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Weidmann, František


(1910–1944), communal leader. Born in Prague, as a student in secondary school, František Weidmann became a member of Kapper Academic Society, the Czech Jewish student organization. He served as chair of the association from 1930 to 1931 while studying law. In contrast to the leadership of Svaz Čechů-židů (the Union of Czech Jews), which was mostly nationalist and anti-Zionist, Weidmann furthered the cooperation of the Kapper association with Czech-speaking Zionists from the Theodor Herzl Association. Influenced by Jindřich Kohn, the leading philosopher of Czech Jewish integration, Weidmann believed that Jews needed to unite in their fight against antisemitism.

In 1935, Weidmann became secretary of the Social Institute of the Jewish Communities in Greater Prague, a new organization that coordinated different facets of the existing Jewish charitable network in that city. It provided care for the elderly, disabled, mentally ill, and the poor; and assisted orphans and refugees from Nazi Germany. In 1937, Weidmann was elected secretary of the Jewish Religious Community in Prague, a position he was holding when the Nazis occupied the Czech lands on 15 March 1939. In September 1939, he was ordered by the Nazis to be chair of the community, a position that also made him responsible for all Jews in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. From this difficult position, Weidmann tried his best to alleviate the impact of restrictive Nazi policies.

Weidmann arrived at the Theresienstadt ghetto with a transport on 28 January 1943; there he no longer held an administrative position. Delivering two lectures in Theresienstadt, he expressed the aspirations of Czech Jews, who were otherwise overshadowed by Zionists in the ghetto: in March 1944, he spoke about Jindřich Kohn and the former Czechoslovak president Tomáš Masaryk, and in June of that year he gave a speech to about 1,500 people in a commemoration ceremony for the Czech Jewish writer Eduard Lederer (Leda). Weidmann was sent to Auschwitz with the last transport from Theresienstadt on 28 October 1944. He was seated in a wagon of people, all of whom were gassed immediately upon their arrival.