November 8, 1925 – May 1, 2019
Dr. Eugen Schoenfeld, Holocaust survivor, Professor of Sociology, and author passed away on May 1, 2019 at the age of 93. Eugen was born on November 8, 1925 in the Jewish shtetl of Munkács, Czechoslovakia (now Mukachevo, Ukraine) near the Carpathian Mountains. The son of a book store owner and educated in the Munkács Gymnasium, Eugen developed a love for reading and knowledge.
In April of 1944, Hungarian officials, under orders from the Nazi military, began to ghettoize Munkács, shortly after which Jews in the city were transported to concentration camps. Eugen and his family—his father, mother, younger brother, and younger sister—were transported first to Birkenau and then to Auschwitz. Soon after, he and the surviving members of his family were forcibly transported to Warsaw, Poland “to work on a project of rebuilding Berlin.” A few months later, he and his father were forced to march with other prisoners to Dachau, where they were liberated by American military forces in the summer of 1945. His mother, brother, and sister were killed in the camps.
After the war, Eugen worked for the United Nations in Prague, escaping to Germany in order to avoid the Soviet-controlled government that would soon come to power; his father remained behind the Iron Curtain. From Germany, Eugen immigrated to the United States in 1948, coming through Ellis Island, and traveling to St. Louis where he earned a Master’s degree from Washington University. It was in St. Louis that he met his wife, Jean Appelman; the two were married in 1949 on Christmas Day would have four daughters: Leslie, Stephanie, Karen, and Robin.
Unsatisfied with working multiple, low-paying jobs, Eugen returned to academia, receiving his Ph.D in Sociology from Southern Illinois University, after which he began teaching in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1970, Eugen was hired by Georgia State University as the chair of the Sociology Department for many years, during which he developed the department’s graduate program and advocated on behalf of the faculty for better pay and reasonable teaching loads.
Always an avid fisherman, Eugen also developed a passion for photography and tennis. After retiring from GSU, Eugen joined Georgia Tech’s study abroad program, teaching and traveling the world with his wife. His memoir, My Reconstructed Life, was published by Kennesaw State University Press in 2005, and he frequently traveled to give talks on his experiences during the Holocaust—from Jewish organizations in Atlanta, to high school football teams in London, Kentucky, to 4H clubs in Bozeman, Montana. He was also heavily involved with the Atlanta Jewish community and would speak at several Synagogues in the Atlanta area during High Holiday services and Saturday services. Eugen was a frequent contributor to the Atlanta Jewish Times, published his second book Faith and Conflict in 2011, and was working on a third book detailing the evolution of his thoughts on Judaism up until his death.
Eugen took great pride in his family; he and his wife, who passed away in August 2014, felt fortunate to see their family grow and thrive over the years. They will be remembered by their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren: Leslie and her husband Gary Myerson; Stephanie Eilen; Karen and her husband Neil Hollingsworth; Robin and her husband Michel Valin; Aaron Myerson, his wife Kimberly, and their son Aiden; Jason Myerson, his wife Alison, and their daughters Naomi and Sadie; Dana Eilen, his wife Heather, and their children Caleb and Brinley; Michael Eilen and his wife Jessica, who have sadly passed away; Alex and Nicolas Valin.
We remember him as the center of family gatherings, at the head of the table at Passover, directing the Seder. We learned, as his students who crowded his lecture halls over the years learned, to listen when he spoke. We close with his own words, from an article published on March 20, 2019 in the AJT: “Now at 93, with advanced heart failure and struggling for my breath, what is left to me is hope for a few more years and for a pleasant old age, and above all, for a peaceful world.”
Graveside services will be Friday, May 3, 2019 at 2 o’clock at Arlington Memorial Park with Rabbi Michael Bernstein officiating.
Donations may be made to The Breman Museum in Atlanta. www.thebreman.org/support/tribute-gifts
- Graveside Service Friday, May 3, 2019
June 1, 2019
I remember Tuli, always wonderful energy at family gatherings. My Dad Al Reinhardt (Shoni) loved him as well. What a courageous life. I hope to find his memoir and read it. Alav HaShalom, Tuli.
May 31, 2019
We called him "Tuli" , for Naftali...as he was known to his close family from Europe. When he visited our home once, he was enthralled by the hummingbirds thronging around our brilliant coral tree. Love to his family, cousins John and Heidi Farkash