Josef Klaber, report on Jacob Edelstein, Ota Zucker, and Erich Munk

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Josef Klaber provides a report on Jacob Edelstein (chairman of the Council of Elders in the Terezín Ghetto), Ota Zucker (member of the Council of Elders in the Terezín Ghetto), and Erich Munk (member of the Council of Elders in the Terezín Ghetto). He describes their activities and behavior towards the inmates of the Ghetto.

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  1. English
  2. Czech
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Edelstein Jaakov came from the east and, as far as I know, was sent to an oratory school in Vienna by a zionist organization and, as a confirmed zionist, fought for the fulfilment of the cause. His best friend was Dr. Kahn, which became apparent when Edelstein was leaving for Theresienstadt. Since Edelstein had the opportunity already in Nisko and later in Prague to associate with the leading SS from the Central Office for Jewish Emigration, thanks to his foresight and intelligence, he learned to push more things in Theresienstadt through than his successors and others could manage. His constructive work in Theresienstadt in the interest of Jewishness can be called pioneering. He helped wherever he could, even in cases when he was in great danger from the SS. After the arrival of Dr. Epstein and Murmelstein, the first of which was installed by the SS to his post, the two officials became mired in a misunderstanding and Edelstein, disgusted by the behavior and work of Dr. Epstein in particular, wanted to resign his position and could no longer intervene as he could before. Unfortunately, this had negative consequences, which were not caused by Edelstein, but by the overall conditions in Theresienstadt.

He was relentless in his work, accepted anyone’s request or complaint and in the end redeemed himself for his good work on deportation and death.

Ing. Otto Zucker

During the departure to Theresienstadt with the so-called Staff for short goodbyes, during which the deceased Dr. Weidmann described the character of Edelstein as well as Ing. Zucker and noted that even though they are confirmed zionists, there are differences between them. On the one hand Edelstein is more emotional, while Zucker is harsher, but these two types are necessary for the building of the ghetto and it will be to the benefit of all, because they are two different personalities, but understand one another when it comes to the main issues. Ing. Zucker is perhaps harsher than Edelstein, but even he worked tirelessly and selflessly on the building and improvement of the ghetto. He devoted himself not only to the work that was determined for him, but also to art, music, etc. He kept company with artists and scholars, for whom he found time for in his scant free moments. He too, after the arrival of Dr. Epstein and Dr. Murmelstein began to argue and feel disgusted, which he took badly, just like Edelstein.

In short, Ing. Zucker was just like Edelstein, although, as I stated earlier, he had an more emotionally harsh character.

Dr. Erich Munk

I would describe Dr. Munk as he was characterized during an SS-member meeting in the Kameradschaftsheimu, where all of the heads were present according to their character and behavior and where Munk was called by Seidl or Günther, who were sticklers for the rules, a direct person. It was his best characteristic. What he got done during his first days in Theresienstadt as the head of health care, can only be judged by someone who worked with him. Out of nothing he created a health care system at such a high level that he saved thousands from their deaths. He worked only in the public’s interest, and never for personal gain. Towards the end of his term he contracted tuberculosis, and had to be treated for it for several months. He worked using all of the resources at his disposal and managed to get a sufficient quantity of medicine when he relentlessly notified the Germans of the danger of epidemics, which ones can be stopped if there is enough medicine, rooms for the sick, etc. Like the other leaders, he paid for his selfless work with his life.

Documentation Campaign: Scheck

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Edelstein Jaakov pocházel z východu a pokud je mi známo, byl sionistickou organizací poslán do řečnické školy do Vídně a jako přesvědčený sionista bojoval za splnění těchto idejí. Nejlepším jeho přítelem byl Dr. Kahn, co se ukázalo také při odchodu Edelsteina do Terezína. Tím, že Edelstein již v Nisku a později v Praze měl příležitost stýkati se s vedoucími SS od Zentralstelle für jüdische Auswanderung, naučil se díky své prozíravosti a inteligenci učiniti hlavně v Terezíně mnoho, co se jeho nástupcům a ostatním pak už tak nedařilo. Jeho budovatelská práce v Terezíně v zájmu Židovstva může se nazvat pionýrskou. Pomáhal, kde mohl i v případech, kde mu hrozilo nebezpečí ze strany SS. Po příchodu Dr. Epsteina a Murmelsteina z nichž první byl dosazen SS na jeho místo, povstala nedorozumění mezi těmito činiteli a Edelstein znechucen jednáním a postupem hlavně Dr. Epsteina, chtěl se vzdáti své funkce a nemohl již tak zasahovat, jak to činíval předtím. Uškodilo to bohužel - avšak ne vinou Edelsteina nýbrž poměry - celku Terezína.

Byl neúmorný ve své práci, přijal každého s jeho prosbou nebo stížností a nakonec odpykal svou dobrou práci deportací a smrtí.

Ing. Otto Zucker

Při odchodu do Terezína s tzv. štábem bylo pořádané krátké rozloučení, při kterém zemřelý Dr. Weidmann vylíčil charakter jak Edelsteina, tak Ing. Zuckera a podotkl, že i když jsou téhož přesvědčení jako sionisté, jsou v nich rozdíly, kde na jedné straně Edelstein jako snad citověji založený, Zucker jako drsnější, ale že tyto dvě osoby jsou určeny pro vybudování ghetta a zajisté to bude k dobru všem, poněvadž jsou to dvě povahy různé, ale v hlavním bodu si budou rozumět. Ing. Zucker byl snad drsnější povahy jako Edelstein, ale i on pracoval neúmorně a nezištně na zbudování a zlepšení ghetta. Věnoval se nejen určené práci, nýbrž i umění, jako hudba atd. V jeho společnosti se pohybovali umělci a učenci, u kterých ve chvílích, které měl volné pro svůj soukromý život, nalezl část svého života. Také u něho dostavilo se příchodem Dr. Epsteina a Dr. Murmelsteina znechucení a rozpory, které těžce snesl tak, jak Edelstein.

Celkem řečeno byl Ing. Zucker právě tak jako Edelstein, i když - jak již z počátku řečeno - citově drsnější, povahy.

Dr. Erich Munk

Dr. Munka označil bych - jak byl charakterizován při jedné schůzce SS-manů v Kameradschaftsheimu, kde byli jednotlivě všichni vedoucí dle jejich povahy a chování a kde byl Munk označen myslím Seidlem nebo Güntherem, že spolkli pravítko - jako: přímý člověk. Byla to jeho nejlepší charakteristika. Co učinil hned v prvních dnech Terezína jako vedoucí zdravotnictví, může myslím posoudit jen ten, který s ním pracoval. Z ničeho vybudoval zdravotnictví na takovém stupni, že zachránil tisíce před smrtí. Pracoval jen v zájmu věci, nikdy z osobních důvodů. tak, že ke konci jeho práce vyskytla se u něho tuberkulóza, ze které se musel několik měsíců léčit. Všemi prostředky pracoval tak, že se mu podařilo hned z počátku dosáhnout, že dostal dostatečný počet léků, když Němce neúprosně upozorňoval na nebezpečí epidemií, kterým se dá čelit jen, bude-li dostatek léčiv, místnosti pro nemocné atd. Také on doplatil, jako ostatní vedoucí, za svou nezištnou práci smrtí.

Dokumentační akce: Scheck

References

  • Updated 10 months ago
The Czech lands (Bohemia, Moravia and Czech Silesia) were part of the Habsburg monarchy until the First World War, and of the Czechoslovak Republic between 1918 and 1938. Following the Munich Agreement in September 1938, the territories along the German and Austrian frontier were annexed by Germany (and a small part of Silesia by Poland). Most of these areas were reorganized as the Reichsgau Sudetenland, while areas in the West and South were attached to neighboring German Gaue. After these terr...
The archive records from the Terezín ghetto (24 November 1941 – 8 May 1945, and from the period after the liberation) are preserved only in fragments. Only a portion of the documents in the collection are connected with the official activities of the Terezín Council of Elders and with the various departments and sections of its self-government. The first group of documents comprise a relatively diverse range of maps, plans and drawings of the ghetto, the surrounding area, the housing blocks a...