Final Pictures and Letters
The Cohen family from Sochaczew - Pre war years
The Archives at Yad Vashem was recently presented with a collection of pictures and letters describing life in Sochaczew, Poland before the Holocaust. The collection had belonged to Nechemia Cohen and was given to Yad Vashem by his children.
Nechemia, immigrated to Palestine in 1933 from the Polish town of Sochaczew, leaving behind a large family. Over the years, the Cohen family kept in touch with Nechemia by sending him letters and pictures. The pictures presented here are taken from that collection. Most of the family, except for one sister Paula, perished during the Holocaust. Paula survived the Holocaust, but died shortly after moving to Israel.
Nechemia Cohen rarely spoke about the past with his children; hence many of the pictures from this collection could not be identified. We know only that they represent a brief glimpse, into the lives of one family prior to the outbreak of World War II.
Most of the pictures were sent by Nechemia’s brother - Yitzchak. Yitzchak sent pictures of his wedding, of his children and other family members.
Particularly moving, are two of the letters sent by Nechemia’s nephew- Mendel.
Mendel, age 12, wrote to Nechemia in Hebrew and through his words, we experience life in Sochaczew in 1939. In his letter from the end of April 1939, Mendel describes the growing problems facing the Jewish community - the prohibition against ritual slaughter, the ongoing antisemitism, along with his own desire to move to Israel. He voices his concern that England won’t allow free passage for the Jews to Palestine and expresses his hope that Nechemia will return to Poland for his bar mitzvah on the holiday of Lag Ba’omer that year. Approximately a month later, he writes how he, along with his friends, very much want to come to Palestine. He even asks his uncle Nechemia to advise him as to what vocation would be worthwhile for him learn in preparation for leaving Poland. He signs the letter “ Goodbye, until we meet in the near future in our land! From your nephew who dreams of his homeland.”
Three months after this letter was sent, World War II broke out. Mendel Cohen, along with his hopes and dreams, perished during the Holocaust.