Estimated date: November 4, 19381

Author(s) / Origin of Letter
Recipient(s) / Relationship to Author(s) / Destination of Letter
Gisela Jellinek Schlesinger
                             [Vienna, Austria]

Hugo Jellinek (brother of GJS)
                                   [Brünn, Czechoslovakia]

Gisela urges Hugo to register for an “illegal transport” to Mandate Palestine to join his daughter, Gisella Nadja and “. . . bring us all to Palestine.” She gives him detailed advice on how to succeed in getting on the next boat, such as using their brother, Karl and other Zionist leaders as references, and stating that he has agricultural skills, as well as being musical and well educated. Gisela hopes for a reunion of the family in Palestine, — one that was tragically never to happen.

Dear Hugo, Just now I got your second card dated November 1; it arrived only today on November 4. I have calmed down a bit over [an issue with] Dr./ Mrs. [ . . ?. . ].2 Karl, Karla and Max were all with us last night and Karl can’t do anything about your legal emigration as you are Czech, but I’ll give you another idea. Today and Sunday, hundreds departed with the illegal transport to Palestine. In four weeks, possibly another transport will go. The registration begins on Tuesday. Now you must write to Dr. Willy Perl R.A.3, Vienna I., Stubenring 14, to apply for the aliyah journey to Erez4. Give them your nationality and although only people up to 45 years old are eligible, in your special case, one can also be older. You must mention that Dr. K. [Karl] Jellinek is your brother, and give other Zionist leaders whom you know as references. Apart from that, stress that your daughter Nadja went to Palestine on June 9, 1938 with an illegal transport,

[reverse side of page]

(View German transcription)

and since then has been working in Rishon Le Zion. You must without fail, travel to your child, as it draws us all to Palestine. I just want to bring to your attention that you must declare your profession to be a farmer and soap maker and that you are academically educated and musical. Mrs. Loewenherz said to Mrs. Tiefenbrunn that Gisa Jellinek5 should never have gone to Palestine illegally; [ if ] she would have gone legally long ago, she would have been put into a school for two years.6
Now, much luck, and hopefully there will be a reunion soon!
Many kisses! Good Shabbas. [Sabbath]
Mutti [mother] has a cough and wanted to write to you just now, but had to lie down. She will write a long letter to you, as well as to Anna, next week. Did you receive money from Anna?

[written along the side of p. 2.]
Four times already, since September 19th, dear father has sent Willy7 15 RM [Reichsmarks] - Do you have money?

[Although this letter is not signed, the handwriting and content clearly indicate that Gisela Jellinek Schlesinger wrote it.]

(View German transcription)


Translated by Anne L. Fox; edited by Barbara Sommerschuh and Hermann Dust


1. Gisela states that it is November 4th in the third line of this letter. The year has to be 1938, and not the preceding or following year because a) Gisela is writing to Hugo in Brünn and about Gisella Nadja’s presence in then-Palestine --Hugo and Gisella Nadja each arrived in their new locations in June 1938 -- and b) Gisela mentions that Karl, Karla and Max [Jellinek] were with the family in Vienna the previous night--- Karl and Karla escaped from Vienna to the US in February 1939, and Max escaped from Vienna to Shanghai in late January 1939.

2. All but the German words for “calmed down a bit” in this sentence were written in shorhand. The word following “Dr./Mrs.,” most likely a surname, could not be deciphered by a shorthand expert at the Sütterlinstube organization. Interestingly, Gisela probably used Gabelsberger Stenography here, similarly to how she used it in her September 9, 1938 letter to Hugo, in an effort to reduce the chances of the identity of this couple being immediately legible to Nazi censors. The stress that “Dr./ Mrs.Mrs.” [ . ? . ] had caused Gisela may have had to do with the ‘Aryanization’ of her husband, Leopold’s business, or her and Leopold’s, and/or her parents’ current housing in Vienna.

3. At this time, Dr. William R. Perl had been disbarred from his Viennese law practice by the Nazi regime, but he continued his Zionist activism by organizing clandestine sea voyages to Mandate Palestine for European Jews seeking to escape Nazi persecution. By August 1944, Perl’s work with Zionist groups and Greek smugglers resulted in the rescue of an estimated 40,000 European Jews. We do not know whether Hugo Jellinek tried or was able to contact Dr. Perl, or if Hugo did contact him, why he was not able to escape on one of the Palestine-bound freighters, cattle boats or sailboats that Perl arranged.

4. “Erez” is an alternative pronunciation of the Hebrew word “Eretz,” which means “Land”, and refers here to the biblical, religious and historical term “Land of Israel.” “Aliya” is a Hebrew word meaning “ascent.” Gisela uses this word in its historical and traditional sense, i.e., the immigration into the ‘Land of Israel,’ especially Jerusalem, which was considered to involve a geographical and metaphysical ascent.

5. Here, Gisela (the letter writer) is referring to Hugo’s daughter, who originally was given the same name as herself, Gisella (nickname: Gisa). Although it is customary in Judaism to name children after relatives who have died, Hugo -- who was living in Uzbekistan when his daughters were born -- did not know whether his family members were still alive. Thus he departed from tradition and honored his sister and mother by giving his daughters their names. The younger Gisella changed her name to Nadja when she came to Palestine.

6. This writer (PJ) is not certain that this assertion by Ms. Loewenherz is historically correct, nor during which years, Mrs. L. thinks Gisa/Gisella Nadja should have emigrated to Palestine to “have been put into a school for two years.”

7. Willy Jellinek was imprisoned in Dachau concentration camp at this time. Willy was the grandson of Siegmund Jellinek’s sister, Jetti Jellinek;