1879 - 1944 | Birth: | Arrest: | Residence: , , , ,

Lejzor PERELCWEJG (or Perelcwajg)

Photograph from the Memorial Museum in Mechelen, Belgium.

We are students at the Bilingual High School in Poznan, Poland. Our names are Ada Rafalska, Aniela Grek, Hania Kmiecik and Adam Miedziński. Together with our French teacher, Mrs. Anna Klinger, we have spent the last few months searching for as much information as possible about the life of Mr. Lejzor Perelcwejg, who left Drancy for Auschwitz on the last of the large convoys, Convoy 77, on July 31, 1944.

The organizers of the “Convoy 77” project kindly sent us some documents concerning Mr. Perelcwejg. We learned that Lejzor Perelcwejg was born in Miedzyrzecz in Poland on January 15, 1879, that he was last domiciled at 64, rue Vieille du Temple in Paris and that he had been deported from Drancy. Letter from the Ministry of veterans and war victims, dated 1968 (1_annexe_ministere_1968)

Our images are not presented in chronological order because our research was not conducted in that order. It was as if we were jumping from one stone to another, sometimes jumping from one period to another, in order to get back to where we began.

We found an interesting handwritten document, (3_annex_Paris_Brussels), which mentions that Lejzor Perelcwejg had been living in Paris since June 16, 1937 and had owned a grocery store there since October 15, 1937, while his wife and son were living in Brussels. Jules Perelcwejg, Lejzor’s son, who lived in Lyon, filed a request in 1968 for a disappeared person’s certificate for his father in order for him to be recognized as a deportee (4_annexe_demande_acte_de_disparition). He obtained this certificate two months later (5_annexe_attestation_de_disparition).

We were surprised to find this request for a disappeared person’s certificate rather than a request for a death certificate. We then watched the film “Nuit et brouillard”or Night and Fog”, a 1956 French documentary by Alain Resnais. The concept of people disappearing into the fog could be used to explain, in a rather lyrical fashion, the term ” disappearance certificate”

We also found a document in the archives (6_annexe_fiche_archives_1968) mentioning that Mr. Perelcwejg had been interned in Drancy camp on July 5 1944, probably shortly after his arrest, the exact date of which we do not know. In another document, mentioned above, the 1968 letter from the Ministry of veterans and war victims (1_annexe_ministere_anciens_combattants_1968) we read that he was deported from Drancy to Auschwitz on July 31, 1944, yet on another document relating to the death of Mr. Perelcwejg, issued in 1969 by the Prefecture in Paris (6_annexe_Prefecture_de_Paris), we read that he died in Drancy. However, we have learned that this was the wording originally used for deportees who died at Auschwitz. Their deaths were initially dated according to when they were deported, since their true date of death was not known.

At first, we felt that we would learn no more about Mr. Perelcwejg’s life, that his son, Jules, could add nothing more to our information and that we would never have any idea what might have happened to his wife, who had remained in Belgium.

We attempted to extract every scrap of information, no matter how small. We searched everywhere, in different cities and countries. We approached a Parisian friend of Mrs. Klinger who, last February, took photos for us in the 3rd district of Paris and sought to contact the former residents of the apartment building at 64, rue Vieille du Temple, Mr. Perelcwejg’s former home (8.1_vielle_du_temple_64). In the photos, we were able to see the front entrance of the building (8.2_portail) and also the courtyard (8.3_cote_cour), which Lejzor’s room probably looked onto, as well as the facade of the public baths (8.6_hammam) that he might have used and the synagogue (8.7_synagogue) that he might have attended. Then, while searching on the Internet, we found a photo of the facade of 64, rue Vieille du Temple in the year 1917 (8.4_portail_1917)! Did Lejzor Perelcwejg live in the Barbette Hotel? The friend also sent us photos of some posters that were put up in the neighborhood last winter, to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in memory of the Jewish children who lived in the area before they were deported (8.5_UEJF).

We wrote numerous letters and mails in French and even two in Ukrainian! We sent them to the magistrates in Miedzyrzecz in Poland, to the two Międzyrzecz/ Międzyrzecs in Ukraine (since thanks to a person working at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw we learned that there were several Miedzyrzecz in Poland before the Second World War), to the town hall of the 7th district of Lyon where Jules Perelcwejg/ Perelvaig lived and to the concierges of the buildings in Paris, where Lejzor lived and in Lyon, where his son lived. We also wrote to some presumed descendants (Mrs. Françoise Perelvaig). We corresponded with people in Paris, Lyon, Colombes and as far afield as Ukraine (9_lettres, 10_maile_ukraina_miedzyrzecz_ostrogski-page-001).

Since replies were slow in coming or we were informed that we were not entitled to any information (according to the reply from the town hall in Lyon for example, which Serge Jacubert of the Convoy 77 association described as shameful), we ended up, in desperation and a bit by chance, writing to the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels. Why not try this avenue, we thought, given that Mr. Perelcwejg’s wife and son had lived there?

And there, what a surprise! The Belgian National Archives did indeed have some documents to share. We received more than 120 copies of documents about our Lejzor. And although we didn’t learn anything new about his childhood or youth in Poland, analyzing such “historical” documents was fascinating. We discovered that his parents’ names were Zelda and Mozik Perelcwejg and that his wife Ruchla was born in Rovne (in Volynia, in present-day Ukraine). We tried to put the Belgian documents concerning the family in order and to complete our family tree (10.1_annexe_ arbre_génélogique) with the information provided (10.2 – 10.7). We think that perhaps, before starting his new life in France, the son, Juda Perelcwejg/ Jules Perelvaig, took all the documents relating to him because there is almost no information about him

In the documents we analyzed, mentions are found of the city of Miedzyrzecz/Miedzyrzec (the name transcribed in different ways depending on the language of the speaker as Miedzynec, Miedrynice, Misdryyric or Miedzygrzec), the town of Rovne, where Lejzor Perelcwejg got married on June 15, 1905 (there are other dates too but this one appears most often) to a certain Ruchla Berman (sometimes the first name is given as Rachel and the surname as Koryn), the city of Warsaw and the address rue Nowolipki 43/41, where he had lived before arriving in Belgium.

He arrived there in October 1929, at the age of 50, with a business passport issued in Warsaw on October 1, 1929. Shortly afterwards, he returned to Poland, probably to extend his visa. He obtained it in Danzig (which was known as the Free City of Danzig between the two wars, and is now Gdansk) on December 24, 1929 and returned to Belgium on December 28, 1929.

According to a letter addressed to the Director General of the Brussels Public Safety department, dated February 5, 1930, M. Perelcwejg stated that had lived, since his arrival, at a house belonging to A. Krasine, at 77 rue de l’Instruction 77 in Anderlecht. He was a wholesaler in the grain trade and dealt regularly with the Meyvis brothers in Wilryok. He was a regular client. He had a good credit history with the Bank of Antwerp and did significant business with the Commercial Bank, also in Antwerp. After having presented all these facts, he asked the Director General for a certificate of good conduct, because he wanted to stay in Belgium permanently (12.1-12.3_lettre_directeur_surete_5.02.1930)

HIs addresses in Belgium were as follows: 12, avenue Clémenceau in Brussels (for a few days in October 1929), 50, Blumstraat in Anvers, 77, rue de l’Instruction in Anderlecht, at the house of A. Krasine, and 75, Bodeghem (attic) in Brussels.

It is difficult to track him down after that, because in a document dated November 27, 1930 from the Police Commissioner of Brussels to the Office for Foreigners, we see that Mr. L. Perelwejg left his home at 75, Bodeghem without a trace. One can only wonder why: there is no definitive answer.


According to the document of January 6, 1933 issued by the Municipal Administration of Schaerbeek, Mr. Perelcwejg had changed his address. Previously, it had been, 21, rue Pasteur, in Anderlecht, and was now 140, rue du Progrès, in Schaerbeek. Above all, and to our great surprise, we learned that he had 5 children rather than an only son, Jules! (13_ruchla_enfants_6.01.1933)

Given the number of documents and the fact that we still find some of the details somewhat unclear, we are now going to outline the information mentioned in the Belgian records and try to give a general overview of Mr. Perelcwejg’s life.

The Belgian authorities had undoubtedly asked for an opinion on “his Polish past” from the authorities of his country of origin. In a handwritten document dated July 19, 1930, issued by the Brussels Provincial government, we learn that the Polish Consulate issued an unfavorable assessment of Lejzor. It was even suggested that he be given a “roadmap” (in other words, that he be shown the way home), that his visa not be extended, and even that his wife not be given a visa. It was suggested that his conduct (in Poland, presumably) be observed for 6 months before any possible change of decision (14.1_14.2_annexes_avis_defavorable_19.07.1930).

The Starostie (district authorities) of the city of Warsaw North expressed a different opinion: an attestation of good reputation and the absence of convictions during the previous ten years (14.3_bonne_reputation_varsovie_6.11.1930).

After arriving in Belgium and settling in Anderlecht on December 31, 1929, Mr. Lejzor Perelcwejg stated that he possessed a sum of 5000 francs was a food merchant. He stated that he had no criminal record (14.4_arrivée_Anderlecht_8.01.1930).

From a handwritten document dated September 15, 1931, we learn that the Polish national Lejzor Perelcwejg left Poland with a good reputation, but that he had left behind some outstanding debts in Warsaw(15_manuscrit_dettes_varsovie_15.09.31). The Belgian authorities had granted him successive one-month visas. We see that Rabbi Klieger intervened on his behalf to obtain an unlimited residence visa (16.1_rabbin_Krieger_27.05.1930, 16.2_rabbin_Krieger_carte_de_visite). We also learn that he ran a Jewish grocery store with his wife and two daughters (the names of the three daughters are mentioned).

Throughout his life, Mr. Lejzor Perelcwejg experienced a number of difficult situations, which he probably managed to overcome in part. It is quite possible that he was able to gain the support of some influential people. In the Belgian documents, Rabbi Ch. H. Krieger’s name is mentioned twice. On May 17, 1930, Mr. Perelcwejg appeared at a hearing at the Ministry of Justice with his business card to apply for a visa for an unlimited stay, which he was granted.

From a report from the municipality of Anderlecht dated September 21, 1931, we learn that the Perelcwejg couple were granted an unlimited residence visa (17_visa_sans_limitations_1931).

However, from 1931 onwards, Mr. Perelcwejg’s circumstances appear to have worsened, perhaps as a result of the Great Depression of the 1930s. He no longer traded in grain or did business with bankers, if we are to believe everything that was included in the letter to the Director of Public Safety in 1930. I He was now a hawker. The Belgian National Archives hold several documents about his unlawful behavior. From 1931 onwards he was repeatedly fined: for wheeling and dealing, for swindling, for not paying taxes, for not displaying the price of his goods, for not respecting health regulations concerning the sale of bottled milk, for fighting and for defamation. He may have spent a day in prison. And things did not get any better. In those difficult years of economic depression with five dependent children, Lejzor had to provide for his family. Life as a small businessman was no doubt very difficult at the time (18.1_18.10_annexes_des_poursuites).

Now we come to what we found out about Mr. Perelcwejg’s relatives.

On June 6, 1930 Lejzor applied to the Belgian Legation in Warsaw for visas for his wife and their children: Judah Lejb, Zelda, Sura, Perla and Sosia. He wrote that he had a steady job as a trader in creamery and dairy products. , was he a grain merchant or a dairy merchant? (19_demande_visa_famille_6.06.1930)

First, we to come his daughters, Sura and Estera Perla. They were in Anderlecht on August 7, 1930. There are photos of them and their father on this document! (20.1_Sura_Estera_Anderlecht_aout_1930)

We were delighted to discover a photo of Mrs. Ruchla Leja Perelcwejg on her passport visa application document, which was submitted in Warsaw on December 1, 1930. After her husband’s departure she lived at 49, Muranowska Street. She was planning to travel to Belgium by train (20.2_visa_Ruchla_6.12.1930).

In order to obtain this visa, Ruchla went to see a doctor to confirm that she was in good health and went to the Warsaw Starostia to request a certificate of good character. (20.3_Ruchla_bonne_sante_pl_30.11.1930 and 20.4_Ruchla_moralite_pl_28.11.1930)

We find them, she and her daughter Zelda, in a photo on a Belgian document dated December 22, 1930, which gave them permission to live in the commune of Anderlecht. (20.5_Zelda_Ruchla_22.12.1930)

We don’t know what specifically might have happened to motivate Lejzor Perelcwejg to go to France and start a business there. We can only guess that business was not going well or that he felt it would be better to leave Belgium. It is also possible that he followed his son, Jules. What we do know is that he found himself at an inopportune moment in the streets of Paris at the beginning of July 1944.

Thanks to information provided by the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw (Żydowski Instytut Historyczny) we would add that the Volynia, the region where the Perelcwejg/Perelcwajg family came from, currently in Ukraine, is a region where very few documents have been preserved. In the Yad Vashem database the name Perelcwajg appears several times (Yizkor Book of Miedzyrzec Korecki). The JHI also gave us information about Mr. Lejzor Perelcwejg, a merchant in Warsaw, at 40 Nalewki Street in 1909 but in later documents his name is no longer mentioned.

In the Warsaw directories ( there are a few Perelcwajgs, who may be have been family members, (perhaps brothers or nephews? of our Lejzor Perelcwejg: Moszko Chaim and Maurycy, living at 29 Sienna Street, Marian, living at 31 Leszno Street and Ewel, living and working at the grain mill at 74 Pawia Street.

To conclude this biography, we would like to share some impressions and conclusions from the students who took part in this work as part of the Convoy 77 project:

Ada: While working on this project, we became aware of the tragic events that took place in Europe and which affected the Jewish community in particular. Among the Jews who survived Auschwitz, some committed suicide or were traumatized for life after having lived through such hell. We, the youth of the 21st century, cannot imagine what a war is like, especially for a person deported simply because he or she was Jewish.

Aniela: To begin with, we thought that participating in this project would be interesting, but no more interesting than other projects at school. We were keen to get involved, of course, but we didn’t really expect anything exceptional. Well, we were wrong!

Aniela: As we discovered one piece of information after another, I felt as if I were traveling through Lejzor’s life. I felt within me the progression of Lejzor’s thinking. It was a very enriching experience.

Hania: By participating in the project, I broadened my knowledge about the victims of the Nazi era, and about the Jewish community in particular. The project showed me that they were people with their own problems. I also learned a lot of new words in French.

Adam: The project proved to be a very interesting activity. It made us understand that not all of the victims were saints. They had their qualities and faults, their own lives, families and problems. It was interesting to play the role of a narrator, describing the life of an unknown man. The project was a most interesting experience for me and it made us think deeply.

We hope that through our work we have prolonged a little the existence of Mr. Perelcwejg, a Jew originally from Poland.

Thanks to the Convoy 77 project, the lives of innocent people can be traced. Their memories can be passed on to future generations. It is not a question of “embellishing” them. As Rabbi Benjamin Murmelstein says in the movie “The Last of the Unjust” (which our teacher watched on our behalf because it’s such a long film) by Claude Lanzmann: “They were all martyrs, but not all martyrs are saints…”.

Our sources:

  1. National Archives of Belgium, Brussels.
  2. Convoy 77 – documents
  3. Jewish Historical Institute (Żydowski Instytut Historyczny)
  4. Kazerne Dossin, Mechelen Museum, Belgium.



Ada Rafalska, Aniela Grek, Hania Kmiecik and Adam Miedziński. Students at the bilingual high school in Poznan, Poland, with the help of our French teacher, Anna Klinger
  1. Serge Jacubert 2 years ago

    Chers élèves, chère professeure,
    recevez l’expression de nos remerciements et nos très sincères félicitations pour l’excellence de votre travail.
    Bien à vous.
    Serge JACUBERT

  2. anna matera-klinger 2 years ago

    Même si les recherches et la rédaction des biographies prennent du temps, ce n’est pas du temps perdu – tout au contraire. Merci pour nous avoir “donné” ces deux personnes, M. Issac Jacques Jakubowicz et M. Lejzor Perelcwejg. Nous avons découvert aussi d’autres biographies passionnantes sur votre site. Grâce à ces vies nous avons un peu compris le sens de nos vies…

  3. Ridhoir 2 years ago

    Milles mercis.
    Au nom de ceux qui nous ont précédés, en notre nom et au nom des générations à venir.
    Petite fille de Jules Perelvaig et de Thea Perelvaig

  4. anna matera-klinger 2 years ago

    Quelle joie de lire votre commentaire, Mme Ridhoir :-).
    Votre grand père serait fier de vous. Anna Klinger

  5. Lucas Blondeel 1 year ago

    Je suis également un arrière-petit-fils de Lejzor Perelcwejg. Merci pour votre magnifique travail! Le récit de vos recherches m’a beaucoup ému. Ma mère (Laurette, deuxième fille d’Estera Perla) et moi avons peut-être encore quelques informations qui pourraient vous intéresser. Elle habite à Bruxelles et je vis à Berlin (donc pas très loin de Poznan, une ville que j’aimerais beaucoup venir visiter). N’hésitez donc pas à me contacter!
    Lucas Blondeel

  6. Anna 11 months ago

    ce n’est qu’aujourd’hui que je vois votre commentaire. Je vous en remercie et je vais en parler a mes eleves! Je mets ici mon adresse mail. Il est vrai que les villes de Berlin et Poznan ne sont pas tres eloignees :-). Mon mail:
    Anna Klinger

  7. perelvaig françoise 10 months ago


    Je suis très émue face à vos recherches denses et rigoureuses.Mon feu père ,Mr jules Pérelvaig, avait placé ses 3 enfants en maison d’enfants de l’O.S.E. Il nous a rien dit concernant l’histoire familiale ,c’était son choix. Mais tous ces non-dits ont provoqué chez nous un profond sentiment d’abandon et le souvenir d’un père ( rarement rencontré) très coléreux. Je ne le comprenais pas, d’autant plus qu’il m’a rejetée car je fréquentais le père de ma fille métisse.

    Ma passion pour les neurosciences et pour mon métier d’infirmière m’ont permis de m’extraire au moins en partie
    de cette histoire et surtout de haîr toute forme de sectarisme quel qu’il soit.

    Encore bravo pour ce travail de recherche

  8. Anna 9 months ago

    Merci pour ces mots, Madame Françoise Pérelvaig. Ce travail de détective nous a beaucoup passionnés. La découverte de la vie de votre grand-père Lejzor (où il reste certainement encore des lacunes mais je pense que ce n’est pas grave…) nous a motivés à agir, à approfondir nos connaissances. Ce qui m’émeut c’est le sort de ces déportés qui avaient quitté mon pays, la Pologne, avant la Deuxième Guerre Mondiale et qui y sont revenus pour trouver la mort programmée par les nazis… Votre père, Jules, étant né en Pologne, des parents nés en Volynie (l’Ukraine actuelle), ayant vécu jeune entre la Pologne, la Belgique et la France, ayant survécu les angoisses, l’incertitude, a beaucoup souffert… Je vous souhaite un bel été. Avec mes amitiés. Anna Klinger

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