November 2008 © Thomas Kleissl
At 12, Defreggerstraße Wolf Meier Turteltaub lived together with his wife Amalie, née Wolfart, their children Fritz and Eva (Alloggi) and their four grandchildren. Amalie’s brother Julius Schrager his wife Saly, née Schneider, and their sons David and Paul also lived there.
Wolf Meier Turteltaub was brutally beaten up that night and pulled by his legs down the stairways. He and his son Fritz, his grandson Aldo Alloggi as well as his brother-in-law Julius Schrager were taken to the Gestapo headquarters at 8, Bienerstraße .
In December 1938 the extended familiy had to move to Vienna and tried to plan their escape from there. Fritz Turteltaub and Eva Alloggi were able to flee to England and Palestine respectively. Aldo Alloggi could flee to Israel. With the help of their grandparents the 10-year-old Erich Weinreb and the 8-year-old Poldi Scharf managed to flee to Palestine, too. Her mother had died from tuberculosis as long ago as 1934. Wolf Meier, his wife Amalie and their 10-year-old granddaughter were deported to the east and murdered in the Riga extermination camp. The father of Gitta and Poldi, Salo Scharf, was a victim of Auschwitz.
Abrahm Gafni and Poldi Scharf in Palestine (g)
Edmund Turteltaub and his wife Gertrud, née Popper, wanted to emigrate to Bolivia with their children but were arrested in Italy. Their sons Hans and Walter were gassed in Auschwitz in 1942, whilst Edmund and Gertrud had to do forced labour and died in the camp. Ella, a sister of Edmund, and her husband Ernst were killed in Lublin (Poland).
Julius Schrager, his wife Saly and their son David were deported to Poland in 1942 and murdered in Maly Trostinec near Minks. The other son, Paul, succeeded in fleeing with a youth group to Palestine in March 1939.
Letter of Abraham Gafni
When the 60-year anniversary of the Jewish religious community was celebrated in the Tyrol in September 2005, Abraham Gafni /Erich Weinreb wrote the following letter:
“Shalom, I am Abraham Gafni from Israel. I want to tell you briefly about my life as a Jewish child in Innsbruck before and after the “Anschluss”. I was born in Innsbruck, in Defregger Straße 12. This was the house of my grandparents. My mother died when I was five and a half years old. Thus I lived with my grandparents, my 4-year-old brother and my 2-year-old sister. I was the only Jewish child in kindergarten. My kindergarten teacher was Sister Martha, a nun. I remember her well. She told me: My dear child, you need not pray with us, but if you like, you may. At school I was the only Jewish pupil once again. All my friends were Christians. There was no difference between us; we did everything together: excursions, sledging in winter …. I was exempt from Religious Education but had to attend religious classes with our rabbi. The mark I got from him was written into the school report under “Religion”, as it was with all my friends. On Friday evenings I went to the temple with my grandfather (we never said synagogue). – On Sundays I met with my friends at church. This was just normal. Many of the holidays I had twice: Passover – at home Seder evening twice and then the Easter bunny and painting Easter eggs; Chanuka – at home the candelabrum and the songs and at my friends’ the Christmas tree; this was like heaven for me. It was a beautiful time. Then came the Anschluss. My life changed overnight. Someone threw a bomb into our house; the shop windows of my grandfather’s shop were smeared with a big white “J” and a Star of David. Then the SA marched in front of our house to chorus: “Whoever buys from Jews is a traitor of the people” and slogans like that. But the worst for me was school and my friends. My two best friends, who lived in my house, were the only ones who spoke to me, but only when we were alone. They all strutted around in the uniform of the HJ and played with their daggers. I was in class four. Our teacher had disappeared. On the first day a new teacher came into class. He read out the names of the pupils and everyone stood up. When he came to my name I stood up and he said: “Komm her, du Saujud” (come here, you Jewish pig) and started to hit me. That went on for a few days, but luckily, we were not allowed to go to school any more. These were hard days. We hardly ever went out of the house. And then came November, 9th, the “Kristallnacht”. The first Jews were murdered in Innsbruck and our temple was destroyed. I remember it well. Some noise in our flat woke me up. I saw strangers hitting my grandfather, saw how they ransacked the flat and took my grandfather and uncle with them. This was called “Schutzhaft” (preventive arrest). These were days I will never forget. We were three little children alone with our grandmother. After some time they all came home again and began to pack. We had to leave Innsbruck, I was told and that we would go to Vienna. One evening, late in November 1938, we boarded the train to Vienna. When the train was leaving the station my grandmother said: “Child, look back to Innsbruck, I think we will never se it again.” She was right. Only my brother and I survived. Since June 1939 I have been living in Israel. I came to Palestine as the Nazis had wished with their curse: “Jews to Palestine!”. I say it similarly, but as a blessing: “Jews to Israel!” (1)
I want to sincerely thank Abraham Gafni for his letter and the permission to use it. I say thank you to Hanne Mitterstieler for the hint and making contact with Abraham Gafni.
Martin Achrainer / Niko Hofinger < Die Turteltaubs: Eine Großfamilie zwischen jüdischer Tradition und österreichischem Alltag > in: Thomas Albrich (Hg.), „Wir lebten wie sie…“. Jüdische Lebensgeschichten aus Tirol und Vorarlberg, Haymon-Verlag Innsbruck 1999, S 147-164
Horst Schreiber < Die Turteltaubs: Das Schicksal einer jüdischen Großfamilie > in: Nationalsozialismus und Faschismus in Tirol und Südtirol – Opfer . Täter . Gegner, Tiroler Studien zu Geschichte und Politik, Michael-Gaismair-Gesellschaft, StudienVerlag 2008, S 286-288
Horst Schreiber & Irmgard Bibermann < "Von Innsbruck nach Israel - Der Lebensweg von Erich Weinreb / Abraham Gafni". Mit einem historischen Essay über jüdisches Leben in Tirol > StudienVerlag 2014
Gad Hugo Sella < Die Juden Tirols - Ihr Leben und Schicksal > Israel 1979
Maria Luise Stainer < "Ich hab´mich gefühlt wie bei der Vertreibung aus dem Paradies" - Berichte Vertriebener aus Tirol > in: Thomas Albrich (Hg.), „Wir lebten wie sie…“. Jüdische Lebensgeschichten aus Tirol und Vorarlberg, Haymon-Verlag Innsbruck 1999, S 355-372
(a, b, c, d, e, f) Wolf Meier Turteltaub, Amalie Turteltaub, Eva Alloggi, Erich Weinreb, Poldi Scharf, Gitta Scharf – © Abraham Gafni
(g) Abraham Gafni via Hanne Mitterstieler
(1) Jewish Community Innsbruck – Letter by Abraham Gafni / Erich Weinreb