46 – Ossi and Zygmunt. A rescue in Russia



On Monday, April 18, 1938, Osii Melamedzon, Pola’s brother, visited Poznan. He lived in Lodz and worked at his uncle’s. He probably came on business and visited his sister and Poznan family by the way. He went with Fira for a walk around Poznan. They strolled along the Przemysl Mountain (today the Przemysl Hill)  to a park in front of  the Great Theatre and took the pictures of themselves. The pathway system on the Mountain was different than it is today, but the low wall and the rail, seen in the photographs, survived the war and exist there now, though in a very bad state. There was no fountain in a park in front of the Opera House yet, just a small pond with some swans floating on its water.

This set of photographs is complemented by the portraits of Fira taken before the war in a professional photography atelier.

Also, we place here  Fira’s memories of war and post-war stories of Ossi and Zygmunt, her cousins. They belong to these few ones from a large family of the Dymants and the Melamedzons, who were lucky to survive the war. There is also  a memory about Maks Brandt met in pre-war Lodz.


Ossi and the Red Army

When the war broke out, Ossi and Zygmus escaped from the Germans to Russia. Ossi was already married but he left his wife and son in Lodz, I don’t know why. When they arrived in Russia they split up. Zygmunt got arrested and exiled to some labour camp in Siberia, where he worked as a mechanic repairing tanks. Ossi joined the Red Army to fight against the Nazis, and they moved to the west. When his division was near Lodz, he deserted. He tried to find  his wife and son, but he failed. They may have been killed in the Lodz Ghetto or gone to the Auschwitz camp.

Looking for his family, Ossi met Maks Brandt in Lodz. Maks survived the war in camps and settled in Lodz where he was selling clothes. It was a prosperous business as Lodz was a big city and the people needed clothes there. He offered cooperation to Pola’s brother. „Feel free to accept it. We are as close as a family. Fate almost made us brothers-in-law”, he said. Ossi didn’t accept this offer as he met and joined his friends from before the war. They were the survivors of Brzeziny, who planned to escape to Germany, to American camps for Jews. And they succeeded. Before this escape, Ossi came to Brzeziny with Staszek Warhaft, whom he met too. Staszek told him about an aluminium milk churn filled with the family valuables that was buried in a garden at Sienkiewicza 6. When the Germans burst into the town, his uncles hid the container at night. Aunt Sara, Ossi’s mother put there her husband’s golden watch, which was saved from Russia. Learning about this, Ossi got crazy about regaining that watch. He talked Staszek into going to Brzeziny and they found the churn. Later on, Ossi treated this watch as a relic. Then, he managed to cross into Germany, to Landsberg near Munich. He met there, in a camp, his relative, aunt Sala, who was a widow of uncle Aron. She survived with one of her two sons. She told him what happened to our family after the Nazis had invaded Brzeziny and everything she knew about his mother and sister.


Zygmunt and Russian labour camps

Zygmunt, his brother, who was in a Russian labour camp, came to Poland after the war as a legal repatriate. There was nobody in Lodz, so he went to Walbrzych, where many survived Jews lived. He had some public job there and he met a young widow coming from near Bialystok. Her name was Cyla and she survived together with her little son, Leon. They got married and moved to Israel in 1956, when the borders got opened. They lived in Netanya.

Ossi was no longer in Israel at that time. He came there in 1951 with Zosia, his second wife but she didn’t like this country and they moved to Vienna after a couple of years.


Maks and post-war trading

I met Maks Brandt in the late 1950s, when he was already in Israel. Earlier, I got some information about him from Irena Grin, my good friend from Lodz and Brzeziny. After the war, Irena shared a rented room with her friend Halina. One day, Halina met Maks and fell in love with him. On the same day, she moved away from Irena to live with him. It is no surprise, as Maks was handsome, well-mannered and intelligent.

They got married in 1957 and came together to Israel. They lived in Holon, where he worked in a garment shop and she was a waitress in a very good cafe belonging to my friends. However, I met Maks rather rarely as I had a jealous husband and Halina was a little jealous of me too.