Sunday, July 8, 2012


My father's mother is not from Budapest. She was born in the United States. In fact, none of my ancestors were born in Budapest. But my great-grandparents lived there for the first ten years of their marriage and my great-grandfather and his first wife had lived there as well. In fact, of his six children, the first five were born there and only Nana was born after their 1900 emigration.

But somehow things Hungarian (including pre-WWI Slovakia) always seem to lead to Budapest sooner or later.

I wrote abit about Nana's mother's family a couple of weeks ago and today's story begins with her father's family.

Moritz (Moshe) Rosenzweig was born in a town called Domanis, in Trencin County Slovakia in 1858. His parents were Ignac (Yitzhak Yehudah) Rosenzweig and Mali (Miriam) Zelinka.

Trencin County is in northwest Slovakia, bordering on Poland and what is now the Czech Republic.

We knew that he had two brothers - Arnold and Simon. Each had a couple of children. Arnold had a daughter Charlotte who spent some time in the US, but eventually returned to Europe. That's what we knew and my research efforts were going in different directions. There quite a few Hungarian records that were microfilmed by the Mormons, but here in Israel, we have no access to any of that.

About eight years ago, a researcher in the US named Bob Hanscom wrote telling me that he was doing research on his Wilhelm family from Trencin County and since he had a Fani Wilhelm (1785-1864) who had married Nathan Joseph Rosenzweig and a Julianna (b. ~1813) who had married Moritz Zelinka, he offered to send me extracts of any Rosenzweig and Zelinka records he came across in his own Trencin County research.

I accepted gratefully and eventually I was able to add quite a bit of information on these two families during the 1800s.

This is what I was able to put together for the Rosenzweigs, down to my great-grandfather (in red). The Zelinka information is about three times that.
So that gave me two more generations of Rosenzweig ancestors and three of Zelinkas. Further, I learned that my great-grandfather had another older brother - Schandor (Salomon) - who had a family - as well as a sister Sali who had died in childhood.

I put both the Rosenzweig information and the Zelinka information online and sat back waiting to see if anything would happen. Nothing did.

As you can see, the family appears in more than just Domanis, so here is a small map of the immediate area, with our towns of interest in red.
And here is the general area within the context of Slovakia and it's near neighbors.

Eight years later...
About five months ago, I get an email from a fellow in Budapest. (I have blanked out some of the names, for reasons of privacy.)
I write you as unknown, but I'm sure you will understand why.

However some decades ago my mother and her father made number of searches
to find their relatives their always failed to find anyone. So you can
imagine the excitement of all the family when my sister found our
grandfathers name on your site.... Since date, ort [sic] and name is the same, I think it should be my grandfather.

I'm sure you worked really lot to collect and arrange all the information
published on your website, I admire your enthusiastic work.

My grandfather is Alfred Rosenzweig b. 3 Jan 1891, Vágbesztercze SLOVAKIA
(on that date the area belonged to Hungary). He is my mother's father.
Alfred moved to Budapest in the 1920s, married M____ (my grandmother) and
died in Budapest in 1958. He had one daughter, my mother E_____, born in 1933. As difficult times came Alfred altered his surname (Rozenzweig) to R_____ that sound more Hungarian.

I don't know how much information do you know about Alfred and his family,
but happy to share with you if interested. Even more I made a very amateur
family tree as well.

As you can see, this Alfred is the son of my great-grandfather's brother Schandor and a first cousin of my American-born grandmother. That makes the writer my third cousin, really a rather close relative.

Turns out he is an architect, about fifty years old, living in Budapest. His mother is still living and he has a sister. He and the sister each has two children. We exchanged a few emails and photographs, but I have not heard from him since that first burst.

But his last message included this:

My grandfather was deported to working camp during the war, he managed to
escape, first went to Kunszentmiklos, where a family hid him until the war
ended, and than he could come back safe to his family in safe. Interesting
to see on your list, that some of his cousins maybe lived Kunszentmiklos,
even in that time. My mother do not remember of those relatives, but she
thought it strange why Alfred went there from Kápolnásnyék lager, which is
in another part of the country. So possibly those relatives helped him to
survived the war, or someone else who was known trough those cousins.
If you have been following this blog over the weeks, you will recall that my grandmother's mother - that is Alfred's uncle's wife - was Regina Bauer from Kunszentmiklos. So it is entirely possible that it was the Bauers who were behind Alfred's Kunszentmiklos period.

As it happens, Regina Bauer's brother Sigmund died in Budapest in 1938 and his children had been born there. I would not be surprised if the two families knew each other, either in Budapest or in Kunszentmiklos.

As it happens, Sigmund's older son Istvan came to Israel after the war with his wife and three Budapest-born children. Istvan's elder son - who lives quite near me - was born in 1933, the same year as Alfred's daughter. This cousin has not been interested in contact from me since our original contact, but I suggested to my newfound third cousin that perhaps he would respond to someone whose family seems to have a shared Holocaust-era experience.

My grandmother would find all this highly implausible. All she knew was that "everyone is gone."

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