Ruth Federmann

* 1926  

  • “When I was thirteen, the war broke out. The Germans came to Prague and my mom wanted me to leave. She had experienced the First World War and she was afraid of food shortages. I was a weak and sickly child and for this reason she wanted me to leave Prague. I could go either to England or to Palestine. But mom said that I would get better education in England. My ´kindertransport´ to England was scheduled to depart on August 1, 1939 (actually September 1, 1939). The war broke out. We came to the railway station and the Germans did not allow the train to leave and we thus went home. On November 27, I traveled to Palestine to my mother’s sister. I was thirteen.”

  • “(The attitude to religion and faith. Did you go to a synagogue?) My father was an atheist. I don’t remember that we would observe any holidays. Then (after father’s death?) we went to a synagogue on Yom Kippur and on the Jewish New Year, that was our religion. I am an atheist, too. If there is a God, he is not good. The things that he does to people… In Tanach, our Bible, there is God together with the devil, they work together.”

  • “My name is Ruth Federmann, née Steckelmacherová. I was born in Prostějov in Moravia, but I lived in Prague. My father was an architect, with a degree in civil engineering. You surely know Roxy in Prague – he was the one who built it, some time in 1930 or 1932. My mother was his office manager.”

  • “I got into the transport to England, because mom had sent my drawings to England. I am glad that I did not go to England. I was doing fine here. It was difficult at the beginning, but then my life got very interesting. My husband was well-known all over the world. In 1990 he was the president of the International Hotel Association. The first congress in Prague after 1990 was a hotel congress, and my husband presided this congress.”

  • “We lived in Bubeneč, but I attended school in the Vinohrady neighborhood. Our mother wanted to be at home with us. (…) I attended a Czech school. But I think that my mother tongue is German. The Jews in Moravia spoke German, they were Austrians. My father had studied in Vienna. I think that we spoke German at home, and when my father died, we spoke Czech. Mom sometimes spoke Czech to me and she taught me how to write. Then I learned at school, but I only began studying the third grade of the higher elementary and when Hitler rose to power, we were no longer allowed to go to school. Mom sent me to a school which taught fashion drawing.”

  • “We saw that we needed to start buying… There were small houses on Yarkon Street (in Tel Aviv close to the Mediterranean shore – auth.’s note), they were not large, only about the size of a villa. Jews from America arrived there, it was already the State of Israel, and they wanted to see what the State of Israel looked like. We got to know several people and they established a company and brought money. We began to develop. The small hotel remained there and we built another hotel next to it, about hundred and thirty or hundred and fifty rooms. Now we have fourteen hotels all over Israel, the well-known Dan Hotels.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Tel Aviv, Izrael, 30.03.2014

    (audio)
    duration: 01:25:05
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Tel Aviv, Izrael, 07.12.2016

    ()
    duration: 
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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I have had an interesting life

Portrait photo II. - 2016
Portrait photo II. - 2016

Ruth Federmann, née Steckelmacher, was born in 1926 in Prostějov in a Jewish family. She lived in her native Prostějov until she was three years old and then she moved to Prague with her parents and her older handicapped brother. Her father Artur Steckelmacher worked as a construction engineer and architect and his best-known projects included the interior of the Roxy Palace in Dlouhá Street in Prague. Ruth’s father died in 1933 and her mother never remarried. Ruth was one of the few survivors of the 250 children who were supposed to travel to England in the largest transport that was organized by Nicholas Winton. The train with the children was ready to depart from Prague on September 1, 1939, but due to the outbreak of the war it was not allowed to leave anymore. In November 1939, her mother sent Ruth to Palestine with a mass transport, and she herself later died in Auschwitz together with her eldest son. While living in Tel Aviv, Ruth learned to be a seamstress and fashion designer. In 1944 she met Samuel Federmann who later became her husband. Their first son was born in May 1948, on the day of the establishment of the State of Israel. Ruth’s husband and his brother owned the chain of fourteen Israeli luxury hotels Dan Hotels. Samuel Federmann died in 2006. Ruth Federmann lives in the centre of Tel Aviv.