Tragic letter from couple who bought Hitler’s art

Agnes Grunwald-Spier tells the sad story of Samuel and Emma Morgenstern, two Jewish shopkeepers living in Vienna that had a relationship with Adolf Hitler beginning around 1911. They bought many pieces of art from Hitler over the years, but their shop was confiscated under Aryanization in the late 1930s, leaving them penniless. They appealed for help in a letter personally to Hitler (see below), but it never reached him and was filed away. Later the Morgensterns were deported to the east and died in terrible circumstances. This contrasts with the story of Eduard Bloch, who was the Hitler family doctor that cared for Adolf’s mother when she died. He was allowed to leave Nazi Austria with all of his possessions, which was unheard of for most Jews under the regime.

Storyteller: Agnes Grunwald-Spier
Date of Story: 1911-1940s
Location of Story: Vienna, Austria
Location: London, UK
Date: 1 March, 2016

Samuel and Emma Morgenstern in the 1930s
Samuel and Emma Morgenstern in the 1930s

Text of Mogernstern Letter to Hitler (1939)

Note: Someone had written “Jew!” in the margin.

You can read more about this story and others in Who Betrayed the Jews?, a groundbreaking study by Agnes Grunwald-Spier that examines the various ways Jews were betrayed by their fellow countrymen during the Holocaust. Click here to find out more about the book or click here to visit Agnes’ website.