The Unlikely Hero of Sobrance

A New Book
by William Leibner and Larry Price

Edited by Ingrid Rockberger

Published by the JewishGen Press
part of Yizkor Books Project of JewishGen, Inc.

Hard Cover, 11” by 8.5”, 210 pages with illustrations

Available from JewishGen for $32.00

Click here to see the index containing the family names in this book. If you already have purchased the book, please print out and insert into the back of the book.



This is the amazing little-know story of Zdenek Toman a Czech civil servant, who facilitated a quarter of a million Jewish survivors of the camps to make their way to safety in Czechoslovakia, Germany and Austria after the war. The story was researched by two such survivors and culminated in this fascinating book.

Following World War Two, the surviving Jews of Eastern Europe, especially Poland, felt insecure and threatened. The Shoah survivors that returned from the labor and concentration camps and those that returned from Russia began to disappear without a trace. No papers, no visas, no passports and yet thousands moved mainly to Czechoslovakia and onwards to Germany and Austria. I was amongst those Polish Jews who left Poland without leaving a trace.

I was always wondering who organized, financed, and transported us from Poland to Central Europe. There was no Jewish government or Agency that officially assumed this task.

Another question: why did Czechoslovakia consent to this massive transfer of people? True, the Czech government was friendly and well-disposed to Jews but it required a large outlay of money and a strong will to resist British demands to close all Czech borders to Jews. Czechoslovakia stood its ground.

We wanted to know who specifically stood behind these decisions and enabled about 250,000 Jews to reach the German and Austrian D.P. camps in the American-occupied zones. Zdenek Toman was one of the important executors of this plan from his position in the Czech Ministry of Interior. He saved thousands of Jews from further anti-Semitic hardships and pogroms.

Little is known about this corner of history; therefore, we decided to devote a book to him and memorialize his endeavors for which he paid a heavy price.

William Leibner and Larry Price, Jerusalem, Israel


Sobrance, Slovakia: 48°45' N, 22°11' E

Alternate names for the town are: Sobrance [Slovakian], Szobráncz [Hungarian], Szobránc [Hungarian], Sobranz [German]



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