Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.
— David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens.
This quote came to mind as I try to approach the putative next subject of my family history challenge, Viktor Kornmehl. I thought I knew everything there was to know about him because I have many sources of information, including his son, Hillel Koren. But Viktor has been receding as the hero of his life — temporarily — as I learn more about his ancestry.
Yesterday I had only questions about the other five people who were interred in the same plot as Viktor’s mother, Kamilla. Today I have a pretty good idea who all of them might be, thanks to the help — as ever — of family (Jill Leibman Kornmehl) and friend (Lydia).
Although I put this up yesterday, not imagining it would come in so handy so soon, here’s the chart of the Zentralfriedhof burials again (I’ll be writing more on the cemetery itself).
Kamilla being the center of the mystery I will detail the family relations to her.
Buried in plot 49a are:
Kamilla Kornmehl (b. 1884), the wife of Ferdinand Kornmehl and mother of Viktor
Beile Scheindl Kornmehl (b. 1852), Ferdinand’s mother
Chane Mindl Kornmehl (b. ca. 1883), probably Ferdinand’s younger sister
Dwora/Deborah Kornmehl (b. ca. 1830), Ferdinand’s maternal grandmother
Josef Kornmehl (b. ca. 1893), Ferdinand’s younger brother
Simon Kornmehl (aka Juda Simon) (1852), Ferdinand’s father
Put another way: Kamilla is buried with her mother-in-law, Beile Scheindl Kornmehl; grandmother-in-law, Dwora/Deborah Kornmehl; father-in-law, Simon; brother-in-law, Josef; and (probably) sister-in-law, Chane Mindl Kornmehl.
Part of the confusion lies in the fact that there are two Fischels and two Avigdors in three generations: The Fischel who is the grandfather of Ferdinand (formerly known as Fischel) and great-grandfather of Viktor (formerly known as Avigdor); and the Avidgor who is Ferdinand (formerly known as Fischel)’s great uncle.
Clear as mud now, right?
Another obstacle to figuring out this mystery was the fact that both Josef, Ferdinand’s younger brother, and Chane Mindl, who is probably Ferdinand’s younger sister, are not on the huge family tree that Leonard Schneider, another family member, put together.
There are a couple of clues to the identity of Josef (Viktor’s uncle). The primary one is this notice of condolence to Ferdinand Kornmehl for his brother Josef’s death, posted in the April 13, 1937 edition of Die Stimme, the weekly Austrian Zionist newsletter.
Josef is also listed one year in the Vienna address book at the same address as Ferdinand (who changed the listing of his profession from grocer to delicatessen owner when he changed his name from Fischel to Ferdinand, but that’s an entirely different topic…).
The connection of Chane Mindl is not so clear but if she died at age 18 in 1901, that would put her birth date at 1883 and make her a plausible older sister of Josef (born 1893) and younger sister of Ferdinand (born 1876). A death at age 18 would explain why there is no record of her, and a presence in the group plot would suggest she is immediate family.
Does anyone know: Are group burials like this common — or at least not really unusual — among Jews? I’d never heard of this practice before.