"Stay Together"

The Fate of Jewish Families in 1944

The Steiner Family

Bratislava, Czechoslovakia/Slovakia

In 1944, several members of the family were deported to Auschwitz
The Steiner family bookstore in Bratislava, late 19th century. The store was established in 1847 by Sigmund Steiner

The Steiner family, early 20th century

Brothers Siegfried (left) and Gustav Steiner, wearing Austro-Hungarian Army uniform during the First World War

Certificate accompanying the Golden Cross awarded to officer Gustav Steiner in 1918 for his courage in the service of the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I

Dr. Gustav Steiner, his wife Gita, their son Nathan and their daughter Alice-Sarah. Bratislava, 1939

Bratislava, 1946: child survivors in the Bnei Akiva dormitories

The descendants of Hermann and Selma Steiner during a visit to Bratislava, where a plaque was affixed next to the Steiner family bookstore

The nine Steiner siblings – Wilhelm (b. 1878), Moritz (b. 1880), Siegfried (b. 1883), Max (b. 1887), Margit (b. 1889), Nelly (b. 1891), Gustav (b. 1893), Józsi, (b. 1895), and Josephine (b. 1899) lived in Bratislava.  Most of them married and had children. Three of the sons, Wilhelm, Max and Józsi, ran the family bookstore and publishing house.  The parents, Selma and Hermann Steiner, and their daughter Margit passed away before the war.

Following the creation of the independent state of Slovakia in March 1939, the Jews of Bratislava were subjected to antisemitic edicts and persecution.  By 1 March 1942, about half the city’s Jews had been evacuated and scattered in peripheral areas around the country. In the course of 1942, many of Bratislava’s Jews were deported to death camps in Poland. When the Slovak National Uprising broke out in August 1944, the Germans occupied Slovakia and renewed the deportations.

Wilhelm Steiner, his wife Josy and their son David survived the war in hiding in Bratislava.  In May 1942, their daughter Reline was deported to Auschwitz, where she perished.

Moritz Steiner, who never married, was a high school teacher. He was imprisoned and deported to Poland in the summer of 1942.  He did not survive. 

Dr. Siegfried Steiner, a lawyer who was a well-known activist in the Mizrachi movement in Bratislava, was forced to close his lawyer’s practice as early as April 1939.  Later on he was permitted to work again, but was limited to Jewish clients.  On 10 July 1942, Siegfried, his wife Serene and their oldest son Jakob Theodor were deported to Poland.  All three perished.  Their daughter Selma and their son Hermann Zwi were deported from Bratislava in 1944.  Hermann perished in Mauthausen, and Selma survived, and was liberated from Theresienstadt.

Max Steiner was imprisoned in 1942, and deported to Poland, where he perished.  His wife Lily and their four children – Selma, Hermann, Wera and Georg Yehoshua – managed to hide with relatives outside the city.  In 1944 Selma joined a group of Jewish partisans who had been inmates in the Novaky camp and participated in the Slovak National Uprising. Working as a nurse, Selma was caught while trying to obtain medication.  She was tortured under interrogation, and executed by firing squad.  Lily and the other three children survived.

Nelly and her husband Adolf Lakner, an engineer, were victims of the second wave of deportations in 1944. Both of them perished.  Their two sons, Marzi and Leo Yehoshua, survived.

In 1940, Dr. Gustav Steiner’s license to practice medicine was revoked by the Slovak authorities.  Despite this, he continued treating patients, among them Jewish refugees. Later he was allowed to practice again, but was forced to relocate to the nearby village of Stupava, together with his wife Gitta, their son Nathan and their daughter Alice Sarah. In October 1944 Gustav, Gitta and their two children were imprisoned. Gustav and his daughter Alice were deported on the last transport from Bratislava to Auschwitz, on 17 October 1944. Alice was murdered in the gas chambers of Birkenau on 19 October 1944, a day before her tenth birthday. On 27 October, Gustav was sent from Auschwitz to Kaufering, a satellite camp of Dachau, where he perished in December 1944.  Gitta and her son Nathan were deported to Bergen-Belsen and survived.

Józsi Steiner was imprisoned in 1942.  His wife Margit insisted on accompanying him, and the two were deported and perished. Their daughter Lydia survived in hiding.

Josephine Steiner’s husband, Leopold Mendlinger, an accountant, was sent on the last deportation in 1942, and perished.  Josephine, a pharmacist, and her daughters, Susi Shoshana and Hannah managed to hide, but Josephine was sent to her death in the second wave of deportations in 1944.  Their two daughters survived.

Out of nine Steiner brothers and sisters, the only sibling to survive the war was the eldest, Wilhelm.  He passed away in Bratislava in 1948.  By 1949, all the surviving family members except for two had immigrated to Israel.  Selma, Siegfried’s daughter, and Lydia, Józsi’s daughter, stayed in Bratislava.

Support for the Exhibition comes from the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany