Parents: Gabriel and Minna Bach née Forchheimer
Siblings: Hedwig m. Zeilberger, Rosa, Arthur, Martha, Selmar, Robert, Hugo
Spouse: Erna Benscher
Children: Ruth and Gabriel
Hemmerichstraße 33 (today 4)
October 1938 emigrated to the Netherlands
April 1940 to Palestine
Viktor Bach was born in Unsleben near Mellrichstadt on December 14, 1894 as the son of the horse dealer Gabriel Bach and his wife Minna, née Forchheimer. He grew up in a large family with seven siblings.
He became a student of Realschule Bad Kissingen in September 1905 and graduated with good marks in July 1911. His brother Arthur who was five years younger than him (and died in 1924) also attended this school. During that time, they both lived in Hemmerichstrasse 33 in the house of his aunt Mathilde who was married with the Kissingen iron monger Isaak Losmann.
Fulfilling his father’s wish, after graduating Viktor Bach became an apprentice of “Hirsch & Sohn” Company in Halberstadt. With a lot of diligence, he worked his way up very quickly and became the authorized officer when still relatively young. In the company, he got to know his later wife Erna Benscher, who was employed as a secretary there. Both their children, Ruth and Gabriel, were born in Halberstadt in 1923 and 1927. In the following years Viktor Bach was promoted to the general director of “Hirsch Kupfer- und Messingwerke” in Eberswalde which belonged to the Hirsch Company and was one of the most important German metal works. He was also a very dedicated follower of the Zionist Movement and became the director of “Keren Hayesod”, a foundation fund that had been formed in London in 1920 and organized the collection of money for the builtup of a Jewish state in terms of the Balfour Declaration. The Bachs continued living in Germany after Hitler’s seizure of power. Viktor Bach, the general director of one of the biggest factories of the heavy industry in Germany, was even asked by employees in his firm who were friends of Göring to stay in Germany. When the Sudeten Crisis started in 1938, the Bachs had to hand in their passports to prevent their father - being important for the war effort – from leaving the country.
Two weeks before the November Pogrom the family emigrated to the Netherlands. The son Gabriel Bach, then 11 years old, remembers the dramatic crossing of the border: “And I remember clearly how people from the SS boarded the train at the Dutch border and said: The Bach family, get out! We had to open the suitcases in a shack and they threw everything in a corner. Only when the train started to move again, we were allowed to go. We ran after the train and an SS-man kicked me in a certain part. That way I was transported out of Germany by means of a kick.” (Interview in Zeitmagazin, April 7, 2011) The The flight from the Netherlands was also accomplished in the last minute. In April 1940 – one month before he invasion of German troops – the Bachs travelled to Palestine on board the ship “Patria” and thus averted imminent deportation and annihilation. The reason for his father being reluctant for such a long time was – according to his son – that his father had intended to rescue the whole family. And he succeeded in doing that. He got out all the uncles in Dachau and Buchenwald and provided immigration permits for Palestine for them. … He was able to anticipate the things that would happen. In Israel, people said my father had a sixth sense telling him when to bread away.” (Zeitmagazin, April 7, 2011)
In Palestine or Israel respectively, Viktor Bach joined the renowned “Bank Leumi”, which took over the tasks of a national bank of Israel in the 1950s. According to his son he died in March 1987 at the age of 92. His wife Erna had already died in Jerusalem in July 1978.
His son Gabriel studied law at University College in London after the war. In 1961 he became known to the public as the deputy of the General Prosecutor of the second of the three prosecutors in the Eichmann Process, which was to change his life profoundly. In 1969 he became General Prosecutor of Israel. After his appointment to the Supreme Court of Israel in 1982 Gabriel Bach worked there until he became a pensioner in 1997.
Viktor Bach’s daughter Ruth who was born in Halberstadt in 1923 and stayed unmarried all her life, also lived in Jerusalem like her brother. (Source: telephone call with Gabriel Bach, February 4, 2020). She died in September 2020. (More details on her impressive professional career see in Doron Zeilberger's family history of the Bachs: "Ruth Bach, had a very interesting life. Between 1940 and 1945, she worked under Richard Graves, the commissioner of labor in the British mandate to Palestine. Between 1951 and 1953 she worked in the Israeli consulate in New York, and between 1953 and 1959 she was executive secretary of Teddy Kollek, who was then Chief of Staff in the prime minister's office, who was also in charge of tourism. She was then appointed to be in charge of entertainment and culture in the Israeli cruise-boats Jerusalem (1959-1962) and Shalom (1962-1967). She later became public relations officer of Tel-Aviv Hilton, then moved to the Jerusalem Hilton, and before retiring, she managed the guest-house for creative artists, of the project Mishkanot Shaananim, an artist colony in Jerusalem, where the famous windmill stands.")
In the video attached below, “Gabriel Bach, Das Strafverfahren gegen Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem”, Gabriel Bach talks about his memories of the Eichmann Trial, but also about biographical details from his childhood.
Schülerakte des Jack-Steinberger-Gymnsiums
Israel's archives are going online
Wikipedia-Artikel zu Gabriel Bach
Gabriel and Mina Bach (The parents of Doron Zeilberger's Paternal Grandmother)
Zeit online: Gabriel Bach: Mein Vater hatte den sechsten Sinn, von Herlinde Koelbl
"Mit einem Fußtritt hat mich ein SS-Mann aus Deutschland befördert", Interview mit Gabriel Bach in der Wochenzeitung Jungle World, Beilage Dschungel, Teil 1: Nr. 14. vom 7. April 2011; Teil 2: Nr. 15.
Juden im alten Halberstadt
Ein Gespräch mit Gabriel Bach (Sohn Viktor Bachs), Teil 1 anhören: Flucht aus Deutschland und Holland nach Palästina
Gabriel Bach: "Er war so besessen, dass er sich sogar über Hitler hinwegsetzte"
Informationen Gabriel Bach, Telefonat vom 04.02.2020
Jana Müller, Gabriel Bach – vom Flüchtling aus Deutschland zum Ankläger im Eichmann-Prozess, Stiftung Gedenkstätten Sachsen Anhalt, Erinnern! Aufgabe, Chance, Herausforderung, Heft 1 | 2014, S. 20 -33
Myheritage, in : Billion Graves, Erna Bach
Familienfoto Viktor Bach mit seinen Eltern und Geschwistern © Gil Zeilberger
weitere Fotos © Israel's archives are going online