By the time thirteen-year-old Mowsza Ajzenberg immigrated to the United States, he had lived in a number of different countries while never having moved from his birthplace, Telechan.  An explanation is necessary.  Telechan is located in the Pripet (Pinsk) Marshes in what was the Pale of Settlement.  This area, commonly referred to as Polish Russia or Russian Poland, was a major battleground during both World War I & World War II.  It has been referred to as the “Killing Fields” of Europe during the 1940’s.  Enemy troops engaged one another in these territories.  Governments came and went as borders were moved back and forth based upon who won or lost the last battle. 

This instability dramatically impacted the lives of the inhabitants.  My father, then known as Mowsza Ajzenberg, was one of those inhabitants.  The scenario is as follows:

Consequently, Telechan was part of five countries or political systems, and three different military occupations during that span of time.  It was the country that "moved", not the individual.  It is difficulty to imagine the level of instability that must have permeated the lives of the inhabitants.

These events occurred in the 20th century.   In 1996 I attended a seminar on the  "Changing Borders of Eastern Europe." The speaker reviewed the history of the region for the last 1000 years.  In the 14th century Telechan was in Lithuania: in the 17th century Telechan was in Poland, etc.  It seems that some things keep changing while other things appear never to change.

“For as long as anyone can remember, Belarus has been the backwater of someone else’s empire, and today it remains the black sheep of Eastern Europe.  ”[1]

[1] Let’s Go: Eastern Europe, St. Marin’s Press, 2000  page 64.

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