Son completes his dad’s search for lost relatives
Genealogical digging uncovers London kin, and closes a circle
Mark Goldberg with his long-lost cousin Anat, a Holocaust survivor, shortly after their reunion in London last December. Photos courtesy Mark Goldberg
February 1, 2011
Until he died 10 years ago, Joseph Goldberg never gave up his search for relatives who had been missing since the Holocaust.
He was always looking for family members from his native Poland and for clues about the property the family owned in Lvov.
It was not until last fall that his son Mark was able to complete the task, thanks to a website called www.jewishgen.org and a stranger in Jerusalem who helped forge a link between Goldberg in West Orange and an elderly cousin in London.
Since his boyhood and hearing the stories of his parents’ survival, Goldberg has been intrigued with tracing his roots.
“My mother’s family was not hard,” he said. “Some of them had come to the United States from Czechoslovakia before the war. Others had been part of the last transport to the concentration camp at Auschwitz. But my brother and I never met any of my father’s relatives.”
They did know that their father had been born Joseph Barach in Lvov, Poland, then took the name Goldberg in honor of his grandmother.
In 1943 or 1944 Joseph immigrated to Palestine, said Goldberg, and “went to work on a kibbutz, where life was extremely difficult.”
Three years later, he arrived by ship in Galveston, Texas, and then headed east to connect with someone in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn who was prepared to sponsor his citizenship.
The younger Goldberg is still seeking that person’s identity.
Such missing links made him eager to learn more details of his father’s life.
“I was always asking about the Barach family from Lvov,” he said.
Discovering www.jewishgen.org, among the largest of the Jewish genealogical sites, he was able to locate information on his grandfather, his grandfather’s siblings, and his great-grandfather.
“These people became more real because I was able to get to their birth records and marriage records, and I have now developed a family tree,” he said.
Last October, he intensified the search by posting the names of six family members his father had given the American Red Cross Holocaust and War Victims Information Center when applying for reparations in 1991.
The married name of one of his father’s sisters, Pepi Pozament, resonated with another user of the website, an Israeli named Yossi Ziff.
“The next day I get an e-mail from Yossi asking for more details. I told him my father was searching for his sister Pepi, who was married to an Isadore Pozament in Lvov,” Goldberg recalled.
Ziff wrote back the next day.
“‘This information is really exciting,’” Goldberg said the Israeli told him. “‘Isadore and Pepi had two children — Maniek, who did not survive the war, and Antonia, who survived and now lives in London. Antonia — who now calls herself Anat — is your cousin.’”
Ziff sent Goldberg a photograph that matched one he had in his possession. It showed his father at the age of 16 at a family get-together along with aunts, uncles, and grandfather.
“At that point there was no question we were talking about the same people,” Goldberg said.
‘A life of its own’
Goldberg quickly telephoned Anat in London. “I was expecting to hear a woman with a Polish accent, but instead I hear this British lady on the line who sounds like Margaret Thatcher,” he said.
She told him of growing up under the Nazis, and surviving the war by posing as a Christian with a false birth certificate. Eager to meet her in person, Goldberg flew to London.
“It was unbelievable,” he said. “We hugged, and I got an insight. She knew my father, but she was much younger than he was. For me, to be able to find a survivor who was able to describe my father’s life from her perspective was very exciting.”
Both Goldberg, 61, and Anat, who is 83, have children and grandchildren living in Israel who have also connected since the meeting in London in December. “My research has started taking on a life of its own,” he said.
Goldberg, a licensed social worker who worked for several Jewish organizations in the MetroWest area, is now CEO of Dynamic Lead Solutions, an organization that helps rental property owners track the effectiveness of their management systems and advertising campaigns.
He and his wife, Carol, a project manager for a medical insurance company, have three children — a son and daughter in Israel and a son who lives in Teaneck. They have nine grandchildren.
“This should be an inspiration to other people to take a look for their families, and if they have information about their families, it pays to put it in,” he said. “You never know whether there is another Mark Goldberg out there who is going to be looking.”
The only thing he regrets is not being able to share his discoveries with his father.
“He was always searching, and if he were alive today I think he would be excited that we made the connection.”