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   Kalisz, 1919 -1939

 

 

 


Arnold Majorek (known to all as Anek) was born in Kalisz on 11 December 1919, second son to a wealthy industrialist, Szabsie (also known as Stefan) Majorek and his wife,  Paulina Gutman. From the financial point of view, it was not a well-balanced marriage. According to their prenuptial agreement, Paulina brought with her a large number of valuable items and a considerable sum of money while Stefan “had next to nothing”.[1] This is not surprising considering the fact that Stefan was one of eight children born to his parents, Samuel and Sure-Kruse Holc, while Paulina was born into a much smaller, well established family in Lodz.[2] What also made Paulina very special was the fact that she spent much of her childhood in London and spoke fluent English.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



But Stefan must have been very skillful in using his wife’s assets because already at the beginning of the 1930s he owned a tricot factory “Lady” at 6 Gornoslaska St. in Kalisz as well as a number of houses throughout the town.[3] He was also a well-respected member of the local Jewish community, heavily involved in various professional and charity activities: chairman of the Association of Jewish Merchants,[4] chairman of the local branch of the Loan Fund affiliated with the Jewish Reconstruction Foundation, an international Jewish organization based in Paris,[5] member of the Supervisory Board of a cooperative bank and one of the members of the Committee of the Jewish Rowing Club.[6]
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both Anek and his older brother, Izydor, attended the prestigious Adam Asnyk High School. Anek graduated in 1937 with flying colors and in the same year enrolled as a student of architecture at the Warsaw University.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His choice might have been influenced by his maternal uncle, Ignacy Gutman, who, by then, was a well-known architect in Lodz.[7] Anek’s studies and the affluent family life were brutally interrupted on 1 September 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. Soon  afterwards, heeding the order issued by the Polish military authorities, many of the Kalisz residents left the town moving to the east, away from the incoming German army. A Kalisz industrialist, Stefan Zucker, reported on 4 September that “[Stefan] Majorek is desperate because he cannot go with us. Due to a heart disease he cannot walk at all. Mrs. Majorek wanted to hire a carriage …”.[8] While Stefan and Paulina did not leave Kalisz at that time, Anek joined the stream of refugees moving to the east. One of them was Anek’s cousin, Irena Majorek, daughter of his uncle Nuchem Majer Majorek and Ruchla Manszester, who, after days of wondering along the roads packed with refugees, without much sleep and proper meal reached the town of Lowicz. There, while resting on the side of the road, she saw a group of young people from Kalisz, and Anek among them, walking by. She joined the group which a few days later reached a village in the vicinity of Warsaw. Watching the German planes strife the roads and the nearby fields, Irena disclosed to Anek that she had all her mother’s jewelry on her and told him to take it in case she was killed.


But by then Warsaw was no longer accepting newcomers and anyhow it was obvious that the days of Polish resistance to the German onslaught are almost gone. After some 10 days in the village with nowhere else to go the group decided to return to Kalisz.[9] Soon afterwards Szabsie, along with other wealthy residents, was temporarily arrested by the Germans [10] and at the beginning of November well-to-do families were thrown away from their apartments. Irena’s testimony recalled that as follows:

On 11 November somebody very forcefully pressed our bell and kicked the door. When we opened we saw an SS man outside. “You have 10 minutes to vacate the apartment” – he yelled. A number of German soldiers entered the apartment and started to search for gold and money … Outside, on the building yard, there was already a number of families, Catholics and Jews alike, who were evicted from their apartments in order to make room for the Germans, who, as I learned later, were Volksdeutsche from Norway, as if returning to their ancestral homeland.[11]

Many of the evicted families, and among them Anek and his parents, deprived of their apartments, businesses and other means of living decided to leave Kalisz and move to Warsaw. While Kalisz and the western part of Poland became incorporated into the German Reich (and named Wartheland after Warta, the major river of the new province), Warsaw became a city inside the General Gouvernement, the part of occupied Poland which was under German military administration. It was hoped that in Warsaw, unlike in the Wartheland which was to became totally Germanized, the life for Jews will be somehow tolerable.


Anek and his mother moved to Warsaw but for Stefan, who was already very ill, they found a place in a pension in Srodborow, a resort near Warsaw. He died there on 19 December 1939 and was buried in the Jewish cemetery in the nearby Karczew.[12]

 

Stefan and his family.jpg

Stefan (standing in the middle), Paulina (fourth from the left), Anek (first from the right) and other family members during summer vacations near Kalisz, mid-1930s

1 State Archives in Lodz, Papers of the notary Wlodzimierz Kosinski, 156/10.

 

2 See my My Heritage chart for more information on both families.

3 The State Archives in Kalisz have the following files regarding real estate belonging toSzabsie, either as an individual owner or in partnership with his brother-in-law, Ekew(Jacob) Salomonowicz: Browarna 4 (file: 11/19/0/5.2/650); Harcerska 12 (file:11/19/0/5.2/1132); 11 Listopada (file 11/19/0/5.2/2998); Górnośląska 6(file:11/19/0/5.2./1010); Joselewicza 2 (file: 11/19/0/5.2/1162).

4 “Kalisher Leben”, 4 July 1930, p.2.

 

5 Yoram Mayorek, “The Fate of Jewish Archives During and After the Holocaust”. In:Preserving Jewish Archives as Part of the European Cultural Heritage, Paris, 2001, p.37.6 “Kalisher Leben”, 18 April 1930, p. 4.

Szabsie and his family on a Kalisz Municipality registration card .jpg
Lady Kalisz limited.jpg
Gornoslaska 6 facade.png

The façade of the Gornoslaska  6, the venue of the “Lady” factory (Source: State Archives in Kalisz)

An ad for ”Lady” in the Kalisz periodical "Makabi"

Szabsie and his family on the Kalisz Municipality registration card (Source: State Archives in Kalisz)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pulaskiego 14.jpg

The house at 14 Pulaskiego (former Wiejska) St. in Kalisz where Szabsie and his family lived from 1931 and until November 1939 (Source: Google Street View)

7 On Ignacy Gutman see: Kempa A.; Szukalak M. Zydzi dawnej Lodzi. Slownikbiograficzny, vol.3, p. 41.

8 Archiwum Ringelbluma, vol. 15, p. 105.

Anek on the graduation day, 1937.jpg
Izydor as a junior officer in the Polish army, 1937.jpg

 Anek (first row, second from the left) on the graduation day, 1937

Anek’s brother, Izydor, as a junior officer in the Polish army, 1937. Izydor took part in the 1939 campaign when he disappeared somewhere in eastern Poland

9 Audio testimony by Irene Malinowski nee Majorek, part 1, minutes 11, 27, 30.

10 Ibid, part 2, minute 10.

11 Ibid, minute 12.

12 Declaration of Death regarding Szabsie Majorek, State Archives in Kalisz, 104.

Hindenburgstr., Kalisz.jpg

German postcard depicting the Srodmiejska Street in Kalisz which during the occupation was renamed as Hindenburgstr. Srodmiejska is one of the main thoroughfares in Kalisz and it meets the Pulaskiego Street where Szabsie and his family lived during the 1930s'

6 “Kalisher Leben”, 18 April 1930, p. 4.

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