Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sheva Beitch - Ancestor Deep Dive

My great grandmother was Sheva Fine Beitch (also spelled Bajcz in Polish).  I'm named for her (my Hebrew name is Sheva Esther).  She was born on May 12, 1895 in Shklyn in what is now Volhynia, Ukraine, just to the northeast of Horochiv.  Her parents were Moshe Dovid and Devorah (nee Garber) Fine, and she had two sisters Sara and Baila and a brother Mordechai.

She married Avraham Beitsch and had three children.  The oldest was my grandmother Sonia (originally Sara Etta), followed by Malia (emphasis on the first syllable), and then the baby Herschel.  Herschel died as an infant.

Beitsch Family.  (L-R): Malia, Avraham, Sheva, Ronia (Avraham's mother), Sonia.  This picture was saved by Sonia from a pile of garbage after the ghetto was destroyed
Although Sheva was from Shklyn and Avraham was from nearby Huben, the Beitch family lived in the bigger town of Horochiv (also Horochov or Gorokhov).  The town regularly switched between Russia and Poland--until the Germans arrived.  Then the Beitch family was moved into a ghetto in nearby Senkevychivka.

Life in the ghetto was difficult.  But then on October 14, 1942, rumblings were going on about a large deportation.  Sheva had Sonia and Malia sneak out of a hole in the ghetto's fence; they ended up hiding in a barn where Malia would be murdered.  That day the ghetto was liquidated.  Among those killed in the ghetto was Avraham Beitch, Sheva's sisters Sara and Baila, Baila's children Cheike (and husband Mendel) Wollich Chechman and Moshe Wollich, and Cheike's daughter Devorah Chechman.  Sonia believed her mother was dead as well.

Shortly after, Sonia (who was hiding wherever she could) met up with Pesach Dimant, who she vaguely knew from before the war.  He told her that he believed her aunt had survived.  He took her to an attic--where she found her mother Sheva!  (Pesach knew it was her mother but wanted to break it to her gently.  And yes, he later married Sonia, but that's another post to write.)

Sheva and Sonia both survived the war and ended up in a Displaced Persons (DP) camp near Munich.
Sheva Beitch Emigration Card--This was from when they thought they would be going to Brazil
All of Sheva's documentation had been lost over the course of the war.  Once they had passage to America, they needed to apply for temporary passports.
Sheva Beitch's Temporary United States Passport
This allowed them to emigrate to the United States.  They were able to come with the help of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS).
In March 1947, Sheva, Sonia & Pesach all boarded the USS Ernie Pyle.  But their journey wasn't over yet.  The Ernie Pyle broke down, and they had to stop in England, where they boarded the Marine Marlin.
Sheva Beitch's Embarkation Card for the ill-fated Ernie Pyle
They finally arrived in the United States on April 1, 1947.
Sheva Beitch's boat record (last line).  Note that her nationality is "Stateless."
In 1950, she applied for reparations from the Nazis, stating that she had been in the ghetto for 15 months and had been a seamstress before the war.  She stated that her husband's average annual income for the three years before the war was 3000 Polish Zloty.
First page of Sheva Beitch's Reparations Application
Sheva did not have much time in America.  Shortly after the birth of her second grandson (my father), she died in Baltimore, MD at the age of 56.
Sheva Beitch's grave, Beth Tfiloh Cemetery in Baltimore.  She'd originally been buried at Bowleys Lane Cemetery but was moved to be near other relatives

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