When I had started this blog about my family and where we came from I knew nothing. I have been working now for over 2 years doing my own research. I kept finding hints of a whole other life for the Baumwoll’s. We really are very new to America. Only our third generation is now coming to be. I could never find my grandfathers sisters and brother, their families or children in America. That is not what God wanted me to find. So I went back to our homeland, Warsaw Poland. At first, I found just a few names of my family and then the doors opened up.
In my research, I had gone as far as I could looking in America and came to a roadblock. I had spoken to other people and everyone kept telling me I could never find anyone to help me in Poland since we’re pretty much housebound but true to my nature, I decided to contact the chief Rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich, Rabbi of Nozyk Synagogue in Warsaw where my family worshiped. He was very intrigued for my families history in Warsaw Poland goes back to 1740. My family was predominantly urban. He referred me to Anna Przybyszewska Drozd of The Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute (JHI) in Warsaw. Anna was extremely helpful. She was able to find much information about my family in Warsaw, especially their gravesites in the Warsaw Cemetery. She explained to me that my family is one of the old Jewish families that stayed in one area for hundreds of years.
She also went to another institution, The Warsaw Archives, and was able to find, residential addresses, occupations and other information. She then referred me to an associate of hers, Jackie Scharwz who lives in Belgium. Her main work is to reunite families that were separated during World War II. She was very helpful, helping me find many more pieces of the puzzle.
Anna also referred me to Yisroel Szpilman, who manages the Warsaw Cemetery. He began helping me find the grave sites of my ancestors and sent me photos of the grave stones. Through the gravestones, I was able to find even more information, taking me further back in time.
When I started this blog 2 years ago, I had seen some videos (that are posted on my blog) of the Foundation For Documentation of Jewish Cemeteries in Poland, whose mission is to document every gravestone, first in Warsaw and then the rest of Poland of all Jews that had lived their. From watching those videos, I would never have imagined that I would be led to the team that is doing all the research for the cemeteries. I have just now hired one of the people on the team, Witold Wrzosinsk, who is one of the researchers documenting the 270,000 graves in the Warsaw Cemetery. At this point they have documented 90,000 graves. In this new world that we live in, I was able to skype with him and others to find all of this out without ever leaving my home. There is much that he let me know that he knew extensively of the Baumwolls and is now going on a treasure hunt to find out more such as birth, marriage and death certificates and many other things.
I have been collecting images of Poland for a long time. Each face that I saw, I began to realize this could be my family. So I went on. First, only a couple of hundred photos, then thousands from postcards to art, and the great photographs by Jewish people and the Germans, for they documented everything that they did. In this gallery are not only Warsaw photographs but photos from all over Poland. The streets of Poland came alive to me. I began to see Warsaw, my homeland very differently. So much was lost in the thousand years that the Jews were in Poland, but if you look and search there is much to still see.
Below are just a few photos.