My name is Antoni Babis. I am 16 years old and I am a student of Bilingual University High School in Rzeszów. I am interested in history, especially in topics related to wars, empires, political events etc. In my spare time I enjoy reading, listening to music and playing computer games. I am also into sport and DIY. I decided to take part in this project because of my passion for history, but also because my family has had contact with Jewish culture.
Representative of Rosenberg Family – Marie-Hélène Pateu
Marie-Hélène Pateu lives in Compiègne, France. She is a translator of German, Italian and English languages into French. Marie is a 58-year-old married woman and a mother of three children. She is an only child. Marie-Hélène started to be interested in history of her family from Rzeszów two years ago when she had come to Rzeszów for the first time. In the project, she paid particular attention to her paternal grandparents’ fate because they were the ones who used to live in Rzeszów before the Second World War broke out. She has never met them herself, just as her father. There were no troubles in keeping in contact with Marie-Hélène .
What does Marie-Hélène Pateu know about her family from Rzeszów?
Generally, Marie-Hélène Pateu did not have a lot of information about her family from Rzeszów, as her father was particularly silent about those matters and did not want to talk with her about it. Maybe it was so because his parents did not survive the war and he was orphaned? It does seem likely. Nevertheless, I did not start from scratch as I received many scans of French documents and photos of Rosenberg family from Marie-Hélène . She attached short explanations to those files to explain who those people are and what the documents are about.
Certificate issued in 1957 in Paris informs that Marie-Hélène’s grandfather, Icek Rosenberg, was born on October 6, 1898, in Piotrków, Poland. However, Rosa Brust, Marie-Hélène ’s grandmother, was born on March 1, 1899, in Rzeszów, Poland. They got married on November 22, 1922. In the documents we can also find the information about Icek’s parents, Josek Lajb and Chaja Sura; and Rosa’s parents, Seiwel and Schifra.
As Marie-Hélène Pateau mentioned, nobody knew how long her grandparents had been living in Rzeszów. After a while they emigrated to Paris where their son Gerard Rosenberg was born on June 16, 1935. Gerard is Marie-Hélène’s father. Meanwhile, two of Icek’s brothers decided to emigrate: David and Michael Rosenberg. First of them chose the USA, the latter one chose France.
We can find out from other French documents that during the Second World War, Icek and Rosa were deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp and died there in 1942. Marie-Hélène Pateau does not know what were the exact circumstances in which her grandparents were transported and how it was possible that 7-year-old Gerard managed to avoid transportation. As I mentioned, her father did not want to talk about it. It is also possible that he just did not remember as much as we wish to know.
My main tasks were concentrated on studying documentation received from Mrs Marie-Hélène Pateau, getting through the archival documents from the State Archives in Rzeszów and reading books such as The History of Rzeszów vol. III under the editorship of Feliks Kiryk, That Rzeszów by Franciszek Kotula, Basia Rosenberg’s diary published by Museum in Przeworsk.
In case of archival documents, my work mostly focused on complementing and confirming the information I had already received. For instance, it has been confirmed that Icek Rosenberg had parents named Josek Lejb Rosenberg and Chaja Sura who lived in Piotrków, and that Rosa Brust’s parents were living in the area of then Rzeszów.
Other members of the project group and I have found in the book of births of the Jewish community that Rosa Brust, in fact, was born on March 1, 1899, and was named on March 4 in synagogue. New information proved that Rosa was born in house no. 85 (unfortunately, I do not know where this address is currently located in Rzeszów) and that her father was a butcher. Besides, Rosa was born in wedlock and her parents, Seiwel (it is hard to read this name) and Shifra, had gotten married on February 20, 1892, in Rzeszów – 30 years before Icek and Rosa’s wedding.
As I ascertained the date of Marie-Hélène’s grandparents’ wedding, I was trying to get through marriage certificates from 1922. Unfortunately, I have not found any new information. As for another information, the list of houses in Rzeszów from 1899 indicates Seinwel (spelling of the name with an additional letter „n”) and Szyfra Brust as owners of a house on Abrahamsberga Street (reference number 2). I did not manage to take a photo of this building for Marie-Helen as that street does not exist anymore. In the past, it used to be a fragment from Gałęzowska Street to Targowa Street.
I have found other people with Brust surname. It was the marriage of Hillel and Ester. They had to be a wealthy people as they had their houses on Kopernik Street and Mickiewicz Street. However, I do not know if they were related to Marie-Hélène’s family.
Regarding Brust surname, I have also found it in The History of Rzeszów vol. III. There is a photo with members of boxing team Bar Kochba from 1936. A Man called Brust (there is no name included) was a boxer – was it someone from Marie-Hélène’s family? Marie-Hélène’s grandmother’s brother or cousin? That, I do not know.
In turn, I found a few people with Rosenberg surname in the registration cards from Rzeszów from the interwar period. Rosenberg Maurycy, born in Przemyśl. Hence, it probably was not a relative of Marie-Hélène’s family. Rosenberg Schewa – nee Berth – for sure was not Marie-Hélène’s family. Rosenberg Marja – it is hard to read her parents’ names. Seemingly, here is also no hints whether she could be Marie-Hélène’s relative.
I found other representatives of Rosenberg surname in other documents in the State Archives in Rzeszów. Above all, Rebeka Brust born on May 8, 1903, in Rzeszów. She lived on Plac Wolności Street 20 with her husband Ławaj Wallach. Rebeka’s parents were Lazar Brust and Elka Liberman (from Wielopole Skrzyńskie). I have not found any proof that they were Icek Rosenberg’s relatives.
Regarding Rosenberg surname, there is very interesting story of a Polish Jew, Basia Rosenberg, from Przeworsk. At the outbreak of the Second World War, she was a 16-year-old girl. She has written down the most important events about her home and school since 1982. The notes suddenly stop in 1939 – it is not known why, however, it can be deduced that the reason was war. Everything we know about Basia now is owed to the fact that her diary survived. I was curious whether Basia was related to Icek (as Przeworsk is located near Rzeszów) but it seems unlikely. The diary lets us know that Basia’s father was called Hersh and came from Niebylec and her mother Feig was born in Przeworsk. Her siblings were called Lea, Józef and Lazar. Hence, nothing that connects her with Icek Rosenberg.
Despite that, Mr Rafał Kocoł from Museum in Rzeszów has checked surnames of clients of Edward Janusz’s photography studio in the archive. He has found clients with Brust and Rosenberg surnames. People with Brust surname ordered photos in 1898, 1918 and 1931. People with Rosenberg surname has been noted in 1898, 1918, 1920. Edward Janusz’s studio’s lists do not include names of the clients, hence, we cannot say if these were Marie-Hélène’s grandmother and grandfather, her relatives or complete strangers. We do not have the photos taken then, too.
My feelings about query in Archive are generally positive. Even though, the number of documents to review may be a deterrent and writing the application for access to signatures is (in my opinion) a bit too complicated. Readings? They contain a lot of knowledge but the monotony and specific writing style can be repelling. Summarizing all my feelings and insights that have occurred during my work, I can say that the project about Jewish families was time-consuming and demanding. However, the satisfaction after finding and confirming information was much more significant. Although, there were problems and the fate loved to put obstacles in my way, participation in the project showed me at least a piece of history of Jews in Rzeszów, taught me patience during gathering data and let me appreciate archivists’ hard work.
In January 2019, I happened to be in Rzeszów, and attended a meeting organised by Professor Wacław Wierzbieniec as a part of Holocaust Remembrance Day at Rzeszów University. Jews whose roots are connected with Rzeszów and Podkarpackie Voivodeship took part in the meeting. Everyone could tell the audience about their families’ connections to the city. There, I have met PhD Grażyna Bochenek who many months later proposed me being part of “My Rzeszów. Our Rzeszów” project. I am very glad I could participate in such project. I had very interesting conversations with the team in charge of my family, and I am very grateful to them for their difficult work of searching through the archives and trying to put together the pieces of a puzzle which vanished so many years ago… Thanks to them the name Rosenberg can live again and be remembered after all!
Chaja Sura Rosenberg – Icek Rosenberg’s mother, Marie-Hélène Pateau’s great-grandmother. Photo courtesy of Marie-Hélène Pateau.
Josek Lajb Rosenberg – Icek Rosenberg’s father, Marie-Hélène Pateau’s great-grandfather. Photo courtesy of Marie-Hélène Pateau.
Rosenberg Family – photo was taken before emigration to Paris, in pre-war Poland. Icek Rosenberg – Marie-Hélène Pateau’s grandfather – first on the left, in glasses, standing next to his mother Chaja Sura Rosenberg. The man sitting on the right side is Michael Rosenberg, Icek’s brother. Photo courtesy of Marie-Hélène Pateau.
4 Marriage certificate of Icek Rosenberg and Rosa Brust. Document courtesy of Marie-Hélène Pateau.