Sunday, March 17, 2013

Dr. Bronisław / Beril / Bruno Lieblein

This is a real true story of Dr. Bronisław / Beril / Bruno Lieblein 

“Mami, Who are those two beautiful children in the photo?” – asked a little girl, pointing at a big photo standing on the piano in the living room. In the photo a girl and a boy are standing and embracing a very big dog.

Her mother answered shortly: “They were your brother and sister who were taken by Hitler…” The little girl glanced again at the photo and continued helping her mother to prepare a family dinner.
Today this girl is 64 years old and has never stopped asking herself “why didn't I ask my parents more? It’s horrible that I got this answer as  a ‘normal’ answer...
After her father had died she discovered (slowly) more and more details of her father life story.

Her father was the youngest child of a wealthy Jewish family living in a village near Rohatyn. He was sent by his father to study medicine at the university of Vienna – the best Europe university  in those days.
When he had finished his studies he got his medical license in Lwów. When he was 29 years old (in 1926) he went with his young wife Zunya to Śniatyn. They lived in a nice house and he worked at the medical center of the town. He was famous as a very good doctor; most of the compliments he got was because he didn't take 
money when he saw the poor lives of the village families around Śniatyn.

The Polish Army recruited him (as a medicine colonel) in September 1939 when Germany and the Soviet Union attacked Poland. The army withdrawn east to Russia and from there the Polish doctors were forced to move to Siberia or to the Soviet territories in Asia.

In Siberia he received the tragic news: His wife was beaten to death in Śniatyn woods and his two children were taken to the train station and from there to Bełżec. He still believed that in those disordered days 
nobody could say anything for sure.

From Siberia he was transferred to a hospital in Samarkand (Uzbekistan), and there he helped a young Jewish woman, Mathilda Seiden, who was about to die of typhus.

The two lonely and weak fell in love. Dr. Lieblein said to his young woman that he will marry her only after he will get evidence about extermination of his family.

In 1945 they went as a refugees to Sweden.

The stories about Jewish people who tried  to come back to their homes and were killed by the local people prevented them to go to Sniatyn or to Poland. In Sweden his family's tragic end was confirmed. Then he married Mathilda. Within a year Mathilda was pregnant. Their relatives tried to bring them to the USA but doctors forbidden Mathilda to go by ship as she was pregnant. So they decided (in the end of 1947) to unite with Mathilda’s  family in the south-west Poland (in Bielawa, Silesia).

Their daughter, Helenka, was born, there, in the spring of 1948.

Once again he started his life as a local doctor. The family lived a peaceful life in Poland.

The tragic past taught them to be afraid anywhere. Dr. Lieblein wanted to come to Israel because he believed that in Israel all Jews can live safely. October 16, 1956 was the first wave of the Jewish immigration from Poland to Israel, so the family sold everything and came to Israel. In those days the "Sinai war" begun – but, nevertheless,  Dr. Leiblein and his wife were happy to come to Israel, with their little daughter who 
changed her name to Ilana.

Once again Dr. Lieblein lived a peaceful  life in a quiet neighborhood, working as  a radiologist in Haifa and 
in the Poriya hospital in Tverya.

Dr. Lieblein died in 1981 at the age of 86. 

On his grave there are written names of Mathilda (his second wife and Ilana's mother) and his two children:  Blanka Lieblein (born in 1928), and Klimek (Kalman – Klement) Lieblein (born in 1930).

“Man makes plans and God laughs up there in the sky...”

In 2010 Ilana took a trip to Ukraine. She went with her husband to to Chernovitz to seek for his family roots. A Ukraine guide mentioned Śniatyn as a town in the Chernovitz region. She said that her father lived 
there. So we decided to go to Śniatyn, without having any details about his life there. 

The guide was reading about Śniatyn from a Ukraine book and suddenly we heard her father's name .

We came to the town hall but nobody there could help us. 

We didn't know what to do. We stood near the statue of the town, thinking about leaving the place

Suddenly a nice and gentle lady came to us and told us that she is working in the local museum. She took down some details and told us to return two hours later

We came to the local museum and the manager of the museum read us the history of the town. Then my wife heard again about the important work that her father did in Śniatyn.

But the real miracle came after. The lady who run this museum told us that the museum house was Dr. 
Lieblein’s home before the war...

Here is the moment Ilana heard the news...

And then she cried saying: “My father had been walking here for 15 years”

This is the garden, today, where Blanka and Klimak, Ilana's half-sister and half-brother stood with their 
beloved dog – in the only one photo Ilana has.

And again:

“We are making plans and God is laughing...”


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  2. I just ran across this. My father was born in Sniatyn in 1900. His father was a Melamed &was murdered in 1908. My grandmother died in a convent in 1912 since there no hospitals nearby. In 1918, at age 14 he went into the Austrian army. In 1918 the war ended & was under Poland. In 1920 he was invited to be an escort for his brothers family to Brooklyn but he left a sister & her family behind. In 1938 or 1939 he sent an invitation & $$ for one of his nieces to come to America. She wrote a thank you letter (I have it) but it was too late. We never could find out if they survived. The last name was Waskowitzer. I went to Sniatyn with a guide who was a genealogist in Lviv, formerly Lemberg, but he was no help in locating any family.