Author(s) / Origin of Letter
Recipient(s) / Relationship to Author(s) / Destination of Letter
In one of the few extant letters to his siblings, Hugo tells of the difficult, but not yet mortally dangerous circumstances he is experiencing in Brünn. Hugo lovingly praises the character of his new wife, Fritzi Fränkel. He recounts her altruism and devotion to caring for her late husband, to Hugo himself, and to her late good friend, Maria Mayer. Hugo feels very fortunate that Fritzi has chosen him over suitors who have higher social status.
I am very delighted about your l[ast] lines.
Brünn, December 17, 1939
My Dear Ones!
7 o’clock in the evening – we are still sitting in the little overheated
p.2. (on reverse side of p.1.)
and not only [due to] the weekly séances in the café “Esplanade”, but
Kisses Your Hugo
Due to space limitations only warm
My dearest ones, I do not know how you will judge the state of mind
Such chutzpah! 14 days of strike. . . .14
[written upside down at bottom of p.2.]
Many 1000 kisses from Anny
Translated by Janina Wurbs, Berlin, Germany; some edits & footnotes by P.Jellinek
1. The owner of this tea export and alcoholic beverage business, Josef Gansel, was most likely Fritzi Fränkel’s father and thus, Hugo’s new father-in-law. Hugo wrote on the defunct business stationery that his father-in-law had probably brought home after his business had been ‘aryanized.’
2. It is unknown why Fritzi’s parents have their heads bandaged most of the time.
3. Anny and Lussinka were nicknames for the youngest of Hugo’s three daughters, Anna Luchia Jellinek, b. 1924.
4. Heinzi was an affectionate nickname for Heinz Rosenzweig, Fritzi’s nephew; thus a new cousin and friend for Anna.
5. Literally: “little mouse,” term of endearment, followed by “Fritzele,” a Yiddish diminutive and affectionate inflection of Fritzi’s name.
6. Literally “to break this flower” = to pluck a flower. Probably an allusion to the line that can be translated as: “Only love can break the flower of love” in Friedrich Schiller’s late 18th century poem Die Begegnung (The Encounter). Could also be a quote or allusion to the ancient Roman poet, Ovid’s Amores (Love). It is also a common motive in fairy tales. Very poetic and erudite way to say that Hugo got what he wanted, Fritzi, as his loved one.
7. “Hofrätin” is an old German and Austrian honorary title; she is the wife of the Hofrat. Literally: a member of a council, councilor.
8. Quote from the “Dedication” of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s play “Faust.” Two of multiple alternate English translations are: ”life’s labyrinthine and erring course“ or “life wanders in its labyrinthine flight.”
9. March 15, 1939.
10. = today’s Juliánov, a locality/neighborhood in the greater metropolitan area of Brno. The Old Jewish Cemetery of Brno, established in 1852, was located south of Juliánov; called by its former German- language name of Julianfeld under Nazi occupation. This cemetery is the largest Jewish cemetery in the Moravian - Silesian region of the Czech Republic and the oldest in Brno.
11. title of a high member of the government
12. Fritzi's addition of the Yiddish-derived affectionate and diminutive “le” or “ele” to Hugo’s name, is similar to Hugo's use of “Fritzele.” English equivalent: “dear little Hugo.”
13. Fritzi’s sense of humor here, as well as her expression of happiness and contentment, show her remarkable resilience and strength of character. [PJ]
14. This was most likely written by Hugo. One strike to which Hugo may have been referring, as described by L. Rothkirchen in her book The Jews of Bohemia & Moravia: Facing the Holocaust, was begun on the first anniversary of the Munich Agreement, September 30, 1939, by “. . . workers of the capital [who] refrained from using public transport. . . “ On pp. 113 - 14, Ms. Rothkirchen describes additional ‘defiant’ acts, such as mass gatherings and demonstrations, encouraged by the exiled President Beneš and organized by home resistance groups, but these do not seem to have been strikes.