Photo with my grandfather and his paternal grandmother in Karlsbad (26 September 1928)

A while ago I found a postcard photo in my grandmother’s photo album with a group of people standing in front of a building. The text on the photo said that it was taken on 26th September 1928 in Karlsbad which was two days after Yom Kippur. Next to the date there is a name on the photo, Jos. Meisl:

My Grandfather with his grandmother in Karlsbad

The only people that my father’s cousin could identify on the photo were the little boy on the right side with a cup, who was my grandfather Bruno/Berish Lehrer and the lady standing behind him with her right hand on his shoulder, who was his paternal grandmother Etti Lehrer- Kalech (they lived at that time in Dresden, Germany).

I was looking for more information about the photo.

  • Where was the photo taken? (A Google search told me that there is one Karlsbad in Germany and one in the Czech Republic)
  • Why do some people on the photo hold a cup?
  • In front of which building was the group photographed?
  • Who were the other people on the photo?
  • Who was Jos. Meisl? Was he the photographer? Was he a tour guide?
  • (On the other side of the photo, there is a written letter, I’ll try to focus on that in another post)

To try to get more information, I posted a request for help via the following jewishgen newsgroups:

  • austriaczech – A forum for those researching Jewish genealogy in the areas formerly known as Bohemia and Moravia (now the Czech Republic), plus parts of Austria, especially Vienna, but not Galicia (I’ve been told that there is a Karlsbad in the Czech Republic)
  • gersig – A forum focused on geographic, historic and linguistic Germany, including parts of Switzerland, Poland, and Alsace-Lorraine (there is a Karlsbad in Germany)
  • soc.genealogy.jewish – Main JewishGen Discussion Group

(For more information about these and other newsgroups, visit the following website:

The request which I did post via the newsgroups and for which I did received a lot of responses:

Dear fellow genealogists,

I did find an old photo postcard in my grandmother’s album on which my paternal grandfather Bruno/Berish Lehrer can be seen together with his family (he is the boy holding the cup on the right side of the photo). The lady with her right hand on his shoulder is possibly my grandfather’s paternal grandmother Etti Lehrer- Kalech.

I did perform a search on Google and there are two Karlsbad’s, one in Germany and the other in the Czech-Republic. (My grandfather lived at that time in Dresden, the Karlsbad in the Czech-Republic is closer then the German Karlsbad.)

The date on the photo states 26 September 1928 which was 12 Tishrei (2 days after Yom Kippur and shortly before Sukkos).

Some questions I do have are:

  • Can someone help me identify the place? Was the photo taken in front of a shul? It definitely looks to be in a Jewish area.
  • Can someone tell me more about the photographer? His name apparently was Jos. Meisl.
  • Can someone tell me why we can see quite a few people on the photo holding a cup?
  • Is there someone who can identify other people on the photo besides my grandfather and his grandmother?

The photo is on viewmate:

Hopefully someone can help me to shed a light on the photo.

Warm Regards,

Gershon Lehrer
Antwerp, Belgium


I received quite a lot of e-mails for which I am very thankful.

I’ll try to put here down a conclusion of the information I gained after having done the research and received the e-mails.

The first question:

  • Where was the photo taken? (A Google search told me that there is one Karlsbad in Germany and one in the Czech Republic)”)

The German Karlsbad was founded in 1971. The news municipality was created by joining Auerbach, Ittersbach, Langensteinbach, Mutchelbach and Spielberg. Karslbad is about 13 km south-east of Karlsruhe in Baden-Württemberg. On the website from the Karlsbad municipality you can read the following about its founding in 1971:

Als sich im Herbst 1971 die Orte Auerbach, Ittersbach, Langensteinbach, Mutschelbach und Spielberg zu einer neuen Gemeinde mit dem Namen Karlsbad zusammenschlossen, ging für jede von ihnen eine Dorfgeschichte zu Ende, die fast durchweg bis ins 12. oder 13. Jahrhundert zurückreicht. In ihren Chroniken waren Epochen aufgezeichnet, während deren sie einmal ebersteinisch, herrenalbisch, frauenalbisch, württembergisch und schließlich badisch gewesen oder geworden waren; Zeiten, in denen sie Fehden, Krieg, Not und Pest überdauert und trotz einigen Elends sogar französischen und waldensischen Flüchtlingen Asyl und neue Heimat gewährt hatten.

This means that the Karlsbad on the photo must be the Czech Karlsbad which nowadays is known as Karlovy Vary. When you open the website from the town of Karlovy Vary (, you’ll see that they promote the city as “the most famous spa town of the Czech Republic”.

The same website tells us the following about Karlovy Vary’s history:

The city was founded in the 14th century by Charles IV. According to a legend, the Emperor had the city built soon after the accidental discovery of thermal springs by his hunting entourage. The spa facilities enjoyed the favor of many aristocratic houses and rich burghers as early as the 16th century. Owing to a series of natural disasters from that period only a few buildings have been preserved. Most architectonic monuments originated in the 18th and the 19th century when the city lived the „period of plenitude“

Let’s go to our next question:

  • Why do some people on the photo hold a cup?

On the same website we can read about different spa cures, one of the cures is called the “Becher’s drinking cure”:

Mineral water began to be taken internally as late as the 16th century. This type of use is mainly attributed to the physician V. Payer who first described this method in his book dealing with the Karlovy Vary treatment. In the course of time, the drinking cure sometimes went to extremes. The daily recommended amount of water springs was even more than five liters. These alarming approaches were put to the end by the physician David Becher who was very instrumental in formulating well-balanced spa procedures.

Since Dr. Becher’s time, the spa guests have drunk no more than 1 liter of mineral water a day. Drinking cure is based on 12 springs. The so-called 13th spring – the Becher liqueur – should always be taken with moderation.

On the website from the OHP (Online Hotel Booking in Prague) at we can read the following information:

Special Gift for Visitors – For as long as people can remember, special drinking cups have been used to drink Karlovy Vary water. These were and remain the property of each spa guest. Many drinking cups have been preserved as historical proof documenting the evolution of the spa treatment.

Someone told me that many people went there to be cured for TB.

I also was told by someone else that the Czech center of Karlovy Vara was a very popular destination for Jewish families. His family lore reported that many marriages were contracted there.

The third question I had:

  • In front of which building was the group photographed?

I did send the photo to the information desk from the town of Karlovy Vary to see if they could help me identify the place/building in front of which the photo was taken.

They told me that the photo was taken in front of the Mill Colonnade. We can read on their website the following information:

Mill Colonnade (1871 – 1881, Josef Zítek): Architect Zítek’s original vision of the appearance of this new renaissance building differed from its final look substantially. The renowned architect initially designed the building as a two-storey, much more ostentatious structure. Once finished, the colonnade was not received with the warmest feelings and appreciation. Purportedly, it was not in tune with the nature of the spa city.
Since 1893, when it was extended to the Rock Spring (Skalní pramen), it has been 132 m long. Its roof supported by 124 Corinth-style columns shelter an orchestra pit and five mineral springs. Its premises are decorated with allegoric statues.

Looking down one of the aisles of the Mill Colonnade, Karlovy Vary (credits: Bobak Ha’Eri)

The fourth question I had:

  • Who were the other people on the photo?

I received from some people photographs which look very similar to the one I found in my grandmother’s photo album. The senders of these photos told me all that they don’t recognize everyone on the photo. They do recognize only their relative(s). When we take this in mind, I assume that we may conclude that the only relatives on the photo I did post are my grandfather and his grandmother. The other people on the photo could have traveled together, or maybe they were photographed together as one group to save expenses?

photo from 21 July 1930 which I received from Isabel Cymerman. Photographer is Wagner
photo from 1930 which I received from Isabel Cymerman. Photographer is Wagner
photo from 18 June 1928 which I received from Deborah Holman. Photographer is Wagner

Another photo, which is a copy of an old postcard:

postcard from 1913 (credits: Stephanie Comfort –

The last question:

  • What is the name of Jos. Meisl? Was he the photographer? Was he a tour guide?

Common sense would tell me that the name on the photo is the name of the photographer, like we find the name of the photographer for special occasions on the other side of the photo. I came across another website ( which has a photo made outside the military service office. The photographer of that photo according that website was Josf Meisl. So we may assume that he was the photographer of the group on the photo.

(I’d like to thank everybody who helped me finding more information on the photo with my grandfather and his grandmother on it.)

Me in front of one of the colonnades

Update 11 June 2015:
I was lucky to visit Karlovy Vary in August 2012 with two of my friends. We went by car to Prague, on our way to Prague we stopped for a few hours in Terezin (Theresienstadt), and on our way back we stopped in Karlovy Vary for a few hours. Karlovy Vary is a beautiful place, I highly recommend visiting it. Here are a few photo’s:

Houses on a mountain flank in Karlovy Vary create a beautiful scenery
I saw the Mill Colonnade myself during my visit
The batiful city with me standing on a bridge and in the backgorund a spouting geyser
Is this the same location of where my grandfather was photographed with his grandmother and the rest of the group?
I bought a cup in one of the souvenir shops. Here I am taking warm water from one of the wells.
A closeup of the cup I bought and keep as a souvenir at home

2 thoughts on “Photo with my grandfather and his paternal grandmother in Karlsbad (26 September 1928)”

  1. Why some people on the picture hold cup?
    In the European health resort (Spa towns) In Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia people drink the mineral waters at the sources. And there are special cups that people buy and keep at the place for several daily uses; those cups have a tube that goes inside the cup’s handle to sip the water from the bottom of the cup (like straw). Normally, people stroll or seat on the bench in the park and slowly sip the healthy water; it’s a therapeutic water cure. It was a way of life for many centuries in central Europe.
    I like the pictures very much, it is a nostalgia of old and simpler life … healthier life.

    1. Thank you for your comment.
      I just came back from a holiday in the Black Forest and on one of my trips, I visited Titisee where I bought a ‘Schnapspfeifle’.
      I don’t think that this is the same as the cups from Karlsbad, but it looks similar.

      Someone explained me via the following:

      Eine Tabakspfeife besteht überwiegend aus Holz (Bruyère-Holz), seltener aus Keramik, Metall oder Meerschaum (Tonmaterial Sepiolith) und hat eine Brennkammer für den Tabak und am anderen Ende ein Mundstück.
      Exakt den gleichen Grundaufbau hat eine Schnapspfeife. Sie ist meist aus Glas oder Keramik und kann auf die Unterseite der Brennkammer hingestellt werden. Statt Tabak in die Brennkammer füllt man sie mit Schnaps und zieht das Getränk durch das Mundstück in den Mund. Es erfordert etwas Übung, damit man nicht zu stark dran zieht und sich eventuell verschluckt. Die Schnapspfeifen sind meist im alpenländischen Stil bemalt, manchmal steht die “Brennkammer” statt auf einem glatten Boden auch auf 3 oder 4 Füßchen.
      Ich hoffe, ich konnte Dir den Begriff verständlich machen.

      Here a photo of the Schnapspfeifle I bought:

      See for more my new article which I posted on my blog:

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