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List of Jewish Survivors from Kolomyya, Ukraine
and their Former Residential Addresses
By Professor Emeritus John M. Hoenig, PhD

BACKGROUND

This project started around 2003 as a collaboration between Claire Hisler Shefftz and John M. Hoenig. The goal was to make a list of Holocaust survivors from Kolomyya available to researchers through the medium of JewishGen. For some reason long forgotten, the project was never completed. Claire passed away in 2020 and John lost track of the location of the list. Recently, he relocated the list and completed the project. Dov Noy and Alex Sharon provided advice and corrections for an early version of the computerized list. However, any errors are the responsibility of John Hoenig. Because there are probably very few copies of this list in existence, JewishGen has made a copy of the original lists available here.

Below are three paragraphs drafted by Claire (and edited by John) about the origin of the list. The remaining material was written by John.

Source Document Background

This list, which shows no date or place of publication, has about 800 names on it. The original was four pages in the form of an 11” x 17” sheet of paper folded in half and printed, not mimeographed, on both sides. Claire Shefftz found it among the papers of her father, Aron Hisler, who died in 1984. Her guess was that her father had the list because he was financial secretary of the post-World War II Joint Kolomear Relief which sent packages to survivors in DP (Displaced Persons) camps and tried to help them and HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) locate their relatives in the US. When Claire found the list, she wrote to YIVO Institute for Jewish Research to ask about its origin. While they were unable to establish the history of the document, they said that many such lists were compiled throughout Poland immediately following the war. They checked the records they have of the Kolomear Friends Association, one of the Kolomear (Kolomyya) landmanshaften, but found no mention there.

The list may be a copy of the one mentioned in Lusia Borten’s chapter “In Kolomey Between 1944 and 1946” on p. 418 in Pinkes Kolomey, the Yiddish yizkor (remembrance) book published in 1957 (www.JewishGen.org/Yizkor/Kolomyya/Kolomyya.html). Lusia Borten tells that survivors during that period compiled a list based on what they learned from survivors who came to the city in search of their families. She writes that the list was sent to the Kolomear organization in America to be published in newspapers.

The list is by no means a complete one. Claire recognized some names as people her parents knew in New York after the war but did not see the names of other survivors they knew. The inclusion of parents’ names in the list makes it useful for tracing families. The street names may be different today since some of them honor Polish heroes (Stanislwowska, Kosciuszki, Pilsudskiego) and may have been changed under subsequent Soviet and Ukrainian governments. In a few cases, occupations, maiden names, and home towns other than Kolomyya are given. Unfortunately, the format is not always consistent or clear. Thus, the distinction between the survivor’s name and the names of the survivor’s parents may not be clear; similarly, it may take some effort to distinguish between a town name and the name of a street in Kolomyya.

Historical Background

Luisa Borten, like many people on the yizkor book list, survived by leaving Kolomyya with the Russian army when it retreated in June 1941 after the Germans attacked Russia. Until then, Kolomyya and that area of eastern Poland had been under Russian rule from September 1939 as pre-arranged by a pact between Germany and Russia before the German attack on Poland on September 1, 1939. Other survivors found local Poles or Ukrainians who, despite the danger to themselves and their families, helped them hide or escape over the Carpathian Mountains to Hungary or Romania. Most of those who returned soon found out that they were the sole survivors of their families and moved on, many to Israel and some to America.

DATABASE

This database includes 823 survivors from Kolomyaa, Ukraine. The fields in the database are:

  • Surname – See Note A
  • Given name(s) – See Note A
  • Father’s name (nominative case) – See Note A
  • Father’s name (genitive case) – See Note A
  • Mother’s name (nominative case) – See Note A
  • Mother’s name (genitive case) – See Note A
  • Occupation – Polish term followed by English translation in parentheses
  • Street address – See Note B
  • Town – See Note B
  • Comments

Note A – Presentation of Names

In a few cases, two surnames are provided, as in Weiss r. Hilsenrath. Here, r. is an abbreviation for recte. In the database, WEISS appears in the field for Surname, HILSENRATH appears in the field for Other Surnames, and “surname is specified as Weiss r. (recte) Hilsenrath” appears in the field for Comments. In a few places, a surname may appear as Weiss/Hilsenrath or Weiss-Hilsenrath. Again, Weiss appears in Surname, Hilsenrath in the field for Other Surnames, and an explanation is given in Comments.

In Polish, nouns are conjugated (have declensions) depending on their role in the sentence or phrase. This pertains even to proper names. Thus, the name John will be spelled differently depending how it is used:

  • John has the book (John is the subject, nominative case)
  • Tom is the son of John (genitive case)

In the survivors list document, names are listed in the format - Surname Given-name(s) Name(s)-of-parent(s). For example: Bernstein Benjamin Jozef Chaima

In this case, the survivor is Benjamin Jozef Bernstein and his father is Chaim. We know this because Benjamin Jozef is in the nominative case while Chaim is in the genitive case. Here Chaima refers to “of Chaim”, i.e., Benjamin Jozef is the son of Chaim.

In the database, we give the names of parents in the familiar nominative case and the genitive case. In this way, the viewer can see the original use (in the list) as well as the common usage of the name.

To be clear, if Benjamin had been the son of Jozef Chaim, the entry would appear as

Bernstein Benjamin Jozefa Chaima 

In some cases, I (John Hoenig) was unfamiliar with the Polish names and did not provide the nominative case. Sometimes I was not sure if a name was in the nominative or genitive case (hence, whether the name was of a survivor or parent). In these cases, I added a note in the Comments field.

Note B – Street and Town Names

In general, street names may be incomplete and town names are towns of residence just before the war but could be the town where the survivor was born.

Street addresses might be complete, as in “ul. Zamkowa 23” where ul. Is an abbreviation for the Polish word for street, ulica. But, in some cases the street number may not have been known to the list compilers and the entry might be as simple as Zamkowa. Some of the survivors were from towns near Kolomyya. Thus, one might encounter town names like Jablonow or Zablowtow instead of a street address. Town names are often in Polish but sometimes in German. Some towns included in the database include: Berezow, Czortkow, Delatyn, Grunow, Gwozdziec, Jablonow, Kosow, Korszow, Krakow, Kuty, Lanczyn, Mikuliczyn, Obertyn, Oskrzesince, Peczenizyn, Tekucze, Turka (near Kolomyya), and Zablotow.

If it is important for the user to determine if an entry in the street field pertains to a town, we suggest the user check the 1929 Polish city directory for Kołomyja (available https://www.jri-poland.org/blog/the-1929-polish-business-directory-project/) to see if the name in question appears as a street in Kołomyja. There is one other complication: sometimes the town name appears in a phrase, as in “ze Stanislawowa” which means from Stanislawow. It is not clear if the two formats (just the town name versus stating the person was from a town) were meant to distinguish whether a person was originally from another town but lived in Kolomyya just before the war versus the person lived in the nearby town just before the war. The other possibility is that the data entry was simply not consistent and some people were entered with one format and others with the other format. The researcher will have to investigate these possibilities.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We thank Alex Sharon, Dov Noy, Alan Weiser and Ken Rzadek for comments on the database, Nadine Hoenig for technical assistance, and to Nolan Altman, Director of Special Projects and Coordinator of the Holocaust Database, for his continued devotion and dedication to JewishGen's important work.

              Claire Hisler Shefftz, January 2004                       John M. Hoenig, November 2023

SEARCHING THE DATABASE

This database can be searched via the JewishGen Holocaust Database or the JewishGen Unified Search


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