These photographs, many labeled, some not, are largely of Osnos ancestors. The album turned up in a cache of material from the Beresfordf apartment we had not seen before. Jozef Osnos’ family history is less well documented than the Bychowski family, which are in letters we have and the book, In the Garden of Memory, by Joanna Olcak-Roniker, winner of Poland’s top literary prize.
At Auschwitz, there are nineteen Osnos names on the scrolls of those killed in World War II. How many are Jozef’s relatives is not known. One of Jozef’s uncles was a Polish officer killed by the Russians at Babi Yar. Another uncle served in the Red Army and was exiled in the late 1940s to Krasnoyark in the far east of Siberia.
Zarka Auer, a nephew, was Jozef’s closest relative in New York.
Other pictures are of Robert and Peter as boys. They were born twelve years apart. Robert’s childhood was marked by the Nazi invasion of Warsaw and the years he spent in a boarding school in India. He always contended that childhood traumas were minimized by his belief in the courage of his parents and his devotion to Jules Verne, among others he read avidly in those years.