David Bihali was the proprietor of a painter’s shop in Zemun. He was married to Clara (maiden name?). Their two sons Pavle and Otto were a credit to the family name. Both of them became outstanding public figures.

Pavle was born on August 8, 1898 in Zemun. He attended the Jewish elementary school from 1904 to1908. In 1918 in his second year of gymnasium he left school in order to learn the family trade in his father’s paint shop.

In 1915 the Bihali family moved to Budapest. Together with his father Pavle worked in a factory to help support the family. The following year he was drafted into the Austrian-Hungarian army. He fought on the Galatia and Italian fronts.

In 1918 Pavle returned to Zemun and was immediately called up for national service in the new founded state of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians.

On completing national service he took over the management of his fathers shop together with his father’s former worker Cedomir Cabraja and become responsible for the upkeep of the family. In 1923 he established a painter’s cum graphics shop, the “Futur”, initially with Cabraja, but some time later with his brother Otto, who as a senior undergraduate of the Art’s Academy had license to be the front man of the company. During this period he made his first contacts with the labor movement. He began reading Marxism, and studied natural sciences and world literature.

In 1927 he liquidated the company “Futur”. He married Maria-Meri Phingstl and with his wife made preparations for setting up a publishing company. At the time his brother Otto was studying in Berlin. Otto supported his brother’s enterprise and sent all necessary information and books.

In 1928, together with his brother Otto, Pavle founded the publishing company “NOLIT” (New Literature). A Literary Board of the Nolit literature association and the Editorial Board of the newspaper “Nova literatura” were formed. The following members were elected to the Board: Graf Georg Arco, professor Ljubo Babic, Henri Barbusse, Dr. Adolf Behne, Dr. Fritz Brupbacher, Johannes R.Becher, August Cesarec, professor Albert Einstein, director S. M. Eisenstein, Maksim Gorki, Dr. Branko Gavela, Dr. Manfred Georg, George Grosz, S. Galogaza, Dr. Carl Grünberg, Panait Istrati, Alexandra Kollontay, professor Käthe Kollwitz, Dr. Kurt Kerston, Egon Erwin Kisch, Kurt Kläber, Leo Lania, Dragiša Mihajlović, professor Zdenek Nejedly, Gerhard Pohl, Dr. Alfons Paquet, Erwin Piscator, Tarasov Rodionov, Dr.h.c. Freicher von Schönaich, Upton Sinclair, Dr. Helene Stöcker, A. Serafinovic, Dragiša Vasić, Dr. Armin T. Wegener, F.C. Weiskopf.

It was obligatory to list these names since they speak of the importance and significance of the publishing task undertaken. With the help of his brother Otto, Pavle Bihali managed to get together a representative group of intellectuals, leading wits of literature and science both from home and abroad. The names of collaborators who figured in certain “Nova Literatura” magazine editions should be added to the list. They are: Andre Baillon, Jaroslav Hasek, Theodore Dreiser, Jack London, Otokar Keršovani, Josip Kulundžić, Otto Bihalji, Dr Hugo Klein, Branko Kreft, Tone Seliškar, Velibor Gligorić, Veselin Masleša, Janko Đonović and others.

By 1929 publishing of “Nova Literatura” editions was prohibited, and on February 18, 1930 Pavle Bihali was arrested for violating the State Security Law. He was brutally tortured in the so called Glavnjaca prison and maimed for life. However, his will was not broken, even upon a new arrest in 1931. He continued his publishing activities which, because of his advanced ideas and consequent edition content, were closely scrutinized by censors and always in danger of being proscribed. Editions published by Nolit were of influence in the forming of an awareness of world events for generations of Yugoslav youths, right up to the German occupation in 1941.

Between July 1 and 8, 1941 Pavle Bihali was shot with the first group of anti-fascists and patriots executed in Belgrade.

Otto Bihalji (he acknowledged this surname, since it was thus misspelled by printers from the start) was born in Zemun. We have already written about his collaboration with his brother Pavle, but more should be said of his personality and activity.

In his recollections he writes that his father David Bihali, just like his grandfather, had been craftsmen of the painter’s guild. Both he and his brother had learned their father’s trade.

They owed their interest in literature to their father who introduced them to books. In his spare time he would ceaselessly read to his sons the works of Byron, Shiller, Haine, Torquatto Tasso, Ivan Gundulic, Dositej Obradovic and above all his beloved Shakespeare drama.

While his father, and later on Pavle too, progressed from craftsman to intellectual by self imposed study and self tution, Otto had the privilege to study at the Academy of Arts in Berlin. In this city he met a great number of forward thinking intellectuals of the late twenties and the thirties of the XX century. His ties to these progressive groups resulted in the fact that many a renowned name found its way on the list of collaborators of the Nolit publishing house.

His first book “Juris u vasionu” (Charging into Space) was published in 1937 and within the next two years appeared in London, Paris, Stockholm and Amsterdam.

On returning from the Spanish Civil War he wrote a book “ Spain between death and birth”, published in Switzerland and England and in Yugoslavia only upon the Second World War.

Otto Bihalji-Merin wrote some thirty monographies, studies and essays, among others: “Naivna slika sveta” (A Naïve Picture of the World), 1959, “Prodori moderne umetnosti” (Impacts of modern art) 1962, Graditelji moderne misli u literature i umetnosti” (Architects of modern thought in literature and art) 1965, “Naivni umetnici sveta” (Naïve artist of the world)1971, “Slika i imaginacija” (Paintings and imagination), “Revizija umetnosti” (A Revision of Art) 1979 and other.

Otto Bihalji’s theme was revolution and art. He was simultaneously stimulated by Marx and Frojd, Lennin and Picasso, Mann and Brecht.

Some of his books on art were written in collaboration with his wife Lisa.

He maintained a steady correspondence with the great men of world literature and art such as Thomas Mann, Maxim Gorki, Berthold Brecht, Faulkner, Kle, Kandinski, Reed, Moor, Picasso…

A close co-worker of Bihalji’s, the writer Jara Ribnikar, wrote on his death in 1993 that he was a man and writer “known for his good taste and universal experience.”

He voiced a thought about his brother Pavle which perfectly describes the significance of his life’s work:

“There are such writers whose merit equals the value of their written works. Then there are others who have made an impact through their existence. Their books are only fragments of their lives. Not everything that they have written still lives, but their life’s activity has left an indelible mark on their contemporaries.”

Otto Bihalji-Merin survived the war as he had “fortunately” been imprisoned in a POW camp upon the surrender of the Royal Yugoslav Army. Upon liberation he returned to Zemun with his father David, mother Clara and wife Lisa. They returned to the house of their relatives who had been killed in a concentration camp. The house in Dubrovacka street was a yellow painted ruin, surrounded by a derelict garden.

Albert Weiss was born in 1905 in Zemun. He completed secondary school in Zemun, and graduated from the Faculty of Law in Zagreb.

Prior to World War II he was noted for his activity as a public servant in Jewish organizations. He was a well received lecturer and organizer in the Ashkenazi Jewish Community and in the Association of Belgrade Jewish Communities. In the years prior to the Second World War he made repeated endeavours to save a large number of Jewish refugees from Hitler’s exterminating hell.

During the German occupation he was imprisoned in a POW camp. Throughout his term of imprisonment he was noted for his antifascism activity.

Once back in the country in April 1945, he worked in the commission for determining the atrocities of the occupation forces and that of their collaborators. For one year he was a member of the Yugoslav delegation at the Nuremberg Trial. He became one of the first experts in Yugoslavia in the field of International Criminal Law. He was a teacher and professor at the Internal Affairs College, the Political Sciences College and the Faculty of Law in Belgrade. Among other he took part in elaborating expert studies for the extradition of the war criminal Artukovic, as well as studies on the atrocities of the Ustashi living abroad. He was a member of the Human Rights Committee. His credit as an exceptional expert and man of morals is best spoken for by the fact that he was entrusted with the interrogation of the Nazi villain Eichman.

His contribution as a scientist, one of the first to teach about the evolution of civilization was highly valued. He formulated this field of human study into an academic subject and gave it meaningful content.

Beside his scientific studies and activities he was also engaged in various Yugoslav organizations and institutions. The greater part of his effort and time was dedicated to Jewish public issues, primarily to those of the Jewish community of Yugoslavia, but also to those of Jews as an entity.

On his return to the liberated Yugoslavia, although sadly distressed by the loss of his closest family he found strength to invest all his energy in the well being of the Jewish community. The situation required that priority be given to social-humanitarian activity, i.e. the reception and resettlement of those returning to their homes.

Despite the primacy of social work, Dr. Albert Weiss looked to the future of this Jewish community and with this in mind took part in the revival of cultural, educational and national activity. He initiated the restoration of publishing work, the gathering of historical material and founding of a Jewish history Museum; he also saw to the establishment of a kindergarten, youth clubs, women’s groups, the erection of monuments to Jewish victims of Fascism and other anti-Fascism combatants.

Equally important is his contribution to initiating and strengthening of close ties and cooperation with associations of Yugoslav Jews living in other countries, especially those in Israel and the USA.

He was the third President of the Association of Jewish Communities of Yugoslavia from 1948 up to his death in 1964. As a sign of respect and devotion the Association paid tribute to him by erecting a memorial at the Jewish Cemetery in Belgrade. In Israel, in the Gat kibbutz a young forest was planted in recognition and remembrance of their President, the kindergarten of the Belgrade Jewish Community was named after Dr Weiss, as well as the Jewish Home in Skopje and an awarding contest of the Yugoslav Youth Association also bore his name.

The Beherano family moved to Zemun at the start of the XX century. What is odd about this is the fact that they came from the Palestine. As a rule, relocation of Jews was mainly conditioned by economic issues, but in the case of the Beherano family the reason was illness. Actually, as a child Vitalis contracted an eye disease which could have resulted in blindness, there was even reason to believe that it could be fatal. Doctors were of the opinion that the Palestinian climate was detrimental to his health, so the family set off and by way of Bulgaria reached Zemun. Vitalis’ father Benjamin and his grandfather were glaziers in Jaffa and owned a flourishing business. An example of their business undertaking could be the glazing of every railway station along the track from Gaza to Beirut.

Vitalis completed elementary school in Istanbul, and secondary school studies in Zemun. It is an interesting fact that the first marriage made upon the First World War was between Vitalis Beherano and Erna Sasson. Vitalis was a prominent officer of the French-Serbian Bank in Belgrade. He lived in a separate house in Nikolajevska street with his wife and two sons, Josip and Benjamin.

Boris Farkic (alias Farchy) was born in Belgrade in 1947. He graduated from the Faculty of medicine in Belgrade.

His great-grandfather Mosha Farchy was born in Zemun in 1837. He married Rachel Russo also born in Zemun in 1841. They had seven children:

-                     Sara (1862. – 1941), married to Avram Calderon (1854- 1905). They had eight children: Bubi, Moric, Lena, Rachel, Sultana, Matilda, Netika and Sefira.

-                     Elisa (1864 – 1930) married to Samuel Vogel (1855 – 1941). They had three children:  Mizzi, Hilda and Dr. Frederick.

-                     Isak ( 1866 – 1937), married to Leontina (1879 – 1928) . They did not have children.

-                     Ješa Dr. (1870 – 1941) married to Alice (1882 - 1942). They had three children: Edita, Miroslava and Lilly.

-                     Regina (1875 – 1942) married to Salamon Elijas (1880 - 1945). They did not have any children.

-                     Josef (1877 – 1941). He married Dora (1887 –1942). They had one son, Robert.

-                     Leon (1879 - 1941.) married to Olga (1898 –1941). They had three children: Erich, Lilly and Alfred. Leon also fathered a daughter out of wedlock Josephine (1906.)

According to one version Miroslav (alias Fritz) was born in Austria in 1906. There is also a version claiming that he was born in Smederevo. Naimely Fritz’s father Jesa Farchy was a born Zemunian. He completed his secondary school education and studied and graduated from the Faculties of chemistry and technology in Germany (Neurenberg, Recklinghausen). Beside other studies he also attended classes of physical chemistry held by Wilhelm Roentgen. As a young doctor of chemistry and technology Jesa Farchy held a number of different posts in various towns of the then Austo-Hungaria. For a time he was the director of the cement plant in Popovac, then in Beocin and in Ravnica beside Omis. Plainly speaking the family moved frequently from one place to another. Dr. Jesa died of heart failure in Zemun in 1941.

Fritz (Miroslav) Farchy completed his studies at the College of Commerce in Vienna in the period 1924 to 1927.During this period he lived with his grandmother Paula. Fritz kept a journal of his travels by boat from Vienna to Zemun and back. He described them as luxurious voyages of the Austrian and Hungarian wealthy classes.

Fritz managed to live through the Second World War as a POW in a German camp. He lost his mother, his first wife Alegra and son Mihajlo in the pogrom. 29 members of the Farchy family were killed in the Holocaust.

On returning from his internment  Fritz married Sarika Romano from Sarajevo. They had one child only, their son Boris.

In the aftermath of the war Fritz was posted to the Consular office Yugoslavia in Berlin. During the Informbiro he refused the proposal of an officer from the Yugoslav Military mission in Berlin to emigrate to London. As a true patriot he returned to Belgrade. He was highly competent in the field of commerce and spoke fluently German, English and French; he travelled frequently abroad (Egypt, London, Greece, Pakistan, etc.) He was successively employed in a number of large companies such as Avala film, Filmske Novosti and finally in Hempro. From 1956 to 1959 he worked in Dugi Rt beside Omis. From 1959 he worked in the factory “Viskoza in Loznica. The Farchy family changed their surname to Farkic due to recurring anti-Semitic harassment. 

Fritz died n Loznica in 1983 and his wife Sarika soon after in 1985.

Boris married a Pole Isabela Ryznyk. They have two children: a daughter Ljiljana married to Slobodan Jevtic and a son Mihajlo. Mihaljlo is a physician and was named after his grandfather first born son who died in the Holocaust.

Today Boris lives and works as a doctor in Loznica.

The author would like to point out that as far as he is aware of this Farchy family is in no way related to the following Zemunian family of the same family name.

Albert Farchy, uncle to Vitalis, was an extremely wealthy Turkish Jew. He owned a number of enterprises. He moved to the borderline between Turkey and Austria-Hungary expecting to obtain better profits and make his business more prosperous. He reached Zemun some time later and built a large family house in Glavna (Main) street.

It was a numerous family which nurtured prominent intellectuals, successful experts and businessmen living in all parts of the world.

Djele, the eldest, became a professor at Harvard University.

Bata was a successful lawyer in Zurich.

Moni was the proprietor of a number of movie theatres in Beograd.

Stela married a senator of a Swiss canton.

Lela became an anchor woman on BBC.

Soka was the mother of the academic Enrico Josif.

Silvi married a Cari in Milan.

Beks made her home beside the lake of Como.

Thus members of the Fahri family were certainly regarded as prominent citizens of Zemun.

Greta Herzl, married Laskin, was born in Vienna in 1921. She is a the descendants of Theodore Herzl’s family from Zemun. According to her recollections her great grand-father Moshe Herzl was brother to Theodore Herzl’s grandfather. In Yad Vashem the name of Greta and her children has been entered in the genealogical map of the Herzl family tree. Each year the day of Theodore Herzl is commemorated in the Knesset in Jerusalem. As a direct descendant of the Herzl family, Greta is invited to be present on the occasion.

Greta’s grandfather Jacob married Giselle Goldstein. They had seven children.

-                     Moris, father to Greta and her sister Neli,

-                     Rihard, remained single,

-                     Oscar, also remained single,

-                     Ilona, married to Albert Dragoner. They came to the Palestine in 1943,

-                     Melanie, married to Speitsch, a non-Jew,

-                     Charlotte, married to Dr. Band from Zemun. Both were deported from Zemun to Jasenovac,

-                     Hermina, remained single.

Greta was a member of the Beytar organization (of nationalistic and revisionist orientation) in Belgrade. She was resolved to depart for the Palestine. In 1939 she started off via Varna with illegal means of transport. During the journey out of nowhere five Bulgarian Nazis entered the train and started to interrogate them; where were they from, where were they heading and so on. Greta was terribly frightened but managed to keep calm. She told them that they were travelling for pleasure and that they particularly wished to enjoy the sights of the Black Sea. Thus Greta reached the Palestine in 1939. She married Josef Mordehaj but their marriage lasted two weeks only. Josef was arrested and killed. Because of her illegal work Greta spent two years in an English prison. During this time her landlord partly sold, partly threw out her entire belongings. All her pictures and memories from the pre-war period were destroyed. In 1946 Greta married Zeev Laskin. He was Russian by origin. They had two sons. Their son Benjamin (Beni) was killed in battle in 1970. Their second son Rami has two children Niv and Matan and lives in Natania. He is an executive in a Hi Tec company.

Today Greta lives in Tel Aviv in a resting home for the elderly.

Jozef Sasson was a well known stockbroker. His life was marked by a number of successive downfalls and triumphs which were not necessarily a result of misjudged stock-exchange transactions. Actually, it was common knowledge that he was a good man; more precisely his benevolence for his fellowmen knew no boundaries. It was not unusual for him to simply write off a debt owed to him if the person in question, i.e. debtor was heading for a downfall. However, when the tables turned and he was facing trouble, he was mercilessly pursued until beggared.  He died before World War II leaving behind his widow Mariana and their children: Blanka, Judita, Alma and Mario. Matilda and Gabrijela died before father`s death. Mariana owned two tobacco shops, one in the town center and the other in the market.

She was an honorary citizen of Zemun and was not taken to a concentration camp with the majority of Zemun Jews, though she also met with a tragic fate. Sometime after the massive deportation of Zemun Jews she too was taken to Stara Gradiska. More detail of her death will be given in the chapter on the pogrom.

The Sasson families were numerous and well standing. Moric Sasson, banker and stockbroker, was a prominent individual among the Sasson families. People said that depending on his winnings and losses on the exchange he would wake up enormously rich one day while the next day he would be beggared. Apart from this, as already mentioned, he was the head of the Hevra Kadisha for many years and an active participant in other dealings of the Jewish Sephardic Community. He was a Zionist by persuasion, who actually had no intention of relocating to the Palestine, but supported the movement both morally and in funds.

Alexander Franck was born in 1898 in Subotica. His parents, Maxim Franck and Fani, nee Schreiber came from Segedin. Alexander’s older brother Arpad traded in leather in Segedin while his younger brother Dr. Steven was an ophthalmologist in Senta. Both brothers and their families perished in the Holocaust.

Alexander married Magda, nee Schwab before the Second World War. She died as a victim of vivisection experiments performed in the Dachau concentration camp. Their daughter Jelisaveta managed to survive the Kistarsa camp in Hungary. She lives in Israel today

Alexander mastered the crafts of a watchmaker, goldsmith and jeweler in Vienna. He settled in Zemun during the twenties of the XX century. He was known in Zemun as a skilled, honest and respected craftsman. His shop was in the very center of Zemun. Day after day he could be seen through the shop windows and glazed door, either conversing with customers or bent over a watch with a magnifying glass glued to his eye, deeply engrossed in his work.

A workshop stood behind the store. Inside was a bench with a small lathe fixed to it. Various tools for repairing watches were placed beside it. The shelves on the walls were lined with clocks and watches of every make, type and size with the owner’s name meticulously written beside it. Each would eventually be brought to the repair bench and once there would be carefully mended. Looking through the workshop window facing the yard a young apprentice could be seen working under lamplight either on the lathe or with tools in hand all day long. The apprenticeship in Franck’s shop lasted three to four years.

This young apprentice, whose name has not been recorded, was not a Jew, although two years before the war he made friends with a seventeen year old Jewish lad. This youth was somewhat of a scoundrel who frequently bragged about his small pistol – a Flaubert. No one can say who influenced whom yet one night the young apprentice and the lad went off to rob a house singled out randomly. Not informing themselves about the owner of the house or about its tenants, they banged on the door shouting:”Money or your life!” The door remained unopened, but a man in uniform appeared at a window gun in hand and began shooting at them. They both ran to the first gate too frightened to move any further. It was here that the police found them trembling with fright. It turned out that they had attempted to rob the house of an infantry captain.

In itself this incident could be of interest, but it was recounted in order to better describe the personality of Alexander Franck. Mainly, the police soon released the perpetrators from prison, and a downcast young apprentice appeared at Franck’s shop door. He was certain that after this “escapade” his master would refuse to take him back to work. However, he had to come to the shop to pick up his documents and inquire what to do next. The young man was unaware of the fact that the police had already been at the shop inquiring about his general conduct. He was also unaware that Franck had told the police that never had a single item been missed from the shop, that the apprentice had always been a hard worker and that he regarded the incident as an adolescent imprudence. In a way Franck was prepared to vouch for his apprentice in the belief that no such attempt would be made again. So he employed the youth once again who proved him right and never again got into any trouble. He owed his good fortune to the compassion of Alexander Franck.

After Zemun was occupied in 1941, Franck was arrested in April and taken to the concentration camp Sajmiste. He was released against a ransom. He left for Budapest immediately upon his release where he worked illegally in the employ of a Hungarian. Near to the end of the war he was arrested once again and taken to a concentration camp in Hungary. Despite the great danger involved he managed to escape from the camp. He hid right up to the end of the war. He managed to survive the occupation.

In 1945 he returned to Zemun to find all his belongings gone and the flat in Dubrovacka street ransacked, as well as the two storied house in Oracka street and the shop in Gospodska street, later King Alexander street.

From the authorities then in power he was given a single room in a cellar in Kosovska street to live in. Later he obtained a bed, cupboard, table and chairs. For some years he lived there with his daughter Jelisaveta. Finally in 1949 he was given a flat in his house in Oracka street. It took great efforts but in 1948 he obtained a shop in Zmaj Jovina street. He worked in this watch and optical store up to 1976 when he retired.

Immediately upon the end of the war Franck took an active part in the activities of the Zemun Jewish Community, and for a while was its President. He dedicated himself to the well-being of Jewish survivors and remained an active member up to his death.

Moreno Anaf was the President of the Sephardic Community in Zemun. In Gospodska street (later King Alexander street) he had a shop where he dealt in foreign exchange and sold Yugoslav class lottery tickets. Like the majority of shop owners he too respected the custom of giving charity to the poor once a week. Saturday was the day when beggars went from shop to shop in Zemun. On Saturdays he refused to handle money with his own hands, so his clerk David Fogel had to perform the duty. By status he belonged to the middle classes and lived in a house of his own. Generally speaking he was a good and humane person.

As life would have it, everything could not always run smoothly. Moreno had the misfortune, to have no sense of smell. Naturally, he wanted to keep his secret from the general public and more or less managed to do so. Women usually entered his shop on their way back from the market, nearly each one with a bunch of flowers in hand to buy a lottery ticket. Moreno would pretend to smell the flowers uttering the same words every time: ”It smells divinely!” when actually he sensed nothing. It so happened that one day on entering his shop Moreno saw on his writing desk a bottle with the label eau de cologne “4711”. His immediate thought was that it was a present from his wife, so he splashed it generously on his face exclaiming: “What a divine smell!” Round half an hour later his wife Helena ventured into the shop, inquiring from the very shop door: “Moreno, did you send my urine to the lab for analysis?” With a start he asked “What? Where?” while she responded by pointing to the bottle of eau de cologne.

Isak Nachmias, with a countenance that fairly resembled Sancho Pansa, was a man of high spirits, an incorrigible jester. He was a reasonably efficient real estate agent. He did not have an office and would either be on the move or sitting in one of the finer restaurants. On one occasion he was seen sitting in his garden eating olives from a paper bag. His godson, a boy at the time, who had never before tasted an olive, stood watching him. To the youngster saw the olive as a sort of sweet, luscious fruit and he asked his god-father whether he was right. Isak nodding his head in response devoured the next olive with renewed zest. Tempted, the boy asked him if he could try a tasty one. He was given not one, but two olives, which he gobbled up in a second. Biting into the unsavory oily matter instead of the expected sugariness the boy almost threw up, while Isak’s round belly rocked with laughter.

He was married to Josefina Erndiner, they had a son Danilo and daughter Lenka. Unfortunately Danilo died very young in 1920. He was 12 years old.

The Fogel family is among the oldest settlers in the Zemun Jewish Community. Eugene, the father of the family was born in Romania and was the youngest of nine brothers. In his 11th  year he was sent off from home to become an apprentice and master the trade of a baker. After 7 years he became an assistant. So far records show that only Ignatz Semnitz, the Zemun soap maker, had an apprenticeship longer than this. He turned from apprentice to assistant after nine years.

Following the custom of the time, when he turned eighteen Eugene went off to accomplish the “fremt”. At the time it was considered to be the final practical training and mastering of the skills of the trade. This custom was upheld by all the guilds. Thus Eugene started off on foot for Budapest and ended up in Osijek after a number of resting places on the way. He opened a bakery in Osijek and soon married Ida Erndiner, who came from a tradesman’s family which had settled in the territory of the Zemun Jewish Community in the middle of the XIX century.

Eugene soon lost his bakery in Osijek because of an insignificant quarrel with the owner of the building. Once again he set off to seek his fortune. On the road he found temporary employment a couple of times, but in 1912 he finally boarded the “Carpathia” and headed for America. He paid his fare by working as the ship’s baker. This ship was to be the first vessel to reach the place of the “Titanic” shipwreck. Later, he used to recount the horrors of this event; the salvaging of the barely living barely victims of the disaster and the dead. He stayed in New York for almost two years. With the money he saved he returned home and bought a bakery in Kupinovo. The bakery was hit in the first cannonade assault of the Great War. Once again the family was left with nothing. Of his entire American exploit Eugene was left only with the memories of the metropolitan Opera to fall back on. There he had heard Enrico Caruso sing.

After the First World War the family relocated to Stara Pazova, only to return once again to Zemun in 1929. It was here that the children grew up and the family finally found financial stability. Even today there are a few Zemun Jews survivors who recall how at the time of certain Jewish holidays Eugene used to bake and sell “Barhes“ (a type of pleated white bread sprinkled with poppy seed).

Toward the end of 1939 Eugene was astounded by the decision passed by the government in cabinet concerning the deportation of the Fogel family from the Kingdom of Yugoslavia to Romania. The only one exempted by the decision was son David who had regulated his national service obligation and had received Yugoslav citizenship. A dispute in which David spoke for the family was launched against the decision of the bureaucratic administration. It is difficult to fathom today how he managed to obtain Yugoslav citizenship for the Fogel family in 1940, but his comment on achieving the goal is still remembered: ”Let no man experience such humiliation…”

In 1942 the entire family except Danilo, was deported to a concentration camp. Their names are inscribed on the monument to the victims of fascism in the Zemun Jewish cemetery.

Danilo met his wife Zora (maiden name Rakic) for the first time in 1943. At the time Zora was the leader of the antifascist youth in her village. They got married upon liberation in 1946. They have two sons, Milan and Nenad. Together with his wife Verica and their two children Milan settled in Israel while Nenad and his wife Sladjana remained in Serbia. From his first marriage Nenad has two daughters, Ida and Olga, living in Australia.

Jakov-Zak Celebi was born in 1907. Unfortunately, there is no record of his parents, but he is remembered in Zemun as a most energetic envoy of the firefighting service. It would be difficult to record all his credits in this activity. However, at least one fraction of his accomplishments will be mentioned here, of relevance not only to the firefighting unit of Zemun, but to Yugoslavia in whole.

As a youth of seventeen he became a member of the “Matica” – firemen society in Zemun. Originally he enrolled as a volunteer but in time became a professional.

Already by 1933 he was approached and subsequently engaged as an expert in the drawing up of the “Fire Protection Law.” He made relentless effort to insert into the law as a separate clause his idea that a certain percentage from insurance payment should be allocated to the Firefighter’s fund.

The sign of firemen – a crisscrossed hatchet and torch, was designed based on his idea and adopted for the entire country.

He was the originator and editor of the only firefighting magazine “Pozarna odbrana” (Fire Defense) in circulation at the time.

He prepared and organized an exhibition – “Firefighting protection in air raids” which was displayed in all major cities of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

His expertise helped in equipping the Zemun firefighting society with technical appliances. To pursue this subject further in the present chronicle by listing the many apparatus, vehicles, etc would be out of place due to its professional nature. However, an interesting point that should be recorded is that he procured, round 1935, the latest and longest firefighting vehicle mechanical ladder in the Balkans. It was an event of some importance as the President of the Senate and the Minister of Interior of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, A.Korosec, were present at the formal ceremony of putting the ladder into operation.

He married Beti, nee Reisberg. Both of them were members of the national liberation front.

Upon discharge from the military ranks Jakov was given a responsible duty in the department for firefighting in the Ministry of Interior of Yugoslavia. Notwithstanding his current position he could not forget the organization of his first employment. He contributed to the modernizing of its equipment and also helped to acquire a suitable building for it.             

He was always full of new ideas. The beauty was that for each idea he would instantaneously suggest a way and the means to materialize it. Noted among other things for example, is the fact that  sometime before the Second World War he had an idea that Zemun should erect a Firemen’s House and proposed that the sale of so called: CIGLI (Bricks) should be organized for this purpose. The plan was very successful, and construction work began, only to be cut short by the onset of occupation.

His wife fell ill and ended her life tragically. He died in 1993. The Firefighting Society did not forget him and that same year his name was inscribed in the memorial plate of the deserving members of the Zemun Firefighting Society.

Jacob Kadman Levi was born in Vidin in 1858. The family came from Spain to Turkey in the fifteenth century. It moved to Zemun round the end of the nineteenth century.

Jacob was a wealthy trader in grain. He married Natalija nee Kadmon from Belgrade. Jakob built a house in Dubrovacka Street No.11. Natalija’s relative, Solomon Levi from Belgrade also lived together with them in this house for some time. He later married their daughter Blanka. Together they built a house in Kalvarija where they lived and had two daughters, Klara and Aligret.

Jacob died in Zemun in 1940.

Jacob and Natalija had ten children.

Their sons

Kadmon (his fate is unknown)

Nisim (1892 -1942)

Josip (1899 – 1942)

Isak (died in 1958)

Robert (1907 – 1968)

Alfred (1905 – 1993)

and daughters

Blanka  ( ?    - 1942) eldest daughter

Sol (1891 – 1942)

Claire (1899 – 1942)

Sophia (1902 – 1980)

Prior to World War II Isak had a book and stationery shop in Glavna Ulica in Zemun, opposite the hotel “Central”. He married Matilda, nee Sagi from Becej. They had an only son, Jakov born in Zemun in 1935. Jakov has two children, daughter Lea and son Isak. As an officer of the Royal Yugoslav Army he was imprisoned during the occupation as a POW. Upon the war he returned to Zemun and was given a flat in his family house in Dubrovacka Street. He found solace in prayer in the last years of his life blaming himself for the pogrom of his entire family. He died in 1958.

Robert survived the Second World War in the partisans. Namely, his entire military unit joined up with the partisans in 1941. Upon the war he was the director of “Zeta” film. According to the recollections of Ljiljana Nicin, nee Levi, Robert died in Israel in 1968.

Before the war Alfred had a shop in Belgrade where he sold luxury cars. He received information from friends that a raid was planned for rounding up Jews. Through secret channels his friends managed to transfer him to Trieste. He survived the war. In 1954 he left for Caracas, Venezuela, from where he moved to New York later on. He died in New York in 1993. He did not have any children.

Nisim was married to Clara. They had two daughters: Stella and Mary. All of them perished in concentration camps (Jasenovac – Stara Gradiska).

Josip was married to Julika. Both of them were killed in Jasenovac.

Evidently Sol never married, and was killed in Stara Gradiska in 1942.

Bianka had two daughters: Clara and Aligret. Aligret was married to Farchy. They had a son Mihailo born in 1937. They were all killed in Jasenovac, i.e. Stara Gradiska.

Sophia was called Greta by the family. She was educated in Dresden where her sister Bianca lived. She graduated from the Academy of Trade, spoke six languages and played the piano. She married Zoran Nicin (Serb) and had two children by him, a daughter Ljiljana and son Peter.

Zoran managed to lead his wife Sophia and son Peter off the train that was transporting Zemun Jews to Jasenovac and Stara Gradiska. At the time Ljiljana was sick and staying with her grand mother, i.e. Zoran’s mother who lived in Karaburma, Belgrade.

However, some time later Sophia was found and taken to the Sajmiste concentration camp. Zoran managed to bribe a guard and take Sophia out of the camp. Thus they lived through the occupation.

After the war they lived in Sonta near Apatin and when in 1963 the first apartment in the family house in Dubrovacka street became vacant they returned to Zemun.

Ljiljana, married Jovanovski, lives in Zemun today and her brother Petar in Novi Beograd.

Mariana Leon, married name Eberle, was born in Berlin on April 24, 1913. Her father was Emil Leon a physician and her mother was Olga, nee Leon. When her father was killed in Mostar in the First World War, Mariana was 5 years old and with her mother and sister Rosa moved to Zemun to live with Hermina, Emil’s sister. Mariana married Eberle Kristof a naturalized German before the Second World War. In 1940 their son Richard was born.

Mariana was employed in the chocolate factory “La sigogne”, today’s “Soko-Stark”. Immediately at the start of the war she was fired as a Jewess. Up to 1942 she lived with her husband and son in Karadjordje square, but Kristof decided to move the family to Presernova street in the Franzstal, i.e. into the part of Zemun, mostly inhabited by naturalized Germans and where the fact that Mariana was a Jewess was unknown. He would not allow Mariana to register with the police, and she eventually stopped going to the town center. Kristof was a watchmaker and jeweler and had a shop in the center of Zemun and therefore a secure means of living. He was able to bring food to Hermina and Rosa daily. They lived in Primoska street and would not move to Franzstal. One day Kristof  came to the flat to find it empty. The furniture was scattered around, and Hermina and Rosa taken to the concentration camp in Stara Gradiska where both of them died.

Mariana died on November 8, 2004 in Zemun. Her son Richard and daughter Erna is actively engaged in the work of the Zemun Jewish Community.

The family of Leo Brandeis, the long standing president of the Zemun Jewish Community, moved to this town in 1907. Leo was the youngest of the ten children. His father’s teaching post was in Calma in the vicinity of Sremska Mitrovica. Naturally his father held a high regard for education, and he made every effort to help Leo graduate from the finest schools. On completing elementary school in Calma, he was sent to Novi Sad where he attended the gymnasium. As he came to this city from the county of Srem, he had no knowledge of Hungarian and could not enter the Hungarian gymnasium, so he attended the Serbian one. An interesting point is that Leo was the first Jew to attend this education establishment.

On graduating from the gymnasium he left for Zagreb where he enrolled and graduated from the Faculty of Law.

Since he graduated law with honours, he was sent to Zemun in 1907 and given the position of a judge. He held the position right up to the disintegration of Austria-Hungary and the formation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians.

Once in Zemun, he very soon married Hannah nee Binder. They had three children: two sons Ivan and Pavle, and a daughter Hedviga.

In the newly founded state, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians, he didn’t continue his career as a judge. He opened a private law office and became one of the most respected attorneys, not only in Zemun, but in the area of the Belgrade city administration.

The whole family survived the occupation. More will be said about this in the chapter on the Jews survivors of Zemun.


The Binder Family was one of the wealthiest Jewish families not only in Zemun but well beyond the limits of this town.

Moric-Mavro Binder married Henrieta nee Belak. The Binder family moved from Vienna to Zemun round the end of the nineteenth century. Moric and Henrieta had sixteen children, ten of whom were born in Zemun. Henrieta died in 1927. 

The surname of the family was frequently associated with that of Polgar, as Moric Binder and Gabriel Polgar founded a factory for the production of riffle butts. However, it soon became evident that the business was not very lucrative. They shut down the butt-end production facility and opened a timber yard with a saw-mill line. It grew from a small trade business to an industrial plant. Depending on the season of the year the plant employed 120 to 220 workers.

In Zemun the enterprise was known as the ”Binder and Polgar Timber Enterprise”. It was one of the rare companies that cared for the well being of its workers. Among other things the proprietors built a number of four flat houses for their workers.

Binder and Polgar should also be remembered for their humanity toward their town fellowmen. Each year they would give away to the poor of Zemun whole barges of timber.

From 1930 the enterprise “Binder and Polgar” became a shareholding company. Due to mismanagement and flawed proprietorship a winding up procedure was initiated in 1935. Dr Ivan Ribar was the receiver in the procedure and the winding up of the company dragged on, with the company working right up to 1941.

There is insufficient data about the destiny of the numerous descendants of Moric and Henrieta Binder. What is known is that Klara married Bela Perenji and that Marianna married Ervin Goldstein. All of them perished in Jasenovac and Stara Gradiska.

Ivan Binder survived the war in a German POW camp.

Moric’s daughter Hannah married Leo Brandajz. Both of them survived the occupation, moved to Israel and died there. Another one of Moric’s daughters, Judith married Vladimir-Dragutin Badalic a Croat by nationality. They had a daughter, Dana (1922). She attended the first three classes of the Jewish school right up to the closing down of the institution. In 1946 Dana married Momcilo Dimitrijevic, of Serbian nationality.

Dana died in Zemun in 2003.

The Rosenberg family emigrated from Poland to Srem round 1760. Lazar Rosenberg was born in 1897 in the village of Divos on Fruska Gora. His parents were peasants, an oddity among the Jews living in Srem.

He married Evgenia-Zeni Brandeis. She was born in 1891 in Calma. They lived in Calma for some time. Their son Theodore – “Tosa” was born there in 1918. In 1922 they settled in Zemun and that same year their second son Ervin – “Silja” was born.

Lazar was in the leather trade and had a shop in the center of Zemun and his own house in Nikolica street No.15. The Beherano family lived in his house for a while.

Lazar was a respected tradesman well known for his honesty.  It is a fact that must have been taken into consideration when he was chosen for the treasurer of the Zemun Tradesmen Association. Mother Zeni was a housewife. Beside her domestic chores she managed to find time to actively participate in women’s charity organizations.

For a short spell Tosa was in the “Hashomer Hatzair” ken, although his preoccupation was music. He played the Hawaiian guitar and the accordion. From his early youth he used to earn money by playing. For example, he would play serenades below the windows of maidens at the request of their beaus in the company of two other guitarists. If the girl acknowledged the courtship she would true to custom light a match so that its glow could be seen in the window. There were times when such courtship was cut short by the appearance of a parent, father or mother.

He was an exceptionally good musician and managed to go on air in the Radio Belgrade program. However, his father was set against his being a “mere performer”, as he would condescendingly refer to the profession. He considered it beneath the dignity of a Rosenberg to engage in such profane employment.

Tosa is not in the family picture taken in 1942, as he was a POW at the time.

After graduating elementary school he enrolled in the Zemun Trade Academy in 1936. There were 39 students in his class. On the 50th anniversary of their graduation from the Academy only ten of them were present, i.e. those that were still alive in 1986.

Upon completing his Academy studies, he intended to continue studying at the University, in the hope that he would enter the diplomatic service. However, after the introduction of the numerus clausus all such ambitions were abandoned.

By way of certain connections Tosa was at that time engaged as a musician in the orchestra on the liner “Kraljica Marija” sailing from Dubrovnik to Venice and back.

Fully aware that his father opposed such employment, Tosa resorted to a somewhat cunning plan. He told his parents that he would be paying a prolonged visit to his uncle, Oscar Brandeis in Cerevic. He persuaded his uncle to send at certain intervals postcards to his family, which he had written in advance in Zemun. Tosa returned to Zemun from his voyage gig with earnings over five thousand dinars, which at the time was “big money” (daily wages in the country were approximately ten dinars). However once his father learned of Tosa’s adventures he was extremely angry, although he still had hopes that his son’s lifestyle was just a passing whim. In order to avert Tosa from the calling of a musician, he made him an offer to go into business. He bought a small factory for manufacturing thread and entrusted Tosa with its management. Soon after, Tosa married Elvira Bruner, born 1921. Their son was born when he was already a POW. He never saw him since the baby perished together with the Rosenberg family in the concentration camp. The only survivors of the family were Tosa and Ervin.

Lazar’s second son Ervin was a precision mechanical engineer. He was among the first members of the “Hashomer Hatzair” ken. Later, he would only occasionally visit the ken. More about him will be said in other chapters of this chronicle.

The Schwitzer family was one of the oldest and highly respected member of the Jewish Community.

Round 1850 Samuel Schwitzer left Slovakia and settled in Dobanovci, a village integrated in the Zemun Jewish community. He opened a general store in the village. He fathered six children.

Salamon, one of the sons, married Bertha nee Najman. Up to her marriage she lived in Popinci with her parents.

Salsmon was a strict follower of religious norms. He even went to Zemun to learn to be a shohet, so that he could perform ritual slaughter of poultry himself. At the time of major holidays such as the Jom Kipur, Rosh Hashana etc.the whole family would come up to Zemun and stay with Moric Nueman, Bertha’s brother. The children looked forward to staying with their uncle and his children. All such holidays were celebrated with prayers and all appropriate custom.

In 1918 the Schwitzer family moved to Zemun, except for Salamon’s son Wilim, who took over the management of the family store. The trade’s revenue secured means for decent living conditions.

With the ascendance of Hitler to governmental power in Germany the situation vitally changed. The local Germans boycotted Wilim’s store. Eventually a German opened another general store which brought on the demise of the Svicer trade. In 1941 Wilim moved to Zemun.

Only two members of the Schwitzer family suvived the holocaust Marko – “Paci” and Alexander – “Shani”. As will be seen in the part of the chronicle on Zionism, in 1939 “Paci” left as a haluc to the Palestine.

In 1941, Sani shared the fate of all Zemun Jews and was driven to forced labour. However, he never fell for the stories that the Jews of Zemun would be spared from deportation to concentration camps. He therefore made plans to escape to the Italian occupational zone. In May 1942, Sani obtained fake documents and managed to leave Zemun. He met up with his relatives Adi and Aki Neumann heading for Metkovic. Initially they departed for Split, and then continued on to Novi Vinodol, Kraljevica, and finally to the island of Rab. By doing so they managed to reach the Italian occupation zone, where they spent some time in a concentration camp.

On Rab they lived to see the capitulation of Italy in 1943. They left the camp and joined the partisans.

Sani was twice wounded as a partisan soldier of the 7th Banija Division. For his merits he was awarded the Medal for Courage and the Medal for Service to the People.

Upon demobilization he lived in Zagreb. As a former partisan soldier he was entrusted with high functions in the Ministry of education of the Republic of Croatia.

He earned substantial respect as an expert in the field of education. However, in the turmoil generated by the Inform bureau, he witnessed the downfall of a number of innocent people. Although he could not be accused of any kind of subversive activity, he felt insecure and found his way out by immigrating to Israel.

Together with his wife Truda he settled down in Israel. They had lived together through the concentration camps and occupation. They first met on November 1, 1942 in the Italian camp in Kraljevica. Truda, nee Goldstein, came from Zagreb. In Isreal her intellectual capabilities were immediately recognized. She worked as a correspondent-interpreter in the Ministry of Health, since she was proficient in a number of languages. Beside Croatian, she spoke Ivrit, French, English, German and Italian. Truda died in Jerusalem in 1988.

As a professor of chemistry, Shani had no difficulty in mastering work in a laboratory, and since he too spoke a number of languages fluently, he learned Ivrit easily. His interests greatly transcended the work inside his profession. He voiced his opinions publicly in a number of newspapers and publications. He was a critic of the impediments one encountered in many spheres of social life in Israel.  He was an ardent advocate of progressive ideas. A characteristic example was his article in which he opposed the idea of building the Third Temple in Jerusalem. After articulating obvious arguments he ended the article by asserting that at the time, the state of Israel had become a temple for the entire body of Judaism and that a better one could never be erected.

Even today, a pensioner, Shani continues to keep track of all events of importance, and occasionally writes an article in Serbo-Croatian, English or Ivrit. He lives in Jerusalem. He has changed his surname, like many other settlers. Today he is known under the name of Alexander Sharon.

Dr. Arnold Schön was a doctor not only admired among the Jewish population but appreciated generally. At any time of the day or night he would attend to all sick calls received. He paid no heed to the status or religion of the caller. Notwithstanding the fact that he knew in advance that he would receive no payment he would see to any poor man’s sick call.

Dr. Schön’s field of interest was never restricted only to his medical profession. More shall be said about him in this book in the chapter on Zionism.

Arnold was born on June 10, 1886 in Vinkovci. From her first marriage his mother had two daughters. With her husband Ignjat she only had Arnold. His younger half-sister died of a stroke in May 1941 at the age of 63, while her elder (age 65) was executed in 1942 in Stara Gradiska together with her husband and daughter.

After he graduated the classical gymnasium (1905) in Vinkovci, Arnold completed his medical studies at the Faculty of Medicine in Vienna. He was a resident in Vienna first and then in Berlin also and finally specialized for an obstetrician in Dresden. He came to Djakovo to work as a general health practitioner.

In 1914 he was already relocated to Zemun to the post of chief practitioner at the County hospice for the ailing. At the same time he started up his own private practice.

He was married to Luisa nee Erenfreind. Their first born was a daughter Heda (1915) and in 1917 they had a son Theodore.

Dr Schön and his wife very soon became actively engaged in Zemun’s social life. Eventually it came to the point when it could be said without exaggeration that the pair of them had a great influence on the design of Zemun’s cultural and artistic life.

It was in the house of the Schön’s that a chamber quartet was originally initiated. It soon grew into an octet, and finally became the Zemun Philharmonic orchestra. It became a reputed orchestra and famous Belgrade conductors readily agreed to perform at concerts. Proof of recognition and exceptional quality is the undisputed fact that on more than one occasion Radio Belgrade broadcasted concerts played by the orchestra.

Mrs. Schön was the vice-President of the Zemun Red Cross for many years and was an exceptionally active member of the Board of the humanitarian organization “Milosrdje”. But she was also a striking amateur actress. She acted in theatric dramatic pieces and performances staged at a series of events for the benefit of humanitarian organizations. It may be interesting to remark that a number of these events were directed by Dr.Schön. He also wrote several theater pieces and dramulettes.

The Education and Charity

Theatric Society of Zemun

To the benefit of the Queen Marija Home for children

Thursday, April 10,1930                       Grand Hall of the Central Hotel

Guest performance of the leading actor

Of the Belgrade National Theater

Mr. Aleksandar Zlatkovic


A play in two acts written by Miroslav Krleza


Count Lenbach, former lieutenant colonel of the dragoons          Mr. Zlatkovic

Laura, his wife owner of “Merkir Galan” fashion shop    Mrs. Louise Schön

Dr. Krizovec, attorney at law                                                    Mr. Petar Kovacevic

Madlen Petrovna, Countess Gelcerova                          Miss. Hella Milinkovic

Marija, the maid                                                                       Miss Em.Popovic

A deaf-mute beggar                                                                  Mr. Gj. Iksmerez

The first act takes place in the “Merkir Galan” fashion goods shop between the hours of 6 and 7 p.m. The second act takes place in the apartment of the Countess Lenbach between the hours of 2 and 3 a.m.

Furniture furnished by Mr. Karl Albreht’s store. Fashion goods by “Renesans” shop Knez Mihajla 26. Hats by M. Sagi salon, Kralja Aleks. Street – Record player Edizon Bel Penkala (I. Levi bookstore)

Stage sets: PETAR HECL.

Seat prices: Ring seats D.40 - I seat D.30, II seat D.20 – Standing D.10 - Box seats D30.

Tickets sold in Mr. I. Persic’s “Venus” drugstore.

Performance opens at 9 o’clock p.m.

Luisa Schön achieved her greatest success in the role of Laura in “Agonija” the dramatic play by Krleza. She played alongside the Belgrade National Theater drama laureate, Alexandar Zlatkovic.

Subsequent daily press articles fully acclaimed the performance and eventually Krleza learnt of its existence and merit. He begged to be introduced to Luisa and they finally met in Zagreb in 1932.

Considering the extent of their activities in the public and cultural sphere, the respect which the Schön family enjoyed was understandable and their place in the Zemun elite deserved.

Their daughter Heda married a marine officer Dusan Banovic in 1935. Their son Theodore left for the Palestine in 1939 as a haluc (pioneer). More will be said of him in the chapter on Zionism.

During the First World War Dr. A. Schön had been stationed to the rank of sanitary officer. After the war he held the position of a first class sanitary captain in reserve in the Military Forces of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. On April 4, 1941 he was mobilized as an officer and sent to Nis. There he was captured by the Germans as early as April 9. As a POW he was taken together with other Yugoslav officers by way of Pirot and Caribrod to Dragoman. On May 7, 1941 he managed to escape and passing through Belgrade reached Zemun illegally.

Once in Zemun he was immediately given the yellow band and was taken to a forced labor camp with a group of Jews. He soon contracted typhoid fever. On recovery from the illness he was interned in an army barrack where some 1700 Muslim refugees from Bosnia were kept. He was presumably immune to the disease having already lived through it and his duty was to stifle the outbreak of typhoid.

In the fall of 1942 using false documents he managed to settle in Hrvatska Dubica as a doctor in the village health station. His plan was to flee from there to the Italian occupation zone together with his wife and daughter.

However, an incident that occurred a year later he exposed his true identity. As a man of medicine and a true humanitarian he tried to protect the Orthodox population also from the threat of typhoid. So instead of vaccinating an Ustashi village with anti-typhus vaccines supplied to him for this purpose he used them also for Serbs. For this he was arrested in 1944 and taken to the Jasenovac concentration camp and put in solitary confinement. However due to a shortage of doctors, he was taken to the village of Jasenovac together with six of his colleagues. The hospital was surrounded by barbed wire, so he was still in confinement. The hospital was evacuated on April 8, 1945 together with patients (Ustashi, Domobrans, and a few civilians). The general retreat of fascists had begun and in the resulting chaos Dr. Schön managed to escape and reach Zagreb where he hid at his friend’s house for some days. On May 8, 1945 he was alive and celebrating victory day.

During the arrest in Dubica the daughter Heda escaped to Zagreb and together with her daughter survived the war living in a cellar.

His wife, Luisa was arrested after her husband’s escape. Fortunately, she had a document issued by a Roman Catholic priest stating the she was an Arian, and was released. Naturally after this narrow escape she would not risk exposure of her real identity and fled to a remote village and managed to live there throughout the occupation.

Their daughter left for Messina in Italy to join her husband upon liberation and Dr. Schön returned to Zemun together with his wife. He was once again given the post of chief physician in the County hospice for the ailing.

In December 1948, together with his wife Luisa, Dr Schön immigrated to Israel. Once in Israel apart from working in his profession he also became socially engaged. He wrote articles, drama pieces and held lectures.

His wife Luisa aided and supported him right up to her death in 1977.

Dr. Schön spent the last years of his life in the Gat kibbutz where he celebrated his 100th birthday in 1986.

Once this exceptional jubilee had passed, Dr. Arnold Schön announced to his son Theo and his family that living through two World Wars and the holocaust was quite enough and that he would abstain from food from then on. Since he strictly abided by his decision he was fed by means of infusion. However, he managed to stop the supply of infusion and died in 1987.

His son Theodore died on October 13, 1995 in the Gat kibbutz and his wife Bilha in 1997.

Their daughter Amira, married Keren, is alive and working in the Mizra kibbutz.

Sigmund Levi, a trader in timber, originally came from the Czech state. He is remembered as a charitable and humane person. The following event speaks clearly of the fact:

A Levi family with its five children moved from Belgrade to Zemun. Although the family was no relation of Sigmund’s he nevertheless sent them a cart-full of wood free of charge (as recollected by Avram, one of the five children, who once in Israel took the name Dor).

Sigmund had four children, a daughter Luisa and sons Kurt, Otto and Karl. Kurt was a doctor and maintained progressive views. Right at the start of the uprising against the occupation forces he joined the partisans. In the so called Uzicka Republika he was chief of the partisan hospital and the partisan secretary of health. He was apprehended at the end of 1941 and killed in the Belgrade Gestapo. The Germans wrote a propaganda brochure about him headed “Dr. Avram the partisan health secretary”. They changed the name of Curt to Avram to make it sound more Jewish, while the actual content of the brochure deserves no comment. The brochure is kept at the Jewish Museum in Belgrade.

Pinter Djurka was an employee of Polgar. He lived with his wife Lenka (there are no closer details about her). At the start of the occupation they fled to Budapest.

They lived there practically up to the end of the war. Then the massive rounding up of Jews in Hungary began. On that critical day Lenka left the house to get some supplies. As fate would have it she decided to pay a visit to her friend and was held up by their conversation. The random decision she made that day saved her from apprehension and so she lived. However, Djurka was caught and deported to a concentration camp. From there on no trace of him has ever been recovered.

Dr. Hinko Urbach served as a Archrabbi in Zemun from 1909 to 1928.

Dr Urbach was born in the small village of Moravka in the Moravska province, in 1872. His mother died when he was seven years old. His father was left with four children to provide for. He soon married a widow who in turn had three children from her previous marriage. He consented to the premarital condition that his children would have to leave their parental home. Hinko was the first to leave and became an apprentice with a shoemaker. Later he was educated at the hedera, then in the jesiva in Bratislava, where he remained as an instructor up to his 26th year. He reached Budapest in 1898 where he tried to enroll in the rabbi High school. The school only accepted candidates who had gymnasium graduation certificates. Hinko had to learn Hungarian and after three years of study he managed to graduate. Simultaneously with the program of the High rabbi school, which he had already mastered while in the jasiva, he became a student of philosophy at the Faculty of Philosophy in Budapest. He chose to read the comparative study of the Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic and Iranian language. He wrote his thesis in Latin and obtained his Ph.D. in 1904.

He married Sara, the daughter of his professor Moses Feldman and started to look for a post. Very soon he was given the opportunity to become head rabbi of Denmark. He declined the post because he would not consent to one condition that was required. He was requested to give blessing to mixed marriages, which were customary in liberal Denmark.

Thus instead of becoming a state rabbi, in 1906 he set off to the poor Jewish community of Tuzla which in whole numbered 140 people.

From there he was transferred to Zemun where the congregation consisted of 680 followers. During the First World War he was mobilized as an Austrian-Hungarian military chaplain. After the founding of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenians he become its citizen and continued with his service in Zemun up to 1928.

He is remembered as an exceptional erudite and a personage revered and respected both by the non-Jewish elite as well as by the Jewish people. Ivan Brandeis recalls from days when he was a student of the Zemun gymnasium how Dr. Urbach would take regular walks with the Catholic minister Dr. Kraljevic and the Orthodox priest Gliga Konstatinovic. During these walks they had academic discussions every day in a different language: Greek, Hebrew and Latin. Each one of them professed a high degree of religious tolerance. Later, with the rise of Hitler to power in Germany the relationship in time visibly deteriorated. It reached a degree of unveiled anti-Semitism and in due course an open minded disposition toward the Holocaust conducted during the occupation.

Dr. Urbach left Zemun and settled in Sarajevo where he became Archrabbi and conducted his service with agility up to the occupation in 1941. He managed to save himself by reaching Italy, where he remained up to the country’s capitulation. Fleeing before the Germans he found refuge in Switzerland. In Lausanne he conducted service together with the local rabbi Schulmann. In 1946 he was already in Zagreb in the post of rabbi. Once the state of Israel was founded he organized Jewish emigrants and together with them left for their new state.

Dr. Urbach and his wife were placed in a rest home in Jerusalem, where they stayed briefly, since relatives living in Paris had invited them to spend the last years of their lives with them.

Hinko Urbach and Sara Feldmann had four children named: Simon, Lea, Mirjam and Benjamin.

Simon died of Spanish fever in 1916. Their daughter Mirjam died of pneumonia in 1921. At the time both illnesses were fatal.

Lea studied German at the Belgrade University and obtained a MA degree in German. She taught in gymnasiums in Smederevska Palanka and in Sarajevo. In 1937 she married a Polish Jew Ilija Rubin from Vilnius (today the capital of Lithuania). The two of them lived in the ghetto and were taken to German concentration camps in Lithuania, Estonia and Poland. Lea once said: “It was a miracle that we stayed alive.”

Lea has been a widow for more than 20 years. She lives in Warsaw. The years of her professional life were successful – she became a writer and author of several books.

The son Benjamin lives in Paris. He has two sons and seven grandchildren. One of his sons is a successful businessman in Israel. Benjamin cared for his parents up to their death.

Dr. Hinko Urbach died in Paris in 1960, a year after the death of his wife.


Gabriel Polgar came to Zemun in the second half of the XIX century. He was born in 1850 and died in 1916. He married Johanna Katzki (1851-1908).

Once in Zemun he set up a timber yard together with Binder. Their woodworking enterprise was in operation right up to the Second World War.

Gabriel was an active member of the Zemun Jewish population and for a time presided over its Community.

Gabriel and Johanna had three sons:

Michael was born in 1881 and died in 1923.

Ivan (Janos) was born in 1885 and was a civil engineer engaged in bridge construction. He spent the years of occupation in a hotel in Budapest. When the rounding up of Jews began in Hungary he managed to escape to the countryside with his wife and daughter. After the war he returned to Belgrade. In 1948 he immigrated to Israel where he died. His daughter Wanda lives in Vienna.

Zoltan (1883-1858) was a industrials. He married Ana nee Muhrmayer, an Austrian, who converted to the Jewish faith.

The Polgars owned an estate in the vicinity of Bezanijska kosa. For a time this site was used for training future halucim (pioneers) for agricultural work in preparation for their emigration to the Palestine.

Jewish immigrants fleeing from Germany and Austria before Nazi mass deportations came to Zemun, were they were usually situated on the Polgar estate. There they were provided with board and lodging and other necessities.

Zoltan and Ana had two daughters: Liselot (1924-1957) and Michaela, born in 1925 and living in Belgrade.

Zoltan remained in Zemun during the occupation. He hide in the Upper city. He spent some time in prison. He was released upon the intervention of local Germans.

Throughout the occupation Ana lived freely in her apartment with Michaela and Liselot.

In 1942 Michaela married Kazimir Wagner in Zagreb. Sometime later he joined the partisans. In 1943 their son Tomislav was born. He lives in Rijeka and is now a pensioner. He was an expert in tourism. He has two sons and two daughters.

Charlotta Sonnenfeld, married Djeric was born in Zemun in 1926. Her grandfather Johan Sonnenfeld was born in 1826 and died in Zemun in 1890. Her grandmother Rosa, nee Deutsch was born in 1846 and died in 1926.

Johan and Rosa had seven children:

-                     Johanna, married Goldstein who bore eight children: Greta, Johan, Otto, Elsa, Pera, Cornelia, Alexander and Francisca;

-                     Samuel, married Olga Fisher they had three children: Hilda, Angela and Ivica;

-                     Heinrich remained a bachelor;

-                     Paula never married;

-                     Ludwig remained a bachelor;

-                     Charlotte married Bertrand Goldstein they had three children: Oscar, Eja and Ervin;

-                     Lazar married Katica Patscharik they had a daughter Charlotte.

Out of the entire family the following members died in the Holocaust: Samuel, Lazar, Charlotte Goldstein, Otto, Francisca, Hilda, Angela, Ivica, Eja and Ervin. Another four of Johan’s grand-children perished in the pogrom (the names of two of them were Nadin and Elsa, while the names of one male and one female child could not be found).

Lazar Sonnenfeld was born on January 25, 1873. He ranked among the wealthiest Jews of Zemun. He was the proprietor of a liquor factory in the part of Zemun known as the Franztal. He also owned an ice production plant and worked together with the well known brewer Weifert. Among his property was also the entire block of flats from the Danube embankment up to Zitna pijaca (the grain market).

Lazar contracted diabetes. His health deteriorated rapidly and he had to have his leg amputated.

His daughter Charlotte had carefree childhood. She did not attend the Jewish elementary school since the school had already shut down when she reached the age to begin her education.

As expected, up to the Second World War Charlotte was a child who had everything she wished for. She recalls how she would often ride in her carriage when going out into town or to the synagogue, i.e. the Temple as the Ashkenazi called their house of prayer.

The German occupation cut short this easygoing lifestyle. Charlotte remembers how her father Lazar had once remarked that he had paid a large sum of money to a domestic German, Moser (he was a well known wine producer and merchant) to protect them. He believed that they would not be persecuted.

However on that fateful day, July 27, 1942 when the Zemun Jews were rounded up and deported to the concentration camps Lazar and Charlotte found themselves in the procession of people heading for the railway station. Their house-maid Mica carried Lazar’s baggage since he could hardly walk on his one leg. Their progress was slow and they were the last to reach the cattle wagons into which they were hoarded under the supervision of the domestic Germans clad in black uniforms. Her father was among the last to be pushed into the wagon and when Charlotte threw her suitcase in and went for the wagon door a German policeman grabbed her roughly and pushed her to the ground. Lazar saw what was happening and told her to go. She had only time enough to place a photo of herself into his hand. Then for the fist time in her life she heard her father yell at her: Go! Till then she had never seen tears in his eyes.

In a state of deep shock she returned to their house together with the maid. She has no memory of what followed in the next thirty days. Since her mother was Hungarian she was admitted to the gymnasium.

On more than one occasion the police took pupils from her class to the station for interrogation. She was also interrogated a number of times. During the questioning she was beaten for the simple reason that she could not give answers to that which she had no knowledge of. She assumed the interrogations had to be related to the activity of the national-liberation movement. The only thing she was aware of was that a number of youths from her class had been killed.

Since their home was near the cemetery Charlotte knows that corpses from the Sajmiste concentration camp were brought to the Jewish graveyard. Among the corpses were also half dead inmates. On the way to the cemetery many of the slaughtered people fell out of the cart driven by a man generally known as Rodja. He would leave the corpses inside the chapel of the Jewish graveyard from where they were later taken and thrown into a common grave. The story went that the neighbouring citizens came to the chapel and out of the heap of dead people took home those who still showed signs of life. They would nurture them in their homes till they felt better and strong enough to run off to a safer place. Because her mother was Hungarian she managed to stay out of the camps and live to see the end of the occupation.

In 1947 Charlotte married Predrag Djeric. They had two sons: Zoran who died in a traffic accident and Dragan who also died. Dragan had two sons: Dejan and Nemanja. Both of them are active participants in the work of the Belgrade Jewish Community.

After the war Charlotte worked as an officer of the Zemun Municipality and for a time was the secretary to the president in office then, Branko Pesic (Pesic is remembered as the Mayor of Belgrade who initiated and built many monumental edifices during his mandate). She later found employment in the defense sector, then in the “Galenika” factory, in “Planum” and Union inzenjering. In 1980 she retired from this company and became a pensioner.

She lives with her husband in Zemun.

The Scheer family settled in Srem in the first half of the XIX century.

From tales passed down the family, generations of descendants know that Alfred Scheer was their predecessor. He lived in the village of Budjanovci. There is no record of the origins of his wife or the date of their marriage. The only known fact is that they had four sons, Philip, Ferenz, Salamon, and Djula.

Philip Scheer was born in1856. He was a tradesman and lived in Novi Sad and Zagreb. The onset of the occupation found him living in Novi Sad. He managed to avoid elimination in January 1942 by mere chance, but was later transported together with his entire family to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Of his five children (Bela, Elsa, Nina, Adel, Gesa) only Nina and Adel managed to survive their incarceration. Once free from the camp they spent some time with their uncle Willim in Zemun, from where they departed for Paris.

Philip’s granddaughter Gertrude, daughter to Gesa managed to survive. She was interred in Hungarian camps from which she managed to escape. She later joined the partisans.

Ferenz Scheer was born in1875. He was a tradesman in Novi Sad. He was killed during a raid in 1942. His only son Oscar was an officer of the Yugoslav Royal Army in reserve and managed to live through the war as a POW. In 1946 he immigrated to Isreal where he died during the seventies of the last century.

Djula Scheer was born in 1877. Certain data indicate that he was killed together with his wife and their two children in the raid in Novi Sad on January 21, 1942.

Samuel-Solomon Scheer was born in 1862. He was a tradesman in Zemun. He married Regina Gerber from Zemun. They had eight children: Willim, Marco, Adolf, Philip, Alexander, Margit, Katica, Olga and a foster child Lucia.

Salamon and Regina were rounded up in the morning of July 27, 1942 with other Zemun Jews. Because of their advanced age they were separated from the group and sent to the concentration camp Sajmiste. Regina died on the way to the camp and Salamon was killed at Staro Sajmiste. There is no knowledge of the places of their burial.

Except for Willim, all their children met with a tragic death.

Marco Scheer, born 1895 in Kupinovo, was a clerk, employed by his brother Willim. He was a bachelor. He was killed in January 1944 in the Jasenovac concentration camp.

Lucia Scheer was born in 1897 in Bonn, Germany. She was adopted by Salamon and Regina, who cared for her as if she were one of their own. Lucia was the daughter of Bernard Mayer and Amalia nee Kaufmann. She never married. She was killed in November 1942 in Jajinci.

Philip Scheer was born in 1901 in Kupovino. He was a tradesman. He had a gentlemen’s haberdashery shop in Gospodska ulica (later King Alexander street). He was married to Malvina who came from a country village. She was killed in 1942 in Jajinci and Philip perished in Jasenovac in January 1944.

Margit Scheer was born in 1903 in Kupinovo. She married Samuel-Salamon Mayer from Zemun. He was a clerk and she a housewife. They had two children: Mirko and Dragan. Samuel and his son Dragan were killed in Jasenovac while Margit was killed immediately upon her arrival at the Staro Sajmiste camp in August 1942.

Mirko left for the Italian Occupation Zone. Once there he joined the partisans and at the end of the war left the military as a captain. He died in 1946.

Adolph Scheer was born in 1905 in Kupinovo. He worked as a clerk in Zemun. He never married. He had an affinity for sports and for some time was the goalie for the football team “Yugoslavia”. He was killed in Jasenovac in November 1942.

Olga Scheer was born in 1908 in Kupinovo and was a housewife married to Tibor Moises from Novi Sad. They had a daughter Judite. The whole family was killed in the January 1942 raid in Novi Sad.

Katica Scheer was born in 1912. She married Mika Danti, a civil engineer. They did not have any children. Katica was killed in Jajinci in 1942. Mika and his two brothers perished in Jasenovac.

Alexander Scheer was born in 1919 in Kupinovo. His nickname was Sandor. He worked as a clerk in Zemun. Alexander was also a professional athlete. He was killed in Jasenovac in November 1942.

Willim Scheer was born in 1893 in Kupinovo. He studied in Zemun and Novi Sad. Like all the other children of Salamon and Regina he too spoke German, Hungarian and Serbo-Croatian. He was brought up in the tradition of the Jewish people, so that he also spoke Yiddish.

As the eldest son Willim inherited the trading shop in Bezanijska ulica in Zemun. He sold cloth by the meter. The supplies came from Greece, Pest, Vienna, London and Italy too. He was known as a trader who sold his goods on credit. He aspired to have goods of the highest quality, and was loath to see a customer walk out from his shop without buying anything.

He married Jelisaveta Kovar a stylist from Novi Sad. Jelisaveta converted to the Jewish faith and the marriage was conducted in the Jewish tradition. They had four children: Vladimir, Alfonse, Philip, and Zdenka. Zdenka died as a baby.

The family was prosperous and could afford a comfortable city life for the children.

During the thirties of the XX century Willim built a family house on the Kavalrija in Zemun. Also around that time he bought a car, an “Opel”. In those days there were only a few cars in Zemun and their presence in the streets was always acknowledged with keen interest by passers by.

The comfort of their family life was shattered by the occupation in 1941. Willim was stripped of his shop, car and house on Kalvarija. One of the German head quarters was set up in the house. Jelisaveta managed to keep the family together in the cellar premises.

She found her birth certificate witnessing that she was a born Catholic, which to some extent protected her and her children. However, Willim had to hide in neighbouring attics and cellars.

In the dawn of July 27, 1942 when the Ustashi rounded up the Zemun Jews they did not enter Willim’s house since the German headquarters was stationed there. And thus the family was spared.

From the very first day, once the war was over, Willim set out to renew the activity of the Zemun Jewish Community. Willim Scheer and Alexander Franck were the ones who contributed mostly to drawing up lists of Jews deported and killed for the entire Jewish Community including  the villages in Srem that were also under the jurisdiction of this Community. For a certain period Willim also presided over the Community.

Willim’s hobby was beekeeping. In 1934 he had already won a silver medal at the Pan-Slavic Fair for quality honey. After the war he again returned to his hobby in 1945. However apiculture was now the only source of revenue for him and his family.

His son Philip born in 1931 in Zemun was educated in Belgrade and the USA. He is a Doctor of technical sciences. Once he completed his studies he worked in Kosovo, in the Institute of Mining in Belgrade and in the “Energoprojekt” company. During the sixties of the XX century he went to earn his living abroad. He worked in Zambia, Nigeria and a few other African countries. From there he crossed the Mediterranean to Spain, where he finally settled down. Philip has two sons: Willim is a graduated mining engineer, married with three children (Sasha, Lea and Adam). He lives in the Republic of South Africa; David is pursuing his studies in Spain and Italy.

Willim’s second son Alfonse was educated in Zemun and Beograd. He became a shipbuilding technician and was sent to the Netherlands for further specialization. He worked in the shipbuilding yard of Belgrade. He lives with his wife and family in the house in Kalvarija in Zemun. His daughter Milica (1952) is a mechanical engineer; son Marco (1957) is a veterinary surgeon. Marco is an active member in the Jewish Community of Zemun as well as in the Federation of Jewish Communities.

Willim’s third son Vladimir was born in 1936 in Zemun. He studied in his native town and in Belgrade. He is an engineer of metallurgy. As a successful man of his profession he worked in IMT, FOB, MINEL and PKB. He lives in the family house in Kalvarija. His only son Philip (1965) lives and works in Belgrade. Philip is a doctor.

Vladimir was the President of the Zemun Jewish Community for a long term.

Margareta-Greta Koristka was born in Zemun in 1918.

Her great-grandfather Isak Schreiber moved to Zemun in the second half of the XIX century. Her grandfather Adolf Schreiber was born in Zemun and married the daughter of Jacob Benvenisti, Josephine from Vienna.

Adolf was a trader in grain. His daughter  Francisca – Fani Schreiber was born in 1882.

Francisca made regular visits to Benko Streim’s pharmacy. This is where she met Franz, a student of pharmacy, one of the Koristka family. They decided to get married. When they approached the Catholic Church with their wish to get married there they were turned down. They declared themselves as evangelists and entered into a civilian marriage in Pancevo. Right before the end of the First World War Franz was reassigned to the Austo-Hungarian army. Sometime later Francisca received information of his status; missing, presumed killed in battle. From that time on there was no further record of him.

They had three daughters:

Valerie was born in Zemun in 1912. She married Miodrag Popovic – Mile. Their son Vladica Popovic was a well known football player and later on became a coach. Their daughter Vukica married the film director Bata Stojanovic who died in a car crash. Their son is Radomir Stojanovic.

Feodora was married in Zemun in 1915. She married the engineer Raca Kamenko. They had two sons: Branko who lives in Belgrade and Nenad who lives in Paris. Fedora died in 1998.

Margareta – Greta was born in Zemun in 1918. She went to the Jewish elementary school and remembers both her treachers, Isidor Grünfeld and Edita Zentner. She can still recall how strict mistress Zentner could be and how she frequently undertook disciplinary measures (taking the ruler to the palm of the hand). Greta was once dealt a spanking although she had done nothing wrong. From this period of her life she recalls a Polish girl named Marekova. She would follow Greta on her way back from school and shout after her “Cifutka” (a derogatory word for Jews). No mention of this incident would have been made had not Marekova resurfaced later on in the role of an informer.

After leaving elementary school Greta graduated from the State Trade Academy in Zemun. Before the Second World War Greta was employed as an accountant in the branch office of Svilara, (silk factory), in Osijek. Svilara stopped working at the onset of the occupation. The entire staff received  severence payment equal to six months salary. Greta was struck out from the list and received nothing. She was left with no means of living. Apart from this an evidence card had been opened at the police station both for her and her mother and they had to make regular check-ins with the police.

She can still recall the occasion when in the company of her friend Mariana Leon (married Eberle) she sat in the patisserie “Glumac”. At the table right next to them sat Retl, the chief of Zemun police and Marekova, the Polish lady already mentioned. It was evident that Retl was inquiring about the persons sitting next to them. She leaned closer to him and whisper into his ear. There is no doubt that she was informing on Greta since she frequently looked in her way. Minutes later Greta and Mariana left the patisserie and made an end to the unpleasant incident.

A few days later her neighbour came to visit her and brought a form for her to fill in. She persuaded her to enter into the relevant box that she was a full blooded Arian. She immediately obtained a job at the aircraft factory “Ikarus”. Half of the factory belonged to the Germans and the other half to the Croats. Her direct head of department was Spitz and ranking above Spitz was a man named Gludovac. After working at “Ikarus” for nine months Greta was told to bring document about her father. This went fairly well since her father came from the Czeck state, i.e. he was not a Jew. Very soon she was asked to bring her mother’s documents too. The lady in charge of the procedure who was mistress to a family friend told her that she didn’t have to bring anything. Thus Greta continued to work at “Ikarus” up to the moment when she was picked up in a raid and brought to the Ortskommandatur. She was asked where she worked and when she replied at “Ikarus” the Germans immediately called the factory. On receiving information that she was telling the truth, they let her go. However, the incident triggered in “Ikarus” an inspection into her origin and it soon became evident that she was of Jewish descent. The following day she was called to the office of chief Gludovac and fired on the spot.

That same evening Spitz came to Greta’s apartment and told her that on no account should she stay there any longer and that she should find somewhere to hide permanently. It was then that Spitz told her that he had once worked at some Jew’s establishment in Banat. The Jew was a generous employer not only to him but to all his workers. He would bail them out if they came to harm or had any difficulties. What stuck to his memory most was that the master would always invite them at the time of Jewish holidays to sit down and partake of the family meal. Spitz also told her that he had been fully aware of her origins but had pretended not to know.  Thus she was indebted to the generosity of his old employer that he had come to give her warning that night.

That same evening Greta went to the Nedic family who owned a soda water production plant. She was well received there but stayed for a few days only. Her sister Feodora came and told her to ask for a pass for Belgrade so that she could go to her sister Valerija. She managed to obtain a pass for Belgrade but without the right to return to Zemun. She later learned that the clerk who had issued the pass was a member of the National liberation movement. He did not want to jeopardize his position and safety if she was to return to Zemun.

She stayed with her sister for some time and then went to live with Milena who was married to Rudi Stein. It was a rough period since they had nothing to live on. Then Milena managed to find a man willing to pay for the meals she prepared. Milena and Greta lived in this way right up to the end of the war. As a soldier of the Royal Yugoslav Army Rudi was held in a German POW camp and managed to survive the war. He returned to Belgrade in 1945 and in 1948 Rudi and Milena left for Israel. Rudi fell ill to cancer had an operation in the USA but died soon after. Milena lived in Israel up to her death.

Greta remained in the Stein apartment in Belgrade. She soon had to share it with cohabitants who had been allocated to the flat. Some time later she got a flat of her own where she has been living to this day.

In 1946 Greta married Dobrica – Vido Milosavljevic. The marriage lasted for six months only. They mutually consented to a divorce. After the failure of her marriage Greta decided to relocate to Israel. In order to do so she entered into a formal marriage with Isak Levi from Sarajevo. He was a coworker in the Power Supply Company. Just before her departure for Israel she had a change of heart and divorced her second husband too.

Greta was a long standing activist of the Red Cross. Up to the time she retired she had worked in Statistika, Elektroprivreda, the Arbitrage Court and in the Second municipal court. For over twenty years she was jury judge in the Court of Justice.

She lives in Belgrade today.

Isidor Schweizer, settled in the Zemun Jewish Community in the early twenties of the last century (XX). He was born in 1891 in the village of Matra Sele, county of Lerinz in Hungary. He had a number of brothers and sisters.

Isidor had mastered the craft of wood-carving. He was an expert in his trade. Since his works were literally works of art, the carpenters of Zemun having absolute faith in his skills readily employed him. His exceptional skills saved his life, as the high ranking Fascists kept him in Zemun in their private employ. Producing extraordinary carved wood pieces for them he managed to stay alive throughout the occupation.

In his early years as a wood carver in Kula he met Maria nee Rebstock (born in Kula 1892) and married her. Their only child was Margita, a daughter, born in Kula in 1919.

Margita grew up in Zemun. In 1938 she married a naval officer, Zvonimir Horvat. They had two children. Nikola, the younger child was born in 1941 and Alexandra in 1940 in Zemun.

Alexandra Horvat married Ivan Klein. Ivan’s grandfather, Samuel Klein was by birth from Ungvar in Hungary. There he held lessons in Hebrew in the Jewish school. Round 1890 he moved to Vukovar and opened a store for cotton made products. He married Sophia, nee Grin, who was a native from Slavonia. They had two sons and three daughters. The elder son Richard was killed in the First World War.

The younger son Hugo Klein, was born in Vukovar in 1894. He studied and graduated medicine in Vienna. In 1919 he settled in Belgrade, and was one of the first psychoanalysts in Serbia. He wrote professional and popular publications on the subject of psychoanalysis and was acknowledged as a top expert in this field of science.

During the period of the Second World War he hid in Belgrade under an alias and managed to survive the occupation. His father and three sisters were killed in Jasenovac, i.e. Stara Gradiska.

After the war Hugo Klein devoted himself to the theater scene. He had always shown true interest and admiration for it.

In 1936 Hugo married Stana Djuric, a pianist and musicologist. Their only son Ivan was born in 1937. He is a full time professor at the Faculty of Philology and is a member of SANU (Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts). He has a son with Alexandra Horvat, called Oliver born in 1976.

The Semnitz family settled in Zemun at the end of the nineteenth century.

Herman and Hermina Semnitz came from Almas. They had six sons. Their sons Zigmund – “Ziga” and Ignjac – “Naci” were well known soap manufacturers in Zemun. Albert also lived in Zemun, while two of the brothers went to Zagreb and one to Subotica.

Albert, one of the sons was born in 1877 in Almas. He finished school in Zemun and for a time worked as a bank clerk;  he later became an agent for a big printing house.

Albert married a girl from Zemun, Irma Bilic, daughter to Bernard and Elsa.

They had six children: Greta, Judith, Lea, Richard, Gideon and Danilo.

Greta was born in 1909 in Zemun. She was an active member of the sport’s society “Hakoah” (hazena). When in 1928 the entire family moved to Belgrade, she entered the sport’s club “Jugoslavija” and as an exceptional player of hazena became a member of the national team. She managed to survive the occupation owing to the fact that she lived in a mixed marriage. She changed her name to Mira; her husband’s family name was Popovic. It goes without saying that she lived in constant fear of the quisling authorities. If caught she would have been deported to a concentration camp. From that time she remembers the following event:

Some time near the end of 1941 she went out to buy a few things. She was dressed in a suit and over it she put on a mackintosh. In the street she met Anton Jung, a friend of the family and colleague from work. This “great” friend asked her immediately, “Do you know that you must register?” and even went on to tell her of the building where the mandatory registration of Jews was carried out. Hearing him out Greta replied: “I know, I already have a yellow band!”

Fortunately, there were those who were true humanitarians. Thus, Lea who worked as a secretary in the company “Pokorny” (liqueurs) married Milan Stepanovic in the fall of 1941. The marriage was conducted by a priest in the Vaznesenjska church, although such acts were prohibited and punished by the authorities. Milan took Lea to Donje Crnuce, his native village where she managed to live through the war.

The family of Radovan Djokovic took in Danilo Semnitz and he managed to survive the war under an alias, Danilo Semnitz. He hever forgot his benefactors and in 1985 he brought Radovan to Jerusalem where he was awarded an honorary medal for worthy conduct at a ceremony held in “Yad Vashem”. Danilo immigrated to Israel as early as 1948 with his brother Richard. Richard survived the war in a German POW camp. He died in 1976. Danilo is a pensioner and lives in Jerusalem.

Gideon Semnitz mastered the joinery craft in Zagreb. At the onset of the war he fled from Zagreb. On his way to the Italian occupational zone he changed his mind as he had no knowledge of the fate of his family in Belgrade. He planned to return to Zagreb and head on for Belgrade. He was caught and killed near Nova Gradiska.

Judith was an active Zionist and with enthusiasm prepared herself for the move to the Palestine. Some time round the end of 1940 and at the onset of 1941 she left for the Palestine by way of Turkey and reached the “Sar Hamakim” kibbutz.

While living in Zemun, Albert Semnitz was highly regarded not only by Jews, but by other  citizens as well. He was a genial man and well appreciated in society. He is remembered for his song “A brief stroll through Zemun”, which is cited in the chapter “The Period between the Two World Wars” of this chronicle.

It was more or less a typical Zemun Jewish family in which traditional customs of Judaism were observed. This meant that they celebrated the traditional holidays by going to the synagogue, the children attended Jewish school; at the same time they were not over zealous in their faith. Proof of this is an event recalled by Greta:

Her mother, Irma Semnitz rarely went to the synagogue. Once an acquaintance asked her why she made only occasional visits to the temple, Irma replied:

“My dear, to any honest family its home is its temple. A family can pray inside the sanctuary of its home the same way it would in the Synagogue.”

In 1941 Albert Semnitz was among the first to be hauled into a truck which the Nedic authorities used for rounding up Belgrade Jews destined for concentration camps. Albert was able to jump off the truck and managed to stay free for a short time. However, he was soon caught again and killed.

It would be no exaggeration to say that Zemun was a town where one of the cornerstones of the Zionist movement was laid. One of the leading forerunners of the Zionist movement, rabbi Yehuda Ben Shlomo Hai Alkalai lived and worked in this town for half a century (1825-1874).

Yehuda’s father, Shlomo Hai Ben Moshe Alkalai had moved from Thessalonica to Sarajevo where Yehuda was born in 1793. In Zemun he served as rabbi both for the Sephardim and the Ashkenazi as the Jewish Community was united at the time.

His influence reached beyond the borders of Austria-Hungary since his work was never limited only to religious service. He collaborated with the forerunners of Zionism Kaliser and Natanek.

The works he wrote ceaselessly through his life are a testimony to his insight and positive realism. He was fully aware of the intricate spirit of his people and spoke frankly both of the good and flawed side of the Jewish character.

Yehuda Hai Alkalai published 53 books and notes. He wrote his first two books in Ladin and the others in Hebrew. Some of his first editions were printed at the Prince’s printing house in Belgrade; the rest were printed in Budapest, Vienna, Leipzig, London, Amsterdam, and some even in Bombay. He collaborated with all major contemporary Jewish magazines. He was well known far beyond the countries we lived in, as a visionary of the new tendencies of Judaism. He was the actual originator of the Zionist idea that Jews must organize a movement to reinstate their homeland in Erec Israel. He wrote of the political resurrection of Judaism, which would bring a renewal of the faith, economy, morale and language. He petitioned that Hebrew ought to be the language of Jews. His major works were translated to English and have been revised and reprinted a number of times.

In 1864 Alkalai wrote among other things:

“Our holy country shall be a land of freedom; all citizens shall be free regardless of their religious beliefs or nationality.”

He was well aware that peace could not be attained easily. He pointed out that many nations had striven to change the world and bring everlasting piece to it, and that their efforts had gone unrewarded. However, he believed that it was destined that Zion would once again herald this idea.

He predicted that in the new state political parties propagating diverse secular tendencies would coexist and that it was impossible to assume that all Jews would harbour identical opinions. He opted for the unison of the people but never had implausible illusions. He wrote: “It is easier to appease two states than to reconcile two Jews!” This was the reason why he made it a point to primarily achieve peace and brotherhood among Jews, and to make them refrain from declaring themselves as Ashkenazi, Sephardim, Poles, Westerners or Hungarians.

He was also the founder of the A.I.U. organization in Paris (Alliance Israelite Universelle) which was actually short lived, although he never gave up on his idea that Jews should return to their old fatherland. He undertook a series of propaganda tours round Europe and declared himself against the departure of Jews to America, always giving preference to a move to the Palestine. After many years of working as an advocate of his concept which gave little result, he decided that he would set an example and prove the value of his ideas; he moved to Jerusalem. However, he continued with his campaigner travels and on one such occasion paid a visit to Zemun.

Aladar Polak, pen name Radala, was born in Zemun in 1890. His parents were Philip Polak and Fani Herzl. Her father was brother to Theodore Herzl’s father. Aladar graduated from the Zemun gymnasium, and completed his law studies in Zagreb. Early on while still in gymnasium he began to write in his 16th year under the pen name Radala. Under the same pseudonym he wrote articles for the Vienna press. He wrote stories and poetry, translated the works of Max Nordaun, a well known philosopher of socialism and a Zionist.

As an admirer of Zionism he believed that Jews should have an active and challenging standpoint. He opposed the fatalistic view that no matter what, fate would take its course. He felt deeply for the tragedies Jews were experiencing at the time. Embittered evidently by the consequences of the holocaust in Russia he wrote a poem from which we here quote the last two stanzas.

Thus, my people behold the encompassing danger

That threatens you day in, day out

YOU ALONE can save yourself

Once you find your strength again

Wait not for the “white mule” (Messiah)

Stand up on your feet, do not be frail

Theodore has once already shown you the way

That leads you from darkness to daylight

Wake up my people and brace yourself

Remember the boldness of your predecessors

Do not bend yourselves,

Never again crawl before a foe

Who dare strikes to topple you with a blow

Wake up my people. To swards.

Never again succumb to injustice without a fight.

Unfortunately, the studious activity of this great intellectual was cut short by his early death. He died at the age of 25.

Edition from which documents have been used:

Danilo Fogel: Jewish community in Zemun 1739 – 1945, Zemun, 2007.