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Joseph Bohm

April 2011 - Joined GENI - Please, Also Join our "Geni Family Group" - and Help Us Migrate Your Relatives :)

About My Family - 1969

*also on Center for Jewish History (CJH) - Digital Library


Joseph "Jole" BohmJoseph Bohm - The following pages are not meant to present a family history or biography (and least of all, a literary attempt). They are just an untidy conglomeration of remarks on some personalities and their times and, to a great extent, an enumeration of parents and descendants, as dry and uninspiring as the genealogy in the Book of Genesis.

These notes were jotted down as they came to my mind and were not re-written or edited (as they should have been). They may, however, still serve as a commentary and supplement to the artistic family tree drawn by Leonie.

CONTENTS:

  • Index of Names
  • The Bohm Family
  • The Bach Family
  • The Bohm-Bach Family
  • World War I - 1914/18
  • From Armistice to Nazi Occupation….…...............1918/38
  • From Nazi Occupation to World War-II...................1938/40
  • Emigration ................................................................1939/41
  • My Mother - Clara nee Bach  
  • The Trek through Occupied France .......................1940
    • (Leonie & Hedel Bohm, Armin Wolf Family)
  • Arrivals of the Immigrants
  • Vivant Sequentes!

INDEX OF NAMES:

BACH: Alfred, Bernhard (GRUENFELD), Emanuel (GRUENFELD), Francisca (Fanny), Evelyn, Frederic, Frank, Great-Grandfather (GRUENFELD), Joseph, Lily (FLEISCHER), Marjorie, Max, Rudolf, BLAN/BLAU: Edith (KHUNER), Gustav, Marianna, BOHM: Adele (WOLF-EISENSTADT), Ali (FUERPASS), Alice, Annie, Bernhard, Bertha (POLACZEK), Clara (BACH), Eduard, Ella (LANDESMANN), Erich, Ernst, Franz, Gertrud (RIE), Great-Grandparents, Heinrich, Henry, Joseph, Kaethe, Katharina (EISLER), Leo, Leopold, Max, Naphtali, Paul, Richard, Sigmund, Sophie, Victor, FELDHEIM: Fritz, FISCHEL: Alfred, Hedwig (BOHM), FREEMAN, FRIEDMANN: Arthur, Clarisse, (*see family tree drawn by Leonie BOHM - 1950's), Thomas, HAAS: Fidel, JACOBSON: (Maria BOHM), KARY: Andreas(Eric), Arthur, Otto (Steven), Sophie (BOHM), Jean (Netty) (SCHARGL), Maria (HOEBART), KHUNER: Fritz, George, Hans, Hede (SOMMER), Hilde, Marianne, (STERN), Martha (BACH), Paul, KLIMES: Anne (FRIEDMANN), Arthur, Hans, Rudolf, LANDESMANN: Ella (BOHM), Heinz, LANGER: Hertha (KARY), Martin, Peter, Susie, MACKAY: Lottie (BOHM), ROHEL: Heidi (KLIMES), SALZER: Alice (KHUNER), Richard, Martha, Victor, STERN: Elsie (KHUNER), STONE: Pauline (KARY), STUETZEL: Anton, Arnold, Nelly (WOLF), VAN VEEN: Bobby, WERBER: Edith (FREEMAN), Eleanor, Ernst, Steven, WOLF: Adele (BACH), Armin (Stephen), Henry, Joan (Hanni), Lily (RONAI), Otto, Sigmund, BRUEDER BOHM FACTORIES: Vienna, Prague, Neutitschein, Preston-England, HOUSE: Vienna-Mariahilferstrasse, VILLA: Baden-Marchetstrasse


JOSEPH BOHM - WHAT I KNOW ABOUT MY FAMILY

As the last of the Bohm - Bach family I want to pass on to the younger generations, especially to my children, what has been passed on to me by my parents and grand parents and what I know from my own life time, about my family. Since, however, my information is based mainly on oral transmission, with little documentation, minor inaccuracies, especially in its chronology, have to be assumed.


THE BOHM FAMILY

My great-grandparents Bohm were born at the end of the 18th century and lived in Nikolsburg, Moravia, (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, now part of Czechoslovakia). They had two daughters, Katharine (married Spiegler) and Josephine (married Weiss) and two sons, my grandfather Bernhard born 1821 and Naphtali, born 1823.

Around 1840 my then widowed great-grandmother with her children moved to Vienna and opened a business trading in hares skins for the manufacture of felt hats. The premises were located on the Fischer Stiege, a still existing thoroughfare near the Danube Canal. Around 1845 my grandfather Bernhard married his wife, Katharina nee Eisler, with whom he had 5 sons and one daughter, Heinrich (my father), Sigmund, Max, Leopold, Eduard and Sophie. Sigmund married Lola, nee Loewenstein, and had one son, Paul. Max married Adele, nee Wolf, and had 5 children, Erich, Leo, Franz, Anna and Kaethe. Leopold married Bertha, nee Polaczek, and had 4 children, Ernst, Ella, Richard and Alice. Ella married Heinz Landesmann in 1926. Eduard remained a bachelor.

 My father, Heinrich, married my mother Clara, nee Bach, in 1881, and had 5 children, Sofie, Leonie, Hedwig, Victor and Joseph. The hare skin business of my great-grandmother and her two sons was successful and expanded. In the 1850's a shop for the cleaning and carrotting of the skins and for cutting the fur was established in Vienna's Gumpendorfer Strasse (now in the VIth district); the product represented the fully prepared raw material for the hatters. In view of the prosperous business and the growing-up of my father and uncles expansion into the young field of industrial manufacturing was planned. In 1862 a complete, new hat factory was established at Schottenfeldgasse, Vienna, run by my grandfather and granduncle, a few years later assisted by my father and uncles. In 1881 a considerably larger factory was added in Prag-Bubna, run by my uncle Leopold who moved to Prag where he later married and raised his family.  

Data about my Father's family:

RELATIONS

NAME

DEATH

AGE

LOCATION

My Grandfather

Bernhard Bohm

1901

80

Vienna (central cemetery)

My Uncles

Sigmund Bohm

1920

71

Vienna (central cemetery)

 

Max Bohm

1947

93

Israel

 

Leopold Bohm

1908

57

Prague (volcany cemetery)

 

Eduard Bohm

1938

81

Vienna (central cemetery)

My Aunt

Sophie (Bohm) Bing

1884

25

Vienna (at child birth), central cemetery)

My Cousins

Ernst Bohm

1916

28

WW-1 Karpathian Mtns.-Austrian Army Prague (volcany cemetery)

 

Paul Bohm

1961

74

Vienna (central cemetery)

 

Leo Bohm

1950

55

Israel

 

Kaethe Bohm

1945

48

Israel

 

Erich Bohm

 

72

Israel (living)

 

Anna Bohm

 

74

Israel (living)

 

Franz Bohm

 

70

England (living)

 

Richard Bohm

 

77

New York (living)

 

Ella Bohm

 

75

New York (living)

 

Alice

 

70

New York (living)

 

Heinz Landesmann

1967

85

New York (burial in Queens)


THE BACH FAMILY

My earliest information is that my great-grandfather Gruenfeld, my grandmother's father, lived in the town of Humpoletz in Bohemia (then Imperial Austria, now Czechoslovakia) and was born around 1800. He had two sons, Emanuel and Bernhard, and one daughter, Francisca (Fanny), my grandmother, born in 1837. This great-grandfather was a surgeon ("Feldscher") with the Austrian army. His son Emanuel went into the textile trade and later opened a shop for the printing of cotton goods. His son Bernhard became a physician in Saaz, Bohemia.

His daughter Francisca married my grandfather Joseph Bach in Vienna, around 1855. He was employed at the Anker Insurance Company in Vienna, who’s "Secretary General" he became later on. They had 5 sons and 3 daughters: Martha, Max, Clara (my mother), Alfred, Rudolf, Adele, Robert and Frederic (Fritz). Four of the five sons remained bachelors.

Alfred became an attorney in Vienna. Rudolf was a mechanical engineer who had studied in Vienna, then worked for about 6 years in England and for 10 years in Sidney, Australia, finally returned to Vienna and held for the rest of his life the agency of the German firm of "Borsig", a prominent manufacturer of heavy machinery. Max moved to London, in his early twenties, worked in a firm of stock brokers, and later on opened his own office as a broker of the London Stock Exchange. Around 1900 he married Lily nee Fleischer from Vienna and had 3 children, Frank, Evelyn and Marjorie.

Robert, after completing his studies in Vienna, went for several years to France where he continued at a higher textile school in Roubaix and thereafter worked in the French textile industry. After his return to Vienna he joined the rug and curtain factory of his brother-in-law Sigmund Wolf in Vienna, for the rest of his life. Frederic, too, moved to London in his early twenties where he first joined his brother in the brokerage business, later on was associated with, and finally took over as sole owner the stock broker firm of "Hart, Son & Co" in London which he ran for the rest of his life. Through all these years he spent his summer vacations with my mother's family at our country house in Baden near Vienna.

Martha married Fritz Khuner, a manufacturer of margarine in Vienna. They had 2 sons and 2 daughters, Paul, George, Alice and Edith.

Paul and George joined their father in his rapidly expanding business "Kunerol" brand. After their father's death the firm was acquired by the large Bohemian margarine and soap concern of Schicht with the two brothers continuing in the concern. After some time the concern merged with two other, even larger outfits: the Dutch firm of Vandenbergh and the English Lever Brothers into the world-spanning combine of Unilever, Ltd. of London and New York. All this time the positions of Paul and George grew with the volume of the enterprise until Paul became the top financial adviser with activities concentrated in London and George the general manager of all European factories with the seat in Zurich. Of the Khuner daughters Alice married Richard Salzer, a Vienna wine merchant, and had 3 children, Martha, Victor and all of them married in the meantime. Edith married a Vienna attorney, Gustav Blau and had two children, Marianna and George, both of them now married with children of their own.

Paul married Hedwig Sommer and lived in Vienna; they had three children: Hans who works with Unilever in London and married there, Elsie Stern, widowed and living with her two children in New York and Hilde staying with her mother in New York. George married Marianne Stern in Vienna, and died in Los Angeles; his widow divides her residence between Los Angeles and New York. Adele married Sigmund Wolf, a manufacturer of rugs and curtains in Vienna and had 3 children, Armin, Otto and Nelly. Armin married Lily Ronai in Vienna; their children are Henry and Joan. Otto remained a bachelor (and enjoyed it all his life). Nelly married Arnold Stutzel from Meran, then Austrian Tirol, now Italy. They had one son, Anton. All three perished in a German concentration camp during the Nazi regime.

Data about my Mother's family:

RELATIONS

NAME

DEATH

AGE

LOCATION

My Grandparents

Joseph Bach

1892

62

Vienna (central cemetery)

 

Fanny (Gruenfeld) Bach

1917

80

Vienna (central cemetery)

My Uncles

Max Bach

1920

65

London

 

Alfred Bach

1937

78

Vienna (central cemetery)

 

Rudolf Bach

1935

75

Vienna (central cemetery)

 

Robert Bach

1947

72

Miami (Ferncliffe cem. Hartsdale, NY)

 

Frederic Bach

1949

71

London (Ferncliffe cem. Hartsdale, NY)

My Aunts

Martha Khuner

1905

45?

Vienna (central cemetery)

 

Adele Wolf

1900

38?

Vienna (central cemetery)

My Sisters

Sophie (Bohm) Kary

1962

80

New York (Ferncliffe cem. Hartsdale)

 

Leonie (Bohm) Friedmann

1966

82

New York (Ferncliffe cem. Hartsdale)

 

Hedwig (Bohm) Fischel

1945

59

Miami (Ferncliffe cem. Hartsdale, NY)

My Brother

Victor Bohm

1955

66

New York ( Poughkeepsie, NY)

My Niece

Clarisse (Friedmann) Freeman

1966

55

New York (Ferncliffe cem. Hartsdale)

My Cousins

Paul Khuner

1937

60

Vienna (central cemetery)

 

George Khuner

1950

65

Los Angeles

 

Otto Wolf

1961

67

New York ( Forest Hill, NY)

 

Armin Wolf

1964

71

New York ( Forest Hill, NY)

 

Edith (Blan) Blau

 

75

Beverly Hills (living)


THE BOHM - BACH FAMIILY (MY GENERATION)

My father, Heinrich Bohm, was born in Vienna on December 5, 1847, my mother, Clara nee Bach, in Vienna on December 19, 1860. They were married in 1881 and had five children, all born in Vienna:

  • Sophie, born December 6,1882 (named after my father's late and only sister)
  • Leonie, born March 31,1884
  • Hedwig, born May 6,1886
  • Victor, born January 27,1889   I
  • *Joseph, born October 5,1892 (after my mother's father, died few months before my birth)

My sisters were educated along the lines then usual for good middle­-class families: private schools, comparable to today's finishing schools, with emphasis on German, French and English languages, literature and history, but hardly any sciences. As a matter of routine, these curricula were supplemented by piano lessons at home, regardless of musical talent or interest. After completion of their schooling home instruction continued in piano, German and foreign literature and history of art. Leonie who showed some artistic talent took also home lessons and courses in drawing and sculpture. Simultaneously with these post-schooling activities started the social life, at age of about 18 or 19. It consisted of regular Sunday-afternoon open house tea for a great number of invited guests of which only a limited number, about 10 or 20, appeared on any­one of these Sundays (called “jour"). Then there were the large balls at home, given by a good number of families, for 50 to 100 guests, once, during each season. Finally there were carefully selected public balls arranged by organizations with rigid standards for the membership in the ball committee where admission tickets had to be sponsored by such members, like the balls of the Red Cross, the Industry Club and a number of charitable organizations like, the White Cross. These public balls had many hundreds of guests and all girls were chaperoned by their poor parents who had to sit at their reserved tables or loges until the end of the ball at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning. Outside of these social events it was next to impossible for a girl to appear with a young man un-chaperoned in the street or in any public place, at any time of day or night.

Since the studying of a girl at the university was a hardly existing oddity and since it was incompatible with the status of an upper­-middle class girl to accept a job or to work for pay at all, she just continued in the described activities until the time she got married. In impartial retrospect over so many decades, I must say that my father was a very outstanding man. While each of his children inherited some of his qualities none of us combined all of them. He had a wonderful balance of mind, well-tested in adversity, strict and unerring ideas about right and wrong based on principles of high ethics. His knowledge and erudition was universal and, in fact, surprising to the expert in any given-field. He never stopped learning to the end of his days. But he had no sense for the glittering superficiality of social conversation, despised the showing-off of half-knowledge - and quickly spotted those who did it. He did not mean too much to us while we were small children; it was only in our upper teen-ages and with growing maturity that we learned first to respect and then to appreciate, to admire and finally to love and revere him and his profound wisdom.

In their excellent marriage, my mother was, in some respects, the direct opposite of my father. She was a classical extrovert. She not only loved her children dearly but she liked to show them off and have them admired by others. Very good looking, very well dressed and of high and lively intelligence she was an excellent hostess who loved to welcome at her dinners people of wit and importance from every way of life - perhaps somehow in the style of a "Salon" of 19th century Paris. (At her chagrin she couldn't show off her husband who didn't care a bit for this kind of social success.) While mother was happy, relaxed and very warm and loving within the family and all involved with her husband and children, she kept to a very strict etiquette in every move outside the family, especially with regard to my sisters' every step. - - Mother was by nature a happy person with true "joie de vivre", loving beauty and the good things of life. But she analyzed all the great and small events of her time only with respect to their effect on her family. Her very feminine emotional approach to all problems was happily balanced by father's wise, mature judgment.

Victor and I were brought up in the then usual upper middle class way. During our pre-school and elementary school years we (and my sisters) had French governesses and became quite bi-lingual. Later on, when English began to compete with French as the "international language" our governesses were English. In the then existing educational system one had to decide upon completion of elementary school, at the age of about 10, whether to finish education by one of several three or four year vocational (trade) schools at a lower level, or to continue general education at the higher level of eight-year schools of which there were two types: the humanistic "Gymnasium" with heavy schedules in Latin, Greek, mathematics and social sciences, and the "Real-Schule" with the accent on French, English, mathematics, physics, chemistry and engineering. The baccalaureate of the "Gymnasium" gave direct access to the University, that of the "Real-Schule” to the "Technische Hochschule", in rank equivalent to the university but specializing on technical sciences and technology. In his career and social life the baccalaureate of the "Gymnasium" or "Real-Schule" gave a man a status comparable to today's college degree of B.A. or B.S. The completion of the 4 to 7 years studies at the University led to the degree and title of "doctor" (of medicine, law or philosophy), the studies at the "Technische Hochschule" to "doctor" or "engineer" (of engineering or chemistry). Most of these students studied for their future professions as physicians, lawyers, engineers, chemists or teachers or for government service where every other employee was a doctor of law. (The degrees of bachelor or master did not exist). Outside of engineers only few of these students went into private industry.

Besides its educational importance the completion of the "Gymnasium" or "Real-Schule" had also a very practical effect: all physically fit Austrian males between the ages of 18 and 24 had to go through compulsory peace time service in the Austrian army. The baccalaureate gave them the privilege of' serving only one year as officers trainee while all others had to serve for three years without the possibility ever to obtain an officer's commission in peace or wartime. It was this difference that drew a sharp line of social distinction through­out a man's life. It was under the described conditions that we five children were growing up in the large family apartment house in "Vienna, Mariahilferstrasse 97" that my grandfather Bohm had built in 1867 and that was now filled with five families of near relatives. My family lived in the 15 room second floor apartment with a cook, 3 maids and a butler and governess (which wasn't as extravagant then as it sounds today). After my granduncle's, Naphtali Bohm's death in 1901, my father inherited his charming country house in Marchet Strasse 50, Baden near Vienna and there my family, my grandmother Bach and 3 of her sons spent every summer for the next 36 years. It was a spacious, well equipped house with a large, beautiful garden. We all enjoyed this summer time and the Sundays with many visitors from Vienna. In winter the Sunday family dinner was a firmly established institution. With the children, uncles, cousins, later on grandchildren and sometimes, close friends there were twenty or more guests at the elaborate dinner table and everybody was out for fun and a good time. When the skiing age came up the skiers who couldn't return in time for dinner got a special dispensation from mother whereby they could appear in their sloppy ski outfit and were still served dinner.

  • In 1901, at the early age of 19, my sister Sophie married Arthur Kary, born 1874, a Vienna merchant and later on a manufacturer of silk goods. After living in the third floor apartment of our family house for about 8 years they moved into Arthur's apartment house on Stubenring 14. They had 4 children: (Otto Steven - born in 1907, Hertha Amalia - 1910, Eric Andreas - 1909, Pauline - 1916).
  • In 1906, at age: 22, Leonie married Arthur Friedmann, a textile manufacturer with his office in Vienna and his cotton weavery in Sternberg, Moravia (now Czechoslovakia). They lived in the house Bellaria 4 which belonged to my uncle Alfred Bach. They had 4 children: (Anne - born 1907, Edith - 1909, Clarisse - 1911, Thomas - 1912).
Hedwig (called "Hedel" always and everywhere) married in 1910, at age 24, Dr. Alfred Fischel who was then an associate professor of embryology and pathological anatomy at the university of Prague and the couple moved to Prague. In 1913 Alfred Fischel accepted a call to the university of Vienna as a full professor and head of department, with the promise. that a new institute for his department will be built according to his specifications. He was then 37 years old. They moved back to Vienna into our family apartment house. The marriage remained childless.

Victor showed already in his early year’s talent and profound interest for all technical sciences, especially chemistry. He was therefore sent to the "Real Schule", with the idea to train him for the technical management of our factories. (It was taken for granted by him and the family that only this would be his life's career.) Victor was an excellent student, always in the top echelon of his class and a favorite of his teachers. He graduated with high honors as the second best of his school. From age 15, he spent his summer vacations as trainee in our Vienna factory, learning at the bench all the manual skills of the trade. After his graduation, at age 17, it would have been a natural and also his and father's great desire to continue his science studies, especially chemistry and engineering, at the university level. This, however, proved practically unfeasible since father was already 60 years old at the time and alone in the management of the Vienna factory, while his brother Leopold in the Prague factory had just died and his young son, Ernst, had just succeeded him and needed the experienced supervision by my father. So my father was in dire need of Victor as his assistant - and had still to wait for another year which Victor had to spend in the compulsory army service. So Victor had to limit his further studies to private instruction and lab courses by chemistry professors of the Vienna university which he absorbed with greatest interest and intensity - in addition to his work in the factory. In 1908/9 he went through his officer's training year with the mounted light field artillery in Vienna and returned to his work immediately thereafter. He now concentrated on the technical problems and improvements of production, especially the chemistry of dyeing and construction of machines. His dislike of the financial and commercial end of the business and of all kinds of personal negotiations stayed with him for his life time.

As to myself: in many respects Victor was superior to me; in some respects we were the direct opposite of each other and, in a way, supplementing each other. Some of these differences were a strong contributing factor in our lifelong closeness and affection. With my lack of talent for the exact sciences (except mathematics) and my interest in things of the living world, past and present, and in human relations it was obvious, already at my completion of elementary school, that I was not a candidate for the “Real-Schule" but for the "Gymnasium". In that school however, I was anything but a good student. I just passed through all my exams, but I hated classes and was utterly bored by the pedantic, lifeless, uninspiring and uninterested teachers, aged 55 to 65. After limping and toiling through four unhappy years of this "Gymnasium" I was greatly relieved with my transfer to the "Handels-Akademie", with a curriculum comparable to a combination of liberal arts and business school. This was a modern school, young in its existence, and young in the spirit and age of the teachers. They caught my full interest from the beginning and all through the four years of these studies I stayed within the top 5 or 10% of my class. In the same way as Victor I worked at the bench in our Vienna factory during my summer vacations. Continuation of my studies after graduation was out of question for the same reasons as Victor's. So I was sent to our Prague factory for further training which was expected to be tougher because the foremen there would treat me less as "the son of the boss". After 6 months I returned to Vienna and started my work in the office on the financial, sales and accounting end which indeed was to become my main field of activities in the future. In the fall of 1911, this work was interrupted by my one year of military service as officer's trainee which I took with the same field artillery regiment as Victor 4 years before me.

THE FAMILY DURING WW-I (1914-1918)

By 1914 Austria had enjoyed 48 years of uninterrupted peace and there was hardly anybody around to remember what war really meant. Austria was never a democracy in our sense but a constitutional monarchy, with censorship of press and speech and with a government-controlled, strictly “patriotic” oriented school system. So my generation entered the poltical crises preceding the war pretty well indoctrinated with high ideas about "our emperor and country" and” Austria's right and might". On June 28, 1914, I joined the huge crowd in front of the building of our largest newspaper to hear the hour-to-hour news about the assassination of archduke Ferdinand by Serbian conspirators in Bosnia, of the same day - and I yelled with the crowd "War, War!" because I felt they had killed MY archduke - and also a little bit because the adventure of my personal participating in the war was most exciting.

I was then 21 years old (and the product of my upbringing). Victor was as bad as I. We spent the 10 days from the declaration of war with nervous waiting for our call-up, always afraid we might "miss" the war, and we were proud and happy when it came through. Everybody in the Bohm-Bach family, between the ages of 18 and 42, joined the army in the course of the war; the younger ones with peace time training at once, the others and older ones, later. The only exception was Alfred Fischel who had to stay at his medical teaching job at the University. There were altogether 14 of the family who joined the army, all of them at the front, with the exception of Arthur Kary who was not accepted for peacetime training because of poor eye sight and was called into training in 1917 only, too late for later service. Robert Bach and Arnold Stuetzel served with the infantry, Armin and Otto Wolf with supply columns and all the rest with the field artilery.

  • Ernst Bohm was killed in 1916, as an artillery observer in the Karpathian mountains at the border between Hungary and Russia.
  • Victor was wounded in February 1916 by a machine gun bullet, also as an artillery observer in the Wolhynian swamps in western Russia. Only a few days later and in the same district
  • I caught amoebic dysentery. (We incidentally met in a field hospital and 3 weeks later in a Vienna hospital.)
  • Armin Wolf caught malaria in 1917, in Albania.

Robert Bach was wounded most seriously in October 1915, on the Italian "Isonzo" front while leading his company in a bayonet attack against the well-entrenched Italians. A close range rifle bullet hit his leg shattering the thigh bones. When the stretcher bearers picked him up a grenade killed one of them, wounded the other, hit Robert's arm and broke the bone in 3 places. In this condition he had to lie helplessly until, at nightfall, he could be carried back to his trenches. At the field hospital the doctors insisted on immediate amputation of his leg to save his life. He refused and after two years the terrible wounds had healed, leaving him with a limp and a stiff arm. Richard became a prisoner of war in Italy on the last day of the war, in 1918, when through a "misunderstanding" of the armistice deadline many ten thousands of Austrians were captured: the Italians observed a deadline 24 hours later than the Austrians. He returned from captivity only in 1920.

Compared to others our family was still very lucky in the overall outcome. All through the war it was really the parents and other close relatives, rather than those at the front, who bore the greatest nervous strain about our fate. It was in the nature of the trench war with the front lines stabilized over extended periods with very little action or danger that, for a considerable part of the time we just enjoyed primitive, pleasant out-door life. During the 44 months that Victor and I spent first on the Russian and then on the Italian front, I estimate that no more than 20 to 25% of the time were periods of real action and danger. Those back home, however, were fretting and worrying all the time without respite. The calming letters we sent home were not of much help since they were taken as rosy-painted stories (which they mostly really were). Except for times of crises a 2 weeks leave was granted after 4 months of front service or 4 weeks after 6 months. These cherished leaves brought the only real relief to those back home - and a wonderful, wild time for us. We were young and could quickly forget the terror and atrocities of war. Victor and I were home on leave at the time of the cease-fire when the Austrian army collapsed in the debacle and the red revolution erupted at home. We couldn't understand the revolution and even less why the crowd in the streets attacked the returning officers and tore their insignia from their uniforms.

FROM ARMISTICE (WW-I) TO THE NAZI OCCUPATION OF AUSTRIA (1918-1938)

The armistice reunited the family at home, with the exception of Ernst Bohm who was killed in the war, and Richard Bohm who was still a prisoner of war in Italy. The Austro-Hungarian Empire of 56 millions was liquidated and divided into comparatively small, independent national states ( Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Poland and the new Austria) and southern Tyrol went to Italy. Vienna had shrunk to a capital of a country of 6 millions inhabitants. The economic and social impact on all the new states was terrific. As a consequence of the war and the ensuing sudden and complete economic dislocation, waves of disastrous inflation of their currencies swept all the new countries - but worst of them Austria. There, the inflation lead to a final conversion of the old 'Krone" to the new "Schilling" at the rate of 10,000 to 1, practically wiping out the value of the old money. This and the complete sealing off of their borders with Austria by all her now hostile and super-nationalistic neighbors (and former food suppliers) created near-famine conditions in Austria. It was amazing that under these circumstances the communistic movement of the armistice days did not last more than a few months and could be replaced by the "social-democratic" party which was a strong worker’s movement still recognizing private property and a capitalistic economy. A few years later there even emerged a lasting coalition regime between this party and the "Christian-Socialists", a party of farmers and small bourgeoisie.

The effect of all these changes on our factories in Vienna, Austria, Prague and Neutitschein, both Czechoslovakia was enormous. These factories were based on a common domestic market of 55 millions and suddenly Vienna found itself with one off 6 millions and the two others with one off 13 millions. Furthermore, with the transfer of capital between the two countries completely blocked, these factories had to get along with what capital was incidentally located in their countries. But even the funds available couldn't be used for the vital import of our raw material, because of exchange regulations in both countries; whatever foreign exchange we needed had to be earned by our own exports. This and the daily progressing inflation made domestic sales most undesirable. It was really an "export or die" situation - and our way to survive was to step up our export to about 75% of our production. We did it and succeeded "ever thereafter". Amidst these rather turbulent times, between 1918 and 1920, Victor completed the construction and equipment of the Neutitschein factory which he had begun in 1914.

It was a wonderful, brand-modern building (and would have been modern even by today’s standards). According to the original plan the Prague factory was then moved to the new plant. Later on Richard built two large apartment houses on part of its large area, then the most modern ones in the city. In 1919, after only 6 months of training in Vienna and Prague, Otto Wolf was put in charge of the starting Neutitschein factory under Victor's supervision. He was then 24 years old and his performance was outstanding, exceeding all our expectations. He combined a special gift for handling people and maturity in judgment with a talent for organization and administration of production and for its technical problems. Until Richard's return from Italian captivity he was almost on his own and thereafter he shared with Richard in the actual management of the factory, until the end of its existence. The great success of this factory is mainly due to the incessant work of Richard and Otto and to Victor's technical inventions and improvements. (The Neutitschein factory had 2,000 employees, Vienna 400).

THE FAMILY

  • 1919, Victor married Grete Janowitzer, daughter of a Vienna exporter and a very good looking girl. It seems that Victor's judgment of people had been impaired by four years of war. It was a miss-match and ended in divorce, 6 months later. In 1920 Richard finally returned from Italian captivity.
  • 1922, father (Heinrich Bohm) died at age 75. (Hurriedly I returned from a business trip in Holland, too late to find him alive). It was not only his family who mourned the grave loss. He left no enemy.
  • 1924, Arthur Friedmann, Leonie's (nee Bohm) husband, died on a trip to Berlin.
  • 1924, Victor Bohm married Gertrud Rie, built a fourth floor on top of our family house and moved in . They had 3 children: Maria was born in 1925, Lottie in 1927 and Henry in 1929.
  • 1926, Anne Friedmann, Leonie's oldest daughter, married Hans Klimes, the director of their factory in Sternberg, Czechoslovakia. They had 3 children: Adelheid (Heidi) born 1927, Arthur born 1929 and Rudolf born 1933.
  • 1930, I married Anna Fuerpass from Graz Styria.
  • 1933, Edith (Ezl) Friedmann married Ernst Werber, a lawyer, associated with at textile firm. They had two children: Steven born 1934 and Eleanor born 1938.
  • 1932, Hertha Kary married Peter Langer, a young Vienna attorney. Their daughter: Susy was born 1933, their son Martin 1940.
  • 1935, my uncle Rudolf Bach died. Buried at Zentralfriedhof, Vienna.
  • 1937, my uncle Alfred Bach died. Buried at the same place.
  • 1938, Anne Klimes died and is buried in Sternberg, Czechoslovakia.
  • 1938, Alfred Fischel died. His urn is kept at the urn depository of the Vienna. Crematory, opposite thee Zentralfriedhof.

Around 1930 the Nazi party in Germany gained real momentum and this had its effect on the third, but then smallest, Austrian party or the "Gross-Deutschen" which had at its goal the unification of Germany and Austria and, among others, represented the majority of the university students. At the time of the partition of the monarchy it was really the majority of the Austrians who wanted this unification, mainly for economical reasons to escape the dwarf economy of a 6 million country. It was only the post war treaty which prohibited such unification that made it impossible. The ascent of the Nazis in Germany, however, created the deadly opposition of both major Austrian parties against it; that of the "Christian-Socialists" for religious reasons and that of the "Social Democrats" because of the danger to their free trade union movement. The threat of Nazism, however, was never taken serious in Austria. Not even in 1934 after the Nazi take-over of the German government and not after their Rheinland occupation and nobody had an idea how deeply and thoroughly undermined so many strata of Austrian life already were. In 1936 and 1937 finally the then conservative right-wing semi-dictatorial Austrian government of Dollfus tried to rally the population to a paramilitary organization (the "Heimwehr") for the defense of the country to deter or fight, if necessary, an armed German invasion­ - in which, however, nobody seriously believed. The uninformed, easy-going and irresponsible Austrian opponents to Nazism liked to think, first, it can't happen here, and second, the Nazis may not be as bad as all that, after all. It was too late when they woke up.

NAZI OCCUPATION OF AUSTRIA, EMIGRATION AND WW-II 1938 to 1941

On the morning of March 10, 1938, Austria was occupied by the Nazi army. From the first day on, the Nazi regime in Austria was much more radical and ferocious than it then existed in Germany. All over the country and even among our personal friends, acquaintances and employees there suddenly appeared the so-called "illegal party members" (those Austrians whose secret party membership was illegal under Austrian law) who now proudly displayed their party uniforms and badges. They were considered the elite of the Austrian party and immediately took over important positions in the political administration and, as "commissars" the property and management of all Jewish-owned businesses. Those who were not themselves members of the Storm Troop or SS Elite Guard worked closely together with these terror organizations, wildly blackmailing with threats of violence, arrest and concentration camp. Quite a few of them were misled themselves and utterly misinformed about the real goals of their party. Some such former business friends came to see me during these first days and assured me that I and my family have nothing to fear, that we are not the kind of people they are up against and that they only want to free society from "usurers and parasites". Some went so far to offer their personal guaranty for my family's safety and their immediate intervention "if any crackpot would dare to inconvenience us". They really meant it. Two of them committed suicide when they saw what their cherished party really was.

Within two days SA and SS ruffians started mass arrests at night and violence in the streets in day time, regardless or age and sex of their victims. At the same time a minor traveling salesman of our factory, a former "illegal party member", took over as "commissar" of our factory. He was one of the misled ones, basically a decent simpleton who assured Victor and me, that it is all a formality, that we should carry on as heretofore and should just keep him informed what we were doing and that he considers as his main duty to protect us and the factory against any encroachment or interference or molestation by "party hoodlums" and he kept this promise to the end. Before the first week was over Victor agreed with me that the factory and all our property is lost, that all our efforts must be concentrated on getting the family out of the country and that this sole aim would be greatly endangered through any delay for the hopeless attempt to save the factory. It was not an easy decision to take about the then 90 year old family enterprise and we even could not consult with Richard because all communication with Czechoslovakia was cut off .

So we offered the factory to a few of our Austrian competitors, knowing that we couldn't obtain permission to leave the country before having disposed of this property. One of them said he wouldn't touch a deal that would mean stealing the factory from us under Nazi duress. The others said they haven't got the money to buy it. They couldn't believe it, when we told them we don’t ask for any money and that our price is only exit Visas for the entire family, which they may be able to arrange through their Nazi connections - but their connections were not good enough for this very hard job. Finally, one endless month later, our "commissar" brought us in touch with the Bavarian hat factory of Othmar Reich who had the necessary pull with the German Nazis. However, through the queer combination of utter lawlessness with bureaucratic red tape, so characteristic of all Nazi crimes, it took another full five months to get the Nazi permission for the conclusion of the deal. Result: the German purchaser of the factory had to pay a handsome amount of millions off Marks - of which we didn't receive one cent; the whole purchase price went directly to the Nazi treasury for various punitive taxes, mainly taxes for the permission to leave the country (!) (When we finally left Austria each person could take along no more than 20 Marks or $5.00).

The six months under the Nazis in Vienna were tough and full of tense and exciting situations but the entire family, with the exception of the Kary's, came through this period safe and sane and without the otherwise usual humiliations. A good part of the credit has to go to our "commissar" who got an apartment in our family house and who developed an ever increasing loyalty to our family with a special regard and respect for my mother. He repeatedly chased rowing Nazi molesters out of the family house and once threw bodily two intruding uniformed SA hoodlums out of the factory. In a very dangerous situation it was the entire factory personnel that saved Victor and me in a dramatic way from arrest and imprisonment. A three-men Nazi commission appeared in the factory, called a meeting of the entire crew, ordered us to be present as the "accused" and harangued the workers to come forward with their complaints about all the injustices they "surely had to suffer" in the past, being cheated on overtime pay, vacations, piece rates and subjected to the usual unfair treatment. Among the 200 assembled workers there was not a single one who took advantage of the situation and complained - not even after the commission told them that they have obviously become such cowards and serfs that they don’t even dare to air their just complaints and grievances. - It were such complaints which their red tape needed for our arrest as we learned from other cases in other factories with less fortunate results.

After few weeks, Arthur Kary and Otto Kary were arrested and put into the court house prison in Vienna, which in many cases was just a transit station to the concentration camps; after several weeks greatest anxiety, however, they were released. Andreas Kary was less fortunate; after his arrest he was sent to the infamous Dachau concentration camp. He survived a 10 month stay and was released in April 1939, when he could produce an American immigration visa.

Shortly after the occupation, the Nazis opened the Austrian border to visitors of foreign citizenship which enabled Otto Wolf, a citizen of the then still free Czechoslovakia, to visit us frequently and to in­form Richard who, as an Austrian citizen, couldn't dare to come to Vienna. Important to us were also the visits by our old friend, Fritz Feldheim, a citizen of Liechtenstein and a consul of that country in Belgium. At this stage it was Nazi policy to treat all foreign citizens with deliberate respect and consideration; this also gave full freedom of action and movement to Otto Wolf's brother-in-law, Arnold Stuetzel who, through Italy's annexation of South Tyrol, his place of birth, became an Italian citizen. Thomas Freeman lived in England at the time of the occupation. Alfred Fischel had retired from his professorship at the Vienna University in January 1938, after reaching the age limit and was thus spared dismissal by the Nazis. Within the first two month every member of the family applied for immigration visas to U.S.A. at the Vienna consulate, joining endless waiting lines, where we were told that the waiting time for the visa is presently estimated at two years (!), a period that no one could really hope to survive in Austria. So people were trying for any country in the world that would take immigrants, Brazil, West Indies, Uruguay, Australia etc. and some got such visas which were so valuable to them, because they hoped to spend there in safety the waiting time for their USA visa.

But for anybody who owned any property in Austria the most urgent and difficult task was to obtain the Austrian exit visa and this they could get only after being stripped of all their property – in a "legal" way which included endless red tape, especially where any business was concerned. It was the red tape of the Nazis AND of the American Consulates that cost thousands of people their lives. With the prospect of two-years waiting time for our American visas, it became imperative for everyone of the family to obtain an inter­mediate visa from some other country, for immediate use. In this vital matter and at this critical moment my cousin, George Khuner, came to the rescue of many of the family. Through his eminent position as exponent of the international "Lever Brothers Unilever" concern for the middle of Europe, with the seat in Paris, he had the necessary connections (and knew where to make supporting "donations") to obtain French visas almost instantly. He procured such visas for my mother, my sisters Leonie and Hedel, Clarisse, Armin Wolf and his family of four. These visas were only "transit visas" for a 10 days stay, but George was sure he could extend them indefinitely once they were in France - and he did.

Victor's and my families had "permanent" visas to Czechoslovakia for the management of our Neutitschein factory and Ernst Werber was in the same position as an executive of another Czechoslovakian factory. Robert Bach received a visa for England through his brother Frederic, a British citizen, then living there for forty years. In one way or another, the Kary family managed to get an Italian visa. Peter and Hertha Langer with their little daughter Susi received an Australian visa and intended to stay there for good. (When I asked Peter whether Australia isn't really very far out, he just said "Far from where?"). After all the effort and tense waiting for these intermediate visas we still couldn't leave the country. Then only could we start the nerve wrecking work for the Nazi exit permit and this was the more time-consuming the more property one owned, because the theft of the entire emigrant's possessions had to be performed through intricate, legalistic procedures with endless red tape. Again our whole family was very lucky and we survived all this waiting time under Nazi terror. Our emigration started to move. Otto Kary left for Italy early in 1939 and married Maria Hoebart in Trieste in March 1939. Immediately after his release from the Dachau concentration camp, Andreas Kary married Netty Schargl in Vienna in April 1939 and the couple followed their parents to Fiume, Italy.

EMIGRATION

Victor's and my Families: Richard and Otto. We had to leave promptly upon receipt of our exit visas, not only because they called for it, but also because of the rapidly deteriorating developments in Czechoslovakia in the wake of Chamberlain's, the British prime minister's, infamous sell-out, of that country to the Nazis and Czechoslovakia was our only way out of Austria. We couldn't even wait for the departure of my mother and Leonie and Hedel, whose French visas and Austrian exit permits were not yet processed, although we were repeatedly assured of their imminent issuance. Fidel Haas, the former salesman of our factory and now its "Commissar" and influential Nazi party member, who remained completely loyal to our family, gave us his solemn promise for the full protection of my mother "whatever may happen until the time of her departure" – and he kept his promise, even under critical conditions.

On September 10, 1938, we finally left Vienna: nobody could dare accompanying us to the train station. When we arrived, tremendously relieved, at the Czech border station we found Richard and Otto waiting for us. But when we greeted them with "Finally free and safe!" they gasped and said "Don’t you know, the Nazis have broken their promise to Chamberlain. They were not satisfied with occupying the German-speaking northern part of the country and are advancing into the rest of the country. It is a question of days rather than of weeks that the whole of Czechoslovakia will be occupied!" No, we had no idea how bad things were. In the evening we arrived in Prague and sat down to discuss our next step. It was clear to us that our large Neutitschein factory was gone and with it the financial resources on which we had counted for our livelihood and also that we had to leave Czechoslovakia at once, without having any other place to go. Richard's family and Otto were Czechoslovakian citizens for which, at that time, it was not too hard to obtain foreign entry visas. But for Richard himself and for our families with our Austrian passports no such possibilities existed: there was no civilized country in the world that would admit an Austrian refugee in a normal way and within a reasonable time, although the whole world knew that it was literally a question of life or death for these refugees to leave the Nazi dominated areas and to leave them fast.

We finally decided that our only chance would be to ask our good, old friend Fritz Feldheim in Brussels whether he, through his excellent connections, could possibly obtain some kind of Belgian entry visas for us. Feldheim was the co-owner of a large family enterprise in Brussels, producing hat leathers and other leather goods. Our business relations started between his father and my father and continued between him and us. Apart from this business connection, however, there developed a close personal friendship among us over the years. During this same night of our arrival we telephoned with Feldheim asking him about the possibility of visas for Victor's and my family and Richard. (Richard's family and Otto all Czechoslovakian citizens could get Belgian and other visas promptly in the normal way at that time.) He told us that the Belgian government had blocked issuance of all visas for German and Austrian citizens, that he would still try his best, but couldn't promise success. At our great and wonderful surprise he called us back within 24 hours; all 8 visas have been granted and we could pick them up at the Belgian consulate in Prague which has been so instructed by telegram. We did so and Victor's and my family packed up and left Prague, only a few days after our arrival. Richard and Otto stayed behind because they thought it still important to arrange things in Prague and Neutitschein although the occupation of Neutitschein was expected any day; they insisted on staying in spite of Victor's and my warning that they just invite danger without any chance to rescue any of our property. We knew from our Vienna experience how hopeless and dangerous such attempts were.

So the 7 persons of Victor's and my family took a non-stop flight to Brussels, crossing over German territory and dearly hoping that no unscheduled stop would be made on German soil. We had heard of such landings in Germany where the refugees were simply taken off the plane and nothing was heard of them thereafter. On our safe arrival in Brussels Feldheim was waiting for us at the airport. It was quite a reunion. He helped us to settle in furnished apartments and brought us some urgently needed money which we had previously managed to deposit as an emergency fund with his company. The Czechs hadn't allowed us to take more than some pocket money out of the country. We were now anxiously waiting and worrying for Richard's and Otto's arrivals who had promised to follow us within a few days. After about one Otto arrived. He couldn't persuade Richard to leave with him contending he had to finish some more “important matters”. Telegrams to him had no effect. In the meantime we had a visit from another good friend, Bobby van Veen from Rotterdam who had held the Dutch agency of our Neutitschein factory and had a cap factory himself. When we told him about Richard's delaying of his departure from Czechoslovakia he insisted on flying there himself (which, as a Dutch citizen he could freely do) and promised to bring Richard back "if I have to drag him to the plane". He went and really returned with Richard.

Only now, after all partners of our firm were out of reach of the Nazis could we get to work on the only possible way to save some part of our properties from Nazi theft - and the time of the year, September, was just right: about 80% of our Neutitschein production went into export to America, England, Scandinavia, Belgium, France and Switzerland and also to Australia and New Zealand. The most massive shipments were made from May to end of August, every year, with payments coming in most heavily during the last quarter of the year which meant that right now, by the middle of September, the amount of our claims on foreign customers were at an all-year high. The fact that our firm was a partnership (and not a corporation) gave us in all countries the legal right to collect personally these claims - and that was what we were now working on, 18 hours a day, turning out a huge volume of' letters and telegraphs in 3 languages, because the main objective was to reach our customers before the Nazis could request payment, on official Neutitschein stationary, and receive it from unsuspecting customers. The deep antagonism of our customers and agents against the Nazi regime and our personal friendly relationship with them in past years was of great help in this action. In the many cases where we had to go to court in order to prove our ownership of the firm, we found the courts of all countries most cooperative, including the Supreme Court of Norway which, on our application, stroke down as unconstitutional a Norwegian law that referred to a trade agreement with Nazi Germany whereby already existing trade debts to German and Austrian suppliers cannot be paid to them, but only into a clearing pool from which the German government was supposed to compensate the supplier.

The court accepted our argument of illegal retroactivity. Our main handicap in this work was, of course, the lack of books, files and records of any kind pertaining to these claims, but with the help of our foreign agents and Richard and Otto's excellent memories we could reconstruct most of the major claims on our numerous customers. It took us many months, and partly even years, before the rather considerable amounts from these collections became actually available to us. For the meantime we had to rely on the minor emergency funds we had created some time ago in London, Brussels, Amsterdam and Zurich. (Some such funds in America, originating from consignment goods we had shipped during the preceding months to our American agents, were completely lost through rather shady operations of these agents). Beside this hectic collection work we also established in Brussels a partnership with our Belgian agent, Bottu, for the operation of a hat finishing shop, with the intention to let him run the shop after we leave the country. (Later on, under the Nazi occupation of Belgium, the shop came to a standstill and in the final liquidation of the company we lost part of our small initial investment). After one month in Brussels, the rapid advance of the German armies left us no doubt about the urgency of leaving Belgium. Our next aim was England, but there were no visas for Austrians available in the normal way. After weeks of negotiations, however, our good friends, Mr. Longcroft, our accountant, and Mr. Harford, our lawyer, could arrange for our visas through the Home Secretary against our commitment to start a hat factory in England. Together with our visas we even received a letter of invitation from the Home Secretary.

At the beginning of January 1939 we arrived in London and immediately started looking around for a suitable place for our factory. We soon found it in an idle-standing wool body factory of medium size in Preston, Lancashire, not far from Liverpool. We bought the factory under the name, of Bohm Bros. Ltd., moved to Preston and started operations. Victor, Richard and Otto ran the production, without any foremen, and I took care of the office with one girl as help which, besides the janitor, was the only "non-productive" employee. The breaking-in of the workers and the build­up of production progressed swiftly; soon we had about 80 people employed and the factory ran smoothly, efficiently and profitably. The employees were not only very good and conscientious at their work, but also very nice as individuals and extremely loyal to us. Our relations with them were the best, with the exception of one incident where they threatened a walk-out because we had hired a girl whose private life didn't measure up to the moral standards of the rest of the crew! Also everybody else in the community was nice and friendly to us, including the local commissioner of police to whom we had to report from time to time as (still) "enemy aliens". Otherwise we had all freedom of movement. From May 1940 on, however, our personal position as "enemy aliens" started to deteriorate rapidly: we lost our freedom of movement, could not leave our immediate neighborhood without police permit, had to make special applications for business trips to London and even then were not allowed to stay there overnight. These restrictions increased with the Nazi occupation of Belgium and their advance in France. They reached their highpoint when the German armies arrived at the English Channel with the threat of an imminent invasion of England.

In these days, when we were no longer allowed to keep radios in our homes, we went to the Preston hotel to listen to the news. It was there and then that we heard the original, famous Winston Churchill speech of "blood, sweat and tears". I will never forget the tremendous impact of this speech on the crowded audience in the hotel lobby. It was a gripping manifestation of unshakeable confidence in the man Churchill. I heard voices around me: "Now everything will be alright -- he is taking care of it!"-- Around the last week of June 1940 our friendly police commissioner told us confidentially that he was informed that within the next two weeks all "enemy aliens", without any exception, will be interned in a camp on the Island of Man, in the Irish Sea. After all we had gone through; the idea of internment was intolerable for us. It meant separation of families, because these camps were separated by sexes. And, thinking realistically, it also meant the loss of our considerable investments in our factory which could not continue for a single week without us. Our firm intention had been to stay in England for good. We therefore were not interested in the American visas which we had finally received in January 1940 (after nearly two years of waiting!) and which we had shoved into a bottom drawer. We now took them out! Just in time mine expired on July l0th, Victor's and Richard's a month or so later and we knew the US consulates usually refuse the extension of expired immigration visas, except for proven cases of impossibility to use them within their 6 months validity.

Our plans then were these: the factory has to be stopped at once and the inventory and plant have to be sold as quickly as possible through Mr. Longcroft who was also a shrewd, experienced businessman and had our complete confidence. I had to leave on the next boat with space still available. Richard and Victor had still about one month open on their visas. After Gertrud and the 3 children, under their special conditions, received a visa extension and after making sure with the police that for the foreseeable future no internments are planned for women and children in her position, Victor planned to have his family following him to USA only after he had settled down in some way and prepared for their arrival. This should also allow his children to continue in their schools in England and to resume their studies in America promptly after their arrival.

Otto who was still protected in England as a Czechoslovakian, promised to stay with Gertrud and to travel with her to USA. I was very lucky to receive ship tickets at such short notice for Ali and myself on the "Homeric", a 10,000 ton passenger ship, leaving Liverpool on July 8, 1940, two days before expiration of our USA visa! After 10 days of zigzagging through the Atlantic without naval escort and under black-out against the swarming Nazi U-boats, we arrived in New York harbor on July 18th. Victor and Richard followed, arriving by middle of August, 1940. Six months later, in February 1941, Gertrud and her children and Otto left England (on the same boat with Clarisse, Robert Bach, Heinz and Ella Landesmann and Liese). Their ship sailed via Rio de Janeiro and Montevideo, where it stayed for 10 days, and finally arrived in New York in April 1941.  

MY MOTHER - CLARA BACH

After Victor's and my departure from Vienna, on September 10, 1938, mother stayed in her apartment under the close protection of our loyal Nazi Commissar Haas and his wife, living in the same house, who kept her free from any molestation - even during the infamous "Crystal Night" of November 11th, when free hand was given officially to Nazi hoodlumism, terror and violence throughout the city.

With her French visa and Austrian exit permit finally completed she left Vienna for Paris by the middle of November 1938, together with Leonie and Hedel. She was then 78 years old. She was simply admirable in the way she took and adjusted to all the excitements of these days and the drastic changes in her daily life and circumstances. She did not complain and was not sorry for herself and said she never will, if only the family gets safely through this ordeal - and she kept this promise to the end of her days. At her arrival in Paris she was excellently and most kindly taken care of by George Khuner and his wife Marianne who had provided good and comfortable quarters for her and Leonie and Hedel in Versailles. Of course, their safe arrival in Paris brought tremendous relief to us in Brussels but our Belgian visas made it impossible to visit them in Paris because we couldn't obtain a Belgian re-entry permit once we leave that country. Only after arrival in London and under our more liberal English visas I could finally visit them in January 1939. It was then decided that mother should stay with us in England while Leonie and Hedel preferred to await their USA visas in France.

When mother arrived in London in March 1939 we had prepared for her a little apartment with bedroom and living room on Bayswater Road near Hyde Park. An elderly Viennese refugee woman was hired as a sleep-in housekeeper and companion. Within a few days mother managed to create a good semblance to her former life, in spite of the vast difference in her present station and surroundings. Quite a few of her Vienna friends and acquaintances were then among the Austrian refugees in London and there were not many afternoons where mother didn't have some guests in her little living room, to whom she served tea and sandwiches as graciously as in Vienna. Mother was happy and satisfied and had no complaints, neither mentally or physically. When Victor and I left for America, in July and August 1940, Clarisse (who had come with mother from Paris) stayed with her in London. There was no emotional good-bye when we left, since it was firmly planned for mother and Clarisse to follow us to USA, together with Otto and Gertrud's family.

We never saw her again. --- At the begin of September she came down with pneumonia, in the midst of the Nazi air blitz on London. In spite of the most thorough attention of our Vienna family doctor she grew weaker and weaker and died of heart failure on September 19, 1940, just 80 years old. Besides her doctor only Clarisse was at her bed side. Otto and Gertrud couldn't move from Preston, Leonie and Hedel not from Versailles and her brother Frederic was in the service with the British Territorial army.  

She was buried in London. Her ashes were later transferred to Miami, Fla. and finally to the Ferncliffe Cemetery in Hartsdale, N.Y.

LEONIE, HEDEL BOHM & WOLF FAMILY -TREK THROUGH (NAZI-COLLABORATING) VICHY FRANCE - 1940

In May 1940, with increasing air bombardment and the rapid advancement of the German army through France, it became clear to them, as to hundreds of thousand Frenchmen that they couldn't stay in the vicinity of Paris without being caught by the Nazi terror again. Armin Wolf had been already interned in a Vichy French concentration camp in Gours. The others decided to try to reach the free-French South of the country. And so began their endless trek. Around the capital, panic was already in full swing. Railroad traffic was completely disrupted and the few running trains were reserved for the military. Automobiles were unavailable, single seats on horse-drawn carriages were at high premium and those who had a push cart to move their luggage were the lucky few. All roads were jammed with fugitives on foot with lots of women and children - among them Leonie and Hedel, 56 and 54 years old, and Lily Wolf and her 2 children, 15 and 13 years. Of the little luggage they had taken along they had to abandon all but the one suitcase an adult could carry on the endless march. Further away from Paris they managed sometimes to get on a railroad train, but these trains moved 5 or 6 miles, and then came to stop for many hours or their engines were requisitioned for urgent use elsewhere and nobody knew whether and when it is going to move again.

Many nights were spent sitting up or standing in such overcrowded railroad cars. At other nights they asked, and usually received, shelter at farmer’s houses, often in straw-filled barns. The simple folk were good to them and gave or sold them milk and bread and sometimes even eggs. But the entire time the advancing Germans were on their heels and sometimes the Nazis were entering the village at one end while they left it at the other end. And so it went till they finally reached Nice and relative and temporary safety. The exhausting escape from Paris to Nice, about 300 miles, had taken four months - from June to October 1940. Soon after their arrival in Nice there was a happy reunion with Armin who somehow had made his way out of the Gours camp. (**This Odyssey is vividly and in detail described by a "diary of Leonie". The original is with Lily Wolf and I have a copy)


OTHER ARRIVALS IN U.S.A. (chronologically)

  • Otto (Steven) Kary: from Fiume, Italy, arrived in February 1939, settled in Miami, Fla., for a few years, then went on to California.
  • Andreas (Eric) Kary with Netty (Jean): He was held in German concentration camps (Dachau) from April 1938 to April 1939; both arrived via Fiume, Zurich and Naples in U.S.A. in September 1939.
  • Ernst and Ethel Werber with Steven and Eleanor: after a 10 months stay in England they arrived in November 1939 and settled in Tampa, Fla.
  • Arthur and Sophie Kary: arrived via Fiume and Zurich, in December 1939 and settled in Miami, Fla.
  • Pauline Stone (then Kary): went to Italy, crossed illegally into France, stayed some time with Leonie and Hedel in Paris, arrived here in May 1940 and joined her parents in Miami.
  • Leonie and Hedel: went in October 1940 from Nice to Lisbon, Portugal, and finally arrived here in February 1941. They joined Sophie in Miami.
  • Armin (Stephen) and Lily Wolf with Henry and Hanni (Joan): after their reunion in Nice they took a ship with destination to Lisbon via free (internationalized) Tangier, North Africa, which, however, was diverted to Casablanca in Vichy-French Morocco, where Armin again was interned in a concentration camp, in May 1941. Only in November 1941 did they reach Lisbon via Tangier and arrived here in December 1941.
  • George and Marianne Khuner: came here from Paris via England, stayed for some time in New York and then settled in Beverly Hills, Cal.
  • Edith Blan and daughter Marianna: followed them to California.

ARRIVALS IN CANADA 

  • Hans Klimes with sons Arthur and Rudolf: left Sternberg, Czechoslovakia, in December 1948, without difficulties in obtaining the Canadian immigration visa on their Czechoslovakian passports. They settled in Montreal. The daughter, Heidi, stayed behind to marry a Czech air force officer Miroslav Rohel. (they had 7 children: Dagmar, Zdenek, Marie, Paul, Peter, Jana, John).
  • Thomas Freeman: he lived in England at the outbreak of war, joined a British airborne division which flew into the battle of Arnheim, Holland. After the end of the war he stayed on in England for some time before finally deciding for Canada and Montreal.

 


ARRIVAL IN AUSTRALIA

  • Peter and Hertha Langer with daughter Susie: after their early decision to go to Australia, it didn't take them long to obtain an immigration visa. As the earliest emigrants in the family they left Vienna already in 1938. For a few years they lived in Melbourne, Australia, where their son Martin was born in (private). Thereafter they settled in Wellington, New Zealand.


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At this point I feel I can safely stop my story and leave it to the younger generations to continue where I left off. Their stories. will have to record only the witnessed happenings of their own lifetime and will therefore be more accurate, more interesting and more "personalized" than mine.

I only wish they would do it and pass it on to their children like the family bible of old.

VIVANT SEQUENTES!


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