The Orphanage

Pepe Anderman-Neuberger , Translated by Adam Prager

I do not remember the exact date of the founding of the orphanage in Buczacz, however I believe it was between the years 1920-1922. I think that the first director of the orphanage was Mrs. Pohorila. As far as my feeble memory allows me to recall, she was of medium height and pleasant features, with good pedagogic skills. I do not know who the members of the orphanage committee were. Mrs. Pohorila was followed by Miss Sonia Blutreich, who was a good friend to the children. After Miss Blutreich’s marriage, Miss Paulina Anderman was appointed director and educator. This was in the years 1930-1931. Besides the director-educator there were the matron and an assistant.

The orphanage, which was co-educational, had 50 children, aged 19, 18, and 5, an obviously undesirable age distribution. However, it was impossible to let the older ones leave without receiving a high school diploma of some kind. The institution, or more exactly, its managerial committee, did not fulfill its task by this alone. It also took an interest in the lives of its graduates: it found them suitable jobs in those hard times and arranged scholarships for the talented ones so that they could continue their studies. The Buczacz orphanage was known for the quality of its graduates, individuals of understanding and character who were well prepared for the struggle of life.

One of the graduates, a second-year medical student, fell while fighting for a free Spain. This was Karol Neuberger, brother of a teacher in the Stanislevov gymnasium.

The orphanage pupils were for the most part accounted to be good workers, their labor and energy serving as an example to others. I would also like to mention a boy by the name of Zelig Lampert. He was an illegitimate child who had apparently been handed over to peasants in a village either by a mother who was cruel or who in those years had been rejected by society, and who later left for America. Under a false name, claiming to be his aunt, she would send money from time to time to cover the expenses for the child’s upkeep. The managerial committee heard about this boy. In order to “save” a Jewish soul, the committee arranged to transfer him to the orphanage. Of course, this called for a certain amount of monetary persuasion. The peasant family was not eager to lose a cheap source of labor; perhaps it had already become used to the child it had raised from infancy.

He was a clever and talented boy, but difficult to teach. He was full of resentment towards the world that had deprived him of a normal childhood. People’s personalities can change from one extreme to the other in times of war. Fear has often changed the bad into good and the noble into the bestial. What of Zelig? This youth, who didn’t look Jewish, had the opportunity to save himself; instead, he defended the lives of other Jews at the cost of his own. I heard this story from an acquaintance who lived in Buczacz during the war and who had little to tell about other orphanage pupils. He had heard that some succeeded in fleeing to Russia, a few abroad and the rest were murdered. This war claimed many victims.

I should mention the activities of the supervisory Committee for Jewish Children and Youth. The orphanage was maintained partly by contributions and partly by the Jewish public and the kehila [Jewish community]. The above Committee directed and supervised the orphanage. The Chair was the lawyer Mrs. Paula Marengel, a dear woman; unable to have children of her own, she devoted her life to the Jewish child. The vice-chair of the committee was the lawyer Mrs. Clara Gross, who was in charge of the house. The treasurer was Mr. Henrik Kriegel, a teacher; his substitute was Stanislav Neuberger. The supervisory Committee for Jewish Children and Youth had many members whose names I cannot recall. They helped mainly by collecting donations and organizing special evenings and the like. The most active were the four members of the Executive Committee whose names I have mentioned.

Worthy of special mention – in addition to the lawyer Mrs. Marengel – is Mr. Henrik Kriegel, a man of broad public awareness, who cared for the orphans. Mr. Kriegel tirelessly divided his time between his professional and social activities. Neither rain, snow, nor the burning noonday sun could prevent him from visiting the children daily, checking every corner to be sure no one was in need, the storeroom full and lunch satisfying.

Two other active friends of the Committee who devoted much of their time to the well being of the children were Samuel Neuberger and Clara Gross.

Pepe Anderman-Neuberger


More about the orphanage

In our town there has always been a Polish and Ukrainian boarding school for secondary school students. Jewish high school students from Buczacz and its surroundings felt that they should have a similar institution, one that could help provincial youth to an education.

It was necessary to find funding for the project. A group of young students decided to stage a theatrical play. They bought the production rights from the Tanentzap Troupe, hoping to raise funds for the project. The students sold all the tickets and gave the proceeds to the gymnasium teacher Yitskhok Falk as a start towards establishing the school. Prof. Falk, who showed a deep concern for the project, dedicated all of his energy and practical skills to increasing the initial sum, taking it upon himself to realize the plan of the Jewish boarding school. Near Fedor Hill [1] he found a small house surrounded by a garden, which was suitable for the purpose. Thus many youths from the area who couldn’t afford private studies could be enrolled immediately. From the first day till 1914 it was managed by a group of Jewish teachers from the Polish secondary school in Buczacz, with the aid of important communal leaders. However, the political and financial changes caused by the First World War, especially the increase in the number of children who had lost parents during the war, made it necessary to turn the school into an orphanage.

The goals and plans of the orphanage changed and again it was Professor Falk who cared for the institution, introducing new people to assist it. Among them were Mrs. Marengel, Clara Gross, Sheyndl Herzas and other women. The orphanage’s primary goal was shelter and upbringing for the full orphans. But it also tried, with the help of the families, to care for the single-parent orphans by keeping them in the orphanage during the day, tending to their education and health.

Dr. D. Pohorila


1. 2 kilometers from town, site of the murder of over 5000 Jews in 1941 and 1943 – ed.] Back