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Testimony of Bob Weltman

From Bob Weltman's private archive

My name is Bob Weltman. I live in Dallas, Texas, America. But I have a family connection to Wielkopolska and to the town of Trzemeszno. The first of my ancestors to arrive in what was then the Posen Province was my great-great-great-grandfather. He was the rabbi in Witkowo from 1820 until his death in 1849.

My great-great-grandparents, Mandel and Jette Kuttner Weltmann were both born in Witkowo but lived in Trzemeszno during the 1860s and the 1870s. Trzemeszno is where their children, including my great-grandfather, Louis Weltmann, grew up. Most likely he and his seven siblings happily played for hours in the streets with the other children of Trzemeszno. Some of the Jewish kids they played with would become the parents and/or grandparents of Trzemeszno victims of the Holocaust. My great-grandfather eventually moved away from Trzemeszno and went to America. His siblings also left Trzemeszno, either for America or for the larger cities of Germany. The Weltmanns who chose to settle in Germany ended up having descendants who died in the Holocaust.

(a scan of a postcard from Witkowo circa 1940 published in the bulletin of the Witkowo Commune and Town Office)

In the Jewish religion, the prayer recited in memory of the dead is called the Kaddish. It is a very important prayer. We say the prayer to remember and honour our ancestors, usually on the anniversary of their death. It is comforting to a Jew to think that, after they are dead, there will be someone left to say Kaddish for them. But what of those Jews who have no one left to remember their names? Who will say Kaddish for them? During synagogue services, when it is time to say Kaddish, the Rabbi tells the congregation that not only are we saying Kaddish for those that we can name, we are also saying it for Jews, such as the 6 million who perished in the Holocaust, who may have no one left to remember their name. The Kaddish prayer is our way of remembering them.

(Surviving matzevot from the Jewish cemetery in Witkowo are displayed in the History Hall in Witkowo, photo by Katarzyna Sudaj)

Remembering is a good thing, even when it can be painful to remember. I am forever grateful to the citizens of Trzemeszno who choose to remember the Jews who once lived there.

Bob Weltman

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