Nina Talbot

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Mendel Neger Family

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From the FACES OF DYNÓW series:

Mendel Neger Family
oil on canvas, 48 x 42 inches

Mendel was the second eldest of five Neger brothers, sons of Chaim Aaron Neger from Dynów. According to his nephew Sam Neger, Mendel was the richest of the brothers, four of whom were in the kosher butcher/cattle trade. Mendel had twelve children. Six of them immigrated to New York before WWII, one of them was as survivor, and five of them were killed with the parents. I learned most of what I know about Mendel from his granddaughter Doris, who in 1937 visited Dynów with her parents and brother. Doris’ father Irving wanted his parents to see his family.

I found Doris by virtue of my research and came across the passenger manifest from their trip. Doris told me about the trip, which took place during an extended summer vacation, when she was nine years old. She remembered all the relatives, their personalities, and had many stories. Her grandfather Mendel arrived at the Dynów train station with a herd of his cattle, as he most likely was on his way to a farm for a business transaction. Doris had some photos from that trip which I copied. In one of them, Mendel, a tall man, is shown tasting something in the rynek market. In another, Mendel’s wife is churning butter outside their home.

When Irving and his family went back to the U.S. after the visit, Mendel escorted the family to the port of Gdańsk. The premonition of the war to come was evident by the presence of Polish soldiers in the port. According to Doris, there was some delay, which prevented the U.S.S. Batory, the ship the family was supposed to leave on, from leaving according to schedule. The family ended up staying in a hotel overnight. Irving pleaded with his father to come back to the U.S. with them, along with the rest of the family. Mendel had enough money to pay for the trip. Mendel motioned to his son, In Poland, I’m up here (motioning with his hand), and in America, I’d be down here. Mendel and his wife Breindl, and their youngest five daughters were murdered in the Nazi invasion.

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