About

I grew up in a one-bedroom apartment in Kew Gardens, Queens. My parents slept in the living room and on Sundays, still in their pajamas, they used to waltz to the mid-day broadcast of Music from Old Vienna. The contrast between our present and their past could not have been made more visible. They were just beginning their married life when they fled to England in 1939, and came with me to America in 1946. Over the years, I was told stories of the family’s roots in Hungary, Vienna, Moravia and Austrian Silesia. But, since the culture they belonged to no longer existed, and the experiences they described bore no resemblance to my life attending a public school in New York City, they sounded to me like fairy tales. In the course of time, I became an art historian, learned how to do research, focused on the exotic world of the Italian renaissance, had a career that included teaching, book dealing, running a gallery, journalism, and writing. It was only in the 1990’s, when Eastern Europe opened up again, that the family stories began to haunt me. A chance encounter with a house painter who came from my father’s hometown offered the first opportunity to turn hearsay into history. My blog is dedicated to the quest that followed and the people who helped me on my way as I traced my ancestors’ journey through a century of emancipation.–Monica Jane Strauss


5 Responses to About

  1. Hedi Pope says:

    Dear Monica,
    Of course I am most interested in your project of “refugee tales”. Would you want Eva’s and my story? Or a copy of the talk I present at the Holocaust Museum from time to time? Are you eventually putting everything into a journal? Your family’s story is certainly fascinating.
    Yours Hedi

  2. Styra Avins Eisinger says:

    Grand job you are doing! Beautifully produced, beautifully written.
    Fond regards,
    Styra

  3. Dear Monica,

    It is with great interest I noticed your blog. I am an archivist at the Leo Baeck Institute….I believe we even have some of your family’s papers here. At any rate, I enjoy reading your blog. We have a Facebook page for the Leo Baeck Institute and I am going to post a link to this blog on the page. Here is the Leo Baeck Institute facebook page:
    http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/leobaeckinstitute

  4. I’m teacher in Austria, Gumpoldskirchen. I actually work on a Spitzer Family memory culture project – I just startedto work on this in context with the following organization: http://www.centropa.org. As far as I know had the Austrian line of the Spitzer family a big factory (leather) in Gumpoldskirchen, but there are only survivals in England I read, so I’m asking for more details and would be happy to get in contact with you, so my school e-mail is: abrunner.mhsgpk@gmail.com, here is our website: http://www.hsgumpoldskirchen.ac.at
    Thank you!

  5. J. Pasek says:

    Dear Mrs. Strauss
    A few days ago I received a fine old Vienna regulator clock as a gift from a few loving family-members. As it shows on its dial the clock is made by “L. Guttmann, Wien”. Since such an old clock feels like a piece of living history, I loved finding out a little about its background.
    In my “Lexikon der Deutschen Uhrenindustrie 1850 – 1980” by Hans-Heinrich Schmid is Mr. Guttmann listed as manufacturer for “Wiener Pendeluhren” located in the Blindengasse 2. Than I searched for further information in the Lehmann catalogues and finally I came to your Blog…
    I don’t know how many of his clocks may have survived – probably not too many – but one of them came to Switzerland and is still working and ticking happily.
    Thank you for sharing your family history, I feel deeply touched… and the clock made by your great-grandfather became even more precious to me.
    Best regards from Switzerland
    J. Pasek

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