deszö was my great-grandmother’s youngest brother – the youngest son of amalia and nathan – and according the general rules of such things, was much beloved by everyone. as a married man, he lived in mahrisch ostrau, czechoslovakia and worked for one of his brother-in-laws, sigmund natzler (married to big sister hermine). hermine and sigmund’s daugher, franziska, with whom i corresponded for almost all of my high school career, was the main and, really, only source of all of my information about deszö. she told me about how he was well-liked and how he “did fine” until he married a beautiful redhead named ella, with whom he had one child: arnost egon, born in 1923. spoiled and ambitious, ella did whatever she wanted and she wanted a great deal, which deszö gave her to the best of his ability. she wanted her own store, so she got one. her baby had to have everything in silk and the best in everything, so that’s what he got. then, one day, she decided she wanted to be an opera singer, so she divorced deszö and left him and egon behind. when the nazis came in, franzi said, ella married one of them; when the soviets came in later, she took up with one of them, and in this way, franzi wrote, “she survived them all.”
she may have survived, but her son and her ex-husband did not. on april 28, 1942, deszö and egon were deported from prague to the terezin ghetto. two days later, they were taken to zamosc, poland, where they might have worked building luftwaffe airfields, because they were strong, healthy men. or maybe they were simply shot, or sent on to belzec and gassed. whatever happened, they did not return from it.
i find it sad that the only stories i have to tell about deszö are not really about him, but about someone else who was once close to him. all i really know is that he was a good guy and that people liked him and that though he fought for his country during world war i, he was betrayed by it just like thousands of other jewish men like him. i wish i had more to say about him as a person, this golden boy, but i don’t know anything else to say. he’s just a ghost who belongs to me.
david (deszö) bass, (1888-after April 1942)