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Friedrich Torberg and his “Aunt Jolesch”

Dec 1, 2020 | JMW News

Did you know that…

…Friedrich Torberg’s actual name was Friedrich Kantor? …his mother’s maiden name was Berg and that his pseudonym arose around 1930? …Friedrich Kantor played water polo and was a member of the Hakoah? This Jewish sports club was founded in 1909 and brought together some well-known athletic greats from a wide variety of disciplines. …Friedrich Kantor had fallen in love with the swimmer Hedy Bienenfeld, who was supposed to marry her trainer Zsigo Wertheimer? “Hoppauf Hakoah” was called out to cheer on players or entire teams. According to an essay by Friedrich Torberg, “Hoppauf Herr Jud!” (Hoppauf Mr. Jew!) was created during a soccer match between “Vorwärts 06” and the Hakoah. When cheering, fans usually called out “Hoppauf” and the name of the person who was to be cheered. The name of the Jewish player was not known to the cheering fan. This match took place at a time when it was customary to address a Jewish women or man as “Saujud” (“Sow-Jew”). This seemed inappropriate to the fan.

Image © David Peters

At the moment, only professional sports matches are allowed to take place; social contacts are to be avoided if possible. Now that everyone is more at home again, is there going to be more cooking again? Do you know a good recipe for “Krautfleckerl” (small pasta squares with shredded cabbage)? Krautfleckerl, which can also be prepared in a sweet variant, even have a Wikipedia entry (in German, Russian and Spanish)! Because you can’t always cook, you can also shorten your time with literature. In 1975, the collection of anecdotes “Die Tante Jolesch oder der Untergang des Abendlandes” (“Aunt Jolesch or the Decline of the West in Anecdotes”) was published by Friedrich Torberg, who had emigrated to Switzerland, France and the USA and returned to Austria in 1951 without taking back Austrian citizenship. Ephraim Kishon’s second wife is known to us through Friedrich Torberg’s translation as the “best wife of all.” Friedrich Torberg translated from English, where she had been referred to as the “little woman.” Apropos: In 1998, Torberg’s widow Marietta Torberg gave the Jewish Museum Vienna a pair of optical glasses with blue-green plastic frames. Why Marietta, divorced from Friedrich Torberg since 1968, chose these glasses as a present remains a mystery. Just like Aunt Jolesch’s recipe for Krautfleckerl…

Listen to the playlist „Aunt Jolesch or the Decline of the West in Anecdotes“ on our Spotify channel

Image © David Peters

Cover image © JMW