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Postcards from Home

In the years that preceded the end of World War II the photograph served a very important function, not only for families who were living in Europe at the time, but also for those who decided to emigrate and start new lives in the United States and elsewhere in the world. Many families went to large towns or big cities so that they could take one last photograph together before one of them emigrated. The families that had cameras, of course, could take their own photographs, and they often sent these photographs to their relatives living abroad by postal mail, perhaps accompanied by a letter or a few words of affection written in Yiddish on the back. These photographs would often create one last visual memory that would remind the recipient, for the rest of their lives, of the years that they had spent together as a family, as for so many they would never see each other again.

Whichever the case, these "postcards" were often bittersweet memories for those who came to possess them, as many of those featured in these photos remained in Europe, eventually perishing in the Shoah. Importantly, these photos allow us to employ our imagination, in order that each of us can form a picture in our own mind's eye of what life might have been like there during the pre-war years. These precious photographs provide us with visual clues into what was a rich Jewish culture and traditional way of life in a world long since gone. We are left wishing fervently that we had many more of these precious "postcards" that were taken by our beloved families who once lived in our ancestral homes.


  Search by Town     Search by Surname

Choose among a growing number of shtetls, towns and cities in Eastern Europe and see photographs that were taken there. Read about some of the families that lived there before the eve of World War II.

Choose from an expanding  list of surnames and see photographs of the family members with that name. Read a little about their lives. Perhaps you will recognize a surname that you yourself are researching.










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