May - June 19391

 

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

Summary

Anna Jellinek
   (see Hugo Jellinek’s Bio.)

                [Brünn, Czechoslovakia]
Gisella Nadja Jellinek (sister of AJ)
[Rishon Le Zion, British Mandate Palestine]
Sixteen year-old Anna writes with optimism and excitement about her and her cousin Erich’s prospects of getting to Palestine and reuniting with Gisella Nadja there. Anna also writes of the positive effects on the family of her father’s new relationship with the generous, sophisticated Mrs. Fränkel. The reader of Anna’s letter, who knows about the 1942 Nazi murders of Anna, her sister, Berta, her father, Hugo, and Mrs. Fränkel, will also find all of the other statements in Anna’s letter heartbreakingly poignant, including her statements of pride about her getting used to her work as a maid, her newfound strength and appearance and her thanking God for not being hungry anymore.
 

                                                                                  (View German transcription)

                                  May - June, 1939

Dearest Giserl,
I am very glad that you wrote at last.
I am also happy that you’re resting a
bit. I will come to you, Giserl, with
Erich, through Sigl2, then Palestine,
officially in the fall. I already have
my valid passport for here and I will
soon go to the Gestapo for my
departure to Vienna.3
I am very excited; therefore I will
continue writing to you. Now I am
feeling much better; first, I am more
used to the work, and secondly, I’m
making the rounds of good-byes! So,
there are two possibilities.

[page 2.]
For the time being, I am still free. An
affidavit would also suit me very
well. Bertl is only enamored of
England. Hansi4 is doing splendidly.
He sends you regards in every letter
and asks what you are doing. He has
fallen in love with an English
woman. I feel that.
Daddy comes to visit me every day.
Imagine, he5 is always shaved now.
This certain Mrs. Fränkel is a
socialite. She is lucky for us three
[sisters]. Daddy looks, touch wood,
thank God,



[page 3.]
much better taken care of and shaved.
Just think, for Bertl, she has found
many modern ladies as clients6, and so
Berta can pay for everything herself.
She [Mrs. Fränkel] has also done
good things for me. With all the bad
luck, we have a little [good] luck.
Mrs. Fränkel is a widow.
You know, I only want to go to
Palestine. I will go into an easy
Hachshara7 in Vienna and learn
gardening with Erich. Hansi thinks I
will go mad.
Now every day in the morning, I do
calisthenics and wash my whole
body in cold water. I am very strong

[page 4.]
and look very much like you. You
know, of the splendid boys here,
there is one 25 year old, who is going
to Palestine and definitely wants to
visit you. He is enchanted with you,
that is, with your photos. I told him
“All the fellows are after you.” He
said “I’ll be one of them!” -- Oh, I
would love to go to you, so that I can
take everything8 along!
Thank God I am not hungry
anymore! And so to a speedy
reunion!
1000 kisses. Send photos again!
1000 kisses from Bertl who earns
quite diligently!



[not signed, but the content and
handwriting clearly indicate that the
author was Anna Jellinek]

Translated by Anne L. Fox, edited by staff of Sütterlinstube, Hamburg, Germany.

Some parts of the original letter were very difficult to decipher because
they were handwritten on both sides of a very thin piece of paper.

Footnotes

1. Hugo Jellinek was secretly engaged to Fritzi Fränkel by early July 1939. The date estimated for this letter is primarily based on Anna’s discussion of what seems to be an earlier stage of her father, Hugo’s quickly developing relationship with Mrs. Fränkel, and on Anna’s confident tone in her opening statements about going to the Gestapo and of getting to Palestine.

2. “Sigl” refers to Siegfried Jellinek, Anna and Gisella Nadja’s paternal uncle, who was working for the Jewish community of Vienna at this time. Anna therefore expected that he would be able to make the arrangements for the journey to mandate Palestine for Anna and for his own son, Erich.

3. Anna explains on page 3. of this letter, that she is planning to go to Vienna for a training program (known by its Hebrew name of Hachshara), to prepare her for work and life in Palestine.

4. Hansi was a friend of Anna’s and of her two sisters. “Hansi” is most likely the name Anna wrote here.

5. Hugo Jellinek, Anna and Gisella Nadja’s father

6. clients for Berta’s work as a hair-dresser and manicurist

7. Hachsharot (singl. Hachshara) were Zionist -movement programs that provided agricultural and other vocational training, as well as group ‘socialization,’ to prepare prospective immigrants for a productive life in Mandate Palestine, especially in the Kibbutzim (collective settlements) there.

8. It is difficult to understand why Anna would prefer to seek refuge in mandate Palestine ‘so that’ she could take all her things along there. Perhaps, instead of “everything,” as the translators proposed, the German “alles” could be translated here as “all” or “everyone,” or perhaps, “alles” was written in code for “alle” (English: “all” or “everyone”). If Anna did indeed mean “take along everyone,” it is likely that “everyone” included her father, Hugo, her sister, Berta and probably her father’s new love, Mrs. Fränkel, -- all of whom Anna thought would go to mandate Palestine, if she, Anna, went there and joined her sister, Gisella Nadja, who was already living there. [PJ]

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