Look at this picture. What do you see? You might see ordinary people.
These aren’t ordinary people to me. These people are my relatives, my family.
Everyone, let me introduce you to my great-grandparents, Jonas and Eleonore (Rothenstein) Steinhaus, the people in the right and center, respectively. The woman on the left is my great-aunt, Margarethe “Grete” (Steinhaus) Kaiser.
Jonas was born on September 13, 1877 in a city then called Tarnopol, in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire. (It is now known as Tarnopil’, in the Ukraine.) Eleonore was born probably sometime in early January 1879, in Tarnow, also in the same Empire. (It is now Tarnow, Poland.) When they were both young, they moved to Vienna, the capital city of the Empire. They got married in the Staadttempel in May 1904. The next April, they had their first child, a girl, named Margarethe, whom my entire family refers to as Grete. They also had a son, named Hans, who was born in January 1913.
From the little bit I do know about him and his family, they lived in District II of Vienna which was known then as the “Jewish District.” He also owned a leather goods store on the first floor (the ground floor for those of you in England) of his apartment building while he and his family lived up on the second (aka first) floor. From what I do know, I think they had a happy life there.
In 1926, Hans had his Bar Mitzvah at their local synagogue, the Leopoldstaadter Temple. And in 1929, Grete was married to Siegfried Kaiser also in the Staadttemple.
In 1938, their world turned to hell.
The Nazis marched into Vienna in March of ‘38, and life began to get worse for them. Siegfried was arrested in June of ‘38, got taken to one (if not two) concentration camps, which lasted for a year. In August, Hans fled. And in November, Kristallnacht (“The Night of Broken Glass”) occurred. I’m guessing that probably Jonas’ store was broken into. That spring, Siegfried was released, got some help, and fled the country.
This picture was taken in the summer of 1941 and was sent to Hans who was in America by that time.
On September 13, 1942, Jonas celebrated his 65th birthday. The next day, the three of them along with almost 7,000 Viennese Jews were loaded onto cattle cars and taken to Camp Maly Trostinec in Belarus. There, 50 people were selected to work on the farm there. Jonas, Elenore, and Grete were not among them. They were taken with the rest of the people there to a ditch where they were shot.
Jonas was 65, Eleonore was 63, and Grete was 37. They were killed all for the sake of being Jewish.
Please share this. Please reblog this. I want their story to live on the Internet, to know that they have “lived” in some way in at least one person’s mind. Let this be a lesson, to remember what happens when we let hate overcome our world.