Bohemian and Czech Jews in American History
Jews have lived on the territory of the historic Czech Lands for some 1,000 years. They have played an important role in the social, economic and cultural development of the country since the times of the Duchy and the subsequent Kingdom of Bohemia, through the establishment of independent Czechoslovakia, and the Successor State, the Czech Republic.
The Bohemian or Czech Jews who immigrated to America represent a terra incognita. Relatively little is known and relatively little has been written, with the exception of Guido Kisch’s now classical monograph, In Search of Freedom, written in 1949, which dealt primarily with the emigrants from the Czech Lands around the year 1848; and my own study, which focused on the earliest arriving Bohemian Jewish pioneers in America.
The purpose of this study is to take a comprehensive look at the immigration and settlement of the Bohemian and the Czech Jews in America at the onset of the 19th century and beyond and to evaluate their contributions. The first part deals with the arrival and the settlement of the immigrants in different States of the Union. The second part deals with the contributions of the selected Bohemian and the Czech Jews in different areas of endeavor, including American Judaism, public service, military service, business, culture, biological and medical sciences, physical sciences and engineering, and humanities and social sciences. Identification of Bohemian Jews
One of the difficulties has been to identify who is Jewish, since most of them came to America when the Czech Lands were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. German being the official language of the land, it is altogether not surprising, that being enterprising, they easily mixed with the German element, and as such, were a priori considered Germans or Austrians, or even Hungarians. This was true even though they had a separate identity and established their own culture. They were not Germans, they were Bohemian Jews. After the Czechoslovak Republic was established, many of these Jews identified themselves as Czechs Jews, having learned the Czech language and becoming a part of the Czech cultural milieu. Despite the initial difficulties of identifying them as a group, after some experience, the present author soon developed the skill of ‘guessing’ whether a given surname might be of Bohemian Jewish origin. Here are some examples of the typical Bohemian Jewish names: Abeles, Adler, Altschul, Arnstein, Bleier, Bloch, Block, Bondi, Bondy, Busch, Eckstein, Eidlitz, Eisler, Eisner, Eitner, Epstein, Ernst, Fantl, Feigl, Fischel, Fischer, Fleischer, Fleischner, Frankel, Freud, Freund, Fried, Fuchs, Furst, Fürth, Glaser, Grünberger, Grund, Grünfeld, Grünhut, Günzburg, Haas, Hahn, Hammerschlag, Heller, Hirsch, Hofmann, Jeiteles, Kahler, Karpeles, Katz, Kauders, Kisch, Klauber, Klein, Kohn, Korbel, Kraus, Krauskopf, Kuh, Langer, Lederer, Löbl, Loewy, Löw-Beer, Lustig, Mahler, Mandl, Meisl, Meissner, Munk, Neumann, Pam, Pascheles, Petscheck, Pick, Popper, Porges, Reich, Rosenwasser, Rosewater, Schlesinger, Schmelkes, Schulhoff, Spira, Stein, Steindler, Steiner, Stern, Strauss, Tauber, Teweles, Vogel, Wehle, Weidenthal, Weiner, Weil, Weinberger, Weinmann, Weiss, Weisskopf, Weltsch, Winternitz, Wolf, Zeisel, Zucker, Zweig.
The identification was, of course, easier, when their names were based on German translations of the Czech towns, such as Austerlitz (Slavkov), Brandeis (Brandýs nad Labem), Brod, Bunzlau (Boleslav), Haurowitz (Hořovice), Janowitz (Janovice), Jenikau (Jeníkov), Nachod (Náchod), Neustadtl (Nové Město), Nicolsburg (Mikulov), Politzer (Politz – Police), Postelberg (Postoloprty), Prag (Praha), Pribram (Příbram), Raudnitz ( Roudnice), Strakonitz (Strakonice), Taussig (Tauss – Domažlice), Teplitz (Teplice), Turnau (Turnov).
Some of these Jews had typical Czech names, such as: Dubský, Forman, Holý, Hošek, Hubatý, Jahoda, Jellinek, Kafka, Kulka, Kussy, Mánes, Morawetz, Placzek, Písecký, Pokorný, Poláček, Pollak, Roubíček, Růžička, Slezák, Sobotka, Stránský, Tuschka, Vodička, Voskovec, Zelenka.
Bohemian Jewish Settlers in Individual States
This section ignores the Bohemian Jewish pioneers in America from the 16th to 18th centuries, which were the subject of my earlier study. The emphasis here is the immigrants who came to America in the first half of the 19th century and their descendants.
Around the turn of the 19th century several members of the Block (originally Bloch) Jewish family from Švihov, a village in Bohemia, settled in Virginia. Among them were Jacob Block (ca 1765-1835) and his brother Abraham Block (1780-1857). Jacob lived originally in Baltimore, MD but later moved to Williamsburg and soon after to Richmond in Virginia. Abraham arrived in America in 1791 at the age of 12 years and grew up in Virginia. He established himself as a merchant and in 1811 was married to Frances Isaacs with whom he had seven children. The following year he served as captain during the War of 1812. After the war he returned to his business. In 1823 he decided to move to Arkansas where he thought he would find better conditions for business.
Other members of the large Block family lived in Richmond at that time. The patriarch of the family, Simon Block (bef. 1742-1823), the father of Jacob and Abraham, resided in Richmond in 1804. Some six years later he moved to Williamsburg and finally he ended up in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Jacob's son Simon Block, Jr. (bef. 1790-1826) lived in Richmond since 1794 or earlier, and later moved to Missouri. Simon’s brother Eleazer Block (1797-1886), a native of Švihov, was one of the lucky Americans who had the privilege of acquiring university education at that time. He attended the College of William and Mary and around 1826 settled by the Mississippi River and opened a law practice. Simon's sister Louisa, who was born in Virginia, married Abraham Jonas, a close friend of President Lincoln. Their son Benjamin Franklin Jonas (1834-1911) became Senator for the State of Louisiana.
The next State to register the entry of a Bohemian Jew at the beginning of the 19th century was probably Maryland. His name was Levi Collmus (1782-1856) who settled in Baltimore. Although some sources state that he arrived in 1798, as a lad of 15, or in 1800, a declaration of naturalization he made in 1822 states that he arrived at the port of Baltimore in September 1806. He gave Prague as his birthplace and his age as 40 years. He was a dry goods dealer. Levi Collmus participated in the War of 1812. According to his application to the U.S House of Representatives for a pension, he "was engaged in the battle near Baltimore which took place on the 12th day of September, 1814.” Although he married a Christian, Collmus was one of the electors of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation in 1831. He became treasurer of the United Hebrew Benevolent Society when it was formed in 1834. Though buried in a Christian cemetery (Greenmount Cemetery), he was given a burial according to the full Orthodox Jewish ritual.
In the 1840s, several Bohemian Jewish families settled in Baltimore. Among them was Charles Winternitz (1815-1891), a native of Deštná, Bohemia, who came with his wife and five children, in 1845. After six months in Baltimore, he began an iron business. Within two years he owned two stores in the city, and was very successful. His firm, Charles Winternitz & Sons, did the heaviest iron business in the city of Baltimore. He had eight children, of which three--David, Lewis and Hiram--were associated with him in business. Two of them, Samuel G. and William, carried on individually their own iron businesses.
In 1845, Adolf Guinzburg (ca1820-1908) settled in Annapolis, the capital of Maryland. He was a merchant. He lived there until 1873 when he removed to Clearfield, PA, where he opened a men’s clothing shop. His brother, Rabbi Dr. A. Guinzburg (1812-1873) immigrated with his family to Baltimore in 1849. Apart from his theological responsibilities he also taught at Newton University. He later moved to Rochester, NY.
In 1849, Leopold Franz Morawetz (1818-1892) immigrated to Baltimore from Roudnice, Bohemia. He was a physician specializing in surgery and obstetrics, having received his medical training at Prague and Vienna Universities. He opened a practice in Baltimore and was among Baltimore’s first physicians. One of his sons, Victor Morawetz, became a prominent lawyer; the other son, Albert became a diplomat.
At the turn of the 18th and 19th century, Isaac Phillips (1794-1851) came to Pennsylvania from England, where his ancestor Phineas Phillips originally emigrated from Bohemia. He was a member of the foreign commission and exchange firm of R. I. Phillips, who became a prominent figure in the Philadelphia business world. His firm was the first American representative of the House of Rothschild. Isaac’s son Barnet Phillips (1826-1885), a founder of the American Jewish Historical Society, achieved distinction as a scholar, soldier and journalist. In 1872 he joined the staff of the New York Times; at the time of his death he was in charge of book reviews. David Winternitz (*1818) immigrated to America from Bohemia and settled in New Castle, PA in 1825. His son Isaac Adler Winternitz became a physician as did his grandson David Henry Winternitz (*1891). The latter was born Hoxie, KA, where his father moved.
Francis J. Grund (1798-1863), a native of Liberec, Bohemia, was long a resident of Philadelphia, and a frequent contributor ‘to the public prints.’ He made his first impression as a Washington correspondent of the Public Ledger. Grund played an active role in the city’s politics. He edited a Whig newspaper, the Daily Standard, during the campaign of 1840; and he afterwards became a staunch supporter of the Tyler administration. On October 26, 1842, The Spirit of the Times reported that Grund had been appointed ‘weigh master’ in the Philadelphia Custom House. Lambert A. Wilmer recalled that Grund, while holding “a fat office in the Custom-House,” controlled the ‘political department’ of the Evening Mercury, the organ of the Tyler administration in Philadelphia. He established a Philadelphia journal The Age, which he edited from 1843-63, and was the author of The Americans in their Moral, Social, and Political Relations (1837), Aristocracy in America (1839), Algebraic Problems, Elements of Chemistry and of Natural Philosophy and Plane and Solid Geometry.
His insightfulness is evident from the discussion in his book, Aristocracy in America, of Philadelphia’s culture: “The society of Philadelphia is, on the whole, better than that of Boston or New York. There is less vulgar aristocracy than in other Northern cities. Not that I mean to say that there are not people to be found in Boston and New York that could rival the Philadelphians in point of 'gentility but in the good 'city of brotherly love' there is, probably owing to a seasonable admixture of a large number of European, and especially French families, a higher tone, greater elegance, and, in every respect, more agrémens. The New-Englanders are an arguing people, and annoy you, even in society, with mathematical and political demonstrations. The Philadelphians have more taste, and have the best cooks in the United States.”
S. E. Rosenbaum (*1822), a Czech Jew from Golčův Jeníkov, Bohemia, settled in Allentown, PA at age 25 in 1847. According to Guido Kisch, he had talents for art and journalism. He kept a careful diary, a veritable ‘human document’ of man’s enterprise, striving, and endurance. His American career as a peddler and window-shade painter was beneath his talents and education. In his later years, his frequent spells of disappointment and despondency find tragic expression in the final pages of his diary – which he added some fifty years afterwards, at the age of seventy-five.
During 1853-1854, Rabbi Bernard Illowy (1814-1871), of Kolín, Bohemia, served as rabbi in Philadelphia. He then moved to St. Louis.
The earliest known Bohemian Jew to settle in Louisiana was Samuel Kohn (1783-1853), who was born in a tiny Bohemian village of Hořany. It is surmised that he arrived around 1806 or earlier. Through wit, grit and acuity, he rose from a penniless immigrant to become one of the wealthiest financiers in New Orleans. In due course, Kohn became a banker, moneylender, investor, and a real estate promoter. He also built dwellings and commercial buildings throughout the city and was one of the major promoters of suburban construction.
Samuel Kohn had several brothers, including Simon and Joachim. In 1819 or 1820, when Joachim was 19 or 20 years old, Samuel brought him to New Orleans and set him up in the commission brokerage line. He and his with several partners owned ships and handled cargoes on the Mississippi River, in the Caribbean, on the Atlantic seaboard and in Europe. After Samuel Kohn moved to Paris in 1832, Joachim acted as his agent in America. Joachim was successful in his own right. He was a member of more corporate boards than any other Jew in his time.
A third member of the Kohn family, Samuel's nephew Carl Kohn, was brought to New Orleans by Samuel in 1830 or 1831. He achieved a level of success and prominence equal to that of his uncles. Like them he became engaged in merchant banking, commission brokerage and various other business enterprises, culminating in his election to the presidency of the Union National Bank.
Apart from Kohns, several members of the Block family lived in New Orleans, including Abraham Block (1780-1857), Jacob Block (1808-1888) and Louisa Block (*1800), the mother of the future senator Benjamin F. Jonas (1834-1911).
Some Bohemian Jews resided here only temporarily, such as Dr. Simon Pollak (1814-1903) from Domažlice or Philip Wohl (1823-1895) from Karlovy Vary, both of whom later moved to St. Louis. MO.
Missouri was the next state in which Bohemian Jews appeared in the early part of the 19th century. According to Isidor Bush, it was Wolf Block (ca 1765-bf 1840) from Švihov, who previously lived in Baltimore, MD and Richmond, who moved to St. Louis in 1816. Other family relatives followed suit so that the Blocks were the most numerous Jewish family in the city. Wolf Block’s cousin, Eleazer Block (1797-1886), was apparently the second Block who came to St. Louis, after completing his studies at the College of William and Mary. He became the first “Hebrew lawyer" in that city. A couple of decades later, the St. Louis’ Blocks were joined by Abraham Weigl (1802-1888) and Nathan Abeles (1814-1885) from Bohemia, who married into the Block family.
Around 1840, Charles A Taussig (*1822), son of Seligman Taussig from Prague, came to St. Louis, followed, a year later, by his brother John Seligman Taussig (1832-1911) with their cousin William (1826-1916). Charles Taussig, jointly with Adolph Abeles, brother of Nathan Abeles, opened a very popular general store at Park and Carondelet Streets, which became widely known as far as Jefferson Co. In 1840, Adolph Klauber (1816-) arrived from Bohemia and established an iron and metal business in St. Louis. He became one of the founders of congregation B’nai El. His son David, born in 1858, joined him in business and both became important members of the Jewish community.
In 1845, a young physician Simon Pollak (1814-1903), of Domažlice, joined the growing St. Louis Bohemian Jewish community. He obtained his doctorate in 1835 and immigrated to America in 1838. After a short stay in New York, he went to New Orleans and then to Tennessee, before permanently settling in St. Louis. He established a highly successful ophthalmology and ear clinic and an institution for blind. During the Civil War he served as a general inspector of hospitals. Isidor Bush (1822-1898) came to St. Louis in 1849, after a short stay in New York, where he first immigrated after the unsuccessful revolution in 1848 and when he had to flee from Austria. He was married to Theresa Taussig, sister of Charles A Taussig. He opened a general store in Carondelet with his brother-in-law Charles A. Taussig, who was already in business with Adolph Abeles. By 1853, Bush and Taussig bought out Abeles and continued profitably in the south St. Louis location. In 1851, Bush purchased one hundred acres of land in Jefferson Co., south of St. Louis, at a place called Bushberg, where he successfully grew grapes. Before long he gained a reputation as a leading authority in viniculture.
The earlier mentioned Capt. Abraham Block (1780-1857), from Virginia, resided in the state of Arkansas by 1823. His family soon followed. They were considered to have been one of the original pioneer settlers and the first Jews to settle in Arkansas. Abraham had established a store in the village of Washington, AK that had prospered and had drawn trade from a wide area in Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana, so that he soon became one of the wealthiest men in the county. In 1830s and 1840s, the Block firm began to open branches in other towns in the southwest Arkansas. According to his obituary, he was esteemed by all who knew him, and the businessmen of New Orleans and the planters of Red River and southern Arkansas all knew him.
The year of 1827 marks the arrival in Boston of Francis Joseph Grund (1805-1863) from Prague. In contrast to the humble background of most of the early immigrants from Bohemia, Francis J. Grund was already educated when he came to America, with a degree from the Vienna Polytechnic. He was a mathematician of note who wrote textbooks on arithmetic, algebra and geometry, in addition to texts on chemistry, astronomy and natural philosophy. In 1827, after a year of teaching mathematics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he settled in the United States. He continued teaching mathematics in Boston until 1833, subsequently engaging in journalistic work. In 1837 he settled in Philadelphia, where he served as an editor of the Whig newspaper Standard and Grund's Pennsylvanischer Deutscher. Some credit him with inventing journalistic sensationalism, full of hints of best sources and information from behind the scenes.
The first Bohemian Jew in Kentucky was probably Louisa Block (*ca1800), who was married there in 1829 to Abraham Jonas. Her father Jacob was native of Švihov, Bohemia, who immigrated to the US at the end of the 18th century. Louisa and her husband lived first in Williamstown in Grant Co., KY. Four of their sons were born in Kentucky, all of whom served in the Confederate Army. One of the sons, Benjamin Franklin Jonas (1834-1911) was a lawyer who became senator for Louisiana. In 1836 the family removed to Quincy, IL where they became close friends of President Lincoln.
In 1853, Lewis Naphtali Dembitz (1833–1907), whose mother came from Prague, opened a law practice in Louisville. He soon entered politics and held important offices in the Republican Party. He was a member of the National Republican Convention which nominated Abraham Lincoln for President.
Around 1853, another Bohemian Jew, Edward Klauber (1835-1918), settled in Louisville, where he opened a popular photographic studio. One of his sons, Adolf Klauber (1879-1933) was a drama critic for New York Times and later became a theatre producer.
The most interesting Bohemian Jewish family in Kentucky was that of Moritz Flexner (1820-1882) from Všeruby, who settled in Louisville in 1854. Although he was just a peddler and later a shopkeeper, he managed to provide all his children university education. Without exception, they became prominent in their professions.
A large number of Bohemian Jews came to New York in the early part of the 19th century. However, most of them stayed for only a short period and then moved on to other states, particularly to the south. This is why New York City may be called “Gateway to America.” This group included Dr. Simon Pollak, who came here in 1838, Leopold Weisskopf in 1839, Louis Fleischner in 1839, Solomon Adler in 1843, Charles S. Kuh in 1844, Rabbi Issac M. Wise in 1846 and Samuel Klauber in 1847. Among the early arrivals, only a few people made New York City or New York State their permanent home. Among them are Leopold Eidlitz, who came here in 1843, Marc Eidlitz and David Abeles (1822-1897) in 1847, Max Maretzek, Lewis Hahn (1828-), Philip Brockman, Julius Bunzl and Henry Dormitzer in 1848. Leopold Eidlitz (1823-1908) was one of the most prominent architects in the US, while his brother Marc (1826-1892) became one of the most famous building contractors and entrepreneurs in New York City.
Max Maretzek (1821-1897) managed several opera companies at the Academy of Music, NY and was one of the pioneers in popularizing grand opera in the US. It is noteworthy that already in 1848 the New York Czech Jews had their own congregation ‘Ahabath Hesed.’ Their synagogue stood on 133 Ridge Street and their burial ground in Cypress Hill Cemetery. Their first rabbi was Falkman Teberich, while Ignatz Stein served as president of the congregation. The parent organization, recorded as early as 1846, was not a synagogue but a mutual aid society, called ‘Bohemian Brothers.” This society is mentioned in the minutes of Emanu-El Congregation in New York of May 30, 1847, under the name of ‘Bőhmischer Verein.’ Simon Klauber was president, Charles S. Kuh vice-president, Dr. Brockman as treasurer and M. Opper was secretary.
Henry Horner (1817-78) was the first Bohemian Jew, and one of the first four Jews to settle in Chicago. He came to America in 1840, and, was hired in Chicago as a clerk for a clothing house, where he remained until he opened his own wholesale and retail house, Henry Horner and Co. His company started at Randolph and Canal Streets. In 1859 Horner built a large store at Nos. 78, 80 and 82 West Randolph Street, and in 1864 he moved his business to South Water Street. His grandson, bearing identical name Henry Horner, became governor of Illinois.
In 1852, Joseph Benedict Greenhut (1843-1918) from Horšovský Týn, Bohemia immigrated with his parents and settled in Chicago. He was a volunteer in the Union Army during Civil War and took part in the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. He was made adjutant general and chief of staff of 3rd Brigade, 3rd Div. of the 11th Army Corps and took part in the campaign and battles of his brigade in Tennessee. After 1869 he conducted a distilling business with unprecedented success. He erected largest distillery in the world at Peoria, IL. In 1887 he organized the Distillery and Cattle Feeding Co., with a capital of $35 million, comprising practically all large distilleries in the country. When Pres. McKinley and his entire cabinet visited Peoria in 1899 they were guests of the Greenhuts.
Solomon Weil (1821-1891) was the first Bohemian Jew to come to Michigan. He was a native of Bohumileč near Čkyně, Bohemia, from which he emigrated in 1843, settling in Ann Arbor. He was the first Jew in that city. He was soon joined by his future wife Dora and his brothers: Leopold, Moses, Marcus and Jacob, and his father Joseph. They all first conducted individual businesses but later decided to pool their resources and establish a family-run tannery J. Weil & Bros. Jacob Weil (1827-1912), who was highly educated, having initially studied in Prague to be a rabbi and later graduated from the University in Budapest, was chosen to be the firm’s president. Just three years after they bought the tannery, the R.G. Dun & Company reported the brothers’ worth as $50,000, and their business as “one of the most successful firms in the West.” By 1861, the tannery employed from 40 to 50 men. Five years later their real estate was worth about $100,000.
In 1847, three Lederer brothers, Charles, Henry and Emanuel, also from Čkyně, Bohemia, settled in Ann Arbor. Subsequently they moved to Lansing, Michigan, where they established a tannery, soap manufacturing and general store. In the same year another Bohemian Jew arrived, named Abraham Weidenthal (1818-1848), who after two years moved to Cleveland, OH, where he became a prominent journalist.
Among the earliest Jewish immigrants to settle in Milwaukee in 1844 was Isaac Neustadtl (d. l877) from Bohemia. He started out as a retail grocer on Third Street but soon involved himself in the insurance business. Apart from his successful business, he was very active in the political and civic affairs of the city. In 1852/53 he was elected city alderman in the Second Ward, which contained the largest segment of Milwaukee's Jewish population. Neustadtl sympathized with the European revolutionary movement of 1848 and headed an association in Milwaukee for aiding political refugees from Europe. On Yom Kippur in 1847, 12 Jewish pioneers held their first services at the home of Isaac Neustadtl at Chestnut and Fourth Streets, leading to the establishment of Emanu-El, the first Jewish congregation in Milwaukee.
The second Bohemian Jew to come to Milwaukee was Josef B. Schram (1817-1900) in 1846, after spending some time in Boston. He opened a grocery store which he conducted for twenty-six years. His son Louis B. Schram (*1856) studied at Yale and received a law degree from Columbia in 1879. Since then he successfully practiced law in Milwaukee.
The third Bohemian Jew to come to Milwaukee was Solomon Adler (1816-1890), who originally immigrated to New York in 1843. He established a men’s store in Milwaukee, jointly with Jacob Steinhardt which existed till 1852. He then formed another firm with his brother David under the name A & D Adler Co. When Solomon Adler retired from the firm and left for New York, the company was reorganized as the David Adler and Sons Clothing Co., which grew to be one of the largest wholesale clothing houses in the United States. While still in Milwaukee, Solomon was very active in Jewish affairs and held the office of secretary of the first Jewish cemetery organization in Milwaukee, as well as secretary of the first Jewish congregation in Milwaukee and the first president of the newly consolidated congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun.
In 1847 and the following years a number of other Bohemian Jews settled in Milwaukee, including Adolph Weil (1847), Henry Katz (1847), Bernard Heller (1848), Jacob Morawetz (1849), Jonas Schoenmann (1850), Isaac Stránský (1850).
As mentioned earlier, Simon Block (1742-1832) moved to Cincinnati sometimes after 1810; he was the first Bohemian Jew in Ohio. When Simon Block died in 1832 Cincinnati's Jewish congregation mourned "the loss of Simon Block, Esq., formerly of Richmond, Va. This venerable gentleman had filled the office of Parnass. . . . Being the oldest amongst us, we considered him as the father of this congregation."
In 1848, Adolph Brandeis (1820-) from Prague, Bohemia came to Cincinnati scouting for a new home for his extended family, after immigrating first to New York that year. In January 1849 he worked for a Cincinnati grocery store, which gave him the necessary experience for his future business. Later that year, twenty-six members of Gottlieb Wehle’s family from Prague arrived in New York to join him. Adolph Brandeis who soon after married Gottlieb Wehle’s niece then accompanied them to Cincinnati. They stayed for about a month and then all members minus two moved to Madison, IN. The two who remained were Dr. Sigmund Dembitz and his son Lewis N. Dembitz (1833-1907). Here then Lewis’ father practiced medicine while young Lewis studied law. He did it in the fashion of the day by obtaining an employment and reading law in the office of a rising lawyer John Bernhard Stallo.
In 1849, another Bohemian Jew, Abraham Weidenthal (1818-1848), a native of Hostice, moved to Cleveland, OH, after first immigrating to Michigan in 1847. He brought with him his new wife, Rebecca Neuman (1823-1890), also a native from Bohemia, whom he married at Ann Arbor, MI in 1847. Other members of the Weidenthal family, including Abraham’s mother Rebecca, his bothers Bernard and Leopold and sisters Fanny and Charlotte joined them the same year. The youngest brother Emanuel (1827-1897) arrived in Cleveland with his wife Julia and their six children around 1865. A least three of these children, Maurice, Henry and Leo became prominent journalists in Cleveland.
In 1849, Joseph Löwy (1797-1870), another Bohemian Jew, arrived from Nové Hostice, together with his sons Leopold, Ignatz and Albert and daughter Dorothea. Two years later Dorothea Löwy married Bernard Weidenthal.
Notable Personalities among the Bohemian Jews in America
Most Bohemian Jewish immigrants established themselves quite quickly in their new homeland and many of them achieved remarkable success, in just about every area of human endeavor. Although most major areas are covered here, because of the lack of space, only a few most representative individuals in specific areas are included.
Several prominent American rabbis can claim Czech ancestry. Among them, by far, the leading place is held by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, originally spelled Weiss (1819-1900), who was born in Lomnička, Bohemia. In July 1846, he immigrated to NY and in September 1846 was elected rabbi of the Jewish congregation of Albany, NY where he remained until 1854 when he was elected rabbi of the Emanu-El B'ne Jeshurun Congregation of Cincinnati, where he officiated until end of his life. In Cincinnati he began publishing a weekly newspaper The Israelite (later The American Israelite). He was a pioneer, founder and organizer of Reform Judaism in US and most influential Jewish personality in US at his time. He was instrumental in organizing the Union of American Hebrew Congregation (1873) and in founding Hebrew Union College (1875), which he served as president until his death. In 1889 he also founded the Central Conference of American Rabbis and served as its president until the end of his life.
Bernard Illowy (l8l2 1871) from Kolín, Bohemia was probably the second most influential rabbi in America of Czech ancestry. He was an orthodox rabbi and scholar educated at the rabbinical school in Padua and the University of Budapest. At time of his immigration to US in 1848 he was the only Orthodox rabbi to hold a doctorate degree in the US. He served as rabbi in New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Syracuse, Baltimore, New Orleans and Cincinnati. He stressed Orthodox observance in his sermons and was a powerful speaker, accomplished lyricist, and great Talmudist. The third rabbi of significance was Maximilian Heller (1860-1929), a native of Prague, who was educated in Prague and Cincinnati. He became rabbi in Chicago (1884-86), Houston (1886-87) and of the Temple Sinai in New Orleans (s. 1887), where he served for more than 40 years. He was active in communal affairs and in1912 was appointed professor of Hebrew and Hebrew literature at Tulane University, where he served until retirement in 1928. He was a Charter member of Central Conference of American Rabbis, serving as their president from 1911-29.
Stephen S. Wise (1874-1949) was a descendant of a long line of rabbis in Moravia in the 17th and 18th centuries. After immigration to New York as a child and after his ordination as a Reform rabbi, he led a congregation in Portland, Oregon, where his liberal political convictions inspired him to fight for child labor laws and for the demands of striking workers. A charismatic orator, he became a champion for social justice and civil rights and was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He later became a strong advocate and vocal supporter of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's ‘New Deal.’
Other rabbis of note include Emanuel Schreiber (1852-1932), Moses J. Gries (1868-1918), Eugene Kohn (1887-1977, James G. Heller (1892-1971), and Leo Jung (1892-1977).
Executive Branch - In the Executive branch of the Federal Government, Madeleine Albright (1937-) achieved the highest rank, having been named the Secretary of State by President Clinton. She was born in Prague to Czech diplomat Josef Korbel and his wife. Although she received her doctorate relatively late in life (1976), her career then skyrocketed. She became a legislative assistant to Senator Edmund Muskie, followed by similar appointment with the National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. Later she was given a chair at George Washington University. She became an advisor to Presidential candidate Walter Mondale and to Michael Dukakis. When Bill Clinton became President, she was named US Ambassador to the UN and his next term, he appointed her Secretary of State.
After Hilary Clinton's completion of her term as Secretary of State, who succeeded Madeline Albright in that post, President Obama appointed in January 2013 Senator John F Kerry as a new Secretary of State. John Forbes Kerry (1943-) was the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, and was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. As the Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, he was defeated by 34 electoral votes in the 2004 presidential election by President George W. Bush. Senator Kerry is a Vietnam veteran, and was a spokesman for Vietnam Veterans against the War when he returned home from service. Before entering the Senate, he served as an Assistant District Attorney and Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts. In January 2013, President Obama appointed him US Secretary of State. In 2003 it was discovered that Kerry's paternal grandparents came from Horní Benešov, Moravia. They were Jewish but prior to immigration to US they changed their names and switched to Roman Catholicism. His grandfather changed his name from Fritz Kohn to Frederick Kerry. Until this discovery, Senator Kerry thought that his ancestors were Irish Catholics.
The third highest position held by a Bohemian Jew was Caspar Weinberger (1917-2006), whose paternal grandfather was a native of Bohemia. He served in the administrations of three U.S. presidents, as director of the Office of Management and Budget, as Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, and as Secretary of Defense. He was noted for his budget-cutting ability until, as Secretary of defense, he pressed for huge annual increases in military spending.
A third very influential person was Charles William Taussig (1896-1948), whose paternal grandfather was a native of Prague. Charles W. Taussig was President of the American Molasses Company in 1933, when he became one of the original members of the "brain trust" of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. From 1935 to 1936, he served as Chairman of the National Advisory Committee of the National Youth Administration. Taussig co-chaired the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission in 1942, and was chairman of the American delegation from 1946 until his death in 1948. He also served as a member of the President's Council for the Virgin Islands, chairman of the U.S. Commission to Study Social and Economic Conditions in the British East Indies, and on the United Nations Conference on International Organization.
Legislative Branch - Two senators of Bohemian Jewish ancestry are Benjamin F. Jonas of Louisiana and John F. Kerry of Massachusetts. Benjamin Franklin Jonas (1834-1911) was a grandson of Jewish immigrant from Švihov, Bohemia. He enlisted in the army during the early days of the Civil War and was later promoted to the rank of major. He was a member of the Louisiana state house of representatives in 1865. Following the war, he served as a US Senator during Reconstruction as a Democrat from 1879 to 1885. He was the second Jewish US Senator from Louisiana.
Among Congressmen, Adolph Joachim Sabath (1866-1952), a native of Záboří, Bohemia, gets the highest honors. He served as a member of the US House of Representatives from Chicago, Illinois, from 1907 until his death. He served for 23 terms, representing Chicago's Southwest Side, and was chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee. He was known for his advocacy of immigration and social welfare reform.
Judicial Branch – Several Jewish judges with roots in the Czech Lands were appointed to American courts. Two of them held the prestigious posts as Associate Judges of the Supreme Court. The first was Louis D. Brandeis (1856-1941), a native of Louisville, KY, whose father Adolf emigrated from Prague to America in 1848. As a very successful attorney in Boston (1877–1916), he was known as "the people's attorney" for his defense of the constitutionality of several state hours-and-wages laws, his devising of a savings-bank life-insurance plan for working people, and his efforts to strengthen the government's antitrust power. His work influenced passage in 1914 of the Clayton Anti-Trust Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act. Appointed by President Wilson to the Supreme Court of the United States (1916), he was noted for his devotion to freedom of speech. Many of his minority opinions, in which he was often aligned with Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., later were accepted by the court in the New Deal era.
The second notable jurist of Czech extraction was Felix Frankfurter (1882-1965), a native of Vienna, Austria, whose mother was born in Uherský Ostroh, Moravia. In 1900 the family emigrated to the United States. After graduating from City College of New York in 1902, Frankfurter entered Harvard Law School. In 1906 Henry Stimson, a New York attorney, recruited Frankfurter as his assistant. When President William Howard Taft appointed Stimson as his secretary of war in 1911, he took Frankfurter along as law officer of the Bureau of Insular Affairs. In 1914, Frankfurter returned to the Harvard Law School as professor of administrative law. Over the next few years he acquired a reputation for holding progressive political views. A founder member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) he criticized the Tennessee Anti-Evolution Law and joined the campaign to overturn the death sentence. When Roosevelt became president he often consulted Frankfurter about the legal implication of his New Deal legislation. In 1939 Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Frankfurter as a Supreme Court justice. Frankfurter took a strong stand on individual civil rights and this led to him being condemned by some as an "extreme liberal.”
State and Municipal Government - At the State level, Henry Horner (1878-1940), whose maternal grandfather immigrated to Chicago, grew to prominence as a lawyer and politician. His political career began in 1914 when he was elected probate judge of Cook County, a post to which he was reelected four times. The younger Horner's ability and impeccable reputation led the Democratic organization to nominate him for governor of Illinois in 1932. Defeating the Republican nominee by a vote of 1,930,330 to 1,364,043, he became the first Democratic chief executive of the state in 17 years. During his tenure as governor (1933-40) he made many notable contributions to the welfare Illinois. His interest in Lincoln resulted in the gathering of one of the finest collections of ‘Lincolniana’ in the U.S., which he donated to the Illinois State Historical Library.
At a municipal level, Julius Fleischmann (1871-1925), a son of a Moravian Jew, became mayor of Cincinnati (1900 – 1905). He was the son of Charles Louis Fleischmann, the founder of the Fleischmann Yeast Co. He left college to become the company's General Manager in 1894 when he was twenty-two years old. The wealthiest and also the youngest man to serve as the city's mayor, he was remembered for vastly improving Cincinnati's park system and railways. Other mayors of Bohemian Jewish ancestry include Isaac W. Taussig (1850-1884), mayor of Jersey City, NJ; William Taussig (1826-1913), mayor of Carondelet, MO; and Walter M. Taussig (1862-1923), mayor of Yonkers, NY,
Bohemian Jewish immigrants participated in just about every war in which the US was involved. First was Solomon Bush (1753-1795), whose father immigrated to Philadelphia and who was an officer in the Pennsylvania militia (1777-87). In July 1777, he was appointed deputy adjutant-general of the state militia by the supreme council of Pennsylvania. In September 1777, he was dangerously wounded in the thigh during a skirmish, and had to be taken to Philadelphia. When the British captured the City in December 1777, he was taken prisoner, but released on parole. His brother, Jonas Bush, was also on the roll of Revolutionary soldiers.
During the Civil War, Color Sergeant Leopold Karpeles (1838-1909) , a native of Prague, was instrumental in turning the tide of the May 1864 Wilderness Campaign, which saw his 57th Massachusetts Regiment suffer the highest casualties. Karpeles was badly wounded but he refused to relinquish the flag and be evacuated until he fainted from loss of blood. Karpeles spent most of the next year in military hospitals, and was discharged in May of 1865. He received Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery. He settled in Washington after the war and was rewarded for his military service with a job in the post office, which he held until his death.
Robert Eugene Steiner (1862-1955), a son of a Bohemian Jewish immigrant, served as captain in the Greenville Guards and major in the 2nd Regiment of Alabama National Guard. He raised a cavalry regiment (1916) and, appointed colonel, served with it on the Mexican border. He was promoted to brigadier general of the National Guards (1917), brigadier general of US Army (1917), and Commander of the 62nd Infantry Brigade. During the World War I he returned in command of the 31st division and later was appointed brigadier general (1919).
Several high-ranking officers were in the US Navy. Edward David Taussig (1847 1921), son of a Bohemian Jewish immigrant, became a Rear Admiral. He served in the European and Pacific Stations and in the Coast Survey. He commanded the Bennington (1898 99), took possession of Wake Island for the US, and took charge of Guam in 1899. He also served in the Philippines and in North China. His son Joseph Koefler Taussig (1877 1947) was promoted through ranks to Rear Admiral in the US Navy. He participated in Spanish-American War, Philippine Insurrection, Boxer Campaign, Cuban Pacification, World War I, and the Nicaraguan Campaign of 1927. He retired as Vice Admiral.
Claude Charles Bloch (1878-1967), a son of a Bohemian Jewish immigrant was also a Navy officer of note. He advanced to Rear Admiral (1923) and then to Admiral (1942). He served on the SS Iowa in Spanish-American War and was named the Commander-in-chief of the US Fleet (1938- 40). He was made the Commandant of the Navy Yard Pearl Harbor and held the post during the Japanese attack in December 1941.
Commerce and Industry
Merchants & Other Businessmen
As one would expect, many Bohemian Jewish immigrants and their descendants became businessmen in America.
Among merchants, Abraham Block (1780-1857) of Švihov, Bohemia, arrived in Washington, AK in 1823 and soon established the mercantile business that was to become one of the most prosperous in the state.
David Adler (1821-1905) organized his David Adler and Sons Clothing Co. in Milwaukee. This grew to be one of the largest wholesale clothing houses in the United States.
Louis Fleischner (1827-1896) founded a major and highly acclaimed wholesale dry foods business in Portland which ranked among the first in Oregon.
Louis Taussig (1837-1890) founded The Taussig Co. in San Francisco, which became one of the largest wholesale liquor establishments in the west, eventually expanding into Cincinnati, New York City and Kentucky.
Jonas L. Brandeis (1836-1903), of Prague, was the founder of the J. L. Brandeis Stores in Omaha, Nebraska. At the top of its game, Brandeis had around fifteen department stores in its chain. The flagship store downtown became one of Omaha's most prized symbols of modern culture. Brandeis was Nebraska's department store. At its peak in the early 1970s, the chain had 3,000 employees and $100 million dollars in sales. The Crossroads Mall store opened in 1960 with mixed results but soon took off and proved to be one of the best stores in the chain, earning an average of $38 million. Crossroads proved to be extremely successful for Brandeis, despite the risk of opening the first new Brandeis in 50 years. Locations opened across the entire state, downtown (Columbus and Hastings) and in the malls (Conestoga in Grand Island, Southroads & Westroads in Omaha, and Gateway in Lincoln). Soon locations were developed into Iowa.
Albert Pick (1869-1955), a native of Chicago, was a son of Czech immigrant who settled in Chicago. Beginning as a merchant (1893), he ended up as an owner of a large hotel chain. He was president of Pick Hotels Corp. to 1930 and then chairman of the board. In addition he was President and director of Fort Hayes Hotel Co., Anderson-Madison Realty Co., Continental Press Inc. and High St. Hotel Co.; vice president and director of Hotel Antlers Co., Belden Hotel Corp. of Youngstown; and vice president and director of North Shore Bank, Miami Beach, FL, etc.
Frederick Brown (1870-1960), born in Plzeň, Bohemia, came to the US in 1888 and settled in NYC. After 1898 he became one of the largest real estate operators in the country. Among the many properties he owned or handled in transactions that were worth more than $2 billion were the hotels Savoy, Sherry-Netherlone, Majestic, New Yorker, Vanderbilt residence, the Park Row, Ruppert buildings and hundreds of others. He also owned the Hamilton Fish and Stillman residences, the Hippodrome and a large portion of R. H. Macy property. He was responsible for many developments in Central Park West, Park Ave., Fifth Ave., 57th St., and many other major and well-known streets in NYC.
Louis R. Lurie (1888-1972) was a Chicago native whose father was Bohemian. He was the president of The Lurie Company in San Francisco and was among those citizens to whom San Francisco’s unprecedented growth was attributed. He financed, built and sold number over two hundred enterprises, most of them leading office and commercial buildings.
Bruce A. Gimbel (1913-1980), whose maternal great grandfather emigrated to US from Bohemia, headed for 22 years the Gimbels department-store chain, an iconic American store.
Coleman E. Adler, 2nd (ca 1946- ), a Los Angeles native of Czech ancestry, is president of the Adler's, five stores in New Orleans, LA. Adler's has become one of the largest retailers in the city, with 5,000 square feet of fine jewelry and 20,000 square feet of upscale gifts and accessories, including jewelry, bridal accessories, antiques, furniture, porcelain dolls, china, and more. When he was ten years old, Coleman Adler travelled with his father to major markets of the world to learn as his father picked and graded stones for their store.
Tobias Kohn (1817-1898) from Prague wove the first piece of silk goods produced by a loom in the US and is known as the founder of the silk industry in this country. Charles Louis Fleischmann (1835-1897) from Krnov, Moravia was an innovative manufacturer of yeast who in the late 1860s created America’s first commercially produced yeast. This revolutionized baking, enabling today’s mass production and consumption of bread.
Joseph Benedict Greenhut (1843-1918), from Horšovský Týn, founded the Great Western Distillery in Peoria, IL, the then largest distillery in the world. Joseph Bulova (1851-1935) from Louny, Bohemia, established in 1875 in New York a jewelry and watch manufacturing concern, later known under the name Bulova Watch Co.
Sigmund Eisner (1859-1925) from Horažďovice, Bohemia, was a large clothing manufacturer. His Red Bank, New Jersey Company, the Sigmund Eisner Co., was a chief supplier of uniforms for the American Army and the exclusive manufacturer of uniforms for the Boy Scouts of America.
Henry Waldes (1876-194l), a native of Prague, was an industrialist, known worldwide by the snap fasteners manufactured in his factories in Prague, Dresden, Long Island and Switzerland. Waldes employed thousands of workers; his factory in Long Island alone had more than fifteen hundred. The New York Company, which first opened its sales office in New York in 1911, was incorporated in New York in 1925 under the name Waldes Kohinoor. The Long Island company was started in 1919 under the name Waldes & Co. Henry Waldes was senior partner in the New York company and practically commuted between Prague and New York City during the 1920s. He lived through the Nazi invasion of Prague but eventually succeeded in 194l to come to US.
David Philip Wohl (1886-1960), son of a Bohemian Jewish immigrant, became a giant in the shoe industry, as well as one of the honored and esteemed philanthropists in St. Louis.
Ralph Kleinert Guinzburg (1891-1957), New York City native, was of Bohemian ancestry. He was president and director of the I. B. Kleinert Rubber Co., manufacturers of rubber ware. Under his leadership the firm expanded from seasonal manufacture of ear muffs to dress shield manufacturer. Other lines of apparel were gradually introduced and in addition the company produced many new articles in which rubber was combined with fabrics. He was an advocate of putting notion departments in department stores and of extensive advertising and merchandising methods. He was also a director of the Federal Employment Service.
Charles William Taussig (1896-1948), a native of New York, was of Bohemian ancestry. He was president of the American Molasses, the firm founded by his grandfather William Taussig and is still owned almost entirely by Taussigs. It has plants in New Orleans, Montreal, Boston, Wilmington, N. C., and a brand-new sugar refinery in Brooklyn. Its subsidiary Sucrest Corp. refines and sells sugar. Its subsidiary Nulomoline Co. sells cane syrup preparations to bakers. Its most famous product is "Grandma's Old Fashioned Molasses," which in winter is sledded in huge casks into Maine's lumber camps. So financially conservative is the firm that it has almost no debts and its net worth is estimated well over $2,000,000.
Esther Lauder (nee Mentzer) (1906-2004), a daughter of a Bohemian Jewish father, established in New York her world famous Este Lauder cosmetics firm.
Among other corporate executives of note, Michael D. Eisner (1942-), whose grandfather Sigmund immigrated to the US from Horažďovice, would probably be in the lead. Michael Eisner was the longtime chief executive and chairman of the board of the Walt Disney Company and the man generally considered responsible for Disney's monumental success in the 1990s. During the 1970s and early '80s Eisner earned his reputation as a keen businessman, first as a programming director for ABC television and then as president of Paramount movie studios. He took charge of Disney in 1984 and turned it into a media giant whose interests included movies, sports franchises, theme parks and television networks.
Another entrepreneur was Henry W. Bloch (1922-), whose grandfather was an immigrant from Janovice, Bohemia. Bloch is the co-founder and honorary chairman of the board of H&R Block, which he and his brother, Richard, founded in Kansas City, MO in 1955. As the world's largest tax services company, H&R Block in 2007 served more than 20 million clients at more than 12,500 U.S. retail offices and through its digital tax solutions.
One of the first bankers among the American Bohemian Jews was Moritz O. Kopperl (1826-1883). He immigrated to Mississippi from Moravia and in 1857 set out for Texas. In 1868 Kopperl became president of Texas National Bank, which was verging on failure, and brought it back to sound financial condition. He took over the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway in 1877 and served as its president from 1877 to 1879. He also brought the railroad, which became a part of the Santa Fe System, back to financial stability.
Another successful financier was Jacob Furth (1840-1914) from Švihov, Bohemia, who played a pivotal role in the development of Seattle's public transportation and electric power infrastructure, and he was the founder of Seattle National Bank. After the great fire, Furth pledged his support as president of Seattle National Bank. He promised that the bank would make no effort to profit from the fire. Subsequently, he backed this pledge with $150 million in bank loans. In the financial panic of 1893, Furth saved Seattle from financial disaster by forestalling his own board of directors from calling in all the loans.
Michel Nathaniel Robert de Rothschild (1946-), born in Paris of Bohemian ancestry. He is an American banker and member of the prominent Rothschild banking family of France. Known as Nathaniel, he is the first child and only son of Elie Robert de Rothschild. He will inherit from his father one-sixth of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild vineyard and one-quarter of Rothschild & Cie Banque. Following the 1981 nationalization of banks by the government of Francois Mitterrand, Nathaniel de Rothschild left France and established a financial services business in Manhattan, where he now makes his home on Fifth Avenue.
Arts and Letters
Franz Werfel (1890-1945), a native of Prague, was a prominent novelist, playwright, and poet. An identified Jew, Werfel narrowly escaped the Nazi regime and immigrated to the US. Here he wrote in 1941 his famous The Song of Bernadette. Joseph Wechsberg (1907-1983), a native of Moravská Ostrava, Moravia, was a free-lance writer in the US s. 1938. He was a writer for New Yorker magazine s. 1943 and member of its staff since 1948. He authored numerous novels, including Looking for a Blue-bird (1945), Homecoming (1946), My Vienna (1968), Prague, the Mystic City (1971), The Waltz Emperors (1973), The Lost World of the Great Spas (1979), etc. Egon Hostovský (1908-1973) of Hronov, Bohemia was a popular Czech novelist who first came to the US in 1940, and permanently settled here in 1948. His works have been translated into English and other languages.
Arnošt Lustig (1926-2011), was born in Prague and in 1970 moved to the US. He was a popular author of novels, short stories, plays, and screenplays whose works have often involved the Holocaust.
Francis J. Grund (1798-1863), an immigrant from Liberec, Bohemia, was admired as a journalist. A New York Times editorial said upon his death: “He was a man of very great ability, and for many years exerted through the newspaper Press a very marked influence on the course of current events. He was a man of learning - not only speaking several languages with facility, but familiar with their literature and master of their philosophy.” He established a journal The Age, which he edited in Philadelphia from 1843-63.
Edward Bloch (1816-1881), from Bohemia, established in 1854 in Cincinnati Bloch & Co., the first Jewish publishing house in US.
Rosa Sonneschein (1847-1932), a native of Prostějov, Moravia, was the founder, editor and publisher of the American Jewess, the first English-language periodical targeted to American Jewish women.
Isidore Singer (1859-1930), a native of Hranice, Moravia, was an editor of the twelve-volume authoritative Jewish Encyclopedia and founder of the American League for the Rights of Man.
Leo Weidenthal (1878-1967) was a son of immigrant from Hostice, Bohemia. He was editor of the Jewish Independent and founder of Cleveland Cultural Garden Federation. In 1917 he became editor of the Jewish Independent, a weekly founded in 1906 by his brother Maurice, a former Plain Dealer and Press reporter. Leo's brother Henry was also a journalist, once managing editor of the Press and News.
Harold Kleinert Guinzburg (1899-1961), a grandson of a Bohemian Jewish immigrant from Prague, became a publisher who cofounded Viking Press in 1925 and headed it until his death, acquiring the works of such authors as James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, and August Strindberg. In 1926 he founded the Literary Guild Book Club. Edward Rosewater (1841-1906), from Bukovany, Bohemia, was the founder of the daily newspaper The Omaha Daily Bee which developed into the largest and most influential newspaper in the mid-west.
Arthur Ochs Sulzberger (1926-), a great grandson of Rabbi Isaac Wise, became publisher of The Times in 1963. He built a large news-gathering staff at The Times, and was publisher when the newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize in 1972 for publishing The Pentagon Papers.
Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911), a newspaper publisher of the St. Louis Post Dispatch and the New York World, a native of Makó, Hungary, was of Moravian extraction. The family name comes from a town Politz (Police), where Pulitzer’s ancestors had lived generations earlier. Pulitzer introduced techniques of "new journalism" to the newspapers he acquired in the 1880s and became a leading national figure in the Democratic Party, crusading against big business and corruption. He left the US two important legacies. In 1892, Pulitzer offered Columbia University's president, money to set up the world's first school of journalism, although it would not be until after Pulitzer's death that this dream would be fulfilled. He further established the noted Pulitzer Prize awards, which by now have been expanded to reward achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. Prizes are awarded yearly in twenty-one categories. In twenty of these, each winner receives a certificate and a US$10,000 cash award.
Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) a native of Kaliště in Bohemia, was eminent composer and conductor, noted for his 10 symphonies and various songs with orchestra, which drew together many different strands of Romanticism. Although his music was largely ignored for 50 years after his death, Mahler was later regarded as an important forerunner of 20th century techniques of composition and an acknowledged influence on such composers as Arnold Schoenberg, Dmitry Shostakovich, and Benjamin Britten. He came to US in1908, where he became a conductor at Metropolitan Opera and later at New York Symphony Orchestra and in the New York Philharmonic.
Rudolf Friml (1879-1972) from Prague, Bohemia is best known as the composer of romantic 1920s operettas. Beginning in 1912 he wrote music in different styles for Broadway. Skilled at evoking far-away times and places through music, Friml also composed music for films, often based on his popular musicals such as “Rose Marie” and “The Vagabond” King.
Erich W. Korngold (1897-1957), a native of Brno, Moravia, was a child prodigy who was brought to Hollywood in 1934 by Max Reinhardt. He composed operas, symphony works, chamber music and songs. Under contract with Warner Bros. he composed music for many films. He won two Academy Oscars for musical scores.
Jerome David Kern (1885-1945), whose maternal grandparents came from Bohemia, is often called the father of American musical theater. Kern is remembered for more than a thousand songs for more than a hundred stage productions and movies, including such American standards as ‘A Fine Romance,’ ‘Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man,’ ‘The Last Time I Saw Paris,’ ‘Long Ago and Far Away,’ ‘Lovely to Look At,’ ‘Ol' Man River,’ ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,’and ‘They Didn't Believe Me,’ etc.
Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951), whose mother Pauline Náchod was born in Prague, was a prominent classical composer and conductor. During the rise of the Nazi party in Austria, his music was labeled, alongside swing and jazz, as “degenerate art.” After the rise of Hitler to power in 1933 he immigrated to America.
Hugo David Weisgall (1912-1997) from Ivančice, Moravia, was an American composer and conductor who taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Juilliard, and at Queens College. He is considered one of the most important U.S. opera composers for the literary quality of his chosen texts and the individuality and effectiveness of his music. His works include the operas The Tenor (1950), The Stronger (1952), and Six Characters in Search of an Author (1956); his last completed opera, Esther (1993), won wide acclaim.
Artur Schnabel (1882-1951), from Lipník, Moravia, was a pianist of note. After coming to US in 1933, he was accepted as one of the greatest interpreters of Beethoven, as well as of Mozart and Schubert.
Rudolf Serkin (1903-1991), from Cheb, Bohemia, was an eminent pianist, known for his interpretations of the Viennese classics. He helped to establish the Marlboro Music festival, in Vermont, and served as its artistic director. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963.
Rudolf Firkušný (1912-1994), of Napajedla, Moravia, was a renowned Czech pianist who immigrated to US in 1940 and devoted considerable part of his career to the promotion of Czech music abroad, including the works of B. Smetana, L. Janáček and B. Martinů.
Rudolf Kolisch (1896-1978), of Moravian ancestry, was a violinist and leader of string quartets. He played a right-handed violin left-handed - an extremely rare occurrence in classical music settings.
Franz Allers (1905-1995), from Karlovy Vary, Bohemia, was a prominent conductor who lived in US since 1945. He made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in NY in 1963. He was recipient of Antoinette Perry Awards for "My Fair Lady" (1957) and for "Camelot" (1961).
Another conductor of note, Jan Walter Susskind (1913-1980) from Prague, became music director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, then of the Aspen Music Festival, CO and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.
George Szell (1897-1970) was an internationally renowned conductor of Czechoslovak ancestry. Prior to assuming his post of music director of the Cleveland Orchestra in 1946, he was music director of the German Opera and Philharmonic of Prague and director of the Scottish National Orchestra. At the time of his death, the Cleveland Orchestra was known as one of the finest in the world.
Among opera singers, Ernestine Schumann Heink (1861-1936), from Lipov near Prague, was a famous contralto and mezzo soprano. She made her U.S. debut as Ortrudth in Metropolitan Opera in 1899. Her repertoire included about 150 parts and her voice was particularly suited for the Wagnerian roles.
Leo Slezák (1873-1946), of Šumperk, Moravia, was a famous tenor who appeared in America for the first time as Otello with the Metropolitan Opera in 1909. He sang 72 performances, of 10 roles, most often as Otello, Tannhauser and Manrico.
Theatre and Film
Max Reinhardt (orig. Maximilian Goldmann) (1873-1843), of Moravian ancestry on his mother's side, was an influential director and actor who is credited with establishing the Salzburg Festival. After the Anschluss of Austria to Nazi-governed Germany in 1938, he immigrated to the United States, where he had already successfully directed a popular stage version of Shakespeare's “A Midsummer Night's Dream.”
Fred Astaire (orig. Austerlitz) (1899-1987), whose ancestors were Prague Jews, was rated as the greatest dancer of the twentieth century, and the most influential dancer in the history of filmed and televised musicals.
Walter Slezák (1907-1983) was a character actor of Czech ancestry whose range stretched from the villainous Nazi in Hitchcock's "Lifeboat" to signing in the Metropolitan Opera's "Gypsy Baron."
Ernst Deutsch (1890-1969) was a worldly acclaimed ‘expressionist style’ actor. In 1938 he immigrated from Prague to the US where he gave theater performances and recitals in New York and also film work in Hollywood, primarily in anti Nazi movies.
Hugo Hass (1901-1968) of Brno, Moravia, who began his film career in Czechoslovakian comedies, had to flee the country when Hitler's armies marched in. Haas resumed his acting career in Hollywood, specializing in oily European villains. Once he'd saved up enough capital from his acting jobs, Haas set up shop as an independent producer and director, turning out a dozen low-budget melodramas between 1951 and 1959.
Harry Horner (1910-1994), from Holice, Bohemia, began his career working with Max Reinhardt in Vienna. When Reinhardt moved to the United States in the early 1930s, Horner went along with him. During World War II, he served as production designer and set designer for the U.S. Army Air Forces show Winged Victory. As an art director, Horner won two Oscars, one in 1949 for his work on William Wyler's ‘The Heiress’ and another in 1961 for Robert Rossen's drama ‘The Hustler.’ His son James Horner (1953-) also won two Academy Awards for his score and song compositions for the film ‘Titanic’ in 1997 Oscar-winning compositions.
Miloš Forman (1932-) from Čáslav, Czechoslovakia, is an actor, screenwriter, professor and two-time Academy Award-winning film director. In the US he achieved success with the film “One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest” which won five Academy Awards including one for direction and “Amadeus,” which won eight Academy Awards.
Adrian Brody (1973-) is of Czech ancestry on his mother’s side; his mother is Sylvia Plachý, a photojournalist. He received widespread recognition and subsequent acclaim after starring in Roman Polanski's ‘The Pianist’ (2002). He is the youngest actor to win the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, at 29 years old.
Leopold Eidlitz (1823-1908) from Prague, an architect of note, was exponent of the ‘Gothic revival’ in architecture and built some of the most beautiful buildings in New York.
Richard Joseph Neutra (1892-1970) of Bohemian ancestry, who worked with Frank Lloyd Wright, is known for introducing the International style into American architecture.
Victor Gruen (1903-1980) of Moravian ancestry was a famed architect and city planner who pioneered the regional shopping centers and revitalization of city core areas.
Paul Strand (1890-1976), whose parents were Bohemian Jews, was one of the most important figures in American twentieth-century photography.
Oscar Berger (1901-1997) of Moravian ancestry on his mother’s side, was a famous caricaturist and cartoonist. Berger attended many sessions at the United Nations and illustrated virtually every important world leader to be seen there.
Will Eisner (1917-2005), whose mother was Czech, was an innovative and influential illustrator and writer, often referred to as the "grandfather" of the graphic novel. Eisner's greatest success was ‘The Spirit ‘(1940-52), a newspaper comic strip about a wisecracking, masked detective.
Humanities and Social Sciences
Herbert Feigl (1902-1988) from Liberec, Bohemia was a philosopher specializing in logic and methodology of physics, and moral philosophy.
Heinrich Gomperz (1873-1942) was the son of the famed philosopher Theodor Gomperz from Brno, Moravia. He served on faculty of University of Vienna since 1904 and as a professor since 1924. In 1934 he was forced to retire and in 1935 he emigrated to US, at the invitation of the University of Southern California. He was noted for the development of pathempiricism, based on R. Avenarius’ epistemology. He later developed theory for understanding purposeful and meaningful processes.
Stephen Körner (1913- 2000), from Moravská Ostrava, was a philosopher trained at Charles University and Cambridge. He was a leading scholar in the theory of knowledge and the philosophies of science and mathematics and an authority on Kant. After a distinguished career in England, as a professor of philosophy and dean at Bristol University, he spent the remainder of his career as a professor at Yale University at New Haven.
Gotthard Deutsch (1859-1921), a native of Dolni Kounice, Bohemia, was a scholar of Jewish history. In 1891, at the invitation of Isaac Mayer Wise, Deutsch moved to the United States to accept the chair of Jewish history and philosophy at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. After eleven years of teaching there, he was appointed dean. He was a member of the editorial board of the Jewish Encyclopedia and the author of Theory of Oral Tradition (1895), Philosophy of Jewish History (1897), Memorable Dates of Jewish History (1904), History of the Jews (1910); and also of several novels and two volumes of essays.
Hans Kohn (1891-1971) was a noted historian, specializing in history of ideas and history of nationalism. He immigrated to the US in 1934 from Prague and taught modern history at Smith College in Northampton, MA. From 1949 until 1961, he taught at City College of New York. Kohn also taught at the New School for Social Research. He wrote numerous books and publications, primarily on the topics of nationalism, Pan-Slavism, German thought, and Judaism, and was an early contributor to the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he died.
Eleanor Flexner (1908-1995), author and historian, was the daughter of the noted education reformer Abraham Flexner. After graduating from Swarthmore College with high honors in English and history in 1930, she attended Somerville College at Oxford University for one year. Back in the United States, she held a series of promotional and editorial positions in the theater and with the Institute of Propaganda Analysis, the Foreign Policy Association, and Hadassah. In 1938 she published a book of dramatic criticism entitled American Playwrights, 1918-1938, and in 1957 moved from New York to Northampton, Mass. Her classic account of the "first wave" of American feminism, Century of Struggle: The Woman's Rights Movement in the United States, was published in 1959; it was based on a pamphlet she had published in 1954. "The story," she said in her original preface, "deserves telling"; CS was notable in demonstrating that the topic was worthy of serious scholarly and analytical study. Flexner was particularly prescient in her use of race, gender, and class in interpreting the struggle for women's equality. Her analysis was a source of inspiration for "second wave" feminists and laid the groundwork for subsequent generations of women's history scholars.
Saul Friedländer (1932-) is a Holocaust historian from Prague who won a Pulitzer Prize. He was awarded the prestigious prize in the non-fiction category for his book The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945. Having survived the Holocaust, he moved to Israel, eventually winning the nation’s top civilian honor, the Israel Prize, for his scholarship. He currently serves as a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles.
Theodore K. Rabb (orig. Rabinowicz) (1937-), from Teplice, Bohemia, is a historian of the early modern period and is Emeritus Professor of History at Princeton University. He authored numerous books and is also co-founder and editor of the Journal of Interdisciplinary History.
Paul Frankl (1878-1962), a native from Prague, Bohemia, was a member of faculty of the Univ. of Munich, and in 1921-34 he held the position of professor of art history at the University of Halle. In 1934 he was dismissed and in 1938 emigrated to US. In 1940 he joined the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, NJ. He made important contributions to history of architecture through studies on the Romanesque and Gothic periods and initiated research in area of German glass-painting.
Lorenz C. Eitner (1919-2009) from Brno, Czechoslovakia, emigrated to US in 1935. After war service, in 1948 he earned an M.F.A. degree from Princeton University and in 1952 Ph.D. Since 1963 he held the position of professor and chairman of the arts department at Stanford Univ., in addition to being director of its museum. He specialized in 19th century French and German art design, and art of the early medieval period.
Paul Nettl (1889-1972) was Vrchlabí, Bohemia. He privately studied violin and music theory, while attending University of Vienna, where he obtained Dr. juris degree and Dr. phil. Degree. Since 1933 he was Docent at German University of Prague and in 1933-39 he served as director of German Broadcasts on Czech Radio. In 1939 he emigrated to US by way of Netherlands. Since 1946 to 1964 he was associated with Indiana University, Bloomington as professor. He wrote numerous books, including the Story of Dance Music (1947), The Book of Musical Documents (1948), Forgotten Musicians (1951) and Beethoven Encyclopedia (1956).
Frederick Dorian (1912-1991) was born in Vienna; his father came from Roudnice, Bohemia. In 1934 he emigrated to France and in 1936 to US. In 1936 he joined the faculty of Carnegie-Mellon University, becoming a full professor in 1947. In 1973-77 he was a member of faculty of Marlboro, VT Music Festival and professor of music at Curtis Institute, Philadelphia. He is the author of The History of Music in Performance: The Art of Musical Interpretation from the Renaissance to Our Day (1942), The Musical Workshop (1942), Commitment to Culture, Art Patronage in Europe, Its Significance for America (1964).
Erich von Kahler (1885-1970) from Prague was a renowned literary scholar and essayist. He was a prolific writer, and the themes of his writings and lectures often reflected his political involvement, although he was a widely respected literary critic, especially of Thomas Mann. He explored the study of history, the new roles of science and technology, and the changing relationship of man to his changing world.
Erich Heller (1911-1990), from Chomutov, Bohemia, although trained as a lawyer, devoted his entire career to literary scholarship. He was an authority on modern German and European literature on which subject he had written a large number of books.
Peter Demetz (1922-) from Prague, whose mother was Jewish, holds the chair of German and comparative literature at Yale, and is an authority on sociology of literature, literary theory, and German 18th century thought and literature. Isaac Bacon (1914-2007) from Svinov, Moravia, was a linguist who thirteen days after Adolph Hitler entered Prague earned his Ph.D. at Masaryk University in Brno. His specialty was High German and early new High German linguistics. He was the fourth Dean at Yeshiva College, in New York (1959-1977) and later taught at Penn and Columbia. He was at Yale as a Ford Foundation Fellow and was visiting professor at Johns Hopkins.
Alfred Schütz (1899-1959), whose mother was from Bohemia, was a noted philosopher and sociologist. He worked on phenomenology, social science methodology and the philosophy of Edmund Husserl and others. Schütz is probably unique as a scholar of the social sciences in that he pursued a career as a banker for almost his entire life, teaching part-time at the New School for Social Research in New York and producing key papers in phenomenological sociology that fill three volumes.
Paul Felix Lazarsfeld (1901-1976) of Moravian ancestry, was a pioneering sociologist, specializing in analyzing the impact of all mass media on society. The founder of a major center at Columbia University, he promoted the growth of social research centers to expand empirical sociological studies and his studies served as the foundation of voter forecasting used today. Economics
At least three outstanding American economists had Czech roots. Frank William Taussig (1859-1940), whose father was a Bohemian Jewish immigrant in St. Louis, taught economics at Harvard from 1882 to 1935. He was an authority on international commerce, especially U.S. tariff and developer of import-export theory and wage-fund theory.
Joseph Alois Schumpeter (1883-1950) of Třešť, Moravia, who was Taussig’s successor at Harvard from 1932-50, was a pioneer in the field of econometrics and specialist in the history of economic theory and economic development, including studies of business cycles, capitalism, and socialism in economic and sociological perspective.
Karl Pribram (1877-1973) was a Prague-born and educated economist who held important positions before and during World War I in the Austrian government, with the International Labor Office in Geneva in the 1920s, and after emigrating to the United States in 1934, with the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Social Security Board and the U.S. Tariff Commission. His research dealt primarily with economic theory and political economy, his writings covering topics in labor economics, industrial organization and in the history of economic thought. Pribram was also prominent as social philosopher and sociologist. Pribram was described by Nobel Laureate Friedrich A. Hayek as “without exception the most learned man in the field.”
Herbert A. Simon (1916-2001), of Czech ancestry, was a professor of computer science and psychology at Carnegie-Mellon University from 1949 until his death. He was a pioneer of the development of computer artificial intelligence. His highly original work on decision-making, in which he argued that business executives often fail to maximize profits because they make decisions without assessing all information and long-term effects, earned him the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1978.
Josef Korbel (1909-1977), a native of Kyšperk in Bohemia, was a Czechoslovak diplomat and a noted educator, who is now best known for being father of Madeleine Albright, who became the first woman Secretary of State. After 1945 he served as Czechoslovak Ambassador to Yugoslavia and following the Communist takeover, he was forced to immigrate to the US. He became professor of political sciences at the University of Denver, where he was founding Dean of the Graduate School of International Studies, which now bears his name.
Karl Wolfgang Deutsch (1912-1992) from Prague, Bohemia received Dr. juris degree from Charles University and M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard. In 1942-58 he was a member of faculty of M.I.T., since 1952 as a full professor of history and political science. From 1958-67 he was Professor of government at Yale University and since 1967 Professor of government at Harvard, in 1971 being named Stanfield Professor of International Peace. Deutsch’s greatness as a social scientist was due to his erudition and his ability to develop new concepts that led to insights on fundamental issues, such as nationalism and political integration or disintegration within and among states. Professor Deutsch was an innovator in applying quantitative methods to social-science research and in assembling data on population movements, languages and international trade.
Richard Elliot Neustadt (1919-2003), a native of Philadelphia, was a great-grandson of a liberal Czech journalist who fled Bohemia in 1848. He was the Special Assistant of the White House Office from 1950-53 under President Harry S. Truman and during the following year, he was a professor of public administration at Cornell, then from 1954-64, taught government at Columbia University, where he wrote Presidential Power (1960),in which he examined the decision-making process at the highest levels of government. During the 1960s Neustadt continued to advise Kennedy and later Lyndon B. Johnson. With his book appearing as it did just before the election of John F. Kennedy, Neustadt soon found himself in demand by the President-elect. . During the 1960s Neustadt continued to advise Kennedy and later Lyndon B. Johnson. Neustadt later founded the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, where he taught as a popular professor for more than two decades. Neustadt also served as the first director of the Harvard Institute of Politics (IOP), which was founded as "a living memorial to President John F. Kennedy that engages young people in politics and public service."
John H. Kautsky (1922-) is a grandson of the noted politician and philosopher Karl Kautský of Prague. After completion of his education at Harvard, from 1955 he was a member of faculty of dept. of political sciences at Washington University at St. Louis, since 1963 as a full professor. He has done research on modern ideologies, political development, comparative politics, politics of modernization and of traditional empires and authored important publications, such as Communism and the Politics of Development: Persistent Myths and Changing Behavior (1968), The Political Consequences of Modernization (1972), Karl Kautsky: Marxism, Revolution, and Democracy and Marxism and Leninism: An Essay in the Sociology of Knowledge.
Thomas A Reiner (1931-2009), b. Teplice, Czech., was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania for 50 years, where he started the department of Regional Science (Urban Studies). He wrote several books and was a Fulbright lecturer in Prague in 2008. He was president of the New York-based Society for the History of Czechoslovak Jews. Education
Julia Richman (1855-1912), a native of New York City, was the first woman district superintendent of schools in the City of New York. Her innovations, leadership and curriculum brought an entire new dimension to public school education at the beginning of the twentieth century. She had come from a long line of rabbis in Prague, Czechoslovakia, that dated back to the fifteenth century.
Abraham Flexner (1866-1959), a son of a Bohemian Jewish peddler from Všeruby in Bohemia, is credited with major reform of medical education in the US which put the American medicine on the top. He was also instrumental in founding the prestigious Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, NJ, of which he became the first director.
Hans Kelsen (1881-1973) from Prague was an authority on theory of law and international laws. He was considered one of the most important legal philosophers of modern time.
Paul Abraham Freund (1908-1992), whose grandfather immigrated to St. Louis from Bohemia, taught law at Harvard University from 1946-70. He was an authority on public and constitutional law and editor-in-chief of a definitive, multi-volume history of the Supreme Court.
Fred Herzog (1907-2008), a native of Prague, served as an attorney and judge in Vienna. After the ‘Anschluss’ he escaped to the US, where he a law degree from (University of?) Iowa. He became associated with the Chicago-Kent School of Law and in 1970 became its dean. In 1973 he accepted the post of the assistant prosecutor of the State of Illinois. In 1976 he was named the Dean of the known John Marshall Law School. He died on March 21, 2008, at age 100.
Eric Stein (1913-), a native of Holice, Bohemia, is Charles University and University of Michigan educated lawyer. Widely regarded as an eminent scholar in international and comparative law, Eric Stein is Hessel E. Yntema Professor of Law Emeritus at the University of Michigan Law School. In 2001 he was recipient of a Medal of Merit First Degree from Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel for "outstanding scientific achievement." He has been made an honorary citizen of the Czech town of his birth.
Charles Fried (1935-), a native of Prague, is a prominent American jurist and lawyer. He served as United States Solicitor General from 1985 to 1989. He is currently a professor at Harvard Law School. From September 1995 until June 1999, Fried served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.
Nina S. Appel, (1936-), a native of Prague, escaped from Nazism with her parents as a small child. She was educated as lawyer and since 1973 she has been associated with Loyola University School of Law as a professor, in 1983 becoming the longest serving dean in history of the School.
Alfred Adler (1870-1937), of Bohemian ancestry, was the founder of the school of individual psychology. Although one of Sigmund Freud's earlier associates, he rejected the Freudian emphasis upon sex as the root of neurosis. Adler's theory focused on social forces, and his therapy, while still concerned with the analysis of early childhood, was also interested in overcoming the inferiority complex through positive social interaction.
Max Wertheimer (1880-1943) from Prague is considered the founder of ‘Gestalt School for Psychology’ and promoter of application of Gestalt methodology to other social sciences. He stressed importance of wholes in learning and problem solving and discovered phi phenomenon concerning illusion of motion in perception.
Edward Louis Bernays (November 22, 1891 - March 9, 1995), was a pioneer in the field of public relations and propaganda (along with Ivy Lee), referred to in his obituary as "the father of public relations". Combining the ideas of Gustave Le Bon and Wilfred Trotter on crowd psychology with the psychoanalytical ideas of his uncle, Dr. Sigmund Freud, Bernays was one of the first to attempt to manipulate public opinion by appealing to, and attempting to influence, the unconscious. He felt this manipulation was necessary in society, which he regarded as irrational and dangerous as a result of the 'herd instinct' that Trotter had described. Adam Curtis's award-winning 2002 documentary for the BBC, The Century of the Self, pinpoints Bernays as the originator of modern public relations, and Bernays was named one of the 100 most influential Americans of the 20th century by Life magazine.
Marie Jahoda (1907-2001), a native of Vienna of Bohemian Jewish ancestry, was an extraordinary social psychologist. She contributed significantly to the analysis of the authoritarian personality and developed the theory of ‘Ideal Mental Health.’ She argued that theories should be considered as an essential tool for acquiring substantive knowledge about people and the social world, not as the ultimate goal of social psychology.
Biological and Medical Sciences
Carl Koller (1857-1944) from Sušice, Bohemia introduced cocaine as a local antiseptic in eye operations (1884) and thus initiating era of local anesthesia in medicine and surgery.
Simon Flexner (1867-1946), a son of a Jewish peddler from Všeruby, developed Flexner serum for cerebrospinal meningitis (1907) and directed poliomyelitis research which led to identification of virus causing the disease and discovered dysentery bacillus. He was appointed the first director of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, after first serving as professor at Johns Hopkins.
Milton C. Winternitz (1885-1959), a son of a Bohemian Jewish immigrant, was a pathologist of note, under whose leadership as dean from 1921 to 1931 have been called the boom years of Yale Medical School, the decade in which the school emerged as one of the top medical schools in the country.
Hans Popper (1903-1988), a son of Bohemian Jew from Kralovice, was an authority on liver diseases and a principal figure in the founding of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine of the City University of New York.
Karl Landsteiner (1868-1943) was a native of Vienna, whose mother Franziska, nee Hessová, was from Prostějov, Moravia. In 1922 he came to the United States to join the staff of the Rockefeller Institute (now Rockefeller Univ.). For his discovery of human blood groups he won the 1930 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. As a result of his research in immunology and the chemistry of antigens and serological reactions, he made valuable contributions in hemolysis and in methods of studying poliomyelitis. In 1940 he identified, in collaboration with A. S. Wiener, the Rh factor.
Among the most prominent women medical authorities of Bohemian Jewish descent was Helen Brooke Taussig (1898-1986), who is credited with founding pediatric cardiology. Taussig also devised a surgical treatment for infants born with "blue baby syndrome" and her new operation subsequently saved literally thousands of "blue babies" from dying. She played a key role in alerting American physicians to the dangers of thalidomide, a drug whose use had produced large numbers of deformed newborns in Europe.
Karl H. Pribram (*1919), a son of a Prague-born noted physician Ernst August Pribram, is a professor at Georgetown University , and an emeritus professor of psychology and psychiatry at Stanford University and Radford University. Board-certified as a neurosurgeon, Pribram did pioneering work on the definition of the limbic system, the relationship of the frontal cortex to the limbic system, the sensory-specific "association" cortex of the parietal and temporal lobes, and the classical motor cortex of the human brain. To the general public, Pribram is best known for his development of the holonomic brain model of cognitive function and his contribution to ongoing neurological research into memory, emotion, motivation and consciousness. He is married to the bestselling author Katherine Neville.
Gerty Theresa Radnitz Cori (1896-1957), from Prague, shared with her husband Carl Cori, also from Prague, a Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine. Their work was described as one of the most brilliant achievements in modern biochemistry, and responsible for a new conception of how hormones and enzymes cooperate.
Heinrich Benedict Waelsch (1904-1986) from Brno, Moravia was a member of faculty of School of Medicine at the University of Prague. In 1938 he emigrated to US. In 1939 he became a member of the faculty of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, rising to full professorship in 1954. His specialty was intermediary metabolism, esp. of the central nervous system. His hypothesis of compartments of metabolism influenced the study of brain biochemistry. He was the author of Ultrastructure and Cellular Chemistry of Neural Tissues (1957).
Physical Sciences and Engineering
Emil Schoenbaum (1882-1967), b. Benešov, Bohemia, was a noted mathematician and statistician. Educated at Charles University, he became a full professor of insurance mathematics and mathematical statistics (1925) and in 1932-33 served as a dean. In 1919-39 he served as director of the General Insurance Institute and in 1935-39 director of Social Institute. Following the establishment of Czechoslovakia, he worked out the mathematical basis of the Czechoslovak law on social insurance (1924) and insurance for self-employed (1925). In 1939 he left for Latin America at the invitation of several LA countries to help them prepare similar laws. During 1940-45 he laid the basis for modern insurance in Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Mexico and Costa Rica.
Olga Taussky-Todd (1906-1995), from Olomouc, Moravia, in 1947, served as a mathematics consultant to National Bureau of Standards, in Washington, DC, while being concurrently a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. From 1957 she was a member of the department of mathematics at California Institute of Technology, since 1971 as full professor. She was recognized by her peers as one of the foremost mathematicians of her generation. Her research in algebra, number theory, and matrix theory has influenced scholars throughout her long and distinguished career. For more than 30 years, she had been the moving force in the development of matrix theory, and her influence on both pure and applied mathematics has been profound.
Joseph John Kohn (1932- ), b. Prague, Czech., is a Princeton University trained mathematician. He has been associated With Brandeis Univ. (s. 1958), where he rose to full as professor of mathematics (1964-68). Since 1968 he has been professor of mathematics at Princeton University and dept. chair (1973-76, 1993-96). He is an authority on partial differential operators and function theory and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
Wolfgang Pauli (1900-1958), a son of a Prague Jewish physician, whose name was originally Pascheles, was a theoretical physicist and one of the pioneers of quantum physics. He discovered that atom's electrons each have their own unique quantum state. Now known as the ‘Pauli exclusion principle,’ this discovery earned him the 1945 Nobel Prize in Physics.
Felix Bloch (1905-1983), a son of Jewish parents from Bohemia, received Nobel Prize for developing the nuclear magnetic resonance method of measuring the magnetic field of atomic nuclei.
George Placzek (1905-1955) from Brno was also an outstanding physicist who made substantial contributions to the fields of molecular physics, scattering of light from liquids and gases, the theory of the atomic nucleus and the interaction of neutrons with condensed matter.
Victor F. Weisskopf (1908-2002), whose father was born in Sušice, Bohemia, was a theoretical physicist of note. During World War II he worked at Los Alamos on the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb, and later campaigned against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. He made major contributions to the development of quantum theory, especially in the area of quantum electrodynamics. One of his few regrets was that his insecurity about his mathematical abilities may have cost him a Nobel Prize when he did not publish results (which turned out to be correct) about what is now known as the Lamb shift.
Peter Andreas Grünberg (orig. Grinberg) (1939-), b . Pilsen, Czech. is a Nobel Prize in Physics laureate for his coincidental discovery with Albert Fert of giant magnetoresistance which brought about a breakthrough in gigabyte hard disk drives. Grünberg received his intermediate diploma in 1962 from the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University. He then attended the Darmstadt University of Technology in Germany, where he received his diploma in physics in 1966 and his Ph.D. in 1969. From 1969-1972, he did postdoctoral work at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. He later joined the Institute for Solid State Physics at the Jülich Research Centre, where he became a leading researcher in the field of thin film and multilayer magnetism until his retirement in 2004.
Felix Haurowitz (1896-1987) was born in Prague, Bohemia. In 1922-38 he was a member of faculty of dept. of physiology and medical chemistry at the Prague University. After his dismissal by Nazis, he was invited to chair the dept. at University of Istanbul. In 1947 he emigrated to US soon joined thye faculty in the department of chemistry at Indiana University at Bloomington, since 1958 as distinguished professor. He was a pioneer in isolation of fetal hemoglobin, allosteric changes on hemoglobin on oxygenation, introduction of chemical aspects into immunology and into the problem of antibody biosynthesis.
Harry G. Drickamer (orig. Weidenthal) (1918-2002), b. Cleveland, OH, of Bohemian ancestry, was a physical chemist and chemical engineer, associated with the University of Illinois. He was Head of the Division of Chemical Engineering from 1955-58, and became professor emeritus in 1989. He was the first to use infrared and UV-vis spectroscopy to study matter at high pressure, thereby discovering that high pressure perturbs different types of electronic orbitals to different degrees. He discovered a wide variety of electronic transitions in solids and molecules and the optical, electrical, chemical, and magnetic consequences thereof. Drickamer was awarded the National Medal of Science by President George Bush on October 18, 1989 for his pioneering studies in the field of pressure tuning spectroscopy. He also received the Debye Award and many others awards and was a member of the NAS and NAE.
Walter Kohn (1923-), whose father was a native of Hodonín, Moravia, was a Holocaust survivor. He won a Nobel Prize in chemistry. His condensed matter theory made seminal contributions to the understanding of the electronic structure of materials. He played the leading role in the development of the density functional theory, which has revolutionized scientists' approach to the electronic structure of atoms, molecules and solid materials in physics, chemistry and materials science.
Gustav Lindenthal (1850-1935), a graduate of the Brno Polytechnic, established the reputation as one of the great bridge engineers of America. He is best known for the construction of the Queensboro Bridge, connecting Long Island and New York City, and the Hell Gate Bridge, which connects the railroads of the Bronx with Long Island. In contrast to his American contemporaries, his bridges were characterized by originality and boldness.
Another engineer, Karl Arnstein (1887-1974), originally from Prague, specialized in the design and construction of airships. He drew plans and supervised the construction of some 70 Zeppelin airships and stratosphere balloons, among them the famous airship ‘Los Angeles,’ the first to cross the Atlantic.
Arthur Aron Hamerschlag (1872-1927), a native of New York, NY, whose both parents were born in Bohemia, was an American electrical and mechanical engineer who served as the first President of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA.
One of the greatest minds among engineers was Theodore V. Karman (1881-1963), whose mother was Helen Kohn, a descendant of Rabbi Judah Loew, the 16th century Prague mystic who is said to have created the Golem. Karman was also a physicist, primarily active in aeronautics and astronautics. He is responsible for many key advances in aerodynamics, notably his work on supersonic and hypersonic airflow characterization. If there were a Nobel Prize for engineering, he would have earned it.
There is no doubt that future research may uncover additional names of notable Jewish Americans with Bohemian or Czech roots.
In viewing the mosaic of individual portraits presented here, one is struck by certain characteristics shared by most of the Jewish immigrants from the territory of the Czech Historic Lands. They were all hard working, energetic, enterprising, resourceful, self-made people, with a sense of purpose and accomplishment, highly patriotic towards their newly adopted country, yet mindful of their roots and their cultural and religious upbringing. It is therefore fitting that we conclude this survey with a quotation from Thomas Čapek, the historian of Czechs in America: “Anybody browsing through Who's Who in American Jewry or The Jewish Encyclopedia must be surprised by the number of the famed names - physicians, jurists, industrialists, financiers and wholesalers who have originated on the territory of today's Czechoslovakia. They have attained both high economic and social status. You don't find them in the ghettos among the immigrants from Russia, Poland or Rumania. In learned professions they have overtaken us by far. Their pioneering spirit is well known.”