A Day of Rememberance

April 8th, 2013 § 1 comment

People who know me outside of this blog know that I’m obsessed–and obsessed is an understatement here–with genealogy. I’ve let it take over a huge portion of my life, as I’m able to chalk it up to “research.” As someone who is interested in writing about different periods of time, I’m using what I find as the basis for writing. All it takes is one small detail, one tidbit and my mind is reeling and I wonder, “What’s the story behind that?” Since I’ll never know the real stories, I simply make up my own. Or, even if I do know the story, I’ll make up what I think is a better story.

When I began this endeavor, all I had was a general outline of a family tree my grandfather had started many years ago, in the days before the Internet and Skype and digital photography. Now, I use Ancestry.com to make my tree and I’m able to share it with family members who add information or as a way to connect with relatives I didn’t even know I had. Thanks to technology, I’ve been able to fill in many gaps, find pictures, gravestones, records, people.

One of the things that always disturbed me, on that original family tree, were all the places where the line ended abruptly. A single name, nothing more, and the notation, “D 1941.”

My great-grandfather and my great-grandmother–on the sheet they are the ones who made it out, Abe and Yetta–were from the same town in Latvia, Varaklani (spelled oh-so-many ways, but that is the current spelling). In 1897, Jews made up 75% of the population in the town. Today, as I understand it, there is a single Jewish family still living there. On my great-grandmother’s side, there were as many “dead ends” on the family tree. Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Israel, keeps a record of all who have perished. Survivors post Pages of Testimony of those who were killed. Page after page of my Varaklani relatives reads a variation of the same: “1941 Shot by Germans.”

David Daragoi

Today is Yom HaShoah–Holocaust Remembrance Day. The day that Jewish people recall the lives of those who were lost. Now that I know so many of the names, now that I see how much of my family died, I feel a need to speak their names, to let the world know that they are remembered. My family, at least the ones I know about:

Killed in Varaklani:
My great-great grandfather, Youssel Tania Kapelovich, 1848-1941
My great-great grandmother, Tania Raiza Kapelovich, ?-1941
Lazer Kapelovich, 1889-1941
Lea-Mara Kapelovich, 1882-1941
Mana Kapelovich, 1920-1942 (in Leningrad)
Peretz Kapelovich 1922-1941
Rachel Kapelovich, 1924-1941
Moshe Kapelovich, 1926-1941
Lea Racha Kapelovich, 1930-1941
Riva Kapelovich, 1886-1941
Pesse Kapelovich Gudman, 1881-1941
Micha Shana Kapelovich Dimant, ?-1941
David Dimant, ?-1941
Itzick Dimant, ?-1941
Peretz Dimant, ?-1941
Tirza Dimant, ?-1941
Sara Dimant, 1877-1941
Reuven Kapelovich, 1896-1941
Riva Kapelovich, ?-1941
Labe Kopelovitz, ?-1941
Mufsha Kopelovitz, ?-1941
Yankel Kopelovitz, ?-1941
Benzion Dorogoi, 1857-1941
Enta Vainer Dorogoi, 1864-1941
Chaya Leah Dorogoi Jucha, 1891-1941
Mordechai Leib Jucha, 1886-1941
Symcha David Jucha, 1924-1941
David Dorogoi, 1901-1941
Rajzia Dorogoi, 1905-1941
Baruch Dorogoi, 1907-1941
Yentke Dorogoi, 1935-1941
Mikhail Dorogoi, 1936-1941

Killed in Kobryn, Belarus (read “From an Eyewitness”):
my great-great grandfather, Yitzak Leder 1862-1941
his second wife, Sarah Feignbaum Leder
his children (from both his marriages):
Velvel Leder
Chaya Leder
Leah Leder
Miriam Leder
Pinchas Leader

Killed in a camp after being sent from Suwalki to Biala Podlaska
My great-great grandfather, Chaim Brennholz, 1864-194?
Yaacob Brenholc, who was the coach of the Maccabee’s soccer team in Suwalki, Poland, perished in the Holocaust, but we don’t know where or when.

I know I will uncover more names on my family tree, more dead ends. I worry about the day that no one remembers those who were killed, when the survivors are all gone, and the Holocaust is merely an entry in a history book. We need to remember them all–those who were strong and fought (these photos are particularly moving) and those who were strong and lost. My family.

We must remember. Never again.

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