Jewish and cosmopolitan - in memory of the Samel and Arluk family

13. February 2020 10:58

The Jewish Samel family hail from the small Polish town of Gorzkowice, in the district of Lodz in central Poland and which today has about 8,500 inhabitants. The Samel parents had five children, three sons and two daughters, and owned a wholesale timber business. The Polish state had been newly founded in 1918 after the first World War and for that reason Josef Samel and his brothers served in the Polish army.

After the Wehrmacht invaded Poland on Hitler‘s orders on September 1st  of  1939,  the  fate  of  many Poles changed dramatically. After Polands annexation, it was above all, the Jewish population which fell victim to brutal violence and degradation. Of the almost 3,3 million Jews living in Poland at the time, only approximately 380, 000 survived.

Amongst the survivors were Josef Samel and his two sisters Angela and Rosa. The sisters survived the war thanks to the humanity and mercy of Catholic nuns who pretended that the two girls were Christian orphans and sheltered them in a Polish convent.


Josef Samel visiting Jerusalem

After the war, the Samel and Arluk families found themselves in Munich, which was to become their permanent place of residence. Even after Josef Samel emigrated to the USA for a while, he returned to Munich. Josef Samel‘s family suffered a tragic blow when his wife, Laya Samel, died shortly after the birth of their daughter, Mali. Mali Samel was then adopted by her aunt and uncle, Angela and Arnold Arluk. Josef Samel shared a home in Munich with his sister Angela and his brother-in-law Arnold Arluk until he died.

Josef Samel‘s brother-in-law, Arnold Arluk, had survived the war as a member of a Jewish partisan group in Belarus. On February 9th. of 2006, in the „Jüdische Allgemeine“ newspaper, the journalist Marina Maisel described the circumstances under which Abrascha Arnold Arluk and other Jewish partisans from Poland had survived the war. Under the heading „Gerettete Retter“ (Rescued Saviours) Arluk himself states that the Jewish partisans freed fellow men and women, especially Jews, from the ghettos. His unit alone saved 2,000 Jewish men, women and children. Arnold Arluk first wanted to emigrate to Israel which was still under British mandate at the time. Before setting off however, he met Angela Samel in Munich, and the city became their new home.

In the 1970s Josef Samel, his sister Angela, his brother-in-law Arnold Arluk and a childhood friend from Poland established a successful real estate company in Munich.


Angela Arluk                                                                  Arnold Arluk

The siblings Josef Samel and Angela Arluk shared a passionate interest in the history of the Jewish people in Europe and Israel. On one of his numerous trips to Israel, Josef Samel met the Mayor of Jerusalem Teddy Kollek (Mayor 1965-1993). Kollek, born in Hungary in 1911, grew up in Vienna and emigrated to Palestine in 1935. Teddy Kollek was a coin collector himself and soon a close friendship with

Josef Samel was formed between the two men. It was through Kollek that Josef also met Moshe Dayan,  the charismatic hero of the 1967 Six Day War. For his part, Dayan brought Samel together with the director of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Professor Ya‘akov Meshorer.

It must have been during this time that the siblings Josef Samel and Angela Arluk had the idea of compiling a coin collection which reflects the history of the people of Israel. With the expert assistance of Professor Meshorer and the former director of the Munich State coin collection, Professor Bernhard Overbeck (1942-2018), an outstanding collection of Jewish coins was created within a few decades.

The highlight of the sibling‘s  collecting  passion was the exhibition of the collection on the premises of the Munich State Coin Collection. The collection was essentially complete when the exhibition opened in 1993.

The purpose of this catalog is to create a permanent memorial for the brother and sister, and to commemorate the eventful history of the Jewish people and the story of the Samel and Arluk families.

Josef Samel and Angela Arluk acted as generous patrons of various institutions that were important to them. Amongst them; the Jewish museum in Munich, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem as well as the Jewish old people‘s home in Munich, the Association for Jewish-Christian Cooperation and the Bavarian state Coin Collection, as well as many other individual projects. Their address in Pienzenauer Strasse in Munich was well known amongst fund raisers. The successful real estate owners never refused a request for a donation.

It is important to their descendants, daughter Mali Gitbud and son-in-law Dr. Leo Gitbud, as well as grandchildren Simone and Daniel Gitbud, that this part of the family history is understood as an integral part of the collection‘s history. May this catalog help to keep the memory of a wonderful family alive.