July 27, 1939

Author(s) / Origin of Letter
Recipient(s) / Relationship to Author(s) / Destination of Letter
Gisela Jellinek Schlesinger
[Vienna, Austria]

Gisella Nadja Jellinek (niece of GJS)
[Rishon Le Zion, British Mandate Palestine]

Gisela expresses loving 19th birthday wishes to her niece and longing to be together when the “sun will shine for us again.” Gisela also writes about possibilities for her own, as well as for her brother Siegfried’s emigration from Vienna. In addition, Gisela provides positive news about her siblings, Karl and Anna, but negative news about her brother Max, all of whom have managed to escape from Europe. Lastly, Gisela reports at length on the letters she has received from her brother, Hugo (Gisella Nadja’s father), in which he wrote about his happiness stemming from his relationship with Fritzi Fränkel. He described Fritzi as loving, competent, caring and generous, even to his daughter Berta. Hugo has moved into Fritzi’s apartment in Brünn and will be engaged to her on August 15.


Vienna, July 27, 1939

My beloved Gisa ! !

I have repeatedly written detailed letters to you, but I haven’t received a message from you in a long time. Today I am writing to you because your dear 19th birthday is coming soon. I finished knitting two sweaters for you; to be precise, the black one with a turtle neck and long sleeves, as you requested, and a stylish one for the summer. I am going to hand it all in to the foreign exchange office next week, so that I can send everything to you. I want to send you bedfeathers too, and thus I ask you to answer all of my questions immediately. When answering my letter, re-read every sentence and answer directly to everything I ask. Above all, what shall I send you: a photo album, sweater, a white skirt, stockings, socks; so what else do you want? Unfortunately, many items that I submit will be cancelled.1 Dr. Schubert’s aunt has already sent a lot of things to Palestine because her three sons — their surname is Hilfreich — all live in Tel Aviv and she is going to visit them soon Mrs. Schubert is also going to Erez2 and Gerty has already gone to London.3 She [Gerty] has already had two jobs but she probably was not suitable for them. Now she does not have any position and lives in a guest house at the expense of the relief committee and she is having a great time sight-seeing in London, meeting friends, scrounging her way. In this way, she is very talented indeed, and recently, she has scrounged in the Wobernhouse [?] for an entire day receiving fine financial support. Dr. Schubert now has a big position in the local [Viennese] Palestine office; he is the head of the department which distributes the certificates.4 Uncle Siegfried5 is his assistant, and after Dr. Schubert goes away, there is a chance that uncle Sigl can take over his position. Uncle Karl already has a private apartment and his new address is as follows: Dr. Karl Jellinek, New York City, 580 West 161st Street. Please write this address in some address book. Also, aunt Anny6 has her own place; her address is as follows: Anny Nadel, 109 New South Head Road Edgecliff, Flat 4, Sydney Australia. Uncle Max’s address remains unchanged, but to be on the safe side, I am repeating it: Max Jellinek, 159/15 Avenue, Haig, Shanghai. Unfortunately, I received a letter yesterday, saying that he became ill again; in March he had stomach poisoning and unfortunately, he relapsed again. I did not read this part of his letter to the parents because they would worry terribly over it. Uncle Max has not been very lucky lately anyway. All of his clothes were stolen by a Chinese “boy” and he is still in great despair because of this blow. In case aunt Stella asks you about him, please don’t say anything, for in one of her letters, she cursed him in a manner which is not very nice and fine for a woman.7 Max writes that he knows exactly what he was doing when he left her, for he could not bear to live with such a hysterical person any longer. Thus, he quit his good and secure position [in Vienna] although he knew that there is a huge Shanghai refugee disaster.8 But uncle Karl and aunt Anny will do everything they can to encourage him to get away from that place. The only pleasant and hopeful letters come from your beloved father, who is so happy, thanks to Putzi; the letters he writes are beaming with joy.9 He already gave up his apartment and I have to address my letters to the apartment of Mrs. Fritzi Fränkl, Brünn, Gymnasiumstrasse 4, 1st floor, Door 3. She is an excellent cook and she is going to care for Dad after his operation, so that he will recover quickly, with God’s help. The official engagement is going to be on August 15, and Putzi wrote me a couple of times, that dear Dad is enjoying good luck.10 The beloved grand-parents and I are very happy about it, because we were all worried about poor Dad not having a proper home. But now, he is moving into a wonderful apartment, with a bathroom which is equipped with a brand new Junker heater, so that one can have a bath at any time.11 Dad will appreciate that very much, for [now] he can splash to his heart’s content. Apart from that, this woman is a wonderful hostess, cook and business woman, and she obviously loves Dad very much. Several envious people in this gossip hole called Brünn, tried to undermine this relationship by anonymous letters, etc. etc., but that only strengthened her wish to marry Hugo. How ingenious, spirited and loving of life this woman must be, you can infer from the following two poems that Dad sent me.12 Now he has a competitor, even in writing poems. She also cares very much for Bertha: first she provides her with [hair-dressing] customers; secondly she buys

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hairdresser’s items at discount prices (she ran a business of that kind after her husband died) and as a consequence Bertha is making good money so she can even support herself from that. Bertha is now going to move out of her expensive apartment and move into a new, cheaper one at the house of a lady who is acquainted with Mrs. Fränkl, and whose daughter is a corset maker. In her leisure time, Bertha can learn this nice business too. So, we owe everything to the ability and the wonderful character of Lussinka, and my education [of her] was not as bad as quite a few believed. Lussinka is incredibly attached to me and uncle Poldi and only wants to visit us and maybe emigrate with us. Bertha applied for a transport to England; maybe it will work out. Uncle Karl wants you all out,13 but Lussinka wants either to come to you or to come with me. I would prefer to come to your place, but unfortunately, the prospect of getting there is even more unlikely than getting elsewhere. - - - It may be getting better soon; dear Dad writes that it will get better for us all soon.14 He is so wise and has so much experience that I am willing to believe him. So dearest Giserl, for your birthday, I wish you all the luck in the world, straight from the most loyal mother-heart. I pray to our dear God that he may keep you in good health and may bless you with happiness in your future life. Now you can be more relaxed about Papshi [Dad] and you do not have to be worried about him. Imagine, in his summer clothes, knock on wood, he already weighs 67 kilograms [~ 148 lbs.]. Uncle Poldi hat nur 64 kg. [~141 lbs.] so, thank God, everything is all right. If someone is as happy as Dad is now, everything works much better and that helps him recover. With Mrs. Spitz, it was a hopeless thing,15 because she has a husband and child. Anny also wrote me that Mrs. Fränkl is a very fine lady of society and thus they [she and Hugo] are part of the highest circles. She rejected some good matches with a couple of industrialists; Papshi is very proud indeed. Already around Christmas, when there was not even the remotest idea and nobody would have thought that this [match] would turn out to be something, Putzi, who was there [working in the Gansl house], already told me so many nice things about the eldest daughter of Mrs. Gansl. Dear Dad wrote me that he is expecting a detailed letter from you in the next few days, which he will send immediately to me. In my last letters, I asked you a number of urgent questions, which I repeated in numerous letters, but unfortunately, you probably do not read my letters with the necessary attention; otherwise you would have already answered me. I do hope that this time, you will take my wishes to heart, and I will see that you read my letters carefully. - - Putzi and Bertuschka write very lovingly and movingly in almost every letter from Papa. Every week Bertha manicures and does Mrs. Fränkl’s hair; and she [Mrs. Fränkl] even pays Bertha for that. I have to stop writing now, because I am attending a class on pastry-cooking with Dr. Schubert’s wife and his aunt Hilfreich, where we are learning marvelous things. it is a pity that you are not here.16 I would have taught you a lot. Now farewell, stay healthy and write soon. I am kissing you especially warmly for your birthday, and you have to feel my kisses even from this distance. Even when we are geographically separated, in spirit and in our thoughts we are all together again, and maybe this dream will come true some day ! ! ! God the almighty should help us be reunited. The dear grandparents send you warm birthday wishes and kisses. We all love you very much, and what would we give if we could be with you or you with us. But we should be patient, some day the sun will shine for us again.17

Again, a thousand kisses,      your Aunt-Mama

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Translated by Laura Jockusch, circa 2002; edited and footnoted by P. Jellinek (except those footnotes labeled as [LJ])


1. Gisela probably means that when handing the things in, they were examined and some were confiscated, or people were just not allowed to send certain things. [ LJ ]

2. Erez (or Eretz) Israel, (Hebrew: ארץ ישראל ) the Land of Israel, was the official Hebrew designation of the area governed by British Mandate after World War I (1919) until 1948 and the term commonly used by Jews.

3. Dr. Ernst Schubert was a lawyer who had practiced from 1913 - 1928 in Vienna and from 1929 - 1938, in the city of Stockerau, (NW of Vienna). He had been a colleague of Gisela’s brother, Dr. Karl Jellinek. Soon after the Anschluss in 1938, the Nazi regime expelled Dr. Schubert, his wife and daughter, Gertrud (aka Gerty) from Stockerau, as Gisela and Leopold had also been. In September 1938, Dr. Schubert was disbarred, as Dr. K. Jellinek and 1823 other Austrian Jewish lawyers Laws had also been. A few more basic facts re: Dr. Schubert’s 25-year legal career and his disbarment due to the Nazi “Reich Citizenship Law” appear on p. 310. of the same book: Austrian Lawyers: Persecuted in the Years 1938 - 1945, in which Dr. K. Jellinek is listed, and which is discussed in this website’s document: The Nazi Regime’s Disbarment of Dr. Karl Jellinek & . . . September 1938. Dr. Schubert was able to escape to London about one month after Gisela wrote this letter.

4. The very restrictive British White Paper of May 1939, required a Jewish immigrant to hold an offiicial immigration certificate in order to ‘legally’ enter Mandate Palestine. The ruling permitted only 75,000 such certificates to be issued until the end of 1944. On p. 2. of Gisela’s part of the joint August 9, 1938 letter, she mentions Karl Jellinek’s receipt of one of 19 “Academic certificates.” In Gisella Nadja Jellinek’s June 3, 1939 letter from Mandate Palestine, she declares the White Paper’s life-threatening limits to be “nonsense” that will beresisted. Wikipedia’s article The White Paper of 1939 provides germane information on the historical background of the policy, the planned establishment of an ‘Independent State,’ Limits on Jewish immigration and on Land Transfers.

5. Siegfried Jellinek ( familial nickname: Sigl ) was Gisela’ and Hugo’s younger brother, and thus Gisella Nadja’s uncle. It is unlikely that Siegfried was able to ‘take over [Dr. Schubert’s] position’ at the Palestine office, but in any case, less than three months later, on October 20, Siegfried was deported out of Vienna to Nisko, Poland. See Siegfried Jellinek’s Brief Bio. and the Document “List of Jews, Including Siegfried Jellinek, Deported from Vienna to Nisko,. . .

6. Anna Jellinek Nadel was Gisela’s younger sister, born in 1898, who had managed to escape from Vienna to Sydney, Australia. Max Jellinek, born in 1899, was Gisela’s brother and the youngest of the six Jellinek siblings. He had escaped from Nazi-controlled Vienna to Shanghai, China.

7. Aunt Stella (Stella Pollak Jellinek) was Max’s wife, from whom he was separated during the war. Gisela means here that it is not apprpriate for a woman to curse like aunt Stella did. [LJ]

8. This statement of Gisela’s, that Max’s position as a senior school teacher was “good and secure” and that staying in Nazi Vienna was preferable to poor conditions in Shanghai, is the first of several particularly poignant beliefs stated in this letter “ . . . that reveal what was known and what could be known; . . . the total blindness of human beings confronted with an entirely new and utterly horrifying reality.” (see fuller excerpt from Saul Friedländer’s Nazi Germany and the Jews, Vo. I. at the bottom of my Introduction. On p.347 of the book The Jews of Nazi Vienna, 1938-1945: Rescue and Destruction, the author, I. F. Offenberger, explains this similarly: that the Jews in Vienna at this time “. . . did not have the ability to comprehend what was happening as it was transpiring, nor could they anticipate . . . that the danger would only intensify.”

9. Putzi and Lussinka (derived from German and Russian, respectively) were the familial, diminutive nicknames for Gisela’s niece/Gisella Nadja’s youngest sister, Anna Jellinek. Gisela attributes Hugo’s happiness in his relationship with Fritzi Frankl, to Anna/Putzi, because Anna worked as a housekeeper for Fritzi’s parents and her praise for Fritzi led to Hugo and Fritzi’s meeting.

10. Anna/Putzi’s writing that Hugo is “enjoying good luck” shows the same kind of “blindness” that was referred to in footnote #8.

11 Hugo Junker’s company had invented and patented a natural gas-fired water heater in 1894. The basic story of Hugo Junker and the eponymous German company he founded, as told on Wikipedia, provides an interesting footnote to this letter and to history. Known mostly for his pioneering aircraft design, Junkers died under Nazi house arrest in 1935, for refusing to aid in Nazi Germany’s rearmament.

12. Gisela must have enclosed the copy of Fritzi’s love poems to Hugo in this letter, but the poems and this letter became separated amongst the many letters that Gisella Nadja gave me in 1999. Fritzi’s two poems have been posted separately on this website and can be read here.

13. In addressing Gisella Nadja, who was already ‘out’ of Nazi-occupied Europe and in Mandate Palestine, Gisela seems to have mistakenly written that uncle Karl “wants you all out” instead of writing that Karl “wants them all out. “Them” would have correctly referred to Hugo, Fritzi, Berta and Anna, who Karl knew, were in imminent mortal danger in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia.

14. It is very difficult to understand Hugo’s expressed optimism and whether it was due to any one cause or any combination of the following causes/reasons: a.) his inability, exacerbated by Nazi deception, to fully perceive, “comprehend” or “anticipate” the worsening of the “entirely new and utterly horrifying reality” (as cited in footnotes #8 & 10 above); b.)Hugo’s wish to give his beleagured sister, Gisela, (and through her, his daughter, Gisella Nadja) moral support; c.) the positive influence of being newly in-love; d.) being lucky, so far, in his personal avoidance of violent anti-Semitic attacks; e.) Fritzi and Hugo’s non-Jewish Czech neighbors &/or friends, defying orders to discontinue association with Jews, thererby showing solidarity and mutual opposition to the German occupation. Hugo would have been aware that, unlike their Austrian counterparts, many ordinary Czech citizens did not renounce Jews and commit accelerated attacks of “unabated fury” that Viennese Jews had been subject to immediately following the Anschluss. f.) Hugo was not adequately informed and therefore under-estimated the growth of German power and influence and that Czechoslovakia and most other countries would capitulate to that power. (See in this website’s Sources Book List: L. Rothkirchen’s analysis of this period, especially in her chapters “The Aftermath of Munich:The Crisis of the Intellectuals” and “Under German Occupation” in The Jews of Bohemia and Moravia: Facing the Holocaust, and C. Browning’s chapter “Germany and Europe 1939 - 41” in The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939 - March 1942 and A. Eban’s chapter on “The Holocaust” in his book My People: the Story of the Jews. For a basic summary see Wikipedia’s article on The Holocaust in Bohemia and Moravia.

15. Gisela is stating her belief — a belief that seems to have also informed Hugo’s termination of his relationship with Therese Spitz— that there was no hope of Hugo and Therese Spitz’s friendship resulting in Therese’s divorce of her current husband, and her marriage to Hugo. Hugo’s strongly worded rationale for this breakup appears on p. 4. of his June 12, 1939 letter written to his eldest daughter, Gisella Nadja.

16. Another statement by Gisela that is tragic/ironic and reveals (as referenced in footnotes #8, 10, and 14, above) “what was known and what could be known” at this time and place by eventual victims of the Nazi genocide,

17. Tragically, Gisela’s hope and dreams of reuniting with her niece, Gisella Naja and the rest of her extended family were never realized, but the sun did shine brightly for many years on Gisella Nadja in Mandatory Palestine and the state of Israel and continues to shine on her many descendants there.