Ari’s 3x great-grandfather Meyer Loshak was born on 4 April 1884 in a town that is now called Hritsiv in Ukraine.
Before WWI the town was called Gritsev, and it was in the Volhynia district of the Russian Empire. In 1879, the year of the Russian census, the Jewish population of the town was 979. There was a pogrom there on 21 Sept 1917. The town was captured by the Germans on 5 July 1941, and a ghetto was established. All the Jewish people of the town (c.1900 at that time) were murdered either in 1941 or in 1942 after being transferred to another ghetto.
Meyer was the son of Lazarus (Eleazer) Loshak and Dvossie Singer. He came to England in 1906, following the 1905 Russian Revolution. His son Harry has given us the story:
“He was the youngest but one of a large family. He soon displayed a formidable aptitude at the casuistic arguments about the significance of the sacred texts. The result was that he was regarded by his teachers and his father as destined to become a rabbi. He had a remarkable gift for languages. Yiddish was his mother tongue. He quickly acquired the Hebrew and Aramaic needed for the Talmud. Before the age of 13 he had also learnt to read and speak Russian as well as the Ukrainian dialect. When he came to Britain in 1906 he soon became fluent in English, which he spoke without trace of a foreign accent. Having learnt Russian he read widely in Russian literature, both the classic authors and contemporary left-wing literature. It was the latter which, when he was about 14, led him to lose religious faith and to become an atheist, much to his father’s disgust. At 15, he left home and supported himself by teaching Russian to Yiddish-speaking Jews. He joined the Bund, a left-wing Jewish political group which was then allied to the Communist movement. As such, he took an active part in the unsuccessful 1905 revolution. Exactly what his role was, I do not know, but it led to a warrant for his arrest by the Tsarist police. He went into hiding and was later smuggled across the border into Germany to avoid probable deportation to Siberia. After spending a few weeks in Germany, he came to Britain on a ship from Hamburg to London.”
This passport was issued by the “Headman of Middle Class citizens of Settlement Grizev. The bearer of this document, the Middle Class citizen Meer Leizorovich Loshak, from Volynsky province, Zaslavski region, settlement Grizev, is discharged to various cities and settlements of the Russian Empire till 22 April 1904. Issued 22 April 1903.”
In London, “he took a room in a lodging house and, for a month or two, made a meagre living by selling neckties from a barrow in Petticoat Lane. A fellow lodger, named Pertschuk, who worked for a fur skin merchant in the City, told him of a vacancy at this merchant’s. My father applied for it and was appointed. He remained for a few years, when he left the job and set up in business as a fur skin merchant on his own account.”
This is a photo from 1906.
Meyer married Freida (Fannie) Nisman on 4 July 1907 in the Register Office in Whitechapel (I had never noticed before, but you can see that Joseph Pertschuk was a witness to the marriage).
We have many letters that Meyer wrote to his son and other family members, and the National Archives at Kew holds some of his business records. There are also many passenger records showing him travelling to New York on business. He became a British citizen in 1911.
Meyer and Fannie had four sons. This picture shows the family in 1928:
A claim to fame from the Jewish Chronicle, 14 Nov 1947:
Meyer died on 22 May 1937 at 26 Exeter Rd, Kilburn, at the age of 53 (the causes were syncope, coronary occlusion, coronary thrombosis), and was buried at Willesden Cemetery.
In his will he left many interesting bequests, including to his sister Leah Singer of Poland and her daughter Sosia Gejfman (I believe that they died in the Holocaust). He also mentions other siblings I did not know: “WHEREAS I have been allowing various sums of money monthly to each of my brothers O. Loshak of Tulchin Russia, [and] my sister Chissie Tachtenberg of Odessa Russia … it is my earnest wish that my wife should continue to make them allowances of at least Four pounds a month each.”
I would love to find any descendants of these relations, and more information about them.
An obituary of Meyer was published in the Fur News.
Ari, this is how you are related to Meyer: