Sigmund (Asher Zelig) Schmatnik was born in 1908 in Czernowitz to Ioil/Joel ben Schmuel  (Proprietor of Galanterie Schmatnik) and Rosa Gittel.

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1908 in Czernowitz

1908 was the year of the first Yiddish Language conference in Czernowitz, from 30 August to 3 September, known as the Czernowitz Conference. The agenda addressed Yiddish spelling and grammar, a Yiddish dictionary, Jewish youth and language, the Yiddish press, theater, writers and actors.  The conference brought great momentum to Jewish nationalist movements in the area.

Back to Sigmund/Asher Selig – research reveals that he married Regina Kinsbrunner, probably in the 1920s – also from Czernowitz. Regina was born in 1913, to Abraham Lieb and Taube Her siblings were Fanny (b1909), Carl (b1906-d1907) and Rachelle (b1907).

#6 Avram Iancu

Their wartime address in Czernowitz was Avram Iancu #6. In the Soviet era, the street was renamed Zankovetskoy, and now is named Zankovetskoi. VIEW MAP

Sigmund and Regina lived for a time in the Balta Ghetto, Transnistria, as both appear on lists showing their deportation to Transnistria and then the receipt of financial aid there from relatives, in 1942.

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Sigmund Schmanik, recruited for forced labor, 1942

Forced Labor in Cernauti

By 1943 it seems that they were back in Czernowitz, as they were recorded in the August 1942 Cernauti census as residents. In January of 1943 Sigmund appeared on a list showing that he held a work permit, and then in October of the same year, he appeared on a list of Jews recruited for forced labor in Cernauti.

Vapniarca Camp

Documents from the Romanian Claims Conference after the war reveal more details of their journey. They were both evacuated from Bucharest and Sigmund was interred in the Văpnearca camp. Money was sent to him at the camp, as he appears on a list of 25 prisoners of that camp in a handwritten list with receipts of sums paid to them. In the camp, he was assigned to the Camera De Munca (Workroom).

The concentration camp of Vapniarca was composed of three cabins with two floors each. In 1941 a group of around 1,000 Jews from Odessa were the first prisoners. Between 1942 and 1943 it was a camp for Jewish and political prisoners. The prisoners were fed an animal feed, which had a sad side effect of a physical and neurological syndrome including bone pain and palsy. The camp was closed in October 1943.

According to Sigmund’s sister Mina’s Yad Vashem testimony, Sigmund died in Auschwitz Camp, Poland. But it is unlikely, as it was Polish and Austrian Jews who filtered into that camp.