In May, the bust of Alexander Winter, the first leaseholder of the Piešťany Spa, was displayed for the first time during a gathering of the descendants of the Winter family. Thirty-five descendants of the family gathered from the US, France, Germany and Slovakia. Stephen Francis Winter, an American movie director and writer, was among them.
“As children we knew that our ancestors came from Czechoslovakia, but we learned about the spa story only as adults,” Stephen, the great-great-grandson of Alexander Winter, told the SITA newswire. He remembers his forebears as modest people. His siblings Donna and Terence also came to the spa town for the first time.
Alexander Winter was leaseholder in Piešťany beginning in 1888, when he rented from Count František Erdödy. Soon afterwards, he turned over his lease to his sons Ľudovít and Imrich who built several spa buildings, including the renowned Thermia Palace hotel. In 1939, the Slovak government confiscated the spa from Ľudovít Winter because of his Jewish heritage.
At the end of World War II, Ľudovít returned to Piešťany, but the general nationalisation in 1948 ended his business for good. He stayed in Piešťany, living in poverty for rest of his life until he died in 1968, aged 98. Only after the 1989 revolution did the citizens of Piešťany authorise a plaque dedicated to the memory of Ľudovít Winter. They also named the town’s main street after him. His memoirs, titled Spomienky na Piešťany (Memories of Piešťany) have also been published.
8. Aug 2011 at 0:00 | Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská