Valentin (Valti) Josef Rosenfeld (1886 - 1970)

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Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Death: Died in London, England
Occupation: Attorney, Goethe scholar, Hakoah Swimming Club
Managed by: Randy Schoenberg
Last Updated:

About Valentin (Valti) Josef Rosenfeld

From: Victor Ross <>

Date: Tue, 27 Jan 2009 10:46:57 EST


b. 1886, Vienna; d. 1970 London. I don't know when he became a lawyer; he

was in practice with his more famous father (Viktor R.) before 1910. He

served in the

Austrian Army during WWI, as captain in the artillery, on the Italian Front,

an activity he much preferred to lawyering, which he did only to please his

father. His real interests were music and engineering. He took lessons in

composition with Alban Berg and moved in the high-octane circles of the

Viennese cultural elite. In 1911 he married his cousin and fathered four children,

only one of whom survived him. His post-WWI career as a lawyer was always

precarious; he had become identified with the Austrian left, acting as witness

in Bela Kun's trial and as counsel for the defence in the Reichspalast

affair. Yet his political convictions were not strong; he was much more engaged

in Zionism of which he was a fervent advocate, and an active director of the

Sportklub Hakoah, whose swimming section he led for many years.

   His modest political engagement  notwithstanding, he was taken into 

protective custody ("Schutzhaft") following the 1934 uprising and kept in prison

for a few months without charge or trial. After his release, his practice in

the Wipplingerstrasse pretty well collapsed and he had to let his house in

Hietzing and move into more modest accommodation.

   In 1938 he escaped on the last train  leaving Vienna before the Nazis 

marched in; he saw them from his compartment as they crossed the border. In

London he joined his wife from whom he was separated but who helped him to get

started. To his great relief, he never had to do any more legal work and

devoted himself to helping members of the Hakoah to leave Austria and find refuge

wherever, mainly in South America. When war broke out, he started work for

the Jewish National Fund by day, and as air raid warden by night. In this

way he managed to avoid internment as an enemy alien, the fate of so many of

his contemporaries.

   After the war, he started a small  commercial art studio with a fellow 

refugee lawyer (from Czechoslovakia) and indulged in his hobby of collecting

rare gramophone records and listening to opera. He became a regular visitor to

Bayreuth, a friend of the Wagner family, and an honorary citizen of Bayreuth.

   If you send me your address, I shall  try to find a photo to send you.  

More information about my father is contained in an excellent catalogue of

Rosenfeld memorabilia compiled by Georg Fritsch, the bookseller in the

Schoenlaterngasse. He also has a copy of the book of the correspondence between ~Eva

Rosenfeld and ~Anna Freud, which contains a good photo of my father.

Victor Ross

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