, Cyrel Scheindel nee Weisskirch. Cyrel Scheindel was born in Przyborów in 1856 to Mojżesz and Udela Weiskirch.

Fragment of the map of Przyborów from 1847. House # 28 is clearly marked on the map. Most likely, it’s in this house (or the one built on this spot later) that Abraham Brandsdorfer lived together with his family. Picture from szukajwarchiwach.pl website

The Brandsdorfers had 10 children:
• Berl, 1879 – the only Brandsdorfer child born in Brzesko; later the family moved to Przyborów. Berl married Feigla Bruh in 1906 and moved to Mokrzyska. That’s where their daughter Chana was born in 1907.

Birth record of the oldest child of Abraham Brandsdorfer, son Berl, 1879.
Note the handwritten signature of Abraham in the last column. Abraham Peretz and Cyrel Scheindel – as well as many other Jewish couples – for many years only had a so-called “ritual marriage” which was sanctified by a rabbi, but was not recognized by the state. It was not until 1904 that they got legally married. Because of it their children were first considered illegitimate and Abraham had to confirm his fatherhood with a signature on their birth records. Picture from szukajwarchiwach.pl website

• Isaak Hajes, 1880
• Jozef, 1883 – married Bluma Wasserreich in 1912. The family lived in Brzesko, had 8 children
• Eisig, 1885 – died aged 4 months
• Hinde Feigel, 1886 – married Hersch Metzendorf in 1911. They lived in Brzesko, had 4 children: Mojżesz (1913), Bernat Berl (1916), Cyrla Scheindel (1919) and Trane (1920)
• Simon, 1888 – died in 1894
• Rachel Laja, 1892 – married widower Natan Heller in 1912
• Eidel, 1897
• Perla, 1898 – died the same year
• Beile, 1899

Wife of Abraham Peretz, Cyrel Scheindel, died on August 15, 1910 at the age of 54. She was buried at the Brzesko Jewish cemetery and her matzevah has survived to this day.

Matzevah of Cyrel Scheindel Brandsdorfer at the Brzesko Jewish cemetery. Picture from the database of the Foundation for Documentation of Jewish Cemeteries.
Matzevah of Udel Weiskirch née Finder at the Brzesko Jewish cemetery. Udel was Abraham’s mother-in-law. She died on January 17, 1904, at the age 75. Most likely, it was to Przyborów in-laws, Mojżesz and Udel Weiskirch, that Abraham’s family moved from Brzesko in 1880.

After 3 years, Abraham Peretz remarried. His second wife, Regina Ruchel Hirschfeld, was born in 1872 to Salomon and Sprinze née Wiener. She became a stepmother to 7 of Abraham’s children, two of whom were surely living with their father in Przyborów at that time.
Abraham and Regina Ruchel lived together for 21 years. In 1934, Abraham once again became a widower. Most likely, he perished together with other Jews from Brzesko and vicinity during the war. By then he was really old – in 1939 he turned 81.
I’ve got very little knowledge about war-time fate of Abraham’s descendants – in fact only about his son Josef who was murdered during the war together with his wife Bluma and seven children. Only his son Yaakov survived and submitted testimonies to Yad Vashem.

One photo helped recreate the story of the entire family. It’s virtually impossible to stop looking at Abraham’s face, into his eyes. By 1915, he had been married to Scheindel Cyrel for over 30 years, experienced birth of 10 children, death of 3 of them and death of their mother; he married again. But he still had no idea of what the future would bring for him and his loved ones…

© Anna Brzyska, 2020