October 7, 1952

 

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

Summary

Leonore Schafer
Charlotte Schafer (see Leonore Schafer's bio)
                              [Vienna, Austria]
Anna Jellinek Nadel (first cousin of LS, niece
of CS)
                                [Sydney, Australia]
Much appreciation for Anna and Miron’s check and letter. Requests confirmation of Siegfried Jellinek’s survival. This update, after 13 years of no contact, includes information re: her own and her parents’ imprisonment in Theresienstadt; the tragic fate of Anna’s parents, Siegmund and Berta, Anna’s brother Hugo, sister-in-law Fritzi, and nieces Berta and Anna, as well as the disappointment, difficulties and poverty in Charlotte and Leonore’s post-war life in Vienna, graves/ashes...and more.
 

 

[Handwritten by Leonore; transcription followed by translation]
Liebste Anny, ich habe das Geld heute den 11.10.1952 ausbezahlt er-
halten, und danke Dir nochmals viele Male dafür Nur bitte, wenn
Du wieder etwas schenken solltest
                       auf den Namen Leonore, da ich wegen “Helene”                                                                     Anstand hatte.

Dearest Anny, I received the payout of the money today, October 11, 1952; again, many thanks for this. Only please, if you should send something again, use the name Leonore; they were hesitant because it said “Helene.”

                                                                                 Vienna, 7.10.1952
Dearest Anny!
                             We were both surprised and happy when we received your dear letter and check and above all, I want to thank you and your dear husband herewith a thousand times; Mami1 will add something separately when I get home from the office. I don’t know how to continue with the letter. As great as the joy was to receive your letter, it was so sad to read about Max’s bad luck. Perhaps God will help him to get well again; I am convinced that you and your dear husband contribute to that and give assistance. The poor man had suffered enough until 1945; all of us had enough suffering. Dearest Anny, we were very surprised by the beautiful picture for which I also thank you with all my heart; please don’t take it as flattery, but both of you look fabulous. How old is your little daughter, she has to be a woman already. Nearly a year ago, Elsa wrote me from New York, that your Siegfried is alive and lives with you; we were very happy about this news; we wrote all the time that one should keep us informed about everything, but neither Else, Frieda or Irma responded to that; it is really true, isn’t it; you will write us about it; it would be wonderful for him to be present in your midst.2 How is his son Erich, hopefully he is also well. Now, dear Anny, according to your wishes, I will tell you about your dear departed parents. I am sure you know that your mother, God bless her soul, died August 1941 in the Old Age Home Hohe Warte; one has to admit unfortunately, that it was good that way, that she did not have to experience the terrible suffering in a concentration camp; at the funeral, only the locally residing relatives were present; of your family, nebbich poor Aunt Gisa and her husband, who unfortunately left with a transport the following year in May and did not return. Yes, one envied the dead then as one had no rest day and night. After the home in the Hohe Warte was dissolved, your dearest father came to the Seegasse and from there, on August 28th, 1942, to Theresienstadt, where we also went on Sept 11th. There I had the tremendous luck to stay together with my parents as I worked as a servant in an old age home of the I.K.G.,3 otherwise I would have been sent to Poland and the parents to Theresienstadt.

You can imagine our happiness and that of your dear father when I found him in Theresienstadt after a long search. In contrast to Mami and me, I had also lost my father, and only found him after a few days; your father was accommodated in an attic while we were in a cellar. Both places were horrible. Uncle Siegmund was particularly happy with my father; they liked each other so much. So we came together almost daily and in spite of hunger and suffering, our God-blessed fathers were confident to be able to experience freedom once again. Your faithful father dreamed to see and hug all his children again. He still had a card from your Siegfried from Lemberg that he read constantly. The old people were much more hopeful than I. I never thought that I would live so long to see liberty again together with my Mamerl. Your dear mother was always confident and hoped for a reunion with her children, who at that time were all scattered. Unfortunately, your beloved father was stricken by the most prevalent raging sickness in Theresienstadt, enteritis (similar to dysentery) in January 1943 and died on January 30th, 1943. I thought I could help him with drops of opium that I had smuggled in, but it was unfortunately in vain, as with [other] older people who had this sickness, nothing could help, as far as one was allowed to talk about it.

[A censor’s stamp can be seen in the lower left corner of this first page of the original letter, and reads as follows: “Allierte Zensurstelle [Allied Censor’s Office] Z. 1. 303. lt 3 F”]

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The sanitary conditions were terrible and the hunger was awful, but still, Theresienstadt was considered the “best”. We attended the funeral of your dear father; it so happened that one hall contained about 20 – 30 coffins; there was a very short ceremony. One was allowed to walk a few steps behind the wagons where the coffins were stacked and then [we] followed the wagons with our eyes; it was terrible. The dead were then brought to the crematorium that was situated a bit outside of Theresienstadt. The urns were later thrown into the Eger4 shortly before our murderers saw the beginning of their end approaching. We were forced to stand in a long line and pass the urns from one to the other and the beasts then tossed them into the water. On August 23rd, 1944, my dear father then followed, who unfortunately had to suffer a long time and had been assigned to the transport5 as a terminally ill patient; because I worked there day and night, I was able to be liberated again with the parent(s).6

Unfortunately, your dear brother Hugo and his family were victims of such a transport to Poland and Auschwitz. He came to Theresienstadt approximately one year before us and departed with a transport May 1942.7 Uncle Siegmund also did not see him again. The cousins Elsa and Regina from Brno left with the same transport as Hugo. The only thing one can call fortunate of this horrendous misfortune is that Uncle Siegmund did not have to suffer long and did not realize that he was dying. Of our entire family, only Erich, Alois Schafer and son and we two were the only ones who survived the camp. Alois Schafer was also in Theresienstadt, but he behaved no differently towards us than he used to previously. I believe that he is now in America. Although we often begged your brother Karl for news, we only heard from him about two years ago, since then nothing, although I heard from the Göding girls that his family, thank God, is well and that his children are very charming. It’s a shame that he did not come back to Austria since he could have continued his practice, but on the other hand, I can also understand how the idea might gall a person.8 Dear Anny, it would really be wonderful if you came to visit, hopefully it will happen soon since there is nobody left of the family. The poor girls from Brittenau and Maxl have unfortunately all perished. It is already seven years since the war ended, but one is not able to be happy again, at least not here. My brother Karl also perished, but in his case, unfortunately, it was partly his own fault.9 In 1946, I arranged for the grave of your dear mother, God rest her soul, to be taken care of and had a small tablet put up; there was not enough for a stone. I ordered that the tablet should say: In Memoriam Siegmund Jellinek and Siegfried Schafer.10 The grave is only simply decorated with evergreen and a strip of flowers and since then, I have it maintained as I only get to go there a few times a year. Now I want to tell you shortly about our way of life here. Our dear Else became a mother-in-law; Lucy married the year before and her son René, will also not be single much longer. Both children grew up into nice and honest people. Lucy married a civil servant; she herself also goes into the office, but she has a very pleasant half-day job. René is employed by the Vienna Federation, but would like to emigrate. So far, Else is doing well because her husband has a good position; health-wise however, due to her very high blood pressure, she also suffers a lot. During the war, she was forced to work sorting things from a garbage pile while Leon worked in a factory. Now he is a bookkeeper again. Now to us two, you will surely understand that it is the best of luck for me to have my dear Mamerl with me and may God grant it, will have her many more years. She is so very sweet and apart from the bad feet and hearing, thank God, health-wise, in pretty good shape all in all. I myself am employed by the police, not by the Magistrate as the lady said; she was probably confused. When I come home from the office in the evening, I cook and do the housework; we have a small apartment

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that unfortunately, causes me a lot of worry, because the same was still not awarded to me, nor was the furniture. In 1938, one was quick to take everything, now one gets tormented. In spite of my great pessimism, I had imagined the new life differently, but as I said before, I am lucky to have my Mami with me. Unfortunately, we live on the third floor, so she seldom gets on the street since the climb is quite strenuous, but in spite of that, she still loves to go to the movies, even if she can’t hear what is said or played. During the day, our little parakeet keeps her company. Now, dearest Anny, let me come back to your present of the check; I don’t know how we can thank you for it; it is really a big, big help, but hopefully we have not inconvenienced you. Here, in spite of working, one really cannot afford anything since the prices in comparison to earnings are very high; which now even the foreigners discover. Mami receives a small pension, but everything is needed just to live on, so that it is very difficult to make purchases. I also thank you in advance, dear Anny, for that expected package and will enjoy everything you can spare and will appreciate and use it all. Now I beg you that in case you want to send something again, send it to my real first name “Leonore Schafer”, as that is my true first name. The man at the bank will hopefully make no difficulties for me in cashing the check since the notification11 is not here yet; I won’t be able to go until the end of the week; he said that he’ll see what he can do regarding the first name. Hopefully everything will work out. I am enclosing a small picture of Mami and me; it was taken in 1947. For me it would be wonderful to travel to Australia, as I would shirk no work [?], but I could not part from Mami and leave her alone. Now this letter has gotten to be very long and I hope you have the patience to read it all and are not angry that I wrote with the typewriter, but I purposely stayed at the office as it is easier to read on this paper. Dearest Anny, I can only show my gratitude to you and your dear husband for your great goodness, by taking care of the maintenance of your dearest mother’s grave, as long as it is possible for me, and which I do with pleasure. I also take care of the grave of dear Aunt Paula, providing a way for me to express a small token of my gratitude to the cousins for their help to us when we suffered greatly from hunger. Yesterday I found a negative of your mother’s grave that was not very successful because I have only a very small camera, but still, it is a small keepsake. I will give it to the photographer tomorrow and wait a few days to send this letter so that I can enclose it. Dearest Anny, please accept again Mami’s and my sincere thanks for everything and if time permits, write to us again. Kindest regards to dear Max and his wife and we wish him a speedy recovery from his suffering with all our hearts, and please write us about Siegfried. Mami wants to add something separately, so you will need lots of time to read, but after all it is thirteen years that we didn’t hear from each other. For today now, heartfelt greetings and kisses to you and your loved ones and again many, many thanks.
                                                                                  Your Lentschi12

[Handwritten by Charlotte; transcription followed by translation]

l. Mann u. l. Tochter13
           deine dich stets dankschuldige
           Tante Charlotte
Extra-herzliche Grüße an l Max. Sobald dir l
Annerl möglich schreibe uns Wieder u werden
wir weiter mit Briefwechsl bleiben nachdem
wir nun Eure Adreße haben Kan nicht genü-
gend meine Freude schildern über dein l. Brief.
Nochmalige 1000sende herz Grüße an dich l Annerl.
          

Dear husband and daughter,13
           your eternally grateful      
           Aunt Charlotte
Extra-warm greetings to dear Max. As soon as possible,
dear Annerl, write to us again, and we will continue the
correspondence now that we have your address. I cannot
begin to describe my joy over your dear letter. Again,
a thousand warm greetings to you, dear Annerl.








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Translated by Anne L. Fox; partially edited, as well as transcription and translation of hand-written sections by Ann C. Sherwin.

Footnotes

1. Leonore’s use of Mami and Mamerl is closest to “Mama” but is also comparable to “Mom” and “Mommy” in contemporary English usage.

2. No, not true; please see this website’s biographic section on Siegfried Jellinek, which includes information about his 1939 deportation from Vienna and his murder in 1941 or 1942.

3. The Jewish community (Israelitische Kultusgemeinde) known as the IKG, was the leading Jewish communal organization in Vienna.

4. Eger in German; Ohře, Oharka and Ohara in Czech, is the name of the long river which flows through part of Germany and the Czech Republic, and passes by Terezin.

5. Alternate translation of this phrase: “...was loaded onto the transport deathly ill...

6. This sentence contains a puzzling grammatical error and contradiction: the first part of this sentence indicates that Leonore’s father, Siegfried, ‘followed’ Siegmund J. in dying of disease in Theresienstadt, or possibly in the process of deportation from Theresienstadt, but Leonore’s statement at the end of this same sentence, about being “...able to be liberated again with the parents” [“...konnte ich mit dem Eltern wieder befreit werden”], contradicts that. Siegfried Schafer’s death before liberation is corroborated by the conclusion of Leonore’s 6th sentence following this one, about she and her mother being “...the only ones that survived the camp”, as well as by the entry about Siegfried in Yad Vashem’s Central Database and the “Totenbuch Theresienstadt I Deportierte Aus Österreich”[The Book of the Dead Theresienstadt I - Deported from Austria].

7. Actual dates of Hugo Jellinek’s (+ wife Fritzi Frankel, + daughters Berta and Anna’s) deportation from Brno to Theresienstadt: December 5, 1941, and from there to Auschwitz-Birkenau: June 13, 1942.

8. Leonore uses the figure of speech: “...wenn einem davor die Galle heraus geht” to mean that Karl Jellinek’s return to Vienna and his practice could bring back extremely bitter memories and emotions, such as intense, deep anger and grief.

9. We do not know what happened to Karl Schafer. These words of Leonore’s may mean that he failed to take advantage of an opportunity to escape.

10. Leonore must have only mentioned to Anna that she had ordered the inscription: "In Memoriam Siegmund Jellinek [Berta's husband] and Siegfried Schafer" [Berta's brother and Leonore's father], because a) The inscription of Berta Jellinek's name, the span of years of her life, and the traditional Hebrew letters "Pay" and "Nun" at top, standing for the Hebrew "Po nikbar" - "Here lies" - would have been understood/taken for granted, and b) Leonore wanted to tell Anna that she had added Siegmund and Siegfried's names to the memorial because each of these men had died [in Theresienstadt] without a burial or gravestone. The inclusion of Siegfried Schafer's name here adds further credence to the conclusion that Siegfried died in Theresienstadt before liberation, as discussed in footnote 6. above. A 1964 photo of Berta's gravestone shows that "Gisela [Jellinek] Schlesinger, Hugo [Jellinek] u. Siegfried [Jellinek] - Kinder" had been added to the "In Memoriam" inscription; they too had been murdered in the Holocaust - without burial or a grave.  

11. This refers to the notification or advice (Aviso) from the originating bank that the check has cleared. Leonore, the recipient, could not get cash for an international check (from Anny in Australia) until it cleared the originating bank.

12. “Lentschi,” Leonore’s nickname, was hand-written.

13. Charlotte addresses her thanks first to Anny’s husband (Miron), and her daughter (Trude).

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