Faces

AND THEN, TWO DAYS LATER, there they were -- more than 55 documents, some with photographs and signatures of the brothers and Adolf. As I downloaded and saved each one, I marveled at what I was seeing.

THE BELGIAN PASSPORT DOCUMENTS  for the brothers provided invaluable information -- especially a visual record.

Here were the two brothers, Uszer Kahan and Owszyia Kagan, and now I could see their faces, and also their signatures written in their own hand. I saw them as young men, applying for passports so they could go to the University of Liège in Belgium. I learned that their parents had given them money so they could study, and that Uszer had come first, in 1924, then followed by his younger brother Owszyia in 1928. Slowly, their lives had begun to emerge from the fog and haze of the past.

I HAD NO DOUBT that these photographs were of one and the same man: Uszer Pinchas Kahan.

EXAMINING THE PHOTOGRAPHS of the two brothers, I knew immediately that the photo Mel had shown me was definitely Uszer, the older brother. His deep-set eyes, prominent ears and full lips were distinctive. In the earlier photo (when Uszer was 17, we later learned) he wears a mandarin-collared jacket and his hair is trimmed close to his face;  by the time of the passport photo of 1924, three years later, he is dressed in a suit and tie and wears his hair parted to the side.

 

Besides identifying the photograph, after only a quick perusal of the documents, I had learned so much. The brothers had not come together to Belgium; rather, each of them had come when they were 20, Uszer in 1924, and Owszyia in 1928.

 

In the various documents, they referred to their mother as "Taube Kanfer" or "Hana-Taube" rather than Toba or Tova. I wondered if this would help me find her name on the list of the perished in Dubno.

 

And most significantly, Owzyia's name was finally spelled correctly (with just one slight variation, as he often signed with a "j" in place of the "y" and this was the version with the best documentation.)

NOW, WOULD THE ARCHIVIST at Mémorial de la Shoah accept the documentation as being worthy of making a change on the Wall of Names?