His mother, Mickey, came to meet him and the bikers in Prague to tell the story of her father, Dr Reuven Zellig Paul. Dr Paul studied medicine at the University of Prague. He resigned his post as a doctor because he refused to give the daily Nazi salute. He went on to save 1500 Jews taking them to the British Mandate of Palestine by boat. Dr Paul’s parents were shot with 25,000 others in pits in Riga. To this day, Mickey will never forgive Germany. She will neither buy their goods nor visit her son’s exhibitions in Berlin. Ziv says, “This journey is something I had to do”.
Dr Reuven Zelig Paul was born in Lithuania, 1912.
His father, Aharon Betzalel Hcohen Paul, was among the leading Rabbis.
Dr Paul started his medical studies at the German University of Prague in 1929 (one of his teachers was Albert Einstein). He graduated in 1937, and started to work in the Gynecology department of the German hospital in Prague.
After the annexation of Czechoslovakia by the Nazis in 1938, the hospital management created a very anti-Semitic atmosphere that eventually led to his “resignation”. A local family gave him permission to sleep in their kitchen, and he worked as a porter in the train station loading fruits and vegetables.
Being an active member of the BEITAR youth movement led by Zeev Zabotinsky, he was asked in early 1939 to go to Konstansa (Black Sea), and take over the command of a boat of illegal Jewish refugees on the way to British Mandate of Palestine.
The boat, named Katina, was trying for 3 months to cross the Mediterranean sea and finally succeeded under Dr Paul’s command. All 1500 refugees were saved.
As an illegal refugee, Dr Paul could not practice medicine, and worked in all kinds of manual labour jobs. Eventually he was able to work as an MD.