Postcards from Sigmund: 30 March 1942

One treasure from the USHMM regarding my Great-Uncle Sigmund Schmatnik is two postcards he sent to the acting governor of Transnistria in order to get some receipts. Researcher Berti Glaubach helped me to decipher these. “Cerut chitanta” means “requested receipt”.


Letter from Sigmund to his sister Jenny: 2 April 1942

Courtesy of USHMM, the document below is almost certainly related to the above postcards and is stamped as received 2 April 1942.

A few facts:

  • This is a “financial direction” sent by Sigmund Schmatnik – attempting to transmit monies to Transnistria.
  • The letter regards the sum of 5k lei Sigmund was attempting to transmit to Jenny Landwehr in Judeţul Jugastru, one of the 13 counties that were part of the Government of Transnistria, a region under Romanian administration between 1941 and 1944. The county was in the northeastern part of Transnistria, and was administratively divided into a town, Iampol, which was also the county seat, and four districts.
  • It seems that Sigmund’s transaction is not possible without having the Romanian National Bank (BNR) transfer the lei as RKKS (Reichsmarks, the military currency).  
  • Regarding RKKS: This military currency was used in occupied countries by Nazi Germany during WW2. RKKS was originally created for use within Germany. In occupied countries, all banks were forced to accept RKKs by decree and the exchange rate was set to be of advantage to the occupiers.
  • A side note on a person named in the letter: Emanual Cercavschi served as Deputy General to Gheorghe Alexianu, the Romanian governor responsible for the Transnistria Gouvernante territory during its Romanian occupation. In 1936, Cercavschi was a resident of Czernowitz at #7 General Prezan Strasse.

Rough translation of the letter below:

  • Received 2 April 1942
  • Direction 52/1
  • Service  Financial Directive
  • Wrought:(blank)
  • Diary  23.241/942
  • Folder  (indecipherable)
  • Mr. S Schmatnik, Str. Avram Iancu Nr. 6, Cernauti
  • Through…Chair of the Council of Ministers and Civil-Military Cabinet Administrative, BUCHAREST

    Following the address/letter #23241/942 dated March 25, 1942, where you made it known that you had deposited in the Romanian National Bank, into your Government Account #1230, the sum of 5,000 lei. I asked for this amount to be sent to the Jewish Committee and handed over to the lady Jenny Landwehr, and we honorably communicate the need for you to forward your receipt from the Romanian National Bank,  without which it is impossible to get the equivalent in ReichsMarks transmitted to the person indicated in your earlier letter.

  • SIGNED: Acting Governor Emanoil Cercavschi & Director, Paul Nichel
  • (stamped) Lucrarea a fost scazuta (I cannot find any explanation online thus far)

Jenny Schmatnik Landwehr Transport to Iampol

Jenny Landwehr was born Jenny Schmatnik. She lived in Czernowitz before WW2, in the main Schmatnik house in Czernowitz. Jenny married Hermann Landwehr and they had one son, Ossy. Hermann died in Transnistria but Jenny and Ossy survived.

A noted researcher, Benjamin Grilj, has pointed out to me that according to his publication Black Milk: Withheld Letters from the Death Camps of Transnistria, the Landwehr family living at #10 Merangasse in Czernowitz served as a distribution point for couriers going to Transnistria. According to Benjamin, “They helped a lot: financial, infrastructural and with networking. They were heroes.”

There are other connections between the Schmatniks and the Landwehr family.  A Rebeca Landwehr married Moise/Moses Engler in 1930 in Czernowitz. Moses Engler appears in the 1927 census with occupation “office worker” at #10 O. Iosif in Czernowitz. In 1936, his address was #3 Maramuresului.

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