Friday, June 14
I'm sitting in the Charles de Gaule airport with Sophie and Suz, we're waiting at the gate for our flight to Dublin, where we will transfer for our flight to SFO.
Once again, I'm tired from getting up early to catch a morning flight, but fortunately there will be a lot of time to sleep (if I don't squander watching all the Marvel movies from the last 10 years).
But back to Monday in Balta:
When Vadim finished with the historical overview, he showed me a book about the Balta Jewish colonies, including Gelbinova. I agreed to buy his extra copy:
There are two Flickstein familes listed, though only the head individual and the number of family members are given. One item from 1852 is for Vol' (Wolf) Boruchovich Flickstein, with 14 family members, originating from Stara Sinyava.
The earliest Flickstein ancestor I've been able to find is Boruch Flicksteinz who died in 1904 at the age of 80. In 1852, he wiould have been 28. So potentially his father could have been Vol' and grandfather Boruch. Will have look for Stara Sinyava records later.
Vadim said that Gelbinova existed until 1923. The majority of Jews from Gelbinova moved to Balta.
At this point, I began to ask questions:
Q: Does the Turkish fortress still exist?
Q: Are there any Turkish remains?
Q: Did the Jews of Balta own their houses?
Q: Would the Jews of a colony rent out their farms?
A: Yes, on a large scale
Q: Where did the Jews of the Gelbinova colony come from?
A: From the north, Volyn area, and from Balta. People changed their registration status to avoid military service.
Q: The Mishusrisman surname may originally have been Ruditch. Can you think of any reason why it may have been changed?
Q: My great-grandfather Eliya (Louis) Mishurisman is listed in one Balta document as having been a dyer. Where would he have worked?
A: The leather industry was a big, so there a lot of tanners. There was probably a dyer, but it was not a big industry.
Q: How or who started Gelbinova?
A: You can read about it in the book. The colonies were started by the government authorities or Jewish philanthropists to give work for poor Jews. The first colony was started in Kherson in 1809.
Q: Where did the majority of Jews in Balta come from?
A: From Volyn, others came the south.
Q: My grandfather had dark red hair. Was that common?
A: Among the Jews, yes. Among the Ukrainians, not so much.
At this point, I ran out of questions, so we started for a walk through Balta with Vadim, Alex, and two of Vadim's daughters, Frieda and Alina. Frieda is studying English in school and practised by translating for Vadim. Alex stepped in to help when needed.
We started from Vadim's house and walked around the Turkish side.
After a bit, we came to a park with a Holocaust memorial. Here's a plaque maming the jews who died:
Balta was occupied on Aug 7 1941, and a ghetto for Jews was created several months later.
The story is that the head of the Judenratt died, and his son-in-law took over. This son-in-law was a lawyer and knew the Queen of Romania personally. The soldiers ocuppying the town were Romanian, and so this new head of the Judenratt writes a letter to the queen, asking her to intercede. The queen does, and so the number of Jews killed is a lot smaller than it would have been.
The Soviets took over Balta in 1944, and arrested a lot of people. The head of the Judenrat thought he would be arrested, he was bourgeoisis, so he fled to Romania. In 1948, he was sent to Siberia where he lived for many years. His son and granddaighter now live in the US.
The sculptor died in 2013, and the memorial was made shortly after that.
Side historical note: In the 19th century, there were two big market fares a year in Balta. That was why when the first railroad in the region was built, it was between Odessa and Balta.
Even now, the small Balta county produces more grain than two Ukrainian provinces.
Well, we are now in SF, waiting for BART to leave for home. I will have to continue with another Balta email.