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The History of the Brachmann Family of Latvia

Thursday, 25 April, 2013 - 12:09 pm

The history of the Brackman family, known formerly as Brachmann, is a story of Eastern European Jewish history, tragedy and revival. This article aims to offer for the first time a chronological outline of the history of the Brachmann family of Latvia, an attempted sketch of its past up to the present, which will hopefully serve as the basis for further research and memorial.

 

The history of the Brackman family can be traced back to the end of the 18th century with the presence of Jews in Kuldīga, known also by its Germanic name, Goldingen, Latvia. The family seems to have had a substantial presence in the city with many related family members. The end of the Brachmann family in Latvia, as with millions of others in Eastern Europe, tragically ends in 1941 with old and young slaughtered in the Holocaust at the hands of the Nazis and Latvian collaborators. This took place, amongst other nearby places, in the dunes on the Baltic Sea, in what constituted one of the most open and horrific killings during the Holocaust.

 

To understand the history of the Brackman family one needs to attempt to understand the history of the Jews of Kuldiga. The following brief history has been compiled by Eric Benjaminson with material provided by Latvian genealogist Aleksandrs Feigmanis.

 

History of Kuldiga

 

Kuldige.jpg

Kuldiga is an ancient town in western Latvia that is mentioned for the first time in 1242. In 1368, Kuldiga (then known in German as Goldingen) became a member of the Hanseatic League of trading cities by virtue of its location as a river port with an outlet to the Baltic Sea.

 

From 1596 until 1616, Kuldiga was the capital of the Duchy of Courland, and enjoyed its most prosperous period in the 17th century. During this economic boom, a shipyard and a nail and anchor forge were established. The town was captured and damaged by Swedish armies during the Great Northern War in 1702. The town was incorporated into the Russian Empire in 1795 and suffered some stagnation until the Imperial "Rule on Trade and Industrial Freedom" in 1866 that allowed economic opportunities and some commensurate growth.


Arrival of Jews and founding of Jewish community in Kuldiga

 

Kuldiga synagogue.jpg

Jews had been scattered without legal status in Courland from as early as the late fourteenth century. It is believed that the first Jewish settlement in Kuldiga began at the end of the seventeenth century.

 

However, it was only from 1795, after Courland was annexed by Russia, that Jews in the region were granted civic rights and Jewish communities in Kuldiga and elsewhere grew quickly. In 1800, there were 658 Jewish merchants and craftsmen living in the Goldingen district, fifteen percent of the total district population of 4350.

 

In approximately 1801, the first official synagogue was built and a burial society (chevra kadisha) was founded. A short while thereafter a "Talmud Torah" school was built and a society for help to poor brides (Gmilut Chassadim) and other Jewish social organizations were formed. The first rabbi assumed office in 1826. One illustrious rabbi was the father of the founder of the Musar movement, Rabbi Israel Lipkin, known as Yisrael Salanter. The first state school for Jewish boys was organized in 1850.

 

Jews who had the means also sent their children to the local German high school. By 1901 there were three private Jewish schools in the town; one for boys and the other two for girls. The languages of instruction at the schools were German and Hebrew.

 

The first Jews to settle in Kuldiga were strongly influenced by German culture and by the Jewish enlightenment movement, the Haskalah. A later influx of Jews from the Pale of Settlement in Russia and from Lithuania consisted in large part of "shomrei masoret" (religious observers), and they organized a group of Chassidim.

 

Kuldiga's Jews earned a living through small scale commerce, peddling, the sale of second-hand clothing, the leasing of inns, production of strong liquors and as middlemen. From the end of the 19th century their economic situation began to improve and the Jewish merchants in some cases supplanted the Baltic German businessmen. Jews, for example, built a flour mill and factories for the manufacture of matches and needles and established a credit fund for Jewish merchants and tradesmen.

 

By 1835, the total Jewish population was 2330, fifty-seven percent of the population. In 1850, there were a total of 2534 Jewish residents, of whom 112 were merchants and 1137 working craftsmen.

 

In 1840, 171 of Kuldiga's Jews (22 families) left for agricultural settlements in the southern Russian province of Cherson, to take up a Czarist offer of land and exemption from military service and certain taxes in return for settling these territories bordering the Ottoman Empire. In the second half of the century a large number of Latvians came to the town and the Jewish community lost its majority status. In 1897 there were 2,543 Jewish residents, twenty-six percent of a total population of 9,720.

 

Jewish migration from Kuldiga to Liepaja and beyond

 

 

Liepaja.jpg

Along with difficult economic and political times in the later half of the nineteenth century, Kuldiga's Jews began to emigrate. Some stayed in Latvia but moved to the larger port cities of Libau, also called Liepaja, in the south, and Windau in the north, where there was greater economic activity. Others, either using these cities as jumping-off points or leaving directly from Kuldiga, emigrated to the U.S. or South Africa.

 

One of the causes that allowed for emigration was the development in maritime transportation that both increased the number of emigrants and pointed them in specific directions. Not only did steamship services become more affordable, more regular and safer, but agents of large European shipping lines posted in Russia encouraged potential emigrants to travel to destinations according to the economic needs of the shipping companies. "Package deals" for Baltic Jews to South Africa, travelling via England, were one such incentive; passage to the U.S. via Hamburg was another.

 

Evacuation of Jews during First World War

 

 

By 1935 the Jewish population had declined to only nine percent of the town's 7000 inhabitants. Much of this decline was due to the fact that during the First World War, the Jews of Courland were banished to the interior of Russia as suspected German sympathizers. During the course of the war many community buildings and Jewish houses were destroyed. After the war about a third of the Jews returned to the town and the community was rehabilitated with the help of the "Joint" (a relief agency of American Jewry). The Jews gradually re-consolidated their position and in 1935, of the 205 shops and businesses in the town, 95 were owned by Jews.

 

The Holocaust in Kuldiga and end of the Jewish community

 

 

Kuldiga_synagogue_after_the_shoa.jpg

On August 23, 1939, the Soviet Army established bases in Latvia and in the summer of 1940 a Soviet regime was installed. Jewish public institutions were gradually liquidated. After the Nazi invasion of Russia in June 1941, about one-tenth of the Jews of Kuldiga succeeded in escaping to the interior of Russia. The young men among them were conscripted into the Soviet Army. On July 1, 1941, when the Nazis occupied the city, the majority of the Jewish community were still there. Immediately thereafter Latvian fascists began rioting against the Jews and murdered several of them, instigated by Nazi propaganda. The remaining Jews were ordered to perform forced labor.

 

During 1941-2, Jews were concentrated and were systematically murdered in pits which they had been forced to dig in various places in the city. Some were taken to be murdered in the Padura Forest, a few kilometres from the town. The Kuldiga Jews were thereby destroyed by the beginning of 1942, the property of the Jews was divided among their murderers and the Torah scrolls were put into the municipal archives.

 

Several Jews, hidden by farmers, survived. The town was liberated by the Soviets in 1944. After the war a number of families returned to the town. Some of these Jews were killed by opponents of the Soviet regime. The survivors brought back the remains of those murdered for a Jewish burial and the Torah scrolls were returned to the Jews who organized services. The synagogue however, which had been converted into a movie house, was not returned (and remains today a cinema). Over time the survivors left the town, many of them made aliyah to Israel and the community ceased to exist, ending the approximately 150 year history of the Jewish community of Kuldiga.

 

The Brachmann family of Kuldiga

 

As mentioned, the modern settlement of Jews in Kuldiga can be traced to 1795 when Kuldiga was annexed by Russia and Jews were given civic rights to live there as citizens. It appears that it was during this first wave of Jews settling in Kuldiga, circa 1800, when the Brachman family arrived, though it is possible they had been in the area since 17th century or earlier.

 

The first mention of the name Brachmann residing in Kuldiga is found in the 1842 family register in the State Historical Archives in Riga that shows the names of Jewish families then resident in Goldingen (Kuldiga), together with first names, father’s name, occasionally age and some comments. The list was transcribed and donated by Dr. Martha Lev-Zion of Ben Gurion University (www.jewishgen.org/courland/goldingen_1842.htm). 

 

 

 In this register, it lists two Brachmann names: Baruch son of Heyman Brachmann (no. 227) and Chaim son of Baruch Brachmann (no. 5).

 

It seems from this list that the name Brachmann came from the name Baruch, similar to the other names on the list, whose surname is a derivative of their first name. As, for example, the Hirsch’s family name is Hirschberg and Ahron is Ahronsberg, similarly, Baruch would have become Brachmann. 

 

The father of Baruch Brachmann is Heyman. The only Heyman on the 1842 list is a Heymann son of Salomon Nogaller (no. 125), who may have been the grandfather. It seems that Nogaller comes from a name of nearby district in Courland with a similar name.

 

From the Kuldiga register of 1842, it appears that Heyman had an extensive family, in addition to his son Baruch, as one can see many of them associated their family names with the patriarchal name Heyman. It is possible that the following list of people in the 1842 register were sons of Heyman: Salomon son of Heyman Glatzmann; Levin son of Heymann Heymansohn; Behr son of Heymann Weinberg; Daniel son of Heymann Braneburger; and Abraham son of Heymann Shachter.

 

The following could have been his grandchildren: Josel son of Salomon Heyman; Behr son of Abraham Heyman.In addition, there is an Isaac Blumberg son of Samuel, listed as nephew to Heymann Salomon Nogaller, and Levin son of Samuel Blumberg, also nephew to Heymann Salomon Nogaller. Finally, there is also a Levin son of Michel Heymansohn; Salomon son of Chaim Heymann; and Levin son of Chaim Heymann.

 

Although it can’t be proven with certainty they were all related, it is likely they were, as would have been typical to life of a Shtetl. The family would thus have appeared to have been well settled in Kuldiga, as the Heyman/Brachmann family.

 

1799 tax register of Jews of Kuldiga

 

There is also an earlier register of Jews of Kuldiga that is dated 1799, called the “Goldingen Oklad (tax) 1799” and is among the earliest of the Courland archival records. It was microfilmed in 1940 and is now held by the Herder Institute at the University of Marburg, Germany. The copies were made from a set held by the Family History Library of the Mormon Church, and is used with the permission of the Herder Institute.

 

In the Goldingen Oklad (tax) 1799 register (www.jewishgen.org/courland/goldingen.htm), there are two listings with the name Heymann. This could have been Baruch’s father, Heyman, mentioned in the 1842 census. One is listed as Heymann son of Salomon Marcus and Rive. His brother was also called Marcus. Another listing is Heymann Salomon, whose mother was Mine and brother Boroch and sister Dewora.

 

If this is so, it would then appear that the Brachmann family was one of the earlier families to arrive in the 18th century in Kuldiga and grew to be a sizable family in the town with many relatives.

 

We can deduce from the above the following possible lineage from 1799 to 1842: Salomon, Heyman, Boruch Brachmann and Chaim Brachmann.

 

Other related Brachmann's are listed in the Courland register, as army recruits, inlcuding Fabian Brachmann son of Henoch, born in 1819, and Baruch son of Henoch, born in 1816, both residents of Kuldiga (http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?gl=39&gsln=Hennoch&gsln_x=XO). They appear to be brothers, both sons of Henoch. Other Brachmanns found in Kuldiga are Abraham Brachmann and Meta Brachmann (http://unclaimedpoliciesswissre.org/)

 

Aron son of Chanoch Brachmann

 

 

 The next Brachmann family member of the 19th century listed to be born in Kuldiga is Aron Brachmann son of Chanoch. As Aron was likely born around 1850, he is not recorded in the 1842 register.

 

Aron Brachmann.JPG

Aron Brachmann married Clara Danziger, born in Kuldiga on 11 January, 1857. Aron and Clara had three children: Freide (born 12 December, 1892), Golda - Paula (19 September, 1882 -1962) and Shalom Shachna - Sasha (Sidney), born 1897. 

(www.liepajajews.org/ps03/ps03_289.htm) 

 

(Picture of Aron Brachmann, thanks to Hugo and Chava Agmon. On the back of picture it states: "A C Brachmann, d. 1938 Libau". It is unclear what the C stands for. It is possible he had a second name or alternatively it refers to his father Chanoch.) 

 

It is likely that Chanoch, father of Aron, was the son of Chaim Brachmann. Chanoch must have then been about fifteen years old in 1842, and had Aron in 1850’s, as Aron later married Clara, who was born in 1857. The youthfulness of Chanoch in 1842 (around 15 years old) is the reason for omission of his name in the 1842 census.

 

Klara Brachmann2.jpg

We would then have a clear line of the Brachmann family of Kuldiga from 1799 to 1938, as follows: Salomon, Heyman, Baruch, Chaim, Chanoch and Aron.

 

(Picture of Clara Brachmann, thanks to Hugo and Chava Agmon. On the back of the picture it states: "d. 1941. Killed by the German Nazis")  

 

Brachmanns leave Kuldiga for Liepaja

 

Many of the Brachmann family did not stay in Kuldiga, however; they moved further west to Liepaja, a port city on the Baltic Sea and third biggest city in Latvia. There is evidence that Aron and Clara both died in Liepaja. In a Holocaust person sheet it states Clara was born in Kuldiga and was killed by the Nazis in Liepaja in 1941 (www.liepajajews.org/ps03/ps03_289.htm)

 

Aron died on 30 November 1938 in Liepaja and is buried in the Jewish cemetery in Liepaja. His burial is listed in the Liepaja Jewish Cemetery book 1935-1941 with the name Aron son of Chanoch Bruchman, passed away 30 November, 1938 / 8 Kislev, 5699 (www.liepajajews.org/cem/1935_41.htm).


Another entry in the Liepaja Jewish Cemetery book 1935-1941 is Abram son of Chanoch Bruchman, passed away 4 January, 1935 / 1 Shvat, 5695. It is likely that Aron and Abram, who died in Liepaja 2 years apart, were brothers, both sons of Chanoch.

 

The name that appears in Liepaja Jewish Cemetery book 1935-1941 is spelled however Bruchman. As it explains in the introduction to the cemetery book, the names are recorded from the Hebrew without concern for precise spelling in the English.

 

The former president of the Jewish community of Liepaja, Ilana Ivanova, found listed in the Jewish cemetery of Liepaja the following Brachmann names:  

1. Itzig – sector C-row 12- grave 13

2. Chane Beile- sector F-row 15-grave 37- grave No.1076

3. Dawid –sector M-row 6- grave 3- grave No.127

4. Itzik –sector N-row 21-grave 14

5. Dwore-sector M-row 7- grave 41- gvae No. 992

6. Riwke-sector M- row 4-grave 58- grave No.636

7. Abrahm –sector N-row 21- grave 11-grave No.154C

8. Aron –sector F-row 6- grave 47- grave No. 568C

 

When did Brachmann’s leave Kuldiga?

 

It is not known with certainty when the Brachmann family left Kuldiga for Liepaja. However, it could not have been before 1897, as Shalom was born in Kuldiga in 1897. 

 

There were three waves when Jews left Kuldiga. The first was during the 19th century, when Jews were looking for greater economic opportunities and they moved to the major strategic port cities of Liepaja (Libau) and Windau, where there was greater economic activity.

 

The second wave was the evacuation of the Jews during the First World War, when the Jews of Courland were banished to the interior of Russia as suspected German sympathizers. During the course of the war many community buildings and Jewish houses were destroyed and after the war only about a third of the Jews returned to the town.

 

The third wave was after the Nazi invasion of Russia in June 1941, when about one-tenth of the Jews of Kuldiga succeeded in escaping to the interior of Russia and many were conscripted. The majority of those who stayed were rounded up and shot by the Nazis.

 

As the Brachmann's moved to Liepaja, rather than the Russian interior, it would seem the migration of the Brachmann family from Kuldiga was in the 19th or beginning of the 20th century, due to economic reasons, rather than political, not long after the birth of Freide.  

 

Uliha 58 picture.jpg

Brachmann's Liepaja home

 

The Aron and Clara Brachmann home in Liepaja, in December, 1938, was at Uliha iela 58-1 (pictured), a wooden exterior apartment building, located on the corner of Leona Paegles street

(www.liepajajews.org/ps03/ps03_289.htm)

 

This can still be seen almost without any changes today. This was located with the help of Liepaja Holocaust survivor, Professor Ed Anders, who lived two blocks north on the same street.   In 1941, the building contained three apartments with a total of 23 people. In apartment 1 lived the Brachmann and Glaser family, 6 people; in apartment 2 lived the Schalmann family, 8 people; in apartment 3 lived the Sadowitz, Westermann and Finkelstein family members, 8 people. 

 

Henry, Paula and Freida.jpg

(Picture: Freide with her sister, Paula, together with Paula's son Henry Alperstein on a visit to Libau from South Africa before WWII) 

 

The list of people in the building was as follows (Ed Anders): 

 

Brachmann Clara 11 Jan 1857 Kuldiga Ulicha 58-1 1941 Killed

Glaser Freide 12 Dec 1892 Kuldiga Ulicha 58-1 abt 1941 Killed

Glaser Hena 3 Apr 1927 Liepaja Ulicha 58-1 1941 Killed

Glaser Henoch 1 Jan 1932 Liepaja Ulicha 58-1 abt 1941 Killed?

Glaser Josef abt 1892 ? Ulicha 58-1 abt 1941 Killed?

Glaser Selma 8 Feb 1930 Liepaja Ulicha 58-1 1941 Killed

Sachs Chaja 14 Jul 1886 Grobina Ulicha 58-2 abt 1941 Killed

Schalmann Abram 1900 ? Ulicha 58-2 abt 1941 Killed

Schalmann Eda 25 Mar 1931 Liepaja Ulicha 58-2 abt 1941 Killed

Schalmann Esther 27 Sep 1924 Liepaja Ulicha 58-2 abt 1941 Killed

Schalmann Feige 7 Mar 1897 __ LT Ulicha 58-2 abt 1941 Killed, NoHusband?

Schalmann Mordechai 15 Aug 1929 Liepaja Ulicha 58-2 abt 1941 Killed

Schalmann Pnina 3 Jun 1921 Liepaja Ulicha 58-2 abt 1941 Killed

Schalmann Schifre 1 Mar 1926 Liepaja Ulicha 58-2 abt 1941 Killed?

Finkelstein Scheine 15 Feb 1936 Liepaja Ulicha 58-3 abt 1941 Killed 

Sadowitz Jankel-Jakob 1 Feb 1906 Grodno/PL Ulicha 58-3 Feb 1942 Killed

Sadowitz Josef-Naftali 13 Feb 1936 Liepaja Ulicha 58-3 Feb 1942 Killed

Sadowitz Kalman 17 Jun 1932 Grobina Ulicha 58-3 Feb 1942 Killed

Sadowitz Mascha 28 May 1902 Grobina Ulicha 58-3 Feb 1942 Killed

Westermann Aron 1882 Liepaja? Ulicha 58 23 Jul 1941 Killed

Westermann Daniel 1922 Liepaja Ulicha 58 23 Jul 1941 Killed

Westermann Scheine 19 Dec 1883 Palanga/LT Ulicha 58-3 abt 1941 Killed

Zibul Motke 15 Jan 1922 Rezekne Barenu 34-2 abt 1941 Killed?

 

Brachmann’s leave Liepaja


On the Liepaja Jews' "Person Sheet” where it lists the death of Clara Brachmann, it mentions in a footnote that her daughter, Paula, moved to South Africa and Shalom (Sacha) moved to England. Incidentally, it was when they left Latvia they would have changed the name from Brachmann to Brackman (www.liepajajews.org/ps03/ps03_289.htm).

 

The information that Paula moved to South Africa and Shalom to England is true but incomplete, as Shalom also moved to South Africa, most likely together or around the same time as Paula, before Shalom moved to England. They both lived in King William's Town in South Africa, where there was a small Jewish community and synagogue.

 

Chazkel and Paula.jpgPaula stayed however in King William's Town and married Chazkel Alperstein (11 Feb 1882 - 17 Aug 1951) from King William's Town on 4 August 1913. Chazkel was one of four children: Gutman (married Keila Zaarchi), Sarah (married Aaron Ogus), Nochum and Chazkel. Their father was Solomon Halevi Alperstein, married to Chaia Vadoniski (b. 1851) and grandfather Yankel Alperstein.

 

They had five children: Henry (20 June 1914 -17 Jan 1967), Clara Chaye (Dolly) (6 Jan 1916 -22 April 1978), Selma (b. 7 March 1920), Mendel (22 Oct 1921 - 9 Dec 1984) and Hagai Agmon formerly Hugo Chaim Alperstein (22 March 1924). 

 

Chatskel Alperstein was a Town Councillor for over 20 years, as well as a member of the Divisional Council as well. He was also the president of the Hebrew Congregation in 1948. His son Henry Alperstein was mayor of the town for several terms of office and also the secretary of the Zionist Association in 1948 (Markowitz, SA Jewish Times 1948; Rybko W. “A Zionist Lecture Tour Zionist Record. 25 June 1948; jewishgen.org/safrica/communities). There is a street named after the Alperstein's in the town, Alpestein Road.

 

A son of Henry, Alan Alperstein, is a professor at University of Cape Town (Oxford student from East London, South Africa). Selma married Mr. Solly Furman and she lives today in Johannesburg at 93 years old with her daughter Avrille Miller (Chava Agmon). 

 

Hugo was born 22 March, 1924, married Chava, who descended from the great 16th century Jewish legalist Joseph Caro, and they moved to Israel on 4 January, 1947. Hugo changed his name to Chagai and surname to Agmon. According to Chava, this was propsed by Ben Gurion, who reasoned that as Alperstein begins with the Hebrew letter 'Aleph' and ends with 'nun', they should choose Agmon that has the same beginning and ending letters. Hugo went on to fight in Israel's War of Independence and was Chief instructor commander of IAF flight Sorkin and Chief pilot and director of operations Arkia (http://test.saii.org.il/alphabetical-list.html?sobi2Task=sobi2Details&catid=28&sobi2Id=71). Chava and Hugo have two children. Yael lives in Israel and Edna in the UK. 

 

A possible reason why Paula and Shalom moved to South Africa rather than the US was due to fact that the large European shipping lines posted in Russia were encouraging potential emigrants to travel to destinations according to the economic needs of the shipping companies. It appears that "package deals" for Baltic Jews to travel to South Africa, via England, were one such incentive.

 

Shalom seems to have changed his name to Sidney when he arrived in South Africa and served in the First World War in South Africa until he was discharged on 5 February, 1919, at 22 years old.

 

Sidney became a naturalized citizen of the Union of South Africa a year earlier on 27 October, 1918. On the Certificate of Naturalization it registers him as a native of Russia and Russian. The place of residence mentioned is Kings William's Town, province of Cape of Good Hope - the same city where, as mentioned, Paula marries Chazkel Alperstein.

 

Not long after Sidney was discharged from the army, he moved to Manchester, England, while Paula and her family remained in South Africa.  

 

Manchester 

 

As mentioned, Sidney moved to Manchester, while his sister and four children remained in South Africa. The reason Sidney moved to Manchester and not to London or another country is that George Fitelson also from Courland had immigrated to England around 1850, got married to Rose Danziger in 1886, and had a daughter Chaya. The Brachmann and Fitelson families were close relatives. In fact, Chaya and Sidney were first cousins and their families would have likely known each other from Kuldige.

 

Sidney's mother, Clara, would have been either a Danziger or a Fitelson before she married Aaron Brachmann. There is indeed a mention of a Danziger family on the 1842 census in Kuldige. Alternatively, Clara was a Fitelson. Although there is no listing of Fitelson on the census in Kuldige, on the British census where George Fitelson's name is mentioned, it records his country of origin Courland in Russia, the same place where the Brachmann's hailed from.

 

Accordingly, whether Clara Brachmann was a Danziger or a Fitelson, when the daughter of Yitzchak Danziger, Rose (Reizel), born in 1862, married George (Gershon) Fitelson from Boston, Lincolnshire, formerly Courland, in 1886, in the Great Synagogue in Manchester, their daughter Annie Grace - Chaya would have been first cousin of Sidney Brackman, whether from the Danziger side or the Fitelson side. This would have explained Sidney's choice at the age of about 20 to leave South Africa for Manchester,n England where he married his wife and first cousin Chaya.

 

Danziger

 

Yitzchak Danziger was born in Russia (most likely Courland, as mentioned, then a part of Russia) about 1830 and immigrated to England, settling in Durham, Sunderland, before 1861. He first appears on the 1861 census as living at 13 Sans St., Sunderland, working as a furniture broker. On 20 March, 1855, Yitzchak married Rachel Leah Friedlander, who was born in Prussia about 1834. They married in the synagogue in Durham, Sunderland.

 

Yitzchak and Rachel Leah had together eleven children, all born in Durham: Samuel, born 1875; Blanche, born 1878; Dora, born 1866; Girshon George, born 1864; Levin, born 1869 (d. 10 April 1904, 4 Pentworth St, Cheetham); Theodore, born 1859; Anna, born 1855; Rose, born 1862; Rebecca, born 1867 (d. 15 March 1904, 4 Petworth St, Cheetham); and Jacob Joseph, born 1856.

 

By 1881 they had moved to 107 Bury New Rd., Cheetham, in Manchester - the address on the wedding invitation of Rose and George Feitelson in 1886, and in 1901 census it states they had moved to 4 Petworth Street, Cheetham. Yiztchak and Rachel Leah celebrated their Golden Wedding in 1905 (Jewish Chronicle announcement) and she passed away 14 June, 1917, living then at 79 Elizabeth St., Manchester, Lancs.

 

(Danziger family: www.british-jewry.org.uk/leedsjewry/getperson.php?personID=I26433&tree=1)


Fitelson family in Boston, Linconshire

  

Rose_Danziger,_George_Fitelson_and_Grace_01.08.1922.jpgAs mentioned, George Fitelson was born in Courland, part of Russia, and immigrated to England and settled in Boston Lincolnshire. He married Rose Danziger in 1886 in Manchester, where Rose was born after the Danziger's had moved from Durham to Manchester. After their marriage, George and Rose Fitelson, continued to live in Boston, Lincolnshire, where they had five children: Sigmond, Albert, Phillip, Eddy and Harry. They moved to Manchester some time between 1895 and 1899, where they had their sixth child Annie Grace - Chaya. 

 

(Picture: George (Gershon) and Rose (Reitzel) Fitelson with their daughter Grace - Chaya)

 

It is likely that as Boston was a port city, George Fitelson arrived at that Eastern port of England and remained there. In the Jewish Chronicle it is recorded (compiled by Anglo-Jewish historian Harold Pollins, Oxford) that George Fitelson played an important role in the Jewish community of Boston, Lincolnshire. He lived or worked on Emery Lane and is recorded as having served as the President of the Boston Hebrew Congregation in 1892. It records also during that year he was raising funds for the community. On 2 October, 1892, it's recorded he was unanimously re-elected as president of the synagogue. In his capacity as president, he was authorised by the Board of Deputies in November, 1892, to certify for the first time, in the person of a Mr Marks Goldstein, a Registrar for Marriages for the Boston Hebrew Congregation. On 24 February, 1893, it is recorded that Mrs. Rose Fitelson was involved in raising funds for the Sefer Torah for the synagogue from friends in London. Evidently, this was successful as later the donation of a mantle is recorded. On 25 Aug, 1893, it states that the congregation was advertising for the hiring of a single youngle man as a Shochet for £30 per annum. From all the above, it would seem George and Rose Fitelson were pillars of the Jewish community while they lived in Boston.

 

On 30 March, 1894, the Jewish Chronicle mentions that a new president was elected, Mr. A Canin, as part of a reorganisation of the congregation. On 22 February, 1895, there is an entry that the Board of Deputies transfers one of the Marriage Register Books of the extinct congregation at Boston (Lincolnshire) to the Board. It would seem then that by 1894/5, the Fitelson had already moved to Manchester due to the decline of the Jewish community in Boston. though it appears Jews continued to live in Boston up until the First World War.

 

The fact that Boston was a place for the arrival of Jews from Russia is evident from the following entry in the Jewish Chronicle on 22 february, 1895 (page 13): ‘Thirty-five Russian Jews arrived at Boston (Lincolnshire) in a more or less destitute condition on Tuesday evening They were, in the first instance, expelled from Russia, travelled to Egypt, and were there sent to Alexandria, from which port they were despatched by a local Committee in a cotton vessel, the “Palatine” to Boston. They were landed on Wednesday morning, and received by Mrs. L. Szapira, who provided them with food and clothing. One family possessed sufficient money to proceed to America, but the rest were totally destitute, and in accordance with their wish were forwarded to London. One woman is left with seven children, her husband having remained in Alexandria, and a girl sustained a fractured arm on the voyage. There was practically no accommodation for the party on the vessel, and many of them slept among the ship’s coal supply en route’.

 

On 8th March, 1895 it continues: 'After a fortnight’s stay in Boston the last of the immigrants who were brought by the steamer ’Palatine’, with the exception of two, left Boston on Tuesday for Liverpool, en route for America. During their stay in Boston they were provided by food by Mrs Szipire [sic] and Mr Robinson, of with the help of other kind friends. The two remaining in Boston (man and wife) are to be started in business.'


On 8 March, 1895, the Jewish Chronicle states: 'Meeting of Russo-Jewish Committee on 8 February. ‘Letters of acknowledgement were … ordered to be sent to Mrs Szapira, and the Mayor of that town in recognition of the humanity with which the refugees had been treated at Boston’.

 

Finally, on 22 March 1895 (page 7), in concludes: 'Refers to the court case at Newcastle upon Tyne Police Court. ‘swift and condign punishment has overtaken the captain who brought 38 Jewish passengers from Alexandria to Boston (Lincs) in the “Palatine”, under circumstances which are most discreditable’.


Whether this was an isolated incident or not is impossible to know from this single story in the Jewish Chronice, but one can seemingly deduce that the city and port in Boston served as a point of entry for Jews from Russia to England.

 

Manchester

 

Sidney, born in 1897, immigrated to Manchester, where he opened a Kosher bakery in 1921 called 'Brackmans Bakery' on Leicester Road - the same time when the row of shops were being built - while living nearby on Northumberland Street. He employed Sydney Adlleman at the bakery for a number of years and when it was time for retirement in 1964, Mr. Adlleman bought the bakery from the Brackmans. As the bakery was established and its name had a good reputation, the family name was retained and Brackmans Bakery is currently the longest standing Kosher bakery in Manchester, operating for over 90 years with the same name. 

 

Sidney married Grace Chaya Feitelson (Filson), orginally from Boston, Lincolnshire, and in 1928 had a son Derek Shmuel. They also had a second son Harry, who passed away at a young age. Derek would reocunt how he would assist in the family bakery before Pesach and busy periods, while he went on to study at Manchester University and received a PhD in chemistry.

 

Derek received a post doctoral research fellowship in April, 1953, at the School of Chemistry, University of Minnesota, and got married in London to Sora Angyalfi, who was studying also at Manchester, before they moved to London, where he worked in industry with ICI and BICC. He raised a large family of seven boys and 2 girls, some of whom became rabbis in different communities in England and the US, including the author of this research, who lives in Oxford with his family.  

 

Grace Brackman nee Feitelson passed away late 1950's and Sidney remarried on Sunday, 25 June, 11 Tammuz 1961 Milly (Malka) Carason.

 

Feitelson family

 

Grace (Chaya) Feitelson was the daughter of George (Gershon) and Rose (Raisel) Feitelson. 

 

As seen on the wedding invitation, George and Rose got married at the Great Synagogue, York Street, Cheetham, Manchester, on Wednesday, 7th April / 2 Nissan, 1886. George’s father's name was Chaim.

 

Rose's parents were Yitzchak and Mrs. Danziger, who lived then in Manchester at 155 Bury New Road.  The Feitelson family, as mentioned on the wedding invitation, lived in Boston, Lincolnshire.

 

The Feitelson's and Danziger thus lived in England at least since 1886, though most likely earlier.

 

Elderly Brachmann family stays in Liepaja with young family

  

Aron and Clara and their daughter Freide unfortunately never left Liepaja, perhaps due to old age of Aron and Clara and Freide not wantng to leave them alone or for economic reasons.

 

Freide married Josef Glasser, also originally from Kuldiga, born around 1892, most likely a descendent of Schmuel ben Juddel Glasser, who is mentioned in the 1842 register of Kuldiga. Freide and Josef had three children: Hena, born 1927, Selma, born 1930, and Henoch, born 1932. 

 

Liepaja (Libau) and the Holocaust

 

Liepaja Holocaust.jpg

The tragic end of the Brachmann family who remained in Liepaja was in the Holocaust in 1941 when Clara, Freide, her husband Josef, and their three children under 15 years old were murdered by the Nazis with the assistance the of Latvian auxiliary police.

 

With the conquest of Liepaja by the Germans on 29 June, 1941, the Jewish population counted over 7,100 people and immediately the systematic extermination began. The killings took pace principally in three places: in "Rainis Park" in the city centre, where there were trenches dug by Latvians for the defense of Liepaja; a small fishing port near the Lighthouse at the entrance of the Port; in trenches dug in the dunes near Shkeden on the beach, where most of the shootings took place.

 

On 30 June, the day after the invasion, there were random shootings of Jews who showed up to work in Liepāja by German soldiers. About 100 Jews were killed in these shootings. On 3 and 4 July, 1,430 Jews were killed in the park in the centre of Liepaja. However due to complaints of the locals, this location was no longer used for executions. Another supposed revenge mass shooting took place on 7 July. Between 8th and 10 July, around 600 were shot, shooting ten at a time. According to testimony, around 200 were killed each day.

 

Shootings of small groups of Jews continued after 10 July, occurring every evening. This was a pattern particular to SS-Untersturmführer Wolfgang Kügler’s administration in Liepaja.

 

A major execution took place on 24th and 25th of July, when about 1,100 men were assembled on the "Hauptwachplatz" and after their papers and valuables were taken from them, were transported to the port near the lighthouse and killed. This was done by the urging of German naval commandant in Liepaja, Fregattenkapitän Dr. Hans Kawelmacher, to accelerate the killings.

 

The killings continued in August but on a lesser scale. From 30 August to 10 December, 1941, there were a large number of shootings, in which about 600 Jews were killed near the harbor and the light house during this period (Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at page 33, n.81).

 

The largest killings took place on the beach near Shkeden. On three days, 15-17 Dec, 2,731 Jews were shot on the beach.

 

By the end of June 1942 the Ghetto of Liepaja was founded, where the remaining 816 people including 175 males were settled. The Ghetto lasted for 18 months, before being dismantled on 18 October, 1943, when all the inhabitants were transported to the "Kaiserwald" Camp near Riga. Of those who were sent there, 360 people were sent to Auschwitz. When Liepaja was liberated by the Russians, only 40 Jews were found alive.

 

In one of these many shootings, Clara Brachmann, who was a widow of 84 years old, her daughter Freide, 49, as well as husband Josef Glasser, and three of Freida's children, Hena 14, Selma 11, and Henoch 9, were all killed into mass graves in Liepaja.

 

May their memory be a blessing and live on in the lives of what is now many children and grandchildren who survived.

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