In the beginning of January 2022, Noa Shashar – descendant of Brzesko Schiff family – told me about an article she found in the Yiddish newspaper “Der Moment” from November 21, 1930.
Reporter N. Kleinberger from Brzesko wrote about the murder of an elderly Jewish couple in the village of Żerków (it is located about 13 km south-east of Brzesko):
“The Knobloch couple have been living in Żerków for many years, a known and respected couple who had a shop with a lot of traffic.
Last Friday the couple were in their apartment and robbers entered with force and murdered the couple, took 300 Zloty and some tobacco and ran away. The next morning the neighbours found out and called the police who caught the criminals the same day. They were taken to Krakow, and admitted they had performed the crime and told all the details. The couple was brought to burial in Brzesko and many people participated in the funeral.”
Later I found a small article about this event also in “Nowy Dziennik” from November 16, 1930.
“A terrible murder committed on two elderly Jews
Tarnów’s “Hasło” reports from Brzesko:
A bloody robbery that ended in the immediate death of 2 victims took place in the village of Żerków in the central part of the Brzesko district.
Markus D. Knobloch, a 76-year-old man, ran a small shop there for many years. Although he had not made a fortune in the small village, it was rumoured that old Knobloch was receiving large sums of dollars from his daughter, who had lived in America for many years.
This apparently excited the money-hungry boys who lived in this village, and they decided to murder and rob Knobloch. On the night of the 7th of November one of them knocked on the door of the Knobloch house, demanding cigarettes, and when Knobloch, not sensing anything wrong, opened the door – the attacker aimed a terrible blow to Knobloch’s head with an axe, and when the old Jew was still trying to defend himself, he finished him off with a second strong blow to the head. The wife woke up to the terrible scream of her dying husband, and was also murdered by the bandit. Then the two bandits (one of them stood in front of the house on watch) searched the apartment looking for money, and having robbed 350 zlotys and the supply of tobacco, they ran away..
The criminals were soon found by the police and the arrested murderers were immediately escorted to the county court in Brzesko. It should be noted that the murderers were only 26 and 23 years old, which indicates the spreading demoralization of the village.”
It turned out that the gravestones of Markus Dawid Knobloch and his wife Chana née Weissberger have survived at the Brzesko Jewish cemetery. Their death records state that they passed away at 11 pm and their death was caused “by murder”. According to these documents, Markus Dawid was 82 years old and his wife was 78.
Son of Shraga Feiwel from the lineage of Cohens
died 17 Cheshvan 5691
An old man
He gave to the poor
May his soul be bound in the bundle of life
Translation of the inscription by Noa Shashar
Old and modest woman
from the village Żerków
Daughter of Israel
died on 17 Cheshvan 5691
May her soul be bound in the bundle of life
Translation of the inscription by Noa Shashar.
That seemed to be the end of the story. However, in December 2022, Howard Matson (descendant of Morris Knobloch, the brother of Markus Dawid), found our group, and thanks to him (as well as to further archival research), it was possible not only to reconstruct the history of this family, but also to see the faces of Markus Dawid and Chana Knobloch.
Markus (Mordechai) Dawid Knobloch was born in Gwoździec in 1848. He was the son of Feiwl (1813-1879) from Łusławice and Raca Knobloch. He had 2 brothers, Morris (1849-1945) and Gutman (1854-1930). Gutman emigrated to the USA around 1885. Morris married Fannie Klein, lived for a while in Hungary, and in 1891 alwso emigrated to the United States together with his wife and seven children.
Mordechaj Dawid Knobloch married Chana Weissberger and moved to Żerków (a village in the Brzesko county). They had three children: Ester (1877), Gittel (Augusta, 1893) and Feiwel (1897). In 1915, Gittel emigrated to the USA and joined the family of her uncle Morris, who in the 1920s regularly sent money to his brother’s family in Poland. In 1927, Gittel (who took the name Augusta in the USA) came to visit her parents, that’s when the photo provided by Mr. Matson was taken.
Nobody could have guessed that two years later, 82-year-old Markus Dawid and his 78-year-old wife would be cruelly murdered. Juvenile killers were looking for this money sent to the Knoblochs from the USA.
Gitel-Augusta was the only child of the Knobloch couple who survived the war; her 91-year-old son still lives in the USA.
Feiwel married Chana Glassner/Forszt from the village of Doły in 1927. Both spouses were murdered in 1942
Ester married Pinkas Bruh/Steinaluf from Mokrzyska in 1905. They had 6 sons, but only one, the eldest son Jonas (born on March 4, 1900), survived the war. He emigrated to Israel and in 1957 submitted to Yad Vashem testimonies on his murdered brothers and their families:
- Leibisz (Juda, 1901-1942) was murdered together with his wife Liba and sons Moshe and Jakob;
- Szymon (1903-1942) – murdered together with his wife Genendel and son Mordechaj;
- Chaim (1904-1942) – murdered together with his wife Reizel and daughter Chana;
- Israel (1907-1942) – murdered together with his wife Fradel and son Chaim;
- Kalman (1910-1942) – murdered together with his wife Gitel and daughter Chana.
May their memory be an eternal blessing.
© Anna Brzyska, 2023