Helen “Helenka” Shavzin (née Hurwicz) was one of the four daughters of Max and Sara Lea who fled from Warsaw to Moscow during World War I and never returned to Poland. Other than Adek, Helenka is the only member of the “first Hurwicz family” that I ever met, and the only one that Leo ever met except when he was an infant. [1] Leo was with them until about the age of one and a half, when his family returned to Warsaw from Moscow. Adek did visit the family in Moscow (see picture below from 1960).
Helenka emigrated from Russia to the U.S. in 1973 with her daughter, Svetlana, and Svetlana’s daughter, Masha. They came to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Leo and Evelyn helped them get established.

I think of Helenka as mostly energetic, smiling and generous, with many interests, including creating both visual art and participating in theatrical productions.

By 1973, Adek was also living in Minneapolis, having moved there from Chicago. He had lived with Leo and Evelyn until they found an apartment for him a few minutes from their house.[2]

Until Adek’s death in 1981, Helenka lived in an apartment just down the hall from his and did everything she could to take care of him. (Svetlana lived in St. Paul, where she attended college and gave violin lessons.)

I always sensed that Helenka loved Adek with all her heart, though caring for him was not always an easy job. As an illustrative story, when Adek was close to death in 1981, Helenka was with him in the hospital, putting ice chips on his dry lips and generally doing what she could to care for him and make him more comfortable. At one point, wanting to know if there was anything more she could do, she asked, ‘Is everything all right?’ And though he had seemed almost comatose, he managed to lift his head up off the bed to shout, “Nothing is all right, you idiot!” For all I know, those may have been his last words.


1. Interview with me, Michael Hurwicz, November 20, 2007: https://www.leonidhurwicz.org/interview/


2.Leo and Evelyn were at 3710 Thomas Avenue South, just south of Lake Calhoun. Adek and Helenka were at 3421 Dupont Avenue South (as shown on Adek’s death certificate), around a mile and a half east of Thomas Avenue and just a few blocks north. The building was owned by a Jewish relief agency of some sort, so they got reduced rent there. (I lived in Minneapolis from around 1969-1975, and again from 1980-1985, and visited both the Thomas Avenue house and the apartment house where Adek and Helenka resided many times.)

Helen Hurwicz
b: 9 MAY 1905
d: 6 MAR 1998
  • 9 MAY 1905 - Birth - ; Poland
  • 6 MAR 1998 - Death - Y ; Minneapolis, MN
Tobiasz Tuvya Kocyn Kotzin
1831 - May 7, 1874
Maks Mojzesz Hurwicz
1862 - March 7, 1927
Helen Hurwicz
9 MAY 1905 - 6 MAR 1998
Sara Lea Frydland
1862 - May 6, 1934
Family Group Sheet - Child
PARENT (M) Maks Mojzesz Hurwicz
Birth1862Shavlany, Lithuania
DeathMarch 7, 1927 Moscow
Marriageto Sara Lea Frydland
FatherTobiasz Tuvya Kocyn Kotzin
MotherElka Razajczyk
PARENT (F) Sara Lea Frydland
DeathMay 6, 1934 Moscow, Russia
Marriageto Maks Mojzesz Hurwicz
FatherCheskel Frydland
MotherMiriam Batszeva Kocyn
MTobjasz Stefan Hurwicz
Birth22 AUG 1887Poland
Death13 SEP 1949Warszawa, Poland
Marriageto Chaja Ejdla - Helena Minc
MAdolf Abraham (Adek) Hurwicz
Birth10 DEC 1889Warsaw
Death4 AUG 1981Minneapolis, MN
Marriageto Sophie Zina Salamon
MSolomon Monjo Hurwicz
FDwojra Dora Hurwicz
Marriageto Nachum Zacharin
FRachela Raya Hurwicz
Marriageto Naum
FHelen Hurwicz
Birth9 MAY 1905Poland
Death6 MAR 1998Minneapolis, MN
Marriageto Shura Shavzin
FFelicia Hurwicz
Marriageto Yakov Abramson
Family Group Sheet - Spouse
PARENT (M) Shura Shavzin
Marriageto Helen Hurwicz
PARENT (F) Helen Hurwicz
Birth9 MAY 1905Poland
Death6 MAR 1998 Minneapolis, MN
Marriageto Shura Shavzin
FatherMaks Mojzesz Hurwicz
MotherSara Lea Frydland
Descendancy Chart
Helen Hurwicz b: 9 MAY 1905 d: 6 MAR 1998
Masha Shavzin b: 1964
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