Wacek Kornblum’s aunt Chawcia - Chawa and her husband Benjamin Kornblum

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  • Photo taken in:
    Warsaw
    Year when photo was taken:
    1919
    Country name at time of photo:
    Poland
    Country name today:
    Poland

This is my aunt Chawcia with her husband Benjamin Kornblum. She was the youngest, favourite sister of my father. There’s the inscription on the reverse of this photograph, in Yiddish: ‘20 detzember, Varshe, 1919: Tzum andenkung fur meine shvester un shvegern’ - I suppose. ‘Benyamin un Khave Kornblum.’- ‘20th December, Warsaw, 1919: For rememberance for my sister and brother-in-law’

Father's youngest sister, was Aunt Chawcia, that is Chawa. She was Father's favorite, who he used to always help,  Her husband Beniamin was also a Kornblum, he was Father's cousin. They had two sons. One was Icchak, the other one Kuba Akiwa. Icchak was three-four years older than me, and Kuba was my age, my best friend who kept getting me in trouble. They lived in Warsaw, on 17 Panska Street. It wasn't a religious family, but a traditional one, they had a kosher kitchen. Aunt's husband was very active in Zionism. Kuba used to go to a Hebrew school, and probably belonged to Betar. They had a piggy-bank for Karen Kayemet at home and his father, whenever he could, would give money. My father didn't like it, Mom even less. Izaak was very talented. He used to play the violin, paint. He used to go to the Pilsudski School of Lithography on Konwiktorska Street in Warsaw. He also sang in a choir, in the Large Synagogue on Tlomackie, and whenever he had shows, the entire family tried to get there. I remember that synagogue as a large palace, staircase going up, lights. I felt strange there, a bit uneasy.

My best friend was Kuba Kornblum, the son of Aunt Chawcia and Uncle Beniamin. He used to come over to our place, I used to go there, we played together, together we constructed the first radio detector with headphones, which was a big achievement. We used to tease Kuba's older brother, Izaak - we often broke his violin. We used to play with photographic film. We played it as follows. On Sliska Street there were cobblestones, we had pieces of a photographic film with five frames on each, and two coins. We'd throw the coin on the ground, between the cobblestones, and we had to toss the second coin as close as possible to the first one. We measured the distance with our fingers. The thumb and the little finger, that was the largest distance, but if you could touch both coins with the thumb, then you'd win most. The smallest bid was five frames.

Some summers Kuba came with us for vacation. Once Dad did it so that Aunt Chawcia and Izaak came as well.

When the war started and the bombings begun, we went to Aunt Dobcia, an anothe sisters of Dad’s, on Panska, she had a large apartment. There were lots of foreign people who didn't live in those buildings, but who, like us, were running away from other parts of the city, but nobody asked any questions. We all went to the basement, because they announced a bombing, and a bomb fell on that house. I know I lost consciousness. Everything went dark, it must have taken a while, when I woke up the basement was full of black dust, and people were pushing their way towards the exit to the stairway, I instinctively got out, and then heard some woman scream: 'Vu iz mayn man un mayne kinder?' [Yiddish: Where is my husband and my children?']. And it was my mom. Then Dad showed up and Borus and Estusia, and it also turned out that in the same house there was Aunt Chawcia with her husband, Kuba and Izaak. And when we met at the gate, it turned out Izaak wasn't able to walk. Aunt Chawcia said there was a wooden exit door, and it hit him in the head. And when we all got outside to the street, Aunt Chawcia decided to go to Aunt Frania's on Wielka Street, and Dad and Mom decided to go back to Niska. We parted and from later stories we know that Izaak died two days later.

Interview details

Interviewee: Wacek Kornblum
Interviewer:
Anna Szyba
Month of interview:
December
Year of interview:
2005
Warsaw, Poland

KEY PERSON

Chawcia Kornblum
Jewish name:
Chawa
Decade of birth:
1900
City of birth:
Powazki near Warsaw
Country name at time of birth:
Russia
Year of death:
1942
City of death:
Warsaw
Country of death:
Poland
Died where:
Ghetto liquidation
Occupation
before WW II:
Housewife
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