A dictator's apprencticeship
by Brigitte Hamann
Vienna, Hitler did not merely encounter Jews of the lower classes,
but also had sporadic glimpses into the lives of well-to-do, educated,
middle-class Jews. For in 1908, August Kubizek, who earned some
money as a viola player at private evening performances, occasionally
took him along to such concerts, for example, to the house of a
"family of a well-to-do factory owner at Heiligenstädter Strasse,
Dr. Jahoda." We can clearly identify this Dr. Jahoda.
be sure, in Vienna's address register, the 1910 Lehmann, no
Jehuda is listed at Heiligenstädter Strasse, but at 86 Grinzinger
Strasse. According to old street numbers, this address is the corner
building to Heiligenstädter Strasse. That it was in fact this
house and this family whom Kubizek mentioned, was confirmed by Dr.
Rudolf Jahuda's niece, Professor Marie Jahoda, born in 1907, a sociologist
living in England. She, too, knew the address of her uncle's house
only as "Heiligenstädter Strasse," where she and her parents
and siblings were frequent visitors. Thanks to her, we have the
house, a beautiful old villa that no longer exists, was in the large,
park-like area at the lower end of Rothschild Park in Heiligenstadt,
on a very small hill. It was inhabited by Dr. Rudolf Jahoda, a chemist,
with his family and his mentally retarded brother Edmund.
director of a chemical factory, born in Vienna in 1862, was forty-six
years old in 1908, when Hitler was a guest in his house. According
to Marie Jahoda's description, her uncle was a slender, sensitive,
quiet man of medium height, with melancholy features and a gray
goatee. His wife, Pina, was an Italian Catholic, short and somewhat
deformed, with beautiful eyes, and warmhearted. The two had two
little daughters who were baptized by the Catholic church : Klara,
born in 1902, and Adele, born in 1903.
Jahoda family may be regarded as a model of the well-to-do circles
of assimilated Jews in the Vienna around 1900 who were keenly interested
in the arts. Rudolf Jahoda's father had immigrated to Vienna as
a Bohemian Jew, and worked there as a printer. He had not become
prosperous, but he made enough money to afford to send two of his
five sons, Rudolf and Emil, to college and graduate school. According
to his niece Marie, Dr. Emil Jahoda, chief doctor of the Francis
Joseph Hospital's department of surgery , was the star of the family:
elegant, sophisticated, and the heartthrob of his female patients.
two youngest brothers, Georg and Karl-Marie's father-went into printing
and became well-to-do and highly respected. Georg Jahuda printed
the Fackel, and was in close contact with and a good friend
of Karl Kraus, the periodical's editor. The greater Jahuda family
belonged to the circle of Kraus's open admirers.
five brothers distanced themselves from Judaism and, according to
Marie Jahuda, were agnostics. Before he married, Rudolf Jahuda officially
left his Jewish faith and indicated at the official register that
he had no denomination.
Jahuda's wealth came from one of his numerous chemical patents,
aglow paint that enjoyed great popularity. However, a combination
of its radioactive composition and additional chemical experiments
caused bad burns and scars on his right hand. Still, Rudolf Jahuda
was an accomplished pianist. He was proud to have been a former
student of Johannes Brahms, and aside from Brahms, he loved Chopin,
Schubert, Beethoven, and Mozart. His wife Pina was a violinist who
preferred eighteenth-century Italian music.
a certain day each week, the Jahodas arranged a private evening
of music making, where all brothers and their wives and children
got together, as well as cousins and additional relatives. In the
large wood paneled salon, which simultaneously served as a library,
Rudolf and Pina Jahoda first played one or two sonatas for piano
and violin. Then all of them had dinner together in the adjoining
dining room, where the housewife displayed her mastery of culinary
art with Italian specialties. After dinner and some lively conversation,
the evening concluded with a final piece of music.
addition, the Jahodas frequently hired music students to augment
their repertoire and play trios or quartets. That is how the violist
Kubizek came to visit their house. Apparently Kubizek raved to his
friend about these evenings: "It was a circle of people with great
understanding of the arts and a highly developed taste, a truly
sophisticated conviviality of the sort that was possible only in
Vienna." Kubizek asked if he could bring a friend. Thus nineteen-year-old
Hitler entered the Jahodas' house.
reports: "He did like it tremendously. What impressed him most was
the library, which Dr. Jahoda had arranged and which served Adolf
as a reliable measure of judging the people assembled there. He
was less comfortable with having to confine himself to being a passive
listener all evening, even though it was he who had imposed that
role on himself. On our way back he told me that he had felt very
comfortable with those people, but since he was not a musician,
he hadn't been able to participate in the conversation." Furthermore,
he had felt uneasy because of his poor clothes.
this cultivated circle young Hitler was shy and inhibited, unable
to utter a word. Whatever he may have known about Richard Wagner
, he had nothing to contribute in this circle of music connoisseurs,
and he turned out to be uninteresting-which of course is hardly
surprising for a nineteen-year-old. At least, he did meet, probably
for the first time, an upper-middle-class Jewish family-and had
not one critical word to say about them.
postscript on the family's further destiny: Pina Jahoda died early,
and Rudolf Jahoda lost his fortune during World War I and inflation,
and had to sell his house to boot. He died impoverished in 1924
of cancer, probably caused by the radioactive glow paint. His daughter
Klara, a doctor in a Berlin children's home in the 1930s, emigrated
via Austria to England, where she found support and shelter with
her cousin Marie Jahoda, who, an active Social Democrat, had left
Vienna earlier, while Austria was still a corporative state. Because
Klara's Viennese doctorate was not recognized in England, she worked
for a long time as a house- keeper, until she completed her second
degree and obtained a position as a school doctor in Bristol.
Jahoda, who had attended Vienna's School of Arts and Crafts under
Dean Alfred Roller, married the composer and violinist Karl Rankl,
a disciple of Schonberg, whom she met at her parents' private concerts.
The two of them also emigrated to England, where she barely made
do for herself and her unemployed husband by arts-and-craft work.
Rankl later became musical director of London's Covent Garden Opera.
Both daughters of Rudolf Jahoda died in England without any children.
of Rudolf Jahoda's brothers had numerous children, who had remarkably
successful careers -not in Austria, but in their forced emigration.
These include several musicians and numerous scientists, among them
many woman university professors.
AND MRS. MORGENSTERN
Jewish glazier Samuel Morgenstern was the most loyal buyer of Hitler's
paintings. In this case, Hider did not rely on an agent but always
delivered his paintings personally. Peter Jahn, who called on Morgenstern
between 1937 and 1939 to search for Hider paintings at the NSDAP's
direction, stresses that their relationship was extremely friendly
and Morgenstern certainly did not cheat the poor painter. In his
deposition he said: "Morgenstern was the first person to pay a good
price for the paintings, which is how their business contact was
Morgenstern was born in Budapest in 1875. In 1903 he opened his
glazier store with a workshop in the back at 4 Liechtenstein-strasse
near downtown Vienna, quite close to Sigmund Freud's practice and
apartment. In 1904 he married Emma Pragan, a Jew from Vienna four
years his junior. In 1911 their only child, a son, was born. That
same year Morgenstern bought an estate in Strebersdorf near Vienna
for five thousand kronen, and in May 1914 another piece of land,
in Groß Jedlersdorf, for ten times that amount. Within a few
years he worked his way up from nothing.
a deposition he made from memory in 1937, Morgenstern stated that
Hider had come to his store for the first time in 1911 or 1912,
offering him three paintings, historical views in the style of Rudolf
von Alt. Morgenstern had also sold pictures in his frame and glazier
store, "since in my experience it is easier to sell frames if they
to Morgenstern's fastidiously kept customer database, many owners
of Hider's paintings could later be located. It turned out that
most of them were Jewish-in other words, Morgenstern's regular clientele-
and lived in the elegant new tenement buildings around Liechtensteinerstrasse.
One of Morgenstern's main customers was the lawyer Dr. Josef Feingold,
according to the person who interviewed him in May
"apparently not entirely Aryan, but certainly leaving the impression
of being respectable, a war veteran." He had his law offices downtown,
near Stephansplatz, and supported a number of young painters sent
by Morgenstern. He bought a series of old views of Vienna by Hider,
which he had framed by Morgenstern in the style of Biedermeier.
the former postcard painter took possession of Austria in March
1938 as leader of the "Greater German Empire," Mr. and Mrs.Morgenstern's
destiny made an about-face too. In the fall of 1938 their stores,
fully stocked warehouse, and workshop were "Aryanized" and taken
over by a National Socialist. The "purchase price," which was set
at 620 marks, was never paid. Because Morgenstern also lost his
commercial license, he was no longer allowed to work. Thus the couple-
sixty-three and fifty-nine years old, respectively-had no income
whatever, and what is more: they could not leave the country, because
they did not have the money either for the trip or for the obligatory
"Reich flight tax," or for the required visa.
this desperate situation Samuel Morgenstern saw only one way out:
asking the Fuhrer personally for help, just as Dr. Bloch in Linz
did around that time. Considering that Hider immediately responded
to Bloch's request, Morgenstern's hope for the Fuhrer to intervene
and save his life was certainly not absurd, as long as the letter
wrote his cry for help on a typewriter, addressing it to "His Excellency
the Reich Chancellor and Fuhrer of the German Reich Adolf Hider"
in Berchtesgaden :
10 August 1939
I humbly ask your indulgence
for daring to write to you, Mr. Reich Chancellor, and submitting
For thirty-five years,
I had my own business as a glazier and frame manufacturer
in Vienna, at 9 Liechtensteinerstrasse, and in the years before
the war Mr. Chancellor was frequently in my store and had
the opportunity to judge me to be a correct and honest man.
I have no police record
and for eight years served as a noncommissioned officer in
the Austrian army and was on the Romanian front, plus my industrial
association twice gave me a diploma for running an exemplary
On November 10 my store
was closed [this word is underlined twice; in the margin there
is a remark in a different handwriting : "Jew!"] in the course
of the legal measures and my commercial license was revoked
at the same time which made me totally indigent since to this
day I have not received from the Department of Property the
slightest compensation for my store which was worth Reichsmark
7 ,000 and was Aryanized on 24 November 1938.
I am sixty-four, my
wife is sixty years old, we have for many months depended
on welfare and intend to emigrate and to look for work abroad.
It is my most humble
request to Your Excellency to please direct the Department
of Property to give me in return for handing over to the State
my un-mortgaged estate in the XXI st District which according
to an official estimate is valued at Reichsmark 4,000, a small
compensation in the form of foreign currency so I have the
necessary disembarkation money and my wife and I can live
modestly until we have found work.
have my application checked and please approve it.
getting a letter to Hider was difficult, particularly in August
1939, shortly before the outbreak of the war. Hider even mentioned
this difficulty to Kubizek, whose letter was months late in reaching
him: "Writing to him directly, he said, was not advisable, as he
often never even saw mail addressed to him, because it first had
to be sorted to relieve him in his work."
traceable by postmarks and without the eagerly waiting sender's
having any idea about this, Morgenstern's letter went on the following
journey: mailed in Vienna on August 11, it arrived in Hider's secretary's
office at the Obersalzberg in Berchtesgaden on August 12 and was
forwarded from there to the "Fuhrer's Chancellery" in Berlin on
August 14, where it was opened on August 15. This is where the marginal
note "Jew!" must have been added. Inany case, the secretary's
office did not hand the letter to Hider but returned it to Vienna
on August 19 however, not to the sender but to the Finance Ministry,
where it was filed away and forgotten for the next fifty-six years.
invasion of Poland began on September 1, 1939, and with it World
War II. The Morgensterns waited fruitlessly for help from Hider,
but a short time later their house was taken from them. They had
to relocate to a kind of Jewish ghetto in Leopoldstadt. From there,
on October 28, 1941, they were deported to the Litzmannstadt ghetto
in the Reich district of Wartheland. The deportation order was stamped,
in red ink, "To Poland."
named for a German general of World War I, the former Lodz in the
former Hapsburg crown colony of Galicia, had with 233,000 inhabitants
one of the largest Jewish populations in the world. After the first
resettlements another 160,000 Jews were forced into this ghetto.
There they lived in poor hygienic conditions, making textiles, shoes,
and furniture for the German army and German industries.
Morgensterns were among 25,000 Jews deported to Litzmann-stadt from
Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Frankfurt, Cologne, Hamburg, Dusseldorf,
and Luxembourg. Five thousand Gypsies from Burgenland were also
relocated there; they were shortly sent to Auschwitz. The Western
Jews, who spoke Polish and Yiddish, stayed in the ghetto, where
they lived uneasily with the unfamiliar Eastern Jews; there was
often conflict between the two groups, which, of course, was intended.
These internal quarrels among ghetto inhabitants, fanned by their
painfully cramped situation, constant hunger, and physical exhaustion
through excruciatingly hard work, was meant to rob them of their
human dignity. Especially the lack of hygiene proved to be a highly
effective means of "corroborating" the old anti-Semitic prejudice
about the "filthy Jews." One of the survivors from Lodz, Leon Zelman,
has reported details: "The latrines were constantly plugged. People
pulled carts loaded with excrement through the streets, passing
wagons filled with corpses to which horses had not been put either,
but half-starved Jews. Pulling excrement carts. .. equaled a death
sentence, because the human draft animals invariably caught infections
by breathing in the fecal vapors. ...Inthe summer , swarms
of mosquitoes came down on the ghetto, spreading epidemics."110
do not know what happened to the Morgensterns there. Samuel Morgenstern
died of exhaustion in the ghetto of Litzmannstadt in August 1943.
He was sixty-eight years old. He was buried in the ghetto cemetery.
As an eyewitness, Emma's brother-in-law Wilhelm Abeles, a former
glazier in Vienna, was to report later on, his wife was with him
until the end.
InAugust 1943, when the Russian army was advancing, the ghetto
was vacated. The remaining 65,000 people, weakened by hunger and
diseases, were deported to Auschwitz. Among them was Abeles, but
he survived. Before he was deported, he saw Emma Morgenstern in
Litzmannstadt for the last time. There are no other surviving witnesses.
Morgenstern must have been deported to Auschwitz by August 1944,
for on August 30 only a "cleaning-up commando" of six hundred men
and a few people in hiding remained in the ghetto. Most new arrivals-above
all, old women unable to work-were immediately sent to the gas chamber
a Vienna court would later determine, Emma Morgenstern could not
have lived through the end of the war in 1945. Inapproval
of her brother's application, retired Major Max Pragan, she was
declared dead in December 1946