SCHWIMMER (ROTH and MESSINGER) family
by E. Schwimmer
inter-related families lived in
Hódmezõvásárhely from the mid 19th to
the early part of the 20th century. The SCHWIMMER branch
subsequently moved to Budapest, and right
before the war, to the United States. Much of the information for
this family history comes from a letter dated November 26, 1975, from
Lajos Elekes, manager of the
Hódmezõvásárhely branch of the Csongrad
County Archives to E. Schwimmer's grandfather. The letter quotes
book by Jozsef Fejervari entitled "Vásárhely
törtónete családok tükróben" about the
families of Hódmezõvásárhely.
Moses/Moises SCHWIMMER (1798-1884) was born in
O. Kanizsa. He married Erzsebet/Betti MÜLLER
(1794-1889) of Szabadka (today Subotica, Serbia). They lived in
Szabadka and fled to Hódmezõvásárhely
with their two sons, János aka Johann and Ignac aka Nathan
during an uprising of the Serbs. They settled on Zrinyi Street on
the banks of Lake Hód. Moses and Betti also had a
daughter, Maria, who was already living in Hódmezõvásárhely with her husband Jozsef
Ignac/Nathan (?-1916), married Emilia
LEVI/LÖWY (?-1901) and they had 7 children: Aron (1864-?), A.
Leopold (1866-?), Edelina (1870-?), Ignatz (1871-?), Jenö
(1873-?), Johanna (1875-?) and Jenni (1879-?).
János/Johann (1830-1898) married
(1831, Wiener Neustadt-1895). They later moved to Ujvaros, where
their son Lajos was born in 1863. Another son, Sandor, was born
in 1871. Sandor married Emma STERN and they had four
children--János (named for his grandfather and not to be
his first cousin by the same name, below), Ferencz, Kamilla and
Dezsoke. Tragically, Sandor died in 1909 at the age of 39.
The elder János and Katarina also had two daughters:
Hermina, who married Geza TAFFLER and Adel, who married Samuel SCHIFF.
Lajos trained extensively as an apprentice in
the Beregi Company, which operated the franchise for lighting in the
town. Later, returning to Hódmezõvásárhely,
his father taught him the trade of
goose down merchandising and they went into business together.
Lajos also operated a storage building on János Square. Lajos married Maria GRÜNWALD
of Szentes. They married in Pest in 1893. In 1903, he purchased the house and
lands at 25 Bercsenyi Street in
Hódmezõvásárhely from a Mr. SINGER, also a
feather merchant. Lajos and Katarina had three
1900 and named for his grandfather, Joszef, born 1901 and died 1922,
and Ferenc, born 1904, who, like his brother János, shared the
name as his first cousin. Lajos, a man of few words, was
respected by the peasants from whom he purchased feathers for driving a
fair bargain and keeping his promises. Maria, also a quiet
person, was devoted to her sons.
|Reformatus Gymnasium (parochial
School) of Hódmezõvásárhely
Form VIII (equivalent to 12th grade in American terms) graduation
János SCHWIMMER (2nd row from top, 2nd from right) is the
of E. SCHWIMMER
SCHWIMMER graduated school in 1918 (see above photo) and finished his
education at the Academy in Pest. He served as a volunteer in the
National Army and achieved the rank of Sergeant Major. He married
Margit ROTH of
Hódmezõvásárhely, daughter of locally
prominent newspaper publisher Antal ROTH and his wife Iren MESSINGER. János and his brother
(Feri) joined their father Lajos in the
feather/wool business, which continued to grow into one of the largest
respected businesses in all of Hungary, with clients in Czechoslovakia,
the German Empire and the United States. After the death of their
father, János looked after the business side of things, while
Feri handled the administrative duties and the buying from the country
feather merchants. Feri became an expert at assessing the quality
and weight of feathers.
Feri had been frail as a youth, suffering from
tuberculosis and spending time in various sanitariums. At the age
of 34, when his mother had started to despair of his ever marrying, he
met his future wife, Heddy Bleier. They were married in the
Dohány Street synagogue in Budapest in 1938 and honeymooned in
Italy. A daughter was born in 1941, and a second daughter was
born in 1943.
The brothers fared differently during the
war. János and Margit were on vacation when WWII broke
subsequently they went to the United States with their two
children. Feri entered the forced labor camp at
Fertõrákos in 1944 and died there in 1945. His wife
and daughters survived in hiding. Heddy remarried, and immigrated
to Australia. More
about their story can befound in the book "Heddy and Me" by Susan
Varga, published in 1994 by Penguin Books Australia.
| ROTH family portrait,
Hódmezõvásárhely, ca. 1927/1928
Left to Right: Anni Roth (daughter), Janos Schwimmer (son-in-law), Kato
Schwimmer (daughter of Janos and Margit), Iren
Messinger (mother), Antal Roth (father), Margit Schwimmer (nee Roth,
daughter, and wife of Janos Schwimmer), Livia Roth (daughter).
Standing in rear: Dr. László Roth (son)
|Below: Margit Schwimmer, nee
|Left to right: Iren
Messinger, Kato Schwimmer, Margit Roth, Maria Felsenburg
the descendants of the SCHWIMMER family include two surviving children
of Janos SCHWIMMER and Margit nee ROTH, two grandchildren, three
great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
Mr. Antal ROTH and Mrs. Antal ROTH (Iren MESSINGER)
maternal great-grandparents of E. SCHWIMMER
maternal great-grandfather of E. SCHWIMMER
English translation of Antal ROTH obituary:
b. 24 Jun 1875 in Nagyvárad (Oradea,
d. 08 Sep 1935 in
Printer, owner of a
printing plant, newspaper publisher, editor, newswriter. Probably
obtained his knowledge of the trade in his place of birth.
At any rate, when he came to Vasarhely around 1897, the Share Printing
Press and Publish Corporation of Hódmezõvásárhely
employed him as a machinist. Here, at the town's most advanced
printers, he became technical foreman from 1901 and in 1906, when the
company was dissolved, he bought the plant, becoming its owner.
He also took over the newspaper entitled "Hódmezõvásárhely",
which was first published in 1871 by the company and became its editor
and publisher. The plant, which had operated since the last years
of the 19th century with the Worner fast printing press, saw its heyday
until the early 1920's. From then on, even though as the town's
oldest established plant (as far back as Philip Wodianer), it enjoyed a
certain rank--it became just one of the larger printing establishments
of the town. Roth edited and published 16 different press organs,
and we know of 16 different books printed in his plant; among others,
as high-ranking publications as the
3-volume town history by Szeremlei
and a volume of short stories by Joseph Gonda. Roth himself
wrote, too. In addition to lead articles, sketches and theatre
reviews, he also wrote a volume of essays that he published in 1904,
entitled "Messiah" under the name R. Antal Vasarhelyi. Indicative
of his liberal political views, is the fact that his newspaper "Hódmezõvásárhely"
(from 1919 called "Hungarian National Guard") was banned in 1922 by the
counter revolutionary government, because its contents "constituted a
danger to the inner order and social peace of the country". From
then on, until his death, he worked exclusively as a commercial printer.
MESSINGER family tree:
1) Lipot/Laszlo MESSINGER (1851-1926), Cantor,
married Maria FELSENBURG (1852-?)
2) Iren MESSINGER (1878-?) married Antal ROTH
3) Anni ROTH (1901-1945), a
photographer in Miskolc. Unmarried. She died in a
3) László ROTH
(1903-1949, Buenos Aires, Argentina), a
physician of internal medicine at the Sanatorium of
Hódmezõvásárhely, married Klara LICHIG
(1912-1995). Somehow, he managed to avoid being confined to a
concentration camp during the Holocaust, and after the war he and his
family left for Argentina.
3) Margit ROTH (1905-1988)
married János SCHWIMMER (1900-1985). Both Margit and
in Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.A.
3) Livia ROTH (1910-1962,
a student in the teacher training institute in Miskolc. She was
married twice, and had no children with her first husband. Her
second husband was John RICHARDSON. She went into hiding during
WWII and immigrated to England after the war.
2) Matild MESSINGER (1880-1922) married Armin
SCHWARZ (1872-?), a merchant transporting geese (1904).
3) Erno SCHWARZ (1898-?)
married Ella LOVY (1900-?)
3) Laszlo SCHWARZ (1900-?)
married Ilona HERRMANN (1903-?)
3) Ibolyka SCHWARZ
(1905-?) married Ferenc FLEISZIG (1904-?)
2) Mano MESSINGER (1880?-?), an attorney at Godollo,
Julia ENGEL (1888-?). This family later changed their surname to
2) Roza MESSINGER (1883-?) married Samuel PURJESZ
(1878-1917). He died heroically on the front during WWI.
3) Klara PURJESZ (1912-?), a
music teacher with a degree from the Academy of Music; ran a music
school in Hódmezövásárhely.
2) Ilona MESSINGER (1889-?) married Armin KLEIN
(1884-?), who later changed his name to Arpad KALLOS. He was an
artist (painter). They resided in Budapest until 1923, where his
work was shown in visual art exhibitions. They later moved to
3) Aladar KLEIN/KALLOS
(1908-?), married; spouse's name unknown.
3) Olga KLEIN/KALLOS
(1910-?), graduated with distinction from the teacher training division
of the university, and a "champion" tennis player.
2) Sandor MESSINGER (1893-?), surname later changed
to MEZEI, married Ilonka KLEIN. He was an attorney in Szeged.
(Ibolyka) Schwarz, daughter of Armin Schwarz and Matild Messinger, the
sister of Iren Messinger
Center: Panni (Anni) Roth, daughter of Iren Messinger
Right: Margit Roth, daughter of Iren Messinger
Photo probably dates to the late 1910s
with information about these families is welcome to contact E.
Schwimmer at <email@example.com>
© Judy Petersen 2010