Excerpts

The story we found was not that of Sarah Katz ( Katsov or Kacev), my husband’s mother, who had come to the U.S. before World War I with her sister Sadie. This was the story of their brothers and sisters who hadn’t left Lithuania by 1941 when the Nazis invaded Russian territory. In the city of Telz (Telsiai) lived my husband’s Aunt Liebe, who was 46 years old, and her husband, Samuel Rostovsky, an entrepreneur who had a flax factory, and seven of their eight children – Isaac, Chochka, Chaya, Esther, Malkah, and Eitzah. Liebe’s brother Saul lived there also, with his wife and their three sons, as did another brother, Berel, with his wife and two children and the youngest sister, Bluma, a  seamstress  who hadn’t married. Bluma owned her own home and had studied her craft in Switzerland.

In June of 1941, the Nazis murdered them with thousands of other Jews. According to Israel (“Issy”) Kacev, the grandson of Sarah’ eldest brother Welvel – who had taken his wife and family to south Africa in 1935 —  Liebe’s daughter Esther  and her son Jacob were imprisoned  in the Kovno ghetto where their paternal grandmother was also imprisoned. Issy was told by a survivor that Esther could have escaped but wouldn’t leave her grandmother Rostovsky behind. Jacob did escape and joined the Russian partisans, but died somewhere in Russia.  

 We had never known there were uncles and aunts in Lithuania, had never heard their names. They were gone in violence with neighbors and friends across Europe. They were cut down with rifles and machine guns and buried in pits somewhere, these uncles, aunts, and children whose names are forgotten.

They were lost to us until now, two generations murdered and another left without its past. We had no pictures, no letters. And I held in my hands these letters that hinted at the story not of just one family but of friends and relatives.  I had no idea how many stories had been saved in that house.

-Excerpt from Keeping Their Word by Mary G. Roseberry
Roseberry 2016. All Rights Reserved


Minna wrote in her affidavit that her husband was a glass merchant in Breslau. His business had been successful, judging by their move to the nation’s capital and the well-appointed apartment at 10 Herbertstrasse, described in detail by Agnes Guder, the housekeeper.

-Excerpt from Keeping Their Word by Mary G. Roseberry
Roseberry 2016. All Rights Reserved
Minna’s birthplace was Koschmin, a small town in eastern Germany, about 90 miles from Breslau on the Oder River. Kozmin, as it is called under Polish rule, was granted a town charter in 1318 and in the fifteenth century was one of the region’s major towns. But by the late nineteenth century, when Minna Peiser’s brother opened a business in Breslau (now Wroclaw), that city had become the center of manufacturing and industry, and she joined hundreds of other young people leaving the small town for the opportunities of urban life.  Minna’s letters led me to records in Koschmin and Breslau where I looked for her maiden name on a list of businesses with the name Peiser.

-Excerpt from Keeping Their Word by Mary G. Roseberry
Roseberry 2016. All Rights Reserved


In one letter of 1941, Minna wrote to her daughter Ursula: “It is difficult, Mauselchen, to give you the dates of my parents. Mother was very vain and pretended to be younger – born on August 1. 1859 (?), died 21 December, 1913. Father was born on August 31, 1855(?) He died December 8, 1938. Therese Peiser, widow of [Meyer]Matthias, nee Fuchs, Koschmin, Province of Posen. Adolf Peiser, Koschmin, Province of Posen…(I don’t know any more than this). Whether the dates of my parents are accurate, I, unfortunately, don’t know.”

-Excerpt from Keeping Their Word by Mary G. Roseberry
Roseberry 2016. All Rights Reserved