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A Dedication to the Unreich Family

Updated: May 7, 2021

Zalman’s Parents World War II Event Timeline Retold

These unfortunate events below have links to letters and words expressed by our family during this period showing how it all started and sadly ended.

I dedicate this research post in memory of the entire Unreich family. In perpetual memorialization of our Slovak family and other loved ones who died in the HaShoah (Holocaust). 

During their tragically short lives, in humble ways, the Unreich family unselfishly devoted their energy to philanthropic causes, contributing towards Torah learning and every conceivable charity throughout the world, until they met their untimely demise in the gas chambers of Auschwitz on Yom Kippur, October 5, 1944.

In my interviews with surviving family members, each claimed that the loss of their parents (which they last saw in 1936 at Shlomo’s wedding, see photo), sister and her family was the most traumatic event that shaped their lives. 


I. Historical Timeline

Date —> Event

1936 —> Family Event: The last time the Unreich boys saw their parents (Rochel & Shulem) was on their celebration trip to Kfar-Saba, Israel to attend their son's Shlomo and Shoshana's wedding.

During their last visit, Shlomo and Zalman put pressure on their parents to stay; having undertaken the arduous journey to get there for the wedding it made little sense for them to go home. Especially was little prospect that life would improve for the Jews in Czechoslovakia.

But their parents would not be persuaded. Rochel was desperate to get back to her volunteering work in Bratislava. She had an overpowering sense of duty to her community and could not conceive of abandoning them at a time of increasing hardship. She had taken upon herself the long-standing Jewish obligation of providing aid to orphans and the poor, of supporting those who wished to marry and set up home. She raised funds for them; she’d even been known, when necessary, to lend a bridegroom one of her sons’ suits to wear at the ceremony, if he did not have one of his own.

1938.03.16 —> Historical Event: A wave of anti-Semitic violence and civil unrest sweeps through Czechoslovakia. The Czech government requests protection from Germany; on March 16, Adolf Hitler declares that Czechoslovakia no longer exists.

1938.11.09 —> Historical Event: Horrific events of Kristall Nacht - the Night of Broken Glass. Nazis led people to burn down synagogues and Jewish owned businesses across Germany and Austria. 91 Jews were murdered and 30,000 were taken to concentration camps.

1938.11.11 —> Family Event: Zalman corresponding with his parents via Telegram to attempt and bring them back to Palestine. Notice the telegram link above address is Zalman’s parents’ house at 9 Kapucínska and the date stamp helps place the timing (11/IX/1938 = November 11, 1938), it reads as follows, translated from German:

“Romanian consulate does not issue a Visa wire. Whether or not to travel by train to Istanbul and weiser ship. | Pragoviat “rumaenische konsulat erteilt keine visa drahtet ob. bahnfahrt nach stambul und we iter schiff erwuenscht. Pragoviat”

1939.03.14 —> Historical Event: The Slovak Republic was established, becoming a satellite state of Nazi Germany with Slovak anti-Jewish laws expanding thru the country.

1939.03.30 —> Family Event: Zalman’s brothers sent letters to the British Government begging for a Visa on behalf of his parents and got a reply letter in June of 1939 denying the request. See events above, only in 1944 did they finally get approval.

"Sir, Madam, I'm unable to regard them as a resident of Palestine. I'm not prepared to authorize their admission..."

1939.09.01 —> Historical Event: The Second World War started on September 1, 1939.

1940.05.17 —> Family Event: “Dear Moses (Maurice) don’t worry so much because of us, we are healthy and have what we need. We have to wait with patience that the good is coming back again.” Sentiments shared by Zalman’s parents in this letter.

Dear children! We have received today from Moses (Morris Enright) from May 14th and from David Unreich May 10th a letter and postcards. The weather yesterday was a very beautiful but today there is wind. Dear Moses don’t worry so much because of us, we are healthy and have what we need. We have to wait with patience that the good is coming back again…ending with greetings and kisses.

1941.09.27 —> Family Event: Liquidation of Jewish Enterprise in Bratislava - Rochel’s (Regina) poultry business closed. Per the Lexicon of Municipalities of the Slovak Republic, State Statistical Office, Bratislava 1942.

1941 —> Family Event: The Unreich family goes into hiding. Rabbi Levinger told Shlomo that his parents, sister, and brother-in-law with children had all gone into hiding in 1941. Note: A relative from Vienna, Rabbi Yehuda Levinger, who had survived Auschwitz, was transported on the same cattle truck as the Unreich’s, wrote an account of his experiences in a book, which also records what happened to Zalman’s family. These events take place the following year from the above events, on Yom Kippur.

"A rumor reached them that the Nazis, would not do anything to the Jews that day, because of the Jewish holiday. It was, of course, fake-news, a rumor most probably put out by the Nazis themselves. The family came out of their hiding place and were captured."

1942.07.19 —> Historical Event: The German Occupation begins. On July 19, 1942, SS Chief Heinrich Himmler ordered his officers, to carry out the so-called resettlement of the whole Jewish population by December 31, 1942.

1942.09.XX —> Family Event: Rochel Unreich’s sentiment shared in a postcard to her son Shlomo. Events around September, around end of Sukkot, a Jewish Holiday.

“Dear Children…I’m afraid”

1944.01.29 —> Family Event: Letters from the US Embassy to the Ecuador Minister of Foreign Affairs. At the bottom of the letter was a list of 147 people with their full names and dates of birth, which included our family Therese, Judith & Mirjam Weissfisch.

"Reference is made to previous communications between the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of the United States of America on the subject of the protection of certain persons in German - held territory who are in possession of Ecuadoran passports. This Embassy has just been advised by the Department of State that 147 individuals now interned at Camp Belsen near Hanover, Germany, who hold passports issued in the name of Ecuador are in imminent danger since the term of validity of such passports has expired or is about to expire."

1944.02.10 —> Family Event: Tragically, this letter was too late. Even had it been possible for Zalman to get word to Bratislava, it wouldn’t have reached his parents in time to make plans to bring them back. They were no longer at home and now in hiding. After the war Zalman and his brother Shlomo heard the story of what had happened via Rabbi Levinger’s story below.

Zalman received a letter from the Jewish Agency confirming the British government had approved and granted his parents permission to settle in Palestine.

1944.09.28 —> Family Event: The Unreich and Weissfisch family were taken away by the Gestapo at midnight to Sered Concentration Camp in Slovakia.

1944.10.XX —> Historical Event: Approximately 46,750 Jews deported from to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 27 transports. Between August–October 1944, the Slovak underground organizations rise up against the Germans and the puppet Slovak regime. The Germans use the opportunity to deport most of the remaining Slovak Jews to Auschwitz via the Sered transit camp.

1944.10.05 —> Family Event: Shulem, Rochel Unreich and Reitzi (Theresa) Weissfisch were murdered in Auschwitz, along with Miriam and Judith.

1944.10.07 —> Historical Event: On the 7th of October 1944, there was an uprising by the Sonderkommando working in the gas chambers. The prisoners managed to destroy one of the gas chambers, and thus to hinder the extermination process.

1944.10.17 —> Historical Event: Gisi Fleischmann taken away. Supposedly towards the end of her living days, she resided at Kapucínska 9. Alois Brunner Himself sent Gisi and 11,500 Jews to their death and transported to Auschwitz.

1945.01.27 —> Historical Event: On the 27th of January 1945, the Red Army entered Auschwitz camp.

1946.02.16 —> Family Event: Post WWII, Maurice Enright sends Tracing Letter to ADJC.

1946.03.06 —> Family Event: American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (AJDC) - Paris Office received Tracing Request letter. Requesting assistance to locate missing family. No information found, case closed in 1950.

"All three were taken away by the Gestapo on September 28th, 1944 at midnight to Sered, Slovenko. Never heard from since."

1946.05.10 —> Family Event: Avi (Av-shalom or father of peace) was born. My father, was named for his grandfather Shulem Yonah (meaning pigeon of peace).

"Never forget, always remember!"
1910 Photo includes Sulim and Regina Unreich with children.


II. Research Findings

The Unreich and Weissfisch family were taken by Gestapo to the Sered Concentration Camp on or around September 28, 1944, and within days, they were sent directly on the final transports to Auschwitz.  We’ve researched and contacted the following Archives and still to this day have not found any new information from transport or prisoner lists for the periods under review.

Bergen-Belsen As far as known facts about historical events leading up and soon after Sered, shared by the very generous Dr. Hlavinka, we’ve learned the following. With regards to any public record or documentation, especially as it relates to prisoners at Sered, the Nazis liquidated most of the original documents. There are no deportation lists preserved from that period and, unfortunately, no lists of newly arrived prisoners as well (so-called Zugangslists or known as personal information sheets in camps).

The date of capture of the Unreich and Weissfisch family likely happened towards the end of September in 1944.  This period is known as the days of the so-called Great Roundup of Bratislava Jews”. The Unreichs were likely deported in one of the first five transports from Sered to Auschwitz. The first five transports of Jews were sent directly to Auschwitz between the end of September and early November 1944. There are no Zugangslist of these transports in Auschwitz. All that is left is one page of a so-called “Quarantine” list, which identifies the number of people from these transports who were sent to the camp (and spent the first day in this “quarantine”) and how many were sent to the gas chambers immediately after arrival.

Any information, till now, about deportations from Sered to Terezin then to Auschwitz are probably false. It doesn’t make any sense, since only the last four transports in the period between January 1945 through March 1945 were sent to Terezin from Sered and they would arrive at Terezin during the time when Auschwitz did not accept any new deportees. Supposedly they stopped in November 1944.  Hence, the reason why Alois Brunner[1], the commander of Sered, started to send the next transports to other camps like Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen and Ravensbrück, etc. 

Furthermore, due to their age, grouped with the large “roundup” of people at Sered by Brunner and his desire to immediately start deportation because of overcrowding, they were sent straight to Auschwitz.

Even if there’s a possibility they weren’t deported immediately, then there’s a small chance they could have been temporarily sent to  Buchenwald or it’s sub-camps.  For example, “prisoners” or men were sent to Sachsenhausen and the ladies were sent to Ravensbrück.

Saba Zalman laying a flowered reef at Theresienstadt camp in 1950s or (front of the Old New Altneu synagogue in Prague), in remembrance of his parents and sister. To mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Footnotes: [1] Alois Brunner, was an Austrian SS officer who worked as Adolf Eichmann’s assistant and responsible for the murder of many Jews. Once he escaped after the war, he was the object of many manhunts, investigations and assassination attempts. In the early 1960s, Brunner was located by the famous Israeli spy Eli Cohen in Syria. Perhaps Zalman was part of or assisted the Mossad team at that time? He did take part in recruitment of Eli Cohen, which you can read about here.

[2] Recently we found the Weissfisch family had a third daughter (Feile), however it’s unclear about her whereabouts - did she die in the Holocaust like her older sisters or perhaps survived, it’s unclear. Feile’s birth record was found via JewishGen database of Slovak birth records.

We submitted her name to the Hall of Names at Yad Vashem, Pages of Testimony commemorating the names and biographic details of Jews who perished during the Holocaust.

Furthermore, please note the date inconsistency between Yad Vashem Testimony Page and USHMM.

Judit וייספיש Weissfisch born 5/5/1936 - died 1944

Miriam וייספיש Weissfisch born 10/11/1937 - died 1944

Compared with:

Miriam’s record showing Date of Birth: 8 Dec 1938

Judit’s record showing Date of Birth 28 Dec 1936


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