My name is Alexander Rosner. As a new member of the Czernowitz list I should post here something about myself and my family.
I was born 1953 in Czernowitz and lived there till 1970. After two years of studies in Moscow and almost a year waiting for emigration approval in Czernowitz I moved 1973 with my parents and brother Paul to Germany. I’m married and have two children (19 and 16), the first just started her studies in a college, and the second is in school. I’m quite fluent in German, English and Russian, understand Ukrainian and to a certain extent Hebrew, Yiddish and Dutch.
The family of my father is from Wizhnitz, where my grandfather Leiser Rosner (1879), my Uncle Isiu (1905) and my father Jonas (1914) were born. My grand-Grandfather Isaac (Eisik) (born 1839) died when Leiser was 5 years old, so he almost didn’t remember his father. Leiser seems to have had 5 or 6 siblings, two of them I know by name. Neviyoser moved to Kosov in nearby Galicia, his sons emigrated 1922 to US. Another one, Gedalia, settled in Bucharest, after the death of his wife he returned to Czernowitz with his elder son. They didn’t survive Transnistria. His two girls, whom my father put into an orphanage in Bukarest, emigrated later to Israel. Some children of other Isaac’s kids emigrated to US in the beginning of the XX century. The oldest known forefather of Leiser was Rabbi Chaim Czernowitzer. One of the family legends was the regulation issued by him, that 10 generations of his descendants were prohibited to exercise an occupation that has to do with blood, like butcher and also barber.
Leiser’s mother Reisel Weiner (1844) was from a respected religious family to which the Wizhnitzer Rebbe sent his guests for lodging. She was either the grandchild or grand-grandchild of Gedalia Weiner, the first from the family to settle in Wizhnitz.
Leiser Rosner emigrated to US shortly before 1900 (a photo from that time with a cover from a photo shop in New Haven, Connecticut, is in my possession). After 5 years in the US he returned to the Bukowina to marry my grandmother, Berta (Blime) Schmidt, whose parents wouldn’t allow her to emigrate to US. Berta was a second grade cousin of Wolf Schmidt, the father of the cantor and singer Joseph Schmidt.
During the WWI Leiser and his family were evacuated to Wells in Oberösterreich/Austria and returned 1918 few months before the Austro-Hungarian Empire fell apart. They found their house in Wizhnitz destroyed and moved to Radautz where some of the Schmidts were living. Berta had 2 sisters, Betty and Anna, and a brother Hippolit in Radautz. Betty had no children, Anna’s son lives in Germany and Hippolit’s descendants live in Israel. Joseph Schmidt was also living in the house of Leiser and Berta during his military service in the Romanian army. He was very close to my Uncle Isiu, whom he called brother. Joseph participated and was singing on my father’s Bar Mitzvah.
During WWII Leiser , Bertha, Isiu with his wife Bruche and little son Heini were sent to Transnistria. They all survived. Leiser and Betha returned to Radautz, Isiu and family moved after the war to Fagaras/Transylvania. Heini and his family immigrated 1991 to Israel.
My Father moved from Radautz to Czernowitz 1928 to study in the “Realgymnasium”. After that he moved 1933 to Bucharest to study at the university. He got a diploma as a teacher of German and English, but because of anti-Semitic laws those days in Romania he was not allowed to work, so 1940 he crossed the newly established border between the southern and northern Bukowina, which was recently occupied by the Soviet Army, and appeared in Storozhinetz, where he found a job as a teacher in a Romanian school and met my mother, Herta Welt.
My grandfather, Leon Welt, was a well known attorney in Storozhinetz, he got his Ph.D. 1913 from the university in Czernowitz. His father, Samuel Welt, was a producer of mineral water, which he sold in the whole region. Samuel had 9 children, from which one son died before WWII, Leon and his brother Martin survived, all others and their families vanished without a trace between 1941 and 1944. One of Leon’s ancestors was a representative of the city of Czernowitz (probably a representative of the Jewish community) during the reception for Maria Theresia of Austria when she visited the newly acquired Bukowina.
During the WWI Leon was an officer in the Austro-Hungarian army and married in Vienna my grandmother, Leopoldine (Polda) Sinnreich. The ceremony was performed by the Army Field Rabbi. Polda’s father Zvi Hersch Sinnreich, married twice, his second wife (from the Heller family) was Polda’s mother. He was a quite wealthy land owner and a financial supporter of the Wizhnitzer Rebbe. He had land property in Zhadova and another one in the vicinity of Storozhinetz. A part of the family was living in Berehomet on the river Seret. He twice met Kaiser Franz-Joseph of Austria to settle a dispute with another land owner, Kressel, who’s daughter Nora was hiding in my parent’s apartment in the early fifties after she managed to escape from Siberia.
1941 my grandparents, Leon and Polda, and my newly married parents, were deported to Siberia. Because of the war between Germany and the Soviet Union, which started few days later, they have been dropped in western Kazakhstan in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately they survived and were permitted to return to Czernowitz in 1947, few months after the border to Romania was closed for family reunification.
My Brother Paul and I grew up in the Soviet era Czernowitz. The vast majority of my parents’ friends were original Czernowitzers, but no relatives remained in the northern Bukowina. The first language which we picked up at home and among friends was German. I remember to know only few Russian words which I used during my interaction with other kids on the street, while it was normal to use German in our “Czernowitzer” environment. We learned Russian in the Kindergarten at the age 4 – 6, so we were fluent in Russian when we entered a Russian school. Within few years German became a language “for the home” while Russian became the language for studies, interests and for the communication with the broader world. While the majority of our classmates and friends were Jewish few of them were children of old Czernowitzers.