Solly Levin

(source: Norman Levin – June 2004)

Born 1886 in Vitepsk, Belarusse [of Mark Chagall fame] to comfortably off parents, flour millers.

1905 came as a young man via Cape to German South West to the diamond fields until 1908. The diamond worn on Annas finger was apparently found here.

In 1908 arrived Rhodesia to midlands, mining gold on small mines & then the Trixie and Camellia [named for Gwelo barmaids] Now a 10 stamp mill to crush the rock and pole and dagga living quarters. His own power generated steam engines using native timber. Was a gentleman jockey rider in Gwelo. Shift and Jacobson Gwelo merchants,good friends.

1914 War joined Rhodesian forces in German South West

1916 returned to Rhodesia. Mining in lower Gwelo and Matabeleland/Filabusi

1923 returned to Vitepsk to his family to find a bride

 Married Anna Kosina from Vitepsk some eighteen years his junior [and called affectionately in Filabusi ‘the Russian princess with blue eyes and long golden hair]-

They traveled in Europe and to Hamburg for a year and might have stayed there but for Sollys wish to return to his mining interests in Rhodesia. So they then sailed on to Cape Town

Here he left Anna to have their child Norman born in Muizenberg 5 April 1925 and he returned to the Redwing Mine Flabusi.

Anna and baby Norman several months later come by train to join him – mid 1925 to Bulawayo/Filabusi region. Mined gold there for several years. Bulawayo friends Isadore -Johanna Kollenberg. Daughter Esther Gelfand would baby-sit Norman some times

Mined Bolla Balla/Gwanda areas-Lady Anna named after Anna. Celia and Leo Levy founder of Rhodesia Cement friends in the Gwanda area. Also good friends at the Gwanda Hotel Mrs.Sarah Feigenbaum – mother of Albert Ruda of the well known’ Windsor Hotel “Salisbury

1930 moved to Tati Concession Francis Town Betchuanaland [Golden Eagle and Winifred mines]

From here they sent the young boy Norman in 1932 to became a boarder at Milton Junior School Bulawayo till the late thirties

About 1937 Solly began mining in the Turk Mine area [Dingdong Mine where he was one of the first Rhodesian small workers to use the ‘gold flotation’ recovery process] and worked further afield in the Lonely mine area the Jupiter Mine- also mining in the area were the Berwiz brothers. Knew Treger and Chitrin and Robert Levin with trading stores in the Lonely mine district.

Norman sent to Bulawayo Mining School in early 1941. Solly Levin after so many years in the mining game was now unfortunately struck by illness from which he would not recover and he died in Johannesburg 1941 of lung cancer aged fifty five. [Completely unbeknown, till 1990 to the Levin family, Annas mother Bella and brother Boris too died at the hands of the Germans that fateful year of 1941 when they were bussed to the woods near Vi-
tepsk and along with the large Jewish community shot ]

Having been reasonable successful in his mining career, at the time of his death, had left Anna to cope with three dependent children Norman fifteen, Lorraine eleven and Gerald five years of age. Young Norman went to ask the Head master to let him leave school to run his fathers mines-fortunately his request was refused but now after some two years of struggling Anna Levin brought her little family to Bulawayo where she would have to find the means to
support them. In Russia as a girl she had been a librarian and so decided to open up in Bulawayo a book shop. Universal Book Shop becoming quite famous in its day and many bar mitzvah and wedding gifts were obtained there for the thriving Jewish community.