Artifact of the Month: May 2017
Letter from a travelling salesman
Zemack Resnick (1893 – 1943)
Zemack Resnick was born in Kaunas, Lithuania, as the son of Leib and Malke Resnick. He came to Norway around 1910 and worked his way up from traveling salesman to a well-known businessman owning his own shop in Andenes in Vesterålen. He eventually became a major operator in the meat and fish market, a business that was of major importance for local communities through difficult times in the 1930s.
Resnick lived before the war at a guest house in Skolegata 9 in Tromsø. He had very poor health due to liver disease. This became very difficult for him when he was detained at Sydspissen camp in June 1941. From there he was transferred, first to Narvik, then Falstad, and finally to Grini prison camp, from which he was deported with the ship Monte Rosa on November 26, 1942. Zemack Resnick was killed in Auschwitz on January 14, 1943.
The letter, written by Zemack Resnick, is dated Harstad on December 1, 1923. Recipient is Rebekka (Beks) Behak (1901-1987). Life as a traveling salesman in those days was probably anything but simple. In the letter, Zemack writes among other things: …for how long must I knock on these doors and roll from bed to bed, and in such a way shall I spend perhaps the best part of my life to no good at all! And on top of that this dishonest occupation is in such strife with the laws of the land so that each day and every hour I am exposed to all sorts of insults.