Articles

The Doomed Dynasty
by Uriya Shavit

Haaretz 28 July 2000

In 1895, when Theodor Herzl began to contemplate the idea of a Jewish national home, he envisioned a prominent role for his family in the future state. In a diary entry that year, Herzl described how his son Hans, then four years old, would be crowned head of state, or doge, as in medieval Venice, his model for the Jewish republic. "The procession which starts at the doge's palace will be opened by Herzl-Cuirassiers. Then come the artillery and infantry ... while all are marching in gold-studded gala uniforms, the high priests under canopies, the doge himself will wear the garb of shame of a medieval ghetto Jew: the pointed hat, the yellow badge. ... When I thought that someday I might crown Hans as doge ... I had tears in my eyes.".In the remaining nine years of his life, Herzl (1860-1904) forged, almost single-handed, a worldwide movement. His children, Pauline, Hans and Trude, were raised like royalty, isolated from their peers, aware from early childhood of the burden of responsibility imposed on them by their surname. But in stark contrast to his political vision, Herzl's dream of a family dynasty was not realized. All three children suffered from various forms of mental instability that marked them for life. Alienated from society, unable to support themselves, they were an embarrassment to the Zionist movement and a drain on its financial resources. They died, tormented and solitary, without witnessing the realization of their father's vision.

Last month, the Austrian journalist and researcher Hubertus Czernin was permitted to peruse Second World War files that have been stored since the war in the archive of the Austrian internal revenue commission in Vienna. Czernin, the former editor of the newsweekly Profil and now the owner of a small publishing house, has spent the past few years doing research on the art treasures plundered by the Nazis. While scouring the archive, he discovered nearly 100.000 forgotten files containing detailed lists of the property owned by Austrian Jews before the Holocaust. He wrote up the discovery in the Standard, a quality Austrian paper to which he occasionally contributes.

A controversy immediately erupted over the importance of the files. Czernin, who last week fled the heat of the city to his summer house, says his find reflects "a terrible scandal the state sat on these files for years without bothering to inform anyone of their existence." The Austrian Jewish community believes that the files will generate a wave of demands for the restoration of property to the rightful heirs. They also hope that it will spark a serious public discussion of the Holocaust period in Austria. However, the state authorities, along with some of Czernin's colleagues, have reacted with less emotion.

The contents of what is arguably the most interesting file unearthed by Czernin are unlikely to be the subject of a court case. That file consists of 50 pages of documents concerning the economic and personal situation of Trude Neumann - the married name of Herzl's third child - and covers the period from 1938 to 1944. Most of the documents are correspondence between an attorney, Friedrich Hetzer, who was appointed Trude's guardian after a court declared her non compos mentis, and the Austrian Nazi authorities. The Nazis were bent on getting their hands on every last item that belonged to Trude. Even at the height of the war, Nazi officials were determined not to allow even a worthless ring of a demented woman to escape their clutches.

The documents list in meticulous detail Trude Neumann's assets in her last years. But they also provide riveting biographical information about her and her husband. The language is brutally dry bureaucratic. Herzl's daughter - who by then was his only surviving child - is revealed to be indigent, lonely and defenseless. Her lineage is of no account. There is no one to take pity on her and ease her plight. The lawyer wants to be rid of this nuisance-value case, though he does his work diligently - after all, the documents were written, sent, filed.

The cover of the file notes the Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia as Trude's final "address." Also noted are the couple's birth dates and their transport numbers (965, 967). A handwritten note states, "No real estate." Theodor Herzl is barely referred to in the file's 50 pages. It crops up only in connection with the fact that his books are not generating royalties. There is nothing in the file to indicate that Trude was the daughter of a great Jewish leader. Still, there is one intriguing difference between her file and other files - many of the pages in the Trude Neumann file are scorched. As always with documents of this kind, which are perhaps of greater emotional than historical value, what someone may have attempted to conceal fires the imagination no less than what remains.

A hopeless marriage
Until the middle of the last century, there were dozens of Jews who knew the story of the Herzl children in varying degrees of detail. Very few of them dared to make it public. To do so, it was thought, would irreparably tarnish the image of the visionary prophet of the Jewish state and the founder of political Zionism. In 1945 the Revisionist writer Ya'akov Winschel published the biography "Hans Herzl." He himself described the book as "daring" and related how painful it was for his father to hear the story. Six years ago, Ilse Sternberger published "Princes Without a Home: Modern Zionism and the Strange Fate of Theodore [sic] Herzl's Children, 19001945," (International Scholastic Press) the most comprehensive study to date of the Herzl children. In the introduction, she tells how her late husband, Marcel, a journalist, who was a friend of Hans Herzl, was forced, under the heavy pressure of the Zionist leadership, to shelve a biography he had written about Hans in the 1930s.

Juliette (Julie) Naschauer and Theodor Herzl were married on June 25, 1889, at the resort of Reichenau. He was a young playwright who had recently enjoyed his first success on the stage and now found the Neue Freie Presse, Vienna's most important newspaper and one of Europe's leading papers, receptive to his journalistic endeavors. Julie, who at 21 was eight years his junior, was the daughter of an extremely wealthy family from Budapest. Herzl's biographers note that it was a marriage of opposites. Herzl was "solemn, his manner grave and stately," writes Amos Elon in his 1975 English-language biography, "Herzl," while "Julie was effervescent, uncontrolled in her temper, tactless, given to fits of unjustified jealousy." Within a few months of the wedding, the bond between them had already begun to unravel and the marriage had become artificial.

The couple's first daughter, Pauline, was born on March 29, 1890, exactly nine months after the wedding; Hans came into the world just over a year later, on June 10, 1891. Herzl was ecstatic, and noted in his diary that already on the first day of his life, the infant pulled his beard so hard that it hurt. He predicted that Hans would not be weak and delicate and would not have to swallow so much abuse - he would soar to unprecedented heights.

The third daughter, Margarethe Gertrude, or Trude as everyone called her, was born on May 20, 1893. But the joy of her arrival did not improve the hopeless state of the Herzls' marriage. According to Ernst Pawel ("The Labyrinth of Exile: A Life of Theodor Herzl," 1989, in English), Theodor and Julie reached an arrangement based on an uneasy compromise. Trude was born in Paris, where Herzl was by now the Neue Freie Presse correspondent, highly esteemed by his editors and the public. He received a raise in salary. At this stage he was already contemplating a solution for the "Jewish question" in the form of the Jews' mass conversion to Christianity. Trude's birth "reaffirmed Herzl in his resolve to spare his children the agony of their parents," Elon says. He tried to win over the paper's editors for his mass-conversion project, but they rejected it "with derision," Elon writes.

In the wake of the trial of Alfred Dreyfus, which Herzl covered as a journalist, and after he discarded the conversion idea as unfeasible, Herzl conceived another bold solution for the Jewish question - the establishment of a state. Within four years of Trude's birth he wrote "The Jewish State," convened the First Zionist Congress and became the idol and object of hope of millions of Jews in Eastern Europe. The family returned to Vienna. Herzl's status on the Presse remained firm, but by now he was more of a statesman than a journalist. And more of a statesman than a father.

The three Herzl children received an aristocratic education, Sternberger writes. Their lives were totally structured, they had private tutors, they went for outings with a nanny, paid occasional visits to relatives and were supposed to spend half an hour a day with their father. The Herzls and the Naschauers agreed on one point: the children had to be raised like nobility. And, as such, they were not permitted to mingle with the masses. Apart from a few cousins, they hardly knew any other children, Sternberger says. Winschel, whose book is a mix of biography and historical fiction, says that the children's main topic of conversation was their father. "'When father is king, will we still have to go to school?' In fact, they saw father and mother only rarely," Winschel writes.

Trude was the apple of her parents' eye, an island of calm in a hyperactive household. According to Sternberger, Pauline and Hans fought for their parents' attention through their studies and by trying to fathom the meaning of the events their father found so critical. Trude, an angelic child, just had to be herself. Her sweet, sociable disposition cast an irresistible charm. She felt a closer bond with Hans than with her older sister.

Desolate orphans
Herzl died on July 3, 1904, leaving not only an orphaned movement but a financially strapped family: He had spent everything he had in promoting Zionism. A fund-raising drive was launched to help the family. The children had mixed reactions to this abrupt transformation, Sternberger says. Pauline, like her mother, insisted that people owed their father a debt because of what he had accomplished and the family had every right to the money. Hans, though, felt humiliated; he had inherited his father's sense of honor and wanted to be beholden to no one. Trude was the most frightened of the three, her mind racing with legends about hungry orphans and exiled princes. Sternberger relates that on one occasion, when her father's former secretary came for a visit and found her alone in the house, the little girl wrapped herself around her neck and broke into tears. Tell me, she said to the woman, you have never lied to me - is it true that we are so poor that others have to collect money for us, like the poorest people?

Hans was sent to school in England, in accordance with his father's last will. Pauline and Trude remained with Julie Herzl. Enrolled in a Jewish boarding school, Hans did well in his studies, began to play cricket and made a few friends, but through it all remained fundamentally an outsider. On the first occasion that the anniversary of Herzl's birth was marked, Hans wrote to his sisters from England that it was a "sad" day, this birthday of "our dear father." He asked them to place a flower for him on the grave and promised to "repay the debt" in the summer, when he came home.

Trude's life with her mother was not easy; Julie was physically and mentally unstable. She died in 1907 at the age of 39. The children were distraught. Hans, now 17, was plagued by guilt for not being with his mother in her last days and was sent to a sanitarium to recover before going back to school in England. Pauline, who had been her mother's favorite, became a recluse, and Trude cried incessantly, unable to accept her orphaned state.

Four years later, Pauline married Joseph Hift after a crisis ridden romance in which her behavior almost cost her the stipend she received from the Zionist movement. Trude, who was 11 when her father died and 14 at her mother's death, went to live with an aunt who could not abide young people and forbade her to bring home schoolmates. She immersed herself in books and romantic fantasies, and was unable to form ties with others. Trude was attractive, with highly expressive eyes and eyebrows that formed a perfect crescent, according to Stemberger. But she was also lonely and melancholy, and shared her misery with no one.

Hans envied Trude. He was unaware of her true state and had plenty of troubles of his own. At the age of20 he felt unable to form a true relationship with a woman. Perhaps it was because of the circumcision he underwent at the age of 15 (according to Elon, the fact that Hans was not circumcised as an infant was "a reflection of Herzl's remoteness at the time from all things Jewish." His circumcision as an adolescent, after his father's death, was "apparently at the urging of Herzl's disciples"). Or it may have been because he was cut off from his natural surroundings, combined with his shyness and pride. Hans underwent three weeks of treatment under Karl Jung, at the end of which he was able to flirt with women.
Despite Jung's treatment, Hans did not succeed in forging a close relationship with a woman in the years ahead.

Trude did not find a husband, and Wolffsohn, by now seriously ill, was concerned; he wanted to secure Trude's future before his death. However, when he died, in 1914, Trude, now 21, was still a solitary figure, still in the grip of romantic fantasies. She haughtily rejected the advances of men her age and was drawn only to older men. Her family and acquaintances became increasingly worried at the pronounced deterioration in her mental health. She began auditing university courses, focusing on French and the natural sciences, planning to register formally for the next semester. An apartment was found for her, which she furnished with the help of an architect. The flat contained, among other appurtenances, a gramophone, a wall lined with books and a round dining table, because, she said, "everyone has tables like that." She was buoyed by the feeling of independence that came with having a place of her own. In the summer of 1914, with Europe optimistic that the war which had just erupted would end within months, Trude Herzl too seemed about to embark on a new and better life. Leaving the ghetto Trude met Richard Neumann, a divorced, well-to-do Jewish industrialist who was 27 years her senior, at several family functions. Handsome in his way, he was cordial and outgoing. Trude had become involved in volunteer work to assist soldiers, and as such was able to invite a few friends to a three-day charity event to be held in the Hotel Bristol in Vienna in May 1915. Casting convention aside, she sent Neumann a handwritten invitation to the affair, telling him she would be at the hotel every day between 11 A.M. and 6 P.M. and would be delighted to see him there. Neumann came to the hotel every day, but did not find her; Trude had stayed home. Taken aback, he sent her a note and flowers. She replied, and an attachment soon sprang up.

It was a complicated love affair between a young woman with a romantic imagination who wanted a solid relationship and a divorced older man who had a great deal of experience with women. According to Sternberger, Neumann was particularly anxious about the disparity in their ages. Trude tried desperately to convince him that the gap could be bridged. If they had met when she was 16, the age difference would be a problem, she wrote him, but by now she was already familiar with life's "frightening" side. In another letter, which she sent after they had quarreled, she railed at him that what had especially vexed her in his "cruel criticism" was his use of the word "crazy." That word, she said, derived "from the ghetto" and must not be part of "our language," because all "true Jews" want only "to leave the ghetto."

When the relationship with Neumann failed to come to fruition in the form of a wedding, Trude became distraught. Further complicating her situation, her contact with Hans was severed: He was now a soldier in the British army - the enemy. Nor was she in steady touch with her sister Pauline, whose marriage had fallen apart and who now spent her time between one sanitarium and another in Central Europe. Trude was sent to a convalescent home for victims of nervous disorders; her family and friends blamed Neumann for her state. The doctors diagnosed her condition as a form of psychosis. During part of her stay at the home she was so ill that she was not permitted to hold a knife and fork for fear she would do herself harm; her food was cut up in small pieces so she could eat with a spoon.

After her release from the sanitarium, Trude married Richard Neumann on April 23, 1917. The bride, brimming with emotion, wore a gray flannel dress. A year and two days later the Neumanns had a son, Stephan Theodor, a healthy child with a sound appetite. Married life and the birth of her son did not stabilize Trude's psychological state, however. Two months after the birth, she was sent to a sanitarium on the outskirts of Vienna, where she was at first confined to the closed ward and afterward moved to the open area of the institution.

When she was discharged temporarily, she found that she was no longer able to live with Richard: On September 25, 1919, they drew up a three-month separation agreement, which left Trude the care of Stephan and possession of the apartment. The agreement proved impracticable because Richard could not afford the upkeep of two households. Having no other choice, they resumed living together. Trude was constantly in and out of the sanitarium, treated by doctors and nurses, some of whom knew who she was. But nothing helped. In the spring of 1925, Richard took her to Paris, to which she had always dreamed of returning. They saw all the sights and she was deliriously happy. The trip, though, did nothing to improve her condition.

Pauline and Hans fared no better. Pauline's health failed and she became a shadow of herself. Hans lived in London, alone and destitute, eking out a living mainly by translating his father's writings. In 1924, 20 years after his father's death, Hans, desperate for a change in his life, joined the Baptist Church; then, in rapid succession, became a Catholic, a Protestant, a Unitarian and a Quaker, oscillating wildly between the delusions of grandeur that had gripped his father and bouts of depression brought on by his sense of abject failure.

Pauline died on September 14, 1930 in Bordeaux; Hans flew to France as soon as he was notified. He was guilt-ridden for not having been there to help his big sister at the end as he had been after his mother's death. Sitting in a Bordeaux hotel room, he committed his melancholy thoughts to paper. Only death could exonerate him, he wrote. He thanked his Christian brethren for receiving him into their faith, but added that even there he had not found the tranquility he sought. There was only one way out. Hans drew up a detailed will for the division of his meager assets and wrote a suicide note. "I have lost my beloved sister," he wrote, and her death was due to his neglect. He asked Trude, "my closest relative," to forgive him. Hans Herzl shot himself on September 15, one day after Pauline's death. He was buried next to her in Bordeaux three days after her funeral. The "dynasty" Herzl had dreamed of was reduced to Trude and her son Stephan.

An angry letter to Hitler
The world economic crisis did not spare Richard Neumann's business affairs. Nevertheless, in July 1933 Stephan Theodor, who had inherited his grandfather's lanky build and dreamy eyes, was sent to study in England, with the Zionist movement covering the costs. Trude's hospitalization was an added financial burden on Richard, and again the Zionists were asked to pay.

Trude fled into a world of delusions. She saw herself as a woman of the world, a true member of the aristocracy. In 1936, all of Britain was in an uproar over the love affair between King Edward VII and the American divorcee Wallace Simpson. Trude felt a deep involvement in the affair, Stemberger writes. When Queen Wilhelmina of Holland married off her daughter to a German prince, Trude expressed doubts about the wisdom of the move. She wrote a letter to the Pope urging him to stop the oncoming war. She fired off a missive to Churchill demanding that he make peace with Germany. She even wrote to Adolf Hitler, asking him whether he did not understand that he was destroying human civilization. There is no known record of a reply.

In October 1940, the Nazis ordered the medical authorities in Vienna to move all Jews who were hospitalized in general institutions for the mentally ill to Jewish institutions. In the same month, Richard Neumann was ordered to vacate his apartment. Trude Neumann Herzl, solitary and tormented, was moved to an overcrowded institution where, fortunately, she had to share a room with only one other patient. Her health actually improved. However, in March 1941, all the Jewish hospitals and medical centers were shut down and Trude was sent to Steinhof, a public hospital. In September 1942 she was placed on a transport to Theresienstadt, and the final chapter of her life began.

The lost file of Trude Neumann
The fact that Trude was declared legally unfit to deal with her financial affairs meant that she was unable to fill out the declarations of capital assets that Austria's Jews were forced to file after the Anschluss, the German invasion, in 1938. That task was given to a court-appointed lawyer, Friedrich Hetzer.

The first group of documents in the file that was found in the Vienna archive dealt with the property she owned on April 27, 1938; Hetzer filed the papers on June 28.

The forms contain a standard warning of a heavy fine, imprisonment or confiscation of property for not filling them out properly. At the head of the form, Hetzer signs a declaration in Trude's name: "I am a Jewess (Article 5 to the first amendment of the Reich Citizenship Law of November 14, 1935, Reich Law, vol. 1, p. 1333) and hold Czechoslovak citizenship. I am married to Richard Neumann. My husband is by race a Jew and a member of the Jewish Community." The address on the forms is that of the institution adjacent to Vienna where she was committed.

Trude's assets consisted mainly not of securities but of jewelry, art works and other valuables. They were sent for evaluation on July 1 and the ensuing report was sent in an annex to the original forms at a later date. Nothing was omitted. The precious stones and other objects were valued at 10,372 Reichsmark, more than double the value of her savings and securities, which were worth slightly more than 4,000 Reichsmark.

Hetzer also had to work out Trude's income from the royalties she received from sales of her father's books. Methodically, he sent a letter to the Yiddisher Verlag publishing house. On July 8, 1938, he received a reply stating that in the absence of the manager, his request could not be handled and that when the manager returned the matter would be dealt with. Hetzer duly informed the authorities that the publishing house had promised a reply soon, but added, "In view of the current events, I believe that the copyright held by Yiddisher Verlag on the works of my client's father, Dr. Theodor Herzl, which have been published or will be published in the future, will not generate a respectable sum [of money]." He also noted Trude's lack of cooperation in drawing up the report, which had forced him to elicit the information elsewhere - hence the delay.

In a subsequent letter, in which the addressee and other details are not clear, Hetzer wrote, "According to the agreement with the publishing house, the amount of 0.66 Reichsmark is to be paid [to Trude] for the sale of each copy of Dr. Theodor Herzl's Diary in the regular edition, and 0.75 Reichsmark for every copy of the luxury edition. According to the latest information provided by the publishing house, 365 copies of the regular edition and 270 copies of the luxury edition have yet to be sold. The amount of the royalties depends on whether it is still possible to sell the remaining copies, which in the current circumstances is doubtful."

The war was well underway the next time the Reich addressed the question of Trude's property. On June 9, 1941, Hetzer received a letter from an official from the office that once dealt with the liquidation of Jewish-owned property. The letter stated that even though Hetzer had informed the office that he had been appointed to represent "the incapacitated Jewess Margarethe Trude Sarah Neumann" and would submit a list of her assets, no such list had yet been received. Hetzer replied three days later, "I hereby state that the list of assets of the Protectorate citizen Margarethe Trude Neumann, who is currently hospitalized in the Steinhof Institute, has already been submitted, as is attested by the receipt for a registered letter of July 13, 1938. Heil Hitler!"

On July 17, the official informed Hetzer that the list of property had not arrived and "perhaps a mistake has occurred." He asked for a copy of the declaration of assets. Hetzer immediately complied with the request, adding that Trude had received no payment in the form of royalties for sales of her father's books.

On September 10, 1942, when Trude was transported to Theresienstadt, she and Richard had in their possession only 159 Reichsmark. They had another 4,173 Reichsmark in their bank account, but those funds were no longer accessible. The account was blocked by the authorities, who continued to be concerned by the future of the assets Hetzer was holding in Trude's name. An S.S. officer named Rieger sent a letter to the Vienna Gestapo to ensure that the matter would be dealt with expeditiously. Rieger noted that "the Jewess [Trude] was transported for resettlement to Theresienstadt" and that her lawyer, Hetzer, "is holding suitcases and boxes" of hers. He instructed the police "to issue an order to confiscate these items. "

Hetzer himself replied to the Gestapo, apparently on September 24, 1942. His letter indicates that he had received no notification of Trude's transport to Theresienstadt. Irrespective of that, however, he stated that the donations that had enabled her to be hospitalized had dried up as of May 1942 and that he was fed up with holding the possessions of the mentally ill Jewess, a job for which he had not been paid. He himself, he said, had raised the money for her last hospitalization and "to cover her meager living expenses" from various savings and from an inheritance Neumann had received. He informed the Gestapo that apart from the securities, which were practically worthless, he still had a few thousand Reichsmark that belonged to the Neumanns.

"As I do not have the details, I would request that you inform me where I should transfer the living expenses in the future and what amount is required." He added that when Trude was transferred from the public sanitarium to Steinhof, "about 15 suitcases, cartons and other boxes were found, containing private property. The contents consist of clothes and undergarments (most of them old and used), books, written material (correspondence), photo frames with pictures, cheap jewelry (most of it broken and artistically worthless) and many worthless objects."

Hetzer went on to explain that he had temporarily taken possession of all these items for safekeeping, but had been ordered by the court to sell everything that was not needed by Trude for her private use and to destroy whatever was of no value. He said the sale had not yet taken place, but that it was essential to sell the items "because it is no longer possible for me to go on storing these objects, which take up a good deal of space, which I have done to date without payment, while transferring them elsewhere will entail considerable expenses." Hetzer said he also had in his possession two portraits painted in oils, which were "artistically worthless" and therefore could probably not be sold. He therefore asked for authorization to sell the items" in accordance with the pertinent regulations."

As for Trude herself, Hetzer stated that "I was told she was taken wearing only the clothes from the institution. She does not have a coat or an outer garment. Therefore, I have been asked to send her a few more of the clothes that I am holding for her, particularly a coat. I do not know whether it is possible or permissible to send her such items and I request instructions on the matter."

In reply Hetzer received a letter (the identity o fthe writer is indecipherable) stating that Trude had been taken to Theresienstadt and that her property must be released in order to underwrite her "stay" there. He then received a telephone call from an official in the Central Office for Jewish Emigration who stated that Trude's property would be confiscated from him.

Hetzer's reply sounded a note of affront at what the lawyer perceived as a breakdown in the bureaucratic machinery. He pointed out that the court had ordered him to sell Trude's belongings, whereas now he had been informed that they would be taken from him. "Naturally I have no objections" to this, he wrote, but "it is my duty" to inform the court and explain why the items were being taken from him. He added that in any case the court had no access to the securities and whatever money the Neumanns had in the bank.In December 1942, the procedural issues were finalized and the 4,173 Reichsmark held by Trude and Richard Neumann were transferred to an account of the Office for the Resettlement of the Jews.

The fate of the jewelry, the photographs and the other "worthless" objects that Hetzer wanted to get rid of is not known. But even in May 1944, after both Trude and Richard were already dead, and with the Reich beginning to crumble, Hetzer was still perturbed by the bank account. The final document in the file found by Czernin is a letter Hetzer sent to the tax authorities on May 11, 1944. He explained that "Margarethe Neumann, born May 19, 1893, was deported outside the borders of the Reich; in accordance with the expropriation decision [her] property was confiscated in favor of the Reich. I request that you close the account you managed in the name of the Jew and transfer the outstanding money to account no. 15 of the Postal Bank, which belongs to my account in the Tax Commission." Shares, securities and other papers were to be transferred to two other banks, together with the "exact details" concerning the securities on deposit, "which will make it possible to know the interest rates and the dividends accruing to the securities." Hetzer also requested copies of these transactions and a copy of the list of securities.

The last piece of paper
Thanks to a few documents and the testimony of several survivors of Theresienstadt, we know a little about the brief period Trude spent at the camp. Ruth Bondy, in her book "Edelstein Against Time" (in Hebrew), describes Trude's arrival in the camp on the basis of documents she found in the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem. "One fine autumn day," she writes, a transport of patients from Vienna was brought to the hospital for new arrivals in the camp. "Among them was a woman of impressive appearance, relatively young, who caught the attention of Trude Groeg, who worked [in the hospital] as a nurse. She struck up a conversation with her. The elegant woman told her immediately that she was the daughter of Theodor Herzl and that she wanted to make contact with the ghetto leadership. Thrilled, Trude [Groeg] rushed to [Jacob] Edelstein [a ghetto leader] in order to arrange for special treatment for the daughter of the prophet of the Jewish state.

"Edelstein, though, was thoroughly unimpressed by the news. He believed that Trude Herzl and her husband Richard Neumann, the former owner of a textile plant in the Sudetenland, had behaved disgracefully toward the Zionist movement and now had no right to ask the Zionists for preferential treatment. Nurse Trude knew that it would be futile to press the subject and decided to look after her namesake by herself, with the help of the medical staff." Trude Neumann, furious at not receiving special treatment, wrote to the ghetto leadership, "I, the youngest daughter of Theodor Herzl, take the liberty of announcing my arrival to the Zionists here and of asking for their help and support in these difficult times. With cordial Zionist greetings, Trude Neumann-Herzl."

The letter changed nothing. Nevertheless, the nurses did their best to ease her plight. She was given a notebook, in which she recorded her experiences:

"The day before yesterday we were given some marmalade; I ate it all at once. Last night there was a wonderful doughnut for supper. I get milk every day. Yesterday we had a delicious dumpling for dinner; today each of us received a pat of butter. I get milk daily, sometimes twice - from Mrs. Groeg. My husband was just here; I manicured his nails. he feels better, but a relative of his has died. We just received some margarine. Washed stockings today; they're drying now.

".. Dear Head Nurse. I plead for your help! My husband, whose only wish is to have me committed to an asylum, asked me to come to him and look after his things. I hope you can prevent a scene such as took place the other day. If I'm to be ill, at least please without scenes!

".. My last sheet of paper. What is left to me without the possibility of writing?"

Trude grew gradually weaker and died on March 15, 1943. The exact cause of death is not known. Her funeral was held two days later, together with 23 other deceased inmates of the camp. Her husband died afterward; the date is not known.

"Theodor Herzl's funeral had been a world-wide event," Sternberger writes. "A lot of the faithful attended Julie's obsequies. A handful of people had been present when Pauline was interred, and even fewer when Hans was buried. Trude's funeral was not even a private one - she had to share it with 23 others whose names we no longer know; her ashes were mingled with theirs, and the smoke rose from the crematorium and vanished upwards."

The last of the Herzlline was Trude's son, Stephan Theodor, who was safe from the Nazis' clutches in England. In the war he served as a lieutenant in the British army. He was modest and affable and very handsome, Ernst Pawel writes. In 1945 Stephan was sent to India and on the way back to England he made a stop in Palestine. He was treated like a king, and what he saw impressed him deeply. The signs in Hebrew in Tel Aviv moved him, as did the sight of Jewish children playing on the street, no different from children in England. Summing up his impressions, he wrote that when he saw the children he thought about the Jewish children who were not allowed to play on the streets in Germany. "It was good to see free Jewish children," he wrote.

Stephan Theodor was invited to settle in Palestine, but decided to return to England. In September 1946 he joined the staff of an office of the British Commonwealth in Washington D.C. There he received the final confirmation of his parents' fate. On November 26, 1946, he committed suicide by jumping off a bridge in the city. He left no note.

Stephan's plunge to his death was also the death of his grandfather's dream of a Herzl dynasty whose members would be the benevolent rulers of a Jewish state. All that remains of the dynasty are yellowing documents, and they too will one day crumble into dust.


 

 

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