Karel Stein


Stein studied law but in the first months after the Munich Agreement in September 1938 and after the occupation of Bohemia and Moravia by the Nazis in March 1939 he was – like so many others – forbidden to follow his profession as a lawyer. He then started to work for the Prague Jewish Community becoming the Chairman of the Department of Provincial Affairs. Aware of the situation of the Jewish communities in the so-called Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia, it was his idea to gather all liturgical objects, books and archive records from Bohemian and Moravian synagogues in Prague to keep them safe for after the war. He was one of the few to survive and in 1945, he became the Head of the Prague Jewish Community. Following the Communist Putsch in 1948, he left the country for Israel in 1949. He died before being able to testify at the Eichmann trial.

František Weidmann


Weidmann was a lawyer but shortly before the war, he worked as a secretary to the then Chairman of the Prague Jewish Community, Emil Kafka. After Kafka left the country, the new Nazi body in charge of the Protectorate Jews, the Zentralstelle für jüdische Auswanderung [Central Office for the Emigration of Jews], ordained Weidmann to be the Head of the community. Weidmann actively supported the idea of creating a Central Jewish Museum and it was he who hired a known specialist in the field of museology, Josef Polák, to help with building it up in a professional way. In January 1943, he was deported to Terezín and did not survive the war.

Salomon Hugo Lieben


A high school teacher by profession, he was the founder and spiritus agens of the Jewish Museum in Prague in 1906. He was very active socially, a member of numerous societies, some of them very prestigious: e. g., he was the Head of the Prague Chevra Kadisha, the Burial Society and a long-time Board member of the Prague Jewish community. He was also the author of several important historical essays on Bohemian Jewry based often on historiographical material [chronicles etc.]. During WWII, he worked for the Prague Jewish Community and also became involved with the Central Jewish Museum where he was a co-curator of the first installation focused on Hebrew manuscripts, prints and books. He died of a stroke in Prague in the autumn 1942.



Alfred Engel


A high school teacher of classical languages, he was very interested in the history of Jews in Moravia. During WWI, he took care of Jewish emigrants from Galicia and even became a special envoy of the Ministry of the Interior in this area. When the Central Jewish Museum for Moravia and Silesia in Mikulov (Nikolsburg) was established in 1936, he became its curator and actively searched for objects that would enrich its collection, thus creating a representative picture of Moravian Jewry. After the Mikulov Museum’s holdings were moved to Brno in May 1938, Engel, who had no family, left for Prague. In the spring of 1942, the Mikulov museum collection was transferred to the capital, which was an important step on the way to founding the Central Jewish Museum in Prague a couple of months later. Engel then joined the team of the Central Jewish Museum where he worked till his deportation in July 1943. He did not survive the war. 

Dr.Tobias Jakobovits


The former Librarian of the Prague Jewish Community, he became the Scientific Head of the Central Jewish Museum in Prague. Together with S. H. Lieben, he co-curated the wartime exhibition of Hebrew manuscripts, prints and books. He coordinated the work of his colleagues and had the main responsibility for the museum. It was he who usually had to guide the rare visitors from the Zentralstelle für jüdische Auswanderung through the museum’s installations. In the autumn 1944, together with his family and a few colleagues from the Prague Jewish community, he was deported directly to Auschwitz and immediately murdered.

Josef Polák


A lawyer by profession but a professional museologist and art historian by choice, he was Director of the state East-Slovakian Museum in Košice until his return to Prague in the autumn of 1938 due to the current political situation in Slovakia. In 1942, he was appointed to take charge of cataloguing the incoming mass of artefacts by the Prague Jewish community and to give his expertise on the museum. He created the scientific programme of the museum, set up the card index system and established the meticulous rules and procedures that ensured consistent methodology even as members of the museum staff were being deported and replaced. He curated most of the war-time museum installations. Temporarily “protected” by a mixed marriage, he was eventually arrested for his support of the resistance movement and disappeared in Auschwitz in January 1945.



František Zelenka


An architect and noted theatrical and costume designer before WWII, he found refuge with the Prague Jewish community at the beginning of the war where he took care of its many buildings and historical sights. Later he was recruited to help implement the plan of creating a museum once the stream of artefacts began to arrive in Prague. He was responsible for the artistic design of the war-time installations even though they were not intended for the general public. After his deportation to Terezín, he continued his work. He organized and staged more than 25 theatre plays there, including the children opera Brundibár which he also directed. He died during his deportation from Terezín to Auschwitz.

Hana Volavková


Being an art historian and librarian, she joined the museum’s team in the spring 1943 to assist Josef Polák. Together with him, she worked on an exhibition on the history of the Jews of Bohemia and Moravia and another on the Jews of Prague. After Polák was arrested and most of the staff were deported in the autumn 1944, she took over the coordination of the museum’s work. Being temporarily “protected” by her mixed marriage, she was deported to Terezín in February 1945. The only specialist at the Central Jewish Museum to survive the war, she saved the Museum in the post-war chaos, becoming its Director under the Communist regime in 1950. Feeling responsible for remembering the fate of Bohemian and Moravian Jews, her own family members and her colleagues from the war-time museum, she fought to keep the collections intact after the war. 



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