Who Am I? What is My Name? – Part XII – Taking Stock

By |2022-07-06T01:22:19-07:00December 8th, 2016|

INTRODUCTION As with all research projects, there have been so many zigzags in this story, it's only reasonable to take a break to take stock of where we are in solving the puzzle of Pnina's identity.  We haven't solved all the mysteries yet, but we know so much more now than we started with a few years ago. Pnina Gutman is in her 70s and lives in Israel. She leads a normal life as a mother, a grandmother, and a great grandmother, but she has an unusual story.  Pnina was smuggled from the Warsaw Ghetto in late 1942 when she was an infant and hidden on the Aryan side by Charlotte [...]

Who Am I? What Is My Name? Part XI – Berlin, Warsaw, and the German Soldier

By |2022-07-06T01:19:58-07:00November 8th, 2016|

I recently traveled to Berlin and Warsaw to personally research in the various German and Polish archives.  My hope was to find more information about Gertrude Priess-Spiro and her circle of acquaintance and friends, towards the goal of finding the birth identity of Pnina Gutman, whom she helped smuggle from the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942.  I feel that if we can identify the people and organizations that Gertrude was involved with during the War, we may be able to find clues that lead us to Pnina's family. Although my initial search of the German and Polish archives was not successful, I later discovered information that may lead to the identity of the German soldier, the most [...]

For Immediate Release – Grant from the Elie Wiesel Jewish Studies Center, Boston University

By |2016-11-07T16:42:13-08:00November 7th, 2016|

The Center for Professional Education at Boston University has been awarded a competitive grant from Jewish Cultural Endowment Fund of the Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies to hold a one-day workshop "Holocaust Survival and Reunion Stories:  Separating Fact from Fiction Using Genealogical Research Techniques". The workshop will be conducted by internationally recognized forensic genealogist Colleen Fitzpatrick, PhD, founder of Identifinders International.  Dr. Fitzpatrick will focus on stories of child survivors and their efforts to connect with their birth families, covering five topics:  Introduction to Holocaust Research Discerning the True from the False when the Impossible is the Norm The Mascot - A Holocaust Literary Fraud? Holocaust Archives and Repositories Who Am I?  What [...]

Who Am I – What Is My Name – Part X – Gertrude's Marriage and Divorce

By |2016-11-06T17:46:45-08:00November 6th, 2016|

By now, everyone who reads this should know Gertrude Priess-Spiro, the woman who arranged to have Pnina Gutman smuggled from the Warsaw Ghetto in August or September 1942.  New information about her has recently been discovered that provides details about her marriage to Leo Spiro.  It also explains why she was listed under her maiden name Gertrude Priess-Spiro on the Pawiak transport records to Auschwitz. Location of 176 Brunnenstrasse, Berlin During my recent trip to Berlin, I was able to visit the address at 176 Brunnenstrasse, where Gertrude grew up and lived for a while after she was married.  The building is about three blocks south of what was once the Berlin [...]

ISHI 27 – David O'Shea and the Grandmothers of the Plaza

By |2016-10-02T16:29:05-07:00October 2nd, 2016|

The keynote at the 27th annual International Symposium on Human Identification (ISHI27) was given by internationally recognized video journalist David O'Shea. O'Shea addressed the conference on the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo (Asociación Civil Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo), a human rights organization formed in Argentina in 1977 in response to the disappearance of hundreds of children who were either kidnapped or born to mothers who were "disappeared" political dissidents during the country's "Dirty War" in 1974-1983.

Who Am I? What is My Name? – Part IX – Gertrude's Sisters!

By |2016-06-15T19:25:58-07:00June 15th, 2016|

Gertrude Spiro and Charlotte Rebhun, Warsaw c. 1942 Since 2012 we have been trying to discover the birth identity of Pnina Gutman, who as an infant was smuggled from the Warsaw Ghetto with the assistance of a woman named Gertrud Spiro.  We realized from the beginning that our best chance at solving the mystery was to find out as much as we could about Gertrude and her daughter Sonia, hoping they left some record behind of their activities.  We have faced many challenges; when we started out, we did not even know the correct spelling of their last name.  Thanks to our persistence, we can now account for most of Gertrud's whereabouts from the time she was born in Bladiau, East Prussia on 24 February 1899, until [...]

Who Am I? What is My Name? – Part VIII – Gertrud and Leo's Trial

By |2016-05-19T09:32:51-07:00May 19th, 2016|

Das Bundesarchiv Trial Records According to Widerstand in Berlin gegen das NS-Regime 1933 bis 1945 (Resistance in Berlin against the Nazi Regime 1933-1945), Leo and Gertrud Spiro were put on trial in Berlin in 1938.  Trying to locate their court records, I contacted the editor of the book Dr. Gunter Wehner, a scholar of the German resistance.  Dr. Wehner is 83 years old, and a well-known researcher at the Bundesarchivs (National Archives) in Berlin-Lichterfelde where the records are archived. Leo and Gertrud's Trial Records Dr. Wehner offered to help by locating trial records in the Bundesarchiv that mentioned Leo and Gertrud, including those included in his book. Although we would have to go through official channels to [...]

Who Was Joseph Smith – Close Calls and Possible Candidates

By |2016-01-19T18:32:06-08:00January 19th, 2016|

Joseph Smith We have just a few scraps of information to go on in searching for Joseph Smith's original identity, many of which are questionable. But we have to make the most of what we have, since that's all we have. Joseph always said his birth date was 15 July 1896.  My experience has been that if someone changes his name, he usually keeps his original date of birth, but if he steals someone else's identity, he is forced to use the date of birth of his victim. In Joseph's case, we have to assume that he changed his name but not his date of birth; without a birth date, we lack a key search [...]

Who Was Joseph Smith?

By |2016-01-14T16:23:54-08:00January 14th, 2016|

The early life of Joseph Eugene Smith is a complete mystery.  Joseph's son Morton and Morton's daughter Karen have researched Joseph for over 20 years, yet they still don't know who he was.  Hopefully by reading his story, someone may come forward with new insight into Joseph's so far impenetrable history. Joseph Smith's Death Certificate, 25 December 1973 Over the years, Karen has gathered an impressive collection of information about Joseph starting with his enlistment in the US Army in November 1913,  yet she has not been able to discover anything about him before that. Although Joseph Smith claimed he was born on 15 July 1896 in Philadelphia, his birth certificate has never been located.  His life prior to WWI is unknown; nothing [...]

Who Am I, What is My Name? Part III – Gertrude and Sonia Spyra

By |2022-07-06T09:23:41-07:00October 17th, 2013|

Gertrude Spiro and Charlotte Rebhun, Warsaw, c 1942 A mystery within the mystery of Pnina's identity is the fate of Gertrude Spyra and her daughter Sonia. As the parties responsible for smuggling Pnina from the Warsaw Ghetto, Gertrude and Sonia may have left behind clues about Pnina's parents. Perhaps the Spyras wrote letters to their family members, as did their friend Charlotte Rebhun. Perhaps a co-worker overheard something they said about how they saved a baby during the last days before the Ghetto Uprising. According to "the story", Pnina's parents approached a German soldier about smuggling their daughter out of the Warsaw Ghetto in late 1942-early 1943.  The soldier [...]

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