Warning! The text retains the original spelling of surnames and place names by an Israeli researcher; in many cases it may not be correct. Fragments that could contain current personal data have been removed from the interview.

 

Name of Interviewee: Dov Kornblum, b. 22.8.1932 in Warsaw;

Subject of the interview: Kornblum Dov and his family;

Father's name: Szlomo Kornblum, b. 1894 in Powązki (suburb of Warsaw);  

Mother’s name: Lonia Mileband, b. 1900 in Warsaw.

 

Parents:

Dov's father, Szlomo Kornblum, was born in 1894 in Powązki, a suburb of Warsaw. His parents were Yitzhak and Miriam Kornblum. Szlomo had 5 sisters and one brother. As a young boy he studied in a "Yeshiva", the traditional Jewish school, but later he left the religious way. When he was 20 years old he went with his brother Morris, who was six years older than him, to Paris and lived there for five years. Szlomo was a writer and Journalist who wrote in Yiddish. He also had a leather shop for women's purses. Szlomo married his first wife Menucha in 1925. Menucha died a short while after she gave birth to their son Yitzhak (Izio). After he came back from Paris to Warsaw in 1930 he married Lonia Mileband (born in 1900). Lonia was born in Warsaw and was a very progressive woman. She graduated high school (Gimnazium) with a matriculation certificate. Before her marriage she worked as a kindergarten teacher. Lonia ideologically was close to the "Bund", a Jewish socialist movement. After her marriage until the war, Lonia had a shop for women's wear at Ulica Rymarska.

Before the war, the family lived at Ulica Śliska 42, apartment 10, in Warsaw. Dov remembers that the financial situation in their family was good and the relationships between parents and sons (and Estusia, Lonia's niece who was orphan and lived with them) were very warm.

Dov (nicknamed Borós) was born 22.8.1932. Until the breakout of war, Dov studied for one year at a Jewish elementary school which was in

Ulica Krochmalna, 36. Just before the war, they moved to another apartment in Pańska 17, which later was in the Jewish Ghetto. In 1942 they moved to Niska Street. After they were forced, with the entire Jewish population, into the Ghetto, Szlomo moved his leather shop to their home and continued to work from there. That was their sole source of income. Up until the Ghetto was totally sealed off, Lonia and Yitzhak (Izio) used to sell the purses which Szlomo produced to Polish customers outside the Ghetto. The Ghetto was established on October 2, 1940, from whence living conditions became terrible. Acute famine, overwhelming crowding, filth, diseases and death were everywhere in the Ghetto. Dov remembers that in their home, in spite of the harsh conditions, due to his father's social sensitivity and kindness, there were always guests at the dinner table in addition to the close family (his parents, his brother and cousin Estusia).

In 22.7.42 the Germans commenced the great "Action" which meant the deportation of Jews to extermination camps, mainly to the Treblinka death camp. The aim of the "Action" according to the Nazi "Final Solution" was to liquidate the Ghetto and the hundreds of thousands of its Jewish inhabitants. Lonia and Estusia were deported o 27.8.42. Dov, who was ten years old at the time, realized that he would never see his mother again. After that, Dov, his father and his brother lived in hiding in a bunker under a bakery at Niska Street. At that time people no longer believed that the deportees were sent to labor camps, as had been previously said. Szlomo Kornblum decided that he must try to save, if not himself, at least the lives of his two sons and first of his youngest, Dov. He succeeded in making contact, through mediators, with a Polish foster family outside the Ghetto, who was prepared to hide and support Dov. Szlomo managed to pay them in advance for keeping his son for six months.

On December 3rd 1942 Dov left his father and brother and was smuggled with group of workers outside the Ghetto. A Polish woman was waiting for him there and quickly took him away to their home at the outskirts of Warsaw, a neighborhood called Targówek Osiedle (at Gilerska [Gilarska] 15 street). The name of the family was Durjasz [Duriasz] and the father was Kazimierz. Dov was given a Polish identity and named Władek. He spent two years with this family where he had to hide in a small cell every day until it was dark outside and he could come out. Most of the time he was hungry and although Kazimierz Durjasz was a very good man and treated him well, his wife treated him badly. She also treated her step son, Kazimierz's son (from previous marriage) in same manner, because of her cruel nature. But Dov was saved. In May 1943 the heroic uprising in the Ghetto broke out, after which the Germans systematically started to liquidate the Ghetto, killing some immediately and sending the rest to the extermination camps. Szlomo Kornblum didn't survive, but Dov's brother Yitzhak managed to find his way out due to his Arian look and false identity and survived. On November 19th 1944, two months after Praga was liberated by the Soviets (on September 14th) his "uncle" (that's how Dov used to call Kazimierz) took him to the house of the Jewish community in which there was also a kind of hostel. Dov was then 13 years old.

On January 17, 1945 Warsaw was liberated. From November 1944 until In March 1945 Dov was moved around among several foster families and orphanages and that period was very hard for him. He also continued to hide his Jewish identity. He heard that his brother and Tussia (a relative), who was saved by Yitzhak from the Ghetto, had survived. At that time Yitzhak was sick; he had tuberculosis and was in a hospital. At the beginning of April 1945, his cousin Irka (his mother niece, who was then 25 years old) came and removed Dov from the Polish orphanage and took him with her to Łódź. Irka was the daughter of his mother's sister Mella. She had heard about him from Yitzhak whom she had met in Białystok few months earlier. In Łódź Dov started to study in sixth grade and lived with Irka. For the first time after more than two years Dov felt at home. He continued to hide his Jewish identity and adapted the Polish name Władysław Mireski. In June Dov moved to a hostel because Irka was alone and couldn't take care of him. In July he graduated school with special distinction. In August he met his brother after almost three years of separation. In 9.8.45 Yitzhak moved him to Otwock near Warsaw to a hostel for Jewish children to be near the sanatorium in which he was hospitalized. He stayed in that hostel for over a year and there he met Halina Sztarkman, his future wife. They both were thirteen years old at that time.

In Otwock Dov studied his first year at high school. At the end of 1946 Dov with a group of 22 children moved to Biały Kamień (near Wałbrzych) to a hostel for children of the Zionist movement "Hashomer Hatzair" and then in October 1947 they traveled to France on their way to Eretz-Israel (Palestine). They stayed in France for four months and in March 1948 they reached Eretz-Israel. Dov lived in Kibbutz Amir in the Galilee until he was drafted to the IDF in 1950. In Israel, while in the Army he accidently met Halina Sztarkman and they renewed their relationship. Halina and Dov married in 31.8.55. They have two daughters Anat-Lea (born 1956) and Dafna (born 1962). Dov worked from 1954 until his retirement in 1977 for Bank Leumi which is one of the largest banks in Israel and reached the very high position of vice-president of the bank. He also completed his academic education and received B.A. in economics and M.A in Business Administration.

Drukuj