Late December 1946 (?)1

Author(s) / Origin of Letter
Recipient(s) / Relationship to Author(s) / Destination of Letter
Karl Jellinek
[New York City, USA]

Gisella Nadja Jellinek Gal (niece of KJ)
[Rishon Le Zion, Mandatory Palestine]

Karl begins with concern about his brother-in-law, Markus, and the upcoming arrival into the USA of his sister-in-law, Regina, who had survived the war in England. Karl goes on to tell of plans, hopes and progress in his new work and of his family in New York City. He proceeds to report on deaths, doubts, imprisonment and other varied news of Holocaust survivor friends, acquaintances and relatives. Karl asks about Gisella Nadja and her husband, Latsi’s, life. Lastly, he expresses his “burning interest” in and his view of current events in Mandate Palestine.

                                                                                                                                                        (View German transcription)


We are very worried that Markus Eckstein2 has not written in six months, especially as he became a father. Please Gisa, try at the first opportunity to visit him and find out what is wrong. Maybe something is not right. You can imagine that Karla is nervous. Tell him that Regina3 will be coming here in several weeks and we are all happy, especially Karla, who is working hard now with the housework and the three children. When Regina comes, I have the intention that Karla will help me with the insurance business. She [Karla] is very accomplished and very popular, apart from the fact that she speaks perfect Yiddish, which is a great asset here. My business improves from day to day and I hope that I’ll soon be able to offer my family what I would like and in the way that I would like. Thank God4, the children are developing wonderfully. Micky5 is a good conscientious Jewess, who puts something in the N. F. [Jewish National Fund - Israeli charity ] box every day, and is the best one in the Hebrew school and [also] helps Karla with the housework and the babies. Roberta is almost two years old and is admired by everybody for her beauty; she is a true Jellinek. Paulette is now five months old, weighs 16 pounds and is developing very nicely. Mrs. Edith Fast, widow of our Dr. Ludwig Fast, who died suddenly of a heart attack last month, comes often now; [usually] every weekend.

                  (View German transcription)

Although he6 was mad at me for years without cause, I arranged his entire burial and consoled his relatives, just like my noble father did twenty years ago for his father. Rabbi Bach, who led the Austrian congregation, died. Erna Petlak, who was in Theresienstadt, survived, as did Dr. Löwenherz and his wife; there are some doubts about them7. Rabbi Dr. Himmelstein, who was very mean, is jailed in Prague; he got fifteen years in strict confinement. - With Bertisch8, we are completely without contact; the man is crazy and bad.

What pictures [photos] do you have of your father? I would like to send you all the pictures that you don’t have, as well as the family picture of the Golden Wedding anniversary.9

How are you? I see by your letter that Lasikam10 is employed in the goverment and so isn’t allowed to be as radical as you. I read with burning interest what is happening in Erez,11  but I believe that much is exaggerated on both sides.12 But one thing is certain, the British are scoundrels.

Now, hoping to have soothed you with news, I remain with many greetings to Lasikam,

Your devoted Uncle Karl   

                  (View German transcription)


Letter Fragment of page 3. & page 4. - which are the last two pages of this letter; the opening/original first page and second page are missing.

Translated by Anne L. Fox; edited by Ursula Eckelmann of Sütterlinstube, Hamburg, Germany


1. Estimate of date is based on Karl’s references to his youngest daughter, Paulette, being five months old and to his middle-daughter, Roberta, being almost two years old. Paulette was born in the latter part of July 1946 and Roberta was born in the latter part of January 1945.

2. Markus (aka Max) Eckstein was the younger brother of Karl’s wife, Karla. Max escaped from Nazi - controlled Vienna to Mandate Palestine with Karl and Karla’s help.

3. Regina, (aka Renata and Renee) Eckstein, was Karla’s older sister, born in 1907 in then-Stanislau, in the Galician region of Austria-Hungary, now renamed Ivano-Frankivsk in Western Ukraine. She escaped from Nazi-controlled Vienna to England and survived the war there.

4. Karl used “Unberufen” here, which the Funk & Wagnalls German and English Dictionary of 1914, defines literally, as “without invoking ill luck” and as “a superstitious exclamation to ward off evil after speaking favorably of something.” The Sütterlinstube editor, Ms. Eckelmann, preferred to translate “Unberufen” as “”Don’t jinx it,” because she felt that “This phrase [“Don’t jinx it”] seems as unusual as the German ‘unberufen’. Growing up, I heard both Karl and Karla, as well as relatives, use “unberufen” in similar contexts, without understanding exactly what it meant. I think that as with most idioms, it is difficult to translate, but “Thank God” comes a little closer tothe essence of what Karl intended to express.

5. Karl is referring to Michaela, by her nickname. Michaela is Karl and Karla’s oldest child, born in 1937 in Vienna.

6. This refers to Dr. Ludwig Fast

7. The “doubts,” or literally, the “very divided opinions” concern how Dr Löwenherz and his wife survived.

8. “Bertisch” refers to Issaschar Bertisch, the husband of Karla’s oldest sister, Anna Clara. Karl used the Yiddish word “meshuga” for “crazy.”

9. Karl is referring to the group photos of the 1933 celebration in Oberhollabrunn, Austria, of his parents (Gisella Nadja’s paternal grandparents’) 50th wedding anniversary. Two of these photos appear in the Images section of this website at:

10. Karl is referring affectionately to Gisella Nadja’s husband, whose original Slovak first name was Latsi; also spelled Lasi and Laci. Later, In Israel, Latsi changed his name to the Hebrew, Chaim (life).

11. “Erez” is an abbreviated way of referring to Erez (or Eretz) Yisrael, Hebrew for Land of Israel. The concept of “The Land of Israel” has a varied traditional, biblical, geographic, Zionist and political history. Karl was referring to the area of Palestine governed by the British after WWI until the proclamation of the state of Israel, in the same way that many Zionists and others referred to the Land of Israel during that period. For one of many sources for additional background info. see

12. Karl is probably referring to the sharp conflict of idelogy and strategy regarding resistance to and freedom from British rule, and the establishment of an independent Jewish state, by the two pre-state paramilitary organizations. They were the more moderate “Haganah” and the more militarily agressive “Irgun.” Gisella Nadja was active in a Betar unit that probably was affiliated with the Irgun.