June 12, 1939


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


Hugo Jellinek
                 [Brünn, Czechoslovakia]

Gisella Nadja Jellinek (daughter of HJ)
[Rishon Le Zion, British Mandate Palestine]
Praise for Gisella Nadja’s and other Betar group members’ ongoing heroic work to build a Jewish homeland, contrasted with European Jewry’s humiliated status as “unwilling martyrs.” Positive personal news including Hugo’s deepening relationship with Fritzi Fränkel, and fatherly pride in Berta and Anna’s work and well-being.

                                                                                                            (View German transcription)

                                                                Brünn, 12th VI. 1939
My most dearly beloved daughter,                                       

Many thanks for your long-awaited letter and the pictures, even if they were tiny. But you must know what pleasure you give me and your dear sisters and the whole family with even the slightest sign of life from you. You have become my promising reality, my fulfilled Jewish dream-wish.

Despite everything, I worry about you and don’t understand why you have indicated another address. I am sufficiently aware that the situation is grave there; I hope it will all work out just as the loyal and dedicated Zionists imagine it will. But even here, as in the whole world, the situation is grave, and for us Jews very tragic... Therefore in these embattled times, your truly heroic work of building [a homeland] is all the more important. And the whole world knows it, that you Bethar1 members with your tough and incredibly strong, ironclad, unbending will to build [a homeland], will pursue the proper Jewish way. Your beginnings are honest and holy

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because you want to save our unhappy and deeply humiliated people and to fight to give them a beautiful and precious homeland, where our brothers and sisters can walk about with heads held high and with proud hearts, where all of us will someday, as free people and released from the slag theologies2 that do nothing but harm our people, [be able to practice] the sacred customs of our fathers and ancestors, and will be able to breathe happily and in harmony.

Through the night to the light --- through the battle to victory!

You happy-unhappy ones at least know why you suffer. We here are only unwilling martyrs.3 Now enough of these puzzling words and back to reality. Your sisters, who love you truly, are also glad each time you write. We can’t understand that you have no money. Doesn’t your work compensate you? Do you receive the two banknotes that I enclose in every letter? Also, Lussinka, our beauty,

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would add [banknotes] every 14 days. Lussinka looks beautiful, works diligently and is also very frugal. She is also clever, diplomatic and very patient. The Gansl family also likes her very much, which they express by giving her treats and treating her special. Especially a certain Mrs. Fränkel, the oldest daughter, cares about her, which is lucky. Well, she is doing fabulously well! And may God grant that you should have it like that one day! I also visit her almost every day and from time to time bring her some goodies. Anyway, the visit also includes Mrs. Fränkel, who, as well as her other sisters, visits her aged and honorable parents daily with husbands and sons, two beautiful boys, of whom the 14-year-old is a very talented musician. Apart from that, he is very good-looking and well-behaved so that your sister’s Asian4 smile often rests on his bright-serious face with pleasure. That is no wonder, as he makes music so beautifully. Where is England . . . . . . . ?? Is loyalty only an empty delusion? Isn’t Lussinka a bit similar to you in that respect? Out of sight, out of mind?

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I am quite different in that respect. I hold firmly and tenaciously onto the object of my love, so that it cannot be torn from me by a turn of fate or until my beloved makes it impossible to remain near her. That is how I have felt for several weeks since I had to break off my relationship with Mrs. Spitz. I am very sorry, but before I sacrifice my honor and self-respect, I would rather sacrifice all possible advantages. This is a tragedy of errors, as is often written in these sad, difficult times.

Luckily, I have again found a high-minded, noble and proud womanly soul with whom I have found complete understanding of my being and genuine understanding and sympathy for my destiny and future, and who now treats both my sweet kittens5 who live here better than their own mother. She also takes great interest in you, my dear child. You can imagine how well things are going for me and how happy I am in spite of everything.6 Bertuschka is also doing quite well. Mrs. Fränkel, who travels in the most elegant circles, has already recommended quite genteel customers to her. Bertha is also very handy, refined and genteel, and has a proud character.

[side of p. 4] Please write to Vienna – often – as not all of your letters are forwarded.

[side of p. 2] Your news is highly interesting and I immediately showed it to Leo Pollak (the leader of the Bethars).


Translated by Anne L. Fox, edited by Brian Middleton


1. Bethar, aka Betar, an activist, Revisionist Zionist youth movement, was founded in 1923 in Riga, Latvia by Vladmir Jabotinsky. Its basic ideals included personal dedication to the creation of a Jewish state “on both sides of the Jordan”, personal immigration to and pioneering in Palestine, and systematic defense training. Throughout the 1930s and early ‘40s, Betar aided in the rescue/immigration of thousands of Jews to Palestine, in violation of the British Mandate’s extremely limited immigration quotas.

2. This seems to be a polite way of saying “crappy theologies.”

3. Italicized type added by this website’s developer to emphasize this deeply moving phrase.

4. “Asian” likely refers to Anna’s part Asian origins and facial features; Anna’s mother, Natasha, was an Uzbek.

5. “Both my sweet kittens” refers to Hugo’s daughters, Berta and Anna.

6. Underlined type added by this website’s developer in order to convey the emphasis that was achieved in Hugo’s original letter, by his drawing two wavy lines under this phrase; (not just the one underline that the computer allows).

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