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Nathan Preminger

Fathers name: Osias Preminger

Mothers name: Roza Holzberg

Country of Birth:


Year of birth: 1910

Places of Residence:

Austria, Romania, Russia

Brothers/sisters: Emil, Lutzi, Toldi, Clara

Studies: Mathematics, at Chernovits University

The Preminger's children: Nathan, Emil, Toldy, Lutzi, Clara. 1916.
In 1930 Nathan was a Mathematics student at Chernovits University. Hitler was already in power in Germany, and there was already a fascist regime in Romania. In one of his lectures a professor started talking about Jews, defaming them. As he ranted on and on, Nathan, who was attending his lecture and had a hot temper, wasn't able to hold himself anymore and jumped out of his seat to smack the professor in his face, so hard that the professor fell down.

A huge commotion started in the auditorium. Most of the students had the same opinion about Jews as the professor, and they jumped on Nathan and started hitting him. Nathan, realizing that his life was in danger managed to hold them off him, jumped out of the window and ran home to tell his family about what had happened.

Everybody was in shock. They understood that with this dangerous atmosphere in town, the family might be in dire straits. Their concern wasn't so much that they would be persecuted by the law-enforcement authorities, but that the students attending the lecture might come and try to finish what they started.

What were they to do? Emil, Nathan's elder brother came up with an idea. He picked up his brimmed hat and went to see a friend, who was a police officer, at the restaurant Zum Shvarze Adler (The Black Eagle). Taking a bite together, Emil told him what had happened.

"Yes", the police officer said. "It's a real bad situation".

They went on talking, and by the end of the dinner the police officer said: "Let's arrest Nathan, and move him to sit in jail for a bit in another town. This way, even if they come with dogs to look for him, they won't find him."

Emil went back home to the family and told them that within an hour the police would come to arrest Nathan. And so it turned out: Nathan was arrested. Two days later, the family found out that he was in prison in a nearby town and that the conditions he was kept in were reasonable.
End chapter 1

Nathan's parents: Osias and Roza. 1938.
Nathan stayed in jail for 6 full months. During that time Emil got married and moved away from the family's home to live with Sima, his wife. He also applied for a visa for Palestine but did not get it. It was the time of British rule in Palestine and they did not want any more Jews to get in.

When Nathan got out of jail, he was given what was called a yellow ticket: no University in Romania would accept him. So he passed the time sitting in coffee shops and chess clubs. Later on, Nathan married Paula Brill, the daughter of a wealthy family who owned a photo atelier. They had two children.

In 1940, the Soviet government gave King Mihai in Romania an ultimatum: to surrender the regions of Bessarabia and Bukovina to the USSR, or prepare for war. The king decided to surrender, giving his subjects only two weeks to choose between the Soviets who were against shop owners or the Romanians who were already ruled by a fascist Nazi regime.

My father Emil and my mother Sima, who by then already had a baby two months old names Shimshon, chose to stay in Chernovits. When the Russians entered the city, they gathered all the Jews and business owners at the train station. Before they were loaded into the cattle wagons, Nathan showed up at the platform out of the blue, telling Emil: "Give me the baby. He is only two months old and you don't know where they are taking you".

Sima hugging her baby answered: "Thanks for the offer, but I am not getting separated from my baby. Wherever I go, so does my baby. Whatever happens to me will happen to him".

Emil and Sima were sent for 20 years to Siberia, but they managed to survive.
End chapter 2

Nathan and his wife Paula. Bucharest, 1935.
Nathan and Paula, his wife, stayed in Romania together with her family. When all Jews were gathered and sent to concentration camps, Nathan, Paula and their two children were taken to a camp called Transnistria, on the banks of the Transnistro River. The Jews in this camp were treated comparatively well. They were not free to do as they wished, and they were taken to work for the Nazis, but they were fed decently, and most people in this camp survived the Holocaust.

One day a Romanian officer came to Nathan and asked him his name.

"Nathan Preminger" Nathan replied.

"Do you have a wife, kids?" the officer asked.

"Yes, I do", Nathan answered.

"Well, come tomorrow morning to the river bank, together with your wife and kids".

Next day Nathan and his family showed up at the river bank. The officer was there with a few of his fellow officers.
"˜Good morning" the officer said to Nathan. "Why don't you go into the water?" he motioned with his hand.

Nathan was confused. "Shouldn't we get undressed first?"
"No, there's no need for that" the officer replied.
When Nathan, Paula and their children were up to their knees in the water, the officers drew their pistols, aimed, and shot the family dead, competing for the best shots.

The story of Nathan's end was told to my father by a lady who was a prisoner in the Transnistria camp and witnessed it. The Romanian officer most likely recognized Nathan, and remembering the incident at the University decided to take revenge on his own initiative.
End chapter 3