The book “Jewish Family Names and Their Origins” states that the name Zielinski comes from Zelin which is the Yiddish name of Zolnica (East Galicia).
When did the Zielinski family first arrive in Przedecz? In the “Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People” are some fragmentary civil records of births and marriages which took place in Przedecz in the mid-19th century. These records are written in Polish, in the Napoleonic format, as decreed by Napoleon at the beginning of the 19th century. Some of these records include the names of members of the Zielinski family, although the precise link with my branch of the family has as yet not been traced. One of these documents dated 1847, states how Nachman Zielinski, a tailor, who had lived in Przedecz for 22 years, and was the husband of Ryfki Zielinski aged 18, appeared in the Registry Office together with witnesses. to notify them of the birth of a girl. The girl had been named Marys in a Jewish religious ceremony. Another document dated 1854, states that Rabbi Auerbach notified the Registry Office of the marriage of Zalman Zielinski, aged 20, who lived in Przedecz, to Gitel Rubinska, a spinster aged 20, and daughter of Rechil and the late Michal Rubinstein. It certifies that three notices were given to the Registry Office before the marriage. The document is signed by Rabbi Auerbach and the Mayor of Przedecz. Zielinskis were therefore already in Przedecz in at least the early 19th century.
We also know from the “Acts” of the “Administration of Internal and Spiritual Affairs” of Przedecz from the year 1852 that a discussion or decision of the Jewish residents to raise the salary of the Rabbi was signed by Mordche Zielinski and Hersz Zielinski.
In a book-keeping book from Przedecz from the years 1833-1834, the name Abram Zielinski appears in the column listing income coming in from old order merchants of commodities.
My great-grandfather Zielinski was called Azriel and his wife’s name was Lieba. It would be fair to assume that Azriel was born in Przedecz and the date of his birth about 1840-1850. His wife was probably born about the same time, although the place of her birth is not known. Her maiden name was Niehaus. Azriel and Lieba were married in Przedecz on 6 January 1867.
Lieba died probably during the 1920s and Azriel in 1932. We know that the Yahrzeits for Azriel is on the Hebrew date 22 Tevet and for Lieba on the 3 Shevat. This makes the date of Azriel’s death as 1st January 1932.
[Incidentally, Monty Zielin’s younger daughter is named after these two great-grandparents of hers. Her name is Raizal Lieba. The name Raizal was taken from Azriel. Her English name Avril is even slightly closer in sound to Azriel!]
Towards the end of the 19th century, a brother of Azriel named Yeshuya (he was known as Shaya) came to live in England. He was a venerable old man who had a long white beard and he lived in the East End of London in Varden Street. He had 5 children - three sons and two daughters. The names of two of the sons were Moisha and Yisroel. The name of the other son (the youngest?) is not known. The daughters were called Rachel and Chava. The daughters were remembered as those who gave “wet kisses”! The son Yisroel had a greengrocery shop..Moisha had a son called Aron and a daughter called Beckey.
As far as can be ascertained (1) Azriel and Lieba had seven children - 3 boys and 4 girls. Their names were Alya (Eliyahu), Yeshayahu, Chaim, Sheva, Rachael. Sarah-Leah and Pese.
My grandfather kept up a regular correspondence with his family in Przedecz and would send them parcels of clothes. After he died in 1934, the contact with the family in Przedecz became very tenuous and only one or two of them kept in contact. Clothes parcels were still sent until the start of the Second World War, although I understand their financial situation was not such as to make this clothing a great necessity.
The war began with the German invasion of Poland and there was no further contact with Przedecz. In addition, right at the beginning of the war all the children of Chaim Zielinski moved from Stamford Hill (North London) to Edgware Middlesex (North West of London). Since the family in Przedecz did not know the address in Edgware, it is possible that even if they did write, letters were not forwarded to Edgware. To the best of the recollection of Betty Zielin, who used to send these parcels, she addressed them to Alya Zielinski, Zuma Kaliski (or Kaliska), POW Wlolclavek, Przedecz. Wlolclavek is the regional centre for Przedecz.
It is very likely that “Zuma Kaliski” is “in fact “Kilinskiago Street”. We know that after Alya’s rented house on the cornerof Warshavska Street was demolished, he moved to the opposite side of the New Market. That is where Kilinskiago Street is situated.
Although Chaim was the youngest in his family, since he was my grandfather, I will write about him first. He was born in Przedecz on 19 March 1876. (2)
He served in the Russian army (since at that period Poland was a province of Russia). After finishing his military service in 1905-06, he came over to London with the intention of using it as a staging post before continuing on to America. However he was introduced to my grandmother Hinda Reichert (Richardson) and they were married in 1907. My Grandmother had arrived in London in 1898 from a place in Poland called Golina (Gliniany), which was situated only about 50 kms. south west of Przedecz. My grandfather died on 23 January 1934 - 8 Shevat 5694.
The history of my grandparents’ descendants is well known and is in any case not part of the history of Przedecz and therefore will not be reported here.
Alya (Eliyahu) Zielinski
Of the three brothers Alya was the eldest, although it is not known whether any of his sisters was older than him. He was the only one of the family to visit England and he did so in 1913. His brother Chaim wanted him to stay. According to my mother Sally Simons (nee Zielinski), he said that he would not be able to bring up his children in the irreligious atmosphere of London. Monty Zielin has a different version and says that he wanted to bring his family, but because the First World War started, this idea had to be abandoned and he returned to Poland.
Alya (3) was a tailor and he would travel with his new new merchandise to the markets. He lived in Rynek Street (the New Market) in a square at the corner of Warshavska Street, right next to his brother Yeshayahu who lived at 1 Warshavska Street. The house in which he lived was rented from a non-Jew called Francis. This was a two family house, the other family living in this house was the family of Yoseph Goldman. Alya did his tailoring work from the house. Yoseph Goldman was a baker and his bakery was also in this house. At a later date, the owner Francis knocked down this house and built a 3 or 4 story house in its place. Alya then rented a house and a courtyard on the opposite side of the same street.
In the 1920s he went to Brazil in order to try and improve his financial position, but was not successful and so he returned to Przedecz and reopened his tailoring workshop.
He was religious and would pray in the “Chevrat Tehillim” and was one of those who helped to renovate this “Chevrat Tehillim”. He was also active in the Jewish Library and in the Drama Group.
Alya’s wife’s name was Rechil and they had four children, 3 sons and a daughter. The sons were called Reuven, Shmuel and Chaim-Alta (4) and the daughter was called Freida. Reuven was born in 1909.
Alya died between the end of 1937 and before the Holocaust.
Alya’s son Reuven was married to Zipporah, born 5 May 1912, the daughter of Isser and Rachael Morgenstern.
Like his father, Reuven was a tailor. He took part in the cultural life of the city and was a member of the Workers’ Movement. He had a son called Isser (very likely named after Reuven’s father-in-law) born on 18 September 1933 and a daughter called Channah born on 28 June 1937.
A few years before the Second World War, Reuven and his family moved to Lodz where they lived at 28 Rybna Street. This street was in the poorest quarter of the city and was next to the Old Jewish Cemetery of Lodz. When the Germans occupied Lodz, they changed all the street names to German ones and thus Rybna Street became Fischstrasse. We know that in 1937, Reuven was living in Lodz with his family. When in early 1940, the Germans set up a Jewish ghetto in a small area of Lodz into which they packed all the Jews, the address of Reuven’s family is given as Flat 10, 28 Fischstrasse. This may mean, that as a result of the entry of a large number of Jews into the street where they already lived, Reuven’s family were forced to occupy a smaller area in their building.
Reuven died on 16 December 1937 aged 28 and was buried the next day in the Lodz Jewish New Cemetery.
A list of residents who lived in the Lodz Ghetto, which was compiled in 1940, includes Zipporah and her two children.(5) Their surname appears as Zielinska and their first names as Cypra, Icek and Chana. The clerk who prepared the list erred in the last letter of the name Zielinski and wrote Icek in place of Isser.
About 1942, a new list of residents of the Lodz ghetto was prepared. With regards to the Zielinski family, at least, this list is more accurate and the surname is listed as Zielinski and the first names as Cypra, Hana and Isser. This list also states that the family was deported on 25 March 1942. We know that those deported from Lodz at that period were sent to Chelmno concentration camp and exterminated there, usually on the day of their arrival. The names of the members of the Zielinski family (together with the names of many other families) has a line through it, indicating they had been transported from the Lodz ghetto.
Alya’s son Shmuel was a member of the “Young Mizrachi” of Przedecz.
Yeshayahu was the second oldest of the brothers. He lived at 1 Warshavska Street in a house which he owned. Until 1925, the Gerer Hassidim had a Synagogue was located in a rented house in the courtyard of his house, but in that year it closed for financial reasons.
Yeshayahu was a tailor and had a workshop in which his children worked until they got married. His finished clothing was sold in the market.
His was married to Sarah (her maiden name is not known) and they had six children. They were called Chaim-Hersh, Woolf, Channah, Leah, Genendal and Sheina. All the children were members of the Jewish Library.
Yeshayahu was religious and attended Synagogue services regularly. He was involved in communal affairs and gave money to charity. His wife Sarah assisted people in need.
His son Woolf who was married and had a family, lived in Chodecz , which is about 9 kms north of Przedecz. The eldest daughter Channah lived in Wlolclavek, about 35 kms north east of Przedecz.
The daughter Genendal was a member of the Jewish Library and was elected “Beauty Queen” there. She was married to Fishel Topolski, the son of Moshe Topolski. They lived in a very narrow lane in Przedecz. Fishel’s job was preparing the leather for making shoes. He was both the founder and chairman of the “Poale Zion Yemin” Zionist movement. They had four children, one of whom was called Luba. Their whole family was murdered in the Chelmno extermination camp.
The son Chaim-Hersh was on the management committee of the Jewish Library. The duties of the Committee included the buying of books and the giving of lectures. Chaim-Hersh was also one of the founders of the drama group which was attached to this Library. In the 1920s when the Hachshara group was established in Przedecz, he became one of the most active workers. In 1932, he opened his own independent tailor work-shop.
The daughter Sheina gave a lot of support to the Jewish welfare organisations in Przedecz and her house was always open to poor people. Sheina was married to Yoseph Zychlinsky, who managed a work-shop for making hats. He had an apprentice in his work-shop and his products were sold in the market. He was religious. People would often see him sitting on the top of the stairs in front of his house reading a newspaper. His children were given a Jewish, nationalistic education. The three sons were called Ya’acov, Yehudah and Chaim, all of whom perished in the Holocaust. The daughter Golda (Zehava) survived the Nazi camps and after the war attempted to go to Eretz Israel “illegally”. As with many other “illegal” immigrants, she was interned by the British in Cyprus. It was there that she met her future husband Tzvi Grabinsky. In Israel, they lived in Haifa and Golda died towards the end of 1997.
Sheva Zingerman (nee Zielinski)
Sheva’s husband was Itzik Zingerman. They lived on the first floor of a house in the Old Market which they owned.
They had three sons who were called Avraham, Hersh (6) and Alta (7) and three daughters called Miryam, Channah and Rachael-Leah.
Itzik was a “blecher” - a person who smelted metals. He was religious and for many years he was gabbai in the Synagogue which he tended with great devotion.
Five of their children were married and they all lived outside Przedecz. There were many grandchildren but not even one of them survived the Holocaust.
The firstborn son Avraham lived in Lodz. It is probable (8) that he was born on 15 June 1897, that his address in the Lodz Ghetto was Flat 3, 56 Marysinska Street, and that his wife was called Temer and was born on 25 April 1900. [After the occupation, the Germans renamed Marysinska Street, Siegfriedstrasse.] Their address prior to being moved into the Ghetto and the date of their deportation are not known. Avraham, together with his brother-in-law visited Eretz-Israel in 1935. They wanted to settle there but to their great sorrow were not able to do so and they returned to Poland where they became victims of the Holocaust.
The son Hersh was a member of the “Young Mizrachi”. In summer 1941, he was in the German Labour Camp at Inowroclaw, which was situated about 70 kms. north west of Przedecz.
Their daughter Rachael-Leah was married to their eldest son-in-law Chaim Roach, They lived in the same house as Itzik Zingerman at the side of the courtyard. Chaim traded in chickens and sold them in Lodz. He loved to tell stories and jokes. He was religious and prayed regularly in the Synagogue.
Itzik’s brother was called Shalom and he came from Konin and was a teacher at the “Bet Sefer Ivri” in Przedecz.
Pese Niemczowko (nee Zielinski)
Pese’s husband was called Mendel Niemczowko and they lived on the top story of Itzik Zingerman’s house.
Pese was in poor health and suffered a lot. There were blotches all over her face. Despite all this she invested much effort, within her limited ability, in assisting the poor people of Przedecz. She died about 1933.
Her husband Mendel was a travelling salesman. He used to travel to various places with produce such as chickens, wood etc. in order to sell them. He enjoyed involving himself in the affairs of the community and once he was elected to the Committee of the Jewish Community (Parnasai Ha’ir). He was also a candidate of the trades-people to the Jewish Council of Przedecz. He was a very clever man with a great sense of humour and used to amuse people with his stories. He was religious and was a member of the “Chevrat Tehillim”.
The “Yizkor Book” does not record that they had any children.
Rachael (nee Zielinski)
Sarah-Leah (nee Zielinski)
The list in the possession of Monty Zielin lists Rachael and Sara L as two of the daughters of Azriel and Lieba. I can remember my Grandmother Zielinski telling me that one of her husband’s sisters was called Sarah-Leah.
Unfortunately, we do not know the married names of these two sisters and so cannot identify them. It is possible that one of the married Rachaels and one of the married Sarahs appearing in the “Yizkor Book” refers to these sisters. It is also possible that they married someone from outside Przedecz and moved away.
To the best of my knowledge, with the exception of Alya, Reuven and Pese who died before the Second World War and Golda who survived the concentration camps, all (or almost all) the children of Azriel and Lieba and their descendants, who at the time lived in Poland, were murdered in the Holocaust.
In this chapter, I have written down the information which I have at present on the Zielinski family of Przedecz. I have no doubt that more information could be obtained from the “vital records” in the possession of the Polish authorities. However, as I have stated above, even if one can cut through all the bureaucracy to get access to these records, it is extremely expensive to have them searched and photocopied!
Notes on this Chapter
Most of the material in this chapter comes from the “Yizkor Book” of Przedecz. It is supplemented by information obtained by former residents of Przedecz living in Israel, particularly Reuven Yamnik, from members of my family, Ayelet’s visit to Poland and from other documented sources.
1. A document written on 23 March 1942 and in the possession of Monty Zielin, gives the names of the children of Azriel and Lieba. The men are named Alec Zielinski and Isiah Zielinski, the women Sheaba Singer, Rachael (nee Zielinski), Sara L (nee Zielinski) and M. Niemczowko. From our research and previous knowledge we know that this list is not completely accurate:
i). The “Yizkor Book” gives Mendel Niemczowko as the husband of Pese. The family remembers the name Pese as one of the daughters of Azriel and Lieba.
ii) The “Yizkor Book” lists a “Sheva Zingerman”. It would be very reasonable to conclude that this was the “Sheaba Singer” given in this document.
iii) We have not been able to trace anyone by the name of Alec and no-one seems to have heard of such a name. It is therefore very likely indeed that it is a mistake for Alya. Although he died probably just before the Second World War, this fact was not known by the family in England.
iv) Betty Zielin claims there was another son called Shimshon.
v) The address on this document is Prezedecz, Pow Wtoctawski, Ziew Warizawska, Poland. “Wtoctawski” is almost certainly “Wloclawek”. In Polish, both the letter l’s in Wloclawek have a line through them, and thus one could easily misread them as the letter t. “Warizawska” almost certainly refers to “Warszawa” (Warsaw) and errors were made in the typing.
2. The date of birth of Chaim Zielinski is taken from a document submitted by him in January 1918 to the Ministry of National Service to gain exemption from the British army during World War I. In this document, his uncle Yeshuya Zelinsky and a Jacob Pshedetsky (Yeshuya’s son-in-law ?) stated under oath that Chaim was born on 19 March 1876 and also that his parents were married on 6 January 1867. However it is almost certain that his age was inflated to get his army exemption. We can see this from Chaim’s marriage certificate. He was married on 30 July 1907 and there, his age is given as 24, meaning he was born in 1883. There was no reason to inflate his age on his marriage certificate. Likewise to preserve some consistency, it is possible that his parents’ marriage took place later than 1867.
3. The name “Alya Zielinski” does not appear in the biographies in the “Yizkor Book”. However the name “Eliyahu Zielinski” does appear. “Alya” is a nickname for Eliyahu and Reuven Yamnik assured me that the “Eliyahu” in this book was Alya. Although Alya died a few years before the war, the “Yizkor Book” does include some people who died at this period. Confirmation comes from Bela Yachimovitz, (a former resident of Pezedecz whose father lived in the same building as Alya) who stated that Alya’s wife’s name was Rachael - the “Yizkor Book” lists Rechil (the Yiddish form of Rachael) as Alya’s wife. We also know from my family that Alya was a tailor and Eliyahu Zielinski is listed in the “Yizkor Book” as being a tailor.
4. Reuven Yamnik gave me the name of Chaim-Alta, although for some reason it does not appear in the “Yizkor Book”.
5. When I began this research, I saw that the name of Reuven did not appear on this Lodz Ghetto list of 1940. This indicated that he might have died between 1937 and the compilation of this list. Yehoshua Davidovitz, from Przedecz, who was studying at the Lodz Yeshiva at that period and knew Reuven, told me that this may well have been the case. However his name did not appear on the extant Lodz Cemetery Burial List held by the Organization of Former Residents of Lodz situated in Tel-Aviv. Since the majority of those buried there did not appear on this list, one could thus not say that he is not buried there. This Organization also told me of the possibility that, like a lot of other men, he had fled to Russia, hoping that at some time in the future he would be able to get the rest of his family to Russia.
. In March 1998, my daughter Ayelet was in Lodz and I asked her to make some investigations at the Lodz cemetery. She went to their office and asked to check their records to see if Reuven Zielinski was buried there. The results of the search showed that indeed he was buried there. His burial registration form includes that Zielinski Ruwen, the son of Alje was born in 1909, died on 16 December 1937, was buried 17 December, the Hebrew date being 12 Shevat 5698, the location of his grave and that he lived at 28 Rybna Street.
Knowing the location of the grave, she then went to search for it. In the area where he is buried, there were very few tombstones. Either they had been removed or due to the onset of World War II had never been erected. However, the tombstone of Reuven Zielinski was standing and was completely intact. Whilst there, Ayelet photographed the tombstone and lit a Yahrzeit candle by it.
From the inscription on this tombstone, we can see that Reuven’s father Alya was alive when Reuven died, or even when they erected the tombstone, which is often done amongst European Jewry about a year after the death. Thus we see that Alya was still alive at the end of 1937 or even in 1938. One might investigate why they wrote his name as Eli and not Eliyahu on the tombstone.
Ayelet also went to look for the house 28 Rybna Street, Lodz, where Reuven and his family had lived. Although the neighbouring house, 26 Rybna Street is still standing, 28 had since been demolished and in its place is a passageway and a hairdressing saloon.
6. The “Yizkor Book” uses the expression “his son” for Hersh as distinct from “their son” and “their daughter” for Avraham, Miryam and Channah. This could indicate that Sheva was Itzik’s second wife. However, Reuven Yamnik says that Sheva was the mother of Hersh and no significance should be paid to the expression “his son”.
7. Although the “Yizkor Book” states that there were three sons, only the names of two of them were given. The name of the third son, Alta, was supplied by Reuven Yamnik
8. The list of Jewish inhabitants of the Lodz ghetto, lists an Abram Zingerman who was born on 15 June 1897 and lived at Flat 3, 56 Siegfriedstrasse. His wife was called Temer and she was born on 25 April 1900. No previous address or date of deportation is given for them in this list. It is very probable that this entry refers to our Avraham Zingerman. Further confirmation is indicated by his date of birth which seems about right. Ayelet found that this house is still standing.