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[Page 121]

IN MEMORY OF OUR BROTHERS FROM PÁPA,
BURIED IN THE SACRED SOIL OF ISRAEL

Lipót Buxbaum, school principal Dezső Hoffmann
Reb Yosef, Léb Hoffmann, dayan Moshe Berger
Dr. Ernő Dison (Deutch), chief rabbi Zoltán Goldstein (Joshua Even) and his spouse:
Béla Buxbaum, lawyer Mrs. Goldstein, née Aranka Eckstein
Dr. Izidor Lőwinger, M.D. Mór Salamon, carpenter
Jenő Paneth, teacher Dr. Joel Pfeiffer, head physician at Poria hospital
Jenő Eisen, founder of the Eisen salami factory (their products were famous all over the country) László Rózsahegyi (Rosenberg), merchant
Adolf Eisen, chazan Béla Singer
Zeev Schück, writer and poet  

While our memorial book was being printed, the sad news of the deaths of two more brothers from Pápa reached us:

MIHÁLY SZÉKELY

He was a respected wholesaler in Budapest and participated in Hungarian political life; he played an important role in the Socialist Party. He joined his children in kibbutz Nitzanim when he made aliya and worked there as a respected kibbutz member until his death at the age of 85.

JENŐ GRÜNWALD

was one of the founders and leaders of Hashomer Hatzair in Pápa. In Israel he earned himself a name as an architect. On account of his goodness and honesty, he was loved by all.

Blessed be their memory.

 

[Page 122]

THE LIGHT WENT OUT…

After the Shoah, a few former forced labor servicemen and some survivors from Auschwitz and other death camps returned to Pápa. They were looking for their families, waiting for their beloved. Only one child of school age returned. Religious life was restarted with difficulty. Posen - the former Sopron rabbi and the grandson of Uncle Marton – tried to raise the spirits of the despairing, abandoned believers, whose number was slowly decreasing. Most people could not bear staying where their parents or other relatives had been so cruelly destroyed. The houses, each and every stone, reminded them of the dead. They could not bear for long this depressing mental state. The harrowing shadow of the past sent them in search of a new Homeland. Some of them moved to the capital, but the majority set out for the Holy Land of Israel, to find comfort for their painful memories in the land where the hopes of 2000 years were realized. Others left for America or Australia in order to forget the past in their work or business. In Brooklyn, there is a holy congregation, led by the Popener Rov, made up of former members of Adas Yisroel in Pápa and their descendents. Migrating Pápa Jews reached Paris, Stockholm, Canada, Mexico, Chile; even in Kenya you can find Jews with memories of Pápa.

The number of believers in Pápa decreased. Even Rabbi Posen left his congregation. He was suceeded by Rav Michael Lőwinger from Jánosháza, then by an Israeli rabbi, after whose return to Israel there was no longer a need for a spiritual leader. The community was abandoned. Please do not ask me questions; it is painful for me to write down the facts. The big temple was turned into a storehouse for the textile factory; our school became an apartment for workers. In the 1970s, 20 Jewish families lived in Pápa, about 50 people, they did not have a minyan, not even for Shabbat. Jewish education also became history. On holidays, three men and the precentor had to come from Budapest in order to have services.

The holy congregation of Pápa, which had been a light guiding us on our way, ceased to exist, the light of the Torah went out in Pápa.

Even though Jewish life came to an end in our home town, the light of the Torah and the torch of secular sciences still show the way to Jewry and to the benefit of mankind, thanks to the descendants of Pápa Jews.

 

[Page 123]

OUR WAR HEROES IN ISRAEL

JACOB HALEVY

The grandson of Pápa chazan Lázár Lőwy was born in 1928 in Pozsony/Pressburg. At the age of 14 he served in the Hagana together with his father. He worked for them as a messenger, fulfilling faithfully his task which sometimes meant risking his life.
Jacob Halevi

In 1945 he left the parental home to join the Palmach. His base was in Ginosar, on the shores of the Kinneret. He worked half days, and spent the rest of the time studying. He participated in 6 special courses as a platoon commander. He served in the Yiftach regiment under the command of Yigal Alon, and led many patrols on reconnaissance missions on the northern border. He also participated in the liberation of Tzfat.

In the War of Independence he was wounded; for years he carried the bullet splinters in his body, he did not want to set aside time for an operation. Putting it off had sad consequences: he got lead poisoning because of the splinters, which caused his untimely death. In an appendix to the memorial book edited by Yonatan Lurk, you can see the young hero standing next to a burnt-out tank of the Arab Legion, destroyed by him from 40 meters.

In 1947 his father complained to him that he had not received mail from him for 6 months, since his joining the underground movement. “Sorry, Dad”, he wrote, “everything I do, the work of my life is for the Land, and it is the product of the spirit you instilled in me!”

He sacrificed his young life for the people of Israel, in the holy land of the forefathers. Blessed be his memory!

BENJAMIN KLEIN

May 28, 1921 – June 11, 1948

The son of Fülöp Klein, of Pápa Jews lived in Israel. His father was born in Pápa, worked there in the butcher's trade in his youth, and had vivid memories about the life of Pápa Jews at the end of the 19th century. Later he moved to Vienna where his son Frigyes was born. The young student soon became disillusioned with his studies in philosophy and joined the Zionist movement together with his friends. With all his heart, he chose the road of practical Zionism.

In 1940 he left for the land of Israel. He arrived on the boat Patria, and jumped from it into the sea, this is how he was saved.

He was interned by the British in Atlit. After his liberation, he joined the kibbutz Kfar Gileadi at the foot of Mount Hermon, near the Lebanese border. He was a most enthusiastic member of the movement. This is what he wrote about the first years in his biography:
Benjamin Klein











“I wanted to find my happiness in the knowledge that I worked and built in the interest of the kibbutz. This thought gave me strength to get over the difficulties in putting down roots. I worked, exhausted myself, and was satisfied after the hard work because I believed firmly in the victory of Truth over the forces of Evil.”

He was in love with nature, visited Arab villages to learn the language and to see the conditions of life there. Learning was his purpose in life. He had a thirst for knowledge and took along books on all his trips.

His last job was working on the dairy farm of the kibbutz. He left this work only when he was called by his beloved Homeland and he obeyed the call. This is what he said before setting out for his last mission: “We have got but one path ahead, the path of victory. Huge forces are against us, but we can beat them.” On June 11, 1948 he was killed by an enemy bullet.

He was a kind and brave man with extraordinary spiritual riches, commemorated by the memorial book published by the kibbutz.

His memory was cherished by his parents for whom he was their only hope.
Arye Stein

He died for us, sacrificing his young life for Eretz Yisrael.

Blessed be his memory!

ARYE STEIN

The son of our chazan David Stein. He sacrificed his young life for Eretz Yisrael at the age of 29, on September 23, 1948 in the War of Independence. He left a wife and a three-month old baby boy.

AVRAHAM BERGER, the son of lumber dealer Berger,

JENŐ KATZ

ZOLTÁN KATZ

were all killed in the War of Independence.

YAKOV SHIMON STEIN

lost his life during the liberation of Jerusalem, on June 6, 1948.

 

[Page 125]

THOSE WHO SURVIVED…ONE OF THE FEW

Carpenter Vilmos Rosinger lived in a little one-storey house at the corner of Bástya and Major Streets, opposite the firemen's barracks. This is where he brought up his children Lajos, Elza and Zoltán and he also had his workshop there. He was a hard-working and honest artisan, who lived for his family and work. His son Lajos, born in 1893, continued his father's trade. In the First World War he was severely injured and was awarded a gold medal for bravery. He could not continue his trade and as an exempted person, he was given a licence for a tobacconist store, which he opened in Kossuth Lajos Street, next to the grocery store of Mór Kohn. In 1944 the exempted war invalid was interned. Colonel Vitéz Karsay did everything in his power for his return, but the police commander of Pápa threatened him that he was exposing himself for Rosenberg by petitioning for him and would eventually end up in the same place . . Where was the reward for the bravery of Lajos, the war invalid? His relatives did not even know where he was taken. He simply disappeared from the scene.

The 80-year old father of the war invalid was taken to Auschwitz. Only the sister of Lajos, Elza, with her young daughter Éva, were permitted to stay in Pápa; they were exempted from the ghetto.

The older daughter of Elza, Zsuzsa was already married. Her husband was a doctor in Vienna. They fled from the Nazis to Antwerp, and were awaiting the opportunity to sail to America when the cursed hand of Hitler reached them. After the German occupation of Belgium, Zsuzsi as a Hungarian [Jew] was taken to a death camp, while her husband, as a German, was interned.

Elza and her little daughter were permitted to stay in Pápa. After the Szálasi takeover they were placed under house arrest, and then were taken to the Csillag fortress in Komárom where they were confined in an underground tunnel with food only once a day. After that, the Germans sent them to Dachau, where they had some bread and facilities for washing. They were not allowed to stay there for long. After 3 days' difficult journey in a wagon filled with 60 people, they ended up in Bergen-Belsen. They were given bread only during the first days, 8-10 persons sharing one loaf. Later they had only half-cooked turnips to eat, once a day. Most of the deportees became sick and perished. An epidemic of typhus spread through the camp lacking medicine or food fit for human beings. They were all threatened by the shadow of death. Elza Rosinger and her little daughter also contracted the serious illness. They were so weak that 3 months after the liberation, they were unable to stand on their feet. The British army liberated them, saving their lives. The brother of Elza, Zoltán, who got to Kenya, came to their help; that is how they managed to get to Australia. Éva became a fashion designer in Melbourne, with a famous dressmaker's showroom of her own.

 

[Page 126]

THE LIGHT FLARES UP AGAIN

When Jerusalem was destroyed by the barbaric soldiers of the Roman legions, the holy city and the temple were ravaged, the eternal light of the Torah went out. Jewish faith was already considered dead by the pagan world when all of a sudden the light of the Torah flared up again. Jewish life resurrected in Yavne and the sacred Torah found a new home to declare the victory of the divine idea.

History repeated itself.

Our beloved community was destroyed by cruel hands. Jewish life came to an end in Pápa: there was no temple, no Jewish school, no yeshiva left. Out of divine grace, however, we had the privilege of witnessing the mystery of resurrection.

The Pápa community was resurrected in Williamsburg in New York City. A newly-built grand temple, a huge yeshiva building, and a girls' yeshiva for 600 students all prove the fact that the light of Torah, which was shining in Pápa for 250 years, flared up again declaring that the memory of the Pápa community was not only preserved, but had turned into a living reality. The inscription “Pápa” can be seen not only on the facade of the yeshiva; it is on the huge bus as well.

The Pápa Yeshiva in Brooklyn

Not only does the New World bear witness to the love of Torah by Pápa Jews but Pápa Jews in Israel and around the world have all stayed loyal to the spirit of their upbringing. The son of dayan Dirnfeld from Pápa became rosh yeshiva for the Belzer chassidim in Jerusalem, Rabbi Lőwinger who had earlier served as a rabbi in Pápa became the rabbi of Har Tzion, Rabbi Imre Kraus served as a rabbi in a Los Angeles district, the grandson of chief chazan Lőwy from Pápa worked as a chazan in a London district, and David Baum, the son of Uncle Baum, the knowledgable secretary of the Pápa Chevra Kadisha worked as a chazan in the orthodox community of Baltimore.

 

The new Pápa Synagogue in Brooklyn

The financial manager of the Ponovitz Yeshiva in Bnei Brak was the grandson of Tornyos Krausz, and one of the most devout Talmudists of the same yeshiva was the grandson of Pápa Jews. In the Litvak yeshiva of Baltimore and also in Israeli yeshivas the descendents of Pápa parents can be found devotedly submerged in Torah studies.

May the light of the Torah shine and illuminate, in order to help us reach

GEULAH SH'LEMAH

 

[Page 129]

EPILOGUE

ברוך אתה ה' הנותן ליעף כח

Blessed are You HASHEM, Who gives strength to the weary. I pronounce this blessing with a grateful heart before writing the final lines for the Memorial Book of Pápa Jewry and handing it over to our brothers.

Thanks to the grace of the Creator, I have been provided with strength and perseverance to compile this memorial book.

I did not write a story, I only invited you for a trip through the world of Memories, reviving a host of sweet and unforgettable memories of student years, youth. It is a great happiness to recall what was beautiful and good.

I wanted to show you the life of Pápa Jews. When taking a trip to the past, we intended to commemorate the historical community, our forefathers, parents, siblings and other relatives. All I wanted to do was remember, I was not writing out of nostalgia.

We should remember the beauties of the past. Distance and the time that elapsed make life appear even more beautiful than it actually was then. However, the destruction of Pápa Jews should be remembered as well, even if it is painful.

Together with the Jewish population, the community archives with historical data, the protocols were also destroyed. Without them it is difficult to draw a true picture about the past. The words of the Bible may have given us the direction:

“Ask your father, and he will tell you, your old men will tell you.”

But unfortunately we lost our fathers in the Holocaust. Where are our old men?

After much difficult research, we managed to get material concerning Jews from the archives of the Protestant church in Pápa. Our work was helped by Pápa historian Antal Szalai, who looked up the necessary data for us. I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for his generosity.

We were unable to get the letter by Count Pál Eszterházy, patron of Pápa, from 1749, permitting Jewish settlement in Pápa, authorizing Jews to form a community, to have a kosher butcher's shop, to sell kosher wine by measure and to set up the eruv. In response to my request, searches were made for this ancient letter in the National Archives of Budapest, in the Széchenyi Library, in the Pápa Municipal Museum, and in the Veszprém County Archives. I wanted to present a copy of the historical document in this book. Unfortunately, it could not be traced.

Thanks are due to

DR. IMRE GYÖRKI, the only survivor of the excellent Pápa lawyers, who compiled the list of names of our sisters and brothers in the Pápa ghetto, which helped us to assemble the list of our Martyrs in this book. From this we estimate that about 2030 of our coreligionists had become martyrs.

Thanks are also due to the members of the Preparatory Committee, who helped the publication of this book:

ELIEZER SHISHA,

BÉLA KOHN,

DR. DÉNES KARDOS,

SÁNDOR LŐWENSTEIN,

JÁKOB (AMIR) GRÜNWALD.

JÓZSEF STERN, the retired teacher of the Jewish school in Debrecen (who was awarded the gold diploma for his educational work) and his brother IMRE SZEKERES (Budapest), the retired teacher of the orthodox school in Kapuvár also contributed to the project.

My dear relatives, I want to thank you, too, for your contribution, enriching the book by sharing your cherished memories, providing much valuable material in your letters.

We are ever so grateful to our brothers living in Israel and abroad, who made the publication of our memorial book possible by sending their contributions in advance.

May this book be the Book of Tears and the Book of Recollections at the same time.

Take the Memorial Book of Pápa Jews with love and reverence.

Haifa, Marcheshvan 28, 5732 / November 5, 1972.

On the 70th anniversary of my father's death. Blessed be his memory.

Official, Government recognition to Chief chazan Lázár Löwy
for 40 years of loyal service to the Jewish community, 9 June 1931

 

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