World War II finally ended. Europe was in shambles.
“A whole new reality emerged after V-E Day – that of displaced persons. Millions of starving, homeless and disoriented DPs (Displaced Persons) were let loose across liberated Europe, creating problems and pressures the victorious Allies had never anticipated. At the end of 1945 about seven million DPs roamed Western Europe. Seven million more were in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and there were ten million freed German war prisoners. After the nightmare of the Holocaust, the ever-rising tide of Jewish refugees, with no homes to which they could return, faced yet another horror. The only Allied policy at that juncture and for the next few years was to keep the DPs alive. There were no long-range plans.”
“The fact of the matter is that the Jews are on the march. The trouble is that they have nowhere to go.” That was the view in February 1947 of Joseph Schwartz, head of the American Joint Distribution Committee (commonly referred to as The Joint). Laibel Eisenberg, his wife Golda and their infant daughter Tzippora were among that group of people. They were the more ‘lucky’ ones because they were already in a DP camp, because in April 1947, General Lucius Clay closed all DP Camps to further admissions. After that date, refuges were turned away and had to survive on their own. Camps had been established throughout Europe for people who had no place to go until permanent homes could be found. The ‘camps’ were converted factories, abandoned German army barracks, and even concentration camps. “The flight of the Polish Jews had filled up the DP camps in Germany, Austria and Italy to a record level.” “…Unless these Jews were allowed to immigrate somewhere -- anywhere-- there was the danger of a permanent and intolerable refugee camp situation in the heart of Europe. The US Army ran the camps, but it could not handle the task forever.”
Most Ajzenbergs had left Telechan many years earlier. Those that remained were killed in the Holocaust, except for my Uncle Laibel. With his second family he became entangled in the flow of history, and found their way to a Displaced Persons Camp in Germany. “Into this Germany of destruction, death and dreadful memories, Jews were pouring in from Eastern Europe to wait for an opportunity to get to Palestine. It was ironical and dangerous that Germany should be the one country in Europe in which the Jewish population was growing….”if even for a short time.
The DP camps housed former concentration camp victims, Polish Jews fleeing from new attacks by the Polish people and Jews from service in Russia. Despite these different origins, the reasons were essentially the same. They were unable to locate any living family members or friends; they found their towns and villages destroyed and “they felt themselves unwelcome, despised and hated in an atmosphere of violent Anti-Semitism.”[i] These displaced persons preferred to return to the camps in Germany and wait for a chance to emigrate to America or Palestine. Laibel, Golda and Tzippora were among them. Polish Jews who fled into Russia after WWII began and those who lived in the eastern territories annexed by the USSR were allowed to return legally under the Russian-Polish repatriation agreement.
Laibel had fled Poland during the war and lived in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan in Asian USSR. By 1941 Tashkent had become a center for Jewish refugees from Nazi persecution. There he met and married Golda Srebrik who was from Winice (Winicze) Poland. It was in Tashkent that their daughter Tzippora was born. Tzippora is named after her Aunt Ziporah who was killed in August 1941. Golda reported to me in July 1999 that they lived in Tashkent from 1942-1945 and that when the war ended they lived in Poland for about half a year before making their way to Germany and the DP Camp.
Unlike their counterparts from other countries, the Jews emerging from the Soviet Union came as family units, parents and children together. Laibel, Golda, and Tzippora were one of those families. Similar to other Polish Jews, they did not leave the Soviet Union because they wanted to return to Poland. They left with the intention of making their way out of Poland. Most wanted to go to Palestine.
During my 1990 Israel visit, my Uncle Yitzhak confirmed that his brother Laibel was in a DP camp in Germany, which he identified as Badrechenlundrich, near Munich. I searched for a number of years but was unable to locate a camp with that name. Finally in January 1998 the International Red Cross responded “Laibel AJZENBERG EISENBERG was registered in the D.P. Camp AINRING in January 1947 and from then to 4 September 1947." This camp, of approximately 3,000 persons, was under the jurisdiction of Bad Reichenhall. Bad Reichenhall and Ainring are located in Bavaria whose capital is Munich. Uncle Yitzhak’s information was close to the mark.
Although presently unconfirmed, I believe that the Ainring DP Camp was located at the Ainring airfield, which Hitler had built before 1937 as his private airfield and used when coming to and leaving from nearby Berchtesgarden. His Berchtesgarden guests were not permitted to land in Ainring. They were required to use the Salzburg airfield, just across the border in Austria.
A second letter from the International Red Cross confirmed the dates in the first letter and added some additional information. Laibel was at Ainring on November 21, 1946. It also stated that he “was in DP Camp LECHFELD on August 30, 1947." This means his family was at Ainring, went to Lechfeld, and returned to Ainring. I have no explanation why they would be moved back and forth between camps.
Lechfeld is also a site of some historic significance. During World War I a young Adolph Hitler, of the 16th Bavarian Reserve Regiment, received his basic training there. He returned in 1919 and “It was here that Hitler found a gift for speaking.” During W.W.II, Lechfeld was a major Messerschmitt test facility. Currently the US maintains an airbase with nuclear weapons, at Lechfeld.
Laibel and his family were in DP Camps for a long time. Although originally intended as temporary facilities for repatriation of displaced persons, some DP camps became semi-permanent settlements for many people for extended periods of time. The camps were located in different countries of Europe, but primarily in Germany. They varied from one another in many ways yet were quite similar in others.
All camps were overpopulated with scared and scarred victims of the war who wanted to be elsewhere. These congested, semi-permanent communities took on lives of their own. Today we would refer to them as refugee camps. Children were born and needed to be educated. Ninety percent of the children in the American Zone camps attended school. Necessary services evolved to meet the needs of the inhabitants.
Because there was much time and little to do, recreational activities abounded. “Soccer and volleyball games ran nearly nonstop in some camps. Often little was needed to launch an enterprise beyond announcing a time and place for those with a specific interest sports grew to occupy the most prominent position among camp activities, drawing in everyone…Large camps usually had football (soccer), basketball teams…. with DP leagues in operation and occasional contests scheduled against non DP clubs or military units.”
Apparently my Uncle was a sports fan who followed his camp's soccer team. In 1947, Laibel Ajzenberg, along with his wife and daughter were living in the Ainring DP camp. He was killed as a result of a traffic accident returning from a soccer game in a nearby town. The truck he was in was transporting a number of people. Eight to ten other people were also killed. Laibel lingered for a week before dying.
What a tragedy! He survived the pogroms of Eastern Europe and service in the Polish Army. He survived the death of his first wife, Bracha, and his two children. He survived exile in Tashkent, prison in the USSR, only to die in a traffic accident, just before being reunited with surviving members of his family of origin.
Laibel escaped into Russia and lived in Tashkent during the war. He worked hard there. He was imprisoned, for having used language derogatory to the Soviets. After his release from prison he met and married Golda, a daughter of a respectable family. After the war they went to Poland and were scheduled to go to Eretz Israel from there. Enroute they stopped in Germany.**********************************************************
One week before their scheduled departure for Israel, Laibel together with several other young men, went to see a football game. The truck in which they were riding overturned and Laibel was killed.
His wife Golda, and their small daughter, Tzippora left for Israel in deep mourning and there, in Israel joined Laibel’s mother, Minka, and the rest of the family.”
“BIOGRAPHY OF LAIBEL EISENBERG,
SON OF AZRIEL AND MINKA
He lived with his mother in the city of Telechan, and he remained with his mother, and married and had children. However, the bitter war separated them. He escaped to Russia, but his wife and two children remained at home and were killed by the Nazis. After a short while he remarried in Russia and had a daughter whom he named Tzippora, after his sister.
However, they could not remain there, as they were not Russian citizens. They traveled to Germany to reach Israel. However, fate was bitter, and when they traveled to another city to watch the games, there were 35 people with them. The bus overturned and all were injured or killed. Laibel was among the injured and lived for a few days. He was 40 years old when he died. May his soul be bound with the soul of the living.”
To the preceding information I can now ad the following: His first wife Bracha also was from Telechan. One of their two children was named Rezale; the other child’s name is not known at this time. The Germans in Telechan murdered all three on that fateful day in August 1941. They are buried in the common grave along with their relatives and neighbors.
Golda is Laibel’s second wife and their ‘small daughter’ is Tzippora Argaman. Both have lived in Hadera since arriving in Israel in 1949.
Contrary to the accounts in the Telechan Memorial Book, Morris Eisenberg’s children recall that Laibel, Golda, and Tzippora were originally scheduled to immigrate to the US rather than to Palestine. We remember our father flying to Washington to secure some necessary documents so that Laibel and his family could come to the US. Eadie (Eisenberg) Kames recalls that an apartment had been rented for their anticipated arrival. After Laibel’s death these plans changed. However, on a visit to Israel in 1999, Golda recounted that my father wanted Laibel and his family to come to the US, but that he preferred Palestine to with his mother and family.
Laibel was only 37 years old at the time of his death. He survived his first family. His second family survived him.
May His Soul Be Bound up In The Bonds Of Everlasting Life
Through the miracle of e-mail and a Jewish Genealogy Discussion group I located Laibel’s gravesite. It happened like this; In December 1998 I posted a question asking how I might go about finding the location of my Uncle’s grave. I gave his name, said that he had been at the Ainring DP Camp and died in 1947. Two days later I received the following e-mail; from a person named Simon Srebny:
“Ainring does not (now) have its own Jewish community…I called the cemetery of the Jewish community in Munich (address and tele/fax numbers included). The very helpful woman working there told me the following:
Who died on May 23, 1947 at the age of 37
is buried in
Her records did not indicate where he died. She said she would take you to the grave if you come for a visit.”
WOW! I found my Uncle. I had begun my search for information on my Uncle and his DP Camp experience in October 1992 with a ‘blind’ letter to UNRRA Archives at the United Nations.
 Victory in Europe Day, May 8, 1945
 Tad Szulc, The Secret Alliance, FSG 1991 p.104
 Ibid. p.169
 I.F. Stone, Underground To Palestine, Pantheon p.20
 Anonymous quote: “The Polish government is not anti-Semitic, but the Polish people are”
 I.F. Stone, Underground To Palestine, Pantheon p. 46
 The September date probably refers to Golda and Tzippora. Laibel died May 23, 1947
 Again the date is wrong for Laibel.
 Mark Wyman, DP: Europe Displaced Persons, Am.U. Press 1989 p.102
 Ibid. P.118
 Excerpt from Telechan Memorial Book p.15
 Ibid. p. 182 - translated from Hebrew
 Thirteen days after his birthday, May 10, 1910
 United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration
[i] Ibid. p.46
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