August 5, 1938

Author(s) / Origin of Letter
Recipient(s) / Relationship to Author(s) / Destination of Letter
Anna Jellinek
[Hollabrunn, Austria]

Gisella Nadja Jellinek (sister of AJ)
[Rishon Le Zion, British Mandate Palestine]

Fourteen year-old Anna’s writing is unevenly negative and positive, wise and naiive. She begins her letter with hearty congratulations to her sister as she celebrates her 18th birthday in the ‘Land of Israel.’ Anna ends with kisses and hopes to be together in the following year. But Anna also reports about the traumatic effects of Nazi persecution, such as the ruination of the leather goods in their uncle Leopold Schlesinger’s store, and the subsequent total loss of his store through its ‘aryanization.’ Anna prejudicially denigrates Arabs in Palestine, but advises Nadja that good and bad people exist everywhere and that Nadja should not be prejudiced about Jews of Polish background in her Betar group.


(View German Transcription)

Hollabrunn, August 5,

Dearest Giserl!1938

You are 18 years old and you are in Erez –
did you ever dream of that! It’s also
a very nice present!

In short: I congratulate you very heartily and wish you everything imaginable that is good and wonderful. The loving, dear God, which now you have acknowledged, protected you on the long journey, so He won’t leave you. As they say: When the need is greatest, God is nearest. The wishes I’ll try as best I can to fulfill. Your nice, splendid boy has already sent a package; I hope you’ll get it!

Just imagine, dear Uncle Poldi no longer has his shop! People besmeared everything belonging to that honest and genuine human being and then aryanized it.1 These scoundrels, the Arabs should really give [everyone] peace and quiet already, I beg them for that!2

Be especially nice to Hanna. You know, don’t you — not all Poles are like that. Everywhere good and bad people exist. You must know already which good people I mean! Family Tiefenbaum – I only wished our

[page 2. ‐ reverse side]

family was like that! I enjoyed every day with them; such hospitality like nowhere in the world.

Gieserl, write directly to the family Tiefenbaum.

Dear aunt Anny will enclose the stamps.

It must be hot there, no?! Here it is 33° in the shade. It’s a pain.! I am melting already. ‐ I’ll send you the picture that you wanted from Leipzig. Please write to dear Fuchsi.3 She should send you the picture of [ . . ? . . ] (Daddy has them also).

The (dear, dear) 5 feet 5 [times] power grandmamá (stressing the second syllable)! praises you. If I go away, she’ll also praise me; right now, she does the opposite. Wallisch had to give everything up.4 Oskar Hirschensohn is in (on recovery; he is mentally ill).5 Mudesky has also lost everything. The dear Simon Lustig is next to travel to (Erez ISRAEL!`)6 The stupid cat of the house also departed, but to the
better next world!

So, hopefully, we’ll celebrate your 19th birthday in the company of dear Papi and dear Bertel and naturally (of course, grandpa says) and me!

Heartfelt greetings and kisses that you must imagine, birthday child.

Luch [?] or Lous [?]7

[written along the left side:]

high high high high high high high high Three cheers!8

(View German Transcription)

(View German Transcription)


English translation by Anne L. Fox; edited by Brian Middleton, as well as Ursula Eckelmann and Barbara Sommerschuh of Sütterlinstube, Hamburg, Germany; footnotes by P. Jellinek


1. Leopold Schlesinger/Poldi’s leather goods store was in Stockerau, Austria. ‘Besmearing’ everything likely meant that all of the leather goods were smeared or covered with a greasy or sticky substance, tarred and definitely dirtied and ruined. It is important to realize that this destruction of Leopold’s store happened within five months of the Anschluss — and predated the November 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom.

2. Anna, who was only fourteen years old when she wrote this statement, reveals here her prejudice and naiveté, re: Arabs and the political situation in British Mandate Palestine.

3. Fuschi was one of the nicknames of Anna and Nadja’s middle sister, Berta.

4. Wallisch, Mudesky and Simon Lustig were probably friends and neighbors of Anna’s grandparents, Siegmund and Berta S. Jellinek in Hollabrunn. Gisella Nadja would have been acquainted with these people from the periods during 1930 ‐ 1938, in which she had lived with her grandparents, as Anna still was, at the time that she wrote this letter.

5. Oskar Hirschensohn was Martha H. Jellinek’s younger brother, born in 1898. Martha was married to Siegfried Jellinek, Anna and Nadja’s uncle. Sadly, we do not know more about Oskar other than that he was deported from Vienna on February 2, 1941 to Opole Lubelskie, Pulawy, Lublin, Poland and murdered in 1942.

6. It is unclear whether Anna drew a Star of David symbol above the last two letters of “ISROEL”— or an asterisk,. If it is a Star of David, is there a meaning to the diagonal line that seems to go through it? And above this symbol, did Anna write the numeral “6,” or the editing mark for ‘delete’ or some other symbol?

7. The content provides clear evidence that this letter is from Anna. The handwriting also matches Anna’s letter of August 9, 1938, which begins with ”Liebster Vati” and is signed “A.” Lastly, the faded, obscured and abbreviated signature appears to be either “ “Luch” short for “Luchia,” Anna’s middle name, or “Lous,” short for “Loussinka,” Anna’s Russified, familial nickname.

8. “Three Cheers!” (Dreimal hoch!) are the last two words of each verse of this traditional, spirited German birthday song. The name of the song and the first two lines are “Hoch soll sie leben!” (Long may she live!”) By writing “hoch” eight times, we can assume that Anna is trying to be more expressive, to compensate for her not being able to sing the happy song and express her strong feelings to Nadja in person.