I'm thinking about applying for dual citizenship with Austria. As of September 1, it is available to direct descendants of those killed or forced to leave the country when it became Nazified. I easily qualify on both sides of my family, with a mother and father born in Austria and residing there in 1938, not to mention grandparents who were unable to escape. As "dual"
When I talk about my parents' forced departure from Vienna, I generally focus on the tragic outcome: the death of almost all their immediate family members, except for my father's brother, Fritz. On this Father's Day, I'd like to focus on the bravery -- combined with what must have been ingenuity and a bit of luck -- that got Paul Jarolim to America from Nazi-occupied
Death and destruction take their toll on families in every war. Less common to major conflicts, World War II also scattered Jewish families to the winds, robbing them of the comfort of a homeland to return to -- at least not without mixed feelings. This was one factor in the rift between my father and his only surviving sibling. A Bit of Background My
When it comes to my mother's family, the topic of military service is fraught. I've written before about the fact that my grandfather Herman Rosenbaum served in World War I but was not rewarded for his service by such basic decency as not being deported from Austria and sent to his death. I've also written about how I disliked the idea of my family members as victims. It
Since I started exploring my family stories on the pages of this blog, I've often wondered what my life would have been like had my parents not been forced to leave Vienna. Several Hypotheticals There are many variables I'm ignoring here, of course. My mother liked to say that my father fell in love with her because "she sounded like home" when they met in Brighton
Here's another long-time-coming post from my blog archive, this one dating back to July when my cousin Andreas Oberndorfer first discovered this blog and contacted me. I wrote about Andreas's fascinating past, the missing links in his family -- and mine -- in the post Redheads, Resisters, & Red Light Districts, 1: Valerie Oberndorfer-Kornmehl. I have many excuses,
In my backlog of unfinished posts, this one -- started in November 2019 -- seemed the most timely for this pandemic Passover. It's partly elegiac, which fits the current mood, but it's also about finding new family. And about endurance. A deli-denying newscaster plays a part in the narrative too. Fake news! Rolled Beef, Redux In my dual roles of amateur family
Freud's Butcher is the gift that keeps on giving. Just when I think I'm about finished with the story of my maternal grandparents' family, another member turns up. This time it is Andreas Oberndorfer, grandson of Valerie Oberndorfer-Kornmehl and nephew of my second cousin once removed, Bruno Oberndorfer-Kornmehl. My newfound Viennese relative appeared out of the blue.
Dayenu: It would have been enough. That phrase, repeated as a refrain in a Passover song that offers a litany of thanks for blessings piled upon blessings, has been going through my head sporadically since last October, when I gave a talk at the Freud Museum in Vienna. It's been an amazing journey, albeit one that's taken a rather meandering, bumpy path, from the inception of
It all started on a Facebook group I belong to: A posted photo of a Holocaust victim who had committed suicide rather than be captured by the Nazis led to a larger discussion of the topic. Somehow, I hadn't realized that many Jewish women and men took their lives, either to avoid being taken or to end their suffering at the death camps. I commented that I didn't know
UPDATE: I was wrong. I hate that -- especially since it means the mystery of Erika remains unresolved. What happened? Sometimes I think that if I wait long enough, relatives will turn up to resolve all my genealogical issues -- or at least clarify them. The original post, below, posited that two childless members of the Kornmehl family, the Schweitzers,
There's been a lot going on behind the scenes in the Freud's Butcher universe, but it's like the proverbial tree falling in the forest: If a blogger doesn't post about events, did they really happen? They did, and they will--and here's the proof. Psychology Today I've made many forays into discussions of Freud's life -- in order to provide context for my family's
This blog has become the occasional home for memorial pages of the recently departed who are not necessarily related to me, as well as the long departed who are. Its Jewish focus makes it particularly apt for the tributes to my friend Martha, who was a rabbi's daughter and went to the Stern College for Women, part of Yeshiva University. As it happens, she is buried at New
As the 2018 Family History Writing Challenge comes to a close, I observe that I solved a few mysteries; came up with several more; and reaffirmed the importance of genealogists who pass along stories rather than genes. A Divorcee and a Bastard (That's A Technical Term) It seems that my great uncle and aunt, Adolf and Bertha Schweizer -- aka Abraham Rittman and
In this home stretch of the family history writing challenge, I've been thinking about a time when I dipped my toes into the dark sea of my parents' past--and then retreated. The Second Generation Revelation It was the late 1970s. I was working on a doctorate at NYU and seeing a therapist, Mildred,* for anxiety and mild depression. I didn't feel like I was getting a lot out