The tragedy of the Holocaust can only be comprehended in the context of loss, the obliteration of the vibrant community life of European Jewry prior to WW2. Indeed, the lives of six million Jews were destroyed, but as well their communities, their rich cultural heritage, their language, traditions and values handed down through many generations. Jewish communities had thrived for centuries in most every country of Europe, with the largest populations of Jews in the Eastern European countries of Poland, Soviet Union, Romania and Hungary. Several Jewish communities existed for millennia. Eastern European Jews spoke Yiddish, along with the language of their native country. They lived in townlets (shtetls) and villages, some with substantial Jewish populations, and maintained their family and religious traditions within the majority culture. Some younger Jews were attracted to the modern ways of the larger cities, often seeking better economic conditions, but as well educational opportunities, the strong pull of the traditional ways of life to the contrary notwithstanding. Jews in Western European countries such as France, Germany and the Netherlands, however, constituted a minority and wore modern dress and often struggled with the values of the culture of their non-Jewish countrymen; i.e, to what degree should they sustain the family and religious traditions in which they were raised, or to what extent should they ty to assimilate. What is certain is there was not one way to be Jewish. Jews found their way into the trades and crafts. They were farmers, seamstresses, and factory workers. Others went into professions such as law, medicine, teaching, and politics. Some were wealthy, but many more lived in grinding poverty. Some endeavored to continue their education in the more secular universities in the large cities, and others studied in yeshivas. And there were Jews who excelled in the arts: literature, music, and fine arts. There was always a deep respect in Jewish tradition for open debate and a plurality of opinion, manifested not only in the Talmud and the Old Testament but in the myriad political and religious viewpoints and parties that are so much a part of Jewish civic and religious life. Finally, it is important to remember the concern Jewish custom has always placed on the physical and social welfare of others, “loving your fellow person as yourself”, enshrined in the Bible as well as in rabbinic teaching.
To the Nazis, however, all Jews were the same, all were likened to cultural pathogens, insidiously destroying the culture and political systems of the countries they lived in, and every aspect of Jewish life had to be eradicated along with the Jews themselves: men, women and children. In the end, the Nazis and their minions annihilated two out of every three Jews in Europe, along with their immense cultural heritage.
--Michael D. Bulmash, K1966
Browse the Bulmash Family Holocaust Collection.
Man with mustache standing by chair, smeared hand stamp in lower right corner. Back: Addressed to 'Monsieur M. Weinberg'
Postcard with black and white image of a woman, “Frida Weber ‘Mignon’” printed in white in upper left corner, signature in bottom right corner.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Frida Weber was a noted Jewish opera singer in Germany. She had been married to the popular Berlin singer Alexander Flessburg. Ms. Weber-Flassburg had recorded operas, songs, and operatic melodies, some with her husband. In this postcard she is pictured in the opera Mignon. After Hitler came to power in 1933, Frida Weber-Flessburg as a Jewish musician was banned from singing. Indeed, her name had appeared in the infamous Lexikon der Juden in der Musik. Subsequently her marriage failed, and after 1939, with the outbreak of WWII, she would be working in the armaments industry for the German army. Along with several other residents of her Berlin apartment building, she was ultimately picked up by the Gestapo in January 1943 and after a brief internment in a Berlin transit camp, Freda was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau where she was murdered.
Young man wearing tie sitting in chair, other man standing with arm resting on the chair. Table with flower in background. Back: 'Post card. Carte Postale.' No handwriting.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Cracow, Poland. "Hashomer Hatzair" Youth
Five seated young men, three in front row, two in back. Back: Blank lines for address and box for stamp.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash:Cracow, Poland. "Hashomer Hatzair" Youth Ca. 1920s
Front: Woman seated at left, man at right; three women and on man behind them
Series of three pieces of paper money. All show newspapers being burned. The first has blue illustrations and is titled "Fünfzig Heller." The second has yellow illustrations and is titled, "Zwanzig Heller." The third has green illustrations and is titled, "Zehn Heller."
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Set of notes by the Austrian Anti-Semitic Bund. On one side picture shows Jewish publications burning in the fire and on the other side is a quote stating "although time will come when Christians and Jews will live together, it will never work out." The reverse of the 50 Heller note exhorts Germans of all political persuasions who love their folk and recognize the looming danger of the Jews to join together and support the Aryan press.
Young man sitting, holding his hat, Young man stands next to him, holding a book. Back: Postcard form with five handwritten lines in purple pencil.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash:Cracow, Poland. "Hashomer Hatzair" Youth Ca. 1920s
Three pieces of paper money with black and red illustrations. The first shows Jews adding blood to matzoh, the second shows Jews being burned at the stake, and the third shows a priest offering the wafer to the Jews.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: These 100 pfennig Sternberg “Notgeld” notes from 1922 were intended to commemorate the burning at the stake in 1492 of 27 Jews accused of the Eucharistic sacrilege of using the blood of Christian children for making matzah, the unleavened bread used in Passover seders. The correct order of these images would therefore be: 1) the Priest Peter Dane selling consecrated wafers representing the body of Christ to the gathered Jews as a symbol of offering Jews conversion to Christianity; 2)animage of the Jews stabbing the wafers-seen here mixed with blood- symbolizing the Jews’ responsibility in killing Christ; a rejection of Jesus and Christianity; and the blood libel charge-common in medieval Europe and thereafter- of murdering a Christian child to use inthe process of making the Passover matzoh. Thus, historical charges against the Jews which form the basis of religious anti-Semitism are herein conflated; and 3) the pogrom enacted against the Jews- burning them at the stake-for their alleged crimes.
Notgeld-emergency currency-was common during the Weimar Republic’s period of hyperinflation. Towns and villages would issue their own currency -with the Reichsbank’s eventual approval-often artistically rendered with attractive scenes or local heroes reflecting a town’s pride of place. Thus Notgeld did not always carry a reference to anti-Semitic themes or political issues. Yet anti-Semitic Notgeld anticipated themes that would be taken up in a few short years with the Nazi party’s rise to power. The medieval inheritance of anti-Semitism founded on religious and historical differences-vividly depicted in the Sternberg Notgeld-would be subsumed in the Third Reich by a virulent secular anti-Judaism based on race and immutably rooted in the blood and ancestry. The Jew would undergo a transformation from a pariah scapegoated during periods of social and economic unrest to a pathogen who must be expunged from the body politic.
The fledgling Nazi party had already come into existence before these notes were printed. In a mere 11 years Hitler and his minions would wield power in Germany. Martin Luther’s splenetic anti-Semitic screeds denouncing Jews amid his growing frustrations with them would lead ineluctably down the centuries to the materialization and enactment of Heinrich Heine’s prophetic warning: where books are burned, they will in the end burn people.
Three 1000 Reichsbanknotes. Each has a different illustration on the back: first, is a cariacature of a man speaking into a microphone as another writes at a desk. The second shows a man bowing to a Swastika with "Hitler, Nationalsozialismus" around it. On the bottom is the caption, "Gott der Gerechte! Scho mieder ä naier Gometh!" The third note shows the profile of a caricaturized man in glasses with the caption, "Sowjet Jude Radeck."
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: German Weimar Republic 1000 Reichmark currency notes issued in 1922 by the German Treasury overprinted with Nazi anti-semitic propaganda. Due to inflation and crash of German economy during Weimar Republic, Third Reich government revalued currency, blaming Jews for economic collapse. They printed anti-semitic images and phrases on the reverse of the bills.
Small identification booklet titled “Partito Nazionale Fascista,” inside missing identification photograph.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash:Membership identification card from 1922. Campobasso. Missing photo.
Man and woman in white coats in doorway of store. Produce and Prices in the window. Back: Blank lines, 'Weinachser 1926.' handwritten in purple ink.
Front: Group photo. Appears to be a compilation of several different photos. Verso: Handwriting in blue and black; '1928'.
Front: Two young men in white shirts with glasses. Back: Slanted handwriting; dated 5/28/28.
Front: Eleven men posing with elbows out, ball in foreground; handwritten word at bottom. Back: Handwriting in black ink; four different blocks; one appears to be list of names of people in photo
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash:Polish Youth Sports Club "Pyatnashka", 1932
Front: Wedding photo of romanian couple; She is seated, he is standing beside her. Back: 'From Josif Schvartz' handwritten on right; message handwritten at a slant in black ink on left
Three women, the eldest dressed in black in the middle, the two younger ones dressed in white on either side. Back: Blank lines, 'Photo K. Hubl; Karlsbad 1934' and '7587' stamp.
Top left corner: Head Shot of woman in circle; bottom left corner: photo of woman, wearing dress and pearls; Center: Group of students holding a sign; Top right: Woman wearing a scarf, looking towards; Bottom right corner: woman in a sweater.
Front: Large group of people surrounding a white clothed table. Verso: Handwriting in varying ink and pencil; '91 13' handstamp along left side.
Front: Black and white photograph of a man doing metal work on a log with a child standing behind him, looking at the camera. There are two beds behind them, and a mirror. Back: Four white stickers with various messages.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Photograph from Roman Vishiac's The Vanished World. Vishniac photographed the shtetl Jews of Eastern Europe, from 1933 to 1940, just before the Holocaust was to destroy their communities, stating that "The life of the Jews even before the Holocaust was hard and bitter... With photography I could save at least a memory of Jewish life and culture, and the faces of the people. I thought that years and years after the killing, future generations of Jews would be interested to hear of the life that disappeared, the life that is no more." One Room Apartment-Workshop, Warsaw, 1936. "The basement was divided by wood boards into twenty-six living quarters. This apartment was the most expensive because a little light came from above. But when the pedestrians walked on the pavement grating even this room became dark. This man was working the whole day. The work made it impossible to breathe because metal dust was everywhere. Roman Vishniac, 1977.
Young men and women pose with farming equipment in hand.
Front: Black and white photograph of a man in a hat with a long white beard standing at the front of a classroom of boys in caps, sitting at long wooden desks with books open.Back: Three white stickers with various messages.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Photograph from Roman Vishiac's The Vanished World. Vishniac photographed the shtetl Jews of Eastern Europe, from 1933 to 1940, just before the Holocaust was to destroy their communities, stating that "The life of the Jews even before the Holocaust was hard and bitter... With photography I could save at least a memory of Jewish life and culture, and the faces of the people. I thought that years and years after the killing, future generations of Jews would be interested to hear of the life that disappeared, the life that is no more." Heder, Slonim, Russia, 1938. In Slonim, the teacher used the only tool that works: friendship and love. And he was very successful in this. Roman Vishniac, 1977.
Black and white photograph of a street with people and buildlings, titled, "Kowel, Judenmarkt.
Family of ten with dog laying in front.
Mother in standing behind seated baby; logo for 'Ferdinand Kral fotograf. atelier.' below image Back: "Ferdinand Kral, Fotografisches Atelier."
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Vienna, Austria. Cabinet Photo. Mother and Child.
Seated baby wearing earrings and bracelet. Back: "Ferdinand Kral, Fotografisches Atelier."
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Vienna, Austria. Cabinet Photo. Child.