August 12, 19381

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]

Hugo shares his worries about his sixteen year-old daughter, Berta, spending time with Socialist political emigrants. He wishes Berta would identify more strongly as a Jew. Hugo also reports that he is well, but that he is troubled by the stressful upheaval that his parents and siblings, still in Hollabrunn and Vienna, are experiencing.


(View German Transcription)

My dearly beloved child! Brünn, 12th .... 193...

Today, Friday evening, I go to the Temple with Bertuschka.2
The service here is an artistic experience.
Bertuschka, who lately annoys me with her
“Socialism,” as well as
with her way of life, has no understanding for that.
But I explained to her that it is the most important thing
that one shows one's feeling of belonging,
and at least outwardly, show
– by attending temple – a sense of belonging to the nation [of the Jewish people].
And I will not let it go, and under no circumstances concede
to Berta's losing herself when she
often visits the abject mass accomodations of the political emigrants here.
Apart from that, it is not appropriate for a well-brought up young girl;
it also makes no sense, and
a disaster is going to happen only too soon.
You are of a different character and I

[left margin of page 1.]
Dear Bertuschka's hand is already nearly healed and she will write something
to you next week.. Paps Hg. [Hugo]

(View German Transcription)

[next page]

am also convinced that you will appreciate it enough
when “your Pauli” is so faithfully and comradely
attached to you. I send you all the letters from Hollabrunn
and Vienna so that you can get the picture of “Gangstria”
(that is now the name of “Germania”).
I am also deeply moved by the terrible upheavals
that these brave and noble people
have to suffer.3 I wrote to the parents
that they should come here. I will work for them
and do even the heaviest physical work. Otherwise,
I am healthy and doing pretty well. I hope that
I don't have to worry excessively about you,
and when you write next time, it’s enough
if you write to Hollabrunn or
to me here, as I will always send your letters
home to my loved ones or they send them to me.
Next week you will receive a detailed account from your ever faithful Papsi

[left margin of page 2.]
Bertha sends greetings many times and will write to you soon.

(View German Transcription)


Translated by Laura Jockusch and edited by Barbara Sommerschuh of Sütterlinstube, Hamburg, Germany


1. Although the upper right corner of the paper, in which the last digit of the year appeared, has been torn off, we know that the year is 1938, because: a) Hugo tells Gisella Nadja that she can just “write to Hollabrunn.” The family (consisting at this point of Hugo's parents, as well as his sister, Gisela, and Gisela's husband Poldi) was only in Hollabrunn until mid to late September1938, when they were expelled to Vienna; b) Hugo still thinks his parents should come to Brünn, Cz. He probably would not have advocated their travelling to Czechoslovakia after the Nazi invasion of Cz. of March 1939; c) Hugo only writes about Berta (Bertuschka) and not his younger daughter Anna, who came from Hollabrunn to live in Brünn in October, 1938.
Re: seeing the numeral “12,” but not the illegible month of the date: we surmised, similarly to how we inferred the year from the contents of the letter, that the month had to be August or September. But, after noticing that Hugo wrote in his first sentence that it was Friday evening, the Sütterlinstube editors were able to ascertain that the month was August,(by checking the 1938 calendar website,, which showed that the only month in 1938, in which the 12th of the month fell on a Friday, was August.

2. “Bertuschka” is Hugo's affectionate, Russified nickname for his middle daughter, Berta, b. 1922.

3. Hugo is alluding to the suffering of his parents, his youngest daughter, Anna, all of his five siblings, their spouses and children — totalling 16 people — who were in Vienna or Hollabrunn in August 1938. See this site's “Pre-Anschluss” map (in Maps section) for a visual overview. This “Pre-Anschluss” map is still acurate for August 1938, except for: Hugo and his daughter, Berta, who had escaped from Vienna to Brünn by mid-July, and Gisela Jellinek Schlesinger and her husband, Leopold (Poldi) S., who had been evicted from their apartment in Stockerau in the months following the Anschluss, and were living with Gisela's parents in Hollabrunn, in August 1938.