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My Father’s Story: Remembering Paul Jarolim

My Father’s Story: Remembering Paul Jarolim

It’s the 23rd day of the Family History Writing Challenge and I see no reason to leave my father out; after all, he’s 50% responsible for my genes and 100% responsible for my name. His sister, my aunt Edith Jarolim, was my namesake. More relevant to this challenge: He had almost literally the same history as my mother did in Vienna and New York–down to the closed bank accounts and deported relatives.

The Jarolim family (left to right): Paul, Frederick (Fritz), Edith, Matilda, Richard, ca 1938

A Bit of Background

My grandfather Ignatz Jarolim — he whose first name I was too embarrassed to put on my family tree in 3rd grade — was one of the few members of my immediate family not uprooted or killed by the Nazis. He died in 1919 of bronchial pneumonia. After 1919, my grandmother Mathilde/Malvina Brown Jarolim raised four children — Edith (b. 1899), Richard (b. 1901), Paul (b. 1903) and Fritz (b. 1905) — on her own.  That’s four children ranging from age 14 to 20 living at home.

Until they scattered during World War II.

My uncle Fritz, whom I met for the first and only time in 1971, joined the French Foreign Legion:

My father ended up in a Belgian refugee camp before he was able to emigrate to America. 

My father is on the far right, in a refugee/work camp in Brussels in late 1938 or 1939.

He was a dental technician in Vienna and later took up the trade in America, so this picture makes sense in one respect, though I can’t find out much more about Jews held in Belgium. My father got to America via the S.S. Pennland from Antwerp on December 9, 1939. This I did not know until I checked the ship’s log today: He was sponsored by the Brussels Committee of Refugees; his final destination was Cincinnati, Ohio; and he was sponsored by a cousin, Phil Jaeger, that I never heard of. Add that to the long List of Things I Don’t Know About My Family.

 

I’ll probably never learn how my father managed to stay in New York. The why is not difficult to understand: No doubt, being from Vienna, he liked big cities. He might also have figured it would be easier for a dental technician to earn money in New York than in Ohio, and I’m sure he wanted easy access to organizations trying to help European Jews; after all, he was trying to get his mother, sister, and brother Richard to the U.S. Just as my mother did for her family, my father set up a bank account with the Jewish Transmigration Bureau (you can see it next to the title of this post).

On 8/12/41 the account was “examined” and closed. 

Malvina/Mathilda Jarolim died in Vienna in March 29, 1941, cause unknown. She was buried next to her husband in Zentralfriedhof. I saw a photo of their gravestone but by the time I got to Vienna in 2014, the large monument had disappeared among the ruins.

Edith was deported to Litzmannstadt on October 19, 1941. At least her mother didn’t live to see that, or Richard’s deportation to Auschwitz on January 15, 1943.

Back to New York

My parents met in a class in Brighton Beach set up for refugees trying to learn English. My mother always said my father loved her for her Viennese accent. I’m sure there was more, but I imagine they must have been drawn to each other as landsmen, Jews from the same city similarly wrenched from their families.  They got married on December 30, 1941. It must have been a difficult wedding. Not only weren’t any immediate members of their families able to attend, but by then both Rita Rosenbaum and Paul Jarolim knew that, despite their best efforts, they would not be able to save them. 

My father was the more outgoing of my parents, though that’s not saying much. Neither of them had any friends as far as I can recall. They never had people over to our small Brooklyn apartment, or socialized with anyone outside our home. I don’t believe it was simply that we didn’t have much money. It’s fair to say that both of my parents were a bit broken, but that my father took what happened harder. As a man, he would have been expected to be able to save his mother and sister.  Failing to do so must have been a heavy burden.

Back row: My uncle Fritz is on the far left, standing slightly apart; my father is standing second from the right.

Here’s a picture of my father in Vienna with his brother and their friends, in front of a building not far from the Prater. In the 23 years that I knew him, I don’t think I ever saw him smile quite so broadly as he’s smiling here.

Commemorating Rita Rosenbaum

Commemorating Rita Rosenbaum

George Washington would have been 286 years old today. My mother would have been 105. The robbing of George (and, to be fair, Abe) of his own holiday in the face of the national commerce fest called President’s Day happened in 1971 but for the rest of her life, my mother was annoyed that herContinue Reading »

The Sweet in the Bittersweet Schmerling Story

The Sweet in the Bittersweet Schmerling Story

This is Day 20 of the Family History Writing Challenge, wherein I continue the story of the Schmerlings, who returned to Vienna after the war. I realize I’ve spent more time with other members of my mother’s family than I’ve spent with Adolf and Bertha Schweizer, the ostensible subjects of this challenge, but a biggerContinue Reading »

From Vienna to Tel Aviv and Back: Reparations Gone Awry

From Vienna to Tel Aviv and Back: Reparations Gone Awry

This is Day 19 of The Family History Writing Challenge. I’ll pick up where Day 18 left off, with Helene and Siegmund Kornmehl fleeing Vienna to Palestine. The context: I was describing the mystery of the late-life adoption of Erika by the subject of this challenge, Adolf and Bertha Schweizer, and went off on theContinue Reading »

Adoption Musings, Part 2: What Happened to Helene Kornmehl?

Adoption Musings, Part 2: What Happened to Helene Kornmehl?

On Days 18 of the Family History Writing Challenge, I turn again to a topic that I’ve touched on before: Nazi record keeping. In “Emigration Questionnaire Raises More Questions,” I discussed the agency created to “accelerate the forced emigration of the Austrian Jews and (starting in October 1939) to organize and carry out their deportation.” But it wasn’tContinue Reading »

Late Life Adoptions, Part 1

Late Life Adoptions, Part 1

This is Day 17 of the Family History Writing Challenge, the first of two about family adoptions.   The second story is odd on the surface — two adults adopting another adult who already has living parents –but I have a great deal of detail about it; that’s for tomorrow. This first is more traditional, butContinue Reading »

A Meaty Heritage

A Meaty Heritage

It’s day 16 of the Family History Writing Challenge and I’m feeling grateful that I’m not a vegetarian. It’s bad enough to have to face the dire fates of various family members while exploring the past; I’m not sure I could cope with feeling guilty about the fact that they were butchers. My ambivalence –nay,Continue Reading »

The Gift of Gab

The Gift of Gab

This is day 15 of the Family History Writing Challenge — the one where I do a little backtracking, a lot of mea culping, and some not-so-gentle admonishing. The Family Picture  Once upon a time, a mysterious picture hung in my mother’s apartment in Atlanta.  The people pictured in it, those featured at the topContinue Reading »

Family History Writing Challenge: Ponderings at the Halfway Mark

Family History Writing Challenge: Ponderings at the Halfway Mark

Today is Day 14 of the Family History Writing Challenge, 2018 — which means tomorrow I’ll be in the home stretch. Yesterday I hit a brick wall in my research, so today I thought I’d take a breather and consider the process. As I said at the start, I took the challenge  because I needContinue Reading »

Struggling with Sponsorship: Who’s That Nephew?

Struggling with Sponsorship: Who’s That Nephew?

This is day 13 of the Family History Writing Challenge and I’ve hit a brick wall — to use a common genealogical term for encountering seemingly insurmountable problems that make you want to bang your head against one (this last is just my interpretation). I’m still poring over the emigration questionnaire of Adolf Schweizer: Emigration documentContinue Reading »