Interviewee: Matilda Cerge
Title: Laying the foundations for the synagogue on Cara Urosa Street, Belgrade
Place and Date: Belgrade, Serbia- 1907
I think that this must have been at the laying of the foundations for the temple on Cara Urosa Street in Belgrade in 1907. As you can see there are a lot of people there and I am sure that Jakov Kalef, my paternal granduncle, is among them. I just cannot find him. Among other important people, King Petar I, laid the cornerstone at the ceremony.
I was in the synagogue on Cara Urosa Street twice. I was upstairs on the balcony. I cannot remember the occasion when I was there; it probably was some holiday. My grandmother took us. I don't remember what it looked like inside. I only remember that we were on the balcony. I remember that we once went to a bar mitzvah, but I don't remember whose it was.
Interviewee: Hana Gasic
Title: Hana Gasic´s paternal relatives
Place and Date: Sarajevo, Bosnia - 1917
My father's family, the Montiljos. From left to right in the front row are: my grandmother Hana, one of her sons, Nisim (small child next to her), my grandfather Mose (with the fez on his head) and another one of their children, Jakov (on his lap). In the second row is Jozef, another one of their children, someone I don't know, then Rena, my uncle David Montiljo's wife. I don't know who the other people are but I guess they are also members of the Montiljo family. This family was known as Montiljo Hahasid. This extension to their name was a way of distinguishing them from other Montiljos in Sarajevo and noting their commmitment to Jewish life. I do not who determined which families would be given this distinction nor do I know if the women were also known by this name.
My grandfather was born in the 1870s, worked as a textile merchant in Sarajevo and died in 1941 before the outbreak of war. His wife, my Nona Hana, lived a much longer life. During the war she hid with her son, Jozef, in Sarajevo. After the war she decided to live the rest of her days in Israel, and once she left, she never returned to Yugoslavia. She imagined that this would not be a long time but she managed to live another twenty-three years, until 1970, when she died at the age of 96. She went to Israel with two of her three surviving children. Her sons, Jozef and Leon, my uncles, both survived and accompanied their mother to Israel. My father was the only one of the brothers to remain behind in Yugoslavia. Jozef was born in Sarajevo in 1896 and died in Israel in the 1970s. He married a woman named Safria and they had three children. She and the children were all was killed in the Jasenovac concentration camp in 1942 during the war. Afterwards Jozef remarried and had a son named Moric Montiljo. Rena was the wife of David Montiljo. She was born in 1895 and killed in Jasenovac in 1942. She had one son, named Moric Montiljo, who lives in Israel.
Interviewee: Ilona Seifert
Title: Ilona Seifert and her sister in Abbazia
Place and Date: Abbazia, Croatia - 1920
On a family holiday in Abbazia during the 1920s. My sister and I are in the front row in white clothes.
The whole extended family went down to Abbazia at the same time. We traveled by train. It was a long journey, which took almost a whole day, and we had to change trains at Fiume, not easy with our large amounts of luggage. In Abbazia, we lived in the Breiner Hotel, a strictly kosher hotel. I remember that the meat table and the meat section were set with red covers, and the milk table and section with nice blue tablecloths. You could eat either meat or milk-based meals, but the two parts were kept separated. The Breiner was the only kosher hotel in Abbazia, so all our Jewish acquaintances also went there. The family all went together, my mother and the two of us (and of course the Fräulein - since she worked all year, it was natural that we wouldn't leave to go on holiday without her!). My mother's younger sister with her two sons also went, as did our grandparents, and, I think, others as well. There were always lots of children in Abbazia, as well as acquaintances, relatives and neighbors. Everybody knew everybody else. There was also always a rabbi who spent his summer holiday there, because the place was kosher enough, even for him. He conducted a religious service every Sabbath, as there was a synagogue there, too.
I must have been around 15 when we went to Abbazia for the last time.
Interviewee: Livia Teleki
Title: Livia Teleki and her mother Kornelija Kornveis at the "Missing Monument"
Place and Date: Belgrade, Serbia - 1924
Me and my mother. This was a monument near Gundulicev Venac (in Belgrade), Austro-Hungarian. When they left this area, they took the monument with them. I liked to go there often. My father took this picture.
My mother Kornelia Shwartz Kornveis was born in 1892 in Murska Subota, that is in Medjumurje. Grandfather was a cantor there at some point. Then they came to Belgrade- My mother came to Belgrade as a young girl, right after my aunt, who was a seamstress there. My mother's mother tongue was Hungarian as is mine. She was a seamstress at my aunt's, her eldest sister, where she also learned the trade She was a woman of the world in every respect, and very modest type of person.
I was born on the 10th of August 1922, in Veliki Varadin, which is in Romania now and called Oraea. I moved with my parents to Belgrade when I was five, in 1927. There were no Jewish schools when I was little in Belgrade. I went to German school (Deutche Evangelische Folk School) in Belgrade on Nusiceva Street. I learned how to speak German there. We all went together to the religious classes there, we used to sing there a lot.
Then I went to Serbian school across from the botanical gardens in Belgrade. There were three Jewish girls in the grade. I remember one of them was called Gizela Kunick. After elementary school I went to the civil school, and then I got married when I was sixteen and I did not have time for more schools.
Interviewee: Josip Papo
Title: Josip’s father in front of his shop
Place and Date: Makarska, Croatia - 1935
Photo of my father Abram Papo, Makarska 1935. He is standing in front of his shop in Makarska, with a friend Povic, who had a shop next to ours.
My father was a merchant and my mother a housewife. We owned the shop which was registered in my mother's name because my father did a little of everything. He finished one year of Jewish school and then spent nine years in the Austrian army. He spoke German, Hungarian and Spanish and learned them all while he was in the army. The textiles sold in the shop were mainly supplied from Sarajevo, and my father also sold seasonal goods - souvenirs. Since the shop was not big enough, we moved to a bigger store in which they sold many souvenirs, especially in the summertime. They did not sell any kinds of ritual items in the store, only those things that were used by the people of Makarska and those from the surrounding villages. There were a lot of confections, pants, jackets and coats. My father brought the merchandise in trunks from Sarajevo. The store functioned until 1941 when we emptied it but even then a section continued to work. At the beginning of 1942, we received orders that I was to and over the store keys to the local municipality which would take over the store, since the confiscation of Jewish property had begun. The day before I had to turn them over, I opened the store and permitted the young people to take whatever they needed in order to empty the store, leaving only one piece of each item. Afterwards, I took the keys of the liquidated shop, the municipal authorities took them and sealed off the store. The shop was called a manufacturing merchandise.
Interviewee: Roza Kamhi
Title: Roza Kamhi´s class picture from the commercial academy in Bitola
Place and Date: Bitola, Macedonia - 1937
Here I am in my class photo from the commercial academy in Bitola where I was a student. Regina Sami was another Jewish girl in my class but I cannot find her here. Eli Faradji and Jakov Kalderon were also in my class. I remember them all but cannot see well enough to identify them in the picture. The photo was taken in 1937.
Eli Faradji went to school with me. I don?t know anything else about him.
As for Jakov Kalderon - we were together at the commercial academy. We were also in Ken together. We were friends. He fled to Greece, I think, during the war. Then, I think, he joined the partisans. After the war he returned to Bitola and then he married my best friend Adela. They married in Macedonia and then lived in Israel. He was a jack-of-all trades. They built some port in Israel and he worked as an electrician there. He worked, had his own house with an orchard, and he raised chickens. He was a good man, a good friend, merry, and most importantly he could do everything. He was always working. I remember when I went to Israel I went to visit them, of course. Then my friend complained that I stayed for too short a time but that was all the time I had. I was with them two or three nights. As soon as I arrived he put me to work: ?Tonight we are going to get the chickens ready to be sold. There is nothing for free with me.? It was organized. Someone came and picked up all the old chickens that did not lay eggs. He was a joker. He took us around Israel. They had two children , a son and a daughter. But both Jakov and Adela died in Israel.
When we were students we were only allowed to be out in the evenings until 8-9. If our teachers saw us out after that time, they would punish us. This was done for school discipline. Our parents didn't consider this late but the school had its own regime and order. We started school at 8 in the morning and studied till 1 in the afternoon. We had one big break and two smaller ones. The big one lasted fifteen minutes during which they sold rolls or you could bring a snack from home.
Interviewee: Albert Eskenazi
Title: Albert Eskenazi´s Jewish elementary school class
Place and Date: Zagreb, Croatia - 1937
My class III b in the Jewish elementary school. The photo was taken in Zagreb, 1937. Our teacher was Greta Vajs, who was killed by Nazis in 1941. We had Croatio-Serbian language, math, writing, Hebrew language and catechism. Clergyman was Martin Mozes, taken to concentration camp Jasenovac (Croatia) in 1941.
Some of my classmates survived the Holocaust and continued to live outside of Yugoslavia after the war. Some of them are still in Israel. My best friend was Zlata Brener. In our 20's we were in love. She was born in Zagreb in1928 and lives in Jerusalem now. During the Holocaust she was in camps with her parents and sister in Italy and Switzerland.
I started to go to school in Zagreb when I was six years old. I went to the Jewish school, which at the time was well known and experimental. All the Jewish children went to this school. It was called the Jewish Elementary School. The school had four grades, then there were four grades of lower gymnasium and four upper grades.
In the Jewish elementary school we had religious studies and Hebrew lessons-- not in the first and second year but in the third and fourth year. The teachers were named Martin Mozes and Greta Vajs. So that I started to learn my first letters and words in Hebrew back in the school. I did not know that I would live so many years in Israel and that I would teach and translate Hebrew one day, but that is when I started.
In the class picture are these people on the top row:Aleksandar Kikinis, Slavko Ungar, Simon Vajs, Julijus Vajs, Branko Vajs, Zdravko Vajs, Oto Mozes, Sara Mozes, Vera Alt, Rut Fridman, Rut Slezinger, Durdica Grinbaum, Erika Gros, Regina Danilovic.
I remember when the teacher used to call us in alphabetical order: Alt, Brener, Danilovic, Danon Ester, Eskenazi Albert. I am looking at them in the picture, Hirsl Zeljko, Edita Vajs, Edita Oblak, Fani Kadman, we were all in love with her, she was the prettiest in the grade, Nela First. Some of them were on kibbutz in Israel, like Edo Kon, Grinbaum. There are Klara Pardo, Duro Vajntraub. They were refugees from Germany and so he changed his name from Vajntraub to Vernic. I sat with them on the same bench, until we fought, and he beat me up. When I grabbed my head he hit me with his hat and in his hat there was a steel lid for ink. How it got inside is not clear to any of us. He did not know that the ink was inside. My hand was cut and I still have a scar from it. Blood started to flow, my teacher took me to the clinic where I was treated, the wound was wrapped and closed and I was taken home. When my mother saw me with my head wrapped up she almost died from shock. The teacher told her that the children were playing. I napped in the afternoon to regain strength and the boy's father came with his elder sister. I was scared for him to come because I thought my mother might attack him. They brought me a new suit because the old one had been stained from blood, a new shirt and a box of sweets. They apologized. When the harassment began that family fled in the same directions we did but they were captured somewhere along the way. They saw immediately that they did not know the language well and they were executed. Zlata Brener remained alive, Vera Alt earlier left for Palestine, as well as Estera Danon, Nela Firc, Edo Kon, Simon Vajs, they all survived and most likely still live in Israel today. Half of the group was killed. The teacher, Greta Vajs, there was no male teacher because this was the third grade and not the fourth, she was executed in'41, and he was taken to the camp. Rut Slezinger lived in Australia until she died, Erika Gros survived and I do not know where she lived afterwards, Vera Alt is alive today as is Dina Maestro, Rit Fridman survived. Deki Hajon also survived the war but someone killed him in Zagreb after liberation, there was a party and he was killed accidentally. Kikinis went to the gymnasium with me after the war, Hari Donar lives in Israel, Ungar survived, Zlatko Singer survived, we met frequently in the Zagreb community, Edo Kon is in Israel, Simon Vajs is an officer in the Israeli army, Grinbaum survived, Ruza Vider was saved, she lived in Australia until her death, Sara Mozes I do not know, and the beautiful Fani Kadmon survived, but I did not see her after liberation, Nela Firsl is on kibbutz Merhavija in Israel, Zlata Brener lives in Jerusalem, Lea Gorja and Edita Oblat survived. For the others, which I did not mention probably did not survive maybe two or three did. Vajs Branko survived the rest did not.
Interviewee: Josip Papo
Title: Josip’s water polo junior team
Place and Date: Makarska, Croatia- 1937
Photo of my water polo junior team on the beach, Makarska 1937.
We fit in to life in Makarska and got along with all the youth there. We lived in Marineta and all of the kids from that part of town socialized together. There were no differences between us. We each had a nickname. I was Jozi, from Joseph. One Hungarian woman called me that and some one else heard it and the nickname stuck. Every month we played a new game until the swimming season began. We did not have toys like today. We would aim at a flat stone until we hit it and it fell over. We played "klic pic" we hit smaller sticks with a bigger and the one that went furtherest won. We played hide and seek. We all played together and there were never any fights between us. We were divided only by the different areas of the city. We also played war between different parts of town and while playing we would throw stones at each other in jest. We played football with a ball made from socks. All of this was until it was swimming season. Since the beach was for foreigners we swam on the side until we grew up. We learned how to swim and we played waterpolo. We had a water polo team which gathered at one part of the beach colona. We had a wonderful time together, swimming and playing and it gave us health and strength. Nowadays, only Jure Binic is alive and myself. He lives in Zagreb, Croatia. We had a rowing club where I went for years. We had a fourman boat and one helmsman. Once we went to Brac. This was very risky, but we listened to the weather reports and we believed that the sea would not overcome us. When we were a little older we enrolled in the "Sokol" athletic club, where we trained volleyball and practiced on different apparatuses. We also learned how to represent ourselves in public. Life was very dynamic. We all gathered on the seafront.
Interviewee: Rahela Perisic
Title: Rahela Perisic with her friends from the ken
Place and Date: Banja Luka, Bosnia - 1938
The picture was taken in Banja Luka in 1938. Members of the Zionist youth i.e. Ken are pictured. First from left to right is Judita, my sister, beside her is Rikica Levi, then Rena Atijas, then me, then Puba Kabiljo. The others I do not remember, I only know that kneeling first from the right is Puba Lihnstajn.
In Banja Luka my sisters Flora, Judita and I continued our schooling in the gymnasium. Immediately after our arrival we joined the Zionist youth organization, popularly known as Ken. Next to the Temple there was a space in which the Jewish youth from all of Banja Luka gathered. We learned Hebrew, history of the Jewish nation. We had teachers who taught us Jewish songs and dances. I remember how we danced the Hava and other dances with such fervor. Often we organized day trips to picnic sites in the area. With us younger kids there were always older boys and girls and a leader who took strict care about our behavior. When we passed through the town everyone knew that we were Jews because we were dressed in clean clothes, not luxuriously, but very neat, and we were always well behaved.
Interviewee: Ljudevit Blumenberg
Title: Blumenberg Ljudevit in forced labor
Place and Date: Sombor, Serbia - 1941
This is one of my most interesting photos. Not too many people have been photographed in their forced labor and lived to talk about it. This photo of me was taken in Sombor in 1941.
The war began, and this is how my life looked at that time: In 1941, I was already living in Subotica and working with a colleague in his dental technician practice. After six months, they took me to forced labor. One day the Hungarian authorities called me to Sombor, where all the Jews my age from Subotica were taken, to register for forced labor. We were put up in a school. In Sombor we worked at the airport. From there they took us to Prigrevica where we were put up in a stable. I must say it was bearable; they even let us go home during the winter. After that they moved us to a railroad unit at the most heavily used station in Budapest [Rakos rendezo] where we worked alongside the Hungarian soldiers.
We dug up time bombs and were very lucky that none of them went off and no one was wounded. Since that station was used for army transport, they unexpectedly removed us and transferred us to the border close to Slovakia; I don't know exactly where. Suddenly, they took us somewhere near Szombathely, where there was a forest. Our task was to make a new track, which I think was used to hide locomotives during bombings. That's when the harsh Jewish tragedy began for me; it was then that I began to encounter horrible things. One day, they lined up our unit and took us to Szombathely. The first thing we saw was a school with an open gate. And what we saw there! Heaps of dead bodies were arranged like wood, one on top of the other, in a pile. The Hungarians forced us into a room. The first directive was to get naked. Once we were undressed they began to beat us. We had to hand over everything we had with us: money, jewelry, documents, pictures, prayer books. They literally ran over and killed anyone who fell over and couldn't get up. The Hungarians put us in a barrack where we cried for our dead friends who weren't strong enough to make it. The next day a malicious and repulsive officer handed us over to the Austrians.
Interviewee: Cadik Danon
Title: Cadik Danon in partisans
Place and Date: Orahovica, Croatia - 1943
A picture of me when I was in partisans, taken in Orahovica (Croatia) in 1943.
September 12, 1942 was the day the seven of us escaped from the concentration camp. We were six Jews and one Croat, a veterinarian and member of the Party. He was arrested because he was a party activist at the veterinarian faculty where he worked as an assistant. His name was Zorislav Golub. I advanced quickly in the partisans. We were all well received without a trace of anti-Semitism, in fact they were happy and satisfied to have such qualified and capable people. All of us who had escaped from the camp distinguished ourselves with great bravery and courage and fought selflessly against Fascism. We were all decorated and received promotions.
Already in December, after only three months, I became a company commissar. I was wounded in February 1943 and was hospitalized. I was operated on literally without any pain medicine in the worst and most meager conditions. Later, since I was now an invalid, I was transferred to the command area, the liberated territories fell under this organization's authority and it defended them from enemy attacks.
In 1944, I became a commissar of the Vocin airport where the English mission was stationed and where English planes came to give support to the partisans. In 1945, I returned to my brigade, the XII Slavonska, and became the head of the brigade's propaganda department. I came to Baljburg with the brigade on May 15, 1945, two weeks after the German capitulation. In Vocin, we surrounded a group of a 100,000 Ustache who surrendered thanks to the English who were there with tanks.
Interviewee: Albert Eskenazi
Title: Vida Eskenazi with Jews interned at Hvar
Place and Date: Hvar, Croatia - 1943
Italian prison camp at Hvar (Croatia), 1943. We stayed at Hvar from February until June 1943. In the picture are mostly Jews from Sarajevo and Mostar . We were settled at hotel whose owner was Tonci. He was so kind to us. He was a guest of many of us who survived and he was rewarded by the new government for everything what he done for Jewish refugees. There, I fell in love for the first time with Gracia Abinun. She was 3 years younger. She was officially my fist love. We met each other in Israel many times.
Mostar was the destination for the majority of Bosnian Jews from Sarajevo and western Bosnia. All those who were able to reach Mostar were saved. There were two or three families there from Zagreb. That is how we reached Mostar. There was a Jewish community in Mostar, which had its own kitchen, where we received two meals a day. However, because of some agreement with the Independent State of Croatia, the Italian authorities had to hand over Mostar to the Independent State of Croatia. The Italians knew that the soon as the Ustache enter Mostar they would come after the Jews first. So, the Italians organized to have us transferred to an island that remained under Italian annex.
We were transferred from Mostar to Jelsa island, and then to the city of Hvar. They helped us. We had our own kitchen in some deserted hotel on Jelsa, and one part of the hotel was in deserted apartments. Our women organized themselves and we had a stove and wood from the surrounding forests. We children collected oak-apples. Every seven days the Italian authorities gave us sugar, flour, their pasta, parmesan cheese and jelly according to the number of members. Each of the adults had to register at the police station every day that they were here.
After Jelsa, where we were for three or four months, we were transferred to Hvar where we put up in five hotels which were empty because there was no tourism. We were in hotel 'Slavija' which had a wonderful owner named Tonci Maricic, who gave us everything. He left us alone to organize ourselves and he solved all the problems. The Italians paid for this, but it was important how he treated us. After liberation many people went to him and he came mainly to Sarajevo and Zagreb. This friendship lasted as long as he was alive. Then the Italian occupational authorities decided that all Jews who were on Hvar, Korcula, Lopud and Kuparij should be transferred to Rab.
In the picture is my sister (sitting row, second from the right) and next to her Gracija Abinun, my first lover, now she is a widow. In the picture are also: Luncika Levi who lives in Israel, her sister Hanika Levi, today she is already a great-grandmother, Erna Gan, Erna Pinto lives in Jerusalem, she is a widow, Mr. and Mrs. Cajt who are the parents of a member of our community, Vera Mihajlovic. He was a waiter in a hotel, the food was cooked on the first floor and he would bring it down to the dining room on the ground floor and serve us. Their child is on the picture as well, I do not know her name. There are also Benjanimun Abinun-Binko, Gracija Abinun's brother, Icik Gaon, Sita Salom who was active in the community, he moved to Australia and died a year ago. Binko Musafija became a professor at the Sarajevo University. He came very ill from Sarajevo to Belgrade with the refugees in 1992 when the war in Bosnia began.
We buried him in Belgrade. Nebojsa Samardzic read kadish for him, I did not have the heart to do it, he was my best friend. I?m in the picture, too and Gracija Abinun's mother. Together our families had one very big room. The children in the picture survived and that is ten of us.
Interviewee: Roza Kamhi
Title: Roza Kamhi´s wedding picture
Place and Date: Skopje, Macedonia - 1946
This is my wedding picture: Pepo Nahmijas, Dario Ruso, Beno Ruso and Zozef Kamhi, Dora Ruso and me (on the right). We were married in the local municipality in Skopje on 16th June 1946.
My husband Beno's brother, Dario, who had been a prisoner of war, got married to my friend Dora Nahmijas on the same day as Beno and I did. Before the war we were friends but we didn't live in the same neighborhood; she lived in la Kaleze and I lived in la Tabane. But we were together in ken. Dora fled to Greece before the occupation and from there she was sent with the Greek Jews to Auschwitz for a short time at the end of the war. After the war she returned to Skopje. She was skin and bones when we went to get married.
After the wedding we all went to lunch together at Hotel Macedonia in Skopje and then returned to work. That was the whole ceremony. There was no special celebration, just the registration. These were civil marriages.
Zozef and Pepo were our witnesses. Zozef was my first cousin. He married a Jewish pharmacist named Riketa from Macedonia and they went to live in Israel. She was not deported because they needed pharmacists and doctors to care for the wounded from the front.
Interviewee: Ljudevit Blumenberg
Title: Vladislav and Miroslav Blumenberg with children of the Jewish wrestling club
Place and Date: Subotica, Serbia - 1955
This picture is from 1955. It was taken in the Jewish wrestling club in Subotica and my two sons, Vladislav and Miroslav Blumenberg, can be seen here with other Jewish kids.
Vladislav was 15 at the time the photo was taken. Since he was rather big and strong he was succesfull in wrestling. He is the second from right in the second row from top. Miroslav was five at the time and he is sitting third from left in the second row from the bottom.
Vladislav is a dentist, like myself, and lives in Switzerland with his wife and daughter. My son married a Croatian, Bunjevac. In their house they celebrate both the Jewish and Catholic holidays. I know that all the high holidays are celebrated, that Vlada fasts and that most of their friends are Jews. Even though she is a Christian we love our daughter-in-law very much. Religion isn't important to us. Vlada and his wife taught their kids both about Christianity and Judaism. When Vlada finished dental school he started to work in a clinic in Subotica. He was employed in the main clinic where all the bosses made dentures while the others treated and extracted teeth. This bothered him a lot and he started to look for possibilities to leave the country. The first offer he received was in Switzerland and he went. He had luck there and today he lives very well.
My other son, Miroslav or Miki, was born in Subotica in 1950. He is a professor at a medical school in New York where he does scientific research on human skin. He organized his life according to a plan: he finished university, married and then left for America. I don't know why he left. I know that he was active in the Jewish community of Subotica. Along with his late friend, Petar Klajn, he wrote and published the local Jewish youth paper which covered a variety of issues. While working on the paper he was invited to a youth seminar in America and he went. America enchanted him and he quickly found a way to get assistance in America. Miki has his own family: a wife, a son and a daughter. He married a Jewish woman with whom he goes to a modern Jewish community with a woman cantor every week. He celebrates every holiday at home. Not long ago he told me that he began research and lecturing on which Arab lands are closest to the Jewish nation. The results of his research were that Palestine is closest. He has never told me that he is religious, but I have that impression since he is always in those circles and he celebrates every holiday and observes Sabbath.
Interviewee: Rifka Vostrel
Title: Leon Altarac at Zagreb´s Jewish Community
Place and Date: Zagreb, Croatia- 1960
This is my father Leon Altarac. This photo was taken in the Zagreb Jewish Community around 1960.
After the war, in 1948, we returned to Split, but I went to Zagreb to work in the Central Youth Committee. Because I was still very young, my parents felt that they should be close to me. My father moved to Zagreb in 1949 whereas my mom, my sister Lea and my grandmother only came in 1950.
At first, my father worked in a Jewish old-age home, which was housed in today's Community Center. He was working as a caretaker and later, when the old-age home was moved from the community building to another building, he became an employee with the Jewish community.
After Dr. Gruner, who was a cantor, died, my father took over his duties. He became a 'non professional' cantor because he wasn't educated in schools. On the contrary, everything he knew he had learnt in his parents' home. In the community, every holiday was celebrated and it was my father who led the ceremonies. Sometimes even rabbis from abroad came and celebrated holidays with us. Since we are Sephardim my father read the prayers in Ladino. He didn't only lead the holiday celebrations but did everything else that was required, such as burials and the like. When Rabbi Menahem Romano from Sarajevo died, he used to go there and help out in the community.
Unfortunately, my parents died very young. My mother died when she was only 60 years old and my father at the age of 69. They were buried in the Jewish cemetery in Zagreb.
Interviewee: Hana Gasic
Title: Hana´s mother, Flora Montiljo at a seder in the Sarajevo Jewish community
Place and Date: Sarajevo, Bosnia - 1972
My mother and Sano Altarac at the Jewish community in Sarajevo. Since there is a matzo on the table, I believe this most have been one of the many seders that we celebrated in the community.
Mr. Altarac was a wonderful person and a great personality in the Sarajevo Jewish community. During the war, Sani and his young son, Mose, were in several camps in Italy. I remember hearing stories about how Sani managed to carry his small son on his shoulders for long distances. Sani had trouble with his eyes before the war and afterwards things only got worse. He spent much of his life almost blind or maybe even entirely blind. After the war I think he worked as a professor of music.
However, life's hardships did not dampen his spirit. He played the violin, and was a master at creating humorous rhyming verses and sketches. He published them in a periodical called Vrabas. One verse that I remember, and there were many gems, was about a famous photographer in Sarajevo ( many of the pictures in this album were taken in his studio): 'Svaki lisac laze laze. Samo Foto Lisac ne.' 'Every fox lies and lies. Only Foto Fox doesn't.' Maybe it does not sound so humorous to you, but to us back then, this was one of the many rhymes that filled the halls of our Sarajevo community and filled our world.
His son, Mose, inherited his father's good humor and spirit. Mose and I grew up together and remain good friends. I look forward to seeing him in Israel, where he now lives.
Sani is wearing a hat in the picture. This was a custom among the men in the Sarajevo Jewish community both before and after the war. They always came to the El Kal (Ladino for synogogue) and to the community in a hat. In the winter the hats were made from felt and in the summer it was something lighter, like straw. Regardless of the season, our men always had their hats.
Interviewee: Ljudevit Blumenberg
Title: The wedding of Miroslav Blumenberg
Place and Date: Subotica, Serbia - 1972
This is a photo from my younger son Miroslav Blumenberg's wedding. It was a civil wedding in the town hall in Subotica in 1972. My son is the third from left.
Miroslav or Miki, was born in Subotica in 1950. He is a professor at a medical school in New York where he does scientific research on human skin. He organized his life according to a plan: he finished university, married and then left for America. I don't know why he left. I know that he was active in the Jewish community of Subotica. Along with his late friend, Petar Klajn, he wrote and published the local Jewish youth paper which covered a variety of issues. While working on the paper he was invited to a youth seminar in America and he went. America enchanted him and he quickly found a way to get assistance in America.
Miki has his own family: a wife, a son and a daughter. He married a Jewish woman with whom he goes to a modern Jewish community with a woman cantor every week. He celebrates every holiday at home. Not long ago he told me that he began research and lecturing on which Arab lands are closest to the Jewish nation. The results of his research were that Palestine is closest. He has never told me that he is religious, but I have that impression since he is always in those circles and he celebrates every holiday and observes Sabbath.
Interviewee: Vladislav Rothbart
Title: Vladislav Rothbart with colleagues
Place and Date: Novi Sad, Serbia - 1980s
This is Vladislav in the 1980s with his colleagues.
Vlada immediately after the war got engaged into journalism. After that, since he was very capable, he worked with Slobodna Vojvodina [Free Voivodina] and Dnevnik, he was the editor of a column, so it was very promising for him. He, then in 1950 got transferred to Subotica, at that time he had already been a reporter for Tanjug [Yugoslav News Agency]. He was a member of the Communist Party, clearly from idealistic reasons. Before the war he had been a member of SKOJ and in the prison he joined the Party. He didn't need the Party because of his career or any other interests, but solely because of his political convictions.
From the end of the war till the early 1950s many things had happened. Vlada immediately upon his return became a journalist for a Hungarian youth newspaper that was called 'IFJUSAG SZAVA' [The word of youth].
At the job, it could not be said that there were any difficulties because of the Jewish origin. It had all lasted until somewhere in 1970 when he got employed with the Executive council of Voivodina and at one point he was dismissed without any explanation. That way, for almost a year he would run from committee to committee, from office to office to Executive council to hear what he had done to be dismissed. And after a long time I managed to find out talking to the president of the Executive Council of Voivodina, who had been a school mate of my brother, and he confided to me that Vlada had been dismissed because he had a brother in Israel. Of course when everything had been cleared up, he was brought back to the job, but of course, not at his old job, that had already been occupied, but to the Provincial Parlament of Voivodina. He worked here for another few years and then retired, disappointed and in his job, and in the Party and in everything. Because of a big nervousness and stress that he had experienced in 1975 he survived a heart attack that he suffered from till the end of his life. He died 8th January 1997. In fact because of that heart disease he died. He was berried on Jewish semetery by Rabbi Ichak Asiel.
Interviewee: Andreja Preger
Title: Andreja with his wife
Place and Date: Novi Sad, Serbia - 1988
Me with my wife Angelina-Gina at the meeting of women sections in Novi Sad in 1988. The whole group made a trip to Palic, near Subotica, Yugoslavia.
When my musical obligations grew less in the 1970s, I became the cultural referent in the Federation of Jewish Communities. I always collaborated with the Jewish community on projects but I was not a member of any body until now. I was elected to the Executive Board and am president of the Cultural Commission. Eugen Verber helped us a lot. Every summer I went to Pirovac and held lectures there. I devoted myself a lot more to that and less to concerts. We worked a lot, making programs for the summer camp, mini-Maccabiah, I participated in meetings of the coordinating board of the women's section, which held a gathering of all the generations once a year, with programming, entertainment and occasions for getting to know one another.
Interviewee: Ljudevit Blumenberg
Title: Ljudevit Blumenberg in the synagogue on Rosh Hashanah
Place and Date: Subotica, Serbia - 1997
This is one of the most recent photos of me. It was taken on Rosh Hashanah 5758  in the Subotica Synagogue.
As a young boy I went to the synagogue. I had my bar mitzvah along with my stepfather's son who was three months younger than me. We had a big celebration in Kutina with all our relatives. I learned a lot about Judaism while my stepfather worked in the Subotica Jewish community; we also discussed these themes in Hashomer Hatzair. Every week we celebrated Sabbath at home since my stepfather was very religious. He observed the kashrut, but I don't remember the details. I know that he conducted the services in the Jewish community where we went on Sabbath and on the high holidays. Besides that my mother observed Sabbath at home. While we lived in Kanjiza my mother lit five candles on Sabbath. I remember that on Sabbath my stepfather always blessed his sons but he never blessed us. That's just one example of how he didn't love us and how he treated us differently. Afterwards we had dinner. My mother took me to the synagogue and left me downstairs with the men while she went upstairs. I liked Pesach the best when matzot were eaten, when the mah nishtanah, the four traditional questions were asked, when we cleaned the apartment and used different dishes. During that holiday everything was different.
While I was a dental apprentice I joined Hashomer Hatzair, whose president was Laszlo Sporer, one of my best friends. During my apprenticeship, I began to socialize more and more with members of Hashomer Hatzair and they suggested I join the organization. My mother was very happy when I joined because it meant I would have more friends. With Hashomer Hatzair we went on a lot of trips to Kanjiza, Palic and other nearby small towns. It was very nice. We took our tents and uniforms with gray shirts just like real scouts. The themes we discussed were often related to Israel; we learned the ancient Hebrew language used in prayer books, but never mastered it.
I was ecstatic over the establishment of the State of Israel. As an old member of Hashomer Hatzair I was ready to go and live in Israel, but I didn't go because of my mother who didn't want to leave her husband behind, as I mentioned before. I didn't want to leave her behind with this man who wasn't such a good person. Sari, who was a staunch party member, didn't want to leave because it suited her to stay in Yugoslavia. In the end, only Magda went with her husband and daughter. I went a few times to visit her. It was terrible for me when the wars started in Israel. Today, I still get very upset each time something happens. Because of that I am in frequent contact with relatives outside of Yugoslavia.