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Who knows Anna?

Jul 3, 2020 | JMW News

Oliver Rathkolb titled his article in the catalog for the exhibition The Ephrussis. Travel in Time with this question. At the end of his text, he points out that nothing or nothing more precise is known about Anna, who is said to have saved the famous netsuke, and that perhaps only Edmund de Waal can provide information about her in a future novel. If we do not know something, or know it exactly, then imagination, which is always in play when educational programs take place at the Jewish Museum Vienna, also helps – interaction with and for visitors. In February 2020, students at the University of Wurzburg pretended as if members of the Ephrussi family had written letters to Anna…

Ignaz Ephrussi, Japan
Dear Anna,
I am incredibly delighted that you were able to hide the netsuke collection despite the Nazis’ presence. You were always a trusted and loyal soul in our house earlier and before the war, and I am all the more pleased that you remain true to us today and are returning this collection that is so deeply connected to our family. These figurines represent an important part of my childhood. Thank you, your very grateful Iggie

Ignaz Ephrussi © Jüdisches Museum Wien

Charles Ephrussi, Paris
You are restoring the luster my family has lost over the years. The netsuke, an insignificant part of my collection, will accompany the fate of my family in the future. The Ephrussi family will bring their exploits back into the memory of Viennese society again and symbolize power, loss and a new beginning through these objects. I thank you on behalf of past and future generations of Ephrussis. Charles Ephrussi

Viktor Ephrussi, England
Dearest Anna,
We are very grateful to you for rescuing our “family treasure” – we are not so much concerned with the figurines themselves, but with the fact that thanks to them and, of course, thanks to you, our story will be told. Yours truly, Viktor

Gisela Bauer, Mexico
Dear Anna,
I am Gisela – perhaps you still know me? You used to help mother get dressed while we children played with the carved figures. What I would give to see them again! They have inspired my fantasy and sharpened my understanding of art. (…) Please get in contact with me!

Gisela Bauer © Jüdisches Museum Wien

Elisabeth Ephrussi, Vienna
Dear Anna,
I am very pleased to announce that I received a scholarship position in America today. It will start in a few weeks. I hope you are well and that your little treasure gives you great joy every day. I will write to you again – on a beautiful postcard from America. Take care of yourself and give my warmest regards to your Isaac. In long-lasting friendship, your Elisabeth Ephrussi