Siegfried Jellinek

1891 - 1941/42?

(click photo to enlarge)

Siegfried (aka Sigl and Friedl), was born in January 1891 in Mistelbach, Niederösterreich (Lower Austria), then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He learned Torah cantillation from his father and sometimes sang and led prayers in the small synagogue in which Siegmund J. was chief cantor and spiritual leader. Siegfried played the violin in the family chamber music sessions, was athletic and had a good sense of humor. After completing his university education, he studied for a teaching certificate and became a teacher. Siegfried married Martha Hirschensohn in 1921. They had one son, Erich, born in June 1924.

Siegfried also did some office work, including work in the certificate distribution department of the Palestine office in Vienna after the Anschluss.  He and Martha tried to arrange for Erich’s and their own escape to Palestine, the US, England and Shanghai.  But tragically, instead, Siegfried became the first of this Jellinek family, and among the first one thousand Viennese Jews to be seized by the Nazis.  He was deported from Vienna on October 20, 1939, as part of the early Nazi Jewish expulsion plan called the Nisko Plan. The plan was deceptively labelled “resettlement” to the “Lublin Reservation” and to a future “Jewish state under German administration.”1 In actuality, this scheme, led by Adolf Eichmann, called for slave laborers like Siegfried, to build a barracks village, to serve as a transit camp for thousands more deported and expelled Jews. However, the Nisko Plan was not carried out and Siegfried and many other Jews were sooner or later, forced by the Nazis over the Soviet demarcation line, before the plan was finally abandoned in April 1940.

We know from the following correspondence that Siegfried managed to get to Lwów, then in Soviet-occupied Poland. Gisela Jellinek Schlesinger wrote in her January 12, 1940, letter to her niece, Gisella Nadja, that the family still in Vienna had received a telegram from Siegfried in “your native country” (the Soviet Union) on November 17, 1939, as well as a postcard dated December 15, 1939, that “...had been in the mail for 28 days.” On January 1, 1940, Siegfried wrote from Lwów, on a Soviet-issued and imprinted postcard, to his brother Max, that he was healthy and had found work as a woodworker which allowed him to “earn [his] daily bread.” Siegfried’s letter from Lwów, of November 30, 1940, to his brother and sister-in-law, Karl and Karla, told of his much grimmer situation and begged for help. The compassionate and even more beseeching letter from Siegfried to his brother, Karl, in New York City, dated “Lwow, 18. I. 1941”,2 is Siegfried’s last extant letter. Although living conditions degenerated for Siegfried and the rest of the Lwów Jewish community throughout 1940 and the first half of 1941, it was immediately after the German forces entered Lwów on June 30, 1941 that massacres against Jews began and Siegfried’s death by murder became almost certain and imminent.

Siegfried’s life was cut down at the hands of the Nazis and/or their collaborators, but we do not know exactly when and where. Many Jews were murdered in Lwów throughout the second half of 1941 by Nazi-incited Ukrainian mobs or by Nazi Einsatzgruppen (killing squads). Others were worked to death in a regional slave labor camp from late summer 1941 on.  Still other Jews of Lwów were murdered in the Belzec Killing Center in 1942.

Martha and Erich were deported from Vienna to Riga on January 11, 1942. Years later, Erich told Gisella/Nadja that when he and his mother entered Auschwitz in 1942, he witnessed the shooting death of his mother; his shouts and cries of protestation drowned out by the murderers’ bullets. After surviving Auschwitz, Erich returned to Austria briefly to avenge his parents’ murders. He lived the rest of his troubled life in Sydney, Australia, and died in 2003.


1. Quoted words are taken from the article in Yad Vashem’s online Shoah Resource Center: Nisko and Lublin Plan
See also: the article, on the website of the Documentation Center for Austrian Resistance: The First Deportations to Poland in 1939 (Nisko-Program),
as well as: pp. 36 - 43 in the chapter, The Search for a Final Solution through Expulsion, 1939 - 1941 in Christopher Browning's book, The Origins of the Final Solution:
The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939 - March 1942, and the document: List of Jews [including Siegfried Jellinek] Deported from Vienna to Nisko, October 20, 1939. in this website's Primary Documents section.

2. Click to view Siegfried's letter of January 18, 1941. The photo of Siegfried on top of this Bio page was enclosed in this 1941 letter.
In the Images section, you can read Siegfried's inscription to Karl and Karla on the reverse side of his photo, and that the photo was taken on January 10, 1941.
Other aforementioned letters from Siegfried J. of January 1, 1940, as well as Gisela Jellinek Schlesinger’s letter of January 12, 1940, will be posted to this website in the future.

Letter Index for Siegfried Jellinek


Author(s) / Origin of Letter
Recipient(s) / Relationship to Author(s) / Destination of Letter


Siegfried Jellinek
                               [Lwów, Poland]

Karl and Karla E. Jellinek
(brother/sister-in-law of SJ)
                         [New York City, USA]
Siegfried pleads with his brother, Karl, to try to save his wife, Martha and their 16 year-old son, Erich, from increasing Nazi persecution. He asks Karl to try to bring Martha and Erich to New York, or at least, to obtain ship’s passage for them.
Although Siegfried expresses resignation at his own precarious ‘stateless’, dependent and isolated situation in Lwów, he also maintains “the fervent wish to hold out” and that ‘spring’ will return.
Siegfried also conveys concerned and loving greetings to the entire family.

Siegfried Jellinek
                               [Lwów, Poland]

Karl Jellinek(brother of SJ)
                         [New York City, USA]
Deep sympathy and empathy for the death of Karl and Karla’s infant son, Bernhard. Information on longed-for correspondence received (or not) from family. Entreaties re: Karl’s bringing Siegfried, and/or his wife, Martha, and their son Erich to the US.