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[Page 339]

Chapter 13


Survivors Snatched from the Flames


Memorial plaque at the unveiling of the Katowice memorial
- a photo-montage of the Great Synagogue
in the period of its glory and when it was incinerated

[Page 340]

An assembly of Katowice survivors in 1946
In the first row - Solomon Sztepler


Katowice survivors in 1946

Sitting from right to left: Solomon and Sela Sztepler with Renee - the baby, Hela Mond and Hela Zigel
Standing from right to left: Srulek and Roza Goldfinger with Alex the baby, Hela and Moritz Sztepler, Marial and Fink Fast

[Page 341]

The Organization of Jews of Upper-Silesia in Israel

Erich Szeingut

Edited by Toby Bird

It's late summer evening in Tel Aviv. Mr. H. Majtlis ansd his wife, as well as the writer of these lines, are seated at the Kapulsky coffee shop - reminiscing, mentioning random families from Katowice, when suddenly Mr. Majtlis says, that native Katowicers should meet once a month. The idea of establishing an organization for Katowice-originated Jews in Israel was on. After several more meetings, it was agreed to have a founding assembly at the Zionists of America house in Tel Aviv. An ad was put up in the papers to announce to the public the details.

At the night of the assembly, the hall was crowded with people. The evening started with greetings to the participants, many of whom were friends and acquaintances to me. The initiation was described briefly, and I expressed my hope for this idea to become reality, and for the founding of the organization. The first board members were chosen, after a lively debate, and the chairman selected was Mr. Kurt Breslauer.

In one of the first board meetings, it was decided that the members will get together in Kapulsky coffee shop, on Dizengoff Street, on every first Monday of each month. The attendance wasn't always high, and it was decided to open the organization to Jews from other cities in the district as well, since many of them showed up at the founding night.

The members of the original board were K. Breslauer, Dr. Oscar Better, Jakob Millner, H. Majtlis, Salo Karliner, L. Rothberg, Erich and Alfed Szeingut, and the ladies Allie Schindler, Karola Urich and Chana Bass, and they were joined by new members from other parts of Silesia. The committee was functioning well, but needed to be re-organized after the death of Mr. Breslauer. The next general assembly, directed by J. Karliner, held elections, in which the following members were elected: Ms. Henig and Ms. Treister of Tel Aviv, as well as Leo, L. Rotenberg, Heinz Korenfeld, Leo Urbanczyk, Alfred Neulander, Hans Frojnd, and Tzvi Getz. The latter was also elected new president of the organization, and his deputies were Mr. Majtlis and Mr. Millner. This arrangement worked very well, and the members showed great devotion and enthusiasm to their work and to the organization's activities.

Memorial plaque on Mt. Zion, Jerusalem


[Page 342]

After the Organization was opened to all Silesian Jews, it grew too big for the meetings to take place in Kapulsky, and the meeting place was re-set to the Nitza Coffee Shop, on Allenby street. The meetings grew ever more crowded; many new members joined the organization and spread the word.

During the mid 1960's, a usual number of 30-60 members would attend the Monday meetings. Tourists from other countries who were visiting friends and family would often drop by and meet old friends. Another branch was established in Haifa around that time, and ran various activities. Attempts to open a third branch, in Jerusalem, weren't that successful.

At the height of its activity, starting in 1955, the organization published a bulletin in German. The editorial staff, as it is listed on the December 1965 issue, was Erich Szeingut, Tzvi Getz, H. Korenfeld, Leo Rotenberg and A. Neulander. The bulletin, that was edited in good taste, reported the organization's activities, and published stories and articles about Katowice's community life prior to the war.

Time went by. Many of the members passed away, and their number grew small. The idea of assembling a Memorial book for the communities of Katowice and the area was often mentioned, but was never fulfilled. It wasn't until 1985 that material and funds for this publication had started to be collected.

“Honored Member” certificate of the Upper Silesia Organization
in Israel that was presented to Mr. Jakob Millner


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