First came Glasnost and then Perestroika. The world was lunging towards major changes.  This time it was the end of “the Cold War”.  Peace was breaking out, if only for a short while.

All access had been denied  to records in the “communist dominated” world.  Now potential opportunities existed.  Ronald Reagen’s “Evil Empire” was gone.  Suddenly the Russians were our friends, eager to emulate the capitalistic life style of the west. Life-long communists now became entrepreneurs.


In the summer of 1992 I received information from F.A.S.T. Inc., a genealogy research service in the former Soviet Union based in Maryland.  For a small fee they offered to research former Soviet Union archives and libraries in the hope of obtaining copies of original documents that might have been preserved.  The people in Maryland professed fluency in Russian, Polish, Belorussian, etc. and had contact with researchers at the other end.  A new business was established.

In November 1992 I received a letter from F.A.S.T. Genealogy Service in response to my request.  No luck!  “Materials in Minsk and Vilnius archives were studied.  No records for Baranovichi, Telekhany, Lyakhovichi were discovered.  Several books of record for Shirvintos (hometown of my maternal grandfather) were researched.  Names of the persons from your request were not found.” I had submitted the names: Dov Berel Ajzenberg (Dov Ben Mordechai), Azriel Ajzenberg, Minka Belkin.

“Please do not think we abandoned you.  The work continues.  The data you supplied us will be sent to our associates again, as soon as new information relevant to your research becomes will hear from us soon.”   

Dead end or temporary roadblock?  We shall see.

One year later in August 1993 I received the following letter from F.A.S.T. Genealogy Service.

“After almost a year in work, we finally received a reply from Minsk Archives regarding your inquiry on the name Aisenberg[1] from Telekhany, Belarus.  (I had given them the spelling as Ajzenberg).  There is good and bad news for you…The bad news is that there are neither vital records (birth, death, marriage) nor the family lists for Telekhany…there is however a large number of records of various other types where the information that you are after may be contained.  Our archivist thinks that there is a very good chance of finding this information.  He preliminarily identified five large groups of records (residential tests, taxpayer lists, etc…).”

It sounded a little too vague and too expensive (estimated cost $800-$1000) for 4-6 days work.  I decided to do nothing.

In October 1993 I received what was essentially the same letter.  This time regarding my “inquiry on the name Aisenberg from Telekhany and Logishin in Belarus.  I had not given them Logishin to research.  Logishin is erroneously listed in Where Once We Walked as an alternative name for Telekhany.  They are in fact separate towns.  This confirmed my initial instinct not to pursue this matter.

[1] In Polish J=I