November 1939 - January 1940 (?)1

Author(s) / Origin of Letter
Recipient(s) / Relationship to Author(s) / Destination of Letter
Hugo Jellinek
Gisela Jellinek Schlesinger
Fritzi Fränkel (Hugo’s new wife)
Anna Jellinek (Hugo’s youngest daughter)
Heinz Rosenzweig (Fritzi’s nephew)
[Brünn, Czechoslovakia]

Gisella Nadja Jellinek (daughter of HJ, niece of GJS, sister of AJ, stepdaughter of FF, cousin of HR, by marriage of HJ to FF)
[Rishon Le Zion, British Mandate Palestine, via Marianne Robicek in Yugoslavia.]

This letter corroborates that the persecution of Jews in Brünn had still not progressed far by late 1939 or early 1940. Among the optimistic statements that are especially poignant in light of the writers’ tragic fates, are: Hugo’s praise of the good life Fritzi is providing him and of the blossoming of his daughters, Berta and Anna, his citation of what God said to Mephistofeles in Goethe’s Faust, news of Berta’s preparations to join Gisella Nadja soon in Mandate Palestine and the plans for Anna, Hugo and Fritzi to come later. Hugo and Anna also express deep love for Gisella Nadja and great joy at having received mail from her.


(View German transcription)

My dearly loved Marianne,2

If this cellulose stuff could change into a thick meat sausage and
this ink into flowing blood of the heart, then perhaps, dear child,
you would hear how my heart beats for you, how much it wants to
tell you how deeply moved and affected I was,when at last after
a long, long time, I received a genuine sign of life from you. —

The same thing happened to my noble and to all-of-us-devoted,
loyal wife, who could not often enough admire your touching
heart out-pouring. Also your two sweet “kittens” are more than
happy to hear from you at last. Both your brave and industrious
sisters are consumed with longing for you and yearn for dear life
to be together with you, that God may grant soon. We here are
so far very well and are all healthy. My extremely capable wife
makes life heaven on earth for me; it doesn’t matter if heaven
gets a bit clouded over from time to time, because even God said

to Mephistofeles:
“Of all the spirits of negation,
The rogue has been least onerous to my mind!”. . . 3
Bertuschka4 is a very fashionable, healthy and clever girl and
earns very well. She is also very accomplished and will do
beautiful hairdressing [when she comes to you]. Lussinka5 is a

(View German transcription)

[page 2]

[. . . ? . . . 6]. child and the definite darling of the whole family.
She also
blossomed into an impressive girl. I am in regular
correspondence with the dear parents and most exceptional sister
and Poldi.7 I am very surprised that Karl and Anna8 do not write to
you often. I ask, my little goldbeetle, that you soon send another
sign of life with a still “bigger heart,” for your “Papsi” has a big
heart, so that his three bees (wild bumble bees?) fit [into it] nice
and comfortably.

Many kisses also from me.
Bertha could not add to
this as she is in Prague.
She is being registered
there and will try to
visit9 you soon.
      Aunt-Mama Gisa

Unending kisses, your forever loyal

comrade and father


Much loved Marianne,
What a joy it was, after waiting long, long weeks, to finally receive
a sign of life from you! Thank God you are well, which I can also
say of us. Dear Papa is also, praise God, quite healthy, looks
wonderful and I don’t let him leave.10 Annerl is a very good child
and the “darling” of my dear parents and siblings and they enjoy
her very much. Berta has the definite intention to travel to our
dear Giserl in the near future and is making the necessary

(View German transcription)

[page 3]

Enclosed I am sending you our photo, that you should judge with
forbearance, since it didn’t come out
especially well.

Write to us soon again and in detail, be careful, stay well and
in good spirits,

and I kiss you sincerely,

from your Mama-Fritzi

My dear sister!

Can you imagine our joy when a letter from you arrived at last.
We cried and laughed with happiness. I am so awfully terribly
happy that you are well and the main thing is that you are
content. Please, dearest, don’t worry about us; that would hurt
my feelings a lot. We are all very well; dear father looks, ‘knock
on wood,’11 very well, thanks to the loving care of his good wife.
Bertl12 is as elegant as ever and I am – the same as always. I
believe that I will make you very happy when I tell you that dear
Bertl is coming to you. That will be a Hurrah !!
We will be oh, so happy when you are no longer alone. My dear
little girl, I [can only] come to you later; I couldn’t leave Papa
alone, he would be too anxious

(View German transcription)

[page 4]

about his children – and I think I am acting the way you would
want me to. But I’ll come in any case, just have patience. The
dear parents read your sweet letter everywhere; they are that
proud of you! Do you still remember Uncle Dr. Gustl? He called
you a “splendid fellow” and he was correct! And now I kiss you
10,000,000 times and beg you and implore you – don’t work too
hard, preserve yourself. And now dear sister, write possibly very

Again, 1000 ardent kisses,

Your forever-loving Putsi13

My dearest Marianne! I am sure you don’t know which young man
is writing to you today. I introduce myself optically: I am your
new cousin Heinz.14 I have already heard so many beautiful and
especially good things about you and will perhaps have the
opportunity some time to get to know you personally, which
would be a great pleasure. I make music diligently with your dear
good Papa, my new Uncle Hugo, and I found in him a good
understanding friend. We all like him very much and we don’t
want to lose him, but we let him come to you with our dear aunt
And now my dear mother and I send you heartfelt greetings and
Your Heinz

[written along the right margin]
I would be especially happy if you would address a few words to
me as well.

(View German transcription)


Translated by Anne L. Fox; parts edited by Daniel Gillis and John Cary


1. We believe that this letter was writtten soon after Hugo and Fritzi’s marriage of October 22, 1939, and probably before the end of January 1940, because of the following: Hugo and Anna refer to Fritzi as Hugo’s “wife,” Fritzi’s signs her message to Gisella Nadja as “your Fritzi Mama,” Fritzi’s nephew, Heinz, refers to himself as Gisella Nadja’s “new cousin” and to Hugo as his “new uncle,” and Heinz’ introduction’ to Gisella Nadja in this letter seems to precede his message to her in the composite letter of January 15, 1940 (to be posted to this website in the future).

2. Hugo, Fritzi and Heinz addressed their letters to “Marianne” to disguise the fact that their letters were really meant for Gisella Nadja. Marianne Robicek, Gisela J. S.’s long-time, school friend, was the secret conduit for many of the letters to Gisella Nadja.

3. The late John Cary, Haverford College Emeritus Professor of German Literature, enabled me to understand Hugo’s (perfectly accurate) quotation of this line, from Part I of Goethe’s Faust, as follows: Hugo is being optimistic and making light of Hitler, by alluding to him as a simple rogue, who is the least worrisome or troublesome. Goethe writes that the rogue is the least “onerous” because the rogue is a simpleton whose temptations are obvious. He is not the devil of absolute evil, of moral laxness and inaction, and he is not victorious in the end in gaining the soul of Faust. Hugo’s use of this line, that is optimistic overall, (as well as idealistic, romantic and passionate) about mankind and life, could mean that Hugo is still optimistic, or that he is trying to bolster his own optimism and/or reassure his daughter Gisela Nadja.
The translation of the quotation is by Walter Arndt in the Norton Critical Edition of Faust.

4. Bertuschka was the Russianized, affectionate nickname of Berta, Hugo’s ‘middle’ daughter.

5. Lussinka was the Russianized, affectionate nickname of Hugo’s youngest daughter, Anna Luchia.

6. The top left corner of the paper is cut off here, rendering illegible, what must have been another postive adjective describing the “child” Anna. This missing piece of the paper, is most likely the result of the censors’ cutting away the date and city name, that would have been written in this top corner position on the reverse side. There are two censor marks, “10/2” [?] and “402,” at the bottom left corner of the first side, which is one of four sides created by folding the whole piece of paper in half.

7. Poldi was the nickname of Leopold Schlesinger, the husband of Gisela Jellinek Schlesinger and thus, Hugo’s brother-in-law.

8. Karl Jellinek was Hugo’s younger brother who had escaped from Vienna to New York City in February 1939. The Anna that Hugo is referring to here, is Anna Jellinek Nadel, Hugo’s younger sister, who had escaped from Vienna to Sydney, Australia in January 1939.

9. We can assume that Gisela, as well as Hugo, Fritzi, Anna and Heinz, deliberately do not explicity name “British Mandate Palestine,” because of their fears of a negative reaction from the Nazi regime censors.

10. Fritzi seems to imply here that she won’t let Hugo leave Brünn (for Mandate Palestine) because he is now “quite healthy [and] looks wonderful.” Today, we can see how tragically ironic her thinking was and how revealing of what she, Hugo and so many others couldn’t yet know, of the “. . . entirely new and utterly horrifying reality” that the near future would hold for them. Please see the end of this website’s Introduction for a more complete version of this quotation from Saul Friedländer’s Nazi Germany and the Jews, Volume 1: The Years of Persecution, 1933 - 1939.

11. “Knock on wood” is the closest translation to the German word, “unberufen.” that Anna used here. A New German and English Dictionary by Karl Breul, Funk & Wagnalls Co., NY & London, 1914, states that “unberufen” is a superstitious exclamation to ward of evil, after speaking favorably of something. When I heard my parents say “unberufen,” I was able to glean from the context only that my parents were praising me about something positive that I had achieved or done, along with some admiration and gratitude for it. Anna used “unberufen” here, similarly; but she probably knew about the superstitious aspect of this word, that I , growing up, did not.

12. Bertl refers to Anna’s older sister Berta. Adding the “l” is in accordance with theYiddish language’s formation of a diminutive, and often affectionate, version of a name or object.

13. “Putsi “, along with “Lussinka” were affectionate nicknames for Gisella Nadja’s youngest sister, Anna Luchia.

14. Heinz Rosenzweig was a nephew of Fritzi Fränkel. Thus, by Fritzi’s marriage to Hugo, Heinz also became Hugo’s new nephew and Gisella Nadja’s new cousin. I could not find Heinz in the victim data bases of Yad Vashem or the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, but it is most likely that he met the same tragic fate as his mother and all of his new relatives.