Surname: Unknown (Later LUTNIK)
Name: Unknown “Lutka” (Later Janina Ludmila)
Birth Date: 1937 – 1938
Birth Place: Perhaps Kolomyya, Ukraine (earlier Kolomea, Poland)
Father’s Name: Unknown
Mother’s Name: Unknown
THE PARENTS WHO SAVED AND RAISED THIS GIRL:
Szczepan (Stefan) and Zofia LUTNIK from Kolomea.
THE DAUGHTER TELLS THE STORY, AS IT IS KNOWN
My mother was probably born in 1938 in Kolomyya. The true name, the day of birth as well as the place where she was born, is unknown. Her identity is based on a forged certificate of birth under the name of Janina Ludmila Lutnik. This document was signed in May 1943 and issued by the priest Bialowas. According to this certificate, my mother was born in Kolomyya on March 2nd 1938 as the daughter of Szczepan (Stefan) and Zofia Lutnik.
Szczepan (Stefan) and Zofia LUTNIK lived in Skupniewicza street in Kolomyya and had no children of their own. Szczepan LUTNIK, born 1892, worked as a policeman before World War Two. His wife Zofia Lutnik nee Czernenko , born 1897, was a housewife. Szczepan LUTNIK brought my mother, then four or five years old, to his sister-in-law Janina Kozulkiewicz nee Czernenko in Sniatyn. Janina and her husband also had no children. This could have happened just before the ghetto in Kolomyya was established towards the end of March 1942, or it could even have been after the ghetto was closed on April 3rd 1942, because during the war, Szczepan LUTNIK had permission to drive into the Ghetto of Kolomea to pick up things from there.
After my mother had stayed in Sniatyn for some time, she was brought back to Kolomyya to a children’s home run by nuns (Franciszkanki) in the Mickiewicza street in Kolomyya. During the day she stayed in this institution and every evening the Lutnik couple brought her to their home. When she complained she did not like going to the children’s home, Mrs. Lutnik explained she had to go there, “because otherwise the Germans will kill us”.
During the war the LUTNIK couple also kept, for some time, a mother and a child hidden behind the French windows in their apartment.
When the war ended the LUTNIK family quickly left Kolomyya and moved to Wroclaw (earlier Breslau) and then moved on to Olesnice, 30 km from Wroclaw where many others from Kolomyya also were living at the time. My mother was often called “the Jewess”, so it seems the people from Kolomyya knew about her descent.
The LUTNIK couple never told my mother from where she came from and who were her biological parents.
Will my mother and I find the information to connect us back to my mother’s family? Did any of our Jewish relatives survive the Holocaust? Are there other relatives who got out of Europe in time?
PHOTOS OF MY MOTHER
Please look closely at the photos of my mother – perhaps you see some family likeness?
RESEARCH JOURNAL JULY 2005
PHOTO OF MY BROTHER
Several of our Polish relatives insist my brother “looks like the other family” – that is our Jewish family.
We hope to add the childhood photo of my brother. in the near future. Perhaps this will help show any family likeness?
THE GHETTO IN KOLOMYYA
According to the Yizkor book for Kolomyya, “a ghetto was established on March 25, 1942 with over 18,000 Jews. During the course of the next year, over 16,000 persons were sent to Belzec. The ghetto was liquidated in February, 1943”. The first possibility is that the little girl was given to Mr. LUTNIK just before the ghetto was established and that he then brought her to Sniatyn to keep her away from Kolomyya in those critical days. The second possibility is based on the fact that Szczepan ( Stefan ) LUTNIK had permission to drive into the ghetto in Kolomyya to pick up stuff. a. If the family of this girl was from the town of Kolomyya itself and if Mr. Lutnik smuggled the little girl out of the ghetto, he probably did that in the very beginning of the ghetto – March or April 1942. b. If the family was from a surrounding town or village, it could have been later, after many of the Kolomyya Jews had been sent to Belzec in April 1942 and additional Jews were brought in from the surroundings. Any Jewish family inside the ghetto would be very desperate to save their children. This specific Jewish family that enlisted the help of Mr. LUTNIK must have felt relief that he also had the means to smuggle their four or five year old daughter out of the ghetto, hidden in the cargo he picked up in the ghetto and was allowed to bring out.
Kolomyya in the Ukraine (before the war Kolomea in Poland) had a Jewish population of around 18246 Jews, according to Where Once We Walked. If this little girl was indeed born in Kolomyya, there are many potential families who could be her family. There is a Yizkor book for Kolomyya that we will study more closely.
As far as we can establish, both the Lutnik family and the Kozulkiewicz family (and probably the Czernenko family) were Ruthenians or what is sometimes also called Ukrainians. Interestingly enough, despite this the Lutnik family did not stay in the Ukraine but moved westwards into what became Poland after the war.
THE SHTETLINK FOR KOLOMYYA
Perhaps you can help us locate relevant information on the ShtetLink for Kolomyya?
RESEARCH JOURNAL AUGUST 2005
MICHAL LUTNIK FROM KOLOMYYA TO THE STATES IN 1906
According to Ellis Island, in 1906 a Ruthenian man named Michal Lutnik came from Kolomea, travelling through Trieste in Italy to New York. He was born around 1869, single, listed as a potter. It looks like he was going to a friend with the family name Nobory.
Could this be a relative of Stefan Lutnik? Perhaps even a paternal uncle? If so, and if he started his own family in the States, perhaps the decendants of Michal Lutnik would have any relevant information for this case in their old family letters?
ALEXANDER LUTNIK FROM KOLOMYYA TO THE STATES IN 1907
Anybody who has done research in the Ellis Island manifests see that many immigrants list that they are going to relatives in the States. Even when they list friends , these friends are of the same ethnic background as they themselves. This case was the first time I personally found that the immigrant, a Ruthenian Christian, had listed a Jewish friend as the person he was going to.
Alexander Lutnik ( born ca 1858 in Kolomea) is listed as a painter. His wife was still in Kolomyya, but he was going to his friend Gerschon Leider in New York.
Could there be some relationship between the Jewish LEIDER family and the Ruthenian LUTNIK family that when Holocaust started in Kolomyya, made Stefan Lutnik save a relative of the Leider family?
Can anybody tell us more about the family of Gerschon Leider? Could the family name also be spellt LEDER?
THE PRIEST DR. MICHAL BIALOWAS
Dr. Michal Bialowas was a Catholic priest in Lwow ( Lviv) before World War Two. During the war he was in Kolomea/ Kolomyya where, according to some witnesses, he helped several Jews to survive. After the war he lived near Wroclaw. He is no longer alive.
In any case he wrote out false baptismal certificates for our “Lutka” as Janina Ludmilla Lutnik and a similar certificate for another Jewish girl who also survived.
What other information can we find about this priest and his rescue actions in Kolomyya?
RESEARCH JOURNAL OCTOBER 2005
MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR THE JEWS OF KOLOMYYA IN TEL AVIV
On Wednesday October 26th 2005 in Beth Volyn in Givatayim in Israel, the annual memorial service commemorating the Jews of Kolomyya took place. Around 50 people attended, mostly those who had come from Kolomyya themselves, but also some of the younger generation.
For the second time scholarships had been set up for essays and researches around the Jewish history of Kolomyya and among this year’s recipients, the youngest was twelve years old.
Arie Suchman has been documenting the history of the Jews of Kolomyya for many years, filming survivors and publishing a book. Now he is engaged in trying to help our Lutka, with the help of Professor Dr. Dov Noi and others who came from the shtetl. I, Eva Floersheim , told the audience about Lutka and her plight , and material about this case was given to those who attended the ceremony.
The hope is that somebody will come forth with information or any idea that may help us proceed in this search.
What is always a possibility is that Lutka and her Jewish parents were not originally from Kolomyya, but had been deported to the ghetto in Kolomyya from the surroundings. Even in that case, we hope somebody has a clue for us.
RESEARCH JOURNAL MAY 2006
Arie Suchman, originally from Kolomyya, made many efforts to help Lutka during the time we knew him. You felt how personally involved he was in trying to solve this case.
On March 2nd 2006 he arranged an evening in Beth Volyn, Givatayim, Israel to commemorate the Jews of Kolomyya. In addition to several distinguished speakers, one of the two films Arie had made about the Jews of Kolomyya, was shown.
It was very sad to learn that Arie Suchman had died on April 9th 2006. Blessed be his memory!