Ettel Blei (early life)

Ettel’s Family

My paternal grandmother, Ettel Blei, was born on 15 December 1902 in Sadagora, Bukowina, in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Her parents were named Gusta Sandberg and Salomon Selig Blei (sometimes spelled Bley), with siblings Aron, Regina, Mina, Samuel and Adolf. Sadagora is now spelled Sadhora, and is  across the Prut river from Chernowitz.

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Salomon Selig Blei

Father Salomon died in 1941. His father’s name was Chaim Blei, born in 1844 in Bushoff, Poland.

Golde Sandberg Blei

Mother Gusta (Sandberg) Blei died 19 August 1934 (Hebrew name Golde) and died in 1936. She is buried in Chernovitz (Area 133/Parcel 21D, Plot 23). Information is courtesy of the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry. Gusta’s mother’s name was Faga Sunburg, born in 1850, in Bushoff, Poland. In her daughter Minna’s burial record, Gusta’s name is listed as Shimshon Zelig.

Whither Bushoff, Poland?

A quick Internet search for ‘Bushoff, Poland’ turns up nothing. Was it part of Galicia? Bukovina? It’s baffling, so many spelling changes, pronunciation changes due to differing languages and anecdotal history…I found a list of former cities of Poland, and I come up with nothing.

Notice all the spelling variants? This has always confused me. Borders changed often during these times, and with differing languages being spoken, name spellings varied greatly. Buchovina = Bukovina, Blei = Bley, etc.

Minna Blei (Reinstein)

Minna was born in 1898 in Sadagora and died Minna Reinstein. Date of death is 19 July 1932, aged 34, Hebrew name Mindel. This grave is (Areas 119 & 126/Parcel 21C/Row 8/Plot 152). Information is courtesy of the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry.

Regina Blei (Honigsberg)

Regina was born in 1900 in Sadagora, and in 1921 married Filipp Honigsberg. Her daughter Henriette was born in 1924, and Friederike in 1926. Carl was born in 1919 or 20. Carl and Friederike died in Transnistria. Regina also died, but she was already paralyzed from an illness when she was deported to Transnistria with her family.

Samuel Blei

Samuel was born on May 9, 1901 in Sadagora. He married Freida Schneider in 1926, and died on September 24,1944 in the Mittelbau-Dora camp of Buchenwald.

Adolf Blei

Adolf was born in 1904 in Sadagora.

Isidor Blei

Isidor was born in 1906 in Sadagora. I located a burial record for him in JewishGen – date of death was 28-Jul-1922, in Târgu-Mureş / Romania. There was a Tirgu-Mures ghetto.

Sigmund Blei

Sigmund was born in 1907 in Sadagora. He died in 1909.

Ettel and her Sisters

The photo group below breaks down as follows:

  • Top left and right – Ettel pictured alone at different ages
  • Middle left – Ettel, Gil, and her husband Samuel
  • Middle right – Ettel and Samuel
  • Bottom left – Ettel and Samuel
  • Bottom right – Ettel, quite young – probably in her twenties or early thirties


My own memories are full of her stories. She lived in fear of her father, who had a fierce temper. She recalled him leaning over and saying threateningly “Etela, comme hier!” with  frequent beatings. Though Nana Esther always had a flair for drama, so she would perhaps call a spanking a beating. Not to speak ill of the dead, but my understanding was that he was cruel to her mother.

And I’m sure living in poverty and danger during a great war didn’t help anyone’s temper.

She recollected, “When he would come to give us a nickel for the movies, or candy, I never took“. She recalled being quite poor, and going with her siblings to pick up coal from the train tracks, and then when the train came, once jumping inside the tracks to lie down and have the train run over, as there was not time to get away safely.

She recalled the dangers of living in Poland during that time, of pograms where her older sisters were hid in the oven so they would not be raped.

Life in Sadagora (Sadagura/Sadiger)

(Lots of help below from Wikipedia) During the Russo-Turkish war around 1770 a mint was established in Sadagora, minting coins displaying the coats of arms for Moldavia and Wallachia. This settlement was part of the Austrian Empire until the end of WW1, then was part of Romania for two decades (when Gil was born, it was the same area, but the name changed to Czernowitz, Romania).

Sadagora had a large Jewish community, and most were killed during the Holocaust.




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