I’ve gotten used to people contacting me through this blog because they’ve come across the Kornmehl name on it. Now, for the first time, Freud’s Butcher has grabbed the attention of an entire city: Tarnow, Poland.
Or at least the attention of Jerry Bergman, the Vice-Chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Monuments of Jewish Culture in Tarnow, a committee that I didn’t know existed.
Which makes sense. Up until recently, I had never heard of Tarnow, and I certainly didn’t know that my mother’s entire family originated from there.
Some Tarnow Facts
Bergman, a photojournalist from Tarnow who now lives in Copenhagen, was writing as his committee’s vice-chair to inquire if I had “pictures of my family in Tarnow.” I wrote back that I didn’t know where to begin, that the entire huge Kornmehl family came from Tarnow.
He told me to begin at the beginning but, instead, I decided to begin at the end.
One of my newfound relatives, Flora Selwyn, had grandparents who were born in Tarnow, Doba Schmerling and Elias Kornmehl. Not too long ago, Flora visited Tarnow with her daughter-in-law, Anna — who, by coincidence, was born in Tarnow. Anna located Doba and Elias’ home as well as Elias’ birth certificate, and they visited various Jewish sites together, including the Jewish cemetery. Here is a picture of the two of them there.
Mothers-in-law often get a bad rap, but not on this blog (see An Inspiring Woman: Frances Kornmehl)
A Mystery and a Promise
Anna Selwyn is not Jewish so it’s no surprise that she was born in Tarnow. Jerry Bergman, on the other hand, is — I’m pretty sure — and he was born in Tarnow after the war; he wrote that he left in 1969. But the fact sheet I posted, above, says that there were only 35 Jews remaining in Tarnow in 1965. Was he one of them?
I asked him, and he promised to tell me the story later, when he wasn’t so busy. I’m going to hold him to it. In turn, I promise to get LOTS of pictures to him.
Bergman also told me that a Polish woman at Berlin University is writing the history of Jews in Tarnow for her Ph.D. dissertation. He said that she was away in August, but that I should contact her when she returns “if you want the story of your family in her work.” You bet I do.
I have mentioned the huge Kornmehl family tree and book that a cousin, Leonard Schneider, put together several years ago and that is now being updated. It is exciting to think that the family will now find a place in yet another work, a scholarly one. Of course, it will probably be in Polish.
Luckily, one of our relatives has a very good relationship with her Polish daughter-in-law.
Update: The website of the Tarnow Museum – the url is on the photo of the committee but I didn’t provide a live link — is mostly in Polish but there are some interesting links in English in the Judaica section, including a downloadable guide to Tarnow’s Jewish cemetery and the sad story of the Jews of Tarnow, with details of one heroic rescue.