Dear visitors of our website, I extend a warm welcome at the exhibition „Jews of Saaz“.

Otokar Löbl

I was born in Saaz in the fifties. For my relocation to Germany in 1970 I had not only family reasons but I have mostly good memories of my hometown. I consider myself as a patriot of this beautiful city.

Everyone, including me, is concerned over a certain age with its origin and its roots. The fate of my parents as well as of most of the inhabitants of this city was quite moved. Two wars and the subsequent communist dictatorship have left their mark. As a young man you get with a part of it  but a lot of conversations with the parents there was not actually about. The reasons vary from family to family.

The fate of the Catholic maternal relatives were relatively easy to reconstruct. She was expelled quite undramatic from the by the Americans occupied part of the „Sudetenland“. It was more difficult with the Jewish ancestors of my father. Except for a sister and two cousins who had left Europe in time in 1937 it was not possible to find the traces of his family. My father died when I was seventeen. So I did not learn much from him and I am very sorry of it now. His mother – my grandmother – is buried here in Saaz on the Jewish cemetery.

So I started only once for personal reasons, to make inquiries about the Jews in Saaz. This introduced me to a past and completely new world. I consider it as my duty to share the findings of this search with you. The eminent historian Johann Gustav Droysen said: „Not the past is history, but the knowledge of the human mind from them is. And this knowledge is the only form in which the histories are not considered as the past and appear in the in coherently and important form as  history. „

The story must be re-examined again and again with new findings. It was best expressed by Prof. PhD. František Šmahel: „History is always re-written, otherwise they would lose their meaning for us as citizens. Namely, it can be, I do not want to conjure up that one is looking for national strength again in the story and its characters. Without regard to the progress of European integration history as a science but should not be bound by national and religious considerations themselves. Even if the knowing about it sometimes hurts. „

For this reason I have decided together with the Friends of the City Saaz and others who participate in the project „The Jews of Saaz“ to carry out this exhibition

The investigations were not easy. Most Jews from the Saaz country did not survive the Holocaust, the few survivors are scattered all over the world, their descendants difficult to determine.

The resulting documents and written evidence is stored in various archives and is partly not yet spotted.

Thanks to many helpful people we have managed to bring together the material for this exhibition. In their design, I focused on the milestones of the history of the Jews in Saaz. What you see are only historical splitter. I still hope that it brings the culture and life of Saaz Jews closer to you. It also served as our journey theme in spring 2010 to Israel, where we could hold the memories of some still living Saaz Jews with video camera. From the footage, a documentary was created.

An exhibition „Jews in Saaz“ was seen in the Saaz Regional Museum for the first time in 2010. It was now revised and supplemented by German and English translations. Also new is a special part of the remarkable story of the air bridge Saaz-Ekron where participated also some of Saaz Jews in the summer of 1948. Thanks to them the newly established State of Israel was supplied with war material which then helped it in the fight for survival.

This exhibition aims within the meaning of Droysen and Šmahel serve not only educational interest and nostalgia. I see their task as to fight against the still or already existing anti-Semitism. Such as the biblical chosenness thought that in modern Jewish theological understanding of taking responsibility for one‘s own life and for the actions of others and to God the means.

This exhibition will be the further step of the association on the „Saaz way“ of enlightenment and reconciliation. I hope it helps in overcoming negative judgments regarding the Jews and a contribution to the development of civil society in Saaz. In this sense: Shalom!

Saaz, the September 11, 2014

Otokar Löbl

Exhibition curator and chairman of the Foundation of the City Saaz | Žatec