10 July 2015

Leo Schwefel from Czernowitz Became Radu Comșa in... (Bucharest - 5359 km)

(Bucharest, 07.07.2015 - 09.07.2015) Leo Schwefel, son of Dr. Aron Schwefel and Malka Schwefel (née Klipper), was born on 06.12.1925 in Czernowitz. Survivors of the Czernowitz Ghetto, exempted from the deportation to Transnistria by a Traian Popovici permit in October 1941, Leo and his parents were listed for the second deportation wave in June 1942. Their attempt to escape from Czernowitz with fake IDs ended in Roman, where they were convicted and sentenced to twenty years' imprisonment; Leo was only sixteen years old at that time. Two years later, in 1944, they were liberated by the Red Army.

After World War II, meanwhile residing in Bucharest, Leo's Jewish name was replaced by the Romanian Communist Party - whether he liked it or not - by the Romanian name Radu Comșa, a fictional character created by the Romanian novelist Cezar Petrescu and Radu Comșa became then twice Romanian ambassador, first in North Korea, no picnic in the 1950s, second, after Romanian Revolution of 1989, he was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Germany between 1990 - 1995. Finally he deserved acknowledgement for an intellectual of his high caliber, who speaks fluently six languages. Subsequent to his diplomatic career, Radu Comșa honorary played a leading role within the Association of Romanian Jews Victims of the Holocaust.

This was the ultra-short version of Leo Schwefel's / Radu Comșa's biography. I conducted the interview above
on the occasion of our meeting on 08.07.2015 in Bucharest.


In early 2001, just one month after Jim Rosapepe left his job as US ambassador to Romania, he spent a visit to Czernowitz, accompanied by John Klipper, president of the Romanian American Enterprise Fund (RAEF), and John's cousin Radu Comșa. Their travel log became the chapter "Travels with Radu" (download link above), part of the book "Dracula is Dead - How Romanians Survived Communism, Endid It, and Emerged since 1989 as the New Italy" by Sheilah Kast and Jim Rosapepe.


Zvi Shefy said...

Dear Ernest
I'm very excited because you probably found a lost relative of my father.
My father Shimshon (Simon) Schwefel was born in 1928 in Czernowitz.
His father's name is Leopold Schwefel born 1898 in Boyan, his mother's name is Lotti (Lea) Schiller (her father's name).
Leopold Schwefel my grandfather served in the Austrian army during WW1.
My father remembers that as a child, before WW2 he accompanied his father to visit the father's aunt named Ita. She lived at her daughters house. Her daughters name was Zili Nachbar wife of well known painter in Chernovits.
Zili's brother was Dr. Schwefel – the father of Leo Schwefel.
So – to sum it up – My father and Leo Schwefel are actually sons of cousins.
My father's family went through a lot of trouble during WW2. They were 3 little brothers the family was deported to Transnistria, and Leopold Schwefel my grandfather died in labor camp in Nikolaive in 1943. After the liberation of Transnistria My grandmother with the 3 sons went back to Czernowitz, then moved in 1946 to Romania, and in 1947 board the ship "Pan Crescent " to Israel, where the whole family lives now.

Zvi Shefy - son of Shimshon

Edgar Hauster said...

That's just great and it sounds fabulous to me that - after all that years - we apparently succeeded to facilitate a "family reunification". First of all please let me (bconcept@hotmail.com) know your mail address since I'm positive that we've got additional data on your family for you.
Warmest wishes to you!

Zvi Shefy said...

Dear Edgar
Here is what my father Shimshon asked me to translate:
I called Mr Radu Comsa (former Leo Schwefel) son of Dr.Schwefel from Czernowitz.
We had a 28 minutes conversation in German that we both speak Well, I found out that he was the only member of his family who is still alive.
He was surprised to hear that I and my family live in Israel, and he had no idea about it.
We exchanged addresses and phone numbers and promised each other to keep in touch in the future.
And once again thanks to Mr. Edgar Hauster and Leon Brumfeld who helped in this Wonderful story for me and my family
Shimshon Schwefel

Melissa Ghelman said...

Hello Edgar,

I have sent you a message at bconcept@hotmail.com as I believe Leo Schwefel/Radu Comșa to be an old friend of my grandfather's.

I am so looking forward to your response to see if you might be able to facilitate yet another reunification.