Archives New Zealand has made seven million historical passenger records available online through an arrangement with Utah-based . The transcriptions were made by network of generous volunteers (though I have to say that the quality of the transcriptions varies, where a fair few of the pages I looked at were only partially complete).

And so, following on from my previous post, I thought I’d see if any male Balts or Poles aged 40 to 60 travelled on the Wahine from New Zealand to Australia in 1947 or 1948. This turned out to be an extremely short list:

Poles on the Wahine

* 09May1947 - N Szuchmacher - 47 - Printer
* 21Nov1947 - M Zable...... - 41 - Engineer (travelled with wife + two sons)
* 05Dec1947 - M Wilniewezyb - 35 - Priest
* 18Dec1947 - N Naum....... - 52 - Manufacturer
* 31Dec1947 - S Bilgorri... - 50 - Tailor

I included Father Michal Wilniewczyc because I have a nice photograph of him on the 5th December 1947. This was the very day that the much-loved priest left the Pahiatua Polish Children’s Camp in New Zealand, where 733 Polish orphans and half-orphans had been taken in 1944. Which is a story for another post entirely. 🙂

Michal Wilniewczyc 05Dec1947 about to travel on the Wahine

What of the others? N Szchumacher (spelt correctly) would seem to be the “Nojach Szuchmacher” referred to in a single document in the NAA from 1946, where he is a nominee for “RYBAJZEN Jozef [aka Aizen]”, who had apparently applied for naturalization in 1943. This “Nojach Szuchmacher” was without any real doubt the Noah Schumacher who (according to the NAA) arrived at Sydney on the Wahine on 13th May 1947. If it is correct that Schumacher’s file runs through to 1955 (as it appears to), we can probably rule him out as a candidate for the Somerton Man.

“N Naum” would appear to be Norman Naum (born 18th May 1895, died 12th May 1959, buried in Karori Cemetery in Nea Zealand), so I think we can rule him out too.

The Zable family – “Mrs H Zables” (Tailoress, 41), Master B. Zable (2), and Master A. Zable (8 months), both born in New Zealand – I traced through to their naturalization application in New Zealand: Zable, Myer (Zabludowski, Mejer); Zable (Zabludowski), Hodes Mrs. All of which (eventually) let me determine that Myer Zable was a poet and that he died on 31st July 1992 in Melbourne. So we can rule him out, too.

Finally: the tailor “S Bilgorri” would appear to be Solomon Bilgorri of 31 Fouberts Place, Regents St, London W1 (very close to Carnaby Street, naturally), who travelled from London to New Zealand on the Rangitata, departing 14th Feb 1947. Might Solomon Bilgorri have been the Somerton Man? The father of Harry ‘Sonny’ Bilgorri (the famous East End tailor popular among London gangsters) was also called Solomon Bilgorri (though he was born in 6th July 1893 and died on 14th June 1973, it says here), but I suspect these were two different people… though it’s hard to be sure. (‘Bilgorri’ itself was simply the name of a town in Poland.)

17 thoughts on “Wahine passenger lists, 1947-1948

  1. Poul Gjol on July 5, 2016 at 8:32 am said:

    Nojach Szuchmacher is a printer and with the Somerton mans tools indicating work as a printer it is interesting to know for facts that he lived longer than the
    Somerton man.

  2. nickpelling on July 5, 2016 at 11:37 am said:

    Poul: it’s certainly possible that the Somerton Man was a printer. But… if you search for barcode 4156859 in the NAA, the item says Contents date range: “1947 – 1955”. Which would seem to imply that Noah Schumacher died or left Australia in 1955. I’ve put up all the information I have, feel free to look for any other records that may be out there, I certainly haven’t looked very deeply.

  3. milongal on July 6, 2016 at 1:07 am said:

    Is it possible that something about him was updated even though he had gone missing? The record at naa appears to be owned by immigration and it appears to be an “Alien Registration Document”. I don’t know what the process was back then, but I think these days the process involves a visa (I have in my head “Temporary Migration Visa” or “Temporary Protection Visa”… but the name’s not important).
    Suppose he arrived as a refugee, and had soon after been granted a visa with a lifetime of 7 years (why 7? We Australians seem obsessed with the number 7 – we have statutes of limitations at 7, and various other legislated timeframes – I think Government document retention periods tend to involve a review at 7 years, the tax man can get sad with you up to 7 years after a lodgement, etc, etc).
    Suppose in 1955 someone is looking into Visa breaches (or something). Suppose they discover that we have no Resident Noah Schumacher, and we can’t find the holder of the Visa – nobody knows where he is. Perhaps he has no fixed abode, or perhaps his latest address doesn’t lead to him (even today it’s relatively easy to disappear from government site, unless you are of interest to them (public servants are LAZY, knock on the door, no response…bam, check the box that you don’t exist no more). Somewhere along the way someone makes a decision “let’s assume he’s left the country” (or whatever) and update the record and close it.

    NB: This works just as well for periods less than 7 years – depends how intensively they looked for him before deciding he was no longer their concern.

  4. milongal on July 6, 2016 at 2:03 am said:

    Addendum: It’s held with the state of Victoria. Wasn’t it the Melbourne train that everyone insists SM had arrived on?

  5. Hi Nick, Did Dave, Dave with his Gran, say that she had seen the Somerton man in Iran during the war? Or was it on the boat as well? I know one of the passengers on the Wahine’s 1947 voyage mentioned above: Arnold Zable. He has written quite a lot about the Jewish Diaspora (vis-a-vis Australia especially). He may be able to add something as he has for decades preserved stories of Jewish refugees. Perhaps his mother is still alive.
    Whatever happened to Dave & his ROKs?

  6. nickpelling on July 6, 2016 at 6:32 am said:

    Robert Nowak: that’s fascinating, thanks for letting me know about Arnold Zable. 🙂

    As far as Dave and his ROKs go, I’m sure they’re doing just fine: doubtless more detail will come out in the next few weeks and months, there’s no huge hurry.

  7. nickpelling on July 6, 2016 at 6:35 am said:

    milongal: the easiest thing would be to pay the NAA to scan and publish Noah Schumacher’s file. However, I don’t like to do that as a first response because (a) it costs money, (b) it takes time to get it scanned, and (c) when I do do it, I tend to immediately stumble on a load of secondary documentation which renders it redundant. 🙁 So, maybe in a few days’ time… 🙂

  8. nickpelling on July 6, 2016 at 10:24 am said:

    milongal: because Jozef Aizen was from Chelm, I wondered whether Szuchmacher was from there as well. So I looked. Here’s what I found very quickly:
    “The first survivor who came to Argentina was a childhood acquaintance of mine, Noakh Szucmacher. He survived the first months of the Nazi occupation and was in the group of Jews who were led out of Chelm to the Bug [River]. Therefore, his testimony about the first bloody mass-drama is believable.”

    “Szuchmacher returned to Chelm. As a returnee in fear, grasping the true nature of the Nazis and the consequences for [returning] moved him to a daring step:
    He again crossed the Soviet border, leaving his wife and children and the remaining family in Chelm, whom he believed were not in as much danger as he was.

    Later, he did his military service in Anders’ Army. As already mentioned, after the war, he was the first Jew from Chelm who arrived in Argentina. A little later, he settled in Australia. His entire family perished in Chelm.”

  9. nickpelling on July 6, 2016 at 10:45 am said:

    milongal: [it seems that] Szuchmacher’s daughter was Perla Szuchmacher (born in Argentina just after the war) –
    If you have a MyHeritage account (small ones are free), Noah Szuchmacher’s details are apparently on there –

  10. nickpelling on July 6, 2016 at 11:03 am said:

    milongal: Ruben Szuchmacher, born Buenos Aires in 1951:

  11. Diane on July 6, 2016 at 4:31 pm said:

    I think I’ve heard of the Utah group’s database. Done from the kindest of motives, I understand.

  12. nickpelling on July 6, 2016 at 9:06 pm said:

    Diane: well… it’s The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ genealogical arm, if that’s what you mean. The Mormons, basically. It’s not exactly a secret.

  13. milongal on July 6, 2016 at 11:23 pm said:

    Having had (far too quick ) a look at the links you posted, I don’t think the Perla (and therefore the Ruben) are the same – but the Noah, looks likely (birth date would appear around the mark).

    Perla (the actress) was born 1946 in Argentina, Ruben 1951 also Argentina. Straight away this seems odd to me – and incosnsitent with the idea of a Pole fleeing the war, I think.
    Further, if we look at the Noah record it says:
    Wife: Name of wife
    Partner: Name of spouse
    Children: Perla Szuchmacher and names of 2 more children

    and then if we look at Perla (on my heritage) we see:
    Birth: 1935
    Parents: Names of both parents
    Siblings: Rachel Szuchmacher and name of one more sibling

    So to me it looks like this Perla (who with 2 siblings fits in with Noah having Perla + 2 children) is 10 years older than the actress.
    I suppose, the presence of a reasonable family history would suggest that this is not SM anyway – and with parents + spouse + children (even if overseas) it’s hard to see him as someone who could disappear (not impossible at that time, I suppose – a deserter who is written off as MIA or something, but certainly less likely).

    So I take your point he’s less likely to be the one we want…..but I’m not striking him out completely.
    NB: might be worth checking the shipping records for any other Szumachers not in the criteria 40-60 male (eg wife and.or kids)? [To a lesser degree, same goes for the other poles – see whether they appear to be travelling alone or with family[

  14. milongal on July 6, 2016 at 11:49 pm said:

    I take it all back…..
    There’s 2 records for Szumacher (and they list his borth year as 1900 – not 1899 as on the other record).
    Noiech Szuchmacher
    9 May 1947 arrive Wellington from Buenos Aires

    N Szumacher
    1947 (No date) depart Wellington on the Wahine for Sydney .

    It seems he is the Argentine Szumacher…..though not necessarily the one listed in that other genealogy site (which would then have both his DoB (1 year) and his daughter’s DoB (11 years) wrong if it’s the same guy….

  15. milongal on July 6, 2016 at 11:53 pm said:

    (Apologies for spam posting)
    My Spanish is not so good, and google translate not helping much but it looks like Perla the actress used to use cloth for costumes “from her parents shop”….not sure if that fits in with a printer (although maybe something lost in translation then too).

    Also just notice the 1900 is “estimated”

  16. milongal on July 7, 2016 at 1:38 am said:

    There is also a record of a Nojach (as opposed to Noiech) Szuchmacher in the NAA for 1946. There’s either a raft of coincidences here (with N Szuchmacher and Perla Szuchmacher) or we’re seeing a lot of “off by one” errors….
    It appears to be an application to bring a family member to the country, and presumably is the application leading to his 1947 voyage. That suggests someone (I’d guess wife, but parents are possible too – and depending on whether we’ve been looking at the right records, he did also have siblings) was already here by 1946. This starts to get interesting, because one of the Perla Szuchmachers was born in Argentina in 1946 – which gives a pretty tight timeline for Mum (if it is her, which I think is most likely as he’s travelling alone) to come out to Australia….
    But as with all SM stuff, the more we dig, the more assumptions we make about this guy…..and the various spellings of both the first and last name could mean any amount of confusuion….

  17. milongal on July 7, 2016 at 2:24 am said:

    Should have read your links (although it certainly disconnects him from Perla Szuchmacher – at least the actress):
    “A little later, he settled in Australia. His [i]entire family[/i] perished in Chelm. “

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