Pilot in Israel Air Force gets ready for take off.
(photo credit: ANNA AHRONHEIM)
Hugo Marom, a Czech Holocaust survivor and one of the founders of the Israel Air Force, died on Sunday in Tel Aviv at the age of 89.
Marom was born on October 9, 1928, to a Jewish family in Brno Czechoslovakia and was among one of the lucky children, along with his brother Rudy, who got onto Sir Nicholas Winton’s last Kindertransport, which smuggled Czech children to Great Britain during the Holocaust.
“My brother and I said good-bye to our parents and never saw them again,” recalled Marom during an interview with The Jerusalem Post in 2010.
As a young man, Marom studied in Wales and later enlisted in the RAF air-training school before he and his brother returned to Brno in 1945 to find their parents. While they never found their parents, as they, along with most of their relatives perished during the Holocaust, Marom later met his wife at the Brno University of Technology where he studied engineering.
“It was December 1947 and I had a visit from a Hagana representative who had heard about my involvement with the RAF,” Marom told the Post, adding that “they wanted me to find Jewish boys at university with me who would be willing to be trained as pilots by the Czechs, who were selling planes to the Jews in Palestine and also offering to train them.”
Prague was crucial to the establishment of the Jewish state and was its major arms supplier, providing almost 35,000 rifles, pistols, machine guns, mortars, ammunition, bombs and 25 Avia S-199 fighter jets to the fledgling IDF.
With just six months of training under his belt, Marom flew one of the last three Spitfires supplied by the Czechs to Israel. He later became one of the founders of the IAF, commanded the 110th squadron and was the country’s first test pilot. He left the air force in 1964.
Marom and his wife settled in the Tel Aviv neighborhood of Tzahala in 1951 and had two daughters.