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 NEMENCHINSKI

 
     
  K A U N A S,  L I T H U A N I A  
 
 
PRE-WWII PHOTOS: MAURICE I. BLOCK COLLECTION, 1920  
 
 
 

Story of the Kovno Photos

By: Eric M. Bloch, 1999

 

These photos were taken by my great uncle, Maurice I. Block (he changed his spelling to a "k" so that's not a mistake). He made a trip to Lithuania in August 1920 to find his father (my gr-grandfather), Leib Bloch. Leib had emigrated to the U.S. in 1905 with his wife and adult children. He was very unhappy in the States and he wanted the family to go back with him but they didn't want to go. So, in about 1911 he went back by himself and left the family here.

The family lost touch with him during WWI, and by 1920 it was decided that Uncle Maurice would go back and look for him to encourage him to come back.

Uncle Maurice had been born in Kovno and after a 15-year absence, wanted to take pictures as a memory and to show the family back in the States.

Some of the photos show my gr-grandfather, Leib, as he was found, living in rags, including burlap wrapped around his feet for warmth.

I cannot identify anything in Kovno, except the Neman River riverfront scenes.

File #4 has the photos of my gr-grandfather Leib Bloch.

File #5 has a picture of Uncle Maurice, looking rather dapper.

File #8 shows what is apparently bomb damage from WWI.

File #10 shows some various relatives. The three older woman are my great-great aunts, sisters of my gr-grandmother. Their maiden names were Rochelsohn.

File #13 shows one of the sisters noted above, Chana Rochelsohn Rosen, and her children. The tall one just died in Atlanta, GA last year at about 90. Another photo shows Uncle Maurice in the cart he was supposedly smuggled into Lithuania in since he couldn't enter legally so the story goes. There's also a picture of soldiers guarding a railway station, but I don't know if it's Kovno.

By the way, on the edge of the photo of the man with his horse and carriage, my uncle wrote "drosky", which I believe refers to a cab for hire.

Regarding the soldiers, I vaguely remember reading somewhere that Russia tried to regain independent Lithuania immediately after WWI. I'm wondering if these were Lithuanian soldiers taking up defensive positions.

It is important to give my Uncle Maurice credit for these photos. He died about 20 years ago so I think it would be a great tribute to his memory to share these with others.

Editor's note: There is no row 9. Edges on photos are not cropped on purpose.

 

1a

 

1b

 

1c

 

1d

 

2a

 

2b

 

2c

 

2d

 

3a

 

3b

 

3c

 

3d

 

4a

 

4b - Leib Bloch

 

4c - Leib Bloch

 

4d - Leib Bloch

 

5a

 

5b - Maurice Block

 

5c

 

5d

 

6a

 

6b

 

6c

 

6d

 

7a

 

7b

 

7c

 

7d

 

8a - WWI ruins

 

8b - WWI ruins

 

8c

 

8d

 

10a

 

10b

 

10c - Rochelson sisters

 

10d

 

11a

 

11b

 

11c

 

11d

 

12a

 

12b

 

12c

 

12d

 

13a - Maurice Block

 

13b

 

13c - Rosen family

 

13d

 
 
     

 

Copyright 2006-2022 Jose Gutstein. All rights reserved.


Material and photos courtesy of Eric M. Bloch.