THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA
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Postcards collected by Stephanie Comfort, Texas, USA
Jewish market, Vilnius.
Stephanie Comfort, from Dallas, Texas, has over many years been an eager collector of old Jewsih postcards. Here is how she describes her ‘hobby’:
“I have the collecting gene: I collect dead Jews, their synagogues, their marketplaces and their family life - of the over 6,000,000 that were killed by the Germans and their countrymen "neighbours" there are few left to say Kaddish for them or to remember them. My Rabbi - Kenneth Roseman of Dallas once said that I am "Redeeming the Captives" by collecting the postcards and photos of them. I also collect and honour those few that saved them. In Lithuania it was the Japanese Consul to Lithuania, Chuin Sugihara, who was housed in Kaunas/Kovno (the Yiddish name) and although demanded to return with his family by the government of Japan he stayed and spent 24 hours a day - along with his wife - filling out visas which saved thousands of Lithuanian Jews. He was still filling them when on the train departing and throwing them out of the window. Upon his return to Japan he was removed from his position and never worked again. When the State of Israel discovered that they were destitute they paid them a yearly salary and educated his children. He - and other "Righteous Gentiles" (non-Jews) that saved Jews (proved via testamony) are honoured in the garden of Yad VaShem (Holocaust Museum) in Jerusalem, Israel by having a tree planted in their name.”
“I, myself, have visited Lithuania twice - stood in the Polnar Forest outside of Vilnius/Vilna and in the 9th Fort outside of Kaunas/Kovno and where the Kovno used to stand and where the Jewish patients, Jewish Nurses and Jewish Doctors were locked into the Jewish Hospital and set on fire and in front of the Sugihara home and was so very thankful to him and his family.”
“I was born in Brooklyn, New York to parents also born there BUT was also raised by maternal grandparents who came over from Russia, Poland - areas called The Pale or White Russia - today parts of the Ukraine. I was raised early on the stories of Pogroms .... my Great Grandfather was crucified during an Easter pogrom - nailed against a door. My Grandfather quickly grew a beard and came to the USA as his father. My Grandmother used to tell about the Christian peasants that used to "sic" their dogs on them in the fields where they walked and worked.”
“I have lived in Dallas, Texas for the past 44 yrs. although most of my schooling was in California. I have been a professional weaver - with one of my pieces being in the Dallas Museum of Art for a couple of months. I have been a jeweller - working primarily in gold with some silver and making jewelry and Judaica. During those years I also spent several months each summer in Israel studying Biblical Archaeology - called it sending Mother to Camp. For 4 seasons I worked in The City of David in Jerusalem and 2 seasons at Tel Dor on the Coast.”
“My husband and I travel a bit and about 15 years ago we went for the first time (there was also a second time) to the Camps in Poland: Auschwitz Birkenau, Treblinka, Madjanek and the killing fields in the towns with Ghettos. We stood in Budapest (3 visits) at the Danube where the Jews were tied 3 together so that only one bullet need be used. In the Czech Republic (3 visits) we've visited Theresenstadt/Terezin and in Lithuania (twice) the Polnar Forest and the 9th Fort. In Germany once it was Dachau and the Exposition Field where the Israeli Olympic wrestlers were killed in 1972. This all started me in collecting postcards of Jews that "were" knowing most of them were killed in the Holocaust not only by the Germans but ALSO by their fellow Lithuanians, Croatians, Latvians, Romanians, etc. etc. In fact it was only the Finns, the Danes, the Bulgarians, the Albanians and the Moroccans that were decent enough and brave enough to say NO.”
“Now with so many Holocaust deniers I fear that soon Europeans will start also denying that Jews ever lived in their countries - ergo - I document, document, document.”
“I think the story of how the Jewish Karaites were saved in Troki (Trakai) is interesting. When the German Commanded asked the Chief Rabbi of Vilna if they were also Jewish - his not liking the way they practiced their Judaism - said NO.”
“I was born during WW2 and remember the hushes when I would enter a room as a child - and the tears - and the names of relatives I would never know.”
Kaunas synagogue 1926.
Kaunas (Kovno) Chief Rabbi.
Jewish school 1926.
Jewish market, Vilnius.
Vilnius ghetto during World War II.
Vilnius, new synagogue.
Wooden synagogue, Žiežmariai (between Vilnius and Kaunas).
Old Vilnius synagogue.
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