The Skowronek Bankers
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Around 1952 my mother was a high school student near Buenos Aires; one day, while she returned home, in the town of Burzaco, a lady was having tea with her mother and having a conversation; being a teenager, my mother just said hello and continued her way to her room but a little bit later, her mother went to see her and said that the visitor was a member of the Israeli diplomatic service.
"I don't think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains." - Anne Frank.
At the time my grandfather returned home from a day of work, the visit became the supper topic: The woman reached my mother after tracking her down; the last that they could have learned about my grandmother outside Argentina was that she and her family took a ship called Córdoba (see S.S. Córdoba) from Southampton to Buenos Aires, in 1948, so it must have required some degree of research in various countries to find her. She had been sent by a cousin of my grandmother, who had by then a relevant position in Israeli politics. He survived WWII by leaving earlier, before the Nazis could get him.
Grandmother said that this cousin of hers was before the war in the rubber tire business; he had exclusive rights of representation of some big brand names from the US and the UK in Poland and a good part of Eastern Europe.
Since he was well connected in Germany and Austria, he saw what was coming long before others did in his native Poland and – according to Danusia, my grandmother – he actually tried to convince the family in many different gatherings to leave the country before it was too late. Almost no one believed his wild descriptions of the Sturm Abteilung attacking people and such stuff and they put forward other reasons for staying (see Józef Skowronek). He had money and left for Palestine; not even part of his immediate family wanted to follow him.
According to Danusia, her cousin insisted and begged everyone to leave, no matter what, up to the last minute. The war passed and almost everyone was killed. Only my grandmother, grandfather, my mother and uncle, and a couple of cousins escaped death.
During supper that night, my grandfather asked Danusia about what she wanted to do, since her cousin offered everyone to move to Israel. She declined, saying that she preferred to stay in Argentina.
My mother said that she heard that the name of the cousin in question was Binem.
The family was big, and was composed essentially by three kinds of people: Rabbis, industrialists and bankers. Thorough many generations of intermarriage, everyone had become cousins, so it might be difficult to know who was this person. Then, many surnames were involved even within the same line of descent in just a few generations. For example, Edronkin, Braun, Blat, Skowronek, Schoenberg, Chlawnow and Rotenberg (see Rotenberg) are the family names to which we are directly connected in a straight line from the present and back to the time of my grandmother's grandmother.
However, we know that the Halperns, first degree cousins of my grandmother, were involved indeed in the board of directors of the PePeGe company, which commercialized rubber tires before WWII in Poland. But the Halpern guy who actually was involved in that trade apparently died in an air crash. One cousin of my grandmother from the Halperns – David - did migrate to Palestine before the war started, but he was an MD, not a businessman.
Aside from their rubber tire activities, the Halperns had also a big ice cream parlour in Marszalkowska street, in the centre of Warsaw; many other members of our family had shops or lived in Marszalkowska, but among them there was one who had his commercial premises almost next door from the ice cream shop. He had a foreign commerce company and there are several descriptions and comments about the products that he traded. These include alcoholic beverages such as wine and liquor, fruits, real estate and indeed, rubber tires.
After the war, he began escalating positions in Israel, and even gained relevance in the Knesset. My grandmother's cousin was Simcha Binem Alter, who later became the fifth Rebbe of Ger.
Castas; pencil, 2012, by Pablo Edronkin.
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