November 17, 1938


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


Anna Jellinek
   (see Hugo Jellinek’s Bio.)

                [Brünn, Czechoslovakia]
Gisella Nadja Jellinek (sister of AJ)
[Rishon Le Zion, British Mandate Palestine]
Fifteen-year-old Anna humorously describes her new, somewhat onerous job as a live-in servant in Brünn. She also writes about the “irresponsible” behavior of her sister, Berta, and requests that Nadja write to her, but not worry about her.

                                                                                  (View German transcription)

                                    Brünn, 17. 11. 1938

Sweet Nadja!

I also had great pleasure from your nice letter. I will write to you now (a miracle - Friday - in a small room - with an oil lamp) what I have to do and you can judge for yourself. So, at 5:30, 6 or 6:45, I get up, get dressed, air the bedding, wipe my face, one can’t wash it, quick, quick, straighten the living room, pack everything into the stove, wipe everything clean, and at a quarter of 7, heat the kitchen. Then she arrives - she is the “grandma”, a little woman with a nose like a cucumber and an ugly mouth. Annie will do this, Annie will - and so on. Then “grandpa Wyeyer” [spelling of name?] arrives. He is very nice, over-the-hill, but better than she is. –

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Then wash the breakfast dishes. - one girl was employed with us. And so on. Clean up 5 rooms, the next, the bedroom is the worst! He has 10 pillows. She 5. The bed - the Kahlenberg [or Strahlenberg?]1 is a dog compared to it. Wash dishes. She [demands?] all of it every day. Like grandmother Hollabrunn.2 In short, [after?] the table and the [Wak kerli ?] and the floor are wiped, then I polish the [literally “yellow”; referring to gold?]. Every day. Friday, many other [..?..] things are added. Then I can properly wash, that means quick, quick, when she scolds, one has enough. She gives me enough if she finds dust, I am not too clean, really that does not make me happy at all! Then into the little room.

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You can surely imagine - this is a very small room; there sits the grandmama, grandfather and grandmother. [2 grandmothers?] I shell peas [or beans ?] and so on. Then comes the evening meal, then visitors come until 9 o’clock, prepare the beds, etc. go to sleep, that means more preparation etc. Well, I am for - [show?] - with 14 years, in that time one begins to learn something. I am 15 years old. Thus downhill - maybe not - I  don’t know! Yes, so, I sent you the green dress and shoes. Hopefully, that’s good. It is from me. What kind of a picture do you have of me? I once sent you one of Felipe and me. [ . . . ? . . . ] Didn’t you get it? Unfortunately, we suffered a lot with Bertl.3 She is incorrigible,

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but also [very unlucky ?] very irresponsible and willful. She is always asking for money. I always give her on the 4th, but then she buys herself a scarf and a powderbox and cigarettes and God only knows what else. She hangs around with people who know nothing, but if one says something to her [about it], she runs away --. Now what are you doing? Just one request, write to my family.4 You [heard ?] from father [ . . ? . . ] and [. . ? . . ] that I am with them and they are so nice [and so on ?] and put something in it for me too. [. . ? . . } You can do it when you have a chance. The Mrs. Spitz, who sends me something good everyday and for father I implore you [to write to her also]. This would be where to send it, R. Spitz, Brünn, Bratislavska 35.

So many, many thousand kisses - don’t worry about me. God will help us all.

1000 greetings from the house.5

Translated into English by Anne L. Fox, edited by Carola Hein


1. "Kahlenberg" and "Strahlenberg" are two possible readings of this word. Kahlenberg refers to a 484 meter high mountain in the Vienna Woods. The famous centuries-old Strahlenberg castle ruin is in Schriesheim, Germany. Anna most likely used this this exaggerated comparison (which was possibly an idiom, or referred to actual hike(s) she had taken with her sister(s) on the Kahlenberg) to convey her feeling that the bed was huge.

2. Anna is referring here to her paternal grandmother, Berta Schafer Jellinek, who enforced strict standards for cooking and cleaning during 1930-38, when Anna and her two sisters lived with her and grandfather, Siegmund Jellinek, in Hollabrunn, Austria.

3. Diminutive nickname for Anna’s older sister, Berta; Berta was in the middle in the birth order of the 3 sisters and was about 16 years old at this time.

4. Anny is referring here to the family that she is working for and living with; likely named “Gansl”.

5. Although this letter was not actually signed with her name, the content and handwriting clearly identify this letter as being from Anna Jellinek, Gisella Nadja Jellinek’s youngest sister.

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