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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...

Mojzesz and Zelig in Warsaw in 1914The Zylbernadel Story

circa 1787 to 1971


The family Zylbernadel, with its variations Silbernadel, Sylbernadel, Zilbernadel, Zilbernudel, Silbernudel, Silverneedle etc., originated in the shtetl (or Jewish settlement) of Bełżyce (pronounced Belzh'tza), near Lublin, in Poland, as far back as can be traced - the early part of the 19th century.

The fixing of Germanic family names, for Jews in Poland, was only brought in after the 1787 decree of the Emperor of Austro-Hungary, Joseph II. At that time, the head of one Bełżyce tailoring family chose the name Zylbernadel (Silverneedle in English) and it remained in use until, at least, 1971.

The earliest record is that of Golda Zylbernadel's birth, in 1827, but it is certain that at least a Benjamin Zylbernadel was an adult, at the time.Benjamin married his first wife, in 1829. So he was certainly alive when Napoleon was in Warsaw. Napoleon's so-called Duchy of Warsaw only ended, following Napoleon's defeat in 1815 and the entire region was occupied by the Russian empire, until the Russian revolution of 1916. It was probably Benjamin's father or grandfather, who chose the name Zylbernadel, about 40 years earlier, while the Austro-Hungarian empire still ruled.

By the time that Golda died, in 1895, the family had grown through many tragedies and high-points and had spread to other communities in the general area up to 50 km from Bełżyce, such as Lublin, Chodel, Josefow nad Wisla, Osarow and Markusov. Golda, herself, died in Josefow nad Wisla.

Jacob Silverneedle in Paris in 1912With the end of the 19th century, the Vistula Riverside Railway, from Mlawa to Kovel, taking in Warsaw and Lublin, had become affordable and it became possible to move to Warsaw and beyond. In 1912, Jakob Silbernadel, who had been working as a tailor in Warsaw, would have taken the 1714 Km journey to Paris, on the Nord-Express. he was 38 years old and left two children behind, in Warsaw. From there he travelled on to London, where he called himself Jacob Silverneedle.

It was just as well, as the Nazi occupation meant that, 30 years later, 3,500 jews from Bełżyce alone were murdered in the nearby death camp, Majdanek. In Warsaw, few survived and those that did mostly perished in Treblinka camp.

As it was, the family has survived, although, to my knowledge, no-one still carries the Zylbernadel name or any of its spelling variations. Jacob's sons, my father, Mojzesz, who used the Silbernadel name and his brother, Zelig, who called himself Zylbernadel, followed their father to London, a decade later. In 1922, they appeared on his doorstep - only to find that he had re-married in 1918 and that they were on their own, at the ages of 12 and 16. Jacob and his second wife had two daughters, Rosa and Annie, who emigrated to Canada in the 1950s.

Mojzesz Silbernadel (who became Maurice Selby)My father did survive this youthful ordeal of poverty, in the East End of London and World War II. He moved to Luton, just outside London and far from the well-bombed East End of London and married my mother, Sarah Goldberg, in 1942, while the war raged in Europe. He changed his name to Selby, in 1948 and died in 1966.

The last known Zylbernadel, my uncle Zelig, died, childless, in 1971, in London. My elder brother, Lewis, who lives in London, was born a Silbernadel, in 1945, but took the change of name to Selby, when my father changed his, about 3 years after his birth and shortly before my own.

My aunt, Rosa, still lives in Toronto, Canada. She was born with the Silverneedle variation of the name.

There are some stray survivors of the line, around the world, but none carry the Zylbernadel name, to my knowledge. In Canada, one of Rosa's daughters and Annie's son, at least, have offspring and two of those have their own offspring.

My two daughters are partnered, now, in Amsterdam, where I live and I am soon expecting the birth of my second grandson. So, the genetic line continues, into the 21st century, but the use of the name and its variations is, now, long over, as far as we know.