‘Roots’ search in Poland, Germany

By Iris Bing
This item appears on page 48 of the May 2016 issue.

Reading Fred Kranz’s article “In Search of Family History in Poland and Belarus” (Feb. ’16, pg. 32) immediately brought me back to the independent trip my husband and I took to Poland and Germany in August 2002. We, too, were searching for the backgrounds of our families.

Our parents had been born in the US, but our grandparents were from Romania, Latvia, Germany and Poland. We had visited each of those countries, but on this trip we were looking particularly at Lublin, Poland, and Frankfurt, Germany.

Arriving first in Warsaw, we rented a car for our drive to Lublin. My paternal grandmother’s family was from the Lublin area, and she left 11 sisters there when she came to the US. They all perished in the Holocaust.

We arrived in Lublin and followed the Jewish Heritage Trail, visiting the Remembrance Chamber and the old cemetery. Not many people spoke English, so it was difficult to get information.

I had read about the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Zamos´c´, a 16th-century Renaissance town about 1½ hours from Lublin, and on our way there we passed the Majdanek site where 350,000 people were murdered and buried in mass graves during WWII.

Knowing we would be going on to Auschwitz, we almost didn’t stop there, but we did and we met an Israeli rabbinical student who told us the horrific story of Majdanek. A memorial on the site contains the ashes of the victims. One of the most somber aspects of this visit was looking off into the distance and seeing Lublin just two miles away.

This was a most sobering part of our trip, but it was a trip filled with unexpected and important visits.


Pennington, NJ