The Story of the Czech Scrolls and the Memorial Scrolls Trust
The Czech Scrolls Sixtieth anniversary Scroll Gathering Service, 4th February, 2024, London
The MST Newsletters
Message from the Chief Rabbi
Appendix I Stolperstein Article from Ostrava
Appendix II Summary: Dr Berthold Storch
Heinz Vogel 18.2.1928 – 17.11.2023
It is with great sorrow that we report the death of Heinz Vogel. He was the first Ostravak we found as he wrote his life story for his grand-daughter and published it on the web, where we found it. Fortunately, he and his wife, Margaret, were living in Weybridge just a few miles from Kingston so we were able to meet easily. He enthusiastically joined in the research and was invaluable as he could provide first hand information about Ostrava, read and translate Czech and correct David’s German! He also had an obvious and immediate empathy with all the other Ostravaks we found.
He also collected and collated the information necessary for several of our campaigns to lay Stolpersteine in Ostrava. His engineering background ensured that all was neat, orderly and complete.
We will miss him greatly.
Peter Gordy 1934 - 2023
We heard from Michael Gordy that his father, Peter Gordy, passed away on 25.2.23 after a short illness. He was born in Ostrava in 1934 and lived in the USA. He was on our first trip to Ostrava in 2010 and he and his family have been a keen member of our network of Ostravaks ever since. We send our sympathy to the whole family.
Eva Erben celebrated her 93rd Birthday in October (see also Newsletter #64 about her 90th birthday). She lives in Ashkelon and naturally we were concerned about her and her family. She replied to our email:
I am in Germany doing some “work” for Israel, as well in Prag
Until next month’s than back to Israel
The family is ok
Follow up from Newsletter #76
The Stolpersteine have now all been laid, so we now have 84 Steine in place in Ostrava.
Dr Sladovník sent us a clip from the local TV, reporting the laying of the Stolpersteine. It is, of course, in Czech:
Ostrava Council circulate a monthly newsletter free of charge and there was a short article about the latest Stolpersteine. It is attached as Appendix I
Ostrava trip proposed for April 2024
Prof Allan Krasnik has very kindly volunteered to organize a trip to Ostrava in April 2024 primarily for families to view their newly laid Steine. If you are interested in joining that trip, please let Donal, Monica or David know and we will pass on the information to Allan
We hope to produce a small illustrated booklet showing all the Stolpersteine with some information about each of the families commemorated. There is already a booklet about Steine in Prague, actually produced by a Brit!, and we will be following his layout. Watch this space!
Asher Heinrich – Hugo Tramer
Asher was looking for information about his uncle, Hugo Tramer. Michael Gordy asked for more information as he has a Tramer in his family and we have passed on the contact to Heinrich but have not heard anything further. George né Tramer in London confirms Hugo does not appear to be part of his family.
Ray Schonfeld sent us a description of his experience in applying for and obtaining Czech citizenship, to counteract the rather negative views expressed previously:
I wonder if it would interest sufficient numbers of your readers to point out that the experience of my sister and myself in applying for Czech citizenship was completely inconsistent with the accounts you report here, and in particular with the letter published in the Guardian (a national UK newspaper). In fact, the only point on which we concur is about the time needed to get through the hurdles: in our own case, it took 3 years: not quite as bad as the five years you refer to here, but still long. Apart from that aspect, we found the “Czech bureaucracy” to which your correspondents refer unfailingly helpful and courteous. I offer a little more background on our experience here.
We have, I think, a pretty normal background for Ostravak readers of your newsletter: our Czechoslovak father came from Ostrava to England as a refugee (not in the Kindertransport, but at a similar time), met our mother who was English, and the children were born and brought up in a wholly British environment after WWII, with only British nationality. In fact, the only aspect that may make our father abnormal in this context is that he went back to Czechoslovakia at the end of the war, and was forced to escape a second time, from Stalin and communism. My sister and I applied for Czech passports shortly after the Brexit referendum led to the possibility that our right to free movement in Europe would significantly reduce the value of our British passports.
At the time, I was living in another EU country, and I therefore approached the Czech embassy there. The clerical assistant at the embassy to whom I spoke commented that “your father would probably be proud that you want to apply” (true!), and then explained that the first step would be to register us as “real Moravians” in Brno, where we had no birth certificates registered, after which application for a Czech passport would become possible. The assistant then proceeded to guide us, without any need for lawyers, through all the administrative requirement. The only external help she needed was from the Slovak embassy, who were asked to confirm that we had not applied separately for Slovak citizenship. She regularised the situation in Brno for us (it did not seem to matter to her that the registration of our births was around 70 years late), and went on from there. We did have to produce our father’s most recent Czech passport – which fortunately we still had -- plus a number of documents easily obtainable in the west (e.g., his death certificate), and since none of them were in Czech, we had to pay for certified translations into Czech, but that was the only significant administrative expense or complication. The fact that his name was German-language, rather than Czech, was not an issue and caused no problem that I was ever aware of, although the clerical assistant did comment that it would do no harm fpr her to indicate that he had a Jewish family. The whole process, though slow, went smoothly and entirely at clerical level, with the only involvement of a senior diplomat coming when the consul, whom we happened to pass one day in the corridor of the embassy, kindly posed for a photograph of my new Czech passport after it had been delivered to the embassy.
Since the successful completion of the process, I have occasionally spoken to Czechs who have expressed astonishment that anybody could find the Czech bureaucracy helpful, and I have always replied that I can do no more than tell the story of what actually happened. I also mention that I did ask the embassy whether they had received a large number of applications from British citizens following the Brexit referendum, to which they answered “no”. I then asked whether they had received ANY other applications at all from Brits of this kind, to which the answer was again negative, and I suspect that the unique nature of our application might have enabled staff to give it special attention. But that does not diminish my thanks to embassy staff for their helpfulness.
The clerical assistant in question has now left, and I hesitate to mention the location of the embassy for fear of being responsible for a flood of enquiries to them from Ostravaks in Britain, which they would not be authorised to handle.
With best wishes to all who participate in the assembly of news in the newsletter.
The Ostrava Chanukiah
The Ostrava Chanukiah, rescued from the ruins of the main synagogue by her father and presented to us and thence to the Osyrava City Museum by Lilly Reiser z”l. Photograph by Dr Sladovník
My father's name was Walter Maximillian Pollitzer. He was born November 16, 1909. He passed away April 20, 1985. He had 3 siblings. His brother was Hans Robert Ludwig Pollitzer ( February 29, 1916- July 24, 1981). His sisters were Felice Pollitzer Steinbeck (January 13, 1911- September 30, 1974) and Hilde Olga Pollitzer Hunt (October 6, 1913- November 16, 2004).
His father was Johann Pollitzer (July 21, 1875- August 18,1923). His father had 4 brothers. Alfred (November 15, 1867- March 23, 1939), Ludwig (May 24, 1870- January 15, 1939), Hugo (September 24,1876- July 17,1947). These three brothers were the owners of the factories, one in Ostrava.
The Pollitzers were Christians, but Olga’s sister married Berthold Storch, a well-known and highly respected doctor in Čeladná, a small village near Ostrava. In 2013, a magazine in the village produced an article about him: https://www.larawellness.cz/doc/F4-2013.pdf. A summary of the article in English is attached as Appendix II. On June 27, 2020, a memorial plaque to the victims of the Holocaust was unveiled in Čeladná, on which the names of Dr. Storch and his wife Sofie are also listed.
Johann’s three brothers owned 3 steel fabrication factories, one in Ostrava while he was a lawyer.
My grandfather, Johann Pollitzer, with my father as a baby.
Johann’s three brothers owned 3 steel fabrication factories, one in Ostrava while he was a lawyer.
Milan was born in Birmingham, England in 1944 but taken back to Ostrava with his parents. His father Siegfried (“Vita”) was born and brought up there before the war. Milan has written and published a book, The Yellow Jumper, about his life and that of his parents. A copy is now in the Memorial Scrolls Trust Library and a copy will be placed in the library and archive of the Jewish Museum in Prague.
If you would like a copy, please contact Donal, Monica or David and we will pass on your request to Milan.
National Technical Museum and Ignatz Buchsbaum
Stanislav Dvořák recently wrote to us:
I am turning to you with the following request.
The National Technical Museum in Prague is preparing an academic publication entitled "Czech astronomical and surveying instruments", of which is the author my colleague Antonín Švejda.
The publication will include about 100 authors or manufacturers of devices (tools) and their creations from the 16th to the 20th century.
In our collection we have globe of Ignatz Buchsbaum, so Ignatz Buchsbaum is also among them.
I would like to ask you to kindly provide a two photo of Ignatz Buchsbaum from your collection.
Ann Altman, our indefatigable correspondent, has sent us some more information about the new museum in Brno:
We send all our readers best wishes for a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful Festive Season
Please keep your family stories and photographs coming in!
We do not usually include advertising material but we think that Ivan Sloboda’s information may be of some interest to our readers.
I would be most grateful if you could mention in your next newsletter to the Ostravaks that my translation agency is approved by the Czech Embassy, resulting in a number of successful applications for citizenship.
Kind regards, Ivan
LEGAL AND TECHNICAL TRANSLATIONS Stanhope House 61 Stanhope Avenue London, N3 3LY, England
Our thanks to MST Archivist Miles Laddie for the many months of work he put into researching and writing the story of the Czech Jewish community, of the Scrolls during the Shoah, and of the scrolls sitting unused in the Michle Synagogue in Prague. On 5th February 1964, the scrolls started arriving at Kent House in London.
A single book is offered at £17.50 plus postage for 150 pages, full colour, hardback. A Pack of 10 books is offer at the discounted price of £100 plus shipping in the hope that MST Czech Memorial Scroll Holder synagogues will use these as B'nei Mitzvah gifts.
Kol hakoved to Miles, and to Donal who edited and laid out the text.
In summer 1965, at a cross community service at Westminster Synagogue, Chief Rabbi Dr Israel Brodie led the saying of kaddish for those who had died in the Shoah. This Jewish service can take many forms, and is expected to be cross community, bringing multiple Scroll Holder Communities together across a region.
There are special scroll gatherings being organised to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Memorial Scrolls arriving in London. Westminster Synagogue is hosting the major celebration on 4th February 2024. Your invitation to join and to bring your Community's Czech Memorial Scroll is here.
MST welcomes every scroll holder community to host a Czech Memorial Scroll Gathering in their region, for the 60th anniversary year and for every year onwards.
The MST Newsletters
Please subscribe to MST's general Newsletter here.
The link to subscribe to this Ostrava newsletter is here.
Rumors circulated between Čeladna and Kunčice under Ondřejnik about how he intervened, saved, helped, miraculously healed and never over-charged for it. As he said, “I can’t from the poor”. Towards the end of his life, a story, unfortunately cruelly true, added to the legend. When Dr. Storch was dealing with patients, sometimes he instinctively covered the Yellow Star of David, which he had to sew on his clothes according to the harsh racial laws, with his small doctor's bag. Doctor Storch belonged to a generation of people-loving doctors.
Berthold Storch was born on October 10, 1867. His father farmed on plot No. 1 in Tovačov, his mother came from Lipnik nad Bečvou. Berthold studied at the gymnasium in Mikulov, where he met Zofia Pollitzerová, whose father Max was a local dealer in staple goods. After graduating in August 1887, he enrolled the medical faculty of the University of Vienna, and on July 16, 1894, he graduated as a doctor of medicine. His first place of business was Bremberg (now Sopron), where the company Brembergbanyas mined brown coal. MD Here, Storch had a great opportunity to study pulmonary diseases, which had already interested him as a physician.
Berthold married Sofia and they had a son, Adalbert, on December 26, 1889, and a daughter, Meta, a year later. Later came Stella (1901) and finally Irma, born in 1908
In 1908, he ended his work in the Skalka Spa (today's Beskydy Rehabilitation Center) and then worked for two mining companies. Berthold Storch. He was glad that he could return home to Moravia .
And so, fortunately, an expert of the same caliber appeared after the beloved Jan Mav. Both of them got to know the mining environment well at the beginning of their medical careers, MUDr. For a full 33 years, Berthold Storch treated not only clients in the spa, but also local citizens of the surrounding villages. During that time, he earned a reputation as an excellent doctor and an incredibly sensitive person. In 1940 Gerhart Kopriwa, a German doctor, replaced Dr. Storch in his position as chief physician. Dr. Storch tried to continue helping people and opened a private practice near the Kunčice railway station. First, his son Adalbert was arrested and sent to a concentration camp in the first transport on June 20 1939. The youngest Irma managed to escape to Slovakia, where she later married and, before she died in 1990, expressed her wish that her urn be placed on grave No. 556 of Sister Meta, who died in 1918 (paradoxically, apparently of tuberculosis) and was buried at in the Kunčice cemetery. Stella fled to the United States. She married and lived until her death in 1998 in the city of Urbane (Ohio, USA).
Around November 9, 1942, the Storchs were put on a transport to Treblinka. Dr Storch most certainly entered the transport of death reconciled to life and to his God. He believed that his children would survive, he hoped that maybe he and his wife would too, but he was too much of a realist to cling to that. When he was torn away from his wife while boarding the wagons, he was left alone and so, as it is written in the chronicle of the village of Trojanovice: "He escaped an ignominious and terrible death by suicide during transport".