Maria Miriam GEFAELL

GIVEN NAME: Maria Marishenka Miriam
BIRTH DATE: January 1937
BIRTH PLACE : Lviv, Ukraine ( then Lwow, Poland)
BIRTH PLACE: Ternopol , Ukraine (then , Poland).
MOTHER’S NAME : Sossie Breine Sonia GEFÄLL /GEFALL / GEFAELL nee REICHSTEIN, born 1901 in Berezhany, Ukraine (then Poland)
Efraim Leibisch REICHSTEIN and


Before the Second World War broke out in September 1939
Miriam was born in 1937 in what was then the city of Lwow in Eastern Galicia in Poland (now Lviv, Ukraine)
to Benjamin Bronislaw and Sossie Breine Sonia GEFÄLL /GEFALL /GEFAELL.
Benjamin Bronislaw GEFÄLL /GEFALL / GEFAELL was a Railroad Engineer.
We now know that the parents had married in Lwow/Lviv on May 21st 1935.

img126 img127

During the Soviet occupation between September 1939 – June 1941
When Miriam was about three years old, her parents divorced. In the beginning we did not know exactly when this happened, but taking into consideration the Germans occupied Lwow in the summer of 1941, we assumed it happened before the German occupation. We now know they divorced on June 19th 1940.

After the German occupation of Lwow in June 1941
After the Germans occupied Lwow and later made part of the city into a Jewish ghetto, Miriam’s mother and Miriam had to survive under extremely difficult conditions. The fact that in addition to Miriam and her mother, the maternal grandmother and nine of her maternal aunts and their families were also in Ghetto Lwow , must have been of some practical importance.

The situation worsened and Miriam was hidden in the Blumenfeld paint factory where Miriam’s mother was working in the ghetto.

Miriam smuggled out of the ghetto in Lwow in the autumn of 1942
The mother managed to smuggle Miriam out of the ghetto in the autumn of 1942, when Miriam was five and a half years old.
Miriam was brought with the help of a Christian friend named Wanda Jozefowicz to Miriam’s paternal aunt Irena CZAJKOWSKA nee GEFÄLL /GEFALL in Krosno. Then the aunt brought her to a monastery in Ustrzyki Dolny, 45 km S of Przemysl in Poland. At the time the monastery had been destroyed, and Miriam remembers the nuns and the children living in a little wooden hut with two rooms. The children lived in one room, and the nuns in the second room. Here Miriam was called Maria GERDA.

Miriam after the war
Miriam survived, but her mother, grandmother, aunts and uncles must have been murdered, as they never contacted Miriam’s only left aunt who had settled in Eretz Israel in 1935. What happened to her cousins, some of them born during the war, is not known.
Did the family manage to smuggle them out of the ghetto, like Miriam, but did they lose their original identity along the way?

Miriam’s mother had written to her sister Lonia in Haifa and told her friends in Lwow during the war that if she herself would not survive, she wanted Miriam to live with Lonia in Haifa. A complicated search enabled Lonia to locate Miriam. Irena Bachinska, a friend of Lonia who at the time lived in Lwow, first brought Miriam from Ustrzyki Dolny to her apartment in Lwow. A month later, Irena brought the girl to Tereza Steinbach in Wroclaw.
Tereza brought Miriam through Europe to the aunt in Haifa. Just like Miriam’s mother had wanted.

Miriam’s father Bronislaw Gefäll / Gefaell and the Gefäll / Gefaell family
The biggest mystery when we started this search was connected with Miriam’s father.
Who were his parents? We only knew that he had a sister, born as Irena (additional given name?) GEFÄLL /GEFAELL.
Irena married a Christian man with the family name CZAJKOWSKI before the war, and converted to Christianity, so she became Irena CZAJKOWSKA. She survived the war, had no children and lived in 1946 in Pl 3 Maja 11/ 2 ,Krosno, Poland .
If Miriam’s father had additional brothers and/or sisters, we did not know.
Where did he study to become a railroad engineer?
What happened to him after the divorce from Miriam’s mother on June 19th 1940?
What happened to him after the summer of 1941?
There are three versions of what might have happened to him:
1) That he was killed under a bombing of Lwow
2) That he died in the Janowska Camp in Lwow
3) That he fled to the east, deeper into Soviet territory

List of Miriam’s relatives, victims of the Holocaust

Even though it is clear that Miriam’s grandmother and aunts and uncles are not alive, here is Miriam’s list of relatives lost in the Holocaust:

Maternal grandmother
REICHSTEIN Reizel Reisel (Rosa) nee PERLMUTTER ; born 1878 (or 1876) Berezhany; Ghetto Lwow
GEFÄLL / GEFALL / GEFAELL Sossie Breine Sonia nee REICHSTEIN; born Nov 30th 1901 Berezhany ; Ghetto Lwow
Maternal relatives (aunts, uncles, cousins):
APISDORF Cirl Cyla nee REICHSTEIN; born 1900 (or 1898) Berezhany ; Ghetto Lwow
APISDORF Mechel Michael; born 1892 Sokal ; Ghetto Lwow
APISDORF Rina ; born January 1st 1927 Lwow; Ghetto Lwow
KARTEN Perl Perla nee REICHSTEIN; born 1902 (or 1900) Berezhany; Ghetto Lwow
KARTEN Jechiel Chiel ; born 1902 Berezhany; Ghetto Lwow
KARTEN Bronek Bronislaw; born January 6th 1927; Ghetto Lwow
KARTEN Pola Pessia nee REICHSTEIN; born 1906 (or 1903) Berezhany; Ghetto Lwow
KARTEN Israel; born 1900 Berezhany; Ghetto Lwow
KARTEN Edek Edward; born February 9th 1936 Lwow; Ghetto Lwow
KARTEN Sabina Sime nee REICHSTEIN; born 1908 (or 1905) Berezhany; Ghetto Lwow
KARTEN Efraim-Arie; born 1941 Lwow; Ghetto Lwow
WINKLER Eva Chava nee REICHSTEIN, born 1910 (or 1909) Berezhany; Berezhany
WINKLER Don, born in Berezhany , probably around 1905 – 1910; Berezhany
WINKLER daughter; born 1941 Berezhany; Berezhany
TUCHMAN Sylvia nee REICHSTEIN; born 1914 Berezhany; Ghetto Lwow
TUCHMAN Henrik ; born 1910 Lwow; Ghetto Lwow
TUCHMAN daughter; born 1941 Lwow; Ghetto Lwow
EKSTEIN Kshisha nee REICHSTEIN; born 1916 Berezhany; Ghetto Lwow
EKSTEIN Aharon Aron; born 1914 Kolbuszowa; Ghetto Lwow
REICHSTEIN Mina; born 1919 Lwow; Ghetto Lwow
REICHSTEIN Regina; born 1922 Lwow ; Ghetto Lwow
GEFÄLL / GEFALL / GEFAELL Benjamin Bronislaw; born 1900 Ternopol ; Not known

Photos of Miriam’s parents Sonia and Bronislaw Gefäll/ Gefaell:
In Polish business directories for Lwow in the 1920’s we found
Daw. Gefäll, a watchmaker in ul. Zybliewiecka 4, Lwow
We assumed his given name must be Dawid.
Who was he? The father of the siblings Bronislaw and Irena Gefäll ? A brother?
We did not know the answers at that point. in October 2007.

From the Address Book of residents in Malopolska for the year 1935, the following persons in Lwow named Gefaell are listed:
Adolf Gefäll, urz. bank (bank clerk), ul. Kulkowa 4
Benjamin Gefäll, urz. PKP (clerk), ul.Zyblikiewicza 4
Dawid Gefäll, zegarm. (watchmaker), ul. Zyblikiewicza 4
Etka Gefäll, urz. (clerk), ul. Zyblikiewicza 4
Fryderyk Gefäll, mechanik, ul. Zbozowy 3
Leon Gefäll, zegarm. (watchmaker), ul. Ruska 6
Slighly different spelling of the family name:
Benzion Gefel, naucz. pryw. (private teacher), ul Kochanowskiego
At that point, in March 2008, we wondered if any of these were relatives of Miriam.
By the way, none of these persons are listed in the telephone registers for Lwow for the years 1932, 1935 and 1938.
In a letter written by her mother during the war, Miriam found that her parents divorced on June 19th 1940.
This was during the Soviet occupation of Lwow/Lviv.

We are now in contact with descendants of a GEFAELL family that used to live in Wien. There is a possibilityIf this turns out to be true, the GEFAELL family from Wien settled there around 140 years ago. that this family had roots in the part of Galicia that is now in the Ukraine.
Read on and see what we found out in November 2008.

At that point, we did not know who were the parents of Bronislaw Gefaell, but there was one Gefaell family from Tarnopol that we noted as interesting.
Dawid Gefaell and his wife Miriam nee Zwergel had the following children in Tarnopol:, according to JRI-Poland:
1.Julius Wilhelm Gefaell born 1889
2. Saul Gefaell born 1891
3. Moritz Gefaell born 1893
4. Etka Gefaell born 1895
5. Adolf Gefaell born 1897
Dawid Gefaell was the son of Joel Gefaell and Rossie Rosche Thyman and the brother of Josef Mechel Gefaell born 1867 and Chaje Ruchel Gefaell born 1872.
Possible problem:
Dawid Gefaell and Miriam Zwergel married in a civilian marriage in 1896 and were then listed as being 43 and 40 years old.
That would make Miriam Zwergel 33 years old giving birth to Julius Wilhelm and 41 years old when giving birth to Adolf.
In 1900 she would be 44 years old.
It would have been interesting to verify the years of birth for Dawid Gefaell and Miriam Zwergel.
ULRICH GEFAELL 1800 – 1868
We have been contacted by two descendants of a watchmaker named Ulrich Gefaell born 1800 who settled in London and worked as a watchmaker.
This seems a little far back for making a direct connection to Miriam at this point, but as the family in England do not know where Ulrich Gefaell lived in Europe before coming to England (Freiburg, Germany is one possibility), we will keep this in our search.
With new information from the archives of the Jewish community in Wien,we now know that the GEFAELL family we have been in contact with, also has roots in Lwow/Lviv. Moritz Moses GEFAELL (probably born around 1818, probably died in Wien in 1889) married Anna Chane CHARTAN recte SIMPLER (born around 1824, died in Wien in 1887).The couple came from Lwow. The birth records for Lwow for the years 1814 – 1837 exist in the AGAD archives in Warszawa, so there is a possibility to pay for locating these birth records. F.ex. if Moritz Moses GEFAELL was born in Lwow, the birth record will give us the names of his parents, and for a widened search we may find his siblings. If one of the brothers of Moritz Moses GEFAELL is Joel GEFAELL, we may have found the connection to Miriam’s family.
Moritz Moses and Anna Chane had at least three sons who were born in Lwow and married in Wien:
Salomon Sigmund GEFAELL, born 1845 in Lwow, married in Wien in 1885, children, died in Wien in 1911.
2. Josef Victor GEFAELL born 1847 in Lwow, married in Wien in 1873, children, died in Wien in 1895.
3. Owadaja Osias GEFAELL , born 1854 in Lwow, married Tsarne Sarlote HERLINGER from Nemet- Gurat in W ien in 1891. Died and was buried in Wien in 1927 (JOWBR).
Sometimes vital records can be very vital!
From the Polish State Archives in Warszawa came Miriam’s own birth certificate giving her official given name at birth as Maria GEFAELL, and the names of her parents as Benjamin GEFAELL and Sossie REICHSTEIN. So we learnt that the more “modern” names of Bronislaw and Sonja, also had more traditional versions.
But the record opening new doors in this research is the marriage register of Miriam’s parents from Lwow May 21st 1935.Here we finally get to know the names of Miriam’s paternal grandparents – Dawid GEFAELL and Marjem nee ZWERGEL. Heard the names before? Of course!
Thanks to JRI Poland we had already found the civilian marriage register from Tarnopol for Miriam’s paternal grandparents. Dawid Samuel GEFAELL , born ca 1853, and Marie Marjem ZWERGEL, born ca 1856. Add the new marriage record of Miriam’s parents, and we can present at least six (seven, with the stillborn child) of Dawid and Marjem’s children:
Julius Wilhelm GEFAELL born 1889
Saul GEFAELL born 1891
Moritz GEFAELL born 1893
Etka GEFAELL born 1895
Adolf GEFAELL born 1897 and a stillborn child in 1897.
Benjamin GEFAELL born 1900 (Miriam’s father)
Miriam knew about one paternal aunt – Irena CZAJKOWSKA nee GEFAELL.She even has postwar letters from her aunt telling that she, Miriam, is Irena’s only surviving relative.In a 1935 address directory for Lwow(see Research journal from March 2008 ) we see that Miriam’s aunt Etka GEFAELL is listed as a clerk and living in ulica Zyblikiewicza 4 in Lwow, the house of her father Dawid GEFAELL. Etka is then forty years old.
Our theory is that Etka some time between 1935 to 1941 became a Catholic and married a Mr. Czajkowski, and that she started to use a more Polish name – Irena.
Moritz GEFAELL was born Dec 25th 1893. According to the 1929 business directory for Lwow , a medical doctor named Maurycy GEFAELL lived in ulica Zyblikiewicza 4, the home of Dawid GEFAELL..
Logan Kleinwaks told us that in the 1924 Polish Officers Yearbook Maurycy GEFAELL is listed. This would probably mean that:
Moritz GEFAELL had finished his medical studies before 1924
that after Poland became an independent state after WWI, he preferred the Polish version of Maurycy as his given name.
The fact that he still lived at his father’s home in ulica Zyblikiewicza 4 in 1929 points to the possibility that he was not married in 1929. He probably married and/or moved away between 1930 to 1935.
At the Yad Vashem website, a search for GEFAELL will give you a record in Russian for a victim of Holocaust transcribed as Mavritsi GEFEL, a medical doctor in Kalusz (now Kalush in the Ukraine) This MD was married.
So our theory was that this record referred to Miriam’s uncle Maurycy GEFAELL.
About half a year ago Miriam and her husband searched the ITS records at Yad Vashem. Among these records were two index cards that now became very relevant and very important.

On one card Maurycy Gefaell born Dec 25th 1893 in Tarnopol to Dawid and Maria was arrested in Kalush near Stanislawow in 1941. This is Miriam’s uncle.
The second card was registered in 1967!
Here Maurycy Gefaell’s daughter Eugenia is searching for information about her father.
In other words, in 1967, Miriam had a first cousin who was alive and lived in Lodz.
We will now try to locate this cousin.
Our theory is that Eugenia was born in the late 1930’s and that she was saved by a non Jewish family. She later seemes to have married a person named DZUNDZA, and in 1967 lived in Lodz.
Logan Kleinwaks gave us the following information:
Dr. Maurycy Gefaell appears in the Kalusz section in both the 1938 and 1936 Polish Medical Yearbooks as:

Gefaell Maurycy (1893, 1925) og., ul. Pierackiego 12, tel. 33
This gives us his exact address in Kalusz, his birth year 1893 and the year he must have finished his medical studies (1925).
Thanks again, Logan!.

Miriam’s story was lately published in the Family tree Magazine in the UK and you can read the article here
Thanks to Melody Amsel-Arieli, a freelance writer from Israel, for writing about Miram’s story.

Sadly Miriam died of cancer on January 5th 2013.
She will always be in the hearts of her Israeli family, but also be her Gefaell relatives.
Through this website, after being contacted by Pablo Gefaell in the spring of 2008 , it turned out that Miriam had Gefaell relatives in Spain, Italy, Austria, USA and Canada. Most of those she met at a wonderful family reunion in Spain in July 2010.

In the spring of 2012 other and closer relatives, living in Poland, contacted our website, sending Miriam family photos that their branch of the family had kept of Miriam, her parents and other relatives. Miriam did not have the opportunity to meet these relatives in person.

Now, in the spring of 2013, the daughter of Wanda Josefowicz, one of the women who helped save Miriam during the war, also contacted the website, giving Miriam’s family two photos that her mother had kept of Miriam.


MarysiaThe Spanish Gefaell family

written by Joaquin Gefaell, December 15, 2008
Hi, David, Suzi, Maureen…
I am Joaquin Gefaell, one of the more than 40 grandchildren of William Gefaell, the Rail Road engineer who came to Spain, married Pilar Gorostegui and had 11 children (one of them, Jose Antonio (Tony) being my father).
Some of my cousins are trying to build up our family tree, and have indeed traced back our ancestors to Wien and Poland. It would be extremely interesting to share with you the origin of the English Geafells.
The Gefaells in Spain are becoming extremely numerous, as, after the 11 children William and Pilar had, my uncles and aunts have been rather prolific also (we are 6, my uncle William had 9, my uncle Javier 11, Pilar 4…), and the third generation is also huge now.
I would love to get in toch with you, I can forward your messages to my cousins Blanca and Camino (daughters of William Gefaell II) who are more or less leading this genealogy efforts.
I hope to hear from you soon,
Best regards,

written by Suzi clayton, November 03, 2008
I have written before (see above) and can confirm what my cousin Maureen has written. My mother (Alice Watts) was in contact with the Spanish Gefaells during the 60’s. They were a family of Jews from Vienna. One son came to Spain and became Catholic and had numerous descendants. Another member of the Jewish Gefaells went to the USA and there are numerous descendants of that branch of the Family. Other Viennese Gefaells (the aunts of the Spanish Gefaells) stayed in Vienna and perished in the Death Camps. The name Gefaell is an unusual one and I would not be suprised to find that Our Ulrich’s family had come originally from elsewhere in Europe.
Sad Stories
written by
October 06, 2008
These stories are all sad, but this one is truly a miracle! I know that her parents died along with the rest(or almost the rest) of her family, but she is lucky to survive the Holocaust as a Jew. That is truly amazing!
Juljusz and Maurycy Gefaell in Polish Army
written by Logan K., September 13, 2008
Using my new search engine at, you can find entries for Juljusz and Maurycy Gefaell in a 1924 Polish Officers Yearbook, viewable online. Perhaps, the information in this military directory can be used learn more about the Gefaell family.
written by David Charels Gefaell, July 27, 2008
Hi I would just like to let you know that there are a few GEFAELL’s In england which at some stage must be related way back in history there is also a conection in spain but will need some working out to find the conection, I am not sure on how to go about it so if anyone can help or point me in the right direction it would be much appreciated. Miriam if you get to read this please feel free to contact me you are not alone.
Best wishes Dave

written by Suzi Clayton, May 12, 2008
I have a family history of Gefaell Clockmaker in England. Our ancestor was Ulrich, born 1800. It seems that his ancestors came from ?Freiburg in the Black Forest in Germany. The Gefaell name continued in this area for many years. I wonder if this is the origin of this Polish Gefaell family particularly as the David is a watchmaker. ?
My Family Tree
written by Maureen Baxter (Nee Gefaell), May 12, 2008
I have just seen this web site and thought this may be of interest.
My maiden name was Gefaell. I was born in 1950, the eldest of 5 children all living in the UK. After my fathers dealth (George Gefaell), I decided to research our family name, as we did not know the origin.
We have a hand written family tree log book, which originally started by ” Ulrich Gefaell” he was born on 01July.1800! We understand he came to England and lived in London,working as a clock maker. He died in May 1858.
I have a log of all records, births marriage and deaths since him, but nothing before……..which I would love to pursue. During my research I discovered a family of “Gefaells” living in Spain, who I have since been in contact with. Their oldest Ancester was William Gefaell, who went to Spain from Vienna, as a Rail Road engineer in 1900!!! Stayed and married…….producing a lovely decendent family living in Spain.
If I can help you further, please make contact. I appreciate this information is not a direct link to the information you require but it may build a picture. I would also welcome advise or information to find any information prior to Ulrich. Regards Maureen.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply