Jewish Mementos in the Zala Comitatus

Jewish Hévíz

Hévíz enjoys international fame because of its lake of healing water. The community was founded by the merging of Hévízszentandrás (Hévízfürdő) and Egregy in 1946. The first Jewish settlers came to Hévízszentandrás (Szentandrás back then) in the second half of the 18th century. The first Jew, a Joachim, was mentioned in the census of 1795, the census of 1797 however holds the name of "Jósef Isák". In 1828 7 of the 230 people in Egregy were of Jewish religion, in 1836 2 of the 225. The Jews of Szentandrás and Egregy belonged the the Jewish community of Keszthely. In 1907 Szentandrás, under the name of Hévízszentandrás, became the seat of the district notary, the health resort (the lake and surroundings) which was part of the Festetics estate, fell into this district. In 1890 5 of the 240 inhabitants of Hévízszentandrás were found to be Jewish, in 1910 there were 8 Jews among the 303 inhabitants. In Egregy there were 6 Jews among the 375 inhabitants in 1900, in 1910 only 4 in 408. Due to the increasing popularity of the health resort most of the Jews lived in Hévízszentandrás in 1930 (23 persons, 3,4% of the population), after the 1920s none of them lived in Egregy any more, as it was further away from the resort. The proportion of Jews among the visitors of the bath grew steadily. The Jewish guests contributed much to the transformation of the resort town to a city with civic organisation and cultural life. Many hotels, restaurants and businesses were in the hands of Jewish investors. To meet the religious needs of the Jewish guests a prayer house was opened in 1910. It was built on the left hand side of the draining canal, close to gnác Lusztig’s inn called "Jeruzsálem" (Jerusalem). In the best years of the resort the Reischl family - Vencel Reischl jr. and then his sons Imre and Richárd - who leased the bath from the Festetics for 35 years (1905-1940) played an important part in the social life of the town, as did the Jewish doctors at the resort, Dr. Vilmos Schulhof and Dr.Ödön Schulhof (and the Christian doctor Dr. Károly Moll) who developed Balneology in Hévíz.

The prayer house became too small at the end of the 1920s and it was too far away from the resort. The synagogue in Hévíz was inaugurated on July 2, 1993, the construction was supported by the Festetics princedom, by the resort association of Reischl and by the Hévízszentandrás community. A Jewish community was founded in Hévíz, it was a branch of the Keszthely community, Dr. Sándor Büchler was appointed as religious head of the community, Dr. Adolf Kertész, a lawyer from Budapest, was the worldly president of the community. A great enthusiast for the resort town, he organised the construction of the synagogue. Other members on the board of directors were the resort doctor Dr.Ödön Schulhof, local Miksa Singer and some of the regular guests of the resort. A census of Jewish citizens by the Hévízszentandrás district notary on April 28, 1944 counted 4 Jewish households with 15 Jews. The register of names of the Keszthely ghetto from May 26 shows the same number, but the list of Jews deported to Zalaegerszeg only found there to be 13 persons. Of the Jews from Hévíz the members of the Freller, Frisch, Simon and Singer families and Dr. Vilmos Schulhof and László Ungár were murdered in Auschwitz, other men died from being put to labor. Guests to the resort still practiced their religion in the untouched synagogue for a long time, but religious life ended after Dr. Adolf Kertész died in 1959. The decaying building was torn down in April of 1977.

The synagogue was replaced by a Holocaust memorial erected by the municipality on July 2, 2000. Also referred to as the “Wailing Wall of Hévíz” the memorial is a wall of rustic limestone blocks from Süttő displaying the tables of law and the names of the martyrs. Memorial services for the martyrs from the resort town are held here twice a year: on April 16, the memorial holiday for the Holocaust, and on the first Sunday in July, the memorial day of the martyrs. On the wall of the covered winter bath and the pantheon of the hospital there are memorial plaques for Dr. Vilmos Schulhof (1874-1944) and Dr.Ödön Schulhof (1896-1978). In the room for the history of medicine at the Hévíz museum the personal items of the two doctors as well as their curricula are on display. The actor and director Gábor Földes (1923-1958), martyr of the revolution of 1956, is commemorated with a marble plate at his former Hévíz primary and art school Gyula Illyés, it was inaugurated on October 22, 2002.

by Johannes Scholem Graf & Alexandra Vogt

2012.10.31