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Leader of Czech Jewish Community is Killed in Automobile Accident

The head of the Czech Jewish community, Desider Galsky, was killed in an automobile accident Saturday night.

Galsky, a 69-year-old wartime resistance fighter, was held in highest esteem by President Vaclav Havel of Czechoslovakia. He enjoyed the friendship of other government officials and church dignitaries and maintained close relations with Jewish communities abroad, including Israel.

Galsky was re-elected president of the Council of Czech Jewish Communities in February.

In effect, he was restored by popular acclaim to an office he was forced to leave in 1985 after running afoul of the Communist authorities because of his contacts with Jews in the West.

Born in 1921, Galsky survived the Holocaust, which took the lives of both his parents. He escaped from a labor camp for Jews and joined partisans fighting the Nazis and their collaborators in the mountains of Slovakia.

He earned a doctorate after the war and built a career as a writer and diplomat.

Galsky worked at the Foreign Ministry in Prague but was fired from the diplomatic service in 1952 after the anti-Semitic show trial.

For eight years thereafter, he earned his living by manual work in a machinery factory. He wrote several books and eventually landed a job as a book editor at a publishing house.

Pending elections for a successor, Galsky’s duties will be assumed by Karel Wasserman, chairman of the Prague Jewish Community and vice president of the Council of Jewish Communities.

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