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Charles Stabinsky's Trip to Radzilow, 1985

His Sztabinski and Czerwinski ancestors were from Radzilow

My Visit to Radzilow
By: Charles Stabinsky

1937 Passport Photo
Louis Stabinsky
(Yitzhak Leibl Sztabinski)

       

In 1985, I asked my father, Louis Stabinsky, who was then 86 years old, if he would accompany my wife and me on a trip to his birthplace, Radzilow. He left there in 1921. At first he agreed to come and then, upon reflection, refused and said, "You don't know what those killers will do. They will keep you there. No, I won't go and I don't want you to go, either." He implored my older brother to try to influence me against such a trip. I responded that I wanted to see where my father lived and grew up, not where his whole family was murdered.

I arranged to hire an English speaking guide in Warsaw and we spent a day visiting Radzilow and my mother's birthplace, Makow Mazowiecki.

As we entered Radzilow, after lunch in Lomza and driving through Jedwabne, we passed a little bridge and I told the driver to stop. I said to my wife, Char, that that building must be my uncle, Chaim Eli's mill. A farmer was in his yard across from the mill and I asked him who owned the mill. He told me the government owned everything. It was still Communist time. I asked, "Who owned the mill before?" He told me that he owned it and had bought it from the Jew who went to Israel. That was my uncle's partner. He left out that my uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents were all murdered in the town square.

Site where Louis Stabinsky (Yitzhak Leibl Sztabinski)
lived on Karwowska St.
       

Since my father had described the town and drawn a map of the town, we then went to the site where he had lived. A substantial stucco building which apparently housed school teachers was on the property now.

But right next door was a hovel that reminded me of Tevya's house in Fiddler on the Roof. An old woman peered out the window and we beckoned her to come out. I stood nose to nose with her and said, "Sztabinski." She responded, "Yitzhak (my father), Rifka (an aunt), Raisel (another aunt)." The woman was 82, had grown up in the house next to my grandparents and their children, played with them and told me she went to the wedding of one of my aunts. She started to say the few Yiddish words that she learned in the house next to hers. She was as moved emotionally by meeting me as I was to meet her.

The trip that I took to walk on the same ground as my father and just to look at the land where he grew up turned into a dynamic experience when I met someone who played as a child with my father and his siblings.

Charles' grandparents

Jankiel Meyer Sztabinski and
Marjam Fejga (nee Czerwinski) Sztabinski
Both killed in Radzilow, 1941

Charles' uncle

Chaim Eli Sztabinski
Killed in Radzilow, 1941
along with wife Sora
(nee Konopka), and
children Akiva and Rivi

   Return to Photos; Return to Trips; Return to Radzilovers, Part 4; Part 15