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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives



DATE:                          DECEMBER 2, 1996

Transcript (PDF)


Ondrej (also known as Endre, Andre, or Andrew) Steiner was born in 1908 to a Jewish family in Dunajská Streda, Austria-Hungary (Czechoslovakia from 1918). After graduating from the German Technical University in Brno, Czechoslovakia in 1932, he worked for architect Ernst Wiesner. In 1934, Steiner opened his own studio. He married Hetty Weiner in 1935. From 1931 to 1938, Andre helped architect Endre Szönyi publish a design and architecture magazine, Forum.

In 1940 Steiner, his wife, and their young son moved to Bratislava in Slovakia to escape the Nazi invasion in Brno. During World War II, Steiner was a member of the Working Group, a semi-underground organization that worked to prevent the deportations of Slovakian Jews to extermination camps in Poland. When full-scale deportations renewed in 1944, Andre and his family fled to the mountains and survived the war in hiding. 

After the war and the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1948, Andre immigrated with his family (which by now included a second son) to Cuba. In 1950, he settled in Atlanta, Georgia. In Atlanta, Steiner established himself as a well-known architect, designing everything from houses to the Ahavath Achim Synagogue. In the 1960’s, he worked with Robert and Company Associates, an architecture company based in Atlanta. Steiner was also a celebrated urban planner and taught university courses.

A film, Andre’s Lives, was made in 1999 about his return with his sons to the scenes of his wartime experiences. A video interview with Andrew Steiner is also available online as part of the Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive here: http://www.ushmm.org/online/film/display/detail.php?file_num=4743.

Steiner died in April 2, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was preceded in death by his wife and two sons, but survived by multiple grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Scope of Interview

Andre briefly discusses his background and where he was during the partition of Czechoslovakia in 1938-1939. He explains where he was working when the Slovak Republic began concentrating Jews for forced labor in 1941 and then deporting Jews in 1942. He explains how he became involved in setting up special work camps to help save Jews from deportation. Andre recounts his role in the Working Group to try and save more Jews from deportations in what was known as the Europa Plan. He concludes with satisfaction that 4,000 lives were saved between 1942 and the Slovak Uprising in1944.

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