Traces of Leo Katz


One of my favorite Bukovina authors is little known Leo Katz of Siret / Sereth. Though our period in Suceava was too short to allow any sort of comprehensive search for records pertaining directly to Katz, it was  impossible to not stumble over the Katz family of Siret, which was a large family indeed.

By happenstance while cataloging, I did come across the two records above which may refer to Leo Katz himself and his sister. The first is from a register book of “Jews who relinquished their citizenship” dating from the late 1930s. As Leo came from a strictly religious family, it is entirely feasible that his given name was “Strul Leib” and that he adopted the more western moniker “Leo;” the birth year of 1892 is correct, in any case. Katz had not set foot in Siret for years by the late ’30s but it appears that many of the entries for these so-called “relinquished” citizenships were carried out in absentia.

The second document comes from a large folder in the Siret town hall collection dated 1945-1946. Many of the documents refer to Jewish residents who had survived Transnistria and returned to Siret at the end of World War II. The letter refers to Fani Katz, the name of one of Leo’s sisters.

For those not familiar with Katz, I highly recommend his satirical "Brennende Dörfer." Though the book has as its core the events of the 1907 peasant uprising, it is the vivid portrayal of the range of colorful characters making up a multi-ethnic provincial town in the waning days of the Austro-Hungarian empire that make it a particularly entertaining - and melancholy - read.