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15 October 2014
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The Grossman Wittgenstein Story

by Steve_Palmquist

Contributed by 
Steve_Palmquist
People in story: 
Stefan Grossmann, Ester strömberg-Grossmann, Birgit Grossmann-Wittgensterin, Heinz Wittgenstein, Maya Unna, Dr. Unna and their children and grand children etc.
Location of story: 
Austria, Germany, Sweden, Italy, New Mexico
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A3594855
Contributed on: 
30 January 2005

The wellknown Austrian jewish author, dramatist publisher Stefan Grossmann (1875-1935) married my grandmother´s cousin Ester Strömberg (1873-1944). stefan had been a young anarchist in the 19th century later a socialist and in the end a social liberal.
stefan and Ester had moved to Berlin during the Weimar Republic and Stefan started the popular magazine Tage Buch. Stefan accused Hitler and his party 1923 for getting economical and moral support from the German industry in an article in his magazine. Hitler got mad and went to court, but there were strong evidences that Stefan was right in what he had written, and Hitler withdraw the case from the court. But during the first days of nazi regime in 1933 Hitler let the police confiscate all what the Grossmanns owned their money in theior accounts, an apartament in Berlin and a summer house outside Berlin. The had to leave Germany within 24 hours with just the cloth the had on and they returned to Vienna. Where they the next two years lived in deep poverty. Both was quite ill at the time but Stefan continued to writte articles to make a living. He participated in Klaus Mann´s exile magazine where he just before his death wrote an article about that Austrias tragical destiny was to become a part of the "Dritte Reich" there were, in his opinion, no other way after the short Austrian civil war. Stefan wrottte this as a warning of course. His prophecy was sadly to become reality four years later 1939. Stefan died 1935 and Ester had to survive on her daughter´s economical support, both studying at the moment so it was a hard task for the entire family to survive. The oldest daughter Maya had stayed in Berlin studying medicin, to become a doctor. She married a doctor in pharmaceptology Dr. Unna. The had to move to US before it started to be impossible to exist like jewish descendents in Germany. Dr. Unna (I´m sorry I have forgotten his first name) became a professor at the University in Santa Fé in New Mexico and Maya fullfilled her medical studies and started a career as a doctor. Home in Vienna Ester and her youngest daugther Birgit had a difficult time. Birgit had taken a training as a director of gymnastics like her mother aswell had been praticing earlier. Birgit met Heinz Wittgenstein and married him. Heinz was from the same family as the great philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. They got two daugthers (who I am not going to mention by name because they are still a live and active in Austria and Sweden). Well, 1939 the entire family Grossmann Wittgenstein had to escape after the Anschluss 1939 and took to Sweden where Ester was born. The family Wittgenstein stayed as refugees in Sweden during the war and Heinz became in the early 1950´s the restored Austrian Republics first Trade commisioner. Ester who was quite ill at the time decided to take to Santa Fé and live with her other daughter Maya who had a son. Ester took one of the last ships leaving Europe (Genova) for United States in 1942. The family Grossmann and Wittgenstein was in a way quite fortunate both with jewish backgrounds but not faith, had the opportunity to leave the "sinking ship" which Germany and Austria like the most part of Europe had become under the nazis and fascists. The entire family survived and their descendents are now living in many countries in Europe, U.S. and Asia. My part of the family didn´t know what became of them and my grandmother always wondered and feared what became of Ester and her daughters. Last summer I managed to get in contact with my "lost" relatives through internet and this story was told by my Austrian and American third cousins. I believe it is a fascinating story and in the same time a story with a happy ending. It is important to find out what became of our relatives and keep a contact to remember also those who were less fortunate...

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This story has been placed in the following categories.

Childhood and Evacuation Category
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Sweden Category
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