ZÁBŘEH NA MORAVĚ, The Fortunes of the Šumperk Jewish Families
Martina Polišenská a Věra Škubalová
I have never been interested in the Jews before. The project "Neighbours Who Disappeared" came at the time when I, within the framework of a school film projection, had to see Steven Spilberg's film Schindler's List. After the film sequence when human ashes are falling onto a small town I was overcome with terror and hate of human cruelty that caused the death of many people. Maybe that's why my friend and I set out to search for the fate of the Jewish families in Šumperk.
Those few people who remained here after the war did not want to speak about the period around World War II. I can understand that. I also would not want to remember the time which students of history will be taught about as a one of the most atrocious periods of human history. On the other hand today's generation should learn about what the people condemned for having a different religion and appearance went through.
In bygone days Jews lived in Šumperk till 1585 when the citizens of Šumperk, with the approval of Emperor Rudolf II, made them leave the town.
The modern history of the Jewish inhabitants of Šumperk town did not start until the second half of the 19th century when, after abolishing their compulsory settlement in ghettos, they were allowed to move without any restriction. Their number in Šumperk had been increasing rapidly and so they started the struggle to get a plot of land to build a Jewish cemetery there so as not to have to transport their deceased to Úsov or Loštice. The final building approval of the cemetery was on 21 September 1910.
The Holocaust caused the end of the Jewish community in Šumperk and the cemetery ceased to be used. In spite of this Mr Šimůnek, who lives here with all his family, has been keeping it for more than 40 years.
After many years searching in district, provincial and Jewish archives, Mr Gerhard Wanitschek mapped out the fate of almost all the Jews of Šumperk. Most of them died in concentration camps. But those who survived still remember their hometown and are interested in the town now.
Mrs Marie Bandlerová was born on 4 October 1898 in Šumperk. In 1919 she married Moritz Thaler. In 1938 the family moved to Brno, from where they managed to get out of the country with one of the illegally organized transports. Via Bratislava, the Black Sea and Greece they got to Palestine. Moritz Thaler, who worked as the head of a hospital payments office, died in 1956. Marie Thalerová died in Ramat Gan, Israel a short time before her 101st birthday. Her son Pavel was born in 1922. In Palestine he joined the British Army in 1942. After the war he returned to Czechoslovakia, finished his studies of mechanical engineering in Brno and worked as an engineer in brown-coal mines in Most. In the fifties he was arrested for being a Jew fighting in the British Army and sentenced to works in Leopoldov. After the Russian invasion in 1968 he managed to escape to Vienna. He died in June 1995 in Köln am Rhein, shortly after he had visited his mother in Israel.
The family of dentist Dr. Isidor Mowschenson came to Šumperk in September 1914. First he practised with doctor Oskar Gutwinski, then he moved to his newly-built house. They lived there till October/November 1938 when they left Šumperk and moved to Prague. Isidor and Josefa were deported to Terezín on 17 January 1941 and on 12 June 1942 to the concentration camp Trawniky-Belzec. Daughter Isabel was living in Prague. On 13 June 1942 she was deported to Terezín and from there to Baranovice. Daughter Helena, born in 1909, died in Trawniky in 1942 and daughter Ernestie, born in 1925, perished in Auschwitz. The only son Heinz (Doctor Henry) finished his medical studies in 1938. He was called up for military service to the officers school in Prague. After the occupation of Czechoslovakia he was allowed to leave the country on board a steamer on board of a steamer together with his bride Hamma and her mother. They got to Palestine. In 1942 he signed up for the British Army, he was recruited to the Royal Medical Corps and served there till 1948. Then he joined the Colonial Medical Service and served in today's Malawi. When Malawi became independent he stayed there as a doctor and held various high posts. Queen Elisabeth II decorated him with the highest orders. In 1989 he and his wife Hamma returned to London. He died on 23 June 1994, one month before his 80th birthday. Although his parents and three sisters were deported to extermination camps Henry (Heinz) Mowschenson alleged that this murder was not the work of Germans but of a warped system of those times. Many times he tried to get back his parents' home in Šumperk, which was confiscated by the German authorities in 1938 and again after 1945 as German property according to president Beneš's decrees. He was not concerned with material value but after the collapse of communism he wanted to get satisfaction from the new Czechoslovak state as a man who helped to defeat Hitler's system. Unfortunately he never got his satisfaction.