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YEZERSKI/JEZERSKI Family of Vilna
In January of 1892, YANKEL
(JACOB) YEZERSKI, of the Shtetl Vievis, married BASSIA (BESSIE) KARELSKA
of Sorok Tatary in Poland. They initially lived just outside of Vilna
in Szkaplerna, but after awhile moved to Vilna so that YANKEL could
make a better living as a shoemaker.
The first child to leave
Vilna was the oldest, CHAVA. She emigrated to the US in 1917, married,
had 3 children, and settled in Nashua, New Hampshire. The second child
to leave was DASHA. She traveled to Berlin, Germany, worked as a secretary
for a short time, then emigrated to the US in 1921 and settled in New
York City. The next to leave Vilna was YANKEL. He emigrated to the US
in 1926, and after a brief stay in New York City, moved to Nashua, New
Hampshire, living with his daughter CHAVA, and her husband, until he
could get established.
of YANKEL YEZERSKI taken in US in 1930
With Yankel now working in
New Hampshire he sent for his wife and youngest daughter. In 1928, as
they attempted to leave, BRAJNA, was prevented from boarding the ship
because of a leg deformity. Her mother left without her and BRAJNA returned
to Vilna to live with her sister CHYENE and here two daughters. She
remained in Vilna for another year and was finally permitted to leave
Poland the following year. At 15 years of age she made the journey to
Ellis Island alone.
The brothers, SHOLEM and
YITZHAK, immigrated to Argentina, married, and settled in Buenos Aires.
During this period, YANKEL and BASSIA, now living together in New Hampshire,
had a small business making sandwiches and selling them to the local
factory workers. The money they saved all went to getting their children
out of Poland. In October 1936, their daughter CHYENE, and her two daughters,
SONIA(SHIRLEY) and RIVKA(RUBY),were able to leave Vilna and emigrate
to the US. CHYENE's husband, FEIVEL SZERESZNIEWSKA, an excellent tailor,
had died in Vilna a few years before of war related wounds.
In 1941, ROCHEL, was now
married to MEYER KORT, and had two daughters, MERA(15) and PESIA(13).The
lived at 13 Stephanska UL., in Vilna. They had received enough funds
from YANKEL to get Visa's, tickets, and the necessary paperwork to emigrate
to the US. Unfortunately, during this time, the Germans invaded Poland
and they were trapped. They attempted to leave by way of Russia, and
then to Japan, but the Japenese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941
and all avenues of exit were cut of for the family.
In 1947, a Holocaust survivor,
ROCHEL's sister-in-law, PESIA KLORIN YEZERSKA, arrived in the US and
told the family that MEYER and ROCHEL had been shot by the Germans in
Vilna, and that the two daughters had been taken away by the German
soldiers never to be seen again. This apparently took place sometime
in late 1941 or early 1942.
In 1935, YUDEL, an accountant,
had married PESIA KLORIN, and they settled at #5 Makowa Ul., in Vilna.
Both were professionally employed and running a very good business.
They had no interest in leaving Vilna and emigrating to the US. In 1938,
PESIA gave birth to a son, SAMUEL. In 1941, the Germans occupied Vilna
and shortly thereafter YUDEL and his family were forced to move into
the Vilna Ghetto. PESIA witnessd her father, SIMCHA JACOB KLORIN, taken
from his apartment, in July 1941, to be executed at Ponary. Her mother
was taken in December 1942 and also executed at Ponary.
However, PESIA, YUDEL and
SAMUEL remained alive and together, and "fortunate" enough
to work at the H.K.P. Lager, in the Ghetto, under an SS Major Plagge.
One German that at least tried to keep as many Jews alive as possible.
The family remained together, and alive, until March 27, 1944, when
early in the morning, after the men had left for work, "uniformed
soldiers" entered the camp and forcibly removed as many children
as they could find. PESIA was struck in the face with a rifle butt,
blinding her in one eye, while attempting to fight off the soldiers.
SAMUEL was taken, along with the other children, and shipped to Auschwitz
and killed in the gas chambers. YUDEL was never the same after that
incident and apparently had lost his interest in living. He began taking
very dangerous chances, like smuggling food, and other items, into the
ghetto. It was during the Russian liberation of Vilna in 1944, that
YUDEL was shot and killed, but PESIA survived.
It was also at this time
that YANKEL was able to bring his son SHOLEM and his family to the US
from Argentina. His other son, YUDEL, chose to emigrate with his family
to Israel, from Argentina, were he remains the only living child of
YANKEL and BASSIA YEZERSKI..
Photo, from left to right, of ROCHEL CHYENE, and BRAJNA, taken In Vilna, Poland around 1925