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Malwida and Josef's lives, along with hundreds of others, are tabulated in Georg Gaugusch's extraordinary 1,650-page survey Wer einmal War — "Who was once Who" — (Amalthea, €128), the first proper record dedicated to the upper crust of Jewish Vienna. Ella and the rest of the family will have to wait for volume two, which — given that the present tome stops at the letter K — promises to be even fatter. 

Gaugusch's book is pretty dry. He wanted a scientific analysis of the leading clans, and restricts himself largely to the details of births, marriages and deaths, even if they are considerably enlivened by introductory paragraphs and footnotes, which add some flesh to these bare bones. When I first met Gaugusch at the "Adler", Vienna's genealogical society, several years ago, he promptly opened his laptop and started firing questions at me about my family. I gave him some circumstantial detail at which he frowned: "Nur sachlich" (facts only). He had no time for anecdotes.

I ran into him again the following day quite by chance in the municipal archives. I was reading my great-great-grandfather's will. Gaugusch beamed: "Sehr bestritten!" (highly contested). He could learn a lot from a will like that.

He is also an unusual man to have attempted the task. He has no Jewish blood, is a trained chemical engineer, and the owner of Jungmann & Neffe, the tailor next to the Hotel Sacher that is the Viennese equivalent of Savile Row's Huntsman or Henry Poole.

It was actually Jungmann & Neffe that got him involved in his project. Some time in the 1990s, an elderly Jewish woman came into the shop to have a look round the place her family had sold to Gaugusch's great-grandfather in 1942. Later there was a discussion in the family as to whether they would participate in an exhibition of former purveyors to the imperial court. Gaugusch decided they would, and set about researching the history of the shop and of the Jungmann and Dukes families that had owned it. It was at that point that he got the bug.   

His survey shows beyond all doubt that there was plenty of social mobility in the Austro-Hungarian empire in the second half of the 19th century. If you could not boast the brains to enable you to rise in the professions, mines, mills or factories of the Habsburg Empire, appointment to the court and the bestowal of an effigy of the imperial double eagle could also be part of the process of social advancement. A baker's shop elevated to imperial purveyor of kipferl (a precursor of the croissant) forms the backdrop to the charming 1955 "Heimatfilm" Die Deutschmeister, starring Romy Schneider; but her character wasn't Jewish, of course. Ella had the eagle at her department store (half of it can still be seen on the roof of the former Mariahilferstrasse branch) and her brother-in-law Max (my great-grandfather) had his on the jeweller's shop on the Graben. Her father, husband and brother-in-law were all awarded the title of Kommerzialrat (commercial councillor) and showered with many more baubles besides as they donated funds to the various causes of the empire.

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Ravi Raizada
September 22nd, 2014
2:09 PM
I am trying to research an Austrian Jewish family, called lichtenstein, who ended up in Britain after fleeing from the Nazis. They lived in Nottingham till a few years ago under their adopted name of Fielding. I would be grateful for any information about their pre-UK history if you can help.

Matthias Wienlieb
July 29th, 2013
2:07 AM
One wonders how the Austrians survived after the war. The Jews ran everything, and then they were gone. Now Vienna is merely beautiful, highly functional and clean with little crime, has no slums or decay - only a few somewhat unsavory neighborhoods, and has had a fantastic economy almost continuously since 1955. The most gorgeous, smooth-running, harmonious major city in the world. How?

Harold Chipman
June 16th, 2013
8:06 AM
This is a most interesting feature on Vienna and its Jews. Giles MacDonogh has also written excellently on this topic in his book '1938 -Hitler's gamble'. He is uniquely placed to do so as he has close family ties to Vienna. Here he has highlighted Georg Gaugusch's important genealogical book on the Jewish upper middle class who contributed so much to the life, culture, industry and fame of Vienna. This life was destroyed as of 1938 and the memory of it swept under the carpet after 1945. Vienna and Austria were never to regain the place they occupied in European cultural history. Georg Gaugusch's work fills in an important void in our knowledge about pre WW2 Austria. I write this as I am myself a descendant of this highly successful Jewish middle class - my grandfather was the celebrated industrialist and art collector Kommerzialrat Willibald Duschnitz who is included in Georg Gaugusch's book.

March 5th, 2012
6:03 PM
Eerily reminscent of the United States. Do you think it is a coincidence that the near total murder of every European Jew had its' nexis in the two places that saw the greatest amount of Jewish assimilation and conversion to idolotrous religions...Germany and Austria? Hmmm.

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