Valentin (Valti) Josef Rosenfeld

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Valentin (Valti) Josef Rosenfeld

Birthdate: (84)
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Death: 1970 (83)
London, England
Immediate Family:

Son of Victor Rosenfeld and Recha Rosenfeld
Husband of Eva Marie Rosenfeld
Father of <private> Ross (Rosenfeld); Rosemarie (Mädi) Rosenfeld; Theodor Victor Immanuel Rosenfeld and Karl Rosenfeld

Occupation: Attorney, Goethe scholar, Hakoah Swimming Club
Managed by: Randy Schoenberg
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

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

According to the publication on the Memorial Book of the victims of National Socialism at the University of Vienna in 1938 Valentin Rosenfeld graduated at the Law School at the University of Vienna on February 4th, 1910 . "...he was deprived of his academic degree on July 22nd, 1943 with the racist argument, that he as a Jew was not considered dignified an academic degree of a German university ('eines akademischen Grades einer deutschen Hochschule unwürdig'). It took 12 years since the deprivation - and a very long time since the end of Nazism - until the regranting of the doctorate took finally place on May 15th, 1955."

"When the Nazis annexed Austria, one of the first names on their most-wanted list was Dr Valentin Rosenfeld, president of the Hakoah swimming section. Rosenfeld, along with Zsigo Wertheimer, evaded arrest and, from their base in London, began to arrange for the club's athletes and their families to leave Vienna. "I was only 17," Trude Hirschler, who swam breaststroke, remembers. "Hakoah approached my parents and offered to send us on an illegal ship. No one knew where we were going or if we would arrive." It took a month for them to reach Palestine. Wertheimer helped others to obtain forged documents, stamps and visas; Rosenfeld got Greta Stanton a scholarship at Cambridge: having lived through Kristallnacht and the sending of thousands of Viennese Jews to Dachau, she was on a ship to Britain when war broke out. "Together they saved all the swimmers," Judith Deutsch says. "It was amazing."
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Valentin (Valti) Josef Rosenfeld's Timeline

March 2, 1886
Vienna, Austria
August 2, 1912
Age 26
Vienna, Austria
Age 26
Age 28
Age 83
London, England