People and Personalities
While in 1857 only 72 inhabitants of Olomouc were listed as being of the Jewish faith, by 1869 this figure had risen to 747 out of a total population of 14,394. Subsequent development was as follows: 1880 – 1,254 Jews out of a total 18,549; 1890 – 1,306 out of 19,761; 1900 – 1,676 out of 21,707; 1910 – 1,679 out of 22,245; 1921 – 2,077 out of 57,206, and finally 1930 – 2,198 Jews out of a total population of 66,440. Perhaps 200 Jewish citizens survived the horrors of the Second World War, and nearly 50 of today’s residents of Olomouc regard themselves as part of its Jewish community.
Resourceful Jews were responsible for much of the city’s economic and cultural development in the second half of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. Successful Jewish entrepreneurs included the maltsters Briess (company established 1873), Hamburger (est. 1883), Zweig (est. 1876), Brach (est. 1872) and the Fürst brothers (est. 1920), the yeast works owner and distiller Singer (est. 1854), the distiller May (est. 1851), chocolate maker Deutsch (est. 1877), food manufacturer Heikorn (est. 1911), printer Groák (est. 1864), fashion house proprietors Beer, Spitz and Roubíček, hotelier Löwenrosen and banker Hirsch (est. 1848).
Eminent personalities of Jewish descent with links to Olomouc:
- Rudolf Bacher (8.7.1877 Zábřeh – 9.9.1925 Olomouc), X-ray pioneer and head of the Provincial Hospital in Olomouc, died a victim of his vocation.
- Otto Z. Eisner (12.1.1911 Šternberk – 1.7.1975 Bradford, England), translator of Czech poetry into German.
- Paul Engelmann 914.6.1891 Olomouc – 16.2.1965 Tel Aviv, Israel), architect and writer, from 1909 lived in Vienna (a member of the Adolf Loos circle), in 1934 moved to Palestine, completed a number of architectural projects and wrote literary philosophical essays.
- Leo Fall (2.2.1873 Olomouc – 16.9.1925 Vienna), composer and conductor, outstanding especially as an operettist.
- Sigmund Freud (6.5.1856 Příbor – 23.9.1929 London, England), world renowned physician and teacher, the founder of psychoanalysis, served as an army physician in Olomouc in 1886.
- Gustav Gellner (8.12.1871 Mladá Boleslav – January 1943 Terezín), physician and medical historian active 1918-1930 at the Klášterní Hradisko military hospital, author of the work The Illness of Ladislav the Posthumous and biographical works on the physicians Jan Černý-Johannes Niger de Praga and Tomáš Jordán (Thomas Jordan) of Klausenburg.
- Jacques Groag (5.2.1892 Olomouc – 25.1.1962 Vienna), architect, caricaturist and painter, active mainly in Vienna and London.
- Andreas Ludwig Jeitteles, pseudonym Justus Frey (24.11.1799 Prague – 17.6.1878 Graz), professor of medicine at Olomouc University 1837-69, journalist, poet and politician.
- Theodor Kohn (22.3.1845 Březnice, near Zlín – 4.12.1915 Ehrenhausen, Austria), Archbishop of Olomouc 1892-1904, his grandfather from Břeclav was compelled to convert from Judaism to Christianity.
- Heinrich Kulka (1900 Litovel – 1971 Auckland, New Zealand), architect.
- Gustav Mahler (7.7.1860 Kaliště near Humpolec – 18.5.1911 Vienna), world renowned conductor and composer, was director of the German Opera in Olomouc for the 1882-3 season, a commemorative plaque marking his stay is to be found on the house at the sign of the Golden Pike (U zlaté štiky), on the corner of Michalská and Ztracená Street No.4/253.
- Berthold Oppenheim (29.7.1867 – 1942 Treblinka), for many years the erudite and respected rabbi of the Jewish Religious Community of Olomouc, author of numerous works of scholarship.
- Vlastimil Artur Polák (3.4.1914 Úsov – 9.3.1990 Olomouc), writer of poetry and prose, the last German writing author in the Czech lands. He worked his experiences of imprisonment at Terezín into the poetic cycle The Town of the Black Gates, in 1975 a brief selection of his later poems was published in Vienna entitled The Great Seclusion. In later works he returned to themes from the Jewish past – the poetry anthology The Light of the Still Chamber and a collection of the tales he heard as a child in his native Úsov, The White Lady of the Ghetto.
- Jiří Pelikán (1924 Olomouc), Director General of Czechoslovak Television and politician linked with the years 1968-9, later publisher in exile of the journal Listy.
- Jindřich Steinmann (28.4.1877 Oplocany – 16.10.1920), popular educator and museum worker.
- Salomon Wasservogel (18.8.1846 Moravská Ostrava – 11.12.1909 Olomouc), famous Olomouc photographer from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.
- Fritz Zweig (1893 Olomouc – 1984 Los Angeles, USA), conductor.
Chairmen of the Jewish Religious Society, the Jewish Religious Community, the Synagogal Choir and the Jewish Community of Olomouc:
- 1865-1880 Leopold Hamburger
- 1880-1901 Eduard Hamburger
- 1901-1913 JUDr. Jakob Eben (1842-1919)
- 1913-1918 Friedrich Fischel
- 1918-1920 Max Hochwald
- 1920-1942 and 1945-1947 Dr Ludvík Meissner (1876-1964)
- 1947-1950 Dr Arnošt Hirsch (died 1970)
- 1950-1956 Berthold Wolf (1886-1962), Vice-Chairman in charge
- 1956-1958 Max Vojtìch Diamant (died 1968)
- 1959-1971 Bedřich Hirsch (died 1981)
- 1971-1988 Vilém Karpfen (1920-1988)
- 1989-1991 Rudolf Marvín
- 1991-1995 Ema Donathová (died 1995)
- 1995-2004 Edita Šťastná
- 2004- Ing. Petr Papoušek
From 1945, Zigmund Böhm, Alexander Dubský and Miloš Dobrý each served as Secretary of the Jewish Community.
Rabbis of the Jewish Religious Community of Olomouc:
- 1892-1939 Berthold Oppenheim (1867-1942)
- 1940-1942 Dr. Ernst Reich
Precentors of the Jewish Religious Community, the Synagogal Choir and the Jewish Community of Olomouc:
- pre-1942 – Karel Schlesinger, Arnold Stössler, Waldmann
- post-1945 – Berthold Wolf, Alois Wellner, Winter, Vilém Karpfen, Zigmund Deutsch.
The following were involved in the Jewish Burial Society, re-established in 1946: Dr Arnošt Hirsch, Arnošt Kulka, Emil Schreiber, Zigmund Böhm, Berthold Wolf.