Zahar and Abram Melamedzon, two Russian Jewish brothers, married Sara and Rachela, two cousins Dymant from Brzeziny. The stories of these two families are quite opposite. The Malemedzons were always lucky. They managed to flee the post-revolutionary Russia and save their valuables, which let Abram start a new business. The business turned to be prosperous, so the family was wealthy enough to have no financial troubles. Finally, they all managed to go to safe Palestine just before the war.
Fate didn’t treat Pola’s family so kindly. Zahar Melamedzon dies of typhus, in Russia. His wife succeeds in fleeing Russia, together with her children and valuables, but soon, in Brzeziny, she gets stolen and has no money at all. She has to live in a small way, in one room with the children at her parents’. She can’t afford to send her children to a gymnasium after they have graduated an elementary school. Pola makes some money by accompanying silent films in cinemas. Her older brothers, Ossi and Zygmunt, find a job in garment shops run by their uncles. Zygmunt works as a messenger at Melpoz for a while and lives in Poznan. Ossi become a book-keeper at his uncle’s business.
Pola didn’t have much of a chance to get married. She wasn’t pretty and had no dowry. In many pictures she looks modest and uncertain. Her relationship with Fira was very strong. Fira tried to help her. In 1938, Policzka lived in Poznan and helped Fira’s mother with running the business but she doesn’t seem satisfied in the pictures taken at that time. It was probably because Fira’s mother was not happy about her husband decision regarding Pola’s work and stay at the Melamedzons’. Moreover, the young woman experienced some emotional problems then.
When the war broke out, Ossi and Zygmunt escaped from the Germans to Russia and they survived the war there. Pola and her mother stayed in Brzeziny, then they were in the Lodz Ghetto. They were murdered in Auschwitz, in 1943, according to the Yad Vashem testimonies.
Below, we place Fira’s memory of her aunt Sara and Staszek Warhaft, a doctor from Brzeziny.
Buttons of aunt Sara
Daddy helped his family and tried to help aunt Sara too. He remembered about her. She was his sister-in –law. She lost her husband in Rostov, and then she lost all her valuables in Brzeziny. And she had the same amount of diamonds and golden coins as we had, as the brothers divided them fairly among themselves while fleeing Kharkiv. Suddenly, she stayed with no money at all. Although she had rich brothers, they were rather cold-hearted and helped her a little bit. So, the aunt, who used to be a wealthy hostess, was forced to become a labourer. She earned money by sewing buttons to the clothes made by Brzeziny tailors. They brought ready suits to her room in the grandparents’ house and she made a living by sewing buttons to them.
My cousin Rita Dymant, a granddaughter of my grandpa’s brother, married Stanislaw Warhaft, who was a doctor. Staszek was an extraordinary man and everybody’s favourite in Brzeziny, as he cured the poor for free. Daddy sometimes gave him some money which he used to buy some more food and distribute it among the poorest.
When the war began, Staszek went to the camp in Oswiecim. He didn’t confess he was a doctor as he didn’t want to be commanded by Josef Mengele. He preferred hard labour. Staszek and Rita survived the camps. After the war, I met a man who slept next bunk to Warhaft’s in the camp. He told me that Staszek worked very hard not to „have any crime on his conscience”, as he used to say.