Gustav Jellinek

1885-1985

(click photo to enlarge)

Gustav (aka Gustl) was born in March 1885 in Mistelbach, Niederösterreich (Lower Austria), then in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His mother, Yetti Jellinek, was Siegmund Jellinek’s sister, and thus Gustav was a first cousin of the main Jellinek letter writers, Hugo Jellinek, Gisela Jellinek Schlesinger, and (this writer’s father) Karl Jellinek. Gustav opened his physician’s practice in Vienna in 1911, worked in numerous Viennese hospitals, and co-founded the ‘Association of Jewish Doctors in Vienna.’ The Austrian government awarded him a medal for his direction of a field hospital in WWI. After the war, he married Grete Ehrlich, who was a very skilled artist and dressmaker and also the daughter of the editor of a leading Viennese newspaper. Unfortunately, Gustav and Grete could not have children because Gustav’s early medical work with x-rays had made him sterile.

Gustav and Grete escaped from Vienna to New York City in April 1939. Grete was able to earn enough money through her dressmaking to enable Gustav to study English and eventually pass the required US medical licensing exam. Thereafter, Gustav resumed his professional activities, practicing medicine until he was ninety. For thirty years of that time, he headed the Internal Medicine Department of the New York Hospital of the Daughters of Israel.

Beginning in 1945, Gustav also became active on behalf of Austrian Jewish victims of Nazi persecution. He negotiated with the Austrian government for reparations that led to the creation of the Hilfsfond [Relief Fund], the Abgeltungsfond [Property Restoration Fund], and Sammelstelle “A” [the collecting agency for Jewish heirless property]. In addition, he served on the Jewish Committee for Theresienstadt and as president of the American Federation of Jews from Austria.

A letter by Gustav Jellinek will be posted in the future.

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