Saturday, May 24, 2014

V5.20 - Emanuel’s Story part 2

This is Ms. Rachel’s family story:

My father, Sender Mines, never talked much about his life in Europe before WWII. I knew that before he immigrated to Canada in the early 1950s, met my mother, and started a new family, he had had a previous wife and two children in Lithuania. His children, my half-brother and sister, had been murdered in the Holocaust, together with the rest of the family, aside from one brother and some cousins who had immigrated to the US in the 1920s.

After my father’s death in 1982, we found an unsigned, undated photo in his album of a toddler sitting on a ride-on toy. For years, we all wondered who the child was and why Dad had never shown us the picture. We assumed we would never find out.

A few years ago, I started seriously researching my family’s history. I had assumed that all our records had been lost or destroyed during the Holocaust, but I was able to discover the name of my father’s first wife and those of their two children, Miriam and Emanuel. When they died in 1944, Miriam had been 11, Emanuel 6.

Now I was more than ever intrigued by my father’s mysterious photo. I wondered if there was anything I could do to find out the child’s identity. Could he or she be one of my half-siblings? It occurred to me that the ride-on toy might be a clue. After checking around the Internet, I sent the photo to the experts at Tricycle Fetish, who identified the toy as a 1940s Taylor Tot. If they were right, the child in the picture couldn’t be one of my European relatives, as by 1941 they were either dead or living under Nazi occupation.

However, I thought I’d try another opinion, and after finding Tom’s website, I sent him the photo. Tom thought the ride-on toy was not a Taylor Tot, but a look-alike, possibly based on Taylor Tot’s 1932 model. To both Tom and me, it made sense that a look-alike 1932 Taylor Tot could be a prop in a Lithuanian photo studio by the mid-to-late 1930s.

I will probably never know for sure who the child in the photo is. Certainly the photo couldn't have survived the war, and must have belonged to, or been sent to, a relative in the US before 1940. The child might be one of our American relatives. But if so, why did my father never show us the picture? My guess is that he found it too painful to talk about, and I think the child was my father’s son – my half-brother – Emanuel.

Continued next week…

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