September 5, 1938

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

Hugo Jellinek (son of SJ, sister of GJS)
Berta Jellinek (grandaughter of SJ, niece of GJS)
[Brünn, Czechoslovakia]

Siegmund received a document from his son, Hugo, that grants him permission to enter a town (likely, his birthplace of Kanitz) in Czechoslovakia. He hopes to obtain a doctor's certificate that may increase his chances of procuring a permit to exit from Austria. Siegmund also considers a questionable offer of assistance and hopes for the transfer of his pension to Kanitz. Lastly, Siegmund reports on having managed the sale of Hugo's merchandise and that Anna will bring the sale proceeds with her when she reunites with her father, (Hugo) in Brünn.

Gisela feels that she is losing her calm, courage, ability to pray and her belief in being rescued. Gisela, her husband and her parents are being expelled from her parents' long-standing home/synagogue in Hollabrunn, and Gisela is in the midst of difficult preparations for their forced move to Vienna. Gisela describes strong emotional reactions by neighbors in the face of their evictions.


(View German Transcription)

Hollabrunn, September 5, 1938

Dear Hugo & Berta!

Enclosing the receipt, I am hurrying to answer your letter, which I have just received together with the document. With this permission to enter the country, I should receive the permit to exit the country soon, through Dr. Löwenherz.1 On that occasion, I will also take suitable steps regarding the pension. Hopefully, I will be successful; but if I am not successful, I am not very likely to realize this vital question.

(View German Transcription)

I cannot rely on the promised assistance, because such promises are very changeable, which has very often been the sad case with other people. But, nevertheless, in the meantime, I will agree to this wonderful offer with a heavy heart; however, only in case the transfer of the pension will be denied to Kanitz. But now, let's talk about business!

(View German Transcription)

With cunning and much effort, I managed to sell your merchandise for 325 RM to Mr. Dreiskampt and dear Anny will deposit the money for you at Cedok.2 I am happy to have sold the merchandise, since 14 boxes are not so easy, nor does it seem advisable to bring [them] to Vienna. Dear Lussinka3 received some Czech and German money separately from me. I will send you a picture of me, which you requested, as soon as Miron will have taken a new one. Enough for today, it’s Gisa's turn!
Many warm greetings,
your loyal father, S. Jellinek

(View German Transcription)

Dear Hugo! We were very happy about the promise1 by [a person in] Kanitz2,
but various things still have to be settled.
I think it will take 3 - 4 more months
and in the meantime, maybe Karl and Anna will already be gone
and so, for the dear parents, it will be easier to leave Vienna.3
At the moment, the Tiefenbrunns should have been evicted
within less than one hour [and] in pouring
rain.4 After much pleading at the mayor's,
they succeeded in geting a postponement until Thursday morning.
He [Mr. Tiefenbrunn] is said to have cried like a little child. She [Mrs. Tiefen-brunn] is already only
a shadow [of her former self]. Day and night Lussa5
is helping upstairs. They have to lodge a fortnight in Vienna with relatives because
the flat will be appropriated to us only on September 15th by the district administration Kannetälerplatz.
And that is only if we get the most beneficial settlement.
Probably they6 will act just as vigorously with us on the 22nd.
One could go insane from this. If I survive everything that is in store for us,
then I can thank God. I, who have always been so pious,
cannot pray anymore and I don't believe in our rescue anymore.
Up to now I behaved quite bravely but now, my nerves abandon me
Miron has 2 requests from Sydney and from London
in first-class studios.7 Mean-while, he still earns good money. It should still
take a long time. Anna is now giving Karl
100 Marks every month for subsequent [additional] tax payments and a lot of money besides that.

(View German Transcription)


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


1. Siegmund is probably referring to entering Czechoslovakia and exiting from Austria. Dr. Löwenherz is likely the “idiopathic doctor” mentioned on the first page of Gisela's September 9, 1938 letter, who would be entreated “to have consideration for [Siegmund's] special case.” This may be about asking the doctor for certification of Siegmund's (made-up?) need for a special medical treatment that is available in Czechoslovakia, but not in Austria

2. Cedok was and is a Czech transportation association.

3. Lussinka was one of the affectionate, Russified nicknames for Anna, Hugo's youngest daughter.

Translated by Laura Jockusch and edited by Brigitte Balkow of Sütterlinstube, Hamburg, Germany


1. The words “Zusicherung” can mean promise, or assurance of any kind. It is not clear whether it is a private promise or an official issue involving an administrative authority. In Siegmund Jellinek's letter, which accompanies this letter by Gisela, he writes that he received a document that gives him permission to enter a country (most liikely Czechoslovakia).

2. Kanitz was the name of the town in the Moravian region of the Austro-Hungarian empire, in which Siegmund was born in 1857, and to which Siegmund referred in his accompanying letter. Ms. Balkow, the translation editor, noted that Gisela’s use of “von” in the German phrase “Zusicherung von Kanitz” means that the promise came by (or through) a person, and not from a locality.

3. The familywould have already known that their expulsion (and the expulsion of all Jews) from Hollabrunn and into Vienna was imminent. In fact, from September 10, just five days after the date of this letter, until their final expulsion two weeks later, Jews in Hollabrunn were only allowed on the street between 6 - 8 a.m., and were forced to ‘sell’ their real estate property. (see the chapter “Die Vertreibung der Juden and Jüdinnen” (The Expuslion of Jewish Men and Women) in A. Fehringer’s book: Ihr Müsst Hier Weg: Die jüdische Gemeinde Hollabrunn von 1850 bis 1938 (You Must Get Out of Here: The Jewish Community of Hollabrunn from 1850 - 1938). See this book’s listing in the category ‘. . . Historical Narratives of Particular Relevance to the Jellinek Family’s Experiences” in this website's Sources section.

Gisela means that her parents' will have an easier time psychologically, migrating from Vienna to Kanitz, Czechoslovakia, after their adult children, Karl and Anna, and their families, will have emigrated from Vienna.

4. “. . . in an hour of pouring rain.”may have described the exacerbating element of a strong rain falling when the Tiefenbrunns were to be forced out of their home and into the outdoors, or it could also have been Gisela's coded, metaphoric way of communicating that the pace and degree of Nazi persecution of the Jews in Hollabrunn has increased to the point of becoming tumultuous and intolerable.

5. Lussa was a shortened form of the Russified nickname, Lussinka, given to Hugo Jellinek's youngest daughter, Anna.

6. “They” are the the Nazi policemen and administrators in Hollabrunn. The German word that Gisela uses for ‘“energetically” or “vigorously,” instead of a stronger word, such as the German for “aggresively,” or “forcibly,” can most likely be attributed to Gisela's fear of the Nazi censors, coupled with her confidence that Hugo would have understood her subtle sarcasm and hidden meaning in her word choice.

7.Miron Nadel was married to Gisela and Hugo's younger sister, Anna/aka Anny. Miron was a photographer and he and Anna owned and operated a photography studio in Vienna that was vandalized and robbed in the November 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom.

See Miron and Anna's Jewish Property Declaration of April 1938 in the Documents section of this website.