The Story of the Jewish Community in Bratislava

Their Legacies Remain

The Steiner Family

The Steiner family bookstore in Bratislava, the 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 The certificate accompanying the Golden Cross awarded to officer Gustav Steiner in 1918 for his courage in the service of the Austro-Hungarian army during the First World War 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 Sigmund and Josephine Steiner during a visit to Bratislava where a plaque was erected next to the Steiner family bookstore

Gustav-Mordechai Steiner was born in Bratislava in 1893, the seventh of nine children born to Herman and Selma-Sara Steiner. Herman owned a publishing house and a large antiquarian bookstore in the city; three of his sons worked there. The family belonged to an Orthodox-Zionist stream of Judaism. During the First World War four of Herman and Sara’s sons served in the Austro-Hungarian Army – Siegfried, Max, Gustav and Józsi. All four returned from the war unscathed.

Gustav served as a medical officer in the army and was awarded with a medal for his accomplishments. In 1930 he married Gita Kürcz (b. 1907), the daughter of a metal trader from St. Nikolaus in central Slovakia. The couple had two children: Karl-Nathan (b. 1933) and Alice-Sara (b. 1934), and they lived in Bratislava. Gustav opened a practice in their home and Gita ran the clinic. Gustav also worked several hours a week at the Jewish hospital in Bratislava.

In June, 1940, Dr. Gustav Steiner’s license to practice medicine was revoked, despite this, he continued treating patients, among them Jewish refugees. Later he was allowed to practice again, but was forced to relocate along with his family to the nearby village of Stupava. After the suppression of Slovak National Uprising, and the German invasion, the exemptions issued by the Slovakian regime were annulled. In October 1944 Gustav, Gita and their two children were imprisoned. Gustav and his daughter Alice were deported on the last transport from Bratislava to Auschwitz, on the 17th of October 1944. Alice was murdered in the gas chambers of Birkenau on the 19th of October 1944, a day before her tenth birthday. On the 27th of October Gustav was sent from Auschwitz to Kaufring, a satellite camp of Dachau, where he perished in December of 1944. Gita and her son, Nathan, were deported to Bergen-Belsen and survived.

Herman and Sara Steiner passed away in Bratislava before the war. Their eldest son, William, was the only one of their nine children to survive the Holocaust. He passed away in Bratislava in 1948. Of the couple’s 16 grandchildren, five were murdered during the Holocaust. By 1949 all surviving members of the family had immigrated to Israel with the exception of two of their granddaughters – Selma, Siegfried’s daughter, and Lydia, Józsi’s daughter. In 1991 Selma succeeded in reopening the Steiner family bookstore in Bratislava. Today, Herman and Sara Steiner’s grandson, Nathan, is the head of the Union of Czechoslovakian Immigrant’s in Israel, and is active in commemorating the Jews of Czechoslovakia.

Moritz Steiner Siegfried Steiner Max Steiner Adolf Lakner Gustav-Mordechaj Steiner Sara Steiner Margit Steiner Josefine Mendlinger Leopold Mendlinger