The Bratislava Community After the Holocaust
Pages of Testimony
Yad Vashem – The Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names
The Central Database of Shoah Victims Names is a unique enterprise undertaken by Yad Vashem to commemorate the names of the six million Jews, victims of the Holocaust.
The Pages of Testimony, a project that began in the 1950s, bear the biographical details of many of the victims and reveal to us the story of the Jewish individuals during the Shoah and beforehand.
From the thousands of Pages of Testimony submitted for Jews from Bratislava who perished, we are sharing one story of one family - the Fürst family - whose fate we learn from the Pages of Testimony submitted in their memory.
The Fürst Family
Wilhelm (Benjamin Zeev) Fürst was born in Eisenstadt, Austria, in 1891. He was the third of five children born to Charlotte née Schiller and David Fürst, who owned a grocery shop located on the main street of the town. Wilhelm attended an advanced commerce school, and upon graduation moved to Bratislava where he found work in a bank. With time, he advanced to the position of one of the directors of the bank. During the First World War he served as an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army, and was taken captive. He succeeded in escaping from the POW camp where he was held in Siberia and returned to Bratislava. In 1923 he married Olga Braun, and the couple had two daughters – Eva-Chavah (b. 1926) and Agi-Aviva (b. 1928). The family continued to reside in Bratislava. Fürst, who had grown up in a traditional Orthodox family, distanced himself from his religious origins and became an active member of the Freemasons.
In 1939 Wilhelm was dismissed from his position at the bank, and he worked for some time for the Joint Distribution Committee. When the Jewish Center was established in Bratislava, Wilhelm was appointed to be the director of its finance department. He later became a member of the Working Group. His position at the Jewish Center earned his family exemption from the 1942 deportations.
In the summer of 1944, following the suppression of the Slovak National Uprising, deportations of Jews from Slovakia resumed. The Fürst family went into hiding with a Christian family in the outskirts of Bratislava. Toward the end of September, Wilhelm took up residence in the city once more, having been notified by the members of the Working Group that the negotiations with the Germans for the rescue of Jews were still continuing. His family decided to join him. On the 30th of September Wilhelm, Olga and their daughters were arrested by the Germans in their apartment. They were marched to the Jewish Center and sent to the Sered forced labor camp. Several days later they were deported to Auschwitz. Olga was sent to the gas chambers and murdered upon arrival. There are no further records of Wilhelm; it is possible that he was sent on to another camp. Both girls were assigned to forced labor near Dresden and later sent to Mauthausen, where they were liberated. They immigrated to Israel in 1949.
Government of the Federal Republic of Germany