I am not her granddaughter, but I could have been.
Bronia Horn was my paternal grandmother’s aunt. There was only a six-year age difference between Bronia and my grandmother. Bronia was born in 1904, my grandmother in 1910.
Both were born in Rohatyn, in what was then Eastern Galicia, today western Ukraine. Both left Rohatyn. For my grandmother, the destination was New York in 1914 with her father Isak (almost 20 years older than younger sister Bronia), her mother, and her two sisters. For Bronia, it was Palestine in 1936, to join her older sister Jute, who had emigrated there two years prior. Neither Bronia, Jute, nor my grandmother would ever see their beloved Rohatyn again.
My grandmother spoke of Bronia not as her elder but as her contemporary. That is how I, too, think of Bronia as I follow in her footsteps in my travels and continuing research—from Rohatyn to Vienna, to L’viv and Kraków, from Busko-Zdrój to Palestine, from New York to Israel. I think of myself as her granddaughter. I am the descendant she never had.
As I write this article, my husband and I are living in Kraków for three months. I am here to continue my research and, in part, to be close to Bronia: to be able to walk to the apartment where she lived from 1930–1932 at ul. Bozego Milosierdzia 4 while finishing her Master’s degree in German language and literature at Jagiellonian University; to meander the halls of nearby A. Witkowskiego Gimnazjum at ul. Studencka 12 where in 1931 she was an unpaid apprentice teacher.
What would she think if she knew that today I am sipping hot tea in a cafe around the corner from her 1930 home?