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Paul Reif

Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Death: November 24, 1962 (64)
Danbury, CT
Place of Burial: Redding, CT, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Moriz Reif and Bertha Reif (Strakosch)
Husband of Marie-Helene Maria Reif
Father of Private; Private and Private
Brother of Hedwig Reif Schwarz Fleischl ["de Marxov"] and Gertrude Gertrud Reif Kanitz

Occupation: financier
Managed by: Debra Lavender
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Paul Reif

The "confirmed match" with a City Directory for Wichita, Kansas (1929) is entirely wrong and should not have been accepted for this record by a non-Manager Geni user.

PAUL REIF's birth record, per, is "Year 1897, Numerative 3166." See image in MEDIA. Death date and location are from Connecticut Department of Health. Connecticut Death Index, 1949-2012 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2003.

Birth announcement (Geburts-Anzeige) shows Reif grandparents' names on the reverse. (Birthdate appears in Geburtstags Merkbuch / Birthday Book of Ernestine Reif Schlesinger (Paul Reif's aunt); book in possession of Janet Lindner, ERS's great-grandaughter.)

Per his eldest daughter, Paul was talented at piano. He did not go to university, but ran away from home and enlisted at about 18, joining the cavalry. He ended up in a bomber aircraft, where "you bombed the enemy from a little basket." He did not serve long, as he was shot in the leg (and/or lost a toe). The Austro-Hungarian Empire's army is discussed in What the Hapsburg Empire Got Right, New York Times, Sept. 10, 2019.

Paul's niece (Elizabeth K. Canfield) wrote in 2014 that "Uncle Paul lied about his age (which was 17) and enlisted in WWI; he was assigned to the artillery. During a battle he crawled into a trench and came away "lucky" with injuries to knee and toe, always grateful that the whole leg was not blown off. The limp and some pain lasted for the rest of Paul's life. I believe your grandmother (his sister) lost her faith during that war, if she ever had any; her worry about her beloved brother was enormous."

Paul was engaged to Marie-Helene Fleck in the Fall of 1928; announced in Neue Freie Presse on October 6,1928, page 7, center column, middle of "Kleine Chronik."

Paul Reif and Marie-Helene Fleck were married in Amsterdam in 1929: (Amsterdam Marriages):

  • Bruidegom: Paul Reif
  • Geboorteplaats: Wenen (Oostenrijk)
  • Leeftijd: 31
  • Beroep: procuratiehouder
  • Vader bruidegom: Moriz Reif
  • Beroep: Koopman
  • Moeder bruidegom: Bertha Strakosch
  • Bruid: Marie Helene Fleck
  • Geboorteplaats: Amsterdam
  • Leeftijd: 23
  • Vader bruid: Richard Fleck
  • Beroep: Koopman
  • Moeder bruid: Anna Stein
  • Gebeurtenis: Huwelijk
  • Datum: vrijdag 17 mei 1929
  • Gebeurtenisplaats: Amsterdam

Iin 2020, 91-year-old Jan Roozendaal, who grew up in Bergen told Bergen historian Frans Leijen, "In 1938/1939 a Jewish family Reif lived on the left hand side of Jan Tooropweg 9 in Bergen -- husband, wife and daughter Mariette. Mr. Reif was a businessman and traveled to Amsterdam by tram/train every day. Their neighbors were art painter Jan Ponstijn, who lived at the end of Jan Tooropweg on the right side of the road. Since my mother used to cook at parties of the Ponstijn family, I was allowed to come along with her. As a child I played with the daughter of the Reif family when my mother was busy cooking. We were 6/7 years old. They were very nice and sweet people and they have my best memories. As a present they gave me one day a children's step with very big wheels." Probably they gave the children's step just before they left Holland to go to the USA in December 1939 (FL email to DS/DL/LR, 6/4/2020).

Mr. Leijen continued, "In an old addressbook for Bergen of 1937, the name of P. Reif is mentioned (director N.V.). The book says Wiertdijkje 14. The house is on the corner of Wiertdijkje/Jan Tooropweg. Nowadays the address is Jan Tooropweg 9. Jan Toorop was, by the way, a famous Dutch art painter who lived in Bergen. Nowadays the house is called "Villa Toorop". It is a very big house and can be rented. The house has an excellent view over the polders of Bergen. Here is the Google link to the house." (MHR indicates that Paul Reif built that house.)

In late 1939 the Reif family left Holland, arriving in New York on February 1, 1940 on SS Comte de Savoia, Genoa-NY, having come from brother-in-law G. Peter Fleck in Amsterdam. In early May 1940 the Nazis invaded Holland, despite Hitler's having "promised" to let the Netherlands remain neutral. For an account of the Nazi occupation of Holland see The Dutch Resistance blog.

Paul Reif and family + 5 "guests" in the 1940 U.S. census in New York City, residing at 225 Central Park West. Paul was affiliated with Brown Brothers Harriman, the oldest and largest private bank in the U.S.

In early 1943, Paul's sister Gertrude died in a New York hospital. Several weeks later Paul wrote to her husband, Dr. Ernest Kanitz, "Ich glaube auch, dass du spaeter einmal den eltern schreiben solltest, moechte es vorlaeufig aber lieber verschoben sehen. Ich moechte verhindern, dass sie briefe bekommen, bevor ich ganz gewiss bin, dass sie meine haben, die ich mit viel ueberlegung dosiert habe. sie sind jetzt alle unterwegs zu [Paul's cousin] Willy Reif, der sie langsam weiterschicken sind. Da aber so viel verloren geht will ich verhindern, dass etwas sie erreicht bevor ich weiss, dass sie vorbereitet sind. Trotz aller vorbereitung, war ihr letzter brief (Januar) wieder so, das ich ersah wie unfassbar der wirkliche ernst der lage ihnen geblieben war.

"I also believe that you should write to [the] parents later, but for the time being I would prefer to see it postponed. I want to prevent them from getting letters before I am absolutely certain that they have mine, which I dosed with a lot of thought. They [Paul's letters] are all on their way to Willy Reif [Paul's cousin], who is slowly sending them on. But since so much gets lost, I want to prevent something from reaching them before I know that they are prepared. Despite all the preparation, their last letter (January) was again such that I could see how incredible [unbelievable] the real seriousness of the situation had remained with them."

In a card to Ernest sent 9 June 1945, Paul wrote "We have some news [from Holland], mostly bad, but nothing about my parents."

In May 1946 Paul and Maria made a trip to Amsterdam by air, returning to New York on May 10, 1946. The next day Paul wrote to Ernest Kanitz:

"We had a wonderful time in Holland. The war has of course changed a lot and almost all for the worse, but the friends are the old ones and the warmth between them has rather increased. The house is in bad condition but habitable, all the furniture stolen, but many of the valuable pieces brought to safety and almost all the pictures."

Von den Eltern fand ich einige Photographien, die Du woh alle in Euren Albums hast, aus Mitterndorf etc., un die ich zwischen Deinen Kindern verteilen will. Sonst wenig. Aufklaerendes, Papa's Tod in Westerborg im Mai 43 steht zielich fest, Mama's Tod soll kurz darauf erfolgt sein, aber dafuer sind keine Zeugen da nur Hoerensagen, auch in Westborg. Ihre Moebel fand ich ei Janie Vater und habe sie ihm geschenkt. Von Fred. Cohen weiss man nichts -- das Testament ist da, aber das Ableben nicht beweisbar, eine komplizierte Situation fur mich, der dabei betroffen ist und gerne seine Schwester (die mittellos zurueckgekommen ist, 2 kinder verloren hat und eines mit TB behalten hat) gerne ihr Erbe zukommen lassen moechte.

Ams. ohne Juden ist ein erschuetternder indruck fur jeden der es freuher kannte. Von den Einwohnern allerdings merkt es fast keiner, sie sind einfach daran gewehnt. Personlich haben wir nur das Beste und Schoenste erlebt, aber ich habe naturlich auch Augen fur was mich zufaellig nicht selbst betrifft. Joanna & Thea senden viele Greusse..... "

I found some of my parents' photographs, which you probably have in your albums, from Mitterndorf etc., which I want to distribute between your children. Little else. Enlightening: Papa's death in Westerborg in May 43 is certain, Mama's death is said to have happened shortly afterwards, but there are no witnesses to it, only hearsay, even in Westborg. I found her furniture at Janie's father's and gave it to him. From Fred. Cohen one knows nothing -- the Will is there, but the[ir] demise is not provable, a complicated situation for me, who is affected and [who] would like to send his inheritance to his [Cohen's] sister (who came back destitute, lost 2 children and still has one with TB).

Ams. without Jews is a shocking impression for everyone who knew it well. Almost no one notices it, among the inhabitants; they are simply used to it. Personally, we only experienced the best and most beautiful, but of course I also have eyes for what happens [re noticing...] not to happen to me. Joanna & Thea send many greetings...."

"[On arriving home]: "Unsere 3 Kinder ... fanden wir mit Keuchhusten, leichten Grades, sowie sie transportfaegig sind geht Jannie weg und wir bringen die unseren nach Woodstock. Sie duerfen vorlaefufig doch nicht zur Schule. We found our 3 children plus Jannie's with whooping cough, easy grades [not too severe], as soon as they are transportable Jannie goes away and we bring ours to Woodstock. For the time being, they are not allowed to go to school.

On July 4, 1947, during an exchange of letters between Paul and Ernest about life in America, Ernest wrote to Paul (DL):

"I can understand your longing for Europe as much as I regret it; I mean, namely, that it shows that you still suffer from America, which actually surprises me in a sense. I would like to say, from my own experience, that we refugees can neither (nor should) be fully acclimatized in the spiritual sense, but also remain Europeans after what has happened to us - one can only adapt externally and remain completely, inside, of both, namely feeling like a stateless child of God. So I live in balance in this regard. It may seem very stupid to you, but it [has] helped me and I can't describe it any other way. The very peculiar feeling of complete loneliness, which sometimes comes across completely suddenly and not even painfully, is certainly there -- I didn't even want to miss it; it may not have so much to do with continents and environments. I hear it from your letter -- who could do it better?"

In New York the Reifs lived at 114 E. 84th St., NY (9th floor per MRS).

Naturalization date: February 9, 1948, New York, NY (living at 114 E. 84th St.). New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989

The E 84th St. neighborhood is described in a New York Times article 100 Years of Staying Put, April 27, 2012. "In those years around World War II, Ms. Jacobs said, there were frightening times on East 84th Street. She remembered Nazi sympathizers standing on the street corner, shouting into megaphones about getting rid of the Jews." The block by Park Avenue is near (but not in) Yorkville, once New York City’s Germantown and home to German, Czech, Hungarian, Jewish and Albanian immigrants. Yorkville proper runs south to north from 80th street to 96th street and west to east from 3rd Avenue to the East River. The Third Avenue El (razed in 1956) was the demarcation point between Yorkville and the silk-stocking district to the west of it.

In the mid-1920s Yorkville's section of 79th Street was "a hub for the Austro-Hungarian populace", but ethnic diversity began to wane by the end of that decade. Yorkville became a haven for Nazi refugees in the 40s, and later a haven for Communist refugees in the 50s. With its famous restaurants, ethnic shops, dance halls, schools, churches, common language, sports teams, it flourished as an independent village with German as the common language.

Obituary in New York Times: "The members and employes of our firm deeply mourn the untimely passing of their beloved partner and friend. Wolfe and Co." New York Times, November 25, 1962 (Memorial service at the Christian Community, 309 W. 74th St., NY, Dec. 1)

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Paul Reif's Timeline

December 26, 1897
Vienna, Austria

Last Name Reif
First Name Paul
Code 1
First Name Father Moriz
Last Name Mother Strakosch
First Name Mother Bertha
Location Wien
Book T 1897
Volume T
Date 26.12.1897
Number 3166

November 24, 1962
Age 64
Danbury, CT
November 27, 1962
Age 64
Redding, CT, United States