The fall and the fall of the Herzl Dynasty (2): Lamentations of the Daughters of Zion

Theodor and Julie, his wife, had a very unhappy marriage. Julie suffered from mental illness and drug addiction She died in 1907 at the aged of 39, three years after her husband’s death. Hans her son was 16, her daughters, Pauline and Trude, were 17 and 14. Julie was cremated. After the cremation, Hans took the urn containing her ashes, and caught the train home. He was so upset after the funeral that he forgot the urn on the train. He spent a few months in a sanatorium to recover from the loss of his mother.

Trude, Herzl’s youngest daughter, also suffered from mental illness, much of it the result of a long frustrating courtship with Richard Neumann, 27 years her senior, whom she eventually married. They had a son, Stephen, and separated a few months later. Like her mother and her sister Pauline, Trude was also in and out of sanatoria. Six years later, Richard, her husband, took her to Paris. This fulfilment of her lifelong dream did not improve their relationship. They went back to Vienna. In the late 1930s, she was back in a mental institution. She wrote letters to the Pope, Churchill and Hitler admonishing them to do something about the approaching war. When the Nazis occupied Austria, they ordered that all Jewish hospital patients be transferred to Jewish hospitals. A year later, the Nazis closed these Jewish hospitals, and Trude was transferred to Steinhof, a public hospital. In 1942, she was put on a train to Theresenstadt, a Nazi concentration camp, where she died at the age of 50. The cause of death is not certain – disease, execution or gas chamber. According to reliable accounts she was one among a pile of corpses consigned to the ovens.

Julie’s elder daughter, Paulina, like her mother, was addicted to drugs and suffered from mental illness. She was in and out of mental institutions. She died in Bordeaux in 1930. She apparently died of a drug overdose. It is not clear whether she committed suicide. Like Paulina, my daughter Karenina was also a drug addict and died of a drug overdose. She was in her thirties and unmarried. As with Paulina, it is not clear whether she committed suicide. When a person dies from a strong addiction, there is a thin line between the conscious decision to put an end to one’s life and a sliding down the slope to self destruction.

In an earlier post, I related how Herzl dreamed about making Hans, his son, Prince (doge, doxa) of the future Jewish State. When they were young, Theodor’s three children asked this question: “When father is king, will we still have to go to school?” King of what? Of Zion.   His son, Hans Herzl, is to be the Prince of Zion, his daughters, the “daughters of Zion.”  The House of Herzl, once great, lies wasted and abandoned. Its gates are desolate. There is bitter weeping in the night.They won’t be comforted (Lamentations 1).

All her majesty
Has departed from the daughter of Zion;
Her princes have become like deer
That have found no pasture

(Lamentations 1:6)

I will say more about Hans later on.

3 thoughts on “The fall and the fall of the Herzl Dynasty (2): Lamentations of the Daughters of Zion

  1. Hi, I really love this interesting piece of writing. I am trying to follow the lives of the Hertzel family myself now for an art project I am working on – was wondering if you have maybe some more info to share about the letters Trude Hertzel wrote to the mentioned political personas relating WW2, or if these could be found or accessed somehow? I’ll appreciate any kind of advice on this one, and also would love to share some additional biographical thoughts if you are interested! thanks! Sarai

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