Eleanor Alexander
Ernst Mauthner's Letters
to His Brother

Mauthner Family Members
Fritz Mauthner, Jenny Mauthner and familiy members

The Mauthners

Ernst (1844 - 1925) m. Malwine Roessler

Marie (d. 1922) m. Raphael Kuh

Gustav von Mauthner (1848 - 1902) m. Helene Weiss von Wiesenthal (1855 - 1920)

Fritz (1849 - 1923 m. Jenny in 1878; died in 1896. Daughter born in December 1879. m. Dr. Hedwig Straub in 1910.


The Family of Gustav & Helene von Mauthner

Gustav (1848 - 1902) in. Helene Weiss von Wiesenthal (1855 - 1920)

 Children :
Richard (1880 -1942) died in concentration camp; in. Charlotte (1889 - 1961)

Erich (1881 - 1952) m. Elisabeth (1886 - 1961)

Marianne (1886 - 1961) m. Stefan (1876 - 1962)

Ernst (1885 - 1945) suicide; m. Margarete (Gretl) (1896 - 1945) died from Nazi bullet.


Family of Ernst Mauthner

 Children:  Anna (1878 - 1939) m. Carl Alexander

 Children:  Paul (1910 - 1977) m. Lore Eyck (1913 -

 Children:  Ann (1941 - )
Larry (1944 -
Michael (1947
Fred (1912 - 1998) m. Ruth Becher (1912 - 1999)

 Children:  Jack (1938 - )
Robert (1944 -
Heinz (1914 - 1985) in. Lica (1914 -)
 Children:  Anthony (1945 -
John (1947 - )
Hilde (1917 - 1944)
Georg (d. 193 1) m. Tilly

 Children:  Renate
Eva Maria (1921 - 1968)
Marie (Mitzi) (1886 - 1977) in. Victor Count Hoyos
 Children:  Janos; m. Alice
Franziska (Franzi); m. Jerzy
Paula (Nunnie) in. Franz Sobotka. Both died by suicide in 1942.


Ernst Mauthner (1844 - 1925) was born in Horice, Bohemia, the second of six siblings. His father owned a small weaving factory there, but in 1855 the family moved to Prague because the father believed that his children would get a better education there. After his fathers death Ernst took over the business; he introduced weaving machines and expanded the business. Later, he moved the office to Vienna and eventually it became one of the largest and most profitable textile factories in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was the first to build housing for his workers.

He married Malwine Englander; they had six children, but the youngest died when he was seven years old. The family lived in a large attractive apartment on the Opernring, a block from the Opera. His eldest daughter, Anna, married Carl Alexander and moved to Berlin, where they lived in a beautiful spot across from the Tiergarten. They had four children, the oldest was my husband Paul.

Ernst was very fond of his family, and every summer he invited his children and their families to Altaussee in the Steiermark where they stayed at the Hotel Seewirt, overlooking the lake. The letters to his brother Fritz show his generosity and kindness, always ready to help, admiring his brothers intellectual gifts. The delightful picture that the Leo Baeck Institute sent me gives a good idea of his character.

My mother-in-law often spoke to me of her father whom she loved and admired. And I think that she inherited many of his good qualities: her intelligence, love of her family and great kindness. I also heard about Ernst Mauthner in letters that Paul wrote to me in 1936/37 when he was a graduate student at Harvard and I lived in Rolandia, Brazil, where I taught in a one room school.
    " I wrote to you at great length about my grandfather, but evidently the letter never arrived. My grandfather was terribly important to me; now I shall wait to tell you about him until your are here. He still plays a large role in my life, and I really cannot explain why, but can only tell you that he was a wonderful human being."
And on another occasion he wrote:
    "Have you heard of the Albertina in Vienna? It has one of the most beautiful collections of drawings. That is something I would like to show you one day; anyway, I would love to go with you to Vienna some time, if Adolf does not get there first. However, you will have to accept a feeling of melancholy when we get there. Again and again I am surprised to discover how much my grandfather means to me, the way I think and feel. After all, I was fourteen when he died, and thirteen when I saw him for the last time. lt is strange, but thinking of him has influenced my life so very much."
When Paul and I got engaged, Paul's mother decided to give us her parents' wedding rings. Paul and I were delighted; he wrote to me: if some of my grandfather's good qualities come with these rings, you will get a very good husband. I still wear my ring with pride and joy.

After Ernst Mauthner's death his son Georg took over his business. Though highly gifted, he did not have his father's common sense, and the business survived only until 1931. And a few years later, Hitler invaded Austria.

I just wish I had had the good fortune to know Ernst Mauthner, but I love the stories that my mother-in-law and Paul told me about him: his wit and love of good conversation, his hiding candy in the woods and telling his grandchildren that the witch Tra-la-la had left the sweets for them. Paul loved to tell these stories to our children who enjoyed them ever so much.


June 1, 1888

Dear Fritz,

Thank you for your letter of May 24 which I received a few days ago. I have decided to charge Gustav half the expenses and was mean enough to ask him for half of the Prague account too. I am giving you all this information because I hope to be done with this affair for good now. In today's mail I am putting 1,500 Marks in your account - please acknowledge this transaction.

Malwine leaves for Hall on Sunday morning where she will stay in the Villa Rome, as she did last year. Anna and Franzi will accompany her as well as Paul; she wants him with her, since she is worried about his health. The physician thinks it is I hope our worrlies about him are unfounded. [He died at age 7.] Millena leaves for Reichenau today. I am happy to hear that Grete is well again.

Best regards to the child and Jenny and yourself from all of us.

Yours, Ernst


January 27, 1889

Dear Fritz,

Your visit in Marienthal was a sign of brotherly love and friendship for which I would like to thank you once more with all my heart. My joy in our most recent meeting is all the stronger, since I had such a good impression of your health; everyone joins me in this pleasure when I tell them how well you look: a strong and healthy German! The anxieties you felt at times will certainly disappear now. I hope that you found Grete and Jenny also very well. The fact that you are writing again will bring you sooner or later the success that has cheered and spoiled you so often in the past.

I did not find Malwine's health much changed; she is rather run down, and it seems there is nothing to be done but wait for some improvement. The children have slight colds, but are otherwise well and cheerful.

With greetings from everyone for everyone,

Affectionately yours, Ernst


December 28, 1890

Dear Fritz,

In the last weeks you seem to have encountered a host of unpleasant events which you faced with great courage. We are both old enough to know that life is a never-ending battle that has to be fought again and again. The armistice never lasts long.

I was glad to hear from Gustav that you were able to withstand all unpleasantness and that your new position is no worse than the one you lost. I would be pleased if you could confirm Gustav's opinion of these events. Perhaps you will be more comfortable working together with a colleague; sharing work often is the most direct way to success. I am returning the letters of Fleming and Lehmann that you sent me. We are glad that you stood up for our funds with so much courage. The negotiations will have shown that the 5,000 Marks, which Lehmann should pay, are not part of the 15,000 which Fleming owes you. Be sure to write to me exactly how your needs and your income compare in your new position.

You probably know that mother was not well, but is all right again. There were cases of scarlet fever and diphtheria in Alfred's family, but everyone is improving.

Today we are celebrating the eleventh birthday of our beloved Georg and we are all well. While I was away, the poor boy had tonsillitis twice. I sometimes find it hard to believe that I was in Italy earlier this month - it seems at times as lf I had been there years ago - thus the beautiful memories seem of long ago times.

I wish you and yours all the best for the new year with all my heart. My love to Jenny and Grete.

Yours, Ernst


October 10, 1902

Dear Fritz

This is going to be a business letter concerning your contract with Cotta [a very prominent publisher]. Helene will make the necessary payments immediately. She does not want anyone to know about it, nor does she want to keep Cotta waiting until the Guardians on Inheritance Administration give their permission. I am enclosing a copy of Cotta's bill. The contract you made with Cotta seems quite in order; please look at the bill carefully and tell me whether you think it is correct. lf this is the case, Helene will pay the amount of the bill: 9, 725 Marks. When you study the bill you will notice that Mr. Lehmann has added the sum of 1,861.72 Marks for expenses. I think it would have been better, if they had left the bill unchanged because these expenses were included in the contract between you and Cotta. lf you are short of funds, please deal with the problem as before: let me know about it.

We believe that buying the land adjacent to your property will make life more difficult for you by adding payments of interest. This may be especially hard for you at this moment; if you had paid us a visit, as you had promised, we could have talked matters over, as is natural between siblings. It would still be very nice if you could come for a visit; only lf special circumstances make it impossible, write to us where "the shoe pinches."

I want to thank you for all your kindness to Georg during his stay in Berlin. He spent six weeks in Bubens and is now working with me in the office; he seems to have settled down to his work.

With affectionate greetings, Ernst


December 27, 1903

Dear Fritz,

I was delighted to hear good news about your health from Grete and also to hear many good things about Edmund and his wife whom I will visit today or tomorrow; they will have to tell me a lot more. You probably know that Marie and Helene met in Werden. That nothing came of the job with Vaurig would worry me less if Mr. Wahle had found another position half as promising.

Helene had a good time here with Erich and Marianne who attended her first dance at the house of a friend. Much sader is her concern about Max whose health evidently justifies serious anxiety. Fortunately, everyone at home is well -Anna and my father-in-law were a bit nervous the other day, but it's nothing serious. Georg came home for the holidays and gives us pleasure in every way.

At the beginning of the new year I would like to establish a credit with Bleichröder and would appreciate your suggestion which I am accepting right now. The basis for this is my wish to make life easier for you so that you will not have to accept too much work and will feel free of worries about money matters. I do not have to tell you how whole-heartedly Helene agrees with both wishes. I wish you and Grete all the very best for the new year.

With best wishes and faithful affection, Ernst

I opened the envelope again to thank you for the picture which I just received. I find it excellent and will have it framed.

Ernst Mauthner in his living-room
Ernst Mauthner in his living-room

Grand Hotel
July 20, 1904

Dear Fritz,

Your letter was forwarded to me here; I will cash the two receipts in Vienna and have the money sent to you.

Your news is very gratifying; I think any recipient of the letter would have good reason to urge the writer to be content and happy. I had been quite miserable about your gall stones, I hope that the prognosis of the doctors that they will not bother you for years is correct. The publication of a second edition of your book is an event. The circle of readers for a book that requires great understanding and knowledge of the reader is very limited. I would be glad if you could send me a copy of your article on Aristotle. Please send it to Vienna, as I plan to return in a few days.

As to Mr. Hartel, I have to tell you that he has acquired three 3 volumes of your book for his library. He has spent a great deal of time reading them and has discussed the reviews of the book with me at great length. In addition, he asked me for excerpts from your fourth volume as they appeared in magazines; he also asked for any of your articles being published. When he returned them to me, our discussions showed that he had read everything carefully. I cannot judge whether you should send your articles to him. This would be just the night moment to do it because he is staying in Gastein where he will have more time to read. I think he is staying at the Villa Imperial, but I am sure you can address your letters just to Bad Gastein. I believe that your accompanying words would take care of any doubt that you may have about sending him your work.

We would all be very happy, lf you could manage a visit to Altaussee. I will make all the arrangements, if you let me know when you will be there. Mr. Hartel plans to be there from the 8th - 12th.

Warmest regards to Grete - Yours, Ernst


Late 1904

Dear Fritz,

Thank you for your two letters. The prospect of your Grete's marriage is delightful and we look forward to further news with the liveliest interest. It would be a most pleasant start of the new year. Edmund had to tell us a lot about you; he reported that you seem to be doing very well, that you are recovering from your illness with a strong fresh mind. The death of Max touches me deeply; now I am the only one left of the seven Vienna Mauthners, and this happens at a time when I am still comparatively young.

Polities disturbs my mind much less. The lively contact that Minister Hartel has with me is fascinating; he always seems to get the most important messages these days while I am visiting him. lf they are not confidential, I hear the news first. Since I know, as he does, that one fine day he will leave office, it is important to keep all these events well in mind.

Best of luck for the time when you will be a father-in-law.

Yours, Ernst


January 11, 1905

Dear Fritz,

My situation: it is 6:30 in the evening; I just came home from the office with the firm intention to go straight to my desk to write to you. Yesterday's letter is right in front of me: my warmest congratulations.

Mutual attraction, health and youth on both sides, his ability and enjoyment of his work, all these qualities are essential for a happy future. lf we could meet Mr. Wartenberger before the official announcement, we should all be very happy. I will give Grete the sum of 10,000 Marks; perhaps you could let me know how I should send this present for Grete's marriage. Since you write that ;he is still in Leipzig. I will send my congratulations to her there.

There is no more news about us than I reported earlier, but rumours rarely stick to facts. Should the news which I mentioned the other day, which was meant only for you, come closer to a resolution, you will be among the first to hear about it.

Affectionate greetings, Ernst


Schreyvogelgasse 3
January 20, 1905

Dear Fritz,
To increase the use of luxury stationery, I am using some of the writing paper that I got as a birthday present. I am anxious to answer your letter and realize to my dismay that it was written on the 16th - and it is now late evening on the 22nd.

Of course it is understood that the 20,000 Marks we sent you are meant as a dowry for Grete; that was our purpose in sending you the money. You must also understand that the money is to be given by you to Grete without any mention of Helene or myself. I did not think it was at all necessary to mention this.

You write to me that you promised your future son-in-law a certain sum as a dowry to make an earlier marriage possible. I now learn from your letter that it is more than the 20,000 Marks that Helene and I are sending you, and I am worried that this will be a great burden to you - and that is just what we want to avoid. A mortgage on your property or the sale of your villa for this reason I will not accept, since I believe that you are fond of the place. I also refuse to accept your proposal to take out money that you paid into your life insurance. We will have to find a better plan.

Grete told us that her fiance is planning to visit us, and we are delighted that we will have a chance to make his acquaintance.

Warmest greetings, Ernst

Ernst Mauthner
Ernst Mauthner
May 25, 1906

Dear Fritz,

I enclose the receipts of the Allgemeine Versorgungsanstalt for the dividends of 1904 and 1905. Please sign these and also send me a notarised certificate. After I receive the forms I will cash them and send the money to you.

I am not going to ask you whether you are short of cash nor whether I could be of help because you asked me very seriously not to do so. You promised that, if you needed help, you would turn to me for assistance. You said that it would be easier for you this way. It is only your request that keeps me from mentioning money matters in my letters. Since I am writing about financial affairs, I felt that I just could not miss this opportunity to mention them.

I am very much interested in what you write about getting the first volume of your book ready, as well as your essay on Spinoza. I will read both as soon as they are published; it must have been very demanding work and I am so very happy to think of the recognition which these deeply serious works will bring you.

I was very sorry to learn that your health needs a great deal of improvement. Fortunately I seem to be well at the moment. For many months I was quite ill, and I am so pleased that I am able to work again.

When I was at the Semmering for a few days vacation, I came across the following verse.
    "Work makes life worth while The sun rises and sets more cheerfully."
I imagined life after sixty to be quite different and am really surprised how much I still can do. But my correspondence with you in the future may be less regular, although it is my heart's desire to keep in touch. Even if the sun sets more cheerfully, it does not set any later because I want to write another letter.

I was in Prague for a few hours on Thursday, since I was not far from it looking at a farm for Richard with Helene. I found Marie and family well. Everything will be fine for Grete - you should not worry about lt. Of course, I do not want to make your trip to her impossible, but I would be very glad if you could spend some time with us in Altaussee. Please write whether you will be in Berlin between the 6th and 8th of July. It is possible, but not yet certain, that I will be there.

Warmest greetings to you from all of us, Ernst


Schreyvogelgasse 3
September 29, 1906

Dear Fritz,

I wrote you a few days ago; today I would like to thank you for sending me the "Zukunft" with your preface in it. While starting to write to you, I am reading your essay for the third time to be able to discuss it with you at least a little, but the profusion of ideas is too great, so that I will have to read parts again, before I will have a true understanding. In the end I will have to become a philosopher too. More than thirty years ago I tried this diligently, but eventually I had to abandon my efforts because it became just too much for me. I felt as if I had to climb a vertical rock; after I had tumbled down many a time, I crept away in shame. A nice story that happened this summer brought back memories of this episode.

Mr. Hartel made a trip in the company of his former colleague in the Ministry, Boehm-Barrech and his wife, and asked nie to come along. Thus I had close contact on this trip with Boehm Barrech who is a real scholar like you. And we had many discussions of a philosophical nature. On one of these occasions I described earlier times pursuing this interest and told him that unfortunately nothing was left except the book of an English writer. Reading the book for many years his ideas had become for me the summa of what the human spirit was able to achieve. Every time I rearranged my books I gave this book a place of honour, remembering the time when I studied it. To my great shame I had to admit that at the moment I could not remember the name of the book's author, since many years had passed since I read it. All I could remember was that the author's name began with a "D." After some thought Boehm-Barrech said "you mean David Hume," and I assented. I think it was a delightful combination of thinking and guessing.

I realize that your thanks at the end are addressed to me. How little you have accepted all your life; your words of thanks are exaggerated. It is just impossible to do any business with you!

I greet you in faithful love, Ernst


Schreyvogelgasse 3
October 7, 1906

Dear Fritz,

Thank you very much for your congratulations to my birthday. I was moved that your children also sent me best wishes. I also received your letter of the 4th. Mrs. Sacher's letter I have not yet answered, but will eventually do so. I will tell her that unfortunately I will be unable in the meantime to help her with the execution of her project.

I saw Mr. Hartel only once since he left immediately on another trip. But I took the opportunity to talk to him about the lady's project. He told me that he had discussed the problem with Rudolf Lothar and Glossy to find out whether the German Austrian Literary Association could not buy some of the manuscripts. lf you could inform the lady's friends that they should offer any available manuscripts to that Association, it would seem to me to be the best way of handling this matter. I cannot see that it would do any harm to mention Mr. Hartel.

The celebration of the Jubilee in Prague was quite nice, the employee get-together was very colourful; there was only one former member of the company staff that I could not remember.

I am reading in the second edition of your book, as much as my eyes allow, and even more. I have also tried to make headway in the Czech edition. I love the sparkling spirit and the deep meaning in the book.

Malwine and the children are well. George and I are quite busy at the office. Helene and Marianne moved to Vienna yesterday; Helene seems to me to be much better and Marianne's health is improving.

Affectionately, Ernst


Schreyvogelgasse 3
December 10, 1906

Dear Fritz,

A Sunday that I am spending for a change in Vienna gives me a chance to report to you, although there is no special reason for it.

We are all well and our granddaughter has been with us for a week, since my son-in-law was asked by the director of his company to go to London and Paris, and Franzi decided to go along. Malwine's parents were sick, but are now well again. Helene returned from Abbazia well rested. Marianne carne down with influenza yesterday; her child will have a new wet-nurse who is expected around Christmas. This creates a problem for Helene: where to put her up. I am not sure that she will be able to cope with this very well.

In a questionnaire about the ten most readable books your 'Famous Models" was named. Georg is back in Bubens and shows undiminished vigor. You always predicted that. Richard is happy running his farm; Erich remains in Berlin during the holidays to prepare for his exams. You will probably see him, if you go ahead with your planned trip.

We had a very dear letter from your Grete. She is content and happy in her marriage - I am sure you will find great joy when you see the couple and little Fritz. It will be wonderful to see you here on your way back - be sure to stay also with Marie. I visited her for a few days last month and was very glad to bring a little cheer into her life.

I remain, looking forward to our get-together - we always think of you with the friendliest feelings.

Your Ernst


April 10, 1907

Dear Fritz,

The day before yesterday I decided to take a holiday by the Mediterranean and asked you to accompany me. Then I went with Mitzi to Prague for an examen that will allow her to take the "Matura"; this will make it possible for her to enter the University.

To my great regret I just heard that you are declining my invitation because you are too overburdened with work. As you will have realized from my letter, I wished so very much to spend some time with you; it was such a pleasant thought to cruise with you for a few weeks.

The doctor tells me that I need such a break, and I thought that such a holiday would improve your health, especially after a bout with influenza. Since you do not want to go with me now, perhaps you will spend a long vacation with us this summer. I cannot tell you where at this moment, since we do not know ourselves where we will be.

Mitzi passed her examination at the gymnasium this morning with distinction; the subject was Psychology. After the examen the examining professor asked her whether she knew that there existed a famous psychologist with the name of Mauthner. She was of course delighted to tell that he was her uncle, whereupon the professors started telling each other all sorts of stories about you.

I will send you a copy of the Praguer Tageblatt with a long review of the second edition of your book as soon as I have read it myself.

All is well here. Best Regards, Ernst


Schreyvogelgasse 3
May 23, 1907

Dear Fritz,

From your letters to Malwine and Helene I learned with great interest all that you wnite about your life and your work, and I am glad that you are well. At the beginning, my trip was not very pleasant because of the cold and unpleasant weather, but gradually it became very refreshing and only the unplanned cruising around Madeira was unpleasant. We could not land because of an outbreak of a smallpox epidemic. lf it had been known in time we could just as well have gone to the Balearic Islands. On the whole I am very pleased with the trip, since it offered me the relaxation that a few weeks of rest can give you.

In these days of quiet I thought again of our relations concerning financial matters and your refusal to accept any help; and I blamed myself, feeling that I may not have written to you often enough. You told me once that you cannot at the same time work for a living and work for what you believe in. Perhaps you expressed your thoughts more beautifully, but, since you will not agree to accept any help, I am deeply puzzled and unable to decide what to do. Therefore, I beg you again, please do not refuse my help in the future. I have sent to the Rheinische Creditanstadt in Freiberg the sum of 2000 Marks which you can cash whenever you wish. My wish would be fulfilled, if I hear that you have received the money, I will then try to bring some regularity to these matters. I would have loved to do this without Helene's help and knowledge, but that is not possible, since she would rightly be offended - thus I cannot do it. But you must know that there is no greaterj oy for her.

Greetings, Ernst


Schreyvogelgasse 3
June 4, 1907

Dear Fritz,

I was sorry to leam from your letter of May 17 that you have to spare your eyes as much as possible. Fortunately my eyes are all right at the moment, but I am not sure that I am really careful enough. Well, only the future can tell. I have been reading your essay in the "Zukunft" on the art of translation, but have not yet finished it. You develop such fresh ideas, and your essay is so full of leaming that it would be hard to imagine your writing it without a fresh spirit. I came to the conclusion that you must be in good health. Of course, old eyes are not really suited for mathematical and Sanskrit studies.

I am very pleased that I sent the money at the right time to the right bank. I am greally encouraged by this and will start sending 500 Marks there every month. We would be very happy if you were willing to draw this sum every month and use it for whatever you need. It is not very much, but 1 belleve that you prefer it this way.

The rest of the letter is missing.


September 15, 1907

Dear Fritz,

Thank you for the family card from Frankfurt and yours of the 11th from Freiburg. Marie sent me a wire from Bayreuth beeause she had just learned that her son had received the Order of the Iron Cross at Easter. She has always been charming in her impatience; she also wrote to me that she informed the family in Frankfurt, and also reported with what admiration friends talked about you; you are spoiled in this regard: Dernberg's words about you are really special. That you spoke so little about being honoured moved me a great deal.

Yesterday's Neue Freie Presse has an essay about Sudermann in which the theatre review of "Ehre" (Honour) in the Berliner Tageblatt is quoted verbatim. I think Georg is right to believe that the quoted passages were written by you. I did not read any more of the article, but George thinks that it was written by Blumenthal who seems very pleased with himself. Don't let your son-in-law's opinion worry you - I quite agree with you. After all, when should one get ahead, lf not at our age.

I can well understand that your children want to stay in the Villa Mauthner in the Grunewald. If your son-in-law wants to discuss his plans with a banker in Berlin, let me know. I myself have no business relations with a Berlin banker, but I can easily get you a first rate introduction. If, as you write, there is no hurry about the affair, it would be better to wait because my brother-in-law, Hans Roessler, will move from Constantinople to Berlin as one of the first officers of their National Bank. He would certainly be happy to offer his services in a friendly manner.

Best regards, Ernst


October 3, 1907

Dear Fritz,

Thank you for your letter of the 19th; my wire and letter will have informed you about the state of Helene's health. I do believe that Abbazia will do her a lot of good again. Marie and Rudolf are very well; they speak with the greatest pleasure of your get-together in Frankfurt.

Your son-in-law is here this week and is planning to visit us tomorrow night. He told us that your daughter and child are going to live near you. We always enjoy seeing Georg. I found Marie in much better health, but that does not mean very well - an old woman. Fortunately she may go to Gastein, as I suggested. Rudolf greeted this plan with great pleasure, as the baths always do him a lot of good.

Malwine and Richard went to Johrnsdorf where Helene feels lonely which is easy to understand, in spite of the tenderness of Richard and Erich. She is planning to return on Sunday with Erich. Our planned vacation in Vulpelra is in question now - I suddenly had the idea that "mezzanin" meant rooms under the first floor, and I was right. But in August we will be in Altaussee and look forward to being together with you.

Affectionate greetings, Ernst


August 27, 1908

Dear Fritz,

I am very sorry that you heard about the correspondence with your son-in-law, and unhappy that you were upset about it. But since you heard about it, I would have liked to talk with you about it. I see from your letter that you feel very strongly about the matter, but if we had talked to each other, I could have added a few points which may be unknown to you and might have cleared up the matter. Unfortunately I cannot do what you wish.

In addition, it is a very doubtful pleasure these days to enlarge one's business or to join a very large one, for the crisis about which I wrote to you and your son-in-law last year is most faithful and in full bloom. I hope to find a few days for Altaussee, but am kept very busy here. That is the way it goes when you try to keep your business going at a time when you cannot sell anything anywhere.

Malwine is fine. I think I came to Gastein a day after you left to see what troubled her. Fortunately, the trouble disappeared as quickly as it had come. It is a pity that you will not visit us this year. A few days in Altaussee would have done you a lot of good, but from what you write I gather that Freiburg may be lovely too! [lt is!]

Greetings to your children, if you are still with them.

Yours, Ernst


I should like to end this selection of Ernst Mauthner's letters to his brother Fritz with the letter that started my translations: the letter written in 1910 by Fritz, dedicating his book to his brother Ernst.

After reading letters from Ernst Mauthner to his brother this letter is even more moving. When you hear about the trouble that Ernst had to get his brother to accept help, it seems almost miraculous that Fritz writes," I owe you my independence, my liberty, the chance to find my inner freedom, one could call this freedom a chance to live a worth while good life." How happy Ernst must have been when he received this letter.

The letter was written in the month that Paul was born, May 1910. And it seems to me that Paul inherited valuable gifts from these two men: the generosity and sense of humour from his grandfather and his love of scholarship and sensitivity to language and literature from his great uncle.

I am grateful to Fritz Mauthner and the Leo-Baeck-Institute for preserving these letters, but I am sad that we cannot share them with Paul who would have enjoyed them so much.


Ernst and Fritz Mauthner
Ernst and Fritz Mauthner - two Gentleman
I dedicate this book (Dictionary of Philosophy) to my brother, Ernst Mauthner.
Fritz Mauthner

Meersburg am Bodensee
May 1910

Dear Ernst

I want to dedicate this book to you. I have often taken great pride in my faithful and grateful memories. May I today remind you of an event that happened more than 58 years ago. We are now old enough for such a celebration of memories.

I was about eight years, and you were thirteen. In the nursery we five brothers were sitting together one evening, each of us at his little table by candle light, each busy with his lessons. I had been asked to copy for Examination Day all the poems that we had learnt to recite during the semester.

I had just copied the last verse when, in a fit of absentmindedness, I reached for the inkpot instead of the sandbox and emptied it over the exercise book. I cried pitifully, for I was very sorry for myself. However, I could hardly make up for this disaster - I could not possibly copy 32 pages in one night; I knew I would not have to wait long before everyone would make fun of me. But you came to my table and told me: just go to bed and sleep, and I will copy the few pages for you. I was quickly comforted and soon was asleep in my bed. In the morning I found the silly book with your beaufiful handwriting on my table, next to the burnt candle.

People do not change. I have misused inkpots more than once and you have done my work and sent me back to sleep. I know I do not stand alone with such memories of your character. With faithful and grateful thoughts I would like to dedicate this book to you. I owe you and the other two whom you know the inner peace I needed for my work. I could give this peace of mind, which is a necessary condition for my work, another name. I owe you my independence, my liberty, the chance to find my inner freedom. One could call this freedom a chance to live a worthwhile, good life. But we both do not like to use big words, isn't it true?

I would like now to tell you something else. One does not talk about these things every day. I was sixty years tired the other day when the postman delivered several newspapers at home in which my activities were described with respect and love. Well, that happens once in a while, but something was always missing for me: that I could no longer show these signs of esteem to our mother. Her incorrigible opinion would not have been influenced by any newspaper chatter, but she would have been happy to hear something kind and friendly about me.

I almost believe that I am not quite sure what I wanted to tell you - perhaps that I am thinking of mother, too, when I dedicate this unwieldy book to you.

Yours, Fritz

LITERATUR - Letters to Fritz Mauthner, Translation by Eleanor Alexander, Winter 2001