16.03.2024 | Redaktor

Laub family

I would like to start this article about the Brzesko Laub family with the history of the tenement house, the current address of which is Legionów Piłsudskiego 1, and the pre-war address – Słotwińska st., 41.

In the mid-19th century, a small wooden house used to stand in this place. The 1847 map shows that the absolute majority of Brzesko houses were wooden back then (wooden houses are marked yellow on this map, stone houses are marked pink).

Brzesko, 1847. The wooden house marked with a purple circle shows the spot where the Laub tenement house was built some years later. Fragment of the map from the website szukajwarchiwach.gov.pl

The tenement house was most likely built at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. On the 1939 map, the arrangement of houses at Słotwińska street is very similar to the current one. There exists a 1915 photo showing this tenement house with a characteristic family crest above the balcony (the current owner of the tenement house, Waldemar Stós, published an article about it at brzesko.ws website in 2013). The family crest shows three interwoven letters, A, L and M. Preserved vital records of Brzesko Jews and other archival documents made it possible to recreate the history of the former owners of this house.

Fragment of the 1939 Brzesko map with Słotwińska street. The old Jewish cemetery is also marked on the map. Photo from “The Chronicles of the town of Brzesko” by Jan Burlikowski.
Tenement house at Legionów Piłsudskiego 1, 2024, photo by A.Brzyska.

Abraham Laub, son of Brzesko merchant Wolf Laub and Chana Feliks from Andrychów, was born in Brzesko in 1874. In 1897, he married the daughter of Brzesko propinators Marjem Selda Osterweil. The couple settled in Brzesko, 7 children were born to them. Abraham’s parents lived in the house #131; Marjem’s parents lived in the house #116; but their six children were born already in the tenement house #41 (1900-1911; only the eldest son, Gedalie Samuel, was born elsewhere). Most likely, this tenement house was built for the family of Abraham and Marjem Selda Laub although later Abraham’s father and father-in-law also lived in this house and died here. There was a shop downstairs, a warehouse in the basement, and the Laubs lived upstairs. It was then that the family crest was put on the wall above the balcony; it consists of the couple’s initials: Abraham and Marjem Laub.

Family crest above the balcony of the tenement house. The letters  A, L, M are clearly visible. Photo by A. Brzyska

Apparently, Abraham’s business was a success. In the 1930  “Address Book of Industrial, Commercial and Financial Enterprises in the Republic of Poland”, you can find information about Abraham Laub’s company, which had been exporting eggs, butter and cheese since 1898, and conducting correspondence in Polish and German.

Fragment from the “Address Book of Industrial, Commercial and Financial Enterprises in the Republic of Poland” for 1930. Photo from https://genealogyindexer.org

But a correspondence card from Marek Sukiennik’s collection, sent by Abraham Laub in 1892, proves that this merchant had already been involved in dairy exports much earlier.

Correspondence card sent by Abraham Laub in 1892; from the collection of Marek Sukiennik.

Perhaps it is worth paying attention to one more detail: in the years 1932-33, when there were only 29 telephone numbers in Brzesko, including only 12 belonging to private persons, one telephone was located in the house of Abraham Laub.

List of subscribers of the state telephone network in Brzesko, 1932-33. Photo from www.genealogyindexer.org

Abraham Laub was primarily engaged in the export of eggs. And here’s an interesting fact: over 100 years ago, egg exporters invented a way to preserve them, thanks to which eggs could be stored for many months. And in the basement of the tenement house that once belonged to the Laub family, you can still see such tubes for eggs preservation.

I am attaching a fragment of an article from the magazine “Poultry Breeder” (Lviv, 1908): apparently, eggs stored in lime water (most likely this was the method used by Abraham Laub) were suitable for consumption even after 9 months of storage.

Fragment of an article from the magazine “Poultry Breeder” (Lviv, 1908), courtesy of Krzysztof Przybyłowicz.

Thanks to Mr. Waldemar Stós, the current owner of the tenement house, I could see these tubes in the basement of the building at Legionów Piłsudskiego 1; time has really stopped in this place.

Waldemar Stós at the egg preservation pool in the basement of the building. Photo by A.Brzyska, 2024
Egg preservation tube. Photo by A.Brzyska, 2024
Stairs leading from the basement to the store. Photo by A.Brzyska, 2024

Now I would like to tell you more about the family of Abraham and Marjem Selda Laub, their ancestors and descendants

Archival research  allowed to recreate the history of several generations of this family. The ancestors of Abraham Laub and Marjem Selda née Osterweil lived in Brzesko, Tarnów and Andrychów. They were quite prosperous merchants and in accordance with their religious beliefs, they supported the poor and needy.

I know that the Laubs lived in Brzesko at least from the end of the 18th century. Abraham Laub’s grandmother, Rifka Sissel Laub née Drobner (1822-1892) was born and died in Brzesko; her matzeva has survived in the cemetery.

Matzeva of Rifka Sissel Laub. Photo by A.Brzyska, 2024

Here is buried
Mrs Rivka Zisel, wife of
Mr Meur Laub of blessed memory

At the Brzesko Jewish cemetery you can find another matzeva belonging to the ancestor of this family, Chawa Osterweil née Laub (1846-1897).

Chava Osterweil’s matzeva. Photo by A.Brzyska, 2024

The inscription on this tombstone is exceptionally touching:

Here lies

The crown of good name

An important, modest woman Mrs. Chava daughter of our teacher, Mr

Gedalia Shmuel, wife of Rav Yona Osterweil

Halevi, at the age of 51, on the Holy day of Shabbat 26

Sivan 5657 [June 26, 1897] she went to her world.

May her soul be bound in the bundle of life

She did grace with those near and far,

And her hands she opened to the needy and desperate poor,

The ways of her house were that she was always on the lookout for the commandments and the mitzvot

She was the daughter of good people and a mother for widows and orphans

Multitude of tears were wept like water for her sons

Her good name is a memorial forever

From her wealth she righteously supported travelers

And all her inclination was to support the innocent.

To God her pure spirit has returned in innocence

(Deciphering the Hebrew inscription and its translation by Yossi Elran)

​The matzeva of another ancestor of this family, Dobe Nicha Osterweil, stands at the Tarnów Jewish cemetery.

Matzeva of Doba Niche Osterweil (1807-1880), grandmother of Marjem Selda Laub née Osterweil, at the Tarnów Jewish cemetery. Photo from the database of the Foundation for Documentation of Jewish Cemeteries in Poland.

Both Abraham Laub and his wife Marjem née Osterweil came from large families: Abraham had 6 siblings, Marjem – 4 sisters and a brother. Most of their relatives were murdered during World War II. Abraham died in 1942 in the Soviet Union, Marjem was murdered in the Auschwitz concentration camp

Abraham Laub (1874-1942) and Marjem Selda née Osterweil (1873-1942) had seven children born in Brzesko: Gedalie Samuel (1898), Chawa (1900), Chaim Menasche (1902), Gimpel (1903), Josef (1907), Rywka Sussla (1909) and Dobe Nicha (1911).

Laub siblings. Photo taken at Mrs. Srokowa’s studio in Brzesko, April 1927. Photo from the Anisfeld family archive, courtesy of Sharon Pollins

The firstborn son of the Laubs, Gedalie Samuel Laub, was named after his great-grandfather, who died in Brzesko in 1878. On August 14, 1927, Gedalie Samuel married Rachela Jakubowicz from Bochnia. A photo taken on the wedding day in Bochnia, has survived in the family archive. Most likely, in this photo, in addition to the Laub siblings, there are also Gedalie Samuel’s wife Rachel, Chawa Laub’s husband Baruch Gewurz and their daughter Anna.

Gedalie Samuel Laub’s wedding day. Bochnia, August 14, 1927. Photo from the Anisfeld family archive, courtesy of Sharon Pollins

Gedalie Samuel and Rachel Laub had two sons: Gabriel (born in 1928) and Szymon Wilhelm (born in Brzesko in 1933). During the war, the family was in Krakow; including the Płaszów concentration camp.

Samuel Gedalie Laub’s post-war registration card, photo from the Arolsen archive

This family managed to survive the war. They emigrated to Israel, where their descendants still live. Gedalie Samuel (1898-1958), his wife Rachel (1910-1973) and their sons are buried in the Kiryat Shaul cemetery in Tel Aviv.

Grave of Samuel Gedalie Laub, son of Abraham, from the town of Briegel, Poland (Briegel is the name of Brzesko in Yiddish), died on 3 of Iyar, 5718 – April 23, 1958. This tombstone also commemorates the parents of Samuel Gedalie Laub, Abraham, son of Volf, who died in Russia, and Holocaust victim Marjem Selda, daughter of Yona. Photo courtesy of Sharon Pollins.
Grave of Rachel Laub, daughter of Yitzhak, dear mother and grandmother, died on 4 of Tamuz 5733 – July 4, 1973. Photo from https://bezikaron.co.il/

The next child of Abraham and Marjem Selda Laub, daughter Chawa Laub, was born in Brzesko on February 27, 1900 and was named after her grandmother Chawa Osterweil, who died in 1897. At the age of 22, she married Baruch Gewurtz, also from Brzesko, and emigrated to Germany. The family settled in Leipzig, and it was in this city that Baruch and Chawa’s children were born, daughter Anna in 1924 and son Wolf in 1926..

Registration card of Chawa (Ewa) Gewurtz née Laub, member of the Jewish community of the city of Leipzig, wife of Baruch Gewurtz, born in Brzesko, Galicia, on February 27, 1900. The card notes two places of residence of the family, and there is also a later comment that Chawa died in 1944 in the Stutthof camp. Photo from the Arolsen Archive database, https://collections.arolsen-archives.org/en/document/129822841

During the war, Chawa, her husband and children were in the ghetto in Riga (Latvia) and in the Stutthof concentration camp. Chawa was murdered in 1944, Wolf also perished in the concentration camp, Baruch and Anna survived. Baruch was liberated from the Buchenwald concentration camp; daughter lived in Hamburg after the war.

Registration card of Baruch Gewurtz, prisoner of the Stutthof camp, who was transported to the Buchenwald camp on August 13, 1944. Photo from the Arolsen Archive database
Registration card of former Buchenwald camp prisoner Baruch Gewurtz completed in May 1945. Photo from the Arolsen Archive database
Questionnaire completed after the war by Anni Gewurtz, former prisoner of the Stutthof camp. Photo from the Arolsen Archive database

The third child of Abraham and Marjem Selda Laub, son Chaim Menasche (Heinz) Laub was born on March 24, 1902. As a young man he emigrated to Germany, became engaged, but died in a car accident in 1937.

Chaim Menasche (Heinz) Laub. Photo from the Anisfeld family archive, courtesy of Sharon Pollins.

The next son of the Laubs, Gimpel Laub, was born in Brzesko on December 20, 1903. Gimpel stayed in his parents’ hometown and ran the store together with his father. In 1932, he married Necha Glass in Brzesko, and less than a year later his son, Jakob Jonas, was born. GImpel was shot in Brzesko, most likely in 1942; his family also did not survive the war. We can learn about Gimpel’s fate from the testimony of his nephew Marcel Anisfeld: “During the war we occasionally received postcards from one or two members of the family from our home town. The news was always bad. My mother’s brother, who would not leave home, mainly because of his mother and the family egg business, was questioned by the Germans as to where the family fortune was. When he would not tell them, he, his wife and children, and his mother (my grandmother) were taken out into the town square and he was shot in the back of his head in front of his whole family and many of the town’s people. This was confirmed to me when I was in Poland in 1987, by a man who witnessed this murder.”(Quoted after https://hesped.org/person/marcel-anisfeld/)

On June 19, 1907, a son Josef Laub was born to Abraham and Marjem Selda Laub. I know the least about him. He survived the war, in 1945 he was registered in Krakow as a Jewish survivor, and in 1950 he emigrated to Israel. Josef married, but had no children. He died of cancer on January 17, 1964, and is buried in the Kiryat Shaul cemetery in Tel Aviv.

Grave of Josef Laub, son of Abraham from the city of Brigel in Poland, who died on 3 shvat 5724 – January 17, 1964. Photo from https://bezikaron.co.il/

Rywka Sussel (Regina) Laub, second daughter of Abraham and Marjem Selda, was born in Brzesko on October 29, 1909. She was named after her great-grandmother Rywka Sussel Laub née Drobner, who died in 1892. On January 15, 1933, she married Osias Berl Anisfeld, born in 1903 in Nowy Sącz, son of Moses Anisfeld and Marjem Itte née Rosenfeld/Frankel. The couple got married in Brzesko, but they settled in Osias Berl’s hometown. In 1934, their son Marcel was born in Nowy Sącz and several years later – daughter Jacqueline.

Rywka Sussel (Regina) Anisfeld née Laub. Photo from the Anisfeld family archive, courtesy of Sharon Pollins.
Rywka Sussel (Regina) Anisfeld née Laub, most likely in Nowy Sącz area. Photo from the Anisfeld family archive, courtesy of Sharon Pollins.
Rywka Sussel (Regina) Anisfeld née Laub with her children in Nowy Sącz. Photo from the Anisfeld family archive, courtesy of Sharon Pollins.
Marcel and Jacqueline Anisfeld. Photo from the Anisfeld family archive, courtesy of Sharon Pollins.

In the fall of 1939, the Anisfelds and Abraham Laub escaped to Lviv, from where they were deported deeper into the Soviet Union. They managed to survive the winter in the small village of Asino in Siberia and later settled in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. In 1943, everyone except Marcel fell ill with typhus. A 9-year-old boy had to take care of the entire family and earn a living. Abraham Laub died; the Anisfelds managed to survive.

In his testimony, Marcel Anisfeld gives the reason why only his grandfather accompanied them on this journey: in September 1939: ” There were bad stories going around that the Germans were taking all adult men and sending them to labour camps.” I know of several other Jewish families from Brzesko who, in the fall of 1939, also decided that the women and children would try to wait out the war at home, and the men would escape to the east.

The Anisfelds returned to Poland in 1946. Marcel and his younger sister, with the help of Rabbi Salomon Schonfeld, were sent to Great Britain in 1946 in one of the kindertransports; the parents managed to join their children only 2 years later.

Osias Berl Anisfeld and Rywka Sussel (Regina) née Laub with their children Marcel and Jacqueline in England. Photo from the Anisfeld family archive, courtesy of Sharon Pollins.
Osias Berl Anisfeld and Rywka Sussel (Regina) née Laub in London. Photo from the Anisfeld family archive, courtesy of Sharon Pollins.

Rywka Sussel Anisfeld née Laub and her husband died in London 15 years after the war; they are buried in the Adath Yisroel cemetery.

Grave of the Anisfeld couple. In the Hebrew part of the inscription, Regina’s Hebrew name is inscribed – Rywka Sussel, daughter of Abraham.

Marcel Anisfeld returned to Brzesko only once, in 1987. He came to Poland together with his family. “One day we went to Brzesko and accidentally came across the house of my father’s grandparents. He realized it immediately because he recognized the initials on the family crest outside the building. The only memory of this house he had from his childhood (he had not been there since he was four) was the basement where eggs had been stored because his mother’s family had an egg exporting company…” (from the memories of Marcel Anisfeld’s daughter, Candice Dwek). During this trip, Marcel Anisfeld met Mr. Szymon Platner, at that time the only Jew left in Brzesko. They kept in touch over the following years.

Marcel Anisfeld (on the right) and Szymon Platner in the ohel of the Lipschitz rabbis at the Brzesko Jewish cemetery, 1987. Photo from the Platner family archive

In 2007, Marcel Anisfeld provided testimony at Yad Vashem regarding the death of his grandmother, Marjem Selda Laub. Marcel died in London in 2023; his descendants live in England.

Marcel Anisfeld. Photo from the Anisfeld family archive

The youngest child of Abraham and Marjem Selda Laub, daughter Doba Nicha Laub, was born in Brzesko on June 6, 1911. She was also named after a deceased relative. The tombstone of her great-grandmother Doba Nicha Osterweil (1806-1876) has survived at the Tarnów Jewish cemetery.

Doba Nicha (Dora) Laub. Photo from the family archive, courtesy of, Adam Gee.

Doba Nicha married Naftali Gewurtz, son of Brzesko Jews Josef Gewurtz and Dwojra née Manheimer. Naftali was the younger brother of Doba Nicha’s brother-in-law (Chawa Laub’s husband, Baruch Gewurtz). Naftali and Doba Nicha settled in Leipzig, most likely at the beginning they were helped by Baruch and Chawa.

Registration card of Doba Nicha Gewurtz née Laub, member of the Jewish community of Leipzig, born in Brzesko on June 6, 1911. Image from Arolsen database, https://collections.arolsen-archives.org/en/document/129822842

In 1937, their son Wolfgang was born in Leipzig.

Doba Nicha Gewurtz née Laub with her son Wolfgang in Leipzig, 1938. Photo from the family archive, courtesy of Adam Gee.

Doba Nicha’s family survived the war. In May 1939 they escaped from Germany to Great Britain, where they adopted the surname Gee. Their younger son John was born in London in 1944. Their grandchildren and great-grandchildren still live in England.

Naftali (Nat) and Doba Nicha (Dora) Gewurtz (Gee) with their son Wolfgang (Wulfi) in London after the war. Photo from the family archive, courtesy of Adam Gee.
Doba Nicha (Dora) Gewurtz with her older son in London. Photo from the family archive, courtesy of Adam Gee.
Gravestone of the Gewurtz couple (Nat and Dora Gee) in England.

There are no Jews in Brzesko now. But there stands a tenement house at the corner of Głowackiego and Legionów Piłsudzkiego streets with the family crest of the Laub family, and the descendants of the few survivors are witnesses of the centuries-long history of the Jewish community of Brzesko.

© Anna Brzyska, 2024