Saturday, October 17, 2009


On a Friday, October 3rd, 2008, a man named Shaul Sharoni decided to write me an e-mail from Israel. I had never heard of his name, but he had read this blog and was offering to get in contact with Yad Vashem (The Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names) submitters for me. He had found 17 entries under the surname “Tolpolar”, and was willing to help.

Surprised and extremely grateful for this generous offer, I accepted and together we started to research for possible names and their contacts. To make a long story short, 16 days after Mr. Sharoni sent me that wonderful e-mail he managed to get in contact with one of the submitters; a man on his 80’s called Yeruham Golan, who was living in Israel. Mr. Golan was nothing but the submitter of Sioma Tolpolar’s death information to Yad Vashem. And Sioma was Fima’s brother, both first degree cousins of my father. In our trip to Moldova we visited the house where they were born and the place where Sioma was killed by the Romanian Nazis, in Cepeleutz.

I will reproduce here Mr. Sharoni’s amazing e-mail:
“Hello Cassio,

Contrary to my assumption that Yerhuam Golan is no longer alive, it turned out he's very much alive. I spoke to him and his wife this evening, and here's in short what he told me:

Iza Tolpolar nee Fleck was his first cousin-their mothers were sisters, and as noted in the POT she was a Swiss citizen. She and her husband, Sioma Tolpolar, were both medical doctors at the village where they settled in, and shortly before the Nazis invaded that area they were murdered by the locals.

Apparently, Yeruham and his family were living in the same village, and thus knew them very well. Iza's sister is living in NY, and is already over the age of 90. Yeruham would give them a call tomorrow and try to ask for more info.

Now, he also speaks English and I suggest that you try to contact him directly. He's 80 years old and is not computer-savvy, though his wife seems to be a newcomer to the world of Internet.

Lastly, they added that a number of years ago some foreign guy visited or contacted them while on vacation here in Israel-he was also looking for Tolpolar, though they don't recall his name or his whereabouts.

All the best,

After 67 years of Sioma’s assassination, who was wrapped in mystery – nobody I met seemed to know what exactly happened and why he and his wife Iza had gone to Cepeleutz to flee from the Nazis – I could be able to get in touch with somebody who could give me more specific information. I was very excited and grateful for Mr. Sharoni’s efforts and interest.

I called Yeruham a few times. I would ask him questions and he had to check with his cousin Dina (Iza’s sister) in New York and then I had to call him back again. I asked if I could speak directly with her, but for some reason he didn’t want to give me her phone number. I never insisted, I would keep calling him and he would check with Dina, until one day he decided to give me her phone number. Then everything changed. I called Dina, her husband Grischa promptly got the phone. I felt so overwhelmed by the possibilities of things they could tell me I couldn't ask everything on the phone. So I told him I would pay them a visit. He told me something like “You better hurry up. I’m 95 and Dina is 92 years-old. We are fine today but we don’t know what’s gonna happen tomorrow”.

I immediately bought tickets to New York. In February 2009 I was going to meet the sister of Sioma’s wife. I was bringing the camera to videotape it and my sister was joining me from Pittsburgh. I was anxious, nervous and excited.

Next: Meeting Dina Zonis and uncovering the past.