RAF pilot given honorary citizenship in Teplice

Kurt Taussig, photo: archive of Kurt Taussig

Kurt Taussig is one of the 669 Czech Jewish children who were saved from the Holocaust by Sir Nicholas Winton on the eve of the Second World War. The 95-year-old man, who went on to join the RAF as a fighter pilot, has since lived in Great Britain and, until recently, was unknown to Czech historians. Now, more than 75 years after he left his country, he was granted honorary citizenship in his birth-town of Teplice.

Kurt Taussig,  photo: archive of Kurt Taussig

According to historians, one in five of the so-called Winton children, who were adopted by British families after escaping the Holocaust, eventually enlisted to fight the Nazis. To this day, many of those life stories remain hidden in the archives.

The story of 95-year-old Kurt Taussig, who left Czechoslovakia on one of the kinder-transports organised by Nicolas Winton, was discovered only two years ago by historian Milan Herčút and was recently brought to public attention by Czech Television.

Kurt Taussig,  photo: archive of Kurt Taussig
Mr. Taussig was born into a Czech-German Jewish family in the north Bohemian town of Teplice. In 1938, they fled the occupied Sudetenland and went into hiding, but they eventually ended up in a detention camp.

“I was actually thinking about committing suicide to get out of this mess, but my brother, who was cleverer than I was, found out that there was this organisation in Prague.”

The organisation, referred to by Mr. Taussig was managed by Sir Nicholas Winton and helped to save altogether 669 Jewish children from the Nazi-occupied country. Kurt Taussig and his younger brother Karel escaped on the very last train that was dispatched from Prague on August 2, 1939. Their parents and oldest brother ended up in a concentration camp.

In Great Britain, Mr. Taussig tried to join the Czechoslovak squadron of the British Royal Airforce, but he was dismissed due to his German origin. He didn’t give up and in 1942 he entered a British squadron operating in the Mediterranean, eventually becoming a fighter pilot.

Historian Milan Herčút:

Photo: archive of Kurt Taussig
“It was a very dangerous job. He flew in Italy in the mountains, close to the ground and at very high speed, so it required great piloting skills.”

After the end of the war, the three Taussig brothers reunited in Great Britain. By that time, the two younger ones had already started forgetting their native tongue, explains Karel Taussig:

“We were not allowed to speak German. We would have our throats cut. And with Czech it was similar. We couldn’t say: This is not German, this is Czech. So we cut it out completely.

“After a few years, we had assimilated to such an extent, that apart from my parents being stuck over there, I had no love or feeling for anything that happened on the outside of the Channel.”

One thing that remained close to Mr. Taussig’s heart is his birthplace of Teplice, which he visited repeatedly. Now, 76 years after he left the town, he was granted honorary citizenship.