Jona SPIEGEL/ Wien, Austria / Ghetto Theresienstadt, Czeck Republic

jona jona1Surname: SPIEGEL
Name: Jona
Birth Date: Dec 18th 1941
Birth Place: Wien, Austria
Father’s Name: Not known; possibly Austrian non-Jew
Mother’s Name: Elsa Spiegel born 1909

On Dec 18th 1941 Jona Spiegel was born in the Rothschild Hospital in Wien. On his birth certificate only the name of his mother is mentioned.
On September 24th 1942 Jona was deported to Theresienstadt, without his mother. On the same deportation were several other unaccompanied children.
His mother Elsa Spiegel had been deported three months earlier to Minsk. She was probably murdered in Maly Trostenets near Minsk.
Under circumstances still not clear, Jona managed to stay alive in Theresienstadt for two and a half years. He was one of the around hundred or hundred and fifty children who survived Theresienstadt.
In August 1945 Jona and some of the other children were sent by airplane from Czeckioslovakia to England.
For one year Jona and five other young children stayed in a special Children’s Home called Bulldogs Bank.
In 1946 Jona was transferred to another Children’s Home, Weir Courtney, in Lingfield where he spent the next six months.
In 1946 he was taken in by a Jewish couple and grew up in their home, being officially adopted in 1950.

Elsa Spiegel, Jona ‘s mother was born in Wien in June 24th 1909. She lived with her father in the 20th Precinct in Wien in Greiseneckergasse 16/16 till 1926. From 1926 , 17 years old, she lived alone, and had the following addresses:
20th, Wallensteinstrasse 36/12
2nd Obere Donaustasse 45/15
2nd Schregasse 12/6
She must have become pregnant around March 1941 and gave birth to her son in the Rothschild Hospital in Wahringer Gurtel street 97 on Dec 18th 1941.
She then lived in Schregasse 12/6 and worked as a milliner, making hats.
Who was the father of her child? One theory is that he was a non Jewish Austrian man and that because of the laws forbidding relationships between Jews and non Jews, Elsa did not give his name after the birth of Jona .
On June 2nd 1942 while living in the 11th district in Mohapelgasse 3 she was deported from Vienna to Minsk. She was probably killed in Maly Trostenets outside Minsk where a memorial states that 201500 persons were murdered.

Jona’s maternal grandfather Leopold Spiegel was born in 1872 in Blaschko near Olmutz , now the Czeck Republic.
He had probably married around 1898 – 1900
When did he move to Wien? We don’t know.
In 1926 his address in Wien was Greiseneckergasse 16/16.
Did he still live at this address when his wife Emilie died in December 1939?
What is certain is that Leopold Spiegel lived in an Jewish old age home in Seegasse 9, Wien when he was deported to Theresienstadt on June 28th 1942.
We do not know when and where Leopold Spiegel died.

Emilie Schwarz was born around 1871.
For a long time it wasn’t clear what had happened to Jona’s maternal grandmother Emilie Spiegel.

In 2005, through a website listing Jewish graves in Wien, we found a listing for Emilie Spiegel, 68 years old who died on December 12th 1939 and is buried at the Zentralfriedhof in Wien. Jona’s letter to the Jewish community in Wien confirmed that this was indeed the grave of his grandmother, but there was no gravestone.

Elsa’s oldest brother was Rudolph Spiegel was born April 17th 1901 in Wien. Did he marry? Did he have children? We only know that he was deported from Wien in October 27th 1939 to a slave labor camp in Nisko in Poland.His fate is still unknown.

Elsa’s sister Hilde was born in 1903 and was married to Siegmund Neumann. It is not clear if they had any children. Siegmund Neumann left Wien in March 1939 and went abroad. His wife followed two weeks later. Where did they go? To Italy?
We had hoped they had gone to England where Siegmund’s sister , Lena Neumann, had come in 1939.
From a Page of Testimony for Siegmund Neumann it now seems they were not able to get out, and were murdered in Holocaust.

Growing up without knowing his biological mother, one of Jona ‘s dreams is to find a photo of his mother.

WIEN 1942
How long did Jona stay with his mother in Schregasse 12/16 after he was born? To whom did his mother hand over her baby son? Who took care of him in Wien after his mother was deported in June 1942 and till he was deported in September 1942?

Who took care of Jona for the time he was in Theresienstadt? And why was he spared the fate of the 15000 other children who passed through Theresienstadt?

There were assumably around 100 – 150 child survivors from Theresienstadt. What happened to the children in Theresienstadt just before the end of the war and just after liberation? How many children were sent to England?


Here is the story Eva Floersheim wrote about the gravestone Jona wants to put on his grandmother’s grave in Wien.

In March 2005 the grandchild Jona Spiegel in England was informed that his grandmother is buried in the Jewish Zentralfriedhof in Vienna. The grandmother had died in December 1939.

He has also been informed that there is no gravestone on the grave. Now he wants to erect a gravestone in honor of his grandmother.

What will he write on that stone?

“Emilie Spiegel nee Schwarz
1871 – Dec 12th 1939”
Perhaps that will be all.
Everything considered, each word on a gravestone is also a matter of money.
But perhaps he will add the two Hebrew letters ô”ð above the name.
“Poh nikvera” – “Here is buried”. That could be a way of honoring the fact that his grandmother was born, lived and died as a Jewish person.
Emilie Spiegel nee Schwarz
1871 – Dec 12th 1939
Should he add “My grandmother” to emphasize that Emilie Spiegel does have a living grandson? Because it is quite a miracle that Emilie Spiegel has a grandson and that her grandson after so many years has found her grave.
My grandmother
Emilie Spiegel nee Schwarz
1871 – Dec 12th 1939
When Emilie died in December 1939, her daughter Hilde was not in Vienna any more. According to the information found, Hilde’s husband Siegmund Neumann had left Austria in March 1939 and his wife followed him two weeks later. Did they have any children? We don’t know. Now, following the discovery of the grave without a gravestone, it started to look like Hilde and Siegmund Neumann had been caught in the Holocaust too. A search among the Pages of Testimony on the Yad Vashem website, showed a Page submitted in 1956 by Abraham Neumann from Tel Aviv. This page is for Siegmund Neumann born in October 1903 who lived in Vienna before the war, working as a furrier. Siegmund was married to Hilde nee Spiegel born 1903, writes Abraham Neumann. There is no separate Page for Hilde, but for Siegmund Neumann it says he was in Kroatia during the war and that his place of death is unknown. Further research should show if Abraham Neumann is still alive, 50 years after submitting the Page of Testimony.
An additional Page of Testimony submitted in 2001 by German researcher Alex Salm for a Siegmund Neumann born October 24th 1903 who was deported from Koeln in Germany to Auschwitz, should be checked out to see if “our” Siegmund Neumann may have ended up in Germany after March 1939.
So for now, we must do some further research to find out what happened to Hilde Neumann nee Spiegel.
When Emilie died in December 1939 her son Rudolf was not in Vienna any more. Rudolf, born April 17th 1901, had been deported from Vienna to Nisko in Poland on October 27th 1939, never to be heard from again. Was he married? Did he have children? We don’t know.
Probably on Emilie’s gravestone some words should be added to remember her son Rudolf, a Holocaust victim.
My grandmother
Emilie Spiegel nee Schwarz
1871 – Dec 12th 1939
In memory of
my uncle Rudolf Spiegel (1901 – Holocaust)

When Emilie Spiegel died on December 12th 1939, the Germans had already invaded Vienna.
One must assume that Emilie’s husband Leopold Spiegel (born 1872) and her unmarried daughter Elsa Spiegel (born June 24th 1909) attended the funeral as Emilie was buried in plot 20a, row 21, grave 11 at the Zentralfriedhof in Vienna.
Leopold Spiegel at some point had moved to a Jewish Old Age Home in Seegasse 9, Vienna. Perhaps he did so after the death of his wife?
On June 28th 1942 Leopold Spiegel was deported to Ghetto Theresienstadt. We do not know when and where he died.

The gravestone could perhaps have this text:
My grandmother
Emilie Spiegel nee Schwarz
1871 – Dec 12th 1939
In memory of
my grandfather Leopold Spiegel (1872 – Holocaust)
my uncle Rudolf Spiegel (1901 – Holocaust)

Elsa, a milliner (hat maker) by profession, must have had a hard time making a living after the Germans occupied Vienna. In the beginning of 1941 what should have been a purely joyous event happened to Elsa – she got pregnant. Who was the father of this unborn child? He was probably a non Jew, because when Elsa gave birth on Dec 18th 1941 at the Rothschild Hospital in Vienna, only her name is listed. At that time, intimate relations between Jews and non Jews were strictly forbidden.
Elsa named her little son Jona Spiegel.
Jona was not even six months old when his mother Elsa Spiegel was deported on June 2nd 1942 from Vienna to Minsk. She was probably murdered at Maly Trostenets outside Minsk where a memorial tells that 201500 Jews were murdered.

Elsa’s son probably wants his mother’s name on the gravestone.
My grandmother
Emilie Spiegel nee Schwarz
1871 – Dec 12th 1939
In memory of
my grandfather Leopold Spiegel (1872 – Holocaust)
my uncle Rudolf Spiegel (1901 – Holocaust)
my mother Elsa Spiegel (1909 – Holocaust)

After his mother was deported, Jona Spiegel lived in a Jewish orphanage in Vienna till he, together with some other young unaccompanied children, was deported to Ghetto Theresienstadt on Sept 24th 1942.
It is hard to imagine the efforts made in Ghetto Theresienstadt by unknown heroes enabling Jona Spiegel to live more than two and a half years in that ghetto – from being a baby of nine months to a toddler of three years and four months.
Jona was one of the around hundred children alive when Ghetto Theresienstadt was liberated.

Emilie Spiegel’s grandson had survived Holocaust!

After the liberation, Jona spent some time regaining strength in Czeckoslovakia before he and some of the other young survivors were sent to England.
In England Jona was given up for adoption to a Jewish couple.
Jona grew up, married and had children.
Despite his adoptive parents’ objection, he insisted of finding out who were his biological parents and what had happened to them.
He found out that his mother was Elsa Spiegel and that she was murdered in Holocaust.
He found out that his maternal grandparents were Leopold and Emilie Spiegel.
He found out that his grandfather Leopold Spiegel was murdered in Holocaust.
He found out that his uncle Rudolf Spiegel had been among the Jews deported to Nisko in Poland in October 1939.
He found out that his aunt Hilde and Hilde’s husband Siegmund Neumann probably managed to flee Austria in the beginning of 1939, but he has found no trace of them.
It had not been clear when and where his grandmother Emilie Spiegel had died.

Lately, through a website with a database of those buried in Jewish cemeteries in Vienna, Emilie Spiegel’s name turned up. Further investigations through the Jewish community in Vienna confirmed that this was indeed Jona’s grandmother.
I do not know what will be written on the gravestone Jona wants to put on his grandmother’s grave, but in my imagination I see the gravestone as both a gravestone for the grandmother and a memorial for those three murdered in Holocaust – his mother, his grandfather and his uncle.
Five Hebrew letters on Jewish gravestones remind us to keep those no longer alive, a part of the life of those still living.
“Tehiyu nafsham tzrura be-tzror ha-chaim” sometimes translated as “May their Souls be Bound in the Knot of Life”.
The new gravestone in Vienna may only have the minimal text of
“Emilie Spiegel nee Schwarz
1871 – Dec 12th 1939”
But we know that – hidden behind those few words – is the much longer story of a grandson who now has a family grave.
My grandmother
Emilie Spiegel nee Schwarz
1871 – Dec 12th 1939
In memory of
my grandfather Leopold Spiegel (1872 – Holocaust)
my uncle Rudolf Spiegel (1901 – Holocaust)
my mother Elsa Spiegel (1909 – Holocaust)

Written by
Eva Floersheim, Lower Galilee, IL – 15240 Shadmot Dvorah, Israel
April 1st 2005

graveemiliaspiegelIn the end of October 2005 Jona sent us the photo of the gravestone he has put on his grandmother’s grave, and that he now will go to Wien to visit.
That same evening he sent a poem his daughter Nicole wrote:

Emily Spiegel
We just want to say thank you Emily for being so strong.
You must have been through an awful lot and to you we belong.
We know little of you, but we love you very much.
This is as close as daddy can get and as near as to touch.
We feel we have a bond and now you have a small stone
We want you to know you are not all alone.
We can only imagine some of the pain that you had.
But we want to thank you with all our heart for our precious dad.
He is so special and truly a gift.
He will never forget you and the life that you lived.
Please rest in peace and forever we will be
Eternally grateful for delivering Elsa, dad’s mum to thee.
Please watch over us and be sure to know
You have two lovely great great grandchildren through whom you glow.

DOEW Archive in Wien, Austria
Using the database built by the Documentation Archive for Austrian Resistance
the following information is listed there:
Elsa Spiegel born June 24th 1909. Deported June 2nd 1942 from Wien to Maly Trostinec
Rudolf Spiegel born April 17th 1901. Deported from Wien to Nisko October 27th 1939.
Leopold Spiegel born March 3rd 1872. Deported from Wien to Theresienstadt June 26th 1942.
There was no information that seems to fit Jona’s aunt Hilda Neumann nee Spiegel ( born 1903, as far as we know) and her husband Siegmund Neumann.

During the last years A Letter to the Stars project is teaching Austrian students about Holocaust. The students write letters to, and projects about, individual Austrian Jews who became Holocaust victims.
As part of this project, a group of Holocaust survivors were invited to Wien in the beginning of May 2008.
Jona was one of them.
Here is what he wrote afterwards:

For me, here are some of the very important events:
I visited my grandmother’s grave and placed the stone that I had picked up from Auchwitz on her gravestone, symbolically taking my grandfather back to his wife. My grandfather was murdered at Auschwitz.
Then I heard and saw what the Austrians students are learning about the Holocaust. What I saw them doing was very touching.
Hearing the Austrian President and Primeminister saying what needed to be said a long time ago, was very important. They talked about the past and how such evil that was done to the Jewish people should never ever happen again. It was very moving.


From their website:
2008 – 70 years after the annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany in 1938 – we are extending an invitation to the Austrian Survivors of the Holocaust to return to visit Austria.
We are inviting the people who, beginning in March 1938, were persecuted, humiliated, and driven away from Austria or interned in concentration camps, to visit their old homeland.
250 Austrian Survivors who today live in the USA, Israel, South America, Great Britain and 30 other countries will visit Austria for one week and will be hosted by 250 schools throughout Austria.
The entire cost of the flight and hotel for the 250 guests plus their companions will be sponsored by the Republic of Austria, members of parliament, public institutions, and large corporations.
The organization of the flights as well as room, board, and other provisions will be carried out by the project team and their cooperating partners (for example the Austrian National Travel Agency). This means that neither the participants nor the hosts will have to make these arrangements.
The student hosts – each supported by a network of students, teachers, principals and parents from each school – will invite a person from the List of Survivors to come to Austria from 1 May – 8 May 2008.

Jona wrote us again enclosing a photo he had taken while in Wien in the beginning of the month.
In his words:
This was one of many pictures that were put around of the venue to show our feelings now , about what had happened to us and how we cope with the past .
The words Die letzen Zeugen mean The Last Witnesses.

Previous Comments

written by Belinda, March 17, 2009
You need to check out this article I have just been reading about the Bulldogs Bank home. I think you are JOHN and the story may be of interest to you now you are older.

Anna Freud in collaboration with Sophie Dann (London) An Experiment in Group Upbringing (1951). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 6:127-168

written by carla5085, February 18, 2007
Hello Jona,
I first read your compelling story on the BBC website and found your update here.
The gravestone you erected in Vienna for your grandmother is touching and a wonderful memorial to the family that you lost.
I am wondering if you have checked with the Vienna archives for a listing of schools that were located in or near the 20th precinct where your mother and siblings lived? While it is unknown whether they attended Jewish school or a secular school, it’s possible that if the school that they attended can be identified, perhaps there are class photos or individual student photos in existence? This is just a thought and you may have already exhausted this avenue by now.
I wish you all the best in your search.
Carla Johnson
North Granville, New York

written by Jona Spiegel, April 21, 2006
Hello Risa Mandelberg, I just got back from Vienna after looking at the memorial stone that I had put there for my grandmother. It was very good trip and well worth doing. Hope you are well. Please read the poem that my daughter wrote to Emilie. We placed the poem by the grave and I put a stone I had brought from Maly Trostenes where my mother Elsa Spiegel was murdered.
Jona Spiegel

written by Jona Spiegel, April 21, 2006
Thank you for reading my story Risa Mandelberg. Jona Spiegel

written by Risa Mandelberg, April 21, 2006
Dear Jona, I feel for you. I first read this page sent by my Hadassah Chapter to its members. My great-grandmother Frieda Rudolf was also a resident at the Jewish Old Age Home at Seegasse 9. In fact, she was on the same transport as your great-grandfather. They arrived in Terezin or left Vienna on June 29, 1942 (Transporte IV/2.) She was 76 when she was part of the Altensporte and at first taken to Terezin. Somehow she managed to survive Terezin and was put on the second leg of the Altentransporte to Treblinka in September 1942 (transporte Bq). Best Wishes, Risa Mandelberg Encino, California

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