Thursday, June 16, 2011

Where Leibl is not

There is no record of Leibl Korenbaum, or of any Korenbaums, in the Yad Vashem listing of Holocaust victims. There is no Leibl Korenbaum, or even L Korenbaum, in the records indexed on Jewishgen, the Jewish genealogy website, where many of the surviving records from Jewish Poland have been archived. There are no Korenbaums in the listings from the Warsaw ghetto, the Warsaw death notices, the Warsaw business listings, or the 1907 Warsaw province voter lists.
We know he worked at a newspaper. My mother asks a colleague who grew up in Warsaw, and was hidden as a child, if there is a list of Jewish newspapers. She tells us there were dozens of them.  And we do not know if Leibl was a writer. The only record that might have survived would be if he had a by-line in a newspaper that somehow was preserved in an archive. I am overwhelmed, thinking about how we could look for such a thing.
I start to wonder if Leibl really existed. On the ship’s manifest for Gittel’s arrival in America, she lists her next-of-kin as Liba Waszerterow, of Sosnowica, and calls her a sister.  I call my father and ask, “Could this be Leibl? Could there somehow have been a mistake? Was Leibl a sister? Or was her description of her brother mistranslated in the manifest?” “No,” he tells me, “Liba is someone else. She spent part of her childhood with Liba. Bea even had a picture of Liba.”
So we seem to have come to a dead-end. We can find no record of Leibl or his family. Their names have disappeared. All we have is the one photo. And then I start to understand. If I want to find Leibl, I need to find the world he lived in. If I want to find Leibl, I need to find Gittel.

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