Holocaust Survivors from Munkács in Israel
After the end of the war, those Jews from Munkács that remained alive began to return to their hometown. There they found only a few hundred survivors. The scenes of destruction and decimation were visible from every corner of the town: synagogues had been turned into storehouses, the Hebrew Gymnasium was closed, and all Jewish property had been stolen. According to an assessment in 1945, some 2,000 Jews from Munkács (15% of the prewar population) had survived.
I walked along the streets of the town, with the melody of Eichah (Book of Lamentations) caught in my throat. Where was our filthy, hate-filled, quarrelling, informing, crime-ridden, generous, simple, charitable, pure and sweet Munkács? – Don't think, God forbid of going and seeing it in the eyes of people – you saw it then, in all its glory, both when it was tainted and when it was pure. Seal her in your soul as she once was, and be satiated by her for the rest of your life, for there is nothing like her in the whole world. A town that holds within her all of Judaism, beginning with the nation of the prophets, of the Tannaim, the Amoraim and the Geonim, of Rambam and Rashi and the Vilna Gaon and the Tanya, up until those who ascend to Zion today.
Give me the loathed of Munkács and I will kiss the edges of his bekesheh [Hasidic Sabbath robe].
Avigdor Hameiri, Encyclopedia Shel Galuyot, [Hebrew], pp. 589-590)
Natives of Subcarpathian Rus', among them the Jews of Munkács, emigrated en masse from the region. In June 1945, Subcarpathian Rus' officially became part of the Soviet Union, and the stream of Jewish emigration accelerated. The communist authorities discouraged the establishment of religious communities, including Jewish ones, and public prayer services now required a license. Munkács had two prayer houses: the main synagogue and an improvised building in Rosvigovo Quarter. In 1948 the synagogue building was confiscated by the authorities. In 1959, over 12,000 Jews lived in Subcarpathian Rus', but two decades later only 2,000 remained. Today only some 100 Jews live in Munkács.
Forlorn, so forlorn! From the Munkács community… that used to make up half the town's population – only two whole families remained. One, the Ungar Family, the watchmaker, whose shop stood at the corner of the Latorica courtyard – the parents and two sons returned. The second: our family, that is, my wife, my son and me. None of the other families remained complete. When we immigrated to Eretz Israel, only a few hundred Jews were living in Munkács…
(Eliyahu Rubin, Mimunkacz ad Auschwitz, [Hebrew], p. 52)
Many Munkács survivors came to Israel, built new lives and contributed their skills in every sphere of life: developing new communities, security, industry, science, education and more. The Association of Former Munkács Residents was established in the 1950s, taking on the responsibility of providing assistance for new immigrants. At the core of the organization was a group of Zionist pioneers and leaders that had come to Eretz Israel before the Holocaust, and who helped ease the absorption of the survivors.
Ten Munkács survivors were killed in Israel's War of Independence:
Yisrael Ackerman, son of David and Malka. Yisrael, an Auschwitz and Buchenwald survivor, immigrated to Eretz Israel in 1946 and joined the Haganah. He was killed in Jaffa on 24 March 1948.
Nathan Hay, son of Matil and Ya'akov. He immigrated to Eretz Israel in 1941 to Kfar Hanoar Hadati. He joined the Palmach and was killed by a shell in Kfar Etzion on 4 May 1948.
Tzvi Yechezkel Hoyzman, son of Rachel and Shalom. He joined the Etzel and fell in battle at Ramle on 16 May 1948.
Avraham Hircshstein, son of Chana and Nathan. A camp survivor, he immigrated to Eretz Israel in 1946 and was killed on 15 July 1948.
Ya'akov Weiss, son of Helena and Yosef. During the Holocaust he helped save Jews in Hungary. He came to Eretz Israel in the summer of 1944, and joined the Etzel. Ya'akov was led to the gallows of Acre Jail on 27 July 1947 with the Hatikva [Israel's national anthem] on his lips.
Ephraim Zeigelstein, son of Regina and Leopold. Ephraim, a camp survivor, came to Eretz Israel in 1946 and was killed in battle at Jenin on 3 June 1948.
Ya'akov Meizlik, son of Rivka and Mordechai, immigrated to Eretz Israel in 1947. When the War of Independence broke out, he was conscripted and killed in battle at Rosh Hanikra on 11 June 1948. Ya'akov was the last remnant of his family, the rest of whom were annihilated during the Holocaust.
Michael Klein, son of Clara and Eliyahu, came to Eretz Israel in 1946. He fell in battle at Neve Samuel on 23 April 1948.
Yehuda Tzvi Schwartz, son of Yaffa and Moshe-Yehoshua. Yehuda came to Eretz Israel in 1947 and was killed at Negba on 19 July 1948.
Tzvi Scheinfeld, son of Shoshana and Naftali, immigrated to Eretz Israel in 1939 and fell at Gush Etzion on 13 May 1948.