Lost family after the Holocaust
My name is Lukas Meissel, I am a PhD student in Holocaust Studies at the University of Haifa. I am writing here with a request on behalf of my good friend Hadara Spiegel-Emanuel who is on the search for her half-sister Lea Spiegel (Leopoldine, perhaps Leopoldine Köhler) whom she never met, as well as Lea's mother Wilhelmine Köhler/Spiegel and her other daughter Marketa Köhler. To our knowledge, all three were Catholic or converted to Catholicism at some point, at least Wilhelmine turned out to be of Austrian nationality. Only her husband (the father of Hadara) was Jewish.
First, a brief summary of the story: On behalf of Hadara who lives in Jerusalem, I am looking for any information concerning her half-sister Lea (Leah) whom Hadara never met. Lea was the first child of Hadara's father Joseph (Jozef) Spiegl (Spiegel) who was Jewish and his first wife Wilhelmine Köhler, a Catholic. Wilhelmine came from Litoměřice; she was born on 19 December 1908 as Wilhelmine Köhler. Her father, who was a construction engineer, died a few days before her birth and her mother when she was only six years old. After that, she was raised by her maternal grandmother Maria Kühnel. Her husband Josef Spiegl seemed to come to Litomerice in 1930. He and Wilhelmine married, and just before their departure to Palestine, they lived in Litomerice with Wilhelmina's mother. According to documents from Litomerice, their daughter Leopoldine (Lea) was born on 2 August 1933 or 8 August 1933 (however, perhaps she was born in 1932 according to other sources).
Joseph and Wilhelmine emigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine in the early 1930s (on November 1st, 1933, they boarded a ship called Washington for Palestine). However, they eventually separated and Wilhelmine and Lea went back to Europe. Joseph remarried and had two more daughters, Hadara and Ruthy. Wilhelmine and her daughter probably returned to Czechoslovakia in 1935 and again lived in Litomerice with Wilhelmine's family. In 1939 and then again in January 1942, they moved to another Czech town, Jablonec nad Nisou. The archival records in Jablonec show that Lea lived with her mother Wilhelmine in Jablonec from 1942 at least until 1946. In 1943, Wilhelmine gave birth to another daughter, Marketa Köhler. It is not clear who Marketa’s father was, and what kind of relationship he and Wilhelmine had. In any case, in 1946 Wilhelmine was still married (or she claimed so) to Joseph Spiegl. She remained with her daughters in Jablonec for a few months after the war, allegedly waiting for a message from her husband from Palestine. According to her papers from spring 1946, Wilhelmine was of Austrian nationality, and so unlike Germans, she could travel quite freely and leave Czechoslovakia without restrictions. Either way, sometime in the first half of the year 1946 Wilhelmine and her daughters disappeared from the records.
Hadara grew up with her father in Israel and never had any contact with Lea or Wilhelmine. Therefore, any further information concerning them, specifially Lea, are of high significance to her. Especially since there is the possibility that Lea might still be alive. Our main goal now is to find not only additional information in documents but if possible even contact details if Lea/Leopoldine, her sister Marketa or any other family members are still alive. We would greatly appreciate any help in our search.
Persons of interest in our research:
JOSEPH (JOZEF) SPIEGL (SPIEGEL), born 8 August 1906 in Tomášov/Fél/Feilendorf/Féll
WILHELMINE SPIEGEL (BORN KÖHLER), born 19 December 1908 in Litomerice
LEA (LEOPOLDINE) SPIEGEL (KÖHLER), born 2 August 1933 (perhaps: 1932)
MARKETA KÖHLER (MAYBE SPIEGEL), born 1943, probably in Jablonec
I would very much appreciate if you could help us with any information concerning these four persons - any help would be a great support in our endeavor!
Many thanks and best regards,