Tragedy That Shook 1938 Split

Tragedy That Shook 1938 Split

Whenever I guide my guests to the old Jewish cemetery in Marjan forest park there is one detail which always gets my, and my guests' attention. Close to the upper end of the slope with a 16th-century cemetery one gravestone has three names of the same family, Daniti, and only two dates of their death. Izidor Daniti and his son Vito died on March 14, 1938, and their wife and mother Laura passed away two days later. I always liked to reveal those daily stories from old Split, and even such scarce information awaken the curiosity. What happened that day in 1938?

To learn about such things there is excellent source, University of Split Library, with its searchable digital archive of old newspapers published in Split. After short research, this enigma was solved, and it turned out to be a big story in 1930s Split. Whole family, as well as their 20-years old maid Marija Žderić died in sleep because of gas leakage in their home in today's Vukovarska street. The biggest local newspaper of the time, Novo Doba, ran this story on its full page, with headline "Horrible Tragedy on Balkanska Street: Rabbi Daniti's Family Died of Gas Poisoning". Going in details, Novo Doba said that Laura Daniti was transported to hospital in very bad condition, but passed away two days later, in spite of all doctors' efforts.

According to the newspaper, event echoed in the then Split, a small town of some 30,000 people. Izidor Daniti was a rabbi of the local Jewish community, and very respected in the whole town. He was 44 years old, and moved to Split from his hometown Sarajevo to serve as a rabbi. Apart from religious duties, his main interest was exploring history of Jews in Split and its area, but also to preserve the old cemetery. Novo Doba reported that he collected all inscriptions from graves in the cemetery.

Newspaper described in details everything they got from the police, and neighbours. Apparently, main valve of the stow was closed, but another one by the wall was open, and rubber hose fell off due to a gas pressure. It was unclear why that happened. Night before the tragedy, rabbi Daniti spent whole evening with his friends of Jewish Culture Society Jarden, and arrived home around 9 p.m. Neighbours heard some noise, and even crying that night, but nobody reacted because they thought someone is sick. Only in the morning the Danitis' door was forcibly opened, and bodies found. Maid and Laura Daniti were still alive, but shortly afterward Ms Marija passed.

This is one of those stories which result in getting closer to people who once lived in Split. I know for sure I will see the Danitis' grave in different way. Unfortunately, I don't know where their faithful Marija was buried.