Saturday, January 11, 2014

Lessons Learned

I have learned much from writing my family's stories in Walk Forward. I believe that with research, care, and luck, hidden secrets can ultimately be discovered. Family's tend to keep secrets, but in the case of the Shoah, (Holocaust) there remain too many secrets, too many lost pieces of a most complex puzzle, but in time, new pieces and old puzzles will be solved.

Small hints seem to lead to answers, for example, I wondered where my Uncle Leo Chimowicz was buried? I had searched cemeteries around concentration camp Theresienstadt and wondered in what other cemeteries I should be looking for a grave for my Uncle Leo Chimowicz, who survived the Shoah. I concluded that he had to have been buried in a cemetery as my Uncle Alfred Chimowicz, his older brother, had seen him in very bad shape in a hospital shortly after May 9, 1945.

As a child, I saw my father, Herman Chimowicz, and uncle light memory candles, Jahrzeit candles, for my Uncle Leo. When I asked my father what happened to his beloved youngest brother he told me that Leo was very tall, and being tall was a misfortune during the Shoah as the Nazis came down with their clubs, the taller persons in the groups being hit the most.

I recently found a new cousin who had my father and uncle's letters in which my Uncle Alfred described the wounds of his youngest brother Leo. Uncle Alfred said that Leo died of his wounds, but the letter did not say where, did not mention a hospital, did not mention a cemetery.

I had almost given up my search for Uncle Leo when I visited my new friend Eva in Tulsa who was with my lost sister on the most complicated journey through various concentration camps. Eva said to me, "Maybe your uncles hitched the same ride we did to Prague on release from Theresienstadt?"

I remembered the words of Uncle Leo to his older brothers, "I will go to the East from where my wife's family came, while you two proceed to the West." Uncle Leo was searching for his lost wife and three young boys, my father was searching for his lost wife and 9 year old daughter, Eugenia (Genia).

When Eva mentioned to me that my uncles may have hitched a ride to Prague, I zoomed in on the cemeteries in Prague and to my shock, I found the grave of my Uncle Leo Chimowicz.

Uncle Leo's final resting place is in the "New Jewish Cemetery" in Prague, his grave is in Section 33, Row 6, Number 17. I would love to find a picture of his grave!

If you know anyone visiting Prague who might take a photograph of this grave for his family in the USA, please email me at

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