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 [...]
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 [...]
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. 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 [...]
Last week we received surprising new information about a woman who may be Gertrude Priess-Spiro.
Gertrude Spiro and Charlotte Rebhun, circa 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 [...]
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
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 [...]
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 [...]