Press Advisories

14. 5. 2010 11:11

Prime Minister Honours Israeli Veterans

Prime Minister Jan Fischer awarded the Karel Kramář medal this morning to several Czech-Israeli military veterans. The joint meeting took place in the Kramář Villa.

"Today's award of the medal named after the first Czechoslovak prime minister, Karel Kramář, is especially a symbolic acknowledgment of your service. It is a symbolic reminder that we have not forgotten about you. Here, "out of sight, out of mind," most definitely is not the case. Prague is a stone's throw from Jerusalem," the prime minister said during the award ceremony.

The first honoured was Yehuda Parna, who in 1922 was born as Leopold Presser in Jaseniec, in the district of Bělsko. After the Nazi occupation, he left for Poland and the Soviet Union, where he became a member of the Czechoslovak military forces. He took part in the first appearance of the 1st Czechoslovak Field Battalion in the USSR, in the battle of Sokolov, in which his brother, Egon, fell in battle. He also took part in battles of Czechoslovak units until the end of World War II, and until liberation served in the army as an intelligence officer. In 1948, he played a major role in organising and exercises for Jewish volunteers, with whom he later left for Israel. There he served shortly in the army. Until his departure for a rest he carried out the functions of police officer. He achieved three honours from the Czech War Cross 1939, followed by the Czechoslovak Medal for Bravery Against the Enemy, the Czechoslovak Medal of Merit, the Czechoslovak Memorial Medal with the Shield of the USSR, the Soviet Medal for Victory and the Order of the SNP.

Prime Minister Jan Fischer granted the second medal to Hugo Marom, born in 1928 in Brno. Hugo Marom, born as Hugo Meisl, was one of "Winton's Children," the children saved by British diplomat Sir Nicholas Winton. He also underwent military training in Great Britain. After the war, he returned to Brno, where he studied at university. In 1948, he underwent pilot training as a volunteer of the Hagana and later left for Israel, where he served as an officer in the army.

The third honoured Israeli veteran was Nori Harel, who was born Norbert Kurzberg in 1929 in Bochum. His family fled from Czechoslovakia ahead of the Nazis in 1935, but during his escape he was held in what is today Ukraine and sent to the gulag. Harel returned to Czechoslovakia after the war, and in 1948 underwent air mechanic training as part of the building of the Hagana. In January 1949 he left for Israel, where he served 25 years as a chief mechanic at air bases. He works in the aeronautical industry to this day.

Among the others awarded with medals was Marta Marom, the wife of the aforementioned Hugo Harom, who was imprisoned in concentration camps during World War II. In 1948 she joined the Hagana brigades as a volunteer, and later underwent training as a lorry driver. After her departure to Israel she served in the armed forces. Yehuda Manor, originally from Vitkovice, was sent to Palestine as a 12 year old boy, where he waited out the war. In 1945 he returned to Czechoslovakia, and in 1948 helped to organise the enrollment of young Jews to the Hagana, and went through pilot training himself. In December 1948, he also left for Israel, were he served as a pilot; in 1970 he went into the aeronautics industry. Since 1988 he has been a pensioner, working as an author and translator.

The honoured war veterans included Meier Sheffer of Subcarpathian Rusenia, who remained in Hungary after the occupation, where he was sent into the mines and later sent to the Mauthausen and Kintzkirchen concentration camps. After the war he moved to Czechoslovakia; in 1948 he completed pilot training and left with volunteers to Israel. He works in the air industry to this day.

Avraham Harshalom from the Polish city of Pruzana was deported to Auschwitz in 1943, where he unsuccessfully attempted to escape. In October 1944 he was sent to Buchenwald and later to the Richard factory in Litoměřice. In February 1945 he managed to escape and hid with a Czech family in Prague. He fought in the days of the Prague Uprising, underwent air training in 1948 and left with the Hagana volunteers to Israel.

Moshe Tirosh was born in 1928 in Behynka, in the Nitra district. After the occupation he went into exile, and in 1942 joined the Czechoslovak military units in the USSR. He went through all battlefields of the Eastern Front until the liberation of his country. In 1948 he joined Hagana as a volunteer, and after training also left for Israel. He is the holder of the 1939 Czechoslovak War Cross honour, the Czechoslovak Medal For Service, 1st degree and the Czechoslovak Medal for Bravery Before the Enemy.

The final veteran honoured by Prime Minister Jan Fischer was Menachem Tiben of Dolce near Přeštice. In 1942 as a Jew he was moved to a farm in Česká Lípa, which had the character of a labour camp; in 1943 he was sent to the Small Fortress in Terezin; in 1944 he was transferred to the Birkenau concentration camp, but after a week there he was transferred to a quarry in Goreszawa. In 1945 he survived a three-day death march, and was in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp until the end of the war. In 1948 he joined the Hagana brigades trained in Czechoslovakia. He fought in the war for independence, took part in the Suez War as a reserve officer in 1956 and the Six-Day War in 1967.

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