☰   Menu

Deniz Bensason



A Family Saga

Deniz Bensason, Photographer - Israel-Trilogy Album

Deniz Bensason, Photographer

This album is published in three languages:
and Russian.

The Family Saga is an introduction to photo-album 'In Spite Of'
Although this Album is primarily about Holocaust Survivors from the Soviet Union now living in Israel, the introductory "Family Saga" deals with the history of Deniz's family that moved from Poland to the Ukraine, from there to Italy, Turkey and Israel.

To view excerpts of the main part of the photo-album, please click here.


Information about the Album ...


Photographer: Deniz Bensason

Width: 25.6 cm

Height: 23.5 cm

Number of Pages: 230

Cover: Soft cover.

Additional Information: Printed on high quality matte paper.
Laminated in matt silk to maintain maximum protection for the album.

Design & Layout: Nili Glick Studio.

This is the interoduction to the book in form of a family saga.

Excerpts from IN SPITE OF - A Family Saga


אף-על-פי -כן

Pages-008-009: A Motive for this Album

Pages 008-009

A Motive for this Album

75 years after the Holocaust, here am I documenting some of the remaining survivors living in Israel. This album is not just about a random group of survivors, specifically it deals with survivors who, after the Holocaust spent a significant period of their lives living in the Soviet Union. Most members of this group came to Israel only with the dissolution of the USSR, some 45 years later.
Why did they generate my interest?
What hold has Russia and the Holocaust over a girl born in Turkey in the early 50’s?
I dare say it is both nurture and nature. Nostalgia for things Russian and a dread of the horrors of the Holocaust must have been passed on to me both by my grandma’s stories, my mother’s milk, and hereditary genes.

Pages 012-013: A Link in an Unbroken Chain

Pages 012-013:

A Link in an Unbroken Chain

I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons, a tie between generations.
From my mother to my daughter, I am a single link. From my great-great-grandfather to my grandchildren I am a part of an ever extending chain."

Brothers Krakhmalnikov

Pages 014-015

A Link in an Unbroken Chain...

1842 : Arrival in Odessa

Abram (son of Wolf) Krochmalnik (1800-1883) moved from Brody – then an eastern outpost of the Austrian Empire, today in western Ukraine – to the Black Sea port of Odessa within the Tsarist Empire. He promptly changed his Polish sounding name to one with a more Russian suffix. Krochmalnik became Krakhmalnikov and in time became known as the “master craftsman baker of Odessa”.

1883 : The “Brothers Krakhmalnikov”

After his death, his sons Yaakov and Lev continue expanding the business with the production of specialty confectionery and chocolate.
The “Brothers Krakhmalnikov” increased production, improved quality, expanded markets and (believe it or not) reduced prices. By 1904 Krakhmalnikov products, in elegantly decorated boxes, won prestigious awards in Moscow as well as London and Paris.

1892 : Abraham Krakhmalnikov

Abraham (son of Lev) Krakhmalnikov is born. By 1914 he graduates with a degree in chemistry from the University of Rome, in Italy. Just in time for WWI! He is recalled to Russia and served as a photographer in the Third Army. He served conscientiously against the Austrians in Galicia where he was injured and sent to the rear. In 1915 his father Lev dies prematurely. End of 1916, the Rumanian front collapses and Abraham is sent to Odessa.
Odessa during the disintegration of the Russian Empire was a boiling cauldron of Tsarists versus liberals, Mensheviks versus Bolsheviks and everybody against the Jews. Abraham, pro-active participates in the establishment of Jewish self-defense and becomes its chief executive officer. A brief interlude of the French interventionist escapade of 1919 on the side of the “White” Army, which ended with the French betraying the Whites (others claim – with the Ukrainians betraying the French).

Pages-016-017: From Odessa to Italy

Pages 016-017

1919 : December

Abraham, his wife Rachel (Raia) nee Silberschmidt, their infant son Leon and Abraham’s younger brother Isaac manage to board the last ship leaving Odessa. Destination Istanbul and from there they continued on to Italy.
The Aftermath:
Abraham is sentenced to death in absentia by the Soviets.
The other siblings (Yaakov, Sofa and Anna) are deported to Siberia.

And the factory?
It was nationalized in 1920 and appropriately re-socialized as “Rosa Luxemburg Factory”. After the fall of the USSR its name was “sanitized” again this time to the “Odessa Candy Company”.

1920 : Italy

First things first; in true Krochmalnik/Krakhmalnikov tradition – new country = new spelling. The new family name now is Krachmalnicoff. He realized that the first order of business was to put food on the table - a job in a Milan bank amply fulfilled that task. With a group of investors in Novi Ligure (within the Turin - Milan – Genoa triangle) he established an electric light bulb factory and later a consortium of several companies in the lighting field, for both export and the domestic market. The German lighting manufacturer colossus Osram suffered heavily from this competition and decided to buy out the consortium in 1929 – From rags to riches in 9 years.

1929 : My Mother Born

21 of November 1929 was another landmark.
My mother Marisa was born. First daughter after 2 sons – Leon – Italianized to Leone (1918) and Vittorio (1920). The entrepreneurial gene was in his blood, so in the early ‘30s Abraham buys the vast estate of Aiale near Colombella (Perugia).

Pages-018-0197: The Racial Laws and WWII

Pages 018-019
Farming and land-ownership fascinates him, most probably because it was forbidden to Jews in Russia. Here he applies the same co-operative methods adopted previously in Odessa and later in Novi Ligure. Revolutionary for his times: investments in fertilizers, seeds and modern machinery jointly with the involvement of the sharecropping tenant farmers. Production increases, doubles and continues to grow, for the mutual benefit of all concerned. To keep in touch with industrial activity too, he founded “Vosa”, a company that produces watch glasses back in Novi Ligure.
Isaac, Abraham’s younger brother, now known as Isacco founded the “Krachmalnicoff Publishing Company”, specializing in technical manuals, in particular the logarithmic tables, and later in art books.

1938 : The Racial Laws and WWII

The racial laws revoked the status of the Krachmalnicoffs from naturalized Italians back to “stateless Russian” and Jews.
1940 Internment - Abraham is briefly held in prison in Perugia, but released because his company aided the war effort. Raia, is also incarcerated in Novi Ligure along with common prisoners. After 8 September 1943 the situation worsens.

“Krachmalnicoff, Isacco, son of Leone, born in Odessa November 7, 1900. Son of Leo and Brema Chester. Last known residence: Alexandria. Arrested in Novi Ligure (AL) October 5, 1943 by Germans. Inmate in Genoa prison, Milan prison. Deported from Milan December 6, 1943 to Auschwitz. Registration doubtful. Died in date and place unknown”.
L.Picciotto, Il libro della memoria – Gli Ebrei deportati dall’Italia (1943-1945) (The Book of Memory - The Jews deported from Italy) at p. 372

Aldo and Francesca Faina, longtime friends of the Krachmalnicoffs, are concerned about the situation and offer to help by hosting the family in Collelungo, near to S.Venanzo.

1943 : October

The Krachmalnicoffs are warned by the fascist prefect of Perugia, Armando Rocchi (Fascist but not racist), all Jews in the area are to be arrested by the fascist police the following day. They decide to leave immediately and make their way to Aldo and Francesca Faina. Abraham and Raia find shelter with tenant farmers of the Fainas, moving from one to the other for safeties sake. Vittorio finds a hiding place in the house of the local Carabinieri warrant officer.
And my mother, Marisa, AKA Anna Maria, is hidden in plain sight in the Faina mansion. The General Staff of the local German command was also quartered in the same mansion.

. . . Meanwhile on another ship from Odessa . . .

1919 : December

Another young couple, Miron and Zira Yarashinski, were leaving Russia too. They disembarked in Istanbul, Turkey. Miron established a small electrical repair shop there. Later the business expanded and specialized in radio repairs – quite a novelty in Istanbul at the time. Yarashinski lost the “ski” and became a more turkeycized Yarasir.

Pages-020-021: Lost in Milan without Italian - From Italy via Istanbul to Israel

Pages 020-021

1923: Istanbul

On 1st of June 1923 Zira gave birth to their son Vitali.
The boy helped out in the radio repair shop.
After completing his studies he was drafted into the Turkish army and completed his service as an officer.
Three decades later, Vitali brought the first TV sets to Turkey.

1948: Perso a Milano senza italiano (Lost in Milan without Italian)

A few months before Vitali’s release from the army, Zira, his mother broke her arm. The hospitals in Istanbul could not set the fracture properly and as a result, she lost the use of her arm. Friends of the family suggested that she should travel to Milan in Italy – there the doctors surely would be able to do the necessary restoration. Vitali accompanied his mother on this trip.
Problems soon arose in Milan. Zira and Vitali spoke Turkish and Russian. The staff at the hospital spoke Italian and German. A call went out for an Italian Russian or Turkish speaker. Grandpa Krachmalnicoff volunteered.
This is how the Krachmalnicoffs met the Yarasirs
This is how my mother Marisa met my father Vitali.

1951 : September

I was born in Istanbul. I grew up in the Taksim quarter of Istanbul. Lingua franca at home was a paternal Turkish mixed with a maternal Italian vernacular and augmented by a smattering of ancestral Russian. To shatter my linguistic skills completely, my parents sent me off to an English speaking boarding school in a French speaking canton of Switzerland.
On holiday, back home in Turkey – I met Moshe Bensason, a local Turkish student.

1971 : January

Marriage and immediate Aliya to Israel followed – to learn another language (to some extent). Then the children came into our lives.
1973 Yael (now Cohen) the eldest, followed by Jack in 1976 and Daniela (now Benvenuto) in 1979.
Things happened far too fast back then and in due time grandchildren joined the clan.
Yael’s children - Sendy (2007), Yali (2009) and Emily (2017) – now live in Kfar Yona, Israel,
Jack’s children – Mia (2008), Tom (2010) and Ethan (2012) – live in the USA
and Daniela’s babies – Alex (2013) and Emma (2015) - currently live in Switzerland.

Pages-036-037: Five generations of Krakhmalnikoffs, Yarasinskis,
Bensasons, Cohens and Benvenutos


Five generations of Krakhmalnikoffs, Yarasinskis, Bensasons, Cohens and Benvenutos

and that Krachmalnikoff spirit is still with us. The drive for a better future – without forgetting and honoring the past – is still a major part of our lives.

Pages-038-039: Faina Aldo & Faina Francesca - A Rescue Story

Pages 038-039

A Rescue Story

Faina Aldo &
Faina Francesca

Pages-040-041: Faina Aldo & Faina Francesca - A Rescue Story

Pages 040-041

A Rescue Story

Faina Aldo
Faina Francesca

Anna Maria Krachmalnicoff (b. 1929) lived with her parents Abramo and Rachele and her older brother Vittorio on their farm in the village of Aiello, near Perugia. After the German invasion of Italy, their good friends, Aldo and Francesca Faina, who owned a large agricultural estate in the village of Collelungo, offered to help if necessary. A few days later, in October 1943, a friend of the Krachmalnicoffs warned them that the following day they would be arrested. The family decided to flee and hide. Because of his age, Vittorio hid in the home of the head of the local carabinieri. Aldo Faina brought Abramo and Rachele to the house of one of the farmers on his estate, making sure to move them from farm to farm every few months. "The farmers had no idea we were Jewish," recalled Anna Maria. "Aldo Faina told them that if any problem should arise, they should say that he alone was responsible for the people they were hosting."
Anna Maria was brought to the Fainas' own home, where she remained until liberation in June 1944. "I stayed in the main residence of the estate, the home of the Faina family, in a room on the first floor. From my room I could see a large lounge, which was used as the headquarters of the local German forces – the house was one of the largest in Collelungo. The Fainas told them that I was a relative who had been evacuated from the north of the country. Throughout my entire stay in Collelungo, the Fainas displayed deep friendship and humanity. They even made sure I saw my parents occasionally. It was extremely dangerous to hide us, both because they hosted German soldiers in their home, and also because Aldo was head of the village." Anna Maria added that the Fainas' had a five-year-old daughter, Teresa, who they feared would not be able to keep the secret of her true identity.
After the war, the two families remained in close contact. In his will, Abramo instructed his children to "remember all the friends that helped us during difficult times. You know their names, but more than them, you know what Francesca and Aldo Faina did for all of us. Remember that always, and anything you can do for them, you must do; it will always be nothing compared to what they did for us."
Teresa Faina added her own testimony. "I know that at some point a girl called "Marisa" came to live with us, and I remember my father telling me that he wanted to share a very important secret with me, and that I was forbidden from breaking his trust. He explained that we had to tell everyone that Marisa was a cousin, and then once again told me it was extremely important to keep that secret. I believe he said that because I knew all of my relatives, and if he hadn't made me promise, I would have told the truth." Teresa added that her parents later related that when she fought with Marisa, she threatened to reveal that she was the daughter of "Kracchino" (a nickname for Abramo Krachmalnicoff). She ended her testimony: "I also remember one evening, when the Germans had their headquarters in our house; a soldier lifted me up, gave me sweets and asked me if Marisa was really my cousin. I hesitated for a moment, between the obligation to always tell the truth and the promise I had made to my father to keep the secret. Luckily, I chose the latter."
On 28 May 2008, Yad Vashem recognized Aldo and Francisca Faina as Righteous Among the Nations.

↑  Go Up
to Menu