grandfather of survivors Felix, Joseph and Harry Braun
-- also known by their Yiddish names, Fischel, Yusef
and Hirshel -- is the central figure in this large
family gathering of 1935. Bearded and garbed in Orthodox
Jewish dress, Berl was the oldest of a number of
brothers, and at least one sister. His wife, Sarah Rozen
Braun, who grew up Lodz, could not attend this
party. Berl ran a shop that was located in
Mszczonow or Amshinov, Poland (a small town between
Lodz and Warsaw), cleaning and curing cow
intestines for non-Jewish butchers and sausage makers.
Several of his brothers appear in the photograph, along with
various in-laws, aunts, uncles and cousins standing beside and
among them. Levi Braun, one of Berl’s nine children,
is the balding gentleman at the table dressed in a suit to our
right. Like his father, he owned a similar shop or factory in
Kalisz, Poland, but it operated on a larger scale.
The family portrait with various members of the Braun family
may have been taken at Levi’s home in Kalisz.
He is believed to have organized the banquet to celebrate the
emigration of Berl’s brother and family to the promised
land -- Palestine.
Below the proud Berl sits the guests of honor: twelve
year-old Tova Braun along with her parents to our left.
Her brother, Yitzach, sits sandwiched to our left
between two people, a woman (who may be his mother) and an an
older relative wearing glasses and sporting a grand, bushy
moustache. The family members who relocated to Israel, later
settling in Ramat-Gan, survived the Shoah but lost
contact with other survivors thereafter.
Standing at the extreme right of the photograph is a pale,
serious young man dressed in a suit and tie -- he is
Leybish Braun, one of Berl’s grandsons. He is posed just
behind a young seated pair — a teenage boy, and a smiling girl
with curly, light brown hair (they remain unidentified). Leybish
was the son of Noach, another of Berl’s sons. He
was the eldest brother of Fishel, Yusef and
Hirshel, who were all too far away to attend the
gathering. At the time of the party, Leybish was about
eighteen years old and just finishing high school. A very
talented student and artist, he went on to study mathematics
at the University of Warsaw and work for another
relative who was an international industrialist (and the son
of yet, another of Berl’s brothers). When war broke
out, Leiby safely escaped to a town in the Ukraine
behind the new Soviet Union border, and found work as an
Rumor suggested that he returned to Warsaw, hoping to
rescue his parents. They decided to relocate their small
textile shop to Warsaw’s Jewish District from
Mszczonow, when the local economy began to flail several
years before. Noach and Ita Braun, along with
other relatives, became entrapped within the Ghetto. In
desperation, they had just managed to smuggle out their
youngest son Yusef to Russia. Leybish, arriving
in Warsaw, supposedly became involved in an underground plot
to blow up the crematoriums at Auschwitz. His fate was never
ascertained, but what is a fact is how he disappeared after
leaving the Russian republic. Tragically, he was never heard
from again, nor were his parents.
Aside from the relatives who left for Palestine soon
after this banquet, the majority of the family members who
appear here along with their loved ones are believed to have
become ensnared in the hands of the Nazis. After Poland’s
liberation, Fishel returned from the far mountains of
Russia to his hometown of Mszczonow to search for
survivors. Instead, he found the town in rubble, and learned
of Berl’s death from a lung condition related to his
work shortly before the German occupation. His grandmother
Sarah, as the others in this photograph, vanished in the
blistering frenzy of the Holocaust.
Two of Fischel’s three brothers survived
and were reunited after the war.
Family today are still trying to identify the names of the
other relatives appearing in this photograph.
In Memory Of
Harry (Hirshel) Braun (c.
Joseph (Yusef) Brown (aka Braun) (1923-2007)