40 – Jozio Frenkiel’s fiancée



Jozio Frenkiel, an administrator of wealthy Warsaw people’s properties, was the second Fira’s fiance. Though  their engagement lasted much longer than the one with Zygmunt Bluman, she didn’t want to marry him either. She liked him and found him clever and smart. The efforts of Frenkiel and Fira’s parents made her accept his proposal in December 1938.

Shortly after this Abram Melamedzon went to Palestine for the second time and he never came back. At the same time Jozio Frenkiel, instead of trying to boost Fira’ feelings towards him, had to extricate from his family argument, in which his father and his freshly married second wife were engaged. Absorbed with family troubles and the work he came to Poznan less and less often. Nevertheless, in summer 1938, he again invited Fira to „Srodborowianka”, a guesthouse in the woods near Warsaw. He kept working there and Fira was taken care by another Warsaw man, a student Mietek Kaliski, who rested in the same place. In result, Fira’s promise to Jozio was losing its might, although they both didn’t want it.

We place here the last photos of Abram Melamedzon taken just before his leaving for Palestine, the pictures of Fira taken by Mietek Kaliski in Srodborowo and also Fira’s memories of Frenkiel, which have not been published in the book.


Taking a rest with Jozio

It was already after the engagement to Jozio, probably in the early spring of 1938, when I visited Bronka Szerc in Warsaw and was invited to dinner by Herc Frenkiel, Jozio’s father. In the autumn, Mrs Frenkiel died after a long disease. Jozio and his father lived alone in a big, beautiful flat at Swietojerska 32. We had dinner in a joyful atmosphere, and then Mr Herc asked me: – Fira, I have a request to ask you of. We have a housekeeper, who has been keeping our house for many years. As you’ve seen, she is already an old women but she has been here since Jozio was a little boy. I would like you to promise me that you won’t let her off after you marry Jozio! I said: – All right, I promise.

After dinner Mr Frenkiel came back to his office. He administrated, together with his son, the properties of wealthy citizens of Warsaw. – Fira, there is a small living room with a sofa next door. Go there and take a rest – he suggested before leaving. I was surprised. I didn’t  need neither rest nor nap. I was young and I didn’t rest during a day. Jozio’s father said that so decisively that I didn’t protest. I went to lie down for a while. Jozio followed me. – Don’t you mind my lying down next to you? – he asked. – No, you are welcome – I said, so he lay by me and put his hand on my waist, probably to hug me. I twitched, and he felt it. Still keeping his hand on my waist he said: – Fall asleep, if you want. You can sleep quietly. – No, I am not used to it. He replied: – So, get up if you prefer. I said: – No, I can be lying. We were lying silently, and Jozio didn’t dare to do anything. Then, we started to talk. In this way, step by step, he was winning my trust.


The questions of a seventeen-year-old girl

In the early spring of 1939 Jozio wrote a letter in which he made a request to me. One of his Warsaw friends, a young girl, came to Poznan to visit her aunt. Unfortunately, her cousins had just left and the girl wrote to him that she was boring with an old woman. Moreover, she was depressed and in a bad state of mind. So, he asked me to visit her and spend some time with her to help her feel better. He gave me her name and Poznan address. I went there and saw a pretty, seventeen-year-old girl, who really looked sad an depressed. Jozio told me later that her father played in an orchestra in some popular cafe and he didn’t earn much money. The girl was brought up in a broken family and her father hardly makes ends meet. So Frenkiel was trying to support her financially.

We arranged to meet in a cafe. She came and started to tell that there were many interested people in a restaurant in which her father played, so she had many different acquaintances in Warsaw. Afterward she asked me: – I have a friend in Warsaw, who is fascinated with a young woman from Poznan. Maybe you know, who she is? She said that this Poznan woman must have been very elegant as her friend belonged to so called golden youth” and there were many women around him. So, she was curious, who had turned his head. – What is the name of your friend? – I asked. – Jozio – she answered. – Frenkiel?Yes – she nodded. – He is my very close friend – I laughed. Then, she understood that I was the woman she asked me about. She looked at me disappointed. She must have expected the girl, whom Jozio adored so much, to be much more impressive.

She must have had some plans regarding Jozio. He was a good catch as he was wealthy and intelligent. I don’t know whether something happened between them but that girl didn’t seem innocent to me. She looked rather refined in spite of her young age. She was poor and had no perspectives, so she was seeking any chance for herself. Yet she didn’t have much of a chance at Jozio Frenkiel.