Jewish Spotlight: Czech Republic

In honor of Ruth Federmann nee Steckelmacher, presented by the Federmann Family and Dan Hotels Group


Ruth Federmann nee Stecklmacher

Ruth Federmann was born in 1926 in the town of Prostějov, also known as Proßnitz in German, then in Czechoslovakia and now in the Czech Republic, the daughter of Arthur Stecklmacher (1888-1933) and Ružena Lederer (1890-1944). The family moved to Prague when Ruth was three years of age. The father, an architect and construction engineer, was instrumental in the completion of various projects in Prague, among them the interior of the Roxy Palace on Dlouha street in Prague. Ruth's father passed in 1933. Already at a young age, Ruth displayed a remarkable talent for painting and art in general. With her mother's encouragement, she started to learn fashion design in Prague.

Following the annexation by Nazi Germany of the Sudetenland in 1938 and then of all Czech lands in March 1939, just like many other Jews in the occupied Czechoslovakia, the Stecklmacher family tried to find out a way to leave the country, but in the summer of 1939 there was almost no place on earth that welcomed Jewish refugees.

Thanks to the private initiative of Nicholas Winton, an English humanitarian, 669 Jewish children from Czechoslovakia were taken to adoptive homes in Britain in an operation later known as the Czech Kindertransport. Ruth's mother managed to include her daughter among 250 children that were scheduled to leave Prague on September 1, 1939. Her talent for art and fashion design was probably one of the reasons for her inclusion into that group of children. However, because of the start of World War 2 on the same day, the train never left Prague and the 250 children returned to their homes, the majority of them did not survive the Holocaust.

Ruth's drawings were preserved in the Winton's files and are now part of Yad Vashem archives. Ruth's mother did not give up her efforts and eventually she managed to send her daughter to British Mandatory Palestine with Kinder aliyah. Ružena and Hans (Jan) (1921-1944), Ruth's elder brother, were murdered at Auschwitz in 1944, having been deported and interned in Theresienstadt concentration camp.

In Tel Aviv, where she lived with her aunt, Ruth received vocational training and became a fashion designer. She also studied painting at a private academy run by Prof. Yosef Schwartzman. She met Samuel Federmann (1916-2006) in 1944 and married him in 1947. Their first son, Ami Federmann, was born in May 1948, along with the new independent Jewish state. Yekutiel Federmann and his brother Samuel Federmann founded the Dan Hotels Group who later included the most prestigious hotels in Israel.

Ruth devoted her life to raising her family. Only when she was in her forties could she turn her aspirations and dreams into reality with the opening of three upscale boutiques at the Dan hotels in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Caesaria. For several years she managed to express her artistic talent in a unique style that resulted from her deep love for the arts in general, and for painting in particular. She continued to paint at workshops guided by Yaakov Mishori producing works on subject close to her heart and conveying her strong love for life.

About this website

Jewish Spotlight: Czech Republic is a website focused on the history and heritage of the Jewish communities on the territory of the Czech Republic. The historic regions of Bohemia and Moravia were home for numerous Jewish communities already in early medieval times. Short histories of almost 200 communities along with visual documentation, biographies of famous Jews who either were born or activated in these territories, and a timeline of Jewish history provide an insight into past turbulent times but also into a significant and long-lasting Jewish creativity and an invaluable and diverse heritage.


Beit Hatfutsot wishes to thank Ms. Chava Cohen, stepdaughter of Eduard Lax, and Mr. Dror Cohen and gratefully acknowledges their kind permissions to use the film Happy Days in Brno.