René Rechnitz

* 1921  

  • "My brother left for Palestine with the Aliat-Noar group. He received a certificate due to his young age - he was seventeen. I was already eighteen and couldn't have obtained it. I found the group Betar, a Zionist youth movement, which was leaving for Palestine illegally. My grandpa told me: 'You are getting out of here.' And so on 16 October 1939, I left from Prague's Masaryk station. I took the train to Bratislava, slept over on the floor in a lodging house and in ther morning, ship of the Donauschifffahrtgesellschaft company sailed in, taking passangers daily from Vienna to Yugoslavia and back. We bought our tickets and boarded the ship. There were two hundred of us."

  • "We sailed into the Bosporus. By that time, the Englishmen were already afraid of spies due to the war raging in Poland and elsewhere. They stopped our ship as we were sailing out of the Bosporus and asked: 'Where are you headed?' Our captain said: 'We are going to Aleppo where we will change to a ship heading t Panama.' The English officer replied: 'Don't tell me these stories. Sail behind me. We are headed for Haifa.' Four days later, on 1 February, we landed in Haifa."

  • "In 1948, as the war broke out, I was drafted to the army. My number was seven hundred and something. The conscription took place in Sderot Rotschild, in the Bilu school. But I wasn't admitted because I had an ulcer and also wore glasses. I was digging trenches not far from here for a couple days and then worked for a while in a conscription office in Jaffa. I had never been in the army."

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    Tel Aviv, 02.12.2017

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The Victory of Life

Archival photo
Archival photo
zdroj: archiv pamětníka

René Rechnitz was born on 19 May 1921 in Teplice into a Jewish family as the elder of two sons. His father Herrmann ran a business with clothes while his mother Grete was a housewife. At home, they spoke German. René‘s parents got divorced when he was still young, his mother re-married and lived with her new husband in Trutnov. In 1936, his father committed suicide. René attended schools in Litoměřice, Trutnov and in 1935, began an apprenticeship in a clothes shop in Prague. After the annexation of the Sudetenland by Germany, his mother with her parents also moved to Prague. In 1938, his younger brother Gerhard left for Palestine. René followed him illegally with the Zionist group Betar in October 1939. He travelled via Bratislava, Romania and Turkey, landing in the port of Haifa on 29 February 1940. He had spent six months in an internment camp before he was let in the country. For a short while, he lived in a kibbutz and then moved to Tel Aviv where he worked in a grocery store ran by his uncle, which he had later taken over. In Tel Aviv, he built a renowned deli and later worked for the food company Strauss. His mother and much of his family were murdered during the war. René Rechnitz had widowed twice, brought up three children and has been together with his present wife Chava for more than forty years.