2. The Sachers of Losonc-Tugár

The Jewish community of Losonc was established in 1808. Before that year Jews were not allowed to settle in the town so they lived in the surrounding villages and in the southern Nógrád County. The Wohl family was the first to obtain a permit to move to Losonc from the proprietor of Losonc-Tugár József Szilassy (1755-1835).[1]. A local aristocrat, Count Forgách, and Szilassy believed that bringing Jewish settlers to their lands would enhance their own wealth as well asthe economic life of the area.

During the Age of Reform the liberal members of the National Diet (Assembly) of Hungary forced open the gates of Losonc for all. The local burghers were displeased but did not resist. By 1844, 19 Jewish families lived in the town. Two years later Jewish businessmen formed their own association. By 1847 the community grew to 97 but many more Jews lived in the adjacent Losonc-Tugár.

The nineteenth century statistician Elek Fényes counted 388 Roman Catholics, 695 Lutherans and 98 Calvinists but no Jews i Losonc-Tugár. In 1814 Szilassy, who received the village from the king ten years earlier, acquired the title of oppidium (market town) and the right to hold regular fairs, both national (five times yearly) and weekly (every Monday) in Losonc-Tugár. He invited everyone of "useful trade and good moral standing regardless of religious affiliation" to come to his oppidium, build a home and ply his trade. He put Izrael Wohl (1783-1848) in charge of the selection of new settlers. There were only Jewish applicants, 20 to 30 families.[1] Most, including the Sachers, came from Balassagyarmat.[2] Lajos Sherer in his study on the history of the Jews of Losonc, written in 1944 days before the complete destruction of the community, characterized the settlers as poor and modest families dealing in textile and other trades who were greatful for the rights received from the gracious landlord of Losonc-Tugár. The families attracted the confidence of the authorities. Once when gentile guild members and high school students attacked them, the authorities quickly restored order; the tradesmen were whipped, the students were expelled from the Calvinist High School.[3]

The Wohl, the Sacher, the Wallesz, the Weisz, the Groszberger, the Schmidl, the Schneller, the Deutsch, the Herz and the Lederer families were the founders of the Jewish community of Losonc-Tugár. My father's mother was a Schmidl daughter and I am also related to the Herz family.

In 1822 the Chevra Kadisha, Jewish funeral association, was established with 18 members.[4] By 1830 the Losonc Jews had their own rabbi. In that year about 250 Jewish families lived in Losonc-Tugár. In 1843/44 42 families (181 persons) were enumerated. At first Jews and Gentiles lived peacefully side-by-side. Jews wanted to be considered Magyars of the Jewish faith while liberal and nationalist Magyars welcomed assimilation, and with it a potential ally in the sea of Slavs within the Kingdom of Hungary. In 1845 one of the greatest Hungarian poets, Sándor Petöfi, spent more than two weeks in Losonc. Here he wrote the poem The Seamstress [A Varróleány] about a young Jewish woman, Rozália Weiss, with whom he fell in love but who refused his offer of marriage.[5]

Two years before the Hungarian Revolution and War of Independence of 1848-49 the Jews of Hungary were enumerated. In Losonc-Tugár 73 Jewish families, 335 persons, were counted. Only 16 of them were born abroad; seven in Bohemia, seven in Moravia and two in Poland. The occupation of 73 persons was noted. Most of the family heads were merchants but there were also six innkeepers, two publicans, two doctors, three teachers, one cantor, one rabbi, one notary, and many craftsmen among them.[6] In 1850 the population of Losonc-Tugár grew to 764, half of them Jewish.

The head of the Sacher household of Losonc-Tugár was Ignátz.

He was registered as a 65 years old merchant with right to purchase land. Mrs. Sacher, Maria Selberer, was 55 years old at the time. Their 25 years old son, the merchant Leopold, lived with them with his 21 years old wife.

Leopold's yearly income was 100 florins; enough to pay the Christian maid he hired to help his wife but not sufficient to live in his own house. Times must have been hard because in 1846 he had moved to his father's house with his wife Regina Schmiedl and his two little boys; Adam, age three, and Henrich, age two, who, by the way, later also married a Schmiedl girl. Ignátz's third son, Moses, was born in 1851. Ignatz's second son, my great-grandfather Samuel was by now 21 years old and was also a merchant. The youngest brother, a student at the time, Vilmos (age 16) [8]and his sister Borisa (age 17) were also part of the household.

During the War of Independence of 1848 there was heavy fighting in Losonc. Part of the town was burnt down. The Jews of the town fought on the side of the Hungarians and as a result the community was given a hard time by the Russian and the Habsburg authorities. Many left town. The Sachers stayed. Gradually life was getting better and better in Losonc. Plays were performed and balls were held at the casino. The Jewish community sponsored a charity ball, the first after the revolution, for the benefit of a new school.[9] The library was well stocked, the high school fully attended, a weekly newspaper provided local news and the public swimming pool, recreation.

A few years after the revolution my great-grandfather Samuel Sacher married Resie Hegedüs, who, I believe, was the daughter of Herschl Hegedüs (1825-?) of Szécsény. On 14 November 1853 in Losonc-Tugár Resie gave birth to a son, Hirsch. The witness was Anton Sacher, the midwife Marie Rosenberg. In later life Hirsch was not a healthy man. His daughter Iren and her daughter Lilly were in constant fear of Hirsch's mental illness being passed on to them and their children.[10]

The cholera epidemic of 1855 devastated the population of Hungary. The disease reached Losonc at the end of June and Losonc-Tugár in mid-August. Of the ten who caught the cholera in the Jewish district ten died, including my great-grandfather Samuel Sacher. Samuel died on 23 August at the age of 30. He left behind his wife, Resie Hegedüs, pregnant with my future grandfather, Samuel, who was born later in the same year.

Samuel was born on December 14, 1855. The witness was Albert Schmiedel, probably a relative of my grandmother on my father's side and according to Lajos Scherer, a popular leader of the community.[11] Marie Rosenberg, the same midwife who delivered Hirsch delivered the new baby. M.H. Goldzicher, the rabbi of Losonc, circumcised grandfather on December 22.[11a] Three years later, on 1 January 1859, Hány Frank, Samuel's future wife and my grandmother, was born in Losonc. Her father was Arje Frank, a tailor who owned the first sewing machine in Losonc. Her mother was Sály Blumenfeld. Grandmother Hány also had a sister, Kati, and four brothers; one became a doctor, another a pharmacist, the third one, Dezsö, a civil engineer, and the fourth one, Ignátz, inherited the tailor-shop.

In 1861, when my great-uncle Dezsö was born, the first Jewish elementary school opened its doors in Losonc. An attempt was made to establish another Jewish primary school in Losonc-Tugár but by 1870 the majority of the Hungarian Jews wanted to send their children to Hungarian schools and consequently the community turned down the proposal. The Sachers could now send their children to a Hungarian public school in Losonc. In the 1903-1904 school year the 11 year-old György Sacher and the 12 year-old Pál Sacher attended the Losonc public high school. The 13 year-old Imre Sacher, Gusztáv's son, went to the fourth grade. He was an excellent student.

In 1863 the first synagogue in was built in the Moorish style. The family worshipped there until the new reform synagogue replaced the old one. Grandfather Samuel contributed two of the stained glass windows that decorated Leopold Baumhorn's modern synagogue which was built in the 1920s.

The Sacher family in 1911 in Losonc:
top row: Sándor Sacher--Dezsö Frank--Ferenc Breier--Ella Löwy--Gyula Sacher--Ilona Sacher--Béla Sacher--Sándor Stern
bottom row: Maria Sacher with László Frank (pregnant with Ella Breier (1911-1944)-Hány Frank-Sámuel Sacher-Gizella Sacher
On floor: Irma Breier--Irén Sacher

In the late 1870s my future grandparents, Samuel Sacher and Hány Frank, married and settled near Losonc in the village of Gács (today Halic) where they opened a grocery store. Two years later there were 57 Jews living in Gács. Grandmother was 20 years old when the first of her twelve children was born. The last was my mother Irén, who was born in 1905. The first child's name was Gizella, who soon died at the age of two. In 1882 Gyula was born. Gyula (top row, fifth from the left) married Ella Löwy (top row, fourth from the left) and they can be seen together on the Sacher family photo of 1911. [13] Margit (bottom row, second from the left) was the next child born. She was born in 1884. In the picture she appears with her husband Ferenc Breier (row one, third from the left). She rests her hand on her first son Imre and she is pregnant with her daughter Ella. Béla (top row, second from the right) was 24 when the picture was taken. He was a printer and was soon, before the outbreak of the First World War, to try his fortune in America. The 27 year-old Bela Sacher arrived on 15 July 1914 on the Kronprinzessin Cecillee to Ellis Island, New York. Originally he took a train from Budapest to Cuxhavem, Hamburg. He planned to stay with a friend, Mor Stern, at 1349 11th or 119th Street. There are a couple of teenagers populating the photo; Sándor or Sanyo, age 15, is on the top left and Sarah who was 12 at the time (top row, first from the right). Gizella (bottom row, second from the right) was born in 1886. In the picture she appears with Sándor Stern (top row, first from the right), who was three years older than Aunt Gizi. Maria (Marisa) (row two, first from the left) was born in 1889. She was married to Dezsö Frank (top row, second from the left), a well-to-do civil engineer, who happened to be her uncle, that is grandmother's younger brother. Dezsö was married earlier to Janka Fisher, who gave him a daughter Valeria and a son Jenö. When Janka died of pneumonia, Dezsö married Aunt Marisa whose son László is in the family photo of 1911. [14] Was the family looking for a mother for Jenö [15] or for wealth? Nobody remembers any more. Aunt Ilona (Helen) (top row, third from the right) is 20 years old in the picture. She was a young widow; her husband Elemér Szántó (born in 1886) was no longer alive when the picture was taken. She never remarried. My mother Irén Sacher was the youngest child of Sámuel and Hány. She is six years old in the picture and appears at the floor to the right of Irma Breier, one year her junior.




[1] counselor of the king, chief judge and notary of Nógrád County

[1]Telek, 109; Lajos Scherer, Losonc: Egy magyar város rövid története [Losonc: A Brief History of a Hungarian Town] (Losonc: KJIMT, 1943): 39.

[2]Ibid., 111.

[3]21 May 1944, Losonci Hirlap.

[4]István Böszörményi, "Szilassy József és a Chevra Kadisa," Ipoly,(22 May 1990).

[5]Telek, 109.

[6]Ibid., 111.

[7] Henrik Sacher (1849-1899) buried his three months old daughter in 1873. The cause of death was cholera. Henrik married Emilia Schmidl (1854-1915). In the year 2000 Henrik's and Emilia's gravestones are still standing tall in the Losonc Jewish cemetery.

[8]Vilmos got married in 1860. Gusztav was born a year later.

[9] Lajos Scherer, 21 May 1944, Losonci Hirlap.

[10]Irén left Losonc for Budapest Lilly, daughter of Iren Sacher, had a sister, Magda, who perished in Auschwitz. Lilly married Zoltan Horváth. Lilly survived the war and spent her last years in Budapest. Lilly and my mother spent many good times together playing the piano and singing the songs of yesteryears. Lilly was a collector fine paintings.

[11]21 May 1944, Losonci Hirlap.

[11a]M. Henrich Goldzieher was the second rabbi of Losonc following the death of the first one, Móse Högyész.

[12]A Losonczi Magy. Kir. Á.llami Fögimnázium Értesítöje 1903-1904 [The Marks (of the Students) of the Royal Hungarian State Chief High School of Losonc 1903-1904], (Losoncz, 1904): 74-75.

[13]In 1911 was born Paul who eventually became a pharmacist and who after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 joined his brother in England with his sister Elizabeth and her family; brother-in-law Lajos Szegö and son János. János that is John married Joanna and to them were born two children; Laura in 1990 and Lisa in 1992. The eldest child of Gyula and Ella was born in 1913. He studied medicine in Prague and left for England before the outbreak of the Second World War. There he married Margaret. Stephen changed his name from Sacher to Kennedy. They have two children: Nicholas (1962-) and Susan (1963-). As of the year 2000 Nicholas is the last surviving male descendent of Samuel. Stephen's daughter Susan married Alan Lamb and they have two children: Catherine (1994-) and Hanna (1996-).

[14] Luckily, László became a healthy person who later married Vera Lusztig and fathered a little boy with whom he perished in Auschwitz in 1944. Vera survived . Today she lives in Hungary.

[15]Jenö, like his father, became a civil engineer.