Bloch Family top; Kats Family bottom
The Blochs I am assuming were THE capitalists of Nyesviz. This photo dates from about 1935 before the Soviet liberation and social revolution. The old man is Chachmed my Great Uncle and the old woman is Malka (Gurvits) my Great Aunt and my grandmother Lilli’s older sister. Malka looks almost exactly as my grandmother did in 1979 when I met Lilli.
I am assuming that Chachmed’s four son’s were deported to the gulag as enemies of the people since there are four Bloch’s missing from the lists of those shot by the fascists.
The other family is Kats, who occupied the house on 79 Michala Street, now renamed Liebknecht Street for the German Communist martyr who was murdered with his comrade Rosa Luxembourg, whose murder was carried out by my probably distant cousin Ernst Kantorowicz who was rewarded by the American ruling class with a tenured position at Princeton University, home to Woodrow Wilson, or The Thief, as Lenin called him. But I digress.
Kats is a euphemism for Kohen as a Hasidic Talmudist told me not too long ago. This indicates probable membership in the old Litvak religious ruling class who oppressed the Jewish masses in the feudal period. At the same time this ancient and feudal subcaste went on to achieve greatness in the areas of scholarship, art and probably even revolutionary leadership.
Brajna Bloch the middle-aged woman in the back row center was the daughter of Chachmed and Malka Bloch. She was my grandmother Lilli’s niece and at the same time, cousin of sorts, both of them being about the same age and coming from similar social status. They were debutantes of Nyesviz or JAPS (Jewish American/Belarussian Princesses) from the ghetta. Rachel Kats is top row, far right. I am assuming she was Brajna’s sister-in-law. She also left for Nev York. Ganesza Kats, now still living in Connecticut at the age of 93, is the little girl in the lower right corner sitting on her grandmother Kats’ lap. Ganesza is the daughter of Brajna. The year was 1927 and this was the last photo of the family before Brajna and Ganesza left for New York City. The photo was presumably taken in the back of 79 Michala Street. It is a humble little cottage, the rest of the family does not look that well off and I wonder how they lived and what their orientation to the social revolution of 1939-1941 was. At any rate, they were presumably all murdered by the capitalists/fascists and now lie under the earth at Park Slavy Komsomola.
Brajna Bloch and Lilli Gurvits were friends for all their lives and as survivors of the genocide and as ladies from the same social circles they were two of the few Litvak bourgeoisie who remained from the small old town of Nyesviz after capitalism destroyed their world.