Ignatz Schwartz

September 30, 2014 World War I Stories 0 Comments



by Sandy Malek

My cousin Ignatz was born in Vitka, Hungary in 1890. He worked as a neckwear maker while he became a Yiddish teacher. He served in the US Army in World War I, from 16 July 1918 to 1 Feb 1919. He was never sent overseas, but served the entire time in Camp Hancock, outside of Augusta, Georgia. He appears to have been assigned to the Motor Garage, which would have been a huge Army mistake, as Ignatz was not particularly mechanical!

Serving with Ignatz was his lifelong friend Harry B Feiler, from Solotwina, Austria, born in 1894-95. Both were neckwear workers together in New York. Both were assigned to Camp Hancock, Georgia, but Harry Feiler was assigned to the base hospital. Harry Feiler served from 27 May 1918 to 4 Feb 1919, and was not sent overseas.

While Ignatz and Harry were at Camp Hancock, Spanish flu broke out. Records indicate that on 1 Oct 1918, flu cases jumped from 2 to 716 in a few hours, and by 5 Oct, Camp Hancock was quarantined with 3000 cases. By that evening. 50 soldiers were dead, and many more had contracted pneumonia.

Harry Feiler returned to New York and completed his medical degree at Columbia, Long Island Hospital in 1923. He was the well-loved family physician for the Schwartz, Klein and Malek families in the Bronx for the rest of his life.


David Schwartz (picture below) was the younger brother of Ignatz Schwartz, also born in Vitka, Hungary. He served in the Austro-Hungarian Army. He was a student at the Budapest Rabbinical Seminary, and the academic star of his family. He was killed at the age of 20. According to his published obituary,

“David Schwartz, student of the rabbinical seminary, corporal of the 5th Infantry Regiment, died a hero near Kolomea on March 18 [1915]. He was buried in the Jewish cemetery of Chofermitz [Chocimierz in Galicia]. The killer bullet reached him when he was running out from his shelter to help his captain who had been seriously injured.”


Samu was the younger brother of Ignatz and David Schwartz. No known picture of Samu exists. The story of his service in the Austro-Hungarian Army was written by his sister Sarah Schwartz Klein to brother Ignatz Schwartz in the United States, as follows:

“Poor Samu joined the army as a soldier on July 15, 1915 and went down to the front in October but in between he had been home on leave for 19 days, this was the last day we had spent together when we could not even create a thought of …, true, if I think back, when he was home, he was most of the time very dull, and I asked what the reason for that was, he took me and kissed me and diverted his speech to something else.

“But as he went back I learned of the reason, when he had been home he had already known he was going to the front but he would not have mentioned a word about it to us…

“He saw and knew how we were worrying about him and he did the same way as poor David that he always wrote only the best but we knew his state there very well…

“Then he had been on the Front until August 31, 1916 and that is when the Russians took him as POW where he still spent one more year that is where he met his death, oh, my God!!!…

“Both on the front and in the POW he had been suffering a lot, poor one…But there was almost no letter in which he did not mention you all, he was worrying about you, he thought you might have been interned. He could not write you from captivity because he did not know your address. I thought that you knew of each other. He was working in a factory there in Russia, there was a young man from Nameny with him, they had been real good friends and that one came home and told us his fate, told us that the work had not been so hard and it did not hurt Samu. He was in such good health that he had not been in and once as they were going home from work at noon and they went down to take a bath, as there was a great heat there, in a small river that was only as high as an apron, when poor Samu…

“They saw that his power was decreasing but they did not think he had a problem. Only when he went down under the water then they were running. But when he was found it was too late, they could not help. And then he was taken to the city and then he said that he had been buried as a Jew has to be buried. They immediately made him a Metsajni and a Mezajnes and then an old Jew was teaching…They could make it all from his own money. He, poor one, wrote us that he had received money from us three times but we only sent once so that is why I thought you might have sent it. This is how his life ended, leider, but you also have to accept God’s will. Oh, my God, if I think back when we heard this news, it is not even good to write about it…But for sure, our parents are so much heart-broken, Dad is so upset and you should see our mother, this all has made her older so much…”