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Portrait of Claudia Erdheim
by Nina Werzhbinskaja-Rabinowich

Längst nicht mehr koscher

Die Geschichte einer Familie

ISBN 3-707602-087


Längst nicht mehr koscher

The family history of the five Erdheim brothers begins around 1870. It is set in Boryslav/Drohobycz in oil-rich Galicia in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Moses Hersch, the patriarch, has made a fortune out of oil and mineral discoveries. He owns mines, an oil refinery and a brewery. Against the background of Manchester capitalism, the brothers grow up in the sheltered warmth of a Jewish family. They are devout but enlightened Jews. At the end of the century, four brothers move to Vienna to study medicine and law. One brother remains in Galicia, another returns home a qualified lawyer. The family is now centered on Vienna with its hospitals and clinics, its university dissecting rooms and its dubious pleasures in the Prater. One brother becomes a prosperous businessman hiring domestic servants and sending his wife to summer health resorts in Franzensbad and Wörrishofen. His rebellious daughter joins the sozialistische Mittelschüler, qualifies as a medical doctor and intends to train as a psychoanalyst. Following the National Socialist Machtergreifung, the family is under threat. The Erdheims who remained in Boryslav/Drohobycz perish in Galician ghettos. One of the brother’s sons, living in Hungary at the time, dies in a concentration camp in Melk – one of the camps in the notorious Mauthausen network. One of the brohters and his wife assume false names and manage to survive in occupied Poland until the coming of the Red Army. The rebellious daughter survives the Third Reich in Vienna with her non-Jewish partner, an anti-Fascist and resistence fighter. They marry in August 1945. Her husband becomes a member of the provisional post-war Karl Renner government and she gets the professional qualifications denied her during the Third Reich.