The Jewish roots of Leo Eitinger reach to the surroundings of the Polish city of Krakow, where his parents – Solomon Eitinger (the form Ettinger can also be found) and his wife Helena Kurzová came from.
Similarly to hundreds of other Halician Jews, Mr. and Mrs. Eitinger and their four children left at the beginning of the first decade of the 20th century for Moravia, another region of the extensive Austrian-Hungarian state, to seek a better life. First they settled with Solomon’s relatives in Ostrava-Hrušov, where their daughter Anna was born and from which they moved to Lomnice u Tišnova, probably in 1912. Here Solomon Eitinger got a post in the Jewish community. On December 12th, 1912 Mr. and Mrs. Eitinger’s son Leo was born.
Less than two years later, Solomon Eitinger enlisted in the First World War. After returning from the front line in 1918, Solomon and his family moved to Pohořelice, another Moravian town with ancient Jewish history, where he worked as a clerk for religious affairs.
The occupation of the rest of former Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany meant serious danger, especially for the numerous members of the Jewish community. Jews had to face many humiliating regulations, which made their everyday life difficult. Among other restrictions, they weren’t allowed to pursue certain occupations; it was thus unthinkable that doctor Leo Eitinger could open his own medical practice in the Protectorate.
Leo’s father and his brothers and sisters were in a similar situation, all of them suffering in the Protectorate, which had become a ghetto without barbed wire, as well as the subsequent Nazi “final solution”.
Leo’s father, Solomon Eitinger, remarried after his wife Helena’s death and lived with his wife Fanny as a pensioner in the Slovak town of Piešťany. Both of them were deported from there in 1942, and their trail is lost in the Polish ghetto of Lublin, from which it wasn’t far to the extermination camp of Majdanek. Leo Eitinger regarded his father very highly for his justice and faith. However, he never found out what the circumstances of his father’s death were.He got the information about the fate of his brothers and sisters from his sister Debora, who was probably the only one of them who survived the war and who had, during her imprisonment in Terezín, worked in the camp office.
His brother Max divorced, probably because of his Jewish origins, and had to close his business in Pardubice. He left for Nedvědice where he worked as a manual labourer and from which he was deported to the concentration camp of Baranovichi in Poland.
His sister Anna, along with her husband and nine-year-old son, perished in the transit ghetto in Polish Rejowiec.
Lotte (27. 8. 1908 – 3. 11. 1974) married to Arthur Schlaf (8. 5. 1912 – 22. 12. 1974); both buried at Rockwood Jewish Cemetery in Sydney.
Lola (born 1907) married Alfred (Freddy) Schlochow, son of Maximilian Schlochow and Lina Bott born in Alsace, France in 1904.
Alfred was Protestant (though the Schlochow family was Jewish several generations back – they converted to Protestantism when they moved to France). Lola and Alfred married shortly before World War II and had a first daughter, Denise, in Prag. In 1939 they decided to leave Prague and moved to Bordeaux in France. A 2nd daugther, Eliane, was born in 1942 – after her father, who had been working in the French Resistance, was deported. Alfred Schlochwo died in Buchenwald in 1944. Lola lived in Bordeax and later, towards the end of her life in the South of France where her daughter Eliane lived with her husband of Czech origins. She died in 1984. Lola and her two daughters were in contact with Leo Eitinger all the time, and I also met him at least twice in Oslo.
Besides the immediate family, relatives from the Ostrava branch of the Eitinger family also perished in the concentration camps. Leo Eitinger was touched mainly by the death of his uncle, which he also mentioned in his memoirs.