November 2008 © Thomas Kleissl
Julius Popper was married with Laura Weiß. They had two sons, Siegfried and Robert, and had been living on the first floor of 5, Beethovenstraße since 1936.
In the night of the pogrom someone kept his finger on the doorbell after which ten people stormed into the flat where they kidnapped the couple and brought them to the mouth of the river Sill close to the Foradori factory where they threw them into the river. 65-year-old Laura managed to rescue herself and her 75-year-old half-blind husband.
Sill, Jänner 2013 © Manfred Mühlmann
Then they asked the porter of the Foradori factory for entrance, but instead of calling the ambulance for the exhausted Mr. Popper he called the police and Julius Popper was arrested. Laura fetched dry clothes from Fanny Krieser and brought them to the Gestapo in 8, Bienerstraße, where she was helped by a clerk to put them forward to Mr. Popper. When Laura visited the Bauers, Adlers and Kappelsbergers she witnessed the terrible extent of the pogrom.
She had to spend the night in her husband’s insurance office because her flat had been vandalized. (1, 3)
From left: Robert, Laura, Siegfried and Julius Popper, Picture credit: Courtesy of Leo Back Institute (a)
From 1900 to 1914 Julius Popper had been a representative of various shipping companies like United States Line, Red Star Line and White Star Cunard Line. From 1918 to 1938 he had worked for the insurance company Victoria (situated in Berlin) in the Tyrol and Vorarlberg. After the Anschluss in March 1938 he was dismissed. (2)
Advertising Julius Popper, 1905 (b)
Laura Weiß was born in Bielitz on the border between Germany and Poland and was one of the many children of Solomon and Klara Weiß.
In their former flat in 27, Falkstraße the musically talented family arranged regular chamber concerts. Julius had a veritable collection of instruments (violins, violas and cellos) and was a violinist himself. Laura played the piano and the reed organ. The oldest son, Siegfried (“Friedl”), took violin lessons from the violin virtuoso Alwin Kappelsberger and the younger son, Robert, took cello lessons from Herman Bayer. Together they often visited the Innsbruck symphony concerts.
Siegfried Popper became a merchant and together with his wife he emigrated to England and later to the USA in 1938.
Robert Popper was a member of the Zionist organization “Blau-Weiß”. He graduated as a medical doctor from Innsbruck University in 1935 and worked in a hospital in Vienna from 1935 to 1937. In March 1938 he had to abandon his study of dentistry. With the help of a forged passport he was able to get a transit visa to Lithuania, where he stayed in Riga between September 1938 and January 1939.
With the help of the American student Richard Hoefener the collection of instruments could be transferred first to Switzerland and then to the USA. Robert could flee to England and the USA, where he continued his medical career.
The parents emigrated to England where they saw their oldest son Siegfried again. Laura died in 1943 and Julius in 1944 in an old people’s home. They had never seen Robert again. (3)
Until October 1938 also the last Tyrolean rabbi Dr. Elimelech Rimalt and his wife Dr. Wilma Rimalt, née Gelmann, lived with their sons David and Benjamin in 5, Beethovenstraße 5. They first moved to Vienna and then escaped to Israel, where Dr. Elimelech Rimalt became a member of the Israel´s Parliament Knesset. He died on November 5th, 1987.
Dr. Elimelech Rimalt (c)
I want to thank the Leo Back Institute for the photos of the Popper family and the digitalization of Robert Popper’s records.
Martin Achrainer < Das Pogrom-Denkmal >in: Gabriele Rath / Andrea Sommerauer / Martha Verdorfer (Hg.), “Bozen Innsbruck – zeitgeschichtliche stadtrundgänge”, Folio Verlag 2000, S 85 – 89
Thomas Albrich / Michael Guggenberger < "Nur selten steht einer dieser Novemberverbrecher vor Gericht" - Die strafrechtliche Verfolgung der Täter der so genannten "Reichskristallnacht" in Österreich, Holocaust und Kriegsverbrechen vor Gericht - Der Fall Österreich > StudienVerlag 2006, S 26-56
Tuviah Friedman < Die Kristall-Nacht, 9. November 1938, >Dokumentarische Sammlung, Haifa 1993
Michael Gehler < Spontaner Ausdruck des “Volkszorns”?, Neue Aspekte zum Innsbrucker Judenpogrom vom 9./10. November 1938 > in: Zeitgeschichte, 18.Jahr, Okt.1990-Dez.1991, Heft 1-12
Gretl Köfler < Die “Reichskristallnacht” > in: Dokumentationsarchiv des österreichischen Widerstandes (Hg.) – Widerstand und Verfolgung in Tirol 1934 bis 1945 – Österreichischer Bundesverlag Wien 1984, Band 1, S 448-462
Robert Popper < Austrian Memories > Leo Baeck Institute, 1999
Horst Schreiber < Jüdische Geschäfte in Innsbruck - Eine Spurensuche, Projekt des Abendgymnasiums Innsbruck > Tiroler Studien zu Geschichte und Politik 1, Michael-Gaismair-Gesellschaft (Hg.), StudienVerlag 2001
Gad Hugo Sella <Die Juden Tirols – Ihr Leben und Schicksal > Israel 1979
(1) Laura Popper, Brief an ihre Kinder vom 18.11.1938 – in “Austrian Memories by Robert Popper”, Leo Baeck Institute – http://access.cjh.org/home.php?type=extid&term=1177611#1 – last visit 26.12.2012
(2) Claims Resolution Tribunal, In re Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation, Case No. CV96-4849 – http://www.crt-ii.org/_awards/_apdfs/Sechzig_FG.pdf
(3) “Austrian Memories by Robert Popper” – Leo Baeck Institute
(a) Family Popper – Courtesy by Leo Baeck Institute < Robert Popper Collection, 1909-1999 >
(b) Der Burggräfler, Meraner Anzeiger, 4.10.1905, Nr.79, XXIII. Jahrgang, Seite 11 – Digitale Bibliothek Dr. Teßmann – http://dza.tessmann.it/tessmannPortal/Zeitungsarchiv/Seite/Zeitung/7/2/04.10.1905/50874/1
(c) Elimelech Rimalt – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elimelekh_Rimalt