A Fowl Business: Another Kornmehl Family Butcher Shop (& Freud’s Likely Aversion to It)

A Fowl Business: Another Kornmehl Family Butcher Shop (& Freud’s Likely Aversion to It)

This is Day 11 of the Family History Writing Challenge, 2018

In my last post, I outlined several questions arising from Adolf Schweizer’s emigration form that I was hoping to tackle. The first one related to the nature of the butcher shop that Adolf owned–or worked in. It was very easily answered.

In the section of the document that asks the person wishing to emigrate about his previous job/ last occupation status, Adolf wrote:

Adolf had a nice handwriting so I could make out most of the words, but not their meanings. The free online translation programs were no help. That is, I knew from long experience with my family research that a “Fleischhauer” is a butcher, and I knew the address listed here was Liechtensteinstrasse No.52,  but I couldn’t find any translation for “Selcher” or any terms related thereto.

Posting on the Facebook group devoted to German-speaking Jews, I got the following answer:

A Selcher is a butcher who makes also sausages, salamis etc. and sells them in the butcher shop. Selchwaren refers to the goods he made.

Another poster elaborated on the entire answer in the emigration document:

For 40 years smoker and independent meat cutter in Vienna IX, Liechtensteinstrasse no. 52; I also conduct a fowl business (chickens, ducks, geese, etc. as meat) and smoked goods.

I learned here, then, that Adolf Schweizer’s shop was “independent.”

Kornmehl Family Butcher Shops

I am resigned to the carnivorous — and monopolistic — nature of my family’s businesses, to the fact that, in Vienna, the name “Kornmehl” and “meat” were probably synonymous.  I doubt that there were any families with more butcher shops in Vienna than the Kornmehls and their in-laws.

At some point I will try to list all of them and their addresses.

Siegmund Kornmehl seems to have been the family’s most important butcher. I say this not only because he had a very famous customer for whom this blog is named but because of what was written about him in the catalog published in conjunction with the Freud’s Lost Neighbors exhibition at the Freud Museum Vienna:

The butcher shop of Siegmund Kornmehl was a thriving business; with the main storefront at 19 Berggasse and two other branches nearby, it was one of the most important providers of Jewish care-related services in interwar Vienna, along with the Hospital and Home for the Aged run by the Jewish Community of Vienna.

That said, Siegmund’s brother Rudolph was apparently very prominent too. I wrote about his businesses in the post Rudolph Kornmehl: 3 Butcher Shops & the End of  a Jewish Era in Vienna.

By 1934, economic problems were growing in Europe. The Kornmehl butcher shops were still doing well, but the Jews in the poor sections were suffering. Rudolph’s granddaughter wrote about his businesses in No Place Called Home:

Rudolph… had begun to donate all left-over meats and cold cuts every Friday morning to the Central Synagogue for their members. Even though the rabbi know that the Kornmehl Butcher Shops did not carry strictly kosher meats, he accepted gratefully the charity that was offered.

Needless to say, this story didn’t have a happy ending, Rudolph’s charitable ways and his satisfied non-Jewish customers notwithstanding.

Rudolf Kornmehl’s decidedly not kosher butcher shop on Siedengasse 41

Geographical–and Gustatory–Curiosity

Since a key person of interest, as it were, of this blog is Sigmund Freud, I was curious as to what meat he would–or would not have–eaten from the family’s shops. It seemed to me that Adolf Schweizer might have had something to offer that his in-laws probably did not: Fowl. At least that’s what I surmise from the above picture and the picture of the butcher shop in Freud’s building, which didn’t have chickens hanging from the window. The excellent blog Schibboleth discusses the meat in the window of the butcher shop on 19 Berggasse, saying “if you look closely you can see what appears to be shanks of ham and speck.”

I checked to see how far Adolf Schweizer’s business was from Freud’s house.

Distance between Adolf Schweizer’s butcher shop and Siegmund Kornmehl’s butcher shop

Not very, it seems — less than 15 minutes’ walk, and most of it down one road.

But this is a rhetorical exercise. I know that Martha Freud would probably not have gone out of her way, even a short distance, to buy fowl. The fact is, Freud hated poultry, especially chicken.

According to Katya Behling’s  Zu Tische bei Sigmund Freud (Freud’s Table), the father of psychoanalysis never ate either chicken or cauliflower, and had such a strong dislike of both that he avoided dining at homes where he had been served these items. He wrote to a friend that he was happy not to have landed in Bad Ischl or in Reichenau for summer vacation, writing in parentheses “Huhn und Blumenkohl” (chicken and cauliflower).

According to his son Martin, Freud would occasionally say,  “One shouldn’t kill any chickens; let them live and lay eggs.”


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