« Visions of Grandmother in the Mountains of New Mexico (near the Sanctuario de Chimayo...) | Main | Max BORINSKI - in memoriam - 1923-1948 »

The Search for Max BORINSKI - The "Begins" -- The births and development of ideas: Being begets Begins

Where to begin.   When I first saw the black cloth-bound "Stammbaum der Familie Falk" (Breslau 1937), prepared by the genealogist Paul DOBRIN (1886-1942, Theresienstadt), I do not think it immediately occurred to me that that work, ending as it did in pre-War Nazi Germany could be, or needed to be, updated.  But I was probably 10 years old, or a bit younger, when those thoughts did not occur.

Where to begin:  At some point, I ran across the striking family line of Meyer FALK who had a son Wilhelm FALK who had a son Meyer FALK who had a son Wilhelm FALK.   I enjoyed the pattern without appreciating the tradition of naming a child in memory of a deceased grandparent, and without appreciating that that meant that each of these grandsons could never have known their grandfather.

Where to begin:   At some point, probably in the 1980s, maybe only after my father Hans FALK died in 1985, the Falk Stammbaum seemed like a sad book.  I knew about all the descendants of the youngest son Emanuel FALK (1832-1906), my great grandfather --  who was now where, who had been murdered in the Shoah.  But the rest of the book, the other 10 branches of the FALK Family descended from Emanuel's 3 brothers and 7 sisters who lived to adulthood and created their own thriving clans by the 1930s, those parts I simply assumed had been killed.

Where to begin:   Eventually, by the early 1990s, I wanted to try to update the Falk Stammbaum.   By chance, through seeing an interview of Prof. Wilhelm Ze'ev FALK (1923-1998) on television in Chicago, my aunt Eva WULKAN, geb. FALK (1911-2005) had gotten the address of the very Wilhelm at the end of that chain of Meyers and Wilhelms.   He was interested in family history, but also very busy.  After some correspondence (by postal letter in those days), we arranged to meet when he came to New York.  I went armed with my family's copy the Falk Stammbaum.   Ze'ev and I paged through the book, and he would say, "This family is in Tel Aviv.  That family is in Petach Tiqva."   It was a revelation of sorts.   The Falk Stammbaum was not almost exclusively a book of the dead; it was a guide to the living.   When I wrote Ze'ev after our meeting to request addresses of the cousins he knew about, they were not forthcoming.   Not until early 1996.

Where to begin:  I think Ze'ev must have finally retired from some of his teaching duties at Hebrew University, because in 1996, he sent me addresses for cousins in Israel, and a few outside of Israel.  That was the impetus for the start of a massive letter writing campaign.  Using those addresses, new addresses received in response to the first and subsequent rounds of letters, and addresses found on a CD-compilation of US residents, I started findings hundreds of new members of the greater FALK family.   I tried to find the family of Max BORINSKI who was born in 1923 and could still (then and now) have been alive.

Where to begin:   Over time, the family tree springing forth from R. Jacob Jehuda Loebel FALK (ca.1767-1838) and his third wife Sara NAUMBURG (ca.1787-1851) came to number about 5000, and almost every branch and twig of the family had been contacted and updated.  Some details remain (still) to be gathered, and the family keeps on growing at one end (and shrinking at the other), but there were only a few missing twigs or leaves, among them prominently, the BAREINSCHEKs and the BORINSKIs.

Where to begin:  The searching continued.   In 2004, I made contact with a British family descended, in part, from BORINSKIs of Upper Silesia.  Ultimately, the families turned out to be linked, but they did not know about Max BORINSKI, or his grandfather Max BORINSKI, the direct link to the rest of the clan.  (See, http://www.gen.scatteredmind.co.uk)

Where to begin:  In 2006, I created a website with the URLs www.familiymemory.org and www.mischpochologie.org.  I included my best guesses about the origins of the FALK family of Breslau, brief comments about the 11 branches of the family, and a short list of the inpenetrable search targets, Max BORINSKI, among them.

Where to begin:  In 2007, I visited the graves of Max LEVY (1893-1970) and Irma LEVY, geb. JONAS in the Neue Jüdischer Friedhof in Frankfurt am Main.  I left a card with my contact information.  Max LEVY was a half first cousin of Max' father Alfred BORINKSI.  I hoped an unknown member of Max BORINSKI's family might visit the grave and contact me.  Max LEVY had had one of the copies of the Falk Stammbaum.

Where to begin:  Last night, I checked the "spam filter" of my e-mail account and saw an e-mail from two days earlier with the subject line "Borinski Family".   I read it, found it very interesting, but did not know if it contained information about my cousin Max BORINSKI.   The e-mail from an Israeli member of the greater BORINSKI family, described a young Zwi BORINSKI who did not fit in her known BORINSKI family tree, but who was from Breslau, made aliyah in 1935 where he continued his schooling, joined the British Army in Palestine in 1941, became a member of Haganah, and died from cancer on 2 November 1948.   There was no mention of his birth date, the names of his parents, or how he came to be called "Zwi" in Palestine.   I wrote a quick acknowledgement, and went to sleep intrigued by the prospects.

Where to end:   This morning, after a more thoughtful acknowledgment of the information about Zwi, I tried doing some internet searches to see what I could learn.  Having no success, I wrote to a friend in Israel hoping he might find more information about Zwi BORINSKI.  In about 15 minutes I had an exciting reply.  He had information, but not from any fancy database.   With Yom haZikaron, Remembrance Day about to start, and having read about Zwi's involvement in the military, he went straight to the (Hebrew only) Yizkor website of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, where a search for Zwi BORINSKI brought the answers (www.izkor.gov.il/HalalView.aspx?id=90238), and even a grainy photograph of Sgt. Zwi (Max) BORINSKI (http://www.izkor.gov.il/HalalKorot.aspx?id=90238).  With birth date, birth place, parents' names, death date and grave location, this information confirmed what a kind stranger had suggested a few days before.

Where to end:  Having come of age during the Second World War, being in the military for all his adult life, and dying from an illness at the age of only 25, I currently assume that Max (Zwi) BORINSKI did not marry and did not have children.   He was the last prospect for descendants to continue this smallest branch of the FALK family.  He was an only child.  One of his uncles, Ernst, died in the First World War, and the other, Leo, married, but had no children.   His father and uncles had two "half" first cousins, Max LEVY mentioned above, who made aliyah in 1936, but returned to Germany after the War, and his sister Lina who worked at the Zionist organization in Breslau and was deported to Theresienstadt where she died in 1942.

Where to end:  Seeing the photograph of my young cousin whom I had been trying to find for over 15 years made the search and the outcome more powerful.   He was a name on a family tree.  He might just have become a name with a few more facts.  With the image, I feel a real connection -- even though I do not know the man at all.   That sense of connection is also enhanced as a result of the thoughtfulness and contributions of the people in Israel, England the US who made this result possible.

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments (1)

Today would be Max Borinski's 89th birthday -- the first anniversary of his birth since learning his fate, his emigration to Palestine and his early death in 1948.

Here's to cousin Max...

February 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStephen Falk

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>