Birth Date: 1946
Birth Place: Bytom,Poland
Father’s Name: Zygmunt Lewicki
Mother’s Name: Chaja Lewicki nee Schifmann
Maternal grandfather: Schulim Schifmann from Kanczuga
Maternal grandmother: Rifka Rachela Schifmann nee Schmalzbach
My mother Chaja Lewicki nee Schifmann died in 1967 in Poland when I was still young. My mother told me very little about her past. It seemed to be so painful for her that I learnt not to ask. In 1963 my mother went from Poland to the States where she visited friends and relatives – but who were they?
As the years have passed I feel more and more the need to learn about my mother’s life and my own Jewish roots. Who were my relatives lost in Holocaust?
Will I be able to find living relatives or friends of my mother’s who can give me this information?
Chaja Schifmann was born in 1920 in Kanczuga in Galicia, Poland; not far from Przeworsk. Her parents were Schulim Schifmann and Rifka Rachela Schifmann nee Schmalzbach.
Chaja had two sisters, Chana born in 1913 and Taube born in 1914.
Before Holocaust there were about 967 Jews in Kanczuga.
When the war broke out in 1939, we learn from Pinkas Hakehillot (published by Yad Vashem) that some of the Jewish men from Kanczuga fled eastwards into what became Soviet territory. One of these men was Schulim Schifmann.
As far as Grazyna was told, her grandfather Schulim Schifmann died quite at the beginning of the war, in Soviet territory. In Pinkas Hakehillot it says that most of the men who had fled eastwards came back to Kanczuga in the second half of 1941 following the German attack on Soviet territory. The men who came back to Kanczuga were all caught by the Germans and murdered.
One of Chaja’s sisters was probably murdered in Kanczuga. It is not known what the fate of the second sister was.
During the month of July 1942 the Jews who were still in Kanczuga had to get new stamps on their work permits several times, in theory to enable them to stay in Kanczuga. Though for each time fewer and fewer permits were renewed by the Germans – going down from 350 permits to 150 to permits for 4 families. After this, the Jews were rounded up in the synagogue and from there sent to a nearby camp where there was a selection – the old and weak were shot in a nearby forest and around 150 young men were sent to work camps.
The rest of Kanczuga Jews were sent to the death camp at Belzec.
At the selection camp near Kanczuga, Chaja told her daughter Grazyna that she saw her mother Rifka Rachela Schifmann being shot.
Chaja herself had made contact with a young Polish Catholic named Zygmunt Lewicki who managed to smuggle her out and keep her hidden till the end of the war. After the war Chaja and Zygmunt married and their daughter Grazyna was born in 1946. The couple lived in Bytom where they had many Jewish friends. Chaja died in 1967, and Zygmunt died in 1992. Grazyna now lives in the States.
Grazyna’s grandparents Schulim and Rifka Rachel Schifmann lived in the little town of Siedleczka near Kanczuga.
According to Where Once We Walked, 26 Jews lived in Siedleczka before the Holocaust.
Siedleczka is situated 38 km WNW of Przemysl.
What information can be found about the fate of Schulim Schifmann in the Second World War?
Is there any specific information about the fate of Grazyna’s aunts Chana and Taubain Holocaust from other sources?
When and where was Rifka Rachela Schifmann nee Kurschner Schmalzbach born?
Who were her parents?
Who were her siblings?
A Are there any prewar family photos of Grazyna’s Schifman and Schmalzbach relatives?
In honor of Thanksgiving 2007 a miracle happened:
Grazyna knew she had relatives in the States, but she was not able to locate them.
Even after she emigrated from Poland to the States a few years ago, she could not find her relatives.
Publishing her story here on Missing Identity was based on the hope that one day her relatives would find her through the internet.
That day has come!
Relatives searching the internet, found Grazyna’s story on this website, looked at the photos and read the text.
Elaine Schiffman, the daughter of the late Nathan Schiffman, a Holocaust survivor from Kanczuga has emailed her and talked to her on the phone. Nathan Schiffman was probably was a second degree cousin of Chaja Schiffman.
Grazyna is overjoyed, and so are her newfound relatives.
Through Elaine Schiffman, Grazyna now has the names of other relatives and friends of her mother’s.
PS. A special thanks to Glenn Ramsey.
looking for family info
written by pam, December 02, 2008
My grandmother is now 95. She is of sound mind. She lived in Kanczuga in the 1920’s. She states that her father was the local tailor and her uncle was the accountant for the local Count. Her last name was Sochochi (?spelling). I’ve heard family names such as Bauer and Nowicki. I would like some info on her family. I dont know if she was Jewish. She gets mad when we ask her. She isnt affiliated with any church either. I just dont know what to make of her past. Jenny is very sketchy about her past. I wanted to know what street she lived on. she states that she doesnt remember. I would love someone to provide information good or bad. My heart breaks for all those murdered by the Nazi regime. Since I was in 3rd grade I have read all that I could about the Holocaust. God bless.
written by Richard E. Schmalzbach, February 08, 2008
My great-grandfather Charles W. Schmalzbach was born in Galkia, Poland in 1864. Married to Natalie Sundheimer(Bavarian) arrived United States November 18, 1895 , two chldren Moritz (Morris) and Lev (Leo). Don’t know if this helps at all, but I hope so and would be interested if there is a link to know about it.
Child of a Holocaust Survivor.
written by Elaine Schiffman, November 05, 2007
To Grazyna Lewicki:
If you come to this website, please contact me!! Your mother and you are my cousins. I remember when your mother came to the United States. I remember when you came to the United States. My father and your mother were first cousins!!!
written by Amanda, March 15, 2007
I am doing a project in my literature class and I chose to do mine on Grazyna. I enjoyed learning as much as I could about her and her mother during the Holocaust. She has a very interesting story and even though she was not in the Holocaust directly she has been affected by it drasticly. Thank you for making this information available to read and learn about. 🙂
written by Sondra Rechy, March 01, 2007
I am daughter of George Joseph Small. Who was son of Oscar Smalzbach. Oscar was born in 20 Jul 1875. Came to US 1909. Married to Rose. Children; Barbara Chester Maurice, Leo, George, and Ida. Would this be part of your Schmalzbach family? There is also a sister of Oscar, who has a daughter named Adele (married name Feld) who came to the US in 1951 with husband and son. Are we part of your family?
written by Glenn Ramsey, November 23, 2006
Hi, I know of someone from Kanczuga who wishes to contact Chaja Schiffmann’s family. Please contact me directly.
Glenn Ramsey Nov 22, 2006
written by Alison, November 01, 2006
Hi! i am doing a project on the Holocaust and was wondering if you have any information that you can remember.I could reall use your help-your story is very detailed and the most info. ive seen!
written by Eva, April 22, 2006
Will the person who wrote this message, please contact us again giving his/her email address?
Message: “Please contact me for further exchange of information.I do research family in Kanczuga too, and have a file that could interest you!.