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Anita Greenbaum-Brush

Greenbaum Family History in Gabin, Poland

My grandfather was Jacob Leib Greenbaum. He was the oldest of five brothers, sons of Abram and Hinda Greenbaum. The other brothers were, Joshua, Joseph, Simon (Simcha), and David. Like Jacob, Joshua remained in Gabin, married Sarah and had a daughter, Reizele. Joseph and Simon emigrated to Leeds in England just prior to World War I. They married and had families.. The fifth brother, David, was reportedly taken into the Russian Army during WWI and it is not known what happened afterward. It is possible that he returned to Poland, as I have seen someone by that name listed as a resident of the Lodz ghetto during WWII.

Another branch of the family had emigrated to the US earlier. They were connected through my great-grandmother Hinda’s family. Their family names were Rosenberg, and Silberstein. They settled in Detroit and were active in starting the Detroit branch of the Gombin Society. Many years later, in 1939, this branch of the family would save my father by sponsoring his immigration to the US just prior to the German invasion of Poland.

My grandfather, Jacob, was a grain merchant, had a business called Colonial Groceries, and also ran a theatre, the Polonia, in a building in the back of the house where the family lived at the corner of the New Market (Novey Rynek). This theatre showed plays, and later movies. Jacob was described as a Talmudic scholar, but eventually became what was called a “free thinker”, shaved his beard and wore western clothing.

Jacob married Hena Ryster and had three sons and a daughter. My father, Henry Greenbaum, (Haim Grinbaum or Grynbaum) was the oldest. He studied in Plock and then Warsaw, where he became active in the Bund, and eventually studied medicine at the University of Paris where he met my mother. After finishing medical school he was faced with a choice, return to Poland or emigrate to the United States. He chose the latter, was sponsored by the Silberstein family, and arrived in May 1939. His brother, Stas, studied Law at the University of Warsaw, returned to Gabin and married Helen Zayontz. They had a son, Izio, in April 1941.

The two younger siblings, Janek (Albert) and Rozia, left Gabin in the winter of 1942. Yanek had been in the Polish army at the time of the invasion, but returned home when the front collapsed. He was later taken to a labor camp, but escaped. In January 1942 he traveled east a few miles from Gabin where he was taken in by the Grabarek family. He lived in their barn for three years. In March, Rozia traveled north across the Vistula River first to the town of Szczegowo, then posing as an Aryan, worked as a farm laborer, and finally, found refuge with the Ostrowski family. Rosia and Janek were reunited in January 1945. Eventually they traveled to Paris, married and brought their families to the US.

My grandfather, Jacob Lieb was killed in the winter of 1941 after he was taken to a labor camp near Poznan. He was struck and killed by a Gestapo motorcycle while gathering wood. My grandmother Hena, and Stas, Helen and Izio were murdered at Chelmno in April 1942 with most of the remaining Jewish population of Gabin.