Latest news

Added a new essay, on the Goldberg-Herman family, who married into the Silbernadels, at the end of World War II. - 29 Oct 2012

Re-organized the menu, adding an Essays item. Improved the logo, in the header. Added essay on Shtetl Life. - 18 May 2011

Added map of the East End of London in 1922 - 17 May 2011

Added map of the spread of Zylbernadels, in 19th Century Poland - 16 May 2011

I have added the history, as complete as it is, so far and started to add documentation, scans of records, files downloaded from various genealogical resource sites and photographs.

I have also added a family tree from FamilyEcho and started to make some use of the Joaktree component, built by fellow Amsterdam resident, fellow Jew and fellow Joomla enthusiast, Niels van Dantzig.

The work is still in progress...

The Zylbernadels on record were mostly born, married and died, in various shtetls (small Jewish townships), in eastern Poland, during the 18th, 19th and early 20th century. Records show that the name was in use, as early as the beginning of the 19th century, but was probably invented, around 1787, after a decree of Joseph II.

In the beginning, life in Belzyce and other shtetls, in Lublin province, was harmonious. Poles and Jews lived together in a roughly 50-50 mix. After Napoleon was defeated, in 1815, the Russians occupied the territory until the first world war and the Russian revoultion of 1916.

Leading up to the communist revolution, there were a number of uprisings against the Czar of Russia and these were put down, brutally. Jews were often involved in these uprisings and were also severly punished.

Life in these shtetls became near intolerable and some residents moved to Lublin and even, eventually, when they were permitted to do so and rail travel was possible, in the late 19th century, Warsaw.

Most Jews of these shtetls and the big cities, also, were murdered by the Nazis, from 1940-1944. Few survived.

A still from the 1936 movie 'Yidl and his Fiddle'To see how life in those places was, before the holocaust, there is a movie called 'Yidl and his Fiddle', made by an American, Joseph Green, who returned to his native Poland, in 1936, to film it. It is available from The National Center for Jewish Film, restored and with English subtitles. A short low-resolution version of some of the opening scenes are available in this YouTube clip or the better quality wedding scene, in this YouTube clip.

Some of it was filmed in Warsaw, but some scenes were filmed on location in a district of Krakow, called Kazimierz, where some of the Zylbernadels had moved to, from Belzyce. By that time, it had become the 'vacation' town for the area, being situated on the beautiful Wisla (or Vistula) river.

There is also, of course, the famous 1971 musical, 'Fiddler on the Roof', set in the fictious shtetl of Anatevka, in 1905. Although this is a fictive version of shtetl life, it does give some idea of what it must have been like.

Some photographs of life in Belzyce and the other local shtetls, from the turn of the 20th century to the 1940s, exist, and here are a few of the ones I have found on-line:

poland - shtetl imageBelzyce, under Nazi occupation'Shtetl residentsShtetl life