September 9, 1938

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

Hugo Jellinek (brother of GJS)
                                   [Brünn, Czechoslovakia]

Gisela reveals the toll of Nazi anti-Jewish persecution on the Jelinek family, their friends and neighbors. Some examples she reports are: the take-over of her husband Leopold’s business, the confiscation of every Jewish person’s home, including their own, in Stockerau and the need to support her young cousin, Willy Jellinek, who is imprisoned in Dachau. In addition, she, her husband, her parents and all Jewish residents of Hollabrunn are being forcibly expelled to Vienna. Gisela must prepare everything for her family’s rushed move, as well as help Hugo’s youngest daughter/her niece, Anna, move from Hollabrunn to Brünn to join Hugo.

Friday, September 9, 1938

Dear Hugo/: We received your dear letter and enclosures and were all touched by Arthur’s1 sacrifice. Our dear father will write to Arthur directly on Sunday. It is already nearly Friday evening and at this time our dear father does not write. In any case, I’ll arrange it all if we are only halfway in order. Anna will go with father to an idiopathic [doctor] and beg him to have consideration for this special case. Dr. Polatzchek told Poldi2 that Dr. Fuchs [Oldrohn3 ?] has had for a while already, the residence permit from the town of Meseritsch4, although the country makes certain difficulties. - Poldi will come only tomorrow evening and will stay here Sunday. For three weeks, Ingelmeyer has taken all the money and even the commissioner from Stockerau has said to Z., [ ? ] why don’t you give Mr. Schlesinger any money — what can he live on? Therefore he gave him something!5

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Poldi chose his own fate and all is his fault because these cheapskates had to pay the commissioner daily and therefore made Poldi afraid. But it would have been a thousand times better to pay the commissioner these few Marks and he could have used the money for himself for two more months. But I am not allowed to reprimand him; he is so worn down and thin. It is also no wonder! For three months he had no home, no order, no proper food. Now, Mrs. Olga Sofer lets him sleep in the servant quarters. In Stockerau, every room was confiscated from the Jews. Mr. Hameter, the bastard,6 took possession of Arthur Meyer’s new villa for himself. — In pouring rain, the Beers had to get out of their own house, with their paralyzed father! — Yesterday and today, I had a lot of wash and worked very hard. I wanted to still

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put everything in order before the move and to prepare everything for Putzi7. We want to travel on Tuesday afternoon by bus to Vienna; we will bathe at Anny’s8 and the next day. I will still make an appointment for her with the hairdresser. Then I will go to Čedok9 and to Zirno and at 2 o’clock, I’ll bring her to the train. She will only take one suitcase, a make-up case and the violin. Hans is in Vienna and will see to the business of money exchange. Should I also I send the credit note from Oskar? The package cost 5 Sch.10 duty already and should the suitcase turn out to be too heavy, I will have to send a package yet again. Anna will beg for several things, such as ties, etc. I have already bought a manicure set in first class condition (1 good file, 1 nail scissors, 1 skin scissors). I also will send silk for a blouse for Berta.

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I’m enclosing the card from Gustl;11 of course, I gave him your suggestion. Do you already have the second installment of money from Ilona? I will persuade Miron12 to send 10 Marks too. Until now, father has sent 170 RM to Willy, respectively to you.13 I regret that in Vienna it will not be like that, because all additional income will disappear like light and water, etc. Perhaps you will earn something by then. I doubt that our parents will get the exit permit before the end of the year. Karl should also depart around that time. Miron, maybe earlier. I will let Sigl14 come to do the packing. I am already half crazy15, as such an old household is not so quickly liquidated. Mother clings to every scrap and so I have a lot to endure, because I can’t move into the new apartment with such junk. On Wednesday, I’ll get the decision at the housing authority. Kisses Gisa
[written along the side of page 4.] :
Gut Schabbes [Good Sabbath]
Greetings from the dear parents

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English translated by Anne L. Fox; edited by Barbara Sommerschuh, Brigitte Balkow and Gerhard Koerth of Sütterlinstube, Hamburg, Germany.


1. Arthur Jellinek was the son of Siegmund Jellinek’s brother, Eduard. Thus, Arthur was Gisela and Hugo’s first cousin. Arthur lived and was a manager of a bank in Brno, Czechoslovakia. Arthur must have had a change of heart and made his “sacrifice” after Hugo wrote disparagingly, in his August 21st letter, of Arthur’s lack of assistance nor concern for his plight as a new poor emigrant.

2. Poldi was the nickname for Gisela’s husband, Leopold Schlesinger

3. This name may be Dr. Fuch’s first name. Gisela inserted this word above the line in an unclear handwriting.

4. Meseritsch, the German name for the Czech name Meziříčí, could have referred to either the city of Groß Meseritsch (Velké Meziříčí) in tthe Bohemian - Moravian Highlands, or Walachisch Meseritsch (Valašské Meziříčí) in the Moravian Wallachia of the Czech Republic (then-Czechoslovakia).

5. From this statement by Gisela and the ones immediately following, it is difficult to know exactly what happened during the Nazi take-over of Poldi’s Stockerau leather goods business, nor which alternative strategy Gisela thought would have been a better way of dealing with the take-over. Poldi’s business was in Stockerau, a town in Lower Austria, about 18 miles northwest of Vienna.

6. Interestingly, after Mr. Hameter’s name, Gisela switched to an old form of shorthand, less likely to be understood by the censors, to write the damning German words “der Hund “ (the dog) --- followed by the German words necessary for the grammatical flow and full meaning of the sentence: “hat”(auxiliary verb to indicate past tense) plus “sich die” (for himself + the). Gisela’s Gabelsberger Stenography was transcribed by Edelgard Dankerl of Munich.

7. Putzi = affectionate nickname for Anna Jellinek, Hugo’s youngest daughter, and thus Gisela’s niece.

8. This “Anny” refers to Gisela’s younger sister, Anna Jellinek Nadel.

9. Čedok = the acronym of the Czech Transport Office (travel agency), established in 1920.

10. Gisela may have inadvertently written “Sch.” out of habit, or she may have converted the amount to Schillings. “Sch.” was the abbreviation for the Austrian Schilling currency used before the German annexation of Austria and the subsequent replacement of the Schilling by the German Reichsmark.

11. Gustl was the nickname for Gustav Jellinek, a medical doctor who was Gisela’s maternal first cousin.

12. Miron Nadel was the husband of Gisela and Hugo’s younger sister, Anna.

13. Willy Jellinek was the grandson of Siegmund Jellinek’s sister, Jetti Jellinek, and thus Siegmund’s grand-nephew and Gisela and Hugo’s first cousin, once-removed. Willy J. was twenty-two years old at this time and imprisoned in Dachau concentration camp. Siegmund would send Nazi German currency to help Willy, and Willy’s father, Oskar Jellinek, would in turn, help to support Hugo, by giving him the equivalent amount in Czech currency.

14. Sigl was a nickname of Gisela’s brother, Siegfried’.

15. Gisela used the Yiddish word “meshugga” here, for “crazy.”