Family Story

Jakab Neuwirth and his children – short story starting in 1844

Family Neuwirth © Szedő M.

Jakab Neuwirth was born in 1844 in Alistal (now Dolny Stal, Slovakia). The family later moved to Győr, where the father, Salamon Neuwirth, and later Jakab, worked as hauliers.

It was in 1920, well before the Holocaust, that Jakab Neuwirth was beaten to death by two men wearing crane-feathered berets, the symbol of antisemitic counter-revolutionary gangs supporting governor Horthy, and his money as well as pocket watch were stolen. The pocket watch and the chain that came with it had been given to him by the Habsburg King Charles because his seven sons had served in the First World War.

Jakab Neuwirth had 16 children who lived to adulthood, the age difference between the oldest and the youngest being almost 42 years. Imre is the eleventh in this line.

Imre Neuwirth was born in 1894 in Győr. After graduating from school, he became a master printer. His printing house, the Kisfaludy Printing House, was named after the Kisfaludy statue, behind which it was located. He worked not only as a printer, but also as a book and newspaper publisher. The newspaper, the magazine and the books he wrote, edited and published all dealt with Jewish social issues. He published his first journal, ‘Somer Yisrael’ (Guardian of Israel), when he was 21. However, the newspaper and the magazine ceased publication after a few issues due to a lack of subscribers. The bound copies of the books were deposited in the stock of the National Széchenyi Library, but in 1944 most of them were crushed.

Imre’s wife, Margit Kóth (Győr, 1894) was a midwife, who had already graduated as an adult. She is said to have been one of the best midwives in Győr. One of his two brothers was killed at Isonzo in World War I, and his sister and her family ended up in Auschwitz.

Imre had five children in his family. Jolán (1916), Jenő (1919), Sándor (1921), Sára (1923) and Miklós (1925). The family lived in modest but secure financial circumstances. They belonged to the Győr Orthodox Community, but the children were also involved in the Zionist movement.

The difficulties began in 1938 after the first law on Jews was passed.

The last photo of the “extended family” © Szedő M.

Jenő, one of the sons, emigrated to what was then Palestine in 1938, started a family there and lived in Israel until his death in 2015. At the same time, a large group also left Győr for Palestine and they have remained in touch even today.

The rest of the family stayed in Hungary. After the outbreak of World War II, the men were called up for forced labour. The women, in 1944, were sent to a ghetto and then to Auschwitz, which neither of them survived. The “extended family” – descendants of Jakab Neuwirth – lost more than 50 men, women and children in the Shoah.

Imre Neuwirth’s family around 1938 (men only surivived the Shoah) © Szedő M.

Imre Neuwirth and his sons, Sándor and Miklós, returned to Győr in 1945, after the liberation of the country, and tried to start a new life there. Soon it became obvious and was made clear to them that there was no need for their printing house and no possibility of keeping it going.

So, Imre Neuwirth left the country in 1946. His ship was sunk by the British and the rescued passengers were deported to Cyprus. From there, he was transferred to Israel and worked in Tel Aviv until his death in 1955.

Sándor moved from Győr to Budapest. He got married and became a mechanical engineer and later an engineer-economist. He had two sons (including the undersigned), three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He deceased in 2009.

Miklós, the other son of Imre Neuwirth, also moved to Budapest, where he became a paper industry engineer. In 1956, the family left Hungary and started a new life in Sweden. They had one son, three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Miklós died in 2011.

Imre’s eldest son Jenő, mentioned above, died in Israel in 2015, aged 95. He is survived by a daughter, four grandchildren and 18 (!) great-grandchildren.

The whole “extended family”, i.e. the descendants of Jakab Neuwirth, today about 240, are scattered all over the world, most of them living in Israel.

This “extended family” has been holding family reunions every two or three years since 2006. In 2008, around 100 people visited Győr in the framework of such an encounter.

Disclosed by Miklós Szedő

Featured image: The tableau of the Neuwith family in the former home of elderly and poor, Győr © Krausz P.