Kamienica Banku Handlowego at ul. Ceglana 10

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Pablo Edronkin

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The Banku Handlowego building at ul. Ceglana 10 was one of the most relevant properties of our family in Warsaw; many lived and ultimately died there during WWII.

Ceglana is one of the few streets that changed its name after 1945 in Warsaw, being now called ul. Pereca. The name change of the street induces some errors, since the building that now stands at Pereca 12 is sometimes listed as Pereca 10 and hence, the destroyed building of the Bank Handlowy is sometimes listed as Ceglana 8.

The building that was there at number 10 does not exist any more; it occupied a surface of about 20 x 50 metres, and it was a 7 story tall construction. In the 1930 Warsaw Address and Business Directory[186.19], Wolf Lejb Schönberg - who was in the real estate business and directed a company that owned several of them - appears as the administrator of this building (see Bcia Wolf i Icek Schoenberg); his phone number at Ceglana 10 was 65-06. In the same page of the guide, Matjas Schönberg is listed as a shop owner in the same building, and his phone was 135-90.

Pictures of June 1936 show that the building suffered a relatively large fire there at the time - enough to make it to the newspapers, apparently -, and in 1938 is listed as property of Laja Schönberg[186.2]. Some interesting third-party pictures and information about this building can be found at www.warszawa1939.pl and at this page and this one.

There were also other shops there; an insurance broker worked or lived at the building and was named Front, and there were tenants of apartments by names like James, Haus, Jelen, Jungheit, Kaller, Kaplan, Klopfert, Lothe, Majorek, Rakowski, Rosenbaum, Rotklejn, Rosenberg, Rubinstein, Ryng, Ryzowy, Sowa, Szenfeld, Tajer, Wagman, Pilichowski, Brauner, Dajcz, Folsztejn and Gothelf. Most of these died during the war.

Of all those names mentioned, only the Wagman family was related to ours but Yad Vashem pages of testimony by Hatalgi - Halpern et al. (see Yad Vashem Pages of Testimony) state that several members of our family lived there before or during the war, like Abraham Skowronek[1.40] and Ewa Schönberg[1.206], demonstrating beyond doubt that the building was owned by the same Schönberg family; others that had their addresses elsewhere before the war also went to that building, probably as they had nowhere to go once the ghetto was imposed. Some apartments of another building where they lived - Willa Marconiego, at ul. Marszalkowska 101 (see Natan Schönberg) were damaged by bombing during the Sep. 1939 campaign so, it is likely that they too went to ul. Ceglana 10. In fact, Yad Vashem testimonies for Ryta Przepiorki[1.203], who was the wife of Natan Schönberg list literally both addresses - Marszalkowska 101 and Ceglana 10 as her own.

They were all murdered.

Then, considering the surface of each floor, it would be reasonable to assume that the building had about at least 6 apartments per floor, and that these would be occupied mostly at least by two people each - wife and husband -, which means that a seven story building like this one would have been inhabited by a hundred people or so.

In terms of present-day (2013) value, a square metre of empty land in an average European capital costs about 1.000 euros, and the same surface, if built, at least 2.000 euros (in some cases, due to real estate value bubbles, the amount per suare metre surpasses even 5.000 euros). This means that a building with a total built surface of 1.000 square metres per level (20 x 50 m) would amount to 7.000 square metres in all. At current market prices that building would be conservatively valued at about 14 million euros.

Life cannot be valued like an asset, has no price, but to give you an idea of the amount of loss of life involved in the case of ul. Ceglana 10, I will add-up the total amount of life expectancy per occupant - about 60 years at the time - to a grand total of 600 years. So, by adding one life after the other of what was lost at that building, we can see that it reaches six centuries.

By these means it is easy to see how destructive a war really is, because all those lives and all that capital simply vanished in a puff of smoke that can be easily caused by an artillery shell costing about 1.000 euros. If you consider what amounts of money and lives are lost in - say - an aircraft crash, it becomes obvious that each building destroyed along with its occupants is - in terms of disastrous effects - similar to the crash of a mid-sized passenger plane.

Now, to get a grasp of what a war means, consider that about 90% of Warsaw was destroyed during WWII, and that the capital in Poland was only one among dozens of cities destroyed because an Austrian-born corporal decided one day that he was the leader of a master race.

Auth: P. Edronkin.
Royalty III, Pablo Edronkin.

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