03.04.2020 | Redaktor

Schmukler family

Joel Schmukler and Chawa Leser got married in Żabno on February 4, 1901. Their eldest son Markel was born in 1901 in Wietrzychowice, Żabno district, and after that the family moved to Dąbrówki Breński (Dąbrowa Tarnowska area). After their first son, seven more children were born:

  • Baruch (born July 1, 1903, lived in Słotwina (which is now part of Brzesko), was a farmer; he married Rywka Goldberger in 1938)
  • Rachel Feiga (born February 19, 1905; she also lived in Słotwina; in 1931 she married Markus Weiss, but soon divorced and remarried in 1935; Naftali Rab from Gorlice was her second husband)
  • Brandel, born in 1907
  • stillborn girl, 1909
  • Jakob, born in 1910
  • Pinkas, born in 1912
  • Fischel, born on in 1913

Some time after the birth of the last child, the Szmuklers moved to Brzezowiec in Słotwina, where they became farmers

Only two youngest sons, Pinkas and Fischel, survived the Holocaust, everybody else was murdered. After the war, Fischel returned to Brzesko and married Sabina Teeman. Sabina (Scheindel) Teeman also came from a big Jewish family. Before the war she lived in Brzesko together with her parents David and Pearl and 5 siblings. All of them perished in the Holocaust.

Wedding photo of Fischel Schmukler and Sabina Teeman, Brzesko, 1946 (photo from the family archive of Pnina Dolinski nee Schmukler)
Fischel Schmukler with his newlywed wife Sabina and friends at a wedding party, Brzesko, 1946 (photo from the family archive of Pnina Dolinski nee Schmukler)

The Schmuklers lived for some time in Brzesko, then moved to Szczecin. They had 2 daughters, Paulina (Pnina) and Ewa (Chawa).

Elder brother of Fischel, Pinkas (Poldek) Schmukler survived the war in the Soviet union. He escaped to Russia together with one of his brothers. However, along the way this brother got sick and died of typhus. Poldek was left alone. He managed to join another Jewish family and survive the war. Poldek never talked about his experiences in Russia, but after 1945 he returned to Poland and found his brother.

In 1947, Fischel and Sabina Schmukler moved from Brzesko to Szczecin, a year later their older daughter Pnina (Paulina) was born. Poldek also settled in Szczecin, after a few years he got married to Fryda, whose family lived in Szczecin at the time. Soon their daughter Rachel was born – she got her name after murdered sister of Pinkas and Fischel. In 1956, the family emigrated to Israel. They lived in a small settlement near Nazareth, where their son Joel was born, who was named after his grandfather Joel Schmukler.

Wedding photo pf Pinkas and Fryda Schmukler, Szczecin (photo from the family archive of Chen Shmookler)

In 1958, the family of Fischel and Sabina Schmukler also emigrated to Israel. Fischel died in 1974, Pinkas in 1993 and Sabina – in 1999. Children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Pinkas and Fischel still live in Israel.

And here is the story of the rescue of Fischer Schmukler written by his widow Sabina Schmukler in Israel in 1995 (Sabina wrote her testimony in Polish and I tried to keep the language as close to the original as possible -A.B.):

“In 1942 in December my husband (Ferdynand) Fisiek Szmukler escaped from Brzesko at night before the action. He was running across the fields covered in snow, in torn boots, hungry, cold, not knowing where he was going. He was thirsty and very tired. Then from a distance he saw some light and so he came to this house and knocked. A woman came out and he asked for some water. She immediately brought it to him. Then he asked her how he could get to the city using some smaller paths, and she asked, do you avoid the main roads? Then he told her that he was a Jew and that he was running from city to city trying to escape the action. He asked if he could stay with her until tomorrow evening and then continue his march. She said, my brother and his Ukrainian wife stay with me, I’m afraid. In a moment she said: you know what, stay for a few days, have some rest, but not in the house, in the barn. But she wasn’t sure if he was a Jew, she thought he was a spy. Early in the morning she went to check if he was still there. When she saw him, she quickly brought him a piece of bread and a pot of hot milk, which he had not had in his mouth for weeks, he was very hungry. You need to know that when he escaped, he did not have anything valuable with him, only a pen”Pelikan” with a golden tip.

Beginning of Sabina Schmukler notes – „Fisiek’s war-time life written by Sabina”

She sat down next to him and began asking him where he was from and what he was doing. When she heard about his tragedy, that he was left alone, because his entire family had been murdered, after a while he told him, you know what, stay here for a few days, have some rest, but only so that my brother would not find out, and then we will see where you will go next.

After two weeks, he tells her, now you will definitely tell me to leave, but she responded: rest for another 2-3 weeks. She extended his stay every 2-3 weeks. After ½ year he told her, you will certainly not throw me away now. She responded: you will be here until the war ends, it shouldn’t be too long already. She went to her brother and told him everything, but asked him not to share it with his wife. He made him a bunker in the ground under the barn and Fisiek lived like this until the end of the war.

One day in the morning she came to the bunker with a bag of beans and told that she had to go to the city, and when she returns, she would tell him everything. She asked him to hide the beans so that they wouldn’t be stolen, because they would have nothing to eat. She returned in the evening and asked him to come to the house when it becomes dark. She told him that in a nearby village a family was hiding a Jewish couple. Somebody betrayed them, and both the couple and the family which was hiding them, were shot. She was afraid that it could also happen to her, so she went to the city to see a notary and signed a testament so that her property would be inherited by her niece. And she told him. Whatever happens to us, it’s God’s will. He was hiding in the bunker, but when Germans came, she would warn him talking loudly as if to a dog, you see, we’ve got guests.

She was poor, it’s good that she had a sister who was a philosemitian. She came every week to bring him a piece of sausage.

He stayed with her until the end of the war. In December 1945, we got married and she and her family were our wedding guests.

She is 87 now, may she live long and healthy life. Unfortunately, my husband died 17 years ago, but I’ve been helping her all this time. I send packages, money. In August 1988 I was with my daughter to visit her, I brought her a lot of clothes, various sweets, because she likes them very much. And as long as my eyes are open I will be helping her, although I am not materially rich. “

Elza Dobrzańska and Sabina Schmukler in Poland, 1988. In the back there stands a couple who was taking care of Mrs. Dobrzańska (photo from the family archive of Pnina Dolinski nee Schmukler).

And here is what Pnina Dolinski, older daughter of Sabina Schmukler, added to her mother’s testimony (April 2, 2020):

“My parents didn’t know each other before the war; they met in Brzesko in 1945 and in 1946 they got married, also in Brzesko.

This lady who saved my dad was called Elza Dobrzańska, she lived in a village in Bochnia suburbs. In 1958, before we left for Israel, my mother and I visited her. I remember her very well. She had a lot of animals – cats, goats, several dogs. She said that during the day dad was hiding in a bunker, potatoes were kept there. And at night he would come to the house. He spent two years like that. One dog especially liked my dad. At that time, Germans often came to the household, checked everything, looked for Jews. One time German soldiers began to search the yard, they were already very close to Dad’s hideout. And then this dog ran to them and began barking so loudly as if he wanted to tell them something. They followed him, and the dog led them completely elsewhere, pulled them away from where dad was hiding. Can you imagine how smart he was? When we were at Mrs. Dobrzańska, she told me about it and showed the grave of this dog, it even had a cross. After all, the dog saved both of them back then.

Mrs. Dobrzańska did not have a family of her own, neither husband nor children, only siblings. When she became old, there was a couple taking care of her. My mother sent parcels to her, and this couple brought them from the post office, because Mrs. Dobrzańska was already having trouble going to the post office.

Dad died in February 1974. My mother wrote to Jad WaSzem after his death, she wanted Mrs. Dobrzańska to receive this title of Righteous Among the Nations. But it turned out that the testimony of the rescued person was needed and dad was already gone. “

Were it not for Mrs. Dobrzańska, Fischel Schmukler almost certainly would have perished sharing the fate of his parents and siblings. May the memory of all Holocaust victims and those Righteous who were saving others while risking their own lives, be an eternal blessing.