[Notes from Martin Mark - probably written shortly after Mollie Mark's death in 1979]

So that you may know more about yourselves, I will tell you all I know about our past. These stories that I pass on to you were told to me by my parents [Joseph and Mollie Mark]. You may find them very hard to believe, but I believe them. I have no doubt that my parents believed that these stories were true.

During the seven days that I spend sitting "Shiva" with my father [after Mollie Mark's death in 1979], he repeated some of the stories I have been told before - and he also told us a great deal more about our ancestors that I did not know. [Shlomo Mark] {Martin Mark}

We are able to go back to the years 1803 - 1805 to my Great Great Grandfather Shlomo Mark. My father [Joseph Mark] could not remember his great great grandmother's name. Shlomo was employed as a city administrator. My father believes that all the Marks before Shlomo were also administrators, either for a city or a large estate. In addition to his job as a city administrator, Shlomo owned and operated a tavern. He was also active in the wholesale liquor business. This was still during the days of "paronomasia" (serfdom). Paronomasia (serfdom) was abolished by Kaiser Franz Josef during his first reign (1848 - 1867). I mention this now because there is a very interesting family story about Franz Josepf who actually stayed at my Grandfather Hillel's house during his second reign (but that is another story, and I'll get back to it later). IS IT SHLOMO/? - HERSCH/CHANA - HILLEL/RIFKA - JOSEPH/MOLLIE? [Hirsch Mark - how he came to be a carpenter] {Martin Mark}

Rohatyn 1891 CITY DIRECTORY: Mark Hersch leib-- Kaffeehauser Café

It is not known if Shlomo had more than one child, but we do know that that Shlomo's son's name (my great grandfather) was Hirsch (Harold) Mark. Hirsch married Chana (Anna) Terner (my sister Ann Mark-Waldman is named after her). Hirsch worked with his father. He helped out at the tavern. One of the stories about Hirsch that I especially like happened shortly after he married Chana.

It happened on a Saturday night. They opened the tavern after sundown (Shabbos) and the place was soon full. They were busy serving beer, wine, cheese, and other food. They knew most of the people that patronized their tavern and everyone was having a great time. Hirsch took time to sit with a friend and as Chana brought beer and cheese to the table, Hirsch reached up and pinched her behind! Well.... you are not supposed to pinch your wife's bottom in public; it's just not done. Chana reacted the way any decent Jewish woman would. She slapped Hirsch across the face as hard as she could, and then went about her business of waiting on customers as if nothing had happened. Of course (as you can imagine) in those days, being slapped in the face by a woman in public, even your own wife (or perhaps especially your own wife) was quite a humiliation. Still, what could a man do?

Hirsch said nothing. During the previous week, he and Chana had talked about selling one of the cows. So, the next day (Sunday), Hirsch got up early and threw a rope around the cow's horns. When Chana asked him where he was going, he told her that he was going to sell the cow. He did not mention the "incident" of the previous night nor did he kiss her goodbye, so she knew that he was upset (that, of course, was the understatement of the century).

Hirsch was gone for three years!!!!!!

When he returned, there was no complicated explanation to his father Shlomo. Hirsch simply decided that he wanted a different kind of life, so he had to learn a new trade - and this took three years. Hirsch said to his father: "I can make a living no matter where I decide to go. I have learned to be a "stelmach" (carpenter and blacksmith) and I intend to be the best in the trade. I will divorce Chana and settle in another town." To this, his father Shlomo said, "NO! You will not divorce Chana. You will go to her, you will beg her pardon, you will make up with her and live the rest of your life with her." Hirsch did go to Chana, and he did beg her forgiveness. And Chana forgave him and took him back.

They lived a happy life and had nine children (eight boys and one girl): [1] Yoel, [2] Baruch - Hertz, [3] Hillel (my grandfather), [7] Majer (I was named after him), [8] Moshe (Murray Mark was named after him), [6] Mendel, [4] Wolfe (the bad apple in the family), [5] Mordechi, and Leya (Lora Mark-Lang is named after her).

Each of the boys learned their father's trade and became carpenters-blacksmiths. I imagine that each of them had a shop like the one my Grandfather Hillel had, or at least one similar to it. Whatever one might have needed in those days (furniture, wagons, sleds, toys, etc), it was made out of wood, and my grandfather could and did make it.

As a youngster, I used to enjoy tinkering in my grandfather's shop, and I have some scars to show for it! [Hillel Mark] {Martin Mark} Grandfather Hillel (the goyim used to call him Panie Ellu) married Rifka Linewant. Her father's name was Tsudik Linewant. He was a storyteller - advocate - lawyer. They were from the town of Szwersz. Not much else was told to me about my grandmother's side of the family, but I feel it is safe to assume that son followed in father's footsteps, so the Linewant background was probably storyteller - advocate - lawyer.

My Grandfather Hillel was a very religious man, as were most Jews at that time in that part of Europe. He owned his land outright thanks to Kaiser Franz Josef. [Hillel Mark and Kaiser Franz Josef] {Martin Mark}

History tells us that whenever there was a war in Europe, it was usually fought on Polish soil. In 1867, Austria decided to take over Hungry. The part of the world our family lived in at that time was known as Galicia, and it bordered Hungry. Kaiser Franz Josef was passing through the little town that Grandpa Hillel lived in when his carriage broke down. Whatever work had to be done to assure the Kaiser of a safe journey took three days. During that time, the Kaiser decided to stay in Grandfather's house (since there were no hotels in the town). This meant that Grandpa Hillel had to give up his entire home for the Kaiser's pleasure. He had to make a bed for himself and Grandmother Rifka on the floor of the shop.

When the carriage was repaired, the Kaiser and his soldiers left without a word of thanks and without payment for the three day's work Grandpa had done to fix the carriage. A month later, the Kaiser was on his way back to Austria.

Grandpa lived on the main road, so when he saw the army approaching he pulled up a chair and watched (just as everyone else living on the road did). As the Kaiser's carriage moved closer, Grandfather asked Grandmother to bring him a pitcher of cold milk and a glass. When the carriage pulled up in front of him, he offered the Kaiser a glass of cold milk. Franz Josef stepped from the carriage and ordered his soldiers to make camp for the night because he had decided to stay in the carpenter's home again. Once again, Grandfather and Grandmother had to bed down in the shop and cook and wait on the Kaiser.

The next morning after breakfast, the Kaiser ordered my grandfather to be brought before him. Franz Josef was seated in the large overstuffed chair that my grandfather had built for himself. Two straight back chairs from the dining room were placed in front of him. My grandparents were ordered to sit in those chairs. There was nothing Grandpa could do except obey. So, he helped Grandmother to the chair and tried to assure her that everything would be ok. Grandfather sat down and then told Franz Josef that he hoped the Kaiser was not upset with him for the poor accommodations. Grandfather also assured Franz Josef that he had inspected the carriage and that it was in perfect condition for the journey back to Vienna. Franz Josef then thanked my grandfather for his hospitality. He complimented grandmother's cooking and told grandfather that his workmanship was as good as his personal carpenters at the royal estate.

To show his appreciation for all that grandfather had done, the Kaiser handed him a deed to the property he was leasing. No longer would Hillel Mark have to pay rent on the land he had developed. No longer would he have to worry about being dispersed from the land because he was a Jew. Not only was the land his free and clear, but for 99 years, grandfather would not even have to pay taxes on the property!

[Kaiser Franz Josef abolishes serfdom]

{Martin Mark} Just as Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves in the USA, Franz Josef freed the slaves (serfs) in Europe. The landowners were, naturally enough, very upset. Not only did they have to pay workers for their labor, but in order to get enough help to work their large farms, they had to share the profit; that's when sharecropping began. The landowners tried various ways to get the Kaiser to reinstate serfdom, but nothing worked. So, they decided on one desperate plan. They dressed up as peasants and asked for an audience with Franz Josef. The plan was that they would try to convince the Kaiser that life for the peasant was better before the abolition of serfdom.

Franz Josef did grant them an audience and asked one of the men to be the spokesperson for the group. One of the men came forward. He tried to act very humble. He told the Kaiser that the peasants were unhappy now that they had to take care of themselves. He said that before they were freed, the landowners provided food and shelter for the peasants. They did not make any money, but they always had food and shelter. They were able to go to church every Sunday, and life really wasn't so bad. The spokesperson begged for the law to be changed back. As the spokesperson stood there with his hands out-stretched, pleading his case, the Kaiser was almost convinced that perhaps he did these poor people an injustice. But, as he looked from this man's face to his hands, he noticed something very peculiar. The man's hands looked much too clean and too soft to be the hands of a hard-working peasant.

He commanded each of the men in the room to come before him and he looked at their hands. He saw that they all had very soft and clean hands. Their clothing was that of peasants; they were unkempt and unshaven. However, their hands were not those of hard-working people. Angry because they tried to deceive him, Franz Josef ordered all 25 landowners to be thrown in jail while he decided their punishment. For three days they stayed in jail living on black bread and water. On the fourth day, they were brought before Franz Josef to learn their fate.

The Kaiser told them that for the next 20 years, these 25 landowners and their families would not be allowed to oversee their harvests. They could manage their lands all year. However, when it was time for the crops to be harvested, they had to leave town for the duration of the harvest. Any one who fails to leave would be thrown in jail.

[Joseph Mark] {Martin Mark} Grandmother Rifka had eight miscarriages before my father (Joseph) was born. I have written the story of my grandmother's strange illness and miraculous recovery [I need to get this story]. That was in 1888. My father Joseph was born in February 1889. My Uncle Solomon (named after Shlomo Mark) was born 12 years later in 1901.

The house that my grandfather built was adobe (mud and straw) with a straw roof. 98% of the houses, barns, shops, etc. were built that way. There was no running water or electricity in our house. The double seated outhouse was built of wood and was portable. Each spring before the plowing was begun, the outhouse was moved and the fertilizer spread.


[Mollie Gabe-Mark] {Martin Mark} On my mother's side, the family was always rabbinic. Mother's great grandfather was the "Heileche Rebi" [Holy Rabbi]. Jews from all over Galicia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine, and Southern Russia would seek an audience with him. It is too bad that my father does not remember his name. He was her great grandfather on her grandmother's side. Mother's grandfather was Moshe Noah Gabe. The Gabes were tenant farmers and advocates - lawyers - storytellers. He had at least two sons (not necessarily by the same wife). Chaim Dovid Gabe (Charles David) was my grandfather on my mother's side. He married Ethel Altfather. The Altfathers were also rabbinical people as well as weavers of linen. They had four children: Malka (Mollie, my mother was the eldest), Rose, Sylvia, and Moe. The Gabe family immigrated to the USA after World War I. My mother had already married Joseph Mark at the time, so she remained in Rohatyn, Poland with the Mark family. [Joseph Mark - POW and entrepreneur] {Martin Mark}

During World War I, the Russians gathered as many male Jews as they could find and sent them to the front to do hard labor. They built shelters for the soldiers, dug trenches, carried supplies, etc. My father was not at home when the Russians came and took Hillel away. When Joseph returned and learned that his father was taken, he said goodbye to mother and grandmother and went to find his father. He caught up with him two days later and was assigned to the same labor detail: digging trenches.

That first morning, as they were lined up for instructions, the Russian officer noticed some papers that Joseph was holding and asked the prisoners if anyone could read and write. Neither the officer nor his men could read nor write, but Joseph could do both. So he stepped forward. He knew that anything having to do with reading and writing would be more pleasant that digging trenches.

The Russian called him inside his office, handed him the papers and told him that his job would be to take care of everything that had to do with financing of the camp. He would make out the payroll for the company of soldiers guarding the detail of prisoners, requisition supplies, etc.

The first thing my father asked for was an assistant - my grandfather. When the Russian objected, dad told him that a man must have a clear head if he is to work with figures, handle large sums of money, make out daily reports, and he could do a much better job if he did not have to worry about his father breaking his back at the the freezing, dangerous front.

Everything went well. At the end of the month, when he made out the payroll for the soldiers, he also included pay for himself and grandfather. They were no longer prisoners, they were now civilian employees working for the Russian Army.

When the Russian officer saw the requisition for their pay, he ranted and raved and cursed and then all of a sudden, he began to laugh. He hugged my father, told him that he admired a smart, learned man, even if he is a "Parshive Zhid" (lousy Jew). "But," he said, "don't get too smart or I'll have you shot."

In the Spring, the Russians came to my father and told him to add 100 Ruble to the monthly requisition; he needed a new wagon. Dad added 150 Ruble to the requisition, and handed it to the Russian to sign. The Russian, noticing the difference said to my father,"I told you to add 100 Ruble. Why did you add 150 Ruble?"

My father looked him streaight in the eye and said, "You need a wagon - I need a horse." The Russian signed the requisition.

On the home front, mom had to do whatever she could to survive. The Russians were notoriously anti-semitic. They had no respect for other peoples property. They took what they wanted, including the raping of Jewish women. To protect herself, Mom had to make herself look ugly. For my mother, that was not an easy job because she was a very beautiful young woman.

She wore my grandmother's wig and that made her look 20 years older. She painted a mole on the side of her nose and another on her chin and whenever any soldiers would come into the store to buy something, she would keep her mouth half open. (When Mom told me this story she said that this made her look so ugly that even grandma looked away.)

Even more important than that, to insure her safety, mom had to become important to the soldiers so that they would become useful to her and gramdmother. She let it be known to all the soldiers, not just the officers, that she had a sewing machine. Soon she was so busy mending uniforms that she did not have time to wait on customers in the store.

The Russians would ask mom how many meters of material to buy for a fancy peasant shirt and mother would always tell them double the amount needed. She would suggest that they ship a dress home to their wives, sweethearts or sisters and there would always be enough material left over for an extra dress.

Soon mother had enough material to put on the shelf in the store so the Russians did not have to buy it elsewhere. From the short ends of the silk fabric mother used to sew scarves or shawls. There was lots of money coming in now.

One day, a soldier showed up from the front with a package. He rode three hours at a gallop almost killing the poor horse. ("Panie Mark") "Mr. Mark paid me 5 Ruble to bring you this birthday present," he told my mother. "Please send him back a note saying you received it or he'll have me killed." The package contained all the money my father and grandfather had made at the front.

The situation for mother and grandmother was stable. For other Jews it was bad. In Russia, the pogroms continued. Jews were beaten and killed every day.

At the front line things had changed also. The Russians had to pull back as the Jews were sent back to a prison. My father had a couple of decks of cards with him and, knowing what notorious gamblers the soldiers were, he conned the guards into giving him a large cell for himself and grandpa. That way there would be enough room for the guards to come into his cell and play cards.

Two days later, they were moved into a large cell. Here, there were two beds. No longer did they have to sleep on the floor. A large table and some chairs were brought in for the guards to sit and gamble on so my father and grandfather no longer had to balance their food in their laps or eat on the floor like animals.

While the Russians gambled, my father and grandfather took turns keeping watch so that the commandant would not walk in and catch the guards gambling. My father placed an empty can in the center of the table and told the guards to put one or two coins in from every pot. This was payment for keeping watch. Every morning when the guards would leave, my father would empty the money from the can. There was plenty of food now. The goyim brought bread, cheese, wine and whiskey to the game and left whatever they did not finish for the next game. My father and grandfather ate what they wanted and gave some of it to other Jewish prisoners that were not so lucky. They were allowed to go freely all over the prison and after a while they were even allowed to go to town, as long as only one of them went.

These are my memories by Lora Lang.

INTRODUCTION ------------

I was born in Rohatyn, Poland to Joseph and Molly Mark. I was their second child. They had four other children; Anne, Harold, Martin, and Murray. Joseph's father's name was Hillel his mothers name was Rifka. My father used to tell us that when his grandmother visited them she would give him a forint. [I don't know what European country's monitory system that was] I just found out that a forint is a Hungarian coin. Florin is A British coin worth two shillings. 3 a A gold coin first issued at Florence, Italy, in 1252. b Any of several gold coins similar to the Florentine florin, formerly used in Europe.

HOW MY GREAT GRANDFATHER BECAME A WAGON MAKER -----------------------------------------

When my great grandfather Hersh Mark got married when he was very young about 17 or 18 years old; he and his bride lived with her parents who owned an inn. One morning when she refused his advances he got insulted. That day he took his talis and tifilen and walked out. He decided to go to a bigger town to learn a trade, become independent, move his wife in to a place of their own. Along the way a peasant picked him up and after hearing the story took him to a wagon maker where he stayed for two years, one year as an apprentice and one to learn. All that time not communicating.

When he got back his wife Chana was waiting for him, He had saved some money so they bought a piece of land and he became a wagon maker. That was in the early 1800's. Chana and Hirsch Mark had eight children, seven boys and one girl. One of the boys was my grandfather Hillel Mark. dd The names of the other boys; Moishe, Mendle, Mordche, Wolf, Yoel; sorry I forgot the others. They all became wagon makers.

Hillel Mark married Rifka Leinwand, she was not from Rohatyn, In 1889,their son Joseph was born, Feb.27. Hillel and Rifka settled in the outskirts of Rohatyn Babince,70,Mickiewicza street They had a lot of ground. They build a small house a barn and a workshop. There were mostly no Jews in that village but the Marks got along very well with all their neighbors and were liked and respected When it was time for Joseph to go to school the officials had to threaten his parents before they let him go to school and be away from them for a few hours. He was very spoiled. You see his mother had 13 pregnancies before she had another child, a son named Shloime Mark. Rifka's maiden name was Lienwant, She had a brother named Chaskel. I don't know anything else about him except that he lived in Hungary.

When Joseph was about 20 years old he met Molly Gabe in Pischanskis Ballroom Dance School. They fell in love and when he told his parents about her his father went to look her over. Wednesday was market day in Rohatyn, Hillel pretended to go shopping, The Gabes lived in the heart of the Jewish neighborhood. Charles David Gabe was a rabbi his wife Ethel had a little store and eked out a living to suport the family that is the two of them and their four children the oldest Molly, Rosie, Sylvia and the baby Moe. Hillel Mark got to the Gabe house that Wednesday. Molly opened the door Hillel asked to see her parents but they were not at home so he asked her if she knew Joseph Mark "Yes," she said "he is a very." "Not so nice," said Hillel, "He is very spoiled, he doesn't want to eat kasha he only wants an omelet."

"Don't worry - for me he'll eat kasha." I'm here to tell you that she continued to spoil him to the day she he died, that's 67 years.

Mollie and Joseph were married in March 1913. At first they lived with his parents and all got along very well. Molly being from a more educated family was teaching her in-laws. Since they lived on the outskirts of a town known as Babince, If it was too dark to go to Synagogue on the eve of any holiday she arranged to have services at their house every Friday evening and on the eve of every holiday. That continued till the day we left Poland in March 1939. That turned out to be the luckiest day. Molly and Joseph had a baby girl.

Soon after unfortunately she died. After World War II, we lived in the outskirts of the town named Babince. We had a lot of land. We raised our own vegetables, had an orchard, some animals and Grandpa had his workshop. Life was good. My father had a tactile store in town. Ma would bring dinner to him every day.

We had a maid that lived with us. She helped Ma with the house chores and took care of us children. Since she was not Jewish and celebrated Christmas, Grandpa Hillel would clean out his workshop and Hanka put her Christmas tree there. Ma and Grandma Rifka baked all sorts of goodies for her and her daughter who used to come to visit her for the holidays.

Mollie and Joseph had five more children, Anne, Lora, Harold, Martin and Murray.

There was a lot of anti-Semitism in Poland but we didn't feel it at that time. When Anne graduated high school with an A average she couldn't get into a university because the Jewish quota was always full. Ma decided that instead of sending Anne to a university in a country in Europe to be with strangers she should go to America where her family lived.

My mother's father Charles David Gabe was a Rabbi. After Mollie and Joseph were married in 1913 Charles Gabe went to America. He lived in Bridgeport, Conn. after that. When he had enough money he sent for his wife and children so that they could be together. My parents remained in Rohatyn till 1939. When Anne came to America she stayed with aunt Sylvia Ma's sister as she learned English she also learned how bad the situation was in Europe so she started to encourage ma and pa to come to America. Pa finally agreed to go and if he didn't like it there we would go back to Poland.

The local government gave us a hard time with the passports. With every passport you were allowed to take a certain amount of cash so they wanted us to go on one passport. After days of arguing, they finally gave us four passports. It was a sad day for all of us, the day we left. I think it was March 25th. The little train station couldn't hold all the people that came to say goodbye to us. I will never forget my 84-year-old grandfather standing there waving and wishing us well. We went to Warsaw to get the rest of the documents.

Our train out of Warsaw to the port of Gdinia left in the evening. That's when we experienced our first blackout. It was very unpleasant to get on the train with the luggage, 4 young children pushing and shoving in a crowd in the dark. We traveled all night. In the morning, the conductor came to tell us all to keep the windows locked because we were traveling trough Gdinsk. That was a polish city but then it was already taken over by the Nazis. The second bad experience in Gdinia we were tested for literacy and examined medically.


We started from Rohatyn. Took the train to Warsaw. There we underwent legal clearance. The Government wanted the whole family to travel on one passport. (You were permitted to take out of the country a set amount per passport) My father wanted each member of the family to have their own passport The compromise was to let my parents each have a passport and all the children have one passport. From Warsaw we went north to Gdynya, a port city in northern Poland. After a false alarm about not sailing, we finally sailed for Halifax Canada. From there we sailed into Hoboken NJ.

Part two

I don't remember the train ride from Rohatyn to Warsaw. It was the first time I was on a train. We always traveled by wagon or sled. All I remember is that it was very crowded. When we were being processed, I remember each of the children was placed in a separate cubicle. We were then asked questions. My brother Martin was asked a math question. He hesitated and I stage whispered the answer. I'm not sure if that happened or my sibs made it up.

From Warsaw to Gdynya was another train ride. This seemed even more crowded. I seem to remember us spending the night at the train station. I don't know if this was in Warsaw or Gdnynya I also remember that we were told to "go home," the boat was not sailing. My mother persisted and we got on the ship. The ship was another first for me. We traveled second class. I guess that is one step above steerage. I don't remember if we were all in one room or two. I was on the top of a three tier bunk.

On the ship again I had a few firsts. For the first time we had grapefruit. They served a half grapefruit and I just looked at it. I didn't know what to do. I finally picked it up and took a bite. It was terrible. So bitter.

A funny story

On board ship they served hard cooked eggs every day. Since we were a family unit a lot of people traveling alone hooked up with us. One single man, Mr. Zang was his name, stayed with our group all the time. (I wonder if my sister Lora was the attraction). At any rate Mr. Zang would eat hard cooked eggs four to six at a meal. So he became "the man with the eggs." The word for eggs in Yiddish is the same as the word for scrotem. Need I say more?

Our first port of call was Halifax, Canada. From there we sailed to the USA. I never saw the statue of liberty. It was dark and raining. Our uncle, David Gabe, came to collect us. Each one of us had an identification tag on. We didn't know him and he didn't know us. My mother spotted this short gruff man with an unlit cigar in his mouth. He kept asking Mock? Mock? Mock? So I think it was my father who asked MaRRRk? Yes Mock! He could not roll his R the way we did.

He looked at our tags and said "O.K. one, two, three, four, five, six let's go let's go".

He herded us out like sheep.

In the Rohatyn ghetto the story is similar. It had a Jewish population of about three thousand in September 1939. The Germans occupied the ghetto after June 22, 1941. With the new adverse conditions, the Jewish people revolted with escape. Dozens of Jews tried to flee to the forests by making their way east to the Soviet Union interior. On March 20, 1942, a massacre occurred. The German and Ukrainian police started to round up Jews and assembled them in the market square for shooting. When several dozen tried to escape, the squads shot them in their backs. In May of 1943, a group of young Jews organized and left for the forests to investigate the possibilities of fighting the Germans. Unfortunately, they were unable to obtain arms and most of the group just returned to the ghetto.

The liquidation of the ghetto began on June 6, 1943. The enemies set fire to the Jewish houses and stores. When the Germans discovered that there were hiding places where some Jews had fled, they flushed the places with fire and bullets. On July 24, 1944 the Soviet army liberated the ghetto with thirty survivors finally emerging from hideouts. (Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, 1990) http://cghs.dade.k12.fl.us/ib_holocaust2001/Ghettoes/resistance/generalgouvernement.htm