Velvel and Eta Beile Blumzon lived in a log cabin in the Lithuanian shtetl of Linkuva in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Nine of their ten children survived to adulthood having left Lithuania before the Holocaust. The remaining son, Betzalel, stayed in Linkuva, where he was the Shochet. He married Seine Barr, and they had five sons and three daughters, born between 1896 and 1910. By 1933, 2 sons were in the United States, and 2 sons and a daughter were in South Africa.
Betzalel died in 1937, and was buried in Linkuva. Then came the Holocaust. His wife, Seine, and daughter, Sarah Epstein, died, leaving no known record of the circumstances. Meier made his mark by managing to save a number of Jews, but was sent to Dachau in 1944 and from there to Flossenburg on January 7, 1945, as prisoner number 42465.
When the war ended 4 months later, he was dead, as were his wife and son. Only one descendant of Velvel and Eta Beile remained alive in Europe: Meier's sister Rochel, who had been in the Stutthof concentration camp. Broken, she emigrated to the US in 1949 without her child, living out her remaining years in psychological turmoil.
Betzalel's fifth child, Aaron Blumsohn, had emigrated to South Africa in 1924. He married Leiba Tannenbaum, and had 3 children, David, Maurice, and Cecilia. In 1996, David and Cecilia visited Lithuania. What follows is David's story of his trip, and the remarkable things they found there.
David Blumsohn is a doctor at Baragwanath Hospital in South Africa. He is renowned in his field, having both published many papers and having won awards for excellence in teaching medical students. After establishing himself as a doctor, David returned to his studies on a part-time basis, completing bachelor, masters, and doctoral degrees in semitic languages.
The original story written by David was aimed at close family members. What follows is a lightly-edited version, written for a more general audience. In editing, I have deliberately not removed items of genealogical significance, in the hope that others may find members of their families included in this story. It has been both a pleasure and an honor to edit this story for my uncle David.
[Cecilia is affectionately known in the family as Cissy. Having emigrated to Israel in the early 1960's, she also goes under the Hebrew name Tzilla. To avoid confusion, she will be referred to as Cissy throughout.]