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Sol and Sylvia Horwitz visit family in Bessarabia, 1936

Film | Digitized | Accession Number: 2019.126 | RG Number: RG-60.1083 | Film ID: 4361

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    Sol and Sylvia Horwitz visit family in Bessarabia, 1936


    In 1936, Sol and Sylvia Horwitz traveled to their hometowns in Bessarabia and visited Paris, Berlin, Romania (Chernovitz, Falesht, Beltz, Tulcea, Ismail), and Vienna. They documented their journey on 8mm film and each kept a travel log, in which Sol discussed his growing anxiety and concern over the current state of his homeland, while Sylvia described the townspeople and their cultural customs. Sylvia returned to NY on July 6, 1936, sailing on the SS Queen Mary from Cherbourg, France. Sol stayed in Vienna for medical training and arrived separately in NY on November 2, 1936.

    0:00 Bustling town center in Chernovitz with barefoot woman speaking to well- dressed man.

    0:41 Man with hat holds a basket; pan down to his barefeet. Women with babushkas, pedestrian activity in town, camera pans “Emil Leichter“ shop. Young residents of Falesti approach the camera. Man fills bucket with water (milk) from a cart. Slow pan, relatives of Sol Horwitz and friends of father Hyman Horwitz. 1:24 Sol with his Aunt (Gettles); they give each other a kiss. CU of Sol's aunt and other relatives. Two girls with white bows in their hair smile and giggle for the camera. Horse-drawn cart through the street. 3 girls arm-in-arm, laughing. Boy attempts to catch a pig. 2:31 Sylvia and the pig. Relatives pose in front of shops in Falesti. Young boys smile for the camera. Local men work on a roof. Cobblestone streets. Two girls walk past an open cellar door. 3:42 The family. 4:20 Sylvia with goats. A female doctor (Sol’s father’s friend, Shea Polyrea’s Daughter).

    4:56 In Beltz [Balti], residents on the street. Elderly couple. A friend of Hyman's takes off his hat. 5:33 The inn formerly operated by Sol’s parents, Hyman Horwitz and Bertha Bookman. More friends of Hyman. 6:00 Sylvia stands in front of the synagogue where Sol’s parents were married.

    6:10 Relatives of Sylvia on the Danube river in Ismail, where Sylvia was born. 6:49 CU, Aunt Braila. Sylvia on a river taxi. The women go to a cemetery in Ismail, visiting Uncle Chiam’s grave. 7:24 Headstone. Braila (sister of Myron Moskovitz) walks toward camera, more relatives. Dock on the Danube river.

    In Tulcea, well-dressed relatives of Sylvia with flower bouquets, waving.

    8:50 Horwitz family (including Bessie Kasherman) in New York City.
    Event:  1936
    Tulcea, Romania
    Falesht, Romania
    Balti, Romania
    Ismail, Romania
    Chernowitz, Romania
    New York, NY, United States
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, gift of Bruce Howard
    Camera Operator: Solomon Horwitz
    Subject: Sylvia Horwitz
    Solomon Horwitz immigrated from Falesht to the United States in 1910. He and his wife, Sylvia Moskovitz, lived in Minnesota.
    Sylvia Moskovitz immigrated from Ismail to the United States in 1910. She and her husband, Sol Horwitz, lived in Minnesota.

    Physical Details

    B&W / Color
    Black & White
    Image Quality
    Film Format
    • Master
    • Master 4361 Video: DVD - b&w - silent - NTSC
      Master 4361 Video: DVD - b&w - silent - NTSC
      Master 4361 Video: DVD - b&w - silent - NTSC
      Master 4361 Video: DVD - b&w - silent - NTSC

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    You do not require further permission from the Museum to access this archival media.
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Conditions on Use
    The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum places no restrictions on use of this material. You do not require further permission from the Museum to reproduce or use this film footage.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Film Provenance
    Bruce Howard donated a DVD of his parents' home movies to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in April 2018.
    Travel Diary excerpts:
    Date: Sunday, May 24, 1936
    Place: Chernovitz
    We reached the Romanian border and immediately bribery and corruption began. - Sol Horwitz (excerpt)

    Date: Sunday, May 24, 1936
    Place: Chernovitz
    Got into Chernovitz at 12 and went to hotel where we wanted to bathe but was informed that water is shut off at 11 P.M. every night. Freshened up and went out to eat. The restaurant was outdoors and dancing was in the middle of yard. Place not too clean and Jewish waiters were rather dirty. The dancers or guests danced the old time tango. To bed at 2 A.M. - Sylvia Horwitz (excerpt)

    Date: Monday, May 25, 1936
    Place: Falesht
    I was astounded to see so many dirty looking people walking barefooted, but little did I dream I would see millions of them in northern Romania. - Sylvia Horwitz (excerpt)

    Date: Monday, May 25, 1936
    Place: Falesht
    We could observe from the train the natives working in the field barefooted and in large numbers and all by hand. The people are very poor and everything is very backward. - Sol Horwitz (excerpt)

    Date: Tuesday, May 26, 1936
    Place: Falesht
    We took pictures and watched the town and listened to many talks of woe and they have plenty. The community is the “Hell Hole of the World” The only thing modern is the lighting but everything else is ancient including the outside plumbing, the water carries the muddy street and the ignorance of the people - Sol Horwitz

    Date: Tuesday, May 26, 1936
    Place: Falesht
    Finally we arrived at Falesti! What a lousy place that is! A man whom we thought was Jewish -- he spoke Jewish very frequently- grabbed our baggage and put it on a horse and buggy. The drivers of the other buggies were arguing and cursing as they take each others business away. The station is 15 minute ride from town and the ride was so bumpy. I was scared stiff. The houses on outskirts all had straw roofs and the pigs and dogs seemed have better lodging than the children. When we got to main street, or alley, Sol jumped out when he inquired for “Phona Aurilius”. She came running to meet him. We were taken into “Gettles” house where we met the entire family. Immediately they started to test the material of my dress and ask prices. Geetle Beazab called me out after we were there an hour asked me if I wanted to go someplace. I nodded and followed her out the back door. She stopped short of the backdoor and said, “you can do it right here as I am afraid to go way in the backyard” and she picked up her dress. I was amazed but in Rome do as the Romans do, so I followed suit. We talked until 12 midnight and then we went to Ruhul Kaufman's house to sleep. - Sylvia Horwitz

    Date: June [May] 28, 1936
    Place: Beltz
    Today we drove by car to Beltz we saw Dad’s old pals Shea Polarie, Nuzen Rumer, Yonhel Pisakhys and Yontel Polarie I took pictures of the home, the old synagogue and visited with Mema Ozzie. I saw Minnie Ezerzer uncle and family who are very poor. I saw Harry Warner’s family. We spent another lousy day in Falesti but religion is a big thing although the stores are open. Business is kept open even during the holidays. Whatever holiday just past I don’t know but the stores were open. - Sol Horwitz

    Date: Thursday May 28, 1936
    Place: Falesti and Beltz
    Up at 9 A.M. and went out to find the street filled with natives who come in from the farms and docks to buy, sell, and barter their wares. They are a filthy look lot. Women barefooted, wide skirts, dirty blouses, kerchiefs on head - usually carrying a babe in arms. Men wear Russian hats, beard, heavy boots and sell flowers seed, wild cherries, etc. Saw a woman sit down on curb and nurse baby. … Then to Harry Warner’s father’s home, where the entire family cried due to conditions and lack of dowry for youngest daughter left me depressed and morbid. Then in succession visited Sol’s birthplace, childhood home, synagogue, old time friend of Sol’s Dad. Then Nurem’s house (Uncle of Fiterman) where we heard another sob story due to lack of dowry. - Sylvia Horwitz (excerpt)

    Date: May 29, 1936
    Place: Falesti
    Today is Sat and we packed to leave I was sweating all night and had diarrhea. I checked it with Time of Opinie. We were advised not to go because because the Cuserts meeting in Kishineft but I did not believe them but we left any way. At the depot the attendant refused sell us any tickets because of the danger of injuring us. We turned back and took in a show but I was sick and now I believe it was purely nervousness as I recovered as soon as I left Falesti.- Sol Horwitz

    Date: Monday June 1 , 1936
    Place: Tulcea, Romania
    Arrival on large boat for Tulcea at 9 A.M. and was thrilled upon the realization that I was actually on Blue Danube river of which I read so much only the Blue Danube is not blue but a dirty golden color. Scenery was very pretty and boat trip very pleasant. - Sylvia Horwitz (excerpt)

    Date: June 1, 1936
    Place: Tulcea
    We got up in the morning and took the boat to Tulcea. We had an excellent trip down the Danube but instead of the river being blue it was golden due to a lot of sand. We had an excellent dinner on board the boar and arrived at Tulsea about 1 P.M. - Sol Horwitz

    Date: June 2,1936
    Place: Ishmail
    We went to Sylvia’s Uncle’s place of business and then to his home. We had a nap and at night took in a restaurant and to bed. In the morning we got up and at at her uncle's home and took pictures after dinner. We took the boat at 1 P.M. and arrive at Ishmeal 4 P.M. - Sol Horwitz

    Date: June 6, 1936
    Place: Bucharest
    Today we sailed again and how glad I was to get out of the -- The less I say about my visit in Romania the better. - Sol Horwitz

    In summary of the two travel logs, Sol Horwitz discusses the stage show at Paris’ Cafe La Tabaran; visiting various European landmarks; speaking with Nazi and Jewish sympathizers on board various trains; almost losing his wife and luggage on the wrong train; feelings of his family and friends about the state of Europe in 1939; crime and corruption in Falesti; Nazi customs changing his hometown; visiting his father’s friends; falling ill because of nerves; and getting into trouble for not checking in with police. In her travel log, Sylvia Horwitz discusses shopping in Paris; visiting various palaces in Europe; speaking with Nazi and Jewish sympathizers; the opinions of her husband’s wealthy friends; not being able to bathe after 11 p.m. in Chernovitz; the state of the Jewish community in Romania in 1939; her relatives concern for money; visiting notable landmarks in her husband's life; not being recognized by her relatives; washing her hair with rainwater; not being sold a train ticket because she and her husband were Jewish; her husband falling ill; traveling down the Blue Danube; visiting the cemetery where her Uncle and Aunt are buried; and sadly parting with her family.
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    Bruce Howard
    Record last modified:
    2024-02-21 08:00:39
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