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Here is th Russian alphabet:  А, Б, В, Г, Д, Е, Ё, Ж, З, И, Й, К, Л, М, Н, О, П, Р, С, Т, У, Ф, Х, Ц, Ч, Ш, Щ, Ъ, Ы, Ь, Э, Ю, Я.

In addition to the many distinctive letters, 7 of the above letters look like English letters but sound different: 

В в - Pronounced like the "v" in "vet".

Е е - Pronounced like the "ye" in "yes".

Н н - Pronounced like the "n" in "no".

Р р - Pronounced like the "r" in "run".

С с - Pronounced like the "s" in "see".

У у - Pronounced like the "oo" in "boot" or "root".

Х х - Pronounced like the "h" in "hello".

There are usually more than one accepted transliteration of a word or name, from the Russian alphabet into the Roman (English) alphabet.  Examples:

Михайло = Mykhailo or Myhailo

Ольга = Olga or Olha

Цар = Tsar, Tzar, or Czar

Note the difference:  The translation of Цар is Emperor.  The transliteration of Цар is Tsar.   
Russians use any of the above transliterations (Tsar, Tzar, or Czar, for example) when they have to use the English alphabet.  For example when a Russian immigrant to the US fills out a naturalization application to become a citizen he must write his name (and hopefully town of birth, not just the country) in the English alphabet, not in the Russian.  

Of course many items must also be translated when written on records.  Example:  The occupation of a German immigrant, "Feldwebel in der Deutschen Wehrmacht," must be translated into English, "Sergeant in the German Army." 

Consider the example of the woman's name again:  Ольга may be transliterated as Olga or Olha, depending personal preference.  The reason for this variance is that the Cyrillic and Roman alphabets do not correspond well in their sounds.  That is, both alphabets have many sounds that do not exist in the other, so there are more than one accepted way to transliterate a word.   For example the Russian letter Ж.  This letter and its sound do not exist in the English language.  Ж is transliterated as zh.

Transliteration Example № 1

This example is from an analysis we did in a recent case.  The land office was obstructing our request for a deed of ownership to Polish (now Ukrainian) property confiscated by the Russian Empire; the land office claimed that the spelling on original owner's name didn't match our claimed heir's ancestor's name, and that it wasn't the same person on one document as on the others.  Our response was that Ukrainians sometimes wrote their names in their native Ukrainian alphabet, and sometimes wrote in the official Russian alphabet, and that it was the same woman: 

TZEREDYAKIVA-Nek.-u.-Schwester-Nadya-1923.jpg...When Nekhemiya ROTH signed her name to the 14 August 1926 letter, it appears that she merely copied the spelling as it was printed in Ukrainian on the signature line.  When the clerk typed this letter, he spelled her name just as it is spelled on her appostiled ZAGS records.  He did not type it as she had spelled it herself on the earlier letters, perhaps because of his own personal preference against mixing alphabets.  In the 1927 letter, where there was nothing for her to copy, she chose to write it with mixed alphabet and transliteration (spelling) that did not match the ZAGS documents, but who is to say she is wrong in this?  There is more than one accepted way to transliterate (spell) her name... 

Holtzsheibe.jpgLets look at the alphabetic letters Nekhemiya used to sign her name in the 1927 letter.  The letter "J" does not exist in the Russian and Ukrainian alphabets.  It is a Polish letter, corre-sponding in sound fairly closely to the Roman "Y."  The next letter she wrote is a Y, pro-nounced in Russian and Ukrainian as the letters oo in the English word "food."  The other letters in her signature are the same as her 1926 signature, until you get to the second to last letter, which looks like a lower case b and an upper case I.  These look like two letters, but in the Russian alphabet they are one letter, pronounced like no sound in the English language, but sounding like a cross between an "I" and a "U."  In the first document she uses this Russian letter, but in the second document, the distribution letter, she copies our transliteration and uses the "backward N," one of the Russian "I" letters...

Nekhemiya wrote of her childhood during the end of Tzar Nicholas II's reign.  As you know, the big trouble began in 1905 in the old Russian Empire (Ukraine was in said empire), with the first failed revolution, which was followed by years of bloody reprisals, economic devastation, and fighting between Reds and Whites, which was heaviest in the years following the "Russian Revolution of 1917," but continued with enough violence and uncertain outcome to continue the chaos in the life and law of the people until the mid-1920's. 

Bauernhofhilfsmittel.jpgNekhemiya was born in Ukraine in 1911.  Her school years were spent more finding enough food than with education.  Most of the western half of Ukraine, including the entire region where Nekhemiya was born, was Poland until the year 1945.  Nekhemiya therefore learnt what little reading and writing she could in both Polish and Ukrainian, as well as perhaps some Russian.  [Footnote]  As I saw in a handwritten short note she once sent me, her spelling abilities in her native language are extremely bad.   There were 2 or 3 spelling mistakes on each line, and she mixed her alphabets. 

School learning was particularly difficult during the first half of the 20th century for the Jews.  Nekhemiya is a diminutive variant of the feminine given name Nekhomo, found in the book Russian-Jewish Given Names (1998) by Boris Feldblyum, Pg. 64:  "Nekhomo... Nakha, Nakhe, Nekhamka, Nakhama, etc."

Herrlich-wiederaufbau-.jpgTransliteration Example № 2

This example oncerns the documents for the Marriage of James & Lesya Hannum of EEH.  The Belarussians (who mostly speak only Russian today, not Belarussian, due to the USSR years), sometimes transliterated the "A" in HANNUM to a Cyrillic (Russian) "A," but the officer handling my visa application once insisted that HANNUM should be transliterated as it was on my Ukrainian visa etc., with the Belarussian "E."  Neither the A nor the E have the exact right sound, so it was a tossup... but the visa officer was adamant, and claimed that there was no proof I was the same person as in the other documents; I had entered Belarus from Ukraine.  Finally we convinced her on every point of the name except the double "N."  In Russian double Ns are pronounced twice, with an audible syllible break between them.  She insisted that the Ukrainian documents containing a single N was a different name, and we had to spend three hours finding and procuring a new translation and notarisation, this time with a single N: ГАНЕМ (GANEM / HANNUM).  Russian has no letter "H" and transliterates it as a G.  Heinrich Himmler is transliterated as Ginrek Gemler.

All this can make big difficulties in genealogical research.  It's bad enough that some people didn't know how to spell their own names (or what year they were born in), but when transliteration vagaries give governmental officials options on how to spell the surnames and village names, a lot of time can be spent going down the wrong paths.




EEH has many times obtained access to "private" and "no longer extant" hospital, institution, and orphanage records.  These records are important because they usually contain the names and addresses of next of kin.  Pictured here is Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, Berkshire, Eng.


Ellis Island in the New York City harbour served as the major US immigration station from 1892 to 1924; during that period an estimated 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island, where they were processed by immigration authorities and most obtained permission to enter the United States.  



                                                     and in vital record offices, land offices, churches, cemeteries...




Click the triangle in the above video to hear the harmony of the Barry Sisters in tribute to Franz Kafka, in Yiddish and then in English.  During his lifetime, Franz Kafka burned an estimated 90 percent of his work.  After his death at age 41, in 1924, a letter was discovered in his desk in Prague, addressed to his friend Max Brod.  “Dearest Max,” it began.  “My last request:  Everything I leave behind me . . . in the way of diaries, manuscripts, letters (my own and others’), sketches and so on, to be burned unread.”  Less than two months later, Brod, disregarding Kafka’s request, signed an agreement to prepare a posthumous edition of Kafka’s unpublished novels.  “The Trial” came out in 1925, followed by “The Castle” (1926) and “Amerika” (1927).  In 1939, carrying a suitcase stuffed with Kafka’s papers, Brod set out for Palestine on the last train to leave Prague, five minutes before the Nazis closed the Czech border.  Thanks largely to Brod’s efforts, Kafka’s slim, enigmatic corpus was gradually recognized as one of the great monuments of 20th-century literature.
Wiener Opfer    Wiener Skulptur

Wiener Staatsoper         Vienna        Wiener Skulptur         
Moise Kisling (above) was born 22 Jan 1891 to a Jewish family in Craców, Austria-Hungary. In the 1890s artists coming to Paris began to settle in Le Bateau Lavoir, a commune in the Montmartre area where small studios were rented. It became a haven for Fauvists and Cubists. Starting from the 1900s André Derain, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Max Jacob, Juan Gris, Kees van Dongen and other artists lived there.  Such was the milieu in which Moise Kisling found himself when he came to Paris in 1910 with a letter of recommendation to Sholom Ash, a well-known Jewish writer who managed to help the young artist.
Kisling later decided to settle in Montparnasse. He rented a studio at 3 Rue Joseph Bara, where he lived for 27 years. According to a contemporary, Kisling was “the axis around which everything rotated at Montmartre”. His artistry manifested itself in everything.  

Kisling emerged as a famous artist who sold well. He always worked hard. Unlike other artists, he had a strictly regulated working day, which began at 9 o’clock in the morning when models came to sit, had a break for lunch, which he had together with his friends at La Rotonde, Le Dôme or La Coupole, then back to work and more meetings with friends, now at dinner in the evening. Famous model Kiki sat for some of his pictures. She found it hard to stick to Kisling’s strict routine and was invariably excused – after all, theirs were friendly rather than business relations.


European Emigrant Heritage  
Unknown Property, Unknown Heirs    

Vishnevets Discotheque

from Vishnevets in a Trick Mirror, a Memorial Book of Vishnevets, Ukraine, as it was before the Holocaust
by M. Averbukh

Properly speaking, in those days no one had any concept of anything called a “discotheque,” even in the most modern, avant garde countries in the world. In the early 20th century, God protect us, but according to the mode to this very day, in Vishnevets there was a place of amusement suited to that generation's tastes.

The institution was a labyrinth that had fooled hundreds of schoolboys: Froyke the Teacher, Nachum Tunrider, Moshe Fuks, Yankel Asni–Beyle's, and many others from the Tsharner Synagogue, even Leybush Kripke.

The “discotheque” belonged to a couple: he was Volke with the crutches, and she, Matel “Head.” Volke, unfortunately sentenced to three–quarter–length legs, couldn't move from his spot without a pair of crutches; he usually sat in his “office,” that is, between the columns at the entrance, enjoying the pleasure of God's warm sun and blue sky, and also the cheder boys' tumult.

Matel Head was called that not just because of her clever head, but because it was a head with such virtue. It's not worthwhile to stress that she was a woman of valor, the maker of their livelihood. The couple maintained themselves on “luxury” items: nuts, bagels, breads, hard candies, caramels, and soda water. During the week, it was from students; on the Sabbath, from the adults.

Mostly the “discotheque” was in a whirl every Sabbath and holiday afternoon. Young men and women gathered together after a week of work to satisfy their Sabbath rest. Catch a word, amuse yourself, blush, crack nuts, spit out the shells, and drink soda water. Together, they sang flaming love songs like “Where are you, under the window my love, my lovely.” And juicy, sad songs about the Exile, attraction, and deep longing, such as “Let us say goodbye, the train is leaving.”

No money was required, because how could you count kopeks and sixes on the holy Sabbath in the cheder neighborhood on nearby Synagogue Street and other holy institutions. The clients had already taken care to buy chits on Friday: white, one kopek; green, a six; red, a ten. It was called a “ten,” but the value was only five kopeks. To make a bustle, they counted the chits like groschen, and the largest coin, a ten, was suited to the craftsmen who earned more and also bought peanuts and Turkish nuts.

Thus, over time, an intimate group developed.

Also, there was dancing on Motele's earthen dance floor surfaced with yellow sand, accompanied by Feygele the singer, who sang like a canary. The scenery wasn't starry because hearts were warm, because you understood with a wink and the speech of feelings.

↑ An October Revolution celebration in Chernivtsi, Ukraine, 1937

We know that very few of today's discotheques have served as starting points for matches, only as leisure, without so direct a path from romance to the wedding canopy.

But the Vishnevets discotheque justified its existence with splendid results. I know for certain four romances that developed there, and the heroes of two met again on the other side of the sea with happiness and joy and with children and grandchildren. I mention this with a special song of praise for the happy inn of their romances –Volke–Matel's “discotheque.”



Two years later the communities were dispersing to all parts of the globe.  For those who remained the dancing did not continue long.  Hitler approached from the West, Stalin from the East.


9391 לאָנדאָן אָנקומען פון אידישע רעפוגעעס פעברואר

London Ankunft der jüdischen Flüchtlinge Feb 1939

London arrival of Jewish refugees Feb 1939


Was war, schläft... aber kann erwacht werden. 
That which was, sleeps... but can be awoken.
The motto of European Emigrant Heritage

Junge Hände hoh
Hände hoch!
יינגל מיט הענט אַרויף, נאַציס מיט גאַנז
Boy with hands up, from Nazis with guns

Osteuropaischen-Ghetto-Karte-1941-1942.gif    געטא מאַפּע      Ghetto Map    



Die Wehrmacht kapituliert in Paris, 1944


European Emigrant Heritage  
History, Geography, Ethnicity       


Nürnberg Trials, 1946                                        Nuremberg Trials      1946      Nürnberger Prozesse


From 1945 until 1982, Simon Wiesenthal used documents and witness accounts to hunt high
level Nazi escapees in South America and 

  around the world.




JCC Manhattan  




 Milton Berle




Formed in Israel, the Ariel Quartet (below) moved to the United States in 2004 to continue its professional studies.  The resident ensemble in the New England Conservatory’s prestigious Professional String Quartet Training Program through their graduation in 2010, the Ariel has won a number of international prizes, including the Grand Prize at the 2006 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.  After they won the Székely Prize for their performance of Bartók, as well as the overall Third Prize at the Banff International String Quartet Competition in 2007, the American Record Guide described the Ariel Quartet as “a consummate ensemble gifted with utter musicality and remarkable interpretive power” and called their performance of Beethoven’s Op. 132 “the pinnacle of the competition.”


אייראפעישער עמיגראַנט העריטאַגע

Europäische Auswanderer Erbe

European Emigrant Heritage


Living Genealogy   by Tom Weiss

I sometimes tell people that the dullest part of genealogical research is finding out who your ancestors were. The most interesting part is finding who are your living relatives. I get more pleasure out of receiving greeting cards on Chanukah from relatives all over the world than pushing back my family history one more generation. These cards are from relatives who I did not know existed before the start of my genealogical research. My relationship to them is usually remote--usually fourth cousins--but these cards affirm that we all have a bond through a common ancestor.

Equally warming are the stories of how genealogical research has reunited families or made life better for someone in some way. For example, in my wife's family, a second cousin of hers, whose branch we thought were all murdered in the Holocaust, contacted a family member recently. He and his mother survived and immigrated to Columbia. He thought he had no other family.

I lump all these events into what I call the human side of genealogy.

Here is another such event, this one involving the famous Schindler's List. There are those that try to debunk the humanitarian motivation of Oskar Schindler and claim he was merely profiteering from the use of Jewish slave labor. The following story clearly demonstrates Schindler's concern for his Jews.

"In late 1970, I was with a survivor from the Schindler transport in a small village near the Brunnlitz factory where Schindler's Jews were held. The survivor, Victor Dortheimer, recalled that an elderly lady, Mrs. Hofstatter, died from natural causes. Schindler bought a piece of land (which he showed me) adjacent to a Christian cemetery so that she could be buried in a proper Jewish manner. The camp commandant wanted to cremate her in the factory furnaces.

About a month ago I was in a London restaurant; sitting opposite was a lady unknown to me. During our conversation she told me that her family had originated in Krakow and that her grandmother was with Oskar Schindler. She said that her family never knew what happened to her which had depressed them over the years. I asked her name, and she said `Hofstatter'. I said, `I know where your grandmother is buried. I have been there and have seen the plot of land.' The woman was stunned that someone would know the fate of her grandmother and her final resting place. On June 5 there was a memorial service held in the Christian cemetery of the village of Deutsch Biela. Present were the Hofstatter family, a local priest, the Israeli Ambassador in Prague and local dignitaries. A plaque in memory of both Chana Hofstatter and Oskar Schindler was placed and I, Robin O'Neill, read a prayer for the occasion."

The story was reported by Tom Weiss of Newton, Massachusetts, and confirmed by Mr. O'Neill who lives in London.



A pile of old documents

The documents and personal items of the inmates in Theresienstadt Concentration Camp have been left to molder.  This should not be.





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