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Skorupodski / Golwick - Were my Polish ancestors Jewish?


MaryJ
8 Sep 2013 #1
Hi, My Grandfather immigrated to America from Poland in 1914. His name was Vasili Adam Skorupodski, he had it changed to William Adam Golwick. My grandfather lived on a horse farm south of Krakow, his parents names were Adam and Mary Skorupodski. I was told that the whole family had been killed by (Russians?) and thats why my grandfather came to America when he was 18 years old. I have one picture of my greatgrand parents in Poland. They are sitting on a bench, she is wearing a dress and a dark head scarf wrapped tightly, he is dressed in tall boots, a button up coat and small hat just like how they dress in the movie fiddler on the roof. So my question is are they just Polish or could they have been Jewish, since there was a large Jewish population in Poland, can I tell by their clothing and names? I can't find any records or any family in poland. Does anyone have any ideas.
Astoria - | 155
8 Sep 2013 #2
Vasili Adam Skorupodski

:
1. Vasili is a Russian name. It's unlikely that someone living south of Kraków would have a Russian first name as this area was a part of Austria-Hungary for over 120 years.

2. Currently, no-one in Poland uses the name Skorupodski. The name could be invented or misspelled. 3. Mary Skorupodski: First name is English. Why would anyone living near Kraków have an English first name? Polish equivalent of Mary is Maria, a typical Christian name. Jews would rarely use it.

So far the story doesn't make much sense to me.

It's difficult to judge one's religion by clothing they wear, unless one wears, say, an ultra-orthodox jewish garb. In Fiddler on the Roof, Jews wore typical clothing of the time plus undergarment called Tzitzit, the strings found at the side of Orthodox men.

If they were Jews living in Austria-Hungary they would most likely have a German second name. That's because Polish Jews did not use second names until the second half of the 19th century. They were forced by the Austrians to buy German-sounding names from the list provided to them by the imperial authorities and use them.

All in all, bearing in mind that the story looks fictional to me, they were unlikely to be Polish Jews.
HAJ
12 Jun 2015 #3
my fathers birth surname was Wenner born 1909 but it appears the family changed their name to waner before 1920. They were living in Zdunska
Wola near £odz. would anyone know the reason for changing their name??
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,446
12 Jun 2015 #4
WENNER: was believed to derive from the German Wegener (wagon-maker or wheelwright). In Polish Polish it was meaningless and just another name. Why they changed it to Waner is hard to say. Maybe it was actually Wäner which is pronounced in German almost the same as Wenner. Maybe it got misspelt along the way. If they were Jewish they spoke Yiddish and maybe weren't too articulate or literate in Polish.
TheOther 5 | 3,682
13 Jun 2015 #5
would anyone know the reason for changing their name?

After Poland regained independence, a forced Polonization of names was carried out which included not only given names, but in some cases also family names. This might have been the case with the German name Wenner, although I can't see that Waner is any closer to Polish, to be honest.
gumishu 11 | 5,740
13 Jun 2015 #6
After Poland regained independence, a forced Polonization of names was carried out which included not only given names, but in some cases also family names

I think you got it wrong - Polonization of names happened in Opole region as far as i know and only after the second world war - lots of poeple Polonized their surnames voluntarily in the nineteenth century
TheOther 5 | 3,682
13 Jun 2015 #7
Polonization of names happened in Opole region as far as i know and only after the second world war

No, it actually happened a few years after Poland regained her independence (mid 1920's) in all territories that formerly belonged to the German Empire. They set up so-called "Optantenlisten" where people had to decide whether they wanted to stay in Poland or move to Germany (same for ethnic Poles who had to decide whether they want to stay in Germany or move to Poland). People who became Polish citizens were then forced to Polonize their names for official use in documents for example.
Ziemowit 13 | 4,453
14 Jun 2015 #8
my fathers birth surname was Wenner born 1909 but it appears the family changed their name to waner before 1920. They were living in Zdunska Wola near £odz. would anyone know the reason for changing their name??

After Poland regained independence, a forced Polonization of names was carried out

it actually happened a few years after Poland regained her independence (mid 1920's) in all territories that formerly belonged to the German Empire

Zduńska Wola near £ódź did never belong to the former German Empire, so the reason for the change may have been more trivial, such as facilitating the spelling of the surname to the rules of Polish orthography. It must have been pronounced "Waner" by their Polish neighbours and the family may have already been polonized by 1909, but still retaining the original form of the surname, however. Notice that the change might even have occured under the Russian administration in Zduńska Wola (which lasted until 1914-1915). You need to see documents to know when exactly it happened.

Also, you should consider that the Germans played an important role in setting up the new (at least partly or autonomously) Polish administration after the Russian army was repelled from the area of the former Cogress Kingdom of Poland. Various projects were put forward by the Germans and Austria-Hungarians to re-create a Polish state connected in one way or another with those so-called "central powers". It could have been some occasion for the family to simplify the spelling of their surname on the occasion of issuing new identity documents by this new post-Russian administration perhaps.
TheOther 5 | 3,682
14 Jun 2015 #9
Ziemowit, you're absolutely right: there could be many other reasons for the name change. I just mentioned one: forced polonization of the surname. AFAIK, this didn't only happen in the former German territories, but elsewhere in the newly created Poland as well. So maybe in Zduńska Wola, too. Correct me if I'm wrong, please.


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