June 21, 19391


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


Gisela Jellinek Schlesinger
                              [Vienna, Austria]

Anna Jellinek Nadel (sister of GJS)
                                [Sydney, Australia]
Gisela worrries over her father’s angry confrontational response to a Viennese office clerk who had disrespectfully addressed him. Gisela also writes of other family and indicative news, e.g’s. a) Jews now prohibited from entering the main park in Vienna; b) she and others taking baking classes to help prepare for their immigration.


                                                                                         Wednesday, June 21, 1939
                                                          Beloved Annerl !

                     This morning I went with dear Dad to the Vermögensverkehrstelle [Assets Transfer Office] regarding your matter. Luckily I was with him since father unfortunately still does not realize in what times we are living in, and confronted the person in charge1 there, who was loutish enough to address Dad with Du “Chaver Jehude2 and with great trembling I led Dad away. A Mrs. Chilf, who knows you very well, and who used to live opposite [building number] 177, was listening to everything with horror. Maybe she will come to Australia soon, and she will tell you everything. She calmed me down, and sends many heartfelt greetings to you and Miron. On November 10, poor Miron was to have gone to see her brother-in-law regarding the photo of an industrial site.3 - - - - It will be very difficult for her to leave too.4 I haven’t heard from you this week and I am quite worried. Usually there has been a letter from you every Sunday or Monday; hopefully one is yet to come. Last week I wrote several letters to you, and this week, this is already the second one. On the back is a letter from Giserl,5 who wants me as a mother in Erez; Trudili, she argues, has a good mother already. - - Lately, I have become less optimistic than I have been to this point; we are at our wits’ end. After I filled out a permit for Dad, he went to the official in charge, Löbl, who was very nice. On Friday he [Dad] has to go there again, and bring a confirmation from the office of foreign currency and bring the petition in duplicate. I have written everything already today, so that father can be the first when we go early. Of course, I no longer let him go the authorities alone, but unfortunately, they do not let me come up. As I have written in my previous letter, due to my petition, I received an invitation for June 21. Today, again, my nerves have got the better of me and as soon as I have finished the petitions and your letter, I will lie down in my room where I have more peace, and I will think of nothing. The Prater6  is certainly prohibited [for Jews], but something else was permitted which is very convenient for mother; it’s all the grounds along the Danube from Holland Street to the Brigitta Bridge. This is very fortunate for us, for it is very close and mother can sit down when she is tired, which we were unfortunately, not allowed to do before.7 I have made copies of the recipes very clearly with the typewriter. In every letter I will send you one page, and drop you a few lines on the back. There are 20 cooking days, 5 of which are remaining to be done. Mrs. Koblitz and Rosl Singer are so thankful to me for having encouraged them [to attend the cooking class], because one really learns a lot, especially about British cuisine and cooking on a diet. Annerl, you should have taken such a course; all the ladies take a class in baking and pastry-making, etc., etc. before their immigration. I will be taking these two classes [baking and pastry-making] too. Anny wrote today that she will most likely be here on July 6; hopefully it will be permitted by then. Hugo seems very pessimistic, although in his private life, he is very happy at the moment. Also, Anny wrote again today that this Mrs. Fränkel would be an excellent match for Daddy. He wants to get an operation (we have been listening to this for 9 years now, since he came here), but he is having a lot of trouble with his hemorrhoids, and also his hernia8 is hampering him. Also, Sigl has had the first pains these days because of9

Translated by Laura Jockusch; edited by Brian Middleton


1. Literally: “...and [Siegmund J.] wanted to get the person in power there in a fight...”
An alternate translation might be: “...and [Siegmund] tried to pick a fight...” Gisela’s words indicate that she felt that her father (Siegmund) overreacted and that his impulses were to teach the ‘upstart’ a lesson.

2. “Du” = familiar form of address, vs. the formal, polite, respectful “Sie” with which a clerk would formerly have addressed Siegmund.
 “Chaver Jehude” = “Friend Jew” or “Mr. Jew” in a sarcastic, facetious, imitated, pseudo Hebrew.

In personal communication with this writer, Gisella Nadja Jellinek Gal disclosed that in pre-Anschluss Austria, people would have even taken off their hats upon approaching Siegmund, and addressed him most respectfully with: “Bitte entschuldiges mir Herr OberKantor Jellinek.” Tragically, neither Siegmund nor Gisela (nor millions of others) fully grasped, in time, that their world had turned almost completely, immorally and insanely upside down; it was certainly not Siegmund nor Gisela’s world of before. (PJ)

3. Miron Nadel, Anna Jellinek Nadel’s husband, was a professional photographer in Vienna, and subsequently in Australia, after his forced emigration there.

4. Alternate translation: It is very difficult for her to get out (of the house).
This sentence and the previous sentence are unclear; it does not become clear from the context why Miron should have gone to Mrs. Chilf’s brother-in-law, and why it will be very difficult for her to leave. However, the date mentioned, “November 10” [1938, the pogrom known as Kristallnacht], gives us some clues: Miron’s photography studio/store was vandalized on Kristallnacht; in any case, it would have been very dangerous for Miron to have gone out to discuss and/or take a photo of any industrial site on that horrific day. Perhaps the Nazis were demanding payment from Mrs. Chilf’s entire family for the Nazis’ damage to her brother-in-law’s business, before allowing the Chilfs to emigrate, just as the Nazis had charged Miron for the damage done to his store.

5. This refers to the letter from Gisela and Anna’s niece, Gisella Nadja Jellinek, to her father, Hugo Jellinek, dated June 3, 1939, which is on the reverse side of the same piece of paper on which this letter from Gisela J. S. to Anna J. N. is typed. For more details on the probable relationship between these two letters, see also the first footnote on Gisella Nadja’s Jellinek’s letter of June 3, 1939.

6. The main park in Vienna.

7. Gisela means that in the Prater, Jews were not allowed to sit on benches, whereas in this new area, where Jews were allowed to go, there was either no restriction on benches or there were special benches for Jews.

8. The German word “Bruch” is used here, which could also mean a fracture or a rupture.

9. Gisela’s penciled, handwritten words after the handwritten “Schmerzen wegen” (pains - because of) are puzzling. They appear to be:
O. Xäm Fehste [?] or: I. Häm Frkeden [?] or I. Häm Frkulen [?]

This could possibly have a coded meaning, or be an initial or abbreviation [the I. or O.] for “Onkel” (uncle) or for the first letter of someone’s name, followed by a last name [Häm or Xäm?]. The last word, beginning with the letter “F” is particularly difficult to decipher because it is partly faded and cut off; but it could possibly be the German word “Frühesten” – meaning “at the earliest”, or “Fehlen” – meaning “to miss, to fail, err, be in the wrong, to be wanting, deficient, to offend”, or “Fehule” [?].

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