|A Ripperologist Article|
|This article originally appeared in Ripperologist No. 65, March 2006. Ripperologist is the most respected Ripper periodical on the market and has garnered our highest recommendation for serious students of the case. For more information, view our Ripperologist page. Our thanks to the editor of Ripperologist for permission to reprint this article.|
As a result of conducting some research through the Polish State Archives in Poznan, I have discovered the birth certificate of Jack the Ripper suspect Aaron Kozminski as well as the birth certificates of his siblings. In this article, I will briefly describe how the discovery came about and discuss the implications of the information contained in the birth certificates.
Aaron Kozminski’s birth certificate would probably have been found long ago, except for the fact that archives in Poland are not centralized but housed in numerous regional archives. These places will do research for a fee, but unless you know the town from where a person was, finding such a document is like looking for a needle in a haystack and can be pretty expensive. On the ‘Reconsidering Aaron Kosminski’ thread on the Casebook: Jack the Ripper website there was a spirited discussion and a good deal of research into the genealogy of various Kozminskis and their relatives, such as the Lubnowski family. Research turned up Golda Abrahams’s death certificate, among other things. But the real breakthrough was Chris Phillips’s discovery of a naturalization application memorial for Israel Lubnowski-Cohen, who was probably a brother of Morris Lubnowski. Most of these memorials did not list a place of birth. As Chris Phillips noted, ‘The memorials were written on printed forms, and by 1896 the form had become more detailed, including the phrase “he was born at”.’ Thus, Israel Lubnowski-Cohen’s application, dated 1901, listed his place of birth: Klodiva (Klodawa) in the Province of Kalish (Kalicz), Poland. As Aaron’s sister Matilda was the wife of Morris Lubnowski, I assumed that it was likely that the Kozminski family came from the same region as the Lubnowski family. I believed that it was worth finding out if it could be proved that the Kozminskis came from Kalish (Kalicz), so I wrote up a research request, had it translated into Polish, and sent it to the State Archives in Poznan.
For my correspondence with the State Archives in Poznan I used a Polish translator. When I received the first response from them telling me what they had found, I quickly scanned the page and read a list which contained six documents. One of these was ‘dokument uroenia – Aron Mordke Kozminski z 1865 r.’ This translates to ‘Birth certificate – Aron Mordke Kozminski, dated 1865.’ Needless to say, I was pretty excited. The list in its entirety is as follows (translated from Polish):
1. Birth certificate - Pessa Elka Kozminska, dated
2. Birth certificate - Hinde Kozminska, dated 1848
3. Birth certificate - Icek Szymche Kozminski, dated 1851
4. Birth certificate - Blimbe Laje Kozminska, dated 1857
5. Birth certificate - Aron Mordke Kozminski, dated 1865
6. Birth certificate - Mosiek Lubnowski, dated 1857
I ordered these documents, paid a US$110 research fee and, after several months, received photocopies of the original documents.
The translation of the birth certificate of Aron Kozminski is as follows (transcriptions of his siblings’ birth certificates and his parents’ marriage certificate follow this article):
#21. Town Klodawa. It happened in the town of Klodawa on 17th September, 1865, [Starozakonny] Abram Jozef Kozminski, age 44, tailor, in the presence of witnesses Lajzer Pizeszewski, hawker, age 70 and [Zojki] Skowronski, labourer, age 40, both living in Klodawa, showed us a child, male, from his wife Golda of Lubinowskich, age 44, born here in town Klodawa on 11th current month and year at 10 p.m. who was named (at circumcision) Aron Mordke. This act was read to the father and witnesses and signed by them (signatures)