Carl Gil Schmatnic

I’ve always been curious how my father made the name change to AlRoy (he was born Carl Gil Schmatnic, in Czernowitz, Romania).

The story I have is that the name change was done in Israel, when he was fighting for the liberation of the Jewish state. That many Holocaust survivors were changing their names for a fresh start, and that AlRoy was a popular name.

I’ve even randomly met Israelis who have said,”Alroy? You must be descended from a survivor”. There is, in fact another Iris AlRoy, no relation, living in Israel.

So, in my research all I’ve come up with thus far is some records of my grandfather Samuel in Cernauti.

schmatnicAccording to this record, his occupation was ‘frizer’, meaning ‘barber’, which sounds right. My Nana said that she and her husband Samuel (he died in Italy) had both been hairdressers and after my dad brought her to the US to live in NYC, she ran a small beauty shop around West 91st Street. She had a huge collection of exotic wire curlers and colored hairnets which I used to play with when I was a kid. She lived with us where I grew up  in Princeton, and I spent many nights up late with her listening to her stories of surviving both WW1 and WW2. Nana was born Adele (Etella?) Bley in Poland, and my daughter Emilia Bley AlRoy is named after her, as was my sister Aileen Bley AlRoy.

I’m digressing, and plan to post on Nana’s stories in a separate entry.

So their home address in Romania as of 1936 was  #18 Mihai Viteasu Strasse in Czernowitz (CZ). Czernowitz is in the Bukovina region. The story on Bukovina is as follows (Wikipedia): historically part of Moldavia, the territory of what became known as Bukovina was, from 1774 to 1918, an administrative division of the Habsburg Monarchy, the Austrian Empire, and Austria-Hungary. After World War I, Romania established control over Bukovina. In 1940, the northern half of Bukovina was annexed by the Soviet Union, and nowadays is part of Ukraine.

Specifically, Czernowitz is now (Google Maps) spelled Chernivtsi, and is ‘situated on the upper course of the River Prut.’ 

NOTE: I later found a street name resource specifically for Czernowitz at the website. According to this very well researched table, which tracks a street name from the Romanian Period, the Austro-Hungarian period, the Soviet period and the Ukranian period:

Romanian = Mihai Viteasu
Austro-Hungarian = Erzherzog Eugengasse
Soviet = Dzerzhinskogo
Ukrainian = Sadova

If the above is true, and because street numbers would also change, it would be hard to pinpoint the exact location of what was in the Romanian era #18 Mihai Viteasu Strasse.

Below is a Google Street photo of 18 Sadova Street, Chernivitsi

According to the Romanian-era map of Czernowitz below, the street was near a large botanical garden and was a grand main street.





Romanian Era Czernowitz map


Close-up showing Mihai Viteazu Strada


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