Saturday, December 19, 2009

Lejzor Tokar, Prisoner of War

Over the past few months I've learned a lot about the fate of my Tokar cousins of Brest-Litovsk, Poland (now Brest, Belarus). With the help of cousins, I've been able to identify 12 victims who died in the Brest Ghetto. I have photo IDs for 10...the other 2 were children too young to be issued their own ID papers. As I add these new names to my family tree I also go back to the JewishGen databases ( for another sweep of the results of a "sounds like" Tokar search to see if there is any information that didn't match up to my family on prior searches but that now fits. This is how I found Lejzor Tokar, my first cousin twice removed.

I found a listing for Lejzor Tokar of Brzesc, son of Szymon, in the Polish Jewish Prisoners of War Registration Card database. I immediately sent an e-mail to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum for a copy of the record and they sent me 4 images, 3 cards, 1 of which has 2 sides. With the help of fellow researchers I have the translations of the information on these cards and thanks to the internet, I've been able to learn more about the places mentioned and I also mapped out Lejzor's journey. Here is his story (sorry it doesn't look nicer but inserting images messes with the spacing):

Card 1: Stalag VIII-A and Stalag XIII-C

More details after research:
Stalag VIII-A, located east of Gorlitz, Germany (now Zgorzelec, Poland) was established in Oct. 1939 to hold prisoners taken during the Sept. 1939 invasion of Poland. By Jun. 1940 most of the Polish prisoners have been moved to other prison camps.

Card 2, side 1: Lejzor Tokar, born May 2, 1913 Brzesc, Jewish, father Szymon, mother's maiden name Engiel. Polish Army, rank soldier, 22nd Infantry Division Regiment. Civil profession: butcher. Captured Sept 17 [1939] in Ilow. In good health, height 157, hair dark blond, no physical marks. Person in homeland is his wife Hancze Tokar, Brzesc, Kobrynskastrase 133.

More details after research:
Ilow=Deutsch-Eylau, Prussia, now Ilawa, Poland. This is about 100 miles from Warsaw, Poland and a region of heavy fighting in September 1939 when the Polish Army was trying to block the invasion by the Germany Army.

Hancze Tokar=Chana Tokar. I have a Brest Ghetto ID for a Chana Tokar, also born 1913, and daughter Gita born 1939. This is likely Lejzor's wife and daughter.

Butcher - Lejzor's father Szymon was a butcher as was his grandfather Mojsze (my gg-grandfather).

Card 2, side 2:

Jan. 6 1940-Workers Commando no. 260
Feb. 10 1940-Klausaurach, Germany
Feb. 10 1940-Workers Commando no. 261
Oct. 15 1940-moved to internment camp at Hammelburg, the Stalag XIII camps
Nov. 26 1940-moved to Spreefurt, Germany and then Rothenburg, Germany

More details after research:
Workers Commandos - these were labor squads sent out from prison camps to work in the surrounding communities. I don't know the location of no. 260 but no. 261 appears to be in or near Klausaurach.

Hammelburg-the Stalag XIII camps were located near this town. The cards show that Lejzor was in XIII-C and at some point transferred to XIII-A. XIII-A was formed in Aug. 1940 after XIII-D split into smaller, more manageable pieces.

Spreefurt, Germany - this town was known by this name only during the war. Before and after the war the name was/is Uhyst.

Rothenburg, Germany - there are several towns in Germany that begin with this word but based on the timeline of this story, I think Rothenburg/Oberlausitz is the correct town.

Card 3: the only new information on this card is the handwritten notation at the bottom dated Dec. 19 1940...

Versengen uber Gesn which means burned on gases.

As you will see on the map below which traces Lejzor's journey, this means that he was taken back east to Poland to the concentration camps. I don't know if Dec. 19 is the date he actually died or the date he was left to his final fate (see update below map).

Point A - Deutsch-Eylau, Prussia (now Ilawa, Poland) - Lejzor taken prisoner, Sept 17 1939
Point B - Gorlitz, Germany (now Zgorzelec, Poland) - Stalag VIII-A
Point C - Klausaurach, Germany, Feb 10 1940
Point D - Hammelburg, Germany - Stalag XIII camps, Oct. 15 1940
Point E - Uhyst, Germany - Nov. 1940, transfer back east
Point F - Rothenburg/Oberlausitz, Germany - Nov. 1940, near Polish border
Point G - Lublin, Poland - Lipowa 7 camp; Majdanek was a few miles away

View Larger Map

Update 12/20/2009:
After my original post above, a fellow researcher sent me more information about these POW cards and the fate of prisoners. It is unlikely that Lejzor died on Dec. 19 1940 as that ominous note on card 3 implied. In Dec. 1940, Lejzor arrived at the labor camp on Lipowa Street in Lublin, Poland called Lipowa 7. This camp was still managed by the Judenrat at this time but within a couple of months, the S.S. took over. Prisoners were employed in repair shops and building activities in the region. There is no way to know Lejzor's actual date of death. Many prisoners were killed for any number of minute reasons on a daily basis. In Aug. 1942, the Germans began deportations to the Majdanek death camp. By Nov. 3 1943 the last of the prisoners in Lipowa 7 had been murdered at Majdanek. It's ironic that after all Lejzor endured, he ended up dying within 100 miles of his hometown of Brest-Litovsk.

1 comment:

Terry said...

My father wrote a book INTERLUDE while in stalag V111A with many photos and sketches. I presented a copy to the Lord Mayor of Goerlitz in June2010. Contact me if you want information. Terry Crandle, Auckland, New Zealand