Danuta Chosińska

Wągrowieckie Stowarzyszenie Społeczno-Kulturalne im. Stanisława Przybyszewskiego (Stanisław Przybyszewski Cultural Association from Wagrowiec) works for the local community, especially young people, to bring back forgotten history of Wągrowiec. The association supports and organises cultural - historical, musical, and literary - events.

One of the association’s activities is searching for vestiges of Jews in Wagrowiec. The historical enquiry of the Jewish community of Wągrowiec has been lasting since 2015. We have started from scratch. There were only a few scattered pieces of information, some old postcards in the local museum, a few old articles in the local newspaper with general knowledge. We have searched through Yad Vashem, Jewish Historical Institute, Magnus Hirschfeld Society in Berlin, Steinheim Institute in Essen, Judaicum Centre in Berlin, Jewish Museum in Berlin, Polish, German and US state and university archives, and a countless number of websites and publications about Jewish history and family stories. We browsed through internet databases of Yad Vashem and made a list of Shoah victim names. 

Research in the archives is not enough to learn about the history of the Jews in our towns.

The members of the association managed to get in touch with people who work with Jewish history professionally and as a hobby. Each person and institution contributed significantly to discovering the Jewish history of my town - Wągrowiec.

Beata Mache from Salomon Ludwig Steinheim Institute in Essen carries out an internet research project about the Jewish history of Wielkopolska region from articles of the newspaper „Posener Heimat deutscher Juden”. She conducted research for us and found some essential papers about Adolph Daust, and writer and poet Frieda Mehler.

The Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw send us copies of transport list to ghettos. We have finally learned what happened with five women - Sara, Regina, Natalie, Czarna and Rosa Eisenberg - who came to Wągrowiec from nowhere and then disappeared.

Jewish Museum in Berlin provided information about Max Magner, a physician, whose original nameplate from WW2 is on exhibition there. About Rothmann family, merchants from Wągrowiec, whose descendants Oscar and Max Rothmann were physicians in Berlin. The second one was neuroanatomist known for the discovery of a disorder named after him Rothmann-Makai syndrome.

We went through hundreds of microfilms in Judaicum Centre in Berlin, which helped us to reconstruct a list of members of the Jewish community of Wągrowiec in the 19th century.

Berlin historian, Dr Kurt Schilde, send us all articles he wrote about Ephraim Pinczower, a physician, whose Judaica collection was the biggest of the first half of the 20th century.

Dr Friederike Heimann and Prof. Dr Phil. Marion Brandt contacted us and came to Wągrowiec from Hamburg and Gdańsk. Dr Heimann was about to write a book about Gertrud Kolmar, a poet and writer, one of the most influential female poets in the whole German literature. She was a daughter of Ludwig Chodziesner, a star-attorney in the Weimar Republic. He defended the most spectacular cases of that time. The doctor wanted to get to know the place which was of immense importance to Chodziesner Family.

One day, we found in our files the name of Solomon Karpen, born in Wągrowiec. He emigrated with his family to the United States to Chicago where he created a company “S. Karpen & Bros.”. In the early 20th century it became the world leader in the production of upholstered furniture. In the local museum, we found only one picture of the whole family. Luckily, while browsing the internet, I found a lot of information about Karpen on a website ran by his great-granddaughter – Emily Rose. Apart from one person, nobody in Wągrowiec remembered that she visited the town in the past. Nobody took down any information or address to maintain the contact. She answered my email and described her visits to Poland, suggested where to seek more information and shared her knowledge about Karpen family. We have been exchanging emails for almost five years now and sharing the results of our respective research.

Sometimes something completely unexpected happens which adds a new dimension to our work. In 2016, I got in touch with Magnus Hirschfeld Gesellschaft in Berlin, an association which explores and preserves the scientific and cultural heritage of Magnus Hirschfeld and his Institute for Sexual Science. I hoped they would help me with looking for information about Siegfried Chodziesner, an uncle of Gertrud Kolmar and brother of Ludwig. Still, there were no files about him left. A few days later, I got a letter, this time from Raimund Wolfert, a member of this association. He wrote to me in Polish that he was researching the life of a physician from Wągrowiec – Max Tischler. He also was maintaining contact with a great-grandson of Max and his wife Mollie from Israel. Sometime later Beata Machy from Steinheim Institute send me an article she found about Adolph Daust – an entrepreneur, a friend of Solomon Karpen who created a welfare fund for Jews in Wągrowiec.

I started searching for a connection between Adolph and Amalie. And so I found a website of Martin Fischer. He gave me the information I needed and access to his family archives.

Exploring the family story of Daust reminded me of the great-grandson of Max Tischler. It was not very important for me then, but a year later turned out to be crucial. Martin Fischer was convinced the whole Daust family died in Shoah. So he was astonished at the news that somewhere there, in Israel, lives a family of his. He found his cousin on Facebook and exchanged family photos and information about the life of his family members who escaped the war.  (...)

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