Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Grandmother Paulina Gerstmann - Kober

I never knew my grandmother Paulina, she was killed by the Nazis with her 2 little daughters and husband Dr. Salomon Gerstmann, my grandfather, in Lwow - Lemberg in Galicia, then in Poland, now Lviv in Ukraina.
Tonight starts the Holocaust Day - Yom Hasho'ah, the day the Jewish people memorializes the victims of the Holocaust.
The day overwhelms me. How can a normal person think of six million people, who were killed in six million murders? How can one try to try to imagine the death of all of them.
On this day I remember my grandmother Paulina - Pnina, I never knew, as I was born after she was killed with her little daughter in her hands.
She was born in the end of the 19th century in the town of Lemberg in Galicia, than a part of the Austro Hungarian empire. She and her siblings were highly educated people and were part of the Jewish Kober family with branches in Latvia, Czechoslovakia and other parts of the Austrian empire. On the picture you can see her with her father Eliasz Leib. By miracle the picture was sent to relatives outside Europe and preserved.

The men of her family served in the imperial Austrian forces in WWI at the German side. Leon Flach, her sister's husband served as officer and lost his arm in the battle of Verdun.
His medals show even now, almost one century later, how brave a person he was. The memories of the other men of the family were lost at the moment the families were killed and their houses were looted.
My grandmother got married after WWI, her husband Dr. Salomon Gerstman was a medical doctor by education, but because of antisemitic laws, he had to make a living in selling Kosher wines. He also served as military doctor in the Austrian and Polish armies.

Almost all members of the family who served their country so bravely during WWI were sent to death in WWII together with their families.
On Holocaust day I'll think in love and respect of my grandmother Pauline, like I think of her many other days during the year and through her I'll honour all of my family and the other six millions who were killed by the Nazi death industry.
May their memory be blessed.

About 30 years after my grandmother was killed, I married my dear wife Pnina, the mother of our 5 children, who bears the same name as my grandmother.