The Album of the Seligman Family in Slobodka
The family photos from Slobodka are an extraordinary document. They allow a rare glimpse into a lost world. Geography, generations and history have cut us off from our recent past. We know little about the surroundings and the interpersonal relationships of what were close family members. Luckily not only the photographs survive, but also the good-wishes, notes and text on the reverse of the photographs that provide essential information. These have been translated here from the original Yiddish, Russian and Polish. Even the choice of a particular language for communication provides a record of the way outside society was influencing the lives of the Shtetl. The text directed to the older generation was exclusively in Yiddish, while the intermediate generation used Russian. The children, who had grown up in the Polish school system, wrote in Polish. Yiddish was already clearly in retreat prior to the Holocaust.
The Patriarch and the Matriarch - The Earliest Photographs
The Zelikman / Seligman family outside their house in Slobodka around 1910.
From left to right: standing at back - Malca, Chasia, Golda, Luba; at front - Srol Getzel, Sara Leah, Yankel, Getzel, David Meyer, Leibe, Malca Swartzman.
Sara-Leah (Swartzman) Seligman
David Meyer Seligman
In and with the Polish Army
At Home in Slobodka - around 1926
Luba, Motel Chazin, Getzel, Chasia, Yankel, Srol-Getzel, sitting - Sara-Leah and Leibe
The Polish Border Guard (KOP) had barracks in Slobodka though officers lodged with families in the village.
With Friends & KOP soldiers
Family with KOP soldiers
Leibe Seligman in the Polish Army
Between 1924-5 Leibe served in the Polish Army. Note the batallion on maneuvers in the countryside.
(Leibe marked with red dot, apparently help operate the canteen. He was released early after David Meyer became ill.)
At Home in Slobodka
Leibe & his sister Luba
Aharon (?), Folke & Leibe
Leibe & his cousins, Aharon (?) & Luba
Sonia & Chaya Swartzman, Luba, Leibe & Motel Chazin
Leibe & friends
Leibe & his cousins. Aharon (?), Folke, Luba (?) and another sister
Mordachai (Motel) Chazin with Leibe
Szachno or Folke
Getzel, Motel, Luba, Taiba, friends and family - 1930
Family Group around 1934 - Sara Leah, Luba, Motel and others
Getzel in the Medical Corp
Around 1930 Getzel served in the Polish Army.
Getzel in the Medical Corp
(Getzel is marked with red dot)
Getzel Joins the Medical Corp
Leibe and Mary Joffe Marry
Photographed at M. Rogalskis, Vacelela Street. Kraslava
Aryeh Leib Seligman & Mary Joffe from Kraslava at the time of their marriage
In 1928 Mary Joffe, who had previously migrated to South Africa with her mother and brothers, came to Slobodka looking for a match. After Szachno Zelikman declined the offer, his cousin Leibe married Mary and they set off to Johannesburg. The decision who be fateful for all. Within fourteen years Leibe's migration would prove to be a card to life.
Leibe, Mary & Nahum Swartzman
on the back in Russian: A souvenir from Riga. From your brother Nahum Swartzman to Mary and Leib. Riga 15/8/1928.
Nahum, an engineer from Riga, was Mary's first cousin. He would perish in the holocaust.
Mary Joffe with a friend in Kraslava
Mary back in South Africa
photographed at the New York Studio, Pritchard Street, Johannesburg. 1928-1930.
Getzel, Swartzmans, Slobodka and Kraslava
Sonia Swartzman was a second cousin of Getzel, her grandfather Ben-Zion and Sara Leah, Getzel's mother, being siblings. She lived in Kraslava and trained as a nurse. She later married Shmuel Kaminer and died in Kraslava in 1941 at the hands of the Nazis together with her son Misha.
Getzel and Sonia seem to have been very close.
Getzel leaves for South Africa
on photograph in Yiddish: Before G. Zelikman's journey to Africa, leaving from the Purim Ball. Braslav 3/3/1932
Hunting near Slobodka
Getzel with Friends
At back with hat is Luba Zelikman
Sara Leah Seligman - 1932
Souvenir from cousin Chaim, Kraslava, 24/8/1931
A mystery photograph for the children. Where is Nussinka. For Mr. Getzel. 31/7/1928
Sonia & Esther Swartzman
Souvenir to our dear cousin from the aunt and cousin, look and when you look remember.
A close relationship existed between the Seligmans in Slobodka and the Swartzmans in Kraslava, the family of Sara Leah. Of the many faces you see here in the album only Leibe, Getzel, Yankel, Szachno, Mary and Nussia emigrated prior to the holocaust or survived it. All the others were lost.
Copyright © 2008 Jon Seligman. All Rights Reserved.
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Sara Leah and Getzel