Shared commercial interests obviously lay at the heart of marriages in this world: Jews wed within clans. Hungarian Jews married others from their hometowns, likewise Moravians and Bohemians. Marriages in my family were preordained by relationships established a century before in the very Jewish Hungarian town of Bonyhád, near Pécs.
Gaugusch's desire to establish "networks" has been criticised in the Austrian press as being in some way anti-Semitic, but the existence of these closed, self-supporting communities is undeniable: Jews came from all over the empire and they tended to do business with the people they trusted of old. A Jew from the Banat knew little of those from the Bukovina, let alone one from Prague or Pilsen.
The millionaires naturally angled for all the trappings of establishment: boxes at the opera and the Burgtheater and above all noble titles. The Ephrussis became "von" Ephrussi, as did the Rothschilds, Arnsteins (the oldest Jewish "barons" and patrons of Mozart), Auspitzes, Blochs, Bondys, Eislers, Fröhlichs, Freunds, Frydmanns, Grabs, Hechts, Herzls, Inwalds and Hofmanns, to name but a few. The trader Isak Löw Hofmann became Hofmann von Hofmannsthal, the grandfather of the poet, but the example of Hugo von Hofmannsthal raises other issues such as conversion and intermarriage. The poet was only a quarter Jewish, which shows there was seemingly little reluctance to marry out if it meant you could "get on" or indeed bypass some informal if annoying numerus clausus that prevented you from advancing in your profession.
An example of conversion was Rudolf Sieghart, who figures in Gaugusch's pages by dint of his marriage to a daughter of Professor Carl Grünhut, a member of the Austrian Upper House. Sieghart was one of the most controversial figures of pre-war Austria, as he was held responsible for the crash of the Bodencreditanstalt bank in 1929 and the subsequent ruin of thousands of middle-class investors. Born Rudolf Singer in Troppau in Austrian Silesia, Sieghart was the son of a rabbi who changed his name around the time of his conversion to Christianity at the age of 28 in 1895: Sieghart didn't sound Jewish. It was an indication of his ambition that he selected as godfather the future minister-president Count Stürgkh, who was assassinated by Friedrich Adler in October 1916.
It was far easier to achieve letters patent of nobility in Vienna than in Berlin, just as there were fewer restrictions to obtaining commissions in the army. Some Jewish army officers were ennobled as well, like Major General Erich von Sommer, who was saluted by Nazi bullyboys when he appeared in full uniform after the Anchluss in March 1938. In the Jewish novelist Joseph Roth's novel The Radetzky March of 1932, a lowly-born gentile called Joseph Trotta saves the young Emperor Franz Joseph's life at the Battle of Solferino and is ennobled on the spot. Roth may well have based his tale on the true story of the Jewish lieutenant Wolf Bardach — who was granted the title "von Chlumberg" in 1890 for an act of great bravery that took place at the Battle of Königgrätz in 1866. Another possible model was Heinrich Ulrich von Trenkheim, who was ennobled on the spot at Custozza in the same year. It still took Bardach all of 35 years, however, to rise from a private to the rank of captain first class, but that was by no means unusual in the imperial army.
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