June 20, 2015

A postcard from Krasnostav

Last week, I happened to come across a postcard online:

The postcard depicts soldiers, who look Russian, resting in a village. It is labeled "Bei [by] Krasnostav - 1915", and the artist is an H. Klein. There is also a name as well: Elsa Biermann.

Krasnostav was a shtetl (small town) located west of Kiev in modern-day Ukraine, part of what was in the early 20th known as The Pale of Settlement. Jews had been relocated in large numbers to this area, and it was here that my grandfather Bernard was raised. He was born in 1901, so in 1915 he would have been a 14-year-old resident; it would be another five years before he would immigrate to the United States.

My grandfather was pretty reticent about his life in "the old country", and didn't discuss his family much with my dad. His family had a dry good store, but they were quite poor. My father tells me that his father always had a great appreciation of the United States, sometimes seeming to be in awe of what he was able to have here.

This is the shortest branch of my family in terms of how far I'm able to go back, which is only to Bernard's father Menashe, my great-grandfather. Pity that, since it's my own surname.

So when I stumbled upon this postcard, and saw that the price was only about $8 in American money, I had to get it. It's not every day that I come across 100-year-old postcards of my grandfather's hometown, after all! It arrived just a few days ago.

Now I just wish I could find out more about the artist and the card's background...

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