Alternate spellings: Isaac, Isaak, Jssak.
Isak Mamo Abraham was born on September 16, 1883, in Rustschuk, Bulgaria. He was the third son of Mamo Abraham and Lea Jacob.
By the time he was ten years old, both his parents had died of tuberculosis. He was then raised by his maternal grandparents, Salomon (Moni) and Rebecca Jakob.
Nothing else is known about his early life.
Isak Abraham, age 13, Rustchuk, 1896.
Nothing is known about Isak's young adult life. The only document so far is this photograph of Isak holding a bicycle. Although undated, it must have been taken in the early 1900's, when Isaak was in his early 20's.
Unknown location and date.
Collection of Iris Eldar Nir
Varna was a large port on the Black Sea, the third largest city in Bulgaria and the second most important business center.
One of the very few surviving documents related to Isak is his business card:
"Ex Fondé de Pouvoirs de la Societe de Crédit Ghirdap"
Crédit Ghirdap was the first Bulgarian Bank which had been founded in 1881, with branches in Roustchouk, Sofia and Varna. The title "Fondé de Pouvoirs" can be translated as "Authorized Representative", or "Authorized Officer".
Isak's name appears (Russified as Isaac Avramoff) in the publication "Zionist Work in Palestine" (1911) (London : Pub. on behalf of the Zionist Central Office by T. F. Unwin). His name is listed as the representative of the Jewish National Fund Agency in Bulgaria:
"The following Collecting Agencies (of the Jewish National Fund ) will supply any further Information and receive Contributions"
"Bulgaria: Isaac Avramoff, Directeur de la Societe de Credit "Ghirdap", Varna"
Isaac Avramoff, Directeur de la Societe de Credit "Ghirdap", Varna
Isak's name also appears in three issues of "Die Welt", the publication of the Zionist Organisation, listing donations he collected. (10 February 1911, #6, 7 April 1911, #14, July 19 1912, #29).
Die Welt, 1912: Isaac Avramoff
If, as I assume, "Isak Abraham, Ex Fondé de Pouvoirs de la Societe de Crédit Ghirdap" and "Isaac Avramoff, Directeur de la Societe de Credit Ghirdap, Varna" are one and the same person, these listings provide some interesting information.
First, they indicate that Isak was succesful at a relatively young age - he would have been the head of a branch of a bank when only 28.
They also show that, like his brothers Haim and Moritz, he was involved in Zionist activities - apparently in charge of fund raising for Bulgaria.
There is no information on Isak's whereabouts between 1912 and 1924. A recently found immigration manifest to Argentina dated 1916 raises the intriguing possibility that he might have moved to the New World, at least for a few years.
While researching his younger brother's Mony move to Buenos Aires, I wondered if he had relatives there, and found an entry for someone who very closely matches Isak's identity:
|Manifest / Immigration Registry|
|Last Name||First Name||Age||Civil Status||Nationality||Place of Birth||Occupation||Arrival Date||Ship||Port|
While this could simply be a coincidence, one has to consider the odds of there being two merchants named Isak/Isaac Abraham, born in 1883 in Rushtshuk. According to Wikipedia, there were 1,943 Jews in Rustchuk in 1883.
There are no other documents at this point to confirm that "Isaac" and "Isak" are the same person, but if they are indeed the same person, this might help explain why his brother Mony chose Argentina as his new home in 1925.
On the other hand, Isaac is listed as being married ("C" = Casado = Married) on the manifest. I am not aware of Isak Abraham having ever been married, so this could after all be a different person.
In 1924, Isak sent a photo from Vienna to his brother - whom he called "Moise" - with wishes for the Jewish New Year. It is not known if he resided in Vienna or was travelling.
Isak Abraham - Vienna - 1924
This 1928 photo was taken in a photo studio in Bad Ischl, a spa town in Austria.
Isak Abraham, September 30, 1928
Bad Ischl, Austria.
Collection of Iris Eldar Nir
Isak Abraham - August 29, 1930
Collection of Iris Eldar Nir
In January 1931, Isak sent a photo to his brother, whom he now called "Moritz". Isak by now resided in Germany, Berlin-Friedenau, Kaiser allee 66.
Isak Abraham - Berlin - 1931
Isak Abraham never married and left no descendants. He died on December 11, 1931, at the age of 48. His occupation was listed as "Kaufmann" (businessman/trader/merchant). His last home was Berlin-Friedenau, Kaiser allee 66 (although in a document dated 1956, his last address was given as Berlin, Wittenbergerplatz (probably Wittenbergplatz), "in a well-known pension".)
Isaak was buried in the Weissensee Jewish Cemetery in Berlin.
Isak Mamo Abraham's tombstone, Weissensee cemetery, Berlin.
The beneficiaries of Isaak's will were two of his brothers - Chaim (Haim) and Mony - and his two nephews - my father Uriel, and his brother Gideon (Gisy). Left out from his will was his third brother, my grandfather Moritz. It's not clear why he decided to make this exception, and whether this indicates a possible falling out between Isaak and Moritz.
At the time of his death, Isaak owned or co-owned seven rental properties in Berlin. It's not clear what happened to his estate, however what happened to one of the properties would trigger a lengthy lawsuit initiated by Ronya after the war.
According to documents related to the case, the property was supposedly bought in 1934 by a person also named Isaak Abraham. After his death in 1938, the property was then sold for a fraction of its value due to the Aryanisation laws. According to Ronya, it was difficult to believe in such a bizarre coincidence, and she argued that it had to be a hoax since Jews couldn't buy real estate in 1934 but were instead pressured to sell what they owned at a steep discount. After years of proceedings, the lawsuit ended unsuccessfully in 1957 and Ronya lost the case.
- Very Special Thanks:
- Antonia Belt, for visiting the Weissenssee cemetery on my behalf and taking photos of Isaak's tombstone.