2017 Prague Candy Festival

Noted Jewish Personalities in Prague

Czech actors Hugo Hass and Adina Madlová

The Prague Judaism – it is more than just the remarkable constructions and monuments. It concerns a number of significant people, who through their works and ideas markedly influenced not just the sphere of literature but also the contemporary world view. Now we will learn about one of the geniuses who were forced to leave the native Prague due to their Jewish origin.

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Egon Ervin Kisch Czech journalist Egon Ervín Kisch
Egon Ervin Kisch entered the history as a significant Prague´s German writing reporter and writer of Jewish origin. Many knew him rather under the nickname Zuřivý reportér (Raging Reporter) because he was always doing his best to be where something was going on.Egon originated from a Prague Jewish family. He studied technics, German studies and later journalism and he got to know many lands of the world. In the period before WW1 he started to write articles for some Prague´s newspapares. After the war he returned to Prague where he was again concerned with journalism and also drama. Later in 1922 he left for Berlin to work for the local Volkszeitung.

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Egon Ervin Kisch liked travelling very much and during his journeys his significant works were written such as Americký ráj (Amerian Paradise) and Tajná Čína (Secret China), dále pak Nanebevstoupení Tonky Šibenice (Ascension of Tonka Šibenic), Pražská dobrodružství (Prague Adventures) or Zuřivý reportér (The Raging Reporter). In December of 1939 Ervin Kisch was due to his Jewish origin forced to escape before Nazis from Europe. He fleed to the USA first, then to the nearby Mexico. After the war in March 1946 he returned to Prague again. Unfortunatelly he was seriously ill and he died in Prague two years later.

Max Brod Czech Writer  Max Brod
Max Brod was a noted Prague-Jewish German-writing author, translator and composer. Due to this noted man the literary estate after his friend Franz Kafka could be published. Max was born in the family of a bank director. He finished his Law studies at the German part of the Charles University where he met Franz Kafka. Then he started to study the literature and write prose. Until 1924 he worked at Pražské poštovní ředitelství (Prague Post Office Directory). Consequently he became a cultural referent of the Czechoslovak Government and later also worked as a music and drama critic. He further became a vice president of the Jewish National Council. In 1939 he and his wife emigrated to the contemporary Palestine. He worked there in Tel Aviv as a dramaturg a critic. He died there in 1968.

Franz Victor Werfel Czech Writer Franz Werfel
Franz Victor Werfel was an Austrian-Czech, German-writing author. He was born in 1890 in a wealthy orthodox Jewish family. He studied in Leipzig and Hamburg and later started to work in a publishing house. During WW1 he fought on the Eastern Line. Later he started to work in the redaction of the war newspaper in Vienna. In 1929 he married a music composer Alma Mahler. Together they had emigrated to the United States before the WW2 broke out. Werfel is mainly considered a writer for he left behind numerous significant plays and novels known in translations as Abituriententag, Píseň o Bernadettě (The Song of Bernadette), Hvězda nenarozených (The Star of the Unborn) or Ne vrah, zavražděný je vinen (Not the Murderer´s but the Victim´s Fault). The year 1941 was a turning point for him for he became an American Citizen. Franz Wefel died in Beverly Hills in 1945.

Hugo Haas Czech Actor Hugo Hass
Hugo Haas was born in the family of a Jewish footwear merchant. He graduated in singing at the Brno conservatory and he also worked for the National Theatre Brno after some time. He left for Prague in 1924 and performed there in Divadle komedie (Comedy Theatre) and Divadle na Vinohradech (Vinohrady Theatre). Consequently he became a member of the Drama Club of Národní divadlo (National Theatre Prague), where he stayed until 1939, when he was due to his Jewish origin dismissed. In April of the same year he escaped together with his wife to the United States of America. There he taught at an acting film school and worked in a theatre. He won recognition also in Hollywood not as an actor but also as a screenwriter, director and movie producer. He returned to Prague after the war but he left for Vienna shortly afterwards where he also died on December 1st, 1968. Hugo Haas became famous especially for his film roles, such as Mravnost nade vše (Morality Above All Else), Život je pes (Life is a Dog) but also as a director of Karel Čapek´s Bílá nemoc (The White Disease) from 1937.

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