Ilona Jellinek (Schwarz)

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Ilona Jellinek (Schwarz)

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Death: April 15, 1971 (86)
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Max Schwarz and Clementine Schwarz
Wife of Hermann Jellinek
Mother of Gertrud Susanne Zeisl
Sister of Cornelia Nellie Schwarz; Melanie Schweinburg; Aranka Teller; Lala Schwarz and Charlotte Gans Hoffmann
Half sister of Mizzi Nihs

Occupation: Jeweller
Managed by: Randy Schoenberg
Last Updated:

About Ilona Jellinek (Schwarz)

Dear Kristina: I will try to answer some of your questions as best as I am able. I am really Nick Teller’s generation, my mother was Heinz’s generation, first cousins and I met Azi only once, in England, when we visited briefly and I was perhaps 21 years old, so that would have been 1961 or so. 1) social background. Since, on Clementina’s side, there was a Ritter von Funk, I imagine that the Schwarz-Funk family was upper middle class. But I really do not know. I do know that Max was verrrrryy observant, and that the daughters were brought up in the Jewish tradition, yet I am fairly certain that they were assimilated enough not to have kept Kosher and most probably only celebrated the Jewish High Holy Days and Passover, and nothing more. In addition, my grandmother Ilona, the second but ultimately oldest of the sisters, following Nellie, the first-born, who had died at age 12 or 13 of Diphtheria or some such disease, never kept kosher, also celebrated Christmas, and Easter, and as a result we kept both traditions going in our family through my mother as well. I also know that Clementine took Nelly to the opera, so she was cultured, and that my grandmother Ilona, being younger, was left out of such outings, which she longed for and also resented her whole life that she had not been included.

My grandmother, Ilona, was really the matriarch or the family. From what I understand, Clementine was a down-trodden, tired woman, and was quiet and withdrawn from having the 4 girls, disappointing Max who had wanted a son, and was not a strong member of the family. Also, losing Nelly was terrible for her, and she never recovered from it. After Max became deaf, my grandmother, Ilona, took over the jewelry business he was in, and being artistic, she designed jewelry for him and I think even won a prize in Paris for that, although I might be mixing up stories and she might have won the medal in Paris for designing textiles for her husband’s business. Apparently, according to my mother, Max, who was always disappointed in having girls, just adored my mother when she was little, so I guess he ultimately had gotten over the disappointment of not having a son, and must have been thrilled with Heinz’s birth (but I am not sure of the dates - yet I think that Heinz (George) was born during Max’s lifetime. As to the sisters: My grandmother Ilona was then the oldest. I am pretty sure she never went for advanced studies, Mela, whom I will write of later, also did not, and I am not sure of Azi or Lotte, but fairly sure that none of the sisters pursued higher degrees. I think my mother, Gertrud Jellinek (married Zeisl) was the first in the family to have gone on to higher education, and she received her Doctorate of Law ( Doktor Juris - Doktor zweier Rechte).

Next in line after my grandmother Ilona was my great-aunt Mela (Melanie) who was a real rebel, extremely beautiful and sought after by boys and later by men. We have a postcard of a painting which hung in the museum in Munich, which a well-known painter had done of her. (I have that somewhere, too. There was a story about Mela that, at 13 years of age, so beautiful, she had already attracted the opposite sex, and it was told that she was in a park and needed to use the lavatory. In those days, you paid for or paid a mandatory tip to the Zimmerfräulein who cleaned the restroom. When Mela then came out from the restroom, there was a young boy out in front who said, “Schon bezahlt, Fräulein!” (“I treated you, Miss!”) In other words, he had treated her to her restroom, and did it proudly, a precursor of "going steady,” I guess!!! Anyway, Mela was very, very beautiful, had many boyfriends at an early age, feared her strict father, but ventured anyway, and became an actress. Before that, because she was troublesome, she had been put into a Swiss Internat, a boarding school, where she learned languages and also handicrafts, too. There was some story or other that Max and Clementine were not pleased with her choice of becoming an actress, and didn’t want her to pursue that kind of career, which she did anyway, went to Munich and was hired by the Munich National Theater there, starred in many Schnitzler plays, and was very popular as the süße Mädel type, and also starred in Lion Feuchtwanger’s permière on the Munich stage of Jud Süß. We even have a letter of Lion Feuchtwanger, here in Los Angeles, to Mela, recalling her performance in Munich on the opening night of his play. Mela was an actress in Vienna and Germany but never in the States, as you suggested in your questionnaire, nor in England, where she had originally emigrated and had lived and had become a ladies’ maid for a wealthy English family. When young, Mela also had a long-time relationship with Robert Wiene ( of "Caligari" fame ( director) but he wrote my grandmother Ilona a letter ( I have a copy of it) that he could not provide for Mela in the manner to which she was accustomed, and so ended their relationship, saying he had never loved anyone as much and would never cease to love her. This was about 1911, and by the time he made The Cabinet of Caligari, which made him famous ( I think 1916) Mela was already engaged to be married and it was all over between them. My grandmother, Ilona, helped Mela emigrate to the U.S.(her husband was dead and she had no children, no family of her own in London, whereas Azi had a family there. So Mela came to America and then Los Angeles, where she enjoyed seeing and critiquing Hollywood films, and also worked as a baby nurse/nanny to support herself. Next in line came Azi, who was known, as far as I remember, as the school teacher type, the studious one, very good in school, obedient, organized and efficient, and she as well as her sisters were all very good at handicrafts, sewing, knitting, etc. I do not know if she had a higher education, but perhaps in England she took courses which allowed her to become a teacher? Unfortunately I know nothing of her husband or his family. The baby of the family was Lotte, quite a bit younger than her sisters, clever, witty, but that is all I know about her. She died young, of breast cancer, I believe, at about 50, had married a very nice fellow, Walter Gilbert, with whom she had a son, Peter, who resembled Max, his grandfather, and who ultimately moved to America and became a very successful business man. Lotte ultimately left Walter Gilbert and emigrated to Palestine where she met and married an architect named Otto Hoffmann and had a daughter named Ruth who still lives in Israel. Then, there was one more daughter of Max Schwarz, born out of wedlock, named Mitzi, who married someone named Nihs, who was Christian, plus her mother was Christian, so she was able to survive the war. Mitzi never had children, and I met her when she was an old woman, in Vienna. She had never needed to emigrate. I know my grandmother Ilona sent her money and care packages throughout the war, and we met her around 1961 or so. She looked like a mixture of my grandmother Ilona and Azi. I also know that my grandmother was betrothed in a coffee house. it was pouring rain, so Max and Clementine went into a Vienna coffeehouse to seek shelter. It was very crowded, so they asked a couple if they could join them. They later left the coffee house (you have a son, we have a daughter, etc.) and Ilona, at 20 was engaged to and later married Hermann Jellinek, the other couple’s 38-year-old son. (I am not sure of Ilona’s exact age at the time, but she had my mother at age 21.) Unfortunately, I do not know anything about the Lady Mountbatton connection, nor the Bulley family where Azi worked in London, nor when exactly she or Mela emigrated to England. I know that aunt Mela worked for an English family who wrote her a wonderful reference for coming to the States. I had the letter at some point, but I gave Mela’s things to the film archive in Vienna a few years ago. My parents, my father’s younger brother, William, and my grandmother Ilona all fled Vienna on November 10th, the day after Kristalnacht. They fled via Köln to Paris, and then a year later they were lucky enough to have received an affidavit from a New York plumber, and managed to come to the United States. They lived from 1939 to 1941 in New York, where I was born in May of 1940, and then moved to Los Angeles in 1942. I hope this helps somewhat! Best wishes, Barbara 


Dr. Barbara Zeisl Schoenberg, Professor of German Lang. & Literature Pomona College, Retired alt. email: zeisl@mindspring.com

Dear Kristina: Here are two addendums I had forgotten. Randy reminded me of the one, and that triggered the memory of the second. Here they are: Addendum #1

Max was know to be very strict with his daughters, but try as he might with Mela, it didn’t work. However with Ilona, there is the following story to show his strictness: Ilona had been seen by a young man of 17 on one of the Vienna promenades who was smitten and became an admirer. He hired a Dienstman (delivery man) to go to her house and deliver a big bouquet of flowers to Ilona for him, while he stood and waited across the street. Max opened the door, and then took the flowers and immediately began to close the door. When the Dienstman then said, "but the gentleman is awaiting an answer," Max called Ilona to the door, and said, “Oh, the gentleman is awaiting an answer? Well here’s the answer, and he gave Ilona a "Watsche" (slap) across her face for having the impertinence of attracting a young suitor!! Times have certainly changed!!! Addendum #2

There is a story that passionate Mela had a suitor who was far away, and she was to send him a telegram. She wrote a long-winded telegram about how much she loved the gentleman, sending him kisses and embraces and very many, and long sentences expressing her love. Of course, this cost a lot of money. Lotte, the youngest of Max’s legitimate daughters was about 10 at the time, and Mela gave her the money to send the telegram for her. Later, a telegram response came back with the words, “Warum so kühl” (“Why so cold?”). SO Mela asked Lotte what she had written to merit such a response, whether she had sent the telegram or what had happened? It turns out that Lotte had taken the money for herself, and just sent : “Küße, Mela.” (Kisses, Mela.)!! because that was much cheaper and she could pocket the money for herself to buy some sweets!



            
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Ilona Jellinek (Schwarz)'s Timeline

1884
September 19, 1884
Vienna, Vienna, Austria
1906
August 15, 1906
Age 21
Vienna, Vienna, Austria
1971
April 15, 1971
Age 86
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, United States
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