Amira Kohn Trattner (born Amira Kohn) is the daughter of Dr. Eliyahu (Andreas) and Ruth Kohn. Her grandfather, Victor Kohn (whose mother was Marie Miriam Kafka and whose father was Ludwig Kohn), married Emma Fischel in Prague in 1909. Amira’s great-grandmother Marie Kafka, was Franz Kafka’s first cousin and Marie’s father, Leopold Kafka, (married to Amalie Salus) was Franz Kafka’s uncle.
Victor Kohn had been a prominent Director of the Merkur Bank, in Prague, for 35 years and an active leader and member of the Jewish Community. He was a representative of the Jewish minority to the Czech Parliament. Together with his friend and school mate Max Brod and other prominent Jews in Prague, he founded and funded Prague’s only Jewish Day School and was the school’s President for ten years. He also founded a Jewish Orphanage for Boys, and a refugee center for Polish Jews who were escaping pogroms. He was on the Board of many Jewish organizations and was philanthropically involved with all of them, particularly with Keren Kayemet and Keren Hayesod.
As an ardent Zionist and a member of several Zionist organizations he helped establish and support a Betar, revisionist, summer camp, preparing Jewish youth for Aliya to Israel (Palestine at the time).
Victor was a member and President of the Pinkas Synagogue where three generations of the Kohn/Kafka families were married. Between 1934-1936 Victor Kohn founded and edited a Jewish Zionist weekly newspaper, Der Judenstadt or Medina Ivrit, urging particularly young Jews to leave the Czech lands and make Aliya. When Victor saw the looming danger and grasped the implications of the storm that was brewing in Germany, he traveled throughout Czechoslovakia and urged Jews to leave for Palestine before it was too late.
In 1936 fulfilling his Zionist dream, in collaboration with Jabotinsky and other Jewish leaders, Victor established a Jewish Bank in Palestine, called Bank Heamel. During that year, being also very concerned about Anti-Semitism and his family’s safety, he moved his immediate family to Palestine.
In 1937, Amira’s mother Ruth, and her husband, Dr. Ludwig Kleinberg , moved back home to Prague (where Ruth was born and Ludwig studied law) with their one year old daughter, Rina. Ruth missed Prague and wanted to be with her lifelong friends who had remained there.
In 1938 Victor sent an urgent telegram to Ruth and Ludwig: "come back now". Ruth returned immediately to Palestine, together with their two year old daughter, Rina. Ludwig remained in Prague but had planned to follow. When he tried to leave, it was too late and the borders were closed. He was unable to return to Palestine. In 1941 Ruth received notification from the Red Cross that her husband, Dr. Ludwig Kleinberg, had been killed.
In 1943, Ruth met Dr. Eliyahu Kohn in Palestine. Dr. Kohn was born in Lucenec, Czechoslovakia. He was a lawyer who also graduated from Charles University Law School in Prague. He fled to Bulgaria and boarded an illegal ship, Rudnizer B, on August 31st, 1939, one day before the borders were closed. When he arrived on the shores of Tel Aviv, the British captured him and his ship brothers. They were transferred to small, leaking, boats that were brought to shore where Amira’s father was arrested. After ten days they were released.
Ruth and Eliyahu Kohn were married on November 23rd, 1943 and their daughter, Amira, was born on December 22nd, 1944 in Tel Aviv.
In 1945, Ruth learned that Ludwig, her first husband, had survived the War. The Red Cross’s notification to Ruth that Ludwig had been killed, was erroneous.
Dr. Kleinberg escaped from Czechoslovakia to Poland when the Germans occupied it. There he met Frania. When the Nazis defeated Poland, Ludwig fled East with Frania. They were sent to Siberia where they were in a forced labor camp. At some point they were able to join the Czech Army in exile and after the War Ludwig received a military honor for valor from the Czech Army.
After the War, Ludwig married Frania in 1946 and their daughter Eva Kleinberg was born that year. When the communist regime took power in 1948, Dr. Ludwig Kleinberg, his wife Frania and their daughter Eva moved to a DP camp in Germany. They emigrated to the U.S. in May, 1949.
Dr. Eliyahu and Ruth Kohn and their daughter Amira immigrated to the United States in 1958 to join Rina, who had emigrated with her husband, Jack Allalouf, in 1957 to New York City. Amira and Rina’s grandmother, Emma Kohn, joined the family in 1959 in New York, two years after Victor Kohn had died in Israel.
Frantisek (Franzi) Kohn, the cousin of Amira Kohn, is the son of Jan and Ottilia (Kominik) Kohn. He was born March 24, 1918 in Prague. Frantisek was deported to Theresienstadt on the first transport to leave the capital on December 1, 1941. This transport, known as the Aufbau Kommando (AK) included 5000 young, able-bodied men, who were supposed to prepare the ghetto/concentration camp for habitation by the Czech-Jewish population. Those who volunteered for this transport were told their parents would be spared from subsequent deportations, but Franzi's parents were ultimately deported to Theresienstadt and from there to their death in Auschwitz. Franzi himself was also deported to Theresienstadt and Auschwitz, but he was selected for forced labor and was subsequently transferred to Gross Rosen and Dachau. Following the liberation, Franzi returned to Prague, where he married Gertie Gans Weinberger in October 1946.