Witnesses to History Keepers of Memory
Witnesses to History Keepers of Memory
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Sidney Zoltak

An extended family

The family photograph pictured below was taken in front of Sidney Zoltak's grandparents’ house in 1935 and is a precious memory to him. In the photo, he is surrounded by his grandparents, a cousin, an uncle, and two aunts. His grandparents had just finished building the house. Almost a year later, they were forced to leave it behind due to antisemitic acts committed against them. The photo was sent to a relative who had already left Poland and settled in Montreal. This photograph was given to Sidney many years later.

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This photo was taken in 1935 when I was four years old. My grandparents, actually I am standing beside
both of them, my grandfather and my grandmother, they lived in a village about 20 kilometers away
from my hometown of Siemiatycze (Poland), and they had a general store and in 1934-35, they built a
new home. And that was in front of their home. And behind them in the back are my mother’s two
sisters, on the extreme right is my mother’s uncle who lived in Warsaw at the time, and the young girl is
a cousin of mine, who in 1942, in November, was taken to Treblinka (occupied Poland) to the gas
chambers, when our ghetto was liquidated.
This photo actually is very special to me. A year after they built it, they had to abandon the store and the
house and everything else they had in the village because of antisemites that were picketing the store
not to buy from Jews. So, they in 1936 had to leave everything behind and went to live in the capital city
of Poland, Warsaw.
I am the only one in this photo who is still alive. My grandmother survived the war and in 1945 in the
month of March, she died. We were liberated at the time, and she died in her sleep. Her husband, my
grandfather, was murdered by Ukrainian guards when they were liquidating the ghetto on November
the 2nd, 1942. My grandmother and my grandfather escaped from the ghetto, they went through a hole
in the barbed wires, when they got tired, they lay down. Ukrainian guards came over to the ditch and
killed everybody. My grandmother at that time, was wounded in her arm, so they thought that she was
not alive. She wasn’t moving and she was bleeding, so they left her. My two aunts in the back survived
the war. My mother’s uncle remained in Warsaw, and naturally we lost any contact with him. How he
died, we don’t know.
This photo was mailed to my uncle or aunt who lived in Montreal. They left Poland in the 1920s.

Ted Bolgar
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Ted Bolgar

A precious tea cup