Moshe refused his son’s help to get him out of the Warsaw Ghetto. That decision meant he eventually was deported and that he perished in the Holocaust. The family believes he was murdered at Majdanek. Moshe’s wife, Perla, followed her son’s advice and got out of the ghetto. She survived the war. The two paragraphs below are from the memoir written by Moshe’s son, Jerzy (later Americanized to George). The two photographs are of Perla after the Second World War. The painting is a portrait Moshe made of Perla in in 1929.

The only package found by mother and a cousin, Sophie Binstock, was in Praga, across the river Vistula. They were looking for all the hidden parcels. The only one found was in a cellar in Praga. The people were away, and the paintings, all on paper or parchment, fairly small, were strewn on the basement floor in the cellar. Some damaged, some cut in half with scenes missing. They seemed to have gone through the same fate as the Jewish people—massacred and destroyed.


About 12–15 percent of Jews survived the Holocaust. So did my father’s paintings. One hundred and twenty were found out of a count of close to eight hundred works. He was very prolific. Always working, it seemed, day and night for all his life. Never erring, he was always assured of his own knowledge and artful direction. One in millions of his brothers, I understand he was painting and sketching constantly in the ghetto for four years. What a loss to the Jewish people, their history, and culture. The last four years of his life he spent in the Warsaw ghetto, against my advice and wish to save him. He was sent to Majdanek in July 1943, with this sentence said to me a few days before his transport, “I’ll go where my brothers and sisters go, and if it means death, so be it.” He was killed, of course, with the others, DIED = “BEKIDUSH HASHEM.” In sanctification of THE NAME. All his works in the ghetto were never found, most probably destroyed. – From Surviving Hitler in Poland: One Jew’s Story by George J. Rynecki


Photos of Perla from after the war. The painting is a portrait done by Moshe Rynecki in 1929


Getting Out of the Warsaw Ghetto

Google Books has helped me to find all sorts of references to my family. I have used it to find books with my great-grandfather’s paintings as well as essays and commentaries about his work.  I once found a book, Ten jest z ojczyzny mojej (He is of/from my Fatherland), with information at the back of the book citing data obtained from another source.  The original source was, I believe, some sort of questionnaire on assistance to the Jews of Warsaw.  What I found on page 1029 of this book, just one sentence, really, was this:[Read more…]

Fragments of Memory

Although there are many gaping holes in my knowledge of my family’s war time story, the one story that I do know is one my grandfather told me when I was about eight years old. The way I remember it, my parents and I were visiting my grandparents’ home when, during a pause in the conversation, my grandfather announced he wanted to tell me “A true family story.”  The story begins in June of 1943. My father and grandmother have been arrested by the Polish police on the streets of Warsaw. But just as Grandpa is getting going in the story, Grandma stands up and interrupts him. “Don’t tell this story. Please,” she begs, “no war stories.”  Grandpa tells her I’m old enough to hear the story, that it’s his home, and he can tell his granddaughter whatever he pleases. Grandma shakes her head; the rush of wartime memories seem to fill her mind and send her reeling. She yells at Grandpa in Polish. I don’t speak Polish, so I have no idea what she’s saying, but her voice shakes and trembles, and she’s on the verge of tears. It’s clear to me that she does not want grandpa to tell this story. Grandpa responds to her pleas with a raised and unsympathetic voice. Grandma starts crying and leaves the[Read more…]