Jiří Baum / Anna Baumová

26.08.2018 | 21:42
Jiří Baum / Anna Baumová

The Baum Siblings
Anna and Jiří Baum were born in Prague, in the intellectual middle-class Jewish family of Josef and Frantisek Baum. Dad Josef Baum (* 14 June 1864), a successful wholesaler of meat in Královské Vinohrady, son of Hynek Baum and Antonie, born as Pederer, was born in Úvaly near Český Brod. Mother Františka Baumová (* 2 January 1876) was the daughter of the farmer Filip Fischlo and Rosalie, born as Steinerová, in Nadějka.

Jiří Baum (* 20 September 1900) loved nature since his early childhood and was always attracted by foreign lands. He graduated from a grammar school, then a business academy. While he was studying, he travelled to Germany and other European countries. Between 1921 and 1922, he went to visit his classmate Viktor Mayer in the USA, as a part of an annual scholarship of the Czech-American Society in Chicago. They travelled a lot during their studies. First on a bike, then hitch-hiking and fi nally by an old Ford (a book called Wandering around the USA, 1939). Afterwards, Viktor went to South America and Jiří to Prague.
His interest in zoology was supported by the study of the Faculty of Science of the Charles University. In 1922, he goes on a long journey to Brazil to visit Viktor and he takes his sister Anna with him. Anna used to travel a lot. He described his travel experiences in a book for young people called Unknown Banks of Brazil (1939). During the journey, the siblings decided to establish a farm in Brazil together with Robert Pollert, Anna´s husband. In 1923, they bought a piece of land near Campinas, where they focused on growing crops. At the maternity hospital in Sao Paulo, Pollert‘s daughter, Irena, was born on February 21, 1925. Jiří returned to Prague, where he continued his studies. Persistent public unrest was not optimal for farming in Brazil, so the Pollert family returned to Prague, where they later owned a network of shops. Their son Herbert Jaromír Pollert was born in Prague on November 1, 1927.
The second great expedition during his studies and the fi rst in Africa was led by Jiří in 1927 with a botanist Albert Pilát to West Africa. They travelled by a ship from Dakar to Konakra (capital of French Guinea) and from there to inland. But Jiří suff ered from malaria and had to return to Prague. Pilát continued his research, fi rst at the Niger River and then at the foot of Mount Kukulim.
In 1928, Jiří completed a PhD degree in natural sciences – specialization in arachnology (arachnids), doctoral thesis – a monograph of the spiders of Bohemia and Moravia. A book about the journey to West Africa called In the Tropics at the Gulf of Guinea was issued during the Protectorate (1941) under Pilát‘s name (under the both names in 1945). In the same year (1928), Jiří travelled through Germany to Marseille and then by a ship through Suez, Mumbai and Cejlon (Sri Lanka) to Singapore for another large expedition. This time, he went to Southeast Asia. He traveled through the Malaysian Peninsula by car and devoted himself, in particular, to collecting insects. Through Penang Island, he continued to Siam (today Thailand) and from there by the ship to Java where the Ornithological Congress took place. In the frame of places where the Congresses were held, he traveled through the whole island. The journey prematurely ended in Ceylon with symptoms of malaria. He wrote his memories and experiences of the journey in the books called Abdal‘s Adventurous Journey (published under the name of Růžena Baumová, 1940), On the Shores of the Indian Ocean (1936) and he also translated and published the Malay Fairytale Pa Belalang (1930).
The plan for a new expedition was set up in Jiří´s Vinohrady apartment, this time to North Africa (1930), with the zoologists of the National Museum, Josef Mařan, Jan Obenberger, Karel Táborský and Václav Jan Staněk. They traveled through Tunis and Algiers in the car which Jiří had repaired on his own before. During the journey, they received a large number of African animals, which later enriched the collections of the National Museum.
In 1931, he made an expedition to Africa with a sculptor, ethnographer and traveller František Vladimír Foit. They travelled by Foit‘s modifi ed Tatra 12, which was specially modified for this expedition by Oldřich Uhlík in Strašnice in Prague. This Tatra was the fi rst car with a twin-cylinder engine that managed to drive through the black continent. The journey began on April 1, 1931, and led to the port of Trieste, and thence by a steamer to Alexandria, where they explored ancient Egyptian monuments for almost a month. Through Cairo, along the Nile, they reached Aswan then by a steamer to Wadi Halfa in Sudan, and then through Khartoum and Kodok to Stanleyville, the Belgian Congo at that time. They continued around Lake Albert, to Uganda and Nairobi in Kenya. Here they meet the compatriots, the Lány family. The son of Ludvík Lány not only “decorated” their car with traveller‘s paintings but also persuaded them to reach Kilimanjaro (5,895 m). They climbed up to 5,500 m, but they decided to return for strong fatigue. They continued through Tanganyika into the former North Rhodesia to Victoria Falls and through Southern Rhodesia they arrived in Cape Town in the South African Union on October 20, 1931. From there they arrived in Southampton by a ship on October 31, 1931, and they happily returned to Prague through Dunkirk on December 7, 1931. During the journey (eight months and six days – 24 thousand km), Jiří devoted himself to studying and collecting fauna and described everything in the books: The African Wilderness (1933), From Prague to the Cape of Good Hope by car (1933) and in the children‘ s book called The Adventurous Journey of Little Negro (1935).
Even before the African journey, Jiří met Růžena Fikejzlová (* 23rd September 1900, Bělá u Luže) in Spanish language courses at the Spanish Club. She was a traveller, future writer and photographer. Růžena studied business school in Chrudim (1915–1917), then worked as an accountant at Prague Wholesale. She liked travelling and visited some European countries with her friend. She corresponded with Jiří during his African journey and after his return, on 17 June 1932, they had a wedding. Jiří won not only a good wife but also a great support during his journeys and life. She helped him with collecting scientifi c material, processing and taking photographic documentation. She helped him to publish many books, especially after the war. In 1933, they set out on their fi rst common journey by Tatra 54, which led through Poland to the Baltic and further to Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. In 1934, they travelled to Spain and Morocco where Jiří studied, took photographs and collected material for his zoological work. It is a pity that it was issued just as a torso in the book Through Steppes and Forests (1945).
On their biggest expedition, they set off in a four-wheel-driven six-wheeled Tatra 72, a gasoline, air-cooled engine that can drive up to 60 km / h (consumption of 18 liters per 100 km), which was developed for the army. Oldřich Uhlík car company built a housing expedition car with a kitchen, which could be transformed into a dark chamber for processing photo materials. Their journey started in front of the Prague´s car club on December 23, 1934 and led via Suez to Ceylon and to Western Australia where they arrived by a ship in February 1935. In May, they arrived in Canberra and continued across Australia where they also promoted Czechoslovakia in radio, in club talks, and even in the weekly fi lm journal which is still preserved. After returning to Brisbane on July 29, 1935, Atsuta Mara sailed along the southeastern Australia to the Philippines and they travelled through the island of Mindanao. The journey continued by the ship through Hong Kong to the Japanese islands of Kyushu and Honshu, where Jiri was engaged in the collection of insects from August to October. They continued through Hawaii to San Francisco from Yokohama.
They visited Los Angeles, Sierra Nevada, Sequoia National Park, and crossed the Mojave Desert. On their way back, they crossed the Panama Canal to Jamaica, the Antilles, and London. They ended their journey on December 22, 1935 in front of the Prague´s car club where they had started. The journey was described by Jiří in the books Around the Globe by Car and Boat (1937), Hawaii yesterday and today (1947). He also published a book full of advice for travellers and emigrants called For Long Journeys (1939). He published an ornithological experience in the book The Birds of Great Prague (1955).
To Africa, as well as to the last trip abroad, the Baum family went in their residential Tatra 72 in 1938–1939. They travelled through Austria in the shadow of the Nazi symbols. They set off in Trieste, sailed through Suez and further along the east coast of Africa to the port of Lourenço Marques (now Maputo, Mozambique). They visited Masava in Eritrea, Mozambique Beirut, Krueger National Park (the oldest in Africa), Johannesburg, Pretoria, Kalahari Desert, Zulu country, Dragon Mountains and the road ended in today‘s South African port of Durban. In Africa, they learned about the capturing of our borderland. For return, they chose an Italian ship with many stops (70 days on the way), which Jiří used for studying the animals of the African coastal areas. Despite the warning signs, they returned to Prague on 13 March 1939. Two days before the German occupation and the declaration of the Protectorate (March 16, 1939).
By returning to the homeland, Jiří was caught in the trap of Nuremberg‘s laws, and it was only a matter of time when it will be against him. A mixed marriage provided him with a certain “freedom” within the anti-Jewish measures. But already in Africa, they were determined to engage in an active form in the events of After-Munich situation. As Růžena and Anna Pollertová took part in the activities of the pre-war Women‘ s National Council, they also met JUDr. Milada Horáková, maybe this was their way to the left-wing resistance group RU-DA. Anna soon became a major link between the illegal groups and the secretary of the resistance group, the Petition Committee We Shall Stay Faithful (PVVZ). In 1939, she halted her property worth 2.5 million crowns, which she used to fund illegal activities. A number of meetings of representatives of the resistance groups took place in her apartment. At the Baum´s apartment in Přemyslovská Street, prints were printed and photo news were taken. Leafl ets were typed on the typewriter, and the photographic lab of the traveller and the biologist was well served for the resistance photo work. Some documents were even handed over at their house in the elevator. The team was able to photograph documentation of the radio equipment for aircrafts landing in the fog, produced at the Mikrofona factory in Strašnice. Jiří also copied plans for a new type of airplane and photographed German atomic energy research at Albertov. The Baums rented two apartments in the house for secret meetings, and Anna obtained other illegal fl ats for members of PVVZ. Anna was aware that her activities in the resistance are also necessary in order to maintain the safety of illegality, so she and Baum met at the apartment of an owner in Žižkov (Lucemburská 16). She spent one and a half year in illegality. In October 1941, during the arrest of Ing. Josef Friedel (who was managing PVVZ in Chrudim and Nasavrck), an accountant Jindřich Krása was arrested as well from the publishing house Laichter, in whose apartment part of the PVVZ archive was deposited, especially the hidden address scheme. The Gestapo forced Krása to release the archive, which allowed the destruction of most of the PVVZ network in January 1942, and the resistance group called ÚVOD was also noticeably aff ected. Anna was arrested on October 21, 1941, she was imprisoned in Prague on Charles Square in the prison of the Prague Gestapo in the building of the former Criminal Court. Baum saw Anna here for the last time. It was in the window of the back tract in Lazarská Street, where they brought her son Peter in the stroller (* 19th 1941) so that Anna could see him. Anna was sent to the Small Fortress in Terezín and in September 1942, to prisons in Leipzig and Dresden. In her resistance, however, she continued from jail, when she sent the secret notes in the form of Morse messages embroidered in the hem of clothing and linen. The Special Senate in Berlin sentenced her to death on 14 November 1944 for the preparation of treason. Her execution in Berlin-Plötzense took place on January 10 or 11, 1945.
Jiří was arrested on 10 June 1943, based on denunciation by “czech name”, but not for participation in the resistance but for racial reasons. First, he was just like Anna in the prison on Charles Square and then, on 17 August 1943, he was taken to the Small Fortress of Terezín. After two months, on October 22, 1943, he left Terezín, apparently, he was taken back to the Gestapo prison in Prague and from there, he was sent by a transport Dr on 15th December 1943 or by transport Ds on December 18, 1943 to the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz in Poland. But he was not even there for a long time. He applied being a part of 30-members labor commander to clear the wreckage after the Warsaw Uprising, which seemed wiser than to hopelessly wait for his destiny in Auschwitz. You can only imagine. Apparently, he was injured during the cleansing work, bacterial infl ammation of soft tissue caused phlegmion and bacteria spread to the blood which caused blood poisoning. At the end of January, Jiří dies at his late 44s.
The anti-Jewish laws captured the parents of Anna and Jiří. Josef and František Baum were deported on 12 February 1942 to the Terezín Ghetto by transport X (numbers 347 and 348) and after eight months by BW transport on 19 October 1942 to the Treblinka extermination camp (numbers 226 and 227) where they did not survive. The Anna´s husband, Rudolf Pollert (* 12 December 1898) had the same fate. He was sent by the transport AA on July 30, 1942 to the Terezín ghetto as a number 146 and from there he was transported by Bc transport on August 25 1942 as number 887 to the Nazi extermination camp Malý Trostinec near Minsk, where he did not survive. Anna´s daughter and son, Irena and Herbert Pollert, were sent by the AAl transport from Prague on July 2, 1942 as numbers 236 and 237 to the Terezín ghetto. Irena got freedom here, but her brother Herbert did not have so much luck. He was deported as number 874 from the Ghetto Terezín on 28 September 1944 to Auschwitz, where he did not survive.
Růžena Baumová and his son Petr came through the last weeks of the war, including the dramatic events of the Prague uprising in May 1945 in a temporary apartment in Prague‘s Spořilov. Later, they moved to the house in Spořilov in Jihozápadní III Street. In the early years after the war, Růžena published her and her husband‘ s books until 1948. She then tried to live with modest retirement. Petr Baum studied mechanical engineering, specializing in agricultural machinery. After graduating from school, he went to the research institute for a year and then went to Neratovice because of his apartment and worked in Spolana. With his wife Marie, born as Knotková from Ústí nad Orlicí, a fresh graduate of the Conservatory, they got married the day before the occupation on August 20, 1968. After the wedding, Marie worked in Lomnica nad Popelkou. Růžena Baumová died on July 16, 1975 in Prague. Since 1983 Petr Baum had been teaching in Betlemská Street and his wife Marie worked as a lecturer at the Folk Art School. In 1985, they emigrated with children Jiří (* 1973) and Jana (* 1975) to Australia, where Petr Baum got a position as a teacher at a private school in Sydney. Peter‘ s family has been still living there.
Dr Jiří Baum spoke 11 languages, mainly European but also Malay, Arabic and Swahili. He travelled across fi ve continents, made an incredible number of photographs and collected valuable zoological materials. A part of the collections and a professional library were donated to the Zoological Institute of the Charles University, ethnological collections to the Museum of Náprstek and around 250,000 spicemen (rewarded with the title of honorary assistant) to the National Museum. He described a number of new species that bear his name (Alleculodes baumi, Carabus baumi, Hydrobaumia, Phellinus baumii …). He described his observations and travel experiences in a number of travel books, wrote books for young people or popularly educative science works. Perhaps the best-known work is Around the Globe by Car and Boat (1937). The stone of the disappeared of Jiří Baum (Stolperstein) can be found in Přemyslovská street No. 28.  

For Památník Terezín Luděk Sládek


Anna Pollertová, 29. 7. 1942 Anna Pollertová with husband Rudolf, passport The married couple Jiří and Růžena Baum Jiří and Růžena Baum, 1935 Frantisek Foit and Jiri Baum on Kilimanjaro The diaries of Jiří Baum from his journeys, deposited in
Náprstek‘s Museum The diaries of Jiří Baum from his journeys, deposited in
Náprstek‘s Museum The diaries of Jiří Baum from his journeys, deposited in
Náprstek‘s Museum The diaries of Jiří Baum from his journeys, deposited in
Náprstek‘s Museum The diaries of Jiří Baum from his journeys, deposited in
Náprstek‘s Museum The diaries of Jiří Baum from his journeys, deposited in
Náprstek‘s Museum Unloading of expeditionary Tatra in Fremantle, West Australia,
February 1, 1935 Natives are listening to the radio, Kahe near Moshi, Tanganyika Kenya National Park, Singvesi camp, October 14, 1938 Anna Pollertová Obrázek č.16 The Baums are having lunch in their car at Lobatsi, Bechuanaland Josef Baum Františka Baumová Irena Pollertová Jaromír Pollert Petr Baum at the typewriter Portable with italics on which his father wrote his diaries from the journeys Petr Baum with his mother at the Christmas tree on
December 25, 1942 Jiří and Růžena Baum in the apartment in Vinohrady with little Petr
and Irena and Herbert Pollert on April 19, 1942 Petr Baum in Nemošice with grandfather and grandmother
on August 23, 1942 Petr Baum with wife Mary and son Jiří

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