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Group portrait of a Jewish social circle in Osijek, Croatia.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 56454

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    Group portrait of a Jewish social circle in Osijek, Croatia.
    Group portrait of a Jewish social circle in Osijek, Croatia.

Among those pictured are Marko Spitzer's parents (front row), and Ilonka Krasso's father (top row, center).


    Group portrait of a Jewish social circle in Osijek, Croatia.

    Among those pictured are Marko Spitzer's parents (front row), and Ilonka Krasso's father (top row, center).
    Osijek, [Croatia] Yugoslavia
    Variant Locale
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Miriam Spitzer Onel

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Miriam Spitzer Onel

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Miriam Onel (born Miriam Spitzer) is the daughter of Marko and Ilonka (Krasso) Spitzer. She was born August 8, 1930, in Osijek, Croatia, where her father, was a well-to-do Jewish textile merchant and economist. Miriam had a sister, Leah (b. April 23, 1933). Both parents came from wealthy, educated homes, and the Spitzers enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle replete with servants, nannies, large homes, and frequent vacations to the Adriatic coast. They were not religiously observant but were strong Zionists. Marko belonged to the Betar revisionist Zionist movement. During the 1935 Maccabi games in Palestine, he subsidized the trip of several local Jews so that they could permanently settle in Palestine as new pioneers after the conclusion of the games. During the early years of World War II, Marko was serving as a captain in the reserves of the Yugoslav cavalry. Following the German invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941, he was captured and sent to a POW camp in Osnabrueck, Germany. Ilonka's brother, Alfred, was arrested and sent to Jasenovac, where he was killed shortly before the liberation on April 20, 1945. In 1941 or 1942 the Croatian Ustasa took over the Spitzer's home. The remaining family members, Ilonka, her daughters and mother, went to live with Marko's parents. (Ilonka's father had died of natural causes one year earlier.) In June 1942, Marko's parents were among those arrested during a mass round-up of the Jews of Osijek. They were sent to Auschwitz, where they perished. Immediately before the start of the round-ups Miriam and Leah were sent to live with distant relatives in Sarajevo. Ilonka and her mother, Riza Krasso, escaped arrest by hiding in the home of a Jewish woman who was married to an ethnic German. The woman made contact with Bosnian Moslem guides, who then smuggled Ilonka and Riza out of Croatia dressed as Moslems and brought them to Mostar, which was then under Italian control. These guides then went to Sarajevo, found Miriam and Lea, and brought them to Mostar as well. As German and the Ustasa forces approached Mostar during the winter of 1942-1943, Italian authorities transferred Jewish residents to an internment camp on the island of Lopud. Miriam's grandmother died there in March 1943, and hers is the only Jewish grave on the island. A few weeks after her death, Ilonka and her daughters were moved to the Island of Rab in the Adriatic Sea. After Italy's capitulation in September 1943, most of the Jewish internees fled to the mainland. However, Leah was in the hospital with scarlet fever so the family could not leave immediately. Miriam, Leah and Ilonka were among the last Jews to leave the island before it came under German control. After reaching the mainland, they joined Tito's partisans. Operating with a unit in the area of the Velebit Mountains, Ilonka worked as a nurse, and Miriam, as her assistant and courier. After the liberation of Yugoslavia, Ilonka settled in Topusko so that the girls could resume their education. There they learned that Marko had returned from Germany and had placed an advertisement in the newspaper looking for them. He had been injured while escaping from the camp and was recovering in a hospital in Osijek. Ilonka returned to Osijek to join him, and the girls followed at the end of the school term. In December 1948 the family immigrated to Israel on board the SS Radnik. Marko was instrumental in establishing a new agricultural settlement, Moshav Kidron. In 1959 Miriam left Israel to continue her studies in New York, where she later married Dr. Joseph Onel.
    Record last modified:
    2004-08-10 00:00:00
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