Who Am I? What is My Name? Part VI – Our Search for Gertrude Spiro

By |2015-01-02T23:14:52-08:00January 2nd, 2015|

Gertrude Spiro and Charlotte Rebhun, Warsaw, about 1942 Gertrude Spiro must have been well-connected.  She was the proprietor of a liquor and cigarette shop at 2 Nowiniarksa St. in Warsaw in 1941-1942. The shop undoubtedly generated a lot of income for whoever owned it; liquor and cigarettes are two of the most in-demand commodities during wartime.  Moreover, Gertrude's shop was the only cigarette shop in Warsaw, and it also sold liquor. In her position she must have had many friends and many enemies. Gertrude Piss-Spiro and her daughter Sonia were arrested in Warsaw and put into Pawiak Prison in 1943. They are listed among 141 women on a prison transport bound for Auschwitz on 24 August.  However, three of [...]

DNA Pilot Study on Missing Identity Holocaust Children – 2013 IAJGS Conference

By |2014-05-09T20:13:58-07:00May 9th, 2014|

In August 2012, I was invited to give a lecture at the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies in Boston, MA, on our pilot project to identify two missing-identity child survivors of the Holocaust.  Please enjoy the video of my talk that describes our progress as of late 2013.   We have come some ways since and continue to work towards solving the mystery of their identities. http://youtu.be/Tm9RMfsi864

Who Am I? What is My Name? Part V – Gertrude and Sonia’s Escape

By |2022-07-06T01:27:48-07:00March 7th, 2014|

Pawiak Prison Gertrude and Sonia Preiss-Spiro's names are listed on the transport to Auschwitz of 141 women from Pawiak prison in Warsaw on 24 August 1943.  Pawiak prison was originally used by the Polish judicial to incarcerate criminals, but after the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939, it was converted into a Berman Gestapo prison.  Approximately 100,000 men and 200,000 women passed through the prison, mostly members of the Armia Krajowa, political prisoners and civilians taken as hostages in street round-ups.  An estimate 37, 000 were executed and 60,000 sent to German death and concentration camps.  There were few known escape attempts. Even if Gertrude survived Auschwitz, she would [...]

Who Am I? What is My Name? Part IV – Wolfgang and Adele’s Eyewitness Account

By |2022-07-06T01:24:59-07:00October 26th, 2013|

Margarete & Emil Schoessow Family (c 1922). Left to right: Erna, Herbert, Margarete (mother), Margarete (daughter), Charlotte. Emil was killed in 1917 during World War I. Charlotte Schössow Rebhun was the oldest of four children of Emil and Margarete Schössow from Berlin.  Charlotte, like her friend Gertrude Spiro, was a Christian woman who had married a Jew.  Charlotte's husband Max Rebhun had moved from Poland to Germany and settled in Berlin, probably right after WWI.  Max was arrested on Kristalnacht in 1938, and sent to Poland. His wife Charlotte followed him in 1939 with their two children Wolfgang and Adele, where, after the outbreak of the War, the family lived in the Warsaw Ghetto. On August 20, 1942, [...]

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 [...]

Who Am I? What is My Name? Part II – Pnina, Wolfgang, and the Warsaw Ghetto

By |2022-07-06T01:47:43-07:00December 12th, 2012|

Barbara Rebhun? Convinced that my surname was Rebhun, I contacted Rebhuns around the world. Though the BBC, CNN, and the international press featured my quest, I initially received no responses. Finally in March 1997, the Munich Red Cross relayed a reply from a German named Wolfgang Rebhun, who was searching for his little sister, Baschka (Barbara in German). After receiving the Red Cross letter I began a correspondence with Wolfgang Rebhun. Then after a very short time we went to Germany, to meet Wolfgang and his (and my) sister Adela and some other members of the family.  The meeting was very warm and exciting. To them it was a [...]

Who Am I, What Is My Name? Part I – Pnina, Otwoc, and the Kazcmareks

By |2022-07-06T01:04:27-07:00December 10th, 2012|

My name is Pnina Gutman. I am 70 years old. I began the search for my biological identity in April 1996. I called this project "Who am I what's my name?" I came to Israel from Poland at the age of eight with a couple whom I thought to be my parents, Mania and Mendel Himel. As a child, I remembered living with the Himels in the town of Lodz, but it was a short time, about two years that I recall as a year in the kindergarten and a year in school. What I remembered before was an orphanage and the day the Himels were introduced to me as my [...]

"The Mascot" – Truth or Fiction

By |2012-09-15T16:07:54-07:00September 15th, 2012|

The Mascot is the international best-selling Holocaust biography of Alex Kurzem...After an exhaustive international three-year search for evidence, my colleague Dr. Barry Resnick and I have discovered no proof that Mr. Kurzem’s story is true, nor has it been established that he is Jewish.

Identifinders International Announces DNA Study for Child Survivors of the Holocaust

By |2012-09-05T00:04:30-07:00September 5th, 2012|

Identifinders International, in collaboration with 23andMe and Missing-Identity.net, announces a pilot study to help child survivors of the Holocaust to recover their birth identities.  It is hoped that autosomal DNA testing will allow these survivors to discover family connections that would otherwise be gone forever. Of the 1,600,000 Jewish children who lived in Europe before World War II, only 100,000 survived the Holocaust. Most child survivors were hidden children, shuttered away in attics, cellars, convents or in villages or farms.[1] Many of these survived thanks to the efforts of Jews and Christians alike who risked their lives to conceal the identity of a hidden child who had been entrusted to their care by desperate parents. [...]

The Mascot

By |2011-05-29T19:09:00-07:00May 29th, 2011|

The Mascot Keith Moor, Insight Editor at the Herald Sun newspaper in Melbourne, Victoria recently published an article on The Mascot, the international bestselling biography of Holocaust survivor Alex Kurzem. To read the article in pdf format, click here. As Keith mentions, the foundation of the story is undeniably true.  Alex was adopted by the 18th Kurzeme Latvian Police Battalion in July 1942 as a child in the forest around Minsk. Yet my colleague, college professor Dr. Barry Resnick and I have uncovered much that lends doubts to his claims that he was a Jewish boy who survived the Nazi massacre of his family six months earlier; a massacre that in some version [...]

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